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New To Anime?: The Best Shows To Watch When You're Just Starting Out

Yamcha
(Image credit: Funimation)

If you know me, you know I’m a pretty big fan of anime, and have only become an even bigger fan over the last couple of years, because I have the free time to really watch it. If you’re thinking of getting into anime and like I was in the beginning, wondering where on earth to start when logging on to Crunchyroll, Hulu, or even Netflix and seeing hundreds of options, don’t worry. We have plenty of great options for different kinds of anime needs that are all wonderful series to start out on, so let’s get into it.

Ash and Pikachu in Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You!

(Image credit: Toho)

If You’re Watching With Children: Pokemon

If you don’t know the story of Pokemon, it mainly follows Ash Ketchum and his companion, Pikachu, as he travels across different regions in hopes of finding and catching all the Pokemon out there, and becoming a Pokemon master. 

Pokemon is literally the most successful media franchise of all time, and while that’s mainly due to toy sales (because who wouldn’t want a plus Pikachu; I have four), the anime is still just as heartwarming and brings back a lot of good memories from childhood. From some of the best regions to even Ash’s human companions, this show is great to watch even as an adult - but even better if you’re getting the chance to share it with children for them to love the show just as much. 

Stream Pokemon on Pokemon TV.

The main characters of Spy x Family.

(Image credit: Crunchyroll)

If You’re Looking For A Wholesome Anime: Spy X Family

Spy x Family is one of the latest 2022 shows to take over the anime world, following the story of Agent Twilight, otherwise known as Lloyd, a spy on a mission to save the world. In order to do that, he has to create a fake family, composed of a wife and daughter, but what he doesn’t know is that his fake wife is an assassin, and his fake daughter is a telepath. 

Spy x Family is hands down the most wholesome show you can watch on television right now - and one of the most wholesome animes out there. You’ll fall in love with Anya, the little girl, and love the family dynamic that only continues to grow as the series goes on. It’s become one of my favorites - and with Part 2 of the first season coming out in fall 2022, now is the best time to watch. 

Stream Spy x Family on Crunchyroll.

The two main characters of Kaguya-sama: Love is War.

(Image credit: Crunchyroll)

If You’re Looking For A Romance Anime: Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War

Two high schoolers, named Shirogane and Kaguya, who both work on the student council, have crushes on each other but refuse to admit it to the other. So, they complete ridiculous and hilarious schemes in order to try and get the other to admit their affections, hence the title, Kaguya-sama: Love is War. 

Admittedly, I was only recently introduced to this anime through a close friend when I needed something to binge while my mouth was healing from wisdom teeth surgery, but I genuinely loved the heck out of this show. It’s utter romance and comedy and so much more, and from the first episode you’ll be laughing your butt off and saying "Awww" in every sense of the word. This show is the phrase “mutual pining” in all caps and on crack - in a good way. 

Stream Kaguya-sama: Love is War on Crunchyroll.

Two of the main characters of The Devil is a Part-Timer.

(Image credit: Crunchyroll)

If You’re Looking For A Comedy Anime: The Devil Is A Part-Timer

If you’re looking for a nice comedy to watch, check out The Devil is a Part-Timer. When Satan ends up in modern-day Japan and has to somehow find a way back home, he has to figure out a way to survive until then - so, he starts working at a fast-food restaurant that is a clear parody of McDonalds. 

Fun fact - if you don’t count Pokemon (because every kid watches that show), The Devil is a Part-Timer was the first anime I ever watched, and boy is it a great one to start out on. The story is so much fun and I was laughing my butt off at the characters. I mean, who would ever think of Satan working at a knock-off McDonalds? No one - but that’s what makes this so dang funny. 

It doesn’t help that I had to wait almost a literal decade for another season (nine years, but close enough), but at least I get to watch both seasons now. 

Stream The Devil is a Part-Timer on Crunchyroll.

Two of the main characters of Dragon Ball z and Demon Slayer.

(Image credit: Crunchyroll)

If You’re Looking For An Action Anime: Dragon Ball/Demon Slayer 

Dragon Ball is a legendary anime that primarily tells the story of Goku, a boy with a tail who ends up going on the adventure of a lifetime to become stronger and learns about the power of the seven Dragon Balls, which will grant a wish to someone if all seven are collected. Demon Slayer follows the story of Tanjiro, a young boy who becomes a demon slayer in hopes of trying to find a cure for his sister, who was turned into a demon. 

Both are two completely different shows, but good all the same. Dragon Ball is a great show if you want to check out an older anime from the eighties, and continue watching all of its iterations years later - with the most recent being the 2022 movie, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero. Demon Slayer is new, but the story of how far a brother is willing to go for his sister is something that anyone can love. And, both have crazy action, mixed in with some amazing animation. 

Stream Dragon Ball on Crunchyroll.
Stream Demon Slayer on Crunchyroll.

Two of the main characters of Sailor Moon and Jujutsu Kaisen.

(Image credit: Crunchyroll)

If You’re Looking For A Fantasy Anime: Sailor Moon/Jujutsu Kaisen

Fantasy is a great genre, and for someone like me who loves fantasy shows and the best fantasy movies, these are two of my favorite. 

Sailor Moon is a classic anime that follows the story of Usagi Tsukino, a middle school girl who is able to become the legendary character and helps defend the world from evil threats alongside her super friends. 

Jujutsu Kaisen is a dark fantasy anime that primarily follows Yuji Itadori, who swallows a cursed finger and subsequently becomes possessed. In order to kill the curse, he joins an organization called the Jujutsu Sorcerers to find a way to end it and free himself. 

Keep in mind that these two are very different anime. Sailor Moon is definitely a lot lighter in tone and for people who want simple fantasy, while Jujutsu Kaisen is the complete opposite and can get quite dark, but both have some really cool fantasy elements and some sick fight sequences. 

Stream Sailor Moon on Hulu. (opens in new tab)
Stream Jujutsu Kaisen on Crunchyroll.

Some of the main characters of Haikyuu.

(Image credit: Crunchyroll)

If You’re Looking For A Sports Anime: Haikyu!!

God, this anime is freaking everywhere and I finally gave in and watched it a few years ago and it’s so worth the hype. If you want a sports anime, Haikyu!! is the one to watch. Here, the audience mainly follows Shoyo Hinata, a boy who is a bit short but wants to become the best volleyball player, so we see his life with his teammates. 

Let me tell you, this is the only show that actually makes me care about volleyball. These boys are just so dang loveable and you can’t help but want to root for Shoyo and his determination. Everyone in this show is great, and the game scenes are always a ton of fun, too. 

Stream Haikyu!! on Crunchyroll.

The main character of Death Note.

(Image credit: Crunchyroll)

If You’re Looking For A Classic To Start Out On: Death Note

Death Note is all about Light Yagami, a genius who ends up finding a strange journal called the “Death Note” that ends up having the ability to kill anyone as long as a name is written inside of it. With this power, the line between good and evil begins to be blurred for the teenager. 

I feel like everyone and their mother has heard of Death Note at some point. While it didn’t come out in the 1980s or '90s like some of the other options on this list, many consider Death Note one of the best anime of all time for its story and characters. The story has even gotten live-action adaptations - but they’ve never really connected with audiences. Just stick to the anime. It’s really good. 

Stream Death Note on Netflix. (opens in new tab)

one piece live-action manga netflix

(Image credit: Toei Animation)

If You’re Looking For Something To Commit To: One Piece

Oh, One Piece. 

God, One Piece. 

I can hear Luffy’s laugh in my brain constantly.

This anime tells the tale of Monkey D. Luffy, who sets off on a journey across the world on the East Blue Sea to find a legendary, mythical treasure that no one has ever found, the One Piece, and become the King of the Pirates. 

When I say you need to commit to this show, I mean it. One Piece spans twenty-five years - and 1000+ anime episodes. That’s right, one thousand. And, it’s still going. Yet, this fandom has never seemed more excited about the show than now, and if you decide to join Luffy on his adventure, you’ll be going on an epic quest of your own just to catch up. But, it’ll be fun, regardless. 

Stream One Piece on Crunchyroll.

Eren pointing towards the sea at the end of Season 3.

(Image credit: Funimation)

If You Want A Great Story (And Don’t Mind Violence): Attack On Titan

Attack on Titan takes place in a world where the apparent last survivors of humanity are located within three tall walls to avoid being killed by giant, monstrous humanoid creatures known as Titans. However, as time goes on, more secrets about the outside world and what exactly these Titans are comes to light. Eren Jaeger, the main protagonist of AOT, decides to take it upon himself to kill all the Titans, but life - and people - change. 

I know there are some people that might come at me and say, “Why on earth would you recommend AOT as someone’s first anime?”, because it’s so bloody and many say that the story can’t be beaten, but that’s the thing - if you want a Breaking Bad, The Wire, or Game of Thrones-level story, where everything connects and is beautifully told, this is the show to watch

The characters are amazing, from the Titan-shifters to the non-Titan shifters. The foreshadowing that is used is outstanding. The show has some outstanding episodes - it’s just an all-around great show. With the supposed final part coming out in 2023, now is the time to binge. I’d give anything to watch it again for the first time. I don’t want to give anything away.

Stream Attack on Titan on Crunchyroll.

These are just some of my picks for what I think would be great choices for a first-time anime watcher, but whatever you pick, welcome to the world of anime. We hope you like it here - and if you feel up for it, be sure to check out all the Studio Ghibli movies, too.  

Alexandra Ramos
Content Producer

Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!