Like solo leveling but anime-watching… Is that joke already way too old to make? I think it might be. There’s a charm in being outdated though, isn’t there???
Do you watch anime by yourself or with others?
Some of you may know that I tend to watch anime for myself. This is partly for basic practical reasons. I tend to work out (a lot) while watching anime and that isn’t very conducive to a joint watch. I also watch anime whenever I can steal some time like in the morning before work or between evening chores. Once again these are times when it’s less practical to invite someone over, although that’s less of an issue for those that happen to live with their partners.
I always assumed that barring those rather superficial and odd considerations, I would probably have more fun watching anime with friends. You know, we could share our thoughts and make fun of awkward moments. All the good stuff. I like watching other TV shows and movies with people, the same should 100% apply to anime. I have said it many times, anime is just a medium after all. It’s audio/visual storytelling like any other audio/visual medium.
Well, lately I’ve had the chance to put that theory to the test just a little bit. I have been watching a lot more anime with friends. Some of them are hopeless anime fans just like me, others slightly newer to the art, but generally speaking, all great people who have similar tastes to mine. And my takeaways have been somewhat surprising!
I’m not sure I like watching anime with other people around…
I don’t hate it or anything. But there are definitely things I prefer on my own and I wasn’t expecting that.
For one, I have and still to a certain point do, watch A LOT of anime. When I snicker halfway through an episode and comment that it’s a reference to an older show, not everyone is going to get it. If I’m by myself, no problem, I get to enjoy the inside joke and later on maybe I’ll write about it on my blog and the 3 people who know what I’m referring to can comment if they want. If I’m with other people though, my choices are, to make the comment and cross my fingers that this is the 1 in 20 chance that everyone knows what I’m talking about. Make the comment then have to pause the episode and explain what I’m talking about which will lose all the effect due to having to explain it and screw up the pacing of our watch. Or I can just not make the comment and be slightly disappointed that I don’t get to share that with my friends even though we’re watching the same thing in the same room…
Do you guys know what I mean? It’s not enough that we have the same general tastes, without the same general frame of reference, we aren’t going to understand each others’ impressions and comments. And then half the fun of watching as a group is nullified.
There’s also something a little more undefinable that makes group watches a bit more challenging. For one, what if only some of you like the show? It’s kind of a bummer to stop watching a show you like because the others are bored to death on the other hand, it can be extremely tedious to sit through an anime that isn’t working for you because your watchmates need to see just one more episode!
It doesn’t sound like a big deal. In fact, it isn’t a big deal. But it can screw up your pacing a bit and shape your takeaway. Did you really like that show so much if everyone else is telling you it’s boring?
Side story, I was talking with a friend the other day who was telling me how she dodged a bullet by not going out with some guy years ago. Apparently, he made her watch Death Note! She hated it so much. It was a scarring event for both of them!
I have heard more than once people say they wrote off the entire medium of anime because they had to sit through a show they absolutely hated. I have a slight phobia of ever being the person that inflicts that on someone else. So, watching with others means that I will immediately give up a show not everyone is enjoying and watch it later on my own. That also means that I end up with huge lists of shows to watch on my own and after a while, it just ends up that all shows are in the watch on my own category.
I will say however that watching a bad anime is exponentially better with others. There’s something magical about making fun of a dumb show with a group of friends. I love it but unfortunately, I pretty much never get to do it. Maybe once a year if I’m lucky. It takes a special type of person to be able to sit through and even in a way enjoy bad shows. When you see that movies like The Room have a cult following, you tend to think that most people have some innate appreciation for the less-than-mediocre but no. In my experience, we are a rare breed.
On top of that, you have to find the special snowflakes that fit snuggly in the center of the Venn diagram of appreciating bad shows, liking anime, and being able to joke around off the cuff. I know about 1 person that fits the bill. And he’s pretty busy as you can imagine. Obviously, everyone is going to want a piece of that guy, right!?!
And so, even the specific joy of watching bad anime with friends is something that is largely out of reach for me.
So at the end of the day, I have come to realize that I am just the type of person who enjoys solo watching. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I love talking about names with people after I have seen them but the watching experience itself is something I like to enjoy on a personal basis. Am I the only one?
21 thoughts on “Solo Watching”
I’m pretty sure you and I could sit and watch Natsume from start to finish together and have an awesome time. The first few times I watched anime at all it was with some friends who wanted to introduce me to it. At the time, my joy was not as high as theirs and so I was left sort of wondering if I had missed something. Actually, I kind of had. But it was a pretty decent introduction, and I was interested enough to later pursue it…alone. I watch a little anime with hubby, when I hit on a show I think he will enjoy and then sometimes I do run into that situation where I “get” something, laugh, and then have to pause and explain it to him – but it doesn’t seem to be a big problem for us. The bigger problem is finding an anime he actually likes enough to watch. But the ones he likes, he likes ALOT so there’s that. And like so many, I think I’m a bit isolated from other anime fans. I run onto someone now and then, but rarely someone I’d invite back to my house or sometimes someone I can’t invite back (one of my hubby’s nurses was into anime but she was at work and too busy to chat much, and they are not allowed to have outside of the clinic friendships with patients because that opens them to charges of favoritism). Plus, mostly, I’m pretty introverted and perfer life alone or with hubby so yeah, a watch party might be fun once in a great while if I could organize – or be invited – to one, but … You know, I think I’d want it to just be like an anime movie, once and done, rather than trying to find a series everyone would like.
For the most part, I watch anime alone because I don’t have any friends living close by who are into anime. If they do happen to be visiting my town though, we do watch together, and back home in New Zealand when I was still at university, I had a couple of close friends who I’d get together with about once a week for a viewing party. I think both have their charms, but for purely practical purposes, I suppose watching anime by myself is the better option for me.
Before the dawn of the internet where I live, we usually watch anime in groups in front of the TV. But as technology had improved and internet now mainstream and with most people that I know grew up already and had their own families, I pretty much watch anime alone.
I watch anime on my own largely because: 1) I don’t know anyone else in RL who isn’t just as “into” anime as I am, but who also “gets” anime in the same way – and for whom anime is as important – as myself; and 2) because there is something about anime that is, for me, a deeply immersive experience that doesn’t tolerate the interruptive presence of others. I’m the same way with documentaries. I guess that’s just a long-winded way of saying I’m a selfish viewer. Maybe it might be different in the case of a group who’ve already watched an anime series or feature, and who gather to re-watch and discuss; in that sense, the interruptions and talking over the show would make a certain amount of sense. But I suspect that, even then, I probably would have trouble with it…
I figure it’s ok with a bad anime…
I prefer watching anime alone because I know people don’t have the same tastes as me. Also, solo-watching helps me focus a lot instead of being distracted by people’s comments or other distractions in my line of sight.
I don’t think it’s weird to like doing things for yourself. In fact, I think solo activities should be the norm.
I usually prefer watching anime alone, but I have a few friends that I will watch shows with on Discord or something like that. My issue is that I have ADHD and if I watch a show with a friend, we usually just end up talking over the show and I miss a lot of things. I have a hard time paying attention to TV in general, because it’s so passive and I tend to get over- or under-stimulated easily from it. So usually if I watch an anime with someone else, it’s a show I’ve already seen, or else it’s something like a slice of life anime where I wouldn’t feel lost if I missed a line of dialogue here and there.
I talk over showsa lot too. I don’t think I have ADHD but it just seems like the natural thing to do
Majority of the time I am watching on my own and I would consider myself a solo watcher also 😄. I hate having to wait for people to catch up to a show I’m one of those rare breeds lol
Oh yeah, it’s a pain when you’re watching a long series and you have to wait to get everyone together for the next episode!
Yeah me too. I watch anime mainly on my own, just because it’s easier to contemplate upon that way and I don’t have to deal with spoilers or dissonance when with a group.
Yes, convenience is an important factor. For me, engagement is another — whether I am engaged, and in what way.
The more indifferent I am about a show, the more I prefer to watch it with friends. If they enjoy it, maybe I can glean something new about the show, or about them. If they don’t, we can amuse ourselves by taking the piss together.
The more 𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘭𝘺 engaged I am by a show, the higher the likelihood I’ll watch it alone. In such cases, I just prefer to be totally immersed in this personal experience. I don’t mind sharing that experience with friends. But, only after the fact.
However… The more that engagement leaves the realm of the earnest, to reach the land of the 𝘧𝘭𝘪𝘱𝘱𝘢𝘯𝘵… Then I have no preference at all. I’m okay with laughing alone, or with friends — so long as they feel similarly about the show. This season, I think 𝘔𝘺 𝘏𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘏𝘦𝘳𝘰 could fit the bill.
On another note, I’m curious about what kind of work-outs you do while watching anime, and how it affects your viewing experience. 😄
I’ve been doing the workout/anime thing since before I started the blog so by now it’s second nature. I can’t really watch anime without moving around anymore. I just sortof bounce up and down on the couch…
The very few times I watched anime with others, I could tell they were being polite rather than enjoying the film (pretty much always cinema outings). It doesn’t help that I tend to like unpopular stuff a lot of the time.
Reading too much online about popular shows tends to hurt my enjoyment: If the general consensus is that a show’s great, and I don’t think it’s bad but also not that special, the constant praise tends to get on my nerves, and it impacts my enjoyment of show negatively for the association. The main offender I can think of is probably Death Parade. I sort of, kind of liked the show, though not fully, and not really, and not mostly, but definitely sometimes. But due to the constant praises I kept looking for a value I just couldn’t find, which leads to a string of minor disappointments with a not-so-minor cumulative effect. I can usually ignore such things and watch a show for what it is, but it’s harder when all the voices suggest I’m watching something special…
I usually only watch anime solo. Once my son became a teenager there was no longer anyone interested in watching it with me.
Once in a great while I can find something my wife will tolerate. So far Ghibli, Shinkai, Castlevania, and Violet Evergarden are the only stuff I’ve gotten her interested in.
That’s still a pretty good list
I like consuming most media on my own. Then again, I like being alone most of the time. The only time I would actively choose to watch something with other people is if I’ve already seen it before. I don’t want my initial viewing to be tainted by a bad group‐watching session.
I just find it annoying when people talk a lot. Or it takes me out when they respond to a scene differently than I do. Like if they laugh at a scene I find serious. Or if I’m getting into it and they comment that they think it’s boring.
If everyone just stayed quiet, I think I could handle watching with other people. Or it would have to be with people I’m extremely close with and with whom I’ve discussed my preferred group-watching etiquette.
We should never watch anime together! I’m the worst to watch stuff with really
You are not alone. With solo watching, I can go at my own pace, enjoy what I enjoy, and just generally relax. In groups, I lose all of that.
I know exactly what you mean