Most anime watchers have a vague notion of something they consider their anime comfort zone. Genres and studios they are more familiar with or tend to enjoy more consistently, maybe tropes and character archetypes they tend to gravitate towards more than others. It’s not anything steadfast. I don’t think any of us would categorically refuse to watch an anime in a certain genre (well maybe Yaoi, that one tends to get divisive), but we do often see new titles roll out and find ourselves more drawn by some over others.
Not everyone though. Some of us (myself included) tend to treat animes like buffets and like to sample a bit of everything, which in a way means we’re always but of our comfort zones. But speaking for myself, I do have some soft spots. I seem to be one of the very few to regularly watch boy idol anime for instance. And although, I don’t watch them frequently at all in the grand scheme, the fact that I don’t know anyone else who does makes me feel like they’re sort of my thing…
In general, I enjoy action comedies with a criminal element and an ensemble cast. There aren’t many of those but whenever one comes up I watch it and love it. I have absorbed ridiculous quantities of Sports! anime to the point where narrative beats are almost second nature to me and most of my favourite anime will be either deeply symbolic or allegorical series with emphasis on familial bonds and friendships rather than romantic attachments. So these could be what I consider my anime comfort zones.
I have not exactly been strictly sticking to my favourites but I have had periods where I was more picky and deliberate with my anime watching and this is what I have found.
I’m lucky in that enjoy genres that are diverse enough to offer up a variety of shows and I could stick to those happily without having to see the same thing over and over again. However, I imagine that anime can get terribly repetitive if you limit yourself to certain shows. The past few seasons have been fairly shonen heavy for me, and I’m starting to get a bit tired of the same archetypes and plot points coming up regularly.
One downside more specific to me is that the genres I enjoy are rather niche, well except for Sports which is fairly popular… Still even accounting for a wide interpretation of the Sports genre, it happens often enough that a season will not have a single series matching any of these types. I’m more than happy to watch older shows but that’s not everyone’s case. If someone only likes historical dramas for instance, they might actually run out of anime… I can’t even image that!
And I haven’t even mentioned the most obvious downside to sticking to one thing, a lot of my favourite anime don’t actually fall into any of the above categories. I say many but mainly it’s Psycho Pass and Steins;Gate that I can’t fit in there nicely so maybe I just need to add science fiction to the bunch. No wait, KonoSuba and Given don’t apply either. And even if it’s anime I forgot to add to my favourites list, there are tons of titles I can think of, that I really enjoyed, and I wouldn’t be able to fit in there. Arguably Natsume is only allegorical to me….
I started out with the easy stuff. I’m a person who enjoys variety so finding cos to sticking to your comfort zone wasn’t much of a challenge. But what about the pros…
There’s something deeply comforting about enjoying a piece of media you are thoroughly familiar with. I guess that’s why they call it comfort zone…duh… But you know what I mean. Anime is first a form of entertainment and for many of us, it’s something we seek out when we need a diversion or just to relax a bit at the end of a long day. So that familiarity is a part of the experience that we are explicitly banking on. Having an intellectual and emotional shorthand already built in form having watching similar shows in the past. allows us to engage more quickly and easily with the material. Heck, it may even allow some to enjoy series on a “deeper” level since they have the superficial stuff already all figured out!
I’m surprised I could even find one pro but two! Well I need to go back to my favourites for that. And the fact is, I would never have watched or even found a lot of these series if it wasn’t for the fact that I enjoy some fairly niche genres. When I start to get an itch for something like Kyousougiga or Paranoia agent, I usually have to scour the internet a bit. When someone mentions a series fill of deep themes expressed in wacky ways, I immediately write it down and seek it out. It’s the only reason I even watched Humanity has declined, or To be a Heroine or even Kyousougiga for that matter of fact. Since I generally just throw shows onto my watch list in a disorganized hodge podge of whatever key visuals struck me most, I probably wouldn’t have found any of these series if I didn’t seek out my comfort zone anime and that would have been very sad. Cause I really like all of these shows.
Do you have a comfort zone when it comes to anime? What is it? Do you venture out often?