For those of you who don’t read my blog regularly, you might not know that I have a loose schedule I follow. That includes episode reviews on the weekends. I’m not sure why, I just fell into that rhythm.
Personally, I just don’t have the discipline and flexibility to do that many seasonal episode reviews simultaneously. I like to have a bit of leeway if I decided I want to go to dinner one night for instance. But I do enjoy reviewing a few shows episodically as it’s a chance to experiment with different post structures and view anime differently.
For that reason, I try to pick at least a couple of anime each season that I will review each week. I has not always been a good idea (Platnum End Link). The last anime season of 2022 was amazing in my opinion. And I barely managed to keep my episode reviews to only 4 shows and there were so many wanted to watch almost right away. In the end, I decided to go for part 2 of Spy x Family since I had reviewed par 1 episodically and I am a big fan of the manga, season 2 of To Your Eternity, also because I had reviewed season 1 episodically and I wanted to keep the flow going, Chainsaw Man as once again I had read the manga and wanted to watch it as it aired anyways and Play it Cool, Guys partly because I liked the manga but mostly because I figured no one else was going to pay attention to this little show and I wanted to boost its visibility.
You may have noticed something. These shows are really different. Spy x Family is ultimately a stylish slice-of-life anime with a spy veneer and generally more of a comedy than anything else. To Your Eternity is clearly an emotional drama and an epic adventure, Chainsaw Man is a tense action/fighting anime with tons of blood and deceptive depth while Play it Cool Guys is a short program about a bunch of dorks. The experience of watching each of these anime is likely to elicit very different feelings in a person and give you visual whiplash as each studio has created distinctive looks for their titles.
It’s one thing to watch a whole bunch of different anime in a season. It’s a very different thing to review them as you go. You really have to delve into each.
In the past, I generally did not review quite as many titles and most of the time, they were all action shonen. What can I say, that’s what the people want. That means that for the most part, I tended to review shows that were similar in tone, rhythm, and tropes even if they were very different shows otherwise. I didn’t notice just how much synergy there was between the different shows I was watching.
What I really noticed last season is how the shows I watch and when I watch them build on each other. For instance, because of my posting schedule and the airing schedule, I often ended up watching Chainsaw Man and Play it Cool, Guys together. At times I could be a little weary of watching and episode of Chainsaw Man. Although it was a great show that I really liked it could be a little intense and if I’m tired or worried about what’s to come, I found myself needing to prime myself a bit to watch it. And in those cases, easing myself into it with an episode of the supremely relaxing Play it Cool, Guys was great. Since Play it Cool, Guys is the polar opposite of intense, it got me started on watching anime in the evening (and working out) and kind of erased any stress build-up I might have so I could then go straight into Chainsaw Man with a fresh mind and enjoy it way more.
Inversely, if an episode of Chainsaw Man just ended on a crazy cliffhanger/reveal and I was all worked up, then an episode of Play it Cool, Guys was ideal to just wind myself back down and sort of get grounded again. Like a little anime sorbet between courses.
Although it was a little less direct with Spy x Family and To Your Eternity due to the schedule, the two shows did air on Saturday and Sunday and I did find a few times that Spy x Family’s comedic and lighthearted mood, together with that OP that always puts a smile on my face, was a great way to get me on a bit of a high so that To Your Eternity’s occasional tendency to get maudlin wouldn’t bother me as much.
I’m not sure I’m explaining it well on paper but the different styles and tones of the shows created foils for each other allowing me to appreciate them all more for their individual qualities. I guess it’s a bit like when you put salt in a sweet dessert. The contrast brings out the sweetness more.
I had of course noticed this in the past. I tend to prefer binging shows and I realized that after watching a particularly emotional or intense series, I liked to find something very light and fluffy before going into another more emotionally invested show. However, this is a lot more apparent when you’re watching one episode at a time. And it made a huge difference.
I’m really considering trying to create some type of mood/emotion-based anime watch schedule for myself. Where I chose shows with very different watching experiences and stack them together so they can contrast and build on each other. It might be a bit more effort than I want to put into anime watching mind you, but I know firsthand that for me it makes a huge difference.
Do you know what we need? Instead of all those lists that give us similar amines, you know the type If you liked X then watch Y sort of lists, we need lists of anime that are complementary. If you want to watch X then try watching it with Y… That also sounds like a huge amount of trouble but if I can convince someone else to do it…