A Million Anime to pick next: How to Choose What to Watch (Part I)

Dear Island Guests, I have seen sooooo much less anime than the majority of you. Sometimes if I hear you talking you are so intimidating to me! Typing out japanese names of niche anime and everyone jumping the bandwagon. When I ask what anime I should watch next , I get lists that are longer than MY posts, and my posts are rather lengthy. So how do I decide what anime I watch next?! In today’s post I will “review” some ways I use to pick an anime. Plus why I think it’s a good method…but also their downside.

<Disclaimer>

This is strictly my opinion and does not contain facts , I think by now now I finished about 40ish anime series and dropped/tried  about as much as well. So that isn’t a whole lot. I am not inexperienced but I am also not nearly as dedicated as many here. My wish for community does play a large role in these reasonings, this shall not apply to everyone . Any form facts only refer to my opinion.. It is a fact I feel this way.. no one has to share any of these opinions or feel compelled to do so.
<End of Disclaimer>

Let’s start out with one of the more common ways to pick an anime! Watching whatever is in season! Plenty of you out there follow anime seasons and most of you seem to have fun doing it. I have followed MHA season 1 and 2 on season, I picked Didn’t I say to make my abilities average and even Isekai Cheat Magician. It might be one of the easiest ways to pick anime.. in fact those who watch a lot of anime barely have to pick anime at all then. They just watch it all! Everyday you get spoon fed a number of episodes which to be honest seems like a pretty solid way to pick anime to me! Yet now it’s time to pick up my comically sized magnifying glass and analyse this method.

Postives

This method works great if you have watched a fair amount of anime. It’s  new so you are very certain you will not watch anything double. In the past I accidently rewatched like 25% of a series before realising I had already seen it before.. (It wasn’t very good)  I just used an english name before and now a Japanese name. When you watch seasonals, you always watch something new. Now for  people who aren’t bumbling fools like me this one still is a great method to watch as it without a shadow of a doubt is the most engaging method. 

While you watch the community watches with you, this means you can talk, discuss and rave about it all you like.. and you are very likely to find someone to join you, doing things together is oftenly more fun. It also streamlines the choices you can make to a handful of choices. Instead of searching for that golden pearl inside of the world’s oceans you instead search for the pearl in on a single ship, even if your gold one isn’t there some clams will still have something shiny.Less daunting and you make some friends with people who sail along then.

Negatives

This method however might be one of the least consistently rewarding ones, when it comes to your enjoyment. We don’t know how good an anime is going to be until it airs.. now that is not fully true .. there is manga to go off on.. but still you might be digging for gold and all you get is coal.  There have been great anime seasons, there were also those who really can let you down.. and there is no refunding for viewing time. So seasonal anime is more risky.. yet it is also more tiring at least to me. You have to keep up with anime, especially if you pick a lot.

Lag behind a week and there are chances you get spoiled, depending on how many seasonals you watch.. a  friend coming over spontaneously or inviting you for drinks can mess up your schedule and if a episode is REALLY hype and memeable , spoilers arrive within mere minutes. Depending on how active you are in the community and if you blog yes or no.. this method of watching anime can add a lot of pressure and really kill some joy. You do not have to do so immediately, but if you are part of groups and are active in the community..you can’t wait to long either. It’s self imposed pressure depending on why you watch.. but at least I found that seasonals added of self imposed.. forcefulness upon myself.

The final negative point is not for everyone it’s just for those who haven’t seen a lot of anime. Who miss a few classics. The way the community talks often references other series,references the manga or their ideas where the series is headed based on earlier narratives. Spoiler by Proxy I call this. If I haven’t seen a trope before one can simply spoil me from having experience and analyzing. I do not mind as much but I really feel like an outsider when talks get like this.

Advise

Pick at least one anime per season to more or less keep up with but don’t go overboard with it unless you are a bit “experienced” . Of course you do not know what this experience will entail until you try. The more experienced you are in the medium the more advise this method. If you are less advanced like me.. this is a method I’d  use in moderation. If you have a lot of spare time this method becomes increasingly attractive though. This can be rather hit or miss so if you only have so much time to burn this can end up as one of your less desirable options.

Naruto, Sword Art Online, Attack on Titan, Madoka, Elfen Lied, Code Geass!  We all know a lot of the big hit names. Me myself I am currently watching A Certain Magical Index as a name most people really seem to know so it should be good! This is the tried and true method for any anime fan that has no idea on what to pick. If you ever want to be an anime expert you’ll need to watch those anime everyone loves to mention! If the entire world likes something it must be good right?! Let’s take out the magnifying glass again.

Postives

You can’t go wrong with these picks is a phrase often used to refer to the classics. Re: Zero  is a very good show, Attack on Titan entertained and entertains so many so surely there is a “fact” based sense of goodness to it.. you know kinda like those toothpastes or shampoos from commercials 80% of the test panel said they would buy again. So unlike with seasonal gambles these anime are very likely to be entertaining.  As a result these are great choices for anime fans who want  to watch a good show but do not have a lot of time to  burn.  If you have an hour a week you want to spend on anime just, why not spend it on Death Note or Code Geass.

Wasting free time when you barely have any can be very sad.  For the ones with more times on their hands this one can be very satisfying as well! People are always willing to talk about classics so it’s still a rather engaging way to watch anime. When talking about Elfen Lied.. people tend to NOT compare as much. People don’t say Madoka is like Card Selector WiXoss nor do they say Elfen Lied was kinda similar to Brynhildr in the Darkness. No they just talk about Madoka and Lucy..so all discussions are rather accessible regardless your “skill level”. It’s always fun to talk about the classics!

Negatives

I have two main gripes with basing your viewing experience around the classics, actually three .. and I am probably going to get a lot of flack for one of these statements.  So lets save that one for last! The first main negative of watching the Classics is spoilers! The iconic anime shows that everyone loves and that are of a certain age can and will be spoiled if you don’t pay attention. Have you ever watched a Watchmojo top 10?  Of course you have! That spoiled a classic somewhere for you didn’t it?  I know exactly how Cowboy Bebop ends and I have never seen even a single episode. That doesn’t exactly make it less of an adventure but if you like to be surprised.. the classics are slippery slope to avoid spoilers on! Especially if you write about them in the meantime and look for images.

Speaking of no surprises a second gripe I kind of have with “the icons” is that they indeed will never give you that feeling of developing your own sense of taste.  The iconic anime, while still different are mostly in the same kind of story. Person gets powers and has to fight evil some way or another.. It doesn’t go for everything.. but most of the classics tend to be a bit “vanilla” High paced, action with some comedy. There isn’t anything wrong persé but it is just less adventurous. Like playing one of those always win Crane Games.. The prize is neat but you the experience seems less exciting. This of course is up for debate, but if you look at the really BIG names in Anime.. it’s all in the shounen ..or closely related pipeline. You don’t experience the full package.

The final negative I have with this is the one the one that will give me flack.  To me many of the classics like , Naruto, Geass, One Piece, Dragon Ball , Sailor Moon are in the 8/10 range. Because so many people think it is great, I lack that sensation of it ever being amazing. It’s like going to a 3 star restaurant.. you know the food is gonna be amazing.. but because you go in expecting that.. it has a hard time to fully live up to it.. Sure it’s still good but you expected more. The community can be a tad testy if you tell them it’s not as amazing as you expected too. While I do not question the quality of One Piece or Geass, neither resonate with me on a deeper level. Elfen Lied same story. I can see why it’s loved, I can have a great time watching it, yet at the same time I never know I will never be mind-blown so in a way these kind of feel like settling for something (really) good while you could be searching for amazing.

Advise

Watching the classics is a great way to watch anime if you have little time and can subvert your expectations. They are usually easily available and referenced so often that it’s hard to deal without them. However they do not offer a lot of insight into how deep the anime world can really go. There are some many beautiful things out there for you to discover and the really big names.. all  are a bit “safe”. Get a few notches on your belt and then talk to a massive Otaku for some recommendations like your favorites and experiment a bit more. If you are a veteran..some of these can really become a bit mundane so do not always expect the masterpiece people say.

Now don’t get me wrong .. I don’t mean this in the way that you need a shovel or anything.  No I am simply meaning doing all the work yourself. Pick your own genre , look for cover art that fascinates you, pick something you heard some rumors about or whose plot synopsis really appeals to you. With blood sweat, tears and mostly google you are sure to find an anime that is very much made FOR you. For the final time today (but I will follow this up with a second part) I will take out my looking glass.

Positives

No one knows you better than yourself. Only you know what Dere type you prefer in what type of series. You know best what genre you like an art-style you like. There are so many things to consider when selecting an anime and with google you can really get far into finding your own anime. You’d need some familiarity with terminology to really specify what you are into but by simply googling “good anime” you can already pull up a list of suggestions.

By simply glancing at some titles then doing some research on them you can already create a hit for yourself. When you delve deeper though and really find  a hidden gem, that’s when you can really feel accomplished. Recommending that hidden gem you discovered and see it spread across your community like wildfire can be very rewarding on it’s own. This will also help you develop your taste very well.

9 Tailed Kitsune the amazing blogger does some great  “Anime like (Anime Title) “ style posts which can really offer a framework for you to develop your own taste in anime. Others do offer you similar tools The more work you put into this .. the bigger the chance is that you will reel in hit after hit. Enjoyment guaranteed.

Negatives

That being said though the pool of anime to draw from is near endless. Defining your own tastes can last a long time as each major genre has plenty of subgenres. You can favor studios, art styles, voice actors, genres, subgenres and  character archetypes. Anime to me more than western media has more moving parts. If finding your favorite cartoon is a rubik’s cube than anime can be a rubik’s polygon. Mostly because of excess. Western cartoons are very heavily biased to contemporary , westernly cultured series. In anime we have more customisation options to our preference. As a result it can be rather daunting  to tweak our profiles.

I for example hate, political and military themes, elements that are oftenly tied in with the Mecha Genre.. but my favorite series of all time is a Mecha show (except for the few parts it gets kinda political). I hate people fighting for honour and glory, yet tournament story arcs are amongst my most consumed and beloved products.

There is just so much modifiers to account for. There are still genres I haven’t even addressed. So to be really good at this takes a lot of work and it will result in a lot of drop shows , and thus “wasted” time. It might also leave some very good shows of your radar because you simply did not know “that” was a genre or possibility. It also offers the least option of dialogue, your taste is yours and the more you distill that the more difficult finding people to talk about those specifically. There is always the risk of being misunderstood. While plenty of people are amazing enough to talk to you about just about everything and if you search you can find the proper people, there are also a lot of the “Your Anime Sucks” or “Your Waifu is Shit” types out there that can make your experience less fun! I am not saying you should mind them.. I am just stating they are out there.

Advice

Develop this skill as you go on.. use the other methods of this post.. and the next one as well to really discover what you like.. use this one as a mirror of your growth.. like a oenologist.. (that’s someone who knows wine)  at first you get some book smarts but then you develop your own profile.. while you will always require those book smarts. This one I’d say is the best reflection how how much of an “anime expert” you have become

An expert of anime in my opinion is not about what shoe size Asuna has or how many Muda’s are in the seven page Muda when it translated to anime. A true anime expert to me.. will always have a good time when they watch anime because they know exactly what will give them joy and when! This probably is the most labour intensive way to choose and community feedback isn’t always AS stimulating for these efforts as you might hope. This can be solved however.. but putting in yet more effort.

Next time I will look at some other ways to select what anime to watch! How do you usually decide what anime you watch? Like I said this is from my perspective aver having seen a couple dozen of series. Most of you have seen more than me so perhaps views shift over experience and of course personal preference! I am curious to find out though. How do you pick your next anime to watch?

14 thoughts

  1. Cool post! I sometimes follow writers, directors or studios and then see basically “what else have they done?” to help make a decision. It’s sometimes a fun problem to have, huh? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is actually a way I haven’t really discussed yet..that might be a good one for a part 3 for a bit later.. I actually have done that before though.. so good shout out!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really appreciated this post because it is something that I always think about also. I appreciated all the positives as well as negatives that you presented. When I first started watching anime, I was enticed by titles like for instance Story of Saiunkoku is a fantastic political fantasy that I never thought I’d like until I tried it. Nowadays I still do that but other people reviewing it or talking about it so I am curious what else you’re going to say in part 2. Have a good day 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I started getting into anime I mostly watched what was popular because, well, it was the late 90’s and that’s all we had lol. To be fair, a lot of that stuff is great and still holds up today. I still will rewatch Sailor Moon or YuYu Hakusho from time to time.

    But I think now my tastes are pretty eclectic so I just watch what appeals to me. It doesn’t matter if it is old or obscure. I enjoy a lot of mainstream shonen stuff like Re:Zero and My Hero Academia, but a lot of my favorite anime are in genres like magical girl, slice of life, drama or music which don’t generally don’t get as much attention. But that’s cool with me. It means my taste stands out and I can recommend stuff to people that they might never have seen before. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have stumbled upon an anime selection technique I will adress next week! .. But yeah I do not hate the classics or the mainstream stuff… but I also have developed a taste. Mostly for like extremely weird and random shows… and more recently plenty of Isekai as well.

      But yeah it’s kinda fun how each way of selecting anime has such a different experience behind it. There’s more than just the shows.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. When I started getting into anime I just watched the popular mainstream stuff that was on the TV in the late 90’s as that is all we had in the way of experiencing anime. I still love to re-watch Cardcaptor Sakura, Sailor Moon and Gundam Wing from time to time but never really blogged about them as nearly everyone knows about them. I have realised that some of my other faves are pretty niche anime that no-one gives a thought too like Escaflowne and Non Non Biyori.

    My tastes differ from time to time but I have noticed that I am drawn to Slice of Life, Music, Magical Girl, Shoujo and Mecha anime more. Some of which don’t get much attention but I don’t mind. I just pick anime that I love and blog about them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I figured out early on that I’m a little odd in my tastes in anime. With few exceptions, when “the crowd goes wild” over a particular anime, I find it…well…meh. I do a little combo of the above. I generally look at the new animes coming out on any given season and pick a few I think I’ll like to watch. Sometimes by the end of the season I’m not watching any of them. Sometimes I’ll drop one because I decide I’d rather binge it when it’s done, or between seasons. I hate to admit it, but now and then Netflix/Hulu and so actually make good suggestions based on other shows I’ve watched. I also have had the great good fortune to find a few bloggers who seem to have very similar tastes to my own, or who simply write good reviews that give me a firm idea of whether or not I’d like something. My preferred method of watching is binge, binge, binge so I am rarely watching whatever it is that everyone is watching. I’ve grown used to it. No, probably my worst issue is choosing which of the enormous watchlist of shows I want to watch is next… I’m about down to rolling dice and picking names out of a cup…

    Like

    1. Well the random method is in part 2 for me, I usually dont look at my watch list whenever I need a new one I use usually a friend suggestion ( part 2) or a popular one to catch up. Saturday watches are mostly based on what you guys suggest plus something in season.

      I drop a lot as well, mostly I just forget to keep watching them. Watching Magical Index on Netflix and I can’t push myself to watch on. Aside from Index I do not care about the characters at all!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If you forget to continue watching, and I do, too – I figure it wasn’t all that good. Most of the stuff on my watchlist IS friend’s suggestions LOL well, if you consider the bloggers I follow friends…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I do consider them friends, maybe not in the definition by most would.. but after we talked about the subject last time I think so many of you add something to my life that does make you eligible to the term in my book

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Agreed. I’ve had some really wonderful, close online friends. To me, the only difference is I would love going to a game shop with you, or other stuff we could only do in person and I do miss that – but I think the important part of real friendship, getting to talk, discuss, share – that’s there. The missing bit? Well, I miss gaming in person with friends we moved away from (or who moved away from us), but they are still my friends. So what’s the difference? None.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve got quite a lot of anime I’ve started and never finished…I have about a 30% finish rate, which is probably (?) notoriously low for someone who has almost 800 anime (including watching, dropped and on hold) on their list. Most of this is due to my anime club, which gets access to a bunch of things I can’t watch otherwise (and because the media manager for the past few years is a mech fan, meaning I’ve had a lot of exposure to things I wouldn’t start otherwise),.

    Sometimes I’ll sample something and never get back to it again until years later. This mostly happens at the start of seasons, so I’ve joined watching challenges on my anime list site of choice (AniList) to polish them off…at the expense of starting /even more/ anime, because sometimes you have to watch new stuff to fulfil challenges.

    I’ve gotten into the habit of making seasonal lists and chipping at them until I have a manageable number of anime for the next 2 – 3 months. Normally this would mean 6, but COVID-19 delays mean I had to open this up to a maximum of 9 for the spring season…and delays also meant I delayed watching simulcasts anyway, so now I’m quite behind…

    Liked by 1 person

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