What do you want to watch tonight?

Strawberry Marshmallow girls watching Princess Tutu.

What does a little snow fairy have to do with bubble sorting and harvesting turnips? How about a fairytale ballerina, passing objects to functions by reference, and tracing memories? They all represent things which are a part of me, but at the same time are not a part of the people around me. This isn’t a problem for me personally as I’m not a social person, but when in a situation where I’m around others, it makes it difficult to come up with something to talk about.

At work, I do have someone I can talk video games with, although most of the games he and I play are completely different kinds of game (save for the Final Fantasy games). Trying to talk computer software with anyone results in dumbfounded looks. Admittedly, I can talk anime to the aforementioned co-worker, but not with him, as he only knows as much as I say about what I’m watching.

One of the reasons people fansub anime is to make shows they enjoy more accessible to others. This is also the reason people upload anime to sites such as YouTube, even when the show is released licensed in their own country and at an affordable price. That’s one reason for this blog I write in (and hope to write more show previews for): to show off some series which might have gone under peoples’ radar, but they might really like.

I got to thinking about this upon reading a post at AD2225:

I got one of my friends down and said let’s watch an episode of anime. He asked for something mainstream, I thought about what I had and that pretty much limits me to Bleach right there. Which, some people may complain, but it’s not all that bad.

I have never seen anyone so stone faced while watching anything. Ever. Now to be fair the guy had been awake about 13 hours at this point, hadn’t eaten in about 9 hours, and was eating voraciously while watching. Still, no laughing at any of the little jokes, nada, zip, zero.

I gave my own comment on it:

I know what this can be like. A friend was over for a weekend earlier this year, and we had the house to ourselves. He’s seen some anime, but he’s more into [American] comics and (live action) movies. We had planned out marathoning two series, Jubei-chan (his choice) and Princess Tutu (my choice, which has a nicely priced box set out in USA now, as well as Australia for some time I believe!)

Unfortunately, it turns out the box sets for Jubei-chan he recently bought was a bootleg, and was missing an episode (we ended up downloading it just to be able to watch the whole series). Jubei-chan wasn’t really my style though.

As for Princess Tutu, the situation sounds like what you faced. My friend was overworked and under-rested prior to the visit, so he was half-asleep part of the time, and fully asleep the rest. He also seemed impatient to understand various aspects (”Why is the teacher a cat? What’s with all the animal people?”) without waiting to see if they’d be explained within the series.

Now, I can accept that my friend [was] sleep-deprived, and Princess Tutu probably wasn’t his style just as Jubei-chan wasn’t mine (although I hoped beyond hope that Princess Tutu‘s overall story and twists would be enough to reach out to his love for a good, well told story, which it might have if he was awake for more of it). In the end, though, it is just as you say: anime is an acquired taste.

I think the blog’s author and myself made at least two, maybe upwards of four mistakes.

The first thing to consider is whether anime would suit this person. Does this people watch television? Non-Japanese cartoon series? Movies? If the friend wanted to see something mainstream (while either being forced to watch something or simply leisurely watching to pass the time), I get the idea either he watches a fair amount of television, or expects mainstream to be better (perhaps more accessibly to a wider audience than niche shows).

The second thing to consider would be: what does this person like? My own experience I wrote about in the comment I left was with someone who grew up on the original English dub of Sailormoon with me. However, that was back in the later 90’s, and he and I were teenagers back then. Things change. I know I’ve developed a love for all things cute since then (and my posts on Strawberry Marshmallow will start appearing in January).

Jubei-chan and Princess Tutu
Jubei-chan and Princess Tutu, an unlikely pair.

Since my friend bought Jubei-chan based on having seen an episode or a few episodes, that shows that he’s a fan of the ninja genre, which unfortunately is one I don’t know anything about. Maybe it would have been better if I gave a quick, one-sentence summary of various anime I have, and let my friend choose the one which sounded the most appealing to him?

Another co-worker of mine watches the drama series Dexter. When I head that the series is about a serial killer who kills criminals, and a few other plot points, I immediately thought of the anime series, Death Note. I’ve seen neither of these series, but I recommended that if Dexter reaches the end of a season run, and the writers strike continues for a while, maybe this co-worker would consider Death Note as something for her and her family to watch. If they like Dexter, then Death Note sounds like it might hold their interest, keeping in mind that I’ve seen neither. It helps that Death Note 1) has been dubbed into English, 2) is only 37 episodes long (and can be watched two or three at a time to match the length of one episode of Dexter, or watched one episode every one or two nights to space them out). Unfortunately, I didn’t consider that the DVDs might not actually have been released yet, which kind of makes it hard to get through Netflix. Ouch. So much for that idea! The basic idea however is that I wasn’t trying to get someone interested in anime. I was suggesting a series which they might enjoy based on what I learned they like in a series. I probably lose a lot of points for not having seen either before recommending, however.

Thirdly, one has to be prepared to watch a show. Whether it’s marathoning a series or watching just an episode or two, if ones friend is tired or stuffing their face with food, they might not have their full attention on it. I don’t imagine eating would get in the way so much if it’s a genre the person is interested in, so moving on…

Fourth and finally, you can’t project what you like onto someone else. This relates back to the first two points. Just because you find something to be great or funny or exciting doesn’t mean someone else will. In fact, it’s probably better to avoid showing what you think is the cream of the crop, because it can at worst lead to disappointment when someone is stone-faced watching a show so dear to you. This may not have been so much the case with the author of the quoted post, but I can easily see it happening, seeing as it’s happened with me. Not just with my friend (as I voilated numbers two and three above), but also with reviews I’ve seen of series I enjoy.

Now, I have no problem with someone negatively reviewing a series, and it’s actually a good thing if you are considering a series; imagine finding a reviewer you have a lot of likes and dislikes in common with, and one who finds the same kinds of faults in considered seires as you would have. If I see a series which looks like it might appeal to me, but I’m not certain, I might look around a bit at who’s said what about it, and what they’ve said about other series I liked or didn’t like. If Damien Kellis of Moe Check! or CCY of What is eternity doing tonight? wrote positively about it, then that would probably be enough for me to go ahead with the DVD box set or thinpack purchase. If they wrote about the series in a negative light, however, stating valid reasons (flat characters, nowhere storyline, no sign of cameo appearance by Tomoyo, etc.), then I’d know to give it a pass for something more fulfilling.

A final consideration would be: why are you showing this person anime? Is it to show them a series you think they’ll like? To show them a series you like? To justify to someone around you that what you like is worthwhile? To have someone to talk about the series with? And also consider, what would be the result of them trying to get you interested in a hobby of theirs that you have no interest in? I don’t want to have to start reading Marvel comics and playing a Yu-Gi-Oh! card game…

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