Introducing new people to anime can be a tightrope walk. What will they like? What will represent the genre well? What will keep them coming back for more?
It’s not always easy introducing a friend to anime. Some of the major themes across shows – such as fan services – can be divisive on a good day and fans haven’t always represented the medium well, but this doesn’t mean that making a new anime watching bud is impossible. There’s an anime out there for everybody so try one of these kinds of anime next time you want pull somebody over to the dark side.
The Universally Loved Anime
Examples: Any Studio Ghibli film, Cowboy Bebop
There are very few anime that almost everybody everywhere likes. I have never met a person who didn’t enjoy at least a few of Studio Ghibli’s feature films and even my parent enjoyed Cowboy Bebop. In fact, I think they may have managed to watch it before I did back in its Adult Swim days. And the love that the Ghibli collection and Cowboy Bebop specifically have earned isn’t surprising. Both are fun, funny, and thoughtful with art styles that are neat, clean, fluid, and pleasing to look at. Not many animes have managed to earn universal acclaim from anime fans and detractors alike, but those that do make for a perfect jumping-off point in your future animated adventures.
The Classics of Their Genre
Examples: Sailor Moon, Starship Yamato
There’s a reason that the classics are classics and why they keep getting remade and updated. Animes that have managed to create benchmarks within their own genre have held up to the test of time have done so with quality storytelling, relatable themes, and earnestness that make them classics. Plus, if you’re not sure about the animation styles of the ’90s, ’80s or before, many of these have enjoyed resurgences or remakes with a more modern pallet in mind. I’m definitely not saying that everybody will love Sailor Moon, but if you want a crash course in the shoujo or magical girl genres there are few better teachers. Find the genre of anime you think will speak to your
victim friend, figure out which show or movie was the most influential of the last ten or twenty years, and profit.
The Anime That’s Popular Right Now
Examples: My Hero Academia, Demon Slayer
I’m going to be honest with you, this isn’t always going to work; I remember trying and failing to introduce a friend to Trigun when it was the fresh new thing. Popular isn’t going to necessarily equal enjoyable for every member, but in the same way that popular music works because it resonates with a large enough percentage of people, popular animes have found a way to be enjoyable for lots and lots of different folks at once. And some of them are honestly gems. I was dubious about Demon Slayer until I saw how pretty and unique their special attacks (especially those water forms) were animated and then I stayed for the story and characters.
The Relatable One
Examples: Aggretsuko, How Heavy Are the Dumbells You Lift?
You may be thinking, “But Meaghan, Aggretsuko is universally loved and should have been in the first category.” I agree, but its universal appeal came from how true it rang for anyone who’s ever had a job they didn’t like, a hobby they didn’t make public, or stress they needed to internalize. Aggretsuko works because everybody’s had a bad boss, everybody can relate. But there are so many different varieties of anime for a potential fan to see themselves reflected in.
I found Watamote almost disturbingly relatable while friends who have played and retired from sports have found Yuri On Ice to be very real and How Heavy Are The Dumbells You Lift? makes struggling through workouts look almost fun. If you want somebody to love anime as much as you do, introduce them to one that they’ll connect with to their core. Unfortunately, pretty much only Aggretsuko is relatable to everyone, so you may need to do your homework here and curate a bespoke viewing list depending on the individual.
I firmly believe that there’s an anime out there for everybody. Maybe you won’t create another otaku (maybe that’s not a bad thing), but helping somebody understand and appreciate a new vehicle for storytelling is always a worthwhile endeavor. And then you’ll have another anime watching buddy. Win / win!
Which anime got you hooked? Which anime would you show your best friend to get them interested? How about your parents? Let us know in the comments!
Ja ne, adventures!