As anime becomes more mainstream there will be more discussions of varying quality online regarding the medium. As such there are more chances for people to makes themselves look bad that hopefully you will come to regret. As such here are some friendly scenarios, rules, and suggestions on how to discuss our favorite topic without being a total...
The “What is Anime” Discussion: This is a fun one as it is so subjective you can discus it for hours with friends, its also one you can type away furiously at because somebody is wrong on the internet. Unlike a few discussions which you should never engage in, this one can be useful as it has the ability to make interesting points. However, there are pitfalls to avoid.
One such pitfall being the comment “Well in Japan anime just means animation, so EVERYTHING in anime”. This statement does not help anything. Firstly its so well known as to be assumed knowledge when discussing this topic. There is also the fact it has a way of poisoning the well, being that is semantically true but contextually wrong. Unless you are in Japan when discussing this topic, you are inevitably talking about the Wests definition of anime not Japans. Basically, the discussion is not helped by knowing that in Japan Frozen is considered anime because in the rest of the world it is not.
Effectively a golden rule I would suggest one follows is know when a topic is subjective and talk with the goal of understanding not proving a point. In fact that is a good rule for everything. Really do that.
Dubs vs Subs: You know how I said there are good subjective debates and bad subjective debates. Well this is one of the bad ones; as unless you are a dubbing/subbing professional and can give insight into the production process there is literally nothing to discuss except opinions. However, this topic is so fraught with emotional baggage it will always devolve into a screaming match. Often quite quickly.
The main issue is this topic is often used as a proxy for purity, in that if you enjoy dubbed anime your credibility as a weeb is suspect. This is of course bullshit and anyone who thinks that is indeed insufferable but you know it to be true. Nobodies fandom is more pure then any others, we are all just fans.
Beyond this, most people engaging in these debates tend to be doing so out of limited information. Such as likely not actually watching recent dubbed anime, in fact if you look at a lot of the the most common criticisms of dubbed anime: “it all sounds the same”, “its mistranslated”, or “they produce the Japanese words weirdly” you can actually track it to a single anime dub - Naruto (Bleach too). Which makes sense as the Naruto dub remains one of the most popular dubbed anime ever.
As such if you see a dub vs sub fight breaking out just stay away. No good comes of it. You like what you like and do not let some random on the internet tell you otherwise.
Popular does not mean Bad/Popular does not mean Good: Every season, every year, and every decade there comes along anime that define that period for anime fans. Sometimes they are a game changing anime like the 1990's Neon Genesis Evangelion, other times they are K-On... However, what they all have in common is they are popular and with popularity there is inevitably a backlash.
We are seeing it today with the sky high popularity of Sword Art Online, Attack on Titan, and I expect in time My Hero Academia. Each show with a dedicated fanbase and dedicated critics, you just need to search Youtube for 30 seconds for dozens of videos dissecting these anime (especially SAO). So avoiding discussing these shows is near impossible if you are into anime, even if you have not seen the series you know about them.
That being said when discussing these shows a few rules should try to be followed. Never assume the other person dumb - actually this is another one of those good rules for life in general - if they are it will likely come out in the discussion anyways. Respect the other persons preferences, taste is a personal choice that can grow and change, if you believe they like a bad show point it out in a respectful manner. This brings us to the final rule use actual examples, do not use generalizations. People tend to respond better to coherent thought backed by reality and if they don’t well then it is time to walk away from that discussion, as it is toxic.
Respect Gateway Anime: Here is the thing anime as a medium here in the West is largely built around “Gateway anime” as a new medium always needs entry points. These anime will forever be popular and to some they will be close to untouchable. For 90's kids Yu Yu Hakusho, Cowboy Beebop, Akira, Dragon Ball Z, and Gundam Wing are some of these untouchable series. For older fans, especially of franchise anime, this can be an issue if the Gateway anime is not considered a great addition to the franchise.
This is the case with Gundam fans relationship to Wing and Gundam SEED. Gundam fandom likely would not exist in the West without Wing (just ask the legion of Macross fans...) and would not be as big without SEED. The issue is both these shows are considered mediocre to bad by older fans. An opinion many people like to point out to those who came up during the series height of popularity. Often calling their fan status into question, sound familiar?
Do not do this. Again it comes back to respect. Respect their opinions even if you do not agree with them. Also know when to pick your battles and you will save a lot of time. These anime carry a lot of emotional weight and enjoy a very important spot in a fans head, changing those views are nearly impossible. The only way to fight emotion is with emotion and that NEVER ends well in online discussions - EVER.
Admit When You Are Wrong: Look, another general rule of good behavior who would have thought... Honestly, I have been guilty of this myself and it is not a good look. If you are shown to be wrong accept it and move on, it is not a big deal. When you continue to stand on a point that has more holes picked in it then Swiss Cheese you just look dumb longer, let it go.
At the end of the day these are just some small suggestion I think could make these discussions a little bit better. However as always, I saved the best few for last. Please do not be a dick online to other people, do not take anger out on other people, just be a good person even if you think that person sucks. Likely if you are discussing this topic in the first place you are doing it out of a good place and if you aren’t try not too. Oh hey look another good rule to apply to other topics online and off.