5 Anime Series for Non-Anime Fans

attack on titan

The smash hit of 2013: Attack on Titan.

At least once a week, someone I know gives me a suggestion on an anime series to watch.  While I’m not an anime hater, I rarely give their suggestions a try.  In my humble opinion, the storylines are either too weird or too violent or just plain out ridiculous.  But once in a blue moon, I will get turned on to an anime that actually holds my interest and makes me look forward to the next episode.  Here are some of my suggestions for anime series that I feel any non-anime fan can enjoy and maybe even come to love:

#5 ATTACK ON TITAN

attack on titan

Attack on Titan is THE anime to watch right now.  The premise is definitely intriguing: Mankind has been forced to live behind 3 concentric walls in order to protect themselves from Titans, huge and ugly giants whose only goal is to gobble up humans.  When titans manage to get past the first wall, young Eren watches in horror as his mother is consumed by a titan.  Along with his best friends Mikasa and Armin, Eren joins the military and vows to rid the world of these monsters once and for all.  Nearly all episodes end in a cliffhanger and the storyline is peppered with multiple mysteries: where did the titans come from?  what’s in those shots that Eren’s father had been injecting his son with?  what’s in the basement of Eren’s old house where supposedly all answers can be found?

#4 FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST

full metal alchemist

I can’t lie: when I first heard the plot for Fullmetal Alchemist, I filed this series under my “Shows I Will Never Watch” category.  In short, it’s about 2 teenage brothers who learn alchemy in a wild attempt to resurrect their dead mother, and not only do they fail but they lose body parts in the process.  The brothers embark on a quest to find the Philosopher’s Stone, supposedly the only item that can give them back their former bodies.  Does this sound like ridiculousness?  Yes, I thought so too initially.  But I gave the series a try after multiple people were after me to watch it.  And I loved it!  Particularly of note are the multiple plot twists and a number of dubious characters who start off good and turn out bad and vice-versa. 

#3 STEINS;GATE

steins gate

If you’re intrigued by the idea of a magic microwave being able to send text messages into the past, then this is the anime for you!  Mad scientist, Rintaro Okabe, builds this microwave as a hobby, but soon comes to realize that he can use it save the world.  It turns out there’s an evil organization, SERN, that’s intent on taking over the planet and Rintaro uses his microwave to send messages back in time; his hope is to change the past in such a way that the future will become SERN-free.  Filled with interesting characters and a compelling storyline, Steins;Gate basically takes the Butterfly Effect and turns it on its head.

#2 KIDS ON THE SLOPE

kids on the slope

If you’re looking for an anime with a more realistic storyline, then consider giving Kids on the Slope a try.  This wonderful coming-of-age story chronicles the adventures of high school friends and their love of jazz.  There’s a great mix of romance (and bromance) and comedy and a wonderful soundtrack to boot.  I enjoyed this anime series so much that I finished it all in one day (there are 12 episodes).  Kids on the Slope is such a rarity in that I really can’t think of a single complaint about it.  I don’t hate any of the characters, the pacing of the story is just right, and the series concludes on a satisfactory note.

#1 DEATH NOTE

death note

Death Note is truly one of the most exciting television shows I have ever watched, anime or otherwise.  Mischievous Death God, Ryuk, drops a Death Note into the human realm to see what will happen when someone discovers it.  A Death Note is a notebook that has the power to kill anyone whose name is written on its pages.  The Death Note is picked up by Light Yagami, a highly intelligent teenager who has become bored with his life.  Once he discovers the notebook’s powers, Light sets out to rid the world of all criminals and become the leader of the remaining citizens.  Unfortunately for him, his grand plan quickly hits a roadblock as suspicion mounts over the high number of criminals suffering untimely deaths.  Master detective, L, quickly realizes that the deaths are due to supernatural powers and sets out to find the killer (Kira) behind them all.  What ensues is a masterful cat-and-mouse game as Light realizes that he has truly met his match in L.  Intense and captivating, I found Death Note to be one of the deeper shows I have watched.  I was especially impressed with how the series dealt with the issues of morality and ethics.  Although Light initially has good intentions in using the Death Note, we see his character grow increasingly demoralized as he desperately tries to hold on to his secret identity at all costs.  It’s hard to imagine that I will ever come across an anime that I like more than this one.

Photo credit: Danny Choo / Foter / CC BY-SA, Photo credit: 輔研領工 / Foter / CC BY-NC,