Anime for Beginners

So, you’re interested in anime. Great! While anime gets a faux bad rep, especially when you’re in middle or high school, there are some truly great shows out there that everyone should watch at least once. Whether you’re ready to jump all in or you’re still testing the waters, here are some great beginner anime shows you should try. 


Classics

Naruto / Naruto Shippuden

TW: Graphic violence, intense action scenes, death

Based off of the popular manga, Naruto is the 4th highest selling manga series in history. Both series follow Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja who aspires to be Hokage of his village. This show balances action, drama and comedy through hundreds of episodes. If you’re looking for something to binge in a weekend, this show is definitely not for you at a total of 500 episodes. But if you want to watch a few episodes at a time and really experience the story, then check it out! 

Differences between Naruto and Naruto Shippuden – Naruto is the very beginning of the storyline, while Naruto Shippuden takes place around 2.5 years after the original. The characters are seemingly more mature making the show a little more palatable to older audiences.


Avatar: The Last Airbender / The Legend of Korra

TW: Violence, intense action scenes

Formerly a Nickelodeon show in the early 2000’s, A:TLA and LoK have seen a resurgence in popularity since landing on streaming giant, Netflix. Each show is broken up into four books – or chapters – while the avatar navigates through their objectives. A:TLA follows Aang, the first avatar in 100 years as he battles the Fire Nation, while LoK follows Korra, the next Avatar, nearly 70 years after A:TLA as she modernizes a nation.

While connected, these are two separate shows and each deserve a watch – with A:TLA at 61 episodes and LoK at 51, it’s fairly easy to binge through. Personally, I feel like LoK is a little easier to watch since it follows a more mature character Korra (aged 17) compared to Aang (technically aged 112 – but 100 of those years, he was frozen). 


*Fullmetal Alchemist / Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

TW: Graphic violence, gore, intense action scenes, death, alchemy/magic, war, genocide

This is, and has always been, one of my favorite shows. I originally watched FMA on AdultSwim, eventually rewatching FMA:B when it was released on Netflix. FMA follows the Elric brothers, Alphonse and Edward, as they learn alchemy and try to become State Alchemists. FMA is a steampunk, post-European industrial revolution dream – full of common themes like the seven deadly sins, social discrimination and ultimately, family and brotherhood. Spurring the storylines along is Alchemy’s First Law of Equivalent Exchange – to create, something of equal value must be lost.

Differences between FMA and FMA:B – They are the same storyline, however FMA diverges from the original manga storyline while FMA:B follows it completely. The animation in FMA:B is also better since it was created five years after the original. 


Action

One-Punch Man
TW: Violence, intense action scenes

As the name depicts, One-Punch Man follows the story of superhero Saitama, who grows bored of his ridiculous strength, striving to find a worthy opponent. Set in a super-Earth, overrun by heroes and villains, Saitama has his work cut out for him. Popularized thanks to fun animation and emotive styles of the protagonist, OPM is a fun action packed anime series that functions as a parody to traditional superhero lore; specifically Superman.  


Soul Eater
TW: Violence, intense action scenes

Soul Eater follows a team at the Death Weapon Meister Academy as they try to become a death scythe to be used by the ruler of the school, Shinigami a.k.a. Death. Primary characters, Maka and humanoid-weapon, Soul, battle other meisters as well as the organization Arachnophobia to save themselves and the DWMA. While this is an action heavy show, there is a heavy dose of comedy, often brought by secondary character Death the Kid and his pistol partners, Liz and Patty Thompson.


Fairy Tail
TW: Violence, intense action scenes

Another popular anime, Fairy Tail, follows Natsu Dragneel and other members from the Fairy Tail guild as they embark on adventures and missions throughout Earth-land. This comedic fantasy show spans over 300 episodes, running for nearly a decade. Although the storyline can be a little light in comparison to other shows, Fairy Tail has been a fan favorite across all age groups for the last few years.


Horror 

Parasyte: The Maxim

TW: Graphic violence, body gore, intense action scenes, death

High schooler, Shinichi Izumi, is inhabited by an alien parasite named Migi whose goal was to enter the human’s brain to control the body – however, the plan didn’t work out fully. This horror anime has elements of dark comedy, which make it a little easier to suffer through. The alien race that Migi is a part of is trying to colonize the Earth, by assuming and devouring their hosts bodies. At 24 episodes, this anime is fairly quick to binge, but it can be a little heavy and dark. 


Elfen Lied

TW: Graphic violence, abuse, psychological torture, genocide, nudity    

An absolute favorite of mine, Elfen Lied was also the inspiration behind Eleven/El from Stranger Things. This gripping 13-episode, horror anime explores the idea of social isolation and division and treatment amongst humans.

A graphic depiction of an attempted hostile takeover, Elfen Lied also has a warmth and love imbued into the storyline as well. Following Lucy/Nyu, a member of the newly mutated Diclonius species, Elfen Lied explores the effects of imprisonment, abuse and the darkness within human nature. Hands down, this is equally one of the most beautiful yet disturbing animes I’ve seen. 


Attack on Titan

TW: Gore, graphic violence, cannibalism

After colossal humanoids, called Titans, breach the walls of town, Eren Yeager and friends decide to protect humanity from these monstrosities by becoming a part of the Scout Regiment. This action heavy, dark fantasy anime has a little bit of something for everyone. While there is surely a high amount of death and destruction (and cannibalism thanks to the Titans), this is a very interesting watch. With 59 episodes and 8 additional releases, AoT will take some time to work through. 


Whether you catch episodes late night on AdultSwim, Toonami or CrunchyRoll there is an anime for everyone.

Wine 101: Barebone Basics

One thing about me that shocks most people is the amount of part-time jobs I’ve had in my life. I’ve worked various babysitting gigs, retail at place such as Loft, The Children’s Place, Dollar General, Macy’s… I’ve worked at Waffle House… I’ve worked as a package handler for FedEx… but my most favorite part-time job I’ve ever worked is at a cute little wine boutique in the East Village – Taste Wine Company.

I know, I know – you’re thinking, “Wow… shocker… Emily’s fave part-time gig being at a place that gives her a booze discount? Not rocket science.

And if you’re not thinking that, then you’re still stuck on the Waffle House bit… and I’ll tell you now that it’s okay, I’m okay.

But here’s the thing – while the wine & spirits discount was a definite plus, what was actually my favorite part of the job was learning so much about the wine and spirits. Not only the simple things, like what I actually enjoy and being able to point customers to something I’m sure they’ll enjoy, but learning about how everything is made and what makes each beverage unique.

Throughout my time at Taste, I learned so much, and that knowledge paired with the luxury events I began attending through work… my personal taste developed quite radically. Where most of my friends were still into Oliver Soft Red, I began looking for a California cab, and when they’re craving a moscato, I’m looking for a sauv blanc. I also at times find myself turning up my nose at those who are into the sweeter wines, but then I immediately scold myself with the reminder: “Wine is subjective, Emily. Get a grip, it ain’t that deep girl.

But it was a recent dinner where I ordered a glass of sauvignon blanc and my brother said, “Oh, did you find that wine when you were working at the wine shop?” I realized he assumed sauvignon blanc was not just a type of wine, he assumed it was a brand name – granted my brother is one year shy of 21, but still, it got the wheels in my head turning. I have such a basic level knowledge of wine, but I do understand it… so why not share my very basic knowledge with others who are looking to to broaden their own wine knowledge?

So let’s breakdown four common dry wine varietals:

Red

Pinot Noir

Pronunciation = pee-noh | n’wahr

This is typically a lighter to medium bodied red with not a lot of tannin (bitterness), and while pinot noirs definitely can have earthy notes to them, they more commonly get a bit fruitier with prominent berry, or jammy, vibes to them. A major note here is fruity does not mean sweet! When talking jammy, think of this in terms of the tartness and lingering aftertaste in fruits like cranberries or black cherries. In terms of what “earthy” means, well with some wines you can almost taste something similar to dirt, but mixed with hints of spices – it sounds funky, I know, but with wine it just works.

Pairs well with: In general, red wine goes great with a heftier meal, but it’s important to remember that pinot noir is a lighter red wine, so this isn’t meant for a heavy steak dinner. Pinot noirs go great with things like pasta dishes, roasted chicken, & medium cheeses like Gruyere.

Popular regions: Oregon, California, New Zealand, Australia, (Burgundy) France, Germany, & Argentina | I’m a sucker for pinot noir from Burgundy. The most random pinot noir I’ve had is one from Macedonia – this was earthy as all get out and tasted like straight dirt – but what’s fun about wine is that while I’m not into it, some people totally are and that’s OK 😉

Cabernet Sauvignon

Pronunciation = cab-er-nay | soh-vee-ah-(n)

When someone just says, “I’ll take the cab, please” – this is what they’re referring to, cabernet sauvigon. Some also call it the “cab sauv” [pronounced: cab sav, say it all through your nose like Fran from The Nanny] Now you know the lingo, it’s time to understand what this red is going to taste like. Cabs are heavier bodied, bold, high on the tanin (bitterness), and dry af. So if you are a sweet wine drinker who wants to dip your toes into dryer wine, do not start here, friend. It will deter you big time. This is a wine varietal to ease into, for instance if you do a wine tasting night, there’s a higher chance you’ll dig cabernet sauvignon if you taste in the order of: lighter softer red you’re accustomed to, a jammy pinot noir, maybe a medium bodied red like a petite syrah, then go for the heavier cab sauv.

Pairs well with: Big, bold wine goes with a big, bold dinner. Cabernet sauvignon goes great with hearty red meat dishes, massive portabello mushrooms, & it pairs well with most any cheese, but especially hard cheese like Gouda & cheddar.

Popular regions: California, (Bordeaux) France, Australia, & Chile | As mentioned earlier, I’m always game for a California cab.

White

Sauvignon Blanc

Pronunciation = soh-vee-ah-(n) | blah-nk

Sauvignon blanc is typically a safe white wine choice; these are lighter bodied, citrus-y, and really easy on the taste buds. But reminder, this is still a dry wine – while it seems fruity, it’s certainly not sweet. Typical tasting notes with sauv blancs are grapefruit, gooseberry, white peach, or melon – and if these sound like fruits you’d like on a hot summer day, that’s the exact mood of a sauvignon blanc. Think crisp, refreshing, and summer vibes when envisioning a sauvignon blanc situation.

Pairs well with: Mantra: lighter wines = lighter foods. So mix that mantra with the summery sauv blanc, and you’re probably not surprised that it goes well with seafood, green veggies, & a smooth goat cheese = all light, bright and fun 🙂

Popular regions: California, (Loire Valley) France, New Zealand, & South Africa | French sauv blancs are typically smooth & subtle, while New Zealand sauv blancs have a vibrant grapefruit personality.

Chardonnay

Pronunciation = char-duh-nay

Chardonnays were the hardest wines for me to understand, one: if I even liked them, and two: what people even meant when they would call them buttery. Like how can a wine be buttery?! But then, one day I had my ah-ha! moment. I tasted a California chardonnay and a French chardonnay (a white Burgundy) back to back which enabled me to taste the difference immediately. To back it up a bit, chardonnays are generally a medium bodied white wine, they have a summery pallet of a sauvignon blanc but think of a thicker, warmer version. For me, after tasting these two chardonnays from different regions within moments of each other, I was finally able to taste the “butter” that everyone mentions. Due to being aged in oak barrels, that California chardonnay was considered “oaked” and the wine’s thickness tasted more like a buttery vanilla, while that French chardonnay, which was not aged in oak barrels and considered “unoaked”, came across more like a velvety, mineral-y citrus.

Pairs well with: The buttery, oaked chardonnays go great with more intense dishes like smoked seafood & creamy cheeses, while the mineral-y unoaked chardonnays pairs great with light white meat dishes & medium cheeses like Gruyere.

Popular regions: California, (Burgundy) France, Australia, & Italy | If you’re into the citrus-y, mineral wines – look for unoaked chardonnays!

I only mentioned four varietals, but there’s so much more than that!

One of my absolute favorite parts about wine, is that it’s subjective. There’s no wrong answer, no wrong preference, no wrong pairing – it’s all about your personal taste! So while I made pairing suggestions up above, they’re just that – suggestions. If you want to have a red wine with your summery salad – go for it! If you try these wines and you don’t taste any of the things I said you would – it’s not that big of deal. The fun part about doing a wine tasting with others is comparing what you taste versus what they taste, and thinking, “Wow, interesting, I think I taste that now!” or thinking, “Nope, don’t taste that at all… still don’t taste it, nope.

The worst thing you can do is let yourself be intimidated by wine; wine is fun, complex, and honestly it’s like world culture in a glass. More importantly, don’t let anyone tell you your taste is wrong – it’s just different than theirs.

“In racing, there is no question who is best – the first one to cross the finish line wins first prize. But with wine, even if you make the best wine in the world, someone isn’t going to like it, because it isn’t their style. Judging wine is very subjective.”

Mario Andretti