14 Streaming TV Shows To Watch For Anime Newbies On Netflix And More
From rich fantasies to slice of life comedies, getting into anime for the first time has never been easier.
Getting into anime for the first time can be a little daunting. Some of the most popular shows the medium has to offer have been running for years with triple-digit episode counts, naming conventions across multiple series that can feel totally impenetrable from the outside, and huge gaps or hiatuses in release schedules that can make keeping track of what is happening and when next to impossible. It can all feel as dense or as confusing as American superhero comics with their endless continuity shuffles, re-names, and re-numbers sometimes and, trust us, we get it. Practically every anime fan new or old has felt that sort of intimidation at some point in their lives.
But there are plenty of places to start for new anime fans that will help circumvent the stress of finding a good on-ramp into a new fandom. We've curated a list of shows, both new and old, that are not only immediately accessible, but also complete stories--one-and-done seasons ranging from bite-sized mini-series to extended epics that will give you a beginning, middle, and an end. On top of that, they'll also help introduce you to some of the more unique aspects of anime as a medium, whether it's different genre conventions and tropes or simply different animation styles and design aesthetics.
1. Kill la Kill
Studio Trigger's magical girl-flavored action comedy Kill la Kill is the brainchild of Gurren Lagann and Promare creators Hiroyuki Imaishi and Kazuki Nakashima. It's stylish, flashy, bizarre--and, maybe most importantly, a tight 25 episodes, all available to be streamed on HBO Max.
2. Gurren Lagann
Speaking of Studio Trigger, if you'd rather work through Imaishi and Nakashima's stories from the beginning, hold off on Kill la Kill and head straight for Gurren Lagann, which can be found on Netflix. This one is for anyone who's a fan of giant mechs, weird alien stories, and of course, plenty of goofy comedy.
3. Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!
Slice-of-life comedy Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! has the energy and charm of an early '00s cartoon--think something along the lines of Ed, Edd, and Eddy. Focusing on three girls who are trying to create their own anime, it's a quick 12-episode watch with some of the most gorgeous set design around.
4. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
A denser watch for anyone who wants a narrative that's a bit more sprawling, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is the second attempt at adapting the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, following the events of the story more closely than the original series. It's a bit of a long haul, with over 60 episodes, but it's highly regarded by both new and old fans alike, and perfect for anyone coming to anime from western sci-fi or fantasy dramas.
5. Devilman Crybaby
The Devilman franchise can be a bit intimidating in both scope and scale--it dates all the way back to the '70s, so trying to find a good jumping on point can be tricky. Thankfully, Netflix released the latest standalone animated series in the lineup back in 2018 with Devilman Crybaby. It's hard to pin down exactly what genre Crybaby actually is--it's not quite horror, not quite drama, and not quite action--but there are plenty of each to go around. Also it's just 10 episodes, so even if you're a little hesitant it's an easy binge.
6. Madoka Magica
Chances are you're well aware of magical girl tropes even if you're new to anime--pretty much everyone knows at least something about classics like Sailor Moon, even if they've never seen an episode. Madoka Magica takes those tropes and turns them on their ear with a bizarre, overwhelmingly dark twist that we won't say anything more about. Go into this one knowing as little as possible. It's worth it.
7. Violet Evergarden
Fan of more introspective sci-fi? Give Violet Evergarden a try. The story of a world where robots called "auto memory dolls" exist to help write stories for other people, it centers around the titular Violet Evergarden, who is attempting to reintegrate back into her civilian life after fighting a war. The show itself is short and sweet and followed up by two different specials, all available on Netflix.
8. Ouran High School Host Club
If you'd rather dive into something a bit more lighthearted, classic romantic comedy Ouran High School Host Club will be a perfect fit. It's wacky, over-the-top and completely ridiculous with a huge heart and a sort of self-aware sense of humor that will teach you the ins and outs of some of the "harem" genre's more slapstick conventions.
9. Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop is one of the most beloved anime series of all time. If you somehow haven't seen it by now, get on it. It's everything people say it is and more and you'd be hard pressed to find a better first anime to watch.
Maybe you're interested in anime because you're a fan of Miyazaki films and if that's the case, great news: Mushishi is a show that exists. Whimsical, soft, and strangely nostalgic, it follows a man around historical Japan as he deals with strange natural spirits plaguing unwitting civilians.
11. Samurai Champloo
Seamlessly blending historical samurai style with hip hop aesthetics and soundtrack, Samurai Champloo is one of the coolest shows around--I mean, who doesn't want to see a dude with a samurai sword basically breakdance as he fights? There's something in this show for everyone.
12. Parasyte: The Maxim
If body horror is more your speed, Parasyte: The Maxim is where you'll want to turn. The story of a man whose arm gets, uh, infected with a parasitic creature that can reshape his limb however it chooses, Parasyte is both insanely gross and insanely good.
Maybe you're looking for a break after your millionth binge of The Office and want to give this anime thing a shot. If that's the case, give Aggrestuko a try. It may not be the most traditional anime around but it's a quirky workplace comedy with a bunch of lovable characters--and it's based off of the Sanrio (Hello Kitty) character of the same name, so there's plenty of adorable merch to buy if you wind up falling in love.
14. Carole and Tuesday
Like a little slice-of-life mixed in with your sci-fi? Carole and Tuesday is the story of a future where Mars has been terraformed and colonized, but it's also the story of two girls coming together to share their dreams of making music. Yes, it's just as sweet--and as genre-defying--as it sounds.
Disclosure: ViacomCBS is GameSpot's parent company