The Ups and Downs of Watching Popular Anime As They Air

I’ve only recently started watching seasonal anime in simulcast. For one the option hasn’t even been available for that long and for two I generally prefer to soft binge shows. (I’ve coined the term soft binge to mean watching all the episodes more or less in a row over whatever period of time it takes rather than a more traditional definition for binge which would be watching all the episodes in as little time as possible. When I read it in my head, the term sounded kind of naughty so i figured I would explain).

That first paragraph was way more focused and to the point than I usually manage in my posts! Great start!

tamayura_hitotose-11-maon-fu-kaoru-norie-cheer-clap-joy

go me!!!

Like I said, it’s really only been a few years since I’ve started watching any anime as it airs, and watching it alongside the greater anime community is a whole new experience for me. No I often enjoy shows that aren’t that popular so no one talks about them much. In that way the presence of the community in question, doesn’t change anything. But once in a while I hit on shows that are the centre of attention and I have found that there are some good things and some bad about that specific experience.

The popular shows (as in talked about) I watched with everyone else would be probably the Promised Neverland, Demon Slayer. MHA and Fire Force. I think I felt the presence of the audience most on Fire Force so I’ll concentrate on that experience. This said, I’m also feeling it a bit with Tower of God this season. These are the advantages and disadvantages I have found in my personal experience. I think I’ll refer back to this post next time I’m deciding whether to wait for a season to finish before starting to watch a series.

anime welcome

I have an optimistic view of the community

😊 Advantage : Community

Most things are more fun with friends. And these are the type of friends you don’t have to clean your place to invite or give them snacks or anything! Reading the general buzz about a show and watching right along with everyone else just makes you feel like your part of a group activity without really putting in any effort. That’s my sort of social experience. In the end, it’s a little less lonely and that can make you enjoy the anime more in subtle ways. Anything that makes me enjoy anime more is A-O.K. in my book!

🙁 Disadvantage: Spoilers

This is especially true when manga readers are involved and enthusiastic about the source material for a show. They don’t mean any harm and most of them are super careful about not giving away any major plot points or twists, it’s just that the constant squeels of wait till you see what happens next or my favourite part is coming up sort of creates certain expectations for me that are going to affect my viewing experience. What can I say, I’m pretty easy to influence… And of course, if you actually miss an episode that happens to have a big reveal and can’t watch it until a few days later, you better become a social media hermit until you’ve caught up or the surprise will be ruined.

Just to be clear, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people sharing their thoughts and experiences online. Actually I find the excitement really endearing and I hope both the manga readers and instant reviewers keep doing their thing. It’s often that very enthusiasm that has lead me to watch shows after they have aired and discover some new favourites. It’s just that a part of watching along with a lot of people, means you’re going to run into some form of spoiler sooner or later.

😊 Advantage : Explanation

Then again, spoilers can be super useful. I have a preference for cryptic and very allegorical shows. Sadly those don,t tend to be all that popular but still. Even a rather straightforward shonen like Fire Force did have a few symbolic elements and some would have gone right over my head if people weren’t discussing it online. And this isn’t something I would necessarily have found out by myself. It’s really tough to know what you don’t know, you know?

Watching a popular show and following along some of the discussion has allowed me to discover facets of it I would have missed and clear up some vague points as I’m watching rather than after the fact. This makes the things that come after in the show clearer and more significant. There are many older shows I review here and a reader will comment a little bit of trivia or explanation and it blows my mind, If I had known that as I was watching, it would have made it better!

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I love this screencap

🙁 Disadvantage: Exhaustion

Unfortunately, anime fans don’t always just limit themselves to helpful explanations. Sometimes they just decide to argue about a series until they’ve sucked a lot of the joy out of it. Once again, I’ll talk about Fire Force and the pervasive and sometimes uncomfortable fanservice. Regardless of my personal feelings on the subject, by the time the latter part of the series hit, I was so tired of hearing about it that I sort of tuned out and it made me enjoy the show less.

It wasn’t just people sharing their thoughts and the impact. Or discussing the artistic merits and how it can shape the viewer experience. It was a few very passionate people that decided to make it a morality or validity call. On the one hand you had people who dropped the series accusing it of sexism or even of casualising sexual assault and wondered how anyone could watch this stuff. Which made me feel bad about thinking it was not that bad. On the other you had people lashing out about how unfair, uneducated and just lame (stoopid sjw snowflakes) it was to critique the fanservice in any way, which made me feel bad about thinking it wasn’t that good. In the end, I just ended up associating this vague feeling of guilt towards the series which is unfair to the show.

For the record, it didn’t ruin the experience, I would still watch a second season but maybe not as it aired…

😊 Advantage : Conversation

Bit that’s a worst case scenario and one that pops up a lot when discussion apparently controversial subjects. I’m a bit exhausted by the previous paragraph to be honest… People often tend to focus on the negative. That’s normal. That doesn’t mean the positive doesn’t exist. The Promised Neverland was a huge show based on well known and beloved source material and I somehow manage to avoid every single disadvantage of watching it as it aired.  In fact, I found the communal experience singularly rewarding for that series.

And one of the great things were the conversations. People speculating about the world beyond the orphanage and what it could hold. People trying to piece together a timeline and universe based on the few clues scattered throughout. People discussing, calmly and civilly whether the central trio were the most effective point of view characters and whether this particular story would have been better told through a different means. Maybe more of an ensemble cast or form Isabella’s point of view. Whether the revelations were cheap but effective tricks or whether they were instrumental to the lore and not informing the audience from the start served an important purpose other than shock value. These were amazing discussions that made me think about the series more deeply than I would have otherwise and ultimately made me appreciate the richness of the tale in a way I wouldn’t have by myself.

anime conversation

I have a pessimistic views of conversations

🙁 Disadvantage: Disillusionment

This is a weird one and I think it may apply mostly to me. I know my readers are not quite as impressionable as I am. But it sort of bothers me when I’m watching a series and enjoying it and I start reading online how other viewers think it’s boring, stupid, unoriginal or all of the above. I’m not saying I’m going to stop enjoying a series because someone else isn’t. But it still oddly hurts a bit, you know like when someone is saying bad things about your friend.

And there’s no wining in that situation. If you jump in to protect a show you like, you’re going to get sucked into a pointless argument almost every time. If you ignore it, it still bursts your bubble a little and I always get this little thought at the back of my head that if the series gets a bad reputation they won’t make any more or even shows like it which is sad. For me, the best way is to consider the comment as dispassionately as possible. Try to see what they are basing their criticism on and see if it’s valid. If not, I can still understand their point of view and move on and if so, I can acknowledge that a series is not perfect but I still like it. A lot of my favourites fall into that category. Still, there’s a little childish part of me that likes to hold on to the pretense that my beloved shows are perfect and it should be obvious to everyone, so there!

😊 Advantage : Fun!

I wrote an entire post but in the end it only comes down to one thing. You can ignore the comments and online buzz when you’re watching a series as it airs but you can’t create them when you’re watching an old show. Watching along with everyone else gives you more options to craft the experience you want to have. If you want to pretend you’re the only person in the universe watching a particular anime at that time, you can. If one week you want to see what other people thought about a specific episode that really made an impact, you can do that too. It can take a bit of self-exploration to figure out what time of viewer you are and what type of experience you want but once you do, you should really go for whatever is the most fun for you!

Now if they could just start airing new seasons in bulk so I could both binge and watch with everyone else, I would be all set! Do you watch simulcasts? Have you had any of these experiences? Are there any advantages or disadvantages I haven’t considered?

Rini 2020 (5)

Irina

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

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24 Responses

  1. aina says:

    Great post and points! I especially relate to the disillusionment one. And trying to see what the criticisms are based on, understand, and accept it are what I’ve been trying to practise these days. After all, no show is perfect, right? They all have their own flaws and it’s impossible to find one where everybody loves.

    • Irina says:

      I find t muc easier to do with some sws than with others. There are series I just avoid on social media cause they’re special to me

  2. ManInBlack says:

    Continuity is my biggest issue as I tend to forget the stories on a week to week basis from watching so much anime depending on the depth and complexity of the plot.

    Light comedies ar fine as there is little to remember, but involved dramas and sci-fi are a pain for me, so I prefer to wait until whether I get a review discs for the UK home media release when binge watching usually means more enjoyment and better understanding of the show for me. 🙂

  3. I actually rather prefer to watch a show after all the buzz is gone. I can enjoy the show without the whole world yammering at me whether I should like it or not. I waited for several months and then binged Promised Neverland in two nights and didn’t regret it in the slightest.

    • Irina says:

      I actually found that there was more buzz about PN after it aired or towards the end, then while it was going on. Maybe I was too busy measuring chasms mind you

  4. I can understand – in some ways, watching a series “as it goes” can be exciting, leave one intrigued at possible outcomes, and really gets them involved with what’s going on. Personally for me though, I’m really impatient when it comes to shows, so I tend to start watching shows once they wrap up; this is why I end up being really late on the hype train to several shows like Re:Zero or One Punch Man – I’d rather not bother myself with “what-if” scenarios haha. But hey, if it helps you enjoy anime even more, I can’t argue with that 😎

    • Irina says:

      I think I mentioned it but generally speaking I largely prefer binging. This said I have occasionally come across series that I found my viewing experience to be improved by the imposed pacing of weekly watches. It’s rare but certain narratives just work better that way. S:G 0 for instance was amazing both ways but the experience of watching it weekly was drastically different from binging it and I am very grateful I got to experience the anticipation and slow burn tension built that was possible because I was forced to wait for the next episode.

  5. savageddt says:

    Great post! I am so out of touch with anything Anime at the moment. I have started death note which is available on Netflix and recently saw that there is a new Ghost in the shell series as well, eager to get to that, but I limit myself too two or three episodes per time when I actually sit down to watch it. Soft Binge sounds great by the way.

  6. Dawnstorm says:

    I think I get something like what you’re describing with disillusionment, but in reverse. It’s strange. When people say that a show’s not that good, that’s a little disappointing, but it slides off my anime-duck-feathers like water. That’s probably because I’m used to people just not liking shows I really loved. There’s a certain type of show that’s neither deep nor particularly accomplished technically, but simply charms me, that just doesn’t get many fans. Examples are Rolling Girls or Pandora in the Crimson Shell. I think it just spills over on everything.

    The problem with popular shows, though, is that if everyone praises them as if they were exceptionally great and I find them quite fun but nothing that special, that tends to bother me and sour me on a show I might otherwise enjoy more. Promised Neverland is a good example of that: I found it a decent, but forgettable thriller. I’m sure I’d have enjoyed the show more if people wouldn’t constantly have talked about a depth I didn’t find. It makes me watch the show in a way that doesn’t work for me; I’m constantly trying to find what others are seeing in it, when I could have just leant back and enjoyed the ride.

    It’s probably less disillusionment than re-direction, but I think there’s a common principle at work here: people influence the way in which you watch a show so you end up enjoying the show less.

    Also, a lot of fun shows in the screenshots this week. They’re all in a tier below my favourites, or just the tier below that.

    • Irina says:

      Pinkie said the same think. I guess I’m the other way around. I think deep down I have a weird need to fix stuff. Like if people are happy enjoying an unimaginative boring series then I don’t register it as a problem but if people are unhappy then something needs to be fixed and it gets to me more…
      Oddly I don’t get this for everything. Like I know pretty boy shows are going to get hate no matter what so I don’t really care when people rag on those. I have come to accept it as par for the course. But when I can’t figure out why one show gets hate and another almost identical one gets praise, I latch onto it a lot more.

  7. wingking78 says:

    Exhaustion and disillusionment I totally get. The first show I ever watched streaming as it aired was Sailor Moon Crystal, and as someone totally new to the series just watching it blind I was enjoying it fine. Then I made the mistake of starting to read episode reviews and online conversations about it. Every single episode was getting criticized to death – how dare they change this, how dare they not change that, I hate the CG, I hate the new OP, the voice actors are too old, blah, blah, blah, just nonstop hatred, like the show couldn’t do a single thing right. It was so exhausting and disillusioning that by the end of the first season I couldn’t wait for it to be over and I haven’t touched anything else to do with Sailor Moon since. So yeah, thanks for killing my interest in your franchise, SM fans. Lesson learned, though, since then whenever I’m enjoying a show that starts generating massive amounts of hatred, I just stop talking about it and retreat back to my corner where I can enjoy it in peace. Fortunately I don’t have Twitter and never will, so it’s usually not too hard to do that.

    • Irina says:

      Not having Twitter may be a generally wise decision but there are so many amazing artists on it…
      Being a sailor moon fan (that has not seen crystal but only cause I didn’t get around to it yet) this story makes me sad. I think that show deserves more credit than it generally gets as a great vehicle to help break anime into the international market.

  8. Whenever I watch anime, it’s usually the seasonal stuff as it airs. It’s great when I get to binge-watch a whole series, but I also like to “keep up” with all the newer shows. The disadvantages you listed above aren’t normally a problem for me, since I’m not too active in the anime community– it must be trickier for you, since being involved in the anime community is kinda part of the “anime blogger” job description, lol.

    I’m a tiny bit jealous that you seem to have had a lot of positive experiences interacting with the English-speaking anime community. Commenters on this blog seem to be a pretty level-headed bunch, which I’m grateful for, but on other platforms, a lot of the anime community I’ve interacted with could get pretty toxic, hence why I distance myself these days.

    Oh, and IIRC, Netflix releases the anime they helped produce in bulk. You probably knew that already, but hey. I have mixed feelings about Netflix getting more involved in anime production, but that’s one of the (arguably) good things to come of the situation.

    • Irina says:

      I do love Netflix anime drop. Sadly up here I usually get them later but I’m still grateful.
      My personal experience with the anime community has been really good. I’m very lucky. It may have to do with the fact that I tend to interact with a slightly older crowd?

      • Eh, in my experience, there have been more than a few people in their 20s, 30s, and older who still act like children when it comes to discussing (read: bickering) anime. Ironically, I find it’s usually the younger crowd who tend to argue less and just want to talk about their favourite One Piece character or something. Older anime fans can get really uppity and snobbish about their favourite/least-favourite fandoms and genres. But hey, maybe it’s not you who’s lucky, but me who’s UNlucky, in this case. I dunno.

        • Irina says:

          Oh then maybe I interact with younger people?

          • Maybe. But I was just speaking from experience, and experiences are probably quite a bit different from yours. Take it with a grain of salt or two!

            I just find that kids tend to be more honest when it comes to discussing their interests– they watch what they watch because they think it’s fun. Adults tend to get caught up in all sorts of convoluted nonsense, very little of it important for the enjoyment of anime.

            It also depends on the platform you use most often. I don’t think a lot of people under the age of 18 use Twitter, for example, and yet it seems to be home to some of the most pointless and immature arguments I’ve ever laid eyes upon. On the other hand, I encountered lots of younger kids on DeviantArt back when I used that site, who were very good-natured and simply enjoyed nerding out with like-minded individuals about their favourite shows and characters. So yeah, your mileage may vary.

  9. Pinkie says:

    I get the Disillusionment quite well.. though I mostly get it in reverse.
    If everyone super duper likes a show and I just like it fine I tend to get treated like trash.
    Do you dare say the colour scheme of Attack on Titan is boring to you?! ‘Pinkie you are trash for saying something like that, you can only either fully love or hate a show, there is no in between’ . I feel so much pressure to like what others do to make them happy and not harm them that I can’t enjoy good shows. If I love something people hate I just secretly watch it.

    I still don’t really watch seasonal because I am a bit of an odd duck when it comes to my active anime time or my watch list. Anime talk I find very compartive.. mostly when watching on season.. “This show is so much like that show”.. that moment reminds me about this scene in Hijō Ni Randamuna Animeshirīzu.. and meanwhile I am thinning my skull by all the head scratching.

    I am stronger in analogies, motivations and character mindsets and such. These are more discussed post runtime anyway. Watching together with online friends is tricky due to timezones. Most my friends in that perspective live far away. My local anime friends have very different tastes in anime as I do.. like very different.

    I’d love the idea of a twitch stream just airing anime and people interacting with each other though.. capped to a room of like 50 people or so..like a tv channel that constantly airs anime which you could watch together that would sound lovely. As far as following seasonals go though.. that is stiill a no to me. To much flame wars on twitter from either love or hate camp.. I just want to enjoy and in whatever moderation I would.. and I feel that is hardly possible within groups nowadays.

    • Irina says:

      I only get mildly annoyed at everybody loving a show when I’m forced to watch it (like for a collab or something) and I’m not enjoying it. I think it happened once. But I do have the “classic” bias. Like when everyone and their mother tells me i HAVE to watch a series because it’s amazing, a masterpiece, A Classic! The if like the first episode isn’t the most amazing show I’ve ever seen on every level, I immediately get disappointed and start disliking it just to be a contrarian. Man I am immature….

      • Pinkie says:

        To be fair the shows that I mostly disliked because they got so hyped fall a bit in that classic train

        Code Geass, Attack on Titan, Death Note and Overlord are all anime I kinda had difficulty to get trough because each time I would talk about it I had to break a wall of enthousiasmn and if I said.. It’s a great show but I kinda dont like this element.. they almost boo me out of the room.. so maybe I am a contrarian without me even knowing :O

        Though I guess donning my house in Plushies, Pink, playing pokémon and watching Sentai shows never really made me feel mature anyway xD

  10. I watch simulcasts. But depending on which anime I’m watching, it usually differs. I’m updated with Kaguya-sama with season 2 but not watching it as it airs on the day itself. The discussion there is another story all together. Everytime a new episode airs I try my best to scroll away due to the amount of memes per episode it gets. If I do try to reach out to someone who want to discuss it’ll be all for nothing since they’ll discuss the same things over and over. And it’s very hard to be up-to-date these days.

    Low-key wondering if you could make a reverse of the topic but with lesser popular anime as it airs. Like different genres and demographics. The anime you mentioned is from one singular demographic, shounen. Weirdly though, Dr. Stone didn’t get the same popularity. Not that many people tend to discuss the lesser known ones every season unlike what you said.

    • Irina says:

      The post is really only about popular anime as in my experience watching a lot of unpopular anime every season, the only difference between simulcast and after it airs is really only the rate at which you take it in.
      I already wrote a post about binging vs weekly watching and I fell it would be largely the same thing. I might not have enough experience with the subject. I have found very little discussion on stuff like Woodpecker which is on Crunchyroll so very accessible compared to a lot of other shows. Maybe if I frequented more niche anime social media I would have more insight. Maybe a blogger who knows more about that stuff could do a post…cough… cough

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