Zen and the Art of (Anime) Consumption

“If you hate everything and feel the need to tell everyone about it, please identify yourself so I can avoid you.”

One of the best things about being a guy who is almost 40, playing with little plastic army men, and watching anime is that I am not burdened by a need to differentiate myself from everyone else.  One of the worst things about being that old guy is that anime fandom is filled with people who are.  It’s tiresome to watch so many people struggling to be different in the same way.

Anime fandom skews heavily toward late teens and early twenty somethings.  These are people who are trying to find or form an identity.  It’s natural  that identity to be formed around what makes you different.  Please though, for your own happiness as well as the happiness of others, build that identity around what you like and not what you don’t like.  Because no matter how clever or witty you think you are, people will tire of your endless negativity.

 

The Danger in Basing Your Identity on Your Interests

Interests change, particularly in your teens and early twenties, and if/when they do you will be left a bitter fan of a type of media you don’t really like anymore, but can’t abandon because it is part of your identity.  You might even start disliking the people who do still enjoy it.  Anime forums and blogs are full of these terribly unhappy people, who feel compelled to inflict their unhappiness with anime on anyone who wanders by.  If you spend more time talking about what you don’t like about anime then you spend talking about what you do like, it is probably time to take a break.  If you denigrate others for what they watch it is probably time to shut up.

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 Keeping it Real

Watching anime was never an intellectual pursuit, whatever that means.  It is and always was a form of entertainment.  It’s purpose is to entertain.  Sometimes it entertains by repackaging All Quiet on the Western Front as a magical girls show and sometimes it entertains us by engaging our fantasies of being a bad ass pirate, a harem king (or Queen), or a mecha pilot.  As long as it entertains, it has served it’s purpose.  Like a street entertainer, an anime is hoping to entertain you enough that you will spend some money on it, whether it’s on a Nendroid, a tankobon, or a Blu Ray, as you pass by.  Occasionally, like any form of media, there will be a show that really strikes a chord with you.  One that you feel elevated itself past mere entertainment.  Expecting to find a show like that every season or even every year is a surefire way to make yourself miserable.  Approach a show hoping to be entertained and talk about the ones that do entertain you.  That will make you and everyone around you happier.

Everyone’s a Critic

I understand the desire to voice your opinion, I am writing on a blog after all.  Something to consider though, is that perhaps an opinion should be based on some experience before it is voiced.  You might be positive that Steins;Gate is “haremshit” after reading a blurb about the show being based on a VN, but perhaps that opinion shouldn’t be exposed until you have actually watched the show.  Your opinion is your own and nobody can take that away from you, but to the rest of the world you might look a like a condescending asshat when you bash a show you’ve never seen or dropped after one episode. (not that a true discriminating otaku cares what he looks like to the rest of the world, amiright?) If you walked up to that guy playing his guitar on the subway platform and told him how much he sucked before he even started playing, the people walking by might, justifiably, think that you have a screw loose.

All the Negativity that’s in this Fandom Sucks

I’ll admit that I’m a bit disappointed in the blogs and forums I have found, and I appreciate the irony in my going on my blog and complaining on the internet about all the people on the internet complaining about anime.  This has building for a while and I needed to let it out.  Perhaps it will make someone more self aware and they will make be happier.  Perhaps it will get someone who can’t say anything nice not to say anything at all. Perhaps not, but I have hope.

Parting thought:

I work in an office that is obsessed with baseball.  Seriously, something like 50% of all non-work related conversations I hear are about baseball.  I don’t like baseball.  Funny thing is, I don’t tell every person I hear talking about baseball that I don’t like it and why.  That kind of behavior would be considered insane.  It doesn’t become less insane if it as about the type of anime you don’t like and it’s on your blog or on a forum.  It’s still the same behavior and it still makes me think that perhaps you are a bit unbalanced.

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Zen and the Art of (Anime) Consumption

  1. lealea477 March 9, 2015 / 5:25 pm

    Where is the fun in only watching shows that you know you will like?
    *should I not try new food because I might not like the taste?*

    “That will make you and everyone around you happier.”

    That’s the line my teacher used to use when they were teaching me to repress my emotions and only considered what others wanted from me.
    ^-o
    I still remember my old response “Do you want to hear what I want to say or what you want to hear?” T-o It was always the latter.

    “Making others happy will make you happy in response.”

    XD Got my pay back when a teacher told me to write an essay on how great she was (got placed in autism unit after telling them my true thoughts).

    • wellspokenman March 10, 2015 / 8:55 am

      I find that what most people lack is personal development and not personal expression. People express themselves just fine, it’s just that what they express is an ill-informed or borrowed opinion. If you have taken the time to get information and have formed your own opinion based on that information, then I am interested in what you have to say.

      As for trying new things, I think it is good to try new things provided you are making an effort to be neutral or even positive when you try them. Closed minded people trying new things will most likely not end well.

      • lealea477 March 10, 2015 / 9:29 am

        Oh! You’re talking about them people who read their favorite reviewers opinion and then try and take it as their own even thought they don’t truly understand how their favorite reviewer came to said conclusion.
        You’re not really expressing yourself if your borrowing someone ells option.
        There is a big difference between being a blogger and reviewer (a line that many reviewing sites seem to forget these days).

        Review: A formal display of information being neutral presented for the readers benefit.
        Blogger: a person who keeps a log of their personal view/option.

        Everyone has the right to be negative even if people around them disapprove (by telling them they are close mined because they are negative towards a show make you close minded because you won’t acknowledge the bad side of a show).
        In order to be purely neutral we would have to abandon the idea of something being good or bad entirely.

  2. wellspokenman March 10, 2015 / 11:28 am

    Everyone does indeed have a right to be negative, and shows do have flaws. A balanced review or thoughtful opinion that indicates what issues someone had with the show is useful. I can tell from the internet that people watch shows for their flaws, I’m just not sure why. It’s an aspect of anime fandom that admittedly don’t get. It’s kind of like Mystery Science Theatre, except that it generally isn’t funny. I stop watching shows I don’t like, my viewing time is limited. A person could argue that finding the flaws is a intellectual exercise, but the kind of commentary I usually see from these posters use hollow adjectives or group speak without actually talking about what would make the show better. Frequently, I see people critiscizing shows when they have no exposure to it or it’s source material. They certainly have a right to their opinion, but their opinion has no value.

    Maybe I’m just too far into my “Get off my lawn” phase to understand, but I’ve grown tired of the constant stream of complaints about something that is suppossed to be enjoyable. If watching anime makes someone unhappy, then I hope they will find something else to do, or at least, something else to talk about.

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