Anime 101: The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Learning Anime

Anime 101: A Beginner's Guide to Understanding Anime

Anime, or Japanese animation, has grown in popularity over the years, with more and more people becoming interested in this unique form of entertainment. But it can be overwhelming for those new to animes trying to figure out where to start. In this article, we will provide an Anime 101 guide and some tips on getting started with Japanese animation, and manga!

Anime typically comprises multiple seasons with episodes lasting around 20-30 minutes; however, some animes have exceptionally long first episodes, or every episode goes above the norm, averaging 45 minutes - 1 hour. If you're watching an anime movie, prepare for the runtime to be between 1 and 2 hours.

If you're new to anime, you might wonder where to start. Many beginners ask this question but don't worry; it's easy to start! Check out your current streaming services, like Netflix or Disney Plus. They have some great anime options for beginners. If you want even more choices, you can try out Crunchyroll or Funimation, which are the most popular anime streaming services.

Some people may confuse the term anime with animation. Animation refers to any form of moving images created through various techniques, while Anime refers to animation from Japan. Japanese comics, referred to as manga, are often the source material for most anime series and movies. Fans of beautiful animation and animes alike should check out the works of Hayao Miyazaki, a legendary animator, and director known for his captivating storytelling and stunning visuals.

The best way to begin is to research popular anime series and choose one that interests you. Some good starting points include Naruto, Attack on Titan, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Death Note. These shows have gained popularity worldwide due to their engaging storylines, unique characters, and stunning animation.

It's important to note that not all anime is suitable for all ages. Some series may contain mature themes or graphic violence, so it's essential to do your research before diving into a new show.

If you're looking for action-packed anime series, here are ten recommendations:

  1. Attack on Titan

  2. Chainsaw Man

  3. Hunter x Hunter (2011)

  4. Mob Psycho 100

  5. One Punch Man

  6. Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

  7. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba

  8. Vinland Saga

  9. Jujutsu Kaisen

  10. Fullmetal Alchemist

Each of these animes offers something different in terms of plot, characters, and animation style, but all share the common theme of action. With a focus on various anime genres and the unique aspects of Japanese anime culture, these shows will captivate any fan of the medium.

Understanding the Cultural Impact of Anime in Japan and Beyond

Anime and manga have become a cultural phenomenon that has captured people's hearts worldwide. Their impact on Japan and beyond cannot be understated, as they reflect Japanese culture and values while influencing fashion, music, art, animation, and society. This section will explore how anime and manga have shaped the history of animation cultures worldwide.

Reflecting Japanese Culture and Values

One of the defining features of anime is its ability to reflect Japanese culture and values. From samurai stories to mecha battles, anime often draws inspiration from historical events or cultural beliefs unique to Japan. For instance, Studio Ghibli's films such as Spirited Away showcase traditional Japanese folklore with their themes of respect for nature and spiritualism. The popularity of anime in Japan can be attributed to its ability to portray these cultural elements engagingly.

A magnificent, mysterious castle from the film 'Spirited Away,' with grand architecture, ancient stone walls adorned with intricate carvings, towering turrets, lush greenery, and a gentle river reflecting its enchanting beauty.
Source: Studio Ghibli - Spirited Away

Significant Part of Japan's Economy

Anime has become a significant part of Japan's economy. According to the Association of Japanese Animations (AJA), the industry generated over $24 billion in 2019 alone. This figure includes domestic sales, international licensing deals, and merchandise sales. The success of anime has increased employment opportunities within the industry, making it a crucial part of Japan's workforce.

Influencing Fashion, Music, Art & Society

The influence of animes and manga extends far beyond its home country. In recent years, anime-inspired fashion trends have gained popularity worldwide, with fans sporting cosplay costumes at conventions or incorporating elements into their daily wardrobe choices. Anime soundtracks have also become popular among music enthusiasts who appreciate their unique blend of classical instruments with electronic beats.

Moreover, artists worldwide have been inspired by anime styles leading them to create works that incorporate similar themes or aesthetics found in popular shows like Attack on Titan or Naruto. The impact on society is evident through otaku culture, which celebrates fandoms centered around various forms of media, including manga and anime. The growth of this culture has led to a greater appreciation for Japanese culture and its artistic expressions.

Exploring Complex Societal Issues

Anime often explores complex societal issues such as mental health, gender, and politics. For instance, Neon Genesis Evangelion is an anime that delves into the psychology of its characters while also exploring themes of identity and existentialism. Similarly, Death Note tackles morality and justice thoughtfully. The themes explored in anime are relevant to Japanese society and resonate with global audiences.

Global Following & Cross-Cultural Exchange

The popularity of animes and manga has led to a global following, with fans from all over the world enjoying shows that are uniquely Japanese in their storytelling and visual style. This cultural exchange has allowed for greater understanding and appreciation between different societies and cultures. Anime conventions held worldwide showcase this cross-cultural exchange where fans from the US and beyond can come together to celebrate their love for the art form.

A Comprehensive Guide to the Different Types of Anime Genres

Shounen: Action-Packed and Adventurous

Shounen is a popular anime genre that targets young male viewers. It is known for its action-packed and adventurous storylines, often involving battles, superpowers, and heroic characters. Some of the most iconic Shounen anime series include Naruto, Dragon Ball Z, and One Piece.

One of the defining features of Shounen anime is how it portrays its male protagonists. These characters are typically strong-willed, determined, and brave individuals willing to risk everything to protect their loved ones or achieve their goals. They often possess unique abilities or powers that allow them to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Another characteristic of Shounen anime is its emphasis on teamwork and friendship. Many shounen series feature groups of characters who band together to fight against a common enemy or achieve a shared objective. Through their struggles and triumphs, these characters form deep bonds with one another that help them overcome even the toughest challenges.

A dynamic fight scene from Naruto featuring the intense power of Sharingan ninjutsu as it overwhelms an opponent, causing the ground to tremble and crack under the forceful impact.
Source: Naruto

Shoujo: Romance-Focused Stories

Shoujo is an anime genre primarily targeting young female viewers with romance-focused stories. It often revolves around teenage girls who experience various trials and tribulations as they navigate relationships with friends, family members, and love interests.

One of the hallmarks of Shoujo anime is its focus on emotional depth and character development. The protagonists in these stories are complex individuals with nuanced personalities and motivations. As they face different challenges, they must learn to grow as people to overcome them.

In addition to romance, many Shoujo series explores themes related to self-discovery, identity formation, and personal growth. These stories can be both heartwarming and heartbreaking at times but ultimately leave viewers feeling inspired by the resilience of their protagonists.

Seinen & Josei: Mature Themes for Adult Audiences

Seinen (for men) and Josei (for women) are anime genres that cater to more mature audiences. They often feature complex storylines, nuanced characters, and themes related to adult life experiences, such as love, loss, and personal growth.

Unlike Shounen and Shoujo anime, Seinen and Josei series are not limited by the need to appeal to younger viewers. As a result, they can explore more challenging topics such as mental health issues, sexuality, and social justice.

Some popular Seinen anime series examples include Vinland Saga and Monster. Meanwhile, Josei anime like Chihayafuru and Usagi Drop has gained a following for their realistic portrayals of relationships and personal struggles.

Mecha: Giant Robots in Action

Mecha is an anime genre that revolves around giant robots or mecha suits controlled by human pilots. It often features intense battles between these machines as they fight for supremacy or defend humanity against alien threats.

One of the defining features of Mecha anime and manga is its emphasis on technological innovation during a futuristic period. These shows often showcase futuristic technologies that push the boundaries of what is possible today.

Some notable examples of Mecha anime include Neon Genesis Evangelion and Code Geass. Despite its focus on technology and action, mecha anime can also explore political, war, and human nature themes.

Sports & Slice-of-Life: Realistic Storytelling

Sports and slice-of-life are two other popular genres in anime that offer a more grounded approach to storytelling. Sports anime focuses on athletic competitions ranging from basketball to swimming, while slice-of-life stories depict everyday experiences like going to school or hanging out with friends.

What sets these animes and mangas apart is their emphasis on realism rather than fantasy or science fiction elements. Sports anime showcases the physical training required for athletes to succeed, while slice-of-life stories offer relatable insights into everyday life experiences.

Haikyuu! is a popular sports anime series that follows a high school volleyball team striving to become champions. Meanwhile, Bocchi the Rock! is a slice-of-life anime depicting the everyday lives of high school girls who form a band.

Explaining Common Terminology and Vocabulary Used in the Anime Community

Anime, Manga, Otaku, Subbed, Dubbed, and Fan Service: Understanding the Terminology of the Anime Community

Anime and manga are thriving industries that have captured the hearts of millions worldwide. With their unique art styles and captivating storytelling, animes and manga have become cultural phenomena that span different age groups. However, for those new to the anime community, it can be overwhelming to understand some of the terminologies used by fans. In this section, we will discuss some of the common words and phrases used in the anime and manga community.


Manga refers to Japanese comics that serve as source material for many popular anime series. Unlike traditional Western comics, these manga are often read from right to left instead of left to right. Manga is an essential part of Japanese culture and has played a significant role in shaping modern-day anime.

A breathtaking depiction of a large-scale medieval battle from the manga Berserk, with armored warriors clashing amidst the chaos, brandishing swords and spears as blood stains the battlefield, capturing the raw intensity and brutality of the conflict.
Source: Berserk


The term otaku describes someone who enjoys anime and manga. It's often associated with people who have an obsessive interest in these mediums and can spend hours discussing their favorite shows or characters. While it was once considered a derogatory term in Japan, fans have embraced it worldwide.


Subbed refers to anime translated into English with subtitles in the original Japanese language. This means that viewers can watch their favorite shows while still hearing the original voice actors' performances without any changes made by dubbing studios.


Dubbed refers to anime that has been translated into English with voice actors recording over the original Japanese dialogue. Dubbing allows viewers who may not be familiar with reading subtitles or prefer listening in their native language to enjoy their favorite shows.

Fan Service

Fan Service refers to scenes or elements in anime that are included solely to please fans rather than advancing plot or character development. Often involving sexual content such as revealing outfits or suggestive camera angles, fan service can sometimes feel gratuitous or unnecessary.

Hair Colors in Anime and Power-Up Scenes

Signifying Personality and Power Level

In anime, hair color is often used as a visual cue to signify a character's personality or power level. For example, characters with pink hair are often portrayed as cheerful and outgoing, while those with blue hair are seen as calm and collected. This technique lets viewers quickly understand a character's traits without relying solely on dialogue or backstory.

Unique Hair Colors Indicate Special Powers

The more unusual colors, like green or purple, are often associated with characters who possess special powers or abilities or are required to stand out somehow. This is because these colors are not commonly found in nature, representing something unusual.

Power-Up Scenes Involve Changes in Hair Color

Power-up scenes are a common trope in anime where characters experience a significant increase in strength. These scenes often involve a change in hair color, such as turning blonde or white. Take the popular series Dragon Ball Z for example. When Goku transforms into his strongest form, his hair turns a bright shade of yellow. Another anime called Mob Psycho 100 features a main character named Mob. He has black hair that turns white when he reaches his mental limits.

Distinguishing Characters with Similar Appearances

Another reason anime uses distinctive hair colors is to distinguish between characters with similar appearances. This is especially important when an anime features large ensemble casts like My Hero Academia. The main protagonist Izuku Midoriya has green curly locks, which sets him apart from other students at U.A High School.

Anime hairstyles have even inspired real-life trends among fans who want to emulate their favorite characters' colorful hairstyles. For example, the anime Kill la Kill features a character named Ryuko Matoi with a bright red stripe in her hair that has become a popular hairstyle among fans of the series. The same can be said for the iconic blue hair of Hatsune Miku from Vocaloid.

The Influence of Japanese History on Anime and Manga

Japanese anime and manga are not just forms of entertainment but also reflect Japan's rich cultural heritage. The influence of Japanese history on anime and manga is undeniable. From the characters to the art styles, Japanese history has left an indelible mark on these mediums.

Anime Characters Based on Historical Figures or Events

Many popular anime characters are based on historical figures or events. For example, the Sengoku period, a time of civil war in Japan from 1467 to 1603, has been depicted in numerous anime series such as Sengoku Basara and Nobunaga Concerto. These shows often feature famous historical figures like Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu as main characters.

The samurai are also a common theme in anime and manga. Samurai warriors were skilled fighters who served feudal lords during Japan's Edo period (1603-1868). They were known for their strict code of conduct, bushido, emphasizing loyalty, honor, and self-discipline. Popular anime series like Rurouni Kenshin and Samurai Champloo feature samurai protagonists exhibiting these traits.

Incorporating Traditional Art Styles into Anime and Manga

Manga artists often incorporate traditional Japanese art styles and techniques into their work. One such technique is Ukiyo-e, a woodblock printing style popular during the Edo period. Ukiyo-e prints often depict scenes from everyday life, such as landscapes, portraits, and kabuki theater performances. Manga artists have adapted this style by using bold lines and flat colors to create striking visuals.

The Use of Kohai and Senpai

Another way that Japanese history influences anime and manga is through language. The Japanese word kohai refers to someone junior in rank or age, while senpai refers to someone senior to you. These words reflect the hierarchical structure of Japanese society, which has its roots in Japan's feudal past. In anime and manga, characters often use these words to address each other based on their relative positions in a group or organization.

The Impact of World War II

World War II significantly impacted Japanese culture, often reflected in anime and manga. For example, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are referenced in numerous shows like Barefoot Gen and Grave of the Fireflies. These stories depict the devastating effects of war on civilians, particularly children.

Must-watch anime recommendations from all genres

Anime is a popular genre that targets all audiences and features everything from action-packed to emotional storylines. We have covered you with some must-watch anime recommendations if you want to explore these areas!

Violet Evergarden:

If you're looking for a show that will make you feel all sorts of emotions, then Violet Evergarden is the anime for you! This show follows the story of a girl named Violet, who was once a soldier but is now trying to find her place in the world. Throughout the series, Violet will learn about love, loss, and truly connecting with others. Prepare to cry tears of sadness and joy as you watch Violet's journey unfold!

Note: Violet Evergarden is targeted toward a more mature demographic.

Violet, a young and elegant woman, engaged in a heartfelt conversation with Claudia, a mature gentleman, in his office.
Source: Violet Evergarden

One Punch Man:

One Punch Man is an amazing anime that follows the story of Saitama, a guy who can easily defeat any enemy with a single punch. He's so strong that he's grown tired of fighting because it's no longer a challenge for him. However, the anime is still packed with thrilling battles that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Additionally, the characters and humor in the show are incredibly entertaining. If you're searching for an amusing and action-packed anime, One Punch Man should definitely be on your watchlist!

Saitama, the bald and unbeatable superhero from One Punch Man, triumphantly stands amidst a dense jungle/forest, having effortlessly vanquished a formidable monster, with broken trees and scattered debris as evidence of the epic battle that just took place.
Source: One Punch Man

Attack on Titan:

For those who prefer darker themes mixed with intense action sequences, Attack on Titan is an excellent choice. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity lives inside cities surrounded by massive walls to protect themselves from Titans - giant humanoid creatures who devour humans without reason - Attack on Titan follows Eren Yeager's quest to avenge his mother's death by killing every last Titan on earth. The show's gripping storytelling style and stunning animation make it one of the most visually impressive anime series ever made.

Note: Attack on Titan is targeted toward a more mature demographic.

A chilling scene from Attack on Titan, depicting colossal Titans ominously striding past the decimated human defenses at the entrance of the wall, their massive forms dwarfing the remnants of shattered structures, creating an atmosphere of imminent danger and despair for the vulnerable humans witnessing the overwhelming threat
Source: Attack on Titan

Other notable mentions:

Realistic Anime Suggestions With a Bloody Reality

Anime is a vast and diverse medium that caters to various audiences. While some viewers prefer light-hearted and comedic shows, others enjoy dark and violent anime exploring human nature's depths. For those looking for anime with realistic depictions of violence and gore, here are some suggestions to consider.

Anime with Realistic Depictions of Violence and Gore

One of the most popular genres in anime is action, which often features intense fight scenes and bloody battles. However, not all action anime have realistic violence. Some shows tend to exaggerate the violence for dramatic effect or use supernatural elements to justify it. If you're looking for realistic depictions of violence in anime, then you should check out Jin-Roh. It's about a group of police officers in an alternate version of Japan, where terrorist attacks are common. The main character, Kazuki, is a member of the Special Unit tasked with stopping these terrorists.

Shows That Explore the Darker Aspects of Human Nature and Society

Not all violent anime is just about fighting monsters or villains. Some shows delve into deeper themes such as trauma, loss, morality, and corruption. If you want to explore these darker aspects of human nature and society through an anime lens, then Death Note might be a good fit. The show follows Light Yagami, a high school student who discovers a mysterious notebook that allows him to kill anyone whose name he writes inside it. As Light becomes more obsessed with using his newfound power to rid the world of criminals, he crosses paths with L, a genius detective who seeks to stop him at any cost.

Anime That Tackle Mature Themes Such as Death, Trauma, and Loss

While many people associate anime with childish cartoons or fan-service-filled shows aimed at adults, plenty of mature-themed anime tackle serious issues head-on. If you're looking for anime that deals with themes such as death, trauma, and loss, then Grave of the Fireflies is a must-watch. This movie tells the story of two siblings who struggle to survive in Japan during World War II after their mother dies in a bombing raid. The film's realistic depiction of war and its impact on civilians is heartbreaking and thought-provoking.

Series That Offer a Thought-Provoking Commentary on Real-World Issues

Anime has always been known for tackling social and political issues through its storytelling. Some animes use fictional worlds or characters to comment on real-world problems such as discrimination, inequality, or corruption. If you're interested in watching anime that offers a thought-provoking commentary on real-world issues, then Psycho-Pass might be worth checking out. The show occurs in a dystopian future where people's mental states are constantly monitored by an advanced technology called the Sibyl System. The show raises questions about the nature of justice, free will, and individuality in a society that values conformity above all else.

Discovering the Works of Anime Masters, Including Miyazaki and Takahata

Miyazaki and Takahata: The Masters of Anime

Studio Ghibli is a name that has become synonymous with quality anime films. Founded in 1985 by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, the studio has produced some of history's most critically acclaimed animated movies. But who are these two men behind the studio's success? Let's take a closer look at the works of Miyazaki and Takahata.

Miyazaki's Works

Hayao Miyazaki is perhaps the most well-known name in anime. He is known for his imaginative stories, breathtaking visuals, and strong environmental themes. His famous works include Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Princess Mononoke.

Spirited Away tells the story of a young girl named Chihiro trapped in a magical world full of spirits and monsters. The film won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2003, making it the first anime movie to receive this honor.

My Neighbor Totoro follows two sisters who move to the countryside with their father, to be closer to their sick mother. They soon discover that their new home is inhabited by friendly forest spirits, including a giant creature called Totoro.

Princess Mononoke is in a fantasy version of medieval Japan, where humans are at war with supernatural creatures. The film explores themes such as environmentalism, industrialization, and humanity's relationship with nature.

Takahata's Works

Isao Takahata was Miyazaki's longtime collaborator at Studio Ghibli until his passing in 2018. He was known for his realistic portrayal of everyday life and poignant storytelling. Some of his most famous works include Grave of the Fireflies, Only Yesterday, and Pom Poko.

Grave of the Fireflies tells the heartbreaking story of two siblings struggling to survive during World War II. The film is widely regarded as one of the most powerful anti-war films ever made.

Only Yesterday follows a 27-year-old woman named Taeko as she visits her relatives in the countryside and reflects on her childhood memories. The film explores themes such as nostalgia, identity, and growing up.

Pom Poko tells the story of a group of shape-shifting raccoons who band together to save their forest home from human development. The film deals with environmentalism, urbanization, and cultural identity.

Embracing and Exploring the Fascinating World of Anime

Embracing and exploring the fascinating world of anime opens up a whole new dimension of entertainment, culture, and storytelling. From the colorful hair colors to the power-up scenes, from the historical influences to the masterpieces of anime legends, there is something for everyone in this genre.

Whether you are a die-hard fan or just starting out, understanding the cultural impact of anime in Japan and beyond is crucial. It gives you a deeper appreciation for the art form and helps you connect with other fans globally.

As you delve deeper into anime, you must familiarize yourself with different genres. From action-adventure to romance and comedy, each genre has unique characteristics that cater to different tastes and preferences.

To fully immerse yourself in this world, you must also learn common terminology fans use. Words like otaku, shounen, and mecha may seem foreign initially but become second nature once you start watching more anime.

Anime's influence on Japanese history cannot be understated either. Historical events such as World War II have inspired iconic movies like Grave of Fireflies and Barefoot Gen, showcasing war horrors through animation.

There are many options for those who want to explore realistic themes with bloody reality. Shows like Attack on Titan and Death Note offer complex characters facing moral dilemmas against a backdrop of violence and gore.

And let's not forget about Miyazaki and Takahata - two masters whose works have captured hearts worldwide with their timeless stories that transcend generations.

Finally, if you're looking for must-watch recommendations across all ages and genres - we've got your back! From classics like Naruto to newer hits like Demon Slayer, there's no shortage of amazing shows waiting for you to discover them.

So what are you waiting for? Embrace and explore the fascinating world of anime today. Who knows, you might just find your new obsession!

Headshot of Bleeus

Article by:Bleeus

Bleeus is a veteran weeb and anime lover. He has watched over 300 different shows in the last 3 years and loves to test his anime knowledge.

Fun Fact: He is a big Legend of the Galactic Heroes fan, contributing the majority of our LoGH Trivia Questions.

Take a Quiz on a Mentioned Anime!

Attack on Titan

Shingeki no Kyojin

Attack on Titanbackground image

Chainsaw Man


Chainsaw Man background image

Hunter x Hunter (2011)


Hunter x Hunterbackground image

One Punch Man

One Punch Man

One Punch Manbackground image

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken

JoJo's Bizarre Adventurebackground image

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba

Kimetsu no Yaiba

Demon Slayerbackground image

Vinland Saga

Vinland Saga

Vinland Sagabackground image

Jujutsu Kaisen

Jujutsu Kaisen

Jujutsu Kaisenbackground image

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhoodbackground image

Death Note

Death Note

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Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion

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One Piece


One Piecebackground image

Dragon Ball Z

Dragon Ball Z

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Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch

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Haikyuubackground image

Bocchi the Rock!

Bocchi the Rock!

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My Hero Academia

Boku no Hero Academia

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