Often-times I’ll find myself under the same inquiry from friends who don’t really watch anime. “I’m curious about anime as a medium, but I don’t know what I should start with. There are so many critically acclaimed series and films out there.”
I could give you some vague list of ten anime that everyone should see as a simple answer, but there’s a problem with that method. There is no such thing as an anime that everyone should see.
you might be thinking, “what about those things you’ve rated really highly? Surely, everyone should see those, right?”
Well, let’s examine one of those just for the sake of illustration. To be specific, Nausicaa. While I personally adore this film & consider it a masterpiece, I also wouldn’t say that everyone needs to see it. If you really hate environmental messages, it’s probably not for you since it’s environmental message, though subtle, is an integral part of the film. I also wouldn’t recommend it for people who hate post apocalyptic future narratives.
Rather, when someone asks me where to start, I ask what kinds of things they do watch or read. A big fan of sci-fi? Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing or Blue Drop might make a good starting point. Do you really like horror? How about Another, Shiki or Perfect Blue? Do you like fantasy works? If you’re into the sword and sorcery variety, try the Slayers, Berserk or Record of Lodoss War. If the supernatural variety is more your speed, I’d suggest Yami no Matsuei, Death Parade or Vampire Princess Miyu.
How about comedies? Most people have some sense of humour. So, it really depends on what makes you laugh. Are you into the more zany, absurd types of humour? there’s plenty of anime that play into that. Try Galaxy Angel or Nuku Nuku. If humour based around quirky characters is more your type, there’s Yuru Yuri, K-on or Love Live. Are you into referential humour? I’m personally not, but Lucky Star and Gintama both have a lot of that if it’s your thing. Are you really into the crude humour about body parts and fluids. Gintama also has that or you could try Panty and Stocking.
The point I’m making is that what kind of anime you’d personally enjoy isn’t going to be determined by what anime are popular or well known. It’s going to be based on your own individual tastes. Look for anime in a genre that you really like and find one where the synopsis looks interesting to you. Or, if you really want my input, tell me a few things you really love and I’ll try to think of some anime that you’d probably be into based on that. If your favourite thing is a cartoon about colourful ponies, there are plenty of magical girl series with a similar aesthetic. If you love the old silver age comic thing, there are a few series I could suggest based on that. Of course, those are only a few examples and your tastes might be very different from mine.