I’m not sure if it’s the same for you guys but whenever someone new finds out I really enjoy anime, I usually get asked the same handful of questions. This is particularly true of non anime watchers. You would figure that after all this time I would have a stock answer all ready to shell out. Maybe have them all printed on a card just to be extra jerky. But nooooo. To this day, I struggle with most of them.
I think part of the problem is that I’m trying to condense what would be a half hour monologue into a single sentence. Other times it’s that I’m thinking too seriously about something that should really be a superficial answer. Like when people ask how you’re doing they don’t necessarily want the specifics. Still, even though I tried to answer these questions dozens of times I have yet to come up with anything good.
These are my top 5 anime questions that I have to find an answer to:
5) What’s Anime like?
I know a lot of well meaning kind folks that have never watched a single anime in their lives. And because they are kind and well meaning, they still want to discuss my beloved hobby with me. As such one of the first things they ask is “what is anime like?” As in what distinguishes it from other mediums. They want some context to help them navigate the conversation. It’s extremely sweet and very frustrating.
Anime is a story telling medium that employs animation. That’s the general concept. But Anime also has far reaching traditions, tropes, unique genres and internal lexicon. It has a flavour that’s unlike most mediums to the point that most anime watchers can usually tell at first glance whether a show is Japanese or not even if the art style is identical. But how to go about describing everything that makes Anime unique or similar to other mediums to someone that has never seen it, is simply beyond me.
I usually opt for the straight forward explanation, i.e. it’s just animation that comes from Japan. It’s an accurate description and I suspect largely useless. I know I have never been satisfied with that answer.
4) Why Anime?
If they don’t ask me what Anime is like, they will usually ask what I like about it instead. Why is that the hobby that has captured my imagination. I have written several posts on this exact subject and it’s telling that all the posts say something different. Explaining tastes is difficult. I can say things such as I prefer illustrations to photographs or I enjoy the narrative risks anime takes however at the end of the day, I could find these things in a different medium. I just like anime, is all.
And if I were to actually explain all the elements that draw me personally to anime I would have to not only give a course on anime itself but also reveal a hole lot about my character. No one wants that.
I tend to say I enjoy animation as an art form and leave it at that. We both know there’s a lot more to it though.
3) When are you going to stop watching kid’s shows?
Granted I don’t get this question a lot, almost never really, but the judgey passive aggressive nature of it really makes it stand out when I do hear it. Usually it’s either thrown at me as a joke from other anime fans, or as some type of neg from people that end up asking me out. (For the record, low key insults will never be a successful seduction method for me).
I desperately need a snappy comeback to this one cause just saying “yo momma” is terribly confusing. As I said it’s not a terribly frequent question but my actual need to come up with a zinger in response has propelled it to number 3.
2) What anime should I watch (next)?
Whether I’m talking to new viewers or to people who regularly watch anime, a very frequent question they have as soon as they find out my personal love for the medium is “which show should I watch” or “what do you recommend”. This is a question that fills me with anxiety. In my mind a whole lot hinges on it. If they don’t like what I suggest will they think I’m a tasteless idiot? Much more importantly will they will they stop watching anime? That’s way too much responsibility to put on me.
It’s difficult to recommend something to a specific person, as opposed to doing so at large. Especially someone I’m not very close to. The first thing I always ask is what are other shows they like a lot. Even if it isn’t anime. Of course then I would have to have seen them. I think the key to a good recommendation is nailing down the character archetypes, atmosphere and narrative structures someone enjoys much more than the genres and themes they might like. Ideally of course it would be all of the above.
Basically, I need the person to answer a 10 page questionnaire before I can even think of recommending something. And even then, my tastes are pretty weird so….
1) What is your favourite anime?
I dunno you guys…I just don’t!!!! Half the time people ask me that question I completely blank out on Natsume (I do love it though…) I’m sort of all over the place. I don’t have a favourite genre, studio, art style… My tastes change and evolve with my moods. I find this question impossible to answer. I would stand a better chance if someone wanted to know my top 15 anime but even then I’d probably forget a bunch.
Anime is like life… it’s a rich banquet of possibilities with so much to experience, no way I could limit it to a reasonable range! Wow, even I rolled my eyes a little at that. But it’s nevertheless true. I always feel like a doofus when the question gets thrown at me (which happens a lot) my mind starts going through dozens of shows then shorts out leaving me looking blankly at the poor person why stammering something incoherent.
I don’t think I will ever have a proper answer to this question, but I could figure out an easy way to explain why I can’t choose a favourite. Oh well…
I have heard variations of these five questions countless times and will surely hear more in the future. And although I would love to think that this post will finally motivate me to sit down and figure out some answers…I know that’s just wishful thinking.
Do you guys have an anime related question you just don’t have an answer for? What do you do when someone asks? Pretend to spontaneously forget the English language? That’s what I’m doing next time!