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5 Anime Recommendations for the Uninitiated
New to anime and you don’t know where to start? Or perhaps you know someone who you want to introduce into the geekdom of Japanese animation? Maybe I can help you with that. Anime had yet to become as ubiquitous and proliferate as it is today when I first started to appreciate titles like Dragon Ball Z, Voltes V, and YuYu Hakusho. Well, they certainly weren’t the leading cause for schediaphilia yet.
*Schediaphilia – psychological disorder of excessive sexual attraction to cartoon / anime characters.
Nowadays, however, anime has become rightfully its own genre of geekiness in an age where being enthusiastic with your preferred forms of entertainment is encouraged, and in fact, given to cultural meme (not the internet sort of meme – look it up). Given the vast reach of anime, it still sounds weird to me when people say they’re new to it and solicit recommendations of which series to delve into (and get off on, perhaps). In my opinion, there are anime series that you certainly must watch at one point, regardless of your specific genre, storyline, or animation style inclinations. If you want to see what anime can offer from various aspects, however, then I recommend these five anime titles, depending on what you (or your uninitiated friend) wanted to see.
[by G Dino]
If you (or your friend) want to see what anime can offer in its entirety, few titles can match Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion and Code Geass R2 in terms of showcasing nearly every successful facet of anime.
Signature anime-style art (care of CLAMP)? Check. Literally colorful characters? Check. Old school animation styles mixed with modern CGI? Check. Japanese anime stereotypes and character biases? Check. A deep and encompassing storyline? Check. Epic fights of both mind and body? Check. Mecha? Check. Fan service? Check. Let me know if I miss something here.
The point is that Code Geass takes all these signature anime factors and puts them together into a coherent and marvellously executed series that displays nearly everything of what makes anime, anime. If you or your friend want to see what it’s all about, then Code Geass can give you a pretty darn good idea.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Despite being new to anime, you (or your friend) might have heard of the first Fullmetal Alchemist series. While that first instalment had its own merits, I honestly think Brotherhood blows it out of the water.
Where Code Geass embraces everything that makes Japanese anime, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood can be said to simply use anime to tell its story. It doesn’t rely heavily on anime prototypes, though they’re there, for sure. This means it’s a breath of fresh air from the normal Japanese-inspired jokes, storylines, lore, and whatnot, the cultural significance (and, consequently, meaningful relevance) of which is easily lost on foreign audiences unfamiliar with anime or Japan in general. Better yet, the English dubbed versions were pretty darn decent on this series, so you can save yourself from reading subtitles while watching if you prefer. Brotherhood shows what anime can do outside of what anime is typically seen to portray
Best of all, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is simply a masterpiece of lore and storytelling. Even if not for the sake of trying out anime, Brotherhood is a great experience.
Ever wonder how things go in the afterlife? Who chooses who dies and how? Well, Death Note is all about that. But it isn’t, really. Let’s put it this way: if you or your uninitiated friend want to witness mind games on anime, Death Note is a darn good place to start. Wait, that didn’t explain the afterlife stuff at all. Let’s go over that again.
The most ludicrous facet of the anime is also the hinge that makes all the mind games possible: monstrous looking Shinigami (death gods) in the afterlife choose who dies and how by writing names down on their Death Notes, and one particular Shinigami has an appetite for misadventure. He never thought he’d unwittingly hand a Death Note to one of the most brilliant minds of the generation, however, and he could not have fathomed how a showdown of epic proportions between a supernaturally-aided criminal mastermind and an anonymous detective could tear the human world asunder just because he was bored.
Death Note doesn’t need the hard pumping action of most anime to get your blood rushing – it’s like watching a masterful game of chess on overload, without the boring waiting.
If you (or your friend) have read your fair share of classic novels and novellas, then you’re no stranger to Maurice LeBlanc’s Arsene Lupin, Gentleman Thief. Now imagine Lupin’s grandson, equal parts playful, brilliant, and insane, and mix in some ‘80s flavored Japanese animation. You get Lupin III.
Lupin III is still up to his grandpa’s tricks, though the third generation of master thieves is raunchier, zanier, and more resourceful. If you or your friend wouldn’t mind the art style and animation and are more interested in how anime delivers comedy in various ways, Lupin III is a good start. Of course, his heists and misadventures are also quite interesting, and Lupin III comes close to grandpa Lupin’s tricks every now and then.
Lupin III’s gang is just as multifaceted and multitalented as the master moonlighter himself, and femme fatale-slash-romantic interest Fujiko Mine – who even has her own, somewhat darker, short series – delivers most of the anime’s venomous cunning.
Surprised? You don’t see lists start with Code Geass and end with K-On too often. Sure, I can point to other anime series or even one-offs like Paprika or Ghost in the Shell (the first one), but I wanted to add a title here that tackles the “slice of life” genre the anime way.
K-On is the perfect mix of laid back slice of life, Japanese school life genre, and “moe” elements that pervade a lot of other anime on the other end of the spectrum, starting from the side of the always-fighting, never-say-die settings of “shounen.” Don’t get confused with the terminology just yet – watch a few different anime and you’ll see the genre-dictating pattern emerge soon enough. If you or your uninitiated friend want to see slice of life, school girl style ala anime, K-On is spot on.
Don’t get too weirded out by the fixation on cute schoolgirls though – there’s lots more where that came from in the shadier corners of anime. But that’s another article. You perv.
Well that’s about it. It’s darn near impossible to narrow down a ton of great series into five recommendations, but I sincerely hope with these five, you can turn yourself or your uninitiated friend into anime geeks. Code Geass for the all-in-one treatment, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood to veer away from typical anime material, Death Note for adrenaline-pumping mind games, Lupin III for exciting and comedic heists not dependent on flashy animation, and K-On for slice of life, moe schoolgirl overload.
These anime titles are pseudo-mainstream too – you (or your parenthetical friend) won’t have any trouble shifting from these titles to other mainstream anime series, and eventually find the gems worth looking for as you branch out into different minor genres and niches.
And just for the record, no, I don’t have schediaphilia. I swear.