For those of you who've been following Fan Service, you'll know we recently talked about which anime series we'd recommend to people who've never watched anime before, but are curious about where they should start! We decided on The Boy and The Beast, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and EITHER Cowboy Bebop or Samurai Champloo. Now, before we came to those conclusions, we had to come up with some lists of our own, so here's mine (in no particular order)!
1. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
If you've always thought cartoons are just for kids, this series will prove you wrong. It's not the shortest series, but it's an epic journey that follows two brothers on their quest to right their wrongs and repair their bodies after a terrible alchemy accident. The story gets WAY crazier from there, but I think what's great about this show is its variety of tone and relatable themes. You'll get action, comedy, drama, and even a splash of horror with FMAB, and even though the world and characters are all fantastical, their internal struggles and relationships are extremely realistic. Family, duty, friendship, and love are things I think we can all relate to, and FMAB has them in spades.
2. Cowboy Bebop
This is the show that got me into anime. Period. Like... I just fucking love it, man.
(Okay, now that that's out of the way.)
Bebop is an older anime, but I'd argue the style and characters keep it feelin' fresh. It's a show about space cowboys hunting bounties that's supported by an INCREDIBLE jazz and western score. This show is bittersweet, through and through. Don't expect the hero to always win, don't expect the guy to get the girl, expect a hard and lonely journey with rare yet beautiful moments of levity. At it's core, Cowboy Bebop is a story about a man trying to run from his past, while his past is actively seeking him out. I think what makes it a great intro anime is that a lot of the ingredients the show is playing with are pretty familiar to western audiences. Oh, and it's also got some incredible action sequences. OH, and not to get spoilery, but I highly recommend watching the end credits every time. The song that plays is called Real Folk Blues and I'll say that after hearing it twenty-something times at the end of every episode, it made one moment in the series absolutely breathtaking.
3. The Boy and The Beast
I really don't want to tell you much about this film. It's a recent release, the animation is gorgeous, and the story is beautiful. A boy is in need of a father figure and a beast is in need of a pupil. The two must learn to work with one another and learn as much as they can from each other. It'll make you fucking cry. Again, themes are incredibly relatable here and it's a much smaller time commitment than starting a series.
4. The Devil is a Part-Timer
Okay, so the number one reason I'm recommending this is because it's simply a comedy (and a damn good one at that). There is no crazy, heart-breaking stuff, there is no super convoluted plot (though the show does poke fun at them), this show is STRAIGHT UP designed to make you laugh. The pilot opens with what appears to be a stereotypical westerner's idea of what anime is: Magical beings and fantastical lands, an epic battle for survival against demon armies, a list of what appear to be mini-boss style antagonists that our heroes must defeat by the time the show is over!
Yeah, fuck that shit.
Within minutes, Devil sets up a fantasy world, then throws it away, placing our characters in modern day Tokyo, confused and... hilariously ill-equipped to deal with our society. Lord Satan gets a job at McDonald's aaaaaand hilarity ensues. There is a subplot that keeps things interesting throughout the series, but don't expect any groundbreaking stuff from it. It provides for some interesting character relationships, but beyond that there's not much. I will say, I watched this one in Japanese and the VAs fucking slayed me. I actually had to pause an episode because I was crying with laughter. Good shit, yo.
So this was a 12-episode story we followed during the pilot season of Fan Service, and it's wonderful. It's essentially a murder mystery/character drama with one mystical twist: the main character has the ability to travel through time... but not entirely at his own free will. The story we're left with is one of a young man who must solve a mystery in the past in order to prevent catastrophe in the future. It has some of the most touching moments I've seen in an anime and deals with some very real-world issues (such as child abuse, mental illness, and single parenting). This show actually got my MOM to watch anime, so that's pretty impressive. It's not always the most unpredictable show, but I think it's execution is superb.
So yeah! If you're looking for places to start, those would be my recommendations! Hope you guys enjoy!