In Japan, though, Kill Me Baby has become something of an internet meme. Its popularity has only increased over time. This is particularly interesting because at first, Japanese viewers watched the show and thought, “Baby, please kill me.” That is to say, it was not a popular show when it first aired. The first BD volume sold a grand total of 686 units in the first week.
And yet somehow Japanese viewers changed their mind. When the Bluray boxset was released a year later, it sold over 4000 units despite costing some 16,800 yen. It outsold Toaru Majutsu no Index II (3830) and Infinite Stratos (2577). How did this miraculous turnabout happen?
When I was just beginning to learn Japanese, one of my classmates proudly claimed to me that she could understand anime without subtitles. That really took me aback at the time, since I assumed you needed to be fluent in order to understand what people were saying in another language. So I tested her. I played the audio of an anime episode without the visuals and asked her to translate the lines for me. It turned out she only understood a few words here and there. That was it.
So was her claim to being able to understand anime without subtitles just an empty boast? At first, I thought so, but when I started to watch anime raw I understood. The context and visuals convey so much nuance that the actual spoken dialogue become periphery to one’s understanding of the story. In other words, it’s very easy to understand the gist of anime without subtitles even if you possess very limited Japanese.
First World Problems – but hey, everyone’s experienced this. There is simply too much anime out there for one person, no matter how much of a dedicated fan you might be, to watch. So pretty much every anime fan has a backlog or a to-watch list floating around somewhere, whether it’s in your head or written down.
Here’s an interesting thought to ponder: assuming that everything on your backlog is something you want to watch, what makes you prioritise one series over another?
One of the most common complaints critics have about anime is that they pander to the otaku. Because fanservice and stock anime characters do nothing to further the plot or the themes of the narrative, this is generally perceived as an example of poor storytelling.
My intention with this post is to challenge this assumption.