I recently started watching Schwarzesmarken. I also recently stopped watching Schwarzesmarken. And I’m writing this basically because I guess I needed closure. I haven’t completed every anime, and I never will, and I’m okay with that.
To understand why I needed this, you need to know there is a side to the anime community that I can’t stand. It’s a phenomenon that I see amongst other fandom too, music buffs, film nuts etc but it seems more prevalent amongst us. Maybe it’s just because I’m closer to it, I can’t be sure. Whatever the case, it stinks, and I hate it.
The scourge of which I speak is I guess best described as Elitism. It’s the “Oh my, you haven’t seen that?!”. The “Ugh, I can’t believe you like that”. The “You call yourself a fan when you’ve only seen x amount of anime?”. Now, as it stands, according to myanimelist.net (quick plug, if you’re not on here, it’s a great site for keeping track of where you’re at with shows if you’re watching multiple, and gives notifications when a show you want to watch is starting) I’ve currently watched 90 anime, am watching 8, have 7 on hold and have dropped 11. Now that’s probably a few more than Billy on the street, but it’s nothing compared to some, you should see the stats of the other guys on this site for example. Does this make me any less of a fan? Does this make me any less entitled to partake in conversations? Does is make my views and opinions less valid? (Fraser, don’t answer that, it’s rhetorical)
Back to Schwarzesmarken, let me state that I don’t think it’s a bad anime. But 4 episodes in I decided it really wasn’t for me. I wasn’t gelling with the characters and while the central premise was fairly interesting, it wasn’t gripping me. So rather than waste time slogging through it out of some weird duty, I have let it go. Initially, I felt strangely guilty, but I am coming to terms with it. Earlier this year I set myself an arbitrary target of having completed 100 anime by the end of 2016, I can’t even remember why, but I now honestly don’t care. I’m taking myself out of this d**k measuring contest and just enjoying the art form because that’s what it’s there for. Go ahead, laugh at my little wiener, at least I’m having fun with it. Let’s take 2 more examples, Kill La Kill and Gurren Lagann. Many consider these essential anime. I tried them both, and both are now on my “dropped” list. I wasn’t feeling them, they just weren’t for me, so rather than spend hours of my life watching them in order to earn some invisible badge of honour, I walked away safe in the knowledge that I gave it a fair try, and I now have more time to focus on the things I do like. There is so much anime out there I haven’t seen that I want to get to. Spending my time on shows I don’t want to watch in an attempt to avoid ridicule from narrow-minded idiots will only ironically deprive me of precious time needed to see some of the truly great pieces of Japanese animation out there.
I understand that there are some shows that take a while to get going. Take my favourite anime, Steins;Gate. Truth be told, very little happens in that show up until episode 12 (well it does, but you wouldn’t know it on your first viewing), and I could understand why someone might give up on it. But I loved the characters, and I wasn’t really too worried about what was going on, I just enjoyed spending time with them so I kept watching and it paid off. Or on the other side, another favourite of mine Psycho-Pass. Initially, I could not stand the main character, Tsunemori, and I almost stopped watching, but I liked the other characters and found the plot and setting fascinating so I stuck with it, and that was one of the best decisions I ever made. The difference between these shows and the 11 I’ve dropped is that there was at least something I liked about them that made me want to keep going. I take the same philosophy with games. I’ve lost count of the amount of times people have told me that Final Fantasy XIII is actually really good about 20 hours in. 20 hours?! You expect me to slog through 20 hours of boring gameplay to maybe get to something I will enjoy. Life’s too short. In that time I could have played another better game and moved on to the next.
Now don’t get me wrong. If you have watched 100, 500, 1000+ anime. that’s awesome, and I’m not trying to take anything away from that. All I’m saying is that I’m a man of limited time, I watch anime because I enjoy it, and I plan to keep it that way. No-one should feel marginalised or feel like they’re not allowed to enjoy anime just because they haven’t seen such and such for whatever reason, or conversely, because they like something that you may not like, or weirdly sometimes because they like a show that’s gained popularity. Watch what you like, don’t watch what you don’t want to, and don’t let anybody tell you any different. Watching anime is not a numbers game. It’s not a sprint. It’s not even a marathon, at least not for me. For me, it’s a gentle stroll, and I plan to enjoy the view.