Updated On: February 29, 2024 by   Raghda Elsabbagh   Raghda Elsabbagh  

Ever wondered what all the fuss is about with anime? Well, grab your curiosity because we’re about to spill the beans on the coolest animated world you’ve been missing out on!

If you’re new to this whole anime thing, worry not—we’re rolling out the red carpet to a whole bunch of anime recommendations for non-anime watchers that’ll have you hooked from the get-go. So, grab your comfy blanket and snacks, and get ready for a ride. Let’s make your anime debut epic! 

9 Best Anime Recommendations for Non-Anime Watchers

It’s often a good idea to start with shows with universal appeal and accessible to a broad audience. Here are some anime recommendations that are suitable for newcomers:

My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro)

My Neighbor Totoro Official Trailer

My Neighbor Totoro is a masterpiece from the acclaimed Studio Ghibli.

Plot 

Two sisters, Satsuke and Mei, move to the countryside with their father to be closer to their ill mother. As they explore their new surroundings, they stumble upon magical creatures, most notably the forest spirit Totoro. Totoro—the real show-stealer—is a giant, furry forest guardian with a penchant for naps and leaf umbrellas. Totoro becomes a symbol of comfort, embodying the magic hidden within the everyday world.

The plot beautifully captures childhood innocence, the wonder of discovery, and the importance of family bonds. The sisters’ genuine sibling love and wide-eyed curiosity make them relatable and endearing.  

Themes and Messages

My Neighbor Totoro is a celebration of the simple joys of life. It beautifully conveys themes of wonder, resilience, and the healing power of nature. Through the eyes of the characters, we learn that magic exists in the mundane and that even in challenging times, there’s always room for hope and joy. The film gently nudges us to appreciate the small wonders around us and to find solace in the embrace of nature—a theme that resonates universally.

Why Watch It?

If you’re new to anime and looking for a heartwarming, visually stunning experience, My Neighbor Totoro is the perfect gateway into the enchanting world of animation. Studio Ghibli films are known for their extraordinary animation, compelling stories, and universal themes. It is a heartwarming film suitable for all ages, and it’s a rule of thumb that you don’t think twice when choosing any work from Studio Ghibli.

Recommendations

Anime recommendations for those who appreciate My Neighbor Totoro would include fellow Studio Ghibli classics like Spirited Away. This film shares a similar magical atmosphere, rich storytelling, and breathtaking animation that captivates both young and adult audiences. 

Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi)

Spirited Away Official Trailer

Another Studio Ghibli masterpiece, Spirited Away, is a visually stunning and emotionally resonant film that hooks audiences with its imaginative world and engaging characters.

  • Genre: Fantasy, Adventure

Plot 

Our protagonist, Chihiro, unwittingly stumbles into a mysterious and magical realm while going to her new home. The once-ordinary girl finds herself working in a bathhouse for spirits. She must navigate through a world filled with eccentric creatures and daunting challenges. 

Along the way, she encounters a memorable cast of characters, including the enigmatic No-Face, the lovable soot sprites, and the powerful but kind-hearted Haku. Each character adds depth to the story, making Spirited Away a rich vault of personalities, contributing to Chihiro’s growth and her transformation from a timid girl to a resilient and resourceful heroine. The plot weaves together themes of identity, courage, and the transformative power of self-discovery. Chihiro’s journey is captivating, resonating with viewers of all ages.

Themes and Messages

Spirited Away is a celebration of bravery and the resilience of the human spirit. It explores the importance of facing fears, embracing change, and discovering one’s true self amid adversity. The film beautifully communicates universal themes of love, friendship, and the interconnectedness of all living things. 

Why Watch It?

If you’re seeking an anime that blends fantasy, emotion, and a touch of the extraordinary, Spirited Away is an enchanting experience that transcends the boundaries of animated storytelling. 

Recommendations

Those captivated by Spirited Away can also watch Howl’s Moving Castle. This film shares a similar magical charm, stunning animation, and thought-provoking narratives. 

Death Note

Death Note Official Trailer

Death Note is a mind-bending psychological thriller exploring morality and power themes. Its intense plot and complex characters make it a great entry point for those new to anime and will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

  • Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Supernatural

Plot 

The story revolves around Light Yagami, a high school student who stumbles upon a mysterious notebook—the Death Note. This seemingly innocent book allows its possessor to kill anyone by simply writing their name in it. As Light succumbs to the temptation of using this lethal power to rid the world of criminals, he draws the attention of the brilliant and enigmatic detective, L. Their intellectual duel drives the narrative, creating a tension-filled atmosphere that keeps viewers guessing. What ensues is a cat-and-mouse game of wits, morality, and the consequences of playing God with life and death.

Themes and Messages

This psychological thriller explores the thin line between justice and morality and delves into the consequences of absolute power. It poses challenging questions about the ethical boundaries one might cross to pursue a noble cause. The narrative forces viewers to confront their own beliefs and raises philosophical inquiries about the nature of right and wrong. It’s a thought-provoking journey that lingers in the mind long after the final credits roll.

Why Watch It?

Death Note is a must-watch for anyone seeking a mind-bending anime experience and will leave you craving more. 

Recommendations

Those intrigued by the mind games and moral quandaries of Death Note should also watch Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion and Psycho-Pass. These series share a similar blend of psychological intensity, moral ambiguity, and complex characters. 

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Official Trailer

This anime masterpiece seamlessly blends action, philosophy, and heart-wrenching drama into a captivating narrative that transcends the boundaries of traditional storytelling.

  • Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Plot

In a world where the laws of alchemy come with a heavy cost, the Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, commit the ultimate taboo in pursuing forbidden knowledge. 

As a consequence, Edward loses his limbs, and Alphonse’s entire body is taken from him. Driven by the longing to restore their bodies, the brothers embark on a quest to find the Philosopher’s Stone—a mythical artefact said to amplify alchemical powers. Their quest unfolds against the backdrop of political intrigue, dark secrets, and the moral complexities of wielding extraordinary abilities. 

Themes and Messages

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood explores profound themes such as sacrifice, redemption, and the consequences of tampering with the natural order. It delves into the ethical dilemmas of wielding power responsibly and the impact of one’s actions on the world. 

Why Watch It?

This series has a well-developed plot and strong character development and explores themes of sacrifice, morality, and the consequences of one’s actions. If you’re looking for anime that delivers both action-packed sequences and poignant character development, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is an alchemical masterpiece that will transmute your expectations. 

Recommendations

If you like the intricate narrative and emotional depth of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, you’ll also like Attack on Titan and Hunter x Hunter. These series share a similar blend of compelling storytelling, well-developed characters, and thought-provoking themes. 

Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)

Attack on Titan Official Trailer

Welcome to a world where colossal creatures known as Titans threaten humanity’s very existence. Attack on Titan is a compelling series known for its intense action, gripping storyline, and deep themes. 

  • Genre: Action, Fantasy, Drama

Plot

The story unfolds in a walled city protecting humanity from giant humanoid Titans. When a colossal Titan breaches the outer wall, Eren Yeager and his friends witness the devastation, setting in motion a quest for vengeance and the truth behind the Titans’ origin. The narrative evolves into a complex web of conspiracies, revelations, and heart-wrenching sacrifices, turning what seems like a straightforward battle against monsters into a multidimensional epic.

Themes and Messages

Attack on Titan explores themes of survival, the consequences of war, and the cyclical nature of hatred. It delves into the complexities of morality during times of crisis and grapples with the idea that sometimes, the true enemy might not be what it seems. The anime prompts viewers to question their preconceptions and consider the human cost of defending against an existential threat.

Why Watch It? 

Attack on Titan delivers an adrenaline-pumping anime experience that seamlessly combines jaw-dropping action, a thrilling mix of suspense, and political intrigue. Get ready for a rollercoaster ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat from the first episode to the last.

Recommendations

If you’re captivated by the intense action of Attack on Titan, you can also watch Vinland Saga, which shares a similar blend of compelling characters and epic battles. 

Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop Official Trailer

Cowboy Bebop is a classic anime with a fantastic jazz-inspired soundtrack, memorable characters, and a blend of different genres, leaving an indelible mark on the anime landscape. It’s often recommended for its mature and sophisticated storytelling.

  • Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Space, Noir

Plot 

Set in the distant future, Cowboy Bebop follows the crew of the spaceship Bebop as they navigate the vastness of space in search of bounties. Led by the laid-back Spike Spiegel, the team includes the cool and collected Faye Valentine, the quirky genius hacker Ed, and the stoic former cop Jet Black. Each episode unveils a new adventure, seamlessly blending genres from film noir to westerns, all against the backdrop of a diverse and interconnected universe.

Themes and Messages

Cowboy Bebop is not just about space cowboys chasing criminals; it explores themes of loneliness, redemption, and the consequences of one’s past. Each character grapples with their own demons, creating a narrative that is as introspective as it is action-packed. The series suggests that even in the vastness of space, our pasts can catch up with us, and pursuing one’s true identity is a journey worth taking.

Why Watch It? 

If you’re seeking an anime that seamlessly combines action and a touch of philosophy, Cowboy Bebop deserves a front-row seat in your watchlist. Get ready for a soundtrack that will have you tapping your feet to the rhythm of the cosmos.

Recommendations

If you’re captivated by the stylish and genre-blending nature of Cowboy Bebop, you’ll also like Samurai Champloo and Trigun

Hellsing

Hellsing Official Trailer

Sink your teeth into the dark and supernatural world of Hellsing, an anime that takes the vampire genre to a whole new level. The characters and events will keep you hooked until the last drop.

  • Genre: Action, Horror, Supernatural, Vampire

Plot

Hellsing follows the Hellsing Organisation, led by the enigmatic Sir Integra Hellsing. Their mission? To protect England from supernatural threats, including vampires and ghouls. Enter Alucard, the powerful and ancient vampire under Hellsing’s command, whose motives are as mysterious as his dark powers. As the organisation battles against various supernatural enemies, the plot unfolds with an enticing mix of horror, action, and political intrigue.

Themes and Messages

Hellsing delves into themes of power, morality, and the blurred lines between humanity and the supernatural. The series questions the nature of monsters and the methods used to combat them, exploring the consequences of wielding dark powers in the name of protection. 

Why Watch It? 

Hellsing is known for its intense action sequences and dark, gothic atmosphere. It features vampires, ghouls, and combating supernatural threats. If you’re looking for anime that combines horror, action, and a touch of the supernatural, Hellsing is a nocturnal feast for macabre fans. 

Recommendations

If you like Hellsing‘s dark and supernatural allure, you’ll also like Castlevania and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. These series share a similar gothic aesthetic and themes revolving around vampires and the supernatural. 

Psycho-Pass

Psycho-Pass Official Trailer

Prepare yourself for a mind-bending dive with Psycho-Pass. This anime explores a dystopian future where a system monitors and measures individuals’ mental states to prevent crime. As you delve into this psychological rollercoaster, you’ll witness a world where the boundary between justice and tyranny becomes increasingly blurred.

  • Genre: Sci-Fi, Psychological, Thriller

Plot

Set in the futuristic city-state of Tokyo, Psycho-Pass introduces the Sibyl System—an all-knowing artificial intelligence that assesses citizens’ mental states to predict and prevent criminal behaviour. Enter Akane Tsunemori, a young inspector thrust into the dark underbelly of crime investigation. As she partners with enforcers, former criminals who turned law enforcers working for the system, the plot unravels with mind-bending twists, ethical quandaries, and a deep dive into the consequences of relying on technology for justice.

Themes and Messages

Psycho-Pass tackles themes of free will, surveillance, and the hazardous dangers of relying too heavily on technology to dictate morality. The narrative tackles the consequences of a society that judges individuals solely on their mental state. It challenges viewers to question the ethics of sacrificing personal freedoms and free will for the sake of security. 

Why Watch It? 

If you’re looking for an intellectually engaging anime that challenges societal norms, Psycho-Pass is a thought-provoking series that will leave you questioning the very fabric of justice. 

Recommendations

If you’re intrigued by the psychological depth and dystopian intrigue of Psycho-Pass, we also recommend Ergo Proxy as well as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. These series share a similar exploration of futuristic societies, ethical dilemmas, and the intertwining of humanity with advanced technology. 

Castlevania

Castlevania Official Trailer

Based on the video game series, Castlevania is an animated series with impressive animation and a dark fantasy setting. It combines elements of action and gothic horror, making it appealing to fans of those genres. With vampires, demons, and a whip-wielding hero, this series is a blood-soaked journey that pays homage to the classic era of gaming while introducing a new generation to the dark and fantastical world of Castlevania. The show has received praise for its engaging storyline and well-animated action scenes.

  • Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Horror

Plot 

The anime follows the last surviving member of the disgraced Belmont clan, Trevor, as he battles Dracula and his minions. Trevor Belmont, the whip-wielding vampire hunter, leads the charge with his rugged demeanour and sharp wit. 

Driven by revenge after his wife’s wrongful execution, Dracula unleashes a horde of demons upon the land. As Trevor joins forces with Sypha Belnades, a powerful magician, and Alucard, a dhampir (half-human, half-vampire), the trio embarks on a mission to save humanity from Dracula’s wrath. The plot weaves together action-packed sequences, political intrigue, and supernatural exploration.

Themes and Messages

The anime is more than just a monster-slaying spectacle. Castlevania explores themes of revenge, forgiveness, and the consequences of unchecked power. The narrative delves into the morality of both humans and supernatural beings, prompting viewers to question who the real monsters are. The series also grapples with themes of legacy and the burden of family expectations, adding layers of emotional complexity to the gothic tale.

Why Watch It? 

If you’re searching for anime that breathes life into classic gaming lore while delivering a gripping narrative, Castlevania deserves a spot on your watchlist. 

Recommendations

You can also watch Berserk if you’re captivated by Castlevania‘s gothic horror and action-packed brilliance.

There you have it—our crash course in Anime 101, introducing non-anime watchers to a world where storytelling becomes an art form and animation transcends boundaries. Whether you’re a newcomer or an experienced seeker of animated wonders, these 9 anime recommendations are your golden ticket to a maze of emotions, genres, and thought-provoking narratives. So, grab your popcorn, snuggle into your comfy spot, and let the animated odyssey begin!

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