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.
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.