Like most fans, not everyone gain an interest in Anime overnight. With that, I have been wondering what kind of shows will catch a person’s attention for people who haven’t watched Anime. Of course, people have different tastes, which makes it somewhat difficult to pick what show you should recommend. (Image Source)
When you think about Anime, people tend to think that mainstream anime, or rather shows that are well-known, typically on-going shounen series like Naruto or One Piece as introductory shows. To me, I think it’s not a great place to start for the fact that these shows can give a person a wrong impression that Anime is full of filler episodes and mostly geared for children (although, one can argue that they can be entry-level shows) when it’s not necessarily the case. Not to mention, some popular shows might be difficult to understand for a person who haven’t watch that many shows as he/she may not be familiar with some themes and references. To me, it’s always better to start with 1 or 2 cour shows opposed to ongoing ones. At least with these shows, there will be a concrete story.
“Entry Level Anime” is basically another term for introductory Anime. They are typically shows that generate interest while not being complicated to enjoy so that a person will gain a better overall impression of the medium. This differs from mainstream anime as less popular anime can also appeal to someone who is watching for the first time.
What show would you consider as a good introductory anime? It’s hard to quantify since recommendations are highly objective and that most shows are generally geared to Otakus. Because of this, it’s typically not a good idea to watch a show like Ore no Imouto, Angel Beats, Nogizaka Haruka no Himisu, Lucky Star, No Game No Life and Hyperdimension Neptunia for the fact that these shows have a lot of references to otaku subculture. Unless a person is previously exposed to other types of Japanese media such as light novels, manga or visual novels, you probably wouldn’t want to watch these types of shows until you have enough exposure to understand them. Likewise, one should also avoid shows with advent-grade or radical story telling or niche genres like yaoi, yuri and hentai, unless one is already interested in those types of shows.
So, what about shows that have a lot of references to Japanese culture, should people avoid those to? While there is some shows like Hyouka that can be difficult to understand for the fact that it’s mysteries are heavily influenced by Japanese culture, I think it’s hard to avoid references to foreign culture because it will be there in some shape or form. Like with any media, it will have some cultural values from where it was produced. For most people, I think it’s wise to have an open mind and watch a show with some cultural references before watching ones that focuses a lot on it so that one will have a slightly better understanding of the culture.
On the other hand, should slice of life shows be avoided as an introductory anime? It really depends on the person. If a person watches a lot of sitcoms or soap operas, I don’t see why you wouldn’t enjoy a slice of life anime. However, there are a few differences for the fact that slice of life Anime tends to develop slowly as they are supposed to give a feeling of escapism, especially Iyashikei, which focus more on escapism and healing aspects. Even so, another reason slice of life shows are difficult to recommend to first time viewers is for the fact that it’s not a genre, but rather a storytelling method. Therefore, these shows tend not to be action packed or plot oriented, but rather episodic and character driven just like in real life. If you are expecting something exciting or some kind of plot, you should probably avoid these kinds of shows.
With that, what shows would I recommend? Since I watch mostly romance, comedy, drama and slice of life shows, I probably wouldn’t be the best person to ask for recommendations. However, I can probably give some for some shows.
Movies are typically a great place to start for the fact that you don’t have to commit yourself to a whole series. Moreover, films tend to appeal to a wide audience while giving you a better idea of Anime. Usually, Miyazaki’s films tend to be a great starting place since they are enjoyable even to people who haven’t watched Anime before. In fact, My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service were some of his films I watched long before I got into Anime starting with Pokémon. Of course, there are other films from Makoto Shinkai and Satoshi Kon that you should also consider watching.
As for Anime series, it’s a bit trickier as most people tend to have different tastes. Even so, here are a few shows from some genres I generally cover that I would recommend for first time viewers.
- Cardcaptor Sakura
- Fate Zero or Fate Stay Night
- Mahou Shojo Madoka Magica
- Ano Hana
- Hanasaku Iroha
- Nagi no Asukara
- Tari Tari
Iyashikei/Slice of Life
- Ikoku Meiro no Croiseee
- Haibane Renmei
As a whole, there are a lot of considerations when it comes to recommending Anime to someone who is watching it for the first time. To me, introductory anime should be something that shouldn’t give an impression that it’s for children. Furthermore, these shows shouldn’t pander to a certain audience or have radical story telling that would turn someone off. Even so, there will always be a degree of Japanese culture in every show. Don’t forget that people have a slightly different definition when it comes to what titles he/she considers suitable for first time viewer of Anime. Of course, you are not restricted to what you should recommend as long it’s approachable.
With that, what was your first show that got you into Anime? Also, feel free to share your own thoughts on what is your definition of introductory or entry-level Anime. ¶