How? Some of you may remember my article “Are you a Hentai-Otaku?!” of heated debate. This article is no different. So my wife watches anime based on eroge. She’s also fine with yuri, and she quite enjoyed a series full of otaku-trivia. Before all that, she was never interested in anime, and never really appreciated the art style. So how did it happen? You want your significant other to enjoy anime with you too? I might not have the answer specifically for you, but my story may provide you with some insight. (note this only covers anime series, and not OVAs or movies)
About a decade ago, I tried to expose my wife to some anime. Problem was, the first real exposure was to La Blue Girl for reasons I can’t remember. It was a mistake at the time that I didn’t realize, or intended as a first viewing. What I really wanted to do was show her Love Hina. She got mad at me (like Naru would) within the first 10 minutes of the show when Naru showed up in the hot spring with Keitaro. On her mind, “all anime and all Japanese pop-culture revolve around sexual perversion. Most Japanese people are perverted, and focus on a perverted society of sexual innuendos, and sexual promotion.”
This was not a good start to getting my wife to share my interests. I quickly gave up.
This is where all the hot perverted sex happens.
A few years ago, I decided that the only way to get her to watch some anime, was to show her something that she would like. Something incredibly girly and cute. As a result, I sat through 70 episodes of Card Captor Sakura with her. She had gotten some previous exposure to it before with a few images here and there, and a theme song or two.
I think it was difficult for her at first, but she watched, and started to really like the show. The characters were adorable, and there was some form of love story in there (though it’s more of a crush instead). She didn’t like the darker tone of the second season, but watched anyway. I was only mildly into it. But it was good watching anime with her. (as a side note, this was her first exposure to a relatively innocent form of yuri)
What normal girl would not want to watch this series. C’mon.
Immediately after, I showed her Chobits. I figured this was a fairly decent natural progression, bringing in the best of Clamp, and introducing her to a series more mature than CC Sakura. “It’s by the same people who did Card Captor!” I said. This got her a little more interested in watching the series. She liked it. The romance was good, she thought Chii was sweet, but stupid, and she wasn’t entirely put-off by the fan-service.
Hot loligoth yuri action = win.
Shortly after, I started watching Azumanga Daioh. She was mildly interested in it, and thought Chiyo-chan was incredibly cute (the penguin costume won btw). She didn’t like Osaka because of her incredibly dense personality. This was probably the weakest response I’ve gotten from her in watching anime. Not sure what it was that she didn’t like about it. I think it was because the humor was not clever, and just seemed silly. At the time, our exercise machine was in the same room as the TV, so I literally forced her to watch it while she was exercising. She now seems to have no recollection of what the series was about. I intend to have her watch it again sometime for the win, but the priority for that is pretty low.
To me, this series wins the internet, and will always win.
After a while, she wasn’t interested in anime anymore. I asked a mutual friend of ours for recommendations, and he suggested Nodame Cantabile. I had no idea what it was about, so I gave it a go, since he said it was a good anime. She was hesitant at first, not knowing what she was in for. Personally, I liked the show too. It didn’t have as much romance as I had thought it would, and actually focused a lot on the motivations of the two main characters, and their struggles to reach their goals. I don’t think my wife really realized this was the case, and thought the series had a lot of romance. She thoroughly enjoyed it.
This scene turned my wife into an otaku.
After Nodame was done, she was wanting to watch more anime. When she heard that the manga continues on where the anime ends, she obsessively searched for scanilations. My wife, reading scanilations! Who’d have thought! After she read up to the current volume, she had nothing else to do. I asked my friend for suggestions again, and he said “Why not watch Haruhi?”. This was unusual. I hadn’t seen Haruhi yet at that time, so I thought it might be cool. I insisted that our friend recommended it. She has only met the guy once, but seems to hold a good deal of respect and compassion for him. Probably because he’s a respectable and compassionate guy.
She thought that the Haruhi series was weird and didn’t make sense. She liked the characters, thought the fan-service was unnecessary, and liked the art style. She thought Haruhi was a pretty likable quirky character. After seeing the God Knows scene, she came to understand more why I collect anime figures, and appreciated my Bunny Girl Haruhi more. This was an interesting step that I thought I would never see.
This series made my wife understand what anime is all about.
It seemed pretty evident at this point that she was ok with watching anime, but a lull suddenly came, and we didn’t watch anime for almost half a year. Mainly because there was so much other stuff we had to do, and didn’t have the time to watch anymore.
I tried again, this time with Haibane Renmei. Did not want. She didn’t like the old-style fantasy setting, and it’s evident that she will probably never watch any anime based in a fantasy setting, or old-european setting. (I intend to change that someday, but not now). Switching gears, I tried Manabi Straight. This was another girly-girl series, with ultra-adorable characters, and a very clean art style. Again, like Azumanga, we watched it during her exercise, as it was also the only real time we had to watch something together. She didn’t like it. It was too cutsey, too plotless, and again, there’s a dumb and dense girl in it.
This girl ruined the series for my wife. Why Mikan, WHY??!
Personally, I liked the series, and Mikan was my favorite character from the series. Regardless, I stopped watching the series half-way and decided to bring in something along the same slice-of-life lines, but a little bit less childish. This came in the form of the epically awesome Lucky Star. Since my wife was on the exercise machine, there was nothing she could do but watch and try to enjoy the series. She got into it very quickly, and really liked the characters. The series wasn’t really about anything in particular, with no plot as well, but she seemed to enjoy the banter between the characters.
Even my wife can’t resist the beautiful Konata.
After the span of 2 months and 6 episodes later, we started to watch the series in the bedroom on our Macbook. It was a lot more comfortable there, and she continued to enjoy the series. Ocassionally we would hook it up to the widescreen in the living room too. The only problem she had with the series actually was the rather empty conclusion. To me it was a great ending, but she felt a bit robbed that they didn’t actually show the final performance (though I thought there wasn’t a need to, and the way it was portrayed worked out better). Oh, and she hated the Lucky Channel. I guess she doesn’t like overly peppy squealing girls.
To keep the momentum going, I quickly started her on Kannagi, recommended by another friend. She liked the characters, made parallels between Nagi and Haruhi, and was pretty hooked to the series near the end. The drama was quite nice and gripping. Surprisingly, she never remarked about the fan-service as she usually does. There isn’t much of it other than a few deliberate gratuitous thigh shots, but it was strange she never said anything. Again though, she was disappointed that the ending didn’t really have much of an ending. I had to explain to her that the manga stalled partway through, so the series couldn’t really continue.
Did I have to choose such a yuri-suggestive screenshot? Of course not!
At this point in time, our anime-watching became obsessive. We would watch several episodes in one sitting, sometimes until 2am (this from a couple that normally sleeps at 11pm). Did we have enough? Of course not! After burning through Kannagi, I had another anime lined up immediately! I realized at this point that watching a series we would both enjoy was the ticket. Upon getting another recommendation from a friend, we started watching Tora Dora!.
This was by far, the most memorable series, and probably one of the best we’ve seen together. I could tell that my wife enjoyed it immensely. There was just the right mix of comedy, romance, and slapstick humor, and I’ve come to really dig tsundere archtypes. My wife really loved the good-natured personality of Ryuji, and I really loved the contrasting but adorable little Taiga. Minori was also a blast.
Damn straight she does. How can you beat that? You simply can’t.
Needless to say, the voice actress for Minori became the start of an unreal enlightenment for my wife. I’ll explain later. I picked up Aria next, but that was quickly shot down after two episodes. Again, fantasy-based worlds, boring slice of life anime, zero plot. Dropped. I decided to backtrack into an older drama, which at the start of all this, would never imagine my wife watching – an anime based on an eroge.
All Japanese girls love to be patted on the head. Try it!
Kanon. What some believe is the origin of moe. I read only quick reviews on it, from animenewsnetwork. Since it was one of the top 20 anime to watch, and it was a romantic drama comedy, I figured this would stand up to Tora Dora!. Well, it didn’t. Not to the same effect, but my wife was into it nonetheless. The first 4 or 5 episodes or so, she couldn’t stand the absolute airheadedness of all the female characters. But soon afterwards, when the plot finally started to pick up, and the mysteries abound, she settled down and accepted it for what it was worth. Overall, she thought that the series didn’t make her feel very good. It was full of broken girls, depressing situations, and even suicide. The series was a bit too emotional. One thing that did highlight it a little was when my wife suddenly realized that Ayu’s voice actress was the same voice actress as Minori from Tora Dora!. I was incredibly surprised that she managed to pick that up. Truly on her way to otakudom.
Minori… I mean, Ayu… do you always sound like a little girl?
Having watched depressing Kanon, I figured we should try something much lighter. I dug through my backlog again, and pulled out Rizelmine. The amount of fan-service in this was definitely phenominal. I remember watching it many years back, and thought it was funny, only remembering that there didn’t seem to be much fan-service. Maybe my tastes at the time were a bit more extreme than now. Needless to say, she enjoyed the show. Not to the same level of Tora Dora!, but the humor was purely something worth laughing at, and the characters were colorful. She didn’t like how childish it all seemed but was glad it was a switch from Kanon. She liked the little bit of light romance that was in the series too.
So much fanservice… this show is definitely NOT for kids!
Soon after, we started watching Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. It was during this time that I started downloading Nodame Cantabile’s second season. I figure I’d use that as a trump card if necessary. My wife was surprised at the interesting art style of beautiful japanese patterns, bloom effects, and cherry blossoms. But she thought the series was too weird for her. She enjoyed the obsessive strawberry cake scene, and the chain stalkers scene, but overall she couldn’t really get into it. Looks like this is a series I’ll be watching myself instead.
Sayonara… Zetsubou Sensei…
What next? I thought. I was running out of ideas, and there were still series I was downloading. It was too soon for the trump card anyway. Since we were on the old-school track, I decided to brave the one thing that had been bothering me since the beginning of all this: Love Hina.
Love Hina gets a second chance. But it was me that killed it.
“Are you trying to trick me?!” she asked. I said no, it really is not what you think! I tried to convince her to watch it again before, or to read the manga before, but this was different now. “It’s a romantic comedy. You have to put aside the lame fan-service though.”
She gave in, and decided to watch it. Though she didn’t hate it like she had before, she also didn’t like it. And to her defense, I didn’t like it either. The series was shallow, the pacing was wrong, and the characters weren’t likable. “I liked the manga more. That one made more sense, and was more heavily emphasized on the romance.” I concluded to her, but she didn’t really feel like reading the manga. This wasn’t a loss, as she did sit through the series to the end. I didn’t even bother with the OVAs, even though she asked “What about the rest?”. I personally wasn’t invested in this series anymore, and just started reading the manga again. What I did like though, is how she again, recognized Yui Horie’s voice. “That’s Minori!!”
So that’s it, right? We’ve come full circle. Don’t forget about the yuri!
Read the review here!
As I had posted a review previously, I won’t delve into the details. My wife was totally weirded out by it. It wasn’t that she couldn’t accept lesbian romance. It was just foreign to her. I explained to her the whole symbolic reasoning behind Hazumu being a girl, and I think she got that. She did enjoy the romance though. She just wished it wasn’t with a bunch of girls…
This time, I was the one that pointed out that Yasuna was voiced by Yui Horie. “It’s Minori!”
Having gotten off old-school train, I figured it was time to give her a rest. I could tell that she wasn’t enjoying anime as much as she was before Kanon. I began to notice the reason why, and decided to pull out the trump card. At this point, I no longer considered it a trump card, but as a reason.
If you’ve read this far, and you’re thinking you can get your significant other to watch Death Note or Ghost in The Shell with you, then you have missed the point entirely.
Throughout this journey, I’ve discovered that my wife doesn’t want to just watch anime. She wants to spend time with me, sharing an interest that we can both enjoy together. This isn’t just about getting her to watch anime. It’s about getting me to watch anime with her. Not just any anime. But an anime that we can both enjoy.
So for you, you really have to just test the waters. Find out what she likes, what she doesn’t like, and aim towards that. At first, you may not enjoy watching some “lame anime series” with her, but you will appreciate the fact that she is watching anime, and understand that she’s watching anime with you.
Well, I’m going to enjoy the remainder of Nodame Cantabile Paris. Then I’ll probably bring on some K-ON! sprinkled between some Honey and Clover.
Comments? Suggestions? Agree or disagree? Bring it on!