by Zoe Heredia
Anime. It’s my personal obsession. I could talk about the different animation styles, the different genres of anime, or types of characters seen in almost every anime. Heck, I even wrote a whole article about anime 101 as a beginners guide to the world of Japanese animation. For those that got a crash course in anime (you’re welcome!), now comes the big question you may be asking: What anime should I start watching first?
I will say it can be a bit daunting to know where to start first in your journey of anime. There are so many different genres and themes, from action-adventure fantasy to slice-of-life romance, where in the world do you possibly begin?
FEAR NOT CITIZEN! BECAUSE I AM HERE! (My Hero Academia reference, you’ll understand soon enough). As a weeb and anime lover, I have a few suggestions for the newbies to start out watching. From fantasy, romance, action, drama, and everything in between, I shall share a few of my favorite shows that can be a good jumping off point.
To all the hopeless romantics I’ve loved before, Fruits Basket is the anime for you. A beautifully unique anime that reimagines and romanticizes the story of the Chinese zodiac signs. This anime will set your heart on fire, make you throw out all those trashy Nicholas Sparks novels taking up your bookshelf, and replace them with the Fruits Basket manga.
Fruits Basket tells the story of an orphaned girl named Tohru Honda. After meeting Yuki, Kyo, and Shigure Soma, Tohru discovers that they are a part of the Soma family, who are possessed by the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. Tohru learns that the members are cursed and turn into animals when they are stressed, weak, or hugged by someone of the opposite sex. As Tohru gets to know Yuki, Kyo, Shigure, and the rest of the Soma clan, she learns of their traumatic past and upbringing. Through her loving and kind-hearted nature, Tohru helps to heal their emotional trauma, while learning about herself and how much those closest to her truly care for her.
With a unique storyline on the zodiac signs, Fruits Basket is a feel-good, romantic, slice of life anime. While it offers a lighter tone on friendship, love and kindness towards others, it is also able to give balance to the story by touching on dark topics such as emotional trauma, isolation, and manipulation. While these dark themes are challenging to talk about in any story, Fruits Basket does so with such grace and healing. This anime gives us a strong sense of hope for better days and is a feel-good show that those who are romantics and many others will enjoy.
Do we have any Marvel or D.C. fans in the house tonight? If so, toss Captain America and Batman aside, and make room for the next generation of heroes in My Hero Academia.
Set in a world where 80% of the human population has developed superhuman abilities that are called quirks, our story begins with Izuku Midoriya, a young boy who dreams of becoming a hero. Unfortunately, he is also a part of the rare 20% of the population that is born quirk-less. Nevertheless, Izuku stays determined to make his dream of becoming a hero a reality. One fateful day, Izuku has a chance encounter with one of the greatest superheros in the world: All Might! All Might then scouts Izuku as his successor to inherit his mysterious quirk, One For All, after witnessing the young boy’s brave determination in the face of danger. Izuku then heads on to begin his hero journey at the famous hero school U.A High School and forges new friendships with his new classmates. Meanwhile, All Might’s infamous enemy, All For One, resurfaces and conditions his apprentice, Tomura Shigaraki, to slowly destroy society and its current heroes.
My Hero Academia is a feel-good, action-packed, superhero series that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Influenced by Marvel and D.C comics, the show focuses on the coming-of-age story of Izuku and his classmates, the different traumas and obstacles the characters must face to grow as heroes in training and displays themes of friendship and power among a hero society. Each character is unique in his or her own way and brings a necessary balance to the story: Izuku’s classic zero-to-hero development, All Might’s tragic back story and how that has shaped him into the current hero he has become, or the students at U.A. high school and their own personal fears and ambitions. Each arc in the series gradually introduces more serious themes about the reality of what a hero society would be and adds depth to each hero and villain introduced. This is a superhero story told like never before and can be enjoyed to its fullest extent by simply watching the show. It is an anime one will not soon forget.
Now, the first two animes mentioned are amazing on their own, but if you’re the type who prefers a show that has a mix of both action and romance, with a heavy mix of demons and fantasy, the anime for you is the one-and-only Inuyasha.
The show begins with the introduction of fifteen-year-old Kagome, a young girl in middle school from modern day Japan, who is transported back to the Sangoku Period of Japan after falling through a well in her family’s shrine. There, she meets Inuyasha, a half-dog demon half-human. After discovering a sacred object called the Shikone Jewel, she accidentally shatters it into hundreds of fragments that spread across feudal Japan. Kagome and Inuyasha decide to travel across the feudal era in search of the Shikone Jewel’s fragments. On their journey, they are joined by a lecherous monk named Miroku, a demon-slayer named Sango, and a fox-demon named Shippo. Together, they fight off demons and mortal enemies alike, trying to restore the Shikone Jewel before it falls into the possession of the evil half-demon Naraku.
Fantasy, romance, action, and the comedy make Inuyasha the perfect starting place for anime beginners. It combines an overarching storyline with many different subplots and growing character development that keeps the viewer wanting more. A dark and sinister plot that connects each character, a love triangle, and a quest for a sacred jewel combined with action-packed, sword fighting scenes makes Inuyasha a timeless classic.
Each of these animes holds a special place in my heart. I connected with Tohru and the hardships she faced in Fruits Basket, related to the feeling of being the outcast with Izuku in My Hero Academia, and fell in love with the titular character in Inuyasha. What makes these shows worth watching is every plot, dark theme addressed, and every character’s personality and backstory… it’s amazing.
Emerse yourself into another world that’s beyond just a cartoon, that is something you can relate to on a deeper level. Dive into an alternate universe that can be used as an escape from your current reality. Life can be exhausting, and everyone needs a break away from it sometimes. Anime can be that break away, that escape, that thing that helps you process the world around you or can just be something fun to watch. Anime is not therapy, but it is therapeutic. It connects people from all walks of life and brings joy to those that may need it most. The joy anime brings to many people can be summed up by Inuyasha’s main heroine Kagome: “I want you to be happy. I want you to laugh a lot. I don’t know exactly what I’ll be able to do for you, but I’ll always be by your side.”