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I Miss Being A “Filthy Casual”

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I’ve grown up watching anime. Even if I haven’t seen as many titles as some of the more hardcore fans (I’ve completed over 500 titles, and of them around 340 are full-length TV series), I’ve still spent more time watching, thinking and writing about anime than I care to admit.

But you know what? None of this makes me a better fan than the person who only watches Naruto or Bleach. And in a lot of ways, I kind of envy those who can dedicate themselves to a small number of anime. Lately, I feel as if I’ve been losing perspective on what it is about anime that drew me to it in the first place.

In other words: I miss being a casual.

I started to get the uneasy feeling I was missing out on something when I just couldn’t get into Attack on Titan last year. I could not disagree more with what my coauthor wrote about the anime being a “daring social commentary”. I occasionally got into the cool action scenes, but as a whole, the story failed to engage me and the themes did not strike me as being very intelligently portrayed.

At the time, I put it down to the anime just not being my thing, but I really think it has more to do with my changing social circle. My high school friends love Attack on Titan, but I don’t talk to them much anymore. Meanwhile, my uni friends are hardcore viewers who watch 20+ titles every season and who are very much immersed in otaku culture. In order to keep up with the conversations, I had to readjust how much anime I watched.

Then there’s my blogging and Twitter circle. I tend to follow people who are critical of anime precisely because they’ve watched so much of it. My conversations online tend not to focus on simple things like favourite characters or what’s going to happen next. Instead, they’re usually about exchanging Internet memes and laughing over all the silly anime tropes that pop up time and time again.

2ANIME4ME

2ANIME4ME

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I’ve become very self-aware as an anime fan.

This really shows through what I write about. I’d imagine if you didn’t watch much different anime, you’d be completely lost reading my blog. I tend to assume the reader’s familiarity with anime tropes like the tsundere and I delve a lot into topics that really wouldn’t interest someone who has no academic interest in anime. I don’t think anyone can deny my passion for the subject, but some of this stuff is pretty darn esoteric.

What I think has happened is that I appreciate a lot of different kinds of anime now. I enjoy them a lot and I’m genuinely moved by a lot of what I see. But it’s been over a year now since I last got obsessed with a specific series to the degree that I would watch nothing else and just look up fanarts and AMVs in my free time.

What’s more, I appear to have lost the enthusiasm I once had for popular shonen series. I stopped keeping up with Kuroko no Basuke and Magi, not because I disliked them in any way, but because I just didn’t feel as if I was concentrating on them 100% when I was watching them. I even dropped Hunter x Hunter, my favourite shonen anime of all time. I didn’t want to just like these series. I wanted to be fully engaged with them, but something was stopping me from getting into them.

I liked Hunter x Hunter when it was a story about boyhood ideals, so this darker turn depresses me

I loved Hunter x Hunter when it felt like a shonen anime, so this darker turn depresses me

This is why I’m actually pretty envious of casual anime viewers, who can get so invested in their favourite series without feeling the need to know more about anime as a whole. For me, curiosity is a switch you can’t turn back off. I still want to stay connected to those raw feelings I get from watching anime, but it’s very hard to keep a good balance!

Still, it’s important to aim for some kind of balance, at least, because I can’t help but feel that losing perspective on why you became an anime fan in the first place is the first step towards falling out with the medium.

This humble little post has a happy ending. I decided to cut down the amount of ongoing anime I was watching to three (Kill la Kill, Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren and Nisekoi) and I started rewatching an old favourite of mine: Cardcaptor Sakura. Maybe it was because I was concentrating all my energy into just that one show, but I loved it. I smiled and laughed. I blew threw 46 episodes in, like, a week. I felt like I was twelve years old again, discovering anime for the first time.

I remembered why I like anime all of a sudden. It’s because of the characters. I first got into anime because I got to hang out with all these likable characters for longer than I ever could reading books or watching films. Just because the story tended to repeat itself over its long run didn’t mean it was worse than a one or two-cour length anime that tells a succinct story. Not in the slightest! All that meant was that I had more time to get attached to the characters. It grew on me in a way some of the masterpieces in anime never did. No wonder I got obsessed and spent hours looking at fanart yesterday.

This is my current wallpaper. Pretty neat, huh?

This is my current wallpaper. Pretty neat, huh?

Having your tastes change is inevitable, but I suspect as long as you find a way to keep anime fresh to you, it’s easy to grow up with anime instead of growing out of it. As for me, no matter how much anime I watch, I still want to be a “filthy casual” at heart. And there’s totally nothing wrong with that.

To those reading this post: do you consider yourself a casual or a hardcore fan? Can you relate to that feeling of no longer connecting with your old tastes? If so, how do you deal with it?

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Posted on February 25, 2014, in Editorials and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 44 Comments.

  1. Eh while I’m very critic of what I watch too I wouldn’t call myself hardcore. Having a narrower field let you focus on fewer titles and actually helps me a lot when it comes to choosing backlog titles. I was never much into shonen to begin with has a kid I hated the dragonball anime while all my friends loved it (so I just read the manga). Ive began to be truly interested in anime after having watched The last Airbender (which I know isnt an anime) and I still think that it’s a great serie, so for me my tastes hasn’t changed since I got into it late. I’m mostly there for the love of the animation medium.

    A similar problem for me happen more when it comes to music. I’ve come to despite certain genre for what they represent or their lack of effort and it turns out it’s the favorites genre of most of my friends. So trying to enjoy those things with them is difficult and they hate what I enjoy in this media. But I still do my best to sing along in the car rides even if it’s a bit hypocritical.

  2. Nice post :-) .Hmmm, maybe I’d call myself somewhere in between. I guess reading anime analysis a lot and watching a decent amount of anime would put me towards the hardcore side, but then I again don’t really analyse it myself and kinda go with the flow. Except my tastes tend towards “good” anime so I suppose I’m unconsciously a bit critical… yikes, I’m confusing myself here >.<

    I do miss the good old days when I started watching anime a few years ago and thought Naruto was the Greatest Thing Ever, where I could have lots of fun watching something that had rather serious issues. I'm not too displeased at the change though. I've enjoyed how there are different shows I like now my tastes have shifted. I guess I'll just float along until I find I'm no longer having fun with my anime, then I'll get concerned and have a think about it.

  3. I’d consider myself a ‘hardcore’ fan I guess, but I honestly can’t relate to the feeling of no longer connecting with my older tastes.

    While I don’t think I’d ever berate or think lesser of someone for being a casual fan, I can’t relate to that at all, because I never once considered myself as one. I mean, clearly I didn’t leap out of the womb already well-versed in the academics of anime, but I basically went straight from watching no anime to watching ALL THE ANIME, just because I found myself so immediately attracted to the medium as soon as I discovered it. At that time of course, I’d basically watch anything at all regardless of how much (or rather, how little) I actually understood of what was going on, but I liked it anyway.

    My tastes in specific anime genres and titles has certainly changed since then, but I put that down mostly to simply growing up. I started watching anime as a young teenager and I’m now going on 27, so I think it would be pretty weird if my tastes hadn’t developed in any way over the last decade or so. So I have nostalgia for older anime that I know I once liked but no longer do other than for sentimental purposes, but feel no particular sadness or envy for it. (However, I don’t think there’s anything wrong in being a ‘filthy casual’, or for yearning to be one once again. I basically think people should be able to watch whatever it is that makes them happy.)

  4. I can sort of understand how you feel. I even put most of the anime on-hold because I just can’t keep up with my anime hobby with playing video games and I want to experiment with binging. Interestingly, most anime that I keep watching weekly are shorts and kids’ anime because I just can’t wait to watch the latest episodes. Then again, this spring will make me revert to the old ways with some very diverse anime content with a sudden influx of kiddy game adaptations.

    Related to that, the real reason that I watch anime in the beginning is because I want to seek something that I can identify with, be it the setting, the characters, the plot or something else. But now, it ended up as escapism and I need some time to “wake up” so that I can “sleep” more properly the next time in the sense that I want to be able to get something from them, be it understanding some Aesop, getting ideas for writing or inspire me in real life.

    Also, I started to appreciate the quality of anime that I watch. Thus, I drop shows that is plain awful, getting more critical to shows that I watch and look closely to others’ opinions. I still consider myself as a casual watcher in the sense that I can enjoy bad shows and I’m not too immersed in criticism.

    It is always good to change a pace or style of watching if that allows you to appreciate anime better. Hopefully it will work in the long run for both of us.

    • Yeah, watching too much anime is never a particularly good thing. It’s better to try out different viewing habits so that you don’t have to feel obligated to watch the latest shows. As for me, watching Card Captor Sakura has made me remember just how much I love children’s shows. For now, watching less anime lets me focus on what I am enjoying.

      I hope you find a pace that suits you too!

      (P.S. You’re right. The spring season looks really, really good.)

  5. Cardcaptor Sakura is literally my favourite anime. Shame Tomoyo doesn’t get her happy ending. Why must I always root for the underdogs?

    I’m casually hardcore. The type of person who can literally be interested in nothing but anime for a month, then just occasionally watch a bit of something nostalgic when he goes off and gets obsessed with something else for a bit.

    I’m currently watching random episodes of Ranma 1/2. Seems like there’s few shows like that nowadays, both in rambling length and random epicness.

  6. I’m always kinda worried that if I’d return to some of my old favorites, I’d be a bit to jaded to appreciate them like I once did, cas and point was my rewatch of The Vision of Escaflowne and Trigun. I also kinda missed the days where I’d love every single shounen that came my way. There’s a silver lining though, that being the fact that I can enjoy a far wider variety of titles then I could as a kid.

    Also, tried getting into Carccaptor Sakura. Watching the Saban dub and retaining far too many memories of it killed the experience.

    • That Saban dub of Card Captor Sakura has to be one of the worst bowdlerisations of an already kiddy show I’ve ever had the misfortune of encountering in my childhood. I pity you, truly.

      It’s great that you can appreciate a wider variety of anime nowadays. And the ones that do stand out feel more special, albeit for different reasons.

  7. The characters that’s right, that is why I first got interested in Anime and Manga.

  8. This is my first post here so just want to say hi.
    I used to have a similar problem. I have always loved watching slice of life or anything that made me relaxed and happy. Not overly childish anime but anime that you can enjoy while eating a snack. Cardcaptor sakura being the best example.
    But recently when I look at my anime list I feel ambivalent and uncomfortable as though my choices were all wrong. I am struggling to find out what anime I enjoy. Or perhaps I have watched too many random anime. Although its probably just because I am going through the most confusing phase of teenagerhood where my personality changes and to a lesser extent my taste.
    Although fortunately I am getting my act together. Perhaps watching 3 anime at once isn’t a very good idea. I think I just need to review all the anime I have watched and than understand which I like the most and work from there.
    Interestingly I have also started rewatching cardcaptor sakura mostly to calm down and realize why I like anime again. Cardcapter sakura really is wonderful.
    I would classify myself as a casual (although not a filthy casual) maybe bordering slightly onto hardcore at times.

    • Hi to you too!

      I think people’s tastes do undergo their most dramatic change when they’re transitioning from their teenage years to young adulthood. I can say this from experience. One day I decided I liked ecchi stuff because *PUBERTY* and then the next I was like, “Screw ecchi! I want to watch deep and meaningful anime that makes me feel intelligent!” And I’ve been switching back and forth ever since. I think it’s best to just not overthink your tastes or to be so worried about how other people might perceive you.

      Funny thing that you’re rewatching Card Captor Sakura too. It is indeed a wonderful anime. I get so relaxed in the atmosphere, it’s like I’m getting a warm hug every time I watch the show. Great minds think alike, huh?

  9. I know exactly what you are talking about, though honestly for me it’s not something I really struggle with anymore so much as something I feel capable of dealing with. For me it was really a battle of learning to ignore the filters I’ve gained from being critical of anime while trying to enjoy said anime. So what if I recognize every trope at play and understand all the storytelling techniques being used. After a point I just had to stop and question if any of that was really stopping me from enjoying shows and ultimately I discovered that it really wasn’t my perspective that was causing me to enjoy anime less, it was my attitude.

    I think when most people first get into anime they don’t really have many filters for the things they come across and enjoy them because they “don’t know any better”. And honestly it’s true that we can’t go back to the time when we didn’t have those cynical/critical filters that can often get in the way of enjoying something, but are they really the problem with why we stop enjoying things? I don’t think they are. I’m not sure where people draw the line between casual and hardcore, but I also don’t really care that much.

    There are many reasons we can burn out or that our taste can change over time, but I think the one you are getting at here is a very specific thing. I would define it as simple growing pains that come with being passionate about something and sharing that passion. First we are totally into it with nothing holding us back. As time goes on we learn what other people think of our passion and also form our own opinions and those build into the filters that we have for anime. Finally we start to question why we can’t enjoy things as much as we used to. Personally I think the answer is simple. We stopped throwing ourselves in full force like “stupid” kids would. I think that is far more important than the actual amount we watch.

    Think of children who enjoy getting into a super hero show as a kid who then hit puberty and decide that super heroes are no longer cool. It’s not that those heroes changed or even that those kids came to understand them as they grew up, but that it become uncool to run around the house with a cape pretending to fly. I guess for me the answer was returning to the idea that putting on a cape and running around the house was actually a big part of why they were fun. Of course all of that is just a metaphor as I never really liked super heroes as a kid, but It’s the easiest way I know to illustrate the idea.(yay for borrowed metaphors)

    Now I find that I can enjoy just about anything if I want to. I look at my fictional media as indulgences and understanding only helps with that enjoyment because I’m not really concerned with what anyone else thinks of me or the media I’m enjoying while I enjoy it. I know that I can defend myself if I need to and I can defend the media I enjoy as well. Honestly this whole struggle is more of a struggle with cynicism than it is criticism, but the two easily become intertwined on the internet. Maybe you are coming from a different perspective and need a different answer, but a lot of what I’ve read here sounds very similar to my own struggles with what really boiled down to the reasons I was denying myself fun. Sometimes it’s important to be okay with looking like a fool to our peers while we have fun. That was the lesson I had to learn.

    • I totally get where you’re coming from and I see you have been through a lot of the same things I have. One thing I’m unwilling to say, though, is that I’m more critical of anime than a casual fan. I’ve met many casual fans who showed a really in-depth understanding of the flaws and strengths of the anime they’re into – all they really lacked was knowledge of the medium in general. That’s what I was getting at, really. I wasn’t implying that a casual fan lacks critical thinking skills, because you can get into big shonen stuff when you’re thirty or older and not watch anything else.

      But anyway, you are right in saying that dealing with cynicism or being worried about how one’s taste appears to others is the biggest worry when it comes to staying a fan of the medium. It’s a great thing to stay connected to your inner child.

      • Oh yeah, I don’t mean to devalue the criticism of new people, but I do think it’s different than the criticism of people who are more genre savvy. I don’t mean to say that their impression is any more or less valid, just different as a matter of fact. There is a sense of wonder that comes from lacking knowledge that only someone new has I think, but my point was more or less that I don’t really find it all that important to enjoyment either way. It’s not an issue of critical thinking ability that I am talking about at all. I didn’t start watching anime until I was practically an adult myself so it would be hypocritical for me to say otherwise.

    • Sorry to tell you but I am not having such problems. I know what everybody else thinks of anime and I just don’t give a damn. I enjoy what I like. I also like having an optimistic mindset while watching anime. Although I like to look back and remember the story of the anime I watched and all the secret foreshadowing or whatever that may have been included (basically I like analyzing what I like).
      You are partially correct however. The reason I am having difficulty at the moment is because of having growing pains. These growing pain aren’t as complex as you make it out to be however. I am simply wondering what I prefer over what and what I enjoyed the most. I am trying to figure out what genre’s I typically like (helps with searching for anime).
      I never thought “why aren’t I enjoying this as much as I have done before” because every time I stop enjoying something as much as I had done before the reason’s are obvious. I have either gotten bored of it (This isn’t a necessarily painful feeling) or it was because it was something childish or stupid. In those cases I still treasure my memory of enjoying it either way and therefore never feel troubled by it.

      • Shit that comment was a bit screwed up. I thought you had replied to me sorry.
        Now it looks like I was being conceited :s.
        please ignore me.

        • Haha don’t worry about it. I was a bit confused why you seemed mad at me at first, but it’s all cool.

          It’s admirable to be able to enjoy what you want to enjoy without letting other people take away from that. I think that does become harder to do once we learn more of what people think even if we do cast it aside. It’s easy for it to become a voice in the back of our minds even if we don’t respect that voice I think. I know for me personally that is a large part of why I started writing in the first place. I wanted to challenge the ideas in the back of my head instead of refusing to care about the opinions of other people. I hate the stereotype that nerds are antisocial and secretly awful people. I think it can also become a self fulfilled prophecy when we do just give up and cast aside everything thrown at us just because we know they don’t really understand why we like the things we do. I’ve seen Froggy say some similar things which is part of why I left the comment that I did.

          I will say this about getting bored. Often I wonder if getting bored as we “grow out” of certain things isn’t simply done to protect our own ego. Part of the reason I ask that question of myself is because I never really have experienced truly coming to lose interest in something I’ve once loved. I’ve often discovered the reasons I never really liked certain things in the first place, but that has been the extent of my self discovery. For me the reason I don’t spend time on those things anymore isn’t because I can’t enjoy them as much as I used to, but because I’ve found other things I like to fill my time with. I’ve come to think of time as a currency. I simply can’t afford to do all the things I’ve learned to enjoy so I focus on the ones I like the most. All of that seems really simple to me honestly so I’m not sure if it is hard to relate with or not, but that is how I look at this kind of thing.

  10. Froggykun, I think you are doing the right thing. Rewatching old favourite shows always remind you why we started watching anime in the first place. Too often anime fans simply watch new anime for 1.) the memes 2.) to shit-talk it 3.) to be hip. However, this is a very narrow-minded and superficial fan-life. Your article reminded me a bit of BakaRaptor’s entry
    http://www.baka-raptor.com/2010/12/05/anime-seasons-who-cares/

    I think sites like MyAnimeList give many fans the illusion they are somewhat more experienced or hardcore than a simple Shounen-tard just because they watched over 1000 anime or whatever. Although there should be no right or wrong if it comes to personal anime enjoyment.

    I better stop here, before I digress further on Lel

    • That post is a little outdated in parts, but the point is just so spot on. I think I’m also learning to stop giving shits about anime seasons.

      Also, you can totally cheat with MAL and fill up your list with randoms specials and oneshot OVAs, making yourself look like you’ve watched heaps of anime for E-peens.

    • Finally, someone else who doesn’t give a fuck about seasonal anime!

      Okay, it’s not like I hate them (I watched one or two each season usually), but I honestly prefer watching more interesting stuff from the days of old than just watching every seasonal anime out there just so that you can talk (or bitch) about them.

      It gets lonely at times though, when you’re watching some obscure show no one knows.

  11. Since I just started watching anime about threeish years ago, my tastes haven’t changed too much. It’s just that now I watch things I’m interested in rather than just what’s available on Netflix.

    I suppose I’d say I lean towards being a hardcore anime fan. I don’t always watch consistently, but I watch a bunch of things as they air and I’ll marathon pretty much anything that’s considered relatively good.

    And I am definitely guilty of looking up and downloading loads of fanart for stuff I enjoy. Lots.

  12. Goddamn this resonates. I think I’m gonna follow your lead and cut back a bit.

    Anyway, slightly tangential response (my apologies for the length): I really liked my senior year English teacher in high school. Not quite so fond of the junior year one, and the usual English teachery reasons might sorta apply—my annoyance on her stressing symbolism, social commentary, and the like a bit too much—but this doesn’t seem quite right, as I also got a lot of this (or more from the teacher I had the following year. Part of the difference was that my 12th-grade teacher did a bit more to let us figure things out for ourselves (small, discussion-based classes both years), and that the interpretations she offered weren’t so cut-and-dried, but I think that what both of these elements can be boiled down to was that she never asked us to lose sight of the surface elements, while my 11th-grade teacher seemed to jump straight to the symbols a lot of the time.

    Moral of the story? Even when you decide to get neck-deep in analysis, or in situating a book’s (or anime’s, or movie’s, or…) storytelling conventions in the context of other stories that share these conventions, it’s never good to lose sight of the surface. It doesn’t just un-ground your thinking, it also sucks the joy out of the whole thing. And a lot of what I miss about not knowing so much was that the feel of the surface-level stuff was a lot more obvious to me. It’s easy to forget just how weird anime can be when all the tropes are second nature to you. It’s also easy to forget that what their task is most of the time is to do a good job of telling a goddamn story. (Uh, not that I’m trying to say that they need a conventionally structured plot all the time. Just to clarify.)

    Hence, Kill la Kill. (For instance.) That show has such a forceful personality and is so transparent about what it’s doing (and spends so much time reveling in the sheer joy of telling its story) that it’s made it a lot easier for me to recapture that naive casual feel. But let’s be honest—the responsibility for making this happen really lies with the viewer.

    • Your experience with your English classes reminds me of something I’ve been thinking about lately. When you think about it, anime blogs are a lot like English classes in that they’re often heavy on analysis. Even the blogs that cover the most superficial reactions to anime discuss storytelling concepts like characterisation and plot structure to some degree. And to me, the reason why reading anime blogs is both fun and enlightening to me is that most bloggers don’t lose sight of the surface elements when it comes to an anime’s entertainment value. It’s not dissemination for the sake of dissemination.

      Had I been reading these kinds of articles about the novels I was studying for high school English class, I would have enjoyed the subject much more. If I had to go back and write an essay about a novel from the Western Canon, I’d probably approach it from a much different angle thanks to my experience reading anime blogs. You only really come to a solid understanding of a work of fiction when you can link its technique to your gut reactions to it. It’s only then that the “deep meanings” have any meaning!

      I think English teachers (the ones who are actually passionate about literature, at least) understand this, but it’s very hard to teach appreciation. It’s just something you’ve got to adopt on your own. Which makes discussions like this very, very valuable, no matter how much fiction you’ve consumed.

  13. This was a pretty interesting read. I would put myself somewhere between casual and hardcore. That may be a cop-out answer but I wouldn’t feel comfortable classifying myself as either of those options. I’m not casual in that I watch anime pretty much every day and like to think i’m involved with the anime-watching community…but at the same time I don’t follow the newest series, i’m not interested in any in-depth analysis of what I watch and anime isn’t my entire life. I’m where I want to be; able to enjoy the finer points of the past-time while still watching for pure entertainment.

    I’m a newer anime fan so I find it difficult to relate to your experience. However, I think it’s a natural thing for your tastes to evolve as you expose yourself to more of something. I can’t imagine feeling distress at finding that I didn’t like a series/genre as much as I used to but that would stem more from disappointment that it didn’t live up to my nostalgia than any dissatisfaction with my own tastes and feelings about the medium as a whole. I’ll admit, however, that I may have misunderstood your experience completely.

    • I’d say it’s always pretty interesting to read about something that hasn’t happened to you but could maybe happen to you in future! You just never know how your tastes in anime are going to evolve.

      I don’t think you’ve misunderstood my experience, although I feel I should add that I don’t think I like anime any less because of my changing tastes. It’s just that I miss the way I used to consume anime, which was one series at a time, getting the most out of it before I moved on to my next obsession.

  14. Ah… the amount of time I spend watching is hardcore probably, but my tastes are so casual. I was even swept up in the first season of SAO. Attack on Titan was great for me until a point far past what the anime covers. I read the Big 3 throughout last year and loved them all (One Piece > Naruto > Bleach, by the way). Although I must admit that analysis has helped my enjoyment when I could find it as I was watching; Hyouka was fabulous partially for that reason (and partially for the mysteries because those all hit my sweet spot for mysteries).

    There was such a shock for me when a few days ago I found a Hetalia fan video I used to watch mentioning the Vancouver Olympics. Hetalia was my first ‘fujoshi’ series, so it’s been 4 years (the 3 years before that were spent actively avoiding fujoshi media like that. I was surprised when I found out about all the ships in CCS). To be honest, I think I just traded horrible habits for horrible habits. Before I would jump into series because their openings looked good. At this point, the promise of ship tease between two guys can make me weather the worst plot!

    However, I have to say that one thing I’m doing better is associating anime with my taste given little information: the writer/mangaka for instance. I started talking to my friend about Jun Maeda’s plot style while we were talking about Angel Beats!. My other friend asked for BL recommendations; I think I listed only about three series specifically, the rest being the names of mangaka and just saying “go read everything by them”. I can also attempt to pick out titles I have an instant interest in, titles I’d need more information like reviews on, and titles I’d never watch even if it was recommended to me by their summaries.

    I think changing could be good or bad. While bullying in shoujo is one of my pet peeves, at this point even if I had read 5 series with bullies right before, I wouldn’t bother dropping a series for it much less the genre (which is what I did years ago)! You end up building at least a little resistance over the years, right? But I do think that being over exposed and constantly thinking of tropes has actually hurt my perception of shows. I start analyzing and over-analyzing, pointing out flaws and maybe making up strengths based on my perception of it vs. my perception of its genre. My ‘favourite’ anime/manga/visual novel are all things I experienced years ago because I don’t think anything I’m watching ever captures that spirit. Not only that, but they were ones that were mainstream years ago! That might be part of the reason I’m reading all these titles that were Anime 101 that I didn’t bother with the first time: finding out how 11 year old me felt again (although I must admit to watching Bleach before that point, One Piece and Naruto were first-time reads).

    • I was even swept up in the first season of SAO.

      Ah, me too! Can’t wait for that second season!

      Reading your comment, it occurs to me that spending more time watching doesn’t necessarily mean you have to dislike the mainstream stuff, because come to think of it, I still like the popular anime and don’t consider myself a hipster in the slightest.

      I guess it all comes down to the mindset you have when you approach anime. It’s still possible to recapture that youthful sense of fun you get from being fully immersed in something – you just need to let yourself be carried away.

      That reminds me, I should get down to a Naruto rewatch sometime!

  15. Maybe part of the problem you’re having lies in your first question. Why should fans be labeled as “casual” or “hardcore?” If you like anime, you like anime. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve seen. Why should fans feel like they have to compete with each other over who has seen the greatest number of shows? The truth is: People have been watching anime before you started, and (hopefully) people will be watching anime long after you’re gone, so there’s no way to keep up with every fan in the history of the fandom. I know a little something about this because I’ve recently gotten involved in a fandom that has popular shows dating back to 2000. That’s nowhere near as long as anime, but when every episode is at least an hour…that’s A LOT of time I’d have to make up, and that’s assuming I have an interest in seeing every show that has come out. On the other hand, whenever I hear about a show I haven’t seen, I get this panic attack-ish feeling like I’m a bad fan for being fourteen years behind everyone else. The pressure really ramps up when you start talking about “classics.” If you’re not watching what everyone else is (like you mentioned in this post), you feel like you failed. At the same time, if you’re not watching what everyone else has already seen, you fail some more. Frankly, I think blogs are partly responsible for this, because there’s almost a burden on bloggers to cover all the current shows so they can create the Top Whatever of the Year list, and, as a reader, I feel like I should be watching what the blogs I’m following are talking about. Granted, readers make things difficult for bloggers by expecting them to write something outside-of-the-box about every show in existence. At least, I know I want the blogs I read to contain insight that I couldn’t come up with on my own. Uh…I feel like I’ve touched on a billion different topics here, but let’s pretend my point is watching anime has become a competition. We compete with other viewers to see who can watch the most shows. We compete with other viewers to see who can watch the most classics. We compete with other viewers to see who can watch the most “good” shows. Bloggers compete with other bloggers to see who can say the most intelligent thing about a show that every blogger feels they have to watch to get the most readers. Basically, in order to become the ideal type of fan (which I’m assuming is “hardcore”), our hobby becomes a job. We spend our leisure time slogging through shows we don’t even like just to feel like we’ve watched what we’re “supposed to be” watching.

    So, how does the question of what kind of fan you are relate to changing tastes? Well, it probably doesn’t, but I’m gonna bullshit my way toward some kind of theory anyway. If your tastes change, you might not want to watch everything that comes out, and you might want to drop shows that used to be your thing, but that doesn’t make you less of an anime fan. It just makes you less of a fan of stuff you don’t like. BIG. FUCKING. DEAL! Why let others’ preferences dictate what you spend your time watching? It’s YOUR time. Let someone else worry about Top Whatever of the Year and MAL scores and who is the “hardcore”-est fan. You should watch what you’re passionate about (once you figure out what that it is), because passion gives you more to write about, or so smarter people than I have told me. As for finding your new anime sweet spot, your instincts will tell you what you DO like. You just might have to sample a lot of different stuff before “what does it for you” speaks to said instincts, and it could be that that’s taking awhile because the current season’s offerings are mediocre. As for your last question, I’m not sure changing tastes is something you can “deal with,” like how you’d solve a problem. I think it’s something that fixes itself over time. Besides, once you find the kind of anime that appeals to you now, you never know how many anime might meet your new standards. Perhaps millions of shows await you! Perhaps your changing tastes could make you an even hardcore-er hardcore fan!

    My instincts are telling me that I’m dancing around some important issues here, so if any of this seems like something you could turn into an editorial, please do! I’d love to see my stupid thoughts put into smart words.

    • Why should fans be labeled as “casual” or “hardcore?”

      It struck me as I hit the publish button that this kind of labelling really oversimplifies things, and I think you’ve pretty much explained why it’s problematic. I noticed from other comments that a lot of others said they were a bit of both, so I think it pretty much just comes down to how you describe yourself. How seriously do you think you take anime? No one else has the right to make that judgment except for you.

      Bloggers compete with other bloggers to see who can say the most intelligent thing about a show that every blogger feels they have to watch to get the most readers.

      Ouch. I can relate to this to an extent. I’ve never been much bothered with writing episode reviews or anything like that. But the popularity of a show really does affect my likelihood of watching it. It honestly can’t be helped to a degree! If other people recommend it, it’s more likely to be good than something nobody talks about.

      Of course, there’s a fine line between listening to recommendations and watching an anime only because other people are talking about it. You just have to listen to your own gut and watch things that you think will be good. At least that’s the way I read it.

      I’m not sure changing tastes is something you can “deal with,” like how you’d solve a problem. I think it’s something that fixes itself over time.

      I think you’re onto something here. Changing tastes is natural, so I guess it’s nothing to cry over lol.

      You wrote some very interesting things which I think I still need to turn over in my mind. As for any future editorials, we’ll see!

  16. There were levels of my casual fandom before I ended up where I am now. The first one was, predictably, getting into Naruto and Bleach at around 2006. That would transition onwards to a penchant for every romance anime I could find (KEY/KyoAni adaptations, True Tears, and their ilk) until I became the level of casual that people here are more familiar with (Death Note, Code Geass, Attack on Titan if it were released in 2009). It was around when Angel Beats came out that I started to realize my own waning appreciation towards these (comparatively) shallow, yet highly entertaining shows. I spend a majority of my time in the fandom watching just those kinds of shows, so it’s not much of a wonder.

    Coming to the anime club on my campus, years before I would turn president, also affected how I decided to watch anime. This was the place where I was truly aware of the existence of anime seasons, how to prepare for them, and which anime to avoid for the sake of my sanity. Because of the way club viewings were formatted, I learned I can enjoy bad anime by laughing about it instead of bitterly complaining and decrying the state of modern anime. I started getting into more intellectually stimulating anime, and if that sounds even the least bit pretentious it’s because I also finally grabbed ahold of my own opinion, which led me to create a blog about it once my tastes became too misaligned with the club.

    If that is to insinuate that my peers’ taste was too “casual”, that would be wrong. Instead, their tastes were so hardcore that they no longer lineated with mine. There exists an upper echelon of anime that self-proclaimed hardcore fans will flock towards, but this is never to say that our tastes are the same. We don’t watch those kinds of anime 100% of the time, though we would prefer to, and instead watch other anime that cater to our personal interests. Some people are hooked to the Gundam franchise, while others crave that high-octane, crazy “anime” feel that Trigger is so proud of nowadays.

    As for me, I default back to romance anime, which would be Nagi no Asukara in this case. I guess that after all I’ve said, I haven’t necessarily changed (dohoho) my priorities when watching anime. I still, after all these years, prefer a good romance, some grade-A bullshit drama, and those delicious moe tears. This is no matter whether the shows in question actually turn out good, mind you, as there exists shows on both deep ends of the spectrum.

    My impression of the “hardcore” label is not that there’s a list of anime that you’re suddenly not supposed to like. It’s that your tastes slowly become so complex and exclusive that you actively seek out anime that most fit those particular elements. And for me personally, it is out of respect towards the anime I’ve discovered thanks to that narrow spectrum that I can confidently state my taste as hardcore.

  17. I consider myself casual watcher even though i see about 16 anime simultaneously (meaning 16 EPisodes per week). Is that a lot? No. It only takes about 7 hours to watch them. And out of those 16 ones, some really are disappointing. Not that they were dissapointing in the beginning (otherwise I wouldn’t bother with them), but rather became on their way. Kuroko went downhill with some dbz stupf which wasn’t even exciting. I mean a naked Kuroko wouldn’t attract as much attention as he did when he used overflow. I don’t know what do other people think about this, but as a regular basketball watcher (well 1 game per week/sometimes two games) I find this basketball stupid and distasteful. The refs are non existing, no fouls and their defending is rubbish, not to mention the scale of shots that go in.
    Anyway even if I watch quite a lot of anime, I still consider myself casual. I more consider myself a football fanatic (I watch about 10-11 games per week which is about 16 hours if not counting the breaks).

    P.S. Watch Tokyo Ravens, Truly one brilliant shounen.

    • Your reaction to Kuroko is quite typical among those who actually play or watch basketball! It’s definitely more entertaining when you turn off the realism in your brain and just look at it as pure shonen. I can’t comment on the latest arc, though, since I haven’t seen it.

      Adding Tokyo Ravens to my watch list as we speak, good sir! I’ll watch it as soon as I finish my Card Captor Sakura rewatch.

    • Just caught up with Tokyo Ravens! It’s a pretty neat show. I adore Kon!

  18. When I write something at 4 o’clock in the morning, I eventually realize I should go back and make sure it was coherent. As I was in the process of doing just that, I happened to read the other comments, which taught me “casual” and “hardcore” don’t mean what I thought they meant. Oops! In my head, a “casual” was someone like me who watches a series or two every five years, and a “hardcore” was someone who watches every anime that comes out every season (In my defense, some of the comments imply hardcores watch more shows.). Hence my rambling about feeling pressure to watch more shows if I wanted to be the best fan I could. However, if the comments are to be believed, my definitions are less troublesome.

    According to appropriant, a “casual” anime is something like Code Geass, Death Note and Attack on the Titan, which I’m taking to mean something that people who don’t watch anime have heard of or watched because someone who does watch anime recommended it. appropriant goes on to describe these shows as “shallow, yet highly entertaining.” They are something to watch when you need a break from the “upper echelon of anime” known to the “self-proclaimed hardcore fans.” What I’m getting from this is hardcore fans watch smart anime for smart people, and everyone elses’ preferences are inferior/stupid. I thought I’d been talking out my ass about feeling like being part of the fandom required competition (you have to watch this much of this kind of anime), but maybe I’m smarter than I knew. Perhaps I’m “hardcore” after all. So, to the other Elitist Asshole Douchebag Prick Hardcores out there, I ask you: If your shows are so awesome, why do they make you want to watch The Anime of the Casuals?

    There’s a lot of talk about how anime aimed at otaku make it difficult to get into the fandom, but I think bias against certain kinds of anime/certain kinds of fans is just as much of a problem. If you like little sisters, we shun you. If you like Sword Art Online, we shun you. If you don’t think this season is “Meh,” we shun you. The community is already small, why are we trying to make it smaller by being less geeky than the geek who likes a different but equally geeky thing? I say: FUCK THE CASUALS! FUCK THE HARDCORES! I am Me, and I like the Japanese cartoons I like.

    • From what I understood from appropriant’s comment, I didn’t think he was trying to say that some anime are inherently superior to others. In fact, he even said that being hardcore doesn’t mean you are supposed to dislike certain kinds of anime. I think what he was trying to say, though, was that certain kinds of anime are easier to appreciate if you’ve already spent a lot of time watching anime. There’s the otaku anime, which you mentioned, and there’s also the “intelligent” anime which appropriant was referring to. Stuff like Psycho-Pass is pretty typical cyberpunk fiction, but it’s an unusual genre in anime, which is why some people who have been watching anime for a long time find its storytelling refreshing. You just naturally start looking for different things in anime in order to keep the hobby fresh.

      Still, I agree that there is a tendency among anime fans to take on an exclusivist mindset in order to make themselves feel special for appreciating what they do. It’s a problem you encounter in any subculture. I’m pretty fortunate in that, even though I’m pretty open about how much I like little sisters and Sword Art Online, I don’t cop much abuse for it. A lot of my readers disagree with my taste, but that’s okay. At least they listen.

  19. I must be in the casual stage. I haven’t seen any Code Geass, Death Note, or Bleach, and I still can’t get used to the wacky hair, popping veins, and facial expressions…

    But I own 5 Lupin DVDs! Go figure.

  20. Hardcore casual. I’m selective with the anime I watch but what I watch, I end up really loving and constantly rewatching. Shonen’s yet to lose its charm for me. It’s funny you mentioned Magi since it’s a show that I’ve really gotten into lately (I like it so much that I’m planning a whole series of posts on it!)
    Watching anime’s kind of like reading literature. Once you get an acquired taste, it’s hard to not be super critical. But going back to those first few books that really got you excited in the first place is helpful in re-grounding your perspective and helps you remember that magic of reading or watching for the first time.

  21. I think this whole article reminds me of people who work in jobs that involve the things they love. They have to tune out their fan side and focus on the bigger picture of the industries themselves. I look at people like those working at a company like CrunchyRoll and wonder “How do they manage?” I know they do geek out from time to time, but you have to run a fine line between geeking out and professionalism.

    People talk about getting their dream jobs involving their hobbies, but they never realize that those jobs can often be complicated and make you see that it’s not all fun and games.

    I also think the internet (especially social media) really blows things way out of proportion. People forget the 1% rule. Not everyone will know or care that you’ve watched 20+ anime series a season and what not.

    • Your comment reminds me of this post on Otaku Journalist and how most of the comments there were along the lines of “I want this job!”

      While I’m not paid to watch anime, I do write about it academically from time to time, so I completely sympathise with having to distance myself from what I’m writing about. Being able engage and disengage from anime at will is a skill I’m actively trying to cultivate right now. The way I see it, professionalism doesn’t have to take away from one’s passion and neither does geeking out mean you lose the ability to think critically. I’m sure that’s something you deal with writing on your own blog.

  22. Man! This is like the train of thought that just WON’T get off the fucking tracks. After two (three?) weeks, I’m still trying to give my final answer about my feelings toward this post, and (hopefully) this will mark the end of my thought train’s journey. While I stand by my point that there is a pressure for fans (“casual”/”hardcore”/somewhere in between) to watch more/”higher-quality” shows, not to mention choose what kind of fan they will be, for the purposes of blogging or having conversations with other members of the anime fandom, I do have something a little less rant-y to add to what I’ve been blathering about. Various blogs I’ve come across claim that Attack on the Titan didn’t accomplish much in the characterization department (specifically, the character development was lacking). Therefore, if, as you claimed, you were looking for good characters to spend time with, which AoT doesn’t deliver, it’s no wonder your opinion of the show differs from your friends’. As for Hunter X Hunter, is it possible you dropped it because you got tired of waiting for the story to end? (Once it does end, it better be worth all the YEARS the fans have invested in it.) Over the course of hundreds of episodes, conflicts/fight scenes can become repetitive, and watching characters make the same mistakes over and over again without learning can be frustrating. i don’t watch Hunter X Hunter, so I’m not sure if any of this is applicable, but I have encountered similar situations in the shows I do watch.

    But back to you realizing that loving Cardcaptor Sakura was about loving the characters! Maybe our tastes don’t change. Maybe they just expand. As I was looking through my list of favorite anime from your “I Can Read Your Palm” post, I saw my obsession with love stories. From Fushigi Yuugi (my first exposure to anime) to Nagi no Asukara, all I want is a good love story. I look for romance in books, in songs, on TV, and in movies (even the action flicks have boobs amongst the explosions (Never fear! No boobs exploded in the making of this comment.)). And yet, all I want ISN’T a good love story. I used to fangirl over anything that put my couple together, even if what I was watching/reading/listening to was an EPIC FAIL. However, in the last year, I have begun to demand more from my entertainment than a good love story. I want interesting characters and storylines that make sense and pacing that keeps me awake but doesn’t move so fast that we go from Point A to Point C without me realizing that Point B actually happened. Which, I suppose, means a “mature” viewer can see the value in things beyond what appeals to him/her about a show (romance for me, characterization for you). I’d argue Kill La Kill is a good example of your expanding taste, because it has a memorable cast, shonen-ness, and philosophical such-and-such in the form of man vs, clothes. Anyway! Although I am a little sad that I can’t enjoy every show that comes out, the shows I do enjoy are even better for all the not-as-compatible-with-my-tastes shows I have to wade trough to find them. Come to think of it, aging leading to expanding tastes is actually a good thing. The older you get, the less free time you have, so dropping more shows is beneficial to your schedule.

  23. Reblogged this on Anime Geekly and commented:
    I only watch what comes on Toonami

  1. Pingback: Anime Figurines – Are They Worth It? | Fantastic Memes

  2. Pingback: Kill La Kill: A Love Story | Chromatic Aberration Everywhere

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