5 best anime shows for beginners to watch on Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video and more
Getting started on the best anime shows has never been easier, even if you’re new to the medium. Currently, there are many shows available to watch on the best streaming services that offer complex stories, mind-blowing animation, strong characters and world-building.
Plus, anime isn’t a genre, it’s a medium, so there’s a little bit of something for everyone. That said, it can be difficult to know where to start if you’re completely new to the genre. It doesn’t help that many of the most popular series are also very, very long, spanning hundreds of episodes and multiple seasons. One Piece alone has over 1,000 episodes – and counting!
We designed this list to attract the attention of those who are interested in seeing what the fuss is about the truth. These shows range from sci-fi thrillers to slow-burn romances to comedies and everything in between, so there’s sure to be at least one entry to suit everyone’s taste.
Don’t expect anything too intense or graphic, as we’ve made this list suitable for all audiences, excluding shows with a lot of sexual themes or gore. I love Attack on Titan and Cyberpunk Edgerunners as much as the next person, but the last thing we want to do is traumatizing anime newbies unnecessarily.
Here are some of the best anime shows to watch for beginners. If you’re still itching for more recommendations, check out some of the best anime shows and movies on Netflix.
Cowboy Bebop is often ranked among the best anime of all time, which makes it a no-brainer to start this list of recommendations. Bebop is so ubiquitous that you may already be familiar with it, or at least its live-action Netflix adaptation.
But just because Cowboy Bebop is loved, doesn’t mean it’s epic. Instead, it’s a short series (26 episodes) but it’s part sci-fi, part Western and part gritty crime drama. Set in a future where mankind has colonized the solar system, the show follows the adventures of Spike Spiegel and his ragtag band of bounty hunters.
Amidst all the gunslinging and space travel, Cowboy Bebop masterfully weaves in the themes of eternity, loneliness and desire for his collection of misfits. Its moody jazz music, high-octane fight scenes and stylized set pieces leave plenty for new anime fans to enjoy.
Shoujo anime, shows aimed at female viewers that focus on romantic and interpersonal drama, are a juggernaut in the anime industry. And Fruit Basket is a staple of the genre.
The original 2001 adaptation barely scratched the surface of what made its heartfelt story so popular in the first place, but the 2019 reboot takes the story of Tohru Honda and the Sohma family justice.
Fruit Basket follows high school student Tohru after the death of her single mother. Her classmates, members of the mysterious Sohma family, take her in after discovering that she is homeless and living in a tent on the edge of their estate. As Tohru gets to know the Sohmas, friendship grows and romance blossoms, and she discovers the paranormal connection that many of the family members are cursed with. The romance is a nice slow burn as she works to break the curse and resolve the trauma of the knee. You’ll want to keep some tissues handy for this one.
If you want to get hooked on anime, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a great place to start and is considered essential viewing by most anime fans.
This dark steampunk fantasy series is a story of grief, war and morality through the lens of two brothers, Ed and Al Elric. A failed experiment in which Ed brings his mother back to life using forbidden alchemy costs him an arm and a leg, and leaves Al a disembodied soul bound in a suit of armor.
The two travel the world to learn more about alchemy, looking for clues on how to restore their physical bodies and ultimately wrap themselves in something much greater than themselves. The fight scenes are masterpieces, and there’s plenty of political wit and compelling character arcs to keep the audience invested during its quieter moments.
Look at it Hulu and Crunchyroll
For the sci-fi fans out there, Steins;Gate is a must see. It tells the story of a college student and an aspiring scientist who finds a way to send messages back in time. It’s classic butterfly theory stuff, where changing events in the past have huge and unintended consequences for the future.
Rintaro Okabe and his friends begin experimenting with adjusting their decisions in subtle ways, and when things spiral out of control, they are forced to make heartbreaking choices. Steins;Gate is a cerebral and heartfelt thrill in the same vein as sci-fi staples like Doctor Who or Quantum Leap. So keep some tissues handy for this one too.
Look at it Hulu and Crunchyroll
Nozaki-kun Girls’ Monthly
If you’re looking for something lighter, you can’t go wrong with Nozaki-kun Monthly Girls.
The premise is one you’ll already be familiar with: A high school girl is in love with a guy who barely knows she exists. But things take a turn when she finally works up the courage to confess her love to him. As it turns out, he’s a famous shojo comic artist who works under a pen name, and he doesn’t understand her progress, mistaking her for a fan of his work. He asks her to be his assistant, which she accepts in an effort to get closer to him. The misunderstandings only come later.
As they work on their comic together, they grow closer and bring their eccentric schoolmates into the fold, who become the inspiration for the story. The disconnect between her tough stoic exterior and the flowery romantic plots and cute art make her comic run gags hilarious, and with the series only 12 episodes long, it never gets old.
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