By Michael Pementel
It’s that time of year again – Valentine’s Day. Maybe you’ve got a special date night planned. A fancy dinner reservation? Catching a movie for two? Or maybe it’s a cozy night in watching some anime.
But wait… what’s this? Your partner doesn’t share your love for anime?!
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For those of us committed to the wonders anime has to offer, it can be jarring when our significant other isn’t entirely on board. When we first met, my wife had the faintest understanding of anime, having only seen shows like Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball. But here we are, four and a half years later, conversing about the various historical and mythological characters among the Fate Universe roster. That’s progress.
I’m here to tell you that it’s possible. Yes, it’s possible to get your partner into anime so the two of you can enjoy it together! Anime is all about variety, and there are a number of series to serve as gateways for you and your better half. So let’s try and win them over, shall we?
Meeting Them Halfway
Maybe your significant other is already a fan of prestige television. What with all of the Netflix Originals and HBO series out there, there’s bound to be a Watchmen or True Detective in their watching rotation. They may be surprised to learn that there is anime out there that scratches that same itch!
As a self-contained masterpiece of serial storytelling, Cowboy Bebop brings you in with its sci-fi aesthetic and keeps you hooked for its 26-episode run with its colorful characters and deeply emotional narrative. It wastes no time and knows what you want as an inquisitive watcher.
It’s also a great opportunity to show your partner a milestone series to see how they take to it! It can be a great gauge on where their tastes lie, because finding anime that relates to your partner’s interests is an excellent means to guide them into new and exciting worlds.
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For my wife, their love of history piqued their interest in Fate/Zero, which has a bit of an alternate take on some of our world’s usual suspects. OK, a very alternate take. But sometimes all of the pieces are already there.
Maybe they’re fans of anime-inspired Western animation, like Avatar: The Last Airbender or The Dragon Prince. From here, it’s totally possible to pitch the appeal of titles like Fairy Tail and One Piece, given their eccentric casts and unique fantasy settings.
For someone who appreciates darker narratives, you can also share the brilliant Puella Magi Madoka Magica. This excellent subversion of the magical girl genre contains fascinating supernatural depth, along with a thought-provoking story. If they end up liking it, you can continue down the Magical Girl path with Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story!
There’s also a tremendous range of slice of life anime that could relate to a pastime or hobby your SO is already into. Is your partner into cooking? Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family. Do they like sports? Stars Align. Maybe board games? After School Dice Club.
It always helps when entering a new hobby to start in a place of comfort, which is why it helps to have a keen sense of what your partner is into. Granted, they may be a curious individual by nature, but helping them to get off on the right foot when entering the wide world of anime makes the journey all the more special.
Bonding Over Romance
Perhaps your partner is a softy, and loves romantic dramas, reality shows or quirky romo-coms.
With its lovable cast and fantastic blend of comedy and romance, you and your partner will find yourselves totally enveloped in the character relationships of Ouran High School Host Club. It’s also a great entryway into a huge amount of romance anime — from deeply emotional love stories to hilarious battles of wits.
Take Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai, for example. This supernatural romance follows protagonists Sakuta and Mai on their path to some sort of happiness. When the couple first meet, Sakuta sees Mai wearing a bunny girl suit in the library, but no one else can see her.
Though the title comes across as comical, we quickly learn just how impactful this show is. Through careful examination of young love, self-worth and confidence, Rascal becomes a wonderfully touching tale about anchoring each other when you feel lost — even when you feel isolated.
And we can’t talk about romance anime and supernatural love stories without the brilliant Your Name. from director Makoto Shinkai. By the end of its runtime, you and your partner will be a teary mess, but it will have been so worth it. The relationship between main characters Mitsuha and Taki makes for one of the most sincere and compelling dynamics in recent storytelling.
So get to it, love birds!
Invest in Shounen
While you might have a dedicated passion for all things Hunter x Hunter, Black Clover or Naruto, your partner might just see these series as a bundle of extended screaming matches. And sure, there’s plenty of screaming, but there’s something exciting about the progress of shounen anime.
It gives you plenty of time to fall in love with its characters, so that sounds like a good starting point, yeah?
In between its awesome battles, My Hero Academia spends a lot of time revolving around the lives of its central cast as the students of U.A. High School learn to become the world’s greatest heroes. Even though its cast is packed with superhuman abilities, the show does a tremendous job establishing a sentimental connection between these characters, making them feel relatable.
If your partner is into blockbuster action or superhero flicks, My Hero Academia is a gateway show packed with thrills and feels. It’s also a bit more mainstream, so it definitely appeals to those who prefer slice-of-life anime, as well as the action-packed stuff. And it works! My wife constantly exclaims how Todoroki is our son whenever he’s on screen.
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And My Hero Academia is just the first step into the wide world of shounen. From here, you could follow the mystic and magic of series like RADIANT or Black Clover, or take a walk through some classics like the supernatural Yu Yu Hakusho, or the action of the original Dragon Ball Z.
But starting with shounen also means finding a happy medium with your watching habits. Maybe take things an arc at a time rather than a full-on binge, at first. Trust me, you’ll get there!
Good things can take time, and with enough dedication and love, your partner may soon be racing against you to complete anime on MyAnimeList. Let Valentine’s Day be the start of that!
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