Around early April, late March, I made a chart to check the distribution of material I was covering in Story Pile, and then the stuff I had planned to watch. I made this chart because I realised that there were anime I was looking to cover, but I already had covered an anime in that month. And then I realised that my initial idea to keep the distribution of content varied, which was to write anime articles starting in november and work towards the current now, had kinda hit a wall, because I had already watched more than twelve anime this year.
The anime had caught up with containment.
The anime had breached.
There was no plan to make this blog ‘about’ anime as a primary form of the story pile. The original plan was in an attempt to engage with anime (something I like) more, I would plan to watch at least one, a month, and write about it. This plan meant I grabbed a bunch of stuff that looked interesting, and then it started. I watched some anime dubbed at double speed to rip through it, to remind myself of specific points in specific shows.
Hey, did you know there’s a video sharing website like Youtube that’s primarily for Indonesian users? And that they put anime up there with dubs in their (sometimes very specific) languages? As far as fun group projects to do with your besties, ‘let’s all dub an anime together’ is pretty sweet, considering how likely you are to have your interests underserved anyway, and it’d teach you a lot about how to make things and do dubbing tracks.
It also reminded me that as much as anime is being made available for me in maximally convenient ways these days, there are still these uneven distributions. Funimation don’t subtitle the opening songs – which is a really weird thing since that’s a thing fansubbers have been doing for decades and their absence actually makes Funimation’s work look less professional. I want to know what the themes of the opening song to Kageki Shojo is, dammit!
But still, I wound up going: Hang on, this is becoming an anime blog.
It’s weird, though, because it’s not like I felt the need to defend the blog material when, thanks to a Netflix subscription, I was watching entire series of Star Trek at a time. Or that there were periods where the Story Pile featured a bunch of movies all in a row. What’s extra surprising to me, as I engage with this, is the way that I feel apologetic about this, like hey, I know you didn’t sign up to learn about anime, you came here for other stuff.
But nobody’s said that.
I have a friend who isn’t into anime. He rightly points out filler elements in it, and the ways that the genre does things like explicate things with dialogue that you wouldn’t see done in non-anime sources. Regardless of why things are this way, this doesn’t change the fact that anime observably has trends for storytelling and budget extension that works on different rules. A diet of nothing but anime builds a reference pool that is, mostly, other anime, and that kind of thing is what leads to heavy anime fans (in my experience) having a very basic vision of storytelling, because they’re too marinated in the experience of anime’s conventional structures.
It also means they’re probably way too okay with some of the things that anime does which we file, in general, under ‘Anime Bullshit.’ Things like weird age ranges or dubious consent communication, or even less obviously odious things like the way that these stories overwhelmingly are about finding a place to operate within a system, rather than doing things to destroy or replace those systems.
(It’s getting better.)
The big reason I find myself watching anime lately, though, is a practice of sharing time with Fox away from our computers. I still have my phone on me – if people need me, I want to be able to talk to them! – but to watch anime together, we have to get away from the computer, sit on the couch together, and focus on the show. We can talk to one another, but there’s no other tasks that get done, no cooking or baking or cleaning — it really is just time spent, with one another, as we share in a media experience. Fox can do exercises for her wrists, I can take some time to rest my hands, and all of this while we get to watch a radio announcer lose her mind.
The subtitles really pin me in place – I can’t just ignore what’s going on in a show, and catch up from context clues in the same way to jog my memory of what I heard while I wasn’t focused.
This isn’t the only way I’m watching anime. I also have some anime I put on monitor 2 and watch while I’m doing more rote things on monitor 1. Minecraft or Pokemon are both great anime watching material, just grinding through some simple things that don’t need a lot of active attention. Digging through text for references and rewording things to make more sense? Easy to do while watching anime. I didn’t burn through a whole season of Jujutsu Kaisen in a day without a lot of fiddly word choices to pick through.
Which means that anime suits me right now. It doesn’t hurt things that anime of the past few years has been really good. The stories they’re being based on are developed more, there’s less filler and padding, and the stuff they choose to be about seem more focused? It wasn’t planned, but man, there’s so much cool anime happening right now and I’m really glad I’m getting to enjoy it, especially with Fox.
And that means that this blog is gunna be a bit of an anime blog for a while. Don’t worry, I am mixing it up! I’ve written about more books this year than I expected, because books are usually really hard to engage with with so much of my day to day involving reading these days.