Sorry about the huge gap between postings! I got distracted with other things and I didn't have anything that I thought was post worthy yet. But apparently I'm still on an anime kick. I thought of this post after talking to people and realizing that many people don't know much about anime. Since Japanese anime is an extensive category, many people get a little lost when they're first venturing into this genre. So this post is a guide for those who are interested in Japanese anime, but don't know much about it, or aren't sure where to start in watching anime. I'll be giving you a series of tips that will help you understand better the genre of Japanese anime and know what kind of shows you would be interested in watching. Here are the following tips when immersing yourself in the world of anime.
1. UNDERSTAND THE CULTURE OF ANIME
Let's start with a simple definition of Japanese anime, which is an animated show created in Japan. Yet the style of Japanese anime itself has become a set style and genre in the entertainment world that extends beyond Japan. However, Japanese anime is more than just a genre of TV shows. It is a form of culture for Japan, and it displays different elements of Japanese culture. One such element is the style of humor. Generally, Japanese humor has a tendency to be over the top, dramatic, and a bit zany. It's definitely different from what you may be familiar with and may take some getting used to. When things do seem a little crazy in a show, just remember that it's the Japanese style of entertainment.
2. SUBBED OR DUBBED?
Before you even start watching anime, you should decide one thing from the beginning, which is whether you are going to watch the shows subbed or dubbed. Let me explain a little further: Since most Japanese anime is done in Japanese, there are two options for us English speakers. The first option is that we can watch shows with the Japanese voice actors and read the subtitles (subbed). The other option is that we can watch shows that have had English voice actors dub over the Japanese ones (dubbed). Personally, I recommend watching anime shows with the Japanese voice actors, mainly because the English voice actors tend to be a little flat and sometimes part of the meaning gets lost in the translation to English dubbed. Plus, watching it in Japanese introduces you to a bit of the language. However, if you don't like having to read subtitles while watching TV, then English dubbed is the way to go. Just keep in mind that some anime shows might not be available with English voice actors.
3. WHERE TO WATCH?
This is a big question of many first-time anime viewers. There are a few shows available on youtube, but the quality generally isn't very good. I have three websites that I recommend, which are hulu.com, vizanime.com, and crunchyroll.com. These websites have a great selection of anime shows. There are other websites and myspace pages that post episodes of various shows, but I would be very careful, since some of these websites can give your computer viruses. One website that I've used that seems relatively safe is animefushigi.com, but like I said, be careful. Another thing is to avoid downloads, since that is illegal. If you really like a series, you should buy it!
4. THIS IS NOT A KID'S SHOW
This is probably the biggest trap that first-time anime viewers fall into. Most people assume that if a show is animated or is a "cartoon," then it will be kid-friendly. However, many Japanese anime shows can have very adult situations. They can be violent, bloody, intense and have nudity or sexual scenes. I've had many friends who told me how their one and only anime experience was of a terrifying show that wasn't kid-friendly. Of course, there are kids anime shows that are perfectly safe to watch. The trick is to just be careful when choosing anime for yourself or for kids. Just like any genre of entertainment, while there are many wonderful anime shows, there are also many trashy ones.
5. KNOW THE GENRES
While Japanese anime is technically a genre itself in the world of entertainment, it is split into several different sub-genres as well. There are the usual genres, such as Fantasy, Science Fiction, Comedy and Romance, but there are a few genres unique to Japanese anime. These genres include Mecha, Steampunk, and Slice of Life. It's important to know what type of genres you might like, since that will ease your transition to anime. Now I'll go into detail in each genre that I've mentioned and give you a few possible shows that you might enjoy. Keep in mind that many anime shows will have multiple genres, just like other TV shows do.
* FANTASY- This genre in anime usually involves magic, or characters with special powers. It's not that different from the usual fantasy genre, although a lot of shows have ninjas. Some shows I recommend are: Avatar the Last Airbender, Naruto, Bleach, Sword Art Online, Inuyasha, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, One Piece, Ghost Hunt, Vampire Knight, and Mushi-shi.
* SCIENCE FICTION- This genre has a lot of robots and a fascination with space and aliens. Some shows I recommend are Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Ergo Proxy, Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex, and Eureka Seven.
* COMEDY AND ROMANCE- these two genres tend to go together in many anime shows. A note about romantic anime shows is that they are a bit more dramatic than what you may be used to, so just bear that in mind. I personally find them very powerful and enjoyable to watch. Some shows I recommend are Waiting in the Summer, Ouran Highschool Host Club, Emma: A Victorian Romance, Fruits Basket, His and Her Circumstances, Kaichou Wa Maid Sama, Kimi ni Todoke, and Honey and Clover.
* MECHA-this genre deals mainly with robots and crazy futuristic ships and suits. Some shows that deal mostly in this genre are Code Geass, Eureka Seven, The Vision of Escaflowne, and Guilty Crown.
* STEAMPUNK- This genre deals mainly with the Victorian age and futuristic technology that works with steam engines and intricate gears. It's a fascinating genre that can be incredibly visually appealing. Some shows I recommend are Steamboy (which is technically a movie, but still great), Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and Howl's Moving Castle (another movie).
* SLICE OF LIFE- this is an unusual genre and it is often paired with Romantic animes, but I find it refreshing. It mainly deals with everyday occurrences of people and the ordinary elements of life that may not be deemed as interesting. If done right, this genre can be incredibly beautiful. Some shows I recommend are Honey and Clover, Bunny drop, His and Her Circumstances, Kimi to Boku, My Little Monster, and Kids on a Slope.
* EASY FOR FIRST-TIMERS- this is my own category of shows that are essentially American but have elements of the Japanese anime style. I included this category for those who would like to ease into anime more slowly. These type of shows are ideal for first-timers because they still have familiar American elements but they also have that Japanese anime influence. Some shows I recommend are Avatar the Last Airbender, Teen Titans, Digimon, and Pokemon.
* KID-FRIENDLY- There are anime shows dedicated to kids that have great storylines. some shows I recommend are Digimon, Pokemon, Sonic X, and Avatar: the Last Airbender.
So that's my Beginner's Guide to Watching Japanese Anime. Just remember that if you find that you don't really like the Japanese anime style, that's just fine. It's a unique style that some people really enjoy and others don't. Welcome to the world of anime! Here's a cool picture of various anime characters!
Ha ha I recognize and can probably name the majority of these characters. Yep, I'm an otaku. Source: