14 CommentsEditorials, Ye Olde Days / By Scamp /

Ending up with more dropped series than watched series is now looking like a serious possibility

While I was typing up my monthly review, I noticed that my watching list was a bit smaller than I originally thought it was. Since I’ve watched the first episode of practically everything this season that’s either not a sequel or doesn’t have flying underwear, this confused me a bit until I realised exactly how many anime I’d dropped. Basically, I’ve already dropped over half of the series airing this season. That figure will probably rise since I end up dropping a lot of anime around the episode 5 stage (Kobato and Sacred Blacksmith are heading towards that point and Natsu no Arashi has already been dropped). I always knew I was a vicious dropper but the extent of my dropping capabilities hadn’t quite hit me yet. Intrigued, I looked back at last season to see how many anime I had watched and how many I had dropped.

Watched/Watching: Bakemonogatari, Spice and Wolf, Sora no Manimani, Umineko

4 Series

Dropped: Needless, Canaan, Tokyo Magnitude, Princess Lover, Umi Monogatari, Aoi Hana, Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou, Taishou Yakyuu Musume

7 Series

If this trend continues, I’m going to have a larger dropped list then a watched list.

So why is this so? Well, it appears the Average Joe Anime Watcher simply takes what reviews say are good or whatever appeals to them from the synopsis and watches them. I just can’t bring myself to do that. It’s not that I generally don’t agree with these reviews. I most certainly do agree with them most of the time (it’s one of my permanent disappointments is that my top 20 anime pretty much solely consists of already uber-popular stuff and doesn’t look anything as unique as someone like psgels), but what if there’s something out there that I’ve missed? If I had taken that approach I wouldn’t be watching Book of Bantorra, which is probably my second favorite series this season after Darker than Black.

‘But how do you have time to check all these series out’ I hear you cry. That’s the thing: I don’t. The more I watch, the more series I know I’ll enjoy. But obviously I don’t have time to watch them all. So in order to watch those anime I enjoy the most, I cut off those anime I’m not enjoying that much. I don’t have time to be watching the average rom-coms, the uninspired harems or those shojo series that everyone else loves but I just can’t get into. There’s a little internet law known as Sturgeons Law that states that 90% of anything sucks. That’s not exactly true and more of a pessimistic view of entertainment. Closer to the truth would be that 10% of anything is awesome. That doesn’t make the rest of said product crap. There’s the decent series, the average series and so on. Obviously a huge amount of these are still utter crap but I find that a lot of people are sitting through the decent and average stuff. And that is exactly where my vicious dropping routine comes in.

There are a few anime series I watched in my lifetime that shaped my dropping routine. These anime set out the boundaries for when I should have dropped a series a long time ago. When I’ve finished a series and I look back and think ‘what a unenjoyable experience’ I know that there’s something in there that meant I should’ve dropped it. Learn from your mistakes, although a cliched term, is exactly what I’ve been doing. Here are a few of the mistakes I’ve made and what I’ve learned from them, in rough chronological order.

1: Green Green – Learned to not continue to watch anime just because of the boobies.

Where this was applied: To-Love-Ru

Where this should have been applied: Shuffle, Nagasarete Airantou

2: Fruits Basket: Learned not to watch an anime in order to see what happens in the end

Where this was applied: Soul Eater, Chaos;Head

Where this should have been applied: Itazuru na Kiss

3: Rental Magica: Learned not to watch average series

Where this was applied: Tokyo Magnitude, Valkyrie Chronicles

Where it should have been applied: Vandread, Library Wars

And that list could go on and on. Don’t watch an anime because of the pretty visuals (Maria Holic). Don’t be afraid to drop a second season if it sucks (Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei). The three listed above are probably the most important three because it’s those three rules are what most people break. How often have you continued to watch an anime simply because the girls or guys are hot? How many times have you watched an anime you weren’t really enjoying so you could see how it ends, especially waiting to see if the main romance gets solved? And by any chance did these endings end up about as disappointing as the rest of the series? I’m right amn’t I. But the most important of all is the third one. The average series. The ones that you can’t really muster much enthusiasm to watch the next episode. The anime where you can’t really remember the characters names. The one where, if someone asked you if it was any good, you would reply with a resounding ‘meh’. If you take anything from this post then take this message: Drop the average series. Take a look around you at the vast amount of anime at your disposal. There will always be something else to watch.

Why do I have this intense attitude towards dropping? It goes deeper than simply time management. One reason is that there’s always more to watch that I want to watch. In fact, this is still time management but at a totally different level. There are so many series I want to watch that I don’t have the time to summon the enthusiasm for a series that I didn’t like the first episode of. A show that I may have had enthusiasm to watch before I watched a dreadful first episode gets instantly plummeted down my to watch list. So the rest of Mazinger Z is way better than the first episode? Fine, I’ll watch it again. Just after I’ve watched Wolfs Rain, Gankutsoh, Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Gundam Seed, X, Ergo Proxy, Nana, Gunbuster, Hidimari Sketch, Akagi, Beserk, Hellsing, Ghost Hunt, 5cm per second, Hajime no Ippo, Gungrave, Ichigo Marshmallow, Mars of Destruction and so on.

But probably the main driving force behind it is the fear of the inevitable burnout. Reports from folks who have experienced this dire infection that can spring upon any unsuspecting fan at any moment are few and far between. But from the few that I have managed to scavenge, what they said was they kept watching series that they couldn’t get excited about. In short, they were watching series they didn’t enjoy. So I’ll sit back, watch my drop list continue to shoot higher than any other, and enjoy my anime. Except for me, it’s only the good ones.

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13 Comments

  1. kaza
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    You know what. I don’t think you could have given a better explanation. I totally agree with you on not watching the useless sameold stuff.

    Yet, you do have to realize that people may have little difference in taste. You see, you may enjoy watching stuff like Gundam or FMA but to me, I just can’t seem to conjure up enough excitement for it. Plainly said, I just don’t enjoy it. But if you give me something like Bokura Ga Ita, or I’S’ Pure, or Ef’ A Tale of Melodies, then that my friend is something I would consider putting on my watched list. Actually, they already are.

    I don’t mean to say that you are wrong, actually to the contrary, I mean to say that you are VERY right to be taking drastic dropping methods and only sticking to Good anime you like. But I just didn’t want my reviews of these anime that look rather typical to go to waist.

    I’m actually very glad that you posted this. I was about to send you a message asking you what you look for in anime when you rate it. This kinda answers my questions. Thx XD

  2. kadian1364
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    “There’s a little internet law known as Sturgeons Law that states that 90% of anything sucks. That’s not exactly true and more of a pessimistic view of entertainment. Closer to the truth would be that 10% of anything is awesome.”

    Just wanted to QFT.

    Also what you said at the end about avoiding burnout is a great bit of wisdom too. The attitude that turns your hobby into a job, that “I have to finish this” completionist mentality found more commonly in those of us inclined to nerdy activities, is the dream killer. We’ll all have our difference of preferences and ideas about what we want in our entertainment, and there’s also value in branching out to unknown genres, something about personal growth or somesuch, but ultimately we should watch anime because we want to.

    An aside:
    TM8.0 is “average”? I would say the show certainly has its flaws, but “average” denotes a very specific kind of quality; aside from a “pure arithmetic mean”, tyical, common, and ordinary are synonyms of the word. Typical, common, and ordinary do not describe TM8.0 accurately at all. Related to this limiting interpretation of “average” is why I avoid using that modifier when I do my MAL ratings and stuff. I use “Meh” or “So-so” to do the job of describing a show with equal ups and downs.

    Another aside:
    psgel’s favorites list is interesting to say the least. Despite my best efforts to watch all this anime stuff, I’ve only seen 8 out of his top 20 (and 1 or 2 episodes of some others), which goes to show the medium always has more to offer us should we choose to explore it. Maybe its about time I think about expanding my personal favorites list.

  3. Posted October 29, 2009 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    I used to be one of those who hated to drop anything and wanted to complete everything I started. However, this was a lot easier when I cherrypicked the shows I watched, based on ratings, or similarities to other shows I liked. But when I started picking up shows weekly, just checking them out for the sake of seeing what they were like, I realized dropping was a good thing. And as much as time management plays a major role for me, I definitely think what you say about avoiding the inevitable burnout is the most important part. It’s easy to think anime is the greatest thing ever when you’re watching whatever show you enjoy. On the flip side, when all you’re watching shows you don’t enjoy, of course you’re going to start getting jaded. I want to stick with anime for the long haul, because I think it’s a really interesting medium that tells unique stories that you wouldn’t get to see elsewhere. I would hate to be “infected” by the burnout bug, simply because I subjected myself to a stream of shows I didn’t enjoy.

  4. Posted October 29, 2009 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    It’s a wise move being able to know what to look out for in anime that you like, of course the problem is when a you get mixed signals and decide to drop something that in fact you may have enjoyed; that isn’t unjustified though. If a show doesn’t grab and hold you, that’s more its problem than yours.

    There seems to be an undercurrent of opinion about shows that everyone “should” watch, as if it’s a requirement to properly enjoy anime – it’s a purist view and one that probably leads to more disgruntled newbies than is necessary. If you’re not enjoying it, either the series itself or due to current circumstances, there is no grand edict that says you have to continue on.

    At least you’ve discovered what to look out for, I still find series in my “watching” directory that I got 14-15 episodes into and didn’t continue for reasons unknown.

  5. Posted October 29, 2009 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    >>Taishou Yakyuu Musume

    >>Dropped

    Son, I am disappoint.

  6. Posted October 29, 2009 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    @kaza

    Ah, so you’re less of an action fan and more of a romance fan. Somehow I hadn’t had you pinned down as that sort of guy. Romance series rarely make it into my favourites unless it totally clicks with me (I have a HUGE soft spot for Chobits)

    @kadian1364

    Heh, I’ve never been QFT before. Anywho, I’ve been listening to the ANN cast every week since it began and the attitude of the two presenting that show drove home the fear of the burnout. You said that watching anime should never feel like it’s a job and for them it is quite literally their job, hence they experience burnout. As a blogger I feel obliged to go outside my comfort zone a bit so I don’t sound ignorant of anime fandom in general but for casual fans you have to balance the two. If you watch too much you don’t like you experince burnout but if you only watch what you know you like, you end up with those shounen fanboys who don’t watch anything else. That’s exactly where the importance of dropping comes into play: You should try anything but at the same time not be afraid to drop it.

    Average is probably the wrong word. What I meant by that was an anime that you don’t dislike but at the same time can’t summon much enthusiasm for. Obviously T.Magnitude is far from average it terms of what an average anime would look like, but in my view I never disliked it but I didn’t exactly like it either.

    Psgels was actually the first blog I started to follow with his posts on Kaiba and was probably the biggest factor that started me blogging, although my style is now faaaar different from his. But yeah, his preferences have always left me baffled because it’s almost impossible to predict which series he will enjoy. Plus, I’ve only seen 6 of his top 20 and I’ve never even heard of Strange Dawn.

    @RP

    That’s exactly it. It’s the same idea when you realise that most of your favourite anime are stuff you marathoned that aired years ago. You’ve been able to cherry-pick the best, which changes entirely when you watch weekly…you know, I actually can’t add much more to your post and all I’ve been doing is repeating exactly what you’ve said. I could probably copy and paste that paragraph into the post and it wouldn’t look out of place.

    @chaostangent

    One thing I will do is give an anime extra time to prove itself if it does have a good reputation or if it’s reccomended by someone who’s opinion I respect. What’s frustrating is the IT GETS BETTER syndrome that an awful lot of people get when you say you’ve dropped an anime, failing to see the reason behind why you dropped it. There’s nothing that pisses me off more than people yelling IT GETS BETTER.

    @Shin

    You like Taishou Yakyuu Musume?

    Son, I am dissapoint

  7. kaza
    Posted October 30, 2009 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    BUT IT GETS BETTER….

    sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  8. blindability
    Posted October 30, 2009 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    I loves lessons from Scampie’s University of Applied Anime.

    Hmm… I don’t think I’ve ever considered burnout a factor but I’m guilty threefold for following series with bad plots in trade for aesthetic art, satisfying my curiosity, and just for the sake of completing it. I also have a bad habit of chasing series that I’ve heard of but never sat down and watched; I should probably drop some of the mediocre anime that I’m watching now and get to those (*cough*Sacred Blacksmith*cough*)…

    Sometimes I treat anime like how I treat books: if the story’s getting a little dull, then I skip a few chapters/episodes and see if it gets any better. If not then I haven’t necessarily wasted my time without giving the show at least a last chance.

  9. Posted October 30, 2009 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    @blindability

    I will never get used to the name ‘Scampie’…

    I know the feeling of hunting down a series but somehow never getting around to watching it. I’ve had Boogiepop Phantom on my to-watch list for 2 years now, pretty much one of the first series I put on my to-watch list, and yet I STILL haven’t watched it. Plus I’m also having that problem with Sacred Blacksmith. It’s a bit average but I can’t bring myself to drop it

  10. graciepan
    Posted October 31, 2009 at 1:42 am | Permalink

    I’m really bad at dropping series My watching list used to be bigger than my dropped list and ended up going through a brief burnout which only stopped when this new season came out. I had to actually watch Avatar in order to have something enjoyable to do.

    My watching rule is I’ll continue watching something if 1: it makes me laugh. 2: It makes me think about it when I’ve stopped, or 3: it makes me really want to know what happens next. If its got good fights thats a bonus.

  11. blindability
    Posted October 31, 2009 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    (I call you that out of affection <3
    I can try to stop if it bothers you, haha)

    And I watched Avatar too, graciepan!
    …Kind of unsatisfied with the ending though.
    (Dreading the live action movie.)

  12. Posted October 31, 2009 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    @Scamp: Scampie sounds like Skimpy. LMAO!

  13. Sarif
    Posted January 16, 2011 at 3:22 am | Permalink

    I am so blown away that you consider Tokyo Magnitude average. I know I am a huge Josei fan, but I consider Tokyo magnitude to not only be great, but extremely unique. I just can’t wrap my brain around you considering it average.

    P.S. Itazuru na Kiss is totally worth watching for the end (although the art change half way through was really lame)

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