DocHaus (Level 18)

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I'm new to anime, what should I watch?

After seeing several of these topics on the blogs and forums, I feel the need to put my own list down, so that if I see another ambiguous request like the question above, I can just link to this and call it a day.

Also, all anime listed is either available (legally!) on streaming sites like Hulu, Funimation and Crunchyroll or can be purchased on DVD in Western markets if you know where to look.

1. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

One of the best series ever, in my honest opinion. Transhumanist issues, incredible action sequences, great animation, no pointless fanservice, and a female lead who is not just a useless space occupier. You like sci-fi or action? Watch this thing.

2. Cowboy Bebop

Because you can't have a vague "best of" anime list without mentioning this sci-fi classic from the '90s.

3. Attack on Titan

As far as gateway anime goes, this is one of the better ones.

4. Baccano!

I can't really explain what genre this falls into, so all I can say is that this show is the closest you'll get to a Guy Ritchie anime, and it is one of the most awesome things ever.

5. Durarara!!

Think of this as Baccano! set in Ikebukuro in the present day, and just as good if not better.

6. Gurren Lagann

Equally humorous and awesome. A mecha anime that doesn't take itself seriously at all. You owe it to yourself to at least try this show out.

7. Level E

It's short, sweet, series of sci-fi stories with a loose connection to each other so you can jump in almost any episode. Free on Crunchyroll too.

8. FLCL

Only 6 episodes, but if you are looking for some dark humor about adolescence, then you've got nothing to lose.

9. Tiger & Bunny

Western superhero story with an anime twist that's fun and exciting without getting too cheesy. Also, features actual adults as superheroes and not teenagers stumbling around.

10. Outlaw Star

Softer sci-fi, but fun to watch all-around. Another '90s classic.

11. Samurai Champloo

The soundtrack alone is worth it, but the action sequences are amazing. Just don't expect too much in the way of plot.

12. Darker than BLACK

Another show by BONES with Yoko Kanno doing the soundtrack. Best I can describe it is an espionage story with spies who wield superpowers along with a cat who speaks with a deep voice. Still pretty good.

13. Big O

Imagine Batman with a large mech. Granted, the story gets a bit convoluted halfway through, but otherwise it's pretty good.

14. Soul Eater

A mish-mash of various monsters and legends and a strangely-ambivalent god of Death. Not the best show, but it's pretty good if you want a basic shonen show to watch. Now on Toonami!

15. Last Exile

One of the best steampunk settings out there, amazing flight sequences, and a badass ship captain.

16. The Vision of Escaflowne

Epic fantasy with knights, mechs and a female lead who is not useless.

17. Trigun

Yes, it ends differently than the manga, but the character of Vash is interesting in showing how a skilled gunman continuously finds ways to avoid killing even those who deserve it.

18. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

Overall a very fun series to watch with mechs, if you can ignore the fact that the plot revolves around a deus ex machina.

19. Black Lagoon

Not the most realistic, but if you can get past that detail, the fight scenes are amazing. Also turns some action-movie tropes on their head.

20. Mushi-Shi

This one is definitely different from your normal anime. Think of this as an old-school Japanese Doctor House who tries to heal the various sick or depressed people he finds have been afflicted by some strange curse or entity.

21. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Surprisingly funny and weird series that's difficult to describe. Don't watch the second season, it will only break your heart.

22. Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team

There are a lot of good Gundam series (and a few bad ones), but this is one of my favorites: it's short, and it depicts a lesser-mentioned but important side of the wars.

23. Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket

See above

24. Baka and Test -- Summon the Beast

Sounds like Pokemon in school at first, but then you actually watch it and it is one of the most hilarious fucking shows ever.

25. Monster

Story about a doctor trying to hunt down the (figurative) monster he helped create. Pretty entertaining.

26. Cardcaptor Sakura

A magical girl show for those who like that sort of thing. It appealed to me in my younger days.

27. Giant Killing

A soccer/futbol anime that's about a laid-back coach trying to revive a bad Japanese team. Mostly by-the-book sports story, but it works.

28. Gintama

A comedic series with a few mini-arcs, but you can usually jump in at any episode and not feel too lost. Some jokes require knowledge of Japanese history/mythology, but CR subs try to help explain them, so it's a bit of a wash.

ZombiePieon Nov. 17, 2010 at 9:40 p.m.
I'm relatively new to anime and Eden of the East did absolutely nothing for me. I'll think about your other recommendations though or at least the ones that I haven't already seen.
DocHauson Nov. 18, 2010 at 12:20 a.m.
@zombiepie: Aw man, I actually liked Eden of the East. But hey, probably not for everyone.
 
If you want recommendations of a specific genre or theme, let me know.
ZombiePieon Nov. 18, 2010 at 12:26 a.m.
@DocHaus:  I also can't watch a good chunk of what is on this list due to gore and blood. As I have stated before I have extreme blood squeamishness.
MikeyPugson Nov. 19, 2010 at 11:45 a.m.
Excellent resource for someone like me.  It's always great to at least take a look at what others are watching.  You never know what you'll find!  Thanks for this.
lafeieron Dec. 6, 2010 at 6:08 p.m.
wow nice list. A lot of these i already have watched.
 
Baccano i have on my HD, so i will watch it soon, and Outlaw Star caught my atention.
sickVisionz moderator on Dec. 10, 2010 at 8:35 a.m.
Good list although I'd hold off on Pani Poni Dash.  A rookie could enjoy it for gags and nonsense, but a lot of the references and parodies will be completely lost on someone who's new to anime. 
 
I think a few things on your list are kinda niche or jumps head first into Japanese culture that someone new to anime probably isn't familiar with yet.  I'd probably go the opposite route and suggests stuff that's pretty general and not too different than what a person is familiar with and then lead them into more and more niche titles.
ZombiePieon Jan. 7, 2011 at 12:03 a.m.
Watched something related to Haruhi...I had one too many gin and tonics. I remember enough to know that it probably wasn't for me but not enough that I remember what any of the characters where or even named at that matter.
 
0/2 (This one I'll blame on myself)
haseo_yashimoraon Jan. 25, 2011 at 6:15 p.m.
very good list dud 10*
doublezeroduckon April 23, 2011 at 10:47 p.m.
Maybe also add Inuyasha? Good for beginners like me. 
DocHauson April 24, 2011 at 10:23 a.m.
@doublezeroduck:
I usually stay away from shows that run into the 100s of episodes (except for Gintama, but that's because you can jump into almost any episode and not feel totally lost). If you want to tackle one of the behemoths, be my guest, but I'm trying to focus on stuff that doesn't overwhelm the first-timer.

Speaking of which, I should probably edit this list soon.
Fat_Magnumon July 5, 2011 at 4:36 p.m.
This is awesome. Thanks for making the list, since I'm new to anime and want to know what to watch it's like destiny that I found it... or maybe it was that I was searching around the site for something like this.
Little_Socrateson Sept. 19, 2011 at 12:16 p.m.

Pleased that I'm at least familiar with nearly everything on this list, but ultimately have only watched isolated episodes of most of these shows. I'll be starting DARKER Than Black tonight with my class, and I'm midway through both Gurren Lagaan and Code Geass, so I'll probably finish those up before I continue. I'll do my best to remember this list is here, though!

EuroSamuraion Oct. 17, 2011 at 8:28 a.m.

Well not bad list but some of anime shows in this list are definitly not for anime newbie.

Gintanama for example there is just too many references for someone who know sh*t about anime .

johnnyfiveron Dec. 25, 2011 at 8:39 a.m.
Although it's just a movie, Akira was my initiation into anime.
ashogoon Dec. 26, 2011 at 11:36 p.m.

@ZombiePie: Don't know if your track record with anime has gotten any better, but I recommend Mushishi. It's a great, low-key series which doesn't have any blood (...as far as I can remember). Each episode is kind of like a self-contained piece of interesting folklore, so, y'know, if that sounds interesting to you.

Chrome_Oriharaon March 19, 2012 at 9 a.m.

i have seen six of the animes on this list. then next one on this list i want to see is baccano! i have already watched durarara!! twice.

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