I’m no stranger to rewatching shows. Even when I was a little kid, I would play VHS’s literally to death. I’d watch my favourite shows and movies time after time, getting to the end of the video and instantly hitting rewind and beginning all over again. Once DVD’s became a thing there were many titles banned from being played in the house usually when I could identify the film from the five seconds of sound. I will admit I’ve watched some films to death to the point where even I won’t watch them anymore and I’ve done the same with more than a handful of books where I start reading them and realise I can literally recall the entire story in vivid detail to the point where I’m not even paying attention to the words anymore.
This is in stark contrast to some other people I know. A certain relative of mine used to be a great source of novels, mostly because he would read science fiction but he only ever read a book once. Then he would give the book away and knowing I loved to read I received quite a number of these books to add to my own collection. When I asked him if he would want the book back he asked me, “Whatever for?” He genuinely could not understand the point of reading something a second time, let alone a third, tenth or fiftieth time. Whereas for me, the point of trying something new is to see whether it belongs in the permanent collection or not and my greatest lament is that I don’t have enough time to bask in the books, movies and anime that comprise my ongoing collection and explore new media, and actually live a life that involves real human interactions and work.
That said, if you were to ask me what I get from a rewatch or reread my answer would vary depending on what I had recently returned to. It seems to come down to a few basic things.
01. The Rewatch To Understand
In the case of something like the original Steins;Gate, Darker than Black, or Evangelion, the rewatch is usually needed to try to get the plot clear in my mind. While I didn’t not get it the first time (way too many negatives there), it is more that a lot of the enjoyment isn’t there the first time because you are spending so much time reasoning and puzzling rather than actually absorbing. It also means you miss substantial amounts of character work, visuals, music, etc because the plot is all encompassing. Repeated rewatches, taking a break and coming back to it, watching in chunks or binge watching, all bring something new out of the experience. Even after the plot is clear, there’s so many other questions and aspects that you can turn your attention to that it never feels like the anime has gotten old.
02. The Rewatch To Relax
There’s a great feeling that comes from crashing into the couch cushions and hitting play on a DVD that I’ve seen a thousand times before. One that I know won’t tax my brain, isn’t going to ask more of me than I can give, and at the time has the exact tone I am looking for. You can’t get this from a series you’ve never seen as you never know what to fully expect and part of your brain stays on alert. Whereas, I know exactly what I’m in for when I press play on Snow White with the Red Hair, Ouran High School Host Club, or even Inu x Boku SS which are all some of my favourite binge and sleep anime that I put on when I just want to crash out.
03. The Rewatch To Share
Of course when you come across a great title you want to share. you want someone else to watch it with and to laugh and cry and discuss each moment with it. One of the best things that happened the first time I watched Yuri on Ice was that just after it finished airing I visited a friend and told her she needed to see it. Two days later we’d finished a binge watch of the series and the two of us were happily humming History Maker in her kitchen together. There’s something about watching a show with someone else that really elevates the enjoyment of it, plus you have someone to talk about it with once it is done so this is perhaps the most satisfying of all rewatches.
And then we have the new one.
04. The Rewatch to Analyse
I’ve never really done this before, but recently I started yet another Yuri on Ice rewatch with the express purpose of reviewing each episode in far more detail than I had before. It’s a new style of watching I’ve never tried and I’m loving it. Admittedly, a lot of the enjoyment is coming from the subject matter, but it is making me want to give other much loved shows a similar treatment. What I have noticed is that it is taking a very long time to get through a single episode and it isn’t a single watch of the episode I am doing. The other thing that makes this different from any other rewatch is I am only watching a single episode at a time. This viewing is not being binged. I’ll get back to my Yuri On Ice rewatch later this year once things settle a bit for me.
While I do get that some people are happy enough to watch something once and move on, I am as well for shows that are enjoyable enough but don’t grab me. However, the whole point for me is finding those shows and stories that I will never get tired of and want to watch and read again and again.
What is your stance on rewatching anime?
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43 thoughts on “Friday’s Feature: The Value Of Rewatches”
Everything about this post is relatable. I love rewatching every series, even the ones I found merely ok. Not only does it help to justify a reason to add the Blu-ray to my collection, heh heh, but rewatching also allows me to reopen a part of my past and reconnect with the me of a different time. Rewatching fun titles like Ranma 1/2, Negima!?, and Sailor Moon remind me of how far I’ve come as a viewer and a fan, and smart titles like Eden of the East and the aforementioned Steins;Gate and Eva (I’ve seen this one way too many times for my own good) help to resolidify my thoughts on how truly genius the medium can be.
Despite new adaptarions being churned out daily and classics in my must-watch list collecting dust, there’s something unmistakablely healing about a rewatch—and nothing wrong with one, either! Love it Karandi!
Glad you enjoyed the post and that you enjoy a good rewatch. Though I still think my favourite kind of rewatch is when you and a friend sit down to watch a show you both love together again, just for the love of it. That makes for a perfect afternoon.
I tend to rewatch films a lot more than TV shows in general (mainly because of the time investment) but I still kind of have this set list of the only things I will rewatch (it does grow, but a couple staples have been Howl’s Moving Castle and Ouran High School Host Club).
Sometimes, I venture out and rewatch other things but they tend to be shows I watched a while ago and/or was too young to understand at the time. An example of this was Paradise Kiss; a great story but not the easiest for a 12 year-old to understand.
Rewatching something after a long break is always a bit hit and miss because if you watched it when you were young, the experience is very different when you watch it again. Sometimes that is a positive thing but other times less so.
Great post, Karandi… Let me see… I do rewatch Animes from time to time, but it’s something that is very occasionally and not a rule at all. Normally I rewatch Anime because I love them so much, like Nana. But, normally I try to go and watch other shows that I never watched that are similar to the ones I’m in the mood to watch.
Nevertheless, when I was a kid I would also rewatch my VHS over and over. I loved Harry Potter and the Sorceress Stone so much that I watched it to the point I knew every single line. But, with the Internet and the easiness to get into other shows, I always try to go and reach new Anime.
Things are a little different when it comes to gaming though… I have a huge backlog on games to play and I just installed Final Fantasy 8 to replay it, once again ahah xD
I also really love replaying games and trying to get better at them, or setting myself new challenges. I’m not big on diving into new games and I regularly go back to older ones with some new goal in mind.
Whenever I rewatch an anime I like a lot I make sure to watch it with someone who never seen it before. Making my rewatches of Noragami season 1, and the original Fullmetal Alchemist worthwhile. Not only to I introduce a series I like to someone who also gets the same kind of enjoyment out of them, but I also get a greater appreciation for those titles.
There are times when a rewatch sorta diminishes the magic. Like when I rewatched Spirited Away with my family, and I didn’t feel it was quite as magical as the first time I watched it. However, there’s the discussion portion I always enjoy whenever I watch with a group.
Another thing rewatching does for me is remind me of why I love a form of entertainment as much as I do. For anime, I rewatched the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime, and it reminded me why anime can have a special place in my heart. It helped get me out of a slump after seeing disappointing anime one after another, and prevented me from being jaded from seeing so many bad ones.
I get why people don’t rewatch, but at the same time, they’ll miss out on further enjoying a piece of media they love so much a second time around. Heck, they might enjoy it more the second time around.
There’s certainly fun to be had in a rewatch. I do get the point though about sometimes the second time through that initial oomph or something special that grabbed you may not be there and sometimes you realise a work is no where near as strong as that first impression made you think it was. But the opposite is also true and some stories grow on you over time and with watching more than once.
I mostly reach stuff with friends or family. Sometimes I’ll toss something on for me though, but even then it’s for writing or comparison more than not.
I LOVE rewatching anime years after I’ve initially seen them. A few years is long enough that I’ll remember the general premise / major events, but have forgotten minor details. So the rewatch still feels somewhat fresh with the minor details, but I still can “relax” as you mention in your post, because the major details / plot are already known to me.
Do you have a favourite rewatch?
The most useful rewatch for me was the Monogatari Series, because there is so much intricacy to miss the first time through, and even the second time through really.
Hard to pick an actual favourite.. I really enjoyed rewatching Oregairu and Akame ga Kill. So probably one of those!
I really enjoy Oregairu as a rewatch. I always have fun with it.
i used to rewatch all the time when i was a kid. i rewatched inuyasha until i was quoting every line from the first few episodes and mimicking their voices. i rewatched a couple movies including beauty and the beast and little mermaid (my favs), and little shop of horrors (trying to sing all the songs but especially the ones by audrey 2). but as i got older i stopped rewatching. i kept telling myself that there wasn’t really a point in rewatching but during my blogging break this summer i’ve been doing quite a bit of rewatching with my mom. the only difference is that we’re watching spanish dubs lol
There are always going to be people who don’t see a value in rewatching and will ask me why I am wasting my time reading a book or watching a movie that I’ve seen or watched before. For me, I don’t see the point in enjoying something once and then never experiencing it again. Admittedly, some rewatches prove that the first impression was over inflated and titles do eventually come off the rewatch list if they produce diminishing levels of fun, but others just always remain great to watch no matter how often they’ve been watched before.
In the 90’s and early 2000’s when there was fewer anime titles available to the west I used to rewatch a lot of my favourites a lot more than I have in recent years. With the arrival of streaming and a ton of disc releases of older shows that I’ve been chasing a translation of for years, the floodgates of viewing have well and truly opened creating a massive backlog of stuff to get through. My friend Ian and I who I co-host the Retro Mecha Podcast with suggested this extremely simple method: he alternates between seen and unseen and I’ve started to do that too, fitting in the odd movie or short OVA between TV series as well. It’s worked out pretty well so far. To Scott: Weirdly enough I just finished a rewatch of Outlaw Star a few weeks back. I felt much the same, it brought back powerful memories because the friend I watched it with unfortunately isn’t with us anymore.
Alternating between seen and unseen is a good compromise and one I kind of use for non-seasonal anime. I try to catch up on missed series but I also insert seen shows for down time in between. Still, my mood dictates a lot of what I end up watching outside of seasonal stuff.
Even though I own quite a few series on DVD/Blu-ray I usually only rewatch titles when I get them as review discs for the UK release.
More often than not, so much time has passed between the Japanese airdate and the UK release date that I’ve forgotten what happens so its like watching them for the first time anyway! 😛
Rewatching stuff you love is great! There can be quite a bit of pressure to keep up with all the popular new anime, but sometimes it’s really nice just to sit back and revisit something you used to love.
Well…I have to say that I haven’t rewatched a lot of anime (Mostly because it’s a time consuming business…and as you know I already am behind with…oh…everyhting), but I do love to rewatch things! I have actually written a post about rewatching stuff way back in the beginning of my blog (it was one of my special features posts 😊). And I think I rewatch movies a lot more than anime.
But when I do rewatch stuff it usally is because either I really loved a show (another for instance is one that I have seen twice) or because I want to give it a second chance (Stein’s Gate is slated for a September rewatch). And lastly…because exactly like you I like to share it with others and see their responses to it (although that last one doesn’t happen very often as I don’t know many people that watch anime, besides my own mother lol).
Great post by the way, really enjoyed reading it.
Ps…saw your email, and will respond to it tomorrow (will be spending most of the day with my parents) but thanks already for responding: so looking forward to this one ! 😊
No rush on the reply but I am looking forward to it.
I love watching with others but unfortunately also only have a few people who allow me to inflict anime upon them. It also means I’m fairly selective about what I show them because I don’t want them to get turned off altogether.
So am I! So really can’t wait for it either! 😊
True…I have tried turning some people into watching anime…but I always seem to pick the wrong shows.. 😊😊
The nature of the rewatch, for me, has changed over time because at first I’d just play something over and over again because I loved it and wanted to re-experience it (which isn’t any of the categories but probably comes closest to the 3rd, and I know I treated books the same way – I still do, just to a much smaller degree than I used to). That said, nowadays I’d mostly have to agree with Falcon – my PTW is always growing, so I often have to choose something new rather than go back to something old, and when it comes to books, my interest level is a lot lower than it used to be because I’ve shifted my focus to anime and manga.
Oddly enough, I sometimes rewatch parts of episodes or single episodes rather than series (there was one Christmas where I rewatched Christmas episodes from shows I’d seen before, for instance), but no anime list will ever make a capability specifically for recording that…
If I’m honest I don’t reread books as often as I used to either. My focus has also shifted far more to anime so if I had a choice between a new anime and reading a book I’d read more than once before, I’d probably take the anime most days.
That could be really fun though, making an anime watch list specifically of one particular event or trope.
I haven’t rewatched shows yet.
Honestly for me it’s easier to re-watch a film, verses a full anime unless it’s something tiny like ‘Crossing Time’ or ‘Banayan’ (the Banana cat series). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve re-watched a Studio Ghibi film with friends or lent them out. In that same breath, I could never spend the time trying to re-watch Naruto.
All that being said, maybe it would be worth my time to invest in a series to re-watch just to see how my perspective changes/gets more analytical. This was a great piece to get me think about my perspective though!
I find anime rewatches pretty easy but that’s because it is easy to convince yourself that twenty minutes isn’t that long, and then when that’s done that another twenty minutes won’t hurt. Before you know it, you’ve binged the entire thing but even if you have to stop, unlike a movie, you get a fairly easy pause for the story after every episode so even if you break the rewatch into batches you can work your way through it.
That is true… especially if you skip opening and ending themes like I do. I’ll have to see if I ever give a series a re-watch…
Although I understand the value of rewatches and completely agree with you, I just can’t.
With my anime/manga/book/tv shows/dramas increasing way faster than I could catch up, it’s already hard for me to commit to something a bit longer, and re-watching something is unthinkable right now.
It’s always a judgement call as to whether you more want to see something new or want to revisit something old. Everyone will make their own choice.
For me, rewatching or rereading to relax is like eating comfort food. Great way to wind down or take out my frustrations without calories.
Agreed. A familiar and fun story is definitely equivalent or even better than comfort eating.
I’ll add something to the fourth category as someone who partakes in something similar.
As a perfectionist and a way-too-serious critic, rewatches after a certain amount of time allow me to better clarify my feelings towards a series based on the evolution of my person or taste. It’s more of a personal reason/need to feel as though every rating or consideration for how one feels about something is completely up to standards with however one feels they review things IN THE PRESENT or what they consider to be important in a piece of work. For example, I watched Sword Art Online in 2013(?) and gave it a 9(?). Fast forward a few years and I’ve become despondent towards self-indulgent writing, which SAO is full of, and thus a rewatch promptly plummeted that rating down to a 3, as my priorities for critique and what-have-you have altered in that timeframe. So when someone asks about a certain rating for a show, I won’t feel the need to say that it’s outdated.
Tastes and preferences definitely change and sometimes rewatching things makes you realise you aren’t so in love with them after all and sometimes you find something that was kind of okay turns out to be quite good. First impressions aren’t always taking in the whole picture and, as you said, our tastes change enormously over time and with the consumption of other shows so it seems clear that how we view something will change over time.
I think I am going to pick up another series after Yuri on Ice to do episode reviews of something I’ve watched before. It has been a very different experience to my usual reactive review.
I guess I’m with you. I don’t usually rewatch things because I’m more interested in starting something new. That being said, i am rewatching Outlaw Star right now and that’s a complete shock for me. Such a big nostalgia trip.
There’s a definite comfort about returning to something you like and is familiar. Nostalgia is a really great hook when settling in to an old show that you know you loved.