There was a time when a love of anime marked you as a hardcore nerd. Back when translations weren’t really a thing, the only way to get yourself some Japanese cartoons was to know a bootlegger or become one. But now, you can’t turn anywhere inside the great glass safe we call the internet without smacking into anime anything: memes, gifs, references, homages, etc.
The world-wide-web has allowed fans to gain access to a ton of anime and congregate with others as well. It’s turned us into a passionate lot, almost hyperbolic in nature, which can make it harder for outsiders to really find a footing without being steam-rolled by an over-enthusiastic fan.
When your best buddy has never heard of that one anime you love…
But really, getting into anime is not nearly as difficult or intimidating as it looks. I found an article on Kotaku with advice on taking those first few steps, but I decided to provide my own advice for the prospective anime seeker. Because while it may look like a bloated cash-cow with overzealous fangirls, getting into it is as easy as starting a new book series.
Before you can truly enjoy anime, you must be mentally prepared for it.
Overdramatic? Possibly, but it’s no joke to say that anime can be jarring to newbies used to western cartoons and live-action TV. Anime has a double-edged reputation when it comes to content, basically that anything under and beyond the sun is possible. This doesn’t mean you need to steel your mind or spine for “dah horror” but it would be helpful to remember that weird things are commonplace here and that nothing is truly off the table.
Yup. That’s a man fighting a goat to the death.
In less scary terms, anime is weird and super creative. If you wanna get into it, you need an open mind and a good sense of humor. It’s relatively easy to avoid the novelty anime if you’d prefer, but it never hurts to keep yourself open to the possibilities.
Watch What You Want
There’s a point in the article I must repeat, for I believe it cannot be stressed enough. Because as soon as you say you’re curious about anime, you will be bombarded with people telling you that “you have to watch x/y/z, it’s a classic!” and so on and so forth. I’ve even been guilty of this myself, several times. We mean well, we really do, but we most of us don’t realize that creating this “thou shalt watch” list for any new anime fans can be super alienating.
“WHY YOU NO WATCH EVANGELLION?!?!?!”
So, to everyone who is looking at those “must-watch” lists uneasily, know that you are only accountable to yourself. If you like Rom-Coms, try something like Fruits Basket; If you like horror, pick up Higurashi or Berserk, and so on. At the end of the day, the point is to enjoy yourself and there’s no point in being bored through 100+ episodes of Naruto if you’re not into shounen. There are truckloads of anime out there and you are only one person, so don’t stress yourself out on what you “must-watch” and watch what you want.
After mentioning that the prospective Otaku should just watch what they want, the article then went to list several recommended series for viewers to plan themselves. They cautioned newbies from hitting long series like Sailor Moon and One Piece since they were long and lore-heavy and boasted hyper-long episode lists. I can somewhat agree, though I question some of his suggested starting places. If you want my recommendations of what to watch in the beginning, feel free to check out my anime starter pack.
I highly recommend starting with the Brotherhood version of Fullmetal Alchemist, as it deals with a lot of western tropes and fantasy elements that would be easier for new fans to digest.
That being said, I agree that new fans should likely begin with something small and easy to watch. There’s no point in hopping onto One Piece’s 400+ episode list if you’re not even sure anime is your thing. Go for a small, simple series that looks like your taste, such as space western Trigun or the romantic drama Your Lie in April to see if you wanna stick around. Then, if you find yourself craving more, feel free to look into the longer shows.
So, after watching a show or two, you likely still won’t know if anime is your thing. Maybe you picked the wrong starting point, or maybe the show wasn’t what you thought it would be. While there’s no shame in quitting – it’s a niche for a reason – I would still highly recommend that you try a few more and keep going.
Anime is huge. The variety of shows available is insane, enough to drown a large group of people in a stadium if you got the DVDs together. As a creative medium, it has provided millions of artists the chance to express themselves, so there’s no way that one or two shows can summarize all there is to offer. So if you don’t like what you see the first few times, try again a few more.
Because, at the end of the day, getting into anime is just about finding your niche. With its wide-range of story styles and characters and its cornucopia of animation styles, it truly is one of the most inclusive entertainment mediums I know. To people thinking of joining the fun, I encourage them to ignore the wall of “classics” and overzealous fans at the gate. Just take those first few steps and you’ll find yourself neck-deep in no time.
Any new anime fans in my audience? How about any suggestions from other long-time fans? Feel free to comment about this and anything else below! Don’t forget to like and follow for more content just like this.