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.
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.