(Watching) Anime is Serious Business

Lately, it’s dawned on me how much pressure there seems to be surrounding the consumption of media. There’s this struggle of keeping up with current shows and being in on the discussion. And while it does extend to other forms of entertainment (TV, movies, games, books, etc.), I’m, of course, primarily referring to anime.

With all the currently airing shows (Boku no Hero Academia 2nd Season, Sakura Quest, Quan Zhi Gao Shou), recent movie releases (Bakemono no Ko, Kimi no Na Wa, Koe no Katachi), and the overwhelming mound of anime from yesteryear, ranging from old classics (Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Mobile Suit Gundam, Lupin III) to more relatively recent ones (Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu, Hunter x Hunter (2011), Shirobako) it becomes more and more of an uphill battle with each passing season for me to engage with most of (if any) of them.

Even taking into consideration, I’m the type who has no qualms dropping shows after one episode, there’s still an enormous amount of good content for me to get through. Which is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. I’m glad that there’s a lot for me to like and look forward to, and I should be more excited about watching the next great thing instead of acting like it’s a burden having so much (good) content to watch…

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But I can’t help it. Looking at MAL lists still only gradually increasing (completed shows) / decreasing (planned to watch shows) makes me feel like I’m not making significant efforts in my desire to not only put all the “must-watch” shows and movies behind me, but also to be more in on the conversation surrounding them. I have gone out of my way to put so many videos and blog posts on-hold, just because I haven’t watched what they’re discussing yet. And I don’t feel like I’m able to engage with these conversations until I’ve gotten to watching said content. It’s like a game of tug-of-war; when I pull that means I’ve watched something and can add more to the conversation in some way (not always), when the rope gets pulled back it means more things for me to watch, and thus the cycle continues.

Where am I to make the time for all this? I know I have more spare time than the average person, but I also require more sleep than the average person (about nine to ten hours), and have neurotic attitudes towards watching certain shows at certain times, or if I have to be in the right mood, or I have to watch a particular show on the TV instead of how I usually do it (on the computer). Though, I am getting better at grappling with the idea of being able to watch anything at anytime, it still feels weird to watch a show primarily set in daytime at night and vice versa.

Plus, how am I to know the time I’m investing in something will end up being worth it? I’ve regretted watching probably less anime than other content, but still have felt a lot of the time spent on longer-running shows just weren’t worth finishing after all that time invested. It ultimately becomes a game of time, patience, and a gamble between satisfaction or disappointment. Which is something I hate having to even think about, let alone allowing to affect what I watch and what order I watch it in.

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The build-up to this has been spanning close to six years now. Please let it pay-off!

It’s at this point I should probably mention that I am someone with a wide variety of taste when it comes to anime. I’m willing to try virtually anything, and it’s generally worked in my favor, as I’ve come to learn I’m not beholden to or against any genre in particular. But that doesn’t mean I’m the kind to finish everything (as mentioned earlier, I have no problem dropping shows after one episode), because I value my time, and I refuse to waste it on something I don’t like or find boring, in hopes it will get better over time (simply not worth it). So, I suppose it’s sort of a burden in a way, being open to practically anything, but having that low tolerance for shows wasting my time helps balance it out, I believe.

Many of the anime I decide to watch gets put on-hold simply due to the sheer volume of recommendations I’ve received and others I’ve backlogged out of “that looks interesting” type thoughts. And the formidable amount of time it would take it watch them all increases more than it decreases. As with more and more recommendations piling up between the old and the new, it becomes a struggle in itself just to keep track of it all, never mind the act of watching them.

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HOW DO I WATCH YOU?!

As someone who likes to write and blog about anime, there is also a considerable amount of pressure there as well (from me to me more than anything else). The feeling of wanting to write about anime, and the necessity to watch anime in order to write about it is a balancing act that becomes more difficult as time goes on. And when it feels like I haven’t written in a long-time it’s because I haven’t had anything to say about what I’ve been watching that hasn’t already been said before. I prefer raising interesting points and clearing up misconceptions about things than writing reviews or just reacting to what I’ve been watching. There is no gain or satisfaction for me in repeating what everyone else has been saying, especially if it’s something new (Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon).

Though, it does seem a bit nonsensical for me to worry about this sort of thing when you consider I’m only writing about anime as a hobby. But I like to think that I’m carving out the foundation of what I’d like to be my future (writing; making youtube videos about anime) by building up my writing skill and creating a nice strong work ethic to acclimate into my habits before I get started making any videos (hopefully sooner than later).

It can be hard to balance between consuming anime and writing about it, especially when I want to write about something I haven’t seen in years and contemplate whether I’d need to re-watch it in order to properly write about it or not… But I also feel that by re-watching it that would take time away from watching the stuff I still have yet to see. And then there’s the risk of watching something and not having anything to say about it at all. I want to add to the discussion, not parrot it. But I can’t know ahead of time if I’ll have anything novel or different to say when I’m finished watching it, so it becomes a gamble whenever I do sit down and watch something.

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Though, I do feel a little better knowing EVERYONE has this in their backlog

There’s a mountain of things I have watched that I would love to re-watch, either for the sake of wanting to write about it, or because I want to know if I still enjoy it or think it’s good (two different things), which ends up turning into the question of “Is this worth re-watching if I’m not going to write about it?” and thus begets the cycle again *sigh*.

The decision-making process of choosing what anime to watch over another one I’m equally eager to watch (Gankutsuou, Full Metal Panic!, Katanagatari), especially when it comes to long-running shows (Ranma ½, Taiho Shichau zo, Gintama, Cardcaptor Sakura, Monster), is an endeavor that’s only difficult because I’m looking at the lists or thinking of the omnipresent lingering thoughts of all the shows I’ve been putting off for years surfacing in the form of guilt.

Ridiculous, I know. And something I strive to seize control of, but this is why it feels like an immense undertaking in the first place. It’s always on my mind – what I haven’t watched, what I would like to re-watch (Durarara!!, Kill la Kill, Cowboy Bebop), what I would like to write about (which most likely requires a re-watch). It’s even more taunting having still not watched all the anime I own on dvd / blu-ray. I own Ponyo, Porco Rosso, Perfect Blue, Ninja Scroll, Squid Girl, Psycho-Pass, Nadia Fushigi no Umi no Nadia, Outlaw Star, Robotech, etc. and still haven’t taken the time to watch any of them.  

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Someday soon, I SWEAR!

I feel that it’s important for me to re-assess how I consume anime. Maybe it’d be a good idea for me to stop thinking about the bigger picture, and instead focus on them one at a time (that’s what I’m trying to do at least). I am very much interested in continuing both of these activities (watching anime and writing) and if anyone else has similar struggles or concerns in consuming and creating content, leave a comment about what you’ve been meaning to watch but haven’t gotten around to yet and if there’s any anime that you feel are competing over your attention (and if you want to shame me for not having watched any of the anime I listed above, feel free to do that too).

~ Ace

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