So you want to get into anime. Buckle in. From outside, it looks like a big, scary and potentially fatal undertaking. And that’s because it is.
Anime is a medium that contains all the dazzling peaks and deep, deep troughs of human imagination. When it’s good, it’s brain-bending sci-fi plots, mirthful belly laughs, involuntary squees and tears upon heartbreaking tears. And when it’s bad, you’ll find yourself head-in-hands, bemoaning the garbage race that is humanity.
Getting into anime is all about avoiding the caltrops and finding the glistening, gold nuggets. And there are lots of them.
There is so much god damn anime. And if you know anything about anime culture, it’s that its fans are, often, mega-fans. Anime fandom can be intimidating for newcomers. “Oh, you’ve seen this obscure anime? Well, have you watched this one?”, “Have you seen every episode?”, etc., are questions that maladjusted people ask. Not everyone is like that. Ignore those people.
Watch what you like. Stop watching what you don’t like, even if otaku tell you it’s “foundational” or “classic.” You have limited free time. Don’t spend it all binging on Evangelion if, by episode 12, you’re screaming, “Shinji: Get in the fucking robot.”
Also: anime is a medium, not a genre—so unlike sci-fi movies or romantic comedies, you simply can’t consume (or enjoy) it all. Sure, there are “anime” tropes like adorable magical pets, high-school transfer love stories and fifteen-episode boss battles, but these are not guiding principles. Think of anime the same way you think of “cartoons.” You might like Adventure Time, but not Invader Zim; Steven Universe but not Tiny Toons. A cartoon can cover any topic in any tone, so there are extreme differences between shows. The same goes for anime. The main difference is that anime is specifically produced in Japan and bound by some artistic similarities, like large eyes…