From anime watcher to anime criticaster

anicasterMoving through space and time, encountering more and more anime, tastes start to change. Your criteria for judging anime develop. Do I start to enjoy anime less and less this way?

A while back I wrote a post about how I judged Guilty Crown as a fairly good anime, because of the fact that I haven’t seen that much anime when I watched Guilty Crown. In the post I also mentioned that when you move onto more anime, your judgment becomes somewhat harsher.

This attitude towards anime is created because you see similarities in anime. You know certain formulas and start to recognize them. You get familiar with styles from a multitude of studios, and in some way you know what to expect when a particular studio is going to air a show.

I got aware that I started to watch shows without the same enthusiasm as before. I knew from many studios what to expect and a lot of shows ended up in the ‘watching it for the sake of completion’ category. I watch a lot of anime in the ‘head tilted in boredom mode’ position. Waiting for the minutes to crawl by, hoping that something unexpected will happen in the next minute. But soon enough the credits start to roll by.

Of course I still enjoy cute girls doing cute stuff and still can’t get enough of that. Series such as K-ON! are one of my favorite shows and I don’t enjoy them less after the first time I watched them. There are many other shows that I still enjoy even after seeing a wide variety of other shows. Frequent readers will know I am a fan of Angel Beats!, even despite its flaws. I enjoy many shows I’ve watched in the early days of taking watching anime seriously.

New shows on the other hand need some twist to them, or a formula I can appreciate. A formula such as: cute girls, tragic event, sad music, emotional development and a satisfying ending. That’s a formula that works for me. Perhaps you, as a reader, might enjoy another formula. A formula like: epic war event, a hero, next epic war event, romance, epic battle and a flashy ending.

All different formulas that work for different viewers. Still a formula needs something special, something magical that gets me out of the boredom position and take me to another world in the format I see fit. There are shows out there that are daring and try another approach in an existing genre. The one that comes to mind is Madoka Magica, a formula with a twist that made the most out of every minute.

Despite everything I want to conclude that I still enjoy anime and the media around it. From artwork to manga, I can respect and appreciate it. Not every show can be perfect and perhaps I’m not the target audience for most of the shows I watch. But what defines anime, still brings me back and keeps me watching it.


18 thoughts on “From anime watcher to anime criticaster

  1. Quizoxy says:

    In my opinion, it is a good thing that we tend to expect more from new titles, which serves as a reminder for animators that improvements is something they need to achieve every time they showcase something new to the public.

    Rather than “criticaster” we are actually transforming into experienced audiences with ideas of what we wish to see from animators understanding their potential, don’t we?

    It is probably one of the main factor explaining the improvement in anime standards over the years, and even seeing the need for remake is being a norm, examples such as the upcoming reboot of sailor moon and fate/stay night.

    Certainly hope that this trait will always be there to push the next generation of anime to a whole new level. What we can do is always to remember why we love watching anime and what is so special about it. Enjoy and appreciate every piece of work serving an exposure for audiences like us.

    I make it a habit to watch the entire “bad” series to provide accurate judgement to support any criticism I am serving.


    • ninetybeats says:

      I see a reboot as two things: we need to cash in on a relatively popular series and second this series deserves a better adaption. The latter one being the positive one. Some series deserve the patching up for the current generation of anime watchers.

      In some way experienced audience has a nicer ring to it than criticaster indeed. Keeping the studios looking for new ways to win an audience. The criticaster is not the purist variant in my view, which is more the ‘looking for that perfect gem and the rest isn’t worthy’. I don’t want to become like that:p

      But as I said not everything is for everybody and there are still good shows out there for us to enjoy. And expanding your knowledge on what makes an anime good, is not a bad thing. Thanks for reply!

    • infinitezenith says:

      Different approaches work for different people and different circumstances. I can’t go about becoming “harsher” to enjoy anime a posteriori (i.e. reviewing everything I watch), because things are quite busy for me. Instead, I apply this “harshness” a priori: I pick out the series that look enjoyable for me, and then continue or drop them as things progress.

      Being a form of entertainment for when I wish to relax from computer modelling or interpretation of laboratory data, I find no intrinsic value to consume things that fall outside my scope of interest. That is why such a role falls upon others.

      • ninetybeats says:

        I indeed don’t want to be in a position to review everything, but there are cases in which I thought it could become something and it didn’t turn out to be anything. In such a situation I completed the series and didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped.

        Well within the scope of interest, I still don’t want to exclude everything from my list. There are always some hidden gems out there.

  2. skycells says:

    I agree with what Quioxy said above, our criticism serves as a reminder that animators can constantly be improving upon their new work.

    As you said, once you’ve seen enough shows you notice that most of them seem to follow the same formula. Now just because it follows the same doesn’t mean one will find it boring. I agree that as long as the story has it’s own twists to make it unique, the show can turn out quite well.

    I’d say the best thing about becoming harsher on series in general is that we also come to appreciate the ones that really stand out even more.

    • ninetybeats says:

      In some way it is true that you appreciate the better shows along the way. But I believe it has to be at some kind of interval. It cannot take forever, a tipping point where people say “I had enough”. That would be a dangerous scenario. Although there wil always be newcomers to anime, and people who leave the scene of course.

    • windyturnip says:

      “Iā€™d say the best thing about becoming harsher on series in general is that we also come to appreciate the ones that really stand out even more.”

      This. When I first started watching anime, I only saw shows that were the best of the best. Now that I’ve been following current seasons for a while. I truly understand how good I had it. When I see a good anime being aired now, I follow it that much closer and respect it that much more.

      Virtually every form of media follows a formula in some way or another. A formula is vague though, and it can have any number of variables. The quality of an anime is not determined by the formula it follows, but by the quality of the characters, the plot, the setting, the artwork, and everything else you can think of. Judging an anime based on the prevalence of its “formula” is vastly oversimplifying the matter.

      • ninetybeats says:

        That is certainly true that at the beginning you could watch the best of the best and later on you started to follow with the seasons. And when something comes by that’s worth the watch its even more special.

        I don’t say I grade it by its formula, but some formulas work for me as they go with my personal preferences. As there are many variables outside a formula(like personal preference), saying that any giving formula works isn’t true either. Thanks for your feedback nonetheless:p

  3. infinitezenith says:

    Think of it this way: all existence is defined by a set of physical laws. As we are a part of that system, bodies are all composed of the same carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen compounds, but we’re all unique.

    Anime is no exception to this rule, being constructed from similar constructs. Their uniqueness comes from the art style, execution and presentation, which means that while a lot of anime are similar, there are also subtle differences that make them fun to watch. Of course, depending on preferences, some series are more fun to watch than others šŸ™‚

  4. milesvibritannia says:

    I definitely get what you mean. The more anime one watches, the harder it gets to enjoy newer ones more simply because you have established expectations you hope a series will meet, and even if a series is good on its own merits, you might not like it so much because it doesn’t match up to things you enjoyed before, all the more so if you were really hyped for it. That said though, I try not to put up too much of a bubble of objectivity as far as anime goes. Obviously there are going to be series that I enjoy a whole lot more than others and I will personally deem those to be greatness because of it, but at the same time I don’t want my growing experience with anime to make me like some of those elitists who declare other series as “bad” because they just don’t like them. Few things bug me more than people who arrogantly show off their standards of “objectivity” and bash other series they don’t like as well as other people who like such series. I certainly feel it’s harder to find a 10/10 series for me now than in the past, but I hope that this feeling doesn’t eventually lead me to hate other series in the long run.

    • ninetybeats says:

      A review(in reply to declaring a series bad or good) will never be objective and people who claim that have no experience in writing them. I’ve written many reviews and there is always some sort of biased view. If you write a review about the game Gran Turismo and you prefer Burnout, you’ll probably argue that Burnout isn’t realistic. Which isn’t the mindset of said game.

      I don’t want to become a purist. If I write a review about an anime I’ll do it from my own reference, but I will say if it’s worth the watch or not from what I’ve seen.

      I believe there will never be a 10 series. Nothing is perfect and so are anime or other media. There will always be something that wasn’t executed perfectly. May it be the characters, certain scenes or the soundtrack. All those factors weigh in the overall score.

      • milesvibritannia says:

        That’s very true, everyone has their own perspectives and what appeals to one may not appeal to another in the same way. It really is all about how much one personally enjoys a series, and even though there might be specific reasons why a person deems a series really good, it really does come down to how much they like it in the end. Anime is an entertainment medium after all, and I get the feeling I’m repeating something I’ve already said before with that so I’ll just stop there.

        Definitely, it’s always good to express your opinions on a series and explain why you feel the way you do about it (sharing perspectives is always a nice thing after all), but there are some people who really go from sharing opinions to demanding others agree with them, and it’s really a sad thing when I see people like that.

        I’d certainly agree that there is no such thing as a perfect series, although there are still some I’d give 10s. For me at least, a 10 is for a series that for me was among the greatest of my experiences, and something truly fantastic even though it might not be perfect. I just figure that since a 10 is a part of the scale, it might as well be used since it’s kinda sad to have a rating there that can never be accessible, but that’s just me. I enjoyed a lot of those 10 series way too much for me to be satisfied leaving them on the same level as 9 series anyway lol.

  5. Overlord-G says:

    Thing is, I have yet to explode and have negative vibe against anime. I love the medium too much. Also, I know exactly what I want and do not ask for much in return when I pick shows up.

    I’d like to see myself as a diamond in the rough. The biggest change I noticed in myself is that I target shows with cute and sexy female leads over shows with male leads. It’s what I do. Other than that, I’m still the same animeniac I was 20 years ago when I figured out the difference between cartoons and anime.

    • ninetybeats says:

      Well for guys its obvjous you’ll choose the female lead above the male lead. Those shows are targeted specifically for males anyways. But yes, I can appreciate cute girls doing cute stuff xd

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