How to watch your anime

When I watch a new show on TV in the United States I watch each show as it is released, one episode a week.  Until recently I watched anime in a very different way, I would watch anime after all the episodes were released, usually four or five episodes at each sitting.   This led to different viewing experience compared to US shows, albeit one that I did not choose.  But marathoning anime is not the only choice anymore.  With streaming anime, available hours after the Japanese broadcast, I can now watch Japanese shows in the same way I watch American ones.  Now I have to choose which is better, marathoning a show or taking my time to watch one episode each week.
Watching alone...


The tried and true method of marthoning a show is an anime tradition.  It is the format of choice for anime clubs.  It fills my thirst for instant gratification and makes it easier to follow more complex plots.  I also like the social aspect of it.  You can plan a whole evening around watching 4 or 5 episodes of a series.  It’s more difficult to make a whole evening out of only watching one episode.

... or in a group?
While marathoning is a more social activity, watching one episode at a time is a more authentic experience.  It’s what the creators intended, or at least expected.  Plus, it gives me the chance to digest what I am watching; I can think about and judge each episode on its own.  Watching one at a time also makes the story more suspenseful.  The suspense creates its own opportunity for talking with fellow fans.  When I watched Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood I always got excited when the show’s broadcast date came around because I needed to know what happened next.  Sometimes, I’d even stay up until midnight to see the next episode of a show like Bleach on Crunchyroll.com.  Streaming anime can also promote a different kind of social interaction.  You can go on forums and discuss what happened each week and make predictions about what will happen next.  This type of discussion feels different to me than talking about a show after its done.  The former feels to me like I’m adding something to a series.  The latter feels more like a post-mortem. 

While I am growing to like streaming shows, I personally like marathoning a series better.  I like to be able to sit down and take in a series.  It also makes it a lot easier to review a show if I can watch the whole thing in one sitting.  Since I finished school I haven’t been able to marathon shows with friends as much, but I hope to start again soon in the near future.  I’m open to trying a a marathon of streaming shows, but I suspect that marathoning complete series will remain the best way to watch a show.

9 thoughts on “How to watch your anime”

  1. No, no, no, no, no…. Damn, you beat me to it! I was planning on making a post about the same topic in a couple of days. You seem to have said all that needs to be said already…Oh well, early bird gets the worm.

    My ramble aside, this is a very simple and to-the-point post. Good job. Looking forward to your new posts. I’m subscribing :D

  2. I disagree that there is a universal “best” way to digest completed shows at all, given that whether or not a series is in its initial broadcast does not say much about its character. As you’ve noted, a marathon viewing allows for easier retention of plot information, character motivations, etc., but those advantages only pertain to certain genres. Aria, for example, would gain very little from being seen in large doses. It may be detrimental, actually. Slower series, then, perhaps are more suited to isolated consumption, and more fast-paced to the opposite. But then the marathoning, again as you’ve noted, of busier types that rely excessively on cliff-hangers and week-to-week suspense may marginally detract from possible enjoyment derived of anticipation.

    I think it’s worth investigating, even, what it would mean to be the “best” way. Does it mean the most convenient? The most gratifying? The most aligned with the visions of the creators?

    1. I’d agree with you that there is no universal best, that it’s more useful to think in terms of best method for a particular series. But it may also mean best method for a particular situation. After all, if you are taking a long airplane ride then marathoning a show probably is your best option.

  3. We all have our preferences, that’s despite the various ways one can view a show. You prefer dwelling on the postmortem portion of enjoying a show rather than constantly enjoying an aspect of it by watching via a media stream. I can understand that since I have already tried all the other ways, and I can tell that despite having pros and cons, you can’t simply change what you’ve grown accustomed to on a whim, and that applies to viewing preferences. Simple as that.

  4. For me it depends on the series in question – generally I prefer to watch them in multi-episode chunks (marathoning them is rare for me these days due to time constraints) because there’s no danger of forgetting plot points. Immersion is important, especially when you gravitate towards very atmospheric series with plenty of plot twists as I often do. Hourou Musuko is an exception to this in that I watched it one episode at a time, but as you rightly point out the Crunchyroll streaming service dictated that to me…I’d just as easily watch the thing in one go but I didn’t want to wait that long in case I didn’t find time for it at all.

    Others are great to be enjoyed by dipping into on occasion, either because the episodes are ‘stand-alone’ and self-contained (Mushishi is a very good example of this), because they’re light and undemanding doses of brightness to cheer up a dull week (Squid Girl, Aria, K-On), or indeed a bit of both.

    In terms of solo vs. group watching, I prefer to watch the really good ones on my own because I tend to quietly appreciate them, but there’s also the great feeling you get from introducing a fave to other people and finding they enjoy it as much as you do. The really terribad ones on the other hand are perfect for a roomful of people armed with drinks and snacks…the Beavis and Butthead-esque sarcastic comments and shared laughter make up a lot of the entertainment value in those cases!

  5. Watching anime is like reading a book; you don’t want to blow through a whole novel in one night, and you don’t want to wait weeks on end to read a couple chapters at a time. Unless it’s the most drawn out of shounen tournament format anime, a full on marathon always feels like too much to process at once. And unless it’s the most laid back of s’life/iyashikei anime, a week is too long to wait between 25-minute episodes. I enjoy that sweet spot somewhere in between, having the regularity and rhythm of viewing a couple of episodes a day, but enough time between them to absorb and digest the material. Of course, there are outside factors (the internet) that decrease the shelf life of certain titles like Madoka, which forces us to keep up with the weekly episodes, but such is the cost of maintaining our hipster blogger-type lifestyles.

  6. before I turned my blog into an anime-oriented blog, I used to marathon anime series just because I was a hikki thus have lots of time in my hands to do so. When I started writing about anime, I find watching an episode every week is more gratifying in terms of spasm. I look forward to discuss the episode with my fellow blogger. This of course only apply to the current shows. I still try to marathon the old show even though I can only do 2-3 episodes per seating just because I’m too busy with work nowadays

  7. I always say that good stories are at their best when enjoyed whole or in large bites. The immersion is much stronger and it makes the experience much more memorable. While I enjoy analyzing and discussing individual episodes, it’s no match for the enjoyment of immersing yourself into a good story for hours at once. Especially good romances are something that must absolutely be marathoned to get the full emotional effect. I recently watched Kaitou Saint Tail, and even though it’s completely episodic, I watched all 43 eps in three days, because I sensed the potential for an extremely touching ending. Fortunately, the ending was even better than I expected: I cried for a good quarter of an hour. There’s no way it could have had that kind of an effect if I didn’t marathon it.

    That said, there are some anime that are simply better enjoyed in small bites. Something sunny and cheerful like Shukufuku no Campanella can be fun in small portions, but it may easily get boring if you try to marathon it. I nowadays often check out new series as soon as they’re released by speedsub groups. Some I drop, some I continue to watch weekly, but the truly promising ones I try to leave until they’re complete, then I marathon them. None of this winter’s anime were that promising, but hopefully the spring season has something. TWGOK II could be such if not for the fact that I’ve already read the manga…

  8. Man… I don’t remember ever watching anime with a group… that looks like an awesome thing to do with friends that really enjoy anime T_T In something I agree; watching one episode a day/week creates more suspense compared with marathoning, so that’s what I try to do each time I download a new series: To watch just one or two episodes every day.

    Thanks for sharing! :D

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