The Quick And Easy Guide To Getting Started In Anime

The world of anime is pretty huge! Thankfully, if you approach it right, this cultural sensation is still fairly easy to get into.
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Anime has a mass appeal, but it can be a bit difficult to decide how to approach it if you are a newcomer. Many people, even those uninterested in the medium, have heard of the cultural zeitgeist that is anime. A variety of anime has been received with critical praise by a greater worldwide audience, while many have made roots in niche communities for extremely specific interests.

But with over twelve thousand and counting shows on the bracket, it is understandable to look at the genre with more than a little apprehension. There’s no need to worry, though: it’s a lot easier to get into than it might seem on the surface. 

Anime is a Sea of Genres—the First Question to Ask is, What Is Yours?

Anime is a Sea of Genres
Image Source: Pinterest

There are tens of thousands of anime and while most people typically think of action/adventure as the dominating genre of the medium, it is a remarkably diverse pool of storytelling styles. The best way to get into anime is to first ask yourself what you already like.

Are you a fan of romantic comedies? There’s a whole genre for you, ranging from the soft and sweet to the wild and raunchy. Perhaps you prefer the dark, horrific side of entertainment: the medium is ready and willing to provide you with both genuine horror and mystery as well as genre parodies. There’s even a hefty chunk of anime that is dedicated straight up to the drama of everyday life. Think to yourself what you’ve enjoyed in the past and apply that to what you seek out.  

While it is not necessarily needed to understand the genres in the original Japanese format, they do have their own organization system that isn’t quite as apparent. You may see familiar terms like shonen and shojo pop up, as well as less widespread terms such as seinen and josei. These often refer to the target audience in terms of age and gender, and you will be more successful in seeking out specific genres such as romance or horror rather than attempting to stick to a specific group like shonen, shojo, seinen, or josei. 

Explore The Classics

Explore The Classics
Image Source: GQ Middle East

Classics tend to be classics for a reason: they have stood the test of time and come out on the other end relatively unblemished. This is particularly noteworthy in anime, which has been circulating in the states as early as the 1960s with shows like Speed Racer and Astroboy. However, it wasn’t until the 80s and 90s that a variety of anime began to receive both cult and critical acclaim for their animation style and storytelling execution. The medium began to receive enough attention that large companies were formed around it, such as Tokyopop, a company that published translated versions of hundreds of manga—the comic equivalent of anime. We’ll get back to manga in a moment. 

There is a variety of classic anime to recommend based on different tastes. For example, if you like sci-fi, you might take a liking to the acclaimed Cowboy Bebop or the western-inspired Trigun. If your cup of tea is a more romantic comedy, His and Her Circumstances might draw your fancy if you prefer a more traditionally character-focused romance—while a show like Ranma ½ might suit you better if you lean more into the ‘comedy’ than you do the romance. If you want the cute but not the romance, slice of life shows like Azumanga Daioh might catch your interest. There is also a variety of acclaimed motion pictures such as Ghost in the Shell and Princess Mononoke to discover. 

So why should you check these older shows out when modern anime releases by the day? Older anime tends to already be finished, so the narrative is in your hands already. More importantly, though, it will help give yourself a feel for the overall style in Japanese animation and writing that persists to this day. 

Consider Manga as a Quicker Alternative

Consider Manga as a Quicker Alternative
Image Source: JW-Web Magazine

We’re all busy people. You know it, I know it, we all know it. Watching anywhere between twenty-four to a hundred episodes of animated material, all of which is typically in the half-hour format, might not be something that fits into your schedule. That ends up making anime feel more unapproachable to people who haven’t watched it yet. There is a uniqueness in anime, however: the shows tend to typically be direct adaptations of pre-existing comic book material. 

This means that everything you narratively get from the anime, you can get from the original manga—the Japanese term for comics. These can typically be easier to dedicate time to on a busy schedule, rather than having to dedicate yourself to the over five hundred minutes of content in just a single season of a twenty-four-episode show. 

All the recommendations here that apply to anime also apply to manga. As a bonus, if you find a manga you really enjoy, there’s a good chance that there is an animated adaptation of it. 

Where to Watch Anime Legally

Where to Watch Anime Legally
Image Source: Digital TV Europe

Okay, so now we have some ideas for how to begin exploring the world of anime and manga. Now, we will focus on how to do so in a legal way that supports the creators and the studios behind them. 

One of the most well-known ways is through a website called Crunchyroll. The website allows you access to a wide variety of anime streams for $7.99 a month, with the Premium membership allowing access to their manga hosting at $9.99 a month. Amazon also hosts a service for sharing manga called ComiXology, which allows access to both manga and western comics for $5.99 a month. Popular streaming websites like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO Max all host a variety of anime as well. 

Before you choose a service, it would be best to consider the above three points of discussion and get an idea of what shows you might want to start out with. Once you have made your choice, check which streaming service or hosting service is legally hosting the content, and enjoy! Not all streaming services will have the same anime and manga on them so it is best to check before you pay.

Anime-Herald
Image Source: Anime-Herald

The world of anime is a wide one, but the best way to think of it is how we think of books. There are thousands of books, but a reader is more likely to read the ones that appeal to their own sensibilities. The same goes for anime. The quickest and easiest way to get into such a wide medium is to familiarize yourself with you and what you like, then whittle the field down to what would be up your alley.

Good luck to you all—whether you like action, romance, horror, mystery, or drama, there’s a good chance that if you are interested in getting into anime in the first place, you’ll find what tickles you in the end.

A writer located in the lush Redwood forests of Northern California who loves animation and food.

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