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 There’s a charm in being outdated though, isn’t there???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?