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.