I didn’t get into anime until about a decade ago, but it was still far enough back that my first ever series came in a red paper envelope in the mail as a part of my Netflix DVD rental subscription. Since then I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, and I’ve rolled my eyes countless times at anyone who assumes Japanese anime is just a bunch of “cartoons.”
A Note To Parents
The first anime series I ever watched was Elfen Lied. I sat in my living room both horrified and plagued by that “my mom is going to walk in here ANY moment!” feeling, even though I was a 30-year old grown woman (and no longer living at home)!
Why? Because Elfen Lied is bloody, full of nudity (even the title credits), and full of sexual innuendos.
But, guess what? So is A LOT of Japanese anime. Because these shows are anything BUT “just a bunch of ‘cartoons'”. They are animated series, many times produced and meant for ADULT viewing.
Not all anime is this way, but it’s important (for parents especially) to know in my opinion.
Why I Still Love Anime
I was always slightly “dark” in my entertainment interests, having grown up with HBO shows (like The Terminator, Rambo, RoboCop, etc) and Tim Burton. So, violence and darker storylines weren’t anything new to me.
As I’ve grown, had children of my own, and become more active in my religious community (especially as a mentor and teacher for youth), I’ve pulled back on a lot of more violent or overtly sexual anime.
Fortunately, that’s not all that anime is about. Japanese animation is beautiful in so many ways and if you find the right series for you, you can avoid a lot of the characteristics that shocked me about Elfen Lied.
- Awesome Storylines
- Interesting, Complex Characters
- Fantastic Artwork
- Hilarious Dialogue
- Memorable Music
Some Of My Favs
Like books and movies, your taste in anime might be wildly different from mine. I do have a lot of favorites, however. If you check them out and love them too, or have any to recommend, I’d love to hear from you.
Please do some research and make sure my recommendations align with your values. Some of these are old favorites and may contain violence or sexism that I’ve forgotten about. Otherwise, I’ll note anything problematic.
Anime I Watch With Lucy
(Kid-Friendly, depending on your values and the kid, of course)
- Polar Bear Cafe
- PriPri Chi-Chan
- Chi’s Sweet Home
- Cardcaptor Sakura – Some boys having crushes on boys.
- Unico – Both movies.
(Less or Not kid-friendly anime.)
- Serial Experiments Lain
- Mob Psycho 100
- Samurai 7
- Attack on Titan
- Saga of Tanya the Evil
- Fullmetal Alchemist
- Hell Girl
- Gunslinger Girl
- Cowboy Bebop
- Death Note
- Darker Than Black
- Ergo Proxy
- Ouran High School Host Club
- School Rumble
What's Are You Watching?
Right now, I’m trying to finish up Bleach. Do you have a favorite anime series, movie, or genre? I’d love to hear about it. How about some kid-friendly series we’ve missed?
Did You Know?
Anime Genres & Subgenres
Hopefully this brief list will help you find what you’re looking for and avoid what you’re not as you explore the world of anime.
Popular Anime Genres
- Action – battles, fight scenes.
- Adventure – quests, journeys.
- Comedy – a whole lot of silly.
- Drama – deep story lines; a whole lot of feels.
- Fantasy – set in magical worlds.
- Horror – creepy ghosts, terrifying monsters, gore.
- Magic – spell-casting or other mystical powers.
- Mystery – modern day Sherlock Holmes type.
- Psychological – deals with our inner workings: the mind, philosophy, personal ethics.
- Romance – crushes, love, personal relationships.
- Sci-Fi – a combination of fantasy and science or technology.
- Slice of Life – engaging snapshots of everyday life.
- Supernatural – out of the ordinary powers, creatures, worlds.
Popular Anime Subgenres
- Cyberpunk – grungy dystopian futures chock full of tech.
- Demons – features either unique or iconic demonic or mystical creatures.
- Ecchi – full of comedy and sexual innuendos.
- Game – involved with games, gaming, or game worlds in some way.
- Harem – usually stars an unwitting male being fought over by a large group of cute girls.
- Hentai – extremely sexual.
- Historical – takes place or influenced by times in history (usually Japanese history).
- Isekai – the main characters usually find themselves in a new world in one way or another.
- Josei – more realistic romantic themes aimed at mature women.
- Kids / Kodomo / Kodomomuke – aimed at kids and preteens. Think Pokémon.
- Martial Arts – revolves around fighting and fight scenes that are more physical than weapon-heavy.
- Mecha – full of tech, robots, armored mechanical suits.
- Military – militaristic in theme, dress, war-type fighting, command structures, etc.
- Music – follows characters involved in the musical arts. Dance groups, singers, musicians.
- Parody – references characters or scenes from pop culture or other popular anime.
- Police – action-packed or dramatic law enforcement themed often starring police officers or detectives.
- Post-Apocalyptic – takes place in a future where things have turned out for the worse in come way, usually after some type of major cataclysmic event.
- Reverse Harem – stars a female character surrounded by male characters usually vying for her attention / affection.
- School – middle, high school, or college settings.
- Seinen – aimed at mature males. More sexual, violent, or psychologically oriented.
- Shoujo / Shōjo – romantic comedies aimed at teen and tween girls.
- Shoujo-ai – girls crushing on girls.
- Shounen / Shōnen – action adventures aimed at teen and tween guys.
- Shounen-ai – guys crushing on guys.
- Space – set in outer space, on spaceships, etc.
- Sports – sports themes, sports teams, characters with hidden natural talent, etc.
- Super Power – characters with out of this world and uncanny powers.
- Tragedy – characters are plagued or deeply affected by an unfortunate event, disaster, disease, or death.
- Vampire – has vampires (surprise, surprise!).
- Yuri – more explicitly sexual feelings or relationships between guys.
- Yaoi – more explicitly sexual feelings or relationships between girls.