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When a show is popular, more of it gets made. Sequels, prequels, spin-offs, retellings, reiterations, recaps, alternate worlds, alternate characters, alternate focus. Fan consensus begins to decide where is the best place to start, what to skip, where to move next, what the correct chronological order is. To a newcomer, this can all be intimidating. Where on earth do you start with Lupin III or Gundam or Macross? Which version of the Patlabor franchise is worth watching? What’s the correct order to watch the Fate/Whatever franchise?
This post is an attempt to collate this information into one place to help fans discover where the best place is and what best order to watch these franchises is. I’ve written up a list here on the franchises I’m familiar with, but for a full list I need your help. Leave comments and I’ll update the list with your additions, crediting the person who left the advice as well. You can also disagree and re-write what’s already on the list, because invariably people will have different takes on what’s the best order to watch these things in.
The big problem with .hack is it’s a multimedia project so to understand the whole picture you’d need to follow a bunch of different anime, games, manga, and light novels in a certain order. Yes, the games are important, and the Legend of the Twilight anime is noncanon. Cutting it down to the important parts, it’s in this order:.hack//Sign (anime) -> .hack original PS2 game quadrilogy (Infection, Mutation, Outbreak, Quarantine) -> .hack//Liminality (anime) -> .hack//Legend of the Twilight (manga) -> .hack//Roots (anime) -> .hack//G.U. game trilogy (Rebirth, Reminisce, Redemption) -> .hack//Quantum (anime).
Credit to SuzushinaYuriko
Watch Angel Beats TV series as normal up to episode 4. Watch the OVA episodeStairway to Heaven, then resume. Watch the OVA Another Epilogue after the last episode. Alternatively, it can make sense for Another Epilogue to occur between the end of the last episode and the CREDITS of the last episode. According to Wiki, Another Epilogue is just that: an alternate ending. It depends on your interpretation.
Credit to KBKarma
Genesis of Aquarion -> Movie or the OVAs -> EVOL. The first 20 minutes of the movie are a regular episode, taking place in the second half of the first series. The rest of the movie is close to identical to the two OVAs, so you can pick which format you prefer. It’s not strictly necessary to watch Genesis of Aquarion for EVOL though, especially since EVOL is a much better series.
Credit to Anca
Animation -> Natural -> OVA -> Origination. Despite its name, Origination is not a prequel or anything like that. The origination special, or ‘episode 5.5′ as it is known, comes after ep 5 (well, gee).
Credit to Adamar
Tetsuwan Birdy and DECODE are two takes on the same story. The latter was made several years later so has much better animation. DECODE -> The Cypher OVA -> DECODE 02 -> Tetsuwan’s OVAs if you’ve come to enjoy the franchise should be the optimal way.
Credit to Yuyucow
The TV series is based on a single episode OVA that was based on a music video that was based on a song that was based on a bit of character artwork. The OVAand the TV series have the same basic set up. The OVA doesn’t really go anywhere though, so if you want a story you might be better off with just watching the TV series.
Here are the non-filler arcs of Bleach.
1–63 = Shinigami arc / save rukia
110 — 129 = Arrancar arc p1
137– 167 = Arrancar arc p2
190 — 203 = Arrancar arc p3
206 — 212 = Urahara backstory on how he kicked out of the Soul Society! Of course you can skip this if you don’t care for Urahara.
215 — 226 = Arrancar arc p4
266 — 297 = Arrancar arc p5
300 — 310 = End of Arrancars
343 — 366 = Fullbringers/bleach anime ends
The three different versions of the Blood franchise, Blood The Last Vampire, Blood+and Blood-C, have no plot-related connections to each other, so it doesn’t matter what order you watch them in. Plus there’s absolutely no guarantee that if you like one, you’ll like the others, as all three are completely different in tone to each other. The only one you need to remember is Blood-C: The Last Dark is a sequel to Blood-C TV series
This is very important and I wouldn’t want anyone to be fooled by the titles. Boku no Pico -> Pico to Chico -> Pico x CoCo x Chico. Now enjoy.
Credit to Yuyucow
Clamps’ various stories have a lot of crossover characters and storylines. Often the anime are made to be open to newcomers, but if you want to try follow the crossover plots, here’s a stupidly long and complicated guide of the chronological order:
Cardcaptor Sakura (1−35 -> movie -> rest of the series -> The Sealed Card -> Specials): this a good entry point, but besides that it is absolutely necessary for both Holic and Tsubasa. Both assume you’ve read it and are familiar with the characters, particularly Clow Reed. Then RG Veda manga -> OVA. This sets the mood for what many consider to be ‘typical CLAMP’. Then CLAMP School Detectives; it occurs at the same time as the manga Man of Many Faces and Dunklyon: CLAMP School Defenders, although seeing as they are not animated I consider the two optional. Dunklyon ties into RG Veda and has characters appearing in Tsubasa.
Right, now Tokyo Babylon OVA -> X TV -> X movie -> Tokyo Babylon manga -> episode 0 -> X manga: if you’d rather just read the manga and skip watching the various adaptations, Tokyo Babylon > X as they are direct sequels. It takes place in the same world as CLAMP School Detectives, and the characters have a rather important role here. Next is Magic Knight Rayearth (S1 -> S2 -> OVA) -> Angelic Layer -> Chobits (-> Chibits); MKR and AL aren’t sequels and take place in different worlds. MKR is in the same world as CLAMP School Detectives. Clover and Wish only have music video adaptations. Wish needs ought to be read before Kobato, but isn’t strictly necessary. Miyuki-chan in Wonderland is referenced often, but not in any important way. The Legend of Chun-Hyang has never been animated, and isn’t strictly necessary to understand the arc of Tsubasa it plays a large role in.
Okay, now: xxxHOLiC TV and movie -> Tsubasa Chronicles (see entry); xxxHOLiC Kei should be last. Then Kobato., Blood-C and Gohou Drug. Kobato. should only be watched after TRC, as it spoils the ending. Blood-C references xxxHOLiC, but can be watched whenever, preferably after RG Veda and X as their storytelling relies on you knowing they are incredibly sadistic. Gohou Drug can be started during xxxHOLiC, but should be left until after as the recently released chapters take place during Kei. Gate 7 is still publishing, so it would be prudent to leave it last.
Credit to Anca
Start with the Clannad TV series. Then it might be best to jump into the two alternate world spin offs after that, the Kyou Chapter and the Tomoyo Chapter. After Story is the sequel to the original TV series. If you loved Clannad, just watch all of it. However, if you got sick of Clannad, or weren’t huge on it anyway, it is perfectly reasonable to skip the entire first 8 episodes. They’re just a bunch of filler. The good part of After Story only starts on episode 9. In fact, I’d also hazard to say that if you don’t like the Clannad TV series but still want to see what the fuss about After Story is, it’s easy to jump into After Story at episode 9. As for the alternate world Clannad movie, it’s somewhat of a forgotten child compared to the rest of the franchise. It’s generally criticized for its shoddy character design, animation, and divergence from certain elements of the original story. However, the divergence is considered to be a good and a bad thing, so the movie comes out as a decent work as long as it’s not too closely compared to the TV series.
Credit to Appropriant
Code-E and Mission-E, seasons one and two respectively. No OVAs, no movies, no fluff. Just seasons one and two in order chronologically, and they just happen to have different names.
Credit to blazingdead
The Bebop movie occurs between episodes 22 and 23. Most people just wait until they’ve finished the TV series to watch it.
Start with Crest of the Stars. Then there’s Crest of the Stars: Birth, which is a prequel to Crest of the Stars, which I’d recommend slotting it in here. Then watch in straight chronological order, Banner of the Stars I -> Banner II -> Banner III.
Original TV series ->side story special episode -> Gaiden OVA -> second season. The second season originally aired before the Gaiden OVA, but the OVA comes first chronologically and clears up a lot of the confusion that arose from the second TV series, particularly the change in Hei’s character.
If you don’t mind being spoiled for something very small, you can jump right into the movies, they make a good starting point. I recommend movie 12. Otherwise, or afterwards, watch the TV series. Lupin III. vs Detective Conan is as friendly to newcomers as any other part of Lupin franchise, so that could also be a good starting point if you already like Lupin III.
Watch the movies at least after these episodes. Movie 1 — ep 10; Movie 2 — ep 32; Movie 3 — ep 129; Movie 4–12 — ep 147; Movie 13 — ep 345; Movie 14 and 15 — ep 365. About the OVAs, all except number 1, 9 and 11 are supposed to be seen after ep 147. First OVA should be watched after episode 50. It has some minor spoilers about episode 129, but those only consist of one character appereance. Ninth OVA includes great spoilers for episodes up to 200. Eleventh OVA takes place in Japan during the London arc (616−621), when most of the characters are (surprisingly) in London. A certain character from episode 509 appears there, but almost nothing is revealed about him. Since movie 11, movie specials called Magic Files were sold on DVDs as well. For movies 11, 12 and 13, they provide a sort of backstory that has very little to do with plots of the corresponding movies. However, Magic Files for movies 14 and 15 have minor spoilers, so they should be watched after their movies. Magic Kaito is a series of DC specials based on a different manga by the same author. They have nothing to do with DC and only provide a backstory for popular Kaitou Kid character. There are also several cameos by DC characters.
If you really want a stupid level of detail, see here.
Credit to Meonlyme1845, Anca
Watch the original OVA. New Dominion Tank Police is a sort of sequel, but was under different studio that stripped out the weirder side that made Tank Police memorable, so isn’t that good. But at least it’s not as bad as the TANK S.W.A.T. CGI remake thing.
Both the series from the 70s and the recent remake can be watched on their own without any prior knowledge of the franchise. The 2006 OVA series is completely different though, played dead serious without any attempts at humor whatsoever.
Credit to Flawfinder
1) Watch Dragonball or read the manga if you think the series is too old looking and long
2) Watch Dragonball Z if you want to stick to the traditional experience, or Dragonball Kai until the Android Saga if you like pretty colors and hate fillers, and Dragonball Z for the Majin Saga
3) Watch Dragonball GT only if you’re really committed to this, otherwise skip it ‘cos it’s crap
4) Watch the movies, except the two TV specials mentioned in the previous piece which are meant to be watched during the series
5) The Korean live action adaptation is a curiosity, stay at large from the western one because that one sucks
6 – optional) DBZ Abridged is nice to watch and use for rewatch value after finishing DBZ/Kai.
Credit to GAN_HOPE326
Watch the first 12 episodes of the TV series, then jump into the first episode of thespecial. Then go onto the rest of the TV series, and finally back onto the second special episode. Also it would be wise to watch Baccano before watching Durarara, as some Baccano characters make cameo appearances in Durarara.
Start with the original TV series. Pocket Full of Rainbows is a movie that’s a alternate world re-imaging on the TV series. Eureka Seven Ao is a loosely connected sequel to the original. It’s tempting to say don’t bother with either, as popular opinion states neither is very good. But if you want to watch them, they can kinda be watched without knowledge of the TV series, but you really should watch the TV series first.
Evangelion TV series -> End of Eva. Make sure to watch the Director’s Cut for episodes 21-24. They include extra scenes that were included in the Death portion of the Death and Rebirth movie. Death was just a recap with extra scenes, and Rebirth was the first half of End of Evangelion. The rebuild movies are retellings and should be watched after the original series and movie. Alternatively if while watching the TV series you get completely sick of Shinji’s whining, it might be best to cut your losses and jump straight to the alternate retelling movies as they make his character less of a hopeless whinger.
This one’s awkward. The ideal starting point would be the Fate/Stay Night visual novel, but the level of wordiness in the VN would be incredibly intimidating to anyone who has never played visual novels before. There’s the anime adaptationFate/Stay Night, which isn’t a particularly good adaptation. Then there’s the prequelFate/Zero which, despite not being written by the original author, is widely considered to be the best part of the Fate/whatever franchise. Thing is, both Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night spoil stuff for each other, so it’s difficult to say which to start with. If you can handle visual novel word-vomits, start with that. If you can handle mediocre anime, try the Fate/Stay Night anime. If you just want a quick fix for a good anime, watch Fate/Zero.
There’s also Unlimited Blade Works, which is an alternate version of the TV series. There’s Fate/Prototype, which is just a short window into what nasu originally planned Fate/Stay Night to be. Finally, there’s Carnival Phantasm, a piece of goofy fanservice for fans of Type Moon’s work. It has characters from places other than the Fate/whatever franchise, but if you’ve liked all that you’ve seen so far, by all means track down everything by Type Moon. They did make a Tsukihime anime, but it differs wildly from the game to the point that many Type Moon fans claim there is no Tsukihime anime.
Original TV series -> Fireball Special -> Fireball Charming. Charming is technically a prequel, but it was made after the original and it makes more narrative sense to watch Charming last.
Possibly the definitive example of “it gets better I swear!”. The first story arc of the TV series has some filler and time wasting. I’d recommend watching episodes 1–5, then you can safely skip right to episodes 18–22, which finishes the first arc. Everything between is largely unnecessary and gets extremely repetitive.
Credit to Antz
Chronological order would be the easiest way around this. Full Metal Panic ->Fumoffu -> The Second Raid -> The Second Raid OVA. The only weird case here is Fumoffu. It’s a comedy spin-off from the original series with a completely different tone. I’d argue that you will find Fumoffu funnier once you’ve seen the original TV series, but plenty of people watch Fumoffu before the rest of the franchise and love it. So if you’re not feeling the TV series, or just want a very solid comedy anime, you can start with Fumoffu.
The two TV series, the original and Brotherhood, start off the same way but then veer in completely different directions. The original anime was made before the manga had finished, so the creators took a completely different direction with their adaptation. Several years later they made Brotherhood, which followed the manga right the way through. The original has a stronger character focus and deeper messages and themes, but Brotherhood constructs a much more coherent story that actually ends properly. I believe popular opinion swings towards Brotherhood being the better of the two, but they are both fantastic series. I personally think that it’s better to start with the original TV series though. My reasoning is that Brotherhood assumes you have seen the original and barrages through its early content to get to the New Stuff, diminishing the effect of some considerably important plot events. If you watch the original TV series, make sure to follow it up straight away with the Conqueror of Shamballa movie. If you’re watching Brotherhood, you should watch the special spin off episodes whenever, either once you’re done with the TV series or about 40-50 episodes into the TV series. They tell neat little side stories. Finally there’s the Sacred Star of Milos movie, if you want Full Metal Alchemist to degenerate into generic shounen pap.
Ignore the first series and just watch Futakoi Alternative. They have barely any relation to each other and Futakoi is total rubbish.
Credit to Yuyucow
Easy chronological order. Original TV series -> OVA -> second season. There’s spin-off material, Kujibiki Unbalance or Ramen Tenshi Pretty Memna, which are animated versions of the anime the characters in Genshiken watch. However they add almost nothing to the TV series and are routinely regarded as being terrible.
The original Ghost in the Shell Movie and Stand Alone Complex do not have any connecting plot threads, so you can watch whichever first. It’s probably best to start with the movie, as it’s the least intimidating place to start. The second movie, Ghost in the Shell: Innocence, is a direct sequel to the first movie, but isn’t generally considered to be that good, so you can skip that if you want and jump straight into the TV series Stand Alone Complex. Stand Alone Complex has a whole load of different spin offs, but they are mostly just re-tellings of the same story with re-used footage. Chronological order is Stand Alone Complex -> Stand Alone Complex Second Gig -> Solid State Society. Finally there’s the new OVA Arise, which is its own completely new universe as well, so you’re probably safe to watch that without seeing the previous GITS properties.
The first few episodes of the Gintama TV series are fairly poor and do not give a good account of the rest of the show. The ideal starting place for Gintama is theJump Festa OVA. It’s a microcosm of the sense of humour you will find in the TV series. If you liked that, then go wild because you’ll probably love the TV series too. If you didn’t, then don’t bother. As for the Benizakura movie, it’s a retelling of episodes 58-61, but does have some new scenes at the start and end.
The first thing you must understand about Gundam is there’s a main timeline, the Universal Century (UC) timeline, and then there’s Alternate Universe (AU) series that don’t connect to the main timeline at all. If you aren’t averse to old school animation, you can start with the UC timeline as outlined below. However a better starting spot may be one of the more recent AU Gundam series. The most recent ones are Seed, 00 and Age. Gundam fans will never agree which ones are worth watching, so I’m just going to go out on a limb and say I think 00 is the best place to start.
Start with the 0079 Gundam trilogy. These are recap movies of the original TV series and generally considered better than the actual TV series. From there it’s0080 war in the pocket (also a favorite for christmas watching) -> 08th MS team ->0083 Stardust Memory -> Zeta Gundam (the actual direct sequel to the original trilogy, as the others are more spin-off OVAs) -> ZZ gundam (can be a bit jarring as the tone shifts from the super dark Zeta to light and goofy ZZ) -> Char’s counterattack movie -> Gundam Unicorn (at this point the stories become less direct sequels and more indirect, this is just the chronological order) -> Gundam F91 movie -> Victory Gundam. Then there’s Turn A Gundam, which was supposed to be the last UC is thing but feels more like a spinoff and could even be called an AU Gundam.
Credit to R1CK_D0M, Fadeway
Straight release order. Season 1 -> Season 2. The sequel movie Wakening of the Trailblazer is widely considered to be a total mess and probably not worth watching, lest it spoils your opinion of the TV series.
OVA/Movie sequel: You should be fine watching either version since the movie only includes a few extra scenes which aren’t terribly necessary to the plot. Don’t read the prequel manga until after watching the TV series and movie sequel since the prequel does have a lot of tie-ins to events that happen during the TV series/movie sequel. There are a couple manga that try to explain the year gap between the series and the sequel, and you can read either of those before/after watching the movie sequel, but the general consensus (even though the character relationships/dynamics are portrayed VERY differently in both stories) is that Blind Target occurred before Battlefield of Pacifists. The glorified doujin “Ground Zero” is said to occur right before the sequel.
Credit to gw_kimmy
I am probably the only person on the planet who thinks the TV series is far better than Hellsing Ultimate, so I’ll have to bow to popular opinion on this one. Go straight into Hellsing Ultimate and ignore the original botched TV series.
It’s straight order of when they were released, but since the naming conventions for the franchise are a bit all over the place: S1 -> S1 Specials -> x365 -> x365 Specials -> x Hoshimitsu (☆☆☆) -> ☆☆☆ specials -> SP (specials) -> x Honeycomb (upcoming).
Credit to Adamar
The chronological order is as follows: Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (26 episodes) -> Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Special: Nekogoroshi-hen (1 episode) -> Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai (24 episodes) -> Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei (5 episodes) -> Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kira no (4 episodes). Only Koro ni (1) & Kai (3) are the vital story arcs. Both the Nekogoroshi ova (2) & the 5-part Rei ova contain a mixture of fan-service & new story elements, but are not vital to the main plot. Kira (5) is pretty much nothing but tacky fanservice, & should be avoided!
Credit to fathomlessblue
The original Hunter X Hunter and sequel OVA cover the exact same material as thenewer TV adaptation. It’s nothing like the differences between the two Full Metal Alchemist adaptations. The original moves slower and has some filler material, but otherwise they are exactly the same. Popular opinion seems to be siding with watching the newer adaptation, as it will actually cover all the material and has better animation.
The manga, which has been running since 1987, is split into different generational arcs. The first 2, Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency, are covered in the fabulous 2012 TV adaptation by David Production, and that is where you should start. The next arc, Stardust Crusaders, has two OVA adaptations. One from 1994and another in 2000, neither of which cover the entire arc. The 1994 one was a bit of a cult classic back in its day, but doesn’t hold up next to the more recent 2012 TV adaptation. You can still watch it though, as it hasn’t been confirmed yet that David Production will adapt Stardust Crusaders yet.
The OVA series takes place during different points in the actual series and the two movies take place after the series’ end with “I Want to Return to that Day” being the official conclusion and “Summer’s Beginnings” being an epilogue movie, so by estimation, it would be this: Episodes 1-20 > Hawaii Suspence > I Was A Cat, I Was A Fish > Hurricane Akane > Unexpected Situation > Episodes 21-25 > Spring Is For Idols > Birth of a Star > Episodes 26-35 > White Lovers > Episodes 36-48 > Message in Rouge > I Want to Return to That Day > Summer’s Beginnings.
Credit to Flawfinder
The spin-off movies should be watched only after you’ve completed the TV series. While Life Goes On is technically a prequel, it would spoil important reveals for the TV series.
The movies aired out of chronological order. If you were to watch them chronologically, it’s 2–4-3–1-5–6-7-OVA. However it’s advisable to stick to the order the original creators intended them to be watched in.
Credit to Chipp
What happened with Kurenai is Brains Base took a rather different interpretation of the source material when they made the TV series. Later they came back and made a short spin-off OVA more in the spirit of the original material. Popular opinion sides with the TV series being better, but they’re both worth watching so long as you remember they have very different feels to them.
While you can watch Last Exile Fam without having seen the original (different characters, different setting, only loosely connected to the original), you’re better off watching the original first because the two do tie into each other.
The movie My Conquest is the Sea of Stars is generally considered the best starting place, just before jumping into the 110-episode OVA that make up the main series. Overture to a New War is a retelling of the first two episodes of the series (including substantially expanded backstory) that you can watch whenever. Once you’ve finished the series, you can watch the prequel material, although most of it is of lower quality and often comes off as unnecessary: the Golden Wings movie; the A Hundred Billion Stars, A Hundred Billion Lights OVA; and the Spiral Labyrinth OVA.
Credit to Yuyucow, Magus
Good luck with that. Even the likes of Gundam and the Clampverse cowers in fear with the sheer baffling nature of the Leijiverse. Here’s the AniDB chart, have fun.
The great thing about Lupin III is that every new thing they produce is made to be open to newcomers. The only struggle is knowing which ones are actually good. Popular opinion sides with Castle of Cagliostro, the movie directed by Miyazaki himself. Its more whimsical depiction of Lupin isn’t a very good representation of the rest of the franchise, but it’s still a damn fine movie whether you care about Lupin or not. From there, you can really go anywhere. First Contact has a good reputation amongst Lupin fans. I think Alcatraz Connection is a good movie. The new TV series A Woman Called Fujiko Mine is interesting if you want a really artsy take on Lupin. Finally, if you aren’t put off by old ass animation, you can always jump right back in time to the original TV series.
Start with the original TV series, Macross SDF. From there you can sorta go anywhere. Macross Zero is a prequel but works better with knowledge of the original. Do You Remember Love is a retelling of the original TV series, but in a rather unique way. It works much better if you’ve already seen the TV series though. Macross Plus is the sequel to the original TV series. Then comes Macross 7, which is a deliberate mockery of the entire Macross franchise. Might work for you, might not, so no worries if you dump it. Finally, there’s Macross Frontier. So in short: Original series -> Do you remember love movie/Macross Zero/Macross Plus -> Macross 7 -> Macross Frontier.
However, if you are adverse to the old-school animation of the original SDF Macross (we’re talking very old school here), both Plus and Frontier are accessible as stand-alones, even if you don’t get the full appreciation.
Credit to Shinmaru, Adamar, R1CK_D0M
The movies, The False Songstress and The Wings of Farewell, retell the Macross Frontier TV series but are different enough to be worthwhile and are awesome visual spectacles
Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha -> Nanoha A’s -> Nanoha StrikerS. A’s takes place six months after the first season, and StrikerS takes place ten years after A’s. There are also the movies, Nanoha the Movie 1st, and the upcoming Nanoha the Movie A’s 2nd. The movies are retellings with some minor changes, primarily in the art, animation, and character design. But they’re good if you want to see what the series is like and don’t want to watch a 13-episode show.
There are two Nanoha manga after strikers. The first is vivid, and it takes place 4 years after Strikers. It mostly centers on Vivio and fighting tournaments ( and fanservice ) The second is Force which takes place six Years after Strikers and Nanoha isn’t even directly the main characters.
Credit to Myna, Doom
Major is broken up into 6 seasons, going of a different stage of the main character’s (Honda Goro) growth. Each season goes in chronological order, and should be watched as such. The awkward part is in the movie, Major: The Ball of Friendship (yes that’s actually its title). The movie itself is set between seasons 1 and 2, but actually aired (and is intended to be watched) between seasons 4 and 5, as it shows characters from season 4, and spoils a portion of the beginning of season 2. While nothing majorly (haha punny) important is spoiled if you watch it then, it does suck some of the plot value and mystique around the first couple of episodes of season 2, so just hold off on it a bit.
The other awkward part is at the tailend of the series with the two OVAs, Major: Message and Major: World Series. Both are set following the events of season 6. World Series is a two episode OVA covering the final arc of the show (though spoiled by the main series itself), and Message is an epilogue OVA set 10 years after season 6 and few years past World Series. While neither have any major relevance to each other in terms of plot, I;d recommend watching World Series first, as it’s technically more important and keeps to chronological order.
Credit to Conankudo4
Bakemonogatari was the first season released, and first novel from the franchise released, but the third chronologically. There are events in it that don’t make a whole lot of sense without knowing the previous two arcs: Nekomonogatari and Kizumonogatari. Unfortunately Shaft haven’t animated Kizumonogatari yet (they said they would about 3 years ago but still no sign of it) so it means there isn’t that easy starting point for the franchise. If you are willing to wait, I would recommend waiting until Shaft finally animates Kizumonogatari as your ideal starting place. However if you want to make the leap now, chronological order is:
Kizumonogatari (not animated yet) -> Nekomonogatari (movie, start here for now) -> Bakemonogatari (make sure you get the BR/DVD versions as the TV broadcast has a lot of unfinished animation because it was made before Shaft had money) ->Nisemonogatari -> Monogatari Series Second Season (yes, ‘second season’ is the 5th Monogatari entry, 4th one animated and third actual TV series. Don’t ask why they made it so complicated, just accept it)
Munto was first released as two movies (Munto and Munto 2) and then a TV series with the very long name of “Sora wo Miageru Shoujo no Hitomi ni Utsuru Sekai” was released later. How it pretty much works is, you can completely ignore the two movies that were released first as the first 6 episodes of the TV series are as good as completely identical. From 7–9 you have an in-series art style update and new story where it concludes (yes, at the odd number of 9).
Credit to Sarukah
As it is, there’s no standalone anime if you want to enjoy Negima. Xebec first adaptation loosely covers the first volumes of the manga and then jumps off a cliff for a laughable original ending. It’s a really cheap show and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who’s fond of the franchise recommending it. SHAFT’s Negima?! (and its Haru/Natsu OVA) took the characters and threw them into a different setting where absolutely different stuff happened. The result is a Pani Poni Dash Lite — not that bad, but definitely not Negima. Might be something to look at if you’re already a fan and like the characters, but nothing else. The Ala Alba OVAs (and its sequel, Mou hitotsu no sekai), on the other hand, are faithful depictions of the manga… starting from ch176. You can’t exactly skip 20 volumes and watch those, so it’s quite tricky. And to make it worse, the Anime Final movie that was supposed to give closure to those was so bad even the mangaka said it was terrible and should be avoided.
tl;dr: Avoid Mahou Sensei Negima, read the first 20 volumes of the manga, watch Ala Alba and Mou hitotsu no Sekai, avoid Anime Final. Watch Negima?! if you like the girls and Shinbo.
Credit to Yuyucow
Kind of a commitment to make with about 450 episodes and 650 chapters at this moment and still ongoing. Unfortunately, it starts of kind of slow and not very interesting. General consensus is that it really starts picking up during the Arlong arc, starting from episode 31 and chapter 69, and only gets better from there. The only problem is that the earlier episodes introduce a lot of the major characters. So I can’t really recommend to skip them. You could read the manga, since that is usually quicker.
Like most long running anime, it has a bunch of fillers, but not nearly as much as say Bleach or Naruto. I could write them all down here or just give you this link. It includes the fillers, OVAs, movies and TV specials and between which episodes they fit. Episode 55, although part of a (not so good) filler includes some important canon information. You might want to watch that episode or read chapter 101. Also the G8 filler arc ( episode 196 — 206) is actually very good. Definitely watch that one. You can skip all the other filler arcs. They aren’t that bad, but they don’t add much to the story.
Most of the movies are okay. They presume you know the characters, so you can’t really jump in without knowing anything about the series. The only ones I definitely recommend are the 6th and the 10th. The 6th one is directed by Hosada (Summer Wars) and has a different animation style and a much darker story that the rest of the series. The 10th was actually written by the mangaka and fits into canon. Movies 8 and 9 are recaps of the Arabasta arc and the Drum island arc, but they try to fit too much into too little time. The 8th one is also more of a ‘what if’ story and includes some heavy spoilers for the rest of the series. So don’t watch them as a subsitute for the series.
All the TV specials are forgettable. Also, the first OVA was done by a different animation studio and before the anime. It also has completely different voice actors. I don’t recommend to watch this an introduction to the series. It’s not very good. Watch the other two OVAs though.
Onegai Twins is a spin-off series from Onegai Teacher. Some characters from Teacher appear in twins, but it’s not necessary to watch them in order. There’s alsoAno Natsu, which is a spiritual successor to the Onegai series, but again doesn’t require knowledge of the previous two.
Cheers to blazingdead
First timeline: Mobile Police Patlabor OVA (7 episodes) -> Patlabor 1: The Movie ->WXIII Patblabor 3: The Movie -> Patlabor 2: The movie. The TV Series and New Files are an alternate story with the same characters. It’s -> Patlabor TV series (47 episodes) -> Patlabor ova 2/New Files (16 episodes). Best place to start is probably the first Patlabor OVAs.
Credit to fathomlessblue
The last OVA episode (6) tries to wrap up a story only half-done. There’s no need to skip it, but it won’t make much sense. Instead, start the manga at volume around volume 9.
Credit to Dan
Only two Precure series are actual sequels (Futari wa -> Max Heart, YPC5 -> YPC GoGo) so you can jump in pretty much anywhere. Dozens of magical girls meet every year in the All Stars movies, so you can use that simply to pick whichever cast you prefer. Heartcatch is widely considered to be The Best of the TV serues, so that’s probably the best starting point. However, if you know you’re going to watch a lot of the franchise you probably want to go Splash Star -> Fresh -> Heartcatch -> Suite -> Smile, then returning to watch Futari Wa/Max Heart if you really want and Yes 5/GoGo if it’s finished being subbed by the time you get there. Main point is that Splash Star is a fairly direct remake of Futari Wa, so you don’t want to watch them one after the other, and Splash Star is probably a better starting point.
Credit to Yuyucow, lmm
A Certain Scientific Railgun relies on your knowledge of A Certain Magical Index, so it’s advisable to get that done first. From there it really doesn’t matter whether you jump to both seasons of Railgun before watching Index 2 or whether you watch Index 2 before jumping to Railgun.
Credit to Yuyucow
This is actually pretty simple but a lot of Redline fans haven’t watched its spinoff by the name of Trava like they very well should.
Credit to Yuyucow
The movie, Adolescence Apocalypse, is an alternative version of the TV series. You’re better off watching the TV series first. Not because it has any important plot details, but because it will at least prepare you somewhat for the sheer weirdness of that movie.
Original TV series -> OVA -> Ni Gakki. San Gakki is not another season. Rather its an adaptation of 2 completely random chapters several years down the line of the manga. You’re better off not touching it at all.
Use the AniDB graph and watch chronological order. While there’s not a problem with watching all of Slayers in chronological order, it’s certainly not necessary to do so. Watch the different TV series in order and don’t watch the Slayers Premium movie before Slayers Next. It doesn’t really matter beyond that.
Credit to Magus
Start with the original 1974-1975 Space Battleship Yamato series. There’s a compressed movie version of it but it’s very rushed. Next comes either the Farewell Space Battleship Yamato movie or the Space Battleship Yamato 2 series. Both cover roughly the same events but the latter is an expansion of the former with major changes. Later Yamato anime follow the Space Battleship Yamato 2 timeline, so if you have to pick one, have it be that. Release order is for the most part chronological order from there on out. Space Battleship Yamato: The New Voyage -> Be Forever Yamato -> Space Battleship Yamato 3 -> Final Yamato -> Space Battleship Yamato: Resurrection. There’s also a Space Battleship Yamato live action movie from 2010 in its own continuity. There’s an OVA from the 90′s called Yamato 2520. It was cancelled partway-through because of a legal battle over who owned the Yamato franchise. It doesn’t seem to be either well-regarded or relevant to the rest of the franchise, though.
There’s a new remake of the original TV series called Yamato 2199 that’s been getting rave reviews. That is probably the best place to start if you’re wary of older animation.
Credit to Magus
Straight chronological order. First season -> Spice and Wolf OVA -> Second season.
First off is that the SRW anime are all based off the OG line of video games and contain no licensed series (no Gundam or Macross etc..) — everything is original. As of writing there are 3 shows to chose from: Super Robot Wars OG The Animation — A 3 episode OVA released in 2005. Super Robot Wars OG Divine Wars — A 26 episode TV series released ’06-’07. Super Robot Wars OG The I.nspector — A 26 episode TV series released ’10-’11 In terms of chronology the order goes — SRWOG:DW > SRWOG:TI > SRW TA OVA. A word of note is that the OVA has been supplanted by the events of one of the video games (SRW OG Gaiden ) which took story elements from the OVA and made them no longer canon. So while you can watch the OVA, when you play the video game or if there is another sequel, the events of the OVA will most likely be ignored or supplanted.
Cheers to Kraker2k
Tamayura ~hitotose~ Episode 1 > The Original Tamayura OVA > Tamayura ~hitotose~ Episodes 2-5 > Tamayura ~hitotose~ OVA > Tamayura ~hitotose~ Episodes 6-12 > Tamayura ~More Aggressive~. Episode 1 of hitotose covers before Potte moved to Takehara, while the OVA introduces all other main characters. In hitotose episode 2, it is assumed you’re already with Kaoru et al. The hitotose OVA chronologically fits between episodes 5 and 7 (6 is a flashback episode) but can work as a bookend as well. ~More Aggressive~ should continue with Potte’s second year in high school.
Credit to Justin
The order of Haruhi is all over the place. They aired the first season out of chronological order. Later they aired it in in chronological order, but threw a second season in the middle, then finally the movie Disappearence of Haruhi Suzumiya.The Wikipedia page lists the broadcast order and the chronological order. The first season works better in the original broadcast order. Take it from someone who watched it first in chronological order, it completely messes up the pacing and narrative the creators were going for. However if the out-of-order version annoys you, its perfectly fine to watch it chronologically too. So Haruhi S1 broadcast order -> Haruhi S2 -> Disappearance.
The second season gets confusing with the whole Endless Eight fiasco, where they made 8 episodes of basically the exact same content. While there may be a special pride for those who can sit through all of Endless Eight, I wouldn’t recommend it. For the same narrative structure they were attempting to achieve, watch the first, second and eighth episodes of Endless Eight (so technically episodes 2,3 and 9 of the season). Trust me, you’ll already start to get frustrated by the time you watch the third episode. There’s also the dumb flash animation spin-off stuff, which you can watch if you’re a super fan.
The Tenchiverse is way bigger than you probably realise. In sorta chronological order: Tenchi Muyo: Ryo-Ohki OVA 1 -> The Night Before the Carnival OVA -> Tenchi Muyo: Ryo-Ohki OVA 2 -> Tenchi Muyo: Ryo-Ohki OVA 3 -> Mihoshi Special -> Manatsu no Eve (Tenchi Muyo Movie 2) –> Tenchi Muyo Dual (really for those determined to watch everything in the Tenchiverse, as its relation is slight and it just isn’t that great of a show) -> Tenchi Muyo GXP –> Tenchi Muyo TV/“Tenchi Universe“ –> Tenchi Muyo in Love (“Tenchi Muyo the Movie”) –> Tenchi Muyo in Love 2: Distant Memories (“Tenchi Forever! The Movie”) –> Magical Girl Pretty Sammy OVA –> Magical Girl Pretty Sammy TV/“Magical Project S“ –> Sasami: Magical Girls’ Club –> Shin Tenchi Muyo/“Tenchi in Tokyo”.
Isekai no Seikishi no Monogatari/St. Knight’s Tale falls somewhere within the timeline encompassing the OVAs, The Night Before the Carnival, Mihoshi Special, and GXP. Just pop it in there wherever.
Credit to A Day Without Me
Start with the TV series. From there, you can jump into some of the side stuff. TheParrallel Works are cool little music videos with alternate takes on the TV Series. Then there’s the retelling movies. Now normally I’d say ignore retelling movies as they’re lame, cut down versions of the original. This is certainly the case withGurren-hen. But Lagann-hen is fantastic, so much so that I’d call it better than the TV version. Skip Gurren-hen and watch Lagann-hen. It starts at the midway point of the TV series, so you will have to have watched the TV series originally to understand what’s going on.
The movie is just the 6 OVA episodes together plus a few more scenes. They’re the exact same material. The movie is probably a better watch simply because it has Blu-Ray version quality while the OVA only has a web-quality version.
Weirdly, To Heart and To Heart 2 have the same settings but different characters. To Heart and its sequel My Memories are much more decent pieces of animation, if anything because they set many galge tropes that would be terribly executed by countless shows and games afterward. Both have some specials that are meant to be watched after their corresponding seasons. For To Heart 2, chronological release order, which would be To Heart 2 -> To Heart 2 OVA -> To Heart 2 AD -> To Heart 2 AD Plus -> To Heart 2 ADnext.
Credit to Yuyucow
Aired in reverse chronological order, but as always with these cases, it’s better to watch it in the order the original creators intended it to be watched in.
Credit to A Day Without Me
It’s generally agreed upon to watch the series in chronological order (season one, season two, ovas), but upon getting into season two, unless you like filler, skip episodes 18–26. Instead, go straight to the Tokyo Revelations OVA (which is way darker than the TV series, but faithful to the manga). Then read manga volumes 18 — 21 before watching the Shunraiki OVA. If you skip the manga, you will be completely lost. Actually, even with the manga, you might be completely lost… Also, sometime before the Tokyo Revelations, you can squish in “The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom” movie, though skipping it won’t hinder the story at all. After watching the Shunraiki OVA, start reading the comics at volume 24. If you’re reading the manga for Tsubasa Chronicle, try read it alternatively with XXXHolic as they will spoil each other.
Credit to Dan
Episode 0 Inga-Ron -> Un-Go TV series. Inga-Ron was released in theatres at the same time as the TV series came out in Japan. It’s a prequel to the TV series and gets you emotionally invested in the characters in a way the first two episodes of the TV series fails to do.
Episodes 1-58 > Movie 1 > Episodes 59-99 > Movie 2 > Episodes 100-140 > Movie 3 > Episodes 141-191 > Movie 4 > Episodes 192-195 > The OVA series > Movie 5 > 2008 OVA
The second movie, A Beautiful Dreamer, is considered one of Mamoru Oishi’s finest works and can be watched on its own without having seen either the TV series or the other movies. So if you don’t want to sit through all 195 episodes but still want to see a fine piece of animation, you can watch it without having seen any of the franchise as long as you understand the basic premise. All you need for the basic premise it to watch the first episode of the TV series, or even just read a wikipedia entry. The 2008 OVA is something of a celebratory special with much better animation, so despite taking place somewhere within the series, it’s better to finish the entire thing before jumping into that.
Credit to Flawfinder
The chronological order is as follows: Red shoulder document: Roots of Ambition OVA > Pailsen Files OVA > (Mellowlink is a spinoff ova. It’s pretty good, but it’s perfectly skippable. It’s just a guy being really angry at everything and killing people for revenge) > TV series ep’s 1–13 (First arc in Uoodo) > Last Red Shoulder OVA > TV series ep’s 14–52 (2nd, 3rd, and 4th arcs in Kummen, Sunsa, and Quent respectively) > Big Battle OVA > (this is technically where the second half of 52, the last ep, goes, but I wouldn’t recommend stopping the ep halfway through just for big battle) > Shining Heresy OVA > Alone Again OVA > Phantom Chapter OVA. Just watch it in that order.
Credit to R1CK_D0M
Start with the Tokyo Babylon OVA, then move onto the X TV series. The manga and TV series are faithful to each other until the last five or so episodes. From there, if you want more angst and lack of an ending, start reading the manga at volume 16 or so. The TV series has a conclusive, and much more hopeful ending. The movieis to be avoided at all costs, unless you like beautiful animation with no plot (or are a fan of terribad anime). For hardcore fans, there’s also a set of music videos. Also, do not watch “Episode 0″ first. Watch it at least 3/4 through the TV series. Otherwise, you’ll be spoiled on pretty much everything. When you’ve done all that, you can go back to the Tokyo Babylon manga, which is a prequel to X. It starts really slow though, so you’re better off going to it after you’re done with X.
Credit to Dan, Anca
Watch the “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” movie after the the first half (or so) of the first season. While the movie was made before the TV series (and thus the art is a bit different), it does require knowledge of the main characters and dynamics before being watched. Note that mixing the manga and the TV series+Movie is difficult due to whole plotlines that aren’t transferred through adaptions, but if you feel up to it, after season 2 of the TV series, being reading about volume 14 on. After volume 15, you can watch the Ro OVA. Somewhere between (or after) volume 19, watch the Ro: Adayume OVA. There’s also an OVA called “Shunmuki” that can be fit in anywhere around season 2 of the TV series. If you’re reading the manga for Tsubasa Chronicle, try reading it alternatively with Tsubasa Chronicle as they will spoil each other.
Credit to Dan
You’re Under Arrest production and chronological order are the same. So watch 1995 OVA -> 1996 TV series -> 2001 series -> 2007 series.
Credit to Kadian1364
Season 0 -> Season 0 movie (rather terrible, can be skipped) -> Duel Monsters (skip the arcs between the end of Battle Tower and episode 199) -> (manga) Yu-Gi-Oh R (if you want, this one is generally forgotten, and it takes place between Battle City and Ancient Egypt) -> Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series. The dubbed version is a 4kids dub, so liberal changes everywhere. Pyramid of Light can be safely ignored, but if you do want to subject yourself to it hunt down the Japanese dub, as they changed the plot and rearranged some scenes, because it was just that stupid. GX takes place after Duel Monsters, but barely references it. 5D and Zexal are entirely alternate universes. Capsule Monsters does not exist. Bond Beyond Time belongs after GX and 5D.
Credit to Anca
Simple release order
These are the series that follow a straight, no-nonsense chronological format with no confusion. Just watch these in the order they were released. Leave comments if there’s any franchises that fit this list too.
Arakawa Under the Bridge, Baccano, Baka to Test, Big Windup, Black Lagoon, Break Blade, Candy Boy, Eden of the East, GaoGaiGar, Honey and Clover, Hare Guu, Ichigo Marshmallow, Initial D, Invasion Squid Girl, Jormungand, Kaiji, Maria-sama ga Miteru, Minami-ke, Natsu no Arashi, Natsume Yuujinchou, Rinne no Lagrange, Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei, Shakugan no Shana, To-Love-Ru, Vandread
If it’s not listed here: There are other ways to go about searching. At the bottom of each anime on AniDB there’s a link to a graphic of the chronological order of each series. They can be misleading though, as they might list prequels that you should ideally watch after to the TV series. You can also go in order each series was released in, but this can lead to you watching stuff with old ass dreadful animation or confusing OVAs for manga fans and so on. As you should have realised by now if you’ve read this post, it’s not instantly clear what order to watch stuff in for an awful lot of these franchises. If you’re in doubt, just jump in and watch whatever the hell you want. Sometimes watching things in the ‘wrong’ order leads to a more rewarding viewing experience that others won’t get.