Tuesday’s Top 5: Draws When Deciding What To Watch

Every three months we get another round of shows to consider and while I’d love to try them all it just isn’t possible without a time machine (quick, someone get on that). It’s almost impossible to know what is going to be good or not from the synopsis (and fan comments) prior to watching a show but there are certain things that will make you really want to give a show a go. Even after you’ve tried it and you know it isn’t that great, there are some things that will make you hold on and just keep hoping.

This list is 100% subjective but it is my top 5 draws. Those things where if you tell me they are in an anime I will definitely try at least one episode. Feel free to add your own in the comments below.

Please Note – Pretty sure no spoilers this week.

Honourable mentions this week go to: romances that progress in an interesting manner, over the top action that is fun to watch, and dry humour.

Number 5: Classic Horror Elements

Vampires, ghosts, creepy old houses, you name it and I’m in for at least the set up. The problem being that too many of these shows max out on the atmosphere in episode 1 and you are left with sub-par writing, 2 dimensional characters, and usually a resolution that feels like it got plucked at random from a hat. That said, when they get it right, I enjoy a good classic horror, so I will continue to wade through ever B Grade (and even C and D grade) horror that appears on our screens in search of the one that just makes me smile.

Number 4: Well Rounded Female Characters

I’m not one of those people who insists every show should have equal numbers of male and female characters and that every female character needs to be sassy and fiercely independent. That said, I do like a show that presents females in a more well-rounded way than mainstream entertainment usually give them a chance to be represented. It isn’t about being a strong character. They can be weak and cry a lot, as long as they have more depth beyond being the crier who needs rescuing.

Number 3: Explores the Supernatural

Having gone through my teen years living on a diet of Buffy, Charmed and similar fare (not to mention a massive collection of fantasy novels) I really do enjoy a story that deals with the supernatural (not in a horror manner but just as another facet of life). I find a lot of these stories charming and entertaining. That doesn’t mean everything that throws in a few gods and the like is gold but I’m usually up for at least trying an episode of something that deals with the supernatural.

Number 2: It has a dragon in it.

dragon.png
Terrible picture but you get the point.

Okay, this really should have been my number 1, because I have sat through some terrible stories due to a lifelong fascination with dragons. Of course the terrible story thing isn’t exclusive to anime (Dungeons and Dragons movie anyone?). More than any other magical feat or creature I’m going to at least start a story filled with dragons. Will I continue the story? That entirely depends. Dragon Zot from Cerberus didn’t even manage to hold my interest in the show beyond episode 2 (although it didn’t help that the entire rest of the cast drove me crazy and the dragon wasn’t even that great looking).

Number 1: Well Written Character Dialogue

The rarest of rare finds. The show that just makes you sit up and pay attention. Characters who are talking in a way that makes them feel like people instead of character archetypes. Characters who aren’t just voicing every random thought in their heads, providing exposition in order to progress the story, or being silent because they can’t reveal any more of the plot because we’re only in episode 3. So should you find such a gem, please let me know.

Okay, as you may have picked up from my list I definitely have a soft spot for fantasy. No matter how many times I am burned I still watch as many shows with these elements as I can because just every now and then I find something that can make all of the other shows seem worth it.

What are your top 5 draws when choosing an anime (even if you know that you are likely to end up disappointed).

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23 thoughts on “Tuesday’s Top 5: Draws When Deciding What To Watch

  1. That is not terribly unlike my own list of things that will definitely get me to check an anime out. Supernatural themes, with or without horror elements, anything fantasy related, even if it’s terrible, (because duh, that’s kinda my whole thing) and really excellent dialogue.

    I freely admit, however, that I have a severe weakness for badass ladies. Erza Scarlet is my hero. Though, really, as long as the character is written like a character instead of a female shaped prop, my interest definitely goes up.

    Yukine from Kabaneri was everything.

    Ahem…

    Two final thoughts. As a life long D&D player, yes that movie was horrible. I cried so much at how horrible it was even as I laughed at how awesomely over the top Jeremy Irons was.

    Also, that was the perfect picture! It was the best picture! No picture could ever be better! It may be one of my favorite scenes, possibly, maybe, not that I’m partial or anything.

    One other thing that will absolutely grab my interest with an anime is an interesting premise. If it’s something I haven’t seen before, or in a very long time, I’m way more willing to give it a try, and be forgiving of it. This is frequently why I defend shows most other folks dismiss, such as Bee Train’s Girls With Guns trilogy. Just making an attempt to do something outside the norm is cause for applause these days, in my mind, so that’s probably the fastest possible way to grab my attention and hold it.

    Now I’m gonna go watch that scene from Fairy Tail a few dozen more times.

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    1. Jeremy Irons was brilliant in that train wrekc of a film. Then again, I don’t care what Jeremy Irons does, as long as he speaks I’ll watch the film. It’s such an awesome voice.

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  2. Your list has a lot of elements I look for as well, though maybe with the exception of dragons. They’re awesome but I’m kinda equal opportunity when it comes to the supernatural/mythical. Anything from ghosts to shapeshifters are desirable.

    That said, my list would be:
    01. Action. Good fight scenes are a weakness of mine and I can forgive a lot as long as I get my daily dose of badassery.
    02. OP. Odd as it sounds, I pick shows a lot based on the opening themes. Sometimes it works out (Parasyte for instance) and sometimes it doesn’t (God Eater comes to mind).
    03. Non-romance focused stories. Love stories grate on me when they’re the main attraction so I tend to go for anime not in that genre. Romance is fine as long as it’s not the central element.

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  3. The picture should’ve been Blue-Eyes White Dragon.

    I’m more drawn to unique environments, nowadays. Things like Fune wo Amu and Yuri!!! on Ice are bound to at least entice me. Sometimes with fantasy, I feel they become too enveloped in going by the standard tropes rather than creating their own universe in fear of plotholes, or laziness. This was why I was initially hesitant with Flip Flappers, as the premise sounded predictable.

    And on a more personal note: anything romance. Not just “A girl likes a boy and struggles to develop a friendship with him for twelve episodes,” but actual romance, where two people in love interact with each other in a sweetly intimate manner. Something that’s more likely present in manga than anime (unfortunately), though Momokuri was the most recent thing I watched which hooked me with that prospect. Ookami to Koushinryou is something of a gold standard for the kind of romance I wish for in stories… perhaps with a little less melodrama going forward. : ]

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    1. Fantasy definitely gets a saminess after awhile, particularly with fantasy that isn’t very good (and alas there is a lot). But much like horror I keep watching (and reading novels) because when you come across a good one it literally takes you out of this world.

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  4. Good list! Especially on the well-rounded female characters. I think many people think the gals in a story need to take up a weapon in order to be strong or be some beacon of purity and love. No, the women need to be 3D in personality even on a 2D screen.

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  5. Your number 3 is my number 1: I grew up on Buffy, Charmed, Angel etc etc and the first anime I got into knowing it was anime (I don’t count Sailor Moon because it was years before I realized that was anime) was Magic Knight Rayearth, and that whole fantasy, paranormal, supernatural genre is my favorite anything to watch in any media and it’s the genre I write as well so if I see a fantasy story I will watch it, n contest. Along those lines, if a story is heavily dealing with magic, I will watch too because I loooove magic (magic is my dragons lol).
    my number 2 is your number 1, as well! But I’d add to that I need good character/plot interactions in a story. I know that most every plot is going to be formulaic or cliches that have been done before, so the story itself doesn’t really draw me into a story (if a plot manages to be original, that’s a bonus but not a deal breaker) I’m all for seeing how characters interact with each other, how they react to their challenges, their environment, and if that’s done well I will stick with a show until the end. Even if I have hopes a show will go somewhere, and it’s a short enough watch I’ll give it a go – looking at you Ajin The Demi-Human!
    3. If a friend I know has good taste in shows says to watch something. They don’t tell me to watch something they think I’d dislike obviously, so we sit and watch the first episode, and if I’m interested we’ll watch more together. That was how I got introduced to Welcome to the NHK, Steins; Gate, and Death Parade and I enjoyed those all tons.
    4. I have a few friends in the dubbing industry, so if I see they are voicing in a show I’ll watch it haha. Hasn’t really gone wrong, because that’s the only reason why I watched Your Lie in April and it was amazing.
    5. Reading blog reviews and it peeking my interest to watch. I’d throw in reading a plot synopses and being interested enough to watch, as well, because both are along the same lines: I read about a show, go “Sounds good” and click.

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  6. Phew….tough question, but a great post. So after thinking about it: here are my choices.

    5. It looks interesting. This may sound weird, but a cool picture of the show sometimes is enough to draw my attention. Another for instance (yes there it is again, sorry πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚) I picked because I liked the picture of it on Crunchyroll. It’s a bit like the old saying: A picture can tell more than a thousand words.
    4. It contains Robots/Cool looking Mecha. Okay I have to admit I am a Mecha junkie. Anything with cool mechabattles in it, already gets some bonus points from me. And if there if it isn’t a mechabattle, a cool looking piece of Mecha can draw me in as well. Rideback, for example, was a show that had that, and because I saw it in the trailer for it I immediately bought it (okay and the cheap price wasn’t bad either πŸ˜‚)
    3. Horror. I can’t help it, but I love horror. Whether it is blood and guts, Paranormal horror, zombies…I really don’t care, but count me in, if it has something like that in it. Currently watching Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. While it is a bit of a Attack On Titan clone (okay a lot lol), I am really enjoying it (review follows sometime this week)
    2. Posts featured on Blogs that I follow. Ever since I have started blogging, my love for and watchrate of Anime has definitely gone up. I am getting a lot of great tips and have so many shows lined up, because of Blogs like yours, that I have enough ideas to last me a lifetime πŸ˜€
    1. Original Story/Ideas. If a story is original or it just has something in it, that just somehow resonates with me, it is more likely that I pick it up. Examples are Orange and Eden of the East.
    Hmm…this has become a pretty long response…sorry about that πŸ˜€ As always great post, and great choices!
    Ps…Dragons are definitely cool πŸ˜‚

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  7. Some things which I look for when trying to pick out what to watch?

    Cute girls. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit it, but there’s just something about having a bunch of cute female character designs which will increase the chances of me watching the show. Cute girls doing cute things are oddly soothing for me to watch. I’d love to figure out exactly why this is. There’s different cute girls riding cute bikes show announced for next season, and you can bet I’ll definitely be watching that, despite the fact that probably no-one else even cares.

    The show relates to one of my non-anime hobbies or interests. If there’s a chance to see more of, or learn something about a topic which I’m already into, like history, food, or sewing, it definitely increases the chances of me checking it out.

    It seems like it’s going to be funny. Comedy is very subjective, probably more so than any other genre, but I love to laugh and I find a lot of comedy stuff coming out of Japan suits me well (but it kills me that Crunchyroll leaves a bunch of puns totally untranslated).

    It looks like it will be story driven. Completely contrary to my love for vapid slice of life shows, and dumb comedies, I also adore a good story, and shows telling a coherent and interesting (and hopefully uplifting) tale are usually an enjoyable watch for me. Character drama isn’t so much my thing, I like the events to drive the story.

    And for the fifth point, it doesn’t have romance as a main genre tag. I find that stories which primarily revolve around romance don’t interest me. I’m down with dragons and such, but I feel that the human interactions portrayed in a lot of romance tropes are uninteresting and hard to believe. Go figure. I’d reconsider on a recommendation from someone who I know understands my taste, or possibly a review, but I wouldn’t go into a show blind with romance as a tag.

    I’m pretty chilled out about checking out reviews before I watch a show, so that usually sees me in good stead for existing series, though like you said, picking out things to watch for the new season is a bit more of a challenge, and there’s some things which I’ve picked which haven’t been amazing, and a few others which I totally missed at first glance which have proven to be very enjoyable.

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    1. I think I like romance because it isn’t believable in stories. Romances tend to follow a set rhythm in stories so you know when the characters are about to hit a rough patch, when they’ll get closer and you know that 9 out of 10 times they are going to resolve things in the end and end up together. It’s kind of nice.
      Then again, I also havea fascination with horror which is also fairly formulaic so maybe I just like things to be controlled and predictable.
      Thanks for sharing your draws.

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