Want to sell me an anime series? Here’s how.

Writing on The Scrumptious Anime Blog, usagijen explores the pitfalls of championing a favourite series. Her conclusion reads thus:

More than pimping or “going out of my way” to convince other people to watch what I’m enjoying and shoving it down their throat, I’d rather enjoy it, talk about what I find amazing about it, and that’s it. It’s up to you to join in the said experience and bask in what it has to offer.

All in all, a very good approach; it’s certainly better than losing sleep over why those blasted so-called friends aren’t squealing with shameless delight over *name of series* which I took the trouble of recommending to them. But there are times when one feels so strongly about a particular series that preaching about it almost becomes a moral imperative, much like how one is tempted to scream to all and sundry how “you’ve got to watch this movie!” or “you need to read this book!”. (Which I find really annoying, by the way, so don’t do it if I’m within earshot.)

To conquer one’s target by employing an effective plan of attack – that’s the best way forward. The trouble is that there’s no template for this sort of thing. Some are susceptible to simple subterfuge, along the lines of the old Trojan Horse tactic (e.g., telling them that X-series is like Y-series even though it’s really not). Others may need you to type out a carefully worded recommendation in triplicate – with a dossier of evidence attached – and wait three to five weeks for a response. All I can do here is talk about the sort of approach that enthusiasts have successfully used to convince me to watch stuff that they like, in the hope that some mad genius out there can synthesise it with other effective approaches and come up with a Universal Directive that any aspiring anime advocate can use to his advantage.

FIRST DIRECTIVE: Cut out the strident fanboy talk. War-cries like “this stuff is great! EVERYBODY should watch it! anyone who doesn’t like it is a stupid retard/noob/[insert putdown of your choice]!” are my personal equivalent of fingernails across a chalkboard and will not advance your cause one femtometre. Sit down, sober up, then come back when the voices in your head have stopped telling you that Lelouch is the master of the universe and that all dissenters must be hanged. Rule Britannia.

SECOND DIRECTIVE: Stress the good stuff – from my point of view. If someone tries to sell me FMA:Brotherhood on the grounds that it’s “dark, brooding, and really makes you think”, he’s unwittingly digging his own grave because I despise series that are dark, brooding, and really make me think. On the other hand, if he starts off with “it’s got really great animation and a fine sense of humour”, then I may bite into it simply because I like great animation and I’m a sucker for humour. Be honest and tell me about the flip side as well, but if you stress Mustang’s self-aggrandizement and Hughes’ shameless family love over all the death and destruction, the chances of me trying it out in the first place – and, hopefully, growing to like it in spite of the dark stuff – will increase substantially.

THIRD DIRECTIVE: Show me a sample that supports the Second Directive. A few years ago, my sister convinced me and my brother to watch Tennis no Oujisama even though neither of us had any interest in tennis or bishounen. Here’s how. Knowing that we both like humour, she told us that there’s this really funny animated series and that we should try it out, at the same time casually handing us a CD containing several spoiler-light comedic episodes – including the bowling filler and the infamous chibi fillers. Within a few weeks, my brother was making up crazy tennis moves of his own and I was writing a mystery fanfic involving the PoT crew. (I’m working from memory and simplifying/rearranging some details, but that’s more or less what really happened. Incidentally, this event also marks my first serious encounter with anime in general.) It’s a beautiful approach. Knowing that the main subject matter of the series wouldn’t ordinarily interest us, she picked out some episodes that she knew we’d like – allowing them to plant seeds of curiosity in our minds about the characters and the overall course of the series.

I’d use extreme caution when applying the Third Directive, in view of the fact that accidentally giving away critical plot spoilers can permanently ruin your target’s appreciation of the series. (Fillers are a good starting point, although even those are rarely spoiler-free.) But if you’re careful, it may be worth a shot. It’s one thing to talk or write about animation quality, voice acting, music, writing and character design – it’s another thing to actually show all of these elements to a prospective convert, demonstrating how they work in concert to create an anime series that you’ve come to regard as a must-watch.

(This post is mainly an on-the-fly reaction to usagijen’s write-up; I apologise for any lapses in coherence and whatnot. I also reserve the right to add, edit, or delete directives later depending on what the voices in my head say after they’ve had time to think these matters through. Cheerio.)

2 Responses

  1. Great list! Valuable tips to go by when recommending stuff… perhaps with this I can finally convince my stubborn baka anikis to watch something out of their comfort zone! …or not.

    I am rather guilty at committing the “overzealous delusional fangirling crime” indicated in the first one. Let’s all hope I already learned my lesson lol.

  2. @usagijen: No guilt is warranted in your case. After all, even your excited squee posts tend to be punctuated with gems of sound reasoning. 😉

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