What Happens When You Get Burnt Out On Anime?

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When you watch too much anime, you turn into an unmotivated slob who hates anime. True fact.

I haven’t updated this blog or my Twitter in a couple of days, mostly because I was off in a land where there is no Internet. Because of this I did not watch any anime, so now I’m behind and am temporarily avoiding all other anime blogs for fear of spoilers. I probably won’t be able to watch anything new for another couple of days, either.

And you know what? I don’t really mind at all.

I don’t hate anime. In fact, I love it with all my heart and soul. But sometimes, I find myself wanting to take a break from watching so much of it, mostly because there are other things I want to do in life (yes, really) and also because I don’t want to run the risk of getting burnt out on it. These jaded cynics who seem to criticise every title they’re exposed to – could it just be because they’ve been watching too much anime in too little a span of time?

It’s a very real risk. Anime can be too much of a good thing. Besides the fact that staying in front of a computer or a television all day can cause you some physical problems, one tends to lose critical perspective on the stories themselves. It’s the latter idea I’m going to focus on here, mostly because I don’t really give a toss about my health and neither do you, probably.

So what do I mean by ‘critical perspective’? First of all, let’s acknowledge that like all storytelling mediums, anime has its strengths and its flaws. While some of you might prefer it to watching movies or reading books, let’s not pretend that anime in itself is this vastly superior thing and that every work of Japanese animation is complete genius. No, my good sir. A lot of it is actually quite shit.

But when you watch anime – and only anime – you tend to judge them only by the standards of other anime. You get sick of the cliches that are unique to anime and what was once endearing and novel becomes trite and boring. On top of that, you stop being able to relate your own life to what you are watching because you’re cutting off your life experience by saturating yourself with so much fiction. You are not able to appreciate some subtle character interactions and themes because you haven’t exposed yourself to those sorts of ideas in real life or in other media. Suddenly, everything seems so closed off in your mind and generic. That’s really no fault except your own for exposing yourself to the same material ad nauseum. You become unable to appreciate the individual elements in anime because you’ve oversaturated yourself with the genre.

This is why I think every self-respecting anime fan should actually take an occasional step back and explore other modes of fiction. Regardless of whether you consider yourself a hardcore or a casual fan, there’s a lot to be gained from immersion outside of anime. Then, when you return to this medium, you’re able to see it through fresh eyes. The things that were annoying you before aren’t nearly as bad after you’ve had a break from it all.

“But wait Froggy,” you say, “why should we believe you? Telling us to stop watching anime for a while? Maybe you just don’t like anime as much as you thought you did, you traitor!!!”

Okay, then. I see how it is. Explain then to me how I was able to come back from my self-induced anime drought and enjoy the hell out of Asu no Yoichi despite it being the most anime-ish anime ever?

blue_hair_green_asu_no_yoichi_anime_girls_wallpaper

Doesn’t this picture just scream “GENERIC ECCHI ANIME”?

I actually much prefer the official English title Samurai Harem for this anime. It is so much more descriptive about what actually goes on in the show. Anyway, I liked it because it was funny and big boob jokes and hot girls beating up a hapless nice boy is what makes me laugh and turns me on? lol. (By the way, Chihaya is Best Girl.)

Before going ahead and watching this anime, I read – or more like devoured – the following books in order:

  • Poirot’s Early Cases by Agatha Christie
  • All The Sad Young Men by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
  • Kusamakura by Natsume Soseki

My favourite of these was All The Sad Young Men because F. Scott Fitzgerald is a genius and The Great Gatsby is quite honestly one of the greatest books ever written.

I also watched my first ever Alfred Hitchcock movie. It was one of his early ones, so it was in black-and-white. I loved every minute of it. It was awesome.

So you might be wondering how, after reading and enjoying so much high-brow stuff, I could go back to anime and love something called Samurai Harem? Because there are some experiences you can only get from watching anime, and watching Samurai Harem was enough to make it all come rushing back to me.

I’m convinced of it: for all its flaws and dumb annoying crap, I love anime. Exposing myself to a wider variety of great fiction is what makes me appreciate anime more. I also believe that my experience is universal and that you, the reader, can also relate to what I’ve been through.

So if you ever feel like you’re getting sick of seeing the same thing repeated in anime over and over, why not take a break and read a few good books or watch a few good movies? If you do that and you still feel the itch to go and watch more anime, then you’ll know for certain that you’re an anime fan through thick and thin.

It’s just that sometimes, no matter how much you love something (or someone, for that matter) you want to take a break from them. And that’s perfectly reasonable. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. If we all truly want to appreciate anime in the spirit that it’s made, then there really is something simple we can do – watch less anime.

You don’t want to get burned out now, do you?

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Posted on July 1, 2013, in Editorials and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. On top of that, you stop being able to relate your own life to what you are watching because you’re cutting off your life experience by saturating yourself with so much fiction.

    based on your own experience eh??

    But yeah, I definitely agree with all the points you’ve made. I also take some breaks from anime marathon-ing (I’ll be more specific). It may take weeks or months before I delve into another series again. Like right now, I haven’t marathon’d a show in like a month already. The last time was Chihayafuru S1. I don’t know, but I guess you can call it as “cooling off” period for me (that’s way too long, isn’t it?). Watching shows weekly works just fine for me, of course. I also need a break from my reality.

    Anyway, I’ll follow your advice and visit some other forms of fiction. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a novel. Also, I don’t want to become a jaded cynic! LOLz.

  2. Naw, whilst I joke that I’m getting old and stuff, the reality is that most anime excel in being mediocre and I am the caring father who is harsh on his children because I want them to succeed. Granted I enjoyed Spring 2013 less than some other seasons and the one anime I loved could have ended better but eh. If anything, exposing myself to other pieces of fiction increased my bias towards current anime b/c it feels like most people like certain series solely b/c the rest of the playing field set the bar extremely low.

    Anime is like pop music (which I’m also a big fan of). You have to wade through a lot of crap in order to find those special gems. As long as I keep to that principle, I’ll stay a fan and won’t ever give up the hobby.

    Yeah I know most people aren’t going to agree with me on that and it’s fine, but when more than 30 shows come out a season and u only watch 10 of them at max, that means the majority of anime are utterly forgettable.

  3. I agree with this sentiment. Several years back (oh, college days) I was what I consider to be a hardcore anime connoisseur (watching just about every anime that came out every season, back-to-back marathoning through completed series I hadn’t watched yet, etc.) I have not been able to maintain this level of obsession due mostly to time constraints (work), and have found my love of all anime strengthened when I do have the time to watch it.

    I also rotate among anime, movies, and books to keep from “burning out” in any one of those media. Even within anime, I have found it refreshing to explore something different when I’ve watched too much in one genre. What’s really fun is going anime cold-turkey for a while, then grabbing a brand new series and devouring it in its entirety. It is so much more satisfying and entertaining when you haven’t seen any anime in a while than when it is just one more in a long chain.

  4. I find that, if you do research to find out which anime creators you like and don’t stick to one genre for too long, you can go at a good pace for quite a while without approaching burnout. Having said that, a balanced diet of a variety of mediums and perspectives in your entertainment is probably for the best. Though I’ve never gotten what I’d call burned out on anime (I’ve been forced to stop due to IRL concerns), my rate of consumption can rise or fall depending, at least partially, on how much anime I’ve been watching for how long.

    One of the most important things that other mediums provide us with is different worldviews. Though all anime writers/directors are by no means of one single perspective, they do share some commonalities that have roots in their common culture. Taking in some western literature or film is a great way of discovering (or refreshing yourself), by contrast, philosophical assumptions within anime and/or overt claims that anime makes.

  5. First off, sorry for the late response. I’ve been busy with Anime Expo the past week XD

    Secondly, another great post! I also wrote about anime burn-out a while back but didn’t talk about the benefits of taking a break from anime the way you did here. What you said about getting over-saturated with anime and how immersing yourself in other life activities, even just other media works, can actually enhance your appreciation of anime, is very true. I of course spend most of my free time watching, writing about, or being involved with anime in some way. But I also partake in other media works or other hobbies. It’s funny that you mentioned Alfred Hitchcock because I like his movies quite a bit, Psycho, The Birds, and Marnie being my favorites. The Twilight Zone is probably my favorite non-animated show, and over the past year I’ve been making my way through the box set I bought of all 160+ episodes. I’m a big fan of animation in general too, so when I’m not fangirling about anime, I’m into other animated works like Disney/Pixar movies, My Little Pony, Pokemon, Sonic, and other video games, etc,. Also good that you mentioned literature because I enjoy reading the occasional novel, essay, and poem. I’m always up for reading Mark Twain, D.H. Lawrence, Edgar Allen Poe, and Emily Dickinson. Oh, and when I can squeeze it in after work, I sometimes volunteer at my local animal shelter :3

    So yeah, there’s nothing wrong with spending most of your free time with anime, but anime shouldn’t be the only thing you take the time for. If other things are able to emotionally move you in different ways than anime does, you’ll better appreciate the unique way anime personally touches you.

  6. Oh god, why did I have to stumble across this post at this moment? THIS MADE ME REALIZE WHAT EXACTLY IS WRONG WITH ME!!! *pulls hair*
    The thing is, since last week, i’ve somehow started being not-so-enthusiastic about watching anime. I download my daily five episodes, save some promising looking manga, but I just never find myself really “feeling” like watching or reading them… I’m a full time anime freak, (plus a fujoshi, AND I’VE NEVER GONE THIS LONG WITHOUT A GOOD YAOI ANIME/MANGA/FANFIC!! And thats saying something…since I basically NEED them atleast once everyday.o_o) and uptil now, sitting infront of my laptop screen with a folder full of anime has been my entire life. Yeah, I’m much of an introvert, to be honest. Before I discovered anime, I was a bookworm.xD so I did attempt trying out a book or two, but I just kept keeping it off, not much interested, even after I started reading-AND it was a good book..ono Though…I think I shoud take the advice and dig out some good novels for now. :3 I hope I get over this soon, It’s driving me nuts. TT~TT I’ll say it again, this was really really helpful for me-made me understand whats going on with me, plus, knowing that it’s not only me who faced this makes me feel less freaked out. =_=” xDD
    Thanks so much, you’re an awesome person, I feel even more after I just read your post about fujoshi psychology. :3 xD I feel so understood… TTuTT

    • Thanks, and I’m glad I could be of some help to you. Burnout is something that happens to us all, so if you take the time to do other things, it won’t feel quite so bad. It’s best when you remove yourself from fiction altogether and engage yourself in activities outside your usual hobbies, but personally, I’d never say no to a good novel :)

      Hope you get over your burnout soon!

  7. As soon as I saw that picture, I was sold on Asu no Yoichi. And of course, as soon as I Google it I find the title “Samurai Harem”. Fuck yea. Now for some reason I want some donuts…

    So does All The Sad Young Men get a high recommendation from you? I haven’t actually read anything from Fitzgerald outside of Gatsby, which is ironic in retrospect because that’s my favorite book ever.

    • Stop it now you’re making ME hungry too

      And yes, yes All The Sad Young Men gets an extremely high recommendation from me. It’s a bunch of short stories, but that’s what is so great, because I feel like Fitzgerald is better at writing short stories than he is at full-length novels. His prose packs a lot of punch, but when you unpack his longer stories, they tend to be unconvincing, melodramatic and overly simplistic. Gatsby was the perfect length for him.

      But yeah watch Samurai Harem first. It’s art, I tell you.

  8. Nice post. I’m agree

  9. I’ve been meaning to take a break from anime for atleast two months but i never quite succeed . I try out new genre and get addicted. This time i am REALLY planning to take a break i can appreciate a series much more :D

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