Beyond anime-focused streaming services like Funimation, no other streaming service has as much high-quality anime content as Netflix. On top of licensing several popular series, Netflix has been creating their own anime series for years now.
All of that to say, Netflix is a solid streaming service for anyone who's interested in exploring anime for the first time. There's no need to commit to another service if you're already paying for Netflix. It has plenty of beginner-friendly anime worth watching.
What Makes a Beginner-Friendly Anime?
If an anime beginner is someone who's never seen a full anime series from start to finish, then there are a few factors I'd consider when recommending a first anime series to them.
First, it can't have too many episodes. For a beginner who doesn't know if they'll like anime, too many episodes can be daunting. That rules out a lot of the more popular options like Naruto, One Piece, Gintama, Fairy Tail, etc. Between 12 to 24 episodes is ideal.
Second, it should be relatively recent. I think classic anime series are still worth watching today, but only when you know you like anime and want to explore its history. Dated animations and conventions can be offputting for someone dipping their toes.
Third, it should be highly rated. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it should have an engrossing story with likable characters and a satisfying ending. The goal is to make a great first impression!
Here are some of the best anime on Netflix for beginners who want to experience modern anime series. For someone who's never watched anime, these beginner-friendly series are great entry points.
Genres: Action, thriller, supernatural
Sirius the Jaeger centers on Yuliy, a werewolf (known as a Sirius) whose home was destroyed by Vampires. It's 1930 and he's part of the V Shipping Company—a group of vampire hunters called Jaegers—who are tracking down Vampires who fled China to Japan.
The Jaegers are at war with the Vampires as they both race to be the first to find and possess a sacred supernatural relic that grants power over all things. This war turns out to be bloodier and more difficult than they could've imagined.
Genres: Mystery, thriller, psychological
Hyakkaou Private Academy is a prestigious school in Japan with one big quirk: the social hierarchy is determined by gambling. Kakegurui centers on a transfer student who's secretly a compulsive gambler, and her arrival causes a stark shake-up as she overturns the hierarchy.
It's more than just gambling, as students owe contributions to the Student Council. Those who fail to gamble and fall into debt become slaves of the student body—and those who are unable to pay their debts must pay with their lives.
Genres: Fantasy, thriller, supernatural
A select few humans are blessed with regeneration and immortality, but it's only triggered when they die. They can also create spectral projections called "black ghosts" who fight at their behest and can only be seen by other Ajins.
Of course, the public at large hates Ajins because they're deemed dangerous and inhuman, leading to wide-scale government capture and experimentation. But when one Ajin escapes confinement and vows to exact revenge, conflicts comes to a head.
Ajin: Demi-Human isn't a traditional anime series in that it uses 3D-generated animations, which can be offputting to established anime fans but shouldn't be too unusual for anime beginners. The story more than makes up for its animation techniques!
Genres: Comedy, romance
It's 1991 and coin-operated gaming arcades are all the rage. Haruo Yaguchi is a young boy gamer who's into fighting games and wants to one day become a professional gamer. Akira Ono is a young girl gamer who's quiet, smart, and capable.
When Akira effortlessly beats Haruo at Street Fighter 2, his pride is crushed and he loathes her. But a part of him also respects her—and possibly more, as young high school boys are wont to do.
Hi Score Girl is a light-hearted anime series with a unique art style that immediately sticks out. This romantic comedy is an easy watch, and the true-to-life gaming references are just cherries on top.
6. Maid Sama!
Genres: Comedy, romance
The former all-boys Seika High School is now a co-ed high school, and Misaki Ayuzawa is the first female student council president. She's a strict boy-hating dictator who earns the nickname "Demon President" for her style. But she has a secret...
Misaki works at a maid cafe to help support her mother and sister. One day, the most popular boy at school comes in and spots her—then uses the threat of exposing her secret to get closer to her. It works for a little while, but things inevitably get complicated down the road.
Episodes: 32 (ongoing)
Genres: Fantasy, horror, action
Based on the video game series, Castlevania centers on Trevor Belmont, Alucard, and Sypha Belnades as they defend Wallachia against Dracula—who's hellbent on destroying the nation as vengeance for his wife, who was falsely accused and burned for being a witch.
Split into three seasons, Castlevania is a quick but satisfying watch, making it an excellent first anime for beginners. Some may say that Castlevania isn't technically an anime because it wasn't produced in Japan, but it checks every other box so I'm including it!
Episodes: 24 (ongoing)
Genres: Fantasy, action, adventure
Dota: Dragon's Blood follows Davion the Dragon Knight, who lives to hunt dragons. But when one elder dragon tricks him, Davion's soul becomes fused with the elder dragon's soul—and he becomes capable of turning into a dragon himself.
This turns out to be a huge problem as the demonic Terrorblade is also hunting dragons in order to collect their souls. Now Davion and his companion Mirana must stop Terrorblade at all costs, while learning more about what has happened to Davion.
If you've ever played the Dota 2 video game, then these characters should sound familiar! It's an anime adaptation of the game's lore, and a surprisingly good one at that. But even if you've never played, Dragon's Blood is certainly worth a watch.
3. Death Note
Genres: Mystery, thriller, psychological, supernatural
Light Yagami is a high school genius who one day stumbles across the "Death Note"—a mysterious book that grants its user the power to kill anyone by writing their name in its pages. He uses the Death Note to massacre criminals in pursuit of a better world.
In response, an elite task force led by an enigmatic detective named L is put together to uncover the identity of the vigilante who's been massacring criminals and bring him to justice. A thrilling cat-and-mouse game ensues between two mentally gifted individuals.
Death Note is the longest anime series on this list, but it's still short enough that it shouldn't deter first-timers. And the story is so well-crafted that most viewers will be hooked with the first episode.
Genres: Adventure, comedy, mecha
Gurren Lagann is a futuristic sci-fi anime series where humanity is forced to live underground by the Spiral King Lordgenome. The story centers on two teenagers who dream of going to the surface, and are able to break through using a giant robot called Lagann.
Once on the surface, they join the resistance and begin fighting against Lordgenome's subjugating forces—but the more they fight, the more complicated everything becomes.
There are lots of mecha anime series worth watching, but Gurren Lagann is the perfect introduction to the genre for anime beginners. It's fun, quirky, campy, and satisfying to the end.
Genres: Drama, romance, musical
Your Lie in April centers on Kosei Arima, a young pianist who falls into a depression after the death of his mother and loses the ability to hear his piano. He sinks further into his depression, living his life in a world devoid of color or excitement.
But when he encounters the beautiful violinist Kaori Miyazono, the spark returns to his life and inspires him to explore music again. As he's taken down the road to emotional recovery, Kosei learns many things—chief of all that there's more to music than playing well.
Your Lie in April is a beautiful anime series with likable characters, excellent animation, amazing soundtrack, and a narrative arc that packs quite a punch more than once.