This list as the title suggest is for people that are starting to watch anime more regularly, having started with anime recently and/or are looking to expand their knowledge on the medium but aren’t to sure where to start with the overwhelming abundance of anime being created every season. This list unlike my list on anime for newcomers isn’t a comprehensive list of anime people who have just got their foot in the door must watch, this is instead recommendations of anime that I think might just be worth their time. Unlike my newcomers list, this list doesn’t hold the same restrictions; being that the viewer is now a regular and has probably seen some anime in Japanese, they aren’t as restricted as a newcomer who might feel that they only watch in English. This list can also have some Otaku pandering shows as most people in the community have at least seen some shows like that. This is designed for people who have seen relatively around 60 or so shows, this provided those people with some good show that may have flown under the radar for them, or show that have been on their to watch list but just haven’t found the motivation to watch them yet.
9) Makoto Shinkai
To start off this list would be a director this time. Makoto Shinkai has been criticised before as having work that are derivatives of each other and not much originality. This criticisms are indeed somewhat valid, but personally I have not found a single one of his films not enjoyable. Makoto Shinkai has produced 5 feature films with a sixth one schedules to premier this year. Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, 5 Centimetres per Second, Children Who Chase Lost Voices and The Garden of Words are by no means must watches for all anime fans, but should be watched if you’ve at least heard about them or if they have been recommended to you. Mokoto Shinkai films show how amazing animation can truly be, all of them are a visual treat. When I spoke about how RedLine looks amazing in my previous list, Mokoto Shinkai might just have surpassed the boundaries set by RedLine.
I have already talked about Lain and how it affected me watching it in my psychologically extreme anime list. Lain has to be experienced if you’re trying to watched more different anime and diversify your anime library. Lain is one of those anime’s that doesn’t hold your hand in its storytelling and rather lets you try and figure things as you go along. This anime can’t really be put into words because of the many different opinions on its message and themes. Lain and its creators push the limits of storytelling in anime, by throwing the viewer with many different angles of viewing their story and thus having different interpretations of the final product. If you want a really out there anime, that has great writing and a narrative that requires full attention to, then watch Lain if you haven’t already.
7) The Monogatari Series
Like Lain this is a anime which requires full attention to fully understand it. The Monogatari series requires that much attention for it’s intense amount of dialogue whilst Lain needs it for its storytelling. The Monogatari series comprises of different animes that all follow the same cast of characters, but with each new iteration of the franchise it follows the cast at different points in time. Starting with Bakemonogatari this series tells a simple story through unconventional means, in essence the Monogatari series is a harem anime but through its storytelling and direction by Akiyuki Shinbo the director of Madoka Magica it ends up being more than that. This series is a long one and needs your full attention throughout, so you might want to save this one until you have the time to fully devote to it.
Speaking of another show that will need you to devote a huge amount of time into, HunterxHunter is a 148 episode shonen done by studio Madhouse. This in my opinion is the best shōnen anime to have ever been created, HunterxHunter manages to tell a great story that is not good by shōnen standards, but is genuinely great story told in anime. It has some of the best executed fight scenes and character development. It wipes the floor with other shōnen anime such as Bleach, Naruto and Full Metal Alchemist. It contains some of the best world building and narrative in shōnen, and does not get bogged down in fillers and lose what originally made it so great unlike others in it’s category. If only Togashi can finish the manga, so that the story can feel finished.
5) Gen Urobuchi
Gen Urobuchi is one of the most notable figures in the anime, with an impressive resume of shows under his belt. His works are really dark shows, and aren’t really suited for a lot of people who enjoy anime. Having been a major part of shows like Madoka Magica, Fate/Zero, Aldnoah.Zero and Psycho-Pass. Gen has created very dark and twisted worlds, and the way he writes the characters that fill up this world is amazing. He does not try to portray his characters as defined good vs. evil roles, but rather plays them off as ambiguous and lets the audience decide how they feel about a certain characters actions and motives.
4) Kara no Kyoukai
You have probably heard something about Kara no Kyoukai before, and have either watched it already or put it in your to watch list but haven’t really found the motivation to watch it as of yet. I am here to tell you that you are doing yourself a great disservice to have not seen it by now. The Kara no Kyoukai series are 7 feature films done by studio Ufotable who have previously done Fate/Zero, they tell a single linear story that jumps back and forth between different periods of time in the characters lives and the events that transpired at that particular time in their lives. Kara no Kyoukai takes everything great about the other anime’s mentioned above like: The great animation somewhat on par to Makoto Shinkai, the intriguing dialogue of The Monogatari series and the dark storytelling and characters of Gen Urobuchi. Set in the same world as Fate/Zero and written by the same creators of the Fate franchise, Kara no Kyoukai is a testament to great storytelling through a series of films, and stands as the benchmark for this sort of narrative.
You can go see my review on the series, as this 22 episode series made by A-1 picture is my favourite romantic-comedy in anime ever. This is probably true for a great deal of new anime watches nowadays, Your Lie in April is the modern day Clannad and Clannad After Story. This anime does everything right for me, from its visuals to its characters and story, I can find little fault with this series. The ending for this series is one of my all time favourite endings of any show period regardless of which medium it is portrayed in. It is everything I wanted in a romantic-comedy and more, and I would recommend it to almost everyone.
2) Neon Genesis Evangelion + End of Evangelion
What haven’t I said about this show already, between my review on it and it alongside Lain in my psychologically extreme anime list most people are probably tired of hearing me rave on about how amazing and near perfection this show is. But I’ve got to say it again, NGE plus it’s movie End of Evangelion should be experienced by all anime fans regardless of how you feel about the show after viewing it. If you haven’t already for God knows what reason, go and watch it immediately.
1) Satoshi Kon
Satoshi Kon is a name people regularly come across in the anime medium. Overshadowed by bigger names like Hayao Miyazaki and studio Ghibli, or by more recent directors like Mamoru Hosoda. Satoshi Kon in my opinion stand above them all. He tragically passed away from cancer in 2010 whilst working on his 5th film Dreaming Machine. Satoshi Kon works have often been emulated into Hollywood movies such as Black Swan, Requiem For a Dream and Inception. He was one of the most creative individuals of our time, and his works speak for themselves in their quality. Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfather, Paranoia Agent and Paprika are all masterpieces in my mind and show characters as their focal point and shows how different characters convey different messages depending on the situation they are put in. From Mima struggling to escape her pop star image and thus slowly losing her mind, to seeing Chiyoko progress through different ages all and drastic events in her life all in hope of finding one man, to a simple Christmas story about family living through poverty. Satoshi Kon was not afraid to experiment with different ideas, and it’s sad to have him gone and his last work Dreaming Machine to stay incomplete. I would highly recommend watching everything he did in the release order. So starting with Perfect Blue then Millennium Actress to Tokyo Godfathers then the series Paranoia Agent then finally finishing off with Paprika. I feel this is the best way to not only experience each film, but to experience the man behind them all.
And there you have it, my top recommendation picks for you to check out. Hopefully you’ve heard about some of these and are now motivated to watch them to see why I recommend them. Feel free to mix and match this list around to suit your taste and genre preferences.