Anime fandom is a fortress of obscure slang, iconography, and inside jokes. After 16 years of fandom, I'm quite comfortable with it. But what about curious outsiders who don’t care to memorize, say, the differences between each and every Sailor Moon adaptation?
For them, I keep a list: Anime and Manga for People Who Don’t like Anime and Manga. This list is for the person who has seen a Ghibli film or two, who maybe watched Cowboy Bebop back in high school. They know anime and manga aren’t genres unto themselves. They know there’s a whole wide world of stories out there, but they’re not sure how to access it. And, they whisper furtively, they’re not really into, well, anime-anime. The magical girls, the giant robots, the catgirl harems—not their thing. Do I have any recommendations for them? Anything they might like?
I have encountered this person over and over again in my 16 years of fanhood, but I rarely see their questions answered. Most anime recommendation lists assume a level of familiarity that newcomers don’t have. Many anime conventions put the jiggliest, bloodiest, most franchiseable work up front. Online fandom is a rabbit hole of jargon and translation debate.