Undeniably I’m the kind of person who over-thinks things, which is part of the reason why I don’t give a numeric score or use a star system or the like for my anime reviews. So thinking about what the right anime to watch I usually spend far too long going through options and then default back to what I know or what I’m already watching.
When someone asks me for a recommendation for something to watch, my first impulse is to internalise and start sifting through everything I know about that person and every possible anime option that might apply. Needless to say I end up either listing dozens and over-whelming them or draw a complete blank as I mentally cross out each and every title.
A recent experience at New Year’s when going through my collection we went through the whole thing twice before settling on Yuri on Ice because making a decision was just too hard. Not that I minded. Yuri is awesome.
I decided I’d like to stop that practice and actually just answer the question and so I started wanting to break down some of the issues with answering this question. Keep in mind, this isn’t the same as trying to select a watch list for the purpose of review, which is something I’ve looked at previously in a feature. In that case the assumption is that the person wanting to select the anime already watches a great deal of anime and is simply trying to narrow down their options, rather than someone new to anime who is trying to pick something that might actually make them want to watch more.
Does making an anime recommendation
stress you out?
For me, making an anime recommendation is stressful. I start thinking through all the what-ifs. What if the person doesn’t like the anime? What if they think I deliberately got them to watch something they hated? What if they really like it and want another recommendation? And round and round in circles the argument goes. It is worse when I know I’m going to watch the anime with them because I end up watching them more than the anime and try to gauge how they are responding to it. Nothing is more disheartening than seeing someone pull out their phone and start to text during an episode of a show you absolutely love.
But even when you think you’ve gotten it right, there’s always those moments you forget about. Recently I had to explain why a character’s nose started spurting blood mid-episode in an anime and I realised just how many things I simply accept without even noting them at this point because of how many anime I have viewed. For someone new coming to anime so many of these seemingly incidental moments are actually quite extraordinary and can be a little off-putting.
Am I recommending an anime
for me or is it for you?
There’s also the question of whether I have an ulterior motive when recommending something. Did I recommend that anime because I thought the person would genuinely like it based on what I know of their viewing experiences, or am I recommending it because I like it and I want to talk about it. Admittedly, if I’m close enough to someone in the real world that they actually take an interest in the various anime I’m watching and ask me for a recommendation, there’s a fair likelihood we have similar tastes and something I like will work for them, but that isn’t always the case.
Most recently I talked someone into watching Astra Lost in Space with me. Partly this was because I genuinely believed the person in question would enjoy it, maybe not as much as I was but enough, but part of the motivation was definitely that I wanted to rewatch the first couple of episodes to confirm a few points that I needed confirmation of in order to think through where the story was going.
Fortunately, the person did end up really enjoying the episodes and we’re now working through the rest of them and he should be up with the most recent episode by the end of this weekend, but I definitely think that recommendation was more for me, even if it was a valid recommendation.
Perfect ingredients don’t
necessarily make a perfect anime
The other complication here comes from the subjective elements of entertainment. There are countless examples where something is the right genre, has great characters, good visuals, and is a solid production in general and yet for whatever reason ends up missing the mark for some viewers. Even taking into account everything you know about a person and thinking through what kinds of shows they like, just because the show you recommend might tick all the boxes it still might be a swing and a miss.
This makes the entire process of choosing an anime even harder. Let’s be honest: you want the person to like it. You want them by extension to then like anime, or at least be willing to try more. Otherwise, there’d be no point to the entire exercise. And yet, just because an anime is objectively great doesn’t mean someone it is actually the perfect choice.
I’ve introduced many a person to anime via Sword Art Online, and while the anime community is heavily divided on that and some will still insist it is the worst thing ever, that anime is ridiculously easy to get new viewers sucked into its story and they end up genuinely wanting to see Kirito escape the game (admittedly, with new anime viewers I tend to stop once they wake up from SAO because Fairy Dance is a whole other story).
How to know what anime
So how do you know what anime to recommend?
Honestly, there’s no right answer. Over time, through trial and error, I’ve learned that Sword Art Online works well for fans of action and fantasy but DanMachi doesn’t if the person is less familiar with anime in general. Snow White With The Red Hair works great for fans of romance and Disney but My Love Story seems to be a bit harder for the same audience to get into. Psycho Pass almost never misses with fans of Dystopian, Sci-Fi, or Psychological stories however Death Note depends on whether the viewer finds something interesting about Light or not.
You have to match the recommendation to the person, and you also have to think, weirdly enough, about how ‘anime’ the anime is. While you still might not get it right, at least you can learn which shows are definitely off-limits until the person has a bit more anime experience.
What happens when your anime
recommendation is wrong?
If even after thinking it through your anime recommendation is wrong… well, maybe the person won’t pick up anime viewing as a hobby, maybe they’ll try another title you suggest, or maybe they’ll find something else on their own anyway. It isn’t the end of the world.
This is something I need to keep reminding myself of and just answer the question when asked what anime should someone try.
But the questions I have for my readers are: How do you feel when someone asks you for a recommendation and what anime do you recommend to someone who hasn’t watched much anime?
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
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37 thoughts on “Is There A Right Anime To Watch Right Now?”
Good wery good thenks
I am definitely getting better at just suggesting something that makes sense and hoping they end up enjoying it.
That’s about the best you can actually do.
Favorite anime wonderful article labor health
Thank you very good
Occasionally I’ll go to the AniList forums specifically to recommend stuff to people (often because I see a thread and specific anime come to mind, but I do just like recommending stuff because I can), so I’m not averse to the idea of recommending someone an anime based on minimal details or “tell me your favourite anime and I’ll watch them” threads (my default response to those is SGRS, by the way). It always helps to have a starting point though.
For instance, at one point there was an AniList user asking for recs who was a new father and a fairly new anime watcher, so he wanted anime he could enjoy with his family. I recced him Ghibli movies.
Interesting points raised here. I think my biggest problem with recommending titles is recommending sequels or prequels, specifically. It’s so easy to say, “x season was so much better than y season,” and yet, I still want them to watch both. It gets even harder when I know the follow up series isn’t as good as the first, but the natural progression of things is to see what comes next regardless of the outcome. If they decide to skip a “lackluster” series just because I said it wasn’t as good, I kinda feel like I just shorted them despite it being all up to them to begin with. It can be a very frustrating place to be!
I always feel that way even when I disliked an anime. If someone later says they intend to not watch it I feel like maybe they might have liked it and I’ve just steered them away from it. Then again, some anime really aren’t very good and there are plenty of options.
If it’s someone who hasn’t watched much if any anime then I typically recommend starting off with Death Note or Puella Madoka Magica depending on what kind of genres they typically seem to like for movies and TV shows. If they don’t care much for action and want more of a heart warming story then I’d recommend Kannon. However, if it’s someone who’s a big anime fan and has already seen a bunch of the mainstream titles then I’ll recommend something more obscure that I enjoyed like Heroic Age or IGPX. Typically everyone I know IRL are only into live action though so I don’t get many opportunities to do any real recommending
Some people just don’t want to give animated a go and that’s fine. I also have a fair number of people around me who will not watch anime. There’s still that stigma of it being childish or weird and so they just aren’t interested.
Great post! I always struggle with recommendations, my mind immediately fills with all the shows I’ve seen and then curls up in a corner and cries with indecision. Now I try to stick to stuff that I’ve recently watched or stuff that has wide appeal like Fullmetal Alchemist or Psycho Pass.
I can very much understand the feeling of curling up in a corner and crying with indecision. As I go through the long list of shows I could recommend and think of the pros and cons and then second guess myself, that is more or less the figurative end result of trying to think of a good recommendation. I am definitely getting better at just suggesting something that makes sense and hoping they end up enjoying it.
My chosen method is reccomending animes that I really like or am watching at the moment and enjoying. Sometimes when friends watch it they like it, but I once got told “This anime is so weird omg, I don’t like it” about “Meganebu!”.
“Meganebu” is one of my top favorites (ಥ﹏ಥ)
I don’t think I’ll ever get why weird is a reason not to like something. I know several people who dismiss fantasy because its ‘weird’. I’m left wondering what they expect from ‘fantasy’.
Wow, I would think it’s obvious that fantasy will have things that are “weird” to us by nature haha. I’m surprised 😂
If it is someone who has never watched anime then I would start with the perennials (Ghibli, Hosoda, Bleach, Death Note, GITS, etc) but if they are already a fan I ask them what they like or have seen and work round that.
And if they don’t like it, they don’t like it. C’est la vie! 😉
I kind of feel Ghibli is its own creature altogether. Then again, I don’t tend to watch all that many anime movies so it probably doesn’t even occur to me to suggest something from Ghibli. Though, I have suggested A Silent Voice to a couple of people and they’ve ended up really enjoying it.
Ghibli made me see anime wasn’t all Pokemon and as their films have a greater mainstream TV presence here in the UK, they are a great launching point to introducing Hosoda, Shinkai, etc. to non/new fans.
I’ve never had a problem offering anime recommendations, but that’s probably because as a librarian I’m used to suggesting books and movies to people all the time – not to mention all the years I’ve spent running anime clubs and seeing teenagers either tune in or tune out to whatever I had us watching each month. Naturally I want people to like what I give them, but I’m bound to miss some here and there and after 15 years in the profession it doesn’t faze me anymore; I just shrug and try to pick better next time.
As far as anime goes I used to recommend Escaflowne a lot, partly because it was the show that firmly hooked me on anime and partly because it’s a mashup of so many genres (action, fantasy, mecha, romance, etc.) that even if they didn’t like the whole thing I could ask them what parts they did like – since there’d almost always be something, at least – and go from there.
More recently, I’ve had a lot of success with Girls und Panzer. I’ve introduced that series to several anime novice friends of mine and they’ve all liked it (and it also went over extremely well when I showed it in club). I feel like that’s another series that’s generally pretty accessible since it doesn’t require knowing much about Japanese culture or anime tropes and the classic “underdog sports team” narrative that it follows is universal, even if the sport is made-up. Plus most of the time it’s just plain fun.
That makes a lot of sense.
I always have this problem when making a recommendation for friends who just got into anime. Also, I’m trying my best not to scare them away by recommending Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Evangelion really isn’t a starter anime. That said, it did get me into anime as an adult (or at least contributed). Still, I don’t think it would have worked so well if I hadn’t been a fan of Sailor Moon and the like when I was younger.
People getting used to anime sort of animation and art quirks is interesting. Like showing my mom kare Kano and she kept asking me why they were all demons or kept changing forms and that’s a hard question to answer.
Also, finding the right anime for some one to start is hard to. I do like recommending something that people already like, but even that doesn’t always hit the mark.
Yeah, even when you think you’ve got the right title that they will like, sometimes things just don’t click.
Hmm, a thought-provoking post. Thanks.
Thanks for reading.
I have gotten so many great recommendations because of you that I pretty much have lost count honestly😅😅 And even if I would watch a show that you recommended and I would end up not liking it, I would never, ever hold it against you. Pretty much anything that someone watches is personal. What can be liked by someone can be absolutely hated by someone else. But to hold that against someone is just really crazy.
That said, I am also someone who is every open to trying everything out, even genres I don’t usually watch a lot of (hell, I am even going to try a sports anime soon lol😂😂). In the end though I think it’s great to recommend things to people, and I always hope they enjoy it if they do decide to watch it. If not…sure I may have a slight feeling of disappointment, but in the end it’s how that person experiences something which is the most important thing. And it can end in some cool discussions on why or why not someone ends up liking something! Great post Karandi! 😃😃
Yes, the discussions can be quite interesting. And the fact that someone who doesn’t normally watch anime has taken an interest in it at all is cause for celebration.
I will admit, you’ve given me a lot of confidence in making recommendations over the past couple of years because you are always so excited about having a new title to look forward to. And I love being able to see your thoughts on the show after you’ve watched it.
Glad you enjoyed the post.
Well, next month of course my thoughts on March Comes in Like a Lion is up, and in all likelyhood also Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens as well. (One that is long overdue! 😅😅) So going to be an interesting month! 😊
But yes, I am definitely very thankful as without you I would have missed out on a lot of cool animes! (Not to mention of course last year’s fun watch Phantom in the Twilight)
True enough! When you get someone interested in anime who doesn’t normally watch anime, that is even more satisfying! 😊
Really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on March Comes in Like a Lion and Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens. It is a shame you can’t watch Astra because I would love to talk about that one with you as it is airing but hopefully you’ll get to see it at some point because I think you’d really like it.
Yeah that really is the one regret I have this season 😢 I am definitely checking each week to see if it’s shown up yet, but so far unfortunately no such luck. I’m sure it will eventually at some point though! 😊
I’m currently watching My Hero Academia with my older brother who doesn’t watch much anime (prior to this the only anime he’d seen was Dragon Ball which we watched together as kids). I think this is a good starter anime because the super heroes genre is something most western audiences have at least a passing familiarity with. Also it’s really good.
That’s a fairly good call and yeah, My Hero Academia would work for a lot of people who enjoy super hero stories as a starter anime (and as you said, it is just a good anime).
I used to have the habit, that you mentioned, of always recommending stuff depending on the person who is asking. I would rarely trouble others with shows or genre’s that I personally find more interesting. I just don’t expect people to appreciate the things I like such as slice of life things. But lately I try to recommend things I love rather than focusing on the other person. I think it is a good way to get closer but also to make the other person understand who you are as a person and what you like. And of course there will be times when our taste don’t match up. But I think, especially for new viewers, that it’s important for them to sooner or later be comfortable with their own favorites and comfortable with finding anime on their own rather than constantly checking ratings and popularity. But if I never disclose or is ashamed of my own opinions how will they be comfortable with their own.
Great topic! Gonna bring it up in my circles!
Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks fro sharing your perspective.