Why I Fell In Love With Anime and Why I Grew to Hate It – Part 5

It’s the finale! If you haven’t read from the beginning, start with Part 1! Otherwise, let’s wrap this up!

Hating it

It’s one thing if a show is bad and isn’t worth watching. It’s one thing if a show is expensive and isn’t worth buying. It’s one thing if a show is repetitive, and you’ve seen whatever it’s doing either in said show or somewhere else.

However, it’s another thing entirely for a show to have over half its episodes, with the exception of what clothes the characters are wearing and some different scene angles, be literally the same exact thing.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was a weird show. Not weird like Excel Saga or FLCL, which was more like a cartoony and random sort of weird. I can’t really explain it; Haruhi herself was a pretty weird girl amongst a pretty average and realistic world. Weird stuff happened in the show, but I always got the impression I was supposed to wonder if any of the weird stuff was actually happening, or if it was some kind of hallucination or delusion by the main character, who craved normalcy in his life. I think the original season was broadcast in Japan out of its chronological order – stuff like that is the kind of weird this show brought to the table.

So when the second season was released in North America, I picked it up from Best Buy and couldn’t wait to watch it. It was only 14 episodes long, so I felt like I could find time for it; a new semester of college had just begun and I wasn’t too overloaded with assignments yet. I don’t remember if it was on the back of the box or an insert inside (this was one of the shows I sold, so I can’t check), but I noticed that a whopping eight of these episodes were all titled something like “Endless Eight Part 1,” “Part 2,” etc.

“Okay, cool,” I thought. “There’s going to be an ongoing arc of some kind in this season.”

I watched the first episode of this arc. “Okay,” I said.

I watched the second episode. “Oh, I get it. ‘Endless Eight.’ They’re stuck in a time loop and need to figure out how to get out of it.” This episode was more or less the same thing as the last one. I can’t remember the details exactly (which is a little weird, considering the same thing happened eight episodes in a row), but each episode of this arc consisted of the same opening, the same middle, and the same ending. By the end of each episode, they realize they’ve been reliving the same day over and over again, but then the time loop restarts and this pattern repeats in the next episode.

If there was new dialogue, if the characters didn’t have to keep realizing they were stuck in a time loop, if they made consistent effort towards finding a way to stop the time loop during these eight episodes, I feel like this would have been much more likable.

But there wasn’t. I can’t stress enough how repetitive this arc was. Like I mentioned above, the only things that really changed were what clothes the characters were wearing and having some different angles during certain scenes. Anime can be very repetitive; I’ve seen the same tropes and plot devices reused and abused a lot by now. Single events can be drawn out for episodes at a time because characters won’t stop talking about it and just let it happen.

But this… this was a new one. I had never seen something that had the balls to literally rebroadcast the same exact episode eight times in a row. It was, without a shadow of a doubt, a complete waste of time. I was hoping, praying, that when each new episode in this arc started, that something – anything – new would happen to justify watching it.

But it didn’t. Over half of this new season was literally the same episode over and over again. The other episodes were good enough, but naturally, I really couldn’t enjoy them considering the whole Endless Eight thing. It was stupid. It was dumb.

And I felt really taken advantage of.

Ever since I first started collecting anime, I always paid for it. With the exception of a bonus episode of .hack//SIGN that wasn’t included in my box set and a couple of pirated DVDs friends in high school lent me, I never watched anything uploaded by fans on YouTube or read anything on one of those fan-translation sites. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I took this so much to heart, but after the second season of Haruhi, I was speechless. I always wanted to support anime, and any form of art for that matter, in as much of a realistic way as possible. If a show was available on DVD, I would buy or rent it. If it was on TV, I would watch it. If a manga was in the process of being localized, I would buy it or borrow from the library. I’d borrow from friends when I could, and I’d eventually buy my own copies if I liked something enough. I wasn’t comfortable with fan-translation sites. I knew how much work gets poured into making art. I wanted to support those creators. Even if the work wasn’t good. Even if it got lazy. I didn’t want to pirate.

But the second season of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was different. I heard some of the people that worked on the show publicly apologized for Endless Eight. You know something’s bad when that has to happen. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but it was extremely lazy and sleazy. For the first time in my life as an anime fan, I couldn’t justify why I paid for this. It cost $50 for this second season. I’ve already been a little miffed for the past few years considering I could buy entire 26-ish episode seasons for the same price when I was in high school, and now I was being sold half seasons or shorter seasons with 13-ish episodes for the same price. But I mean okay, whatever. The definition of a season changed or they did away with individual DVDs in lieu of season x part y or whatever. Fine. Times changed, I adjusted. But to sell a season where 8 of its 14 episodes were the same thing, and then selling it to unsuspecting anime fans as an entirely new season?

No. No, anime. No. That’s a bad anime. Go in the corner, anime. Think about what you’ve done.

I don’t want to say this one particular bad experience is what drove me over the edge, but considering I was losing interest in anime for about a year now, I couldn’t help but feel this purchase is what finally made me seriously reconsider what I was spending my money on. I’ve always heard people criticize me for buying the North American releases, whether it was for the quality of the voice acting and translation, or whether it was because I could have just watched it for free online. But you know what? You learn a lot about yourself when you realize what you’re willing to pay for. It’s easy to say you’re a fan of anything when you’re consuming it at a constant rate with no cost to you, but things change when you pay for stuff yourself. I loved anime. I bought it. And for years I truly felt the payoff was worth it. But the past year I was slowly feeling like my money could have gone towards better things. And after the second season of Haruhi, I decided to stop picking up every show that mildly piqued my interest. From then on, I was only going to buy stuff I really wanted.

Well unfortunately, that never happened. A month later was Halloween 2010. The story I opened up this entire retrospective with played out. I was watching the end of Soul Eater with a friend and one of his high school friends. They were awestruck in the way I was as a kid, watching “intense” fights in shows like Pokemon and Dragonball Z. And for whatever reason, I thought it was stupid. It felt really childish. I never noticed before now, but anime has a tendency to take mature subject matter like death, violence, and sex but doesn’t usually present it in a mature way. There’s a lot of melodrama in anime. Someone’s always screaming to avenge somebody else or saying things like “You bastard!!!” or “I’ll kill you!!!” Someone’s always interrupting a scene to explain what’s happening, like I didn’t have the mental capability to process that information for myself. A serious scene can never stay serious when the animation style does a complete 180 to make some kind of silly, cartoony joke with “chibi” style characters. Contrast can be good, but the way it works in anime just seems more inconsistent than anything else. I always felt annoyed that adults would never take the shows I watched seriously, but as an adult that was finally seeing their side of things, I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed as I was watching those last episodes of Soul Eater. I started thinking back on all the shows and manga I experienced in the past decade of my life, and I couldn’t help but realize the vast majority of those shows were like that obnoxious kid in middle school that acted like he knew everything but presented himself in such an immature way.

It had been a month since watching the second season of Haruhi. I hadn’t done anything anime-related since then. Maybe that step back helped me put some more perspective to things, too. I’d never been on a break that long before. Even if I wasn’t watching or reading anything, anime would be somehow involved in my life. I’d look for cool pictures online, talk to my friends about what they were watching, buy a new volume of something, etc. But this was the first time I took a much needed break. Anime is very time-consuming when you get really into it. I’ve always said it’s hard to be a casual anime fan; you usually either love it or don’t deal with it. But when you step back from it, when it stops being such a big part of your life, you start noticing how dumb it all is. Well, at least for me.

From then on, every little thing about anime just pissed me off. I don’t know why, it just really, really pissed me off. Every character trope; the same types of plots; the fights; the yelling; the way scenes get reused and faces get so many close-up shots to avoid animating; the stupid mascot sidekicks that always say some made-up word at the end of all their sentences; the over-sexualization of everyone; the merchandising of overpriced figures and other collectibles; the constant criticism for English voice acting and translations; defending English voice acting and translations; having to purchase multiple parts to a single season of a show because I was too impatient to wait for the actual full season to be released; the way characters and narrators would need to exposition the shit out of everything; how there always has to be a flashback to describe one situation or another; there’s some sick, almost sexual fascination anime has between siblings; someone’s always branding someone as a pervert even though anime is pretty perverted as a whole; characters have to stutter words in exaggerated exclamations; characters need to repeat things another character just said; the dialogue as a whole (No one ever talks like they do in anime! Everyone just recites monologues at each other!); the way a series will start with so much promise of having a fresh take on something but end up relying on plot devices and character types that have been abused to death before; the way some titles just never end; the art style –

No story ever needs to go on this long.

No story ever needs to go on this long.

Literally. Every single thing, big or small, irritated the shit out of me. I couldn’t look in anime’s general direction without feeling gross. When my friends and I went to Barnes and Noble and they checked out new manga they were collecting, I had to go somewhere else. Being in the anime section made me feel really uncomfortable. I couldn’t believe how much I used to love it, how much I believed it was the superior story-telling medium. I couldn’t believe how many positive things I felt about it.

And I couldn’t believe how quickly I came to hate it.

I know it was building up for a while, but it still feels so odd how quickly I came to hate it after that one Halloween night. I got the box sets of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai 7 for that Christmas from my friends. I don’t think they realized how much I couldn’t stand anime yet. I hadn’t seen Cowboy Bebop in years, so reliving it was nice for nostalgia’s sake, although the ending wasn’t nearly as good as I remembered. Samurai 7 was a show I’d wanted to watch since it came out when I was in high school, so I forced myself to watch it to at least complete that goal of seeing it. It was okay. I could have seen much worse after this newfound hatred for something I once loved so much. I picked up a couple of manga that I felt like I could still bear with, but that didn’t last long. By the spring of 2011 I’d taken down and packed away most of my anime stuff.

I'm embarrassed I have this much. And this isn't even counting the stuff I sold and the box of figures and other merchandise I have buried somewhere in my closet. Oh well. Get back under the bed now.

I’m embarrassed I have this much. And this isn’t even counting the stuff I sold and the box of figures and other merchandise I have buried somewhere in my closet. Oh well. Get back under the bed now.

Other things going on in my life at that time

I was debating whether or not to talk about this, because it’s only sort of related to all this anime stuff. But I figured what the hell, it might be more relevant that I thought.

I’m going to backtrack to when I transferred to my four year school. I had graduated with an A.A. in liberal arts from my community college. When I transferred, the person I spoke to at my four year school recommended choosing a more specific major. I chose literature, because even though school had discouraged me for years from reading actual books, I was getting more interested again in recent years. I thought it might be good for me, that I might find a better appreciation for it. That was fall 2009, and in the following spring semester, I switched my major’s focus from literary studies to creative writing.

I fell in love with my intro to creative writing course. I’d been writing stories since middle school and it felt very natural to me. I loved my professor, she was so supportive and taught me a lot about the workshopping process. She encouraged me to continue on towards advanced workshops, which I did. Every semester there featured some kind of workshop for either fiction, poetry, or both.

We read a lot of interesting stuff, but the most relatable writing usually came from other students. Maybe it’s because a lot of them were the same age as me, maybe it’s because we’ve been through similar experiences, but I found more I could relate to in these workshops than I ever had in anime for the past several years, possibly ever. I was learning a lot about what made good writing, as well as bad writing. I was learning how to catch clichés and find more interesting ways to deliver them if I had to. I was learning how to be an overall better writer.

And I guess in the process of all this, I started analyzing anime with a more critical approach. I was finding a lot of stuff to be pretty bad. And maybe it wasn’t fair to compare literature and anime, but since one of the reasons I loved anime so much was for its unique stories, I couldn’t help but see that a lot of the stuff I used to like was just… not great.

I guess that’s the thing about learning to write better, you start to see the quality of writing in just about everything. Movies, TV, advertisements – I started to become more conscious of it wherever I looked. I was realizing that while anime, manga, and RPGs often had interesting concepts, more often than not they didn’t do such a great job with the process of telling their stories.

And I don’t like admitting this. Part of me feels like a stuck-up, literary snob that just shits all over anime. I have to remind myself that I had clearly been a huge fan for at least eight years; I think I’ve earned the right to share some criticisms. If I’m going to be completely honest, I hated that I suddenly began hating anime. How would you feel if, seemingly overnight, you not only lost interest in something that’s been a big part of your life for years, but hated it? It’s not fun. It wasn’t fun for the friends I hung out with at the time, either; they were all about anime and video games and didn’t really understand the literary side of me. I lost a lot in common with them, and I ended up going separate ways with some of them.

The biggest time I noticed these changes was during fall 2010. I became friends with someone from school, and I spent a lot of time talking to her on campus between our classes. I reluctantly opened up about a lot of stuff I’d kept hidden for the past several years. I had only been spending time with my one friend from high school and some of his friends all throughout college. For the most part, we just played video games and talked about anime together. They weren’t exactly the kind of people in touch with their feelings. It had been so long since I had a friend I could open up to on such a personal level, so when this person entered my life, it’s like everything I’d kept bottled up came flooding out. We relied on each other to open up and confront all of the past wounds that still haunted us. She was the one that encouraged me to try therapy for the first time, and therapy would end up playing a major role in my life for the following couple of years.

Well, long story short, she ditched me after that semester. Just like one of my close friends from high school, she stopped talking to me, stopped responding to calls and texts, and generally just snubbed me like we’ve never met before. I don’t know what happened, nor will I ever know. But needless to say, after finally opening up to someone about that one particular friend that abandoned me, especially after keeping it bottled up and ignoring it for years, and then having that person ditch me in such a similar way absolutely devastated me. I was in the middle of trying to sort through all of the personal issues I’d repressed for years, and this only made dealing with everything significantly worse.

I haven’t really explained this to the other friends I had. I don’t mean any offense to them; I just don’t think they’d understand how exactly it affected me. And I’m not the kind of person to open up about something to someone I know unless I know I can trust them to deal with me properly. In fact, giving tidbits of this story is making me really uncomfortable, so I think I’m going to stop there.

The main point I wanted to make with this story is that as soon as 2011 began, I fell into a deep, deep depression. I hadn’t dealt with depression since high school; I honestly thought I was past it all. But no, I absolutely wasn’t, and it came back with a vengeance. It was like it wanted me to play catch up for all the years I went without being depressed.

But this time I didn’t have anime to help me. I hated anime. I didn’t even have RPGs anymore. I saw too much anime in them, as well. Some of the most important stuff to me no longer mattered. And it felt excruciatingly hollow.

My semester with that friend had made me realize I needed more people in my life to talk to on a deeper, more emotional level. I’d forgotten what it felt like and I needed it. And again, nothing against the friends I was hanging out with at the time, but I felt like all most of us had in common was anime and video games. I couldn’t talk to them like I talked to her. I couldn’t talk to them like I could talk to the close friends I had in high school. I didn’t want to admit it, but it seemed like since we didn’t have much in common anymore, we didn’t really have anything to talk about. We ended up playing games in silence and it felt really awkward. Most of us eventually went separate ways.

I didn’t feel like I had anything I could rely on. I shut myself away from most people. I kind of stumbled my way through the spring 2011 semester. It felt like a giant blur. I remember bits and pieces, but it felt like my life was completely empty, except for my writing. The more I thought about why anime meant so much to me in the first place, the more I realized it was those earlier years and where I was at back then. I was beginning to understand that anime provided me with characters that said relatable things, and for a time it was a nice comfort. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get the same feelings of comfort and relatability from many of the books I read.

But after a while, I stopped trying to grow as a person and solve my own problems. I kept repeating things I heard in anime because maybe I wanted to make my life seem a little more epic than it actually was. Although it introduced me to an entirely different culture and story-telling experience, as well as became a huge source of inspiration at the time, anime eventually became a band aid. It was something cushy I could fall back on to make me feel better. It stunted my growth. I stopped seeing new things in the world and withdrew deeper and deeper into the world of anime.

Part of that was teenage rebellion; so many people fought me on my interest in anime going back all the way to Evangelion in eighth grade, and I was determined to stick up for it. I was so dedicated to convincing other people and myself about how unique and cool it was, that I didn’t make the time or effort to experience much else. And it’s a shame, because I wasted a lot of valuable opportunities to experience other things over the years .

Where I’m at with it now

Anime has played virtually no role in my life since then. My one friend I still have from high school is occasionally into it, but he sold most of his shows back. He also feels like there really isn’t anything too new in the world of anime to delve into, but he’s more willing to check something out than I am. Aside from an occasional wall scroll or poster in his room, he took down most of his anime stuff as well. Although it wasn’t nearly as extreme as how I felt, I think he began thinking anime wasn’t exactly the greatest thing in the world either.

Occasionally, when I’m in Barnes and Noble, I’ll head over to the anime section to relive memories. It’s weird, but even though I grew to hate it, my fondness for certain memories as an anime fan regrew after a couple of years. Sometimes I consider finishing off a manga series that I feel I could enjoy, if just for nostalgia’s sake. I was so close to completing Evangelion and Fullmetal Alchemist, but realistically I don’t think I care enough. I could use that money to buy other books I actually want (and that I’ll probably read more than once, too).

As strange as it was, I left a couple of anime things up in my room. I took most of it down, threw a lot of stuff out, and packed a lot away. But I have this one figure of Rei from Evangelion doing some kind of trick on a bicycle. It’s not too big and it’s been on my desk for years. I don’t know why, but I always thought it was neat and never really wanted to pack it away.

I don't even remember where I got this from. I think it was from some website.

I don’t even remember where I got this from. I think it was from some website.

And then I have a collage of Yoshiyuki Sadamoto pictures on my wall. I used to have a lot of anime pictures all over one of my walls, but I took most of them down, save for the Yoshiyuki Sadamoto ones. Despite how I feel about anime, I still really love his drawings. I love them so much I even kept them and put them back up when I moved last fall. They’re mostly Evangelion and FLCL art. Part of me wants to take them down. I feel too old to have them up there, and I don’t know if I would even still like those shows, despite the overwhelming nostalgia towards them. But they’ve been up there since… forever. It’s been one of the few constants in my life, as sad as that may sound. So… ugh. It’s complicated.

They're a little tattered, but I don't know. When it came time to move I still wanted the collage up on my new wall.

They’re a little tattered, but I don’t know. When it came time to move I still wanted the collage up on my new wall.

Video games have always been a big part of my life. During my high school and community college years, JRPGs pretty much dominated whatever I chose to play. When I started to hate anime, I started hating JRPGs too. There was too much anime in them. I took a dramatically different turn and played some first person shooters with one of the friends I had for a while, but it eventually became pretty dull. I discovered let’s plays in the fall of 2011, and even though I’m only interested in watching/listening to two specific people do that now, they kind of taught me how to have fun with video games again.

The amount of time I spent playing games decreased a lot in the past few years and definitely became more of a recreational activity than something I was passionate about. I didn’t play a lot of RPGs anymore, although this past year I have. Not that I want to go into detail, but I’ve been in a pretty deep state of depression for about a year now. As a way of coping and keeping my mind off things, I replayed an RPG I used to really be into during high school, The Legend of Dragoon. And while I couldn’t take the story and characters nearly as seriously as I used to, I still found myself having fun with it. I’ve ended up revisiting a lot of RPGs this past year, and I think I can enjoy them enough. It kind of depends on how much anime is in them. Certain games like the Tales series are a little too much for me. But games like the Final Fantasy series, Suikoden II, and the original .hack games are things I can still enjoy. That doesn’t mean I won’t cringe or shake my head when plots get predictable or other tropes become too obvious, but I think the main difference between JRPGs and anime is that with a JRPG, you’re at least playing something. All I’m doing with anime is watching it, and it’s easier to get irritated by the story. I may still get irritated by stories or characters in RPGs, but as long as there’s enough gameplay that’s doing something for me personally, than I think I’ve learned to look past it, or at the very least not let it bother me too much.

I feel like after the depression in 2011, I wasn’t able to really let myself be silly or goofy anymore. Don’t let my criticisms against anime fool you; I can be a totally dorky and silly person. And I feel like after all this time, even during the depression I’ve been in for the past year, I’ve regained some of that fun side of me. I can balance seriousness and silliness much better than I used to. That being said, I feel like my hatred for anime has died down. It’s still not something I can see myself enjoying as a whole, let alone something I even want to get back into. It’s too time-consuming and addicting. I still stand by most of my criticisms, so it’s not like it’s even something I would want to try liking again. I want my time as anime fan to stay in the past. It’s such a past me thing, and I don’t want it as a present or future me thing.

But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to rewatch some old shows again. After all this time, I’d like to know what I would really think about the shows that held more inspiration and nostalgia for me. Evangelion, FLCL, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and .hack//SIGN are all shows I’d like to form a more recent opinion on. Part of me has always held back, though. I’d rather leave my memories of them where they are. I’m afraid they might get tainted if I end up hating these shows now. At the same time, nostalgia has a tendency to prevent a lot of potential hatred, so who knows? Maybe one day I’ll check one out again, if only for the nostalgia.

But that’s about it. My history with anime. This went on much, much longer than I expected it to, and if you’ve been reading up until this point, thanks. I really appreciate it. I really hope I didn’t offend anyone who likes anime; I know I got a little passionate with the hate in this particular part. At the end of the day though, whether anime is good or bad, thoughtful or just plain mind-numbing, I don’t really care. I don’t care whether the Japanese or English audio is better, and I don’t care about arguing the morality of how anime fans choose to experience it. Above all of those things, anime isn’t something that’s for me anymore. While I can sometimes appreciate an art style again, I think that’s about as far as I can go with anime.

I hope you enjoyed this retrospective. It was fun reliving some of the earlier memories, as well as embarrassing reliving most of the latter. Either way, I’m glad I was able to put all these thoughts about the entire experience into words somewhere, even if the writing was a bit sloppy at times.

And since I don’t know how to end this, here’s a picture I drew a couple of years ago of Asuka from Evangelion. We may as well come full circle back to the show that got me into anime in the first place. 🙂

I just used pencil, and blending tool, and marker, for anyone that's curious. :)

I just used pencil, a blending tool, and marker, for anyone that’s curious. 🙂

 

<– Part 4

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34 thoughts on “Why I Fell In Love With Anime and Why I Grew to Hate It – Part 5

  1. Pingback: Why I Fell In Love With Anime and Why I Grew to Hate It – Part 4 | sometypeofartist

  2. Thanks for sharing your story! As someone who became interested in anime when I was older, I recognized a lot of your initial excitement and all the flaws you found in it as a genre as things I went through myself. I still find myself watching anime via Netflix, but I start to groan when I see the same old tropes again and again. I still like Fullmetal Alchemist and want to purchase the manga to show my appreciation to the author (I still find it rereadable).

    This also reminds me of how I fell away from loving certain book (non-manga) genres–mainly YA, mostly dystopian–and authors–I’m looking at you, Dean Koontz. Either I’m growing out of them or the new (famous) books coming out don’t have as much thought put into the writing. Perhaps it’s fate that whatever we love as children/teens we must grow to hate (or strongly dislike) in order to find ourselves. (Even so, Animorphs and Harry Potter will always hold a special place in my heart)

    • I’m glad you liked it! I didn’t talk about it, but I wonder what it would have been like if Netflix or other streaming services had been available (or at least more commonplace) when I was into anime. I think I still would have ended up drifting away from it, but I don’t think it would have been such an ugly mess. The unfortunate thing about YA books, manga, and pretty much anything aimed at teens and young adults is just that – they’re for teens and young adults. They seem pretty intense at that age but as people grow up, they find more fulfilling stories in other places that can tell it more maturely. I can only hope that as I continue to grow, my ability to laugh at my previous self can grow as well. Thanks again for reading! 🙂

      • No problem! Yeah, I agree that a lot of YA books seem crazier and more applicable when we’re that age, but I also think that the sign of truly good writing is if adults enjoy it as well and aren’t annoyed by all the flaws that become so obvious as adults. I think some YA and anime/manga achieve that, but they’re few and far between (and for some reason aren’t as popular as the ones that do have all the flaws). Keep writing! I’m enjoying your work! (although as a newish follower I haven’t read a lot of it yet)

  3. I’m sad this part of your saga is over. I looked forward to your updates. I’m sure I’ll find something else on your blog to enjoy!

  4. Being another literary snob who would be depressed if I wasn’t medicated (yay, drugs!), I offer a fist-bump of solidarity. I know quite a few of these feels.

  5. One more question (unrelated to my previous comments). You mention drawing from anime and manga a lot. Did it help you as an artist? Do you enjoy drawing anime and manga style still, or did that fade as your hatred towards anime grew? Since I haven’t been following you long I haven’t read many of your blogs (I don’t have Internet except for my phone, and the app is not very friendly at exploring past posts), so I don’t know if you’ve talked about those things before.

    • I feel like it did. I drew a lot as a kid and I feel like anime helped me focus on more specific things. I drew a lot of cartoons but drawing anime helped me learn to draw a more realistic perspective in terms of arms, legs, etc. Well, at least to an extent.
      I don’t draw nearly as often anymore, writing is definitely more important to me but every now and then I’ll draw something for fun. But even then I don’t tend to draw anime. The Evangelion picture at the end of the retrospective and a Final Fantasy Tactics drawing are the only two anime-style drawings I’ve done since I lost interest in anime, and I’m honestly not sure why I did them. I think I was feeling particularly nostalgic for those two things. If I were to draw anime again, I think it would be for similar reasons. A particular show or game I would want to draw from would have to mean more to me than just being a memory from when I liked anime; it would have to stick out as its own thing in my eyes. Hope that makes sense. 🙂

  6. I think I once again mirrored your sentiments and experience regarding literature and anime. I had a few heated arguments with friends about why Gundam Seed was more soap opera than space opera. It’s that kind of attitude that keeps me from watching television period.

    All the same, my fallout with anime was not as rough as yours, but I did feel the shift in my identity, and that is never an especially comfortable feeling. I think that at one point I considered writing ABOUT anime not being good, but I’ve realized that it isn’t worth the effort. I have better things about which to write.

    • Oh, Gundam Seed… my friend was in love with that show around 2008 or 2009. I borrowed it and… yeah, soap opera only barely scratches the surface of how melodramatic that show is. The main character is… well, quite a treat once I learned to laugh at the show. 🙂

  7. Dude this was great – I think you started hating it cos you spent so much time with it when you wers younger. I mean I was born in 1996 and I never really needed to get dvds and whatever cos the internet came around pretty fast, but I watch it in short spurts so I don’t get hit by the anime wave all at once haha – but every now and then I do look at my collection of manga and wonder what i’m gonna do with them when I move out. Do I sell them? My nostalgia blocks me from selling so many things ):

    • Nostalgia kept a lot of my old anime and manga at home when I decided to sell them, too. One thing I don’t think I talked about enough was what would it have been like if I got into anime when services like Netflix, Crunchy Roll, and even YouTube were as influential as they were today, although I ultimately think I would have gotten sick of it at some point either way. Thanks for reading! 🙂

      • This is sUCH a late reply but I feel like if I got into when NETFLIX was around, I would get tired of it more quickly? There’s something magical about having to click your way through different episodes of an anime HAHA, or maybe it’s the comment sections that let you talk about it with other people that are the highlights. Nostalgia is keeping me from my shelf of manga, and it’s worse because my sister ALSO SUFFERS from nostalgia and doesn’t want me to sell any of it. That’s why we literally have piles of crap in our house, I mean we’re not hoarders, but sentimentality is attached to EVERYTHING. I can’t believe I haven’t finished reading your ‘Why I fell in love with Anime and —‘ series, but I’ll read it now.

      • Haha, don’t be sorry! I guess you have a point, binge watching so much free anime on Netflix might have made me feel like moving on to something else more quickly. I was thinking more like, “I can watch this show in HD for free rather than spend a ton of money on box sets, so maybe I won’t be so disappointed if a show wasn’t AMAZING.”

        I think nostalgia’s always going to make me hold on to everything I own, even if I don’t want it anymore. Guess the space under my bed should get used to all those bins full of old anime and manga.

        Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy the rest of the series! 🙂

      • YEAH like watching shows for a long time instead of waiting in anticipation for episodes just takes it away for me. I was on crunchyroll when I was 12 (6 years ago) and it was a great experience because I still had to wait for shows to be released (and episodes), but ever since I read Miyazaki’s ‘Anime is stupid’ quote (or something like that) I started thinking about ways in which anime was flawed and had no real purpose except to give people fanservice. Really though, when you’re older and FIND all this manga you’re gonna be glad you kept it. Just right now I hardly have space for it. No problem 🙂 I love this series!

      • I’ve never heard that quote by Miyazaki before. I just looked up an article of him explaining it and I think it’s really interesting for him to say that. I sort of remember another big person in the anime industry saying something similar, but I don’t remember who it was (it could have been Miyazaki, for all I know).

        As you could probably tell, I agree about there being too much fanservice. I don’t know how long this has been the case, but I honestly felt like the majority of shows were way too obsessed with it, at least towards the end of my interest in anime.

        But like I said in one of my previous parts , I used to get so much more out of anime. So I think you’re right, I’m sure at some point in the future I’ll be happy I kept what I kept. I’ll probably look through some old stuff again and get inspiration for some kind of project. Although the space problem does concern me… 😡

        I’m glad you liked the retrospective! I was so worried I was just going to piss off anime fans, but people seemed to like it! I’d love to do another retrospective series about something else, but I honestly have no idea what I would do!

  8. Wow… this was very interesting! To be honest, your story has me a bit scared… I don’t want a falling out lol. I mainly watch seinen anime (psycho-pass, death note, code geass, to name a few), and though I only got into it recently, I feel that anime is one of the best things that’s happened to me. These shows aren’t all fighting nonsense and deal with so many moral dilemmas; plus, their story lines are intriguing (and often intelligent–especially code geass). Currently, I don’t know how I could ever grow to dislike it, so I wanted to ask… If you had started around my age (19) with different genres of anime, do you think you’d end up disliking it as much as you do now?

    • That’s kind of hard for me to say. I grew up with anime when I was younger and it was so ingrained into my life. I also grew up when anime was still a fairly niche interest for many people, at least in my area. So when I eventually stopped caring about anime, I had a lot of built up anxiety and frustration thrown into the mix that made my lack of interest more hurtful. I’d spent almost ten years loving and defending something not a lot of people understood or sometimes even respected. Personally, it was a very confusing and stressful time when I stopped caring. If I started either around your age or more recently, when anime became easier to access, I think things may have been different for a while. Ultimately, though, I think I may have still lost interest at some point. I’ve calmed down a lot since I was at the point in my life when I hated it. I even watched a couple of old anime that meant a lot to me growing up during the past year, just to see if they could still hold up for me. And thankfully, they did! Granted, they were both very nostalgic so there’s definitely some bias, but I still enjoyed them a lot. But even so, I didn’t find myself wanting to dive back into the world of anime. It’s a part of my life that I think at best, I can revisit for a little bit. But ultimately I think it’s all behind me now. And I think I would feel the same way even if I got into anime later in my life. Honestly though, this is all just me. If you like anime, and you’re getting something important and personal out of it, you keep liking it. I’ve been there – trust me, despite all the problems I have with anime, I still can see what people can get out of it. My problem – one of them, anyway – was that I almost exclusively relied on anime to give me those types of feelings. I ended up overindulging myself and ignored so many other possible sources of inspiration from books, television, movies, music, etc. because I was too focused on anime. If I didn’t put so much of my interests in anime, I think my separation from it would have been cleaner. Who knows, maybe there wouldn’t have been a separation at all! I know it’s scary to think about becoming disinterested in something you hold so dear to you. It’s happened to me a lot and it’s hurt a lot, especially when things are a big part of your life. And I can’t say it won’t happen, but for right now if you love it, then love it. Enjoy it. Just don’t let it consume you. I find one of the fastest ways to lose interest in something is to have too much of a good thing. Sorry this response is super long and I couldn’t give a more direct answer. I hope it helps! And thanks a lot for reading! 🙂

  9. I can’t believe how much I could relate to your experiences and I really enjoyed this read overall.
    Its funny how almost 90 percent of the anime and manga you started out with absolutely resembles my collection that I went nodding everytime you went indepth describing them and what you felt towards them. Right now I’m somewhat past the “I hate all kinds of Japanese entertainment” phase and I believe my newly developed critical eye made it easier for me to judge something while still being open minded. Heck at least you only hated anime and manga; unlike me who started hating everything Japanese from music to TV,movies, and even culture at times (pretty extreme to hate another culture :P).

    IMO think its because of lack of proper unbiased criticism or a quality filter in Japan and how publishers or society standards absolutely restrict non independent artists that these clichés and tropes are milked to death to avoid risking not raking in a quick buck….or yen :P.

    Sorry if my English is off, not a native speaker 😅.

    • I’m glad to know I wasn’t the only person out there that went through a similar experience! Actually, Japanese culture and anime became such a synonymous experience for me that I did end up getting sick of the culture entirely. 😦 I think I’m past that now, thankfully. I really just needed a long break from everything anime and even Japanese related for a while. I’m still not really into anime anymore, but over the past year I’ve rewatched a couple of the shows I mentioned and still enjoyed them (even if it was just for nostalgia’s sake) and am still interested in updating my opinion on a few others. Thanks a lot for reading! 🙂

  10. Funny how almost 90 percent of the anime and manga you started out with absolutely resemble my collection that I went nodding everytime you went indepth describing them and what you felt towards them, its almost as if you’ve been spying on my own life style :P.

    I went through the same ordeal of hating what I used to adore; except that I almost hated everything that has to do with Japanese entertainment ranging from the overproduced agency driven idol music, anime, manga( especially popular or shonen manga), live action movies, light novels, hell even the culture itself at times( looking back at it hating a culture because of said elements is pretty extreme I’d say haha). Only recently did my critical eye actually develop into a more open minded state where I don’t immediately judge something before carefully analysing its pros and cons.

    And indeed the hardest part for me was struggling to rationalize with my friends who are fans of the very things I hate; it reached to a point where I avoid discussing anything that they value because of how over sensitive it turns them, but I guess that’s the unavoidable fate of someone with critical senses XD.

    Really liked your articles keep up the good work, and also excuse my bad English not a native speaker 😅.

    Ps: Since we have somewhat similar tastes in anime and manga I can recommend somethings that might make you restore faith in the media again 😉.

    • Thanks again for commenting! Your English is fine, don’t worry about it. 🙂 Like I mentioned in my reply to your last comment, I’m still not really into anime anymore even though a lot of the hate disappeared, but if you want to suggest something I might check it out sometime!

      • Oops I didn’t mean to comment twice but I thought my first comment didn’t go through the first time so I reposted.😅

        Its funny how a very small portion of anime and manga compared to most of the popular stuff released age like fine wine the older you become. I think this is what really matters when it comes to the quality of stuff aimed at both children and adults( think Disney animated shows and movies) is that they stay enjoyable no matter what age you are or decade you’re in; at least that’s my take. If you want recommendations here’s a quick list:

        Manga: 1) Berserk: Tonally dark and rated for adults because of elements like blood, gore, occult and , open nudity at times( not for the sake of fan service I assure you). Similar to: J.R.R Tolkien works, Elric of melnibone, Game of Thrones. (ongoing)

        2) Claymore: Has some of the best female driven leads and has a parallel universe medieval kinda feel similar to berserk and other similar works, with what I thought to be a real great ending. (completed)

        3) Welcome to the NHK: Not sure if you’re gonna like this one but its a comedy series that studies the psych of the main character who happens to be a hikikomori( a shut in), a group of people infamous in Japan for staying indoors most of the time in small really messy apartments and barely dealing with other human beings. It can have some pretty dark humor and I found it really funny most of the time.

        Anime: 1) Everything Patlabor: This was is a really big franchise in Japan in the 90s and spawned an introduction oav,3 critically acclaimed movies, and even a 47 episode TV anime series. And don’t let the mecha on the cover art fool you they’re barely the focus compared to the focus on the characters and multiple storylines.

        2) Ghost in the shell: Lauded to be one of the best cyberpunk anime out there. Consists of 2 movies the 2nd being a sequel, and a two season anime called stand alone complex( SAC for short).

        3) Everything studio ghibli for reasons I’m pretty sure you already have been exposed enough to.

        4) Everything Satoshi Kon: Guy was a genius almost on par with Miyazaki, sometimes even better in some aspects. My favorite work of his is Perfect Blue.

        5) Venus wars

        I could go on and on but I believe this is a long enough list XD. If you do end up checking out some of this stuff I really hope you enjoy them and have a positive experience 😊.

        Tl;dr Sorry for the long post haha.

      • It’s okay! I figured it must have been something like that. 🙂 I’ve actually heard a few of these recommended before. Is Berserk really still going on? I remember seeing that in stores in the early 2000s, I think. I remember seeing Claymore back in the day, too. I remember wanting to read it I never did. If Welcome to the NHK is what I think it is, I’ve seen a lot of people recommend that as a show in general, not only for anime fans but everyone that can appreciate what it has to offer. I’ve seen Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex almost ten years ago and really enjoyed it. It’s actually one of the few shows I can think of that would probably still hold up for me. And I haven’t seen all of Studio Ghibli films but I’ve really enjoyed the ones I have seen except for Princess Mononoke; I know a lot of people love that one but I couldn’t get into it. Maybe I should give it another look sometime. Thanks for the recommendations! 🙂

  11. You’d be actually surprised how pissed berserk fans are at all the hiatuses the author takes, its in fact one of the few gripes I have with the series. But don’t let that deter you from reading it, 70 percent almost of the volumes published so far have been nothing but quality in terms of both arts and writing. So even though I’m not a huge fan of the later volumes for their more generic approach or just lacklustre content I will never forget the great time I had reading the “golden age arc” and “black retribution arc” respectively. Oh, and I could see where you come from when it comes to princess mononoke it can be a bit too style-over-substance for some but I believe its a good effort nonetheless and carries a well delivered message for the most part. Keep on rocking with your articles 🙂

  12. This is exactly what I was looking for, a story I could relate to. It’s always comforting to know you’re not the only person experiencing certain feelings;)

    Let me tell you about my story, very briefly of course:

    Unlike you I loved anime since I can remember and before knowing what it actually was.
    I watched everything broadcast on TV and despite being very young I quickly made a clear distinction between anime and cartoons. Cartoons were the ugly drawings with no specific storyline while anime were those fantastic shows with beautiful characters, gorgeous backgrounds and catchy opening songs.

    Like you, I went through high school and college watching anime, reading manga and playing video games. I was the archetypical hardcore weeabo: drew manga, learned japanese, listened only to anime music, knew the names of animation studios, seiyuus and mangakas, was really obsessed with Japan and was really shy and socially akward.

    Then, like three years ago, I started noticing a peculiar feeling everytime I sat down to watch an anime series: total disgust.

    Nowadays, I still wonder what was it that made me develop such a strong feeling of repulsion for anime. It was such a big and important part of my life that even now, occasionally, I can feel some sort of emptiness and nostalgia when I think about it. At those times I try watching a series that sounds promising only to find myself cringing at everything on the screen. For some time I thought it was only I didn’t like new animes so I tried watching the old series I grew up with and even though they didn’t gross me out like the new ones I felt terribly bored watching them. Then I remembered how much I used to enjoy them and realized I’ve really changed a lot.

    I reached the conclusion that what really happened was that I grew out of it. I just grew up and changed, and it wasn’t that difficult to be honest. There were a lot of things that contributed to increase my dislike for anime. Here some of them:

    +Complete lack of originality: when you’re new to anime everything seems so cool and innovative and out of this world, I know that by experience, but sadly that seems to last very short and then you reach a stage where everything is so…samey! I swear to God, everything in anime looks and sounds the same. The voices, the songs (both background and intros), the characters, their personalities, their hairstyles and faces, their reactions, even their lines and conversations are so hackneyed and standardized that it’s possible to guess what a character’s recurrent lines are going to be just based on their personality type. Even the buildings and houses all look the same.

    +Annoying and unreal behavior: characters act so unrealistically it’s really difficult to relate to them. Like you said, anime trivialize serious stuff like death, love, relationships and even sex so much that it feels really empty.

    +The otakufication of anime: or how otaku culture and all their fetishes have invaved most modern anime. Cat ears, loli girls, maids, idols, references and parodies of other animes and video games, mandatory fanservice, etc. It’s like anime nowadays is made for a very specialized segment of the population and not for normal people. All this otaku crap grosses me out so much. I just can’t stand it.

    +Horrible designs: 10 years ago when I was so obsessed with drawing anime I would have never imagined myself saying this someday but yes!, most anime designs are terribly ugly! Ever since I took a more serious approach to drawing and started stuying anatomy and real life portraits all the flaws in anime design became really apparent to me. What I couldn’t see before is now painfully evident and prevents me from enjoying anime and taking it seriously. The big heads, skeletal bodies, spaghetti-like limbs, their still and unnnatural hair, everything! I’ve become the type of person who just can’t take a story about murder and mystery seriously when the characters have ridiculous big eyes and look and act like kids.

    There are so many other things but this post’s already too long. I think I’ll stop here.
    I just wanted to rant a bit about anime and how furious it makes me.
    If anything, I think quitting anime was actually one of the best things that could ever happen to me.
    Now I have hobbies that are more meaningful and allow me to share with people more easily.
    It was painful when I liked anime and nobody cared about it. Now thanks to the Internet there’s so many people who are into it but it just doesn’t make it for me anymore. What a shame. Maybe in another life?

    • Wow, thanks for reading my posts! It sounded like you went through many of the same experiences I did.

      I thought it was interesting you pointed out how the internet today makes anime appealing for so many more people. I still wonder to this day if my overall experience with other people and anime would have been different if I started getting into it when anime started having a more accessible appeal. (Which is weird, because I feel like anime really started pushing repetitive tropes when it started getting more popular, so wouldn’t that make it harder for people to like than when we were into it? I dunno, it’s weird)

      It also sounds like you miss your time with anime a little, or at the very least you miss being able to enjoy it. I know I needed a lot of time away from it before I stopped hating it. I actually watched two of my old favorite anime shows since writing this post to see if I could enjoy them, even if it was just from nostalgia alone. And I did! But I still don’t have any desire to go back into anime culture again. But at least I stopped hating it, and that was a relief in and of itself. It took up too much energy to hate on something I used to love in the past.

      Anyway, thanks again for reading! I’m glad you were able to relate to my story! 🙂

      • I think the only thing that would have been different if anime was more accesible when we were younger is that we might have found more people who liked it and we wouldn’t have felt so isolated.

        I would probably have got tired of anime sooner, too. I think the Internet was what ruined anime for me. When I was in school I watched only what was available on TV which were usually series with great storylines and characters and that were really popular in Japan and worldwide (Dragon Ball, Inuyasha, Card Captor Sakura, Evangelion, to name a few), but once I got access to free anime on the Net, I started watching indiscriminately whatever crossed my way, one series after the other like possessed by some sort of evil spirit.
        I still cringe when I remember some of the series I watched at that time. Complete crap.

        As with food, there was a time I had gobble down so much anime (most of it junk) that I started feeling really disgusted when I tried new series. Like I said in my previous comment, I thought it was just I didn’t like new anime so at that time I decided to rewatch the series I grew up with only to find most of them boring and dumb, and worst of all, full of lazy cliches.

        Anyway, it’s not like I hate anime or anything. I just grew tired of it. I don’t hate on people who love it cause I know how they feel but I do wonder why some people never seem to get tired of it, like my brother and some of my friends still watch a lot of series and they seem to enjoy it so much, they even keep on recommending new series and I’ve tried watching some of them but I just can’t bring myself to like them. Most of the times I can’t even finish the first episode. I just don’t care anymore.

        Actually, the reason why I found your article was because a friend recommended an anime and I tried giving it a chance last weekend and seeing how I wasn’t enjoying it a bit I started wondering if other people had experienced something similar so I searched for posts on Google and there it was, your story:)

        I do miss my time with anime (and video games) sometimes. It was literally my life for more than a decade so it’s been really hard saying good bye, but I’m also enjoying my new life a lot. I was so obsessed with anime I didn’t care for anything else, so during the last years I’ve been trying a lot of new things and it’s been really cool!

        I experienced something similar with video games but it wasn’t so traumatic.
        You still seem to enjoy video games a lot, right? Good for you!

      • I think it would have been inevitable that I would lose interest in anime too, although I think if more people had shared my interests when I was younger and I didn’t have to deal with so much criticism, my departure from anime wouldn’t have been so negative.
        I’m glad you’re happier with your interests now, though. It sounds like moving past anime was a great change you needed in your life.
        I lost interest in video games for a while, but I’ve gotten more into them again during the past couple of years. It happened around the same time I lost interest in anime, as well. I didn’t want to play RPGs anymore because I felt like they all resembled anime too much, and the majority of modern games were fun for a while but they eventually got old for me. Then I started playing more retro games, I started having fun with video games again, and well… here I am! Unlike anime, video games have been a part of me for my whole life, so I guess it’s natural their influence can never really leave me. And they help me deal with depression, too. They help me focus on something while keeping my hands busy and it’s easy to stop thinking about negative things while playing them.

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