The 10 Best Series to Help You Break Into Anime

It's not all schoolgirls and tentacles, we promise.

As prolific and amazing as anime is, the genre can be intimidating to get into. For Western audiences, there can be a difficult barrier of entry to get past. Where some see an expression of creativity, a new fan may see something totally inaccessible. So we're here to help you figure out where to start. We've got 10 shows that are beginner-friendly, but also showcase the huge potential of the genre.

1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood


Genre: Fantasy, sci-fi, adventure

Plot: In the country of Amestris, alchemy is real. The series follows the adventures of two brothers who attempted to revive their dead mother and paid a terrible price. Together, they search for the mythical philosopher's stone and stumble upon a conspiracy that threatens the entire nation.

Reason to watch: The story and animation are superb. I would highly recommend the English dub if you don't want to read subtitles.

2. One Punch Man

Genre: Action, comedy

Plot: Saitama is a part-time superhero with a unique problem: he's so strong that every enemy he faces is defeated with one punch. As boredom sets in, Saitama realizes that he's been getting no recognition for his efforts because he isn't registered with the Hero Association.

Reason to watch: If you enjoy the superhero comic genre, this show is a fantastic inversion. It's funny, the fight scenes are top notch, and it makes you question what actually makes someone a hero.

3. Akira

TMS Entertainment

Genre: Sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, horror

Plot: Akira is one of the most recognized anime titles in the West. It takes place in Neo Tokyo after World War 3 wipes the city out. Teenage delinquents Tetsuo and Kaneda come across a boy with psychic powers in the middle of a gang fight and are sucked into a government experiment for children with ESP abilities.

Reason to watch: Yes, we realize that this one is a movie but it's place on the list in unquestionable. For one, it's an iconic piece of cinema. Two, it is one of the best examples of how to condense a book (or in this case, manga) into a movie format.

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4. Gurren Lagann


Genre: Action, sci-fi, comedy

Plot: For centuries, mankind has lived underground under the authority of the beastmen and their leader Lordgenome. Simon and Kamina live in one such underground village, though Kamina dreams of a day mankind can reclaim the surface. With the help of a robot named Lagann, they seek to overthrow the beastmen and bring forth humanity's potential.

Reason to watch:This show is a tribute to the mecha/giant robot genre, and has moments of pure over-the-top ridiculousness as well as tear-jerking scenes that put you in a glass case of emotion. If you're strapped for time, there are also two movies that encompass the events of the anime.

5. Durarara!!


Genre: Action, suspense, drama

Plot: A kid named Mikado moves to Ikebukuro at the behest of his best friend. While there, he meets a cast of weird characters: a mysterious gang known as the Dollars, a dullahan (headless horseman) searching for her head, a Russian sushi joint owner, and more. They each have their own storylines that eventually overlap, which requires some investment in the show.

Reason to watch: If you're a fan of Game of Thrones' multiple viewpoint format, Durarara!! is the series for you.

6. Death Note

Viz Media

Genre: Suspense, crime, horror

Plot: Light Yagami is a student who comes across a mysterious notebook that will cause anyone whose name is written in it to die. He teams up with Ryuk the shinigami (death god) to mete out vigilante justice on criminals, but soon his actions begin to catch up with him.

Reason to watch: If you like crime dramas, you'll enjoy Death Note. Eventually, genius Light meets a rival that is as cunning as he is, and watching them try to mentally outmaneuver each other is pulse-pounding.

7. Dragon Ball Super

Fuji TV

Genre: Action

Plot:Goku and friends fight off aliens, androids, and weird blob monsters in this remake of the classic action anime.

Reason to watch: It follows the exact plot of the original Dragonball Z anime, but takes out all the filler and episodes that are 99% screaming. It's way easier to digest.

8. One Piece


Genre: Adventure, comedy

Plot: Before the infamous pirate Gold D. Roger is executed, he claims he buried all his treasure in the "grand line," and whomsoever finds it will be king of the pirates. His claim sets off a new age of piracy. Monkey D. Luffy is one such aspiring pirate who can stretch his body like rubber after eating a magical fruit.

Reason to watch: This is one of the "big three" anime along with Bleach and Naruto, but One Piece is the only one still going. It's goofy, dramatic, and action-packed, and the cast of pirates is honestly too huge and weird to describe in an article.

9. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

Shonen Jump

Genre: Adventure, action, comedy, fantasy

Plot: JJBA follows the story of the Joestar bloodline, as its members tango with vampires, Nazis, Aztec demigods, and zany foes in conflicts that span generations. Starting in the third part, main characters control manifestations of their life force called Stands. Really, it's best experienced rather than explained.

Reason to watch:The creator of the series is a huge fan of Western music, which is reflected in the names of the characters in the series. Also, it means the show has a great soundtrack.

10. Katanagatari

NIS Media

Genre: Historical, Action, Drama

Plot: An aspiring strategist named Togame searches across Edo-era Japan for 12 powerful weapons so she can deliver them to the emperor. She allies with Shichika, a "swordsman with no sword" whose fighting style is designed to defeat swords.

Reason to watch: At a crisp 12 episodes, this series is easy to consume. The cast is relatively small, so it's easy to become invested in the characters' relationships. And of course, the fights are great.

Are there any other anime you'd consider beginner-friendly? Which show is the one that got you interested in the first place? Comment below!

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