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Questioning Fandom: Best First Anime You’d Recommend

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QuestionWith some fun recommendations in the forum over the years, we took the review staff to task this past week to ask them about what they’d use to introduce new fans to anime with. Of course, you have to look at each person and their interests in that light, but there are always those features or TV shows that you just want to push on them because they mean so much to you and might have been your gateway into it as well. Coming from the Robotech generation, those early shows still stick with me with what I want to get people to watch, from TV series like Urusei Yatsura to the original Bubblegum Crisis, or features like Grave of the Fireflies and Perfect Blue. And soon we’ll be able to introduce a whole lot of new people to Record of Lodoss War.

So, check out what the staff have to say on it and follow up in our Questioning Fandom forum for more discussion!


Lauren Gallo Howl’s Moving Castle
I just had this conversation with a friend who was told to check out Ghibli/Miyazaki movies and the thing I recommended was Howl’s Moving Castle. It’s beautiful and has a magical, storybook feel that’s engaging and there’s nothing too violent, nothing too dark, and it just has all the earmarks of a good Ghibli film in an easy-to-digest story. And it’s gorgeous.

Katherine J. Parker Appleseed ExMachina
It depends entirely on the person I am talking to and whether they like light and airy media or darker works. My first feature was Akira–which was way too dark for me at 16–but it still hooked me. And, honestly, I’d probably still reference something kind of dark (I guess I never really got into light and airy feature length pieces), so I imagine I’d go with something like Vampire Hunter D (probably Bloodlust) or– OH! I know! Appleseed ExMachina! Oh yeah… that’s my jam. –

AJ Adejare Yuri!! On Ice
Yuri on Ice: Sure it’s a sports series, but its low barrier, quirky enough to show some interest and has some heart. Good characters, great premise, it’s really just a good old fashion happy sports property. Also it’s really popular, especially with the kids

Gregory Smith Grave of the Fireflies
In the past, I have recommended Grave of the Fireflies to a variety of people. I watched it one time, and while I was moved, the emotional weight was too heavy for me to ever want to watch it again. The movie demonstrates the potential of anime to tell serious stories with enough realism and pathos to move an international audience. If I know someone’s taste in media, I probably would recommend something more fun than the morose Grave. I wasn’t too surprised to see I’ve never added the disc to my collection.

G.B. Smith My Neighbor Totoro
That would depend on the person. For a child, Ghibli of course, most likely My Neighbor Totoro. For a teenager, something with a little more kick to it on the action side, for which there is a lot of choice out there, both very recent or somewhat older. For an adult, something that shows the more interesting things anime can do, such as Perfect Blue or Millennium Actress. Basically, something from Satoshi Kon.

Gabe Peralta Summer Wars
Wow, million dollar question already? Just to be clear, this is a more loaded question than it gets credit for if only for the fact that most see anime as a genre instead of a medium. It’s like asking what book would you recommend someone who isn’t into books–there’s like a million different genres and sub-genres to get into, and people have such varying tastes that deciding on a “catch-all” sort of series is impossible… but if I had to choose, Summer Wars. Fun family-centric movie, with maybe one or two “this is a weird thing that’s only acceptable in anime” moments.

Karyna Kouruklis Monster
Anything by Satoshi Kon. I believe his movies are easily accessible while also highly artistic. It demonstrates everything anime can be without it feeling too anime-sy or delving too deep into just one genre, if you get what I mean. Mamoru Hosoda also works in a slightly more mainstream way. And as far as TV series go, Monster, always Monster, because it’s a great thriller with excellent drama and character development, almost Western both in theme and execution, so it would be easy to get into. In the end I think it depends on who you are introducing to anime. Sci-fi fan? Drama fan? Horror fan? That’s something I would also take into consideration.

Cain Walter Redline
I have a hard time recommending a Miyazaki film, not due to their quality (obviously) but to their non-anime qualities and Ghibli’s overall legend. Miyazaki is almost an entirely separate genre to anime, with many of my friends and family professing their love for the films but having no interest in pursuing the medium any further. Ghibli films haven’t been given the moniker “Japanese Disney” without reason. SO, what I would recommend is Redline; it’s pulse pounding action and unique F-Zero-esque universe makes it a testament to what an anime film has to offer without requiring a high price of admission in terms of plot or character offerings. It’s got fast space cars traveling at mind-melting speed and the animation makes you feel every last G of it all.

Melina Dargis Tokyo Ghoul
It seriously does depend on the person and their personal tastes. I have been told over, very innocently, at my workplace, that it’s okay for me “to be a kid sometimes” when it comes to my passion for anime. For those people, I would love to show them something like Tokyo Ghoul to prove to them that not all animation is just for kids, and that very mature and outstanding work is done in animation. Beyond that, though I would probably recommend something lighter and see their reaction and guide them into whatever interests them.

Joshua Begley Summer Wars
That’s a tough one. Obviously it depends upon the person, but as a catchall everyone-will-probably-like this, I would go with Summer Wars. It’s delightful, it’s somewhat grounded, and it’s full of amazing characters and honest, human emotions. It’s also just a tad over the top–enough to introduce that aspect of anime to a new viewer, but not enough to scare them away.

Luis Cruz Victorian Romance Emma
I have a short list of titles to fit the tastes of most people. For those into period piece dramas, Victorian Romance Emma is hands down the title to hook them into trying more anime. Fans of science fiction or detective style action would get Ghost in the Shell: Stand-alone Complex. Teen drama… His and Her Circumstances. Planetes, Honneamise, Saikano, Macross, Paranoia Agent… All good choices to show off the range of drama, character development, and mature / complex themes. Comedy… Lupin the Third and Urusei Yatsura… And Kaleido Star because the uplifting tugging of the heart strings by such a beautiful story…

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