As an anime reviewer, I like to believe I’m a good judge of shows. I know when I am enjoying something but it isn’t particularly good quality. I also have enough sense to know when an anime is actually a good anime but just doesn’t click for me. However, despite season after season of starting new anime and being both thrilled and disappointed, I have never quite managed to convince myself not to jump to conclusions in episode one.
You would think after KADO: The Right Answer I would be wary of anything that caught my enthusiasm immediately in episode 1. And yet, where would the fun be as an anime viewer if I didn’t allow myself to get swept up in emotions. When I watch a good first episode I want it to be a sign of a brilliant show to follow. I want to tell people about this amazing gem I found (like most of them hadn’t already found it on their streaming services anyway).
What are the signs you’ve been charmed by an anime’s first episode?
But, there’s enthusiasm for a potentially good show and then there’s being blinded by a glitzy first episode. Here are 5 sure signs that you’ve just been charmed and perhaps aren’t seeing the cracks in the story that are probably already present.
Please note: There will be spoilers below.
Number 5: You Find Yourself Making Big Predictions
Whether you pull out the AOTS label (at a time when most shows haven’t aired a first episode and barely an episode has appeared) or whether you start declaring that you’ve found this season’s Attack on Titan/Steins;Gate/My Hero Academia/Bloom Into You/whatever you hold up as the pinnacle of your preferred genre, when you are charmed by a first episode reviewers tend to go big. For bloggers this comes with the problem of those big predictions regularly coming back to bite us later in the season.
My example, episode 1 of The Promised Neverland Season 2 last season made me think that the second season was going to give me what I’d wanted from another season of Neverland.
Alas, by midway through this disaster of a sequel it was quite obvious that this anime was not in fact going to deliver either the narrative or character developments I was hoping for. Nor had it captured the charm or atmosphere that made the first season such a sensation. But that first episode…
Man, it definitely blinded me to the warning signs that should have been clear even then that season 2 was not going to really deliver. The absence of the clever and interesting direction alone should have been enough of a tip, but I was charmed. It wasn’t until the charm wore off and I went back that I can see that right from episode 1, The Promised Neverland Season 2 could not be what I wanted.
Number 4: Favourable and Unfavourable Comparisons
If the first episode in question comes out early in the season line up and it charms you, every anime premiere after that gets compared to it. “Oh it’s not as good as…” “It’s no [insert name here]”. If it comes out later in the line up after other shows have mostly aired it will be compared favourably: “This blows [insert name here] out of the water” “This shows us what [name] could have been.”
There’s always a danger in comparing anime, even ones within the same genre. Last season we had a number of isekai titles but two I saw compared a lot were Jobless Reincarnation and Suppose a Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies moved to a starter town? What I found interesting about these two shows is that depending on the reviewer’s preferences either one could be called the superior of the isekai titles for the season.
But both seemed to be going for quite different tones despite their similar subject matter and without the comparisons, both have a lot to offer viewers in their own way (and both equally have a few issues and potential problems depending on your preferences). But for someone charmed by Jobless, they might be blinded to the positive points in Last Dungeon, and vice versa.
Comparisons aren’t always bad, but when you are charmed by a show and still in the honeymoon phase where you are a little bit blind to the flaws it might have, it tends to make you more critical of similar titles or anything someone suggests might be better. So if you find yourself comparing a first episode to other titles, it might be a good time to take stock and ask yourself if you are currently charmed.
Number 3: You are stalking additional content.
You’ve finished the episode and now you are hitting up your search engine. You want to know everything. What’s the source, where’s it available, who is working on this project, what’s already been written about it…? Your twitter feed is full of comments about and images from the first episode. You’ve found the official series twitter channel and are following and retweeting like crazy. Any bit of news about the anime is yours and you are passing it on through all your social media channels.
While you might lose steam by episode 3 (or you might still be going strong at the final episode because the charm never wore off) you are hooked not just by the episode but by anything and everything related to the anime and you want to make sure you don’t miss out. You’ll probably make some new friends in the process but others who are less charmed by the show might move on.
My example: Yuri on Ice.
Number 2: A Week Has Never Felt So Long
Is it really seven days until the next episode comes out? I mean, that’s actually an eternity if you really just got charmed by a first episode. Worse when it was an early premiere episode. Now you have to wait literally forever for more content. Refreshing your browser does not make the episode appear any faster, nor does searching google for release information. When you are charmed, a week is a very long time indeed.
Number 1: Non-Specific, Overly Enthusiastic Praise
This happens a lot when a reviewer gets really excited by something. Instead of addressing aspects of the anime that are good or identifying what is working, there’s just a lot of buzz words and enthusiasm. I’m guilty of this as well when talking about an episode with someone in real life that I’ve really loved. Only my version uses a lot of hand waving and bouncing on my heels. The most recent example I’ve got of a case where this happened was Mars Red.
And so on. I did eventually actually get a description out but that little insight into my communication skills probably tells you why I prefer writing my reviews in the first place. When I am excited and trying to speak words fail me and everything kind of jumbles together.
And when I watch an episode that gets me as interested in watching a show as the first episode of Mars Red did I know I am in the blinded by charm phase. Maybe the charm will last the whole series and it will deserve every positive praise I’ll give this first episode. Maybe it will go a different way and I’ll be left with a bad taste in my mouth. What I do know is this was an anime I wanted to tell people about and an episode that I felt was worth trying.
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
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