One of the most common concerns about anime is that the fandom is not prepared to be consumed by a hardcore and long-term entertainment consumer —these are the people who expect this industry to fill the good amount of their daily life and at least a dozen of hours of their weekend time. The fear is that the general society —either it’s your parents, friends, or colleague at work— would couldn’t care less since you’re watching different things from what they usually watch, the fear is you will never have enough topics to talk about with them, and by that no one will really care about what anime you have watched last night except only yourself- or maybe your imaginary friend on the dark corner of your room. In the end, everyone around you will get bored and you will feel there’s a wall between you and them, then whether you want it or not, this situation will force you to go back to your original habit on watching Marvel movies on the weekend, romance series on Netflix, and eating your morning breakfast while watching American Dad! on Fox or TBS.
Well of course, this scenario doesn’t apply/happen to everyone. In any case, the term casual exists for a reason. But with all honestly, with just browsing reddit threads, watching YouTube videos, and reading blog posts on WordPress reader, I have encountered so many people who have expressed their upbeat of overjoy in watching the couple last season of Darling in the FranXX and Boku no Hero Academia, but in this current moment, those same people have totally moved on to the type of content they’re mainly familiar with and not even care about the third season of BNHA. I messaged a few and some of them said that they only watched the show because their friends told them to, and now they’re not anymore —sadly, few of them aren’t even aware of what anime really is. At this point, anime has failed to drawn these highly potential people into the otaku fandom that we all are currently living in.
yeah, this is a fandom.
When people dive into a certain fandom, or most fandoms in general with its different types of fetish and weird things, there’s a distinct difference between the kind of content you would consume and the goals you would achieve once you have finished a certain period of time-consuming it. But there’s also another thing that is brought to bear by the fandom —whether it’s gaming, books, TV shows, movies, or even academic work— everyone who follows it must have this one same ‘game plan’ that they have to do to achieve whatever the goal they aim for. I personally have played quite many games and most of it had been role-playing games, and this term of game plan in RPGs is known as “grinding”. Realized it or not, you’ll have to set a certain goal when you’re consuming a type of content including anime, and this goal will make you grind, grind, and keep grinding until you achieve it.
A cult that will destroy your life
— Urban Dictionary: Fandom
Speaking of RPGs while we’re having touched its realms, let’s talk about them a little bit. Now I assume you must have some experience in RPG games, or at least you can imagine a level of expectation of how fun is playing an RPG if you have watched Sword Art Online. Now let me tell you; especially in a massively multiplayer online games, one of the most satisfying aspects of playing them is when you’re levelling your character up to the max level —there’s even a certain type of people who never touch the endgame on the max level and instead spend their time playing the game only to level a character to its max level, then create another new character and level that character to the max level again. Now of course, this enjoyment of levelling doesn’t exist in every game, but I can tell you that this grinding for experience is a crucial aspect of any RPG game. Because as we all know, the endgame will always be unlocked once you have achieved the max level.
But the question is, what’s there to aim at in this fandom so-called anime? Because there’s no level and yet without a target, there isn’t any point and we’ll end up getting bored quickly. What should we do after we achieve the endgame? What are the rewards? Is there even any endgame in this type of content; should we just continue grinding, watching anime without anything to aim towards? To be honest … I don’t even know. I was asking myself this question since yesterday and so, I am now writing this post. I have a few ideas to write in this rant even though I still have not see the answer yet —maybe this is my first attempt in writing a post without knowing any way how to end it.
my experience of this embarrassing crisis of life.
Speaking of which, what’s my current personal view towards this question? Well as I said before, I’m fully aware about these newbies who jumped to this anime world and would quickly determine that anime is not for them … there’s even an awful lot of people who have sunk their money to buy anime DVDs and merchandise, expecting that they would fit into this world called anime. They grind, watch dozens of movies, watch more and more franchises, yet they still don’t really know what should they do with all the ‘experience’ they have gained. Even once they have watched all the classic Ghibli movies, or even after they’ve become an expert to the point where they completely understand the timeline of the Monogatari Series and remember all the characters on the Fate series … “What’s next?” they still ask themselves, “What’s more to gain?” Honestly, I kind of consider myself to have fallen into the same group … when I thought that anime fandom is a little bit odd, different from any other, to the point that you will get far and not know where’s the end, and even start to question, what do I want to do now? What is there to go for?
For a long time I didn’t really know the answer to these questions even though I absolutely aware there was a lot that I could go for. Yes, I have eyes and I’m aware of all the anime shows I actually want to watch, yet for some reasons I found it so hard to become motivated to watch them all … and if you’re wondering, I actually have a lot of time to spare at that time around. But in the end, it’s just me who was having a huge conflict, as if there’s an error in my system that kept me from progressing. For a long time, I was just stuck at that one point and not watching anything related to anime while I still saw friends on social media (it was Facebook) having fun discussing anime episodes, even being proud that they have finished another anime series. I kind of just left my anime library piled up with folders of series that I hardly was able to watch, and without knowing it, my list of plan to watch on my MAL profile racked up to more than 450 anime titles.
Anyway, it wasn’t easy for me to continue my grinding habit because I knew there was stuff to watch while I wasn’t ever really up for it. See, I’m a perfectionist, or at least I am at core even though my schedule and everything seems messed up from the outside, and one of my worst attitudes is always having to decide if I want to do something or don’t do anything at all —worse, I always address every decision like an important one, as if my life depends on it. But then I decided that I’ll blog about anime, and with that decision, anime is now a part of my life again. So the past me evolved, and I was changed last year when I created this very blog and tried to catch up again with everyone’s chattering about anime in social media (now is Twitter). It worked quite well even though to be honest, I still couldn’t do anime marathons two days back to back, but I am still trying to watch one or two episodes every day and at least a couple movies on the weekend … so I guess it wasn’t too bad.
elephant in the room.
“Yeah, yeah yeah … but how did you do it?”
Well, that’s the thing my internet friend, there’s actually a lot of things to do in this otaku fandom, which is mainly focused on the anime industry and surrounding it, so many things exist too to the point where there is always something for everyone to go for. If you’re sitting there, reading this and haven’t watched anime for a while, and you have the urge to come back while knowing there are a lot of cool stuff you’d love to go for, but at the same time you don’t actually know what they are and don’t even know where this urge came from … if you’re that person then you need to start by asking yourself, “is a community enough for you?” And by that I mean, are you prepared to watch anime and work towards something in its community at the same time? Are you prepared to reach this endgame for some specific rewards that are only ‘community’ in nature, rewards that won’t give you a higher quality of life —mostly even will lower your day-to-day standard and probably will destroy your real life, but that is a subject for another post.
But that’s what I found, from where I’ve seen it, a community is the key. See, it’s different from the other fandoms such as the gaming fandom or that one fandom for all the movie goers; anime always comes as one package together with its own society —can’t be separated. And from where I’ve seen it, anime must be enjoyed as a whole to grasp its full realms and possibilities. And by leaving your old boat and moving onto this smaller but still broad boat, it will demand you to kind of leave your old nature and let go of your initial way of life. Now, I don’t mean that you will begin to be up all night and suddenly pull off a day-to-day life like Umaru’s, but whether you’ll manage to keep your life healthy or not, your everyday life will be changed as you’re now influenced by a different society aka. this otaku fandom. Lucky for those people who have found their place in real life too, while for the rest of us will rely on the internet.
It’s pretty weird that this is coming from me, someone who often at times finds himself not so fitted in a community, or even in a conversation. But I do commit to this concept; Before I start watching a series or after I just finished one, I always ask my friends what they think and we compare our perspectives towards the show … sometimes we watch movies together, sometimes we insult each other’s taste —and don’t forget, I do have this blog where I write my inputs towards the fandom constantly every week. And it is working for me, it keeps me going and even though the parameter I achieve every day is not that great, it is still very far from where I stood, on gloomy days when I would watch anything but anime … or at least it was- it was working until everything came into a full circle.
Yes, I have become bored once again. But it wasn’t a perfect circle, now the cause is different- in fact, it’s totally different and I’m not even drowned into that same situation where I couldn’t face myself watching anime even just one episode. Instead, the cause now is regarding one of the biggest letdowns of the current anime industry, one of the least famous facts that is spreading around in the anime community … that we are tired of watching the same show over and over again, only with a different title and with different characters, maybe even with a different design of storytelling … but still with the same concept and the same anecdote. More and more often the same plot twists are waiting at the end of the show, more and more often anime we face today are just a show’s rip off from one after another.
Or maybe it’s not for you, but those kind of boredoms are what I’m currently facing. I don’t know why, but that is what I feel. At first, I thought maybe it’s because I have watched too many shows to the point I have become numb, but then on the second thought; no I haven’t, I haven’t even gotten to watch all the Ghibli movies yet. So what is wrong with me? Just last night I was searching for a suitable movie for me to watch, and I passed through the night without watching anything. What is wrong with me?
Yeah … that’s it. I won’t follow this last question for now, simply because I still couldn’t see any answer of it yet —perhaps it’s still mysteriously hiding ahead of me. Maybe we should leave this dilemma as the part two for our journey discovering this endgame …. 😏 could be? Well, the future will only tell. But let me promise you one thing; I still am watching anime, even my ‘movies friend’ or whatever she should be called as, promised to watch a new anime movie today … maybe tonight.
To get me to this point —only if you’re interested to know— I was rereading my review of Tokyo Ghoul:re *and yes, I like to read my own works, lol— and I realized that I have slipped a tiny bit of honesty there; I wrote in one paragraph my current state of mind, and told you that I’ve become bored of anime … and so I thought, why don’t I write about it? It’d be different and more difficult to write since it’s talking about myself, but then again … why not? And now I did it. Though with the still unsolved mystery, this write-up probably won’t get you anywhere, but my challenge for this post was to let you learn one or two things from the experience I had, and I really hope this kind of topic is still interesting enough for you to read … in all honesty.
But I just have enough typing for now, I will say bai-bai and see you again in the next post (most likely will be about Ghost in the Shell). But one last question though, “what are your thoughts about my initial answer about this endgame? Do you think the community is really the answer to everything?” I’m really curious, so you better comment down below after you read this! And don’t forget, keep watching anime! 🙂
© written by nesha5971 proofreaded by sliceofalfredo insert pictures are credited to ilya kuvshinov