Do you wonder what the hell is anime and why is it so popular? Feeling bogged down by the overwhelming amount of shows? Look no further for I am here to recommend several starting places to catch up on this anime trend.

We’ll start with the easiest medium to consume: movies.

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Ghost in the Shell

Synopsis: Major Makoto Kusanagi and the detectives of Sector 9 track down a hacker known as the Laughing Man who has been stealing people’s android bodies.

Why I Recommend It: This is a classic for many genres not exclusive to anime including cyberpunk, science fiction, and animation as a whole. Critically acclaimed, Ghost in the Shell asks poignant questions about the nature of life in a world where most of the population is robotic in some capacity. I recommend it because this is a must-see not just for anime fans but for fans of movies.

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Studio Ghibli

Why I Recommend It: Studio Ghibli is not a film itself but an animation studio famous for its quality and accessibility of content. Beautifully animated, well-rounded characters, and memorable adventures are the foundation of Studio Ghibli’s films. Three of my favorites include:

Spirited Away: A family is transported to the spirit realm and it is up to Chihiro, an only child, to rescue her parents and find a way back home. Recommended for being Alice in Wonderland in Japan.

Princess Mononoke: In order to lift the curse of a vengeful god, warrior-prince Ashitaka travels to Iron Town which is haunted by Princess Mononoke, a girl raised by wolf gods. Recommended because it’s my favorite Ghibli film.

Castle in the Sky: A young boy with a sense of adventure and a young girl with a mysterious heritage are the keys to finding Laputa, the legendary city floating in the sky. Recommended for Miyazaki’s trademark love of flying.

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Wolf Children Ame and Yuki

Synopsis: Hana is a young mother with two children who can turn into wolves. When they grow up, will they be human or wolf? Not even Hana knows.

Why I Recommend It: This is a quiet story that explores what it takes to be a good mother and what it means to find yourself when your world is too big for you. Recommended because it makes me cry every time. The director, Mamoru Hosoda, is worth watching. His other films include Summer Wars and, more recently, The Boy and the Beast.

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I know I forgot something. Which anime movie would you recommend to an anime novice? Let me know in the comments!

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