Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How to get new people into anime :)

I know this blog has been pretty much about politics but as with everyone else I am sick of it since the election and have moved to a subject that I like a lot...anime.

My Girlfriend first came in saying that she really didn't like anime and J-Pop generalizing due to a bad first experience. Anime is such a broad form but for people to like it there has to be a good first experience or it can end up depriving them of a wonderful experience.

Speaking of Generalizing, like with most things different anime appeals to different people so please keep the person you are introducing in mind before showing one of these.

Studio Ghibli:I know this isn't a single movie or series but I fell that with only a small difference here and there really isn't any one of their projects that is far too weird or cartoony. Ghibli is especially good if the person enjoys disney animated films and if you show multiple movies you can do a slow move up the spectrum to introduce people to more and more adult oriented movies. Probably the most appropriate one to start with would be Spirited away or Kiki's Delivery Service.

Afro Samurai: This one was actually close to the other list of what anime not to introduce someone to but I thought about it an this is a good one for those who are really into action films. Those people who like movies such as Pulp Fiction or Kill Bill will likely enjoy this series. It is very violent and over the top but is americanized with the american and japanese cooperation. If you have someone that really like Samuel L. Jackson this series can also be great for them.

The Animatrix: This one is a good intro as it is one that you can slide in with any Matrix series fans blurring the familiar with the unfamiliar. Computer animation also is something that many americans are used to and the starting pieces are good to draw them in. This particular item is in my opinion better written than the last two matrix movies but still not quite as well thought up as the first.

Appleseed Movies: These are just solid sci-fi action movies that happen to be animated by the Japanese. This is very good for your typical sci-fi viewer. The action is not over the top like with a movie such as ninja scroll. The movie is also not cartoony like a lot of anime and will not throw audiences off with strange cultural  plot devices.

Clannad: This is based off of a video game oddly enough but it is also one of the few school girl anime that I would show to a newcomer. It is a very serious and sad movie with an enlightened ending. There is a series that also goes by the same name but it has parts in it that are cartoony using japanese humor that can be lost on an american just getting used to anime. The movie plays it straight as a high school romance that ends sadly. This is good for people that like Romantic dramas.

Cowboy Bebop: This is an excellent series for bridging the gaps that many people feel are between live action and anime series. It is a great sci-fi action series with a wonderful score that ensnares most who watch it. If your friend enjoyed star wars or high paced action series this series should be a home run. There are some strange characters but luckily here they are introduced after the viewer has been drawn in.

Death Note: This is a nod to our 24 or CSI crowd. A person finds a magic notebook that if you write someone's name in it they die. This has multiple aspects that can appeal to the mystery buff  with the killer and detective sparing mentally throughout. This also appeals to the goth crowd due to the darker aspects of this series. Be wary the ending is a bit difficult and the series does go downhill about half way in.

 Dragonball: This is a really good series for younger viewers to get into anime. Children in their early teens and under can easily drop into this series and laugh at the simple humor. Some adults may be able to get into this series but usually have to have had some grounding in anime first. This series is very simple and straight forward making it easy to follow and it is a great gateway to other anime action series.

Eden of the East: This is a series that has been fairly successful in the United States. It is very intense and the plot is very complex but for americans that love to follow action dramas like 24 will find this series very entertaining. It is one that I find more appropriate than Ghost in the Shell which is more familiar to american audiences but I believe is harder to understand. Eden of the east is a great dramatic thrill ride for most people.

 5 Centimeters Per Second: This is a great movie for people to get into anime if they have a love of good film. This is a sad series of short films following a love that cannot last. This is beautifully animated and makes for great first time viewing if the person you are showing this to likes romantic Dramas.

Fruits Basket:  This one is a bit harder to swallow than others on the list as it has a lot of quirky japanese humor to it. If you can get the person past this point you find at the core a very deep and well rounded series that involves deep emotion for the characters and the viewer alike. If the person enjoys cute romantic comedies mixed with a little fantasy then this may still be the one to use.

 The Girl Who Leapt Through Time:  This is a wonderful movie enveloping elements of science fiction romance and comedy that will be enjoyable to most viewers. This is a good first viewing as it shows great writing and elegance that usually only falls under anime.

Honey and Clover: This is a great series, probably one of the best. It follows a group of art students through their college career and into their adult lives. This series is a but sad for some so please keep it in mind but it also has another aspect to it that makes it an easy transition in that you can show the live action film first then move into the series. There are multiple anime that you can use this trick on so if you are thinking of introducing a series see if you have a live action one to show first in order to get the person to take it more seriously.

Initial D:  This is another series with a live action movie and though it isn't necessarily my cup of tea it is a perfect movie and tv series to introduce someone who is big into racing and films such as fast and the furious. This series has many qualities that are in common with action series and can be utilized to help people start to get into more traditional action or sports anime.

Kimagure Orange Road: This is another one of my top rated series that I do believe would make good introductory material. It is a simple romantic comedy with a nice twist. The series follows a family that has super powers and has to hide them while they addend school and live their lives. The main character quickly falls into a love triangle that lasts for most of the series. This series has a few flaws such as how long the japanese tend to extend their romance which can at times move to the point of frustration moving two steps forward and one step back. It does have a good resolution and is followed up by two films that round out the series well. The second film "Summer's Beginning" is a good film to use as a stand alone intro due to the length of the series (48 episodes). This series is excellent for people who love romantic comedies.

Kino's Journey: This series is superb and probably one of the best TV series of all time. Kino's Journey follows the exploits of a young woman traveling from one strange land to another being a witness to the world and the happiness, sadness and oddities that she comes across. This series has a beautiful score, excellent writing and has a lot of the odd japanese annoyances missing that might turn off most new viewers. If this is a person that loves good drama and science fiction they will learn to love this series.

Maison Ikkoku: This is a lovely series and has been tested several times in the past to good results. Like Kimagure Orange road this is a romantic comedy but relies more on the quirky aspects of the neighbors than the strange powers of a protagonist. This series has three issues that might bring trouble to first time viewers. The First is the humor value is more present and is something that many are not able to grasp yet there are quite a few that have gone beyond this. The second is that this has similar issues to Kimagure Orange Road in that you can get frustrated at the slowness of the development of the relationship between the two main characters. The Last is the length of the series. This series lasted for a few years in japan so you need to prepare yourself for quite a ride (96 episodes worth). If you can get past these three you are left with one of the best written romantic comedies out there.  

Mermaid Forest: What happens when you eat the flesh of a mermaid? Well you get the answer in this series and both aspects are not exactly wonderful. This is a horror series by the same author as Maison Ikkoku. For those that really love creepy suspense this is a great intro to horror anime incorporated far less of the strange humor found in other of her anime series. The stories are well crafted but a bit disturbing so showing this to a horror veteran is advised. An earlier version of the episode Mermaid Scar can be found but beware this one is even more disturbing than the remake. One major difference in this and some other horror anime is that the disturbing nature of the series is no where near how bad it can get with more intense series.

 Millennium Actress: This is a film that is very much up an the alley of a person that enjoys a good dramatic and artistic film. It has aspects that may be difficult too follow for most so it is not recommended for any but followers of artistic drama. This movie can be utilized after an introduction to anime is made to most other individuals that enjoy a good dramatic film. 

Perfect Blue: This is  a wonderful thriller that I would recommend to any tho enjoy crime thrillers with a little psychological horror thrown in. This movie has a good dub cast and even has a slight intro to the poppy japanese music without burying you in it like other series might. The movie might be harder for people with the preconceived notion that animation is only for children but luckily that generation is getting older and there are fewer who believe this these days. 

Read or Die OVA: This is as if you crossed James Bond and Super Heroes. This is an excellent series with great animation a good amount of action and story to boot. This series itself can bring in many action film junkies and can include those who are not into a lot of blood and gore. The TV series has more aspects that might detract from the interest of initial viewers but if you hook them with this series the TV series might be a great next step. 

Record of Lodoss War: This is a series that was created by a role playing group and is perfect for those who were into fantasy role playing or fantasy movies with elves and dragons. For many who loved lord of the rings this may be a good introduction for them as it involves a lot less cartoony comedic moments and tends to follow a straight story line. 

Rumiko Takahashi Anthology: This is a mixed bag but that can make it a good thing. It is well written and  covers the anime spectrum quite well. To people who are more open this can be used to introduce them to many different types including weird comedic and dramatic. This is not one to show an individual who is resistant to anime as there are aspects in the comedy and strange ones that would turn them off. 

Tokyo Godfathers: This is a great holiday film incorporating the spirit of love and giving during the holiday season. This like most of the film artist's work was well crafted story wise. Many first time people may be turned off by it not being a children's film but usually can be drawn into the main story with the themes being very general and easy to understand. 

Vampire Knight: A nod to people who enjoy vampire romance dramas. We have a mix of vampires, Vampire Hunters and High schoolers. The story can be light at times but never gets out of control with the humor and for the most part keeps to the straight romance and complex plot devices. For those who liked Twilight or Maybe True Blood. I would however put the writing quality a full hand above Twilight.  

Last Hints:

At first try and keep it to the dubbing unless you have someone that is used to watching a lot of subbed films and are used to hearing foreign languages as the high voices can be a bit of a turn off. 

Make sure you know the person. Just like you really shouldn't generalize anime as being all the same thing you shouldn't generalize for people as well. What works for one may not work for another. Make sure you understand their tastes before going in. Remember: there is an anime for almost any interest so don't give up.  

Lastly for any who think I left some off please feel free to add to the list just make sure you justify your reasons for making it first time viewing. 


  1. This is an excellent and well-thought list (I should know, as I was a sounding board in its writing). However, a few additional notes.
    One, I personally differ on whether the film or the series should be used for Clannad. The series is excellent, though it can be odd and has a lot of wacky Japanese-style humor. However, the payoff is the final half of the sequel Clannad: After Story. There is a reason why the series consistently ranks at the top of Anime News Network's Top Anime list--it's THAT good, and even an anime newbie who has come this far will likely be impressed (if they are not turned off by the unusual ending). The movie is excellent, but I personally give it only one edge over the series--it's MUCH shorter (however, it is also darker and more depressing, and the series is quite the tear-jerker in its final quarter).
    Two, I don't feel that Brandon pushed home this point enough, but 5 Centimeters per Second is DEPRESSING. If you love Nicholas Sparks-style weepies, however, particularly if you love quality, this IS a great film to try.
    Three, do NOT attempt Vampire Knight first unless a) you are willing to commit to the second series, Vampire Knight Guilty, and b) you don't mind risking an ill taste at the end--the ending to Guilty actually pissed me off worse than most people were PO'd at the final third of Death Note.
    Four, dubs are all well and good, but tread carefully. It is true that many people are prejudiced against Japanese voices, but all nitpicking aside from purists like myself, many dubs are just BAD. If you want to convince someone to watch anime, and you feel that the dubs are the way to go, FUNimation's dubs tend to be good to excellent, as are the FEW that Sentai has bothered to do, and dubs for recently-released series are far more likely to be worth using. This is, I must say, an EXCELLENT argument for Studio Ghibli--there English dubs have been consistently good to great.
    Five, speaking of Ghibli, my personal recommendation would be to start with: My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service, Castle in the Sky or The Secret World of Arietty for a young audience; Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind or Porco Rosso for an action fan; Mononoke, Nausicaa, Totoro, Castle, Pom Poko or Spirited Away for the environmentally conscious; Spirited Away, Nausicaa, Arietty, Howl's Moving Castle or Kiki for the Disney fan; or Grave of the Fireflies, Only Yesterday or Whisper of the Heart for a more mature audience.
    Finally, some recommendations of my own. For the fan of weepy dramas, Anohana: The Flower We Saw that Day is an awesome series that tends to be fairly straightforward in its presentation--just be aware that it WILL make you cry. For the bloodthirsty viewer who can tolerate potentially objectionable amounts of violence and nudity, an equally awesome series is Elfen Lied--it is dark, twisted and has a more bitter than sweet ending, but if that is your cup of tea the fact that it is an anime should not matter in the least. A really odd series that nonetheless should find an audience among viewers who enjoy "cool" series and movies, and that can definitely be presented in the excellent English dub, is Durarara! Incidentally, someone who might enjoy the last two might also enjoy Hellsing, and one who might enjoy Anohana just might go as well for Diamond Daydreams. Finally, either the OVA or the movie for Ah! My Goddess could work; it is an odd series to be sure, but it is excellent, and fans of Norse mythology might be intrigued by its use herein.
    Anyway, hope a few folks have stuck with me this long, and I hope I've been able to further help anime newbies and pushers alike. Happy viewing.

  2. Babe, I HAVE the Animatrix. I thought you knew this.

  3. Kay I retract that but at least it is on the list