I’ve seen it unfold.
The way an anime season begins, and upon the end of the first episode, numerous seasonal hits rise to the top of the charts on anime databases. A quick look at MyAnimeList shows that eight currently-airing shows (there could be more) have reached the top thousand in terms of average rating, with a few of those also being within the top five-hundred. These specific series also share certain similarities that are hard to overlook, at least in a general sense: six of those eight titles are either new seasons of previously-shown works or isekai titles (one is both).
This in mind, I look upon the selection of anime titles that will be airing weekly and all I can think to myself is “Wow, these all look boring, safe, or overdone.” The numerous amounts of sequels, trendy shows, and tryhard synopses turn me away in a similarly alarming fashion as it has in recent seasons past. Such anxiety likely says a lot more about me than it does the state of the industry, but it’s notable enough for me as an aspiring professional critic to ponder over as I try to balance my own thoughts with what the majority wants in a specific form of media.
Y’know what the majority doesn’t want? Anime about skeletons. I want anime about skeletons, and I got one this season. It’s a win for me and very few others.
So, at its core, a lot of what this post will cover will be about the priorities I have in various airing (or non-airing) anime that I have to decide to watch and (probably) review and recommend to a majority who doesn’t share my interests. All this, of course, applies to media outside of anime, but for the sake of my blog’s primary audience, it’s a lot easier to focus on anime and anime-related topics.
I like anime that are different. I am much more willing to try an anime if its synopsis, genre combinations, or shtick is weird or different. I am someone who tends to encourage some differentiation and risk-taking in the face of a more safe alternative, a la adhering to trends or continuing an established formula. This is not a constant, all-encompassing opinion, but it is one that I feel defines me more than not. At the same time, the emphasis of “being different” doesn’t have to be all at once.
I considered watching Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken simply because… well, it’s incredibly odd. The only reason I held off was because it’s an isekai show, and the drawbacks of that genre have cropped up no matter what series I view under the moniker. Still a possible watch down the road, but it’s something with only a synopsis that includes “The main character gets reincarnated as a blob of slime” that makes me go “Oh, that’s interesting.”
As such, it becomes harder for me to reach an extended audience past those with similar interests. I’m not willing to watch popular airing titles such as Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken, Sword Art Online: Alicization, or Goblin Slayer because I’m almost certain I won’t care for them. It’ll become a running joke that if I watch any series with similarities to other shows I’ve absolutely blasted in the past, I’ll end up blasting it again. Kapodaco didn’t like an isekai show? Shocking! It becomes boring and predictable, not to mention potentially painful as I have to sit through something I may not care for.
Furthermore, it’ll become a running joke that I only care about weird anime. Kapodaco is obsessing over this skeleton anime that nobody else but the most dedicated anime watcher is watching because it’s non-mainstream? Shocker! With how few titles I’ve picked out the last… year(?), my spring of potential anime reviews runs dry, and becomes limited to those that directly cater to my own interests. In that sense, I’m only preaching to the choir of my own clones—I’m recommending titles that have a specific skillset that best entertains or enraptures me. Some may come as a surprise, but ultimately, what props one up past others is that initial spice of non-conformity.
What I’ve tried to do recently—particularly with my KeenGamer reviews—is report the overall details of a particular topic and leave them to the interpretation of the audience (in addition to my own criticisms, of course). That way, I can be both informative and critical, avoiding becoming overbearing (is this grammar?) with my own interpretation to allow some freedom of dialogue with the audience. I’ve come to a self-prescribed realization (as in no one has ever confirmed it for me) that my posts tend to exist as a form of “This is what I think” signboard for people to read and register. They do little to invite dialogue and/or seem welcoming of contrasting opinions, qualities I wish to erase.
With that, I hope to make a somewhat muddy topic a little clearer, not that I think people had it on their mind to any lengthy extent. It’s a risky venture as a critic to talk about the things they genuinely enjoy without alienating those who don’t agree. It’s something that’s crossed my mind every so often since starting this blog and will likely be something to discuss later on in the future when I’ve become a “weird anime” fanatic. Before that time comes, I’ll simply enjoy the grace of having an anime about a skeleton to watch weekly.
Thanks for reading and enjoy your time-of-day! Feel free to let me know whether this topic made sense at all or what you think I could do to better explain it.