How Do You Keep Up With So Much Anime?

by Justin Sevakis,

Nathan asks:

I'm an anime fan since the late 90s, returning to regular watching after a hiatus since around 2004. Now, EVERYTHING seems to be coming over, and the front page of Anime News Network seems like a deluge of unfamiliar names and series titles. I've watched about a dozen series that have hit over the last ten years or so, but I'm struggling to identify more that I would like. I started with a few random series on Netflix/Hulu, and then using the "if you liked this series" recommendation feature I found on myanimelist, but I feel like I'm exhausting that resource and don't know what to do now. I was hoping you could give me some reccomendations and guidance on how to acclimate myself to the new anime environment and how to keep track of what's going on, what's coming out, and how to find more series' that would suit my tastes.

To be honest, I'm not sure I have a good answer for you. In the time you've been gone, the way people consume anime has changed almost entirely -- going from a feast-and-famine ritual where only the expenditure of money unlocks a short anime marathon, to a constant and ever-replenishing buffet, filled with a confusing mix of tasty desserts, passable sandwiches, and literal garbage.

It might give you some amount of comfort to know that it's not just you. There are so many shows coming out, and have been for the last few years, that almost nobody can keep up -- not most fans, and even most industry professionals. If you count additional seasons and short series, there have been over fifty new series every season for at least 4 years now. There are always a few that everyone knows, and there are always some that are forgotten before they've even finished airing. But until those shows air, nobody really knows what the good ones will be. Sure, there are always a few shows every season that are exactly what everyone is expecting them to be, but a good number tend to surprise people -- in good or bad ways.

If time is at a premium, your best bet is to wait until new shows finish airing, and keep your ear to the ground to find out what people are still talking about after the fact. If your tastes tend to coincide with most other fans, ANN's "Best And Worst of the Season So Far" polls are a great way to keep up with what's popular. That said, sometimes some really interesting stuff sinks to the bottom. I would also encourage you to read as many reviews as possible, and try to identify some critics whose tastes coincide with your own. But even critics who don't agree with you can offer information that will help you make up your own mind.

An even better way to keep up is to make some friends who also like anime, and are also trying to sift through all the series out there trying to find the good ones. Your tastes may not match up with these friends exactly, but once you figure out how yours differs, you can use theirs as a goal post and adjust your expectations accordingly. Ditto for prominent anime tweeters.

As you explore, you're going to kiss a lot of frogs. There will inevitably be shows that will disappoint you. Don't hesitate to dump those and move on. If you've been following anime from the 90s, that means you're probably in your 30s or 40s. You probably have a demanding job, and possibly kids to raise. That means you probably don't have time to waste, so if a show isn't making you happy, there's really no good reason to linger over it. Some people are more patient than others when it comes to waiting for a show to "get good," and some never do.

But there really is no trick to trying to find the good stuff. You've gone through the streaming sites' automated recommendations, and if you're also reading the reviews and engaging with other fans, you're pretty much doing everything you can. If it's any consolation, there are industry rumblings that the tide will start to turn soon, and anime production might slow down to a more reasonable level. But those are just rumblings right now.

How do YOU keep up with the anime glut? Let us know in the comments.

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    Justin Sevakis has worked in the anime business for over 20 years. He's the original founder of Anime News Network, and owner of the video production company MediaOCD. You can follow him on Twitter at @worldofcrap.

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