This is just a thought I had recently after doing some reading, so figured I’d articulate it here.
It’s about building up experience watching anime and how that affects our perception and judgement of the anime we watch.
Something I’ve realized over the past few years of reading anime reviews on WordPress is that I feel like I can figure out fairly accurately whether someone is new to watching anime or not. I could be wrong, but I feel like I’m often not.
Basically, I’ve noticed that people who are newer to watching anime seem to be much more generous with their reviews. I even get the impression sometimes that there is no anime they would dislike, although that’s not necessarily the case. The point is that I feel like people who haven’t yet watched many anime tend to really get fired up about whatever they’re watching, even if from my perspective, it’s an average (or below) anime.
This isn’t just something I’ve realized from reading reviews though, because I know for a fact that I was the exact same way when I started watching anime. For the first several years I was watching anything and everything, and it felt like no matter what I watched, everything was amazing. But then as years went on and on, I began to develop more refined preferences, and better identify what I did and didn’t like. The number of anime that felt like a “10” slowly decreased, until the average anime was just a “7”. Even if that “7” was previously a “10” in my mind.
Of the ~500 anime I’ve watched, I’d say that I’ve re-watched at least 200 of them. Revisiting and reevaluating my old opinions and impressions of an anime is nothing new to me. And of course, I’ve noticed that many anime that I once thought were great, I didn’t think were as great the second time through, even if I still enjoyed them. D-Frag! was a good example of that, because I loved it the first time, and the second time, I thought it was just good, not great.
The reason for this is simply that there is a big difference between then and now – I have more anime to compare to now. Comparisons are a very important aspect to our ability to judge something’s quality. If I’ve never seen or played a video game before, and someone hands me an original copy of Tetris, Tetris then becomes the baseline for what I define as a video game. But as I play more and more games, I begin to identify more and more nuances and differences between video games, and am able to use them to better formulate what I like and dislike in a video game.
Anime is no different. When we watch a slice of life anime for the first time, all we know of the genre is that single anime. And so it’s difficult to really nail down what’s done right, what isn’t, what we liked, what we disliked, and so on in a slice of life anime. But if we’ve seen 50 slice of life anime, well now it’s much easier for us to discern those things. There are so many qualities that we often pull from when judging or reviewing an anime based on our past experiences with other anime.
Characters, genres, sub-genres, tropes, jokes, animation, et cetera. Someone who has a lot of experience to pull from will find it easier to make connections between what they’re watching and what they’ve watched. Statements like “this reminds me of _____”, or “this is a worse ______”, or “so and so reminds me of ______” are quite common from what I’ve seen in reviews. And it’s only natural that we would pull from our past experiences in order to better define our opinions on something new to us.
Anime is really no different from anything else in that regard. There’s the video game example I gave earlier, but then there’s also one that I thought was good which is that of a wine connoisseur. The wine connoisseur is someone who enjoys wine, and essentially drinks it as a hobby (or career). Not just one type / vintage, but many. The wine connoisseur tastes wines of all kinds, and as a result, is more able to put the differences between types / vintages into words, and is better able to define their own preferences.
Those of us who have countless hours of anime under our belts are basically just that – anime connoisseurs.
I remember I used to think on how I wished I could go back to when I started out watching anime, when I could watch anything and love it. But I’ve realized that thanks to all of the experience I’ve gained watching anime, I’m just more able to identify what I like and dislike now, and why.
This is something that I feel like we can pick up on in a review – the reviewer’s anime experience. Perhaps it’s not always obvious, but generally, I feel like I can form a good idea as to how experienced the reviewer is based on how their review is written. At least when it comes to newer anime watchers.
I feel like there definitely are diminishing returns on how much new experience affects our opinions and tastes. Like the difference between having seen 1 and 5 slice of life anime versus having seen 50 and 75 slice of life anime.
Anyways, that was just the thought that I had.
What do you all think?
Have you noticed any reviews that you thought were maybe written by someone who is newer to anime?
And have you noticed your own tastes in anime becoming more refined over time?
Until next time,
Thanks for reading.