Do I Have Anime Veteran Bias?

Maybe anime veteran bias isn’t the best term for what I am thinking of here…

Lately I’ve been thinking about how I judge anime, and comparing my observations / enjoyment to what I would have thought when I started out watching anime. I was just much less critical back then!

For the first year or so of discovering & watching anime, I loved everything I watched. Didn’t matter what it was. Harem, ecchi, action, shounen, mecha, fantasy, et cetera. I just enjoyed watching anime. I look back now on some of the titles that I watched and am fairly surprised that I sat through 12-24 episodes of certain anime. Present day Yomu would have some serious trouble re-watching some of the anime in his anime list.

So this made me wonder, is there a tangible anime veteran bias? I can guarantee that if I actually rated anime (something I don’t do on MAL), I would have rated many anime higher back then than I would today. And even anime that I have watched recently, such as Black Cat, I know I would have rated higher had I watched it back in 2013. At the very least, I feel like I would have enjoyed it more.

But what causes this to happen?

kaiki4

I believe it mostly boils down to repetition.

Anime is filled with repetition, on a very large scale. Repetition to the point where an entire anime feels similar to other anime of the same genre. The magic high school genre (sub-genre?) is my favourite example for this. Chivalry of a Failed Knight is close to the same anime as Asterisk War. This is the example I use the most frequently, because both anime are eerily similar (although Chivalry is the better anime in my opinion).

Here are more examples though: Seireitsukai no Blade Dance, Seikoku no Dragonar, Trinity Seven, Juuou Mujin no Fafnir, Seiken Tsukai no World Break, Saijaku Muhai no Bahamut, Date A Live, Absolute Duo. These aren’t all the SAME anime, but like Chivalry and Asterisk, they all have MANY similarities. Unfortunately my love for fantasy & magic in anime often leads me to harem anime…

Julis

Anyways my point here is that it can get tiring watching the same formula over and over. A concept that feels fresh and exciting the first couple of times quickly becomes unoriginal. I THINK the first anime that I saw out of all the above listed anime was Seireitsukai no Blade Dance, and I remember really enjoying it. I wonder if this would be the case now, if I was to re-watch it. I recently re-watched Absolute Duo, and my experience the second time through was much worse than the first, even after I had forgotten almost everything about the anime. I wonder how many of the above anime I would even enjoy today.

The first time experiencing any kind of anime will always be an adventure into the unknown. Can the same be said for a similar anime after the 10th time? 20th time?
I don’t think so.

It may still be enjoyable, but the unknown element is gone. Sort of like how many people will say that the first Dark Souls game they played was the most enjoyable / their favourite.

Once you’ve graduated from the unknown, you now have the ability to compare what you are currently watching to what you have seen done in the past. You can become more critical of what you are watching as a result.

sad

When I first started watching anime, I just absorbed it without really thinking about it. Back then, I didn’t have a repertoire of anime in my memories that allowed me to be critical. But now it’s not like that. Now I see an anime doing something wrong and think “this could have been done better”, or “X anime is an example of an anime that did this better”. Thoughts like these are pretty common in my head now when I watch anime. It’s much easier to be critical now that I’ve been exposed to so many anime.

It’s not just overall plots and themes though. Anime utilizes repetitive elements from top to bottom. Clichés and tropes come in all sizes. From the simple bloody nose to tsunderes. Some repetitive elements translate across genres, others don’t.

All of this is just something that I’ve realized recently.

I used to read reviews on MAL and think “These people are a bunch of elitists, nitpicking at everything. Why can’t they just enjoy the anime?”. To be fair, I’m sure there are a lot of elitists and stuck up anime reviewers out there.  But at the same time, I’ve gotten to the point where I understand why anime fans become this way. If Yomu from 2013 watched Black Cat and then read my recent review of it, I’m sure he would have thought I was an elitist too, to some degree.

It used to seem like nitpicking to me. Those same elements that I would have considered nitpicking back then I might consider obvious flaws today.

what
Maybe this wouldn’t have seemed so weird to me back then.

So my next question would then be: is it repetition, or experience that causes this “elitist” mindset to form? Is there even a difference between the two?

The most extreme difference I guess would be someone who watched the same anime over and over compared to someone who watched a variety of anime from different genres. So in this sense, I guess you could say that they are different. But then again, as I’ve mentioned, anime is very repetitive in many ways, and watching similar anime over and over is a great way to pick up on flaws and differences.

Experience and repetition go pretty hand in hand in this case I think.

moustache
Take it from me, the epitome of experience and repetition.

Anyways, back on topic.

Are anime veterans more harsh on anime, and rate anime more harshly as a result?

I wish I had an easy way to test this.

The only way I could think of would be to go through 50+ profiles on MAL, new and old, and compare their ratings on specific anime (like Sword Art Online, Black Cat, et cetera).

Maybe one day I’ll come back and verify my claims here, but until then I’m just going to write what I think is the case with no real proof.

I think that anime veterans ARE more harsh on AVERAGE anime, but more soft on UNIQUE anime. That’s my personal theory.

Anime like Black Cat which have clear flaws and follow an overused shounen pattern would probably get a worse rating from a veteran than a newer anime viewer. But anime that stick out as different, like Baccano!, probably get higher ratings from veterans than they would from the typical new anime viewer.

This is just anecdotal, but I’ve noticed that many anime reviewers take the time to mention when an anime goes against the typical standards. Words like “ambitious, creative, and refreshing” I see often when an anime does something DIFFERENT. Even if it doesn’t work out, we like to applaud the attempt. We notice these things.

mother
How I feel when I praise an anime for trying.

Personally, I’d rather watch a creative anime that is interesting, than a typical anime that has amazing production values but follows an industry checklist. I’ve seen enough standard anime, to the point where I have become one of the “elitist” anime reviewers that I used to question.

An anime veteran with some serious bias against average anime.

That being said, I don’t explicitly dislike average anime, but I am definitely more critical of average anime.

Anyways that’s all I wanted to write about. I originally wanted to write a “Yomu Investigates…” looking into this, but I don’t see an easy way to test the effects of the Anime Veteran Bias. I would have loved to get some numbers on it though, testing on various anime like Sword Art Online or Black Cat. Or even harem anime. What is the statistical difference in ratings between a 3+ years anime viewer and a viewer with less than 1 year on their account?

I’m sure there is a trend, whether it is my personal theory I mentioned earlier, or something else.

greycat
No thanks Cat. I’ve had enough.

This ended up being quite the ramble! One thing that I love to do is look back on myself and my mindset, and compare it to where I am now. So I probably found this topic more interesting than most. Hopefully you enjoyed this anyways!

Until next time.
Thanks for reading!

 

7 thoughts on “Do I Have Anime Veteran Bias?

  1. I completely agree! I was just talking to my buddies about that.

    Especially that I would be softer on something unique over something safe and standard.

    And shows that SEEM status quo on the surface and then deconstruct or betray your expectations end up with HUGE bonus points.

    There is something to be said for a refreshing anime!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true! Unexpected twists on a seemingly average anime like that are awesome.

      Conversely, there’s those anime that start out feeling creative & interesting, and then somehow manage to open up to an average / predictable plot…

      Like

  2. I generally care more about the execution over if it does something new. Just recently I finished a shounen anime called Ushio & Tora by MAPPA that was a simplistic. It doesn’t do much outside of the box for a shounen, but I found it refreshing because I’ve seen too many shounen recently that try their hands at too much, and fail in the process. Ushio & Tora was entertaining, and enjoyable for me because it didn’t try to bite off more than what it could chew. Unlike shounen like Boku no Hero which expects me to cry for its MC in two episodes, or Seraph of the End that wants to take it setting seriously when the world doesn’t feel much different from our own.

    At the same time, when I first watched Date A Live I found the first episode to be atrocious on every level, but overall time I ended up warming up to the series, and liking it despite my best instinct that I shouldn’t! It was way too similar too Infinite Stratos which I disliked with my criticism towards Startos being able to apply to Date A Live in some areas.

    I think another thing that could add to the bias is too much of a good thing. I know a few anime fans on a Discord server who simply watched all classic anime in one go, and when they got to something that didn’t reach the level of those classic title they simply hate on those animes. Something I found decent like the sports anime One Outs some in the server consider complete trash when compared to Ashita no Joe.

    It’s a part of getting older, and consuming the things you love more. You want something to recapture that feeling of immense joy like the first few animes you’ve seen, but get less, and less of those experiences. Of course, one can always watch the Wounded Man OVA immediately making whatever they watch next look great by comparison lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had a similar experience with Date A Live – ended up liking it by the end despite my negative initial impressions.

      But yeah, you’re right about execution being important. While a creative anime can be considered “refreshing”, an anime that just does something perfectly can also be considered “refreshing”, standing out through proper execution alone. Thanks for mentioning that – I’ve been pretty caught up on creativity in anime, but focusing on execution really is a good point that I want to keep in mind now.

      I’ve definitely seen people who snub anything that isn’t on the level of classic anime. Sort of like how there are people who will always live behind the “they don’t make anime as good as they used to” and maintain an anti-newer anime approach to everything.

      It sort of makes me glad that I started out with more average anime, because I could see people that jump right into FMAB, Steins Gate, etc. getting a little disenfranchised when they run out of the big popular titles like that. But then again, somehow Tokyo Ghoul is popular and I think it’s awful, so what do I know..

      Liked by 1 person

  3. RisefromAshes

    I think it depends on the person and personality as well. I only recently became critical of anime because I sometimes, review it. Having watched anime for over a decade I can tell you I watched way too much ‘average’ anime but it didn’t really feel like it since I watched a variety of genres from a variety of eras. Eventually, people feel out the genres they like and don’t mind watching it a million times over (mine is the sports anime genre), and some people just watch what’s popular regardless if they’ve seen it before.

    It is an interesting idea to see when an anime fan becomes an elitist. That I’m vary curious about since I never really (or at least I hope I haven’t) had that moment of being an ‘elitist’. Sure, I like the handful of anime I like but aside from some friends in high school, I never tried to justify why I liked it and why it was the best and everything else was shit. Then again, maybe I’ve been elist this whole time and never realized it O.O a scary thought.

    But thanks for sharing! It’s certainly food for thought gven the community of anime reviewers we have here.

    Like

    1. I get what you mean. Fantasy anime pretty much always manage to get me interested in some way or another, even if a lot of them are not so good.
      And that’s what I’m wondering as well. I’m not entirely sure if I’m at the point where my past self would call me an elitist, but I feel like I’m definitely more elitist than I used to be. But I guess developing standards is just a part of the process, and everyone would move in that direction.

      Thanks for the comment! I’m hoping to actually test this out at some point, either on MAL or some other anime site.

      Like

      1. RisefromAshes

        It’s always interesting to see what genre people are always drawn too. My younger self would be fantasy but somehow I’m here deep in the sports genre. lol

        I would for sure phrase it more as developing standards rather then elitism. Elitism usually comes with gate keeping and telling people their waifu isn’t shit. I really don’t get that vibe from anyone in the ani-blogging community, and certainly not from you!

        No problem! I’ll be curious about your results whenever they’re ready!

        Like

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