If you’re an anime fan, you probably have a list of the seasonal line-ups that you know you’re just going to have to watch. These are obvious to you, and you know you’ve got to catch that anime every week in a timely manner.
Well, what about anime that aren’t on your watch list? How do you choose more anime? There are so many out there, the season floods make it difficult to decide what to watch next. I’ve got a way to build my watch-list and I’m going to share that with you today.
I’m just going to dive into it, there’s no sense in beating around the bush. Before that, let’s cover the obvious ones that need no explanation. They are as follows:
- Follow the trends.
- Choose anime from productions houses and creators that you already enjoy.
- Word of mouth.
- Squeal fodder.
Okay, now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s begin.
#1) Challenge Your Conceptions
Every season that my watch-list isn’t bursting at the seams, I choose an anime I know I’ll probably hate just to give it a try. I have been pleasantly surprised in the past by this method. On occasion I do get hooked into a series and find that I truly enjoy it.
This was the case with Beastars in spades and to a lesser degree Made in Abyss. These sorts of anime don’t fall into my typical watch-list. Both of them have content that I generally find to be unpalatable. That being said, I have come to love these anime despite that.
Although they’re not always easy to suggest to others, they’re anime that really resound with me. When it comes to Beastars, the social commentary on society at large is well thought out. It doesn’t fit the typical mold for many reasons and it me it is a series right up there with Ghost in the Shell and Psycho-Pass for compelling stories regarding the human condition.
Another anime that strikes true to this rule is RIN: Daughters of Mnemosyne. This anime not only has unpalatable content, some of it is very sexually explicit in its nature. Usually I don’t watch anime with gratuitous sexual content, certainly not anime with this level of depravity. This is a very dark and gritty series, but it is also intellectual in a way few can really match.
That being said, I’m glad I did sit through it, because everything has a point . Mind you, it’s not always a point I agree with. Often times I don’t. However, I don’t think that my disagreement with the content lessens the experience I had watching this show.
I find myself to be a better anime fan because I’ve truly stepped outside of my comfort zone. That I continue to make a habit of doing so only broadens my horizons. I can appreciate the narrative of certain series because I force myself to try and look beyond my own preconceived notions.
Does this method work all the time? No, I’ve dropped a lot of series I knew I probably wouldn’t like simply because of that. I didn’t like them, and the chance I gave them wasn’t enough for me to like them.
So, if you’re having issues building a solid watch-list, find an anime you typically wouldn’t like and give it a watch. This is also a logical option when building watch-lists, but I often feel it isn’t brought up enough. As fans, we typically find an echo chamber and stick to it.
Moving out of your usual anime viewing will lessen the echo chamber and teach you about yourself. You’ll also be able to have a window into the wider community of anime fans out there.
#2) Find A Quirk
A lot of anime out there has a gimmick to put itself above the onslaught of other shows. Find a quirk you like about your favorite series, and choose an anime based on that. It can be as superficial or as deep as you’d like it to be.
Do you like anime that feature a particular type of protagonist? Choose an anime only based on that. Would you rather see the world at large, choose based on that alone.
Don’t worry about the other qualifiers such as genre or tropes common in the medium. Just focus your search on one thing and give it a try. This is how I came to enjoy Vinland Saga.
Vinland Saga is by far one of the best anime I nearly bypassed because I didn’t care for the manga. I absolutely hate a lot of the characters, but I do like the history and lore of Vikings. This was enough for me to pick it up and stay with it. Even after the narrative took a sharp turn outside of the things I hoped the series would be, the one thing I cared about was enough for me to want to stick with it.
Ultimately why I came to love the anime so much is because it does what the written media couldn’t do by its nature. It gave me beautiful animation, a powerful soundtrack, and a voice cast that make these characters easier deal with… the main protagonist is way easier for me to deal with in the anime because he’s so wonderfully conceptualized and brought to life by his actor. This applies to both sub and dub versions. I’ve seen both, I prose both.
I get to love everything about the story, and the world, My one joy for this series was magnified beyond any level that I thought it could be, all because I chose to side with my love of vikings, and not my hatred of the manga.
This is why it can be a good idea to focus on a topic, rather than the series itself.
#3) Pick the Worst of the Worst
Every season there is one anime that is absolute crap. There is no saving an anime like this, there is no redeeming how awful it is. You know it’s garbage from day one, you’re sure it will continue being garbage by the end. If you’re really unlucky then that dumpster will catch fire ingloriously and you’ll be left with an even worse pile of crap than when you started.
So, why do this then? Honestly, sometimes it can be fun. Others, it can be educational.
If you watch truly bad anime, then least then you have a metric for what a really bad anime even is. Anime reviewers, this goes triple for us! We have to watch this kind of crap, because we need the insight between mediocrity and a true actual trash heap.
There are some truly terrible anime out there, and I’m not talking about the content. I mean it’s just all around bad. The acting, the animation, and everything in between is all just terrible.
Why torture yourself this way if you’re not an anime reviewer? Well, bad anime can be fun. Sitting together with group of friends as you suffer a terrible anime together can be just as fun as watching an awesome anime together. With streaming services aplenty and VOIP being a thing, there’s no reason not to sit together and watch something that you all know you’re going to hate.
The inside jokes and idiocy that can result might give you years of fond memories. For me, Green Green is the series that gave me this insight. It’s been well over a decade, and we still make jokes about it.
Years ago, a friend of mine (a self proclaimed asshole) decided one day to buy this pure unfiltered unfiltered garbage. He did this purely to enjoy our suffering on the next group anime night. The night comes, and there’s a group of us eating pizza out of a box and watching this absolute abomination of a series.
Green Green is all around bad in so many ways that it won’t ever hit bar of mediocrity. Too many things are just below average in presentation that even for its time, it wasn’t even decent back then. Funny thing is, it’s not even once of those “so bad it’s good” series either. The pure enjoyment of this anime comes strictly from fond memories that were induced by complete idiocy.
It’s worth it to make memories like that, and to cherish them fondly. Obviously if you do this, Just don’t take anything too seriously. In fact, this suggestion is the antithesis of seriousness, because you know you’re going to make fun of it.
#4) Random Roll
Too many good shows and not enough time? I feel that, and it sucks. So, how do you choose when a seasonal line-up is a smash hit and you know you’ve got too many anime to pick from?
Get a few dice, plunk in the series names, and let fate decide. I’ve had to do this many times. The year 2018 comes to mind. I was busy that year, and it was one of the best years for anime in a very long time. Every season in that year easily had ten or more anime that I wanted to watch. It was a flat out crazy year.
I picked five that I knew I couldn’t let slip by, but the rest I rolled on randomly just to see what I’d end up picking if the dice were to decide. That’s what got me by that year, and I still had anime to go back and watch or finish in 2019.
Without rolling on it randomly, I would have been in a very sad situation. There were just too many good shows, and I had to axe a few somehow.
#5) The Sleeper Anime
I don’t have a good example for this one. However, this is a rule I cling to, because one day I just might.
Every year there’s at least one or two anime in a season that falls off radar fairly early on in the line-up. They may not be popular from the start, or they may be overshadowed by the mega hits and squeal fodder that keeps anime alive and well.
You can’t always rely on anime reviewers to see every single anime out there. Frankly there is just too many to keep up with. If a reviewer attempts to watch every singe one, they’re very likely to burn themselves out. Even if they do watch every single one, they may not bring up the anime at all.
If you notice an anime that isn’t being talked about on a seasonal line-up, pick it up. See for yourself just how good it is. If it isn’t circulating around in discussion the reason is simply that it’s not worth the discourse in the first place. it’s either not annoying enough to piss off the anime community, or it was never made to be a mega hit. Very likely, and very commonly, it probably wasn’t widely advertised in the first place.
The thing is these shows will be average to most viewers. They won’t be amazing, and the reason they were dropped is because they may be unremarkable or easily forgettable. That’s what is most likely to happen, but there’s a chance you’ll find it to be amazing.
That’s a chance worth taking. For you, that seemingly unremarkable anime might be a diamond in the rough. It would be unfortunate if you didn’t hear of an anime that could become your absolute favorite for one reason or another.
Picking up the anime that get buried prevents you from missing out on a real gem. Yes, it make take a bit of digging and research, but you may find that to be well worth it in the end.
Anime is and will always be a very subjective medium. There are thousands of hours of content worth your time, and every season brings more of it. What used to be traditional classics are now buried under a sea of new content every single year.
When I was young, watch-lists were simple and easy to come by. Anime wasn’t incredibly abundant. When it came to sub-genres there were lists that everyone followed like gospel, because we had little else. Fandom followed a certain flow, you might say.
There were probably only six or so squeals even worth talking about every year, and the Shonen trinity (One Piece, Naruto, and Dragon Ball) was pretty much expected viewing. Since they were all on television and easy to access, everyone knew of them.
Other shows made it onto Adult Swim or early Saturday morning line-ups, and those shows also padded out the majority of anime related discussions. Anime movies were rarely discussed, and often times were off the beaten path.
Anime films were hard to come by back in those days. They weren’t widely talked about or discussed unless they were off shoots of major anime programming. Naruto and Inuyasha movies had the benefit of originating from known anime on television, so those movies were widely talked about. Meanwhile other masterworks slipped into obscurity.
Perfect Blue is a perfect example of a film that wasn’t family friendly and hard to find in theaters. It wasn’t on the radar here in in america, and therefore only very strong anime inclined viewers even knew of it back when it released.
Nowadays, none of that holds true. The anime medium is too large and vast to see everything. Sometimes you just have to pick and choose. That’s why I made this list of suggestions. Hopefully, it will make your watch-list choices just a little bit easier for you.
This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets…
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