As an anime fan, I’m always a big fan of leading my friends/acquaintances in the right direction toward a great anime. Especially for those who have never watched or heard of anime; these folks are perfect for introducing something awesome into their meaningless lives! So, here’s the breakdown of what anime (ann-uh-mey) is, and why there’s something out there for you to tune into!
Anime: Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as “a style of animation originating in Japan that is characterized by stark colorful graphics depicting vibrant characters in action-filled plots often with fantastic or futuristic themes.” Basically, don’t call it just a “kids’ cartoon” without giving it credit where it’s due. The most obvious difference from North America’s traditional view of “cartoons” is that anime has a much broader audience appeal than just children.
Dubs: Anime with English voice-overs instead of the original Japanese audio. People who usually aren’t comfortable with reading subtitles (whether it be that it distracts them, the translation is incorrect, etc.) and just want the “full immersion experience” opt for this option. Usually, the dubbed version is made roughly 4-5 months after the Japanese release by a distribution company like Funimation Entertainment, VIZ Media, Right Stuff International, 4Kids Entertainment, CrunchyRoll, MediaBlasters, etc.
Subs/Fansubs: This version is Japanese (or whatever language the anime’s from) audio, accompanied by whatever language subtitles you’re looking for, but mainly English. Fansubs are fan-produced and distributed when an anime hasn’t been subbed/dubbed yet or hasn’t been done ‘correctly’ yet. “Purists” claim this is the way to go because dubs compromise the artistic integrity of the anime.
So you know what the heck I’m talking about, here are some rules of thumb you as a recommender or recommendee should consider:
- If you’re not comfortable with the idea of reading so much, stick with dubs for now. You can always go back and watch it later!
- As the recommender, keep in mind that just because your favorite anime is amazing, doesn’t mean everyone will agree.
- Pick something the recommendee will dig. Don’t throw someone completely a curve ball, like showing them mech when they’re a romance fan.
- Make sure it’s a title you already know. You don’t want to be left explaining something you don’t even know how to describe/explain or don’t like.
- HENTAI FOR FIRST-TIMERS IS A NO-NO! Since a lot of people new to anime think it’s all about tentacles, prove them wrong!
- Action/Adventure- Just like Hollywood movies, this genre has lots of fast-paced fight scenes, great effects, and dramatic deaths. Examples: Fullmetal Alchemist/Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Cowboy Bebop, D. Gray-man,
- Cars/Racing- Into cars and/or living in the fast lane? Pretty self-explanatory. Examples: Initial D., Speed Racer
- Comedy/Parody- Funny/hilarious characters and/or silly scenarios fit into the comedy category. See it as a “Seinfeld” of sorts, even with Kramer’s crazy hair. Examples: Azumanga Daioh, Shin-Chan!, Hetalia: Axis Powers, Sergeant Frog
- Fantasy/Magic- Love some spell-casting, demon-slaying, and all that jazz? Give these a try! Examples: InuYasha, Soul Eater, Fairy Tail, Sailor Moon
- Harem/Reverse Harem- Involves more than 2 guys/girls fighting for the affection of the main character. Hilarity ensues. Examples: Ouran High School Host Club, Ranma ½, Rosario + Vampire, Tenchi! Muyo,
- Horror- A fan of body parts flying and blood gushing? These emphasize on scaring the pants off of you or thrilling your inner macabre freak. Examples: When They Cry, Another, Elfen Lied, Highschool of the Dead
- Mystery- Deceit, lies, superstitions, and/or solving the case can be found in this genre. Examples: Case Closed, Hell Girl
- Romance- Into lovey-dovey, cutesy stuff? This genre is for you! Comedy, drama, action, etc. can also be found in this too. It’s not just for girls, either. Examples: Fruits Basket, Ah! My Goddess, The World God Only Knows
- Samurai/Swordplay- In this genre, it’s all about the epic swordplay among those great men and women and their weapons of choice back in ye ol’ Japan. Examples: Samurai X/Rurouni Kenshin, Samurai Champloo
- Sci-fi/Mech- Dive into the future and jump into a giant robot suit! This genre deals with robots, machines, and manly men (aka Kamina from Gurren Lagann). Examples: Ghost in the Shell, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gurren Lagann
- Shounen- Meaning ‘boy’, this genre focuses less on relationships and development and more on action and fighting. Aimed for the younger audience at times, shounen animes often contain a sense of humor and strong growing friendship-bonds between the characters. Examples: One Piece, Bleach, Naruto/Naruto Shippuden, Shaman King, Dragonball series
- Shoujo- Meaning ‘girl’, this genre is marketed to a female audience roughly between the ages of 10 and 18. Plots often revolve around a strong focus on human and romantic relationships and emotions. Examples: D.N. Angel, XxXHolic, Fushigi Yuugi
- Slice of Life- Depicts everyday life situations including going to school, friend & family interactions and romantic aspects. Though it may be mundane sometimes (I’m talking the first episode of Lucky Star here. CHOCOLATE CORNETS.), the genre is quite appealing. Examples: K-On!, Lucky Star, Squid Girl
- Sports- If your motto is “I like sportz and I don’t care who knows”, this genre is for you. From football to tennis, your favorite game is out there in anime-form. Examples: Prince of Tennis, Ultimate Muscle, Eyeshield 21
- Supernatural- Wish you had ESP-ers, aliens, “gifted” time travelers, sexy demon butlers, and superhumans in your dull life? Check out this genre, as dealing with reality is so overrated. Examples: Darker than Black, Black Butler, Speed Grapher, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
- Suspense/Psychological- Mind control, extreme drama, experimentation, betrayal, and a God complex? Yep, sounds like you enjoy having your heart in your throat while biting your nails. Examples: Death Note, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, Paranoia Agent
- Vampires- Dig the fangs but not the sparkly-Twilight kind? Embrace this genre of the night without fear then. Examples: Vampire Knight, Hellsing, Dance in the Vampire Bund
- (Space) Western- Are gunslingers and ten-gallon hats more of your thing? Didn’t think they could duke it out in space? Then look into this genre, with great badasses with awesome guns/weapons…IN SPACE (at times)! Examples: Trigun, Gun X Sword, Cowboy Bebop
I hope that with this guide, it will help you on your quest to becoming a better acquainted anime fan. Don’t get discouraged with the amount of anime you must watch or where to watch it! You’ve got to start somewhere, so be sure to check out your local library, video rental store, or even Netflix/Hulu/Crunchyroll to get started. And remember, sharing is caring!
So a question for you seasoned viewers: what was your first anime you watched, and would you recommend it now?