Disclaimer: PLEASE click on the links provided to get a summary of the anime as well as ratings/detailed reviews. This blog isn’t meant to go into that kind of depth and you should check whether an anime may be right for you before watching it on blind faith. Also, these recommendations are far from comprehensive. I’ve made them as a starting block and omitted many good anime for the sake of brevity. This is just meant to get people started after all.

The purpose of this blog is to guide those who are new to anime or have only watched a few anime in finding new anime to enjoy. What most people outside the anime fandom do not understand is that anime is not an individual genre, rather it is a style within the animation medium that comprises of many different genres, in other words “there’s something for everyone.” There are thousands of titles out there, and trying to sort out all the different recommendations can be dizzying for someone who just wants to watch something solid. That’s where this guide hopes to offer some advice.

TL;DR: You’ve come to the right neighborhood

1. Ghibli Movies and why you should watch them first
Studio Ghibli is essentially Japan’s Walt Disney Animation Studios, and a director named Hayao Miyazaki is Japan’s Walt Disney. The studio’s films (and Miyazaki’s in particular) capture, in general, the essence of anime as an art while delivering solid stories based on well developed characters. They have received critical acclaim in both Japan and internationally and are solid pieces of entertainment in their own right. Here is a comprehensive list of anime by Studio Ghibli (note that like how not every Disney film is directed by Disney, not every Ghibli film is directed by Miyazaki, but the other films are certainly of the same caliber and tend to carry a similar artistic style).

Must watch:

  • Spirited Away: Considered to be Miyazaki’s magnum opus and my personal favorite anime of all time
  • Grave of the Fireflies: Perhaps not as a codifier of anime, but as a film in history. Warning: There will be major feels
  • The Wind Rises: Miyazaki’s swan song (until he unretires again) that showcases the real life of an aeronautic engineer and manages to make it one of the most entertaing movies of the decade.

Highly Recommended:

2. Pick a genre!

You probably have certain genre preferences in other forms of entertainment. Fortunately, anime has you covered for virtually every genre you could like! Do you enjoy watching stuff get senselessly blown up? Action and mecha look up your alley. Do you enjoy the slow paced hipster indie film stuff? There’s plenty of romance and drama in anime as well.

I tried to generate recommendations for as many genres as I could, but I’m limited by the anime that I’ve watched and my own personal tastes.


Must watch:

  • Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood – Note: I haven’t finished this anime but sources tell me its a straight upgrade from the original anime which I have finished, so there’s no point in recommending the original.

Highly Recommended:


Note: Some of these recommendations are very heavily ladden with otaku culture references and may not be suitable for people brand new to anime. Read the descriptions for details.

Must watch:

Highly Recommended:

  • Azumanga Daioh Note: This is based on reading the entire manga. I haven’t finished the anime series


Must watch:

Highly Recommended:


Must watch:

Highly recommended:


Must watch:

Highly Recommended:

Magical Girl:

While magical girl isn’t a well known genre in the west, it’s one of the definitive anime genres and is therefore listed here.

Must watch:

  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica (I recommend the movies over the TV series for reasons listed here)
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha (again, the movies over the series)

Highly recommended:

None yet


Must watch:



Must watch:

Highly Recommended:


Must watch:

Highly Recommended:

3. Branching Out

So you’ve watched all the anime I’ve recommended in your favorite genre. What now? There are several means of getting new shows to watch.

a) Picking a different genre and watching top shows for that genre

b) Asking friends! This is a big one because your “watch later” queue will never clear because everyone has anime they think are “must watch” and won’t stop bugging you until you watch it.

c) Using a recommendation database (like Anime-Planet or My Anime List). People have already gone through the trouble of linking similar anime through cross anime recommendations. If the same anime shows up for many of the shows you’ve watched, you probably should at least check it out.

Hopefully this guide was helpful in getting you started in the big world of anime. Feedback is appreciated.


(Author’s Note: Originally posted on Anime-Planet before the blog function was removed. Posted on Tumblr on 5/4/14. Last revised 1/26/17)


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