These first few days of Fall 2013 starting up has reminded me of something that’s been on my mind for a while now.
I recently watched the first episode of Kyoukai no Kanata, you see, and I find its first episode to be slightly decent. However, my opinion is almost entirely linked to the fact that I’ve seen its concepts and structure before. There’s no circumventing the fact that Kyoukai no Kanata and Bakemonogatari share some traits, such as the supernatural focus and the immortal male leads, as well as being surrounded by girls with issues. There’s numerous other qualities with Kyoukai no Kanata that can also be attributed to other youkai-centric shows, or other Kyo-Ani works such as Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, or those light novel tropes that never seem to die. I can’t really comment further than that because I have nothing else constructive to say about Kyoukai no Kanata. Now, as I’m figuring out my thoughts about this show, I can’t help but to compare all these things. Would it be fair, though, to judge one show based on a completely unrelated show that came before it? Whether or not there’s an answer to that question, it surely happens anyway.
I really shouldn’t have a problem with this though, because this is the exact same behavior that’s driven my anime-watching habits for the last three or four years. In fact, most of my experiences with anime devolve into making comparisons with other anime:
“Coppelion? I liked it better when it was called Akira.”
“Psycho-Pass? Ha! I liked it better when it was called Ghost in the Shell.”
“Nisekoi? LOL! I liked it better when it was called Love Hina.”
“Golden Time? Top lel, I liked it better when it was called Toradora.”
“Sakurasou? Dafuq? I liked it better when it was called Hanasaku no Iroha, and even then I liked that one better when it was called Maison Ikkoku.”
“Clannad? Please. I liked it better when it was called Air.”
“Penguindrum? Screw yourself with a cactus. I liked it better when it was called Revolutionary Girl Utena.”
“GC? I don’t even. I liked it better when it was called CG.”
“Eden of the East? I liked it better when it was called The Bourne Ide-” MOVING ON.
What makes this an anime-specific issue for me is both the fact I’ve been following it for so long and the repetitive nature of the market itself, so when those godforsaken charts pop up each season I have a scarily accurate idea of which anime I’m going to tolerate, hate, and potentially masturbate to. The real issue about all of this, though, is figuring out if this particular phenomenon is really that bad. I’ll get this out of the way and say that it isn’t inherently bad. Recalling past experiences is how we learn, after all, and no one wants to subject themselves to watching a series they end up not liking. Furthermore, there are merits to figuring out how to pick and choose anime. Given its predictable nature and our familiarity with its tropes and archetypes, us anibloggers in general have built a whole repertoire of anime as their basis for what they like and don’t like in the future. I know I do, and you guys sure has hell better know that you do as well. It’s rather obvious that the anime that suck you in as an anime fan become the basis of what anime you will enjoy in the future, and I’m not one to speak otherwise. Having this entire history of anime under my belt does not automatically make me this bitter old man who only sees rehashes of the same old concepts again and again, even if it may seem that way at times.
What it does do, however, is suck varying amounts of fun out of all the newer anime I watch nowadays. I can’t enjoy Kyoukai no Kanata as much as I know is possible because I’ve already seen Bakemonogatari. I didn’t enjoy Ano Hana and Angel Beats because my sappy Key drama streak ended with Clannad. It even affects the times I watch older series; my enjoyment regarding Eureka Seven has been staunchly inhibited by the fact that I’ve seen a lot of what it does in Xam’d: Lost Memories. Seeing trends breeds predictability. Predictability breeds higher expectations from the animation studios. Higher expectations lead to greater disappointments. A slew of great disappointments is bound to burn out an anime fan, and if I really, really, really think hard about it, I have to admit. Watching anime for so long has taken its toll on me, and my opinion of anime in general has suffered because of it.
I believe that to be the main reason why I’m unable to weigh in completely about my first impressions right now: the majority of my judgments toward new anime these days come not from a bare palate but instead from a convoluted mix of other tastes I’ve acquired over the past few years. While it isn’t the most apt comparison, I’m like those people who watch adaptations of source material, but end up disappointed 95% of the time because said source material was infinitely better. There’s no winning when it comes to that. Hell, to make it even worse, those raw feelings I felt in my first years of anime watching are something I still hold dear to me. The fact that they still exist in my mind is a hindrance if I am to completely enjoy newer anime, because nothing will match what I watched when I was more impressionable.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was something that could, say, start you off with a clean slate with each anime season? Like how ginger is supposed to clean your palate before you eat the next piece of sushi, except in this case there’s some mechanism where your anime experience doesn’t get in the way of watching new stuff?
That would be so, so wonderful.
- No pictures because fuck you.
- As much as I complain about the self-destructive nature of watching a lot of anime, it HAS led me to enjoy a lot of anime that stray from the beaten path. Perhaps that alone is worth trudging through crap every season to find all the good stuff.
- Am i really complaining about my own elitism? Really, app? Are we gonna have to fight?