Best Enjoyed in Solitude?

Watching anime is already a solitary activity and seeking out like-minded individuals who share and appreciate this hobby is the reason why the majority of us are doing this anime-blogging business.

A few nights ago, I started and then marathoned the first six episodes of Kyoukai no Kanata. It’s been a while since I’ve done that: knew nothing about the series other than the buzz generated by select anime bloggers I follow, but enjoyed it immensely that I couldn’t stop watching. Those three hours just passed by.

And then I started checking out random blog posts on Animenano. And then I stopped doing that ’cause some of those dudes were bumming me out.

In short, I’m thinking that the one of the few ways to have a pure, unabashed love for a series is to enjoy it with only your experiences and knowledge and not be influenced by the prejudice of others. When the love for the series has been kindled beyond a spark, of course sharing it in a community setting (ie, reading or writing blogs or forums) could only liven the blaze, but not before then.

Maybe this is my subconscious dig at certain ‘type’ of anime blogger, so if you think I’m referring to you, dear reader, I most probably am not. I just noticed a general trend of anime blog posts where the authors seem so jaded and so filled with ennui that every new show is awful. Maybe it’s just burn-out? After all, most anime bloggers/watchers reach that point of oversaturation every so often and would need to take a break from the hobby. And that’s fine! When a hobby starts feeling like work (and when most of us aren’t getting paid for it), it may be time to take a breather.

I then started reflecting on my feelings about the past few series that I’ve watched and why I seem to have derived, overall, more enjoyment out of them. Am I just easily amused? Am I not thinking about the series as critically as other anime bloggers are? I’d like to think that the answer to both questions is no, so then could I possibly be doing differently, how else is my anime watching behavior different this time than it was in previous seasons/months?

Here’s where I have to ‘fess up: if you’re posting about (new) shows that I haven’t had chance to watch yet, even if I follow your blog on a feed reader, I’m actually not reading them. Sorry! I’ll skim and glance through it, maybe. Or I’ll just add it to my to-read later checklist. I can’t possibly be the only one who does this, right? Part of it is that I don’t want to spoiled right away — I’m weird ’cause I don’t mind knowing the BIG spoilers but I hate finding out the little details in advance. The other part of it is that I want the chance to trust my own gut feeling and to figure out my own feelings for the show with minimal outside influence.

I think that one of the traps that anime and book reviewers fall into is the fear of having a differing opinion from the majority. (Though having a contrary opinion just to be unique or to be a troll is a separate issue entirely.) I know that I still feel weird if I watch an anime and either don’t get it or don’t love it as much as everyone else. And I know those feelings are amplified when I’m actively seeking out blogs or posts where the writers are so effusive or so jaded about the show, thus creating a death spiral of doubt about my own opinions and tastes.

This is just me, and it’s a system that’s worked for me so far. It’s almost like each new anime is a potential relationship; I’d like to get to know them thoroughly first, figure out what makes them tick, learn why they do the things they do, and for me, that’s only accomplished best if it’s just the two of us first. We can hang out with friends later, but I want the chance to figure out my feelings and know whether this new relationship will go far or if it’s just a fling.

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11 thoughts on “Best Enjoyed in Solitude?

  1. Cannot agree with you more.

    Over the years I’ve ran into enough different types of people in regards to how they find and evaluate the information around them in order to determine if they want to watch a certain show and what makes the activity enjoyable (not just anime FWIW), that it’s pretty clear there is no one size fits all sort of answer. So what you say will make sense, as with any kind of blogging spouting any sort of truths, relative or not. The real difference is how each of us couch our opinions as such and how we substantiate them.

    What bothers me the most is when people get their ennui and jadedness wrong. It’s one thing to pull a Arudoc and entertain a specific audience, it’s another to actually be correct on the stuff they’re talking about, and not just to do it to sound good.

    • One more thing, I also think it’s about insight. Not everyone has this sort of thing, but some people do think about what they’ve seen and come up with interesting things to say as a result of it.

    • The real difference is how each of us couch our opinions as such and how we substantiate them

      You were able to state in a sentence what it took me a few hundred words to elaborate.

  2. It’s funny every time people whip this card at me.

    Of course, people who blog with pretend opinions are just pathetic, but in my experience they don’t last long and only attract a dipshit audience anyway.

    Kyoukana is the second worst KyoAni production I have seen though (Tamako Market easily tops it, although is more forgivable), and I don’t see a problem with this being the general consensus in the sphere. It has its share of people hating it because it’s popular, but what doesn’t?

  3. I really have to agree with you on this. Rather than discuss the story, many people seem to revel in just flaming the plot or the company’s involved. Stretching the example, I really enjoy Gingitsune. A small shrine, a young girl and a fox spirit that acts as a herald for the local god. The herald acts as the go-between for the people and the god. He’s a grump, but he’s fun…. Some bloggers and site admins are sounding like heralds, interacting with the posters and having a conversation about the anime that they watch. Others seem to relish taking on the god role and and distributing their ration of hell and brimstone for things they don’t like, shortcuting the discussion or generating a tone that slants the entire conversation. Thank you for not being one of those.

    • I think it’s only appropriate if you’re a blogger and want to express your opinions about something you read or watched, then go right ahead and say exactly what you feel. I actually don’t mind reading the posts where the writers say exactly why they hate/love a series and is furious and passionate about defending the reasons why. Those are actually the most entertaining to read.

      I think my point in writing this post was just how easier and more convincing it is to become ‘that’ passionate blogger/writer if you figure out for yourself why. I could be the only person who loves a show (which is probably untrue just based from the number of people in the world, and the number of people using the internet) but maybe there’s something in it that resonated with me that didn’t resonate with most other people, and that wouldn’t have been possible if I constantly surrounded myself with the noise of other people’s opinions.

  4. Hear, hear. For both of my favorite series, Haruhi and Madoka, I was out of touch with the blogsphere at the time and unaware of any buzz, either positive or negative, regarding them. Thanks to that, I could build up my own opinion regarding both of them without getting affected by either hype or criticism. Reading blogs is a trade-off, especially since before the deep analysis posts start coming in, you’ll just get people praising and criticizing series based merely on the studio/staff/some weird preconceptions, without even waiting for the plot to develop.

    As for Kyoukai, I found the first arc somewhat uneven in its pacing, but episode 6 threw me on my knees xD.

      • It’d be long after 2006 that I started reading blogs regularly, so by that time my opinion on Haruhi was pretty much set in stone.

        With Madoka though, I could read reviews and impressions soon after watching the series proper. To be honest, if I loved the music (I did) and found a blogger calling it trash, I could only shrug and say, “whatever floats your boat”. On the other hand, while I’m always happy to see people with impressions similar to mine, since it’s like one more way of relieving one’s favorite moments of the series, just finding a lot of people praising a given series doesn’t instantly make me like it more, either

        So much more than positive/negative opinions, what blogs (and the Madoka wiki) contributed to my opinion were observations, analyses and trivia I couldn’t notice myself. Madoka was a work I appreciated more the more time I had to munch on it, and having outside perspectives and knowledge helped me order my thoughts and get deeper into some things. Just as an example, I was only familiar with Disney’s version of the Little Mermaid fairy tale, and so it was not obvious to me how Sayaka’s witch form refers to the parallels between the original fairytale and Sayaka’s story: the pointless and tragic sacrifice of the heroine’s original body in exchange for a chance to get closer to her love interest, only to fail completely because of imposed silence, Picking up on more stuff like that only made me like the show more..

  5. Your pararrel with a relationship is very good 🙂
    That said I choose with whom I watch my anime; it can be whole more enjoyable. If you watch with strangers whose tastes and habits you don’t know, you get distracted from watching and you might lose the fun instead. As for reading blog posts, I do so to gain better understanding of what I watch, to gain more eyes; this might go both ways, either positive (eg. symbolism analysis) or negative (eg. problematic issues). But if I find that the dismay expressed is ungrounded or simply a matter of taste I won’t be influenced by it. I can still go on liking what I liked. If I discover an annoying truth then my perception might change, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t like being ignorant.

  6. This is something I willingly did last season. I always used to comment on forums (and one of the bigger ones at that), but after realizing that spending time around fans was an uphill battle, I left of my own will and enjoyed shows without having to prove my opinion to anyone. I still go on forums – but a different one now – and only when a show is actually done airing. (Though I make an exception for Precure.) Stepping away from fandom politics is so refreshing.

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