How Do You Approach Anime?

I’ve been especially lacking in Christmas spirit these past few years, so I’ll pass on doing anything specifically Christmas-themed in the next few weeks…

I was replying to Irina a few weeks ago and was thinking about how people’s personal preferences affect their liking of subsequent shows.

For Binan Koukou Chikyuu Boueibu LOVE!, its execution can either be sloppy or refreshingly funny depending on how familiar you are with Sailor Moon and its associated magical girl tropes. This is the entire reason why comedy shows live and die based on their accessibility – the more niche the humour, the wackier it can seem to outsiders.

Then there’s the order you watch certain shows in – if you watched Madoka as a gateway magical girl show, you probably look for extreme existential drama in your magical girl shows and would probably be disappointed by a more typical magical girl show like Twin Angel Break. (This is the reason I’m using magical girl shows as an example, by the way: due to the splintering in the genre post-2012, it’s easy to talk about without thinking too hard about it.)

This is how anime presents itself as a multi-forked path rather than just having one set journey. A viewer is more likely to enjoy shows that either subvert or align with their previous shows, and getting something completely off that path is going to make them feel alienated in the same way. (Hence anime recommendation sites or threads.) You could even say experiences are also a hinge upon which the anime journey rests upon – if you accidentally heard about Madoka spoilers for episode 3 when you hadn’t watched the entire show, that experience would affect your view on the show and possibly the genre. In this way, your starting episode and how you get exposed to the show are also likely to mould your love.

Now, here’s the tough part – how to approach the anime, now that you have both direction and purpose. In an entertainment genre such as this, it’s easy to get lost in the “veneer” I mention in my comment to Irina, whether it be emotional attachment from real life problems changing the way you look at a show or fandom forcing its opinions on to you. For those who consider themselves to be “critics” especially, it can be tough to straddle the line between “I love this and I’ll follow it to the end of the earth because it has attractive characters” and “I like this because it has wonderful music, excellent storytelling and morals I don’t necessarily agree with but were executed perfectly”.

To conclude with another idea from Binan Koukou Chikyuu Boueibu LOVE!, love can manifest itself in different ways, and it’s important that a person is able to evaluate whether their love aligns itself with the purpose they wield their love for – whether that be a fan’s view, a critic’s view or even an outsider’s view.

I might draw on this comment to Irina again, because this topic’s pretty broad. So, how do you approach anime?

(Addendum from this post’s progress stage: Unfortunately, I think Karandi’s talked about a similar idea to one of the points above in the past…and it’s much more coherent as well. I’ve commented on that post, so if you want to know what I think about that point specifically, you can read my thoughts there.)

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