People come in anime in every possible way, from the old ways of stumbling over locations in video stories to growing up watching Toonami. When people go into anime today, the biggest question is where to start, but there is rarely a single answer.
The medium has grown so large and gained such an international audience that anime is picked up on most major streaming services. Becoming an anime fan has never been easier, but when they welcome new fans, the community jumps to recommend good beginner shows. Oddly enough, the calculation of what makes a good starter pack is not clearly defined, as recommending stories from an entire medium means inevitable exclusion of many. Beginner anime can be classics, eclectic niche gems or things that are considered divisive or perhaps bad.
“Please ask me which anime I should watch”
The quote above feels like what every person who is excited to answer the question of start anime thinks. Everyone has that feeling; the feeling of excitement by sharing what they love so much with someone who apparently resigns with a new thing.
As such, it is the first instinct for someone to recommend their favorite programs of all time, since after all, if they think these programs are perfect and worth seeing, why not? But anime is weird – in a good way – and one’s favorite anime is sometimes hyperspecific of their interests because the medium appeals to many niches.
Sure, not everyone’s favorite anime is something cool and supernatural like that Series experiments are located, but even some classics can be scary. Recommend Evangelion just because it’s a classic it feels like throwing a beginner into the deep end.
Of course, it depends on the person because someone may be a fan of the works of David Lynch or Stanely Kubrick, and Evangelion may be right up their alley for them. Fans of western noir movies and classic movies can fit perfectly Cowboy Bebop but note that the new viewer’s previous interest in the media is taken into account.
The New Craze (Just like The Old Craze)
Many times people will recommend a program that they used to like or that they watched when they started, because that’s how they started. Depending on the person and their generation, these shows will be completely different. For example, people who were joking around 2013 all watched Sword art online and Attack on Titan.
Half of them probably continued to hate the former when they passed season 1, and a good portion of them have probably dropped Titan in the three years between seasons 1 and 2. The webs from 2016 watched One Punch Man and My Hero Academia. Those from 2019 saw Demon butcheretc.
Entry-level has an almost condescending connotation because it suggests that the show is like a training wheel. When the recommendations become hyperspecific and niche, recommending something at the entry level is a gross over-correction that impairs the new viewer’s media knowledge.
It goes back to what programs the recommender saw when they started, and they can recommend something they hate just because they used to like it at the time they started. But this presupposes that a new viewer will not be disturbed by the errors. Will be disappointed Black Butler season 2 or another old Tumblr craze that will strengthen them as anime viewers?
The recommendations are either hyper-specific for the recommender’s interests or deliberately disconnected from the recommender’s taste to play it safe. In the latter case, anime may just be the most popular shone at the time because it happens to be the most watched.
There is nothing wrong with suggesting the shone or popular shows of the time, but an invitation to recommend the show is to an anime fan what the roaring siren in Silent Hill means for the people who live there. The suggestions should be anime that the recommender thinks is good and that they think the person will like.
A better way
This may sound like over 600 words that actually say “evaluate the taste of the person asking for recommendations”, but there is actually a better way than that. Just ask them to look at what stands out. Completely give up recommendations and just see what looks appealing.
Personally, no one asked me to look Attack on Titan when I became an anime fan. I saw it and looked at the Crunchyroll app at the time to see what stood out to me, and saw some very popular stuff and saw some super niche stuff.
Some series people watch at the beginning of anime fandom are going to be looked back on with a more skeptical eye, but teenage viewers will see their tastes change anyway. The age at which someone enters the media is also important because more can be deduced about their media knowledge.
If the person who starts with anime does so of their own free will, they already have an inherent interest in the medium and will find their own way towards becoming an anime fan. They will probably see some very popular things and maybe even some niche seasonal fluff that will wither into the realm of shows people forgot existed.
Anyway, the best way to get into anime is to just watch what looks interesting and not guess yourself. Try new things, love some, hate others, and find out what you like. Anime is a medium, not a genre. It is a lot to watch.
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