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How to Choose Your Next Anime: A Guide For Huge To-Watch Lists

Do you have more than 100 anime on your to-watch list? Are you having trouble figuring out which one of the hundreds of amazing anime you should watch next? You need this guide.

by Littoface
Jun 9, 2016 9:08 PM | 56,334 views

My mental choices are completely interfering with my school romantic comedy My Mental Choices are Completely Interfering With My… ability to choose my next anime

If you've spent any time on MAL at all, chances are you've explored the "recommended" pages or browsed through the anime. And chances are, a few of them caught your eye. You've added them onto your "Plan to Watch" list, only to find one day that the list has grown longer than your "already watched" list.

Now you're in between anime and you break out your to-watch list and… you're overwhelmed. There are just too many awesome anime, and you don't know where to start or where to go next. How do you decide which anime from your "plan to watch" list you should watch next!?

Not to worry, we have you covered! This handy guide will talk you through the things you should consider when choosing your next anime. Hopefully you'll come out at the end knowing what anime has your name on it!


Netflix anime Even Netflix's catalog of anime is growing, slowly but surely

The first question you should ask yourself is also the last: where can I watch this anime? Before you start your search for the perfect anime to watch next, you need to determine how much you care about certain streaming issues. Do you mind ads? Do you care about the quality? Will you watch it dubbed or subbed? Answering these questions will point you to the right streaming service. Maybe you're willing to borrow the anime from a friend, or buy a DVD copy. Go crazy!

Once you're actually looking around, you'll need to make sure the anime you're interested in is actually available for you to watch. It would be a shame to find the perfect anime, only to realize that you can't find anywhere to watch it. If you have an account on Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hulu, or any other streaming service that has anime, keep it open in another tab. Any time you find an anime you might want to watch, check for it on your streaming service of choice.

Can't find your anime? Don't give up: check every option! This Reddit page has a handy list of legal anime streaming services. You're bound to find your anime somewhere.

Now that you have a place to actually watch the anime when you find it… moving on!


Sazae-san For a real challenge, watch all 2444+ episodes of Sazae-san, the longest running anime in history

How much time do you want to dedicate to a new anime? Before you dive into a long-running anime like One Piece, decide if you really want to spend hours watching hundreds of episodes. On the other hand, you might just want to binge an anime in one or two days - or find a middle ground between the two. Keep the time commitment in mind when you're choosing an anime!


Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica Just make sure something that looks light and fluffy actually is. That's looking at you, Madoka Magica

So what exactly are you in the mood for? You might not always know what you want to watch (otherwise you wouldn't be reading this guide), but you probably know what you don't want to watch.

Open your to-watch list and scroll through it. As you do, strike out anything you're not in the mood for. Don't feel like watching feel-good romance? No problem. Not in the mood for mechs? Who needs 'em anyway.

As you do this you might figure out what you are in the mood for. You might discover that you want something with a really involving story, or something light and fluffy, or something full of action and fighting. Whatever! Once you figure out the genre, from there it's easier to narrow down to a single anime.

Release Date

Sakamoto desu ga You could be one of the first to know if Sakamoto desu ga? is awesome or terrible.. or you can wait for the reviews to come in

Sometimes, a recently-aired anime on your list makes a big splash. Whether you're a trend follower, or make your own rules, it can be tempting see what the fuss is about. More importantly, it can be hard to avoid spoilers when everyone is talking about it! If you added Erased to your to-watch list, for instance, only to watch it shoot up into the top 31st ranked anime on MAL, you might want to give this one a watch first.

Or you can go in the opposite direction and make an oldies run. There are some classic anime that fans consider essential for your overall understanding and enjoyment of anime. If you find a lot of oldies on your list, watching them first will help build your understanding of anime as a medium. Anime like Neon Genesis Evangelion or even Sailor Moon are a must if you're looking for a more comprehensive anime education.

What Else You're Watching

Berserk Berserk is a good followup to Game of Thrones, if you're in the mood for more violence

What's the last anime you watched? What non-anime shows and movies have you been watching? You can carry over that genre or theme to your next anime. Or you can just take a break from it and watch something completely out of left field.

Your Mood

Hotaru no Haka grave of the fireflies If you're feeling a bit down, maybe don't watch Grave of the Fireflies

Sometimes it's not about what anime you want, it's about what anime you need. Anime can be pretty powerful in making you feel things, so keep your mood in mind when you're choosing. If you've been having a bad day, you can watch something uplifting to feel better and take your mind off things. Or you might be sad and want to sulk (in which case there are plenty of depressing anime to choose from). Let the anime match your mood.

TLDR: The Guide in a Nutshell

At this point you might be thinking, "great, this article has just made me even more aware of all the amazing anime waiting for me to watch them. That's not very helpful!" No, hypothetical reader, it's not. Which is why I've condensed the guide into a few simple questions that will hopefully help you answer the burning question; "what the heck should I watch next!?"

  • Do you want a long-running anime, or a shorter watch?
  • Are you in the mood for something serious or light?
  • Do you want something with story, action, cuteness, or all of the above?
  • Do you want to learn something, or just enjoy yourself?
  • Do you want the anime to be similar to or different from other shows you've watched recently?
  • What do you want the anime to make you feel?
  • And finally, where would you prefer to watch this anime?

By answering these questions, you should be able to narrow down your search! Or, you know, just ask someone to pick for you. That works too.

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