All anime fans know this situation: your friends just can’t see how awesome anime is, no matter how much you tell them. So finally, just to shut you up, they agree to watch a few episodes. Now the dilemma is, what anime do you suggest to them? Well, this list offers a few recommendations for your skeptical friends!
For friends who are convinced all anime is porn – Spirited Away
While a number of anime titles are indeed hentai, we know most of it isn’t, yet to some of our non-anime-loving friends, they believe it is. An easy way to dispute this is to show them any of the Studio Ghibli films… with the exception of Pom Poko. The testicle-swinging raccoons may prove their point further. Instead, maybe the perfect one to show would be Spirited Away. The film is universally recognized as not only a classic within the anime world but the film world, too. People who don’t even know what anime is that have watched the movie believe it to be a masterpiece. And with good reason; Spirited Away is amazing. The plot should be enough to hold your friends’ interest, being simple yet complex. It’s the story of a young girl called Chihiro who is trapped within a world of spirits and trying to rescue her parents through working in a bath house. The complexity comes from the sub plot of the mysterious Haku, his journey to find his identity, and how it ties in with the head of the bath house. The complexity adds depth, which would definitely pull your friends into the story, and the characters will too. Hayao Miyazaki can write very understated yet well thought out characters. Even in the off chance that they’re not convinced, your friends would still appreciate the stunning art and the breath taking music.
For friends who enjoy romance – Hakushaku to Yousei
Edgar attempting to charm Lydia Hakushaku to Yousei, or by its English title of Earl and Fairy, is a great anime for your friends who enjoy romance. The main reason being that it’s not a typical anime love story, mostly because it doesn’t come down to a prominent love triangle. It’s more about the characters’ personalities that place the obstacles in the way. The main character, Lydia Calton, is a fairy doctor and has the ability to see fairies; however, in this world of 19th century England, fairies are believed not to exist, and as a result, Lydia is seen as weird and eccentric. This naturally isolates her from the rest of society. Enter Edgar, or given his full name: Lord Edgar J. C. Ashenbert, an incredibly good looking earl with a reputation for being flirtatious. His lineage is being questioned, and he needs Lydia’s help in order to prove that he is who he says he is. She, of course, agrees to help him. What sets Earl and Fairy apart is that they could have easily added in an over the top character who poses a threat for Lydia, but instead it’s her own insecurities and Edgar’s reputation that prevent her believing his frequent confessions of love. This makes it far more identifiable for anyone who has very little self-confidence. And don’t worry about the story being too heavy with the romance; there is a lot of comedy that comes from all of the characters, not just the main pair. Side characters like Nico, a fairy cat who frequently insists that he is a gentleman, and Kelpie, a water horse spirit who has a severe dislike for Edgar add a even more color to the cast.
For friends who like smart shows – Death Note
Chances are, your friend has heard of Death Note. It seems to be one of those shows that people who peripherally know about anime can recognize, making for a great opportunity to get them watching. Your friends might be intrigued to find out how an anime with so much action has little-to-no fighting in it and how it is very dialogue heavy but never gets boring. Death Note spins a web of events that always leaves the audience guessing what will happen next. Also, the protagonist, Light, makes for a very interesting character. Whereas opinions of him are greatly split down the middle within the fandom, one thing that can be agreed is that his actions are entertaining. Watching how methodically he works, following his descent into madness over the Death Note, killing various people and trying to escape from L makes for highly enjoyable viewing. The best way to describe the story would be to compare it to a game of chess. Just throw in the plot device of a book that has the ability to kill. If this sounds like something your friend would enjoy, give a recommend.
For friends who like light-hearted shows – K-ON!
There are a lot of slice-of-life anime out there, thriving on the image of the innocent, anime schoolgirl. It would be lying to say that K-ON didn’t have that within the series, but it takes it in a little different direction. Instead of using it just as a cute image, K-ON uses it’s cute characters for comedy. The innocence of the cute, high-school girls in various comedic situations plays very well, making for very easy and light viewing. The premise of K-ON! centers on 4, later 5, girls who start up a rock band that never takes itself too seriously, which suits the tone of the series and makes it easy for people to appreciate. Each of the five girls have their own individual personalities: Yui: the sweet but airheaded guitar player, Mio: the bass player tries to be the voice of reason but often falters, Ritsu: the tomboyish, playful drummer, Mugi: a keyboard player who’s often blissfully ignorant of social norms and then later on, Azusa: another guitar player who takes her music seriously but often finds herself going along, usually reluctantly, with the others’ shenanigans. K-ON is a laidback series with a lot of heart, which makes it a very good series for friends who are more casual with their viewing habits.
For friends who like action and adventure – Naruto
Whatever the opinion of Naruto is among anime fans, the fact is, it is a brilliant starting point for a person just getting in to anime. It has many anime archetypes, such as a dimwitted hyperactive protagonist, a cool and mysterious secondary character, and (unfortunately) the token female, not to mention any number of anime cliches regarding friendship and power-ups. So why does this make for a good recommendation? For one, it’s a safe one. There’s a bit of perviness where Jiraiya’s concerned, but nothing too explicit and with all the predictable cliches, it can give your friend a pretty good idea of what anime is. Should they not like Naruto, you can then convince them that it is a rather generic anime and that others are different. It’s a win-win situation. Even with all of the cliches in Naruto, it is still very enjoyable. The sense of action and adventure is ever-present, as portrayed by titular character Naruto himself. He is always enthusiastic which helps draw the viewers in and stay interested, of course, this is the case with the dramatic side, too. Naruto, for all it’s comedic moments, has an equal number of dramatic moments, especially as the series progresses. This leads to another area your friend will enjoy: seeing the characters from the wide-ranging cast grow up both mentality and physically. Like with most popular adventure anime, the story progresses in a series of arcs which gives it a fresh feel despite the hundreds of episodes between the original series and Naruto Shippuden.
Of course, everyone is different, but it is always a nice feeling being able to get a friend into something you enjoy and being able to talk to them about it. After all, as you’ve probably told your friend while convincing them to watch anime, a key part of anime is the power of friendship, and friendship is something to be deeply cherished.