5 Anime Series for People Who Don’t Like Anime

From what was once an underground appreciation in the west, anime can now pull in crowds of more than 500,000 at conventions and even receives overnight translations for simulcasts of series. Anime has come a long way in the last 30 years, particularly fervent in the last decade, and continues to gain momentum in mainstream consciousness.

Even with the likes of Miyazaki films and a common knowledge of the medium’s existence, a great deal of people still don’t understand the appeal of Japanese animation, series or otherwise. Honestly, it can be understandable. With a large number of gifs and images popping up seemingly solidifying its “creepy” style, it can come as no surprise that some don’t find it’s something they’d enjoy.

As someone who didn’t enjoy anime for some time, I fully understand how easy it is to label an entire medium based on a few unappealing features. However, after being forced to watch Akira in my teens, I quickly realized that anime is far more than Sailor Moon, Naruto, Bleach, and panty shots — typically regarded as ‘fan service’. I learned through Akira that anime can go places and narrate the most asinine, intriguing plots live-action films just will never be able to pull off, ultimately creating some of the most original and immersing stories available.

Although plenty of lists take the easy route and discuss anime feature films worth watching in similar lists, writers rarely tackle full anime series. So after much deliberation with the community, particularly with those who never understood anime’s appeal — explaining that style, substance, and tropes were their biggest detractors — we’ve come up with a short list of series that will prove, once and for all, that anime is more wide-ranging and misrepresented than originally pegged. At least we hope. But we promise you won’t find any sentient boobs or flying, screaming men anywhere on this list.

Cowboy Bebop

Best suited for fans of comedic sci-fi / dramas such as Firefly.

Spike and Jet are just a couple of out-of-luck bounty hunters with a sordid past, navigating the galaxy in their ship ‘Bebop’ looking for a paying gig. Through a slew of mishaps, the duo are quickly joined by Faye, a bombshell con artist; Ed, a seemingly nit-witted genius kid hacker; and Ein, a genetically engineered mastermind Corgi. The five reluctantly join forces tracking down bounties and a seemingly never-ending struggle for food.

We start with the most recognizable series on this list. Cowboy Bebop has been a title regurgitated as a ‘must-watch’ for more than a decade — and for good reason. Few series have ever so brilliantly balanced phenomenal character development and engrossing story as well as Cowboy Bebop — and in 26 episodes, no less — not to mention all to an unparalleled jazz score.

Looking for more action sci-fi? Try Tiger & Bunny, Lupin the 3rd, Space Dandy and Trigun.

Paranoia Agent

Best suited for fans of psychological thrillers and mysteries such as Twin Peaks.

After creating the insanely popular character Maromi, Tsukiko Sagi is under immense stress from her company to do it again. In the midst of her dilemma, Sagi is attacked late one night with a bent golden baseball bat by a young student on golden roller blades. After more late night attacks are credited to Lil’ Slugger, the city is thrown into a frenzy; and as his notoriety grows, so do the frequency of his attacks. But when detectives Keiichi Ikari and Mitsuhiro Maniwa realize these cases are all connected, reality begins to become even more puzzling and complicated than before.

Insane, bizarre, and innovative, the legendary late Satoshi Kon‘s final anime series, Paranoia Agent, is easily one of the most unconventional and complex stories ever seen in an anime. Despite all the disorienting twists and turns, everything comes together brilliantly in the end, making this series one you won’t easily soon forget.

Looking for more thrillers? MonsterSteins;Gate, or Serial Experiments Lain.

Azumanga Daioh

Best for fans of comedic, slice-of-life (coming of age) such as John Hughes’ films.

Following the lives of 5 girls as they traverse everyday life through high school, this quirky show was wildly successful both in its homeland and with anime fans worldwide upon its release in 2002. Few series can sustain their popularity over a decade later, let alone stay relevant, and Azumanga does so superfluously. Despite looking like a typical, cutesy anime, Azumanga Daioh is remarkably charming, witty, and well-worth looking past the deterring art style.

Looking for more comedic, slice-of-life? Try Lucky Star, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, or Ouran High School Host Club (although Ouran is guilty of a lot of anime tropes).


Best suited for fans of horror such as The Ring or The Grudge.

Nearly every school in Eastern Asia hosts their own tragic tale and ghost story. Every student knows the story, and every variation is just the slightest bit different, carrying these stories throughout their lives and down through the generations. But that’s all they are: stories. That is until one middle school class learns that these so-called ‘stories’ might be more than just tall tales.

Hands down, Another is one of the greatest anime horror series you’ll ever find. Consistently balancing between quick-paced, an involving and creative story, and deep and intriguing character development, with an ending that’s more than you could ever hope for; Another might just be the perfect horror anime.

Looking for more horror? Try Shiki, Higurashi, or Elfen Lied.

Samurai 7

Best suited for fans of the spaghetti western film style such as Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill.

Akira Kurosawa’s immortal masterpiece Seven Samurai has seen a plethora of renditions since its debut in 1954. From the American classic The Magnificent Seven, to Hong Kong’s Seven Warriors, Kurosawa’s innovative and riveting story tells the tale of 7 masterless samurai offering their assistance to a small village in need as part of their bushido code.

With its most notable alteration being a steampunk version of feudal Japan, 2004’s Samurai 7 serves as a relatively devoted adaptation to the original film. Costing more than $7 million to produce, anime production company Gonzo (Hellsing, Gantz, Blue Submarine Number 6) ensured Kurosawa’s legacy would be carried on into the first generation without the iconic filmmaker in a big way.

Looking for more spaghetti westerns or samurai anime? Try Samurai Champloo (from Cowboy Bebop creator, Shinichirō Watanabe), Rurouni Kenshin, or Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit.

Cover image via


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Categories: Anime, Best and Worst of Everything


Founder, Editor-in-Chief at Another Castle | Twitter: @ComradeJen

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2 Comments on “5 Anime Series for People Who Don’t Like Anime”

  1. 03/13/2015 at 9:53 AM #

    Reblogged this on Rice Cakes.

  2. 03/13/2015 at 11:49 AM #

    Reblogged this on The Mind of the Hybrid One and commented:
    Another Castle founder and writer Jen writes her piece on the top 5 Anime Series for People who don’t like anime. Do you agree with this list? Disagree? Let me (and her) know.

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