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June 18, 2009

What’s Your Recommendation?

Posted in: Thoughts

“Which cake is better?”

You know sometimes a friend who isn’t into anime comes up to you and asks if you could recommend them an anime to watch so they can see what’s so great about it.

This happens more often if most of your friends are fans of anime and manga, and he or she always seem to get left out whenever one of you start bashing about this guy called Kishimoto for ruining someone’s fishcakes or something (yes, they probably know what fishcakes is in Japanese, especially since they’ve been dragged by you to the nearest ramen every week).

There will be at least a time when they will start to wonder what’s so great about these Japanese cartoons known as anime. You will then be approached by said person with the question “Hey, maybe you can recommend me something to watch.”

The usual response would be recommending your favourites, whatever that’s currently “hot” or recommending a random show based on their preferred genre.

I actually had a few friends asking me just that and it got me curious about how others go about it. Would you recommend your favourites or do you take a different approach to recommend something?

Is Lucky Star a top choice?

At the top of my head, I can easily suggest some of my favourites like Cardcaptor Sakura, Ranma, Lucky Star and Haruhi. But thinking about it, I doubt someone who has never been exposed to anime would want to watch a mahou shoujo and a show like Lucky Star would only alienate them. A parody is not a parody unless you’ve seen the original, and let’s just say that even right now I haven’t been able to catch all the jokes yet.

Ranma might be a good place to start, but with over 160 episodes, it might be too much for someone completely new. Haruhi is shorter (so far) very popular and are light novel adaptations, but I still wouldn’t recommend it for a newbie.

Instead I find myself recommending shows that are mostly slice of life or comedy and are short (or have short season), such as Minami-ke, Ouran Host Club and Honey & Clover. Then depending on what they like, I would recommend obvious choices like Gundam, Black Cat, Initial D or Slam Dunk.

It’s quite interesting to see how some would immediately recommend Lucky Star or Gundam to someone who just wanted to have a peek at what anime has to offer out of curiousity and that the last mecha show he watched was Robotech about 20 years ago.

I believe it’s important to recommend something you know the person will enjoy, and that is not necessary what you yourself find enjoyable. Lucky Star is one of the best shows in recent years, but it’s a heavy hitter. First, you gotta bait the poor soul into the dark side with easily digestible snacks… then you bring in the heavy artillery and forever corrupt a pure soul…

Haruhi-sama will be so proud of you.

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