The Anime medium is vast, full of series and films of many different genres. Just about everyone will be able to find something they enjoy.
Of course, with such a vast selection available, newcomers may find themselves overwhelmed, unsure of where to start. A newcomer to the world of Anime myself, I completely understand. So, here I will provide a list of recommended titles to help navigate this brave new world.
Note: I am a newbie myself, so I will very likely leave a few out.
1. Pokémon The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back
Many hardcore Anime fans will dismiss Pokémon for being a merchandise-driven kiddie show (and they are probably right).
However, for someone just getting started in the anime world, Pokémon: The First Movie could prove a good jumping-off point. The plot is easy to follow, with the perfect mix of action and heartwarming moments.
So sit back, let the late-'90s nostalgia wash over you, and whet your appetite for more anime goodness.
Dub Or Sub?: With anything Pokémon, you are likely watching for nostalgia value. Go with the dub.
2. Wolf's Rain
In the distant future, Earth is a mess. Wolves, the only creatures capable of locating the mythical Paradise, are believed extinct. Instead, they have developed the ability to disguise themselves as humans. Four wolves — Kiba, Tsume, Hige, and Toboe — unite in one last desperate attempt to find Paradise.
This series starts off slow, but will quickly draw you in. A perfect blend of action, adventure, an engaging plot, and likable characters make Wolf's Rain a must watch for any anime fan, and at 32 episodes, it's not too much of a slog for newcomers.
Fair warning though, you may want to have your tissues handy for the last few episodes.
Dub Or Sub?: A rare example where the dub is just as good as the original. Go with your personal preference.
3. Grave Of The Fireflies
This film takes place in Japan, following two orphaned siblings, 14-year-old Seita and 4-year-old Setsuko, in the final months of World War II. Living alone in an abandoned bomb shelter, the pair struggle to survive in a world where no one is willing (or able) to help them.
Grave Of The Fireflies is a must-see for everyone, with a heartbreaking portrayal of the dark realities of war for those left behind, acting as a stark reminder that soldiers were not the only casualties.
Again, you will need tissues.
Dub Or Sub: Again, a matter of preference.
4. Ouran High School Host Club
After breaking an expensive antique vase intended for an upcoming school auction, Scholarship student Haruhi Fujioka joins the exclusive Ouran High School Host Club to pay off her debts. A series of wacky hijinks ensue as Haruhi bonds with her eccentric new friends.
Ouran High School Host Club is packed full of the quirky humor typical of many anime series, without being too weird for newcomers.
Dub Or Sub?: I've only seen the dub, so can't really judge. Try both, and see which you prefer.
5. My Neighbor Totoro
Two sisters, Satsuki and Mei, move with their father to a new country home while their ill mother recuperates in a nearby hospital. They befriend the magical Totoro, guardians of the neighboring forest.
The enduring love for My Neighbor Totoro is one of the main reasons that Studio Ghibli is considered Japan's answer to Disney. Definitely a must watch.
Dub Or Sub: Doesn't matter. Just let yourself feel the joy.
6. Sword Art Online
Once players use the new virtual-reality technology Nerve Gear to enter the gaming world of Sword Art Online, they are trapped. The only way out is to beat the game. The worst part? Die in the game, and the Nerve Gear will destroy your brain, killing you in real life as well.
A great series, with an interesting plot and engaging characters. Gets a little slow in parts, but still worth a watch. Sword Art Online is an especially great beginner's anime for any gamers out there.
Dub Or Sub: General consensus seems to be that sub is better, although the dub is decent.
7. Howl's Moving Castle
Shy teenager Sophie's life is thrown into turmoil after encountering Howl, a handsome wizard. Transformed into a 90-year-old woman by the Witch of The Waste, Sophie seeks refuge with Howl in his magical moving castle.
Howl's Moving Castle is a wonderful film, full of fun, magic, and romance. A classic love story with a magical twist, the plot is easy to follow.
Dub Or Sub: Want to hear a fire demon speak with the voice of Billy Crystal? Sure you do! Go the dub.
8. Blue Exorcist
With the death of his adoptive father, Rin discovers that he and his twin brother, Yukio, are truly the sons of Satan. Rin works under Yukio's tutelage to become an exorcist, vowing to defeat their demonic father.
Blue Exorcist is action-packed from beginning to end, and far from your typical son of Satan tale. A must-see.
Dub or Sub?: Sub for this one.
9. Attack On Titan
In the distant future, the remnants of mankind have been forced into walled cities to escape the Titans, giant humanoid beasts who will devour anyone they come across. The only hope lies with the Survey Corps, who attempt to fight the Titans and take back land for human kind.
Attack On Titan is animated in wonderful detail, and will have you on the edge of your seat from the first episode until the last. One of the most popular anime series in recent years, it has already spawned two compilation movies, two live-action adaptations, and a parody spin-off, Attack On Titan Junior High, leaving more to explore when you catch up with the main series.
Beware if you happen to be squeamish, though. The series sits rather high on the gore scale.
Dub or Sub?: Definitely Sub. It feels so much more visceral in Japanese.
10. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
After an alchemy ritual gone horribly wrong, the Elric Brothers, Edward and Alphonse, embark on a quest to find a Philosopher's Stone and recover their real bodies.
While the original 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist is great in its own right, for the full story as it was meant to unfold, Brotherhood is the way to go. You will be rooting for Ed and Al to succeed right from the very first scene. At 64 episodes, it is a little longer than some of the other entries on this list, but since only one episode can truly be deemed filler, it is not at all difficult to see this through to the end.
Dub Or Sub?: A rare example where many believe the dub is even better than the original. Vic Mignogna is the perfect voice for Edward.