Friday’s Feature: Choosing A Watch List When Faced With A Sea of Spring Anime

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The Spring 2018 anime season has started and so many bloggers, reviewers and just watchers are faced with the question of what will end up on their list. For some this is an easily answered question as they had already picked out 2 or 3 big titles that they intended to watch during the season and the rest will either wait or be forgotten, but for the rest of us watching a plethora of premiere episodes this can actually end up being quite a difficult decision.

The important thing to keep in mind is that there is no surefire way to pick a winner and regardless of what you end up watching, you always have the option of dropping mid-season and picking up something else. Or you can just keep going and at the end of the season check out those titles that slid past you. And at the end of the day, as long as you are having fun, what does it really matter? Still, there are some approaches I’ve watched other reviewers take when choosing their watch list that I’m going to share here and then I’d love to know how you pick your list.

Genre Matters

This method works for bloggers who have a very specific theme on their blog. For example some people review cute girls doing cute things and slice of life and that’s what they like to watch so their list is automatically narrowed down to titles that fit within those descriptions with maybe one or two outliers for variety. Other bloggers focus on shounen or romance or whatever it is that they have made their niche. It is quick and effective and if your blog is targeted at a specific genre or audience then it is probably a necessity in order to avoid brand confusion. Needless to say this doesn’t work for everyone, particularly those of us who while there are genres we’d prefer to watch don’t have any one genre that we’re crazy enough about to only watch that.

One From Each Box

This method is probably a bit better for people that like to cover a range of anime where the blogger picks a title from each major category or group for the season. So one cute girl anime and one action and one fantasy, etc. It gives some good variety and if the title they’ve picked ends up being a dud they can always swap a new one in. Of course, then you have to wonder how they pick that one title and in a season like last one, how would you narrow down your cute girl show?

No Sequels, No Spin-Offs, No Light Novel Adaptations

For those overwhelmed by the sheer volume of titles each season, having an exclusion clause can really narrow the field. It doesn’t really matter what it is you are excluding. Maybe yours would be ‘no pink haired heroines’, but essentially whatever you eliminate from the line up leaves you with less options to choose from possibly making the choice easier. Now while you might argue that this particular method means that the blogger in question is going to miss some good titles (obviously everyone wants to watch a spin-off light novel adaptation about a pink haired heroine) but realistically there are so many anime out there that even if they miss one brilliant entry because of their exclusion, they are likely to find a title or two that has been overlooked by others.

Try Everything Then Decide

This is probably the most time-consuming method but at least you get a taste of everything. Essentially, watch every first episode that floats across whatever streaming services you use and make the call based on what you see. Now if you were really committed you could give shows two or three episodes but that is a massive time commitment. The advantage is that you aren’t relying on the synopsis or second hand opinions, you genuinely make your own call after watching. The down side, other than the time commitment, is that you end up starting episodes you know you are going to hate – though it does make everything else look so much more sparkly.

My Method:

I kind of do a bit of all of the above when choosing a watch list. I try to watch everything I can but I already know there aren’t enough hours in the day to actually watch everything. There are definitely some episodes I’ve killed in less than five minutes due to wanting to save time and realising pretty quick that it isn’t the show for me. I eliminate all sequels where I haven’t watched previous seasons before beginning and I also eliminate most short form anime unless they really catch my attention in the write up. I used to eliminate all sports anime by default but I’ve caved on that and now give most of them at least half an episode to convince me to keep watching.


As for actually finalising the list, I do give preference to certain genres. Horror, fantasy, and supernatural stories will almost always get in over cute girl, high school, comedy stories. That said, I try to cover a range of genres because I know not all my readers are into bad horror or sub-par supernatural romances. That and, I also happen to like variety in my weekly viewing. There’s only so many edgy vampire wannabes getting transported into pseudo-medieval worlds while wearing trench coats before being attacked by werewolves that a girl can take in any given season (and I swear this story must exist somewhere). So once I’ve picked my list I run my eye over it to make sure I’ve got some variety for me and for my readers.


However, what I do know is that I do deliberately leave anime in my watch list that I know aren’t very good. Why? Because I actually enjoy things that aren’t well done from time to time. Because sometimes things improve. Because watching something that is bad can help you recognise when something is good. And the most important reason, it gives me perspective on average anime. Sometimes perfectly functional stories get torn apart because they aren’t great but when you actually watch anime that have a broken narrative and failed characters you realise that while average anime might be pretty dull, it is perfectly watchable. Of course, there’s a difference between leaving something in that might find a decent story and just watching something that is dreadful. Sometimes I miss that mark and put myself through some pretty painful episodes.

And given what I will keep watching, I have to wonder how Dances with the Dragons managed to go so wrong that it is a serious contender to be dropped.

So yes, when I finalise my watch list, while I hope the shows on it will end up being fun and entertaining, I usually know that I am signing up for at least one or two titles that are going to leave me shaking my head most episodes. Still, there are the occasional surprises and really no matter what you pick there will always be at least one title you leave off your list that you will later wish you had watched.


With all that said and done, the Spring Anime season is looking good. Sure there are some hits and misses already, but there’s quite a range of titles, some interesting sequels, some continuing anime from last season, and a lot of general excitement in the community. Hopefully we’ll all enjoy this season of anime.

Now, I’d love to know: How do you pick a watch list?

Thanks for reading.

Karandi James


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19 thoughts on “Friday’s Feature: Choosing A Watch List When Faced With A Sea of Spring Anime

  1. Wow, those are some great methods. I’m finding I just watch what sounds appealing. It varies if course. Last season I watched two series and this time I’m watching ten or so. I’ll occasionally let others reviews influence me to and pick up shows I passed over initially, but I try not to do to much of that. If I’m lucky I’ll drop two or three of my choices after episode one.

  2. I don’t really discriminate between genre and normally sequels tend to carry over if I can help it. That being said, my approach lies somewhere between “genre matters” and “try everything” – I make a ranked list of how excited I am for each show I want to check out and can access, and then I keep cutting down the list and reranking as shows impress me (or fail to impress). Around week 3 or 4 of a season, I put shows I’m not enjoying as much as others on hold until I have enough to handle weekly, and then continue with the shows I have left for the rest of the season.

  3. I’m sneaky since I don’t do episode reviews or talk too much about current stuff all that often so I usually just check out what I’m interested in and occasionally pick up something you are all buzzin’ about half way through the season. Makes it manageable.

    1. I definitely think mid-season is when it becomes much clearer what is worth picking up and occasionally it means I do change up the review list mid-way through.

  4. I’m on unknown water when it comes to seasonal stuff being a binger but I thought I would give it a try. My list is very short and I really only had one rule for myself; chose one anime I would normally not watch. Other than that I sort of just stumbled upon the anime I have on my watch list. No organization whatsoever.

    1. That works too. I was thinking one season I really should just randomly pick three titles and commit to watching them just to see if random chance is any better at picking anime than I am (sad truth is it probably would be).

  5. I have a two pass method. I read the various synopsis of each show, and pick what sounds interesting. Then I watch the first/first few eps of those shows, decide what appeals to me, then I blog about the survivors.

    But my list isn’t fixed in stone at that point… I drop stuff in mid-season, or pick up stuff my commenters recommend or are getting a lot of positive buzz in the community. I picked up *Made in Abyss* and *Land of the Lustrous* from commenters and community buzz respectively.

    The only real constant I guess is I never pick up horror (which I loathe) and rarely pick up supernatural (which I have a casual dislike for).

    1. I do think the list needs to be flexible. I ended up picking up MHA after five episodes during its first season due to the very positive reviews it was getting. The thing is, I probably enjoyed it more because I could binge watch its opening act up to episode 5. Individual episodes may not have had the same appeal so I probably enjoyed it more picking it up late.

  6. My method is pretty similar to yours. Watch everything and then decide, though I do sometimes pass anime based on summary and the cover alone. I skip sports too because I prefer binge watching those.
    This season is pretty tough. I thought I decided on my list and then even more came along which I wasn’t expecting to be good.

    1. It is interesting how we start making plans for a watch list and then you actually see the anime and some of them are better than expected and some are not as good as their write up would have had you believe. It makes choosing anime a very hit and miss proposition.

  7. I’m pretty genre focused. Also interesting story is good to keep me watching. So far I have started a lot of anime this spring since most of them have gotten my hopes up. I haven’t started cutting… yet… I’m usually a try three episodes type. Then I either really like it or it is so bad that I keep watching just so I can rant about it (King’s Game).

    1. Lots of people use the three episode rule for things. I find though that by the time I’ve committed to three episodes I’m very reluctant to drop something at that point. It does happen but usually if I haven’t already dropped it once I get to episode three I usually just kind of sigh and keep watching.

  8. EvilBob and I are somehow both meticulous and excruciatingly disorganized about it XD

    We just look at everything on the list, crop out anything that’s a sequel to something we haven’t watched (or have watched, but haven’t covered before and wouldn’t be able to in the amount of time we have), and go based on “Okay. What, here, looks the least like we’d drop it immediately?” It’s basically an interest check. If it looks interesting, we put it on the list. Usually, that does go a little into genre. I, personally, have a preference for Shonen, Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, and (certain types of) Comedy. I’m also fine with Harems, though prefer they be blended with something else, ala DanMachi/Date A Live/Etc. But sometimes I’ll venture to pick up something beyond that realm. I’m not usually inclined to take up High Sci-Fi, Mecha, Horror, or Psychological. And I’m picky about Drama. I dunno how his head works. He just points at one, says “that looks cool,” and we put it on the list for him XD Then we cull things down to the schedule, shifting things around until we see what we’ll even be *able* to cover. If stuff overlaps, things either get booted or bumped to the “review in full, later” pile.

    Great read! ^_^

    1. Yes, the schedule definitely says a lot about what ends up getting covered. As much as I’ve found quite a few titles I’m ‘interested’ in this season for varying reasons, with four shows already carrying over from last season plus MHA which I’m collaborating with Kapodaco to review, that doesn’t leave a huge amount of space for new shows even with my posting schedule so something is going to get cut and it just depends on what the next episode does as to what stays and what goes.

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