5 Most Popular Anime TV Shows for Beginners

5 Most Popular Anime TV Shows for Beginners
5 Most Popular Anime TV Shows for Beginners

If you’ve never watched anime before but wish to start — your struggle likely lies in deciding where to begin. There are a ton of anime series out there, each with its unique genre and visual style — don’t let us get started on how overwhelming manga volumes can be. So we get how you feel and today, we’re going to simplify that decision for you by listing down some of the best critically acclaimed and beginner-friendly anime series out there!

The focus will be on shows that don’t rely heavily on Japanese culture, offering an easy entry point for those more familiar with Western films and shows. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the basics of anime culture, you can confidently explore more challenging and intricate anime moving forward. So, if you’re uncertain about where to kickstart your anime journey or you’ve seen an anime or two and are looking to expand your watchlist, here are the five most popular anime series for beginners.

1. Death Note

light yagami from death note

Death Note is most people’s first anime, and for good reason. It’s fast-paced, suspenseful, and has a story that grabs you from the get-go and refuses to let go until the very end. The premise is deceptively simple: Light Yagami, a high school student, stumbles upon a notebook called the Death Note that can kill anyone whose name is written in it. Driven by a twisted sense of justice, Light decides to play judge, jury, and executioner — and the rest you can figure out when you watch yourself.

What truly sets Death Note apart is its masterful writing. Every single episode is a cat-and-mouse game between Light and L, with each one trying to outsmart the other. And every scene with Light or L will have you screaming. Take, for example, the scene where Light hides his Death Note in a seemingly simple drawer. It just goes to show you how psychotically genius Light is. He doesn’t just have a Plan B; he has a Plan C, D, and even E!

Plus, Death Note has some of the best English voice acting of any anime series. This makes it an easy #1 choice if you’re planning on watching a dubbed anime. You can fully immerse yourself in the story without the barrier of subtitles.

Watch Death Note on Crunchyroll

2. Attack on Titan

Eren in Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan is set in a fantastical world where humanity lives within three colossal circular walls. Outside the walls, mindless giants roam the Earth, driven by an insatiable hunger for human flesh. The outer wall houses the poor, forced to face the brunt of danger, while the elite live in the central region, protected from the harsh realities outside. But wait — the story is much more complex, gore, and dark. The series is loaded with thrill and isn’t for the faint-hearted. 

The brilliance of Attack on Titan lies in its subversive story beats. The series seamlessly weaves in political machinations, shifting alliances, and mind-bending plot twists that keep you guessing until the very end. Every episode throws a curveball, questioning your understanding of the world as the show has themes of establishment. 

Attack on Titan is often hailed as “the Game of Thrones of anime”, and rightfully so. The anime shares a lot of similarities with the HBO series. They’re both set in a fantastical world where humanity lives behind a wall, people are divided into various factions, and they all have to band together to face off against mysterious beings.  Not only is it considered on the greatest anime TV shows for beginners, it is also hailed as one the best of all time.

Watch Attack on Titan on Crunchyroll

3. Psycho-Pass

Kogami from Psycho-Pass

If you’re more into futuristic dystopian stories, Psycho-Pass is the anime for you. It’s set in a future where everyone’s mental state is constantly monitored, analyzed by an all-knowing AI called Sibyl, and quantified in a chilling number — their Psycho-Pass. This score dictates their very freedom; if it’s over 100, they’ll be instantly incarcerated, and if it’s over 300, instant execution.

Psycho-Pass has a thought-provoking storyline that doesn’t shy away from asking the tough questions. What does it mean to be free in a world where you’re judged for your thoughts? Can true justice exist within a system that dictates your fate based on an algorithm? What becomes of morality when technology dictates the law? These philosophical dilemmas linger long after the final episode.

Psycho-Pass is reminiscent of Minority Report meets Blade Runner. The director of the anime has cited both of these movies as heavy inspirations for the anime. Just like the movies, Psycho-Pass explores the implications of pre-crime and predictive technology but delves even deeper into the moral and ethical grey areas.

Watch Psycho-Pass on Crunchyroll

4. Erased

Satoru Fujinuma from Erased

Erased tells the story of Satoru Fujinuma, a manga artist who has the power to rewind time. It manifests as a sudden déjà vu, and Satoru has no control over it. The power decides on its own the moments that Satoru should interfere with and change the current course of events. In most cases, the power activates just a few seconds before, or at the exact time, danger befalls someone, and Satoru only has a few seconds to figure out what’s going to go wrong and how to stop it.

Erased is the perfect anime if you’re looking for an intriguing murder mystery with bits of sci-fi time travel elements. If you loved Dark or Bodies on Netflix, Erased should definitely be at the top of your anime watchlist. Plus, it’s really short. There’s just one season with 12 half-hour episodes, so you can easily binge it over a weekend.

Watch Erased on Crunchyroll

5. Spy × Family

Spy × Family forger family from

Now Spy x Family is a part of our list for beginners because it’s nothing like a traditional anime. The series came out in 2022 and blends the espionage genre with side-splitting goofy humor and heartwarming found-family feels. The show follows a master spy known by his codename Twilight (and later Lord). He’s given the mission to infiltrate the prestigious Eden Academy and get close to a high-profile politician. But to pull off this undercover operation, he needs a family. So, he agrees to marry Yor Forger and adopts Anya, without knowing that his wife is a deadly assassin and his daughter has telepathic abilities. 

Thus begins the most dysfunctional yet endearing family unit ever assembled. What makes Spy × Family special is its humor. It’s almost like a sitcom. One moment, you’re on the edge of your seat watching a James Bond-esque spy thriller, and the next, you’re cracking up at Anya’s innocent attempts to use her telepathy to cheat on school tests. The witty writing and seamless genre-shifting keep the story fresh and engaging. The show has two seasons so far and is getting a non-canon theatrical film release based on the same characters, called Spy x Family Code: White in April 2024. Those interested can read more about Spy x Family here. 

Watch Spy × Family on Crunchyroll

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