So, for some reason you have decided you want to watch some anime? Maybe you watch Invincible or Rick & Morty or Harley Quinn or any other number of great animated series directed at mature audiences, and you have finally said to yourself "wait a minute...they make more of this don't they?"
Glad to hear it! Fortunately, no matter what it is you are looking for they do make just about every type of anime possible, for any type of viewer you can imagination. Here are ten popular animes that I love, with a few reasons I think they are worth checking out. These are not necessarily my top ten favorites, just ones I think are great introduction to the medium.
1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Let's just get this one out of the way. This is, arguably the single best anime ever created. Every single character is interesting, the voice acting is phenomenal, and my goodness the plot is HBO worthy. If you like Game of Thrones, philosophy, or detective series sprinkled with comedy and tearjerker moments, then this show is for you.
2. Yu Yu Hakusho
Written by Yoshihiro Togashi, the creator of equally famous Hunter x Hunter, who also happens to be the husband of Sailor Moon creator Naoko Takeuechi, Yu Yu Hakusho is easily my favorite anime of all time. While the animation and a few of the jokes are a little dated, the story and its characters have so much heart, you truly know these are great people who you are excited to see become stronger and kinder as their world views are challenged. Add to that an incredibly cool early 90s aesthetic, and you have got yourself one of the most likeable casts in all of anime history. If you want an underdog story, this is the one for you.
3. Carole & Tuesday
Number 3 is going to be the spice of life in this list. While I tend to love big battles or complicated plot lines in my television, this show has none of that. Instead, it is almost like a slice of life anime in which two really great gals, who are really great singers, have a really great time teaming up to chase their dream of stardom. The characters are lovable, the songs are catchy and cute, and the social commentary on the pursuit of fame and stardom is there, if not too poignant. If you want to take a break from all the violence, or treat yourself to high quality anime production, you cannot go wrong with Carole & Tuesday.
I saw this series once back in like 2015 and have been thinking about it ever since. So, without giving too much away, if you like series like True Detective or Mindhunter then this one should be high up on your list. While it does have action in its own way, that is not where it stands out. Treat this like you would any other thriller and you should enjoy the experience more. There are a bunch of new seasons, which I cannot guarantee hold up to the plot and resolution of season one since I have not seen them.
5. My Hero Academia
Of course, no modern-day anime list is complete without the heir apparent to the anime geekdom, My Hero Academia. Starring Izuku Midoriya, one of the first true underdogs to earn his seemingly unconquerable might, MHA was the first anime to do a lot of what is quite common in anime right now. If you have seen bits of Dragon Ball Z or Naruto but do not want to deal with a huge backlog of episodes, MHA is a great substitute. Plus, when the show was at its peak in popularity it was often compared in quality to Fullmetal Alchemist, an honor few shows ever receive. Plus, if you like the show there are also some great movies to look up and enjoy as well!
This was the first anime to introduce me the concept of anime specifically created for mature audiences. The plot is dark. The deaths are gruesome. The action sequences are absolutely stunning. If you enjoy battle royales, betrayal, red herrings, and characters with more layers than meet the eye, this is one you cannot miss.
7. Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans
As dark as moments can be in any of the other animes on this list, Iron Blooded Orphan will break your heart repeatedly. From what I understand Gundam series usually focus on the theatrics and politics of war. Iron Blooded Orphan does something totally different. Instead, the real focus is on the kids who get sent to fight those wars and the consequences of that violence on their lives. Give this one a chance and you will not be disappointed.
8. Death Note
I will be honest. I am not a huge fan of Death Note. I do think the series has some interesting moments, and the second part of the series does something I had not really seen before when I was watching the anime for the very first time. But overall, the story felt overrated to me. Plus, I could not find a single character I genuinely liked. All that said, this one is widely regarded as one of the best animes of all time. Starring a young male protagonist with virtuous ideals, Death Note gets interesting when that young man finds a magical notebook that will kill anyone whose name is written in the book. Of course, no one man should have all that power...
9. Neon Genesis: Evangelion
Okay so if you thought my take on Death Note was bad...here is my Evangelion take: no other show has ever disappointed me so badly. And I was a Game of Thrones fan. The show starts off slow...adding layer upon layer of existential dread and teenage angst as the series' protagonist comes to terms with being an EVA pilot in a war against beings known as Angels - monstrous aliens that randomly attack the Earth. But about halfway through the short series, you finally get it. This show is great. Because we heard the characters' feelings and saw their actions away from the battlefield, they become extremely believable at their lowest and greatest points. And then the finale. Whether you prefer the movie ending or the in series ending, I'm just not vibing with either. The intro theme? Slaps. Check this one out. You will likely either hate it or absolutely love it.
10. Tower of God
Tower of God may never be finished. Based the webtoon of the same name, this Korean work of art seems at first glance to have taken the world by storm, when in reality the creators have been chipping away at it for years, building one of the greatest followings of any series on the Webtoons site. I caught this one on HBO on a whim after scrolling past a ton of tweets either admonishing or praising the anime and was nearly instantly convinced. This series follows Bam on his way up a tower to be reunited with his long-lost love Rachel...but it is not that simple. The top of the tower changes EVERYTHING and we have not even seen it yet. Do yourself a favor and binge this one in chunks for best effect. Do note - the power of friendship is strong in this well animated series. And fair warning, no matter what you see or hear, this is not a love story. At least not how you think it is!
And there you have it - ten anime to get you started. You will notice I did not include hyper mainstream series like Dragon Ball, Naruto, or One Piece. That is because if you are curious about anime, you've likely already heard of those, so no need to beat the horse.
Instead, after seeing a few of the ones on this list, you will have a not half bad mix of classics from the last few decades under your belt, and a better understanding of whether you are more of a big action viewer, a slice of life enthusiast, or a thinker in need of a complicated plot. From there you can branch into all sorts of fantastical, sci-fi, or sport animes and define your preferences even further.
Let me know which ones you hate and which ones you love on Twitter @Lutang_wutang