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:

Anime confused 1
well it’s like tv or um manga but with colours, wait…

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.

confused 3
why not Anime?

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.

anime scared and confused
where do I start…

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.

the pressure!

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….

anime confused

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!

Confused Rini

31 thoughts

  1. When are you going to stop watching kids’ shows? Ha! As a child, I learned a lot from my father. And one of the things that still rings clearest in my mind is Dad watching Popeye with me in the living room when Mom walks in and asks him why he’s watching it, too? He answered: “Because I like it.” When she left the room, he told me: “As you get older, life will take a lot away from you–don’t let it take everything. If you really like something, protect it and treasure it.” Advice that we both eventually gave my children.

          1. I think both takes are vital.

            Figuring out what are unshakeable values, and things you always celebrate are so important. But I also agree that life only gets better with age. <3

            I was terrified of becoming a teenager as a child. I thought that my hormones would take over all reason, and that I would morph into a drone with no imagination. Honestly, the teenagers weren't so terrible around me, that's just what I thought happened from the comments other parents and media would make.

            When I was 12, I lived carpe diem style since I figured my life was almost over. So I fully embraced everything with an exuberance one feels during that last hurrah. The last night of my twelfth year I prayed all night that when I woke, I would be turned into a lion, a raven, or wake up 30 or older- just that I wouldn't become a teenager.

            I woke up the most irritable and disillusioned teen in the world when I thought all my prayers had gone unheeded and unanswered.
            It only took me four more years to suddenly realize that all my fears were for nought. I was still me. I never became obsessed with things I hadn't been interested in before, and my imagination didn't shrink. If anything, my interests and imagination only expanded.

            Feeling like I was having a total life crisis at 7 (coming to grips with mortality and change) and 12 (rooting identity outside of circumstances) turned out to be a wonderful thing for me.

            Some things were pretty tough to trudge through, but yet everything has only been easier since then. The things that are important are few to me, but I relish them with all I've got. Everything else are extra flavours- they only make much more interesting. 🙂

            1. “The things that are important are few to me, but I relish them with all I’ve got. Everything else are extra flavours- they only make much more interesting.”


  2. The weird thing is that no one really asks me, and I don’t really offer. I think once you get to a certain age and you live in a certain area, they just assume that you drink beer, watch football and go hunting.

    Then again, as far as suggestions go. I just reach for Cowboy Beebop or Fullmetal Alchemist. I tend to find that if they can enjoy that show, then I can work them down the rabbit hole. Otherwise, they just don’t like anime, and that’s pretty much it.

    I know what my favorite anime is. It will always be my favorite anime and there is no other anime that I like more.

    1. I do the same thing. I go for a few tried and true anime as recommendations.
      If they say they have already seen it, then I can come up with something based on their list of favourites.

  3. 3) “When they stop making them.”

    Honestly, if they’re asking a question like that, it’s not an attempt to engage and figure out why you like it. The only “snappy” comeback is just to play on their level and not try to change their mind about it being a kids show. Just own it as is and move on. If they prod further, then you can have an actual discussion about the many positives of anime and why a medium that is hand drawn shouldn’t automatically be passed off as children’s entertainment.

  4. @3) Bookmark some special scene on your phone. I’ve seen a clip from Shiki once where the villagers reverse with a tractor over a vampire’s face that was pretty hard to watch. When they ask the question, show them the clip, then smile brightly and say “It’s amazing what they show kids over there in Japan.”

    There are two types of problems with this approach. If they don’t understand performative sarcasm, they might get the wrong idea about Japan. And, well, I do actually watch kiddy anime, too, so the proper answer is probably, “When I die.” However, the scope of that answer isn’t as broad as the person in question will probably think.

    These questions make me glad that nobody talks to me about anime.

  5. This is partially why I love having an anime blog. To answer any of these questions, I just say “Oh, for my blog”, and they start to talk about my interest in writing instead. You should try it too in case all else fails.

    If THAT fails, that’s when you bring out the pocket sand.

  6. When someone asks me what anime to watch next I allways say I look up like 20 or so I think I like.. then I roll a d20 and pick the one tied to the number. Either it is too much work for them or nI reckoment stuff on the list. If they say.. hey that show you told me to watch sucks I can say… well it would not be a fun dice game if all rolls are good.

    I basicly now help them set up a game rather than advise you on great shows. So I am in the clear.

    When people ask me to grow up.. or when will I stop watching kids shows I usualy tell them there is no need. Like fairy tales my shows have layers and depth and if they can’t look past that is animated .. thus is for kids.. I think they need to grow up before me.

    The why do you watch anime question I usually answer with a question based on the person you talk to.
    “You like Pasific Rim right? Would you not like it if the robots where bigger and they went big enough that they can even toss galaxies at another? “Anime”

    “So you do like stories about creepy murderous stalker women, but you have seen all the stories of CSI already?’ .. Anime

    What’s your favorite anime is a difficult one
    I usually say I dont want to make all the other anime cry by picking a favorite one because they are all so nice and people worked so hard on them.

    When someone asks me a question I dont or cant answer I usually consider the subject as a living being and babble how it would cry or how everything needs love and friends and such. I keep pushing it could have feelings with multiverse theory enough untill they either think I am insane or they picture it alive and get confused themselves!

  7. Completely agree with you!! I’d rather pretend I didn’t hear a thing when asked one of those questions than try to form an answer that makes no sense.

  8. My god! This is so relatable! Sometimes you just don’t have a favorite anime! For those people who ask, “When are you going to stop watching kid’s shows”, ask them if they’ve watched any marvel or dc movie and if they say yes, respond with, “When are you going to stop watching kid’s movies”. That deals with about 60% of the people who ask that question.

    1. But then I might get stuck talking about Marvel movies…not sure it’s worth the risk! I’m joking – could be worth a try

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