JAL’s blog always makes a good springboard.
It’s not so much that I don’t watch anime any differently than most people who do–we probably download it some time after it comes out off Share or torrented, and watch it when we get in the mood and have the time. I consume it as I would any other kind of media. To put it into context, it’s times like this when people drop out of their World of Warcraft addictions and back into other stuff? What makes you switch on something else and off the world of anime?
What keeps me going? Do I like it? Sure, I can’t imagine why I would be doing it if I didn’t. Perhaps it makes sense to see that as a person watch more anime, his fill would be met at some point. What was fresh just isn’t anymore. By the same rationale I can see that not only people would be offended by seeing, say, the new TMNT or Transformer moving Hollywood is putting out, but also because they got fed up with it.
But I think the magic of being a fresh anime fan all these years lies within those moments (and just how people are not fed up with what they were obsessed with as a child). Thinking back to my youth, I was riding pretty high on the TMNT wave, but I was nowhere nearly materialistic enough to actually own that much swag. I don’t even think I owned a TMNT game, although I did play it plenty at friends’ places. I had a couple action figures…and that’s it. I think I made my own iron-on TMNT shirt and used it as a poster in my room.
Invariably as kids grow up, though, the nature of their consumption changes. It becomes more and more purpose-driven. Why do you sit down and watch TV? Why do we have to have reasons to like what we like besides to explain why? It’s a change from “I like this” to “I like this.” Identity through preference. When we put passions into words, I think part of the charm disappears.
(Alas, that’s also why particle physics is so awesome. And puns.) But that aside, I think those who receive much has to also give much. It’s natural and almost a law of nature. If I watched a lot of anime and didn’t give it any mind, that would be odd and numbingly meaningless. Perhaps I laugh, cry, and otherwise get emotionally entertained or intellectually stimulated while watching anime, but that alone only goes so far. I can get the same with just talking to friends and family, by thinking, playing music, or even by taking a class.
There needs to be a reaction, a change, something. For me the humanist train of thought is a great reason, but also it reaffirms, in a way, a set of morals that I identify with. Of course at the same time the stuff itself is overflowing with passion as well, and it’s hard to not to get caught up in it. A lot of the time it is what you bring into watching something that makes it enjoyable, too. As much as sitting in front of a tube is a passive experience, enjoying it takes as much work as you put into it.
For me, the internet community, friends, people in Japan, cons–they are all a part of the network which keeps me locked up. I spend more time writing and thinking and discussing the various aspects of anime and fandom than spent actually watching anime. It’s a bit sad, but it is pretty fun.