The more I watch seasonal anime on a weekly basis, the more I realize that I prefer binging it. In my particular case, I think some of it is simply old instinct. Back when I was in school and use to spend 5 hours trying to download a 25 minute fansubbed episode just to find the file was corrupted (aaaarrrrrggggg!), there was nothing better that to manage to hoard 5 or 6 episodes of whatever show I was currently fascinated by so that I could blow off studying and dates for one evening of continuous anime fun! It was just such a treat!
Another part most likely has to do with the rate at which I form emotional connections with the stories and how that gets thrown off when I have to take week-long breaks between episodes. I also tend to enjoy continuous flows in my narratives. I also usually finish a book before I start another one. If I get too many stories going on at once, I will often end up playing favourites which means I won’t properly appreciate the others and end up not enjoying them as much a I would have if I had watched them independently.
It’s a personal preference though. There are plenty of people who prefer varied and weekly viewings for great reasons. There’s no right way to go about it. I just wanted to emphasize that for me, there is a very strong pro binge bias. It’s to the point where I will regularly put off shows I was looking forward to just so I can binge them.
(This is completely irrelevant to the post but let me say that this practice is very bad for bloggers who review anime and want views. In my experience, nothing will get you as many views, although not much engagement as reviews of currently airing anime but the second it’s last season… different story!)
This particular quirk of mine is how I know a show is special when I don’t want to watch more that one episode in a row.
There’s a strange phenomenon that happens to me from time to time. Usually it’s when I get a few episodes into a show but just the other day it happened right off the bat. I was watching the first episode of a series (I’m going to be all coy and not tell you the title…I will review it eventually) and I started to get that weird squeezy feeling in my heart and I knew I wouldn’t be able to watch more than one episode. My feelings needed to rest and settle with watch I had just seen. I needed to take the time to really savour it. Not a whole week mind you, that’s crazy! But at least 24 to 48 hours. Not because I didn’t like it but because in a way, I liked it too much?
It’s difficult to explain. There are a lot of series I adore that I breeze through, I could watch in a night. There are series I don’t like and found boring that I can watch in an evening as well. My brain just goes on autopilot and I passively sit through it in the hopes of a surprise ending that will redeem everything. Whether I can binge through a series of not is completely unrelated to how much I enjoy it. But the series I can absolutely not binge are in some way special to me.
For instance, after a few episodes, I realized I could only take one episode of Sarazanmai a day. The show is rather surreal (something I love) and I find that if I watch too much in row I get sort of number to surrealism and it looses it’s edge. In this particular case, there was also heaps of subtext and I needed some time to figure out how I felt about a particular episode before moving on. Mind you that may just be a Ikuhara effect because I had the same experience with Revolutionary Girl Utena. Both shows are favourites of mine.
I also found that some of my beloved Sci Fi series like Lain, Steins;Gate and Psycho Pass are packed so think with theories and interesting speculation that I wanted to take the time to just think over.. for fun! More than one episode in a row and too many questions would pile up and I would end up forgetting most of them and just concentrating on the last thing I saw which made me feel like I was missing out! In fact, I think my appreciation of Kiznaiver greatly suffered for exactly that reason. I watched it too quickly and all the awesome theories an tech just washed over before I could really consider how interesting those notions really were.
I also remember the moment when I could not longer watch Shin Sekai Yori for more than an episode per sitting. My little heart and brain couldn’t take it. I just found the atmosphere too heavy and dense. I literally needed a few episodes of nonsense slice of life afterwards just to cleanse my palette a bit. And the series haunts me to this day. Shiki had a similar effect to a lesser extent.
Of course it all goes back to Natsume. It always does. I distinctly remember when the first season started to make me tear up with each episode. I could watch Natsume endlessly but at the same time, it just felt like an experience I wanted to take in carefully. One step at the time. I wanted to carry around with me. I wonder if it will be the same on second viewing.
This is not to say that great shows can only be appreciated slowly. There are a number of seasonal shows I really liked that I think would have been improved by more continuous watch. The fantastic and constant tension of The Promised Neverland would have been better uninterrupted in my opinion. I probably would have had way more fun with Demon Slayer as well. A couple of annoying filler episodes sandwiched between good arcs are easy to brush of when they happen to be two out of the four episodes you watched that evening. When they are all you get for two weeks in a row it’s more difficult to take. Then there’s Megalobox. Loved the show. But all sports anime that hinge on me being invested in the outcome of a match, can’t leave me hanging for a week. My emotional involvement in sports just isn’t sturdy enough.
Still, I think it’s interesting that I have such clear distinctions about the rate at which I watch series. I wonder, do any of you experience something similar? I remember a blogger telling me they had watched all of Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood in two days and they considered it leisurely. It sounded almost like torture to me, and I love the show…