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The Ultimate Guide to Anime (for Those Who Don’t Like It, but Want To)

Anime is more than weird robots and cute school girls. If you're interested in getting into the trend but you're not sure where to start, here is a list of the best anime for you - even if you think you won't like them.
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Like many things in life, anime is an acquired taste. You might be thinking it’s all weird perverted school jokes, or giant robots, but the reality is, there is a ton of anime out there – for all sorts of people. If you think you hate anime, there is a good chance you only hate a certain type of anime.

With so many choices out there, it can get overwhelming. With the recent start of Attack on Titan season 4, there is a renewed interest in all sorts of anime. Even if you don’t like reading subtitles, weird plotlines with school girls, or strange Japanese monsters, you can find an anime you love.

If you like slice of life and romance…

Slice of Life is a term in anime and manga about a story that describes average daily life. Just a slice of the average life of a certain character. Often it’s upbeat, and slice of life animes are generally the easiest to watch.

Toradora! is one of my favorite, a fun and romantic slice of life anime with main characters that are totally different. Taiga is a tiny girl with a sharp tongue and an attitude issue, with Ryuji is a warm and helpful boy with lots of give.

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The two make an agreement – to help each other get together with their crushes. But not everything goes quite as planned, and they end up in some seriously awkward (and adorable) romantic encounters.

Toradora! is just 25 episodes long, and can be streamed on Netflix.

Gekken Shoujo Nozaki-kun (English title: Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun) is a romantic slice of life series that was originally a popular manga. The adaptation, which aired in 2014, is at least as cute as the manga – and short, with just 12 episodes total.

Note: Most animes will have either 12 or 24 episodes if there is just one season. 12 episodes are considered half seasons, and run the first or second half of the spring/summer/fall/winter lineup in Japan. 24 episode runs are considered full seasons.

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The story follows Chiyo Sakura, an endlessly-cheery and optimistic girl who goes to confess her feelings to Umetarou Nozaki. Poor Umetarou has no idea what Chiyo actually means, though – and when he received her love confession, he hands Chiyo a manga with an unfamiliar autograph.

This is how Chiyo discovers that Umetarou is actually a manga artist of a popular series. While trying to get to know Umetarou more, she offers to help with his work, and the two become close, even roping in other classmates to assist.

The story is easy to watch, the characters are charming and relatable, and you’ll feel warm and fuzzy once you finish this sort watch. Gekken Shoujo Nozaki-kun is available to stream on Netflix.

Bonus content: Say I Love You, Kimi ni Todoke, and Clannad.

If you like weird/horror/strange…

No judgement here – a friend once started a description of a show by stating, “It’s really weird, you’d like it.” Thanks.

Parasyte, based on the manga by the same name, is a science fiction/horror anime that follows our main character Shinichi Izumi. This high school boy has been infected with an alien parasite, named Migi.

These parasites normally infect the brain, so when Migi fails to do so, it leaves Shinichi in charge… sort of. With Migi only controlling his right hand, the two work together (sometimes) to try and combat other parasites that were more successful, before they can consume humanity.

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Parasyte is a little weird, a little quirky, but a lot of fun, and with only 24 episodes, it’s not a huge time sing. Parasyte is available to stream on Netflix.

Another is a horror anime from 2012 that is set in 1998. It follows the story of Koichi, who transfers into a new school with a super strange vibe. Everything and everyone is dark, gloomy, and serious. He tries to befriend a strange girl wearing an eyepatch, only to soon realize that everyone treats her as if she does not exist.

There’s something going on in this town, and this classroom. Koichi is going to try to find out… but at what cost?

Another is dark, spooky, and will keep you guessing as to what is going on until the end. If you like horror, I highly recommend adding this to your list! All 12 episodes are available to stream on Crunchyroll.

Bonus Content: Deadman Wonderland, Elfen Lied, The Flowers of Evil, and The Junji Ito Collection.

If you want to cry…

Some people like heartbreaking things. A romance with a sad ending, an excuse to eat ice cream and cry… again, I’m not here to judge, just to provide you with help.

Your Lie in April is quite possibly the most heartbreaking anime I’ve ever watched, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. Quite the opposite, in fact – it’s incredible. The music and characters of the story come together to become something more than just drawings on a page.

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The main character is Kosei Arima, a musical prodigy who can no longer hear his music. He’s lost his love of music altogether after his mother’s forcing when he meets Kaori.

That’s all you get. Seriously – you need to watch this one, I don’t want to spoil anything. All 22 episodes are available to stream on Netflix.

Kimi no Na wa (English title: Your Name) is a movie, not a show, but it absolutely deserves a mention. I cried the first time I watched it… and I got teary-eyed when I saw it a few months later in theaters. The story follows Mitsuha, a young girl living in the rural town of Itomori, and Taki, a young boy living, working, and going to school in Tokyo.

Funimation

Due to a strange mix up, the two are able to switch bodies, leading to quite the confusion… and it just gets worse, not better. This story is full of emotional roller coasters, and it will have you on the edge of your seat by the end.

Kimi no Na wa has received countless awards for design, direction, and art. It also is the high-grossing anime film and Japanese film worldwide, and was widely considered to be perfect when it was released.

I consider the writer/director Makoto Shinkai one of the best in the business, hands down. The man produces masterpieces, time and time again.

The soundtrack, done entirely by the band Radwimps just for the movie (both the English and the Japanese versions!), is truly a masterpiece and captures the essence of the movie. Honestly, I could write all day about how breathtaking this movie is, but you should really just watch it yourself. It’s available to stream on Vudu, but I recommend just picking up a copy of the movie. You’ll love it.

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Bonus Content: Plastic Memories, 5 Centimeters Per Second, and Steins;Gate.

If you like action…

I mentioned it earlier, but if you like action, Attack on Titan is probably the most popular choice out there. Now airing the fourth season in Japan, the story follows a version of humanity that is forced to live within tall city walls. Titans roam the earth, and these giant creatures will devour any human they come across.

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The lives of the main characters, Erin, Mikasa, and Armin, are changed forever after one such Titan breaches their walls, bringing death and destruction to their home. These three leads vow revenge, and go into the Scout Regiment to get it – an elite force specifically trained to fight Titans.

Attack on Titan is current, engaging, and has incredible fight scenes. It’s a little gory if you’re not into that, but even from the first episode, the story hooks you and won’t let you go.

Attack on Titan is available to stream on Netflix.

Sword Art Online is an anime based on a light novel series, and has a seriously intense following – for good reason! The first season follows Kirito, who logs into the world’s first virtual reality game, Sword Art Online (SAO for short), using a NerveGear system. He was a beta tester, so he was familiar with the way the game played.

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And then a message came into the sky – this might be a game, but you can’t leave until it is beaten. If you die in game, you die in real life.

And so SAO became Kirito’s life. Because he was a beta tester, he was able to go through dungeons, defeat bosses, and understood how the game worked. But jealousy and anger made others hate him. Eventually, he meets a girl name Asuna, and… well, let’s not spoil any more.

There are numerous seasons of SAO, plus games on a variety of consoles, but the first remains forever my favorite. The first three seasons of Sword Art Online can be streamed on Netflix.

One Punch Man started as a web manga, and gained such popularity that it was turned into an anime – and eventually even a video game. The story follows Saitama, a man living in a world of heroes and villains that has trained his body so well, he can defeat any enemy’s with just one punch.

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The fight scenes are well designed, the humor in the show translates really well, and it’s a charming show. The first season is much better than the second, though if you love it, the second is worth watching. But don’t count on it bringing the magic the first one.

One Punch Man is available to stream on Netflix.

Bonus Content: Mob Psycho 100, Noragami, Assassination Classroom, Seraph of the End, and The Irregular at Magic High School.