The Best Anime First Episodes of All Time | TheReviewGeek Recommends

The expansive anime universe offers many different tales with compelling characters, engaging plots, and epic moments. While some anime come and go, many deliver outstanding and memorable experiences. Those types of anime typically contain well-written storylines, characters, and events that will excite people more.

For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best anime, we’d like to highlight the best anime that had the greatest first episodes. From Attack On Titan to The Promised Neverland, there’s a range of shows out there with solid introductions.

Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll add them when we can!


“To You, 2,000 Years in the Future – The Fall of Zhiganshina (1)” (Attack On Titan)

Attack On Titan’s first episode shook the anime community by storm when it was released in 2013. No one expected as much carnage and sadness to take place at the very start of the show. Firstly, this episode had masterful pacing and provides viewers with enough background information about the world and its characters.

It also contains incredible action and terrifying bits to get viewers prepared for what’s to come down the pipeline. You can feel the raw anxiety and fear of the world’s citizens in the air as they run from the Titans. Furthermore, the Titans’ sizes, designs, and movements add to the episode’s chilling atmosphere.

The episode introduces folks to the show’s central themes well. From the walls surrounding humanity to the Titans’ fearful presence, everything works in unison to make viewers feel uneasy for the cast and their survival.


“121045” (The Promised Neverland)

The Promised Neverland’s first episode is a masterful piece of storytelling since it sets the tone and pace for the entire series. While it depicts our cast participating in fun activities it offers some terrifying aspects to get viewers prepared for its memorable twist near the episode’s conclusion.

The episode contains solid world-building. It’s set in an orphanage that feels cheery on the surface but creates a sense of dread. The episode wonderfully establishes the orphanage’s rules, routines, and relationships between the children. It also leaves viewers with moments that will make them doubt the kids’ happy lives at this establishment.

The episode contains great pacing. It slowly introduces viewers to its cast while building tension. It all leads to a shocking conclusion that will entice viewers to continue watching to see what’ll happen next. The episode team’s use of camera angles, music, and sound effects in this episode is marvelous. From the subtle focus on the characters’ expressions to the tonal music shifts, it all works in unison to prepare viewers for its dreadful closing segment.


“Surprised to be Dead” (Yu Yu Hakusho)


“Beginning” (School-Live!)

School-Live!’s popularity may have dwindled over the years due to the lack of a follow-up season, but many recognize its first episode as one of the best to air during the prior decade. It serves as an incredible example of how to subvert expectations and create a unique and intriguing premise. While it feels like a typical school anime at first, it becomes clear that something dark is brewing behind the scenes.

By the episode’s conclusion, viewers are greeted with a horrific twist that’ll make them horrified and excited for what’s to come in the future. This anime handles its dark twist flawlessly. Its opening scenarios lull viewers into a false sense of security through the characters’ cheery personas and the school’s wholesome imagery. Yet, as the show progresses, the tone shifts, and viewers become aware that everything isn’t as it appears.

This episode’s animation is spot-on in capturing the school’s beautiful facade and horrific nature through the use of clever lighting and shadow techniques. Overall, School-Live’s first episode is a great example of how to successfully pull one over on the audience.


“Rebirth” (Death Note)

Death Note is regarded as one of the best thrillers of all time. Its first episode successfully establishes its compelling premise and introduces viewers to its charismatic characters. It gets viewers immersed in its world where the line between justice and evil is blurred. The episode quickly establishes the story’s main conflict and gives viewers an idea of Light’s motivations and Death Note’s rules.

Furthermore, viewers get to see Light murder people in the most bizarre yet twisted ways possible. This will strike fear in most audience’s hearts as they’ll be enamored by the power the Death Note holds. At the same time, the episode will make viewers question Light’s status as a protagonist whose worth rooting for. While he starts off as a brilliant student, you can see his cunning and ruthless roots start to blossom as he murders criminals with the Death Note’s power.

This episode offers great animation and uses its soundtrack to create a sense of dread as viewers watch Light’s plans unfold. With its incredible pacing, stylish animation, and fitting music, “Rebirth” is one of the best anime first episodes.


“The Last One” (To Your Eternity)

To Your Eternity comes from the same author who brought you the emotional anime, A Silent Voice. This anime’s first episode is fascinating, beautiful, and emotional. It sets the stage for our immortal protagonist Fushi well. It introduces his childlike curiosity and willingness to learn, and the impact his transformative powers have on those around him.

The first chapter’s animation quality is incredible from its glorious icy scenery and the character designs are unique and beautiful. The art style is a perfect mix of realism and fantasy, which adds depth to the plot. The episode’s theme of life and death is executed wonderfully. Everything leading up to the anime’s final moments is heart-wrenching and gets viewers prepared for Fushi’s emotional quest. This is an episode that’ll leave a lasting impact on anyone who watches it.


“Tempestuous Temperaments” (Samurai Champloo)

Samurai Champloo is known for its strong protagonists, an excellent blend of music and action, and beautiful scenery. Its first episode is full of incredible fights, humor, and breathtaking animation. This anime delivers visuals that blend traditional Japanese artwork with modern anime aesthetics well. The fast-paced action scenes are well-choreographed and the background music will get you pumped.

Furthermore, the first episode does an excellent job of setting up the relationship between Mugen, Jin, and Fuu. Fuu acts as the bridge between these two samurai who have different styles and personalities.

The first episode sets up the tone for the series moving forward. After watching what it delivers within its runtime, you’ll find yourself leaping toward the other gripping content this hip-hop-infused samurai show delivers.


“Mother and Children” (Oshi No Ko)

Although many folks will question Oshi No Ko’s placement due to it being relatively new, its first episode shook the anime community by storm. Unlike the others on this list, this anime had the advantage of having a full-length film-sized opener for its series. This gave the anime time to flesh out its characters’ origins and the world they inhabit.

Within this 90+ minute long episode, viewers get to resonate with our protagonists’ mother Ai Hoshino, and learn of the struggles she and many other idols face on a daily basis. It gets viewers prepared for the heartwrenching and psychologically-driven content that’s yet to come. The episode’s final moments will tear at your heartstrings and will convince you to root for our duo protagonists to succeed.

In addition to having emotional content, the episode contains moving music and beautiful animation. Viewers will be bedazzled by the amount of detail and production quality that went into creating this chapter of the show. From the ways our characters interact to how well-detailed the environments look, you’ll be amazed by what this episode accomplishes.


“The Day a New Demon was Born” (Code Geass)

Code Geass is a different type of mecha anime that feels more character-driven than robot-focused. Nonetheless, its first episode introduces viewers to the protagonist Lelouch, a brilliant strategist and Britannia’s former prince. It sets up Lelouch’s motivations to overthrow the Britannian Empire and presents fans with Lelouch’s new trump card called Geass. This allows him to command anyone he wants as long as they make eye contact with him.

The animation quality is splendid and the battles that take place around Lelouch feel and look intense. The music complements the episode’s atmosphere and tone, making circumstances feel more extreme and epic. In addition to exploring themes of power, politics, and rebellion, this is a great way to kick off what’ll later become known as a popular mecha anime.


“Death Seven Darts” (Death Parade)

Death Parade became a fun supernatural series that gave viewers a deep dive into the human mind. Its first episode introduces fans to a unique concept; when folks die, their souls get sent to Quindecim, a bar where their souls are judged for the void or reincarnation. This episode’s tone is moody and thought-provoking. It explores themes of life and death and the human psyche through tense games.

The participants’ journeys of self-reflection will entice viewers and will prepare them for the horrors to come down the pipeline. Decim, our protagonist, is a stoic individual who’ll interest people the most. His later relationship with his female assistant will entice viewers to analyze his character further to see if she’ll be able to break him from his stable trance.

In conclusion, Death Paradise’s first episode is a great way to open the show to new viewers and to get them excited for the new participants that enter Decim’s bar.


So, there we have it, our picks for the best anime first episodes of all time!

What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!


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