My relationship with Anime and the Anime watching community

Hello,

If you follow me on twitter, you may have noted that I have a rather positive outlook on anime. My tweets about anime are mostly devoid of negative opinions and a significant portion of them are gut reactions to the tune of ‘kyaa’, ‘OMG’, ‘AMAZING’, and ‘I am dead’. Perhaps more importantly, I seem to enjoy most things I try. As an example, this season not only am I enjoying blockbusters like ACCA & Maidragon but also some low key, seemingly less popular stuff like Spiritpact and ēlDLIVE.

I wanted to take this chance to talk about how I arrived at this form of engagement because while the end result appears to be a simple, blissful buffoon, the process to get here was anything but trivial.

Note: This is a very selfish me oriented post, but is hopefully fluffy enough that no one will be rattled by it.

cute

With respect to my general anime positivity, one of the main contributors is my 2016 new years resolution.

At the beginning of 2016, I resolved to ‘never tweet anything bad about a given anime’. This included simple statements like ‘this anime is bad’ to stuff like ‘ugh, my enjoyment plummets whenever this character is on screen’. Complete avoidance is probably impossible and I let a few structural critiques like ‘the pacing feels a bit too fast’ or ‘I’d have liked more episodes’ slip through (often with a feeling quantifier to soften the sentiment), but I think I’ve done a mostly decent job of sticking to it. Occasionally I regret not being able to make a good shittweet by slandering some poor anime, but all in all, I think it’s been pretty manageable!

But why would I come up with this silly rule in the first place? Well, it wasn’t completely arbitrary. I had been noticing for a while that other people’s negative tweets would affect my enjoyment of stuff. You could argue against me being such a baby, but one feels what they feel and often can’t really help it (I talk about that a little here).

tumblr_olg8imz2tj1ufdl4bo1_1280

I figured I didn’t want to ruin a possibly enjoyable anime for someone else (especially someone newer to anime and without a good understanding of what they like), so I tried to cut back on the anime burns.

I am not sure if I improved anyone’s online experience, but as a side-effect, I’ve definitely found myself enjoying anime more. When you livetweet near everything but constrain yourself to good moments, you end up looking harder for good stuff. I wouldn’t say I’ve become ignorant to the flaws present in stuff I watch, but that I’m far more likely to look past them and focus on stuff I like.

Liking a broader range of anime though is a harder thing to acquire and perhaps not so easily done by a tacky New Years resolution. I owe my wider appreciation of anime to my diverse set of friends and years of talking to them.

When you first start watching stuff, the immediate inclination is to declare anything you don’t like as bad. Over time, the fortunate, realize not everything they dislike is bad. It’s just just not made for them. If you are very lucky like me, you might even come to like stuff you originally disliked. If I had to jot down the stages of fandom, I went through, it might be something like this:

  1. I don’t like this. It is not good.
  2. I don’t like this. It is probably made for someone else.
  3. I don’t like this. I know x and y would like it though.
  4. haha, I bet x and y would love this.
  5. I like this.

2007 me for example, would find little enjoyment in Spiritpact’s homoerotic scenes, but after spending years in the midst of fujoshi/fudanshi friends, I enjoyed the fanservice a fair bit!

I mean, I might never be as enamored with those scenes as other folk, but being able to appreciate fanservice that isn’t catered to me, in at least some capacity has greatly improved my watching life.

Similarly, when I first started out, I barely saw any Mech shows, so I didn’t especially care for them. Now, half my twitter feed loves big robots and that love is infectious and has rubbed off on me. 2007 me would scoff at the silly robot the Macross transforms into, but 2016 me had his jaw hitting the floor when it first happened.

Super Dimension Fortress Macross 331

A good chunk of this is just growing older and coming to accept what I like more and being comfortable with other things (cough thirst for 2D characters cough) in general, but I definitely think hanging around a good set of diverse friends helped me.

Now, I am absolutely not advocating for anyone else to try and expand their taste. In fact, I hate telling people how they should enjoy their entertainment. But, I definitely think everyone should try to get past that first ‘I don’t like this, so it can’t be good’ step and reach that ‘I don’t like this, but maybe other people do’ stage.  A significant amount of the anime critiques I see (not so much in my circle, but often mocked by my circle) are folk trying to justify not liking something with weak criticism.

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Me, when I read a ‘this anime is bad because it is just cutesy fluff’ comment.

It is perfectly fine to not like something, but delegating it as bad simply because you don’t like it is a mistake. So, at what point does something start to be bad and not just bad in your eyes? Well, that’s a much harder question and I don’t think I’m all that prepared to answer it. I think, having a tap on what others like and understanding how stuff can appeal to someone other than you is a step in the right direction though.

There are a fair few criticisms that are more ugh ‘objective’ ugh. Stuff like pacing or maybe bad production values is easier to generally agree upon. This criticism stuff isn’t easy and probably why Literary folk created things like literary lenses and other stuff. Amongst my group of friends, the popular mantra is that it is okay to like bad things. For my own internal viewpoint, I invert that popular belief. I like to think that if something is liked by someone, it is not bad.

Yeah, it is a shallow line of reasoning and you could probably sink it very easily, but it’s been useful to me, both with respect to my own taste and that of others, so I’m not going to change that any time soon.

I’ve been lucky in that my fandom journey has been pretty smooth sailing. I started liking anime and never really stopped. I had a few slowdowns here and there, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have never felt the need to dislike the medium as a whole. To anyone that frequently asks themselves what their taste is, or if their taste is any good or if it is simply boring, or other similar questions, don’t fret. I can’t say experience or maturity will answer either off those, but most of the confusion gets replaced with simple wonderment. Instead of “what do I like?” or “why do I like this?”, you start thinking “Oh, I like this, huh, nice!” and that’s lovely.

Flying Witch 772

Unrelated but Flying Witch is lovely.

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  1. #1 by kwenzqoatl on February 28, 2017 - 11:52 pm

    I like to focus on the positives as well. 🙂

    • #2 by Reiseng on April 16, 2017 - 10:21 am

      Glad to hear that ❤

      (Sorry for the late response)

  2. #3 by Karandi on March 1, 2017 - 2:55 am

    I don’t really mind negative opinions being shared about things as long as they are somewhat reasoned (or at least not just hating for the sake of it). I think its important to hear many views about something and reasons for those views as it does make you think carefully about you like or dislike something. That said, the entire internet could probably try to be a little less angry about some things so it is nice to see someone trying to add a bit of positivity to everyone’s day.

    • #4 by Reiseng on April 16, 2017 - 10:21 am

      ❤ thanks!
      (Sorry for the late response)

  3. #5 by Highway on March 13, 2017 - 9:16 pm

    I’ve generally been someone who tries to like a lot of shows, and realize that the shows I don’t like are probably liked by someone else, even if I think that they are irredeemable awfulness. On top of that, I’m not even a fan of the kind of “objective” criticisms you mention because too much they’re just thrown out as personal justifications for just not liking something. Especially a criticism like “the pacing was bad” which is something that I’ve made it my goal to never say. If I want to say that the show should spend more time on something else, then I try to say what, and at the expense of what they did show. Frequently, I find that such criticism evaporates, or just betrays the idea that it’s not really an objective criticism, more just a personal “I wanted to see more of X instead of Y.” Plus, I’ve seen enough shows that I think have a wonderful message and form and seen others complain about them because they just don’t get it. Not “I get it, but don’t really like it” but obviously “I don’t get it, therefore it sucks.”

    I do think there are quite a few people that I just wonder “What are you watching for?” They don’t seem to enjoy anything about what they do watch, besides complaining about it, and I have to think that there’s a better use of their time, one that would make them much happier. And as someone who ends up interacting with them, it would also make *me* happier if they would go do something else.

    So I applaud your positivity. 🙂

    • #6 by Reiseng on March 14, 2017 - 3:24 pm

      ❤ Thanks yeah I've seen pacing and stuff used as a silly excuse too. Best examples I could think of on the spot but tbh, there may not really be too much actual 'objective' criticism one can do. Which I think is a-ok.

      And yeah, sometimes I see folk suffering through stuff they don't like. If it is for money (Professional Reviewers etc) then it is totally understandable but in generally maybe not lol

      • #7 by Highway on March 14, 2017 - 4:45 pm

        Well, unfortunately, I fear a lot of the “suffering through things they don’t like” is so they can then publicly dump on it. Which is kind of a double waste of time. You’re doing something you don’t like so that you can do something hateful, to signal to other hateful people that you’re a hateful person. I really don’t like that. That’s probably why my ‘anime community’ only includes a few bloggers like you and Marina, and the people from Metanorn (and Emperor J, but he only dumps on himself, poor guy). I know that I’ve got better things to do than read people complaining about things, no matter if I like or dislike them.

        I really don’t think there is much ‘objective’ criticism. You could pick on “engrish” in shows, but that’s pretty lowbrow (although I do wish that studios would hire a foreigner on call to just proofread their english. How many Americans or Canadians in Japan would love to have a side job, even for no money, where they contribute to anime?). But I think you should own your criticism anyway. Don’t try to puff it up as “objective” when there’s no such thing. That’s just more signaling.

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