I'll admit, it might be a little embarrassing to admit to being interested in anime. The stereotypical "dudebro" fans and misogynistic storylines of popular anime can kill anyone's interest in them quickly. I know exactly how you feel.
On top of that, anime might seem hard to get into. You may ask yourself: "Which shows should I watch? Dubbed or subbed? What genre?"
I’m sure you’ve heard of the classic recommendations like “Naruto,” “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” and “Attack on Titan,” and maybe you’ve already tried all of those and just weren’t interested. The secret of getting into anime is knowing which shows to start with, so here are my recommendations for great anime you can find on Hulu and Netflix that are perfect for beginners.
I know exactly what you’re thinking: “I don’t want to watch a show about volleyball! I won’t care!” Trust me, you will.
This shōnen (action) sports anime follows protagonist Shōyō and his team as they practice and compete against other teams to try to reach nationals. Sports anime are almost never actually about the sport, so even though you might not care about the volleyball aspect initially, over time, you’ll fall in love with the characters and will become completely invested. I can even guarantee you won’t be able to pick one favorite character because you’ll love them all.
My favorite thing about “Haikyū!!” is the amazing English dub — it’s absolutely hilarious. You can find the first two seasons of the show on Hulu and Netflix, and the remaining seasons on Crunchyroll.
"Fruits Basket” (2019)
This 2019 remake of the 2001 classic shoujo (romance) anime is truly a work of art. Unlike the original series, the ongoing modern reboot is more loyal to the original manga (Japanese graphic novel) and includes twice as many episodes (50 episodes versus 26 episodes in the 2001 series) but with the same original voice actors.
The story delves into the life of Tohru, who, after her mother’s death, stumbles onto the Soma family. But, 12 members of the family have a curse — when embraced by someone from the opposite sex, they morph into their respective Chinese Zodiac animal.
Don’t let the weird plot fool you though. This anime is a beautiful story of grief, perseverance, acceptance and love. Every character has a heartbreaking tragic backstory that will never fail to make you cry. On top of that, Tohru is one of the most likable shoujo protagonists out there — you can’t help but love her! You can find the show's two seasons on Hulu.
This anime is the perfect mix of action, fantasy and romance. The show follows the story of Kagome who discovers a sacred well in her family’s shrine that can travel to the feudal era (the medieval period between the 15th and 17th centuries). After going down the well, she meets Inuyasha, a half-demon, who is trapped on a sacred tree by Kagome's ancestor, whom he was in love with.
Now, I skipped the first season, but if you’ve never heard of “Inuyasha," I wouldn't recommend it. The whole gang — Sango, Miroku, Inuyasha, Kagome and Shippo — are all together by season two, traveling around feudal Japan, fighting demons and trying to defeat Naraku, our antagonist, so understanding the plot is crucial. I also wouldn’t recommend watching this with the English dub — the Japanese original is way better.
“Monthly Girls' Nozaki-Kun”
If you’re in the mood for a show with absolutely no plot, I highly recommend “Monthly Girls' Nozaki-Kun.” The rom-com anime follows Umetarou, a secret shoujo manga artist, and Chiyo, a high schooler with a huge crush on Umetarou.
Throughout the series, Umetarou uses his and Chiyo’s friends’ wacky situations as inspiration for his manga (Spoiler alert: It doesn’t usually work out). This show is absolute comedy gold once you’ve learned what to expect from it. I’d recommend watching it in Japanese first, but the English dub is a pretty amazing reason to rewatch (a lot of the voice actors for “Haikyū!!” play characters here, so that’s fun!). You can find it on Netflix.
If you’re looking for a short series that you won’t be able to stop thinking about for months, this action-filled drama/sci-fi series is for you.
Our main character, Yuzuru wakes up in the afterlife without any memory of where he is or how he got there. Suddenly, he’s talked into joining an organization called "SSS" and its fight against a seemingly innocent girl and whatever forces got them all into this mess.
I’m not going to lie: This show broke me when I first saw it. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. You’ll sob. It’ll make you question your life and purpose in the best way. But “Angel Beats!” also has kick-ass action sequences with beautiful visuals and incredible characters. You can find all 13 episodes on Netflix.
If you’re looking for just straight-up action without the super annoying protagonist (looking at you, “Naruto” and “Dragon Ball”), “Bleach” is your answer. The anime follows Ichigo, a high school student with the ability to see ghosts. But when he meets Rukia, a Soul Reaper, he’s forced to take her place and fight the dangerous hollow ghosts in order to protect the innocent spirits and his family.
“Bleach” is just really cool! The series is one of the most popular shōnen of all time with 366 episodes and 15 seasons. It may seem completely overwhelming, but at least it's not “One Piece," which has 961 episodes and is (somehow) still going. I’d recommend watching it in English for nostalgia’s sake, but the Japanese version is better. You can stream this anime on both Netflix and Hulu.
If you want to watch a show that’s currently airing and join the fandom in our weekly collective freakouts, “HoriMiya” is a great choice! The show follows Kyouko, a popular girl, and Izumi, a gloomy loner, who meet outside of school for the first time and barely know one another. Kyouko and Izumi get to know a part of each other nobody else knows, and a relationship between them begins to blossom.
So far, the story is sweet and funny with an absolutely beautiful art style. Four episodes are out currently, so if you plan on watching this anime, you haven’t missed much. You can find it on Hulu with new episodes coming out every Saturday.
I can’t handle horror or really intense action shows (like “Attack on Titan,” which everyone loves), so I prefer comedy and slice-of-life series instead, and preferring this style doesn’t make me any less of an anime fan. Although much of mainstream anime consists of dudes screaming at each other while fighting, many anime contain stories of friendships, love and growing up together, and some have elements of both.
You might have a specific idea about what anime is from what you've seen online or the stereotypical perception of it, and maybe you’ve already decided you won’t love it. But the reality is that with so much anime out there, spanning several genres and produced in many different art styles, I can guarantee you’ll find the one that’s right for you.