Updated: Feb 7, 2018
When it comes to anime, it's great to have preferences. That said, it can also be great to step outside those preferences and watch things that don't look appealing. Why? Let's get into it.
My Anime Journey
I have a confession to make.
When I was a teenager, I disliked most anime. Unless it was Fruits Basket, I was so obnoxiously disinterested that I would wander into the living room while my siblings were watching FMA or Naruto and snort dismissively before disappearing back into my bedroom to talk to my boyfriend on the phone. I didn't give these shows a chance, because I just sort of assumed that I would hate them. I was the girly girl in the family. I didn't do shonen, and I thought I never would.
Then, one day, I finally decided to watch Yu-Gi-Oh!, one of my sister's favorite long-running shonen series. I didn't think that I'd like it - I just thought I'd like bonding with my sister over something she enjoyed. I was so wrong.
Yu-Gi-Oh! was a revelation. While 75% of it was incoherent garbage, the 25% that was good was spectacular. By the time we got to GX and 5Ds, I was writing impassioned essays on why Asuka's desire to be a teacher instead of a duelist was a result the sexist environment she was raised in and how Satellite's police brutality paralleled with the real world. When I started Naruto, another massive shonen series I'd scrupulously avoided, I felt the same way. Watching these shows opened up expansive, intricate worlds for me that I never would have experienced if I didn't just try.
Eventually, I lost interest in Yu-Gi-Oh!, and there wasn't much Naruto left to consume. But after watching these shows, I was looking at anime differently. I was no longer limited to just one genre - I could watch anything I wanted and interpret it in a way that I found satisfying. My current favorite anime is My Hero Academia, a show I would have immediately discarded as unwatchable in the past. Right now, I'm watching Berserk, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, and Another, a combination that never would have been possible for me if I hadn't broadened by horizons.
Your Anime Journey
Maybe you're like I was - solidly stuck in the romance genre. Maybe you're the exact opposite - you love stories about heroes defying the odds, but haven't yet branched out into other areas. Maybe you can't bring yourself to care about anything other than supernatural slice of life monster girl anime. Whatever the case, if you stick to one genre, you're missing out on a potential new favorite. Watching anime that you don't think you'll enjoy expands the boundaries of what you're capable of appreciating - and by extension, the boundaries of who you are.
Also, if you stick to narrowly defined tastes, you could be missing out on genre classics. I didn't want to watch Neon Genesis Evangelion because I didn't think I'd like mecha - but I did it, and it had surprising psychological depth that resonated with me long after I watched it. Like literature nerds who need to bite the bullet and read Dostoevsky at some point, us anime fans have a canon we need to experience.
It can also be a way to get closer to others. You know how I started watching Yu-Gi-Oh! because my sister loved it? Not only did watching it give us something to talk about, it showed that I was actually willing to take the things she cared about seriously - not exactly a given in sibling relationships. If you've been putting off watching something that a loved one is into because you don't think you'll like it - this is your signal to give it a shot.
Now, this doesn't mean watching harem anime if you find yourself disgusted or offended by them, and it doesn't mean finishing a 200+ episode series if you've given it a shot and you don't love it. It does mean leaving your comfort zone. A particular series may not look interesting to you from the outside, but might have exactly what you're looking for on the inside. If it doesn't, that's okay too - I was actually right that I wouldn't like Berserk - but I sure had a great time entertaining my friends talking about the worst parts of it.
Do you have any experience with watching anime that you thought you'd hate? How did it go? Let us know in the comments.