On the context of dropping anime

One of the most difficult decisions an anime fan has to make is whether or not to ‘drop’ a series. For me, it’s often a snap decision; not really based on any objective criteria, rather, it depends on how I’m feeling at that specific moment. As a result, I’ll often make some impulsive mistakes; errors in judgement that might come back to haunt me a year or two down the line. Well, I have to admit, it was a mistake to drop Bokurano when I did, but the context is important too.

2007’s spring season was immense; Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Dennou Coil, Toward the Terra, Seirei no Moribito, Code Geass, Darker Than Black and Claymore were all occupying my attention. Originally, I was trying to fit Bokurano into that line-up too, but it ended up being the odd one out. Why? I didn’t like what the director had to say about the source material, and that, combined with my generally cynical opinion of anime studio Gonzo, was all the ammunition I needed to drop something from the list. Looking back on that decision now, I can see I was being obtuse in the extreme, but for the sake of sanity, one can’t spend all his time watching anime, and hence, dropping Bokurano gave me a little breathing space.

One year on, things are slightly different. Late on Thursday evening, I found myself yearning for a story with an interesting premise. My thoughts immediately turned to Bokurano; the way I dropped it, the way my fellow bloggers really loved it and most of all, the way it’s such a fascinating idea for an anime series. Long story short, by now I’m 14 episodes in and hoping to finish the whole thing in time for a proper review next weekend. Indeed, I’m annoyed at myself for being so presumptuous as to even drop it in the first place, but I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to revise my opinion too.

I guess what I’m trying to say is something that’s obvious, but worth saying anyway, that opinions, good or bad, are as much about personal context, essentially, that specific moment in time in which they were formed, as they are about the actual anime in-question. So, for all of your seemingly water-tight judgement, something you might have dropped (or even ignored) in the past might not be as bad (or as good) as you remember it to be. Don’t be so arrogant as to presume your opinions are (and always will be) absolute. They expire just like everything else.

Author: bateszi

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

13 thoughts on “On the context of dropping anime”

  1. You know I wrote on this very subject just recently. And I think I related to the snap decision because I sometimes make the judgment later to find that I would like to see that series.

  2. It takes guts to admit that opinions don’t last and aren’t absolute. Each one of us is self-righteous to some extent, some are just down right obnoxious when it comes to talking about ones resolute theories or ways of thinking. Every now and then we as people should sit with ourselves and think deeply of how wrong is it is to force our opinions on people, as if those people have no perspective.
    That was kind of off-topic-ish, Bokurano was ok. Nothing great it was pretty OK, thats it, its just OK. Until the final few episodes where it kind of gets its luster back.

    Ok show, great writeup though! More of this please.

  3. Oooh, Nice article.

    Fairly relevant to me, as well, actually. The two shows I’ve dropped and that I’ve put quite a lot of thought into dropping (more thought than any other show) have been Naruto Shippuden and Bleach. Bleach went first of all, It went downhill about 100 or so episodes before it is now, and I don’t really care for any of the characters, at all. I may read the manga because from the little I’ve read of it, Its better plus most people seem to think the latest arc is quite good.

    I came to a point with Naruto, where I just couldn’t be bothered with watching 20 minutes of it each week, so I had a backlog, and basically; Gave up. Still, I’m reading the manga weekly of Naruto and keeps me going, I guess. ;p

  4. 100% agreed.

    I’m quite prone to snap judgements too, so that’s why I’ve tried to counter my own bad habits. I try to watch at least three episodes of a show before choosing to drop it or not, and even if I’ve dropped it, I sometimes purposely pick it up again just to see if my tastes or feelings have changed. I’ve dropped shows like Bebop, Trigun, and Elfen Lied, only to pick them up and again and enjoy them all.

  5. @scottfrye: I’ll have to check it out, then! I remember you from the halcyon days of 2006. Nice to see you’re making another attempt at anime blogging!

    @Ivy: Cheers! I wasn’t sure whether this was worth a separate article or not, but I’m glad you got something out of it. Opinions are funny things, really. Every now and then, it can be fun to be a bit obnoxious\elitist about anime, but at the same time, that’s just trolling, which I hate/find depressing. Basically, I don’t usually have a problem as long as people actually take their time to explain why they hate something. Just saying, for example, “I hate Death Note” without providing the context, bothers me. Self-righteous fan “wank” is one of the worst aspects of online fan culture; it’s too easy to be obnoxious and/or stupid. The forums on IMDB are a great example of how low people will go to provoke a reaction.

    @Jayme: I’m the same; I haven’t watched Naruto for a long time, 2 to 3 months at least. Not sure why I’ve fallen into hiatus because I wasn’t exactly hating it or disliking the plot direction, I’m just not as excited about it as I was two/three years ago. Perhaps the year long gap of filler material really sapped my feelings for the characters? I’ll probably try to go back to it at some point, if just because I think Masashi Kishimoto is a fantastic writer and the anime still has potential to pique my interest.

    I need to catch-up with One Piece too, and I definitely still love that. I left off because I could see that the Thriller Bark arc was just settling in for a long series of face-offs and cliff-hangers.

    @nckl: Bebop and Trigun are interesting examples. I think a lot of us (myself included) watch them just as we’re starting out as anime fans, so we don’t really see them as brilliant at first. It’s only after we’ve sat through another, for example, 40 series, that it becomes crystal clear just how good the likes of Bebop actually are.

  6. I drop series all the time and I am sure sometimes I’ve made mistakes. And there are a lot of series I loved that it took me awhile to get into. And then of course there is the opposite where there is a series that starts out great and ends up being disappointing (this happened to me with Kure-nai recently) but it’s impossible to know this unless you watch every single thing and I know I don’t have time for that. So sometimes we make mistakes about the series we keep and the ones we drop. And sometimes it is better to watch a series after it is finished because then at least you have reviews on the entire series. It still doesn’t mean you will like it if other people do but at least you have more to go on.

    I actually dropped Bokurano too. I dropped it because I couldn’t bring myself to care about the characters even though I liked the concept. I am still not really interested at the moment but maybe one day I will change my mind. I am already changing my mind on Gundam 00 and I think I might have dropped that prematurely too after all the good things I’ve been hearing about it.

  7. I’m glad you’re finding the time to finish this – not because you shouldn’t dislike it, but because you’re always in a better position to say one way or the other when you’ve seen the whole thing. The middle portion was mediocre, the execution questionable on occasion; nevertheless, the interesting premise and the remarkably decent ending made it seem that Bokurano took more flak than it deserved.

    When all is said and done the fundamental determining factor is, unfortunately, time. I feel like I’m watching too much right now but would hate to miss a good series – I curse the lack of attention I paid to Becanno and Red Garden after enjoying Kurenai but the fact of the matter is, there aren’t enough hours in the day for it all. Ignoring something on as flimsy an excuse as “Gonzo haet!” or other trivial prejudices ends up happening because otherwise you can’t give everything else the attention it deserves. Hell, I avoided Doctor Who for years owing to its geeky reputation(!) but found my first experience of the franchise last weekend to be surprisingly fun. The only downside is, my DVD wishlist just got longer!

  8. @Kim: It’s a good point that you make about being about to watch a series all the way through, and I do think that a lot of the reason why I’m enjoying Bokurano this time around is that I’m able to get through the story without the many weeks in-between episodes. That said, the premise isn’t especially viewer-friendly, so I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to avoid being dragged through the drama that each episode inevitably brings.

    As for Gundam 00… I saw the whole first season, and while it was fairly entertaining, it’s not something I’d ever go back and re-watch again, or take great inspiration from. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d recommend you take a look at The Daughter of Twenty Faces. It’s been totally overlooked by many, but for me, second only to Kaiba in terms of story-telling.

    @Martin: To combat the lack of time factor, I seem to have developed my own way of keeping up with anime. Generally, I batch up episodes and then just gorge away on one specific series over a weekend or two. I think that’s kind of reflected in my blogging style now, as I’ve almost completely shifted away from episodic reviews into these more general impressions. That’s how I managed to keep going with the likes of Ghost Hound and Shigurui, simply by saving them up for quick-hits. Anyway, you should try to watch Baccano!, it’s a fantastic series, and rather short too. Much better than Kure-nai in my humble opinion.

  9. I, too, will drop (or, far more frequently, put on indefinite hold) things on an arbitrary basis, but that’s not quite what I wanted to get at here, since I am a ravening Bokurano fanboy.

    Clarification: Bokurano manga fanboy, except unlike other people who prefer the manga, I don’t think the anime is without merit. I think it was Kitoh’s intention all along to have all the versions of Bokurano be different–the light novel series, for instance, changes the order of the pilots, which will give more character depth to those who went earlier in the manga (I’m looking at you, Waku) and/or a different look at their character, as well as adding new pilots. I watched the first two episodes of the anime and grabbed the manga, because I was kind of worried about whether or not I’d like Bokurano–and loved the manga to pieces.

    The anime could never have been 100% loyal to the manga (the manga still isn’t done, I don’t think), so I knew that the two would be different, but it is worth noting that starting about five minutes away from the end of episode 13, the anime diverges completely from the manga. This hurt the anime, in that they lost a lot of the really powerful stories from the manga, but I don’t think they did a bad job with what they did do. I don’t find it as good as the manga, but considering the considerable emotional impact the manga had on me, it would be a tall order to live up to that, so I don’t really hold it against the anime.

    Although I will say this for the anime: Ishikawa Chiaki’s Uninstall is the best possible song, lyrically and musically, for Bokurano that could have ever existed, and whenever I read Bokurano manga, I shove that song on repeat until I am done.

  10. @OGT: Thanks, and I think that’s how my opinion of the Bokurano anime is shaping up too. It just doesn’t have the edge and shocking power of Kitoh’s original drama, but it’s certainly not a bad adaptation either. I’m a bit of a science fiction junkie anyway, so regardless of characterisation, I must admit I find the premise of the story so utterly fascinating that I’m anxious to see how everything gets resolved.

    It’s the same with Gantz, really, which is another Gonzo adaptation of a superior manga. The premise is enough to hook me in, but one can’t help but feel slightly disappointed that it lacks the visceral quality of the original.

    Also, totally echo your thoughts on Uninstall. It’s almost perfect.

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