If you’ve been reading my blog you probably already know that I watch a lot of anime. Watching anime and reading novels are my two main forms of entertainment when I’m not working and I consume a lot of stories. I previously did a top 5 list on reasons why I drop a series that I’ve started watching but in today’s feature I want to look at why I continue watching some anime even after it is quite clear they are going to be complete and utter garbage.
Just warning you that this one is definitely more of a ramble than a focussed post.
Storytelling isn’t a science. Two stories with a nearly identical plot structure and character archetypes can be told in two entirely different ways and feel completely different. One might be amazing whereas the other might be ordinary or dreadful. Good storytelling involves the careful manipulation of a range of elements in order to convey a decent story. Even then, just because overall a story isn’t well handled doesn’t mean that everything in it is bad. There could be one idea, one character, one scenario that just nail whatever impact the author was hoping for.
Because of this, while I might drop an anime in the initial few episodes if it fails to grab my interest, once I’ve decided I’m interested in something (whether it be the premise, a character, a setting or whatever else it might be) I rarely let something go. The result is watching and reading a lot of things that I probably should have let drop.
Here’s the thing though, if you don’t finish it, you’ll never know. You’ll never know if they somehow brought those elements together. You’ll never know where those characters ended up. You’ll never know if you missed that one moment with a character that could have changed your entire outlook on them. And maybe you’re fine with not knowing. If something is bad enough you may be perfectly happy to cut ties and to never speak of it again. But… that nagging voice always gets to me.
When episode 10 of Taboo Tattoo came out I actually didn’t watch it on my usual day. I found other things to do. It wasn’t a conscious decision but I just wasn’t in the mood. The show was dreadful. I hated most of the characters. The action had never looked as interesting as the first episode and the plot had seriously thrown itself off a bridge more than once. The next day I saw it still sitting there in my Crunchyroll queue and I sighed. I wanted to drop the show.
So, I continued. Did it get better? Nope. Was it still pretty much trash? Yep. Do I regret that I didn’t just let it go at episode 10? Surprisingly, no (although while I don’t regret dropping it I do wonder if maybe another show could have entertained me more for the season). At least now I know that the show didn’t ever rise above it’s first episode (which was completely generic but watchable with a half-interesting set-up). Every episode after seemed to find a way to cripple the plot or the characters and visually it deteriorated as well. I’m not having to rely on others telling me it wasn’t good. I know it wasn’t and I judged that for myself.
More importantly, if it had become a hidden gem, I’d have had the chance to see it.
And even when something is bad it provides opportunities. You can think about why it isn’t working and compare it to other stories and why they are better. You can discuss it with others and either share a dislike for something or have a fun back and forth about the redeeming qualities or lack thereof. You can imagine ways it could have been better and share your views with others.
The other reason I feel watching shows that just aren’t good can be helpful is because it definitely puts things in perspective. I remember after the summer season ended reading the views of the reviewers on Anime News Network as they selected the best and worst shows of the season. While they are entitled to their opinion, the number of them that selected Cheer Boys as the worse show kind of stunned me. Sure, Cheer Boys has a lot of issues, but it is hardly a walking disaster of a show. Which made me wonder how many of them had waded through some of the truly worst shows of the season? I also wonder this when someone spends a long amount of time trying to convince me that SAO is garbage. Is SAO perfect? No. Is it garbage? Not even close.
All and all, sometimes it’s watching the not so great anime that make the great anime shine.