When starting a new anime (or any story really) there are certain things that draw particular viewers and certain elements that will push some viewers away. However, I think a lot of how I feel about an anime has to do with my attitude when I sit down to watch it.
Generally I approach a new anime (or a new book or film or game) with a genuine curiosity and an optimistic outlook. This could be really good. It might do something different. Maybe I’ll really like these characters. By approaching it this way I generally find that if there is anything in a story that I can possibly like I will latch onto it and generally speaking I enjoy stories far more because of it. Even if it isn’t the most amazing thing ever (or even just ordinarily good) I can still find something to enjoy.
However, there are some days and some ideas that push me out of this frame of mind. When that happens my mind is being incredibly pessimistic about what I’m going to watch. Wow, this is going to suck. Could that character be any more of a cliché? How is that an idea for a story? And generally speaking when I approach an anime in that frame of mind I amazingly usually find a reason to drop it.
But is that really any fair judge of the shows I am watching? There have been plenty of anime that I’ve started when I haven’t been in a receptive frame of mind that I’ve either dropped or put to the side. Regardless, I usually give them a second chance somewhere down the line and the number of times I’ve ended up really enjoying a show that I initially dropped has convinced me that it is how I approach a lot of things that makes the difference, but not always. Sometimes I go in expecting to like or dislike something and find that the show manages to overturn those expectations.
Some examples from my viewing experiences from 2016.
First Love Monster – Trust Your Instincts
Right from reading the synopsis of this show I was pretty convinced that this was going to be absolute rubbish. High school girl falls in love with a boy in primary school? What could be wrong about that? So I watched an episode and as expected was less than thrilled by it (okay, I kind of hated it). But, I later wondered if maybe I was just being overly critical or harsh so I actually went and watched it a second time (sometimes I really wonder why I do these things to myself). The second viewing of the first episode convinced me that it wouldn’t matter what mindset I approached this anime with, it wasn’t going to work for me. The subject matter and the ‘humour’ just ground against me and there was no way I was going to enjoy it.
Sakamoto Desu Ga – Don’t Judge The Book By Its Cover
This one I was interested in from the synopsis and then the fact that it wasn’t released on Crunchyroll in Australia made me curious because of course as soon as you restrict access to something people want to watch it. Then I got to read lots of really positive write ups about this show. That said, I was on the fence because it was essentially a one note comedy focussed anime which most definitely doesn’t fit into my usual kind of thing.
When I finally found access to this (through Hanabee) I was still kind of torn between curiosity and the overwhelming feeling that I wasn’t going to be overly impressed with the show. Anyway, Sakamoto was one of those pleasantly surprising shows. It wasn’t my thing and it wasn’t brilliant but it was bright and kind of funny and engaging. Plus they managed to push different scenarios to a point where even the most mundane set-up was kind of interesting. I ended up watching 8 episodes of the show and then I didn’t actually drop it, I just got busy with other things and while I’d enjoyed it enough I had no compelling reason to go back.
Seisen Cerberus – Betrayed By Own Expectations
It’s a fantasy with swords, magic, dragons, an orphaned protagonist and everything else you could need to make something fairly generic but half-decent. With just a little effort you could even be good. This was an anime that the synopsis had sold me on this show. I’d have watched it even if it barely scraped mediocre. But, I won’t watch something that fails to make even that benchmark and after a couple of episodes of hating every character and the delivery of the fairly bland story I walked away.
My Hero Academia – Overturning Expectations
I actually didn’t start watching My Hero Academia until many weeks into its airing season because I did not want to watch another generic show about high school students with super powers (Quirks sorry, better nail that terminology because what else will distinguish these things). How wrong I was. Okay, it is a show about high school students with super powers and I’d be lying if I said the story did anything overly original so that part of my initial impression was kind of right. What my initial thoughts overlooked was just how much heart the show managed to inject into the story and the characters. I’ve said before that almost any story can be good or bad depending on delivery and while My Hero Academia isn’t exactly going to go up on my all time favourite list of anime it was a thoroughly enjoyable watch. Probably more so because I went in expecting to be underwhelmed and it managed to get me on board anyway.
Big Order – Bait and Switch
Right from episode one this show had its issues but it had some great energy and there were enough interesting things happening to convince me that this was going to be worth watching. The synopsis had intrigued me, the characters in the first episode were intriguing enough even if those final scenes of episode 1 did throw up some warning flags for how this show was going to treat the female cast members, and it was fun to look at. It was my favourite first episode of its season.
So I entered this anime looking for the good and found plenty of things to enjoy and then it showed us episode 2. Okay, I’m concerned but still optimistic. Episode 3… We can still save this. Episode 4… Nope. I actually continued through to the end but this was a case where even looking for the positive wasn’t enough to save the show from its own short comings.
Well that’s my ramble done for the week but I’m interested in knowing how you approach most anime and whether you’ve ever had to take another look at something and whether you’ve changed your mind about an anime.