A while back, we had an article recommending anime to newcomers. Having my own thoughts on the premise, I decided to write about 5 other shows that I think people who are not already fans of the medium might enjoy.
5) Heavy Object
From my understanding, Japan is somewhat known for its giant fighting robots. As such, I thought it would be prudent to include an entry on a show with massive war machines. However, Heavy Object is not the typical mech battle affair. Rather than focusing on combat between the colossal Objects, the series is about a small team that takes down these behemoths through other means.
Throughout each arc, the protagonists face overhwelming odds and come up with creative ways of achieving victory anyway. There is not much tension as it is clear that they will always prevail in the end, but it is still fun to see what situations they will end up in and how they will get out. The show also contains a good amount of humour, usually at the expense of the two perverted male leads. Unlike other series, it does not feature humanoid armaments and even points out how impractical such things would be. In a lot of ways, Heavy Object seems like the perfect giant robot show for people who are not into giant robots.
4) Soul Eater
When most people here in the West think of “anime,” they probably think of shonen action shows. After all, most of the series that have aired on network television outside of Japan fall into this genre and it is the most popular among fans. Therefore, I feel it is necessary to include at least one such entry on this list.
Soul Eater takes place in a universe in which certain inviduals have the power to turn into weapons and the grim reaper runs a school. The story mostly focuses on three teams of students who venture out into the world and harvest the souls of those who seek to upset the natural order and defy Death.
While few would say that this is the best in the genre, not many would argue that it is bad either. The series does a great job of balancing its well animated action scenes with quality humour and even has some brilliant, somber subplots. The English dub also features some really good voice acting. More importantly, the show ends well before the episode count enters triple digits. As such, it includes far less filler than many of its competitors and requires less of a commitment to watch all the way through.
Slice of life comedies are another popular genre of Japanese animation. These shows are comparable to sitcoms in the West as they normally do not have much plot and focus on how characters act in mundane scenarios instead. Lucky☆Star is about the normal interactions between a group of girls who live an ordinary life as students. There is not much to the plot, but it provides ample opportunity for humorous dialogue. As the show goes on, the cast expands to include an entertaining assortment of archetypes.
One of the things that makes Lucky☆Star stand out is the effort that went into its references and parodies. Of course, it may seem odd to recommend something full of parodies to people who have little experience with the source material, but the jokes work well enough without relying solely on recognition. Even if you are not familiar with the voice actors trying to sell merchandise of their characters from other Kyoto Animation works, the gag concerning the lack of popularity of male protagonists stands on its own. The abundance of parodies also serves to help new viewers familiarize themselves with Japanese pop culture while the slice of life nature of the show does the same for everyday life in Japan.
School-Live! is at its most enjoyable when you go in completely blind, so I would recommend doing so. Still, for those who need convincing, I will try to do so while spoiling as little as possible.
Like the other entries on this list, School-Live! is pretty funny. However, it also features some brilliant psychological elements. While the show is primarily a comedy, its central premise allows it to turn to horror at a moment’s notice. The suspense that this creates makes for a series that is good at holding the attention of its audience. It is also obvious that the creators put a great amount of care into its foreshadowing. Some twists are more obvious than others, but it is always nice to see little details that match up with later reveals. Overall, the series is a good pick for those looking for an intelligent show with a bit of tension.
Steins;Gate is a popular sci-fi series that takes place in modern Japan. The show follows college student and self-proclaimed “mad scientist” Rintaro Okabe. After accidentally converting a microwave into a sort of time machine, he works together with his friends to figure out how it works. The pacing is a bit slow at first, but that gives the viewers ample time to grow attached to the cast before things start going awry. Most of characters in question happen to be obsessed with various forms of Japanese nerd culture. Not only is this a good setup for comedy, it also helps introduce these concepts to new viewers. The series also features a superb English dub which may help newcomers get into the show.
The banter is a big part of why the series is so enjoyable, but it is not the only clever aspect of the show. There is some real science behind its method of time manipulation, though there is a bit of fictional nonsense in there as well. The show also makes expert use of framing techniques and has a rather impressive visual design overall. The character arcs are also handled really well and lead to some pretty somber moments. Steins;Gate is a fantastic series that I would highly recommend to absolutely everyone.
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