So You Want to Watch Anime? Part 1 – 10 Shows to Start You Off

People often ask me what they should watch if they want to get into anime or have watched only a couple of shows. Obviously, it pays to ask people what genres they like, as anime is just another sub-medium of television and TV, movie and book preferences are all valid. Some of the shows listed here are often noted to be aimed at people who are very knowledgeable about anime, but they are on the list because they stand on their own, and none of us are rookie media consumers.

This list is designed in part to present you with a variety of genres, so you could watch these shows in order to have a better place to start from when looking for additional material – based on what you like and don’t like. Future posts will cover movies, and some more shows based on genres and themes. All posts will be organized on this page.

Note, unless noted otherwise, episode length is roughly 23-24 minutes, with 3-4 minutes per episode spent on opening song (OP), ending song (ED) and next episode’s preview.

1) Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995):

Neon Genesis Evangelion - Introduction to Anime - Psychological mystery mecha classic

One of the most influential shows of the last two decades on anime, referenced in many other shows, from small cameos to scene composition, to whole motifs being taken wholecloth, aside from the fact Shinji, Asuka and Rei are the archetypes on which countless other main characters had been modeled. That of course isn’t sufficient, but it’s a well told story about a group of teenagers who must risk their lives, relationships and psyche in order to defend humanity.

The show begins slowly, but as you go, the emotional hits and the mysteries keep ramping up, until you find yourself with nary a time to take a breather in between. This show had been considered a reconstruction of the mecha genre when it aired, but the story stands well on its own, and with how influential it is I think holding off on watching this show can only be detrimental.

The “twist to mystery” which also often includes references to the supernatural and real-world mythologies at times had truly been ever-present in longer shows after NGE. Its effect on the anime world can’t be overstated.

Genres and Notes: Action, mecha, psychological, teenagers, mystery. Give it at least until episode 8, where it truly shows you what it has to offer. Watch the main series and then watch End of Evangelion, an alternate ending to the last two episodes. Skip Death and Rebirth as it is entirely superfluous. “Rebuild of Evangelion”  (Evangelion 1.11, 2.22, etc.) are an alternate retelling via movies, and aren’t as highly recommended. I don’t suggest this show under the age of 15 – blood, violence, psychological wounds, etc. Often referred to as “NGE” or “Evangelion”.
Episode Count: 26 episodes. End of Evangelion is 90 minutes long.
Buy on Amazon: The complete series. End of Evangelion had unfortunately been out of print for about a decade now.

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Anime Season Midterms – First Impressions – Summer 2013 (Sunday)

The final part, Sunday. Quite a few shows, some of them even air on Sunday, or late enough at night that I can’t watch them before I get back from work. Definitely a strong day in terms of the shows it contains, probably the strongest day. I work on Sundays, alas, making it not as pleasurable as it could’ve otherwise been.

Part 1 (Monday-Thursday): Blood Lad, Makai Ouji – Devils and Realist, WataMote, The World God Only Knows Season 3, Free!
Part 2 (Friday): Gin no Saji, Rozen Maiden (2013), Stella Jogakuin Kotou-ka C3-bu, Danganronpa, Servant x Service, Love Lab, Toaru Karaku no Railgun S (continues from Spring season).
Part 3 (Saturday): Gatchaman Crowds, Kiniro Mosaic, Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya, Genei wo Kakekru Taiyo
Part 4 (Sunday): Monogatari 2nd Season, Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi, Uchoten Kazoku, Genshiken Nidaime, Shingeki no Kyojin (continues from Spring season).

Genshiken Nidaime - Genshiken 2nd GenerationGenshiken Nidaime / Genshiken 2nd Generation – Genshiken Nidaime is one of my two favourite shows of the season. Most slice of life shows either have no conflicts (unlike real life) or are just a catch-all term for anime-sitcoms. Genshiken Nidaime returns us to the college club of the past where the characters discuss anime, manga, and video games, but as most of the old cast had graduated we have an influx of BL (Boy Love)-loving girls, and Hato-kun, a cross-dresser.
If you ask me, most so-called comedies aren’t really funny, and when they’re funny it relies on visual gags. Genshiken isn’t a comedy, but when it is funny it is funny because these moments are set up and resonate with the characters’ personalities.

This is a show that feels like someone took literal slices out of someone’s life and had decided to give them to you for you to taste and savor. The way the show deals with issues of gender-identity and sexuality is also relatively mature, certainly more mature than what you usually come across in modern media in general and anime in particular.

The cast is mostly quite likeable, and even if you don’t like all of them, then you can either relate to them or think of real people they remind you of, or just come off as real people, to one degree or another. This is definitely the show we need, even if it’s not the show we asked for, and dealing (maturely) with issues of sexuality and gender-identity will not help its sales, which is very sad.
Watched: 7/13
Current Grade: A+. You should watch it if you’ve watched the original Genshiken. You should watch it if you hadn’t watched the original Genshiken, and then you should watch the original show.

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Weekly Anime Impressions – Summer 2013 Week 3.5 Impressions

Stella Jogakuin c3-Bu - A Girls' Airsoft Club. Gets weird this week!Well, another week, and another week in which I’ve decided to do a weekly run-down of the shows I’ve watched. I need to catch up on my blogging and finish some drafts I have half-written, hopefully this week. I did use my extra time from dropping/putting on hold a couple of shows and finished two books this week – The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi, and Neil Gaiman‘s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Both were fun if not super-deep reads.

Well, this week I’ve watched “only” 12 episodes, a marked improvement over last week’s 16, right? Right? Anyway, here is a breakdown, of the episodes and the shows as they stand as a whole. There will obviously be spoilers.
Shows covered: Watamote, Kamisama no Inai, Danganronpa, Uchouten Kazoku, Stella Jogakuin c3-bu, Rozen Maiden 2013, Genshiken Nidaime, The World God Only Knows S3, Gatchaman Crowds, Shingeki no Kyojin, Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S (A Certain Scientific Railgun).

In a week or two we’ll reach episodes 5-6 of most shows, so I’ll probably pick up a couple more shows/pick them up again (*Blanch*) and probably drop a couple of shows as well. I can’t wait for this season to end, it’s just too good.

New Shows:

Have Me Hooked:
Shows that were impressive, I am highly intrigued and will keep on watching:

Gatchaman Crowds – This episode wasn’t as fun as the second episode, but part of the fun of episode 2 was how unexpected to me it’s been. The show keeps on dealing with the nature of leadership, diffuse decision-making, and the gamification of life. The way it deals with this concepts is quite multi-layered thus far, and I can hope it goes in a certain way. The show still has a lot of energy, and quite a bit of zaniness. It feels next episode we’ll get some more darker-plot-meat undergoing, rather than “merely” thematic-content.
Watched Episode 3.
To Watch? If you didn’t get up to episode 2, then certainly. If you didn’t like episode 2, I guess you can give it a drop.

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Weekly Anime Impressions – Summer 2013 Week 2.5 Impressions

Gatchaman Crowds Summer 2013 anime

Gatchaman!

Last week I’ve covered the first week of episodes. I am not sure if this will be a weekly thing or not, but I was quite busy with school-obligations in the beginning of the week, and I’ve watched 16(!) episodes from the Summer 2013 anime season, so I’ve decided to spend at least another post describing these episodes. Not all shows air at the same time, so for some shows I’ll cover episode 2, and for others episodes 2-3.

Also, I’m definitely going to be cutting/putting on hold some shows, including shows that are “solid”. I’ve had 15 currently airing shows on my watch list this week, and with me working full time, wanting to read books (I’ve read Steven Brust‘s To Reign in Hell this week), and wanting to enjoy all the games I purchased during Steam’s Summer Sale, 15 shows is just not sustainable.

I’ll break the shows down by how much I’ve cared for them, and also their nature. I will include second-third episode spoilers. I consider these things to be part of the premise, though.
Shows covered: Watamote, Kamisama no Inai, Danganronpa, Stella Jogakuin c3-bu, Blood Lad, Makai Ouji, Rozen Maiden 2013, Genshiken Nidaime, The World God Only Knows S3, Gatchaman Crowds, Fate/Kaleid Prisma Illya, Shingeki no Kyojin, Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S (A Certain Scientific Railgun). I didn’t watch  Gen’ei o Kakeru Taiyo (Day Break Illusion) and Uchoten Kazoku this week, but will catch up on them tomorrow, due to time constraints, and actually picking up two extra shows.

New Shows:

Have Me Hooked:
Shows that were impressive, I am highly intrigued and will keep on watching:

Gatchaman Crowds – I’ve watched both episode 1 and episode 2 this week, meaning this is a new show I’ve picked up. I’ve actually watched a few episodes of the original Gatchaman in a convention and have some faint memories of it. Anyway, this is sort of a Power Rangers show, but if anything it reminds one of a buddy cop show. The main female character is a happy go lucky super energetic girl, who doesn’t obey authority because it’s authority (she’s not rebel, she’s just oblivious to the power plays), and the main male character is a by-the-numbers, annihilate the alien scum kind of guy. The show also deals with the nature of leadership and power, and diffuse responsibility.
I’m not super crazy about the artistic direction, but it definitely is interesting.
Watched Episodes 1-2.
To Watch? Super interesting, hope they’ll keep with the endless energy displayed in episode 2. Don’t judge it by episode 1.

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Anime Season Begins – Summer 2013 Week 1 Impressions

Watamote - Watashi ga Motenai no wa dō Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!For the first time I’ve watched over 10 episodes at a season’s start, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on the multitude of shows I’ve been watching. I will most likely not post in this format weekly, and the next such post will come around week 5-6 of the season, as I believe many series take about five weeks to really get going and show us what they are worth. I might also drop some shows, hold off on some shows till week 5, or pick up new series after 5 weeks based on what people are saying.

I’ll break the shows down by how much I’ve cared for them, and also their nature. I will include first episode spoilers. I consider these things to be part of the premise, though.
Shows covered: Watamote, Kamisama no Inai, Uchoten Kazoku, Danganronpa, Stella Jogakuin c3-bu, Blood Lad, Gen’ei o Kakeru Taiyo, Makai Ouji, Rozen Maiden 2013, Genshiken Nidaime, The World God Only Knows S3. Will also mention Monogatari 2nd Season, Shingeki no Kyojin and Railgun S.

New Shows:

Got Me Hooked:
These are the shows that I’m definitely picking up, at least until they fail to deliver for several weeks in a row.

Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui (It’s your fault I’m not popular) – known as WataMote; This show follows an unpopular girl as she enters high school where she is sure she will be more popular. It doesn’t happen. This is a comedy, and sort of a cringe-comedy, which often make watchers uncomfortable. I laughed all along the first episode, I didn’t find it cringe-worthy, and it wasn’t due to sympathizing or empathizing with the main character. I am eagerly awaiting new episodes.
The casting of Nakamura Yuichi was played Kousaka Kyousuke in OreImo for a very similar role is very fitting. Also, super kick-ass metal opening.

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Anime Season Midterms – First Impressions.

Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai

Well, we’re in the middle of the current anime season (Fall 2010?), and I thought rather than wait for all these anime to end, I’d say a couple of words regarding several series I’ve been watching, meaning to watch, etc. There’d obviously be longer posts after these shows end. Or at least the current seasons…

Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai – for short, Ore no Imoto, or even shorter, Oreimo. In English: My Little Sister Can’t be This Cute.
This show is like Genshiken (blog post) in a way. A show about otaku, exploring them. It is more comical though. Episodes 5-6 were a bit weird, but the show had definitely taken on slightly less hijinks and crazy anime lovers attitude, and a somewhat more “Slice of Life” stance. I have high hopes for it to keep going strong. I love it thus far. Good show, enjoyable cast, cute characters, some good laughs (albeit some weird moments like when Kyosuke fought their father..). But overall? WATCH IT. Right now.

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Comedies and Geekhood – Genshiken/The Big Bang Theory? All.

Genshiken animeWell, this is not a post just about the geekier comedies which I love, such as Genshiken (which may not exactly be a comedy, but a slice-of-life series) and The Big Bang Theory, but it’s true for all comedies, and many stand-up shows as well, certainly all those who deal with current events and politics.

I think intertextuality is what geeks thrive upon, and geeks who are into “geeky things” seem to respond and be proud of it, but having watched some comedies that deal with sports, I think it’s true for all geeks – all those who are nearly obsessed with a field respond well to shows that “reward” them for their knowledge, and which separates them from those who do not “get it”. Geeks do tend to take it one step further.

Think of Genshiken, with all of the anime and mangas referenced, and which those of us who watched with subtitles usually had helpful notes explaining what is being referred to. And then you have the self-proclaimed “Big Geeks”, who scoff at those who do not recognize all such references immediately, or TV-Shows such as Stargate where things from the first couple of seasons will show up in season 8 (and then think of conventions where there are minutiae quizes, to prove you’re the biggest fan).
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