It's always fun when a non-anime-watching friend decides they want to dive in. They've heard how much you love anime, and now they want to give it a try. Awesome! But... now what?
While there are plenty of great gateway anime out there, there's no one "right way" to get a friend into anime. It depends on a lot of factors — most of them to do with the friend in question. So how do you narrow it down? We have a few suggestions to help you pick the perfect first anime for your friend!
What Got Them Interested?
There's a tendency to want to introduce people to anime via "safer," more mainstream titles. But sometimes that's the exact opposite of what they want!
A lot of people are attracted to anime because it tells bigger, more elaborate stories. Or because it's unafraid to get crazier and darker. If you're picking a show for a friend who's interested in those things, don't hide them! Someone curious about anime as an art form might like the beautiful battles of Demon Slayer. Or, if they're intrigued by darker stories you might not see in other media, go ahead and show them something like The Promised Neverland.
What Do They Already Like?
Sometimes we forget that anime isn't a genre: it's a medium with many genres in it. So when it comes to picking a show for a new viewer, it helps to see what kind of stories they're already interested in.
Is your friend a superhero fan? My Hero Academia is an obvious pick. Fans of prime-time paranormal dramas might like Yu Yu Hakusho, and viewers of war movies and political intrigue will find plenty to love in Mobile Suit Gundam.
How Are They Feeling?
Mood is always an important consideration, no matter what sorts of shows your friend already likes. As fun as dark dramas can be, have a repository of fun, light titles on hand. As much as anime can tell more complex stories, it's also got plenty of pick-me-ups.
How Much Time Do You Have?
Is your friend looking for a quick first watch, or are you planning to get together weekly for anime nights? How much time you have to fill will play a big part in picking a title — whether you've got an afternoon or all the time in the world.
If you're looking to have viewing fodder for months to come, grab something like Naruto to make sure you don't run out of episodes. But if you only have a little while, grab yourself a short subject like Burn the Witch just to be safe.
When All Else Fails...
The best first anime is the one tailored to your friend's tastes: something from a genre they love, that exemplifies what it is about anime they're curious about, and that ideally hits the mood they're looking for in the time you have.
But sure, if you want a quick-and-dirty pick, Cowboy Bebop is a safe bet. Or, if you're looking for a movie, a Lupin III title — either Castle of Cagliostro or the recent 3DCG film The First. They're action-packed, Western in style, and have great music.
The most important thing? Make sure your friend is having fun. Pick a title for their tastes, so they can fall in love with anime just like you did!