How To Watch Anime

How To Watch Anime


Are you watching anime correctly? Are you’re an anime beginner and aren’t sure how to begin watching anime the right way? An anime veteran who wants to make sure their not watching anime wrong? Well, look no further than DoubleSama’s “How To Watch Anime” guide!

By following the five easy steps listed below, you too can make sure your anime viewing experience is both constructive and efficient, because there’s nothing worse than wasting your time watching anime incorrectly.

1. Find an anime streaming service

The first thing you should do, before even thinking about anime, is find an anime streaming service to use. There’s a lot of variety out there, and it can sometimes be hard to choose between all the competing services available, especially when they each offer service-exclusive options.

Well, luckily for you, I’ve discovered a foolproof way to determine which streaming service you should use: whatever one you already have. That’s right, if you already have access to a streaming service that offers anime, just continue to use that one until you’ve watched everything they offer that you’re interested in.

Now, that’s not to say that you can’t branch out, but it’ll probably take some time before that’s necessary given the amount of anime available. The two services I use the most are Crunchyroll and Netflix, but there are other viable options as well such as Amazon.

The reason I’ve decided to mention these three is because I feel they’re some of the most accessible options (at least for those of us in the U.S.). Just about everyone has a Netflix and/or Amazon Prime membership, which means they already have access to a good number of titles to start with.

However, Crunchyroll is another option, and the one I tend to use the most. The best part about it is that it’s free (if you so choose). Users can watch most anime (with the exception of brand new episodes for the first week they’ve aired) at a staggering 480p for free, but you can also always upgrade to Premium for access to the newest episodes and 1080p quality.

This next part is specifically for those who are interested in dubbed anime, so if you already know that’s not for you, skip to step 2, otherwise, continue reading.

Some streaming services are better than others when it comes to dubbed anime options, so if you think that’s what you’re interested in, this should probably be something to think about when choosing a streaming service. We’ll get into the details of subbed vs. dubbed later on, but it’s still important to think about at this point.

Netflix has a fair amount of dubbed anime, and Amazon may as well (I don’t use them so I’m not actually sure), but Funimation is also a viable option since they kind of specialize in dubbing anime. I’m not interested in dubs, so I can’t vouch for their service personally, but I hear it gets the job done.

Netflix, Amazon Prime instant video, Funimation, and Crunchyroll logos
Netflix, Amazon, Funimation, and Crunchyroll

2. Find the right anime

Now that you’ve picked a streaming service to use, it’s time to find the right anime for you. There are thousands of options to choose from, so how can you possibly know where to start? If you’re new to anime, a great place to start is my post about Anime for Beginners.

For everyone else, consider checking out my Guide to Bad Anime if you want to learn how to spot a potentially bad anime from a mile away. But assuming you have some sense of what’s good and what’s not, there are still way too many options to choose from.

The best way to decide what to watch is to simply pick something that looks interesting to you at that moment. Sounds easy enough, but if you’re an anime veteran, chances are you also have a fairly long Plan to Watch List, in which case, you should try to pick something off there.

Some of the "Popular" anime on Crunchyroll featuring Attack on Titan, My Hero Academia, Boruto, and One Piece
Some of the “Popular” anime on Crunchyroll

Really, as long as you think you’ll like an anime from the start, there’s not really a wrong choice during this step. It’s only later on that you’ll figure out how horribly wrong you were, but that’s in the future, so we don’t need to think about that just yet.

Remember, if it turns out you chose the wrong anime, you can always drop it and nobody will think any less of you (except all the people who like that anime, they’ll hate you).

When dropping anime, the general rule is to give it three episodes before making a final decision, but let’s be honest, it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes you can tell an anime is going to be bad from episode one, and other times it takes until the second cour to show its true colors (looking at you, Darling in the FranXX).

However, before you finalize the anime you’re about to watch, there’s one final thing to do before you begin, which takes us to step 3.

3. Subbed vs. Dubbed

The battle between subbed and dubbed anime has been raging for decades, and there are still those out there who will defend dubbed anime for some ungodly reason. I get that Cowboy Bebop and Fullmetal Alchemist have good dubs, but those are just two out of thousands of anime.

And, chances are that if the anime you want to watch is recent, it doesn’t yet have a dub. But that’s not to say that all older anime are dubbed either. My favorite series, the Monogatari series, started back in 2009 and still doesn’t have a dub, and there’s no guarantee it ever will.

The general rule for dubs is that if an anime is thought to become successful in the West, it has a decent chance of getting a dub. If an anime is deemed to be “too Japanese” (that’s the only way I can really describe it) then it probably won’t get a dub because the big wigs who fund the dubbing don’t think it will translate into enough money for them.

If this doesn’t make sense to you, consider the following: some anime, such as the Monogatari series, rely heavily on references to other parts of Japanese media and culture which aren’t as well-known in the West. Because of this, many Westerners who might watch a dubbed version of it wouldn’t know what’s being talked about.

A classic example of this in action is the infamous “Jelly Filled Doughnuts” scene from the original Pokémon anime. It was deemed that rice balls were too exotic for American children of the time and so they wouldn’t understand. So how did they fix this? They simply called them Jelly Filled Doughnuts in the dub.

If all you care about are shounen anime and you like dubs, well good news, you’re probably going to be just fine. But, if you’re into some more obscure genres, the chance of dubs being released is less likely.

So what does this all mean? If you’re an anime beginner, you’ll likely gravitate toward dubs to start, and that’s fine, but just keep in mind that you’re missing out on most of what the medium of anime has to offer. For anyone who isn’t a beginner, however, just watch subbed anime like the anime gods intended and stop being a heathen.

Now, remember how I said this third step was important for step 2? Well, it’s really only important if you’re interested in dubs because now that you’ve selected an anime you want to watch, you need to make sure it actually has a dub, otherwise you’ll need to start step 2 all over again.

4. Binge vs. Sporadic viewing

Congratulations, you’ve found a streaming service with an anime you want to watch in the language you want to watch it in! But that’s just the beginning, now comes the actual how in “How To Watch Anime.”

There are generally two different ways in which people watch anime. There are those who binge watch entire series, and there are those who simply watch an episode or two at a time. Determining which of these two groups you fall into is of vital importance.

If you’re the type of person who prefers to sit down and watch an entire series (or season) in one go, then you’re likely not going to be keeping up to date with the currently airing anime of the season. On the other hand, you’re also likely to get through more anime overall.

Sporadic viewers are probably the majority. These are those, myself included, who either watch an episode or two when they have the time between doing other things, or simply get tired of watching a single series for too long and so change things up by mixing in a variety of shows.

This isn’t to say that the sporadic viewer can’t binge a series, the most recent one I binged was Violet Evergarden, but generally these viewers aren’t spending an entire afternoon on one anime.

In some cases, the viewer doesn’t have much of a choice in which of these viewing styles they use. Some people are busy most of the week and so have to binge series on the weekends, others have a more spread out schedule and only have a little bit of time to watch anime spread throughout the week.

However, no matter what viewing style you use, the most important thing is that it works for you. By this I don’t simply mean that it fits into your schedule, but rather fits into how you enjoy watching anime. That’s right, anime is for enjoyment.

As someone who’s constantly being distracted by other things such as games, food, work, or my phone, bingeing anime simply tends not to work all that well for me. I need variety in what I watch so that I can continue to actually pay attention.

If I were to binge an anime that’s actually a 7/10, I’d likely rate it lower simply due to the fact that I lost interest partway through, when I otherwise wouldn’t have if I took breaks. Understanding the best way to watch anime for you is an important factor in how much enjoyment you’ll get out of a series.

Enjoyment rating featuring Aqua and Megumin from KonoSuba
Enjoyment Rating: Aqua to Megumin

I’ve mentioned enjoyment a few times now, and it may seem obvious that one would watch anime for enjoyment, but surprisingly that’s not always the case. There are some who seem to believe that the amount of anime they’ve watched is an indication of how much of a fan they are (or something to that effect).

Occasionally, these anime viewers forgo the all important enjoyment factor in favor of mass quantities of anime. I’ve heard of people watching anime at 2x speed so they can get through double the amount they would normally be able to, but at what cost?

If you’re watching anime simply to get through as much as possible without actually taking it in and enjoying it for what it is, then why are you even watching it in the first place? It’s one thing to have anime on in the background while you’re doing something else, but speeding through series just so you can check them off on MAL seems like a bit much.

I wanted to bring this up just to show that bingeing an anime is not the same thing as watching a lot of one series just to power through it. People who binge watch anime generally do so with the intention of actually enjoying what they’re watching, so don’t get the wrong idea.

5. Pick a “Best Girl”

Now that you know how to watch the anime you’ve selected properly, it’s time to get into what happens both during, and after you watch an anime. The “Best Girl” contest (or best boy, I suppose).

Best Girl Contest featuring characters from Monogatari, Steins;Gate, Sword Art Online, and more
Best Girl Contest

Ignoring the fact that the results shown in the image above are clearly wrong, the best girl contest is an important part of anime culture and is something every anime fan will get involved in at one point or another. These contests can take a variety of forms, but two of the major types are best girl overall and best girl in a particular anime.

For the sake of this post I’ll be sticking to the best girl in a particular anime category.

During or after the viewing of an anime you should develop an affinity for one of the characters in the series (typically a female character). You may think to yourself, “wow, Sakura really is the best girl in Naruto,” and you’d be right in thinking that.

Unfortunately, there are those who don’t share the same taste in “best girl” as you. We simply refer to those people as “wrong.” It’s now you’re duty to defend your best girl from the terrible opinions of those who might disagree with you.

Remember, if you can’t pick a best girl by the end of an anime, it means you probably chose the wrong anime to watch so you should head back up to step 2 and start over from there. It’s unlikely that your streaming service is the issue, so if you continue to be unable to choose a best girl, seek medical attention immediately, because it’s probably just you.


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4 Replies to “How To Watch Anime”

  1. A silly thing about my favorite anime Cromartie High School is the outrageous fact that there were no female characters (except for the one guy’s mom, who only appeared briefly and was considered terrifying). Not sure how “best girl” would work in that situation 😂

    Anyway, when it comes to deciding what anime to watch, you suggested choosing something that looks interesting at the moment. But let me share my preferred method of choosing which anime to watch: just ask friends or family what their favorite anime is, and go watch it. This works for me because I know these people well and I trust they wouldn’t suggest something dumb. I do the same thing with movies, too.

    Also, the only anime that should ever be watched dubbed is Ghost Stories.

    1. Hey, Maeda’s mother was a lovely woman. Definitely deserving of “best girl.”

      I think if I ever watch Ghost Stories, I’d probably still pick the sub over the dub. I did the same thing with Cowboy Bebop despite some people claiming the dub is actually better.

      1. Oh but Ghost Stories is different. The dub is the whole reason to watch it. Whoever was doing the official dub basically made it into a joke. I’ve watched it both subbed and dubbed and without the goofy dub, it’s just another anime about ghost stories. Try looking up clips from the dub on Youtube to see what I mean.

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