Why Is It People Ask Me To Justify Watching Anime?

A random question I asked back when I first started the blog:

Why do you watch anime?

I often wonder why this question ever even gets asked. Its like walking up to someone standing on a football field in their uniform and carrying the ball and asking why they play football. Clearly they get something from it. Even if you don’t get what that thing is. And yet this question comes up over and over again.

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Why do you watch that?

You watch anime? How come?

Why would you watch that?

It occurred to me that the majority of the askers have no idea that anime is not a genre in and of itself and they really haven’t been exposed to much beyond the biggest of anime titles. Now, instead of sighing when asked this, I see it as an opportunity to educate. I ask the asker what their favourite movie/TV show/book is and then I list at least three anime titles that I feel they might probably find enjoyable. Sometimes I even convince them to give one of them ago. A much more satisfying exchange.

But how do others deal with this question?

Turning to everybody’s favourite corporate friend I decided to see what the internet had to say:

Why do you watch

Good to know that anime beat out tv, movies and  Game of Thrones. And of course the inevitable posts that come up when you run this search are ‘ten reasons you should be watching anime’ and various forums and discussion boards where people have asked this question.

Interestingly, when you change the search to why do you watch football, about midway down the first page you get news articles explaining what happens to your body and your brain when you watch sport. I can assure you, no news articles came up when trying to figure out why people watched anime. I’m assuming that’s because more people watch sport, but it is interesting that there aren’t any fan blogs in the first searches of this one giving ten reasons your should start watching football. It is kind of just assumed that the majority of people already do.

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Reddit of course weighed in:

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reddit

I’m going to be honest, back when I first published this post in 2016, I did try to get involved in discussions on Reddit but I more or less decided it was pointless. People just kind of throw their opinion out there but there’s no back and forth or exchange and the majority of threads seem to end up falling into the same patterns and comments as every other one so it just never really engaged me. I honestly don’t even remember what my sign in is anymore.

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Lastly, after dodging a large range of shots of girls in vaguely compromising positions, I came across this image that I think sums up a lot of the frustration anime lovers have when confronted with someone who still thinks Pokemon defines the medium.

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It isn’t as though I actually get annoyed at people who think anime is for kids. Particularly if they’ve only been exposed to anime on free-to-air TV in Australia. However, it does get annoying when you explain about other types of anime to someone and they still stubbornly cling to the idea cartoons are for kids, even when many western animations are no longer all necessarily for children.

My question this week: Either why you like anime or how you deal with this question when asked it, or why you think people still ask this question?


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32 thoughts on “Why Is It People Ask Me To Justify Watching Anime?

  1. I have thankfully never had to justify watching anime to anyone.

    And honestly? I wouldn’t care anyway. Anime fucking rocks.

  2. Anime is more aesthetically pleasing and less stressful to watching than real actors, then subsequently being force fed tabloids about real-life drama. While there is drama and exposé articles in the Japanese animation industry, it is easier to ignore and with many series it is clear to see that the animators and artists poured their souls into the work — making it more meaningful, in a way. I also prefer Japanese literature and film, because I like the style of storytelling. I have had acquaintences in the past state that Western comics are superior — but, I feel that only real difference between the East and West is cultural norms; it doesn’t diminish the “maturity” or craft in the narrative.

  3. LOL! At least they are asking you why you watch *anime*. With me they never get that far. It’s my other hobby that gobsmacks them.

    But ultimately, the reasons are the same. I just enjoy it so I keep doing it.

  4. I actually planned to talk about this sometime soon, but I enjoy anime because of a lot of different things. The art, the length of episodes, the stories it often tells. It’s the perfect storm that creates something I really enjoy watching.

    As for why it keeps coming up in discussions, I would say it’s a combination of two things: ignorance and misinformation. Those who genuinely don’t understand what anime is, and those who never try to in the first place. As much as I love the medium, it’s pretty common to think anything animated is for kids. It’s just the way society has led many to believe. So, for some, I believe they don’t know any better. I would ask those people is whether they would let children watch Family Guy or other adult animated shows. Anime is the same way, some can be for a younger audience, and some isn’t. I believe a lot of people just don’t know any better. Then you have the people who just don’t like anime. They see the weird stuff it occasionally does, get outraged (sometimes I get it) over something, and when either those misinformed people see that or others who don’t like anime, they build up these preconceived notions of what it is. They take one or two bad parts of the medium and try to apply it to the whole thing, just like what video games still go through. It’s because anime is new and still isn’t widely accepted.

    All and all, I think anime has a bright future, despite being young worldwide, and I do think these questions will fade with time.

  5. I feel like in that I have never had to justify it at all and I feel like I would just go with the very quick “because I do”. I do remember getting pissed off at some classic Disney things I like getting their horrible live action adaptations and someone saying “finaly, a real movie”. I just…it has always been real. Why do people think it’s fake if it’s not live action?

    That’s a very vaguely associated thing but it goes with the questioning of why people ask those dumb questions.

    1. Also, how is any movie actually considered real when it is still scripted, acted and directed?
      All seems a little unfair.
      You are lucky in that you have never felt you need to justify your interests.

  6. Thank you for bringing up this discussion and it’s such a double standard. I never see people ask that when it comes to sports, cars, shoes, or even Disney of all things. Why does anime get crapped on like that? People are idiots if they think all anime is kids stuff or god forbid hentai on the other end of the spectrum. I’ve even been trying to come up with counterarguments if I’m ever fandom shamed. Maybe I should ask someone why they like the things they do to see how they respond.

      1. I know, right? It’s just infuriating how other fandoms don’t have to deal with this stuff. I know anime is WAY more than stupid pre-conceptions of it. When it comes to animation aimed at adult audiences, anime beats Western animation by a country mile. Whatever adult animation is out there are either animated sitcoms or direct-to-video superhero movies. I don’t see anyone making some American equivalent of Monster, Texhnolyze, or Yugo the Negotiator to name a few.

  7. Growing up, I always felt more comfortable with animated shows, so when my friends all started watching live action shows like Neighbours, Home and Away, and the such, I could never get into them.

    That was when I discovered Akira. It was far more grown up that any of those live action shows. The more shows I discovered the more I knew that I had found my place.

    I like the freedom of anime in that anything can be done, any story can be told. There was also a strong focus on sci-fi and fantasy back at the beginning and those genres don’t tend to get enough focus in live action shows.

    1. Sci-fi and fantasy are my favourite genres and anime definitely explores both and each season there’s something new to discover.

  8. This has been such a great discussion and I’ve loved hearing all the different reasons why people watch anime and how they feel about it.

  9. Hard question to answer! I hated and I stress on that word, because I once tried watching it when I was a kid and I shunned it because I couldn’t understand a thing (blame it on a kid who couldn’t keep up with the subtitles). It was my brother who stumbled upon animax three years ago and I haven’t turned back since then. I don’t know why I watch anime. Its just something to keep my mind busy, I guess (I get bored quite easily!) 😅

  10. I think my main reason for why I watch anime is my background in art history (really I blame my art professor for everything, he’s cool with it.) Anime made me fall in love with the Japanese culture. When I watch it, I can see the “personality” of the Japanese culture. Their history, life-style, sense of humor, spirituality, and their sexuality, it’s all in there. I love it, can’t get enough of it. I love how some artists are able to express thoughts and feelings about subjects that are generally thought of as “taboo” there.

    I watch it because it’s complex and beautiful.

    And I watch it because some times after a bad day at work I just really need to see a student of the Tendo School of Anything Goes Martial Arts, turn into a girl when he gets splashed with cold water, and get into goofy situations that make absolutely no sense. 😉

  11. I have never been asked this question. I usually get asked, “You watch anime?” in disbelief. And I used to be the kind to refer to them as cartoons, mostly to annoy my husband! He really got me into watching it and it’s one of the few interests we have in common, so it’s a way of bonding for us. Also, though CGI and special effects are really good now, there are absolutely no limits to what can be animated. We enjoy fantasy/sci-fi/mecha genre and outside anime, there isn’t really that much for us, especially in TV shows.

    And like Moka, it’s something to watch to escape the harsh realities of this world. I can live in someone else’s world for 23 minutes. Wow, I didn’t know I had so many reasons to watch anime. Thanks for posing that question!

    1. I love that you said there are no limits to what can be animated. Its so true (and becomingly increasingly true that they can animate things you wonder how they ever thought of trying to animate). Thanks for sharing.

  12. I was bored out of my mind when I started watching anime. Still applies, but these days it’s more about the escapism for me.

  13. Personally, I turn to anime as an escape or stress-reliever like how other turn to smoking and alcohol. It’s not the best motivation for watching anime since it can develop into an addiction which I have unfortunately experienced. Fortunately, I discovered blogging about animes and that really helped change my motivation into something more productive and it enabled me to appreciate anime more along with all its different aspects. Great question by the way! It really made me think about my past experiences and motivations.

    1. Anime is definitely a good stress reliever. Nothing better than coming home at the end of of a long day and just falling in front of one of your favourite shows and watching characters doing what they do. Thanks for your comment.

    2. I can agree with this! It’s a great escape, that’s why I like slice of life so much, it’s a quick trip to a more pleasant fun world.

      1. I have to say it’s the fantasy genre for me. It completely relieves me from real life and immerse myself into a totally different world!

        1. I suppose that’s why so many people like fantasy eh? I personally am not really one for fantasy unless it’s sci-fi, I like to escape to familiar worlds myself, my imagination is pretty low!

  14. I watch it because I like it. I dunno, I’ve thought of this as well but there really is no grand reason for it. I like the art and the range of shows. I have always watched cartoons and anime can portray a lot of different feelings and themes that are not seen elsewhere.

    No one has posed this question to me about if they did I would say “’cause I do” and why people might ask it is simply because they don’t really get it.

    1. And I think that’s it. Most people don’t have any ‘grand’ reason for anything they do. They just enjoy it so they keep doing it. Thanks for stopping by and for your comment.

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