A Beginner’s Guide to the Extraordinary and Diverse World of Anime

Expanding one’s horizons is something everyone should strive to do. In this case, in light of the lockdowns that have been happening, working from home and even the summer holidays. I know I have been looking for new things to watch and enjoy. Anime is a famous and well known pastime among the more nerdy groups of people. But there is plenty to explore and countless genres you can enjoy within this eastern type of animation. 

But what exactly is anime? In short, it is a term used for Japanese comics called Manga, which have been turned into a cartoon film or series. Though anime is not always based on a manga, it can easily be an original work. The animation style is unique in comparison to our western cartoons, but it is charming and beautiful to watch. Anime is typically Japanese and, as such, most of these series or films are in their language. But fear not, if you do not mind reading subtitles, you will fare well. More often than not, there are English dubs for those of us who can’t be bothered with subtitles or can’t understand Japanese. 

I have created a list of anime films and series which I think would be useful for any who wish to dip their toes into the magical world of anime. So, without further ado, here are a few animes you may enjoy

Studio Ghibli

A collection of cast members in Stidio Ghibli anime movies
Credit: Yume Twins

The best place to start is with the famous and charming Studio Ghibli collection. There are a fair few films created by this amazing studio. Their films are a collection of charming and different stories, the likes of which give even Disney a run for their money. Studio Ghibli has made twenty-two films and has been running since 1985. 

I think what makes these films so charming and whimsical is the beautiful , family-friendly storytelling as well as the traditional hand drawn animation which it has come to be known for. The way the landscapes and characters are drawn is simply beautiful and really must be experienced to appreciate. With such a large number of films under their belt, I will highlight three of my favourites. 

Howl’s Moving Castle

Cast members from Studio Ghibli's anime film Howl's Moving Castle
Credit: Book Str

This film was released in 2004 and has touched the hearts of many. It is the story of a young girl who leads an ordinary, uneventful life. She runs her late father’s hat shop and enjoys her work. Until she runs into a handsome wizard who changes her life forever. 

Obviously, there is a great deal of drama and evil wizards and moving castles amongst that brief overview of this anime. But this charming anime is a great choice if you are looking for something funny, cute and exciting to enjoy.

Spirited Away

Girl riding a dragon from the anime film Spirited Away - Studio Ghibli
Credit: Reel Steel Cinema

Released in 2003, this film is a great adventure story. It is about a young girl who explores an abandoned amusement park only to find that it is the home to spirits. Now she must survive in a palace without her parents by her side. What befell them? You will have to watch and see. Once again, the animation style is beautiful and the story telling in Spirited Away is amazing. It is truly a masterpiece, as films go.  

Grave of the Fireflies

Cast Members from the anime film Grave of Fireflies - Studio Ghibli
Credit: Roger Bert

Made in 1988, this is one of Studio Ghibli’s older films. It explores the devastation and loss of war for Japan. This story centres around a young teenage boy during World War II, charged with the care of his much younger sister. During these tough times, you really get to explore the sadness and the loss of these people. But exploring such terrible times through the eyes of children is beautiful within itself. The themes may be a little hard for small children but it is worth watching. Bring along tissues and be prepared to cry if you do decide to sit through Grave of Fireflies.

For the Romantics Out There

romantic scene from anime - Kamisama Hajimemashite
Credit: Anime Impulse

Of course, there are options for those of us that enjoy rom-coms or the sappy romantic drama that surrounds this particular genre. As one of my personal favourite genres of anime, there are countless options out there to enjoy. Narrowing down the numbers is an almost impossible task, with there being so many kinds of romance out there. The great thing about anime is the openness of representation. There are a lot of options for those that prefer to enjoy gay romance, lesbian romance or even straight romance. 

Lovely Complex

Characters from anime - Lovely Complex
Credit: Anime Good Fon

Sometimes we want to watch a straightforward romance. Perfect guy, perfect girl meets and fall in love. But this 2007 romance anime really played around with insecurities, with the less expected way a couple should look. The story follows two teenage best friends. The girl is far above average height and the boy is far below. When an unexpected romance blossoms between them, you can expect plenty of laughs and drama at their expense. 


Characters from anime - Doukyuusei
Credit: Pinterest

This anime film is the love story of two boys. Struggling with their identity but growing to understand themselves in the end. This shounen ai or boy love anime is beautifully animated with an almost watercolour look, which I found stunning. It was made in 2016 and I think it is a cute story. 


Characters from anime - Horimiya
Credit: Chibi Reviews

This anime is purely adorable. If you would like to see a straightforward high school romance with fun characters, it is a good laugh. This is a great anime to begin with. It is about a high school girl who becomes friends with an outcast and grows to love him when they show their true selves to each other. Before you get to the end, and worry. The release date of season 2 will be announced sometime this September. So you will be getting a continuation of this sweet love story. 

For the Adults Out There

Text reading - parental advisory explicit content
Credit: Numero

Before anyone asks. No, I am not talking about hentai. With that out of the way, this section explores a few animes which are mature in their themes or may not be appropriate for younger audiences. Themes may vary from being gory to mature storylines. But it is up to you to decide what is appropriate for your family. 


Cast members from anime - Beastars
Credit: Tech Unwrapped

If you are looking for something mature and truly interesting, as romances go. This is a great anime to start with. Netflix helped transform this manga into the anime it is today and they did a great job. Now, is this a kid-friendly anime? I would say no. With blood, violence and underlying sexual themes, I think that this is not an anime for children. Is Beastars a good anime? After watching it, I felt that it was a masterpiece. It reminded me of the film ‘Zootopia’ but more mature and dark in its themes. The story and relationships are fantastic and I would recommend this anime to any that would listen. 

Attack on Titan

Characters from anime - Attack on Titan
Credit: Book Sand Bao

This anime has been in the spotlight for a few years now. It is indisputably the number one anime. Who could disagree? This anime is full of adventure, drama, loss, fantastic world building and interesting characters. The reason Attack on Titan is here in adult animes is simple. Its themes are mature and there are several scenes which I would describe as bloody. Regardless of this not being appropriate for children, this is probably one of the best animes I have ever seen. I heartily recommend it if you would like to start with something that is truly a masterpiece. 


Characters from anime - Parasyte
Credit: Netflix

Though not as popular as many other animes out there. I had to recommend parasyte. Is this anime good? I would say yes it is. It is witty, funny, dramatic and interesting to watch unfold. I would highly recommend watching this anime. The themes are mature in the way that the story is not for children and there is a lot of blood in it. Regardless of this, it is still worth a watch. Will there be a season 2 you might ask when you reach the end? Sadly, the series was not renewed. So there will not be another season. However, it does end rather well and closes off the main sequence of events rather well.

For the Adventurous Type

Characters from anime - Sword Art Online
Credit: Screen Rant

Perhaps you would prefer something more exciting. There are innumerable adventure animes out there to choose from. Once again, narrowing down the best and the brightest is down to opinion. I have managed to find a few which I felt were truly memorable. But your taste may differ from my own. As such, feel free to explore the numerous animes out there to find something that suits your taste. 

Fairy Tail

Characters from anime - Fairy Tail
Credit: Comic Book

If you would like a long, whimsical and fun anime to enjoy, this one is fantastic. The story centres around magical wizards’ guilds. All pitted against each other, each wizard trying to bring glory to their own guild. Inevitably, there are numerous attempts to bring about the end of the world, or magic, or their friends and great battles begin. It is a funny and interesting story to enjoy. When you finally get to the end, you might be wondering…is Fairy Tail over? The answer is, no. There will be a final season about the children of all the characters we have grown to love. Something you may have seen fan art about. Overall, this is a great anime to get stuck into. It is kid friendly for the most part, though I would watch out for the odd dirty joke or buxom young ladies.


Characters from anime - Bleach
Credit: CBR

This anime is about the world of humans and the world of souls. A battle between the soul reapers and creatures known as hollows. There is a lot more to it than that but I really must let you discover the rest by watching it. 

This anime was one of the big three. It was among the famous Naruto and One Piece. But after several years of being at the top, this anime was dropped and it has been MIA for eight years now. We are finally getting closure and another season is to be released. So if you are picking up this famous anime it is really the right time to do so. 

Jujutsu Kaisen

Characters from anime - Jujutsu Kaisen
Credit: IGN

This anime is a recent arrival. It took the world by storm and with little wonder. It is a fantastic and beautifully animated series. With great characters and an interesting story to follow. You will be happy to know that this anime is getting a second season. So when you get to the end you have another adventurous and exciting season to look forward to. This anime is not exactly appropriate for children, the themes are mature and there is violence parents may find inappropriate for their children. So parental discretion is advised. 

A Few of My Favourites

Character from anime - Shiki
Credit: 100 Word Anime

For the fun of it, I have listed a few additional animes which are not on the list. These are a few of my favourite animes. Each person has their own tastes and that is their own prerogative. The three I have chosen are all vastly different but offer up something special which you might want to try out if you get the chance. So without further ado, here are three of my personal favourite animes. 

Ao No Exorcist

Character from anime ao no exorcist
Credit: Gojinshi

If you would like an anime about demons and Lucifer’s son himself, this is a fantastic place to start. This story is about a pair of twins raised by an exorcist. One of which turns out to be the son of Satan himself. This is the story of this young man trying to overcome his nature and become an exorcist against all odds. There is plenty of drama, monsters and pivotal character moments in this anime. Not to mention, the animation is beautiful. Is this anime worth watching? My opinion is yes, without a doubt. It is funny and interesting with some fun characters and a great arc. There is a lot to like about Ao No Exorcist.

Samurai Champloo

Characters from anime - Samurai Champloo
Credit: CBR

There are some that agree with my claim that this is the best anime of all time. A witty and funny mix of hip-hop and samurai makes this a great show. I love the way that the main characters are thrown together and face all kinds of trouble on the road to find the samurai that smells like sunflowers. A strange quest, you might say. But it all makes sense when you watch it. Does Samurai Champloo have a season 2? The sad answer is no. The studio that made it shut down and, regrettably, there will be no more of this amazing anime. 

Tiger and Bunny

Character from anime - tiger and bunny
Credit: Monsters and Critics

I do not like superheroes. Burn me at the steak and call me a witch. I know. But, this anime does the whole superhero trope in such a fun and exciting way. The characters are fun and interesting and the spin they put on superheroes. I think makes this a masterpiece as stories go. Tiger and Bunny is about a series of superheroes working for a company known as ‘Hero TV’. They make arrests on live television and earn points based on what they do and their popularity. It follows the story of a veteran hero who is kind of on his way out, until he is put with a new and charming hero all out for revenge.

I will not tell you more about what happened. But the way the story unfolds makes this a fantastic anime and the characters are amazing. If you have the time, I would highly recommend this amazing anime.

In Conclusion

Anime girl
Credit: My Otaku World

There are countless options out there as far as anime is concerned. Whether you are new and are looking to expand your watch list or you just want to try something new during lockdown. This is a fantastic way to unwind and enjoy a great story. If you are uncertain to start watching anime. I would urge you to simply start watching and see how it goes. 

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