The guilty pleasure anime category encompasses the shows you don't want anyone to know you're into. For some people, these are fan service anime - these series can be a ton of fun, but viewers might feel weird about them, either for moral reasons or simply because they'd be embarrassed to have someone walk in on them while they're watching. For others, a guilty pleasure show might be super cute in a way that doesn't fit their image.
There's no reason an adult can't enjoy Chi's Sweet Home, but it may be hard to explain to a non-fan why they're watching a show aimed at small children. A handful of shows just aren't well-written or are only good in parts. If someone is a literature major who regularly reads the classics, they might struggle to articulate why they're so passionate about Yu-Gi-Oh! Regardless of individual taste, there are a ton of popular shows people wouldn't necessarily boast about watching.
It wouldn't be out of line to claim High School DxD is centered around nothing but gratuitous displays of the women in the show. However, there is a plot in there somewhere: Issei Hyoudou gets murdered, comes back to life as Rias's servant, and ends up locked in deadly battles against a series of angels and demons. High School DxD may not be a work of literary genius, but it's a surefire way to have a good time.
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The much-maligned but beloved series Sword Art Online is totally a guilty pleasure viewing experience. It starts with a solid premise: A group of virtual-reality gamers is trapped in a game for well over a year, and if they are eliminated in the game, they will be eliminated in real life. It also features awesome fight scenes, an interesting romance plot between Kirito and his girlfriend, Asuna, and a fun, expansive fantasy world.
So what makes it a guilty pleasure? First of all, it's total wish-fulfillment - Kirito's in-game skills are unreasonably good, and he's attractive to every girl he comes across. It's also difficult to enjoy the part where Asuna, a formerly badass heroine, gets locked in a cage by Nobuyuki Sugou, her unwanted fiance.
Despite its sillier and more disturbing parts, it's hard not to feel affection for Sword Art Online.
Fans shouldn't bother trying to convince themselves they're watching Monster Musume as fantasy aficionados. For that, they could watch a much tamer series, like A Centaur's Life or Interviews With Monster Girls. No, if they're watching Monster Musume, they're there to watch Kimihito Kurusu get dog-piled by his harem of humanoid magical creatures who are all more than happy to share their interspecies assets with him.
There's just enough of a plot to keep things from getting boring, but Monster Musume is probably best enjoyed in the privacy of one's own home.
Fruits Basket is one of those series that is equally flawed as it is lovable. The Sohma family's structure is terrifying; explicit child abuse is dismissed and forgiven because the perpetrator (usually Akito Sohma) is also in pain. Twentysomething men hit on teenagers, and it's supposed to be funny. The art is also dated, featuring some of the most scarily enormous eyes in any anime ever.
Despite these flaws, it's hard not to get sucked in by the drama, the romance, and the truly unforgettable cast of characters, including the aforementioned Akito Sohma, who despite his often egregious behavior is a truly fascinating villain. Someone calling themselves a Fruits Basket fan might have a few caveats, but nevertheless, it's a pleasure to be one.
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