A First Year of Anime – From Dubs to Blogging – Part 2

Gotta get that article out

How long have I been writing?

Welcome back to part 2 of my review of my first year of watching anime. If you haven’t yet read Part 1, you can do that here.

HOW ANIBLOGS HAVE CHANGED THE WAY I WATCH ANIME

So I mentioned that prior to the Spring 2012 season, most of the shows I watched were complete series that had already finished, that had been recommended to me generally by association from some other show I had already watched. And even at the beginning of the Spring 2012 season, when I was starting to watch currently airing series, this was still primarily the case, as most of the shows I had picked up were ones done by the same fansub groups I’d been seeing shows from before, so their tastes in shows to release were similar to previous shows. This didn’t really provide as much opportunity to branch out in styles.

Tsuritama and Sakamichi

Tsuritama and Sakamichi no Apollon

So after I started reading aniblogs, I mostly focused on the shows I was watching, as people tend to do, but there were other shows that seemed to generate a lot of interest, usually ones that I hadn’t really heard of. It was due to other people writing and discussing these other shows that led to me picking up another show most of the way through the season – Sakamichi no Apollon. And upon reaching the end of the season, one show got a LOT of admiration, so much that I figured I’d better go back and watch it as well. I hadn’t been interested because of the weird descriptions it had gotten, especially on Metanorn, of ‘gay fishing!’, but after nearly everyone rated it as one of the best series of the season, I had to go back and watch Tsuritama. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that these two shows are ones that I wouldn’t have taken a serious look at at all until much later if not for the influence of the community of aniblogs talking about how great they were and they were both very good shows to watch.

So the biggest way that aniblogs really changed my anime watching was in increased exposure to shows that I’d really never have given a chance before. And this continued into the summer season, with previews coming out all over the place, I finally started seeing complete lists of new things coming out, and that spurred me to go look for these shows that were coming out. What this really did was give me a LOT of new shows to watch. I ended up watching 19 complete series through Summer – Accel World, Arcana Famiglia, Binbougami ga!, Campione!, Dakara Boku ha, H ga Dekinai, Hagure Yuusha no Estetica, Hyouka, Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita, Koi to Senkyou to Chocolate, Kokoro Connect, Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru!, Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse, Natsuyuki Rendezvous, Oda Nobuna no Yabou, Rinne no Lagrange, Sword Art Online, Tari Tari, Uta Koi, and Yuru Yuri. It’s probably safe to say that about half of them were shows that I wouldn’t have watched without hype from reading blogs beforehand. A couple of them, Rinne no Lagrange and Yuru Yuri, were even continuing series that, given the bit of preview time, I was able to watch their first seasons before getting into the continuing series, which really helped in both cases and made the current series a lot more fun to watch.

Monkey-Loli Force Go!

Everyone wants to discuss the Monkey-Loli Force!

And of course, watching all of them made me want to go discuss all of them, or at least most of them, leading me to branch out on aniblogs to find places things were being covered. I think it’s always going to be true that when you read more stuff about shows you’re watching, there’s going to be people you agree with, and people you disagree with. Sometimes the people you disagree with make you think, and if not completely change your mind, at least consider another way of examining something. But a lot of the time, people you disagree with just don’t seem to see the same things you do. And of course, there are just straight up differences of opinion. So I think it’s natural that some blogs you start to read, and realize that the writers and commenters just aren’t on the same page as you, and you don’t go back. But others continue that branching out process, although at some point, when you’re watching all the current shows you’re likely to watch, it starts to be more that other people’s old favorites become more of your backlog. And that’s definitely been something I’ve seen. The more I read from other folks, the more old series I mark down as wanting to watch. I don’t know if watching those same old shows that people think are the best will ever make you think the same as them (likely not), but you can find out about more old shows to watch.

BECOMING AN ANIBLOGGER AND AFFECTING YOUR OPINIONS

In a search for people to talk to, as well as something to do, I joined the #Metanorn irc channel (on Rizon) near the end of the Spring season, and have been there since, with the realtime discussion being similar, but also fundamentally different from comment sections on blogs. But while there, I met Sushi, and eventually he asked if I was interested in becoming a blogger on his new site. I didn’t accept at first, but decided to later, and started blogging a few series a few weeks into the Summer season. I think I’ve been lucky, in that the series that I started out blogging, and the ones in Fall that I picked up, were all pretty good, and all shows that I’ve enjoyed.

Boku H and KoiChoco

Skewed Opinions

Something I think does happen for me is that I become more invested in a show when I’m blogging it, even to the point of defending it probably more than it really deserves. Two of the shows in the summer season I probably overinflated: Boku H and KoiChoco. When I think back on the summer, it seems pretty obvious to me that Hyouka was better than KoiChoco, but at the time I rated KoiChoco slightly better than Hyouka, and I’d have to say that that’s due to blogging KoiChoco. It was definitely a good show, but just wasn’t spectacular after the ending it had. But it’s not that any show I blog gets better thoughts just because I’m blogging it. I started blogging with Arcana Famiglia, and that show was just a wreck, so much so that I stopped blogging it and picked up Oda Nobuna instead. But I definitely think that blogging a show makes you more invested in it, and more likely to think it’s a better show (I still think Girls und Panzer is the best Fall show, tho!)

The Oarai Girls' Academy Sensha-do team

Best tank paint jobs, too!

HOW DOES THE STATE OF ANIME LOOK TO SOMEONE NEW

The last thing I wanted to discuss from the perspective of someone new to anime is “how does now stack up to then?”One of the things you’ll frequently see around some aniblogs is people lamenting the current state of anime. “It’s in decline”, “It’s not like it used to be”, “New animes are all derivative / copies / cliched / boring / suck!” As someone who’s much more recent to anime, it really seems to me that the quality of shows being produced is as good as it has ever been. Because of the memory that the internet allows us as a group, we can directly compare most of those old series that people remember favorably to new series. And a lot of those old shows are great, but current series are great as well. Some of that is obviously due to better video: it’s almost a punishment to watch a series with DVD source compared to even the most average HDTV source. It’s only natural that a show that looks better is going to have an advantage that will help make up for shortcomings in story or characterization. But also, current voice actors are very good, there isn’t a group of older VA’s that we really miss for their stellar performances. And while there’s a lot of reuse in stories of plot points, gags, and other things that have become cliched, there’s a reason things are cliched in tv series: People like them. They make people feel good. Maybe not the cliched part, but the way you get to it, primarily.

Some great current shows

So I really think that the lamentations of decline are not really true. Maybe when you’re comparing the best series of all time to the best series of a particular season, the ‘all time’ selection will win. But we’re also not seeing a lot of not as good series, and cherry-picking the past in our comparison. And honestly, I think that a lot of people who think that there’s a big decline are really affected more by their own selves moving on. Maybe they don’t want to spend as much time on anime, but feel obligated because they blog, or because they used to like it. And some people just continue far past when they stop liking something. My best advice to people who find they’re not enjoying something, like it always is, is “don’t do what you don’t like.” And if you find you don’t like any new anime anymore, then don’t watch new anime. Take a break. Do the other things you want to do. All these series that are coming out now, they’ll be here if you come back. And if you regain your love for it, they’ll be waiting for you to enjoy them then.

Meanwhile, I’ll be watching until I don’t enjoy it anymore. Thanks for reading!

5 thoughts on “A First Year of Anime – From Dubs to Blogging – Part 2

  1. It’s too bad you started with a show like Arcana Famiglia (haha…thankfully I was already pretty far along by that point), but in my own experience, I feel like I took in a variety of different shows (also by recommendation) before I started blogging. The thing that blogging gave me was more consistency…rather than just marathoning some series and going slowly through others across a week or something.

    I definitely agree that it’s annoying to constantly see people writing about how anime is declining and such…I actually have a lot of trouble watching older shows (despite how “classic” they are). Even with moeblobs and fanservice everywhere, I still think there’s really good stuff coming out these days.

    • Well, I think I got a good start blogging shows because 1) I actually started mid-season and 2) I had a nice spread of shows to do. That first group was Koi to Senkyou to Chocolate, Tari Tari, Boku H, and then Arcana Famiglia, Hagure Yuusha, and Oda Nobuna in a capsule post. So one really good show, 2 pretty good shows, 2 ecchi shows, and one really bad show. It gave me a nice education on how to deal with both good shows and bad shows, and let me work out some different styles (Hagure Yuusha was much more tongue-in-cheek because the show was just so ludicrous).

      Personally, I don’t have problems with moeblobs and fanservice. I’m actually pretty prone to giving any show quite a bit of latitude with art style and direction. I do sometimes chafe when a show is completely shot by ‘gnome cameramen’ (i.e. every shot is from below some girl’s skirt), but in general, I don’t mind even a healthy amount of fanservice. The only show that the art has really really turned me off was K, and I’m in a distinct minority on that (the complete lack of any story in the first episode didn’t help either). But I enjoy things for what they are, and usually don’t let the setting annoy me too much.

  2. “The decline of anime” is an everlasting topic. I agree with your points on it, nevertheless let me add something. It may seem that the quality of anime is on the decline, but we have to keep in mind that:
    1. The number of new series each season is greater than in the past, therefore even lower quality anime are produced, because the selection process is less strict.
    2. While the number of anime per season is different, the percentage of junk is pretty much the same. (Not an impression, a friend of mine actually did the hard work and sifted through 10 years of anime to confirm the theory.)
    3. Anime is a business like any other and will adapt to its consumers. With the otaku base growing at such an unbelievable rate with a lot of help from the internet, it is unavoidable the average viewer will dumb down reflecting the first world IQ statistics. Hence the simplistic themes and foci of newer anime.

    • I wouldn’t say that themes are more simplistic across the board. If the percentage of junk is pretty much the same, then I’d imagine the percentage of ‘thinking’ is about the same. I mean, two shows right now that really make people think are Psycho-Pass and Shin Sekai Yori. I think there will always be an audience for that kind of stuff, and so there will always be some of it there. I think the ‘dumbing down’, both in anime and in regular TV, is due in large part to having a much larger volume of airtime to fill. And I honestly don’t mind if it gets filled with more ‘average’ shows like a Busou Shinki or a Natsuiro Kiseki, or even more fanservice shows like OniAi or Boku H. TV’s always been derided as ‘Least Common Denominator’, and it always will be, because people who want to focus on how awful it is will handwave away the good shows to make their point.

  3. Pingback: A First Year of Anime – From Dubs to Blogging – Part 1 | Sushi GoKart

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