I think I’ve written at least half a dozen variations on why I started to blog about anime but I’ve never really tackled the question of why I watch anime in the first place. Not really. I’ve spoken about certain elements I like about the medium but never in great detail. There’s a reason for that. I don’t actually know…
One of the most common questions I get from people who find out I watch this much anime and who don’t share my hobby is “why”. Not in the condescending why would you ever waste time on something like that… I mean I do get that from time to tie but it’s very rare and usually from more…let’s say, mature folks. No the very nice people I talk to are asking an earnest question because they are in fact interested in the answer. Why would I watch anime instead of doing something else as a hobby? And I don’t have an answer.
I say stuff like I like colours (I do) and I enjoy animation in general and find it more interesting to look at than live performances (I also do) but well, that’s about it and it’s not a very satisfying answer. Most visual mediums include colours. Heck, I could paint. I like painting… But I don’t. I was looking for an image and fell on this youtube clip instead and I just really liked it. It’s just fun to watch.
I know what some of you are going to say, I’m comparing an active hobby, one that takes time, effort, mental, physical and usually monetary investment with a passive hobby, one that can be done while doing something else and really only demands a bit of time. You can fail at an active hobby, not produce the results you were hoping to. It’s sort of difficult to fail at a passive hobby. You didn’t hear the song properly? You watched right?
Ok, fine but my active hobbies are, well video games like everyone else, music (I know!), cooking (I think I’m great at it till I compare with my friends and realize I am not, but I still enjoy it) and I feel like I’m forgetting something. Oh yeah… generating an unreasonable amount of words about the anime I watch. I looked it up and so far roughly 1,750,000 words… No one wants me to write about anime this much.
Point is that for me, I enjoy anime to the point that I have turned it into an active hobby. I can fail at watching anime. Finishing a show without taking the proper notes, missing important themes or not having established any sort of thesis on it, is for me (and only me) not watching it right. Also, my drinking games don’t always turn out great. I feel like I cop out on prompts once in a while. What can I say, I got my priorities straight.
So we come around full circle. Why anime? Why not cinema or contemporary television, or even YouTube channels if I want to stick to audiovisual. I would certainly get a bigger audience by focusing my blog on that. Heck if I did YouTube videos instead that would probably double my reach.
Why not watch western cartoons. There are more and more well written, complex and mature offerings in a variety of genres to pick from and they finally decided to take voice acting seriously. And once again the answer is, I don’t know.
I like anime. A very long time ago I blindly decided I would like anime based on nothing at all. I’m not kidding. As an actual kid, when I first became aware of the concept of anime, I thought to myself “that’s so cool, I wish I knew about anime” and I sort of never looked back. But at the time, I hadn’t really watched any anime, at least not knowing what they were. I watched Rose of Versailles as a really young kid and 90% of it went right over my head, and I may have caught a few episodes of classic shows here and there but I didn’t really follow any series and I couldn’t have even named one.
To be honest I was pretty shocked when a few years after that I realized Rose of Versaille was not a French cartoon. I watched it in France and it took place in France, and for me, it was in French… I’m still not entirely sure it’s not a French cartoon. The French do some pretty interesting things with animation…
Sorry I wandered away for a second there. Conspiracy theory! Like I was saying, I had no reason to want to watch anime, I didn’t know anyone else who watched it and if there was some type of anime fandom at large I certainly wasn’t aware of it. I decided it was cool entirely based on a few weird titles and maybe a screencap or two and that was it. An entire medium summed up by a completely inconsequential bit of it.
Somehow it stuck. And I’ve watched other stuff and had other hobbies. It’s not like I live in a bubble…yet… But I always go back to and really focus on anime. Yet to this day, I can’t answer the question of why I like anime. I’m sure there’s a reason. Something about the tropes. The power dynamics. The way characters are depicted or women are presented. The fetishism and innocence of it. Somewhere in all the things that anime is, there is something that speaks to me quite strongly but despite years of watching, analyzing and writing about it, I don’t know what that thing is.
So today I want you to tell me why you watch anime so I can steal your answer and stop feeling like a dumb dumb when people ask!