A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting up with a chef of a very fancy restaurant I haven’t been to in a good while. After the delicious dinner -and as the place was about to close- we had some time to catch up and get up-to-date on each other’s lives. As the night unfolded and we were about to head home, she told me her plans for her day off included re-watching her favorite anime, Shokugeki no Soma (Food Wars).
I was surprised, not only because I had no idea she liked anime, but because professionals tend to disapprove of their field’s representation in media. It’s often inaccurate, simplistic, and unrealistic. I’ve already heard police officers complain about police procedural shows enough times to know this.
But not this woman. She was thrilled. She proceeded to tell me about how she was watching the show again, how excited she was for season 2, how she’s slowly buying each volume of the manga available, and on and on. I couldn’t help but smile. I liked Shokugeki no Soma, but I wasn’t THAT excited about it. It then became clear: it really was that woman’s favorite anime.
Butterflies in Your Stomach
This got me thinking about people’s favorite things. Since Yatta-Tachi is a Japanese culture-based site, we will focus on that, but I think we should all consider this for a minute. Think about your favorite shows, songs, movies, clothes, games, colors, etc. How have they changed your life? How did they help shape you into who you are today? It’s no different with anime; some people met the love of their lives because of a single show or decided what they wanted to do for a living because a character they admired inspired them to do so.
Not everyone has a favorite anime. Much like falling in love, it’s not always a conscious decision taken in a moment of clarity. With so many titles coming out each season, determining your favorites gets harder and harder and it may take you years to finally find that one show that clicks with you in a way no other show did before. And much like love, sometimes it ignores every logic you may try to apply.
Your favorite anime may not have the deepest plot and its animation quality may be below others, but you don’t care.
Sometimes our favorite shows aren’t that good, but it’s alright. Those of you who are in love know how it works: you’re conscious of your partner’s flaws, and you’re conscious that he/she is not the most beautiful or smart human being on the planet, but to you, he/she is. None of these flaws matter, because you two connect perfectly. There’s something more than beautiful scenery or awesome action scenes. There’s a tie to your heart that is much stronger than that.
If you have a favorite show, it was the first one that came to your mind as soon as you read about the chef rambling on about Shokugeki no Soma. That’s probably the way you sound when you talk about your favorite anime, too. Innocent. Flooding with enthusiasm. Excited.
Some Still Haven’t Found ‘The One’
On the other hand, maybe you couldn’t decide on a single show. Or maybe you couldn’t find a single one. It’s ok. Someday, you’ll watch something that will make you feel silly. You’ll giggle. You are going to hum the opening and enjoy each episode and jump in excitement whenever something new is announced. At first, you won’t say it’s your favorite. It’s probably going to be something like “Man, I’m really liking this show”.
Whatever the case, your favorite anime is a powerful memento, always there when you need it.
Your favorite anime will be with you for a long time. This show is bound to be attached to an era of your life you’ll never forget. Maybe it’s what you used to watch during a particularly good time of your life: a cherry on top of the delicious and juicy cake that was your life back then. Maybe it was that one thing you held onto desperately, like a castaway who refuses to let go of a piece of wood in the raging sea. Maybe your darkest hour is now, and reflecting on something that brought you such a good time is what keeps you going. You will enjoy new titles and develop new tastes as the years pass. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite in the future, but you’ll never forget about the previous one.
If you’re trying to find your favorite show, don’t sweat it. Much like a wizard’s wand, it’s the anime that finds the viewer, and not the other way around. Trying to force yourself into liking something never ends well: once, I was desperate to prove to everyone else that I liked iced coffee, and every time I drank it, it tasted like defeat. Not only was that coffee disgusting, but with each cup, I asked myself why I was doing this. One day, I was strong enough to tell the truth, and I never looked back. Don’t be me. There’s no such thing as “acquired taste,” so don’t try to convince yourself that a show you “like” is your favorite.
The Right Moment
There are a series of factors that come into play to determine your favorite anime. Like how old you were when you first watched it, for example. Watching something aimed at adults when you’re too young may make it sound dull and boring, while a show whose primary audience are children may seem silly and too simple. Your situation at the moment is also a huge factor. Whether the anime connects with you depends a lot on your current mood and what’s going on in your life at the moment. An excellent show may come across as just “good” if you’re not in the best moment to enjoy it.
Take Care of Your Beloved Anime
Above everything, it’s important to remember two things. First, never let anyone judge you or look down on you because of your tastes. What you feel for your favorite show is something unique to you, and your friends ought to respect it, even if they don’t fully understand it or don’t agree with your opinion.
And second, remember to cherish the memories you have of that anime. Never forget those warm summer nights and the breeze entering through the window. Never forget the rainy Saturday afternoons binge-watching with your pet. Never forget running home from school to have a snack in front of the TV.
Do you remember how your first contact with your favorite anime felt? Was it love at first sight? How did that show impact your life? And the mandatory question: what is your favorite anime?
What is your most cherished memory of your favorite show? Tell me in the comments below!