(This is a part of the series of posts, 12 Days of Christmas, done in my own way.)
A few days ago, I happened to unearth an old notebook, which was my “whatever notebook” in high school. I frequently wrote stuff on that notebook as a result of indulging in my hobbies such as anime. Filled with waves of nostalgia, I began to scan through the pages with a smile on my face. Then, I stumbled upon a page which contained a ranking of the anime I watched back then. Looking at the anime titles, the arbitrary rankings, and even the favorite anime characters somewhat led my mind drifting into the past–into those times when I was just reacquainted with the medium I grew up with and enjoyed as a child.
It has been several years since then. I gradually got more into anime as I watched more of them. It should be universally true to all of us who consume this medium that as one watches more anime, there’d be more stories in his head. Initially, every anime was enjoyable. I for one thought that I’d enjoy, love, and remember (the story of) every anime that I watched. Eventually the less memorable stories, or those that left weak impressions, would be less brought up in discussions with friends. Even the scenes or anime that at first were spectacular would not be recalled, although that has much to do with me being a forgetful person. If I were a superhuman, I’d be able to contain all of anime intact in my memories. But, of course, that’s not possible.
Choosing favorites would mean choosing what really have a hold of my heart. It was easy peasy, like how I randomly ranked only those 17 titles and picked favorite characters who I simply thought were “cool” and “awesome”. But as I began exploring all kinds of works, it became more tedious a task. In the anime community, it’s as if it’s an unspoken oath and simply natural for everyone to be confidently able to rank his top 10, 20, 30, 50, or even up to 100. Although those last numbers are incredible, almost everyone I know–without thinking too long–can present his top 5 at any given moment. Sure, I’d love to do the same, but I can’t seem to find a consistent answer off the top of my head.
Maybe it’s simply because I don’t often objectively rate my anime. I admit that I don’t even actively try to only objectively evaluate them. My auto-pilot anime watching system is to find enjoyment in them, and not treat them as mere products only to be criticized, even though in the end I still rate them. But that’s mostly because I don’t want to leave them unrated, for the sake of leaving a proof that says, “Hey, anime, I watched you and this is how I feel for you.” But sometimes recurring questions haunt me: Do I really love anime? Do I really enjoy watching these characters who sometimes resemble real people or the ideal versions of the people we know?
While these questions seem to linger once in a while, like the ghosts that keep bothering Musashi, I don’t actually try to answer them. Why? Why not? I don’t need to answer them, or that’s how I feel, at least. I already know the answer, but do I really need to say it? Even if I do, it’s for myself to hear and know. These questions only appear in my head when I can’t seem to like or understand every anime, even if I try to. But that’s not a bad thing. Those anime that are more visible in the other end–the least liked–of the personal favorite spectrum are there for us to appreciate our favorites even more. It goes without saying, we realize our admiration towards the medium and the people behind the industry as we see the patches of that spectrum, connect them, and look at the entirety. Despite all the disappointments and rants I’ve had with watching anime, the viewing experience is still one of the most enjoyable activities I can happily spare some time for.