The Unbingeables

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!

Webe-watching-tv-anime-THG

this is THE life!

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.

anime gasp

what is happening?

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.

kiznaiver

I should rewatch

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…

Beat up Rini

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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33 Responses

  1. I blitzed Shiki in a week (which might not sound like a big deal to some people, but for me – who sometimes lets entire series become out-of-reach over many years simply from how slow I watch if I’m not given proper incentive and time, simply because I prefer to move through things at my own pace – that is quite the big deal), yet never really made heads or tails of the timelines (and had to read other people’s posts to get them straight).

    I think my record for a 12 episode series is a single day for Dimension High School, so I am capable of bingeing, but I’d need to clear my schedule of absolutely everything to do so and I’d need a huge cooldown period afterward (which might roll over into the next day if I stay up for it) – this is why I don’t really like “watch this within 2 weeks” challenges which occasionally pop up.

    Normally I prefer week-to-week watching because this allows me to get a better connection with the characters and the series itself. I barely remember anything from Yuki Yuna (completed in 6 days, but I rated it higher than Madoka Magica) or Dimension High School.

  2. LitaKino says:

    I completely relate to you in your post. I know I’ve always been a binger but series like fugishi yugi I watched in small doses as something happened at every turn. where I’m watching a mecha right now and I love to breeze through these because the excitement gets the better of me. Though if we’re talking Haikyu. . . I can handle that volley hotness every week, I has patience. Reading your post summed up a obvious fact about me that I am a anime person not so much a manga one. I love anime way more!!!

  3. David Boone (moonhawk81) says:

    I tend to enjoy savoring the time between broadcast episodes of an anime I’m enjoying, but–once I have the series in my physical possession–I have been known to binge. One notable exception that I recently discussed on another site is Rifle Is Beautiful; I like the anime, but can’t watch it often. It aired last season (I think), and I’m still only up to episode 5 or 6. It’s just so sticky-sweet that I need a good block of time to wash the taste out of my mouth, despite my actually liking it. . .weird.

  4. Mari says:

    I tend to not like to binge most of the time. I think it kinda hurts my overall enjoyment of the show when I watch so much at once that I can’t remember everything that happens. My usual thing is to just watch 1-3 episodes at a time, then go on to do something else. Only problem with that is that sometimes I get distracted and don’t finish shows that I start 😖

  5. ManInBlack says:

    The amount of shows I either didn’t like or found hard to get into when watched weekly that I have either appreciate ore or eve ended up loving after seeing it whole (via review discs) is forever growing.

    If a show has a continuous narrative or overarching storyline then marathon watching is the best way to go without question. i envy those who watch something complex like Steins;Gate weekly and still follow and remember every key detail. Then again I am getting old… 🙁

  6. For me a binge is the same as a really long movie. Some anime work really well that way and some don’t. Anime that contains fridge horror (or fridge anything) aren’t good binge material.

    I have been known to record an entire season of something. Put it on autoplay and capture it with Snagit while I’m busy with something else. Then come back about the time it should be done. When I play it back I can just skip the OPs and EDs. I only need to see those once, otherwise just catch a second or two of then to make sure it hasn’t changed. It gives the impression of a really long movie.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Because of my personal very introverted and laidback nature it can be very easy for me to binge watch anime,read multiple volumes of manga or spend hundreds of hours playing video games.
    It could be more challenging depending on the type of book i’m reading,game i am playing or show i am watching. For example if a show is in action show then i’d probably be able to finish the show halfway during the week.
    Afro Samurai only took me a day to finish since it was just 5 episodes long enough to run an entire movie.
    Golgo 13 however i don’t really binge watch often because of how boring it is and how the plot is just more or less the same every episode.
    Serial Expiraments Lain or Ghost In The Shell because of the slow philosophical nature of the show and how much plot is in an episode its not something i’d expect to binge watch easily so it would have to be 1 episode per day.
    In gaming i’ve spent literally 100s of hours playing The World Ends With You Final Remix on the switch,Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor Overclocked i’ve beaten in just a few days and DMC V it only took me a entire weekend. The game i’m playing right now Disgaea 3 on my ps3 the developers know how otakus love to spend time on video games so they make the gameplay addictive on purpose with the amount of content it has and how fun combat can be once you get the hang of it.
    To me binging is something you can do every now and then but always be sure to focus on taking care of yourself first.
    -k(rogueotakugamer)

  8. Dawnstorm says:

    I have no preference when it comes to binging vs. watching shows weekly. I’m watching them as they air, because I’m impatient, not because that’s the mode I prefer. As a result, I’m sort of used to weekly watches. But some shows do seem like they’d be better suited for binging. Usually, that’s the more forgettable shows, though – since they don’t really hold my interest for a week. I totally get the sports show thing: it’s similar to the way cliff-hangers don’t work for me (if they’re supposed to hold my attention). I’m the type of person who – if there’s something they can’t resolve – they just turn their attention onto something they can. So next week I’m less likely to think “now I finally find out how this resolves,” and more likely to think “Oh, yeah, there was a cliff-hanger, wasn’t there?” Shows that conclude some sort of concept per episode tend to be more memorable, because there’s more ponder. (It’s fine when they tease next episode’s theme or something with a cliff-hanger; that doesn’t generally impact my perception of the episode.)

    There’s also a type of iyashikei show that relies on laying on the “Sweetness” very thickly; I love them in small bursts, but would die from metaphorical diabetes if I were to binge them. The Tamayura franchise is a good example. I love how wholesome it is, but it’s a very concentrated dose and I can’t take it all at once.

    • Irina says:

      I think Somali might be that for me this season. While I would probably already have finished Haikyuu if it was available

      • Dawnstorm says:

        I think you’re right there; I don’t think I’d want too much Somali all at once. (Haikyuu is the epitome of bingability, but… I’m impatient.)

  9. Narrative anime are unbingeable to me. I feel guilty starting an anime and thinking “I can’t finish this in one go.” Stein;s Gate is still something I haven’t watched because I feel I would be doing the story a disservice if I let real life stuff cut it off.

    • Irina says:

      Steins I played rather than watched and it took me months. I kept pausing to go read up on all the fascinating science and historical tidbits the story was throwing in and ended up falling down so many rabbit holes

  10. Pinkie says:

    I love cutesie animes but prefer them in short bursts.
    Lucky Star or heck even Cute Earth defence club love, or love life.

    Like they do make me tingly and happy but after two maybe 3 episodes my happy tank is all filled up. There is no epic story to follow so after 3 episodes the earliest fall out of my brain. I want them all to matter though.

    A lot of romancy stuff I also rather not binge. Sure the main protaganist is allowed to make mistakes even have a flaw that results in continues mistakes but if they slip up 3 times in 90 minutes I’d be like Baka! Baka! Why cant you see she loves you. While with intervals it might actually be funny.

    Detectives I rather watch in one go, to feel like i am on the case and i remember everything well.
    Tengen Toppa I have to finish faster each time I watch it. Next time i will probably have to do all in a row to beat my record. But I call them roller coaster anime.
    A thrill ride is better if its one sitting without a cofee break in between.

    • Irina says:

      See i needed specific breaks in Lagann. There were some episodes that sort of blew my mind and I wanted to just sit quietly for a little while. Man I sound delicate… I’m a precious petunia

      • Pinkie says:

        The first time a certain episode had me cry for an hour straight…

        The second time I kept it in untill my sleep around the time jump and had an anger pauze after someone was a huge dick

        The third time i watched the movies back to back, and I nearly choked from excitement over that added gatai i had dinner between the movies

        So the fourth time, will be full series no breaks

  11. K.A.L.T says:

    I’m a huge fan of binge watching anime, thus, I’m always a season behind everyone else. My memory is real bad and I can’t deal with the torture of having to wait 1 week for a short 25 minutes of pleasure. However, there are some anime that I come across that I can’t binge watch like Cowboy Bebop cause it felt like it was meant to be more episodic. But you mentioned in your post some anime that overloads you with information that you need to take a break before continuing. Truthfully, I don’t recall that ever happening to me until today. I tried to binge watch Babylon, however, after just two episodes, I was at my limit. I couldn’t watch anymore. It was really interesting and not bad at all but I couldn’t handle it… it was just too intense. While that is my most recent memory of being overloaded till I can’t binge, I can’t say I’ve never felt the sensation that I missed a lot of things by watching a whole 26 episodes in one day because whatever happens in the later episodes overrides the information of what happened in the previous episodes. Perhaps my mental capacity is just pitiful but that has definitely happened to me countless times. Though, nothing is stopping us from re-watching a series that we think is worth our time and reflection is there? XD

    • Irina says:

      Our mental capacity is probably similar. I tend to latch on to whatever interests me most so I might look over some earlier concepts if something more interesting comes up

  12. David Majors says:

    You’ve stumbled onto something here that has helped me understand why bingeing anything, especially anime, has never been my bag.

    For me, bingeing has always come of as a very solitary, insulated and isolated way to enjoy content. You find a show, you realize you love it, and you watch six episodes at once. And then you blog/tweet/talk about it to whomever may listen.

    I’m a naturally collaborative person, so the seasonal drip works really well for me in many different ways. I love seeing fans gather at one time to watch a show and watch and discuss it in real-time. And then I love spending a week talking about what happened, what I think will happen and then get excited for the next episode to do it all over again. I enjoy going on that ride and sharing that ride with others.

    I remember when I first watched Gundam 00 (one of my favorite anime ever to this day) and I watched all 50 episodes of it over a weekend, because I was beyond in love with it. Utterly compelled. But I also remember wishing it could have been like when I watched Gundam Wing back in the day on Toonami, where I could talk with my friends about it.

    I think maybe a lot of anime fans today don’t appreciate the shared experience as much as I do, or they appreciate it in a different way.

  1. February 28, 2020

    […] also have Irina with “The Unbingeables”, tackling that all-too familiar topic within the anime watching community. It’s a constant […]

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