“The Perfect Anime”: A Response

amanchu57

This post is in response to Gigguk’s video “The Perfect Anime”, uploaded December 15, 2016. You can watch it over on YouTube, and I recommend you do before reading my post below. It’s a great video.

I haven’t been watching a lot of anime this season. Things started off really strong when all the season premieres were airing, and by the time I’d watched them all, I had quite a number of anime lined up that I was looking forward to watching as they aired. But as the season got underway, I struggled to keep up with the demanding schedule, and it wasn’t long before I gave up. As I write this, I haven’t watched past the second episode in any of this season’s shows, and up until earlier this afternoon, I haven’t had any motivation to change that. And the reason for that has nothing at all to do with the anime themselves; rather, it has to do with the expectations I set for myself to write about them.

Basically, as much as I’ve tried to convince myself otherwise, I don’t like writing about anime very much at all. In fact, I think I actively hate it.

I’ve tried for a long time to convince myself that writing critical analysis of anime was something that I enjoyed, or would enjoy if I got good enough at it. And to a certain degree, I believed that. After all, what better way to express my visceral, almost instinctual love of the medium and the many delights it has shown me over the years than to learn how to break down the things that make it so wonderful, to explain in detail and with clarity the reasons why the anime I so loved were so good, so wonderful, so critically excellent. What could be better than defending my love of the medium at large and the shows that I felt embodied its brightest potential, than convincing others less versed in anime to give those shows a chance, to experience and cherish them as I did. Surely such an outcome would more than make up for the hours spent hashing out my thoughts into a coherent post, the creeping doubts about my limited knowledge of critical theory, the ever-present fear of getting my analysis “wrong” and getting mocked or dismissed for it. Surely, it would be worth it.

But it never was.

I don’t keep up with many anime YouTubers, but I am subscribed to a few of the bigger channels, and occasionally I’ll watch/listen to a video or two while doing other things at work or around my apartment. This afternoon, Gigguk’s new video, “The Perfect Anime”, popped up on my Recommended feed, so I clicked on it. Eight minutes later, I was on the verge of breaking down completely into a sobbing mess, desperately hoping no one would walk by and see me visibly holding back tears through my office window.

The point Gigguk makes in that video might be obvious to some of you, but to me it was a revelation. I had been missing the point entirely. My favorite anime aren’t my favorites because they are “critically excellent” or “objectively good”. They are my favorites because they subjectively spoke to me in some way. I don’t have to defend anime I like with critical analysis and argumentation, or convince others that the anime I like are “good”, or be afraid of getting it “wrong”. Not that critical analysis is a bad thing, but critical excellence was never the reason that I loved any given anime, and so using critical analysis to justify to the world my appreciation for the anime I enjoy makes absolutely no sense at all.

No wonder I hated writing about anime.

So what does this mean for me as an anime blogger, and more importantly, anime fan? I’m not entirely sure yet, to be honest. I definitely still want to write about anime in some respect, and I still want to improve as a writer and build The Sketch Dynamic into an anime blog worthy of its ostentatious name. But I think from here on out, my job as an anime blogger is to express how the anime I watch connected with me, to share with others the impact they have on me, whether that impact be good, bad, or nonexistent. I want to get better at expressing in written form how the anime that I enjoy speak to me, so that those who read my blog can understand and decide for themselves whether they think it would speak to them in a similar way. If I can do that, if I can express why I enjoy anime without foolishly worrying about what other people may think or changing what I think to align with the prevailing viewpoint, if I can be true to myself and this medium I love, and share that with those around me…

If I can do that, everything else should fall into place.

8 thoughts on ““The Perfect Anime”: A Response

  1. Just wanted to chime in here and say I’m really happy for you, and I’m proud that my words could mean something to someone else. Writing critically about anime or any media is never about being right, but being able to find ways to properly articulate your opinions in a way that can be informative and compelling at the same time. But it has to come from something YOU truly believe in, not some facts and theory you read from an article (they should be used as something to compliment your opinion of anything)

    If you can articulate your thoughts and feelings as well as you did in this post, you will be able to write some great things in the future!

    -Gig

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. At least you realized that now and you have the chance to blog in a way that feels more natural and liberating for you. As for me, I just say what I want to say on my blog. I never said I was objective because as an anime fan, I don’t believe there is such a thing. All of us have different preferences. As a result, well, I get a lot of hate messages which in turn just makes me write using stronger terms to make my point. Anyway, good for you. You’ll get past this, and become truer to yourself as a blogger and anime fan. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the kind response. That’s one of the things I’ve enjoyed about reading your posts–you’re not afraid to say what you think, in no uncertain terms, forget the haters. I’ve never been in the position of receiving hate messages, but should that happen in the future, I hope to be able to deal with them in a similarly constructive way. Cheers! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re very welcome. I enjoyed your post. And yay! Thank you very much. Ahahaha! Well, I wouldn’t be able to keep on blogging the way I’m blogging if I let the haters affect me that much. But thank you! I appreciate it. I hope this post is the start of a new, more liberating blogging journey for you. Cheers!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t usually watch Gigguk’s stuff, but that video hit the nail on the head. And even though I already try to consume and evaluate art in this way, it’s always nice to get some reinforcement, so thanks for pointing me to this video.

    Despite believing that consuming art basically comes down to how much it resonates with me, I still have this drive to dissect why something resonated with me. This is where critical theory comes in handy: it helps contextualize your feelings on a show, but it should never replace the feelings themselves. I personally use a lot of made-up theory in my reviews, and I have no guilt about it since it just helps me explain myself. And if someone disagrees with me, hopefully we can have a civil discussion about it.

    Of course, not everyone has the time or energy to dig deep on what elements of the show worked for them. I think the direction you want your blog to achieve is very admirable. It’s what I want to achieve too. However, it’s easier said than done, for me anyway, to actually discern accurately why a show worked for me. It’s a constant work in progress, but my desire to learn about myself and my tastes prevents me from giving up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re quite welcome–I’m glad I was able to point someone else to it. I suspect there are a lot of people in a similar position to you or me that could benefit from seeing it as well.

      You make a good point about the role of critical theory in fleshing out and explaining your feelings on a given show, and I totally agree. Where I was going wrong was that I thought my feelings on a show were worthless if I couldn’t apply critical theory to “convince” others that they should have the same feelings about the show, or at least to defend or somehow “legitimize” my feelings, as if the experiences and beliefs that shape me as a person, those things that the show managed to resonate with, weren’t good enough on their own. I’m not saying I won’t ever eventually teach myself critical theory or get into critical analysis of anime (or start making up my own theory, that’s actually a really good idea, haha!), but if I do, it will be for the sake of learning more about the medium and sharing any insights I may glean with others to enhance our appreciation of the medium. As Gigguk commented above, complementing my feelings on the show, not replacing them, should be the goal.

      Thanks for sharing! I wish you the best on that work in progress–I’ll be right there with ya!

      Liked by 1 person

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