Let’s cancel Christmas

Why do you watch anime? Right now, I’m feeling like I can’t see the forest for the trees. Watching too much, swept away by what is new and exciting, but I just want to discover and enjoy great anime, and I’ve remembered I don’t have to wait to do that, new or old, there is so much great anime out there already.

This is Guin, from Guin Saga. I'm reading the light novels at the moment, but an anime series is coming in the spring. It should be epic fantasy. In the first chapter, Guin wakes with no memories of his life and this horrific leopard mask magically fixed to his face. It won't come off. Guin's destiny is to become a king.

I can’t believe we’re half way through December already. Another long year has nearly passed and, without so much as a chance to catch my breath, the new winter anime season will begin in January, including no less than 23 new series! My god, I’m not sure I can keep up with it all. I’m supposed to be following 15 different anime series at the moment and that’s too much already, but the idea of adding yet more to that number is, at this point, nauseating.

By the way, I’m still watching Legend of the Galactic Heroes. I’ve been watching it since March of this year. 78 episodes in, 32 left to go. My intention is to have it completed by December 31st, but it shouldn’t have taken this long anyway. I’m dozens of episodes behind on some big personal favorites like One Piece and Soul Eater too, and that gap is obviously increasing with each passing week. Something needs to happen.

Being active in the (online) anime community is fun, but if one wants to keep up with the most relevant news and discussions around, watching a lot of the currently airing anime is a requisite. Soon enough, you will be sucked into the hype and drama that surrounds each new season and, when that one ends with a teary farewell, another new one begins days later, with just as much promise and hype too. This is the never-ending cycle of new anime, and the pressure to keep up has probably jaded many an anime fan over the years. I’m on the very brink at the moment, so I think it’s time to break the cycle.

I’m determined to ignore the forthcoming winter season. I’ll never say never, but unless something truly exceptional pops up, I hope to surrender these coming months to viewing anime from my ever-expanding plan-to-watch list. That is how things were for me when I first started watching anime too, when I was hungry to find anime to watch. I would read reviews, search high and low, trawl the internet for hours doing research. Cowboy Bebop, Berserk, Escaflowne, Rurouni Kenshin. I found all of them in my first year as an anime fan, but I think I’ve somehow lost touch with that enthusiasm in the years since.

This isn’t about old anime being better than new anime, or anything that stupid. It’s just about discovering wonderful anime, regardless of when it was made. I’m in this situation now where I’m probably watching far too much new anime because it is new, which is such superficial reasoning. Much of it is entertaining enough, but I can’t help but feel like I’m wasting my time. For example, I still haven’t seen The Twelve Kingdoms, and I suspect it’s probably better than Kurozuka, so, I should be watching the former instead, then?

It’s a philosophical question and the answer will be rooted in what defines you as a person, and, ultimately, as an anime fan. Why do you watch anime? Right now, I’m feeling like I can’t see the forest for the trees. Watching too much, swept away by what is new and exciting, but I just want to discover and enjoy great anime, and I’ve remembered I don’t have to wait to do that, new or old, there is so much great anime out there already.

Author: bateszi

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

27 thoughts on “Let’s cancel Christmas”

  1. I never understood the appeal of watching a show because it’s new, and not because it’s actually interesting. I know people who “watch” dozens of shows each season, but only really watch one or two, and “speedwatch” the rest – that is, they basically skip through the episode to get a gist of what’s happening. I wonder if they enjoy it at all or if it’s just a chore they need to do to keep their status as “anime gurus” in the community.

    Back when I started being interested in anime, I watched everything I could get my hands on, but it didn’t take me long to learn to see through the hype and watch only what I find really interesting, instead of wasting my time on “must watch!!” shows that don’t interest me the least. (Lain… Noir… Last Exile… actually, I tried to watch Last Exile and I really tried to like it but it was so boring that I gave up. FYI, one of my favorite shows is LoGH, so it’s not like I have a short attention span. I just found LE really boring.) For me, it’s not about which show is better or which show is more hyped, it’s about which is more interesting to me.

    That said, I started out watching a few series this autumn but ended up not following any of them. (I’m still planning to marathon Mouryou no hako, though.) To be fair, though, that’s mostly due to the fact that Gankutsuou ended up monopolizing my interests again. (Well, Gankutsuou and Hetalia.)

  2. It would be nice to take part in everything going on in the online anime dialogue, but there just isn’t the time. More importantly, if you completely relegate your hobby to fuel for discussion, you’re going to lose sight of it and forget to have fun. If you treat it like something to be pushed through, you’re going to wind up jaded, bored, and without anything interesting to say.

  3. I ended up putting a lot of the fall series on hold (namely Michiko to
    Hatchin and Tytania) because I can’t keep up with them all. I am still keeping up with certain ones: either because they are short I might as well finish them now (13 episodes or less) or because I am really enjoying it like Casshern Sins. And while I haven’t put it on hold because I will watch if an episode ever gets subbed, Mouryou no Hako with its release schedule feels like it is on hold.

    So yeah I understand what you are talking about. It is always easier to watch something in the beginning of a season then as the season goes on. I am going up to the mountains for the Holidays so I don’t want a million shows to catch up on. And then when a new season starts you have new shows to add onto your already existing list. I know for sure I am watching Natsume Yuujinchou and possibly Tale of Genji and Hetalia from the winter lineup.

    So I guess it’s all about picking and choosing. I would keep up with the things you are especially enjoying now and then go back to watch other things later. Especially if they get overall good reviews.

  4. And as an after thought (I wish I could edit on blogs) as for new VS old series I try to balance it out. I like watching new series for the fandom perspective but I don’t watch so many to the point that I can’t also marathon an older series. So I guess it’s all about finding that balance.

  5. I can totally relate to whats happening to you. The amount of shows I’m watching is just staggering, I’m too lazy to count, but I’m pretty sure its around between that 15-20 range. I can’t keep up with either Bleach or Naruto (although I do plan on catching up) since they’ve gone past being just regular back logs, they’re a burden now, one I’m not sure I’m ready to let go. I’m waiting on a terrible season to begin so that I can start my recovery sessions, starting with the two I’ve stated above.
    What I’m sure should be helpful is watching shows in batches, as I’ve realized its pretty effective when it comes to enjoying the show and second-handedly clearing some of that nasty backlog (good or bad show, everything turns to excess once they reach the 5 episode unwatched mark).
    Great anime is abundant, and they’re still coming. As long as you choose to watch and blog about things you actually enjoy that blogger side of you should not stagnate. Plus us the readers, audience, viewers (take your pick) have a role in this and its to support you, telling you that people actually enjoy and are entertained by what you write. I know this kind of seems completely irrelevant but this feels like the beginning of the end, so keep that fiery passion burning, cause you’ll be missed if you decide to bail out on us :)

  6. I must admit a lot of autumn series caught my eye but I’ve dropped one or two – namely Kuroshitsuji and Soul Eater – to concentrate on what I really like.

    TBH the summer season didn’t offer much to me so apart from Xam’d and Natsume Yuujinchou (second season soon!) I didn’t watch much new stuff at all during that period. I guess that’s how I could keep up with so many autumn shows that followed simultaneously but that’s a feat that I won’t be able to repeat again for a while.

    The idea of ‘speed watching’ baffles me – I like to immerse myself and absorb as much as I can; when I have so many series on the roster it gets quite draining. Hopefully there will be a few outstanding series coming up rather than a large number of merely decent ones, which would make it easier to pick and choose for those of us who are short of spare time!

    Hopefully a quieter winter season will give me chance to pick Casshern Sins back up again as well.

  7. you are missing on hunter x hunter

    as much as i love onepiece,it is my second favourite story of all time
    only one anime/manga i see as superior to it and it is HxH
    (completely different than any other shonen -and very very intelligent)

    also,naruto have been good lately with two masterpiece episodes 82 and 85
    i think you will write about them when you see them

    SE is my favourite of the on-going anime(seems it will have its own story from now-on ep 36 but still not sure if they go back to canon)

    clanned is really really good right now

    anyway about the next season the most important anime will be HNO

    also same happening to be i amnt able to keep with all the anime

  8. sorry i mean Hajime no Ippo
    i think 100% you will be watching this one atleast

    The Twelve Kingdoms i think i need to watch it too

  9. Heh, I can see where you’re coming from for once, and rather vividly at that. I’ve let Autumn pile up while I was off on my Fate/stay night binge, which, according to Lelangir, was equivalent to about 180 episodes of anime time-wise, and I’ve got to grudgingly agree that nothing beats watching anime at your own pace — especially if the alternative results in a bunch of brain-free memetic shite posts (remember remember Geass of September).

    Wonder if you’ve read this post by any chance.

  10. I think, although there is a ton i want to watch in this current season, i’ve just never had time. I have a fair few in my to-watch list, or currently watching, but i just can’t make any progress with any of them because i’ve not really had what i can call a proper break from University. On top of that, there is a fair few older series which take my fancy much more than newer ones. For example as much as i’d like to watch ef: a tale of melodies, i’ve found myself looking more into grabbing hold of Escaflowne or perhaps wolf’s rain.

    As well as that, i can’t really watch more than say 4 or 5 episodes at a time now. I used to be able to watch several episodes in batches, now i either can’t get the time or i just don’t want to because i’ll probably miss a lot of things going on. Bar that i have managed to get into two series so far, both of which are already aired, which is quite handy as i can watch them at my own pace now, instead of trying to keep up with the weekly episode, ok thats not always so hard, but sometimes i’d rather wait a bit more or less for them.

    With Soul Eater, i’m about 10 episodes behind, so i could see myself probably watching 5 one at once then 5 later, i guess because i already know whats ahead of me and whats going on now, but even then, the anime has done a lot of justice to the series, so i don’t want to rush it too much either.

  11. Fall became the season where I ended up trying to watch so many shows at once. I ended up putting a bunch on hold, and I dropped quite a few. I realize that I don’t like doing this at all, because I really want to finish the series that I start.

    I’ll just have to make peace that I won’t bee keeping up much with the opinions of the day. In the mean time there’s so much backlog to finish.

    Let’s keep Christmas, just mark it with a ‘*’

  12. There are times when I really can’t be bothered watching anime, but there are other times when I can’t get enough of it. I’m not really looking forward to any of the shows next season so I guess I’ll follow a show if some one who has a similar taste as mine really enjoys it, or if it looks good in my opinion. Right now I’m only following 2 shows; I just dropped GaRei, but I may pick it up again later. Even though it’s holidays, it’s Christmas :D

  13. why do i watch anime? that’s a long answer contained in a short question :p.

    my original intents in watching anime, as a young girl, stemmed in the fact that i read alot of books. then, as now, i enjoy narrative more than most other forms of entertainment: books, plays, operas, anime, adventure and RPG video games make up a majority of the things i love. being not quite old enough to not watch Saturday morning cartoons, but not quite stupid enough to enjoy watching the situation-of-the-day stories that cartoons in North America often provided (with a few notable and appreciated exceptions), i was always looking for the happy inbetween. So naturally, when things like Sailor Moon, and eventually Escaflowne started airing, i was attracted to them: they offered a visual representation that books could not, but a strong narrative tied each episode to the one before it.

    as i watched more anime, this initial need of a narrative with my animation took second place to it being an interesting narrative; but this is to be expected, and, for a long time, simply having a story to suck me out of my own world was enough; this is how i justify my love for stories like Inuyasha. Eventually even this gave way, and as i gained a greater appreciation for all aspects of anime, visual, aural, as well as narrative and thematical, my standards went up once again – it took anime like Mushishi or Utena or Shigurui to satisfy my tastes.

    At the moment, i seem to be so hard to satisfy that i can watch things like Toradora for its surface value. But i keep watching, and keep on trying new series in the hopes that something will move me as deeply as those above two did (which i suppose is the short answer to this question.)

    That said, i do alot of re-watching of series i’ve watched before. i just finished re-watching Utena. rather than be dissapointed by a new series, i tend to tale refuge in old favorites; or even old series i haven’t enjoyed before (i’m… somewhere in LotGH; and i’m downloading the Twelve Kingdoms because this post reminded me to :p). There is no such thing as an “instant classic”, in my view. but a good story, is good, no matter whether you watched it as it came out or years later, no matter whether you’ve watched it 20 times over, as i have with FLCL, or if it’s your first viewing.

  14. Keeping up with 10~20 shows per week isn’t for me. Time is one thing but I prefer focusing on one or two anime at a time for more “wholesome” experience (not sure if that makes sense). That usually means marathoning a completed series with an animated short, movie, an episode of currently airing series in-between. I have short memory span so it helps me keep up with beasts like Kaiba better. There are only few titles that truly interest me each season anyway.

  15. You know bateszi, you have a nasty habit of asking difficult questions out of nowhere ;) Why do I watch anime? I guess there are two main reasons for that. The first one is I am bored with Hollywood productions simply because they lack soul. Most of them are so generic and predictable, that if you’ve seen one action flick or romantic comedy you’ve seen them all. You know which side character’s gonna die and who’s going to end up together to live happily ever after. Boring. There are, of course, exceptions like Forrest Gump or Seven, but movies of such caliber come around way too seldom. The world of anime on the other hand is filled with so much more creativity that it’s easier to find something unique and deep. When watching anime I know I can expect the unexpected. There is a huge possibility of the ending not being happy, main characters are not immortal and sometimes die (Wolf’s Rain, anyone?). The surroundings are much more imaginative I can immerse myself in the world. For those very reasons it feels like anime is, in a sense – despite using animated characters – closer to real life than movies using normal actors.
    The second reason is difference in culture. A lot of real life problems are being discussed in anime and it’s interesting to see how a completely different culture than the European one deals with them. Some things considered normal here are unacceptable there and vice versa. Watching these two views clash is a pleasent experience.

    OK, with that little rant out of the way, let’s get back to the topic at hand. I usually watch anime after the whole series is subbed. It’s just easier that way – I know how the whole thing was received and I can start/stop watching whenever I want without having to wait for new eps to be subbed. So far I have rarely been disappointed with the choices made. This time around was a bit different though. I’ve started watching 6 series in the fall season (2 of which are a bit of a let down so far – Michiko to Hatchin & Mouryou no Hako). The result? I’ll probably never do that again. Simply put, following all of the shows the same time is a bit of a pain. Some series are released frequently while others fall behind for a couple of weeks only to be released in a huge batch shortly after. Following a longer hiatus I sometimes catch myself thinking “What was going on in this anime again?”, which is even more apparent in the case of more convulted shows. The irregular pace just seems to take something important away from the whole experience. I guess I’ll go back to watching anime the way I used to especially because I have so many great titles to catch up on (Honey and Clover being one of them).

  16. I have the same problem. As time goes on, I watch more and more anime each season just so that I can keep up with what’s new. Sometimes I take it too seriously and I’ve ended up being jaded. I also have 40+ series sitting on my hard drive and external hard drive just sitting there not doing much. I keep telling myself I’ll get around to them, but it never happens. I’m already watching enough new anime as it is, so I don’t even have time for older stuff.

    I tried the “stop watching new anime for a while” approach, but old habits die hard. I keep going back into my usual routine.

    Maybe 2009 will be different. Maybe.

  17. The way I deal with the never-ending cycle of anime is to be really selective of what I watch. But even then I have a mountain of a backlog–caused by ‘hoarding’ anime. It got worse when I upgraded to a 1 Mbps connection. T_T
    Though I do hope winter anime season won’t be as ‘heavy’ as fall. Might give some time to catch up on the blogging and the backlog.

  18. Entirely ignoring the winter season seems to be taking it a bit far. I prefer to watch shows which seem interesting at first, and then drop accordingly. Every now and then some true gems come around.

    But that could be the main problem. Perhaps it’s this question of quality. At times, it does feel like I’m watching a show simply for the sake of getting stuff that’s “hot off the press” for sampling. Watching an old show that’s been highly rated by the community means that if the premise/genre and setting is to your liking, you’ll most likely enjoy it very much. At least your making a disctinction between watching what you realy wish to watch and watching what’s simply there to watch.

  19. It might just be time to raise your standards.

    Of this last seasons shows there’s only one show that artistically interests me and another that grabs me with its writing. There’s a couple of other shows that press certain buttons for me, but that’s about it. The only show I watch straight after getting my hands on it right now is One Outs.

    Had this season come in 2003 I’d probably be devouring three times as many shows. Had I come to it in 1997, I wouldn’t have believed that many shows could be watched.

    I used to try and watch every 1st episode, but I think being burnt by one too many GONZO shows put a stop to that (not to mention all the otakubait “romantic comedy” shows). Nowadays I apply certain criteria to the shows I’ll check out. Any show made for WOWOW (particularly the Madhouse ones) and Fuji TV’s noitaminA slot I find are worth at least a glance, as is anything that isn’t an adaptation.

    Beyond that I keep an eye on who is on the staff of the shows, and what they have previously worked on. There’s certain directors I’ll check out even if they’ve disappointed me in the past. And with regards to animators moving from key animation to more supervisory roles, if they’ve worked on certain projects in the past, I’ll be interested to see how they do as their career moves forward.

    As so many anime are adaptations, I’m less interested in screenwriters, however if Kazuki Nakashima works on another anime, I’ll be there in a shot, because unlike a lot of non-animator cartoon writers, he gets it.

  20. As a blogger, I can imagine you feel somehow obligated to watch everything decent, you shouldn’t. At the point where anime becomes a chore, a hassle, or some sort of duty then it’s being treated the wrong way. Personally I always limit myself to about 7 or 8 shows max. I’ll watch a few episodes and make a decision about which I will follow. I know I’ve missed a lot of good shows due to my narrow focus, but there is simple too much out there to watch.

    Anime should be enjoyed like fine wine – casually at a sensible pace. If you have to much at once you’ll just feel sick.

  21. I have an ever-increasing backlog myself, and I keep wondering if I’m ever going to finish all that I want to watch at the moment. Especially because I don’t want to miss out on the current discussion about “X” series that will come up as we move to a new season. It’s pick and choose sometimes, so it makes me wonder. :P

  22. I couldint have put it better than Wildcard, I think its inevitable your losing touch and passion for anime, the sheer amount you watch, you should take a break, limit yourself, I mean I bet if you think about it youve watched a lot more bad stuff than good, personally I only watch a few episodes and a movie a week, keeps things fresh.

  23. Timeless animes are timeless, so it doesn’t matter when you watch or post about them, because they’ll be, well, timeless! This sounds like a lame excuse to be lazy, but as other ones have said, it’s best to go on your own pace, and be inspired to watch and write, naturally so :)

  24. Hey, I just stumbled upon your site, and it’s a refreshing change from the usual otaku fanfare surrounding (anglophone) anime discussion, so I can’t help but comment!

    Why watch anime? Well don’t watch it for the sake of it! Watch anime if it gives you joy, if you think you can derive something from it, watch it as you would do anything else in life.

    I’m so glad someone else mentioned Hunter X Hunter! How I love that show… One of my other favourites is Oniisama, E (Brother, Dear Brother)… and a bunch of other animes which you’ve probably already mentioned somewhere in your blog.

    Well, best of luck to you! I’ll keep checking back here…

  25. Thanks, everyone, for such a great collection of comments. Reading and considering your responses over the last couple of days has been fantastic, and, in typical style, I do hope to respond to each one individually at some point in the near future. Of course, given the sheer length and number of them, that may take some time, but rest assured, I am receiving and reading every comment posted. Thursday is my last day at work for 2008. I can’t wait for the holidays to begin, I’ll have so much more free time (to watch anime!)

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