The order of things

The order of things

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how the timing of viewing an anime or reading a manga can influence your opinion of a series. For many anime fans, you might rate a series very differently if you watched or read it early in your fandom comparised to after you’ve been into anime and manga for a while. It’s often easier to enjoy a series more if you’ve seen or read it early in your fandom because everything is still new, and you’re less familiar with what’s cliché. For example, I saw D.N.Angel about three years into my anime fandom and enjoyed it’s romantic entanglements (the hot guys didn’t hurt either). But when I rewatched the series last year, I found I didn’t care about any of the characters and felt it was really uneven, especially it’s ending. However, my feelings about the show were still stronger than if I had only gotten into it recently because of my initial viewing of it seven years ago.  Or, you might appreciate a certain type of show (more niche, introspective, etc.) later in your fandom than if you’d seen it before because your tastes have matured.

There also may be outside influences that impact your opinion of a series. For example, if you watch an anime or read a manga that has a plot or themes resembling a monumental event in your life, the series is likely to make a big impression. Maybe you saw a show when you were going through a difficult time and the series helped you cope or cheered you up, or it may strike a nerve because of its vivid portrayal of the human condition. This happened to me when I watched the first Kimagure Orange Road film “I Want to Return to That Day,” in which two characters break off a long-standing relationship that was doomed to fail. I’m already sensitive to watching characters go through emotional trauma , but because something similar had happened to me just two weeks earlier, my impression of the film always takes me back to those raw emotions.

Kimagure Orange Road: "I Want to Return to that Day"

There’s also series you may enjoy but could have been your all-time favorite if you’d seen it earlier. For example, my favorite anime are Kodocha and Boys Over Flowers, but I wonder if my opinion would be different if I had watched certain series before these two. For example, I found Marmalade Boy and Fushigi Yugi to be wonderfully addictive series that I really enjoy and consider to be personal favorites. But I gripe on their flaws a lot, mostly because I watched them after being an anime fan for several years. However, maybe if I had seen them when I was less critical, I would love these shows even more and would have gotten just as obsessed with them as I did with Kodocha and Boys Over Flowers. Another example is Fruits Basket – although I like the show, I think watching it after hearing so much fuss about it made me very cynical towards the series. I came into it with very high expectations – I had always heard that it was funny, moving, and has extremely relatable characters – but I just felt as though it didn’t measure up. Part of my resentment towards the series was that I felt that Kodocha was much stronger in portraying the elements Fruits Basket was praised for yet wasn’t as popular. But if I had seen Fruits Basket before hearing so much acclaim for it (and certainly before seeing Kodocha), maybe I would have liked the show more.


8 thoughts on “The order of things

  1. Hey, poster from ANN here, just passing through…

    When I watched Saber Marionette J for the first time, I was just getting into anime. In fact, I think it was the second ever series I’d watched (What a weird choice, huh?). Because the medium was so new to me and the novelty of it all had me in a sort of honeymoon period, I absolutely adored it. Of course, with experience comes wisdom, and when I went for a rewatch maybe three years into my anime fandom, I struggled to find many redeeming features. A lot of the stuff that features in a harem anime I’d seen elsewhere, but done a lot better. That’s why I tend to review the marks I give things on MAL… Hindsight means I can give a more fully formed opinion of something.

    Same goes for Outlaw Star as well, loved it when I watched it, can’t stomach it now!

    1. Thanks so much for commenting! There are several series I watched in my early fandom that I’m not crazy about anymore, but it’s not to the point that I can’t stomach them. It’s interesting that you mentioned seeing better harem series, because I found that I got turned off the harem genre completely a few years after getting into anime even though the second anime I ever watched was Tenchi Muyo! (and it’s a series I still love). After that, I watched a few harem series, and the only one I liked was Oh My Goddess! I guess I got tired of harem cliches pretty quickly, probably because I found very few harem titles that used those cliches in interesting ways (or didn’t use them at all).

  2. It’s definitely one of the most overdone genres and it’s hard to find fresh material in a lot of the shows. Ai Yori Aoshi was a nice change in that the two leads are true to each other throughout and never deviate. Any harem where the male lead isn’t a complete idiot is always a pleasant change as well. I think current harem series just tend to take a tried and trusted formula and just replicate it with the different archetypes for the girls, knowing full well it’ll shift DVD/BD units. The ‘generic’ tag is pretty much synonymous with harem anime these days.

    That said, I think harem done well can strike a chord and tug on the old heartstrings somewhat. Clannad, for example, can be classed as a harem since there are multiple love interests for the lead. But the jokes aren’t tired, they’re funny… There is very little (if any) fanservice. As a result, it’s rightly regarded as one of the best romance animes around these days. It’s a shame the harem tag has been devalued to the point it has, but it’s not worth giving up on just yet. I always try and watch at least one harem series a season (let’s be honest, there’s bound to be at least one every damned season) just on the slim chance it might not be complete drivel, Thus far my search has been mostly in vain, but I live in hope!

    1. I haven’t watched Clannad, but I have seen Kanon and really liked it – but I usually don’t think of it as a harem even though it has the ‘one guy/many girls’ setup. That may be because it did so much in comparison to the average harem, and it didn’t overdo the fanservice, so I tend to think of it as a ‘supernatural romantic drama’ than a harem. I think the best harem series do their own thing and then sprinkle in the harem elements instead of just relying on those cliches to make up the plot. I haven’t watched many recent harem series, but I’m keeping my eyes open.

  3. Yes, this happened to me too. I started reading Fushigi Yugi back in high school and I found it a lot more engaging and interesting then. But I put it on hold to collect other stuff and when I got back into it, I saw how flawed it was. I definitely think it’s about growing up and reading different things. Great post. 🙂

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