Every once in a while I get asked what would be a good series to introduce someone to anime. There is no single answer as everyone has different tastes, but I have found that some series seem to stick more than others. After asking people how they got into anime and which series they found appealing at first, I’ve come up with a small list of series that you can use to introduce your friend/sibling/significant other to the medium based on what they already watch. Most of the people that ask this question will have already heard of all the classics so this will cover some more recent anime.
They Watch Romantic Comedies
If the person you are trying to introduce likes watching romantic comedies, then I would recommend Toradora as their first anime. Not only is the series hilariously funny, it has a deep plot and some very emotional moments. There is also very little fanservice, which is typically found in abundance with this genre and scares away newcomers.
They Watch “Gar” or Manly Men Shows
Many people think of anime as fluffy children’s shows with big-eyed characters that all look like little girls. Admittedly, there are a lot of anime like that, so what do you do if your friend likes watching tough guys beating the crap out of their enemies? Look no further than Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. This series is packed full of action with none of that cutesy stuff.
They Watch Science Fiction
Who doesn’t like sci-fi, and similarly, who doesn’t like Gundams? Anyone who likes sci-fi would get a kick out of watching giant robots duel it out in space with lasers firing everywhere. Oh, and let’s not forget the light beam sabers.
They Watch Action
There are plenty of action series to choose from when it comes with anime, but your best bet is probably with Bleach or Naruto. I get a lot of people saying that these two anime suck, but it’s hard for them to make a case when Bleach and Naruto are two of the most successful action anime out there right now.
They Like Mind Games
Death Note is probably the most well-known psychological thriller anime, and for good reason. The rules set up in this little game of cat and mouse are simple, but the strategies employed are complex and cross into the realm of being criminal.
They Watch Comedies
Lots of anime have a comedic factor, but will usually involve quite a bit of fanservice, something you might not want to show someone new to the medium. Thankfully, Azumanga Daioh is just pure comedy; it does not have any fanservice and does not require a deep understanding of Japanese culture.
They Like Hot Guys
Sometimes with all the male-oreinted content we forget that girls watch anime too, and they also like some eye candy in their shows. I can’t say I understand it, but girls seem to love the anime Durarara. Maybe it’s the charm of Shizuo the bartender or Izaya the bad boy.
They Like Cute Girls
K-ON pretty much defined the moe (mo-eh) boom and is the perfect anime to show someone who likes anything cute or adorable.
Every few years there is an anime that introduces a new generation to the medium. Some of these have included Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, and Pokemon. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is probably the most recent of these. Ask around any anime convention and you’ll find many of the newer fans were hooked by the show’s hyper activeness and crazy antics.
This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive and I can’t guarantee that these titles will help ease someone into the medium, but I think they have a good chance. If you’re interested in finding out how others were introduced to anime, you can find a small collection of stories here. There are some common titles, but also some differences which may give you some ideas.