We’d all like to avoid subtitles wherever possible when it comes to anime. At the same time, we’d like to be able to understand what we are watching without struggling endlessly. So I thought you low level adventurers out there could use some anime recommendations that even in your early Japanese travels, you may be able to understand without the terrible crutch of the English subtitle. Hopefully this will give you some good jumping off points. And since this is a short list, I’m hoping that others out there will add their own “easy anime” in the comments section below.
5. Chi’s Sweet Home (チーズスイートホーム )
Japanese Level: ☆
Story: Chi is an adorable kitten who gets separated from her family. She is taken in by Youhei and his parents. Their apartment does not allow any pets, however, so she must be kept a secret. Misadventures and discoveries ensue.
Opinion: Weighing in at 3 minutes, each episode is a perfect bite size chunk of Japanese. You can watch 1 or 2 at a time easily. The story is cute and sweet, but not sickly so. Anyone of any age can enjoy this. The language is simple and daily conversational. One of the best points is how they write Chi compared to her human family. Chi understands the world in a very cat way. The only trick bit is that Chi sometimes adds “ニャー” (meow) to various grammar structures.
Give it a shot—you can spare 3 minutes.
4. Nichijou (日常)
Japanese Level: ☆
Story: Yukko, Mio, and Mai are a bunch of high school girls. The story is about what they do everyday—hence the title “daily life” or “Nichjou.” This show is based off a 4 panel print comic and centers on 5 minute comedy sketches. Basically, they are cute girls doing cute things with a mixture of absurd, out-of-the-box and parody comedy.
Opinion: If you loved azumanga-daioh then this is for you—Nichijiou is its second coming. There are many styles of animation used here, which keeps the show feeling varied and it does succeed in being funny at many points. The Japanese level is not so bad, because its about daily life events and feelings or very closely tied to the visuals on screen.
Watch this scene—if you think this is entertaining then you are in for a good ride.
3. Vandread (ヴァンドレッド)
Japanese Level: ☆☆
Story: This is an outer space comedy drama. The men of Talkark and the women of Meger are mortal enemies. Each sex views the other as profane monsters. The hero of the story is Hibiki, a mechanic to a Vandread, a new type of space mobile suit. Hibiki and 2 other men, along with the flagship of the Talkark fleet, get captured by Meger space pirates. Adventure ensues as they must learn to deal with each other and the unseen enemy that a waits.
Opinion: This show is fun to watch. The graphics are nice and the animation smooth. They do a good job of presenting the vastness of space, while never losing the important details that make the story meaningful. The cast is large, but everyone has a unique personality and gets some development. (You need to watch season 2 to get the full effect). By god, if nothing else they will make you care by the end.
There is action, art, mystery and drama: Something for everyone.
2. Natsume Book of Friend (夏目友人帳)
Japanese Level: ☆
Story: Natsume is an orphaned high school student with the power to see demons, which has brought him all kinds of trouble. Recently, his grand mother died and left him the book of friends. Since getting the book his sightings of demons have increased. Some even attack him ‘wanting their names returned.’Natsumei meets up with Nanoko-sensei, one of his grand mother’s former demon friends. Together they face the daily challenge of keeping Natsumei’s secret while working on returning the names.
Opinion: This anime is slow paced with nice development. While there are many one-episode stories, the series avoids the pit fall of having no connecting narrative. It is also refreshing to have not just another kill the monster of the day show. Instead, Natsumei wants to help the demons by returning their names.
The variety of types and personalities of the demons are rather remarkable and enjoyable. This show will also expose you to many kinds of Japanese from daily conversational among the humans to super polite among the nicer demons and super informal with the not so nice ones.
Its pace and Japanese language variety are sure to help with your study and the story and characters will keep entertained.
1. Persona 4 the ANIMATION (ペルソナ４)
Japanese Level: ☆☆
Story: Yu Narukami is a high school student sent to live in the countryside for a year with his Uncle who is a detective and his daughter. As Yu starts school, a murdered body is found strung in television wires and it is not the last. People from town keep disappearing and ending up on the mysterious midnight channel. Yu and his friends decide to stop the killer and in the process find that there is a world inside the TVs and the killer is using it. Can they save the day?
Opinion: I played the video game before I watched the anime and I love both (you don’t need to have played the game, though). While the anime is distinct, the overall story is well translated. This is a compelling mystery anime with nice character development. The music, art, flow and themes are attention grabbing and the over all theme of accepting your true self is well done and quite beautiful at parts.If you like to solve a good mystery then this one is for you.
So what are some of your favorite easy anime?
A writer for Japanese Level up and a 4th Year JET. Has the ability to consume anime and J-dramas at an alarming pace and may be too in love with kanji.