Introducing Anime to Non-Fans


Monsieur Monster
AUKN Staff
I think the general consensus is that films such as the ones produced by Studio Ghibli are the best way to go, with The Wind Rises being particularly effective due to its status as the finale of a renowned director and its accolades; I remember seeing the movie during its final ever showing in my city and it was absolutely packed, with the audience ranging from children to the elderly. Definitely one of my favourite movies of all time.

For younger children, television anime like Pokémon (and soon Yo-Kai Watch) are absolutely great gate-way series, while older audiences have responded to Sword Art Online and especially Attack On Titan in particular.

Personally, on Christmas Day two years ago I sat my family down to watch Mamoru Hosoda's Wolf Children and found the reception to be really positive - especially from my step-father who typically refuses to watch all animation not called Family Guy or Futurama. Although he still chooses to watch Last Of The Summer Wine reruns over YuruYuri, so I'm not quite there yet :p


State Alchemist
Most recently I told a non-anime watching friend he would like Sword Art Online, he did. I then told him he would like Sakurako-san, and he did. I'm not sure if this story had the ups and downs you were looking for. ^^;


Karamatsu Boy
I don't really have any non-anime-watching friends. I experimented a fair bit on my mother when I lived at home; she liked Fushigi Yuugi a lot but didn't warm to much else. I think Ranma 1/2 early on was a misstep since the bathhouse episodes were a little too much for her.

I make recommendations to friends a lot but they're all geeky enough that they couldn't be considered non-fans.



Captain Karen
vashdaman said:
If you're introducing it to anyone who has taste. Pick Akira.

No offence, but I think that would be a rather poor choice. Akira wasn't the first I watched and even I was really rather confused throughout and was generally underwhelmed by it considering the hype behind it. Looks pretty though.

I think good choices would be those are aren't set in Japan of rely on a knowledge of any kind of Japanese culture. That kind of thing has to be eased into and dropping something like, I don't know, OreImo or Love Live would probably be a poor idea. I'd probably have to go for Attack on Titan, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood and Death Note. There is a reason why these shows have all broken through to the mass market and it's really down to how they more resemble something you'd see on Western TV and thus have a broader appeal.


@IL It's a bit weird that you single out Love Live as being a bad choice when the core themes are pretty universal and the issues of pop culture are easily transposed. Sure we don't have idol culture but Love Live's surface level depiction is pretty much on par with the pop hype surrounding One Direction/Justin Beiber.

I don't really bother pushing anime on normies though, to me it seems like one of those things that's better understood if you discover it for yourself and draw your own conclusions (especially with regards to seemingly alien cultural elements/values that exist in more esoteric serials). I think you appreciate it more that way because you take the time to understand new ideas and continue to expose yourself to them as suits rather than having it foisted on you at someone else's comfort.

I mean, some of the first anime I watch was Nurse Witch Komugi and Lucky Star. Not exactly what most people would regard as an ideal point of entry but it intrigued me, so I watched it anyway. In that sense, no one anime will suit everyone by way of introduction.

That said, if you must pick a starting anime, I'd suggest Love Live.

I like to think of it as a litmus test of sorts. It has nine different flavours of waifu, one for every person. Based on who they prefer, you should be able to figure out what else they'd enjoy (and if they need to get better taste). Knowing people's preferences is key in recommending anime.


State Alchemist
Yowanda-san said:
@IL It's a bit weird that you single out Love Live as being a bad choice when the core themes are pretty universal and the issues of pop culture are easily transposed. Sure we don't have idol culture but Love Live's surface level depiction is pretty much on par with the pop hype surrounding One Direction/Justin Beiber.
I think this is not a million miles away from saying that the depiction of competitive karuta in Chihayafuru is pretty much on par with the soccer World Cup.


State Alchemist
I first watched GitS:SAC when I lived at home and we had only the one TV in the living room, so my mother and sister got to watch parts of that by default. Both ended up enjoying what they saw enough to actually start getting invested in the show and wanting to watch it with me. I'd probably fall back on something like that or Death Note if I was asked to recommend something to someone who'd never seen anime before. Both shows are essentially detective series (which I'm told is a thing normal people enjoy), just animated and with a healthy injection of sci-fi and the supernatural respectively. It probably helps that they're the length of between one and two US TV seasons as well, which doesn't seem too daunting.

Of course, it does all depend on taste. Ghibli films generally have a lot more mass appeal but if you know someone well enough to know they'd probably prefer Hellsing Ultimate over Spirited Away then go with that.


Za Warudo
Yeah it really all depends. I remember introducing Akira to a mate when I was about 13 and he was totally confused and not impressed, and maybe with him something like Death Note would have gone down better. But recently I had the interesting experience of having a not incredibly into anime Japanese friend introduce me to Death Note. He thought it was great, but after two episodes I mainly just thought that the writing was really rubbish and that'd I'd never use a shonen show like this to introduce someone to anime, even if I do enjoy them sometimes, as they'll mainly just confirm the worst stereotypes about anime. Akira might be mental and intense (which I guess are also anime stereotypes), but it's an undeniable tour de force.

But yeah Ghibli are also a safe bet too. I think it's easier getting someone to try a film than a series on the whole.


Thousand Master
There was universal agreement among my family (including from myself) that Spirited Away was a pointless waste of time to watch, and it came a very definite last place out of the six things we watched together.

It definitely does depend on the person.

st_owly (witch)

It really does depend on the person. My ex came in to the room one day when I was watching Ikki Tousen xD, and we ended up watching the rest together. That led us to Sekirei and High School of the Dead, the latter of which he especially enjoyed. That led us to seek out other Tetsuro Araki directed series, so we watched Death Note together. I can't quite remember how, but I also somehow got him really into Chihayafuru of all things.


Mad Scientist
I'd stick to the popular stuff, it's popular for a reason. And probably best to stick with films first, if they're short on time. So Ghibli, Akira, GITS, Makoto Shinkai, Mamoru Hosoda etc.

As for TV: Attack on Titan, Death Note, SAO, Tokyo Ghoul.


State Alchemist
Serious answer though: people can't get into anime for one of two reasons - either they can't get past social conditioning telling them that cartoons are for children, or they just generally don't enjoy watching watching fictional stories on the screen. I'm not sure there's anything you can do to get past either of those things, so as long as you're "advertising" to the other sections of the pie chart, the question is not "which anime is best to use in a vacuum", but "what sort of things does person X enjoy when engaging with other forms of fiction".

I would say that if you want to see if someone "likes anime" in a general sense, things like Ghibli movies are a huge trap. They're about as far away from 99% of the rest of the industry as you can be.


State Alchemist
Does anyone actually "like anime" though? Not a trick question (and perfect for taking out of context) and I know it's what brings us all together here at AUKN, but I imagine there are certain examples of anime each of us can't stand. Yeah, we like anime, but #NotAllAnime.

Ghibli movies are certainly an exception within the industry (though I'd still be intrigued to see your breakdown in full of what you'd consider to make up a larger percentage) but I they do have greater mass appeal than most anime, that's why they're on Film4 all the time and no other anime is. People (at least who've reached adulthood) are never likely to get much deeper into the medium than that 1-2% if they haven't already searched it out for themselves. Let's face it, if people produced or watched as many live action shows about schoolgirls as most anime fans consume in this format they'd probably be on a watch list somewhere.

I mean we could stick our fingers in our ears and repeat "anime is for everyone" but it really kind of isn't. It's for people who are at least slightly abnormal.


State Alchemist
ayase said:
Let's face it, if people produced or watched as many live action shows about schoolgirls as most anime fans consume in this format they'd probably be on a watch list somewhere.
Clearly you don't watch enough Grange Hill reruns.

Professor Irony

Based on my limited experience of doing this, I'd echo the sentiment that the Ghibli films can be a bit of a poisoned chalice. Back when I was doing a series of youtube videos in which I attempted to introduce my moderately interested friend to various anime things, I had a difficult time with things which were not Ghibli, Ghibli by proxy, or Satoshi Kon. To some extent, I feel like once you've gone through the titles at the very top, it's harder to get someone to accept things which aren't on that level.

As a brief overview though, Akira and GitS didn't go down as well as hoped, FotNS and Votoms died on their respective arses and Vampire Hunter D was pretty medium. Surprise success with Space Adventure Cobra and Golgo, but that was about as far as I got - I never managed to persuade him to watch anything with multiple parts or commit to a tv series.