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18 Anime That Almost Everyone Starts With

Updated February 22, 2021 64.6k votes 9.9k voters 143.4k views18 items

List RulesVote up the anime you probably watched within your first month of being an otaku.

Every anime fan has a starter anime, that first series that really inspired them to keep watching. For many fans, their introduction into the genre probably falls on this anime for beginners list. Many viewers move on to other, more underrated anime after completing these series, but other casual fans may not. The traits that make for a perfect beginners anime include series with broad appeal, an easy to follow storyline, and basic themes such as good versus evil. Concepts that require a better understanding of Japanese culture and a saturation of fan-service moments may turn new viewers off, and are not generally good anime for new fans. 

Accessible anime also employ nostalgia, whether you grew up watching something on this list, or – in the case of a long running series – have followed it for a long time. And don't think a true anime lover can't be a fan of one of these anime new fans enjoy. You may have graduated from school and moved on, after all, but you probably wouldn't go back and blow it up. And if you're tempted, you should probably watch less anime.

Be sure to check out the best InuYasha quotes and the best Rurouni Kenshin quotes.

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  • 5

    Fairy Tail

    Fairy Tail
    Photo: TXN

    Often criticized as a One Piece rip-off, Fairy Tail employs a repetitive story structure of introducing new characters, conflict, fight, new powers gained/revealed, and resolution. The series also features a massive cast of characters, each with their own unique powers but a singular personality trait.

    Adventure, comedy, and emotional drama – as well as an obvious rivalry between fire and ice – are all included, making the series purposely accessible to the lowest common denominator. Epic battles, unbreakable heroes, and concepts such as loyalty to your friends are regurgitated again and again. Honestly, if you know what you're doing, there is better magic elsewhere.

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  • Epic battles and powerful characters drew many fans to Dragon Ball Z and its predecessor, Dragon Ball, and the escalation of threats kept them watching. The easily accessible plot hinges on the basic concept of good versus evil, as well as friendship, beating impossible odds through hard work, and a good dose of risque humor. These elements made Dragon Ball one of the first anime series to catch on in the West.

    For many fans, it's a big dose of nostalgia. But the animation (especially in the earlier episodes) verges on unwatchable, storylines are repeated and stretched to the breaking point, and cheesy dialog runs rampant. More advanced fans, therefore, journey on to less... loud-yet-bland pastures.  

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  • Death Note
    Photo: Madhouse

    Death Note is pretty much everyone's first "edgy" anime, and for a good reason. It features an easy to relate to main character facing a moral dilemma on an epic scale, one that most people would likely struggle with. The basic theme of justice vs mortality is extremely straightforward and easily accessible. 

    Death Note's slowly unfolding saga is also packed with enough eccentric geniuses and plot twists of "who is the real bad guy?" to entice a binge watching marathon. It does, however, really go off the deep end in the later episodes, and Light is a bit too unflappable to make him interesting to watch in the long run.   

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  • Sword Art Online
    Photo: Aniplex

    Sword Art Online wins many of its fans by attracting MMO gamers and fantasy lovers. It features a variety of characters to appeal to different viewers, and the boss clearing battles are (kind of) recognizable to gamers. Powerful characters with amazing abilities, characters uniting towards a common goal, and the combination of adventure and romance creates an easy-to-follow story structure.

    Many experienced anime fans, however, dislike the lack of character development in favor of fan service, as well as the show's premise that fails to live up to its potential.

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