Appreciation & Enjoyment

When I watched Akira, I didn’t like it. I didn’t hate it either, but there just wasn’t any enjoyment to be had for me. Yet, despite my lack of enjoyment, I still think it’s a good movie. Why is this so? Is it because it’s a popular and generally well-received animated movie that has garnered the attention and praise of even movie critics outside the anime sphere? Maybe in part, but I don’t believe I’m hanging on the coattails of anyone else’s aesthetic taste here (especially, since there are plenty of anime and movies I consider terrible that are also highly regarded among critics and the general public).

akira

This isn’t a new concept; the notion you can not enjoy something and still think it’s good, and also enjoy something else and think otherwise. I have an unapologetic love for the anime, Dai Mahou Touge, but I wouldn’t consider it “good” per se. It’s not necessarily a bad show, but it’s not something I would lavish praise over for its characters, themes, writing, direction, or anything. There’s nothing there that’s particularly deserving of praise, except maybe the comedy (which is why I love it so much).

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Help. Me.

Comparatively, I consider KonoSuba a far in a way a better series in every conceivable sense of the word, but I rank it lower than Dai Mahou Touge? Maybe I’m being a little contradictory here, since I thoroughly enjoyed the second season of KonoSuba, but if I were to lower my rating for Dai Mahou Touge that would undermine the point in my unabashed overhyped affection towards it (it doesn’t make sense, but who cares?). That being said if someone were to ask which I think is the better show, I would answer “KonoSuba”.

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I suppose this extends to the idea of “guilty pleasures” under the definition that you are enjoying something below your own standards or outside your tastes (or the tastes of others) and feel guilty for it. A term often used to disregard what they don’t want to be thought of as representative of their tastes, or a protection from being accused of having “poor taste”. Personally, I don’t think anyone should feel guilty about liking something under a certain level of quality (especially, since it’s subjective anyway).

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Don’t judge.

But I think this is more of a difficulty regarding scores than anything else. How can I quantify whether my score was representative of how much I enjoyed something or how highly I regard it in terms of “goodness”? It’s a difficult thing to measure and express in one number (hence, why my tags on MAL for one is well-explained; A fantastic follow-up that builds wonderfully upon its characters and world in even more hilarious and fun ways, the OP is marvelous, while the other is more comical in its description; Magical girl + wrestling, might be the greatest thing ever). By all intents and purposes, I probably do like KonoSuba more, but there’s a fondness I have for Dai Mahou Touge that’s difficult to explain and quantify compared to other (better) works.

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Hmm.

I’m not trying to make an argument of subjectivity vs. objectivity. And despite what others may think regarding past debates, I am by no means on the side of objectivity when it comes to art. I hold the view that there are objective (factual) aspects about a work (such as who worked on it and how it was made, etc.), but beyond that the perspective is virtually subjective in every other way. And I have no interest in debating that topic further.

Back to Akira, while I didn’t enjoy it, there was no regret in my experience watching it either. I look at Akira with more appreciation than some of the stuff I do enjoy. I think the reason for this stems from a more learned view of film and animation since before and after I watched it for the first time. I look at Akira through the lens of being in awe at how detailed it all is – from its grounded design to its more human-looking characters to its use of lighting and animation. There is so much good about how it’s presented and how well it’s constructed that I can’t fault it for me not enjoying it.

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Everything about this shot is nothing short of “good”.

I think the heart of the matter is that it didn’t really appeal to me. I didn’t like or care about the characters, their motives, their goals, their struggles, the society in which they were living and the underlying themes tied into the narrative, or the story surrounding it all. None of it was anything new to me, and because I didn’t connect with the characters, I didn’t connect with the story. In the end, it was more akin to watching a painting come alive and appreciating the effort gone into it, than a story with which I could immerse myself in and have fun watching.

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ANGST INCARATE

By no means do I believe that Akira is outside my taste in anime. There’s nothing about a dark urban setting or serious societal themes that I can’t get behind (beyond it managing to execute well on them – which I think it does). I’m still amazed by its animation and the fact that it’s all hand-drawn is something I can’t help but place in high regard.

And while I don’t like the characters in Akira, I don’t hate them either. When they’re being unlikeable I can’t fault them for it, given the society they live in, but I also don’t particularly care to root for them because of it either. There was never a sense I should be invested in these characters, considering how they act mischievously before there is a clear indication as to why I should see that as a good thing in this context. For these reasons, I appreciate Akira, but I didn’t enjoy it.

~ Ace

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7 thoughts on “Appreciation & Enjoyment”

  1. A very honest opinion which I respect. Nowadays, people will say that an anime is bad just because it isn’t their type of genre or didn’t like it for many reason. Then again, that is a taste of someone and that doesn’t mean that the anime is bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I don’t see the point in begrudging or ridiculing others for not liking things. At the same time, I find it slightly unsettling how easily angered I’ve seen people get when something they like is criticized. I understand that tastes are often tied to a person’s identity, but I don’t think it’s any reason to get hot and bothered about either.

      Thank you for your input 🙂

      ~ Ace

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Felt very similarly watching Jin-rou. Didn’t much care for it, but I acknowledge it has good qualities to it.

    In my head, the basis of this is the model in which I review things, on a token OBJECTIVE scale. If I’m impressed with the way something captivates me in one or two particular areas, such as with you and Akira’s animation, I rate it highly. However, if I’m not able to attach onto it emotionally, it’s either because I’m heartless (10% of the time) or because another aspect isn’t up to par with the others (usually characters).

    Other examples from my experience include Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero. I feel both series are pretty good in what they present and how they execute it, but I don’t have a lot of strong emotional attachment to them because I felt their characters played too much into the whims of the story as opposed to the other way around, which I feel is usually better (in that characters aren’t acting in a way only because the story dictates it). I’ve given both of these series a 7/10 (though I plan to re-watch them sooner or later to affirm them), because despite characters failing to capture my heart, every other aspect of each series has a lot of gusto behind it. That’s why this post wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for me, because I’m pretty much the same way. I just use a system of checks and balances as opposed to “Appreciation vs. Enjoyment.” Good post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I definitely think the two things are separate, although there is some correlation between them. There are show which I love which have some problems, and there are shows which I think are very well crafted, but I didn’t have much fun viewing them.

    I love gdgd Fairies, a 3DCG anime made in MMD. The character’s body parts frequently clip through things, the visuals are kind of muddy looking, the voice actors have an improv section where they often break character, but the writing really taps into my sense of humour to the point where these things are not an issue when watching because I’m having so much fun. On the flip side, I didn’t really engage with FLCL at all; a series which is both well regarded and I think was doing some interesting things. The unusual storytelling, soundtrack and visuals were all well-crafted to create a particular atmosphere, but I didn’t actually really enjoy watching. I’m with you in that if I was asked which I prefer and which I think was better, I may give a different answer. In fact my ___ of the year awards which I had last year (mostly anime things but I also picked out some other things I’d sampled that year) I picked out shows for both categories; things which I thought were technically very strong and well-crafted (the visuals were consistent and fluid, the soundtrack fit well, there was a solid sense of atmosphere), and things I found highly enjoyable.

    I think that it’s actually beneficial to consider the two issues separately, as I’d think for most people, even if we’ve tried to wire ourselves to be somewhat analytical during viewing, it’s not just the technical aspects which make for personal enjoyment. I’ve rambled before about the issues inherent in scoring a series, and I think that a single number making it impossible to distinguish between a series that someone considered well-crafted, and a series someone considered fun is definitely one of them. I try and consider both aspects when scoring, but I also don’t get too tied up in scoring, as it’s really only useful as a personal prompt and comparative tool. It’s really by having a conversation with someone about a particular piece of media (or reading their thoughts that they’ve written down in a review) that we can see what stood out to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said. There is often times a correlation between what we enjoy and what we appreciate, and of course times when there is little to no overlap to be had.

      Regarding scores, I most certainly agree that it is far more valuable to have more in-depth discussions about things than to assume someone’s opinion of something based on the score they give (this and the conflict between enjoyment and appreciation is why I leave a lot of shows/movies blank – if I’m not entirely certain how I feel about them).

      Thank you for your thoughts. You could probably do an entire blog post on this if you really wanted to, haha. I mean it, this was a great read.

      ~ Ace

      Liked by 1 person

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