12 Days of Reminiscence #9 – Things that remain and things that change

(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.

favanime

My favorite anime, or so my 2009 self wrote.

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.

Suzaku 7

Fushigi Yuugi–though more mature and serious in content than most shoujo anime and had a fair share of silly moments–still remains as one of my favorite dramatic love and friendship stories. I loved the characters–laughed at their funny moments, smiled at their achievements, and cried at their grievances. And… this is my first “Suzaku”, not Suzaku from Code Geass.

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?

is this a smile

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.

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46 responses to “12 Days of Reminiscence #9 – Things that remain and things that change

  1. Great post! I agree with you 100% when you say, ” 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.”

    I, too, fell into the trap of watching anime episodes for the sake of critiquing them long ago. Because of this, it felt more like a duty rather than an activity to be enjoyed. I began to resent it. Then I decided to heck with it. I won’t force myself anymore to finish episodes I didn’t enjoy. I’ll watch anime because I enjoy it and that’s that.

    • Yeah. But I’m kind of a masochist myself. I try my best to stick to an anime that doesn’t appeal to me at all, hoping that it eventually would. But it didn’t always end up that way.

        • Ah, that’s right. Ririchiyo wasn’t an S, though. Inuboku was a pleasant anime to watch. The manga turned into a mess in the middle, regardless of the supposed ‘twists’ and ‘greatness’ that would save it.

        • You’re right. Kagerou observed that Ririchiyo looks like an S at first, but then she’s actually an M when you get to know her better. Didn’t really read the manga. I only discovered Inu X Boku SS by accident. Didn’t really love it, but I liked it a bit. Lots of bishies. 😉

        • Not recently. Perhaps about a year ago? Hmmm. . . Can’t seem to remember. During that time, I was in one of my “bishounen” phase. You know. (^_−)☆

        • Well, I like being organized. It gives me peace of mind. Yes, that’s why I chose him as the anime character most similar to me. How about you? Are there any patterns on your anime watching? Or do you just watch titles randomly?

        • I see. I wish I can be like that, too. I think I’ll be able to watch more series. But it just doesn’t sit right with me. I’ll feel too uncomfortable when I do that.

        • I see. Since it’s already your habit to watch a few series at a time, it might be hard for you to adapt to the changes once you decide to watch a lot at the same time. Don’t force yourself. 🙂 For me, this was a habit formed way back from 2009, so I’m kinda used to this viewing habit, but it’s not like I watch *everything* that airs. My free time and PH internet won’t allow that.

        • Thanks. I’m quite comfortable with my watching habits, too. Although I think it’s unproductive. -_____-

          Oh, I see. Well, that’s true. Based on what you said, Internet speed in the Philippines is terrible, so I can understand that you would get frustrated.

        • Because I can’t watch series that are outside the genre of my current “phase”, I’m stuck with a single genre, until I’m over that phase. That’s why I say it’s unproductive. I want to watch as many anime as I can, but my, ahem, “obsessive” tendencies just won’t allow it.

        • If I get bored, that means that I’m finished with that phase and have to move on to the next one. Hmmm. You think so? But I feel it’s unproductive. What are you currently watching right now?

        • I’m currently tidying up my fall 2014 backlog. Just recently finished watching Re:_Hamatora, SAO 2 (which didn’t turn out as bad as s1), Fate/sn UBW, Wolf Girl & Black Prince, Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis, and Gugure! Kokkuri-san.

        • I see. Quite a lot of titles you have there. How are they going so far? Sakura Namikaze recommends Wolf Girl & Black Prince quite strongly to me, although I don’t feel like watching it yet. I’m still in my Sports Phase.

        • Yep. I tend to watch more anime than I should >.< This should be my last year in uni, so I ought to cut some titles from my current watch list. ;_;

          I actually liked Wolf Girl & Black Prince! 🙂 Although it certainly is not the most original premise and most interesting set of characters, the positive energy and overall feel of the anime have helped me a lot enjoying the series. Weak conflicts and cliche situations were all over the place, but they were more than just tolerable because of how happy the anime intended to be–and it was just that. 🙂 I gave it a 7/10, so that means it has been pretty good for me and certainly not a total waste of time. Go watch it for fun!

          Oh yeah, how's Sakura Namikaze? She hasn't blogged for quite a long while now. I don't have any other means to stay in touch.

        • Oh. Hahaha! I understand what you feel as a fellow university student. Well, if you feel like watching anime is starting to get in the way of your studies, distance yourself for a while, but if you think you’re alright, don’t sweat too much.

          That’s what I thought. I read the synopsis from Wikipedia & I thought, “Hmmm. I read something like this before.” That’s why I’m not too keen to read/watch it. But I’ll get to it soon enough. There’s quite a buzz around it online, and I don’t want to get too left behind.

          Sakura’s not blogging regularly anymore, but she still replies via e-mail. If you like, I can send you her e-mail. She’s a funny person and I always enjoy our conversations.

        • For me, it’s lately been the former. I will slow down on blogging once school resumes in less than two weeks. 😥

          Oh, there was such a buzz around it? I never felt it.

          Yep! I’ll be glad if you will send me her email. That would also mean I’m getting your email, too. xD

        • Don’t worry too much about your blog while you return to school. I know that school’s still the priority. And it’s not like your blog’s going away (unless you suddenly delete it). NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! I’ll hunt you down, and make you blog again! (just kidding)

          Yes, there’s a buzz actually, both around the manga & the anime.

          I already sent it to your e-mail. Did you receive it yet?

        • Well, we never know. There were great anime blogs that have already vanished or gone inactive for who-knows-until-when. My blog hasn’t reached that ‘greatness’ yet, but I won’t shrug off the possibility of having to abandon this blog or make it private, whenever something happens that would cause me into doing just that.

          Also, I can’t imagine myself blogging forever (until I die, that is), but I might as well try to blog as long as I can. As you’ve said, RL still takes the biggest chunk of our lifetime.

          But anyway, blog isn’t the only way for us to communicate. We can also exchange emails with each other. Which reminds me, I still have to check my mail! >.<

        • I hope not, but you’re right. As much as I want to blog “forever”, that’s just unrealistic so we might as well enjoy what we’re doing now.

          Yes, I received your e-mail!

        • Haha! Well. Ririchiyo looks like an S but is actually an M, while Soushi looks like an M but is actually an S. That’s what Kagerou said. Well, I think that’s a perfect combination.

        • Exactly! I actually disliked Ririchiyo at the beginning. It’s only near the end that I warmed towards her, but that doesn’t mean that I completely like her.

        • Oh, really? I always found her adorable. Fufufufu. Then, who was the character in InuBoku you had the least difficulty in liking?

        • Oh yes, she is! XD I actually find the entire cast of InuBoku likable. 🙂 Even the manor staff whose names I can’t remember. They were all interesting in their own ways. My favorite guy was Watanuki. XD How about you?

        • I know, right? I find Karuta adorable because who wants to become a chocolate? Watanuki is cute, too, but I think he’s too boyish for my taste. I like Kagerou. He’s just so ridiculous, but he’s hot, too. 😉
          Love it when he shouts “S” or “M” at random things. Like he’s so all-knowing to be able to tell whether an object is an “S” or an “M” just by looking. So funny!

        • Oh my gosh. You said that right. I actually just finished writing a post about him. I’m translating this Dear Girl Stories radio show, and this particular episode features Sugita Tomokazu. It’s so hilarious because it’s about him wanting to, ahem, squeeze breasts as a New Year resolution. I think it’s a joke, but it’s still funny.

  2. I’ll write a post about rankings and taste soon, but in the meantime… I think it is not easy for anyone who watched hundreds of anime to choose their favorites. Moreover, they change over the years not only because more titles become available, but due to change in people themselves.

    In general, your personality is more-or-less stable after you are 30 years old. You may change some of your views slightly, but most of your worldview and personality will remain the same.

    In terms of ratings, instead of a point estimate of your rating, it might be better to assign an interval. For example, you might say that my rating for Azumanga, one of my favorite anime of all time, is 93-96 out of 100. This way your estimate will remain stable. Initially, you might have rated it as 96, but, over the years, you may not like it as much, so your score may become 93, but no less because on the initial viewing you would find it highly unlikely that the score would fall below 93. Of course, exceptions happen, and you might start hating it for some reason! haha

    Personally, I still do like Azumanga and rated it 96 today. I forgot how I rated it in 2006, but, checking the post, I found that it was still 96 then https://celestialkitsune.wordpress.com/category/anime/recommendations/

    Oh, and there is no such thing as an objective rating of an anime!

    • Moreover, they change over the years not only because more titles become available, but due to change in people themselves.

      I seem to have missed that, but that was somewhere in my mind, too. Thanks for pointing it out!

      That’s a nice way of rating series, as well as showing which of them you truly love. Is it okay if I decide to adapt this recommendation system one day?

      P.S. I love Azumanga Daioh, too! It’s one of my first comedy anime and “cute girls doing cute things”, which appealed to me. It’s still somewhere in my favorites, but for now I can’t give it a less abstract rating/ranking. 🙂

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