Disposable anime, or not?

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Every now and then, it’s nice to take a break from long-standing hobbies. I’ve never been one to binge on anime and the idea of day-long marathons positively scares me. At most I can take about five standard length episodes in one sitting; any more and my brain gives up. I begin to feel like I’ve seen it all before; all the plot devices, catch-phrases and characterizations will suddenly become intolerably tired and cliche. That’s how I’ve been feeling about anime for the last few weeks, everything has felt so circular and repetitive, even that stupid fansub debate that’s been doing the rounds recently. In short, I needed a break; you could say rushing through Princess Tutu broke me.

I guess I’m constantly searching for something new and exciting, more now than ever before. Right now I’m looking at my DVD collection, more than 100 movies and TV series are just sitting there collecting dust; the vast majority of which I’ve only bothered to watch once.

The funniest thing is that I actually bothered to VHS record every episode of Dragonball Z back when it was marathoned on TV; that’s like 10+ separate tapes and well over 200 episodes. I remember this because it was an epic and synchronised effort in the early days of my anime fandom that involved getting up early (6AM) to start recording and setting alarms through out the day to switch out the expiring videos. And you know what, after all that, I’ve never returned to watch even one episode; it seemed like a good idea at the time, and if just to validate all that effort, I still have those damn tapes! I suppose that’s why I back-up a lot of my downloaded fansubs too; I doubt I’ll watch much this stuff ever again, but they represent important feelings and memories, like a part of my life I want to remember. I’ll never throw-away Honey & Clover.

I’m not sure what I’m trying to convey with this post, but I hope you can salvage something from it. I haven’t blogged for a while precisely because I have this foggy mish-mash of thoughts; I actually sat down to say how I’m looking forward to immersing myself in Baccano! but ended up talking about Dragonball Z and listening to the Moyashimon ED theme on repeat. I’m losing my marbles.

Author: bateszi

A huge bloody nerd. I apologise in advance. I live in Cambridge, England. That's not an excuse, by the way.

16 thoughts on “Disposable anime, or not?”

  1. lmao… i also taped all of DBZ back in they day. when i moved off campus back home i was shocked to see all 9 tapes in my room. talk about nostalgia. glad ur checking out baccano u wont regret it. check out rXj too.

  2. “…like a part of my life I want to remember.” You know, I kind of understand and can’t kind of don’t, but I think I know the feeling. Anime is a part of my life I want to remember, forever. Sounds cheesy, but all the random time I’ve invested, all the random ranting and frustration, it was for something, right?

    I torrented almost every episode of Gurren Lagann and Darker Than Black, and Baccano! and the 08th MS Team and Gundam Wing and FMA and everything, and it’s just gathering electronic dust in my external hard drive.

    I like the feeling of having them there, it’s not really the series I’m keeping but rather the experience. If anything, I’m clinging onto the experience of watching a series late into the night, like Berserk. I’ll never put myself through that again, but just remembering the last episode, it’s not something I want to forget. Definitely not disposable.

    I don’t think I’m making sense anymore. XD

  3. yea xerox i understand what u mean. nowadays i actually have debates about which shows im going to delete or keep. i remember when i got my first HDD it was 80gb i was so suped that i had a new way to store anime, then it got too small. then i got the 350gb and then i got another 350gb. both HDD died on me. over 60 series wiped out. i almost suffered a meltdown. this was junior year and i was panicking like crazy. i actually put both HDDs in the refrigerator for a week, bought file scavenger and thankfully it came back on and i recovered every single anime and burnt them all on DVD as data. funny thing how i treasure my anime now. u never know what u have until u lose it. yet there are few of them that i have seen twice. my ultimate way of deciding if i should keep the show is whether i spent a shitload of time dl it then deleting would be a waste, or if the thought of never seeing the show again is unbearable then i know i will treasure it. i still look forward to the day when i will watch H&C over, most recently i am anticipating rewatching ergo proxy again with all the new knowledge i have of the show. some anime i just love to pop in sometimes. Bebop for example i will never tire of. never. i look forward to marathoning wolf’s rain on a rainy weekend. i look forward to marathoning berserk late at night after work just before the weekend. i look forward to visiting my planetES family. sometimes i just miss hachimaki and AI. Sometimes i just really want to be with gekko state. laugh with them and suffer with them. Moments of nostalgia… moments of remembering those emotions that anime gave me is why its hard to let go of the medium. even tho i am increasingly becoming detached with anime, some shows like those listed above… i will never ever forget. you know u truly love a show when the concept of a rewatch actually exhilarates u.

  4. I think I know what you mean…one reason why I can’t commit to an anime blog is because there are so many other things out there I need to do to take a break. I’ve been breaking away from the regular stuff though and trying something new…perhaps watching an anime that you normally wouldn’t watch might help? Or, for that matter, another TV show that’s not even anime. ^_^

  5. I know the feeling, I currently have a huge amount of DVD’s sitting there not being watched. Then i have all the fansubs sitting in a little leather case just waiting to see daylight again.

    Nice to see the bloody stupid fansub debate has came around again. “There will always be fansubs” Yeah, and there will always be this same bloody broken record going over the same points over and over and over and…

  6. @kauldron26: Some day I’ll return to DBZ… I really loved that show for like, one summer, then it totally fell off my radar. Those were the days I didn’t know fansubs even existed.

    I’ve got a 500GB external HD. I don’t think I’d freak it out if I lost my anime (after all, most of it is easy to download again) but I’d totally lose the plot if I lost all my MP3s – a collection I’ve been building for nearly a decade that’s close to 9,000 songs strong. All the anime soundtracks and so on, the rare live performances, I’d definitely go into melt down over that.

    Also, I think you’re right that some series have repeat value. I’ve seen Bebop two or three times all the way through, same with Planetes. I guess sometimes I just can’t really justify spending my free time on something I’ve already seen when I can be experiencing something completely new. I’m totally driven by that feeling of constantly needing something fresh.

    @Xerox: Yeah, that’s it. It’s just one of those things that I think a lot of us do. It’s like we need a physical object to symbolize our affection for something. I’ve seen so much anime, enjoyed many different series, but the vast majority of which I’ll probably never revisit, yet I keep them around me as if to validate the time and emotion invested. Something major has to change in me to just disregard all this stuff.

    @MK: I’m already doing that. I’ve been following a lot of great US TV shows like Curb your enthusiasm, Heroes and Entourage alongside some fun British comedies like The Might Boosh, as well as watching as many new movies as I can find; I loved both Hotel Rwanda and The Last Kind of Scotland. It’s definitely nice to try something else when you get bored of anime, after all, even the Japanese seem have have their more predictable story telling troupes once you’ve seen enough.

    @Congo Gum: It’s like the dub vs. sub debate that inundates forums. After reading the same arguments year after year, it gets a little boring, especially since we’re all outsiders looking in on the domestic Japanese industry. I was going to write a post about all this even the whole thing kicked off last week, but then I realized I’ve already made the same points both on forums and on this blog in the past.

    @Michael: I’ll never throw away Honey & Clover. That show represents a really important part of my life that I’m still not over.

  7. I thought it was weird for having shelf after shelf of DVDs and only rewatching a minority of them – most is stuff I appreciated at the time but I only return to a fraction of them again and again. I guess I keep the discs because, even when it’s months down the line, I’ll have a few spare hours and will be in the mood for revisiting a certain thing.

    I’ve been sampling a wide variety of shows recently but only three (Kaiji, Denno Coil and Moyashimon) are something I’d call genuinely memorable – the rest are entertaining enough but really just fill some free time. I guess it’s the same with most film and TV – can you remember EVERY movie and TV show you ever watched? Ot just the all-time faves?

    I set up an animeseen.net account recently to keep track of what I’m currently watching in the hope that I could remind myself of good times and stay ahead of the backlog…a side-effect of this was being utterly shocked at the amount of anime I’ve sat through in the past few years!

  8. Funny, I’ve actually moved in to the opposite habit, as I’ve watched more and more shows– I hit a wall about 6-9 months ago, and have stopped watching new shows regularly. Instead, if I pop something in, or think about watching a show, it’s almost always about re-watching a show I know I love, discovering its nuances, etc. , like Princess Tutu or Bebop or Berserk or Mushishi.

    I recently picked up Mushishi on DVD (after loving the fansubs), and got sucked in to Nodame (both the anime, and the wonderful live action version) as well, but other than that, most shows from last season just didn’t appeal enough to me– even Denno Coil seemed to loose steam after a while. Anyways, I agree– you get burnt out, seeing all the same old cliches and motifs and animation styles. Thank god there’s been stuff like Kemonozume to spice things up, even if it was very flawed. I’ve even pretty much gone through all the older titles from the 80’s and 90’s and 70’s that had interest to me, checking out some of the World Master piece classics and the old Ghibli stuff. Which is all great, but then what?

    What’s been more interesting recently is exploring animation in general– art shorts, visual experiments, etc from around the world– sort of the general global context of anime. There are a couple of different multi-part torrents floating around that are fantastic, and provide hours of stimulating, artistically interesting viewing– one’s called “A Century of Animated Shorts” and the other is “Beltesassar’s Short Animation Festival”. They’re really worth checking out. I don’t watch them regularly, but I sometimes load one up for a half hour of viewing. Very interesting stuff, and nothing “run of the mill.”

    Hope you find something of interest to focus yourself on, anime or otherwise.

  9. Now I am wondering what you thought of the second half of Princess Tutu. You don’t sound so positive.

    I used to keep a lot more of my fansubs then I do now. I kind of realized it’s pointless because I never watch them again. Now I only download fansubs of things that I love but I think might not come over here (Dennou Coil, certain arcs of Mononoke). Although I did burn my favorite episodes of Gurren Lagann knowing it was already licensed (but I will throw them out when the DVDs are released.)

    I guess my general rule is if I do burn a fansub then that means I will buy the series when it is finally released. If I want to keep it I should be supporting the series. Although of course a lot of my DVDs also are collecting dust. But I am more likely to rewatch a DVD than a fansub.

    I guess with my DVD collection it is the same as with my book collection. I own a lot of books and most I have only read once. Still I love my book collection and I am happy to own the books that I enjoyed. It is the same for me with my anime collection. Even if I don’t rewatch something, it’s nice to have it on my shelf. And if I ever do get nostalgic about a series I can just throw it into my DVD player or maybe show it to a friend (if I ever find friends who will give anime a chance).

    On a side note my HD did crash last year so I don’t keep anything on there anymore and burn everything on CD (especially my MP3’s).

  10. There we go.

    That’s how I have felt for the past 3 or so months; that I’ve ‘seen it all before’, even though in comparison to just how many series there are in existence, I’ve actually seen very little indeed, but I still have this feeling about the subject.

    Can’t say exactly why I just suddenly got fatigued over the idea of starting another series, but like you mentioned in this blog post, I just don’t have the energy or the competence to sit through over a dozen episodes like I used to, and some OVA’s to boot.

    The only directors/mangakas that catch my attention now are the really technical, and graphically meticulous ones– Otomo, Kon, Masamune etc, because they produce very intelligent plots/character, not some harem cookie-cutter series which has the consistency and innovation of a paint by numbers, or McDonalds packaging word jumbles.

  11. dont worry, you are not “losing your marbles.”

    You are just intelligent. :)
    And many intelligent people get bored easily and constantly need to be stimulated by new activitives.

    Its a good idea to alternate viewing back and forth between regular TV & films & anime, thats what I often do.

  12. @Martin: I think I might have to set-up one of those things on a site like Anime Seen too, though I’m afraid the results may reveal the true depths of my anime addiction!

    @Steve berry: That’s some awesome taste in anime there, Berserk will always be my all time favorite anime and one day I hope to properly blog my way through the show, episode by episode. It means that much to me.

    I’m quite interested in Nodame, would you say the live action version is worth tracking down? I quite like the live action Japanese stuff too (even rather cliche stories like Densha Otoko). I started out really enjoying the Nodame anime, but for some reason I just lost interest, so it’s another series I intend to revist at some point.

    Also, you sound like you have really similar tastes to me, so I guess you’re looking forward to seeing “Genius Party”? It’s the latest collection of shorts from Studio 4C and basically, it’s looking really damn good.

    @Kim: Don’t worry, I’m still enjoying Princess Tutu, though it’s rather formulaic plot structure during the mid-section makes it hard to watch too much of it in one sitting. I’m absolutely determined to see it to the end though, and I want to write another review of it when the time comes (possibly mid-week) because it’s a series that deserves more attention than it currently receives.

    I know what you mean about keeping hold of your books etc too. I guess my point is that material (or even digital) possessions come to represent a part of ourselves that we would like to hold onto. The only problem is that the sheer size of my DVD and book collection means that I’m overflowing with this stuff and I’m running out of places to stick it all! But then, there is something quite calming and nostalgic about being in a room surrounded by my DVDs and books…

    @Kurogane: Yup, I try to steer away from what is obviously unambitious genre material. I came close to quiting anime altogether when I found myself watching GONZO’s Gad Guard series – even though they were review discs, I was almost revulsed by the sheer mediocrity of it all. It’s like the vast majority of anime airing in the autumn season belongs to the whole bishojo/moe genre and if you’re looking for cookie-cutter okatu pandering, look no further than whatever Kyoto Animation is producing. They’ve made their reputation on characterising emotionally retarded female characters; notice how the male leads in all those shows are as bland as possible? It’s because the male viewers are supposed to project themselves onto them, the ultimate in escapist bull shit.

    @Iio: I’m flattered! And I definitely agree with your comment on alternating between different genres. Lately I’ve totally found myself watching as much live-action material as I have anime, where as a couple of years ago, I was sitting through a near constant stream of anime.

  13. Don’t worry, I’m still enjoying Princess Tutu, though it’s rather formulaic plot structure during the mid-section makes it hard to watch too much of it in one sitting.

    Oh I was a little frustrated by those episodes the first time around too. I actually rushed through them so I could get back to the really good stuff (the episodic stuff stops at around episode 20). :)

    I think those episodes become easier to watch again once you know what happens later on ( Princess Tutu is one of the few series that I actually watched multiple times.) I even really liked episodes 17 and 18. But the really good stuff starts at the end of episode 20 and continues to the end.

    On a side note while I was a little disappointed in the Nodame anime I thought the live action version was fantastic. It’s a little over the top at times but once you get used to that it ends up being a really fun experience. The actors for Nodame and Chiaki are also perfect.

  14. Yeah, like most people here I’ve got a large anime collection acquiring dust. I intend to buy a 500GB hard drive like yourself and get rid of all those hundreds of CD-Rs I have sitting on a shelf.

    It’s true to say for me too that I’m not one for re-watching series. I’ve been a “serious” anime fan for about eight years now and I believe I’ve only fully re-watched one series – that being The Vision of Escaflowne. Not that Esca is my number one favourite series, but it was the first series I watched when I became serious (as opposed to the stuff I watched dubbed on Sci-fi and CN before then).

    I’ve tried to re-watch a couple of other older series. Well, just a couple actually, NGE and Cowboy Bebop. Oddly I’ve never managed to finish re-watching them. As I remember I started to rewatch them, got half way through, and then for some reason dropped them again. That’s okay for Bebop because I’m not actually a great fan of the series; my reason for re-watching it to see if I can discover why everyone else loves it so dearly. I failed in regards to that mission however – but that’s another story for another time. NGE on the other hand is a series I still love to this day, and reading through Sakamoto’s manga recently has revived some poignant memories of my early anime experiences, yet I can’t remember why I never finished watching the series through to the end a second time (I am thinking about restarting the process though, due to the manga and that Platinum edition that has been sitting on my shelf for a year now).

    Of course there’s another reason I don’t rewatch series – some of my favourites I love too much to re-view. I have such great nostalgic memories of certain series that I’m afraid to go back to some of them in case I watch them and think, “Actually, this series isn’t as good as I remember.” This applies just as much to some of my favourite films as to anime (books less so for some reason).

    I’ve gone off course a little here, as usual. Yet my point is, like yourself, despite the fact that I’ve got stacks of anime I have never rewatched I’m loathe to get rid of them. Part of that is down to the fact that I’m a massive hoarder of goods – I’ve got hundreds of CDs of anime, hundreds of CDs for albums, hundreds of DVDs, hundreds of books, a massive pile of computer games and consoles from across the generations…

    My albums aside, as I almost always have some music going, I don’t stuff many of those goods once I’m done with them. Books and DVDs have a reason for that – I constantly acquire new ones and so don’t have the time to return to old favourites.

    Anime is different now, as my viewing habit has slowed to a crawl. This season I’m only really following two shows and that leaves me time to dip into something old or something from that big backlog I’ve had the last five years. Yet I don’t. But I’m still not going to get rid of it, probably ever. As you say there’s too much tied up in my anime collection for me to get rid of it. It may sound weak or materialistic but these collections of mine represent a large part of who I am and define me. If I were to get rid of them I’d be tossing away a piece of myself. It would be a sad occasion if I one day come to the conclusion that I no longer need any of this stuff. Personally, I hope that day never comes. I hope that in maybe five or ten years I’ll grumble more about how they just don’t make anime or manga like they used to and I’ll snuggle under my duvet, open up Maison Ikkoku volume one and remind myself of why I love this type of entertainment.

    (Phew, sorry this went on so long. Apologises for the length and any typos – had to bash this out quickly).

  15. @Kim

    Well, I finished Tutu on Sunday evening, and in another random coincidence, you posted about it on your livejournal too (nice timing). I’ll save my thoughts for a proper post, but I didn’t feel disappointed at all – even if I wanted a more “traditional” ending for Ahiru and Fakir.

    Also, I watched the first episode of the Nodame drama last night. You were definitely right about it being a bit over-the-top (in many ways, you can see why they animated it too! It’s clearly a model plane with wires we see in Chiaki’s flashbacks) but the chemistry between Nodame and Chiaki works so well… I really liked the scene when Chiaki’s bursts into Nodame’s room and frantically starts cleaning, the little insights into their interactions and private lives are fun and heart warming.

    @Equitan

    Thanks for the awesome comment. I can only agree with you… Sooner or later, there will be a rainy day, you’ll feel ill or tired and that’s the moment you look into your collection and pull out something special. Something you know you’ll love. Just thinking about it now, one day, it’d be nice to take the day off work, forget everything and pop in a series like Escaflowne.

    As for revisiting old favorites, I guess a part of my own reluctance is a fear that I won’t be able to recapture that feeling I got first time around. To be honest, if I’m watching an anime episode and something amazing happens, I’ll finish the episode then replay that moment a few more times just to maintain that sense of awe, but with each replay, it loses some power.

    Also, Bebop’s all about feeling that style and atmosphere. The characters aren’t especially ground-breaking, but you can read so much into their personalities. Probably my favorite Bebop episode is “Toys in the Attic”; it’s a really stupid and pointless filler, but I just love the way the characters act around each other.

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