Recently I tried to get a friend of mine into anime, only problem is that he’s one of those “I don’t like anime” people. That got me thinking long and hard about different series I would recommend to someone who is completely against the very core of what makes an anime. This was hard, I couldn’t really apply the normal rules that you would go by when introducing someone who is open to the idea of anime, but they just haven’t tried any yet.
Something like Death Note, an extremely popular first series that manages to avoid too many of the off-putting tropes and fan-service that anime tend to contain, was a thought that floated through my mind. However, I felt like the “all according to keikaku” nature of Death Note would also be something that deterred someone with the restrictions mentioned above. I’m going to list off some of the recommendations I gave, and emulate their pro’s and con’s from the perspective of someone yet to give anime a chance.
The ‘I Don’t Like Anime’ Starter Pack
One Punch Man
Alright, so I’ve had decent success with One Punch Man when it comes to recommending series to those who haven’t seen all that much anime. It’s over-the-top from the get go, establishing an immediate feel for the viewer. It’s funny! The show is a parody of the classic Shounen Jump tropes and power-ups. Where Goku grows from near death fights, Saitama did some unreal exercising and now no one can match up to him. Genos offers, hilariously, a more human perspective in the series despite being more machine than man. Lastly, the fights themselves are nuts! The animation is some of the best in recent years with numerous episodes oozing with that Sakuga greatness we all enjoy.
HOWEVER! This is a slight oversight on my behalf, for those who don’t know what makes a Shounen a Shounen, some of the humour and elements of One Punch Man can be lost on them. I always thought that even if you don’t understand exactly what the show is parodying, the series still stands on its own.
Attack on Titan
It’s incredibly popular for a reason, and similarly to Death Note, it got a lot of people started when it comes to anime. It avoids some of the off-putting elements such as fan-service and overly tropey characters, for the most part. The story is one that does a fantastic job at grabbing and hooking you in from the get go. A story about giant humanoid monsters that eat people. That will pique most people’s interest. To top it off, the series has fantastic animation, filled with incredible fight scenes. Alongside a never failing Sawano soundtrack. Hard to go wrong.
HOWEVER! While I did say that the characters aren’t too tropey, they are certainly quite loud. One Eren Yeagar is who I’m talking about. Now personally, I can understand Eren’s perspective. His mother was eaten right in front of him and now he’s filled with a revenge-driven motive. Even as someone who understands that, I can find Eren quite loud and obnoxious at times, not to the point where it makes me dislike him, just the point where I mumble “Dude, just chill out”. For someone who isn’t too familiar with some of these extremely outgoing characters, they can just come off as very annoying.
This is my final ace-in-the-hole for when all else fails. Naoki Urasawa’s MONSTER. Not only is MONSTER hailed as a classic, it checks all the boxes when it comes to being an anime that isn’t too much like an anime. It’s really quite a one-of-a-kind series. The characters feel like real people, set in a real world, with real problems. The characters’ motivations and the consequences of their actions feel real. It even has a European setting as our protagonist, Kenzo Tenma, is an exceptional doctor working in an elite hospital based in Germany.
I can’t think of any downsides to MONSTER, certainly not any that are similar to the con’s I mentioned regarding the other 2 series. MONSTER is a cat-and-mouse psychological thriller/murder mystery series that all begins when Tenma chooses to perform surgery on a small boy who took a bullet, over the towns mayor. The events that follow cause a domino effect for Tenma, affecting both his position within the hospital and his personal life. Yet he stands by the decision he made in saving the boy. Until years later, when he discovers a series of murders all stemming from one man…
MONSTER is a bit older and also much longer than the other 2 series, but none of that matters if the viewer takes interest in the show.
I tried my best at viewing these and emulating the thoughts of someone who is very much against some of the core elements that make up anime, certainly most modern anime. I think most lists just look at what’s popular and just put those series forward without thinking about the parts that those who don’t enjoy the medium would see. Anime becomes bigger by the day, and for those who think they just “don’t get anime” there is most likely a series out there that you’ll adore.
Thanks for reading! Stay safe!