Whether I’m at a family get together, a mandatory “Team Training” for my work, or just browsing manga at the local used bookstore, it’s almost guaranteed that someone is going to ask me for an anime recommendation. Not only have I been watching anime for years, I also spent years working at a library where giving recommendations (usually on books) was part of my job. So little by little I’ve actually become pretty good at suggesting what someone should read or watch. Of course, this is definitely not a perfect system, but more often than not I can usually think of something that the future anime fan or book lover is going to enjoy. Of course, this isn’t just some born in talent or some library staff related magic, there’s an actual process and guide lines that are important to making great recommendations. No only is there some rules you have to remember, but you also have to decide what your end goal is in the situation, and you need to keep in mind that this is a conversation not a dictation. So if you’ve been dubbed the anime guru in your circle of friends and everyone is asking you what series to watch, here are some tips to make the process easier!
I mentioned earlier that coming up with good recommendations for someone else is a conversation not a dictation, and that is one of the rules that is very important. If you recommend an anime to someone without considering who they are and what they like watching, it’s not very likely they will actually enjoy the anime you suggested or at best it will just be a coincidence they liked it. For example, one of my relatives suddenly started watching anime and recommended that I should try watching Attack On Titan. They had just started watching it and they Loooved it! And of course they thought that I would love it too. Now, they knew me and knew I loved cute and cuddly and sweet and soft things. Why they thought I would like an anime that was extremely bloody and violent, I’m still baffled about. All I can assume is that they were very enthusiastic about sharing their new found anime joy and didn’t consider who they were making a recommendation to. Don’t be like my relative! Don’t recommend your favorite anime to someone, recommend what could be their favorite anime to them. And what is the best way to find out what kind of anime they might like? Ask questions! Ask questions! Ask questions! One of the best questions to ask is: “What’s your favorite TV show/movie?”.
Don’t just List Off the Most Popular Series
Though it might seem easy and convenient to just recommend whatever is currently popular to the recommend requester (after all these anime series are popular for a reason) don’t be fooled into trying the easy way out! The top rated anime might seem popular, but it could be that the genre that the anime is in, is just popular with the biggest anime watching demographic. Though there are anime fans in every age group and walk of life, and I truly believe that there is an anime out there for everyone!, it’s still true that the largest group of anime watchers are teen boys/male young adults. This does not mean that every anime fan has the same tastes as teen boys! And even if the person who you are developing a recommendation for is in that demographic, it still doesn’t mean that they will actually like those top rated anime. So, in the end it is still better to ask questions like: What do they like to watch? What are their favorite genres? What are their hobbies? and base your recommendation on that rather than what anime series landed on a top ten list.
Don’t Dump Them in the Deep End
Maybe your goal is to change the mainstream view of anime as a glorified cartoon and you really want to show this recommendation demanding person that anime is an art form that deserves respect! You want them to understand just how deep and nuanced an anime can be, and introduce them to some of the great master pieces of the art. As tempting as it might be to start a new anime fan off with Grave of the Fireflies or Perfect Blue, Don’t do it! Though these are indeed great anime, maybe they aren’t the best first anime. Like so many things, anime can be something that is better to slowly warm up to. So instead of throwing the first timer into the anime deep end, instead ask a lot of questions. Once you have a good idea of what genre the potential anime fan might like, next you need to narrow down the list of anime by considering which anime would have the least cultural barriers that might deter or confuse an anime noobie. Also consider which series would most likely have a story line that they would be familiar with, so they can easily follow it. You might want to focus more on anime series that have the least amount of shocking or potentially offensive content. Though fan-service might be a cringe worthy anime aspect that seasoned anime fans usually just shrug off, a first time anime watcher might not be as understanding. Though anime can be quite daring and artistic, remember that you’re trying to find anime that the recommendation requester will actually enjoy and won’t frighten them away from the anime loving world.
The Anime Fans of Tomorrow!
Hopefully when you use these simple tips, giving anime recommendations will become easier and more successful. And maybe with your help the anime curious of today will turn into the anime fans of tomorrow!
4 thoughts on “How to Give Great Anime Recommendations!”
Good advice. I’m sure I broke one of these early on when I recommended Legend of the Galactic Heroes to people who were never in a million years going to continue that show through even one episode. Still one of my favorites, but recommending something like that to people who only like pure action, or recommending Kaiji to someone who’s looking for fluffy slice-of-life relaxation — you’re right. You only risk putting them off the medium, and at best the recommendation is useless. Sometimes I’m in the mood for bloody despair and sometimes for fluffy relaxation, but not everyone has such varied tastes!
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I totally get that! It can be so tempting to recommend your favorite anime to friends and family. When an anime fills you with excitement and just makes your heart jump with joy, it’s hard to not share that enthusiasm with other people!
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A lot of anime also rely on various recurring Japanese cultural references that will go over peoples heads, especially in the slice of life and comedy genres. Something like Gintama should probably never be a first recommendation, unless the person has lived in Japan or been really exposed to Japanese media.
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Right! Cultural barriers are a double problem because as seasoned anime watchers we have gotten used to them and have a level of understanding of the culture that created them so it’s really hard for us to notice them. But at the same time, for someone that isn’t used to these cultural barriers, like an anime first timer, they can be very confusing.
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