Imagine this: you’ve just started working, living, or studying someplace new and you learn that your colleague/neighbour/classmate, like you, loves anime. Great, you think, we have something in common! Based on this common interest, as well as other important factors (like them actually being a decent person), you soon become firm friends. Heck, maybe you even start dating! But as you get to know them better, you learn that *gasp* their taste in anime is terrible. We’ve all been there! Below is a handy guide on how to navigate these rocky waters without shipwrecking your blossoming friendship.
Authors note: the following advice is based on real life experiences that I’ve had with my husband. My husband and I have many things in common, however, our taste in anime is not one of these things.
Compromise Is Key
Chances are, if you both love anime, watching it will be something that you do together as friends or as partners. That, unfortunately, means that, sometimes, you’re going to have to bite the bullet and watch a show that you don’t really want to watch! You can either 1) take it in turns to choose a show to watch together or 2) try to choose something together. In the former case, be polite and respectful of the other person’s choice! They sat through yours, so now you need to do the same. And remember, they probably chose this show because they wanted to share with you, somebody they like or love, something that they love! In the latter case, my husband and I do the following: he’ll pick three shows that interest him and then I’ll pick the one that we’re going to watch from that three. That way we both have some say in what we watch and I can’t gripe too much if I don’t enjoy it, because, hey, I chose it!
The Insult Sandwich
After you’ve watched a show suggested by your friend/partner, they’ll probably want to know what you thought about it. Sure, you could lie through your teeth and tell them that you just loved Sword Art Online! But if they’re a friend/partner worth their salt, they can probably tell when you’re lying, so that will only get you in trouble. Or, should they actually believe you, you could find yourself watching more shows just like the one that you somehow mustered the strength to sit through! Instead, you’ll want to tell them how you really found it. Honesty is always the best policy! But instead of launching into an expletive-filled rant about how terrible the show was, be respectful when offering criticism and try and follow it up with something that you did like about it. This will help soften the blow! Finally, in order to emphasise your reluctance to watch a similar show or its sequel (you don’t want your friend/partner to get the wrong idea), round off your appraisal with one final criticism. I call this The Insult Sandwich (a pessimist’s take on the compliment sandwich). Here’s an example of it in practice.
Hubby: So, what do you think of Sengoku Basara?
Me: Well, it’s kinda dumb. I’m pretty sure that the soldiers of the warring states period didn’t fight using gatling guns, mechas, or superhuman lightning powers (insult). But it’s pretty funny, in a ridiculous, over-the-top kind of way (compliment). But I tend to prefer shows with a more serious tone that challenge me, intellectually (insult).
Eat a Slice of Humble Pie
As anime fans we’re frequently guilty of getting on our high horse and thinking that our taste in anime is amazing, faultless, even, and that our top 30 list represents the height of culture and refinement, conveniently forgetting that we actually really enjoyed shows like Free! (young men get moist), Keijo!!!!!!!! (young women try to prove that they’re serious athletes by competing in a sport where the aim is to knock other young women off of a platform using just their naughty parts), or Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (beefcakes tour the globe, beating up vampires, cyborg nazis, scantily-clad Aztec gods, and a salaryman obsessed with hands, among other things, using martial arts and dumb ghost powers named after rock bands). Sometimes, when tempted to criticise somebody else for their poor taste in anime, it helps to remember that your taste isn’t as refined or discriminating as you think.
Let the Following Phrase Become Your Mantra: Taste Is Subjective
I’ll admit, I chose to use the words “terrible taste in anime” in this post’s title and introduction because they are emotive and are, therefore, more likely to make people want to read onwards. But I wanted to round off today’s essay by saying that it’s kind of stupid to call somebody’s taste in anime terrible! Our tastes, or preferences, are shaped by many things, including our religion, or lack of, our sexuality, our age, our gender, and our life experiences. My husband and I like very different shows, because we are very different people! He loves historical shows, because of his lifelong passion for and major in history, whereas I don’t. In fact, they totally put me to sleep! I prefer shows that explore the issue of mental health. As I’ve wrestled with mental illness for half of my life, these resonate with me on an emotional level! My husband, on the other hand, who is, thankfully, happy and healthy, tends to find shows like this kind of heavy. Does that mean that he has terrible taste? Or that I do? No, we just bring a different set of characteristics and experiences to the table! And these affect our preferences and viewing habits. I think that if you bear this in mind when communicating with a friend/partner with a “terrible” taste in anime, it’ll help you be more respectful, considerate, and open-minded, which are things we could all do with being a bit more of!
I hope that you enjoyed this post! Please take a moment to let me know what you think of my advice. And if you’ve any of your own, I’d love to hear it!