Guilty pleasures are those things we’re embarrassed about, despite enjoying them. As I covered in part 1, anime is an easy source of that shame, whether it’s from the early days of anime in the West when anime was just another cartoon, or because of blatant fan service. There’s another source of shame caused by anime though. It’s the embarrassing fact that your anime friends may dislike your niche interests, or even find them bad or gross.

Keep in mind, Your Kink Is Not My Kink, And That’s Okay (YKINMKATO). It’s simple. Nobody should actively shame you for a kink you enjoy — barring the illegal. That goes both ways. If your guilty pleasure has you in a constant state of fear, if you’re worried that someone will consider what you like gross, try to defuse that guilt. Keep in mind that there are plenty of people out there who like stuff you don’t. So enjoy your Boys Love manga, or your Bible Black in peace, and don’t let anyone shame you or make you feel filthy, just because your tastes differ from theirs. In our society, that means not being vocal about your kinks. Discretion can go a long way.

The lightest version of a niche anime guilty pleasure is when people you know just don’t like something you do. They probably don’t mention it or shame you, but maybe they laughed when you suggested it was good. Since we’re not a bunch of robots who like all of the same things, this kind of guilt is mild at worst, but it can still make something feel like a guilty pleasure that you won’t share.

The core of both of the above guilty pleasures, of guilty enjoyment of niche genres or shows in general, is the anime you know other people consider bad. You feel shame because others might judge you for enjoying something. There are even shows that YOU consider bad but enjoy anyway. Sometimes you hit the peak of guilty pleasures when a show is full of fan service, awful moments, and is commonly considered bad, but you still find yourself binge watching twelve episodes straight.

In part, this guilty pleasure happens because shows can be bad for so many reasons. Maybe they have bad characters, jokes, art, or music. Maybe the plot is the worst part of the show, yet the parts you find compelling outweigh the downsides and keeps you watching. Whatever the case, you might find it harder to share these shows with other fans. Two of these shows, for me, are Aldnoah Zero and The Irregular at Magic High School. Among other things, these are shows I know some of my friends dislike.

Aldnoah Zero - Anime Guilty Pleasures

It’s hard to root for any of these people.

Aldnoah Zero has an excellent twelve episode first season, but it has its problems. The most obvious is that the main character is charmless. But the clever ideas used to defeat their technologically advanced enemy and the sense of doom that the main cast desperately fights against are powerful hooks that make the first season a joy. Unfortunately, the series has worse baggage. The second season can’t stand up to the first, but has moments and plot endings that make watching it worthwhile. My recognition of its problems hasn’t stopped me from watching it over and over again though.

Irregular at Magic High School - Anime Guilty Pleasures

There’s no shame in Tatsuya’s game

The Irregular at Magic High School generated its fair share of memes, and usually not for things it did right. From the MC’s sister constantly saying onii-sama, to his crazy power leading to people mocking him as Jesus-kun, there’s a lot of bad here, and I don’t care. The series does a good job of explaining its magic system, the effects are fun, the tournament arc is one of the few I’ve enjoyed in a long time, and the supporting cast are all people I want to see win. Once I start watching this show it was hard to stop, because of the way the action proceeds episode to episode, and because it’s just fun.

Anime guilty pleasures are a pleasure, and we should celebrate that. Not everything has to be shared, but there’s no point in feeling bad for enjoying a show someone else doesn’t, and anime fandom gives us that chance. I don’t tell everyone what my guilty pleasures are, but I don’t lie to my friends about what I’ve been watching either. Every genre, every season, has shows you’ll like and others won’t, and as long as you aren’t judging harshly, the people close to you shouldn’t either. Who knows, your guilt may be more misplaced than you know.

Of course, there’s something to be said for enjoying things with perfect privacy.

Please feel free to share your anime guilty pleasures in the comments or on our social media, along with what you love about them.

About the author

Adrian Salomons

An anime fan since the early 2000s, I've taken a lot of inspiration from the novelty, modernity, anachronisms, and yes, even the insanity, of anime and manga, and put it to use in creative writing. I specialize in speculative fiction that can combine technology and science with magic and superstition, thanks to all the anime that showed you could do exactly that. Now I'm trying to bring that love of anime and my appreciation for what it's done in broadening my horizons to the fine folks at J-List, with a little writing experience thrown in for good measure.