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.
20 thoughts on “Friday’s Feature: Your Influence on Your Impression of Anime”
I’m relatively new to WordPress, so I didn’t even think to look up Anime blogs, but here I am XD This is super true, and I’m really excited to read more of your posts (:
Thanks for visiting and your comment. I hope you enjoy my posts.
First time I tried to watch Ga Rei Zero, I dropped it halfway through the first episode. Just so much cliche. About a year later, I decided to give it another go and at least watch the entire first episode.
One of my favorite shows of all time.
So, yeah, expectations, and even the mood you are in when you first watch a show can heavily influence enjoyment.
My thoughts on a show are in constant flux. While cliches do tend to stick out in my head more than I’d like, I find myself giving so many titles the benefit of the doubt–that maybe, if I were to rewatch it down the line, perhaps I’d see it in a different light. That’s what typically happens. I’ll rewatch an episode or two maybe, say, a year after I originally watched it to see if the things around me, such as weather, nature, and season, bring to mind any sort of nostalgic effect.
My first viewing of Wolf Children is what comes to mind. When I first watched it [with my family] I couldn’t help but notice how “anime” it felt (the directing, typical animation cues, etc.). It was good, but not deserving of the praise. A year later, I rewatched it by myself while it was raining out and found myself completely stunned by how gorgeous the film actually was. Maybe that was just me making connections to a stormy day with the clouds parting IRL and the finale of Wolf Children if you’ve ever seen it.
Long story short, while impressions do shape my pre-game thoughts, a second glance back at the content itself can reveal an entirely different show. Not sure if that answers the question, but that’s what I ended up writing. Nice thought-provoking post, Karandi!
Thanks and thanks for your comment.
It is interesting that watching with someone can change your viewing experience. I know that when I watch anime with anyone I end up noticing all the typical anime cliches so much more than if I just watched it by myself which definitely changes my opinion of a show.
I tend to go into anime with a loose expectation of my enjoyment from the synopsis, but I try to be open while actually watching. When I started JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, I initially thought it’d be a cliche adventure anime, but I was (pleasantly) surprised to see it turn into my favorite action comedy historical drama ever. Now it’s a personal favorite. ^_^
I think that a lot of times, our past experiences with anime and other media tend to color how we perceive newer anime and media, so I do wonder if it’s possible to be truly objective. But is that the point? Or is the point to understand our viewpoint of the story, characters, etc, in light of there being other possible meanings?
Just tossing ideas out there. 🙂
True objectivity isn’t really an option but trying to look at a show as it is rather than what you think it might be or as a comparison to another sometimes helps it along. Other times not so much.
My issue has and always will be the type of animation style, in terms of how details the designs are and how much ecchi is applied. If the animation isn’t visually appealing, or seems like some cheap CGI, I am instantly turned off. At the same time, if the anime seems more focused on being pervy and having panty shots, I think to myself I’m better off watching hentai.
With that said, the monogatari series has had so much ecchi but it also has there Quentin Tarintino-esque monologs. Some which just become ramblings but other times seem deep and so quotable. Also the Grisaia series, which was a bait and switch for me, seemed like another harem, he sleeps with one then another, type of show but it became so much more than that. It made me cry at times, made me laugh, and probably became one of my favorite properties.
Have ot agree the your inital impression of the visuals can have a massive impact on your viewing pleasure (or lack of it). Soul Eater was one that I initially disliked because of the character designs but I pushed through and now it is one of my favourite anime.
I tend to find that I usually end up liking the anime I go in expecting to like. Those are relatively rare though I usually pick titles that I think would appeal to my tastes. Not that that’s stopped me from sitting through some horrible stuff.
For instance, Mirai Nikki and Highschool of the Dead are both anime that I thought would be my kinda thing and boy, was I wrong. On the other hand, Brynhildr in the Darkness was one that I liked more than I expected though it’s still not too good a show.
I can’t recall any examples of liking a show I initially disliked. I’ve thought of giving God Eater, which I dropped less than halfway into episode 2, another go but I’m not sure if I’ll get around to it.
God Eater didn’t work for me either. I really expected to like it and gave the first episode 2 goes but still didn’t like it.
i watched akira with no idea what i was getting into and basically got nothing out of it :v
I give every anime four episodes to grab me, and if it hasn’t by then I make the choice to either tough it out or drop it. Sometimes watching the whole thing was worth it, sometimes not but I’ve always gotten something out of the experience I find. All I do to find an anime is read plot synopses, but sometimes reading reviews makes me want to watch a show. Reviews never make me stick with a show if I’m just plain disinterested though.
It’s interesting to me because it’s different to my book reading approach. I’ll finish a book/book series whether it’s good or not if I’ve started it haha.
That’s true. I’ll almost always finish reading a book once I’ve started it. But books I don’t like get read very slowly as I find lots of excuses not to pick them up.
At this point, I’ve kind of trained myself to be insanely objective with every viewing. No matter whether I expect it to be good, bad, or boring, a lot of shows don’t tend to take me by surprise. I try to leave said expectations “at the door,” or for prior to watching said anime, because once I am, I’m in “critic mode.”
I do find this concept fascinating, though, and I often wonder (especially with people I know in real life) whether people who expect to like something end up liking it regardless of a mountain of shortcomings. People go gaga over Marvel movies and other superhero films, but how much of that is genuinely liking the movie and not gorging oneself on the hype of superheroes and their “badassness” in general? I try to avoid that line of thinking at all costs, as I’m not one to remain loyal to someone or something just because I’ve liked their past content.
Really good post this week. And I agree on the part of finding something good or bad depending on one’s mood. I dropped Amagami SS some years ago because I was dissatisfied with its “Dating sim” premise and lack of any cannon storyline. I plan to pick it back up sometime soon because my current mindset finds my past mindset silly.
I agree with your point about Marvel movies and other superhero films. While the occasional one is actually a good movie, most of the others are visual spectacle wrapped around a whole lot of fan nostalgia with a thin hope that no one really questions the paper thin storyline.
That said, I kind of like them for the silly nonesense they are but I wouldn’t argue that they are brilliant.
I tend to go into most shows ignoring everything I’ve heard and seen about it and just dive in and see for myself what it’s all about.
I do my best to approach everything as neutral as possible, but of course my previous experience with the medium will at times cloud my judgement, especially if it’s something that seems familiar or something I’ve already read the Manga for.
But I usually try to go into everything with no expectations at all, and as a result, I find myself becoming less frustrated if a show turns out to be mediocre and still end up amazed if it turns out to be something incredible.
But then again I’m a very tolerable watcher, since I’ve barely dropped anything and even when I do, I never consider it “dropped forever”.
Anyhow, this was a great post that did a fantastic job at breaking down the various approaches to the medium and the outcomes that come of it. Really enjoyed this one.
If we went back ten years I almost never dropped something once I started it because just accessing anime was quite difficult. Now, there’s so much available I just don’t have the patience to sit through something that is truly dreadful (tolerable terrible works sometimes just so I have something to complain about).
Watching as much as you do, who could blame you for making a quick decision on a series? I had a very similar experience with Moribito. I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to enjoy that show when I originally started it and the first episode didn’t really grab me. Only when I came back to it much later did I realize I made a mistake.
I think this is where the three episode test comes in handy. It’s time consuming, but I feel better about not finishing a show if I can say I gave it an honest effort.
Three episodes helps but sometimes I just can’t sit through three episodes (if I’m marathoning a series) when I’m not feeling it so sometimes it works better to put on the list of anime to come back to at another time. Sometimes the anime just sucks.
I still haven’t watched Moribito. I really should add that to my watch list.