Skip to Ayesha’s curated list. (last updated 19 Mar 2021)
Congrats! You’ve taken the first step in enriching your life!
Trust me when I say anime will change. your. life.
Firstly, anime is not cartoons for adults. It’s written by adults,
and for the majority, intended for young adults or adults.
While you often see main characters as teenagers, it’s not as basic
as it looks. There are many incredible stories in the world of anime
and you’ll find most (at least my list below) are not at all
childish or cartoony like English cartoons. Like musicals or
documentaries or reality TV shows, anime is simply another form
of storytelling. Anime can be visually stunning, it can be tear-jerking,
it can have a grammy-worthy soundtrack.
Anime has all sorts of genres but you’ll see similarities as a whole such as
– Cute Chibi faces, this is usually when there’s a comical reaction.
Eg. see 3 types of drawings of Zenitsu from Demonslayer
– Fanservice, this is when sometimes they show a half nude character
/some squealing/some sexual jokes, it’s very cringey but you’ll get used to it,
usually a hot spring bath scene and a few girls are in there comparing boob
sizes. Some serious shows don’t have any fanservice, then of course there’s
also ecchi animes that’s entirely fanservice 😉
Speaking of fan service/hot springs, anime is quite funny in
that every story seems to have certain arcs or scenes like:
- Training Arc (where its either a short montage or a few episodes
where a character goes on a bootcamp/overseas for special training
and comes back super empowered)
- Tournament Arc (usually followed after Training Arc) where the
main character battles a bunch of rivals or enemies to show their personal growth.
- Redemption Arc where you see the backstory of certain characters
and they’ve overcome the odds or their motivations
- Beach Episode (this is often a filler episode where the main characters
go to the beach and have fun, lol)
– The Japanese language used in anime is quite simple, and you’ll quickly learn words like:
- daijoubu = are you okay?
- onegai = please
- kawaii = cute
- oiishi – yummy
- tadaima – I’m home!
- oyasumi – goodnight
- ara ara – oh my
and so on, and when you talk to friends like me who watch anime
extensively you’ll actually use Japanese words in some sentences!!
Remember always pick SUBs over DUBs.
Anime is made in Japanese, and the voice actors are often tremendously
skilled in their accents, screaming in pain, voice-cracking or crying,
evil laughter, etc. Although dubbed versions exist, its way more enjoyable to
listen in Japanese.
People tell me they don’t like subtitles because they are forced to pay
attention and can’t multi-task I don’t see that as a problem, that’s great,
you’re fully committed to the show!
Okok, you’ve hyped me, where do I get anime?
Crunchyroll has the most, but I always try Netflix first!
Sometimes the show uses their English name, so try to search in both languages.
eg. Attack on Titan or Shingeki no Kyojin / Laid-back camp or Yuru Camp.
Some shows only use their English Name eg. Fullmetal Alchemist or only
Japanese name like Haikyuu!!
Aight, you’ve made it to the best part, here’s Ayesha’s curated list,
based on my top picks + what I think the majority of people like, or you can
use this list: https://myanimelist.net/topanime.php
But if you specifically like a Magical High School Girl genre (that’s a thing!)
or you like Vampires or Loli/goth style turn to good ol’ Reddit where
r/anime has lots of recommendation threads.
OK I’M SO READY, TELL ME WHAT TO WATCH ALREADY!!
Strap yourself in, you’re in for a hell of a ride
AYESHA’S FAVs / MUST-WATCH
(last updated 13 March 2020)
Fantasy & Adventure / Action
- Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood – Complete.
This is the GOAT of anime, it’s also one of the first animes I watched and it
got me hopelessly addicted to anime, it’s super fun to watch, incredible story.
There’s a longer version, the original with 100s of eps, don’t watch that one,
I hear it’s very dark and depressing. This one has lots of feels so be prepared!
This show is ranked 1 in popularity on myanimelist.
Two brothers try to find a philosopher’s stone to restore their bodies
after attempting a forbidden curse to bring back their mother.
- Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) – Season 1 – 4 (‘final’ but not really)
This is my personal favourite anime ever, I’ve read the entire manga online
and enjoyed monthly Reddit discussions. Every chapter manages to get better and better.
It’s a story full of suspense, anguish, dilemmas and personal growth.
I cannot recommend reading it enough, and reading it from the start after
you’ve watched the show, the author is very masterful in
character development and foreshadowing. That said, the story is
quite dark at the start and I know a few people have been put off by this before but it’s
truly an intriguing story, stick it out! I guarantee it’s a wonderful ride.
On a small island with three concentric towering walls, the people of Paradis live in
constant fear of the roaming man-eating Titans. One day, a colossal Titan,
taller than the 50m walls appears and breaks one of the walls, flooding the city with terror.
- Hunter x Hunter (2011 version) – Complete, but I hear more arcs are
being written and possibly animated?
Another really fun show, it’s about 140 episodes, but has very clear story
arcs about 20 episodes each so you could watch and stop and pick it up
again if the number of episodes scares you. BUT WHY WOULD YOU STOP?
While it has a young kid as the main character it is definitely not a kiddy
show at all. There are so many loveable and cool characters and an
A boy, with the hope of finding his missing father, sets out on a quest
to take the Hunter Exam. Along the way, he picks up three companions:
one seeking revenge, an aspiring doctor, and a mischievous child
from a powerful family. This is a classic shounen that follows the story
of four aspiring hunters as they embark on a perilous adventure,
fighting for their dreams while defying the odds.
- Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demonslayer) – Season 1, Mugen Train movie, Season 2 TBC
This one became popular in Summer 2019, episode 19, in particular,
shot its ratings through the roof – you’ll see why! This has really pretty
drawings and the best 2D/3D CGI blends I’ve seen! The characters are all
quite individual so it’s hard to pick who I like most. I was in so much agony each week
that I caved and read the whole manga too. I love this one very much because
we get to see how challenging life is for our characters. The main character is shown
training for 2.5 years and appears to have become extremely skilled with his sword,
only to be ranked at the bottom of the Demon Slayer Corps and completely
outmatched against certain demons.
As of 2021, Mugen Train is the top-grossing Japanese anime movie ever.
Ever since the death of his father, the burden of supporting the family has fallen
upon Tanjiro Kamado’s shoulders. One faithful day, he sets off on his usual path
of selling charcoal to town nearby. Upon his return, he is greeted with a gruesome sight,
his entire family has been slaughtered with the sole survivor Nezuko, his sister,
who has been turned into a bloodthirsty demon. Alongside the mysterious group
calling themselves the Demon Slayer Corps, Tanjiro swears to avenge his family and
find a cure to restore his sister’s humanity.
- Golden Kamuy – Season 1 – 3 out, Season 4 WHEN??!?!
This started off as a funny adventure between a mountain tribe girl and an
ex-soldier of war. We see them hunting and trying lots of strange food while
on a big treasure hunt and encounter lots of obstacles. This one has a bit of everything,
action, comedy, suspense, romance, it’s a well-rounded show!
I really love how different this one is because of the historical setting
around the Russo-Japan war and is bringing awareness to the Ainu tribe.
I can’t wait to see this series complete. I might start reading this one soon!
- Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia) – Season 1 – 4 out,
2 movies – Two Heroes, Heroes: Rising
Season 5 airing in April 2021
One of the top-grossing anime in Japan that managed to receive 3 seasons within a year.
(For context, Attack on Titan is insanely popular but because manga sales/merchandise etc
were not high enough it took 4 years for the studio to renew a 2nd season of anime,
then half a year to renew for 3rd season as the hype increased yay!)
This is like Marvel’s Avengers of anime, a fun story about kids in a superhero academy
learning to be heroes and fighting baddies!
- Re-Zero: Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Starting life in a new world from Zero)
– Season 1 out, season 2 airing 2021.
This is of the ‘other world’ (isekai) genre where the main character is
teleported to a different universe. It’s a very popular genre in the 2010s,
there’s lots of trash isekai shows but this one is very good.
I remember feeling exhilarated, terrified, upset and frustrated each week,
some scenes were so shocking but I couldn’t stop. It does start off slow but I
promise it’s worth your time. It’s also got heaps of merchandise online due
to a pair of cute characters. You’ll know what I mean once you watch it.
- Tower of God – Season 1 out
Another isekai story. This one seems to have lots of depth, I started reading it
after Season 1 aired. It feels like it’s on a similar level to Attack on Titan
in terms of story-telling, build up and cliffhangers. Definitely watch this one!
- Psycho Pass – Season 1 – 3 out, unsure if continuing
Season 1 is awesome, but the hype didn’t continue in Season 2, so up to you
if you want to keep going. Season 3 had a sudden time skip and there are
several movies that take place in between. It’s a crime story set in the
dystopian future with an AI government that monitors everyone’s brains.
The AI can tell you your happiest path in life and dictates what you do
in life. What a scary thought! We follow detectives who are hunting down criminals
that the AI has identified as potential risks to society.
- Death Note – Complete
A classic. Would consider this literature. Watch at least the first half,
you’ll know when you’ve reached the 2nd half, it’s not as good,
but the first half is 10/10. Another GOAT series.
- Stein’s Gate – Complete, there is a new Stein’s Gate Re: that I haven’t
I found this had a really slow start and I was bored easily,
but then the 2nd half of the series just took off!
It’s about time-travel and the butterfly effect.
One of the top-rated of all-time which is why I committed, and thank god I did.
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Complete
If you liked Psycho Pass, you’d love this too! (Also a story involving police)
A slightly different take on what the future holds when we live amongst AI
and most people are part-cyborgs.
The Hollywood movie with Scarlett Johansson didn’t do it justice at all!
Bonus: Check out @kuvshinov_ilya on Instagram, the character designer for
Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2045 – a new series made in CGI.
Sports (don’t be fooled by this genre name, it’s terrific!)
- Haikyuu!! – Season 1 – 5?
I bet you’ll watch them all seasons in a week once you start! This is THE
volleyball anime that you absolutely should watch, it will make you love
sports and this is just SO WHOLESOME AND MOTIVATING!! It doesn’t
matter if you don’t know anything about volleyball or don’t do sports at all,
this one will get your adrenaline pumping!
(Season split is abit confusing, I have not seen the latest, and I think there’s
one final season coming)
- Chihayafuru – Season 1 – 3 complete, Season 4 TBC
This is a sports/slice of life one that I binged in 4 days. It’s not really a sport
but more a competitive card game. It’s got Japanese culture woven into it as
the game is based on your knowledge of classic Japanese poems. I know it
sounds totally weird but really fun to watch!
Karuta is a real sport and you can watch the real Queen play on YouTube!
Slice of life (This genre just makes you smile and relax, I love it! Usually set
in a high school or growing up/coming of age story. Sometimes about adult life too)
- Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid – Complete
Gosh, this show is just way too cute, and warms your heart!
I can’t say more, just watch it!
This one is actually quite suitable for kids. I was internally crying
at every episode thinking about running out of episodes.
- Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your lie in April) – Complete
Beautiful story about a pianist and violinist, it’s got lots of feels and
inspiring. I love the art in this one too! This one can be considered as
drama/romance genre too. Love it!
- Yuru Camp (Laid-back Camp) – Season 1 out, season 2 airing now
Title says it, it’s about camping! I cannot describe how feel-good and cute
this show is. It’s very very popular on the internet. Made a clean freak who
thinks 23 degrees is cold want to go winter camping (me). What?!
Lots of fans have tried to recreate this anime in real life with their own
camping photos from the real-life locations across Japan, uber cute!
- Violet Evergarden
This one’s recommended purely because of how beautiful this anime is.
It was a high budget production made by Netflix and they definitely gave it
lots of love. It’s slightly slow in pacing but so enjoyable to sit back and watch,
filled to the brim with feels and just utterly breathtaking visuals. Good OST too!
- Fruits Basket – Season 1-2 out, Season 3 in April 2021
This is a biased pick – I read this as a teenager and loved it to death.
I would wait for months for the English publication to hit the stores to read this.
English translated manga was pretty expensive in Singapore as a kid!
Since, I never got to finish the manga series so I’m beyond excited for the final
season to conclude the story.
Popular Internet Picks
- Kimi no Na Wa (Your Name) – this is a movie not a series, it’s
incredibly good, top-grossing anime movie ever, yup it overtook
Spirited Away. It’s a bit of fantasy/adventure/romance.
- One Punch Man – lots of people love this, it’s not a top pick for me but
I can understand why it’s so popular – comedy/action
- Jujutsu Kaisen – Popular anime in 2021, lots of fighting sequences,
satisfying to watch!
- Naruto – obviously, this is classic, but it’s about 700 episodes so I
understand if you’re not ready for it. Someday tho 😉
Personal Picks (in no particular order, I’m always adding to this list!)
- Noragami – Unique story setting about a girl who enters the spirit
realm and makes friends with the Gods and other spiritual beings.
I liked season 2 better!
- Baccano! – this is a fun one about the mafia/crime/comedy with good
jazz music soundtrack
- Boku dake ga inai Machi (Erased) – a crime/thriller that scared me
into watching the entire thing in almost one sitting, I just had to know!
- Shinsekai yori (From the New World) – another show from the future
but it’s not sci-fi, it’s like the world reverted to farming/conditioning
people for the good of mankind. Really unique show this one, but
quite intense/you’ll feel mind-fucked sometimes.
- Magi – another fantasy series that’s quite enjoyable 🙂 Set in Middle
East so the characters/artwork is very unique.
- No Game No Life – Love this! I’m a gamer so I’m biased. The
characters are all loveable – if you like this you’ll probably like
Kakegurui and vice versa. There’s also a movie for this which was .. weird.
- Kaichou wa Maid Sama (The president is a maid) This is a slice of life
one that’s just entertaining, maybe more appropriate for teenage girl,
but hey, don’t let that stop you!
- Banana Fish – action/crime show about the American mafia, it’s got a
really good plot and it’s super detailed. It’s honestly quite unique compared to
the other shows of the mafia genre.
- Sora Yori Mo Tooi Basho (A place further than the universe) – If you
wanna go to Antarctica after this one, hit me up! Love the soundtrack
of this, all original songs sung by the voice actors!
- Overlord – I don’t know how to explain this, another isekai (other world) story,
it’s kinda like if you fell into World of Warcraft and you were this almighty player.
It’s a fun show!
- Made in Abyss – This show looks cute and fun, but is actually quite
dark. The universe really intrigues me, give it til about Ep3 to suck you
in and sorry in advance for the feels. Story continues in the 3rd movie which I haven’t seen and I really want to! (the first two movies recap the first season, lol don’t ask why)
- Kakegurui – I binged this in a day, but this is one those shows that I think a
veteran anime watcher will enjoy more than a newcomer 😛 It’s about
high stakes GAMBLING!! (Yes, I like gambling myself hehee)
- Code Geass – A modern war story with the main protagonist being a
tactical genius. This story keeps you on your toes with the amount of
twists and cliffhangers.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion + End of Evangelion – An oldie and
highly criticiqued series. You need to concentrate to follow this one.
It was a breakthrough at the time of release. There’s a remake of this series over
four movies called “Rebuild of Evangelion” which I intend to watch one day
to see what the hype is!
- Dragonball Z – Yet another classic, one of my earlier animes,
this is the ONLY exception where you should watch it in English.
- Dr. Stone – Humanity is suddenly frozen by a flash of light. 3,700 years later,
a teenager awakens to find himself in a world where all traces of human civilisation
have been eroded by time. A light-hearted but educational show
about rebuilding modern civilisation.
- Special Fire Force – A show about super hot firemen what’s not to like?
Jokes, these firemen have some serious fiya powaaaa like literally,
manipulating flames. Dazzling~
- The Promised Neverland – The first season had a lot of promise (heh)
but spiralled out sadly in the second season. Season 1 was truly terrific,
I recommend reading this but it felt like the popularity of Season 1
went to the author’s head and I noticed the last few chapters felt
rushed and less well-thought.
- Shirobako – An anime about the anime industry, very heartwarming and
eye opening! Recommended if you want to learn about how an anime
is made but not in a boring documentary style. Lots of references to
real life figures who have influenced the anime scene in Japan.
This is a true personal favourite because I dream of working in anime.
CURRENTLY AIRING – SPRING 2020
Anime seasons operate according to the seasons of Japan, hence shows are
often 12-13 episodes long for 1-cour seasons or 24-25 episodes for 2-cour
seasons. Anichart tells me what’s airing each season so I know what to look
This upcoming season, Spring 2021, I’m watching:
- Boku No Hero Academia – Season 5
- Fruits Basket -final
- Shaman King (2021) – this is a remake!
NOW GO & HAVE FUN!
I’m jealous that you’re going to have so much fun with all these :/
Let me know what you’re watching so I can relive those moments!!
*a couple weeks later*
OMG Ayesha, I am a weeb now, anime is lyf, I need to feed my
addiction, help, what do?
Ara ara my friend, here’s what I like to do to fuel my love for anime..
– Subscribe to r/anime and other subreddits of individual animes, especially
currently airing ones so you can join in weekly discussions!!!
– Get some merchandise from https://otakumode.com/
– Get on Instagram and follow talented artists like @kushinov_ilya,
@yenkoes or cosplayers
– Go to Japan and embrace the weeb culture for yourself!
じゃあね JYA NE!
Just writing down all other shows I’ve watched in alphabetical order, to my
best memory at least, in case you actually finish my guide and still want
PS: It was difficult for me to not bump more of these up to personal picks,
but I didn’t want to overload the personal list more than I already have D:
PPS: There are also some shows which are frankly quite trash, but you gotta
experience trash to appreciate the gems 🙂
- 3-gatsu no Lion
- 91 Days
- Anohana: The flower we saw that day
- A Certain Magical Index
- A Certain Scientific Railgun
- A whisker away [movie]
- B: The Beginning
- Boruto: Next Generations
- Boy and the Beast [movie]
- Burn the Witch (not sure what happened here, only 3 eps on Crunchyroll)
- Cowboy Bebop
- Darling in the Franxx
- Deadman Wonderland
- Devilman Crybaby
- Dragon Pilot
- Fate/Stay Series
- Flying Witch
- Future Diary
- Goblin Slayer
- God of High School
- Gun Gale Online (Sword Art Online alternate)
- Highschool DxD
- Hikaru no Go
- How not to summon a Demon Lord (dropped halfway lol)
- Juuni Tensen
- Kaguya-sama: Love is War
- Keep your hands off Eizouken! (If you liked Shirobako c:)
- Kekkai Sensen
- Legend of the Galactic Heroes
- Megalo Box
- Mirai Nikki
- Mob Psycho 100
- Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun
- No Game No Life: Zero [movie]
- Owari no Seraph
- Plastic Memories
- Princess Principal
- Problem Children are coming from Another World, Aren’t They?
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica
- Rascal does not Dream of Bunny girl Senpai
- Rising of the Shield Hero
- Saga of Tanya the Evil
- Sakura Quest
- Seven Deadly Sins
- Shokugeki no Soma (Food Wars)
- Sword Art Online
- Sword Art Online: Alicization
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
- That time I got Reincarnated as a Slime
- The Magician’s Bride
- The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi
- Tokyo Ghoul
- Tokyo Godfathers [movie]
- Vinland Saga
- Weathering with you [movie]
My personal to-watch list is even longer than this so…