On Spoilers

On Spoilers

I’ve always been curious about the shojo anime Princess Tutu. I’ve literally never read a negative review of the series, and several of my friends have urged me to check it out. However, after accidentally coming into several spoilers about the series’ ending, I decided not to watch it. I don’t do well with spoilers – almost every anime that I’ve found out a major plot twist before watching it I ended up not even bothering to pursue it. For example, I thought the plot of Scrapped Princess, an anime about a princess who was rescued from being executed when she was a baby because of a prophecy that her sixteenth birthday would bring about the end of the world, sounded pretty intriguing. But when I read about the series’ final few episodes in an article of Animerica (yes, this was a long time ago), I gave up on the series. And I’ve always been curious about Escaflowne, which has been popular in America since the late-90s VHS-era of anime fandom, but when I came across a page on TV Tropes that ruined the ending of the series I decided against buying it when I saw it on sale. It doesn’t matter whether the ending is good or bad, happy or sad, once I’ve read about it, it’s much tougher for me to get into a series.

For some fans of Escaflowne, this DVD cover is a spoiler.

My disdain for spoilers, however, can come in contention with my position as a blogger. As much as I hate spoilers, I often find myself writing about them. Sure, I could try to tip-toe around spoilers and try to phrase things as vaguely as possible, but in doing so I feel as though I can’t effectively convey whatever points I’m trying to make. Not only is avoiding spoiling plot elements tough to do, I actually tend to be most interested in discussing plots, themes and characters that definitely are spoilers. Then comes the question ‘What is a spoiler?’ While most people would agree that major shifts in the plot, particularly the ending of a series, count as material that deserve a spoiler warning before discussing them, others would argue that a true spoiler is something that’s unpredictable. This complicates matters because some might argue that many series are quite predictable even up to their finales – so is it really a spoiler that a show ends just the way you’d expect to it to even after seeing just episode one? Meanwhile, I’ve seen a few series that early on take turns that are less predictable than the final episodes of other anime, and yet these shifts aren’t treated as spoilers. Perhaps this is because some fans play the numbers game: discussing a character or plot twist that shows up in episode 25 of a 26 episode series would be considered a spoiler but a character or plot twist that is revealed in, say, episode five is not – because five episodes isn’t so far into the series and whatever is revealed at this point can be seen as ‘common knowledge’ among fan discussions of a series. An example of this is Nuriko’s gender in Fushigi Yugi – the fact that Nuriko is a male is openly discussed among fans of the series despite the fact that this isn’t revealed until episode six of the anime. But I’ve seen people get mad at these types of spoilers as well – because although they may not be as important to the quality of a series as it’s ending, for some people ruining any unforseen details may negatively impact the viewing experience. For example, I’ve seen fans get annoyed at the choice of a DVD cover for Escaflowne because it revealed the true form of a certain character, which is only a secret for the first few episodes of the series.  As for my own take on what counts as  a spoiler, I’d firmly place the ending of series, as well as any huge (and unpredictable) changes in tone or plot into the ‘spoiler’ category.  And to reconcile my hatred of spoilers with my desire to discuss major plot changes, (not to mention to avoid being one of those people who ruins a series for someone), I do usually warn people if there are spoilers within a post I’ve written. The rest is up to their discretion.

14 thoughts on “On Spoilers

  1. I try to write disclaimers too about spoilers when I feel I may be writing something that is considered “spoilery.” Definitely don’t want to be that person who ruins things for people.

    I’m actually the opposite of you. I tend to end up spoiling myself on a lot of stuff. I tend to actively seek it out too sometimes. Probably a bad idea since it would be better to find out on your own instead of reading them, but I can’t help it sometimes. Does it take away my enjoyment of reading a book or watching an anime series? Not at all. I may know what will happen, but I tend to care about the build up more than the ending most of the time. There are a few things I may not want spoiled, but it really depends on how much I want to be “surprised” as you say.

    1. I have accidentally run into spoilers several times myself, especially with Nana (darn you, Wikipedia!). There have been a few times I’ve sought spoilers because I was so anxious to find out what happens next that I couldn’t wait until reading the next volume of a series. And I noticed that I tend to be bothered less by spoilers for manga than for anime spoilers. I don’t know why, but if I had to take a guess I’d say it’s because I invest more time in manga and there are several series I read volume-by-volume, so coming across spoilers over a long period of time is a lot more likely to happen. Plus, since I tend to buy boxsets of anime that contain a significant portion of the series (if not the whole thing), I feel like I’m making more of a financial investment with an anime than when I just buy one volume of manga – thus, I don’t want the experience to be ruined with spoilers.

    2. I do that a lot too, actively seek out information and spoil a lot for myself. It usually happens when I watch an anime series that ends before the manga series and I don’t feel like reading 40+ chapters right away so I just wiki it. I’ve done it with game as well. I agree with you on how view spoilers. I’ve spoiled countless manga/anime/games for myself (and I do feel some of the “effect” is lost on me because of that), but I still want to see it happen with my own eyes. Summaries don’t convey everything. 🙂

      1. I actually spoil games too, soaringwings. I get so into a game sometimes that I can’t wait to find out what will happen next. Or it could be a case of me getting stuck on a boss fight and I need to find a way to beat it and I run into the “what happens next part.” I spoil RPG games for myself more than anything else though.

  2. Two of my favourites (tutu and escaflowne), I’m sorry to hear that they were ruined for you by spoilers. 😦
    Escaflowne was my first real anime and it got me into Japanese media. I loved it so much (I would watch it every friday evening when they aired it on tv). I rewatched it about two years ago and it’s still as good as I remember. Hopefully no more are ruined for you. Which reminds me, my blog is full of spoilers. I provide warnings for the game stuff but I usually don’t do so with manga or anime because I assume the title gives it away (as I usually summarize and discuss my thoughts on a given volume/episodes). Hope I didn’t accidentally spoil anything for you. ^_^;;

    1. Don’t worry, as long as you provide warnings or make it clear what part/volume of a series you’re discussing, I know to avert my eyes! I think I’ll eventually watch Escaflowne and Princess Tutu, especially since there’s not really any anime coming out right now that I’m interested in, so I’ll probably look to watch older stuff I never got around to (not that Princess Tutu is ‘old’). Besides, they’re fan favorites for a reason. 🙂

  3. hello there ! I got your link from simpleleek !

    I have a boxset of Escaflowne, and I know I’ve watched it but don’t remember a thing about it now.

    As for spoilers, I ‘m guilty. I actively seek out spoilers, esp. for shoujo romance ones. In fact, I seldom read shoujos without checking out the forum first. I always want to know if it’s a happy ending, which I’ll read, if not, I won’t read it, the reason being, any unhappy endings upset me for weeks and weeks. Ex.. Cappuccino.

    1. Thanks for commenting! I always seek out reviews for manga I’m interested in reading too, but I tend to only read a review of a series if it’s for volume one so I can avoid spoilers. But with series I’m already reading, sometimes I can’t help but read reviews of volumes far beyond what I’ve read so far (I did this with Skip Beat!).

  4. Sorry to hear about those spoilers- I hope that eventually, you’ll be able to watch those shows anyway. I’ve watched Princess Tutu twice, and even though I knew what was going to happen, thought it was even better the second time around.

    Admittedly, this is why I don’t wander around the anime/manga parts of TVTropes- it saves me a lot of heartbreak! xD Same for Wikipedia. If there’s a chance I’ll get spoiled, I don’t bother with it- I find the barest facts, some opinions, and then decide. I do tend to be a little harsher with what I consider a spoiler, though, because if I know more than the basic facts of a series I can get turned off. Go figure! (though guilty of posting more than basic facts for my reviews. Ah, well.)

    1. Thank you for commenting! I do the same thing – when I find out some huge, unique twist happens in an anime or a manga, I’m a lot more critical of it because now my expectations are high. And you’re so right about TV Tropes – as much as I love that website, there are many, many unmarked spoilers and I’ve ruined a few series for myself. Luckily those were series I was so far into and loved a lot that it didn’t ruin my opinion of them (like Nana and Fushigi Yugi Genbu Kaiden).

  5. Spoilers are tough to deal with. I generally follow a statute of limitations, so for reviews of recent shows (e.g. Freedom Project, Angel Beats) I’ll tend to go lighter on plot, and heavier on feelings.

    For older shows, like Escaflowne, all bets are off and I think I have the freedom there to go into the detail that a Thirty Days series demands.

    It does limit the anime blogs that I read though, most seem to be heavily focussed on recent shows that I haven’t seen (and won’t for a fair while yet).

    It also make talking about David Weber tough when I’ve read the eARCs long before the hardcover release…

    1. Yes, it can be tough when I’m browsing through blogs because oftentimes I’ll see something interesting I want to read but can’t because I haven’t seen or read the series yet and don’t want to be spoiled. And it’s true – older series are more likely be spoiled without apologies because people just assume you’ve seen the series already. Some spoilers are actually very well known and aren’t considered ‘spoilers’ at all (like Spike’s fate in Cowboy Bebop or the end of Evangelion).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s