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7 "Gateway" Anime Sure to Get Newbies Hooked

by Lynzee Loveridge, Aug 23rd 2014

There are several hurdles when you want to introduce the average American viewer, be they a family member or friend, to the world of anime. Like jumping into any foreign art medium, there's a learning curve. Assuming your cousin Ted has had zero exposure to Japanese culture or animated films outside of dubbed Ghibli films, where do you start when you want to show him why anime is so cool? Consider these seven works when you want to bridge the gap between American entertainment and anime for someone new.

This week's list is a rundown of what to introduce friends to based on their tastes, and isn't in a hierarchical order.

7. Cowboy Bebop Cowboy Bebop is the easiest show to introduce new viewers to anime. It's mostly episodic in nature and thanks to its sci-fi setting, the Japanese culture shock is minimal. You can wait to field questions about "why are all of the character's hair strange colors, what's with the school uniforms," and other newcomer questions after they get a few more shows under their belt. Cowboy Bebop works easily for English-speaking viewers because they can spend more time getting immersed in a humorous cast and a plot with enough to chew on but won't be overwhelmed by sci-fi jargon. It's easy to understand why the show had such a long run on American cable TV.

6. Black Lagoon If your buddy is a fan of popcorn action flicks, Black Lagoon will be right up their alley. The series is full of unique characters and over-the-top violence that it fits right in with stuff like The Transporter, it's just animated. If they like it enough, you can introduce them to similar, more "advanced" anime in the same vein next, like Elfen Lied, Mardock Scramble, and Highschool of the Dead.

5. Psycho-Pass Psycho-Pass' plot and themes should be easily accessible to anyone with an interest in crime dramas with some sci-fi for good measure. The series draws heavily from American crime shows and the beginning story arcs should feel familiar to fans of CSI or Fringe to draw viewers in before expounding on the larger philosophical themes and more intricate plot points.

4. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood If your friend is already a fantasy geek but missed the Record of Lodoss War boat, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood works as more current introduction. The series' fantasy elements will easily appeal to tabletop gamers, with plenty of magic, battles, and intrigue. The characters, and in some circles their English dub actors, remain popular even now. With a 64-episode count though, make sure you're introducing a fan with some patience.

3. Another
If your friend is already familiar with foreign horror films like Let the Right One In or Ju-On, they'll enjoy Another. The series can be a slow-boil at times (but not the extent of Shiki), but has the gruesome pay off horror fans like and a mystery that doesn't get too convoluted. The series can work as nice segue into longer series with gothic undertones like Blood+.

2. Fruits Basket Fruits Basket works as a nice introduction to supernatural shojo romance, of which there are a plethora to choose from. Fruits Basket is easily the forerunner to newer series like Kamisama Kiss, with a bevy of attractive male characters but more substance than a lot of reverse-harem series. While the "non-ending" is frustrating, it still ties up enough of its loose-ends and is worth recommending to fans who like the recent surge of fairy-tale and fantasy related TV shows like Once Upon a Time.

1. Tenchi Muyo! The Tenchi Muyo! OVA and Tenchi Universe is the perfect way to test the harem and fanservice waters with a friend (skip in Tokyo, though). The show has enough wacky humor, entertaining action sequences, and of course boobs to give newbies a general idea on how the genre plays out. The mileage is going to depend on your friend though, and the show can be considered tame by today's fanservice show standards. The humor style, on the other hand, hasn't changed much.

The new poll: What's your favoritemusical manga? If your fav isn't listed, add it to the poll!

The old poll: What's your favorite blonde, twin-tailed heroine? So, a lot of answers had to be removed because of lack of reading. The free input box is a bit of an experiment, and while is was successful last week, this week's poll had over 10% of votes thrown out completely. So remember to read! Here's the results (all answers under 1% are omitted):

  1. Maka Albarn (Soul Eater)
  2. Usagi Tsukino (Sailor Moon)
  3. Mami Tomoe (Madoka Magica)
  4. Eri Sawachika (School Rumble)
  5. Golden Darkness / Yami (To Love-Ru)
  6. Fate Testarossa (Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha)
  7. Triela (Gunslinger Girl)
  8. Nagi Sanzenin (Hayate the Combat Butler)
  9. Sanae Dekomori (Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions!)
  10. Misa (Death Note)
  11. Elizabeth (Black Butler)
  12. Tsukumo (Karneval)
  13. Suzu Hagimura (Seitokai Yakuindomo)
  14. Alice Cartelet (Kin'iro Mosaic)
  15. Sonya (Kill Me Baby)
  16. Utau Hoshina (Shugo Chara!)
  17. Eve (Black Cat)

When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as Associate Editor for Anime News Network, blogs about women and LBGT topics in anime and manga on her blog Engendered Dilemma, and posts pictures of her son on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.

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