Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations
For those who haven’t seen, Anime Hanabi put out a great post on how to recommend anime to beginners. It talks about things like asking questions of the recommendee and not throwing them into something super obscure right away. It pretty much inspired my wanting to write about the subject so please go show it some love before continuing here.
It feels fair to say at this point I have spent a long time writing about anime, primarily in the form of this blog, but also in more formal, journalistic settings. One such setting was as a columnist for my college’s newspaper. The column, called “Anime Tour Guide,” was written as an introduction for newcomers to the world of anime. It also, unfortunately, worked out that a good chunk of said column was written during the pandemic era when people had a lot more free time to explore new media.
I say this not to purport to be some expert (probably more the opposite tbh). Rather, because writing about anime in that context allowed me to reflect a lot on my own recommendation philosophy. Something as simple as recommending an anime, or really any piece of media, one likes might seem insignificant, and for a lot of people, it probably is.
However, in an age where media is being produced faster than ever, there is now so much that could be considered worthwhile. Additionally, people will always have media that is important to them. Thus, finding out what that media is can be, and often is, important to a good recommendation. After all, the best way to predict what people will like is to know what they already do.
That being said, here are some other things to keep in mind when giving recommendations.
Consider Their Interests Across All Media
This might seem like an obvious one but it still feels worth pointing out. Now, it is true genre tends to express itself differently depending on the medium it is in. Horror literature can be fairly different than horror movies, sci-fi novels different than sci-fi tv shows, etc. Still, it is not as if they are completely different entities. After all, the reason genre exists is to group together similarities in how various media expresses itself.
So, consider asking said friend, partner, or whoever if they enjoy a specific genre across media. Hell, it does not even necessarily have to correlate with genre specifically, it could be something as simple as a certain trope or storytelling device. While these things should never be a box, they can act as helpful guides.
Suggest a Series That Relates to Them
Hot take, but it seems as though people often like relatable characters. Who knows why?
In all seriousness though, it is a nice feeling to see elements of yourself reflected in storytelling. Representation does, in fact, matter. While said representation still is not perfect, it can be easy to forget just how far good representation of minority groups has come. Not to say people should just accept bad representation for the sake of any representation, but it is all about perspective.
However, representation does not have to be that deeply sociological or personal. Even just finding a series about one of their hobbies can work as well. For instance, there are plenty of opportunities to find a cross-section of their favorite sport and a related sports anime. Hell, even people who like crafts or building things could probably get some enjoyment out of Do It Yourself!!.
Lastly, and this is somewhat of a challenge to Anime Hanabi’s original post, I think it is ok to ignore popularity altogether when recommending a series. Of course, if the person being recommended to is someone who is looking for a big active fan community, maybe this will not hold true, but otherwise, it is totally fine to recommend things outside the context of popular opinion.
Using myself as another example, I love March Comes in Like a Lion. It still probably represents the plurality of my word count focus on this blog even having not talked about it in a long time. However, my recommendation of the series is never based on its perceived popularity or lack thereof. It is a deeply personal narrative that reflects on self-identity and found family, elements which many people I know personally are fond of in storytelling.
If a more mainstream show seems like it would better meet their tastes, go for it. If a more obscure show would do the same, send it their way. Popular opinion does not necessarily determine how much someone will enjoy a recommendation.
What is your approach to recommending things? Let me know down in the comments.
If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.
As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting the blog on patreon
If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!