Once watching anime becomes a hobby, it is often difficult for the anime fan to convince other friends and family who do not watch anime to watch it with them. I have had experience convincing some of the most anti-anime individuals to watch anime.
I have decided to create a guide for anime watchers. This guide helps anime watchers introduce anime to others with the greatest chance of success.
Ask Your Friends What They Think Anime Is
What do they think anime is?
First, it is important to ask the individual being introduced to anime what exactly they think anime constitutes.
Stereotypes of anime include:
- being the equivalent to porn and/or
- having only voices that seem to be screaming constantly, which may deter the individual from wanting to watch it in the first place
Explain that anime is a medium of art
Next, it may be helpful to show them the Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition of anime:
A style of animation originating in Japan that is characterized by stark colorful graphics depicting vibrant characters in action-filled plots often with fantastic or futuristic themes.Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Explain that anime is another medium of art. Remind the individual that those stereotypes do not represent anime as a whole.
Assert This is a Safe Place
What genres do they enjoy?
After the individual understands that anime is a medium of art, figure out what kinds of shows they like watching. Use this information to choose anime series that cater to their interest. For example, if the individual enjoys watching Marvel movies, recognize that an anime like Ouran High School Host Club may not be the best introduction into anime.
Make an educated recommendation
If the individual shows a trend of not liking a certain genre, do not introduce that genre to them no matter how good the anime is.
It also helps to understand how the individual feels about sexualized jokes and gore. Although an anime like KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! may seem lighthearted and fun to one person, it may seem garish to another.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a must-watch for many, but not for someone who gets squeamish around blood.
Let the individual know that this is a safe place, and that you will not turn on an anime that will make them uncomfortable. This is also why it is critical for you to have seen every episode of the introductory anime before showing it to the individual.
Assert This is a Comfortable Place
Blast the air conditioning. Order a pizza. Bring out a cold six pack of beer. Establish that the individual will be comfortable while watching the anime with you. If it means being a little bit cold, hunting a variety of pizza delivery services for the best deal, and maybe splurging on their favorite beer, do it. Other activities could include drinking wine (not suggested if having to read subtitles), smoking a legal joint, and bringing out freshly-washed fluffy blankets.
Bring out a cheeseboard, let the individual choose where they want to watch the anime, and/or play a low-effort card game or board game while watching the anime. Make watching anime with you not just comfortable, but also a fun event. Building an association of anime that equals comfortable and fun can help destroy the stereotypes that the individual may have had too.
What about subtitles?
Keep in mind that actively reading a subbed anime is different from watching a show like The Office with subtitles. It can be tiring to have to stare at a screen and actively watch a subtitled anime for someone not used to it, so be conscientious, and offer breaks.
Three Choices and Three-Episode Rule
Pick out 3 anime
Pick out three different anime that may be fun to watch with the individual. Let them read the synopsis on whatever streaming service, and let them pick the anime to watch. If they see an interesting anime as they are scrolling through, let them click on it and read it. If you have not seen it yet, give them a warning that it may contain things like sex and gore. Or it may simply be a bad anime.
Select anime from recent years
Newer anime, in my experience, also seem to do better than older anime usually because the animation is higher quality. Also recognize that people generally do not want to have to immediately commit to an anime with over 100 episodes. Start with a shorter anime that has around 12 episodes.
Ask about subtitles again!
Remember to ask if the individual is used to watching shows with subtitles. If they are, it may be safe to show them a subtitled anime with Japanese dialogue. If they are not, then it is likely safer to show them an English dubbed anime. Dubs are sometimes not as easy to find as subs, requiring subscriptions to streaming services such as Crunchyroll. Recognize that someone who does not watch anime does not have access or is willing to pay for an anime focused streaming service like Crunchyroll. Attempt to find an anime, whether it be sub or dub, that is easy to access on more common streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video, so that if the individual likes the anime, they can watch it on their own time and easily find more to watch.
Go with the 3-episode rule
To some, even only watching 12 episodes of an anime can be thought to be torture, so I always abide by the three-episode rule. If the anime is not interesting or going anywhere plot-wise within the first three episodes of the season, I stop watching. Let the individual know you only want them to give three episodes an open mind. Perhaps even make a deal with the individual and promise them that you will watch the first three episodes of a show they like. Suddenly, three episodes seems a lot less than 12.
Associations and Recommendations
The only thing left to do is to pick those three anime for the individual to watch with you. As previously noted, newer and shorter animes tend to do better with someone first getting into anime. Below are some of my personal recommendations that may have success. If you have not seen one of these animes but know a friend or family member that loves the show associated with it, then make it a priority to watch the associated anime.
Anime recommendations based on popular series:
If the individual enjoys Stranger Things, they are likely okay with viewing gore and enjoy some fantasy elements grounded in a realistic, dark setting. I would recommend watching The Promised Neverland with them because not only does it incorporate the gore and fantasy elements grounded in a realistic, dark setting, it also has children as the main characters questioning everything they once knew as fact to be fiction. The Promised Neverland also has no fanservice and is available on Hulu for easy access.
If the individual is a hardcore environmentalist, Princess Mononoke deals with environmentalism as a major plot point.
Maybe they like sports!
If the individual enjoys playing a certain sport, you are in luck because there are a plethora of sports anime already out and coming out. Although I have not seen them all, I recommend watching Haikyu!! for volleyball, Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club for swimming, Run with the Wind for track or cross country, Ace of Diamond for baseball, and Kuroko’s Basketball for basketball.
If you think of another sport that I have not mentioned, it is pretty easy to find one by searching in MyAnimeList. Pick one that has a higher rating, watch it and take note of any fan service or gore, and then establish if it is the right pick for the person you are introducing to anime.
There are just a few examples of how you can think of some good recommendations for people who have not watched anime. The best part about anime is that it encompasses so many genres, so you can be creative with your recommendations!
Do you want to see what anime/manga I have seen or read, plan to see or plan to read, and have dropped? Add me on MyAnimeList.
Featured image credit: Emily Olkkola/Geek Gals