Whether your friends debate various shows, or you have been swept up by the current anime hype, you are here looking for answers.
Simply googling the term ‘Anime’ must not have helped much. The Anime world is vast and ever-expanding. Hundreds of list recommendations, Wikipedia ambiguities and confusing hypes can overwhelm a newcomer.
But don’t give up just yet! Here are five reasons to help you give Anime a chance:
What is it about Anime that attracts so many fans? It is flexible animation category with endless variety and diversity in subjects and genres.
This, however, creates a big trap for newcomers: what do I choose for my first show?
When we get out of our comfort zone to try something new, first impressions matter. We know we are investing free time into Anime and we want it to be worth it. Most people who reject anime usually start off with a highly popular show that has received a lot of hype and is on top of most recommendation lists; it might suit them, it might not, they are truly running a 50/50 chance of deciding if anime is for them or not.
Touch red if these shows have been suggested to you as a beginner: Deathnote, Fulmetal Alchemist: The Brotherhood, Naruto, Attack on Titan, One Punch Man, Dragon Ball or One Piece.
What I see there is all action/suspenseful anime. What about a person that loves romance? Historical period shows? Wholesome, slice of life? High School? You can’t expect recommendation lists to be that subjective. They play with statistics and with what most viewers prefer. There is, however, anime for all kinds of people. Some may require more time to find their right one. Hint: if you know you prefer some types of movies/shows over others, don’t google “best anime 2022”, make it specific, i.e. “top romance anime 2022”.
You must remember that, like all entertainment, watching anime is filled with trial and error.
When we think of the Simpsons, it’s an easy bet that we will picture Oscar’s minimalistic form. Anime has been associated in the past with a set of common characteristics; characters with large eyes, shiny hair or mouths drawn to the shape of a ‘U’.
But Anime is a form of art with as many styles and artistic choices as there are stars.
Here are three completely different art styles in anime:
The ‘art factor’ is one of the biggest obstacles of entering the world of anime. Just like plot and characters, art can either be off-putting or the very thing that sucks you over to the Otaku Side.
The art of an anime series depends on the artistic style of the mangaka (manga author) and the the animation studios that produce it. Many manga are beautifully illustrated but can sink when a studio animates the series poorly (I’m looking at you Yuri on Ice!!).
Taste and preference go beyond the illustration of the manga and into its animation which can truly skyrocket an anime. Some recent examples, can you feel these images move?
Language and Culture
Anime provides a very distinct window into the Japanese language and culture. Don’t get me wrong, not all things in anime reflect the Japanese’s cultural and societal behaviours.
But they do give out certain elements that can make audiences excited; beautiful city and country landscapes, Sakura trees shedding petals in spring, societal norms in need of breaking, coffee vending machines.
The list goes on and on. As a newcomer, expect to catch many new linguistic expressions and adopt them into your vernacular – kawaii, arigatou, itadakimasu!
Engaging with another culture is very contagious, especially one so different from the western cultures we are so used to experiencing. After the first or second show, you will be able to identify more and more cultural elements and how a different way of life is depicted in the art of anime. ill you want to watch some more.
It is a challenge to define the uniqueness of storytelling in anime. It makes the mind boggle, trying to find that x factor that makes anime different from other entertainment media. In books, films or TV shows, you can subconsciously discern whether a story is good or not. If you have a voracious nature, like me, you can go further and identify which parts of the given show (plot, characters, structure etc) did not work out for you.
Anime storytelling works slightly different. They usually will vary in pace, structure and of course, direction. These vary according to their chosen genre. From epic plot to comedic satire, there are endless options. Anime can truly be masterful and give you stories that will stay with you forever.
A valid (and short) example, take “From me to You”, romance. Negative opinions usually address the slow pace of the story, the way characters are always fidgeting around their love-subject, or continue to contemplate future actions rather than taking them.
Romance is a complex part of Japanese society. It isn’t always easy to express emotions directly and they handle intimacy in a very discreet and different way than we do. As an art form, mangaka attempt to narrate experiences in a way we are not used to, since our cultures differ. This is why action/intellectual or adventure anime are usually recommended to beginners and Romance or Slice of Life genres, which might be more individualistic, are up to being discovered from a newcomer in due time.
Anime has a multitude of fandoms, as many as there are shows out there. You encounter the very work of such fandoms when you search for reviews, recommendation lists and articles. It is easy to access anime communities via Facebook groups, fan-wiki pages that allow comments and of course by joining groups from big names in the anime world (MyAnimeList, Crunchyroll, Funimation etc).
Be warned, there is some toxicity here and there. Big debates about what constitutes a spoiler. However, all around, anime fans are highly welcoming to new viewers and excited to suggest and discuss their favourite shows.
I feel lucky to be an Otaku in this day and age. Cosplays, social media, Comic Cons, Japanese Festivals, we are truly surrounded by acceptance and true celebration of anime.
Give it a try.
Try to find an anime in a genre you enjoy watching, shuffle through anime lists and find big hitters in them.
Nothing can ever beat the sensation of realising how cool some anime moments can be.
Welcome to the Otaku side all,