25 Best Anime For Beginners
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25 Best Anime For Beginners

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Despite the fact that anime is one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world, it can be incredibly difficult for potential fans of the genre to actually start watching. This is largely due to the fact that the most popular anime tend to be incredibly long, with some even being made up of over a thousand episodes, and they often run concurrently with extensive manga stories.

Consequently, a good starter anime should be relatively short and compelling, allowing for potential fans to easily catch up with the plot without the daunting and fatiguing task of watching over a thousand episodes.


Updated on January 26th, 2023 by Jordan Woods: Whilst action-packed anime like Attack on Titan and My Hero Academia continue to be the go-to recommendations for those starting their journey into the expansive world of anime, this year has seen the rise of fantastic and accessible shows of a different kind. Unique new shows like Spy X Family and Chainsaw Man can make for great starter anime. With more variety than ever, these are the perfect anime for those looking to test the waters.

Spy X Family (2022-)

Available On Hulu

Even those unfamiliar with anime may have heard the term ‘shonen’ used to describe shows that are usually aimed at a younger and typically male audience and worry that all anime of this type turns out as generic action. However, what makes Spy X Family a great anime for beginners is that it completely ducks that stereotype.

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Although it provides plenty of action centered on the pretend family of super-spy Loid Forger, deadly assassin Yor, and six-year-old mind-reader Anya and their efforts to keep their true identities from even each other, it’s their everyday wholesome interactions that make the show constantly entertaining.

Cardcaptor Sakura (1998-2000)

Available On Netflix And Funimation

Inspired by the CLAMP manga of the same name, the original Cardcaptor Sakura has four seasons’ worth of episodes about Sakura Kinomoto accidentally releasing a deck of magical cards and then having to recapture them. It’s a distinctive Magical Girl series that doesn’t feature the typical team or love story since Sakura is only 10 years old when the series begins.

A fun series with a slowly building mythology, new anime fans who connect with Cardcaptor Sakura also have the sequel series to look forward to. The first season of Cardcaptor Sakura: The Clear Card Arc didn’t release for another 20 years!

Toradora! (2008-2009)

Available On Netflix

With no magic in sight, Toradora! is a teen romantic comedy that has plenty of dramatic moments. Two teenagers find common ground when they realize they both have crushes on unattainable classmates. They decide to help one another with their crushes, but in true rom-com fashion, fall for one another instead.

Watching the friendship grow between Taiga and Ryugi is one of the strongest aspects of the series as they both often proclaim that they can’t stand one another but are clearly the closest of friends as the story goes on. Romance anime often has memorable confessions but it’s the relatable way Toradora builds up their relationship makes it uniquely perfect as a starter anime.

RWBY (2013-)

Available On Rooster Teeth

With eight seasons so far, some new to anime might not think of the series as a great starter anime but RWBY is actually deceptively short. Despite a large number of seasons, the early episodes are incredibly short, some no more than 2 minutes in length, making the series a very quick watch.

It follows the titular Team RWBY and their allies in a world plagued by monsters called Grimm as they work to become Hunters. Along the way, they end up on an epic quest to defeat the mysterious Salem. With a straight-to-video movie on the way in 2023, it’s an action-adventure series that continues to pack a serious punch

The Promised Neverland (2019-2021)

Available On Hulu

Though the relatively new The Promised Neverland seems to have come to an end after just two seasons, that makes it the perfect compact experience for beginners to anime. The show initially seems like it might just be a coming-of-age story for a group of children living in a group home but that’s not entirely the case.

Some fans will see the darker twist in the series coming but others will be surprised when the story takes a turn. New anime fans may have to be wary of spoilers when watching to get the best out of a darkly engrossing series.

Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008)

Available On Netflix

While a lot of starter anime aren’t epic quests or nearly 100 episodes long, Avatar is a great one to make an exception for. Like RWBY, it’s a Western anime, as it’s primarily developed outside of Japan where the medium originated. That means it’s not exactly the same style as more traditional anime, allowing someone who is used to classic US cartoons a bridge between the two styles.

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It’s also a story that doesn’t deviate from its quest. There aren’t meandering filler or recap episodes that do nothing for the series. Instead, those episodes provide valuable character development. It’s also got one of the best villain-to-hero transformations in animation.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba (2019-)

Available On Funimation

One of the things anime is most known for is epic, over-the-top fight scenes and there’s no shortage of choice when it comes to that area. What makes Demon Slayer a uniquely perfect anime to watch for beginners is that it takes those incredible visual qualities to the next level.

Following the young Tanjiro on a mission to save his sister after she is bitten by a nightmarish demon, it mixes charming character moments with action that is consistently breathtaking to watch. With season 3 set to come out in 2023, it’s a great time for anime beginners to get into one of the best animated shows of recent years.

The Ancient Magus’ Bride (2017-)

Available On Crunchyroll

The fairytale-like Ancient Magus Bride takes place in a magical version of modern England where Celtic and Scandanavian monsters and fairies live unseen in the wilds, far beyond human civilization.

No matter how new to anime they are, viewers will likely be able to recognize the familiar cultural touchstones of this series, from a church grim to dragons and the famed Titania and Oberon. That and the fascinating skull-headed Elias make for a compelling watch that will likely make the much-anticipated second season all the more intriguing when it comes out in 2023.

Cells At Work! (2018-)

Available On Funimation

Few works of fiction have portrayed the inner workings of the human body in an entertaining fashion but Cells at Work! does it in true anime style. In the world of the series, the human body is a vast city of apartments, furnaces, and aqueducts, and hardworking cells keep it all running.

The animation is gorgeous, the cells are well-explained (this is an educational show), and the humor is spot-on. There are even action scenes too, with white blood cells and killer T cells doing battle with bacteria and viruses so newer anime fans shouldn’t get bored. The show has two short seasons and a darker spinoff called Cells At Work: Code Black that spotlights the inner workings of an unhealthy body.

Dr. Stone (2019-)

Available On HBO Max

Dr. Stone is another educational animated series with an intriguing premise. The plot centers on a mysterious energy wave that turns the population to stone until 3,700 years later when the brilliant teenager Senku Ishigami awakens to find himself in a transformed world.

He’s in a new Stone Age, and with the power of science and faith in the human race, he’s going to rebuild everything, one rediscovered invention at a time. Just like the science-loving main character, Dr. Stone highlights how creative anime can be and that’s exactly why it’s the perfect starter anime series.

Plastic Memories (2015)

Available On Hulu

Fans of sci-fi and heartbreak alike may enjoy this series, which combines elements of Blade Runner and The Fault in Our Stars for quite the combo. In this world, realistic androids are a reality but they have limited life spans and must be manually retired, sometimes against their will.

Male lead Tsukasa Mizugaki is a newly hired robot retirer and his companion is Isla, a robot who is on the verge of being retired herself. Tragically, that doesn’t stop him from beginning to fall in love with Isla in a series that showcases anime’s uncanny ability to make viewers weep.

Chainsaw Man (2022-)

Available On Hulu

As one of the hottest new series of recent years, Chainsaw Man has quickly come to be beloved by veterans but it’s also a great anime to start with as well. Adapted from the popular manga of the same name, it centers on the single-minded Denji who’s saved from a brutal death by a chainsaw devil.

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As a result, he ends up merged with the creature and now holds the ability to transform his body parts into chainsaws. Gory, action-packed, and funny, Chainsaw Man manages to capture the darker and lighter sides of anime in a single series.

Little Witch Academia (2013)

Currently Unavailable To Stream

Though new anime fans will more often be directed towards the action-packed My Hero Academia, this anime that may have been a significant influence on it is also worth a try. In both series, a non-magical child is inspired by his/her hero, then enrolls at a magic school to emulate that hero.

In this case, the heroine is Akko, who is dying to become a witch to help people and make them happy. Her magic powers are minimal, but she’s trying, and Little Witch Academia is a pleasant watch as she makes lovely friends at witch school.

Parasyte The Maxim (2014-2015)

Available On Hulu

Parasyte the Maxim may be one of the most underrated anime of the past decade. Based on a classic manga series from the ’90s, Parasyte tells the story of a young man named Shinichi who wakes up to find that his right hand has been eaten and replaced with an alien parasite.

The alien, eventually called Migi, is part of an invading force that has been quietly overrunning earth and Shinichi has to learn to live with the parasitic creature if he is to stand a chance against them. It may be on the darker side but compelling characters make Parasyte a must-watch.

Yuri!!! On Ice (2016)

Available On Funimation

Yuri!!! on Ice is one of the few examples of LGBT+ love stories in anime. The series follows the titular Yuri, a Japanese figure skater who is considering quitting the sport but eventually catches the eye of Victor Nikiforov, one of the world’s most renowned figure skaters.

Victor becomes Yuri’s coach as Yuri rediscovers his love for the sport and a charming love story begins to develop between the two characters. Sweet and emotional, Yuri!!! On Ice is one of the best anime to watch for beginners in search of good LGBT+ romance.

Cowboy Bebop (1998-1999)

Available On Netflix

The original Cowboy Bebop is one of the most iconic and important anime of all time. Taking inspiration from western imagery and stories, Cowboy Bebop is essentially a futuristic Wild West story and it brings together a group of mismatched characters on adventures across space.

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The series only lasted for one season and a movie but has remained popular in the years since its release. If you’re thinking of starting to watch anime, Cowboy Bebop would still be a fantastic jumping-on point.

Steins;Gate (2011)

Available On Hulu

Based on a visual novel, Steins;Gate presents an ambitious time-travel story centered on the mad scientist Okabe Rintarou and his accidental discovery of a microwave that can be used to send messages into the past. Although it’s only one season long, the series manages to weave an unforgettable tale in that time.

It’s not without its quirks but Steins;Gate is one of the most well-developed and consistent takes on time travel in fiction in general as well as anime, and that alone makes it a great series for beginners.

One Punch Man (2015-2019)

Available To Purchase On Apple TV

One Punch Man started as web manga that eventually took over the world after it was the subject of a massively successful anime adaptation, with the property even spawning its own video game. The series follows Saitama, a man who has trained his body to such an extent that he is able to defeat enemies with one punch.

As a satire of the hero and anime fighting genre, One Punch Man is brilliantly executed but it’s also hilarious in its own right. With only two short seasons, it’s a relatively easy series for beginners to anime to get stuck into as well.

Re:Zero, Starting Life In Another World (2016-)

Available On Crunchyroll

Now two seasons into a story that could well continue for a lot longer, Re:Zero Starting Life in Another World remains one of the most popular anime around, with the twin characters of Rem and Ram being particularly widespread across anime media and merchandise.

The series follows Subaru as he is transported from his ordinary life in the modern day into a colorful fantasy world. Instead of a cliched superpower to help him on his journey, he soon learns that his ability to reset to a previous point in time after dying is as much a curse as a gift. Though Re:Zero plays with anime tropes, even a beginner to anime can find plenty here to enjoy.

Attack On Titan (2013-2023)

Available On Hulu

Attack On Titan is one of the most popular anime in the world thanks in no small part to its incredible first season, with many referring to it as the Game of Thrones of anime due to its intense and graphic plot. Set in an apocalyptic future in which humanity hides behind a walled city in order to keep out the giant horrifying Titans, the show touches on some dark themes.

Complemented by some of the most compelling mysteries and intense anime action scenes of the past few years, there are few shows better than Attack on Titan at hooking old and new anime fans alike.

Death Note (2006-2007)

Available On Netflix

Death Note is an iconic and highly influential series that is perfect for beginners thanks to its endlessly compelling story. Death Note follows Yagami Light, a high school student who discovers a Death Note at this school. This book gives Yagami the power to kill anyone whose name he writes in the book, which he soon begins using to enact vigilante justice.

Yagami’s dreams of bringing about a new world order with his powers eventually bring him into conflict with an eccentric detective known as L, leading to an intense game of cat and mouse between the two characters.

Erased (2016)

Available On Netflix

In a similar vein to Parasyte, Erased is one of the most underrated anime of the past decade. The 12-episode series is a dark and intense story that follows a 27-year-old man called Satoru Fujinuma, who possesses the ability to ‘rewind’ to avoid a tragedy. However, after a murder brings back forgotten memories of his childhood, Satoru rewinds to his childhood past.

The series is as intense as it is heartwarming, with Satoru having to use his knowledge of the future in order to solve the murder in the future and catch the killer.

My Hero Academia (2016-)

Available On Hulu

My Hero Academia is quickly becoming one of the most popular anime of the century. Set in a world in which superpowers, or quirks as the anime refers to them, are held by around 80% of the population, the series is full of incredible action and unforgettable moments.

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After he is given the quirk of the legendary hero All Might, protagonist Izuku Midoriya finally has a chance of achieving his dream of being a hero, joining the most prestigious hero school in Japan. My Hero Academia is a lengthier watch at six seasons (and still going) but it’s a fun watch and newcomers to anime will be surprised at how quickly it flies by.

Your Lie In April (2014-2015)

Available On Hulu

Sometimes the greatest starter anime are ones that showcase a completely different side to the genre. Your Lie In April may be centered on classical music and former piano prodigy Kousei Arima’s struggle to return to playing the instrument after meeting a dazzling violinist but its charming and heartbreaking story is one that can strike a chord with anyone.

With memorable characters and a typically incredible soundtrack, Your Lie in April is one of the most beautifully made anime around and eminently watchable at only 22 episodes.

Available On Hulu

In a similar vein to Cowboy Bebop, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood is one of the most iconic and influential anime of the past few decades. The series follows two brothers, Edward and Alphonse as they try to heal the damage inflicted on them both during an ill-fated ritual.

Whether it’s incredibly intense action, compelling characters, or heartbreaking moments, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood boasts some of the best in anime history. As an ambitious story excellently told across 64 episodes, the series is a perfect contender for someone’s ‘first anime’.

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