This is the recent post I made on facebook when a friend asked for anime recommendation. He is a casual fan who watched only a couple of popular shows, in other words, normal people. I did recommend him some of his favorite in the past and hint, none of the show I ever recommended him are in my top 10, except of KGNE, which is the dud where I learned that recommendation is not about listing favorite but a game of maximizing your batting average of pleasing someone:

My taste is so weird now that I am not confident enough to recommend something normal people would like but my go to choice for crowdpleaser are popular stuff like “Samurai Champloo”, “Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann”, “Full Metal Panic”, “Natsume Yujinchou“, “Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen” and “Perfect Blue”.

“Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai”, “EF a Tales of Memories” and “Sakamichi no Apollon” were pretty good if you like stuff like Kanon 2006.

“Stein;Gate”, “Baccano” and “Tiger and Bunny” are something really popular that a lot of people like.

“One Out” and “Kaiji” if you like gambling/sport stuff.

“Cross Game” and “Hyouka” if you can stand something like Toradora.

These are all popular stuff I could think of that normal people should like. If you have no idea what to choose, “Ano hi Mita Hana No Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai” and “Sakamichi no Appollon” are things that I think you would like. They are pretty short, new, simple yet entertaining drama that work for many people.

Do I really think that Sakamichi no Apollon, Ef A Tales of Memories, Hyouka or Ano Hana are the best show in the universe? No, they ranked quite low in my own list but I recommend them because they are overwrought melodrama that works for many people. You can criticize their sledgehammer approach of manipulating emotion and their cheesiness, but normal people don’t really care because they are easily prone to these manipulation. People love the simple, hard hitting and sledgehammer approach way in story telling. What “show don’t tell”, what subtlety, what subversion, what depth, what new perspective, what implications and wrong messages? They don’t give a flying fuck. Proof? People love these shows and are fairly popular. KGNE on the other hand is way to polarizing, so protip, don’t recommend polarizing stuff like Book of Bantorra and KGNE.

If you look at your average anime viewers, they don’t really care so much about the quality of a work but more about if it’s enjoyable in their own terms. Their own terms include shonen and sometimes popular stuff  that you don’t understand like SAO and K-on. They also don’t read up on stuff so you would be surprise that they don’t know show like Mirai Nikki exist. So here’s my theory, beside the emotionally manipulative approach, most people love simple stuff that appears to have something smart or deep in them.

In order to qualify as a show with seemly depth and smartness, both of the qualities must be very pronounced, again with a sledgehammer approach. If they don’t get it, it must be shout in their face to create an illusion that it has those qualities, even they are really nothing underneath it ala Code Geass and Mirai Nikki.  I mentioned that because I found out that it doesn’t really matter if people don’t understand a show, they will still lap it up for some reason if you had create enough illusion of depth. I doubt many people could tell me what’s the point of Evangelion but normal people love it. This is further supported by how you have heard of things like “I don’t understand Inception, but it’s very good and clever!”. All these work because of  the shouting of “I have depth, I am smart” in people’s face till the extend that they really believe in it, regardless of whether it’s really there. This is very important because most people don’t grasp subtlety.

This is why I don’t recommend the really subtle or weird stuff like Haibane Renmei, Planetes and Mind Game because they have a weaker batting average of people liking it. Akira is very weird and kinda subtle as well so in fact, I won’t really recommend it because contrary to popular belief, normal people don’t really like it.

Recommend Code Geass over stuff like Haibane Renmei and Sword Art Online over Mind Game. Statistic has shown that more people get and enjoyed CG and SWO over Mind Game or Haibane Renmei. I also did some experiment and got really bad results with critics darling like Planetes and Wings of Honneamise and got unexpected result of people liking K-on, SWO, Mirai Nikki and Code Geass. If you think about it, what’s the point of recommending people stuff? It’s to tell them show that you think they would like instead of things you personally like. The end game of this all is really about maximizing batting average, not listing your favorite. Normal people much prefer explicit material than implicit stuff.

P.S: I am not judging the quality of any show, I am just telling you that you should recommend things that are not subtle, regardless of what you think of their quality.