This Is The Anime You HAD To Watch

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Regardless of the anime you’ve seen, there’s always something you’ve missed that someone else feels is pivotal to being an anime fan – or they just really want to share the love.

I’ve been an anime fan for a fair while now and watched a lot of anime – like a lot of it. Yet when meeting another fan there is one comment that seems to come up again and again when discussion the shows we’ve watched: “You HAVE to watch …” Seriously, I should get a dollar for every anime I was told was the “anime you had to watch” and I’d be a very happy anime fan.

Naturally I asked my Twitter followers what anime they had been told was THE ANIME you HAD to watch and the responses were by and large the expected ones:

Sometimes this is definitely in the spirit of someone who just passionately wants to share a love for an anime with a fellow fan and sometimes they just want someone else they can talk to about the anime. Other-times however it can be delivered in the tone of someone who seems to feel a smug certainty that someone who didn’t even complete the first arc of Naruto can’t possibly call themselves an anime fan.

The first of these types can actually open up a great friendship and depending on the anime being recommended might lead to some really interesting conversations about a shared love. The second of these types is the kind that new-comers to the hobby might find a little off-putting and like there’s some secret club that you get to join once you’ve watched whatever anime they deem to be the seminal works within anime.

Yeah, I just don’t get it.

Naturally you will meet a whole bunch of people in-between these two extremes and both types can actually be pretty great people. The Naruto example above wasn’t just thrown out there. It was a specific case where someone I knew IRL genuinely believed Naruto was the pinnacle of anime and while other works could be fun and all, any true anime fan would watch Naruto. They weren’t actually obnoxious about it, however any anime conversation would quickly have a Naruto reference thrown in which generally speaking would sail clean over my head.

Irina – This is the anime you had to watch – your thoughts?

Irina 2020 4

Although I rarely talk about it, I actually really like Naruto. A lot!

I’m just cutting in here out of the blue. It’s Irina, hi everyone. When Karandi first came up with this idea, I thought it was wonderful. Most anime fans will get unsolicited recommendations at some point but when you have an anime blog, you get them all the time. It can be a bit exhausting, especially when you feel like you should consider all these recommendations, they were given with earnestness after all. So how do you deal with it?

Rather than be annoyed by this, I countered with Bleach references. I don’t actually think Bleach is a high point for anime, but I know I have a lot of fun watching it, and I also know that referencing Bleach would usually hijack the conversation back away from Naruto. Incidentally, I still haven’t watched Naruto nor do I have any real intentions to.

Oh you really should ;P

Over a number of years I had a lot of fun conversing with this person and we talked about a lot of other new release anime and some of the older works that they have seen.

On the other hand I’ve had encounters with fans who at first recommend an anime to me politely, and then seem to hound me over and over again about whether I’d watched it or not (regardless of the fact that I had already pointed out to them I was overcommitted on my watch list already at the time) to the point that I just didn’t want to hear it again and at one point deliberately crossed the anime off my watch list just because I was sick of hearing about it (it got added back on but definitely a case where even being well-meaning isn’t exactly great).

What’s your experience been like, Irina?

Ash Lynx - Banana Fish
What do you mean you still haven’t watched it?

I am open about my preferences and dislikes in anime and I find that people who have different tastes will often try to convince me to change mine. More specifically, I have many times said that I tend to not enjoy traditional romance stories and yet I get romance anime suggested to me all the time. More than once I have already watched and reviewed poorly. I’ll be honest, I sort of gave up explaining my preferences and now just give a vague noncommittal answer.

Even though most people intellectually understand that disliking an anime isn’t the same as calling it bad, I think there’s still a lot of folks that have emotional attachments to particular anime that make it difficult for them to accept someone could dislike it. Especially someone who they otherwise agree with on shows. And they don’t always take in the other person’s tastes into account.

As anime fans we do get quite attached to our anime.

It isn’t as though I don’t also use the phrase, “you should watch…” or even, “you need to see…”. It almost comes naturally when discussing shows and realising someone hasn’t seen something you hold dear or think might be something the other person will enjoy.

After starting the blog Haikyuu was the anime that came up all the time as one I needed to see (that and Cowboy Bebop). When I finally bit the bullet and decided to watch the volleyball themed anime – and let us all remember we have Yuri on Ice to thank for thawing my natural aversion to sports anime – I really enjoyed it. All those comments and reminders from people about Haikyuu seemed validated and I was excited to share my thoughts on it as I watched.

Haikyuu - Hinata and Kageyama
Significantly better than expected – there’s some real emotion in this volleyball story.

Bebop on the other hand is one that so many times people insisted I NEEDED to have seen that it became an anime I unconsciously avoided even when I had the opportunity to watch it. 2020 was finally the year that I got on board and watched Spike and friends poorly hunt bounties across space. I haven’t yet written my review of the series but I did order the blu-ray so that probably tells you the verdict.

Even within seasonal viewing, within a few weeks of an anime making a splash there are people who ‘encourage’ you to jump on board the latest hype train, because sometimes it isn’t just all hype. My Hero Academia was one such an anime for me. The first season of it I didn’t start when it aired and it was five episodes in before the clamouring voices on social media and blog posts singing its praises got me curious enough to dive into it. Again, I’m pretty glad about that.

That isn’t to say there hasn’t been anime people have insisted on that have fallen flat for me. Generally I don’t remember them after the fact because they don’t leave much of an impression.


This is an interesting post for Karandi and I to share. We both watch a lot of anime and we talk about it together. We also generally have very different tastes. Almost opposite. A few notable exceptions of course (cough Natsume cough).

I love comedies, and Sports! anime and a certain sarcasm to my series. I have little to no patience for drama, romance and like my fantasy on the urban side. 

As such, over the years, I think we both developed a vague sense for what the other person would like but neither of us ever really ventured into aggressively recommending anything to the other. Because that would likely not work out. It’s an odd position to be in. On the one hand if I come across a weird anime that I absolutely fall in love with, of course my instinct is to tell Karandi to watch it, and watch it now! I want her to experience the same joy I did after all. That’s what friends are for. But on the other hand, I don’t want her to be saddled with the chore of trying to get through a show that does nothing for her. 

Given - big hugs for Haruki
Where our interests overlap.

But I think one thing that helps us, is that we don’t feel too uncomfortable with admitting we aren’t enjoying something the other is. Because recommendations can feel like impositions and come with all sorts of unspoken expectations, sometimes you just feel bad telling someone you didn’t enjoy their pick. And it’s no fun hearing it either. But I’m always ok hearing it from Karandi since we’ve already established we just like different things. We’re complimentary that way! 🙂

And then there’s people like Dawnstorm who regularly makes me discover my new favourite series and at this point I will blindly trust their recommendation on anything.

This is very true. And even series we like, we frequently like for different reasons or have different favourite moments. Black Butler would be one such series where Irina and I both like the series but for me season one is true brilliance and season 2 was a bit of a train wreck which of course ended up with Irina and I doing a two part debate on the merits of season 2 (where she tries to convince me that somehow it is the better series). In one particular exchange Irina actually tried to argue Ciel was a bit of a flat character, a point which I wholly disagree with and yet this is an argument where both of us basically just accept we’re coming at it from two different places. 

Black Butler Season 2 - Alois attacks Ciel.
Alois? Really?

That said, because we’ve kind of worked out each other’s preferences and where our interests overlap, I mostly know when something I’m watching is going to be something Irina would like, and she very much has my tastes figured out so I can usually trust a recommendation from her to be at least on paper something that’s going to catch my interest.

Ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with being passionate about your hobby and your favourite anime. That’s why most of us chose to be bloggers, to share our love of anime with everyone else and to find people who want to talk with us about our favourite characters and shows. Those who know what it is like to cry when a character falls or to cheer when they overcome challenges. Recommending shows, using language like ‘have to’ and ‘need’ is a part of being a fan.

However, there are probably a few things to keep in mind:

  • Are you pushing an anime because you genuinely think the person you are speaking to will like it (based on other anime or shows they’ve watched) or are you pushing it because you like it?
  • How many times have you already pushed your preference? Are you starting to be a bit of a broken record?
  • Have you accepted any of their anime recommendations?

Alright, time to share your experience. When was a time someone recommended an anime to you and you loved it? When was a time someone recommended an anime and you ended up wondering what on earth they were thinking? And finally, when was a time you recommended an anime to someone else and they took you up on it? How did that work out?

Images in this article from:

  • Naruto: Shippuden. Dir. H Yamashita. Studio Pierrot. 2007 – 2017.
  • Banana Fish. Dir. H. Utsumi. MAPPA. 2018.
  • Haikyuu. Dir. S. Mitsunaka. Production. I. G. 2014.
  • Given. Dir. H. Yamaguchi. Lerche. 2019.
  • Black Butler 2. Dir. H. Ogura. A-1 Pictures. 2010.

Thanks for Reading From
Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

karandi avatar no background

10 thoughts on “This Is The Anime You HAD To Watch

  1. There’s a downside to having seen too much anime: you rarely find a recommendation that gets you excited, and when you do it’s not available anywhere. Recommendations that lead to me watching shows usually either remind me that a show want to watch exists, boost its priority due to a glowing review, or make reconsider a show I’ve dismissed before.

    As for recommendations, I’m actually pretty shy with recommending stuff. I tend to bring up shows in comment sections if they fit the theme, but that’s about it. I may bring up some shows more often than others, so there could be repeats, but I can’t imagine pestering people with the same show over and over again. Even I would auto-add that name to my spam filter, and it’s my favourite and me who’s talking…

    Really, unless you aspire to anime scholarship, there are no must-watch anime. It’s okay not to watch anime you don’t enjoy. And for some (like, say, myself): It’s okay to admit to yourself that you’re not liking this show all that much.

    1. Most recommendations I receive are for shows I have already watched, already have on my list, or have already passed on, as well. It is rare for someone to bring up title I haven’t at least heard of. Kind of exciting when it happens. Though usually I will end up finding out the anine is inaccessible.

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