The Pros and Cons of Sticking to Your Anime Comfort Zone

Most anime watchers have a vague notion of something they consider their anime comfort zone. Genres and studios they are more familiar with or tend to enjoy more consistently, maybe tropes and character archetypes they tend to gravitate towards more than others. It’s not anything steadfast. I don’t think any of us would categorically refuse to watch an anime in a certain genre (well maybe Yaoi, that one tends to get divisive), but we do often see new titles roll out and find ourselves more drawn by some over others.

Not everyone though. Some of us (myself included) tend to treat animes like buffets and like to sample a bit of everything, which in a way means we’re always but of our comfort zones. But speaking for myself, I do have some soft spots. I seem to be one of the very few to regularly watch boy idol anime for instance. And although, I don’t watch them frequently at all in the grand scheme, the fact that I don’t know anyone else who does makes me feel like they’re sort of my thing…

Dream Festival R ep8-12 (14)

I guess it could be worse, I’m just not sure how right now

In general, I enjoy action comedies with a criminal element and an ensemble cast. There aren’t many of those but whenever one comes up I watch it and love it. I have absorbed ridiculous quantities of Sports! anime to the point where narrative beats are almost second nature to me and most of my favourite anime will be either deeply symbolic or allegorical series with emphasis on familial bonds and friendships rather than romantic attachments. So these could be what I consider my anime comfort zones.

I have not exactly been strictly sticking to my favourites but I have had periods where I was more picky and deliberate with my anime watching and this is what I have found.

I’m lucky in that enjoy genres that are diverse enough to offer up a variety of shows and I could stick to those happily without having to see the same thing over and over again. However, I imagine that anime can get terribly repetitive if you limit yourself to certain shows. The past few seasons have been fairly shonen heavy for me, and I’m starting to get a bit tired of the same archetypes and plot points coming up regularly.

Fire Force 2 ep3 (31)

oh look a brash but ultimately valliant protagonist with some type of harsh past and tough inner conflict…

One downside more specific to me is that the genres I enjoy are rather niche, well except for Sports which is fairly popular… Still even accounting for a wide interpretation of the Sports genre, it happens often enough that a season will not have a single series matching any of these types. I’m more than happy to watch older shows but that’s not everyone’s case. If someone only likes historical dramas for instance, they might actually run out of anime… I can’t even image that!

And I haven’t even mentioned the most obvious downside to sticking to one thing, a lot of my favourite anime don’t actually fall into any of the above categories. I say many but mainly it’s Psycho Pass and Steins;Gate that I can’t fit in there nicely so maybe I just need to add science fiction to the bunch. No wait, KonoSuba and Given don’t apply either. And even if it’s anime I forgot to add to my favourites list, there are tons of titles I can think of, that I really enjoyed, and I wouldn’t be able to fit in there. Arguably Natsume is only allegorical to me….

I started out with the easy stuff. I’m a person who enjoys variety so finding cos to sticking to your comfort zone wasn’t much of a challenge. But what about the pros…

pro hero

not these types of pros

There’s something deeply comforting about enjoying a piece of media you are thoroughly familiar with. I guess that’s why they call it comfort zone…duh… But you know what I mean. Anime is first a form of entertainment and for many of us, it’s something we seek out when we need a diversion or just to relax a bit at the end of a long day. So that familiarity is a part of the experience that we are explicitly banking on. Having an intellectual and emotional shorthand already built in form having watching similar shows in the past. allows us to engage more quickly and easily with the material. Heck, it may even allow some to enjoy series on a “deeper” level since they have the superficial stuff already all figured out!

I’m surprised I could even find one pro but two! Well I need to go back to my favourites for that. And the fact is, I would never have watched or even found a lot of these series if it wasn’t for the fact that I enjoy some fairly niche genres. When I start to get an itch for something like Kyousougiga or Paranoia agent, I usually have to scour the internet a bit. When someone mentions a series fill of deep themes expressed in wacky ways, I immediately write it down and seek it out. It’s the only reason I even watched Humanity has declined, or To be a Heroine or even Kyousougiga for that matter of fact. Since I generally just throw shows onto my watch list in a disorganized hodge podge of whatever key visuals struck me most, I probably wouldn’t have found any of these series if I didn’t seek out my comfort zone anime and that would have been very sad. Cause I really like all of these shows.

Do you have a comfort zone when it comes to anime? What is it? Do you venture out often?Rini 3 (13)

 

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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31 Responses

  1. queerotaku says:

    I guess I have a comfort zone (slice of life and shounen) but generally I’ll just watch whatever seems interesting. Although many anime I watch do seem to follow a pattern of having a supporting cast who are smarter than the lead character. I like inspiring anime like Haikyuu!!, also. I’ve never liked dark stuff like Attack on Titan.

  2. Now that Dawnstorm’s mentioned it, I want an action boy idol show as well…Magic-kyun Renaissance is good and all, but it would be better with more punches…or something. (Like Kenka Bancho Otome’s episode for Mirako! That’s great, but both the anime and manga are far too short, and the game is off-limits because I don’t have the console for it.)

    My niche is action and/or comedy stuff, normally with all male/mostly male casts…although if I interpret anything that’s even possibly within my reach as “having a transformation”, I’ll go for it. If the order I’ve completed AWC challenges in is any indication, I also watch a lot of supernatural stuff, but I’m also really partial to mystery stuff. That’s a fairly broad category of “stuff”, so it’s hard to get exhausted when both action and comedy fit with other genres so seamlessly.

  3. otakudreamnation says:

    Not really for anime (beside maybe romance), but I definitely have a comfort zone for manga. I find that most of what I read are heavily depressing “coming of age” stories.

    From that I loved Solalin, Oyasumi Punpun, Three days of Hapiness, A trail of blood, Flowers of evil etc.

    Weird thing is I’m a cheerful person, I think… but I always gravitate towards that.

    You mentioned Paranoia Agent and having an ensemble cast, perhaps you’de like Bokurano and Durarara.

  4. Alexander says:

    This is great; “ I enjoy action comedies with a criminal element and an ensemble cast.”

    I guess my niche is being stuck rewatching a lot of classic anime from the days when I got into it 😂😂… I just rewatched the Gantz anime series (triggered by seeing Gantz 0 on the Netflix menu) and it felt so nostalgic to hear rip slyme as the intro music and bonnie pink as the outro. Have you ever written about ways to discover new / different anime. You seem to always have lots of anime to talk about that I have no idea about 😂😂

    • Irina says:

      You know I’ve never watched Gantz. I should give it a try

      • Alexander says:

        I felt the anime wasn’t that great. It’s a bit heavy on the ‘pervert’ content and the ending diverted from the anime just to close it in season 2. I heard the manga is much better. The reason I’m a little fascinated by it is the mysterious nature of Gantz and not knowing what’s going on. I felt the same about darker than black; they never explained what heaven’s or hell’s gate were. I guess I love those anime with unexplained mysterious events, maybe you will enjoy that kind of thing too based on mentioning you like some sci fi. I think the Gantz O anime movie from 2016 is really good though (quite high quality).

  5. Andy says:

    I would have to say my genre of preference would be rom-com or slice-of-life, but really anything with a an intriguing premise will draw me towards it. I also tend to look at series made my creators, directors or studios that I really like. Take KyoAni for example when Amagi Brilliant Park came out. At that time I followed everything the studio did so no matter or unique the property was I was gonna watch based on my affinity for the studio’s other work.

    If I had to go with a niche genre it would definitely be single fathers taking care of their daughters (Sweetness & Lightning, Usagi Drop, and so on). I am definitely gonna run out of material soon!

    Humanity Has Declined is completely bonkers and if it weren’t for a suggestion from my friend I would have never seen it. I don’t know how AniTwit would handle those first two episodes.

    • Irina says:

      Humanity Has Declined is one of my favourite shows. Apparently the genre is CGDCT but I wouldn’t have guessed… You’re in luck SoL and Rom-Com are usually super plentiful every season!

  6. Comfort zone- always romance. I mean I do end up watching actionsometimes but not a lot. Venturing, I guess maybe one time Junji ito’s horror manga and I could n’t sleep for days, so I guess I should just stick onto what I like.
    I think I mostly like every genre except genre and harem(if it’s too much). Anyway it was nice reading your post, made me think of a lot(which I don’t do often) about what I like watching.

  7. Aizen_Kuro says:

    Comedy anime is definitely my comfort zone

  8. Anonymous says:

    Sometimes i wonder if peer pressure could also play into being confined in staying in the comfort zone.
    Lets say an anime fan who’s really starting to be more of a hardcore otaku and wants to see other anime shows to try out watching seeing what its like and he wants to watch Lucky Star,Daioh or The Melencholy of Haruhi Suzumiya or other shojo stuff like the things Kaori Yuki or Clamp makes.
    But his friends don’t want him to watch it because its not “manly” or “edgy” enough like seriously?
    Similar situation happened to someone cross paths with online not too long ago.
    -K Anthony

    • Irina says:

      Yeah Toxic masculinity is a pain.

      • Anonymous says:

        Someone just pretty casually said the “n” word to me on a comment section on disqus recently and he wasn’t aiming at me oh no he was aiming it a group he really didn’t like and he also was putting some really nasty anti semite stuff on some other places he was frequenting at. And some anti mask stuff as well.
        I’m not black personally but the whole thing felt really awkward and just so out of place.
        Toxicity and bigotry in general to anybody is a total pain indeed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hell in my own personal experience in my schooling days owning a wii was seen as uncool because of the stuff Nintendo makes(Ahem Madworld,No More Heroes,Metroid Prime and House Of The Dead Overkill)
      And the games that YOU would have to like were the military fps type stuff and sports games only.
      If it was anything Japanese it better be Street Fighter or else you’re going to get labeled a pervert if you liked Final Fantasy or spending money importing games from Japan.
      Same could be said for listening to a certain genre of music like if it wasn’t hip hop,R&B or Pop you’d be seen as a weirdo.
      But overall i see both sides of your arugment to have some very good points.

  9. raistlin0903 says:

    Well…let’s see, I think I certainly have a preference for Mecha, Sci-fi and Horror anime. But….that said I have ventured out of this comfort zone plenty of times and because of that discovered some real gems: Yuri on Ice, Your Lie in April, Orange and the recent March Comes in Like a Lion are a few of these examples. I definitely like variety myself, and honestly am willing to try out pretty much anything really. If you don’t you can definitely miss out on some great things😊

  10. oliveunicorn says:

    I do like to mix it up. If I watch too many Isekai style or trapped in a game styles shows I go mad lol . So I liked there was more variety this season , shows like BNA , Dorohodoro (The one with the lizard headed guy) Seven Deadly Sins , Glepnier and a few nice romance shows . Its nice to have variety and see different storylines and archetypes .

  11. Mari says:

    My comfort zone is magical girl and slice of life anime. K-On always cheers me up after a rough day. Little Witch Academia and Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid are also great feel good shows.

    I’ve been lazy with checking out current anime recently. The only shows that interested me are shows that I was already watching the previous season. But I’ve heard Deca-Dence is pretty good and I’ll probably check that one out.

  12. Dawnstorm says:

    I have a fairly wide anime comfort zone, which is a little strange, because I have a fairly narrow real life comfort zone (I practically step outside of it daily out of necessity). I haven’t seen many boy idol shows, and to be honest the only ones I’m tempted to watch are Uta no Prince sama and the male Idolm@ster show. (Hm, all the action idol shows tend to be girl idol shows; I wonder why? Can anyone think of an exception?)

    I tend to check out nearly everything when a season starts, just in case. I’ve found a few gems that way. As a result, I don’t think much of comfort zones when watching anime. If I don’t check something out at the start of the season, it’s porbably either a sequel or some sort of prejudice. I sometimes drop shows too early, too. I know this, because feedback can make me pick them back up. (For example, were it not for your episode 2 review, I’d have dropped Granbelm after episode one. It ended up a lot better than expected.)

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