By IVY VELAZQUEZ
Unbeknownst to some, the Japanese animation art form of anime has been around since the early 20th century, although it wasn’t shown on television until 1960. In fact the style has influenced many Western shows, including some classic Disney animated movies and the popular Nickelodeon show Avatar: The Last Airbender. Anime itself has endured a lot of criticism as an art form and style of animation but despite this, it has grown more and more popular over the years.
While the anime’s popularity has grown, many shows can be intimidating to new watchers due to how convoluted they appear; novices often don’t know where to start. I myself had trouble getting into anime, despite having many friends who insisted that I would love it in both high school and college. It wasn’t until one friend finally took it upon herself to pick out certain shows for me to watch that I finally started getting into it. Even then, it took me at least a year to really get into it.
So as I was guided into the world of anime, here is some advice to help you get started as well.
DUB V. SUB
As most anime are made and produced in Japan, they are of course in Japanese. For those who do not speak Japanese, there are dubbed and subbed animes.
After the original Japanese show is created, they start translating it so that the rest of the world can enjoy it as well. Usually, they sub it first, which just means putting the translation in subtitles at the bottom of the screen so that the viewer can read along with the dialogue. Dub is when voice actors verbally translate the show over the original animation.
To those just coming to the world of anime: if you can find the show in dub, watch it in dub. You’re already introducing yourself to a whole new type of animation and storyline, so having to read while you watch is a bit much.
If you do go with dub, try to make sure that the show has completed production and all of the episodes have been dubbed. Otherwise, you may end up catching up with the show and having to switch to sub, which can be a bit jarring due to the different voice actors. With one of my own favorite animes (see list, SAO) I ended up waiting over a year for them to translate because I just couldn’t watch the sub.
However, there can be drawbacks to dub. Too often, the show is translated poorly and a lot of the intended meaning can be lost. That is why a lot of viewers do prefer the sub; I myself have taken to watching more subbed animes than dubbed. It just becomes easier after a while.
In the end, it comes down to personal preference. Dub may be good to start off with but you may find you like sub better after watching a few different animes.
Now, some suggestions on where to start.
Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation film studio founded in 1985. In 1996, they made an agreement with Disney for the international distribution of their animated films. So, for you Disnerds, here are some more Disney movies for you.
More popular movies are Spirited Away, which was released in 2002 and is the second-highest grossing anime movie in Japan, Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), and My Neighbor Totoro (1988), which is the most popular Ghibli film here in the U.S. and whose featured character, Totoro, is the studio’s trademark symbol.
Another recognizable one is Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), a movie that, if you still have the VHS versions of some classic Disney films, you’ll see advertised in the previews.
Almost all of Studio Ghibli’s movies have been dubbed and can be found for free online.
This is an anime that is good for beginners. Despite confusion early in the narrative, it eases viewers into the storyline and has a good dub translation. It also explains elements of Japanese culture as you watch; like what the different suffixes used by the Japanese mean and their significance.
Clannad is about a third year high school student named Tomoya Okazaki who has little interest in school or other people until he meets Nagisa Furukawa, also a third year repeating the year because of an illness she had the year before. After he meets Nagisa, Tomoya becomes invested in helping her and meets other interesting students along the way, including a young girl named Fuko Ibuki, who just wants everyone to attend her sister’s wedding.
This show has two seasons, Clannad and Clannad After Story, plus a movie, which combines bits from both seasons into one. Be warned though: this is one that really tugs on the heartstrings.
Clannad can be found on watchcartoonsonline.io.
SWORD ART ONLINE (SAO)
Sword Art Online is the show that really got me into anime. Though not for everybody, SAO has a storyline that is easy to follow and easily investible characters.
The show begins in 2022, a time when virtual reality gaming is the normal way to play and a new game has been released; an MMORPG called Sword Art Online. On the day of its release, 10,000 players log on and we follow one specific player by the name of Kirito, an awkward kid who feels most at home in the virtual world.
After several hours of gameplay, he and another player try to log out only to find that they can’t. They soon learn that they are all trapped in the game and they will continue to be until someone manages to clear all the levels and beat the game. And here is the twist: if they die in-game or if someone in the real world tries to take the headgear off of them, they die in real life.
If you like video games, cool fight scenes and little bit of romance, SAO is a good fit for you. The first season can be found, dubbed, on Netflix.
NARUTO AND FAIRY TAIL
Naruto is likely a show that some of you may be familiar with, if not from watching it yourself then by name from seeing it advertised on Disney XD. About an adolescent ninja named Naruto who wants to prove himself and one day become the leader of his village, Naruto is one of the longest running anime shows and its manga series is the third best-selling in history. With a continued storyline about his son Boruto, this is a binge-friendly series.
The finals season of the Fairy Tail anime adaptation is set to air this year but the dub translations only go as far as season two, with season three in the works. In Fairy Tail, wizards and magical creatures are common. The storyline begins following one young wizard by the name of Lucy Heartfilia who aspires to join the renowned wizard guild, Fairy Tail.
Both of these shows are long-running and may be easier for viewers who are new to anime to get into. Naruto and the first season of Fairy Tail are available on Netflix.
MIIRA NO KAIKATA (HOW TO KEEP A MUMMY)
This anime is a lot newer than the others on this list and is therefore is only in the stage of subbed episodes being released. However, it is worth mentioning because it’s completely adorable, and it has an easy storyline that doesn’t have too much going on in the beginning.
It is about a high school student named Sora Kashiwaga, who gets a giant package from his adventurer father, whom he hasn’t heard from in months. Rightfully cautious of his father’s gift due to past mishaps, Sora is surprised when a tiny little mummy climbs out. Though still dubious at first, Sora is soon won over by the emotional mummy and names him Mii-kun.
New episodes are released every Friday on watchcartoononline.io. It has to be looked up under its Japanese name.
I hope this small list will be helpful for those of you who have been interested in looking into anime but just haven’t known where to start. One big thing that you have to be aware of is that most animes are in a world entirely their own and so things such as tiny little mummy’s walking around are just accepted as normal. Along with this list, try to find your own anime guide; I still regularly consult my friend for new show suggestoins and she always has something good for me. Happy watching!
Ivy Velazquez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org