Do you like anime? Don’t be silly of course you do! What’s not to like? Good animation, stories you would have a hard time finding in Western media, good music, a wide variety of categories to choose from, that special brand of humor and quirkiness that only comes from Japan, dramatic action… Anime is fantastic!
Yet there’s that one friend of yours who thinks it’s lame for some reason or who hasn’t tried it yet. I know anime is awesome, you know anime is awesome, but they don’t know anime is awesome (yet). There are just so many options, what do you choose? What’s the easiest for someone completely new to understand and appreciate? Well here are my tips and tricks for introducing others to anime.
The most important first step is to know your audience. What do they like to watch? What don’t they like to watch? There’s a whole lot of genres available in anime. If you can narrow down what genres they prefer you can select some of the best options they might enjoy. Does your friend love comedy? Then don’t start with Attack on Titan. Are they impatient and rarely wait for slow-build plots? Don’t start with Steins Gate. Let’s say your friend hypothetically likes sci-fi/fantasy, action with a dash of humor. You would work around those categories and pick something that lines up with those interests. In this instance series like Trigun, Sword Art Online, One Punch Man, My Hero Academia, Space Dandy, and Overly Cautious Hero would be good options.
Another thing you want to determine ahead of time is whether a movie or a series would better suit the situation. A series may have episodes that are only a half-hour long, but to get the full experience you have to watch the whole thing. Not everyone has the time or is willing to commit to watching a series. One time I was visiting my hometown and stopped by to see a friend who lives nearby. We only had one day to hang out. Since she hadn’t seen any anime before I wanted to show her one of my favorite media genres. She agreed and we watched The Cat’s Return. I know she likes light-hearted shows so I thought she would like that movie. She did, said she thought it was cute and fun. The time you have available with someone and what they have time for is important to consider.
Let’s address this honestly. Anime can be… weird. Anime has vibes unlike any other form of tv. The term I like to use is Japany. I use Japany as a catch-all term for all those moments that feel unique and completely alien to western media. Sometimes it’s harmless cultural quirks that we don’t understand. Other times it leans more to the fan service side or bizarre side. It’s something to keep in mind when introducing people to an anime. How weird is it? What type of weird it is? If you know your friend well enough then you should have an idea of what they are willing to tolerate. You can always give them a warning ahead of time if you aren’t sure. Who knows, they might end up enjoying the weirdness of anime.
Pick anime that you enjoy. Friends like hanging around each other. They usually have at least a few shared interests. Good friends are willing to try stuff that they might not necessarily like but want to participate in because you like it. Don’t choose something based on their preferences alone, consider yours as well. They are trying anime because they want to make you happy and spend time with you. This means when introducing someone to anime pick an anime that you have already seen before and know you like it.
Choose easily available anime. Most people don’t have Crunchyroll or Funimation subscriptions. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and possibly HBO Max are going to be some of the subscriptions they most likely have. For people just starting with anime, it’s better to use what they already have available. Unless you let them borrow your DVDs. Then you can skip bothering with streaming services altogether. If you don’t trust your friends to return them, bring your DVDs with you every watch session.
When in doubt, watch a Studio Ghibli movie. They are the most well-known Japanese animation studio in the western world. Their movies are amazing! The art is fantastic with incredible details. The music in the films is memorable and beautiful. Stories and characters are done so well, always engaging. This is a safe bet for a good time for anyone and everyone.
What not to do: Do not kidnap your friend, tie them to a chair, sit them in front of a tv playing anime, and say “You’re gonna watch it and you’re gonna like it”. Consent is important.
To sum up:
- Know your audience
- Choose something that fits in the time available
- Be aware of the “weird levels” of the animes you’re considering
- Pick something you like
- Choose an anime easily accessible by streaming or DVDs you already own
- Studio Ghibli is good
Now go, go and indoctrinate everyone! Uh… I mean… Go have fun sharing the glories of anime with friends and family!
* The original screenshot it from an anime called “The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird.” I made this version of the pigeon meme.