It’s been a while since I’ve written a post that is just my thoughts written down in such a hurried state, but after recently finishing another series, I think this is a good post to make here and now.
Guys, it’s time that we stop judging anime before we watch it for ourselves.
It’s something we’re all guilty of, I’m pretty sure. Recently though, I’ve realised that I do it way too much and it’s not exactly a good thing. I’ve judged a show based on its name, genres, art style, or synopsis. Alternatively, I’ve taken it a little bit too far and I’ve judged it based off a very enthusiastic fanbase. The latter I definitely feel awful about, but no matter how you judge an anime before you watch it – it’s arguably not a good thing.
Judging an anime before I even watch it has been something I have denied doing in the past. “I don’t do that!” I would protest when the topic would come up in conversation. Yet, having explored various series recently, I can say for sure that the past me was lying not only to the people she was talking to, but she was lying to herself as well. So, I’m going to take this as a chance to reflect on a couple of shows that I – and others – have judged a bit too much before watching. I do think it’s a bit of an issue within the anime community these days, more so with the growing amount of anime produced each season.
One of the earliest examples I can remember of me doing this exact thing is actually with Free! Eternal Summer back in 2014. I’m a little bit of a sucker for sports anime nowadays but back in 2015, that wasn’t the case. I had seen the first season of Free! and, well, I wasn’t impressed. All I saw was topless boys swimming in a pool and I didn’t even see the appeal to that sort of show back then. So, when Eternal Summer released I didn’t bother watching it. Why would I watch it when I didn’t enjoy the prequel? It was going to be another 13 episodes of topless swimming boys with an average-at-best story. Right?
It took me a year to actually get round to watching it, thanks to some encouragement from a new friend at university. Turns out, the sequel was an improvement from the original series and I did enjoy it. It wasn’t the best by any means, but it was better in my eyes and that’s the main thing. Looking back, I do think I was being a little too harsh on the series and I was way too stubborn for my own good for sure!
Gakkou no Kaidan is another prime example of me judging way too hard. Like I’ve mentioned before in my review of the show, I’m in the minority of people who don’t like the English dub for this show. I watched the show for the first time with some friends in 2015, I believe, with the English dub and I would dread having to watch the next episode. As soon as we stopped watching the show together, it went straight onto my Dropped list, never to be seen again.
That is until last year when I decided to watch it with the original Japanese cast. Sure, Gakkou no Kaidan isn’t an acclaimed masterpiece – it never will be – but the subbed version of the show? I enjoyed it tons more than the dub, to the point where it went from a 2 to a 6 out of 10.
I’m going to group two shows together in this next example because I judged them for the same reason – the reason being that they’re tagged as ‘ecchi’. They’re not the best shows ever to exist, but both Kore wa Zombie desu ka? and Tsugumomo were definitely some big surprises for me.
Ecchi isn’t something I look for in a show, but I used to avoid it like the plague. Now, I’ve come to realise that a show tagged as ‘ecchi’ can be good after all. Not only that but I’m probably missing out on some interesting stories out there. I’m not saying that I’m a fan of ecchi by any means, but at least I can be a little more open-minded.
And finally, the series that made me think about this in the first place – the Fate series. This is where it starts to get a little more personal. This is the one series (well, franchise) that I’ve avoided the most recent and it has nothing to do with the genres or the story. Instead, it’s due to my prior in-person experiences with the fans of the show.
I’m all for being enthusiastic about something. In fact, I usually love it when people are so passionate about something. Yet, for some reason, the people I knew who were so passionate about Fate just happened to annoy me so much that I decided to avoid the show altogether. It was a complete dickish move on my part. Looking back, I’m a little disappointed in myself. But after finishing Fate/Zero recently, I’ve realised I had been missing out on a good show after all.
So, here’s a little open letter to anyone at my university who I ignored when you were talking about why you love Fate so much: I’m sorry. Not only am I sorry for being completely ignorant, but for also being hypocritical. There is no doubt that I acted exactly the same when it came to Hetalia, Haikyuu!, Sanrio Danshi or something else with cute boys in.
I know it’s not only me who is guilty of this. I know a lot of people who do this. Put your hand up if you didn’t watch Bunny Girl Senpai from a couple of seasons ago because of it looking or sounding ‘bad’… All I’m saying is that it’s rated 8.49* for a reason – it can’t be that bad. Again, that’s one example. There are loads of shows out there that get judged somewhat more than others.
So, here’s to no more judging. It’s time to broaden my horizons a little bit more than usual. I know I’ve said this before, but I genuinely mean it this time. Just because a show doesn’t sound or look like it’d be something I’d watch, it doesn’t mean it is something I wouldn’t enjoy. How would I know without actually giving it a go? As the Professor in The Royal Tutor once said:
The same applies to anime. And TV shows. Movies. Books. You name it. We shouldn’t judge something by its cover anymore. Saying that, however, we just can’t help ourselves, can we?
Say, for example, you were an avid reader and you didn’t like one detective novel. That doesn’t mean you should be staying away from all detective novels. How are you to know if all detective novels are going to be the same quality? They’re all written by different authors, written at different times… Of course they’re going to be different! The same applies with anime.
Every anime has a different cast and a different selection of staff working on it. Stories are different. Characters are different. Just because I didn’t like one ecchi show, for example, doesn’t mean I had to sweep all ecchi shows under the same rug. That’s not being open-minded at all, something that I’ve always said I have been. It’s a quality, in my opinion, that is important to have – especially if one is to write about the medium.
That all being said: to my friends, if I do ever begin to judge a show before watching it, feel free to link me back to this very post. I feel like it’s definitely time to change some bad habits.
* Score on MyAnimeList at time of writing – June 13th 2019