It’s confession time: I haven’t watched much of the current season, like, at all. Outside of Happy Sugar Life for the anime club, I’ve been pretty much disconnected from the big shows of the moment.
To be honest, though, I’m perfectly okay with that.
Before we begin, I’d like to note that I’m a big proponent of streaming. I love how it’s opened doors, and I am over the moon at the fact that it’s helped to revolutionize our favorite hobby. It’s exposed far more fans to far more anime at prices that were unheard of just fifteen years ago. I’m happy to see the industry grow and evolve, as bigger and better shows hit us faster every single season. The fact that Netflix, Amazon, and Sony are battling over the best and brightest shows still blows me away!
At the same time, though, I thoroughly detest the simulcast way of life, on a personal level. I’ve never really cared for watching anime on my PC, and the thought of turning my PS4 on day in, day out to open the Crunchyroll app (seriously, Crunchyroll, fix your damn Roku app!) makes me roll my eyes in annoyance. The idea of being chained to these neat, tidy itineraries of what’s marching through the current season, week after week, has me running for the door.
Instead, I’ve been finding more fun in exploring the backlog. My anime nights have been filled with delights big and small, from the ephemeral Beautiful Dreamer, to quirky horror show School-Live! and radical ’90s throwback B’tX. And, every so often I’ll sneak in an episode or two of Gintama or JoJo while I’m at it.
Meanwhile, modern masterworks like Starlight Revue, Banana Fish, and MegaloBox find their way into the “to-watch” pile, destined to be picked up sooner or later, once the whims determine a time. I must admit that it creates somewhat of an odd conundrum; I’m a girl who has eaten, slept, breathed, and basically lived in the anime world since 2002. I’m genuinely excited for the future for what feels like an eternity, and we’re seeing what many have called a renaissance in content.
And, yet, somehow, I want nothing to do with it.
I’ve been mulling this outlook over the past few hours, wondering where this looming disinterest blooms.
At first, I shifted my eyes toward the news desk, my beloved post since 2004. It’s a constant rush of stress and excitement. Scanning feeds and wire service constantly for the next big thing, , reaching out to sources for verification, press releases! It’s my happy place. It’s my font of anime fun, killer of dysphoria, and constant treadmill to keep my ADHD-riddled brain active.
At the same time, though, it is a churn. For days, weeks, even years at a time, we reporters watch as a show develops from rough concepts, to visuals, to trailers, to countless hours of marketing hype. By the time the premiere date rolls around, the magic is gone. Instead, it’s time to look to the next new, big, shiny things as we fire up the news engine once again.
Still, I don’t think that’s really it. I’ve known more than a few news hounds, and they’re just as big on the streaming circuit as the next person.
Well, maybe, just maybe, it’s the way I grew up. I’ve mentioned this before, but I grew up in a time when VHS tapes were the norm. Every month, maybe two, the local store would get a new assortment of shows, which may or may not be the big show of the moment. Every trip to Record Town, Suncoast or Sam Goody (dealer’s choice) was a mystery, and you’d never know if you’d leave with two, three, or (if you were lucky) four episodes in a single volume.
Your gut was your guide. Your research was gleaned from conversations with friends, one of the few anime mags on the market, or (if you were lucky) the brooding den of cynicism that was Usenet. And, really, it became an adventure. Sometimes, you’d leave with treasure, like Record of Lodoss War, Shinesman, or The Slayers. Others, you’d be lucky to scrap out Volume 3 of a show like Nightwalker or Blue Seed and call it a day.
Then, well, then there was the day you’d get stuck with Junk Boy… (shudders)
But anyway, there was a sense of danger, of excitement as you started to learn the ins and outs of the market. You’d trade tapes with friends, make copies for buddies, and swap stories on what you’re watching. You’d talk up what works, and try your absolute hardest to get them to watch the worst shows you’ve amassed! (And did you gather a lot of junk back then!)
In time, you learned what to look for, what to avoid, and to just roll with the punches when you wind up with something irredeemably awful. And, well, it’s just become kind of my philosophy with the anime world. I dive into fray, reveling in the celebration of the delights while striking back at the garbage with a sharp tongue.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t always fit into that simulcast life, where the latest is the greatest, until the cycle repeats anew. So, for now, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, floating chaotically from one show to another, sampling, and enjoying as I go along like I did many years ago. I won’t always sit on forefront of the industry, and I’ll probably fall behind more often than not. But, in a time when literally thousands of shows are a mouse click away, now more than ever it’s a great time to slow down and take in the many experiences available to us.
Editor’s Note: I know that a lot has been going on in the world today, and this seems a bit, well… fluffy when we have the recent LGBT issues in Japan, or Rumiko Takahashi’s induction into the Eisner Hall of Fame, or the white supremacist rally slated to be held a mile from Otakon next weekend. This was kind of a coping piece for me – a way to escape some negative things that have been happening in the past week, or so, which have kind of been a drain on my well-being. I’ll be talking about weightier topics soon enough. I just need some time to kind of… decompress and get away from the darker elements before I stare right back at them. Thanks for understanding. – SF