Occasionally I browse /r/anime purely to check links to people’s MAL pages. It is truly mind blowing to see some people who hang around the anime community that have seen over 500 shows. But like anything, this makes me feel unqualified to write about anime due to what seems like my lack of background knowledge when compared to other fans of the medium. I’ve also heard other content creators discuss this issue, explaining how there always seems to be another person online who seems to know more about a subject than you, but does that really matter? This idea inspired me to discuss the enjoyment of art over the quality of art in one of my previous blogs which also leads the the core of this blog; does the amount of anime you watch make you more knowledgeable about the medium? I’m also going to touch on some viewing habits that I have, as well as what I have observed by hanging around the community.
Personally, I consider myself to be a bit of an outlier when it comes to consuming anime. When I started watching anime a few years ago, I would watch a few episodes of a particular show each day, and would go a few weeks without watching anything else after completing it. I never was really involved with the social aspect of the anime community up until recently, so I was left to myself to think about the ideas introduced in each series. This inspired me to start writing about anime, mostly rambling (a style I continue to this day) and would just save these pages of text to my hard drive and not really think much of them. After a while, I ceased to be a “casual” viewer when I started getting into more “obscure shows” when looked at from a public perspective. These shows were cult hits of the anime community such as “Steins;Gate,” “Bakemonogatari,” and of course, “Neon Genesis Evangelion.” These were some of the first shows that really pushed my further into the void. Around this time was also the first time I started to do anime binge sessions, in which I would watch around 9 or 10 episodes in one sitting, but this began to change as of recent. Some of my online friends seems to pull of 15+ episode binges as ease which seems unfathomable for me. I by no means have a short attention span but sometimes I like to introduce some variety into my viewing session. Recently I have started to watch two shows at a time, or interrupting my viewing of a series by throwing a film into the mix.
My change in viewing habits have also led to something I consider “Saving Anime.” No, I am not referring to Studio Trigger’s popular release, rather the practice where I save certain anime so they can be viewed at a particular moment in my life. These are usually shows I am fairly certain will be to my liking, so I save them for a special time where I can “maximize” my enjoyment of it. The example I like to discuss when I mention this idea is one of my recent favorites, “Welcome To The NHK.” I will not deny the fact that I’m very unsociable, I prefer to spend my days indoors in front of a computer screen watching two-dimensional anime girls do cute things, so when I first heard about an anime with a main character who was a shut-in NEET, I thought it would be a quality experience to watch it. I was already familiar with the concept of being a hikkikomori, which Satou is in the aforementioned anime, and this was something that I wished not to be but was slowly moving towards. I waited until a lonely night after finals and popped in the first disc of this anime. (I had already purchase this series because I knew that I would like it) Watching this anime was quite the experience, a very humorous approach at the idea of being an outcast to society and not being able to fit in, which I only was able to understand to a certain extent. I’ll save you the effort of hearing me ramble more about NHK by summarizing my time with it as being extremely enjoyable and emotionally impactful. The reason for this is what I credit to my idea of maximizing enjoyment through saving an anime for a special moment.
Sometimes I feel like some people, myself guilty of this as well, to simply watch an anime simply to mark it off as “Watched” on your list. There’s a sense of accomplishment when you stand back and see your list with a few hundred anime completed and the ability to say that you’ve seen the “important” shows that everyone seems discuss all the time. However, I feel like this isn’t necessarily the best thing because this practice doesn’t allow for much personal enjoyment into the equation. Often, people tell me that they feel like they’re less of a fan because they haven’t seen a big show like “Cowboy Bebop” or “Serial Experiments Lain,” but I reassure them that they have just as important of an opinion as a “well-cultured” who’s seen those shows. I feel like anime should only be seen if you genuinely want to watch them, and you should never watch a show because “everyone seems to talk about it” or because you want to add them to your completed shows. This may come off as a bit “preachy” but I value the importance of personal enjoyment over the ability to seem like a knowledgeable fan. Because of this, I go through an expensive process when picking a new anime to watch which usually involves a few hours of research online by looking through ANN articles, youtube videos, fanart and sometimes listening to some songs from the OST. I like to get invested with the anime which, I believe leads to my ability to enjoy is much more.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you consume anime because it is your decision. I just wanted to bring to attention that sometimes you don’t have to watch a certain series because the anime community seems to condemn you for not watching it, rather, watch shows that make you happy. Additionally, maybe try the practice of “Saving Anime” and let me know how that works out for you, or maybe you have already been doing something similar for years and love it. If you have, I’d love to hear about a show that was more impactful because of this. Anyways, thanks for reading my incoherent thoughts, have a nice day.
Go enjoy some anime!