Recommendations: You're Gunna Carry That Weight

I take recommendations very, very seriously. One of my biggest goals as a blogger is to hopefully introduce people to new shows and experiences that they may enjoy. I’ve done a lot of recommendations in places such as Anime-Suki’s recommendation board (the only board I even use there) the Anime-Planet recommendation database, and to hundreds of people on forums, through AIM, through request, etc. And in return, I’ve also asked for many recommendations and learned about countless shows through recommendations – which is part of the reason I know so many shows. I think that with every recommendation given comes a little bit of weight, and it’s up to the recommendee to carry that weight.

I pride myself with my skill in recommending decisively – I don’t give bullshit recs that I don’t know that the recipient will be interested in. If you give me a list of shows that you like or that match a criteria, I’m going to compile the most common elements between those shows and rec a show that matches the most of those commonalities. If you are a new fan, I will quiz you on things like your favorite movies, your interests, etc, and give you a recommendation based on them. If you’re super-experienced, I’ll find you a completely unknown but totally amazing show that you will love. If you need anything to watch ever, fucking come to me, and I WILL find some fucking shit for you to watch.

Of course I want you to watch the shows that I enjoy or that I want you to enjoy or expect you to enjoy, because there’s something in it for me. If it’s a show that I love, I gain a comrade, maybe someone to talk about the show with, maybe someone who will provide me with new insights into that show. If it’s a show I know you will enjoy, maybe I’ll be hoping for your reactions to that show to see if I may have helped you find something in life you enjoyed. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when people on A-suki send me messages or raise my rep points with comments about how they loved my suggestions.

But as gratifying as it is when someone responds to a recommendation, the sad truth is that most of the recs I’m likely to give are going to get completely ignored. It’s to be expected in a lot of cases, especially on something like A-suki where someone could start a thread and then mysteriously disappear, or find themselves with so many recs from so may people that it becomes hard to decide what is actually worth checking out. But let me tell you, there are a number of people who have genuinely and truly fucking pissed me off in this regard, and most were people I met in ‘the meat.’

At my school, there were always a ton of people calling themselves ‘anime fans’ who we knew as ‘narutards’. These were the first people I tried – I gave them short, written lists of shows I knew they would love, and in every case, regardless of how excited they acted about the lists, months or years would pass with no one watching. Then there were the kids who actually hung out with me, some of which knew a lot more shows than the narutards. They would occasionally check something out, but still ignore most of my recs . I actually had people who I loaned fucking DVD boxes who never fucking watched the goddamn shit. One case I will never forget was of a girl who had never seen any anime but who had friends who liked it. I got her into the idea of trying, and talked about her for an hour about the things she liked to come up with the perfect recommendation – just 2 shows, 2 shows I thought she might like, and I wrote out a detailed explanation of how to find them streamed and explained this all to her and her enthusiasm. She never got back to me at all.

I can’t help but feel insulted when this happens – why would you get my fucking hopes up? Why would you fucking convince me that you were interested if you weren’t? After years I had given up on almost everyone but people like that bitch convinced me so much that they were into the idea just to do what I felt like was a betrayal.

I don’t even care if you don’t like the show. Fuck, I don’t care if you go on wikipedia or read about he show and tell me it doesn’t look like your thing – that’s a good fucking excuse, I myself wouldn’t watch shit that wasn’t my thing, but what the fuck is it when you say nothing? I’d like to think that I know most of the people I talk to’s taste quite well and if I don’t, I find out. There are some people I know not to share recommendations with – Patz is one of my good friends in the blogosphere and there are some shows we agree on, but for the most part we know better than to rec to one another because he’s a sci-fi nut and I’m waging some kind of war against plot. But if there’s someone who I do know I can rec to, and they want a rec, and I tell them a rec, it’s because I fucking know they will like it.

When I give you a recommendation, I am giving you a weight to carry. It’s the weight of my wanting to hear your thoughts – a weight of my emotions, because I wouldn’t have told you about something if I didn’t want you to see it or try it or just research it for one.

What prompted me to write this is really something only lightly related. For those who don’t know, I have two younger brothers (16 and 12) and my family is very close. Any time I spend away from my computer, I’m playing with my youngest brother or bugging my lil bro. However, I have a hard time spending time with my family because they are interested in different things than I am. In the past and even sometimes in the present, people are always telling me that they ‘never see me’ because I am always in my room. The truth is, though, that no one ever does anything to interest me around here – my parents watch a lot of TV, my brother plays a lot of video games – there’s not much for me to do but play with the young-un who has become as big an anime fan as I am.

But here’s the thing – it’s not like I don’t want to do shit with them, it’s that they don’t want to do shit with me. My lil bro loves anime, and he’s ultra-responsive to shows – he will like pretty much anything he sees. However, when I want to watch something with him – something I REALLY want him to see because I know he will love it, he never wants to sit through it. And he has the nerve to say that he needs to see more. But far more painful is my parents – there are a number of shows I KNOW they would enjoy, but they just won’t ever watch it. They’ll find every way out of it – ‘not today, some other time, I don’t feel like it, not anime’ – I’ve been trying to get them to watch something, ANYTHING, for YEARS, and they won’t even glance at it.

It’s a fucking recommendation. It’s like me extending an invitation into my own life. ‘Here, see a side of me. See something I appreciate, and see if you might appreciate it, too. See if we can find a commonality.’ When I get someone to watch something that I want them to see, I feel more connected to the world – I fell like more people are sharing my interests, my experiences, my life. It’s like a validation of my existence. Anime recs, music recs, movie recs – knowing that something that effected me effected others is like a validation of the emotions that I felt – it’s like telling me that those emotions matter, because I am not alone. So don’t ever ask me for a recommendation if you won’t check it out. Don’t act excited if you have no intention of checking it out. Don’t pretend that you want to be a part of my life if you aren’t willing to connect with me in the way that matters most to me.

^ Suspected to be the result of listening to Eminem all day

23 thoughts on “Recommendations: You're Gunna Carry That Weight

  1. I’ve found that a flat-out ‘you will love this’ reccomendations rarely work. Hyping up a show yourself but letting the person themselves ask for confirmation that they will enjoy the show generally turns out to be a far more effective method. An off-hand comment works better than a well-written explanation. Odd and, as you’ve said, very frustrating, but I guess thats just how people are wired.

    Although…you’ve gotten my interest in your hyper-accurate reccomendations enough for me to ask for a reccomendation myself. My MAL account is which should give a better representation of what I enjoy than a lengthy paragraph at genres. What would you reccomend I watch next?

  2. I think the idea in some places that there is a social obligation to pretend to be interested in what others are interested in. It’s an unhealthy idea, for the reasons you mention above.

    • Yeah, people just trying to make small talk with no real regards to what’s being said. Pisses me off. I don’t fucking do small talk – if I say some shit, it’s something I consider important. And I never fake interest.

  3. I’ve written about this kind of thing on my website, but I can say it here just as short.

    It’s easier to say “I really like this!” as opposed to “You’re going to like this!” If they end up being curious about it, let them muster up the effort, not you.

  4. here here to what Baka-Raptor said.
    I like it when someone watches a rec i made for them and gets back to me about it, liked it or not, the fact that they watched it and trusted me enough to take that leap is enough for me. :)

  5. For me, if it takes a while for me to watch a recommendation, it’s usually because I like to be in the right mood to watch a series. If it’s something light and short, then that usually doesn’t take long, but if it’s something more dramatic, or a longer series (or both), then it might take some time before I say, “OK, I want to watch this series now.” I had Wolf’s Rain on my computer for nearly a year before I watched it, haha.

    • And I know this kind of thing becuse I do it myself, it can take me upwards of 3 years to finish a series I really enjoy or start on one I know I’ll like, so when people rec me stuff I’ll tell them ‘im interested in it, not sure how soon i’ll watch it, though’

  6. Oh shit, do I understand what you mean. If there’s one thing I’ve picked up over the past few years from my two friends who are more or less my otaku sensei, it’s an overwhelming sense of pride whenever I enjoy an anime, especially when I find it for myself. One of the big reasons I want to start a blog is more or less spelled out in your third paragraph–I want to find people who enjoy the same things I do, who I can connect with, and who can help me delve deeper into the shoes I watch.

    They’ve taught me–more or less instilled into me–not to give out recommendations lightly. The anime we love, the shows we feel as though we’re a part of…they’re an otaku’s pride and joy, our sacred treasures. I hate recommending one of my favorite anime to someone who doesn’t watch it, not only because it’s rude, but also because they’re insulting what I consider to be a beautiful, often moving piece of artwork.

  7. I try to wait for people to ask me for a recommendation first, otherwise my recommendations usually get ignored. But sometimes when I think of a good anime, I can’t help but tell friends that it’s good and they’ll like it. But unless they sound especially interested and want to know more, that’s as far as I go. Sometimes they do follow through, sometimes they don’t, but I’m just no good at actively imposing my opinions on others unless they really want it.

    I’ve shown anime to my mom a few times over the years and she’s liked most of them. But whenever I want to show her a new one, especially a series rather than a movie, I have to keep pestering her or else she’ll do the same thing as your parents (“I don’t feel like it, not anime”)

    And I love what you said here…
    “‘Here, see a side of me. See something I appreciate, and see if you might appreciate it, too. See if we can find a commonality.’ When I get someone to watch something that I want them to see, I feel more connected to the world – I fell like more people are sharing my interests, my experiences, my life.”

    I feel exactly the same way. Anime is so important to me that when someone else, especially someone who’s not a fan, enjoys an anime I like, I feel like I’ve gained a new comrade in my otherwise private, under-appreciated world (since anime is under-appreciated here in America). It’s a very satisfying feeling that unfortunately I don’t experience often.

    • Yes. And I’ll admit, I am a man who is utterly desperate for attention. There’s really not a whole lot to my life besides anime, so I consider it integral in connecting to others, so it hurts to be shows that people don’t want to connect.

  8. I can relate to this post a lot, because I am an avid recommender myself with my RL friends. After my mentors in anime helped me start on the right track, I managed to part ways with them very quickly in terms of taste and anime seen. Soon I was watching way different shows that they never even heard about (thanks to MTF for this), and I wanted them and my other anime-watching friends to experience the joy I had had in watching such shows. Problem is, it kinda backfired on me as my taste developed into something really different from what my friends would take. My real robot-loving friend liked Gurren Lagann a lot, but he honestly couldn’t stand Giant Robo’s plot. I took it really badly.

    I think it’s a bit of my fault too–had I been more observant with what they liked, I’d not give them anime that only I liked, just so I could have someone to talk with regards to those shows. I feel this is very egoistical of me, since when it comes to recommendations I believe that the other party is king! So I changed how I recommend things, a little bit more akin to your quiz method.

    One thing I learned, though, is to expect nothing. People have other lives, and while they might humor you for your extreme anime knowledge (lol), it’s bad to expect that they’ll be as rabid for anime as you are. People have lives of their own, so if they manage to get into just one show I pointed out for them (and like it), then I’ve done a great job already.

    And yeah, my brother is almost exactly like that! He hates moe and woman protagonists, though. What a tool.

    • Interesting story of diverging tastes. Funeral and I could be somewhat similar, because I went full otaku before he did and when he wanted to try being as otaku as I was, I showed hi things, and he just couldn’t get into the moe thing no matter how hard he tried, and ended up giving up on being an otaku. Though at least I couldn’t have seen him being into moe anyway.

      MY little brothers love moe and everything. The youngest pretty much just watches moe – his favorite show is CLANNAD.

  9. I stopped recommending stuff to people after the INCIDENT: I was fresh of watching the movie “Bad Santa” and I went into the staff room and proclaimed loudly that it was “the best film of all time.” Everyone (6 people) borrowed my DVD in turns and everyone hated it. Losers!

  10. What. People act interested in what you are saying because it looks rude to not, like pretending to listen to the teacher. Social interaction is not exactly this huge emotional deal.

    • Social Interaction sucks – if you say ‘it is what it is’ then I say ‘I hate what it is.’

      And I never pretended to listen to teachers, I just slept through all of their classes and drew things :p

  11. Most of my friends think that anime is a waste of time, though I have had a few recent successes. I able to get one of my peers are school, not even really a friend but a peer who has never watched anime before, to watch gurren lagann. And he actually liked it! I then got my best friend from middle school who I don’t see alot nowadays to watch or at least start Aoi Hana, and another friend to watch Ergo Proxy, Eve no Jikan and Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade. Not much but its a start! xD

  12. When I recommend I never say “you’ll love this” or “I think this is the best ever”. I give it to people straight, I tell them what I liked about it, what I think they might like about it and even what I didn’t like about it. I tend to be rather forceful in getting people to watch things though. I could convince my parents to watch Miyazaki’s movie and even got my dad to sit through part of Akira when the power was out. Usually if I want someone to listen to a song, I send it to them, and bug them about it. I say “you are going to watch this”. Really people should rebel against that idea but if you got it right in front of them 9 times out of the 10 they will watch it if they aren’t doing anything. I find though, when giving recs I tell them what they might like (with regard to anime) and leave the rest up to them. I might ask them later “did you ever watch X show” and recommend it again. I’m not as invested in the rec usually as you apparently are. I might be disheartened if they don’t enjoy it but even though Black Lagoon is awesome I’m not gonna be upset if they don’t watch it. It’s their loss really.

  13. Pingback: Who Was Your ‘Anime Sensei’? « Fuzakenna!

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