5 Anime To Watch If You Are Not A Fan of Anime
Japanese animation recommendations that anyone can enjoy
If you don’t know what anime is, then you are in the right spot. Anime is Japanese animation or cartoons. You probably have heard of seen some but didn’t know it was anime. For example, Pokemon, Sailormoon, Naruto, Dragonball, and One Piece are all examples of famous anime.
Anime over the years has exploded around the world and many countries consume Japanese anime whether it is dubbed into their own language or has subtitles. Popular studios like Studio Ghibli, Ufotable, Mappa, and Kyoto Animation, pump out the best and most successful anime.
I have lived in Japan for 15 years and to tell you the truth, I am not a fan of anime, at all. Especially the big-name anime like I mentioned above. I have probably seen less anime than the fingers on my hands (spoiler alert, I have eight fingers and two thumbs).
I live close to Akihabara, which is considered the Otaku(nerd) capital of the world, and everyone around me, including my Japanese wife, is a fan of Japanese anime. However, I just couldn’t get into it.
That being said, over the years, through my wife, friends, and colleagues, I was introduced to some anime that I quite enjoyed. Maybe it’s because it was a bit different than the typical childish, super-hero-type action anime that are so big around the world. The list that follows consists of anime that I watched and recommend.
These anime movies or tv shows are on a more realistic scale and have really good storylines as well as interesting artwork. Not just big-boobed girls in high school uniforms or boys with spiky hair flying around fighting each other, these anime focus more on the story and characters.
This is a short sit-com-style anime that was produced from 2002 to 2009 in Japan and is about the daily life of a family of four in Japan. Atashi’nchi actually is the short form of Atashi no uchi which means my home.
The episodes are less than 20 minutes and usually involve some comedic aspects of daily life in Japan. The father is a typical, quiet, salaryman, the mother is a boisterous lady getting involved with everyone’s drama, the daughter is a typical teenager high school girl going through issues with life, while the son is a smart and crafty boy who usually brings the family together.
Each character is quite loveable and the differing personalities always make for a fun experience. Along with the quirky characters and stories is the quirky artwork. The characters are meant to be human but seem to have weird squishy heads. The mother specifically has a strange tuna fish-type head.
The best part about this drama is that it isn’t over the top like The Simpsons or Family Guy. It’s a very realistic but funny portrayal of a typical family in Japan. There is a family-friendly comedy feel to it like 80s sitcoms like Full House, Family Ties, or Growing Pains. But it also has the kawaii, Japanese aspect as well.
4. Tokyo Godfathers
On the other end of the spectrum is a movie called Tokyo Godfathers. Available on Netflix, originally released in 2003, this animated movie is anything but 80s family. The main three characters are homeless. One is an alcoholic, one is transgender, and one is a teenage runaway girl.
The three find an abandoned baby on Christmas Eve and are trying to find the mother in hopes to convince her to not abandon her child. Unlike most Christmas stories, this one involves the dark underbelly of Tokyo.
Dealing with issues of physical and sexual abuse, yakuza crime syndicates, the state of homelessness, the class gap, gender issues, family affairs, and even racism, this movie was ahead of its time when it comes to social issues.
Even the artwork and characters are gritty and almost ugly in their appearance. Definitely an attack on the people and society, this anime is more than just an adventure around Tokyo to reunite mother and daughter.
There are many strange and graphic scenes so this anime is definitely intended for an adult audience. If you like such movies as Fight Club or The Fisher King, then you will enjoy this anime.
3. Kimi No Na Wa
Kimi No Na Wa or Your Name is a feature-length anime based on a short novel that involves a high school boy and girl’s strange connection. Originally, from the poster, I assumed it was a typical romantic anime film for high school kids. So I was reluctant to watch it.
However, my friend Brian, who has been into anime for decades urged me to go to the movie theater with him to watch it. Mostly because he didn’t want to go alone. I am glad he convinced me because the movie was definitely more than a love story.
In a strange but touching story, the main characters, are a high school boy named Taki who lives in Tokyo and a high school girl named Mitsuha who lives in a rural area in Japan. The two don’t know each other but somehow, one day, switch bodies. They are able to spend time in each other’s bodies and lives and are able to experience each other’s lives.
They are only able to communicate via letters or phone texts, but despite having never met, their lives become entwined. I don’t want to ruin the ending for you but much like the movie Lake House, the two have somehow found a strange passageway to each other’s lives.
A touching, sad, funny, and interesting concept, this movie also has interesting animation and a good backing music track. Definitely a good movie to watch with a date. Or a guy named Brian who loves anime.
2. Detective Conan
Detective Conan can be simply described as a good anime for those who like true crime and detective work. Part Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Gadget, and James Bond, Conan is the name of the main character. Originally a teenager in high school named Shinichi who was academically gifted and known to help the police with criminal investigations, he had a run-in with some bad people.
He was drugged and somehow woke up as a child. To hide his identity, he moved in with his friend and her father, a detective, and tags along with the detective to help solve cases. The detective is not very good at his job but Conan always steers him to the culprit.
Although this anime is a bit childish, it’s the crimes and historic and educational information that interests me about the show. One of the longest-running anime, there have been over 1000 episodes created since 1996.
Each episode deals with a different case but also continues on the stories of Conan and his friends and enemies. If you are a fan of different types of crime, world trivia, scientific experiments, and learning new things, then Detective Conan will definitely spark your interest. As long as you can deal with the childish aspects of the show as well.
1. Japan Sinks 2020
This anime is actually based on a novel written in 1973 by Sakyo Komatsu. There have been various shows, and movies based on the novel and the latest is the anime created in 2020 and available on Netflix.
I haven’t read the novel or seen the live-action movie or dramas, so I didn’t know what to expect when I sat down with my wife who begged me to watch the show. The show consists of ten episodes and each one of them are addictive. It’s hard to look away.
The show takes place in Tokyo 2020 before the Olympics are set to begin when giant earthquakes hit all over Japan. Due to plate tectonics and the shifting of the European and Asian plates, Mt. Fuji is set to blow as well and the entire island of Japan is on the brink of sinking.
Although this sounds quite extreme, the show really presents the disaster in a logical, step-by-step, progression to chaos. The story follows a half Japanese, half Filipino family who must make their way to the area of Japan that will be the last area to sink so they can be rescued by the American army.
The two biggest things I enjoyed about this show is the reality and the society. It was quite obvious that the show was criticizing the racist or Japanese-centric feelings of some who didn’t want to trust or support foreigners. Also, how quickly in apocalyptic-type stories, society quickly crumbles and people must fend for themselves come through in the story.
The shocking thing for me besides the entire disaster concept was the amount of violence, graphic content, and shocking deaths that occurred in the show. Like in The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, no one is safe.
Whether you are looking for light-hearted comedy, action, and suspense, educational content, entertainment with shock value, or just a feel-good movie, the five anime above should keep you entertained even if you aren’t a fan of Japanese anime.