Written by: Nicole Castro
Published on: September 3, 2021 at 21:00 PHT (GMT+8)
Got a friend who thinks 12-24 episodes of anime is too long to watch? Convince them otherwise with these 10 anime shows in no particular order that will leave them hooked on the first episode (and more, so much more).
Note: While some anime series have amazing stories and plot twists that need a few episodes to unfold, we've chosen 10 anime series that we think will have you wowed from start till finish. Perfect for binge watching.
Steins;Gate is one of those complex anime series that doesn't spoon feed you the plot. The odd storytelling about the infinity and finiteness of the universe at the beginning is difficult to make sense of the first time, but also lends a hint of foreshadowing that fans who've finished the series are dying to tell first-time viewers. The title of the first episode is "Prologue to the Beginning and End," and you'll be watching the quirky characters while juggling a sense of unease as the plot unfolds. Every "mundane scene" in this show was skillfully weaved by the creators of this series. Players of the original visual novel of the same name will tell you that this anime definitely succeeded in capturing the complexity of the story's multiple endings.
2. Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)
We know you all expected AOT to be on this list. In fact, many fans believe AOT set the trend for having dramatic, no holds barred INTENSE first episodes that feel like they should have been saved for the finale. With the Colossus Titan looming in on the citizens of Shiganshina, Armin Arlert's eerie storytelling of their impending doom, and the larger-than-life background music composed by Hiroyuki Sawano, the AOT series starts out with a bang of lightning-fast action.
And the final part of the first episode? Yeah, no one expected that when it first aired. The staff behind the AOT series were confident from the very beginning that this was going to be a hit.
3. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
This was one anime people were dying to watch before the first episode even aired in 2009. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the second anime adaptation of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga series by Hiromu Arakawa (the first adaptation of the same name aired in 2003). While the first adaptation was already widely popular for its action-packed fighting scenes and philosophical perspectives on the balance of give and take in alchemy, FMA: Brotherhood was even more anticipated because it stayed faithful to the original events of the manga. This series (whether the manga, the first, or the second anime adaptation) proves anime can be a space to discuss morals concerning life and death, while still being entertaining and accessible to the general public.
4. Violet Evergarden
While most popular anime series tend to be jam-packed with straight-up action, Violet Evergarden stands out for being subtler but equally powerful. This anime captured the hearts of viewers the moment it released its first promotional video. And you can SEE why. Production studio Kyoto Animation (KyoAni) did not spare any effort making this show one of the most colorful, visually stunning series in this age of advanced animation technology. This show is beautiful with a capital B.
But you know what really makes you want to finish this 13-episode series? It's the journey Auto Memory Doll Violet Evergarden goes through to understand what love is.
Warning: Prepare lots of tissues before you even watch episode one. Stay hydrated after all the crying. Tell people you love them.
5. Death Note
Death Note first aired in 2003, but there's no way it will ever be forgotten as one of the best anime shows of the 2000s. It remains relevant even in 2021, with giant streaming services like Netflix creating their own adaptation of the series. The show features high-school student Light Yagami who develops a "God complex" after gaining the power to kill anyone using the Death Note.
While Death Note is already made interesting by its perspectives on good vs. evil, it's the characters like Light, Ryuk, L, Misa, etc. who make this show a roller coaster ride. With Light's cunning, L's genius, and Ryuk's non-human malice, viewers will be excited to binge watch this series to find out how Light and company deal with the consequences of handling such frightening power.
6. Jujutsu Kaisen
JJK is one of the more recent anime in this list, airing in 2020. It won "Anime of the Year" at the 2021 5th Crunchyroll Anime Awards, being the second most watched anime series on the streaming platform, second only to Black Clover. JJK is a strong balance of student life, horror comic, and epic fighting scenes. From the first episode alone, no one can deny that Studio MAPPA made sure the fighting scenes were going to be stylish, powerful, and infinitely watchable. Moreover, all the main and supporting characters who frequently appear across episodes prove they all have unique ways of executing their jujutsu techniques. You'll be looking forward to something new every episode.
Among the many popular sports anime with high-tension matches, Haikyuu!! stands out just as much for the depth of its characters and the careful attention author Haruichi Furudate has put into developing each one. The series begins with protagonist Shoyo Hinata, the underdog who loves volleyball so much he'll jump to great heights for it (literally and figuratively). Hinata is a character you'll love at first sight and all the way to the end. Actually, you'll feel that way about the entire cast by season four (Haikyu!! To The Top). Prepare to jump for joy while crying as you cheer for the teams who win but also feel heartbreaking loss for the teams who lose. There isn't a character you won't love here. We thank Furudate-sensei for everything he has given to this work.
Fate is an entire media franchise with multiple light novels, visual novels, anime adaptations, films, etc., but Fate/Zero is the best introduction into this complex universe for first-time viewers (and is enjoyable to watch even as a standalone). It is the prequel to all routes in Type-Moon's visual novel, Fate/stay night.
Fate/Zero is known as one of ufotable's most defining works, setting the trend for extremely visually stunning anime with fluid fight scenes in the 2000s. Fate/Zero details the events of the Fourth Holy Grail War in Fuyuki City (10 years prior to the events of Fate/stay night). In the war, mages summon Heroic Spirits inspired by mythologies around the world in order to obtain the power of the Holy Grail, which is said to grant any wish to both the mage and the Heroic Spirit.
The first episode lasts longer than your typical anime episode at almost 48 minutes. This series doesn't mess around and is confident in the epic universe it presents to its audiences. This show's mood is serious business, with the stories of the mages and Heroic Spirits teaching us time and again that the bigger the wish, the heavier the price.
9. Demon Slayer/Kimetsu no Yaiba
Demon Slayer is a series people knew would succeed for its thrilling, beautifully animated fight scenes. The first episode opens with protagonist Tanjirou Kamado struggling to save his dying sister, Nezuko. He asks, "How did this happen?" and we assure you both the peaceful scenes and the battle scenes will have you invested in the characters' struggles to survive against the demons.
Oh, and did we mention the opening theme is "Gurenge" by LiSA? From music to action scenes to voice actor cast, this anime proved that the classic sword-fighting plot popularized by Rurouni Kenshin is here to stay because it has so much more to offer.
10. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
We figured fans would never forgive us if we didn't include Code Geass in this list. Among the many mecha anime that aired in the 2000s, Code Geass earns a special place for weaving a fictional universe that balances advanced technology, the ancient power known as Geass, and modern-day, relatable violence and racial discrimination. With Lelouch earning his Geass before the end of episode one, there is no way you're putting down this series before you see how he conquers Japan and the world, and its equivalent consequences.