This is something that’s been bugging me for a while now. The feeling I get when I reflect upon what I have marked down as my favourite anime. As someone who subscribes to the idea that for something to be a favourite it should mean a lot to you; I quantify this in terms of being something you think about a lot (some might say every day, but I don’t think that needs to be the case necessarily), and/or something you return to often.
I posit this because if this is how I define my favourites, and find myself not engaging in this behaviour, then can I really say that any of these shows are my favourites? What follows is a sense of guilt for not doing so, and a sense of doubt in what I truly consider to be a favourite. Let’s use what I have listed as my favourite anime on MAL and test to see if any of them live up to the description I’ve laid out (omitting many that may find a place on here fairly soon – notice a lack of Code Geass, Food Wars, K-On, and Shirobako, among others):
Starting from the bottom up, we have Psycho-Pass, a show I started way back around the time shortly after it had finished airing, but put it on-hold because I was inspired to work out again after seeing Kogami (shirtless) and for some reason felt it was important to get lean before continuing with the series (silly? Yes. I eventually gave up on this and decided to finish the show last year). Do I like it? Yes. Have I rewatched it since? No. I am more forgiving on myself in this case though, because it hasn’t even been a full year since I watched it. But the question of whether it remains a favourite having only seen it once will linger in my mind until I watch it again to reaffirm my feelings for it. At any rate, it is a really cool show and I enjoyed the hell out of it.
Next on the list, we have Log Horizon. Here is a show I actually do revisit constantly, but not in rewatching any of the episodes or even select moments within the narrative. No, I remind myself of my love for it by listening to it’s opening theme and letting the intensity of the music course throughout my body as I rock out in a weak and pathetic display of dancing and/or headbanging. That said, I do feel that perhaps upon rewatch I may find it to be less of an enjoyable time than when I first watched it. But I think it’s the idea of what it set out to do and how well I think it executed on that idea which I like the most about it (not to disregard the super fun and lovable cast and awesome character designs – these things are easy to remember love for).
Up from there, we have Kill la Kill. Ah, this. This I have no doubts is an absolute favourite of mine. In fact, while I really enjoyed it the first time around (having viewed it over a couple years since it started airing made it feel strange coming back to and finish), it wasn’t until I rewatched it last year at a marathon pace, that I could feel it in every fiber of my being that it was an all-time favourite of mine. I know it because I get excited whenever I see or hear anything related to this show, and I’ve been reminding myself of that love for it ever since in listening to its transcendent soundtrack.
Above that, we come to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Another show I rewatched last year and loved to bits once again. It’s not difficult for me to love this one. Regardless of nostalgia (though that is an important factor, too), it’s too awesome for me not to consider a favourite. I am a man of hyperbole, so seeing shows that exaggerate visuals like TTGL does to present its themes and character so strongly makes me feel that it is something more. Something mystical. Something legendary. I think about it a good bit, not as much as I’d like – definitely more so than a lot of the other shows I’ve watched – but I feel it’s made its mark on me in so many ways that it would be harder to say otherwise. Yup, no hesitation here. It’s a favourite.
Further still, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, a show I had tried watching twice before (years apart) before finally getting through it all in 2017. This difficulty in liking it occurred over a significant span of time where my tastes as an anime fan, and also more broadly a media fan, were evolving quite substantially. So where I had initially felt bored by Stand Alone Complex and unwilling to watch more than a couple of episodes, I eventually came to become exceedingly interested in – perhaps in large part due to being able to follow the dialogue a lot better now, and having more enthusiasm for the sci-fi genre. However, it’s not a show I spend a lot of time reflecting on. I think I speculated and pondered more about it before I ever started watching it actually, or at least felt more excited about the idea of it back then. Hard to say. Do I consider it a favourite? Possibly. Whenever I do think about it or rewatch scenes from it, I am always impressed and remember just how superb it really is. I certainly know I’d like it to be favourite, if it isn’t already.
And lastly, we arrive at Yu Yu Hakusho. My number one. It’s been about 6-7 years and I’ve only ever watched it once. So why I do consider it my favourite anime? Well, it’s because I have a shounen bias, or more specifically: action shounen bias. Yes, these are the types of shows I grew up on and continue to watch (and occasionally rewatch) without apologies. Naruto, Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, and of course, Yu Yu Hakusho. Though there will always be shows within the genre I won’t finish, will mercilessly drop, or outright ignore, I do find myself more forgiving of (action) shounen shows than works in other genres. That’s not to say I will put up with utter crap because of this preference, just that I tend to feel more strongly about this kind of stuff (see One Piece as my favourite manga ever – I’ll get to that sometime soon), a lot having to do with being my introduction to anime, but also because I am a sucker for themes involving friendship, love, growing up, and self-betterment.
Okay, so what does this have to do with Yu Yu Hakusho being my favourite anime, especially considering I haven’t rewatched it in all that time? Well, for one. It is incredibly long (being 112 episodes), so rewatching the whole series would take a considerably larger amount of time than it would other shows I consider favourites and/or like a whole lot. And two, I’ve only really become big into watching anime in the past 2-3 years, and have a strong desire to watch many other shows, both classics and new. So, rewatching Yu Yu Hakusho would take a significant amount of time away from me experiencing what the rest of the medium has to offer me (potential new favourite shows – who knows, maybe Hunter x Hunter will overtake it). It’s a favourite because it impacted me more than any other show I can think of in my adolescence. And it’s also supremely excellent, top-tier shounen action goodness.
With all that in mind, I do in fact, plan on rewatching it next year. It’s marked on my calendar to introduce the show to my friends, and what a wonderful way to revisit something you love. So, what is my answer after all of this (because this post needs to be concluded somehow)? It seems as though most of the shows on here have a good reason to be, I think. Regardless of whether or not I have revisited them recently (if ever) or not, they remain important to me in some way – each provided a unique and thoroughly satisfying experience. And perhaps I’m a bit too hard on myself for doubting this when there’s really no rush for me to rewatch them. Maybe being excited about the idea of rewatching them is close enough for now, but if anything, after ruminating over this I can tell that these are shows I hope to come back to for many years to come.
Toward a Quantification of Love FOR ANIMU Part 1: The Re-watchability Ratio [->]
Toward a Quantification of Love FOR ANIMU Part 1a: The Value of Rewatchability through the Lens of Eternal Recurrence [->]
What about you? Have you ever felt this way about your favourite shows? If so, what are they? Do you think about them a lot? And do you revisit them and/or keep coming back to them? I’d be interested to know. I believe there is still a lot that can be said regarding how we quantify our ‘favourites’ and our viewing habits, so please feel free to discuss it with me in the comments below.