You know that thing: the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon? It’s basically when you’ve never even thought of something but suddenly it occurs to you then you start seeing it everywhere? I think it might be my superpower… With blog posts at least… As some of you know, I schedule everything and on average will write a post 2 weeks to a month before it actually publishes. (With the exception of episode reviews which I still write at least a day ahead of time). I have always been that way and the thought of publishing directly (i.e. live publishing) fills me with anxiety… no, really. I need to gets me some real problems.

And yet, I very frequently find that other bloggers will coincidentally review the same 3 year old anime, or discuss the same essay subject just days from when my post is scheduled to go public. This weird phenomenon came to a head when Arthifis, Chizurue and I all published our own personal takes on more or less the same subject on the exact same day. (By the way – the fact that I could come up with anything remotely similar to what these two amazing bloggers publish is a source of great pride. Yup, I’m bragging here!)

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no no, I’m just an ordinary person…

None of this is surprising. We all have similar interests and up to a certain point, share a communal experience. So the fact that similar ideas will pop into our heads is a given. I also understand that just because one blogger publishes a post that’s basically the same idea as another, a week later, probably doesn’t have anything to do with the first post at all. Pretty much every variation of review structure and anime editorial has been done at some point and those were probably based on and inspired by works that came before.

Putting your own spin on something is what makes it special. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel everytime.

And yet, we seem to put such an imperative on novelty that we occasionally blind ourselves to the merits of  a piece and hobble our own enjoyment of it. I’ve often seen those comments that say “actually I wrote about this before…” “or this other blogger already covered this here”… Those comments are great because when you write or read about a subject, odds are you’re interested in it and getting more information is a great boon. But when you just leave it at that, it’s tough  to tell whether you read this new post at all or just skimmed the first lines and assumed it was the same. And worst, once in a while you get those condescending comments of so and so said it BETTER.. you’re not bringing anything new, this person did it first….

We get the same thing when discussing anime. Too often the relative merits of a show are brushed aside with a so and so did it first. But my question is, so what?

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are you sure no one did it before that?

In my line of work, the concepts of novelty, obviousness and inventive step have a real tangible, legal impact. I spent a whole lot of time trying to prove an idea is new and would not have been obvious in the light of…well the entirety of human knowledge. It sounds a lot fancier than it is. But let me tell you, it has given me a whole new appreciation for originality.

There are no grand innovations. All those paradigm changing breakthroughs we hear about are built on the backs of hundreds of small inventions and modifications. Generations of baby steps coming together to form a leap.

And when that once in a lifetime truly original invention comes along, it’s usually not that great… there’s a reason no one’s been searching for that particular answer. I understand the thrill you get when YOU see a particular narrative for the first time or when you get blown away because YOU’ve never thought of that twist before, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been done before. And should it matter?

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both are taller than me, so who cares

There’s no real reason to constantly be striving for novelty. Sitting down and perfecting an art, trying to come up with the best possible form of a classic narrative, writing an answer to someone else’s brilliant post or even rewriting your own can yield great results. I’m not saying you should avoid trying new things but for a species that tends to be suspicious and resistant to change and upheaval, we sure like to pretend it’s important when it comes to entertainment.

Well, I’m here to rebel against it. I want more shows that improve on classic formulae like My Hero Academia and more posts that show different points of view of the same thesis. It’s interesting and enriching.

So next time you find yourself thinking oh I’ve seen, read, heard something like this before, ask yourself, is that a bad thing? I’m betting it’s not!

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57 thoughts

  1. Scientific research is definitely rigorous and harsh with the need for factual and self-consistent statements to support said novelty. Blogging certainly don’t need to be that way and I agree with your stance on this and the reasons you put out. It’s not like blogging’s textbook anyways (Which is all the more why its fun and dynamic) XD.
    I have to bookmark this wonderful post. 🙂

    And I’ll continue catching up on your old posts, so… don’t mind this busybody for now!

      1. Then you should consider multiple victories then, I really liked a few other of the older posts as well deliberating on the concerns of anime discussion and blogging ^^

  2. Well, I’ll be honest and confess that I’ve stashed away more than just a couple of posts because they’ve been talked about before.

  3. I completely agree with you! In reality is stupid for you to think that things will be completely original when you take into account the amount of people living in this world with their own ideas! 😛
    Most of things today are recycled, especially in music and there’s not really a problem with that. Normally get inspiration from what is done and do it even better, so I don’t really have problems with watching/playing/listening to things that are similar to others I’ve experienced in the past. In reality, as you say, normally things that are disruptive nowadays tend not to be that great… Yet again, it takes a lot of disruptive and innovative ideas to have one to survive. Always has been like that 😛
    Great post! Completely loved it and I don’t understand where do you get all your ideas to be honest ahah

  4. In the end I suppose I can just throw in some pictures of hot men and call it a day… jk… It is hard to have a voice sometimes. Since my writing is more of a ramble and I don’t outline or organize I bet my readers are lost half the time. In the end I hope to bring in maybe a new thought, but in the end all stories were already written. It is how you tell it that makes it different.

    1. You cracked my formula…Don’t tell anyone else…
      I love your writing. Not just me being nice – there are a few bloggers I avidly follow because of the writing itself, and you are one of them. So as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter if you say things that have been said 100 times before – cause you say ’em better!

  5. Extremely well said my friend!

    About the posting the same thing in the same day or in a few days of someone else: That happens to me sometimes and I got so weirded out but super pleased that when I end up matching someone’s new post. Weirded out in a good way because it’s like we are interested the same wavelength, and usually even our opinions match which is again supernaturally awesome. It’s like an unconscious magic trick 😄

  6. For blogging, people like to protect notions of originality at the bare minimum and actual originality in the best case…but I don’t think there’s any point trying to “watch your back” if you’re just blogging for fun/relaxation, because you’re not going to get marked on it or lose money due to a plagiarism lawsuit.

    If the intention is to create something that’ll be protected by copyright though (like anime), that’s when people have to use archives to check their work is distinctive enough to send out into the world. Even then, a lot of people tend to come up with something original (to some degree or other) without trying and it’s just a case of capitalising on what makes a show unique.

  7. Despite having a lot of “unique” and “out there” opinions, I often find myself worrying about whether my ideas are completely new or if someone else has discussed before.

    That being said, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, and everyone has their own unique way of approaching an old idea to make it interesting.

    Saying “X wrote this already” can allow for more insight into the topic, but if it’s done so with the intention of telling someone their work lacks originality, that’s a shitty thing to do. Every voice is valid and offers something unique, even if it’s tackling something that’s been covered a million times before.

    …Or maybe I’m just daft. Who knows?

    Great post as always!

  8. Novelty is overrated! Things become popular — tropes, cliches, even — for a reason, and there’s nothing wrong with that. And when it comes to blogging, I absolutely *love* it when someone covers something that I’ve also covered, because it means we can talk about it, compare notes and suchlike.

    One thing to remember (speaking generally here) is that not everyone necessarily reads the same combination of sites as you do, so one man’s “oh, three people covered the same thing today” is another’s “wow, that was a really interesting post about [topic]”.

    But even with all of the above in mind, I do sort of pride myself on the fact that the games I cover on my site are specifically *not* what the commercial mainstream sites of my former career would give all their time and attention to… heh.

  9. This was a good article. Part of the problem involves bloggers and content creators chasing trends and bickering over the smallest things. I do believe there are tenets of originality or at the very least an original approach to doing things, but that’s not part of the path of least resistance. I get the Ecclesiastical notion of there “being nothing new under the sun”, but it doesn’t mean people can’t or shouldn’t try to do something innovative. Funny, this is coming from a guy who’s reviewed three different Japanese media properties that Hollywood shamelessly stole from (and never admitted to it), but that’s another topic. Haha! People should be the best they can be and worry about more pressing issues at hand.

    1. I have another one coming up! The word masterpiece gets thrown around a lot these days but sometimes it’s warranted!

            1. well the possibilities are endless – myself I would say a minor demi-god.. I have the power to communicate with oranges but seeing as I’m rather allergic I don’t get to use it much…

  10. It can be the most difficult thing in the world to write a review over a classic (like say, Cowboy Bebop) when the whole time you’re just thinking, “What’s more to say that hasn’t already been said?” That’s why instead of stressing over how to reinvent it for the latest year, I try to dig deep and pull out factors that many other reviewed gloss over: composition of the musical score, literary devices, thematic resonance, or perhaps “big takeaway” lessons we as humans might learn by watching a certain anime. And I try to do this all as beautifully as I can in hopes of standing out, which (let’s be honest) usually results in a game of chance.

    Even if this topic might have been reiterated a thousand times before, you brought this idea directly to ME, which is a trait that I think makes anibloggers special. All information of new anime comes in waves—over time, anibloggers write to reignite the spark.

    Loved this post Irina!

    1. I’ll be honest Taku, I would gladly read a simple list of platitudes if you wrote it. Your personal style is so beautiful, you have this rhythmic way of putting sentences together that’s always a pleasure to read. This said, I find your posts to be rather unique in topic as well.

    2. Take the sentence “I like Cowboy Bebop.” Everyone can use the the same sentence and it will always have a unique personal meaning. Anyone who starts from there can’t really go wrong. (If I said it, it wouldn’t be true; but it’s not that I dilike it. I just never got into it the three times I tried, so my judgement’s pending. It’s an anime I haven’t seen much of, and that – because of three false starts – is low on my list of priorities.)

      People say that there’s nothing new under the sun, but they also say that you can’t cross the same river twice. It balances out. The question really isn’t whether you have something “unique” to say about, say, Bebop. It’s whether something in Bebop excites you enough to talk about it. The excitement will show. Gush, rant, explore… it’s all fine. As long as you’re interested, someone will relate. If everything’s been said before, so what? It’s never been put together quite like that.

  11. For me, an anime is really only defined by two things.

    50% Execution and 50% Entertainment.

    A show being a new or old idea doesn’t make that big of a difference to me personally, but being a new idea does heighten the entertainment factor because of the unpredictability. New ideas are harder to pull off.

    However, this is where the execution starts to suffer. A show can be well animated, well drawn, and competently directed, but if the story is vanilla and doesn’t innovate, it just becomes stagnant. A lot of shounen shows suffer from this. On the other hand, a show can be a completely new and novel concept but have poor direction and animation. In this regard, Hand Shakers is the best example.

    Well, now I want to make a post about this, so I’ll stop here, lol.

  12. I find the same thing in my part of the bloggosphere. Sometimes it’s hard not to be reviewing the same things as other people. I actually like when someone says “some other blogger Recieved this before and they enjoyed it too!” it’s nice to have people with similar views, but it’s also nice to hear that you may have had some different points than they did! 😉🍻

  13. Yes yes Preach it sister Irina!!!! I never worry about things now it’s bloody pointless. Ive talked about before the worry people have about the same things discussed over and over in the community. It’s exactly as you say so what !!!

      1. Of course you’ll be starting up another discussion and be interesting to hear others opinions on this. It doesn’t matter to me if I see something in my wordpress feed that I might have read come across similarly. I’m still going to read it. I want to know others opinions XD

  14. Something new… huh?
    For me, I always feel like the posts that are more unique tend to be the ones that I put more effort into.
    Same thing with anime- the ones that try harder to do something really different are the ones that I appreciate the most! (When they succeed)
    That’s why so many anime watchers avoid isekai, harem, and romcom shows like the plague. A lot of those tend to feel very same-y with little distinction between those that are middle of the pack in quality.
    Novelty has it’s place- but novelty in itself is not a worthwhile goal when writing.

    1. It does although true novelty is unlikely and an enormous risk. If you’re trying a completely new narrative structure without any established plot elements for the first time. There’s bound to be some trial and error. The likelihood that everything is perfect the first time around is very small.

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