There’s already a a post on the methods I use for narrowing down a seasonal lineup, but Kimchi’s post inspired me to write about the ways I look for a seasonal lineup.
Just for reference, I’ll only be referring to the predictions list I had for summer 2018 when listing examples for this post.
Step 1: Seen the source material
On the offhand chance that I’m actually familiar with the upcoming anime in some other form – be it manga, game or whatever – that tends to make the top positions on the initial seasonal post. This is the most rewarding part of trying a bit of everything – you have some expectations going in or things you’re looking forward to seeing animated and most times they should turn out great.
For this season, Muhyo and Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation made the top of my list because it’s one of the manga I can say I’ve finished…since most of the manga I start are ongoing, that’s why I haven’t finished that many.
Step 2: Heard good things about the source
For something where the source material’s been released and there’s been nothing but good buzz, they tend to perform better than anime chosen through some of the later steps. You can’t possibly check out every manga, game and other type of source material without compromising your wallet, devices or time, after all. Cells at Work! had a lot of good buzz around it, so it fits this step.
For anime-originals, if there’s a prominent creator that I’m familiar with or have heard good things about, that fits here too, since that’s the closest equivalent. Planet With fits this criterion, since apparently Satoshi Mizukami’s manga are pretty well-known in the manga community.
Step 3: Up your alley?
At this point, it will be closer to the season’s launch and I’m only left with shows I’m unfamiliar with. Anime News Network‘s announcements will have clued me into what’s coming, because normally a PV or key visual (or two!) will have dropped plus a synopsis and a small list of the main voice cast (more on the voice cast later). I don’t watch PVs, but I’ll definitely pay attention to the others when picking these shows. These are the ones where you just go, “Oh. This might be interesting,” so something like Phantom in the Twilight, which I found through looking at AniChart, works here.
Shows which fit this step tend to be ranked lower than the previous ones, since they’re pretty hit-or-miss. Kyoto Teramachi Sanjou no Holmes was the highest-ranking show that fit that criteria this time, for instance.
Notably, I don’t just use the title as a metric for picking a show. I have to take the synopsis and title into consideration together, because there are misleading titles and misleading synopses but evaluating both at the same time minimises the chance of being blindsided by surprises from both of those in the first episode.
Also, I do not discriminate between genre – again, misleading labelling (or just throwing in all the genre tags because the show is hard to pin down) can deceive a viewer, so just throwing in all examples of a genre in your seasonal watchlist is bound to produce at least one dud title, plus it might end up lining up too much similar content in a row if you’re that unfortunate.
I might make allowances for shows due to their overall genre – I checked out Angels of Death for that reason this summer – but of course impressions after the first episode are more tantamount than making it to the list in the first place. After all, if it is good enough and it’s a seasonal show, then I should be able to enjoy it even after the hype’s died down.
Most of the time, anyway – the strange limitations of HiDive and Daisuki proved me wrong on that, but now HiDive is on a full paywall system and Daisuki’s gone, I no longer need to bother with them.
Step 4: Any voice actors you like?
Are there any shows which are so out of your way you wouldn’t touch them, and yet there’s a voice actor you like (or a voice actor you would watch a show for) on the staff?
This is how I ended up picking Senjuushi. Unfortunately, it got put behind a paywall, so I don’t know how I feel about that show…also, said voice actor (Yuichiro Umehara) got pulled from the cast, so there was no point anyway.
(In rare cases, I may pick a show due to the staff instead, but often it’s the voice actors.)
Step 5: Other people’s opinions
Due to the paywalls that have sprung up in recent years, I’ve had to rely on this step more (especially in the summer, because that seems to be a pretty invasive season for paywalls) – reading other people’s first episode impressions.
This also has the hidden problem of sucking all the fun out of things which were meant to be unexpected – i.e. pretty much all the comedy shows…(Sorry I didn’t mention I’d read ahead when we talked about Chio’s School Road, Plyasm!) That’s why I only do it for shows I’m uncertain about and/or feel like they should be up my alley, but passed on them. The so-called “resolution anime” are part of this step too.
So, that’s all I’ve got here. Are there any criteria you have which don’t match mine?