5 of the best entry level anime that don’t alienate viewers with weird tropes

By Mason Berlinka

Published May 1, 2023 at 09:15 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

Anime is huge today, and for good reason. The stellar animation, thrilling storytelling, and heart-wrenching dramatics of the Japanese style are unlike anything else available in the Western world today. It’s therefore safe to say that the country’s reputation as the king of animation is well deserved.

That being said, people wanting to get into anime are often put off by the style’s daunting catalogue size, as well as strange tropes that are all too common in some of the more outlandish series. It’s easy to dismiss the medium because of preconceived notions that all you’re getting into is over-the-top drama, and gratuitous sexualisation.

Thankfully, we’re here to dispel these anime biases, and show you some of the best shows out there that are definitely worth your time. Interested in what anime has to offer but you’ve got no idea where to begin? We’ve got you covered.

1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (FMAB) is an excellent starting place for anime newbies, and it’s easy to see why: the show offers viewers a complete package of action, drama, and humour. It follows the story of two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who use alchemy to try to bring their deceased mother back to life. But their attempt goes awry, and they end up having to pay a steep price.

The emotional pull, and the intricate world-building make FMAB a great choice for anyone trying to dive into the world of anime, plus the comedic edge really helps to keep viewers interested. This well animated and overall engaging series is a great place to begin for those not wanting to feel alienated and daunted by Japan’s bounty of animation.


2. Cowboy Bebop

It’s hard to write about iconic anime without mentioning one of the artform’s OGs. The show Cowboy Bebop was instrumental in garnering interest for Japanese animation in the West throughout the early 2000s, quickly becoming a cultural phenomenon thanks to its blend of eastern and western influences.

The series is set in a futuristic world where bounty hunters roam the galaxy, and it follows the adventures of a ragtag crew aboard the spaceship Bebop. We follow their spacefaring exploits as they try to run away from their past, before it inevitably all catches up to them, leading to a thrilling and dramatic conclusion.

Hugely accessible thanks to its slick film noir, western style, killer jazz-inspired soundtrack, and strong english dub, Cowboy Bebop is a no-brainer for newbies. Protagonist Spike Spiegel is the epitome of cool—think Elliott Gould’s Philip Marlowe, in space. Paired with Shinichirō Watanabe’s immaculate direction and smooth storytelling, you couldn’t be in better hands.

Additionally, the show deals with themes of loss, purpose and existentialism. While this narrative is definitely more mature than the stories found in some of the other shows on our list, Cowboy Bebop should not be discredited because of the medium.

3. Attack on Titan

This series is a little darker, but it’s still a great starting point for those who’re new to anime. The story takes place in a world where giant human-like monsters called Titans roam the Earth and it follows a group of soldiers as they fight to protect humanity’s last stronghold.

Its protagonist, Eren Jaeger, has long been a polarising character online for his heartbreaking motivation and questionable decision making. It’s a journey that’s really worth being on, and is filled with intense action, suspense and plot twists. So many plot twists…

So why should you give Attack on Titan (AOT) a go? Its high production value, dynamic animation sequences, and gripping soundtrack make the show a treat for the senses. Additionally, AOT’s themes of humanity, hope and survival are universal, and can be understood by everyone.

Did I mention that this series relies on virtually zero typical anime tropes? You won’t find any panty shots here.

4. Haiyku!!

Haiyku!! is all about volleyball. The series follows a high school team as they work to become champions. It’s full of sports action and character development, with a diverse cast of lovable characters and plenty of feel-good moments.

If sports shows are your thing, then you should definitely give Haiyku!! a try. The stakes, drama, and character growth make it worth anyone’s time, especially those looking to get hooked into a heartfelt and inspirational story. This comedic coming-of-age story is a great opportunity for beginners to see why Japanese animation is so popular today.

5. Sailor Moon

This 90s classic has endured the test of time for a reason. An early iteration of a well-known anime trope, namely that of the magical school girl, this show portrays the mystical experience with style and grace.

The series follows student Usagi Tsukino, who assembles a team of girls with the ability to transform into magical warriors to protect the Earth from the forces of evil. Girl power and friendship are at the centre of Sailor Moon and it’s definitely a great contender if you’re in the mood for some light viewing.

Magical girls are an immensely popular genre of stories in anime, and Sailor Moon is the show that popularised it globally. Beloved by everyone, from fashion lovers to children and even to grown ups seeking a wholesome and relaxing viewing experience, the series could not go unmentioned on this list.

Where to watch anime online

Thanks to growing interest in anime in the Western world, dedicated streamers now exist so you can get your Japanese fix. Crunchyroll and Funimation are the top dogs when it comes to binge-watch anime and have a wide range of shows, including seasonal releases for once you’re fully addicted. Netflix also has a sizable catalogue of shows if you’re not interested in splashing out for a dedicated streamer just for anime.

On Netflix, you’ll be able to watch Cowboy Bebop in its entirety. For Attack on Titan, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Haiyku!!, you’ll need a Crunchyroll account—but don’t worry, the service offers free viewing supported by ads. The original run of Sailor Moon is also on there, or Hulu if that’s more your thing.

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