Anime is a very diverse media, I will always defend its ability to offer robust and diverse stories. Particularly ones that fans would never see in other media. That said, most anime has a lot of tropes that do not age well as fans get older.
There doesn’t seem to be any end to the school life, battle, magic and high fantasy styles of anime out there. Those are all well and good. I love anime like My Hero Academia, Attack On Titan, and Ancient Magus Bride. That being said, I can only take so much before my brain begins to melt.
Sometimes I want anime closer to the live action shows I like. Series like Golden Girls, Fraser and N.C.I.S. just to name a few.
In a sea of releases aimed at children, teens and young adults sometimes it’s hard to see the true wealth of content the medium can offer to older viewers. Adult fans aren’t inherently creeps or mouth breathers. No, we don’t all fail to have a social life. No, anime is not just for immature viewers…
Gone are days of endless absolute crap like Green Green (don’t look that up, seriously) and shows like it. Yes they’re a thing, no they are not the only thing.
Thankfully this narrow-minded view has begun to change, but we have a long way to go. Unfortunately, there’s just one small issue holding this movement back a bit.
A Misunderstanding of Maturity
No, not all anime is strictly deviant in some way, shape, or form. Yet, this is a mindset that continues to plague the media. Many believe anime cannot possibly be something mature, without also being crammed full of things you’d be ashamed to admit being interested it.
Nine times out of ten when society (read: non-anime fans) think of an anime aimed at older viewers, they think of things that are somehow disturbing, raunchy, super violent, or just flat out pornographic. That’s the stigma, but it’s not the whole truth.
It’s drives me crazy that we are still bashing our faces against this stigma in 2021, but here we are. Now, as a thirty-one year old anime, I take issue with the logic that all anime aimed at older viewers needs to be questionable. It’s just not true.
I try to combat this stigma by educating people about the full scope that anime has to offer. With time, I’ve even had success with it. It all comes down to finding the right series to expose a non-anime fan to, and hope they take to it. At the very least, hope they see beyond their own narrow view of the topic.
There are some perfectly serviceable options for older viewers that just want characters to be near their own age, living in a down to earth society for once.
So, this is just a small list of possible anime to expose a non-anime fan to the medium. These are series that keep the tropes to a minimum and the idiocy factor fairly low.
You can expose them to that sort of thing on your own time. These are what I think of as gateway anime for anyone over the age of twenty-five. I’d like to consider these as ice-breakers to the medium, not necessarily anime that follow hard and fast rules of their respective genres at large.
You are not going to find anime like Akira and Black Lagoon on this list for the reasons above. You’re not goin to find the latest anime line-up either.
This grouping of suggestions wasn’t made for a difficult fan. It was made for a non-fan entering into the medium as an adult. This assumes that this non-fan has no desire for the obvious mega-hits that most of us would typically suggest due to the stigma’s mentioned above.
This list is in no particular order. That’s because each of them stand out based on what a person may be looking for. So let’s just dive into this, shall we?
Space Brothers: For Space Fans
Space Brothers is one the the absolute best option out there in my personal opinion. Two brothers aspire to be astronauts. One brother achieves his dream. The other decides to follow in his footsteps. This shows a life of an aspiring astronaut and the trials and tribulations he goes through.
Space Brothers is a perfect starter for a science fiction fan that wouldn’t mesh well with the idea of mecha anime. My father -who is in his seventies and absolute hates anime- has watched and enjoyed it. The entry point for viewing this series is to simply like the idea of going to space. It is accessible to non-fans that may not comprehend the space opera trope often found in anime.
Kern’s Collections: Space Brothers
To be honest, Space Brothers stands as a “catch-all” anime for me. If I don’t know what anime to pick out for a…
I’ve actually done a brief overview video and blog post about this series, and I’d suggest going to look at that if you’d like to know more.
To give you the general idea, though I think this is a very good anime for a lot of people. To me Space Brothers stands as a “catch-all” anime for me. If I don’t know what anime to pick out for a new viewer, I always go with Space Brothers. In general, it is very accessible for an american viewer because the idea of going to outer space is part of our mass media to begin with.
It isn’t a far cry from the media we already consume. The fact that it gives a glimpse into the space program for its time and aspires to be realistic in the story it attempts to tell helps a lot. I’d go so far as to say that the series goes above and beyond what it takes to endear its place on this list for even non-anime fans.
Alternatively, you could always try Planetes since it is a shorter series. It is less down to earth in nature too, though. People have colonized on the moon, and this focuses on life within that society. The hero in this anime cleans space junk for a living.
Bartender: For Viewers of Dry Media
This is perfect for your bar loving companions in search of something thoughtful and slow moving. Bartender is a heartfelt drama at the end of the day. It chooses to dig down into the soul of personal struggles. I have a full review here, in the event you’d like more information.
Bartender is perhaps one of the best series for a character study out there. Or rather, it’s the one least likely to confuse a viewer unfamiliar with anime tropes. Unfortunately I don’t feel there’s a good alternative for Bartender, because it isn’t a “typical” anime to even begin with. It is certainly more sophisticated and refined than you would usually see in the anime medium.
Sweetness and Lightning: For Parents and Families
Sweetness and Lightning is one of the best stories of parenthood and family bonds to ever grace the anime world. If you’re in search of a typical sitcom type of show, this is it. Sweetness and Lightning is also very family friendly too, meaning children could watch with with their parents.
The single father is a widower. He is incredibly relatable to anyone who has needed to raise a child on their own. It won’t just be men that relate to him, either. Women can easily imprint upon his struggles, because they aren’t inherently based around fatherhood itself, but parenthood and the loss of a spouse in general. It isn’t a heavy series, but the themes have enough substance to resonate with older viewers. I have a review for this series as well, it can be found here.
Alternatively, there is Usagi Drop. This is a story about fatherhood and family, though this one is a bit more serious in tone. This is about a man who takes in a little girl, raising her as his daughter. The anime is absolutely wonderful. Just ignore the written media.
So, there you go. This selection of gateway anime should serve you well for older viewers. None of them are particularly recent, but they’ve all stood the test of time. Space Brothers most of all in that regard. There are countless other anime of course, but this post is getting long and diving deeper brings us into the complicated mess of sub genres and very specific tastes.
I will give more recommendations one day based on other key interests, but the down to earth anime needed to come first.
This is not a topic I will be done with any time soon, because there is plenty of gateway anime out there fully and completely serviceable to older viewers.
This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.
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6 thoughts on “Gateway Anime For Older Viewers.”
Good concept for a list. I would also add anime like Yugo the Negotiator, Texhnolyze, Monster, and a lot of Satoshi Kon works there. Planetes is a great pick.
The issue Satoshi Kon’s anime is that they contain many disturbing themes and images, which don’t make them as easily or readily accessible for all audiences. I stand by many of Satoshi Kon’s works, but they are certainly not gateway anime in my personal opinion due to their subject matter.
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Fair enough. I think Millennium Actress could be a safer bet since there aren’t many disturbing elements.
I think we’re defining gateway very differently here. When I’m defining this list, I’m going with series, concepts, and themes that a viewer can intuitively understands without background knowledge of anime as a medium.
Millennium Actress would certainly be a starter anime movie, but it’s not a “gateway” movie. I wouldn’t put that movie on for someone who has never seen an anime before.
Basically, if it’s a show my 70 year old, anime hating father would fail to grasp, it’s not a gateway anime in my definition…
Millennium Actress is an absolute perfect starter anime for new adult fans, but at that point they already like the medium, and don’t need the gateway. They just need a list of good anime, and that’s when the titles you describe really come into play.
But we have to keep in mind, most adult who will watch anime, are already anime fans. Getting new ones to join in require us to slow down to their understanding. We can’t expect them to match us, and so a gateway would ideally be part of things they inherently know and love to begin with without a learning curve or any barrier to entry.
For example, if someone is a huge horror fan without question, and loves physiological thrillers, then Perfect Blue would be the perfect gateway anime for them. However, that’s such a particular circumstance that it would never possibly make the list in a blog post, and that’s the issue with most anime by and large.
There are plenty of gateway anime out there, but they’re so niche to very specific circumstances that it makes hard to add them to any list, which is why the ones I did list are so “american” within their ideology or family orientation.
EDIT: I actually will be covering direct recommendations for those sorts of niche tastes, I just haven’t gotten around to slicing down the list yet, especially with Kon’s works because good god, they’re master pieces. Which is why I’m going to review every single one of his anime one by one. I’m actually waiting for a blue ray copy of Paprika to arrive as we speak so I can watch the series in all of its glory a few more times before doing a review.
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Those are all good points. I guess my tastes can be quite niche. I’m looking forward to your reviews of Satoshi Kon movies. Paprika is a good one. Maybe I can recommend that one especially when talking about the infamous Inception plagiarism controversy.
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