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Though once regarded as a niche genre of animation, Japanese animation — anime — is now a bona fide medium worldwide, and it’s inescapable. Its reach, whether it’s a “Pokémon” collaboration with McDonald’s or anime tees at your favorite clothing store, is everywhere, but although anime is seemingly everywhere you look, it can be alienating to enter a world so rich with its own language and insider references. Combine that with the sheer quantity of series available to stream on Crunchyroll, Netflix, and Hulu, and it’s understandable why it can feel so difficult to jump in. But you’re in luck.

We’ve curated a list of anime series perfect for beginners, hand-picked by a few certified anime fans on our team (myself included), so this list holds merit. We’ll also update it frequently to reflect new series and changing tastes. From high-action series that never take their foot off the brakes to ones that will leave you in tears, these are the 25 best anime series for beginners.

Editor’s Note: We’ve listed the English voice cast for these picks (except one), but depending on which streaming service you use and your personal preference, you can find the original Japanese dub with English subtitles. 

‘Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’ (2009 to 2010) — Editor’s Top Pick

A boy and a knight in a metal suit sit on a couch in this image from Bones.
“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” is a reboot of the 2003 anime adaptation. (Image: Bones)

Rated: TV-14 | Genre: Dark Fantasy Steampunk | Length: 1 season, 64 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 9.1/10 | IMDb Rating: 9.1/10

Voice Cast: Travis Willingham, Maxey Whitehead, Colleen Clinkenbeard

Watch the trailer for ‘‘Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”

If anyone asks what the best anime of all time is, most anime fans would say that it’s “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.” The show follows two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who are on a quest to find the Philosophers’ Stone in order to restore their bodies after a failed attempt to bring their mother back to life using alchemy. It’s a complex and thought-provoking anime that explores themes such as the nature of sacrifice, the value of life, and the dangers of ambition. With each episode, you won’t be sure what to expect, and you shouldn’t get too attached to characters (even though it’s really hard not to!) because you might not see them again. Whenever someone who doesn’t normally watch anime asks for a show recommendation, I introduce them to “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” because it’s such a perfect entry point for new viewers.

Watch “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” on Crunchyroll

‘SPY x FAMILY’ (2022 to Present)

 A well-dressed family poses in this image from Wit Studio / CloverWorks.
The Forgers are just a regular family (not a made-up one) that consists of an assassin, spy, and a telepathic child. (Image: Wit Studio / CloverWorks)

Rated: TV-14 | Genre: Action Comedy | Length: 2 seasons, 27+ episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 8.58/10 | IMDb Rating: 8.4/10

Voice Cast: Natalie Van Sistine, Alex Organ, Megan Shipman

Watch the trailer for “SPY x FAMILY”

“SPY x FAMILY” is a wholesome anime based on the manga series of the same name by Tatsuya Endo. The series follows Loid Forger, a spy who must “build a family” to execute a mission, not realizing that the girl he adopts as his daughter, Anya, is a telepath, and the woman he agrees to marry, Yor, is a skilled assassin. None of them know about the others’ double lives and they all pretend to be a normal family while also carrying out their secret missions. “SPY x FAMILY” is a more recent anime that has gained popularity for its comedy, wholesomeness, action, and likable characters.

Watch “SPY x FAMILY” on Crunchyroll

‘Chainsaw Man’ (2022 to Present)

A devil pet looks at a young boy in this image from MAPPA.
Pochita may be a devil, but he’s also a very good boy. (Image: MAPPA)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Dark Action Fantasy Horror | Length: 1 season, 12 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 8.55/10 | IMDb Rating: 8.4/10

Voice Cast: Ryan Colt Levy, Suzie Yeung, Reagan Murdock, Sarah Wiedenheft

Watch the trailer for “Chainsaw Man”

If you love gore and horror, then “Chainsaw Man” will be right up your alley. It’s based on the manga series of the same name by Tatsuki Fujimoto. Denji, a teen boy who’s forced to merge with his pet devil, Pochita, becomes a human-devil hybrid known as Chainsaw Man. Denji is then recruited by the Public Safety Devil Hunters, a government organization dedicated to hunting and controlling devils. With violent action scenes that feature plenty of gore, “Chainsaw Man” isn’t for the squeamish, but if you can get past that, the series’ excellent story and nuanced characters are rewarding.

Watch “Chainsaw Man” on Crunchyroll

‘Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury’ (2022 to 2023)

 A robot aims his weapon in this image from Sunrise.
The Gundam Aerial is an engineering marvel. (Image: Sunrise)

Rated: TV-14 | Genre: Mecha | Length: 1 season, 24 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 7.89/10 | IMDb Rating: 7.5/10

Voice Cast: Jill Harris, Natalie Van Sistine, Bradley Gareth

Watch the trailer for “Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury”

The Gundam franchise is known for its pilot-driven, gigantic robots (there’s a real, life-size Gundam in Japan!), and “Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury” is the 15th mainline entry. It’s the latest in the series, and the first one in the franchise’s 40-year history to star a woman as the lead pilot. It’s set in a world where humanity has expanded to space and is divided into multiple corporations. Suletta Mercury is a young girl who pilots a mysterious mobile suit called the Gundam Aerial.

Though Gundam is often (and accurately) portrayed as a series that’s difficult to jump into, “The Witch from Mercury” is a stand-alone series set in an alternate universe, which makes it a great on-ramp to the Gundam universe. If mecha anime interests you, this series’ compelling political narrative and grandiose fight scenes will have you diving deeper into the genre.

Watch “Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury” on Crunchyroll

‘Cyberpunk: Edgerunners’ (2022)

A group of edgily-dressed people in this image from Studio Trigger / CD Projekt.
David (yellow jacket) and crew may be outcasts, but they get along with each other just fine. (Image: Studio Trigger / CD Projekt)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Cyberpunk | Length: 1 season, 10 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 8.6/10 | IMDb Rating: 8.3/10

Voice Cast: Zach Aguilar, Giancarlo Esposito, Emi Lo, Stephanie Wong

Watch the trailer for “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners”

If you love video games and you’ve played CD Projekt Red’s “Cyberpunk 2077,” then you’re probably already familiar with “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners.” The game is based on the “Cyberpunk 2020” tabletop role-playing game (RPG) created by Mike Pondsmith. But we’re here to talk about the anime, which is set in the same universe as the video game, and tells the story of David Martinez, a street kid who tries to survive in dystopian Night City. When David becomes an edgerunner (a mercenary outlaw who uses cybernetic implants to enhance their abilities) and joins a crew of like-minded outcasts, his life changes completely.

“Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” is dark and violent and explores themes such as cybernetics, transhumanism, and the dangers of capitalism — all characteristics of a cyberpunk story. Fans of the video game or cyberpunk in general will get a lot of mileage out of this series.

Watch “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” on Netflix

‘The Way of the Househusband' (2021 to Present)

A man makes dessert in a food truck in this image from J.C. Staff.
Don’t let the tattoos fool you — Tatsu is a househusband in his element. (Image: J.C. Staff)

Rated: TV-14 | Genre: Slice-of-Life Comedy | Length: 2 seasons, 15 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 7.23/10 | IMDb Rating: 7.3/10

Voice Cast: Jonah Scott, Laura Post, Andres Paul Ramacho

Watch the trailer for “The Way of the Househusband”

You’ve heard of housewives. Now get ready for a former yakuza boss who’s now retired and a househusband. “The Way of the Househusband” follows Tatsu, a legendary yakuza boss who retires from crime to become a househusband and support his wife Miku, a career woman. It’s a heartwarming, low-stakes anime that challenges traditional gender roles. Though the animation doesn’t stack up to its contemporaries, “The Way of the Househusband” is still a hilarious show that will leave you laughing just as often as it leaves you hungry for Japanese cuisine (did we mention it’s also a cooking anime?).

Watch “The Way of the Househusband” on Netflix

‘Blue Period’ (2021 to Present)

A boy with a paintbrush in his mouth in this image from Seven Arcs.
Art school is harder than it looks, but Yatora is up to the challenge. (Image: Seven Arcs)

Rated: TV-14 | Genre: Coming-of-Age Drama | Length: 1 season, 12 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 7.81/10 | IMDb Rating: 7.7/10

Voice Cast: Johnny Yong Bosch, Amber Lee Connors, Griffin Burns

Watch the trailer for “Blue Period”

Whether you’re an artist or want to settle down with a coming-of-age show, “Blue Period” fits the bill. Yatora Yaguchi, a popular high school student, excels in his studies and is well-liked by his peers. However, after he visits the art room at his school one day, he’s instantly captivated by a painting he sees there, inspiring him to go to an art school. You’ll follow his journey as he discovers his passion for art and learns to express himself creatively while facing the harsh reality that comes with being a self-taught artist.

Watch “Blue Period” on Netflix

‘Komi Can’t Communicate’ (2021 to 2022)

A girl and a boy stand awkwardly beside each other in this image from OLM Team Kojima.
They say spring is the season for love, but for these two awkward teens, it’s year-round. (Image: OLM Team Kojima)

Rated: TV-14 | Genre: Coming-of-Age Rom-Com | Length: 2 seasons, 24 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 7.9/10 | IMDb Rating: 7.8/10

Voice Cast: Kyle McCarley, Skyler Davenport, Amber Lee Connors

Watch the trailer for “Komi Can’t Communicate”

Attention all rom-com enjoyers: “Komi Can’t Communicate” is for you. It’s a series about Shōko Komi, a beautiful and popular high school student who struggles with extreme social anxiety, which results in her inability to speak. Komi’s goal is to make 100 friends, but her anxiety makes it difficult for her to communicate with others (hence the title). She’s assigned a seat next to Hitohito Tadano, a seemingly average boy who realizes that Komi has communication problems, and he offers to help her achieve her goal. They slowly begin to develop a romantic relationship as they work together to help Komi overcome her anxiety. This anime is known for its cute and stylish animation, relatable characters, and wholesome humor.

Watch “Komi Can’t Communicate” on Netflix

‘Jujutsu Kaisen’ (2020 to Present)

A panda, a teen girl, and a teen boy peek from behind a corner in this image from MAPPA.
You meet an eclectic group of characters in this show. (Image: MAPPA)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Dark Supernatural Fantasy | Length: 2 seasons, 33+ episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 8.63/10 | IMDb Rating: 8.5/10

Voice Cast: Adam McArthur, Robbie Daymond, Anne Yatco, Kaiji Tang

Watch the trailer for “Jujutsu Kaisen”

If there’s one anime that’s trending almost every week whenever a new episode releases, it’s “Jujutsu Kaisen.” Based on the manga of the same name by Gege Akutami, this series revolves around Yuji Itadori, a high school student who joins a secret organization of Jujutsu Sorcerers to eliminate a powerful Curse named Ryomen Sukuna, of whom Yuji becomes the host. He enrolls in Tokyo Jujutsu High School to learn how to become a Jujutsu Sorcerer and hopefully exorcise Sukuna one day.

This dark, supernatural fantasy show has incredible world-building and rules for its sorcery that are as convoluted as they are amazing to see in action. It’s known for its stunning animation, complex characters, and exciting fight scenes.

Watch “Jujutsu Kaisen” on Crunchyroll

‘Dorohedoro’ (2020)

A lizard man eats another man in this image from MAPPA.
What’s happening inside Caima’s mouth is a lot worse. (Image: MAPPA)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Dark Fantasy | Length: 1 season, 12 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 8.05/10 | IMDb Rating: 8.1/10

Voice Cast: Aleks Le, Reba Buhr, Keith Silverstein, Bryce Papenbrook

Watch the trailer for “Dorohedoro”

“Dorohedoro” takes place in a dark and surreal world where magic users live in a separate dimension from humans. Caiman, a lizard-headed man with no memory of his past, teams up with Nikaido and they set out to find a way to break the curse that gave Caiman his lizard head and caused him to forget his memories. The series is dark and violent, with a unique art style and a twisted sense of humor. If you’re a fan of dark fantasy anime or anime with unique art styles, “Dorohedoro” is worth a watch, as long as you’re OK with mature themes and violence.

Watch “Dorohedoro” on Netflix

‘Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba’ (2019 to Present)

A boy with a katana slices in an arc in this image from Ufotable.
e’ve reached a point where we train kids to kill demons. (Image: Ufotable)

Rated: TV-14 | Genre: Historical Dark Fantasy | Length: 3 seasons, 55 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 8.49/10 | IMDb Rating: 8.6/10

Voice Cast: Zach Aguilar, Aleks Le, Bryce Papenbrook, Robbie Daymond

Watch the trailer for “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba”

If you haven’t heard of “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba” before, now you have. It’s about Tanjiro Kamado, a kindhearted boy who becomes a demon slayer after his family is slaughtered by demons and his younger sister, Nezuko, is turned into a demon herself. Tanjiro sets out to find a way to turn Nezuko back into a human and avenge his family by killing the demon who started it all. Along the way, he joins the Demon Slayer Corps, a secret organization that’s been fighting demons for centuries. For the animation alone, “Demon Slayer: Kimtesu no Yaiba” is a must-watch.

Watch “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba” on Crunchyroll

‘Dr. Stone’ (2019 to Present)

A boy with green hair in this image from TMS / Die4Studio.
Despite the serious stare and weird hard color, Senku is the nice kind of genius. (Image: TMS / Die4Studio)

Rated: TV-14 | Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Sci-Fi | Length: 3 seasons, 47 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 8.28/10 | IMDb Rating: 8.1/10

Voice Cast: Aaron Dismuke, Felecia Angelle, Matt Shipman

Watch the trailer for “Dr. Stone”

“Dr. Stone” isn’t your average post-apocalyptic sci-fi anime. Senku Ishigami, a teenage science prodigy, is revived after 3,700 years to find that humanity has been petrified by a mysterious light (Medusa, much?). Senku sets out to rebuild civilization from the ground up using his scientific knowledge. The show has been praised for its accurate depiction of science and technology. If you’re a fan of survival video games like “Minecraft” or “Valheim,” you’ll appreciate the show as it progresses through technological ages, such as the Bronze Age.

Watch “Dr. Stone” on Crunchyroll

‘Vinland Saga’ (2019 to 2023)

A trio of men stand beside each other in this image from Wit Studio / MAPPA.
If you can’t tell, Thorfinn (middle) hates the men beside him. (Image: Wit Studio / MAPPA)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Historical Epic | Length: 2 seasons, 48 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 8.75/10 | IMDb Rating: 8.8/10

Voice Cast: Mike Haimoto, Alejandro Saab, Kirk Thornton

Watch the trailer for “Vinland Saga”

Did somebody say Vikings? “Vinland Saga” chronicles the journey of Thorfinn, the son of a legendary Viking warrior. Thorfinn’s father is killed by the mercenary leader, Askeladd, and the young boy swears revenge before joining Askeladd’s band of mercenaries to train as a warrior. The anime is dark and epic, exploring themes such as revenge, violence, and the nature of humanity. It also has one of the best opening theme songs of all time.

Watch “Vinland Saga” on Netflix

‘Fruits Basket’ (2019 to 2021)

A boy and a girl sit on the ground while bubbles float around them in this image from TMS Entertainment.
For an innocent, high school romance, try “Fruits Basket.” (Image: TMS Entertainment)

Rated: TV-14 | Genre: Romance Fantasy Drama | Length: 3 seasons, 63 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 8.22/10 | IMDb Rating: 8.6/10

Voice Cast: Laura Bailey, Eric Vale, Jerry Sewell

Watch the trailer for “Fruits Basket”

“Fruits Basket” got what many fans call the “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” treatment. It had an original 2001 anime adaptation that never saw completion, since the manga was still ongoing at the time. Almost two decades later, the series returned for a brand-new adaptation that faithfully follows the manga storyline.

Tohru Honda, an orphan girl, moves in with the Sohma family after their home is destroyed by a landslide. She soon learns that the Sohma family is cursed: When they’re embraced by someone of the opposite sex, they transform into the animals of the Chinese zodiac. Tohru meets the three Sohma brothers who live in the house: Yuki, the rat; Kyo, the cat; and Shigure, the dog.

“Fruits Basket” is a wholesome anime series about family, love, and acceptance. Where most popular anime pride themselves on over-the-top fight sequences, “Fruits Basket” is known for its slice-of-life, coming-of-age, and romantic narratives, as well as its dark yet realistic emotional elements.

Watch “Fruits Basket” on Crunchyroll

‘Pokémon Journeys: The Series’ (2019 to 2020)

Two boys and their monster pets lie down in this image from OLM Team Kato.
Ash has been the main protagonist for the “Pokémon” animated series for many years, but he finally ended his journey in 2023. (Image: OLM Team Kato)

Rated: TV-Y7 | Genre: Action Adventure Fantasy | Length: 4 seasons, 48 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 7.57/10 | IMDb Rating: 7.2/10

Voice Cast: Sarah Natochenny, Ikue Ôtani, Zeno Robinson, Cherami Leigh

Watch the trailer for “Pokémon Journeys: The Series”

The “Pokémon” animated series has been around for as long as the video games have continued to be released on Nintendo gaming consoles. “Pokémon Journeys: The Series” is a continuation of Ash and Pikachu’s journey that covers the world and characters in “Pokémon Sword” and “Pokémon Shield,” which are available on the Nintendo Switch. The series features various storylines, including Ash’s participation in the World Coronation Series, Goh’s quest to catch Mew, and Chloe’s own journey of self-discovery. Though the series is technically Season 23 of the “Pokémon” anime, it’s a new chapter with two subsequent seasons that perfectly wrap up Ash’s arc after 25 seasons.

Watch “Pokémon Journeys: The Series” on Netflix

‘That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime’ (2018 to Present)

A woman hugs a blue ball of slime in this image from Eight Bit.
Sentient slimes need hugs too. (Image: Eight Bit)

Rated: TV-PG | Genre: Isekai | Length: 2 seasons, 48 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 8.14/10 | IMDb Rating: 8.1/10

Voice Cast: Brittney Karbowski, Mallorie Rodak, Kent Williams

Watch the trailer for “That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime”

Look, I’m fully aware that anime can get weird, and “That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime” is no exception. Mikami Satoru, a salaryman, is murdered and reincarnated in a fantasy world as a slime monster. The slime, which names itself Rimuru Tempest, discovers that it possesses a unique ability called “Predator,” which allows it to devour anything and gain its skills and abilities. Though the premise is silly, this comedic anime follows Rimuru’s journey as he builds his nation and tries to make the world a better place. This anime falls under the genre of “isekai,” which focuses on stories where the main character is transported to a world unlike their own.

Watch “That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime” on Crunchyroll

‘My Hero Academia’ (2016 to Present)

Four superheroes look off into the distance in this image from Bones.
Endeavor trains his pupils Deku, Todoroki, and Bakugo. (Image: Bones)

Rated: TV-14 | Genre: Superhero Adventure | Length: 6 seasons, 138 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 7.88/10 | IMDb Rating: 8.3/10

Voice Cast: Justin Briner, Christopher Sabat, Luci Christian, Clifford Chapin

Watch the trailer for “My Hero Academia”

If you love superhero shows, then “My Hero Academia” is perfect for you. Set in a world where some people develop superpowers called “Quirks” and others don’t, “My Hero Academia” tells the story of Izuku “Deku” Midoriya, who falls into the latter group. One day, he meets All Might, the number one hero, and his life changes when All Might chooses him to inherit his incredible power. Deku then enrolls in the most prestigious school for aspiring heroes, where he begins to train his Quirk with the rest of class 1-A, the elite class of first-year heroes-in-training.

Watch “My Hero Academia” on Crunchyroll

‘Mob Psycho 100’ (2016 to 2022)

A boy performs telekinesis in this image from Bones.
When Mob reaches his limit, he’s a force of supernatural power. (Image: Bones)

Rated: TV-14 | Genre: Supernatural Action Comedy | Length: 3 seasons, 37 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 8.49/10 | IMDb Rating: 8.6/10

Voice Cast: Kyle McCarley, Max Mittelman, Chris Niosi, Michael Sorich

Watch the trailer for “Mob Psycho 100”

With unique art and animation styles, “Mob Psycho 100” is a must-watch for fans of action, comedy, and weird, absurdist humor. It’s about a middle schooler named Shigeo Kageyama, nicknamed Mob, who possesses immense psychic powers. To help him learn how to control his abilities, Mob works as an assistant to Arataka Reigen, a self-proclaimed spirit medium (read: con artist). The show looks into the daily lives of Mob and Reigen as they exorcise spirits, solve paranormal mysteries, and help people in need. Along the way, Mob must also learn to deal with his own growing powers and emotions, because if they get too strong he loses control (and we don’t want that!).

Watch “Mob Psycho 100” on Crunchyroll

‘Yuri!!! on Ice’ (2016)

Two men figure skate in this image from MAPPA
A beautiful relationship takes shape in the form of ice skating. (Image: MAPPA)

Rated: TV-14 | Genre: Sports | Length: 1 season, 12 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 7.9/10 | IMDb Rating: 8.3/10

Voice Cast: Josh Grelle, Jerry Jewell, Micah Solusod

Watch the trailer for “Yuri!!! on Ice”

“Yuri!!! on Ice” is a sports anime about figure skating. The titular character, Yuri Katsuki, is a Japanese figure skater who’s struggling to regain his motivation after a humiliating defeat at the Grand Prix Final. He returns to his hometown and takes a break from figure skating, but his inspiration is reignited when he sees a video of Russian figure skating champion Victor Nikiforov performing his iconic routine. Yuri decides to invite Victor to Japan to become his coach, and Victor surprisingly agrees. With Victor’s help, Yuri sets out to make a comeback and win the Grand Prix Final. With only 12 episodes, this anime is an easy watch.

Watch “Yuri!!! on Ice” on Crunchyroll

‘One-Punch Man’ (2015 to Present)

A bald superhero smiles at a cyborg in this image from Madhouse.
One-Punch Man is the hero we never knew we needed. (Image: Madhouse)

Rated: TV-PG | Genre: Superhero Comedy | Length: 2 seasons, 24 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 8.5/10 | IMDb Rating: 8.7/10

Voice Cast: Max Mittelman, Zach Aguilar, Robbie Daymond

Watch the trailer for “One-Punch Man”

If you thought Superman was near-invincible, meet Saitama, aka One-Punch Man. He’s the guy who doesn’t take anything seriously but has a serious punch that one-hit-KOs supervillains. And that’s basically his back story in the show. Genos, a cyborg, pairs up with Saitama as they both join the Hero Association and climb up the ranks. All the while, they defeat monsters and villains that threaten Earth — though they don’t stand a chance against One-Punch Man (really, the fights don’t last very long).

Watch “One-Punch Man” on Hulu

‘Haikyu!!’ (2014 to Present)

Two boys stand in front of a volleyball net in this image from Production I.G.
When they’re not serving balls, they’re serving looks. (Image: Production I.G)

Rated: TV-14 | Genre: Sports | Length: 4 seasons, 85 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 8.44/10 | IMDb Rating: 8.7/10

Voice Cast: Bryson Baugus, Scott Gibbs, Gabriel Regojo

Watch the trailer for “Haikyu!!”

“Haikyu!!” is a sports anime that follows Shōyō Hinata, a short-statured boy who’s determined to become a great volleyball player despite his height. Hinata is inspired by a player he saw on TV playing volleyball for Karasuno High School, and he dreams of one day playing for Karasuno as well. “Haikyu!!” is great for sports fans, with a coming-of-age and slice-of-life narrative that goes deeper than the game of volleyball.

Watch “Haikyu!!” on Crunchyroll

‘Attack on Titan’ (2013 to 2023)

Close up of a teen girl in a soldier uniform in this image from Wit Studio.
Mikasa is one of the strongest soldiers in the Survey Corps. (Image: Wit Studio)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Dark Fantasy | Length: 4 seasons, 88 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 8.54/10 | IMDb Rating: 9/10

Voice Cast: Bryce Papenbrook, Trina Nishimura, Josh Grelle, Matthew Mercer

Watch the trailer for “Attack on Titan”

Considered the gateway anime, “Attack on Titan” is a post-apocalyptic dark fantasy that’s set in a world where humanity lives inside cities surrounded by enormous walls. These walls protect people from gigantic man-eating humanoids referred to as “Titans.” Eren Yeager, who vows to exterminate the Titans after they bring about the destruction of his hometown and the death of his mother, is the main protagonist. He has a special ability that will turn the tide on humanity’s survival against the Titans.

“Attack on Titan” is dark and suspenseful with fast-paced, jaw-dropping animation and a large cast of complex characters who we see growing up season after season. A decade after its debut, the series is finally coming to a close in 2023.

Watch “Attack on Titan” on Crunchyroll

‘Gurren Lagann’ (2007)

A robot stands in front of an erupting volcano in this image from Gainax.
The art style of “Gurren Lagann” sets the series apart from other mecha anime. (Image: Gainax)

Rated: TV-14 | Genre: Mecha | Length: 1 season, 27 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 8.63/10 | IMDb Rating: 8.3/10

Voice Cast: Yuri Lowenthal, Kyle Herbert, Michelle Ruff, Sam Riegel

Watch the trailer for “Gurren Lagann”

“Gurren Lagann” is a mecha anime produced by Gainax and takes place in a future where humanity lives underground in villages to escape the tyranny of the Beastmen and their gunmen. Simon, a young digger, discovers a mysterious mecha core, which he uses to create a small mecha called Lagann. Simon and his friend, Kamina, use Lagann to defeat the Beastmen, and they eventually team up with other rebels to fight for the surface world. With an emotional story and a distinct animation style that separates it from the rest, this show is one of the better ones in the mecha genre, and it’s a relatively short 27 episodes.

Watch “Gurren Lagann” on Crunchyroll

‘Cowboy Bebop’ (1998 to 1999)

A group of people look directly into the camera in this image from Sunrise.
The crew of the Bebop are a ragtag bunch of lovable misfits. (Image: Sunrise)

Rated: TV-14 | Genre: Space Western Neo-Noir | Length: 1 season, 26 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 8.75/10 | IMDb Rating: 8.9/10

Voice Cast: Steve Blum, Beau Billingslea, Wendee Lee, Melissa Fahn

Watch the trailer for “Cowboy Bebop”

Not to be confused with the Netflix live-action adaptation, the original anime version of “Cowboy Bebop” is considered one of the greats, alongside many other series that aired in the late ‘90s. It follows the adventures of a ragtag group of bounty hunters aboard the spaceship Bebop. The crew consists of Spike Spiegel, a former hit man; Jet Black, a former police detective; Faye Valentine, a con artist; Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV, a hacker prodigy; and Ein, a genetically engineered corgi. “Cowboy Bebop” is not only a stylish and action-packed anime that uniquely blends genres, but also a surprisingly philosophical series that explores themes such as existentialism, loneliness, and the nature of reality. It was revolutionary when it debuted back in the late ‘90s, and it has aged like wine.

Watch “Cowboy Bebop” on Crunchyroll

‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’ (1995 to 1996)

A giant robot walks with the sun to its back in this image from Gainax.
The Eva-01, which is piloted by a teenager. (Image: Gainax)

Rated: TV-MA | Genre: Psychological Mecha Drama  | Length: 1 season, 26 episodes total

MyAnimeList Rating: 8.35/10 | IMDb Rating: 8.5/10

Voice Cast: Megumi Ogata, Kotono Mitsuishi, Megumi Hayashibara

Watch the trailer for “Neon Genesis Evangelion”

Every anime fan considers “Neon Genesis Evangelion” a must-watch, even if they don’t normally watch shows about giant robots. The series is set in a world where humanity is still recovering from a cataclysmic event known as the Second Impact. It follows Shinji Ikari, a teenage boy who’s recruited by his father, Gendo, to pilot a giant biomechanical mecha called an Evangelion and fight against beings known as Angels.

“Neon Genesis Evangelion” explores themes such as religion, existentialism, and the nature of humanity. It’s also a visually stunning series with some of the most iconic imagery in anime. Its impact can still be seen in modern anime, so watching it early on will give you a good reference point down the line.

Watch “Neon Genesis Evangelion” on Netflix

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