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Why I Only Follow One Anime Per Season

anime diagramThis diagram explains the gist of it.

Anime is good. I love anime. But when I watch too much of it, I get cranky. The silly tropes and shenanigans annoy me more than they normally do. I find myself consuming anime mainly so I can keep up with the “in” crowd on Twitter, not because I think the anime I’m watching is particularly masterful. And even when I enjoy the anime, I’m liable to overlook most of the careful details and forget about its existence entirely as soon as it finishes airing. Anime becomes disposable, junk food entertainment for me – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does stop me from fully appreciating all the hard work and thought that goes into it.

Part of this, I suppose, is an inevitable result of our media-saturated environment. We have so many different fictional works and social media outlets vying for our attention that it becomes very difficult to focus on just one thing at a time.

Still, there are good things about consuming media in such a piecemeal fashion. Talking about anime on social media or forums can certainly enhance my appreciation of it. I can get exposed to other points of view, which enriches my own perspective. Fanart is always nice. But it’s also easy to stretch myself too thin by consuming too much media, and to reduce my level of engagement with each individual anime to snarky tweets and soundbites.

I’m a greedy person. I want the best of both worlds. I want to get all the fun out of socialising with other anime fans on Twitter while getting the maximum mileage out of the anime titles I choose to watch. This means that I have become very selective about what I pick up. If possible, I try something very popular that also happens to reward a close reading. I pay attention to the buzz, and if enough people say that the work truly resonated with them, I will give it a fair go.

vlcsnap-2016-07-13-14h32m07s167

I am happy with my decision to only watch Re:ZERO this season. I appreciate a lot of the finer details upon rewatch, and I look forward to each new episode with eager anticipation. I’ve also spent too much time stalking the author’s ask.fm. I started writing fanfiction, and even drew some crappy fanart. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll notice that I don’t shut up about Re:ZERO.

This isn’t a post about Re:ZERO specifically, so I won’t say too much about the story or even why it appeals to me, other than to say that I don’t actually think it’s the greatest thing ever. Engaging with the series so closely has probably made me even more conscious of its flaws (of which there are many). But it has been a rewarding experience nonetheless. Mostly, it has made me particularly conscious of how personal experiences and cultural context may influence how a work is perceived.

(For instance, it amuses me that, despite being so beloved among English-speaking anime fans generally, Re:ZERO is very polarising on 2ch. There are multiple threads dedicated purely to hating on it. There is probably an interesting blog post that could be written about this.)

The point is this: had I been watching multiple shows, I don’t think I would have been so inclined to research this one particular show so obsessively. Alternatively, if I did have the interest, I wouldn’t have the time to indulge in it on top of all the other stuff I do. I’m interested in things; I love getting into microscopic detail about how they work. But it’s simply not economical use of my time to apply that level of engagement to everything that comes my way.

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Besides, even if I did have more time on my hands, I’d prefer to use it catching up on my backlog or indulging in some of my other hobbies. I’ve also been expanding my interests into animation theory and non-Japanese animation lately, as you might be able to guess from my recent blog posts. I might spend more time reading about anime than actually watching it. That said, whenever I do get around to watching anime, I notice lots of cool things that I would never have paid much attention to before, especially with the visuals. That’s definitely a plus in my book.

tldr; I might watch less anime than some of the hardcore otaku, but I’m as big an anime fan as ever! In some ways, it’s a return to my early days of anime fandom, when I didn’t even know of the existence of so many anime titles. I’d just watch episodes of Naruto all day and I was pretty happy with that.

The only thing I regret is not making full use of my Crunchyroll subscription, but I figure that $60 a year is still a decent price for a streaming service that I use only once or twice a week, plus all the warm fuzzies I get from ~supporting the industry~ and all that.


So how many anime titles do you follow per season? What’s the most manageable number for you?

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Posted on July 24, 2016, in Editorials and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 48 Comments.

  1. “I’d just watch episodes of Naruto all day and I was pretty happy with that.” You sure? Normally the people that care about the newest season show are the ones that were unhappy about only watching Naruto or Bleach.

    I used to try to watch 10 shows or something but I would drop several, without noticing, because it was creeping into my game time, now I think 3 or 5 is the best possible one.

  2. Now we need Frog artist to cover the world with Re:Zero fanart.

    To comment on the actual post: I’m even worse than you, Frog. I only watch anime if I know I can enjoy it. and lately, aside from The Perfect Insider (and that was almost a year ago), I’ve been mainly avoiding airing anime due to work and studies, and focusing more on stuff I’ve missed from the past years. (Yozakura Quartet, this July)

    While I can still communicate with anifans thanks to my LN knowledge, it’s been a little difficult to keep up with the masses. I’ve also noticed that studying Japanese made me evade Japanese media, as opposed to watching it more regularly… Maybe I’m more of a book guy, who knows.
    It’s been real hard for me to keep up with anime and every time I see you recommanding one, I can’t find the will nor the time to check it out.

    I still watch Ben-To and Nourin every year because I love them too much. I should read, or even translate them, one day. :3

  3. I have been writing an anime-ish novel so I have been staying away from TV, however, when I saw that Netflix got the Adventures of Sinbad Magi, I spent most of yesterday watching the season. *insert impish grin*.
    But for the most part– if I have time–I prefer reading which helps with my writing.

  4. I usually try to sample all the popular shows the first two weeks of a new season before cherry-picking the 2-3 shows that I end up following. This season, those shows are Arslan 2, D.Gray-man Hallow & Alderamin (in addition to keeping up with my usual card gae . Which definitely are not the hottest shows this season but each one is doing some things that I find personally appealing or interesting to me. Granted, this does make it difficult to give an “objective” evaluation of a season’s or a year’s overall quality, but as long as I consistently find at least one good anime every season, that’s good enough for me. Given that only one of these shows is even on Crunchyroll, I’m not making full use of my subscription either, but I’d like to see it as my way of supporting the anime industry too.

    • Honestly, I don’t know how anyone can give an “objective” evaluation of a season’s or a year’s overall quality when so much anime comes out. I doubt even the most hardcore viewers can keep up with everything these days.

      Also, having so much to choose from is nice and all, but it leaves me pretty ambivalent. I mean, a lot of the serious problems with the industry stem from the fact that too much anime is being produced on such short schedules and without enough labour to go around. I would rather that we didn’t have so much anime coming out per season, to be frank. That would make things easier for all of us.

  5. I may be experiencing something like this. I’ve started too many shows. Some of them have a length I’m not that comfortable with like SDF Macross. Lately I’ve been watching films and miniseries in between watching a longer show so as to keep my interest high.

    • Hmm… I watched all 39 episodes of SDF Macross in a matter of days because I got really hooked on the series, but in general, I’d say it’s better to space out your viewings if you find length cumbersome. One or two episodes a day is fine. Or just watch when you feel like it. The show is not going away anytime soon!

  6. It used to be that I would try to watch almost every show that aired each season, but perhaps unsurprisingly, I never could keep up with 20+ shows for for than a few weeks at best. I was always amazed by those who could pull off watching so many shows, while going to work or school full time, and finding the time to comment on each episode of a show on a forum or blog post.

    E Minor of Moe Sucks was one such person. I often wondered how he could manage to write so many quality blog posts about so many shows, and it gave me motivation to keep trying each season to watch and write about everything. Someone once asked him though what he likes to do in his free time, and he replied that in between work and aniblogging, he had no free time. It was then I realized I will never as prolific an aniblogger as the likes of E Minor.

    Now for the past year or two I’ve gone through an odd phase where I’ve watched cartoons on a very irregular basis, and could keep up with barely any shows per season despite my passion for the medium. Now, I just admire people who can sit down for a length of time to “deep read” a show, and spend so much time dwelling on a single work. And so 1-3 shows per season is all I really try to go for now, as tempting as it often is to just watch everything whenever I look at Anichart.

    Quality of time spent with a work is more important than the quantity of works consumed, as I try to remind myself, and as this blog post has.

    • Yeah, E Minor really amazes me with the amount of work he puts into his aniblogging. Part of me is sad that he never writes about shows I like or am interested in, though, because he’s such a talented writer. On the other hand, he delivers such perfect commentary that reading his posts feel like an excellent substitution for watching the anime itself, especially when it’s really, really bad.

      It saddens me to hear that he doesn’t have time for other hobbies. At least he takes semi-regular hiatuses from aniblogging, which is probably the best thing for his sanity.

      In any case, I’m glad that you’ve settled on a schedule that’s manageable for you. For the vast majority of us, watching anime isn’t work. No need to make it into a chore!

  7. I don’t really follow seasons. I don’t really think I’d be able to. And I’m not even sure what a manageable number of shows would be.

    However, I’m terrible when it comes to managing my time. I have alot of interests and I have a lot different things i want to do. I want time to do school work, time to draw, play some games, mess around on the internet, the works. And I try to approach things at a pace I’m comfortable with. But many times that pace is glacial. And other times its rather quick.

    It doesn’t help that I have so much that I want to watch divided amoungst tokusatsu, anime, and other things. Which then leads to forgetting where I was on shows, primarily toku. Like with numerous other things in my life, I’m a mess. But I do try to find some sort of balance even if i don’t succeed.

    • If only there was a MyAnimeList for tokusatsu, then your problems would be solved, right? hahaha

      But yeah, I sympathise with your feelings completely. There are so many things I want to do, not enough time to do it all. Keeping to a proper schedule can help, though. I feel like I was much better at organising my time when I was regularly attending classes…

      • I did find one but I didn’t find it until I’d forgotten where I was with several series.

        Yeah, it honestly feels like I was much better organizing my time when I was in high school when I had a very set schedule to work off of. Since, college its just become a mess.

  8. I have been trying to widdle myself down to a few shows per season. I get caught up very easily, and end up following close to two dozen shows some seasons. And end up feeling pretty lukewarm on a majority of them. All while I have a backlog full of wonderfully rich and well remembered classics, that I should dedicate more time to. As someone who has also been attempting to thoroughly research and involve myself in each show I watch, in order to more greatly appreciate it, it is really in my best interests to slow down and take a more relaxed approach to seasonal anime. 5-10 shows per season would be ideal. This season I haven’t started anything other than the Art Club thing, and Thunderbolt Fantasy so far, because I find waiting for a consensus from the community on what is good, to be one of the better ways to not waste my time, but there is a lot of good anime every season. It’s hard to decide what to put on that backlog…

    • I find that people generally stop talking too much about an anime they liked after two seasons have passed, so if people are still getting excited about an anime after that time, it’s probably worth putting on your backlog. I’d put Ping Pong the Animation and Shirobako in this category. It wasn’t just recency bias that made these shows so beloved.

      • That’s a good point as well. There are certainly gems that get forgotten now and then, but for the most part, what persists is the best of the best. Just a couple shows per season tend to reach that level. Everything else is pretty much disposable.

  9. I agree with this. The only show I`m watching this season is LL! Sunshine and Im not even really liking it… I also have few time and I also watch western tv series and cartoons, and read manga, light novels, visual novels, graphic novels, books and webcomics. I prefer this way because it’s unlikely that I’ll ever be saturated from anime or any other medium.

    • Good plan to spread yourself and try different media! I have to wonder why you’re watching Sunshine if you’re not really liking it, though…?

      • Hope it gets better because I liked the original LL! If it were another anime, I would`ve already dropped it by now. I just do not drop bad anime when they are sequels or related to an anime I liked.

  10. The most I can take I think is 8 a season before it feels too much or I feel I can start adding in backlog.
    Yeah, back in 2013, the only thing I watched was Shingeki no Kyojin and I know that satisfying feeling of consuming all there is to it as well as speculation and discussion whether the 3DMG actually works or not. It was a good choice because not only it got me back into anime, it had all what to expect, animation errors (purple bricks), shortcuts, come and going great animation/sakuga, various range of colour (from great to real meh) and even pros and cons of doing anime original scenes in an adaptation. Heck, I can probably attribute my gravitation to ufotable to SnK due to CGBG integration with 2D animation. It is something I would like to experience again but like you, I wanted it all, pressured to catch up to the times, know all, see all the good stuff. But as your twitter rant said, no need to be overpressured, just take as you will. And that’s something I plan to do.
    With the upcoming summer vacation (or winter times for those in Northern Hemisphere), I plan on taking summer film school while only watching a handful from my backlog. Learn stuff, see if I can apply it, gain an understanding to it and maybe even try to do some storyboards (but who am I kidding, I need to learn how to draw first).
    But for now, let me be greedy and consume too much.

  11. I usually start off by watching all the anime in a season that look/sound really up my alley (typically around 10 titles), and then by the time I’m done an episode or two, I’ve whittled that down to half. So I’d say about 5 anime per season is my most manageable number, give or take a couple depending on how busy my schedule is IRL.

  12. I watch lots of shows precisely to avoid the temptation to invest so much in one thing. I like to give everything that interests me in a season roughly equal attention. It’s how much the keep my attention after the season’s over that tells me how much the story meant to me in comparison to the others.

    I know I’ll binge what I don’t watch but become interested in later, so I feel following everything I remain to care about week-to-week is the fairest approach to seasonal anime as a critic, and the most similar to my target audience, which is another plus.

    • Well, that’s an interesting inversion! Personally, I don’t think that investing in one anime per season prevents you from critically engaging with it in relation to other media, so yours is a curious position to me. For one thing, comparing titles simply because they aired in the same season seems as arbitrary a frame of comparison as any. Yes, you could make an argument that an anime’s worth lies in how memorable it is after it airs, but other than that, how much do these shows have in common with each other?

      I understand that people tend to like reading critics’ thoughts about how one particular anime compares to all the others airing in the same cour, though. And I can definitely see this approach working for a lot of people. On the other hand, I feel no such responsibilities towards my readers – I’m just out to maximise my personal enjoyment.

  13. I only have two criteria for what show I want to pick up:
    1.) If it’s within my radar of interest (e.g the genre, staff, studio, etc.)
    2.) If it’s something worth talking about with other viewers. I wasn’t a fan of HxH (2011) but seeing that a lot of my co-workers are so into it, I decided to jump the wagon. It was worth it.

    All in all I guess it all boils down to time management. I wouldn’t be watching as much anime now if I don’t have time to spare.

  14. Those early Naruto episodes are sooo good.

    Anyway, when I got back into watching anime regularly, I only planned to watch one-two new show/season. But I wind up discovering a lot of things that appeal to my personal taste, so the average number nowadays is more like five to six per season (not including backlog stuff), heh.

    I generally avoid watching stuff solely because it’s the ‘flavor of the month’ or even if it’s considered ‘important’ to do so. Further, your point about re-watching stuff makes me want to free up some more time to be able to re-visit things I’d really love or that I want to gain better understanding of. Try to be a bit less one-and-done in terms of my consumption.

  15. Hm…comfortably, I’m like you — I’m actually only able to invest one series per season, because it takes too much time to look up everything associated with it. Last season I did 1.5 in that I looked into several extras for two of the series I was watching… But that really was pushing it, especially with RL, so I gave up on covering a second radio show this season.

    I do keep up with a few other TV series–I just don’t get as involved in them, which means that I don’t notice as much, and sometimes I think it’s probably not worth watching them… That said, I think I will be sticking with 91 Days and orange because I’m quite interested in some of the creative choices that their creators have taken, and I’ll just be trying to watch a bit more closely to see if I can get a little more out of them as well. Admittedly, cutting the time I spent discussing the shows on forums is helping as well, though I still read the occasional blog post ^^;

  16. Are my viewing habits the photo-negative ones of yours?

    I’m watching 20+ anime per season, but I’m not really part of the anime online community (too lazy posting).

    My primary reason for watching anime weekly is that it’s the ideal medium to unwind after work. So I’d need at least 6 – 7 anime, with 12 – 14 being better, because on particularly stressful days one’s not enough.

    If I were to restrict myself to one anime per week, I’d probably not choose Re:Zero, simply because it’s two-cour. I don’t think I’d want to commit to one anime for two consecutive seasons if that’s all I’m watching.

    Comparing anime on account of them running simultaneously may not be particularly meaningful, but something the experience is fun, such as when we had Dance with Devils and Starmyu in one season (bishounen musical cluster!). (On the other hand watching Rakudai Kishi and Asterisk War in the same season is confusing, since they were so similar I had trouble remembering what happened in which show; dropping Rakudai Kishi solved that problem.)

    Finally: I’m not sure I’d trust the anime community to remember the shows I’d like. Often, they don’t even talk about my favourites while they’re airing. How often do you hear people talk about Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge? Last season’s Shounen Maid is a good example, too. Maybe, if I were more part of the comminity, I’d know who to listen to? (I don’t use twitter, for example, so that’s one medium down.)

    • Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge and Shounen Maid? I hope you’re following Guardian Enzo. He loves them.

      • I drop in once a month or so. I know he loves them mostly because we’re both on animesuki, where the threads for both shows are pityfully small (Crime Edge faired a little better).

        Did anyone like Koukaku no Pandora?

  17. I don’t follow seasons at all. I’m not very committed to anime, I only get in the mood once in a blue moon even though it’s what brought me into Japanese culture (with games) and made me discover manga and etc. I’m a bit of a binge watcher when I watch, but then I don’t watch anything for a year or more, depending on my mood xD;
    I also don’t like following ongoing series, in reading or in watching, so season following is impossible for me. I simply dislike having to wait, since I am a binge watcher, and I distrust anything ongoing after a lot of burns from series never completing (^_^;)
    Plus I also like reading books, manga, etc, and gaming, and blogging :P , so that much dedication to one thing is impossible for me~
    Plus sports anime is my fave genre nowadays, and there’s few of them every year, specially ones that grab me like Daiya, Haikyuu or YowaPeda do xD;

    Yikes, sorry for the wall of text (⌒_⌒;)

  18. The only genres I enjoy in anime are Psychological thrillers and Shounen (only if they unique). So 2 series per season is all that I can get. Currently, it’s just JoJo.

  19. I’m actually watching over thirty series this season and only slightly fewer last season: I’ve always been somebody who’d rather read four-five books at once than binge through them one by one. Time wise, following an anime season isn’t that big an investment either; 1-2 hours a day on average.

    But I understand the feeling to wanting to have a special show each season, something to dive deeper into than just twenty minutes of diversion. For me these come naturally from what I’m viewing. Two seasons ago it was Grimgar I got interested in, last season it was Flying Witch and currently Orange might be scratching that itch, even though I’m more annoyed than amused by it.

  20. darklordwendt

    I think I might be the opposite of you Froggy, I might have a little too much time on my hands. I constantly watch stuff, even if I’m busy with work. If I’m slammed, I work extra hard to finish a days worth so I could have an hour to watch something before I sleep (oh hanasaku iroha, those were the days, stressing myself out in the morning and letting all my stress wash away by watching cute girls working at a hotel while I’m eating chimichangas). Of course this method won’t work forever and I’ll be stuck working all night on college assignments.

    But anyways Froggy, do whatever floats your boat and we’ll do whatever floats ours.

    • do whatever floats your boat and we’ll do whatever floats ours.

      That’s a good attitude to take, but make sure you get your assignments done on time!

  21. I never used to watch anime week to week, I always waited until the whole season was released and then watch it. I’d only have one anime on the go at a time and once I finished I’d watch something else. I don’t know when that changed and I started watching whatever at any time, but I don’t really regret the change. Sometimes I’ll watch a whole series and other times I’l watch the most recent episode of something and either way I’ll enjoy it.

  22. I like watching one thing at one at a time that’s always been my flow, but this year I’ve taken a few to many now I have a mini back log to work with through which I fully intend to do. Really loved reading your post on this issue and was great inspiration for me also XD

  23. Im totally a fan of re:zero too, but the new episode is totally a bad one,
    I cant believed what is subaro spouting. Damn, i know its painful and very
    Hard to encounter deaths espcially the one you love, also the feeling of being
    Killed it cant be explain how painful is that, but that is not enough to give up
    I cant also believe he would choose rem instead of his great love. Where is the
    Subaro that keeps on fighting in the ma.beast . Dang, he even let rem utter those painful words. I really feel sorry for rem. Subaro should grow up soon.

  24. For me, I just can’t… control myself. Like I promised myself to watch only 5 shows last season, and ended up picking like 15. Most of the time, I didn’t know what to watch and just rely on twitter and see which shows are talked about the most — which can ironically pile up. Well, in short, I blame twitter for not being able to control myself from watching more.

  25. Maybe because I don’t analyse stuff THAT much, but I wouldn’t consider watching only one show per season – but I certainly cut down on the quantity, especially after my early Crunchyroll-premium-fuelled binges. Now I’m mostly down at 3/4 shows per season, and a constant of that is that I usually pick ones that have something original to them so I avoid that weariness you mention. Right now I follow Jojo, Mob Psycho 100, Orange and ReLIFE with my gf (probably wouldn’t have bothered on my own, especially Orange), Shokugeki no Souma, and the Danganronpas.

  26. Totally relatable right here. I mean, there’s a ton of really cool popular stuff I wanna watch- 91 Days, Mob Psycho 100, and all this ranting for Re:Zero’s got me curious about it too. But I know that if I watch all 8 to 15 of those shows rather than the few I already am (ARC-V, 3Rei, Re:0096, Berserk and Zeta Gundam) then I’ll never finish anything. Like, i just went back and finished Durarara x2 and Captain Earth a few weeks ago, and there’s still Gintana 2015 and Haikyuu 2 and Gate 2 after that. Its not the schedule I want, but it’s the one I need.

  27. I only follow as much anime as I can remember in any given time period, like a year :D The volume of how much is available is getting overwhelming, and it’s not all as good as some of the classic sagas. Now I’ve transitioned into real Japanese literature as my greater preference, but I still like anime because it’s all the splendid Japanese imagination. And I wouldn’t’ve found Japanese literature if it weren’t for anime.

  28. I bounce around with my taste xD

  29. Your so right! I can only do one or two anime episodes a day because I start to zone out and everything usually starts to get boring.

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