“Baka! Hentai!” – Day 2: Anime I’m (not) Ashamed I Enjoyed

Second day, different theme: guilt. Here is where I break away from the mold a bit. There’s no anime I’m ashamed that I enjoyed. Rather there are anime that may be at odds with my current tastes in anime that I enjoyed watching. Would I go back and watch them? Probably not. Though there are a few that I will likely revisit, and may have a different attitude towards when I get back to them. I find this feeling of guilt objectionable.

Let me preface by saying I do not consider myself a moral arbitrator here, and that the questions I raise are not intended to be snide remarks or to come across as anything passive-aggressive. I merely aim to revive this framework for discussion regarding “guilt” in terms of liking something with an implied sense that you shouldn’t like a thing because others have deemed to it to have such negative connotations for its content or quality.

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We all operate under our own paradigm of taste when it comes to entertainment, and in this case, anime. Many will criticize others for having bad taste based on what shows they express love and enjoyment for in conjunction with their own personal favourites, considering them to be “tasteful”. Elitism begets both a sense of narcissism in one’s taste and a disapproval / rejection of others’, as though they are acting on a pedestal in a game of social dominance. This perceived hierarchy within the community has fostered feelings of guilt for those who enjoy anything outside this circle of “tasteful” works, as if there is a universal benchmark for such a thing.

When it should be as simple as: people like certain shows. Said shows make people feel good (enjoy themselves). As obvious as this may sound, there still seems to be a competing mindset between many of conflicting thoughts and opinions within any society. Even when people are at their most reasonable in openly saying what they’re discussing in either a positive (praise) or negative (criticism) light is their opinion, there will still be people who respond so strongly at the mere idea of someone feeling differently than they do that they somehow ignore this disclosure and jump straight to disregarding their opinion as “wrong” and insults.

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Well, excuuuuussse me!… for liking trash.

Understandably, people don’t like it when they’re called out for having “bad taste”, and generally will either come to one of two conclusions: that they either acknowledge what they enjoy is flawed / bad and accept that their taste is flawed / bad, or more often reject the notion what they like is flawed / bad and instead decide other people are wrong. I don’t necessarily agree with this as being the only two outcomes when presented with questioning one’s taste, but it is interesting to note that many will disregard enjoying one show they acknowledge is terrible as part of their taste. Rather, they classify this exception to their standards as a “guilty pleasure”.

What’s so interesting about this concept of a “guilty pleasure” is how often it is used as something separate from the person’s taste to avoid feeling guilt in any pleasure derived from it, because it ‘doesn’t count’. Personally, I see no reason why anyone should feel guilty or ashamed for enjoying something with less than amazing values. Are we truly expected to only watch and enjoy consensus masterpieces? Why should we act as how we are expected to in the first place? It’s completely imaginative manufactured nonsense to impose such a thing on others. All done through trashing what others like. Though I consider it to be perfectly ok to trash the shows themselves, as hatred is just as valid a feeling as any equally positive ones toward something. But that’s another topic for another day. It’s when the trashing becomes directed towards the person liking said thing that I disagree with. Criticize, hate, and mock the thing you dislike all you want, enjoy yourself doing it, but please respect that others may not feel the same way by not directing that at them.

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Why am I the one getting a time-out, when it should be those bullies?

Code Geass R2 is something that evoked in me a strong sense of satisfaction and love for the series, despite its ridiculous departure from the first season’s approach in the narrative. There was a lot of jumping the shark moments, heck, you could probably sum up the entirety of R2 as jumping the shark on a cosmic level of ludicrous writing and silly moments. But Lelouch remains one of my favourite characters, and R2’s ending really solidified that.

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I never had the awareness of the scathing commentary this season had when I was watching it, and I was probably better off for it, because I got to enjoy something a lot of people didn’t. Which is fine. I have no qualms with any disliking or even trashing something I enjoyed, but to criticize those who watch and do like it is taking it a step too far and needlessly strips joy away from others. If someone trashing your favourite show has this effect that’s not their fault, and the problem there lies more with how attached you are to the show than anything else, but if they direct their problems with the show toward you, the person enjoying it, that’s a different story.

Tldr; Highschool DxD

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Just kidding. Personally, the only reason I’d ever feel ashamed of having watched something is if I regretted the time I spent on it, with no enjoyment left to be had. Like Fairy Tail for instance. I will admit that I did enjoy it when I was younger – like, fourteen. Note the use of past tense. My tastes and opinions have changed a lot since then, and I can’t bring myself to like it forgive all of its faults. It’s not what I’d call a “guilty pleasure” per se, as there is no guilt in me having watched or derived any enjoyment from it, but there is regret.

Looking back on those days in my adolescence wasn’t all bad, considering its music was a source of inspiration for me to workout a lot back then. And maybe I should thank it for that, but I just don’t see that benefit outweighing the regret of having spent 175 episodes worth of time on something I kept watching not because I enjoyed it, but because I felt a duty to finish it. Lesson learned. Now I make up for that wasted time by dropping shows early on if they don’t appeal to me. Call it unfair, but it’s not my obligation to watch everything until the end, especially over the shows I actually want to watch.

That’s my answer, I guess. Hope it was satisfactory. If not, well I may elaborate on it more in the future.

~ Ace

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