oe#4 – anime: what’s the endgame?

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.

Fandoms
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?

aaand, fin!

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
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33 responses to “oe#4 – anime: what’s the endgame?

  1. Thanks for sharing. I am not new to Anime. I thinks its just what you like. I think you presented a display of poster people like. Personality. Some anime are personality type. show ppl how to display. there is no end to it.

  2. Here’s the thing – anime, with its “media mix”, requires a lot of work from the fan to obtain (in the days of physical media, which are slowly declining with streaming and digital releases), process and then do something meaningful with the knowledge. Fandoms are only one way of interacting with anime, but the alternative – trying to indoctrinate potential fans in your vicinity (geographic or otherwise) – isn’t necessarily available to everyone for many reasons, plus keeping this stuff to yourself can get boring fast.

    That was my first take on the topic, but it’s a bit academically-inclined. Pretty much everyone else seems to have taken this the fact you’re probably thinking about the “end goal” hard enough to be burnt out (if not being close to burnout), and if that’s the case, then…go do something you won’t blog about and come back. The goal of anime is entertainment, possibly to send out a message or few, and that’s it.

    As for why all anime can look the same? All stories can be traced back to structural elements, tropes and the like, plus anime as an industry needs “safe” genres, tropes etc. to fall back on when in creativity and monetary droughts.

    • you have good points. maybe i really should stick with one thing besides anime and blogging, and make it one of my hobbies

  3. I got introduced to anime in 1990, back in the VHS-trading days, so I’ve been a fan for nearly 30 years now – and in that time, there have probably been entire years where I didn’t actually watch a single episode of anything because I was busy with school, or work, or other hobbies (I have a ridiculous video game backlog).
    Even so, I still would have called myself a fan at every moment of those years. Sometimes you can love something even from a little distance. 🙂
    That’s my 2 cents anyway. Great read!

    • oh gosh! you’re a veteran! orz

      ‘ll take your two cents and hold it into my chest! thank you for reading and thank you for commenting! =’3

    • Got you beat. Been an anime fan since a 1988 showing of Vampire Slayer D on 16 mm film at a science fiction convention in LA. Back then it was called Japanamation.

  4. A very interesting perspective. Maybe the there is no endgame in a sense of a climax and the goal is not to reach the endgame because the game then ends. I guess the purpose of watching is to manage to find new and relatable things over and over again, to reach a particular level of satisfaction because you either find piece of mind or inspiration to improve yourself and your life.

    • yeah, i hear you; that’s what the most people say to me. still tho, i don’t want to find something new that could replace anime in my life. and there’s a time when i tried to find that, but i couldn’t find something that could replace this … so, im stuck with this.

      well, at least for now im not too stressing myself with it. im happy with the outcome from writing this post.

      • I wonder myself if a time will come when I’m fed up with anime in general and what would I do then. I hope that won’t be the case for at least a healthy amount of years from now. At the moment I’m pretty happy about how the things are, and you seem also rather content, so all the better.

  5. I don’t think that one community is enough. I have several communities. I hike & backpack, I philosophize, I dissect my life, I’m a naturist, I shoot a lot. If you look at my blog it isn’t just anime or even the greater anime-mange-games-video novels community. There’s a bunch of stuff that hardly seems to connect from physics to the politics of the Boy Scouts.

    Never mind the IRL community. That is important too. By being wide ranging in interests, you reduce the risk of walling yourself off IRL.

    Variety is the spice of life, I have heard many, many times. It is true. When I’m bored with anime I’ll go watch an ep. of PBS Spacetime or read a good spy novel. Or wander deep into a wilderness and leave my clothing behind.

    Widen your horizon enough and nothing will ever bore you because you won’t spend enough time on any one thing to get bored. Like Joseph Campbell said, “Find your bliss. Uou are deeper than you realize.”

    https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/04/09/find-your-bliss-joseph-campbell-power-of-myth/

    • uwaaah, you’re having a wonderful life. but one thing i notice tho, that you just follow your feeling goes, and stop whenever it stops. but not for me tho, i realize how wonderful my days are with anime and how easy it changes to be gloomy without it, so i don’t want to leave this fandom behind. i mean, i know it’s easy for even me to say “just let it go, find something else.” i tried that before with books, video games, and else; but none of them seems fit for myself.

      but do what you do best~ im happy for you!

      • The idea is to find something else without letting go. Only having one thing that gives you joy is a dangerous life to lead. When you have two things, find a third. The less connected these things are, the better. Think of it as diversity in your portfolio.

        No rush about it. Don’t know how old you are but it may well have taken me several times your lifetime to get where I am. And I am still a work in progress.

      • lmao. i think my life is too narrow currently … i feel like everything i came across seems not worth investing my time, or once it’s so interesting and gets my blood pumping, it seems very unreachable. ik that i need to change my lifestyle, but still, i couldn’t see i ever doing it. hmm … im so exhausted with everything

  6. I really agree with you on that sometimes it feels like we really are watching the same image over and over, but with a different title and characters. Sometimes I ask myself why I enjoy the series that I do, despite the fact that it’s nothing revolutionary or groundbreaking–simply that I enjoy it. It’s hard because sometimes I like anime in the way that I can analyze it for days and other anime I like just because I like it but can’t explain why. Sort of like the difference between a serious anime versus a lighthearted one. So I like different anime in different ways.
    But anyways, I think your argument can be placed into a larger scope. Why watch movies? Why read literature? What do you gain from it? Besides the obvious: knowledge and enjoyment. What’s really at the end though?

    • well, people change … but some of us —including me— has decided to not let ourselves be changed, at least when it comes to anime. but sadly, just like i wrote in the post; it is so hard to enjoy something while you can’t simply enjoy it, and because of that i was trying to find something to hold onto —something that can overcome everything that forcing me to leave this fandom. not forever we need knowledge, and only so many things to enjoy until the boredom comes

  7. That was an interesting article. I’ve wondered if there was an endgame. Back when I was in high school, I was able to binge watch more stuff and I knew people at school who also liked anime. Then, I fell out of it only to come back to some of it a couple of years ago. I wanted to do something productive like reviewing anime on Iridium Eye in addition to obscure indie and international films (even though I’m on hiatus now). As an adult, I certainly don’t have that much of liberty with my jobs, bills, and searching for more educational opportunities to progress in my career. That’s not even getting into my creative projects like my avant-garde music project or my fictional works. I barely have time to watch anything I want. As you’ve also seen, I’ve been having issues with so many fandoms and how petty they can be. This doesn’t mean I’m swearing off anime, don’t get me wrong. It’s just more of a treat whenever I do have a chance to watch something.

    • we’re so similar; so many things to do, so little time we have! scheduling is easy, but doing it is so hard af. and choosing which are MITs is always a nightmare!

  8. I faced this issue when I younger. When in high school, I had a lot more time to do the things I wanted, and really didn’t put much effort in the things I wrote early on. I wrote a certain amount of things with the intention to fill a quota. Even though I was enjoying it, the less time I had to do the things I wanted the more tedious it became. Also didn’t help the movie community I joined were filled with too many people whom thought too highly themselves even they were amateurs.

    It’s that attitude that make become more active in the anime community before my life became busy to the point where balancing my online interaction was a nightmare. Stopping for a long period of time to even stay in touch with people I met online. There was also a time where I didn’t watch much of anything, and simply living just for the sake of living.

    It was a slow process for me to overcome, and part of what helped it was approaching it with a new attitude. With the longer intended time off from writing I found a more enjoyable approach to doing the things I liked. I ditched the whole thing of wanting to reach a quota, and decided to have a crack of posting things online again.

    It was all a slow process, but what helped me out in the end where the interactions. A nice, and steady pace. Some good conversations no matter how heated it got, and just all around being surrounded by good friends you get to know over time helped me back into wanting to blog. The search for your answer will probably take longer than you want, but keep at it, and ensure you don’t lose the passion for the things you love doing.

    • whoah … good for you, and am really happy for you! this is so inspirational!

      and will do, anime is literally the most wonderful thing happened to my life, so i wouldn’t lose this no matter what. i have a lot of passions and dreams, even though im still a shame of my self that i couldn’t call them as ambitions; there are a lot of things to overcome, and i don’t even know how. but blogging is also one of the most wonderful things in my life, so i wouldn’t lose this either.

      • Don’t be so worried about ambition. The more I (think I) understand life the more I realize that it is not the destination that counts, it is whether you enjoyed the journey.

        We all have the same destination and all our “end games” just end up with us ended. Bill Gates will be the same worms meat as the poorest person.

        Find your bliss. Follow your bliss. There is no external source of meaning for life – you have to generate that within yourself.

  9. I can easily empathize with your dilemma. I’ve been through this sort of ‘existential crisis’ more times than I can count. I can attribute that to the fact that I think there’s no such thing as an ‘end game’ in real life. You either keep walking down a path or you stop.
    I think you’re just burned out. I really love your blog and all the content you produce. But if you’re unsure of where to go next, it’s really for the best if you take a break and try other things for a bit. Another thing that helps me is to prioritize my backlog, delete the low priority things, and just focus on ‘one thing’ at a time. Like, one show at a time, or one game at a time. This helps clear up ‘mental clutter’. Hope you find your answer, nesha-senpai!

    • but there must be a reward for doing all that ‘walking down the path’ and by that, I meant a state/destination where we’re walking to. im not saying that everyone has that, and i know there are people who are working on something just for the sake of living. and just like how i stated it in the essay above, there are also a lot of people who watch anime just because other people watch it too, and then again, they don’t continue and leave the fandom.

      because the point of watching anime is to have the enjoyment while doing it … so the true question is, how to find it? i simply bored with this, while at the same time i know that anime fandom is a wonderful place to live in, if you know what i mean. and so, i need something to keep me going.

  10. This is an interesting post, and I can certainly relate to feeling a little bored with the sameness of a lot of animes at the moment. But as the previous poster has already said, you should focus on hobbies you find fun at the moment. If it feels like work, take a break, try something else for a bit and see how you feel later.

    • i know right?! maybe ‘ll write a separate post regarding this issue of how too similar are anime series to each other now, but i guess i should come up with something like a solution to fix the topic beforehand.

      • I’d just recommend branching out and trying something new for bit; video games or books or whatever. I know it’s a tired cliche but you’ve only got one life and there’s no point focusing on stuff that bores you.

  11. I think everyone, regardless of whatever fandom you’re in, faces this sort of “crisis” at one point or another: the question of whether or not it’s “worth it” and whether or not you should continue what you’re doing. It’s nothing to worry about; it inevitably passes, as it’s often a fleeting thing, as much tied to general mental state as it is to how you actually feel about the subject of your fandom. I spent most of last night not actually playing any video games because I was feeling depressed, not because there was nothing I wanted to play.

    You’re absolutely right that community is a big help, and so is having some sort of structured activity around the thing you’re a fan of. I’ve been enjoying gaming so much more since I started MoeGamer, and I’ve been enjoying MoeGamer even more since I started engaging more with the broader community out there. Okay, most folks I talk to regularly are more on the “anime” side than the “gaming” side, but there’s plenty of crossover and I see plenty of evidence that people appreciate what I write.

    This isn’t to say everyone has to have an in-depth blog just to enjoy the thing they’re a fan of, however. Just something like MAL can be good to keep track of what you want to watch, what you thought of it and your progress towards meeting your own “goals”. The thing to bear in mind with stuff like that is that you don’t make it feel like “work”, however; these are supposed to be hobbies, and they should be fun at the end of the day! The moment they start feeling like an obligation that breeds resentment, it’s perhaps time to have a bit of a rethink about how you approach things.

    • there you go folks! i hope everyone who read my blog post would read this comment too.

      i felt like that too towards my blogging adventure, having it as my second work while it supposedly isn’t, especially a few months back when i haven’t realized this matter; i often have these thoughts about whether writing a blog post would be ever worth or not, since at that time i thought, i just finished my ‘real work’ and now i should write something for my blog, why i don’t just go to sleep? 

      and pate, thanks for the input!

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