Introducing Anime

I swear I’m a walking anime database to my friends and acquaintances. If they want anything anime-related, I’m the person to turn to. Not that I mind, but things can get a bit tough when the person who ask for series recommendations isn’t someone I know very well.

This acquaintance of mine has recently started her Japanese lessons and is having trouble understanding her teacher’s heavily accented English and her tendency to explain things in Japanese. So she turned to me for anime recommendations in bid to improve her listening skills and understanding of the language. She doesn’t want to watch Japanese dramas or movies because she thinks they are boring. Frankly speaking, I am not prepared to introduce anime to a person who once thought Naruto is synonymous to anime, a person who until yesterday avoided anime like a plague.

But she insisted, and I’m left without much of a choice. Thank goodness she gave something to for me to begin with. I should eliminate anything brutal and bloody since that the very reason she hates Naruto.

I was toying with the idea of giving her Kimi ni Todoke to start with. But then again, I remember she said she doesn’t like Korean series very much due to the drama and sappy stories. Nodame Cantabile? Right, she’s not a fan of Classical music. Slice-of-life anime sounds good no? It’s light and fun. Lucky Star? Nah…she wouldn’t understand most of the references. Tamayura Hitotose? Will she find it boring instead of healing?

Genre is considered a minor thing. What worry me the most is some of the content in an anime. I don’t know how she will feel about fanservice. Take for instance, Nisemonogatari is what I consider to be a good series but it’s loaded with fanservice! Tons of it! Will she let it slide and enjoy the overall experience? And then there are the yuri and yaoi subtexts in anime to consider.

Why am I so worried, you may ask? For starters, I don’t want to give her the wrong impression of what anime really is. Remember, she’s the very person who thinks anime is Naruto. If I gave her the wrong title to start with, she’ll leave with bad impression, and I don’t want that. It’s bad enough that anime haters tend to generalize the entire industry based on one episode of that one series they watch. At least, she’s willing to change her initial opinion of anime and try again.

At the end of the day, what I’m asking which anime is considered safe? What kind of anime would be enjoyable to both fans and non-fans alike? What anime will make a non-fan screams for more? What will you introduce?

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36 thoughts on “Introducing Anime

  1. Thats really difficult, you never know if the person will have any liking to anime at all and if it is worth the effort to recommend anything to the person. It could also give you a bad feeling if the person says, “your recommendation from last time sucked”

    Haruhi is quite a good show for showing someone what anime is about, you could also give her Eureka Seven as adventure anime with a big story. Aria the Animation also could be something nice even though its slice of life. Paranoia Agent is a quite interesting title as well, its a little crazy but more sophisticated than it appears at first.

    good luck ^-^.

    • I’ll feel bad is she really says that, lol.

      I haven’t the series you mentioned besides Haruhi. It has some of the most complexed stories in anime so I’ll take that into consideration. Thank you, Wieselhead.

  2. Being the walking anime compendium has its awesome moments, like being able to recommend less popular shows, but yeah, sometimes stuff like that happens too. I’d be more than willing to give a recommendation if the guy/girl was really gonna watch it for the sake of watching it. Not so much for those who’d go into it half-heartedly.

    In my case I usually go with giving out shows that are popular enough to be dubbed in Filipino, but not to the level of mainstream shows *looks at The Big Three menacingly*. This way, he/she will think its not too much “hardcore otaku level” anime since local TV broadcasts it, and it also steers him/her away from the idea that all anime is Naruto.

    As for a more specific example, I almost, always go with Toradora!, since it fulfilled what I said above, plus, it’s a nice, balanced rom-com ^^

    • Yes! I had this feel good moment when a friend thanked me for recommending Claymore.

      Funny enough, series showing on national TV over here are The Big Three and magical girls. The Big Three are not her cup of tea and magical girls aren’t mine. That’s a tough one huh?

      Toradora! is a great choice actually. It’s a romantic comedy but isn’t all that sappy. Thanks!

    • Hey, that’s a great idea. It doesn’t have to be a series. A film can be a good way for her to test the waters. I’ll definitely go with The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

  3. It’s kind of you to be very considerate on which anime to suggest. My friends who see other friends go on “otaku mode” have a challenging time understanding them. Sometimes they end up giving an awkward explaination to what they are saying.

    I’d also introduce them into something light, easy to digest, and simply enjoy. Hmmm, an anime that’s not brutal, bloody, drama/sappy… perhaps comedy. 😀 school rumble was great (or from the manga at least). Or whatever genre that first led us into our love for anime. I could be wrong though. xD

    • Thank you for your kind words, dgarnet. =)

      School Rumble is great in anime too! I have all the seasons of it. It’s a great comedy and slice-of-life series. Also, it doesn’t have all the weird references in Lucky Star and it’s quite a lively series.

      Hmmm…normally I would but shounen is the genre that got me into anime and she doesn’t like it. =( I guess, it has to be done case by case.

  4. It’s always best to suggest an anime that is in a genre that the person is interested in. One of the best things about anime is just how diverse the medium is, and how you can find good shows for essentially any genre of fiction there is.

    So based on your post, it sounds like your friend wants an anime that will help her improve her Japanese language skills. What level is she at? Kids’ shows are usually good for beginners, but if your friend doesn’t want a childish show, then you’d want to look elsewhere.
    Your friend also doesn’t want drama, or anything “sappy.” And also, no fighter shounens. And if this friend is new to anime, you would probably want to suggest something that isn’t way “out there,” or “extreme,” or would require some knowledge of anime in order to fully enjoy.

    I’ll go ahead and suggest these, based on your criteria:
    Mushishi
    Steins;Gate
    Kino no Tabi
    Ghost Hunt
    Haibane Renmei
    Planetes
    Gosick
    Allison and Lillia

    • She’s a beginner, but I doubt she’s into childish shows.

      I like the idea of introducing her Steins;Gate and Gosick. They have good characters (Steins;Gate especially), plot and mystery. More important, time travelling or murder mystery is common in other media as well.

      Thanks for the list!

    • That’s a good list you got there. Death Note seems to be a good choice for her. While I personally like to introduce someone to Durarara! because of the hot guys, I don’t think it’s for everyone.

  5. I remember hearing someone say that one of the better series to start someone out with is Full Metal Panic. It’s got a little bit of everything people expect from an anime, so it can be used as a sort of barometer for what this person does and doesn’t like.

  6. Steins Gate is a nice pick imho for a starter. It’s a nice story with twists and moving events, with an happy end and charming characters. Don’t you agree?:P

  7. Definitely watch Space Brothers if she doesn’t mind waiting for the new episode every week. That show is really realistic and funny. I’d recommend it to anyone who want to give anime a try.

    If she wasn’t something that is already done airing i’d say anime movies. Something from Gibli movies or any movies that is done by Makoto Shinkai such as 5 Centimeters Per Second, Children who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below and some other good movies by him. Or any movies that is done by Yasuhiro Yoshiura, like Eve no Jikan.

    • I have not watch that series myself, but I’ll keep Space Brothers in mind.

      Yeaps, movies sound like a good start. I should give her all the Ghibli movies I have!

  8. I’d recommend Tiger&Bunny, because it’s probably very similar to a lot of western movies she had seen.
    Otherwise I’d probably go with Toradora, stuff like K-On she might like too, it’s light hearted and easy to watch after all, I’d recommend Code Geass but it’s still pretty violent.
    Someone said Death Note before and since it’s the thing that really got me into anime I’d agree.
    Maybe Angel Beats too, or if you’re lucky and she likes fashion Paradise Kiss?

    I don’t even know anymore, your friend is hard to please and there’s no such thing as an universally recommended anime to start with it

    • Lol, she is hard to please. Otherwise, I won’t have such difficulty in recommending a series to her.

      Ah, I’m afraid I haven’t watch Tiger&Bunny myself. But according to your description, it sounds like something a non-fan will enjoy. Looks like Toradora is a popular choice.

      You know what, she likes fashion and I have Paradise Kiss anime with me now. I can ask her to watch with me! (I haven’t watch the anime yet) Or I’ll just give her the live action movie and hope she likes it.

  9. I can certainly relate on what you’re feeling. I was hesitating to introduce anime to a friend because I don’t want to give the wrong impression–overly harem and fanservice-y shows. Good thing that Arrietty got aired right on time… it also became easier for me to tell her that I’m blogging about anime.

    As for introductory anime, aside from the comments, another good one is Chihayafuru. It has lovely art and realistic drama. My friend looks okay with it, though not totally “crazy” with it like I do.

    • Chihayafuru is a good choice. While it’s a sports anime, it’s not about popular sports like soccer, basketball or baseball. I think she might like it.

  10. If she’s not a fan of classical music then how about rock? K-ON’s I think is pretty easy and simple to watch, no ecchi, no plot twists, no complicated stories. If she thinks that’s too cute for her, then Beck.. lol. It’s definitely not for everyone but I really like Beck myself.

    If she’s also interested in celebrities entertainment buzz, then how about Skip Beat? If she likes mystery then she can certainly try out UN-GO or Gosick, or perhaps try an even rare one: Tantei Yakumo.

    I was thinking of some psychological ones too but the ones I watched are all bloody and stuffs.. dunno if she would like it.

    • For now, I’ll avoid introducing her to bloody and violent anime. I want something that is totally opposite to show her that anime is not just Naruto. Your suggestions will be a good list to show her a different sides of anime.

      • If she can’t come up with a couple examples of shows or movies she has liked in the past, I wouldn’t take it personally if she turns out to disapprove of the shows you pick.

        Best of luck!

        • It’s more like I don’t want to give her the wrong impression of what anime really is. She has once generalize anime as violent. There’s no saying what she might associate anime with the next time.

          Thanks.

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  13. I had this problem trying to figure out what my mom could get into. I think it’s mostly based on what you know about the person and what types of things they enjoy. My mom is a big fan of murder mysteries, crime and punishment, detective stories and the likes, so I took some time to think about what she’d actually get something out of, and my conclusion was indeed a long series: Monster. It just worked. I wanted to show my mom that anime is not all kiddie stuff and that it can appeal to adults who aren’t just looking for porn as well. I had considered Clannad, but then, while I appreciate it personally, I couldn’t picture my mom getting into it at all. This is just a personal story of introducing anime, though it likely won’t help you out too much, it’s good to find out what type of things the person likes in general because chances are, there’s an anime out there that fits the bill.

    • What you say is true. It’s important to introduce an anime that is appealing to whoever you’re introducing the anime to. Different people like different things. There bound to be one that works given the variety of titles and genres to choose from. But we have to know the person well enough, which I don’t in my case here, to know what anime will work. What’s worst is she doesn’t know what she likes as well. After going through the comments here though, I have a rough idea what to do.

      I’m glad that your mom took the time to explore anime. I had hard time getting anyone in my family to watch it. >.< Thanks for sharing, I appreciate it.

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