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.
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.
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?