• Anime Underground

The 18 Best First Episodes of Anime That Hook You Immediately

List RulesVote up the anime that had you hooked from the very start.

With so many great anime to discover, it can be rather difficult to choose one to invest your time, money, and energy into. This is especially true if the anime is long-running and features dozens, if not hundreds of episodes to catch up on. 

The best way to hook an audience is to make sure the first episode of a series bangs like a hammer dropped down a flight of stairs. While this is an easy fact to state, how do creators figure out the right amount of characters, plot, and action to include in a series's opening without coming off as overwhelming or turning away viewers?

These anime didn't just discover that golden ratio, they cemented it! Here are some of the best first anime episodes that hooked fans and kept them watching.

  • Photo: Wit Studio

    While some shows hook their audience through amazement, others grab the viewer's attention by way of shock and tragedy. In what's definitely a case of the latter, Attack on Titan brings the viewer to the walled city that houses Eren, Armin, and Mikasa just before it is breached by the terrifying Titans.

    The city is demolished, Eren's mother is devoured by one of the beastly creatures right in front of his eyes, and he and his friends are barely dragged to safety. In the wake of this tragedy, the only thing on his mind is one simple task: to kill every last Titan. 

    Did this hook you from the start?

    The Best Attack on Titan Fanfiction, Ranked30 Random Attack On Titan Memes We Laughed Way Too Hard At#1 of 101 The Most Popular Anime Right Now

    Amazon buy button
  • Photo: Madhouse

    With intelligence, good looks, and reputation, high school student Light Yagami seems to be on the road to massive success, yet he feels surprisingly empty. Then one day, he finds a mysterious notebook called a "Death Note," which grants its owner the ability to kill anyone whose name is written upon its otherworldly pages.

    With the help of a bored death god named Ryuk (who is the original owner of the notebook) Light kill criminals, vowsing to cleanse the world of evil, so he can become the God of his new "pure" world. The first episode of Death Note lays out a perfect origin story for our protagonist, as he goes from elite student to evil mastermind.

    Did this hook you from the start?

    The Best Death Note Fanfiction, Ranked#53 of 116 The Best Adult Cartoon Shows In TV History#65 of 416 The Greatest Animated Series Ever Made

    Amazon buy button
  • Photo: Bones

    The epic fantasy journey begins as many do: with mystery, intrigue, and mistaken identities. The Elric brothers find themselves in the desert city of Lior, following rumors regarding the fabled Philosopher's Stone, which grants its user unlimited alchemical power. 

    With the help of a local woman who is infatuated with the sinister Father Cornello's sun-worshipping religion, the duo uncover a nefarious plot involving a cult. 

    In the world of FMA, the principles of alchemy are established as the brothers explore their alchemical powers. It turns out that the science of alchemy follows some pretty strict rules, that, if disregarded, can produce disastrous results.

    There's plenty of build-up for the story that's still to come, and the reveal of Ed's auto-mail limbs and Al's armored body (there's no flesh inside that suit, just Al's spirit) is one of the most memorable twists ever to be seen in a pilot. 

    Did this hook you from the start?

    The Biggest Differences Between The Two Fullmetal Alchemist Anime#156 of 636 The Best Cartoons of All Time#26 of 192 The Best Action Anime of All Time

    Amazon buy button
  • At first glance, the world of Akame Ga Kill! seems to be like any other fantasy show, with a powerful feudal empire, knights, and magic. However, the first episode unveils a dark and inhumane underworld just beneath the well-trodden fantasy surface.

    Tatsumi and his friends leave their humble village to try and find riches in the nation's capital. He finds a high-paying gig as an aristocratic family's bodyguard, but soon discovers – during an assassination attempt carried out by the rebel group "Night Raid"  – that there is cause for mass revolt. The family has been torturing his friends to death.

    Seeing the corruption within his country, Tatsumi joins Night Raid, and is willing to get his hands dirty if it means putting an end to evil. This first episode sets a faux light-hearted tone, then takes a turn for the brutal, demonstrating just how nasty the story is going to get. 

    Did this hook you from the start?

    #24 of 278 The Best Anime Series Of All Time#27 of 149 The Best Fantasy Anime of All Time#65 of 199 The 100+ Best Anime Intros of All Time

    Amazon buy button