Untangled: How Do You Choose Which Anime to Watch?

In our Untangled feature, we answer questions posed to us from our readers.  Here’s an email sent by Mason a few days ago:

How do you guys go about choosing your anime?  I don’t watch a lot but I like watching currently airing ones (because I have something to look forward too) so I would like to know how you guys go about finding anime 🙂

TWWK: Mason, I think most of us on staff here have a good idea of what we want to try out before each new season begins.  I usually check out a season preview post or two and choose the shows I want to try.  As for older series, I have a backlog that’s developed over the years.  Whenever I read about a series that interests me, I add it.  So I would say that typically I find anime by word of mouth.

Hansha: A lot of times, I’ll get suggestions from friends or they’ll start fangirling over one and insist I watch it. Other than that, I usually go through Hulu, Netflix or Crunchyroll and read descriptions. I’ve also gotten interested in a few anime because of cosplays I’ve seen at a convention or on different pages of cosplayers I follow. I think others on staff are more plugged in than I am though.

Japesland: I’ve gone through stages. At first, I based what I watched completely on word of mouth. Then I began looking online for recommendations, particularly from Beneath the Tangles (shameless plug for our Anime Recommendations and Anime Movie Recommendations pages). Then, I returned to word of mouth and friends’ recommendations and built up an enormous backlog, much as Charles mentioned (I marathoned a LOT of anime in the course of two years to get through that monstrosity!). Now, I’ve seen enough that I am generally able to find anime that I like myself, which is good because most of what I watch is currently airing nowadays! I recommend either asking friends, or checking blogs like ours as we write about new anime that we’re watching.

Kaze: I watch a lot of mediocre shows that I know are going to be mediocre, but I imagine most people aren’t weird like that. In terms of shows that I actually hope will be good, I rely on a few things. First is word of mouth, but particularly from people whose opinions I trust and tend to agree with. This is most useful when friends are familiar with the source material and can give you some concrete opinions rather than blind guessing. I also look at the staff and studio behind the anime. For example, P.A. Works tends to make very similar originals, so people tend to either like or dislike most of their work. I’ve also reached the point where I will watch anime for the seiyuu (voice actors), which as strange as it may sound to some, I don’t see how it is different from people watching TV shows for their favorite actors. Finally, while it probably isn’t helpful to you right now, the more you watch, the more easily you can identify shows which are going to be a flop or not, at least for you personally, because you start to see the trends and tropes. 

TWWK: Also, a shout out to our friends at Anime-Planet.  They were the first anime recommendation source on the net, and they’re still going strong.

And now, I’ll open it to our readers – how do you choose which anime to watch?

TWWK

Husband. Dad. Occasionally Korean. Enjoys Star Wars, ASOIAF, and Meg Ryan movies. Tweets before proofreading. Ghibli. Oregairuuuuu. Jesus is King.

10 thoughts on “Untangled: How Do You Choose Which Anime to Watch?

  1. I usually ask my friends who are huge anime fans or I go on MyAnimeList.net. I read the description, genre, and summary of the series. It helps if there’s a high score and ranking on MAL.

    1. Rankings certainly help – at the very least, they intrigue me. I personally think of MAL and Anime-Planet rankings as movie reviews, kind of a taste test helping determine whether I should check something out.

  2. Honestly, either I bump into it somewhere on netflix, saw it in a tweet/facebook or someone mentioning it, OR Otaku USA newsletter (plug) through e-mail sometimes mention good stuff. Also, honestly, this site! I’ve been watching more anime since I’ve been coming here, because I was stuck mainly on Bleach/One Piece and haven’t watched any new ones because it’s always a common plot: demons, vampires, fan service, or chibi cute girls with magical powers….so yeah, not into any of the above 🙂

    1. A) I’m glad we’ve been of service! B) I really enjoy the Otaku USA newsletter, though I don’t read it as much as I always plan to.

  3. Does the show have cute girls? Is it not ecchi? If yes to both, then I’m watching. 😛

    In all seriousness, though, I’m a bit weird in that even from the start of my serious anime-watching history, I hung around the deeper parts of anime fandom, so I was already quite aware of many otherwise obscure shows. That, combined with my relatively unusual interests, led me to watch all sorts of things, many of which were good, some… not so much.

    Of course, now I have a better handle on what my tastes and preferences are, so before a season starts, with the help of a comprehensive season preview guide (I personally use Random Curiosity’s guide), I will draft up a list of new shows I am interested in. Then, once the season starts, I watch episodes and trim the list down accordingly, such that I have my final list once everything’s aired about 3 episodes or so (though I do not strictly hold to the 3-episode rule).

    1. RC definitely has a good guide. These days, I tend toward Guardian Enzo’s (Lost in America) – he’s very knowledgeable, pretty to the point, and I think, fair.

  4. It’s hard! I came into anime fandom when anime was hard to come by (back when dinosaurs walked the earth, in other words). It was easy to decide what to watch when my local video rental place only had about two dozen series on VHS; now I have hundreds to choose from, and most days I’m not sure where to begin. I mainly focus on what’s new and slip in an old school series for old time’s sake now and again.

  5. If it’s sports anime, and it’s available legally and freely, it’s almost guaranteed a spot on my watch list.

    I don’t spend too much time looking at season previews, because I know I won’t have time to follow every anime that looks interesting. Instead, I keep an eye on my Twitter feed and the blogs I follow, to see what’s caught the attention of other anibloggers. Sometimes, I decide to follow an anime as it comes out because of them. This is especially true about suspenseful, action-filled, or comedic ones. Others, like One Week Friends, must wait until later, because they’re the type that, no matter how good they technically are, won’t keep me coming back each week (I’m only finished with this one now). Recently, Tumblr has also influenced me (that’s why I finally gave Free another try).

    Back before college and summer jobs, when I had more time to consistently follow anime and aniblogs, I’d watch some anime mainly so I could participate the discussions across the blogosphere. But that’s just not possible now.

    Often, I’ll just read descriptions on Anime-Planet, Crunchyroll, or Hulu (which reminds me of another factor in choosing: Crunchyroll is my favorite place to watch anime, so if it’s available there, I’m more likely to watch it). But, before I decide to invest in an anime, I usually stop by Anime-Planet to check out recommendations, reviews, and its average rating. I’ve generally found that, if AP users rank an anime less than 3.5/5 stars, it’s highly likely that I won’t be a big fan. I might try it anyway, either because it sounds fun, or to help me connect with other anime fans.

  6. Usually, I start with what I can access, either through legal sites or libraries or friend’s collections. From there, I do a “background check” on TVtropes and IMDB. TVtropes is useful for finding series I’d never have known existed otherwise and for summarizing franchises conveniently. For me, it was a good way to orient myself in the anime fan world only a short time after jumping in. Usually, TVtropes tells me what an anime is like far better than a half-paragraph summary. I have taken friends’ recommendations with a grain of salt. Some of my friends have better senses of humor than I do, and other friends are fans of ecchier series.

    Since I’m picky about quality, I usually don’t watch a series until it ends. That way, I can read whether it’s worth my time or if the writers flubbed the ending or they ran out of budget halfway through. That way, I won’t start as many shows, only to drop them halfway because of quality issues. Downside is, I’m at least two seasons behind the bandwagon. Might have to break this habit for the Ufotable Fate/Stay Night. We’ll see.

    -Ezra

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