If you’re reading this, I want to start by saying, “ Congratulations”. I hope this resource puts you on the right first step of your anime-watching journey. If you’ve come across this article and are already familiar with most shows, perhaps check out some less known anime from the 1980’s or 1990’s. Or browse the anime section of our website for some inspiration. Now, let’s get started!
Below you will find some anime that are considered “Gateway Anime”. These anime are given this title due to the shared characteristics they have with shows from the United States. Thus, making it easier for a person to enjoy anime and not being over-encumbered by cultural styles and storytelling tools not common outside of Asia. Look over the 5 shows listed below and choose one that resonates with your style and curiosity.
The story focuses on Naruto Uzumaki, an orphan boy with a beast sealed inside him, which makes that no one cares for him; the people of his village are afraid of him and hate him a lot since that beast attacked them when he was born. Naruto suffers from contempt, extreme poverty, hunger, hatred, and loneliness, but this does not stop him from becoming the best ninja of his village and the best person. Thus begins his Ninja path where he will go after his greatest dream, be the best ninja of his village, and gaining the title of Hokage.
This anime has 720 episodes that were broadcasted over 17 years, with the intention that you grow with the characters; no doubt, this creates a very strong bond. But those who start watching it from a more adult age are not spared either; this story makes you laugh, makes you feel alone, makes you cry, makes you see your mistakes, motivates you to be better and to never give up.
DEATH NOTE (PSYCHOLOGICAL / THRILLER )
The story centers on Light Yagami, a bright and successful high school student whose destiny is altered when he gets his hands on a notebook of death or Death Note. Thanks to this notebook, Light gains the power to kill anyone whose name is written in it. The young man decides to use this power to impart justice in society by punishing criminals and delinquents and putting an end to evil in the world. But his actions lead him to confront a private detective named L, who strives to unmask him.
If you’ve never considered watching an anime genre series before, trust me, this series is the perfect place to start. Amusing and absorbing, Death Note is an excellent first contact with what anime has to offer through its characters, witty dialogues, and well-created drawings. From here on, everything is straightforward: little by little, you get caught up in a story until you can’t stop watching it. After a short period in which you will watch the whole series in one go (although the addictiveness of its chapters will be discussed at another point), you will be curious to discover other anime that you would not have paid much attention to otherwise: Code Geass or Monster are good examples of anime to continue once you have finished watching Death Note.
FULL METAL ALCHEMIST BROTHERHOOD (ADVENTURE / DARK FANTASY )
This anime narrates the story of brothers Edward and Alphonse, who defy the laws of physics, and with the help of alchemy, decided to break the greatest taboo and revive their deceased mother. That is, they attempted human transmutation. As a consequence, and due to the law of equivalent exchange (a very interesting and critical point in this series), Edward lost his left leg, and his younger brother lost his entire body, and to save his soul, Ed seals it in large iron armor, sacrificing his right arm in exchange. Now, both brothers are desperately searching for the philosopher’s stone, a very valuable and longed-for element for any alchemist, with a power that would allow them to return their bodies to normal.
This anime mixes drama, action, politics, and fantasy in an incredible way and in 64 episodes that will make you stop watching until you discover the end. The themes of death, life, resurrection, and religion are very present in this anime, and for my taste, it is one of the best things that it has, which makes it different from other anime. His characters give off charisma, they are very varied, and each and every one of them manages to be fond of them in one way or another.
SWORD ART ONLINE (ISEKAI / ADVENTURE FICTION)
The story begins in the year 2022 with the launch of the first immersive virtual role-playing game: Sword Art Online. Thanks to the Nerve Gear, a virtual reality helmet that stimulates the user’s five senses through brain waves, players can live a fully immersive experience in a medieval fantasy world where they can control their avatars using only their minds. But an unexpected event occurs. During the first few hours, players realize that SAO does not have a logout option. The creator of SAO appears to inform them that the only way to exit the game is to complete the 100 levels of Aincrad, the floating castle where this story takes place. However, if your avatar dies in the game, you also die in the real world.
There is something tantalizing and emotionally captivating about seeing a group of characters in constant perilous situations, knowing that anyone can disappear in an instant. It also addressed many technological concerns in the gamer community. Total immersion technology still seems a long way off, but the video game industry is slowly beginning to take virtual reality more seriously. So maybe we will have a SAO in real life very soon.
HUNTER X HUNTER (ADVENTURE / FANTASY)
In a strange world full of monsters, beasts, treasures, mysteries, there is a group of extraordinary people called hunters who are in charge of registering all this. Gon Freecs embarks on an adventure in search of his father Ging, and for that, he must take the exam to become a hunter, and that is where he will meet his friends Killua, Kurapika, and Leorio. The plot of Hunter x Hunter seems simple, but as we get into it, each arc gives us something different. There are no limits to show crudeness. In each arc, there are very complicated situations where the characters have to think carefully. It is this atmosphere that makes this anime attractive, its tension, how unpredictable it can be, and the great adventure that we are being told. All these aspects make the plot interesting, starting from something simple to turn it into something spectacular.
Undoubtedly the greatest strength of this anime is its characters. Each one has its moments to develop so much that some of them are the protagonists of their own arc. It is worth watching it, it is a very original fighting shonen, for my part I recommend you watch the anime Hunter x Hunter (2011), which is a remake of the first anime Hunter x Hunter, it adapts all the manga very faithfully (I say all because after the anime the manga has few chapters).