I’ve gotta confess something. Whenever a new season starts and a list of amazing anime is announced, I just raise my eyebrows a bit, do the ‘not bad’ face, and keep doing whatever I was doing. Do I like anime? Sure! Will I enjoy these shows in the near future? Maybe. Am I going to watch every new episode as it’s released this season? Not a chance, buddy.
This may look kind of rude to the industry, but it isn’t. We live in the Age of Hype. Everything must be consumed as soon as it’s released to the public. If you don’t watch the latest episode, it’s your fault if you get spoiled. If you’re not keen on the latest shows and theories the Internet is coming up with, you’re a hermit. Experiencing an important moment alongside your friends either personally or over social media is fun, yes, but the need to “keep up do date” often turns into an anxiety-inducing pressure you don’t need in your life. It doesn’t matter how good something is; if not watching it makes you feel bad because you’re feeling “behind the rest”, I’d rather not watch it at all.
Last year we saw one of the most talked about anime adaptations of the decade: One-Punch Man. Everyone I know was excited for OPM. The animation is gorgeous, the story is solid, the characters are charming… And they still were that good six months after the series was over. On a couple of rainy afternoons, I watched it all and enjoyed it as much as my friends who were staying up late to catch it as soon as possible. Also, it didn’t feel bad when the ending didn’t meet the expectations.
Overcoming The Fear
Sometimes we forget that FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is a thing. We think that if we are not watching each and every show as they air we are not up to date, we may get spoiled, or we may not get all the memes and jokes the Internet is making, and that we should only watch what is currently airing. This is not only bad for you, but it’s ridiculous; it’s impossible to have a healthy and balanced life while dedicating so many hours to anime simply because you’re afraid of missing something.
I’ve seen this enough times. It’s a terrible side effect of social media; people do things not because they want to, but to show others. Ask yourself how many times you started to follow a certain show only because it was popular, or because a lot of people were talking about it. You had to see what the fuss was all about, right? But hey, you didn’t have to. You never have to. Don’t fall into the hive-mind scheme. Don’t do what everyone else is doing just because.
Maybe I’m kinda of antisocial, but I actually prefer to be watching what no one else is. It’s always nice to have something different to talk with your friends about besides the one all-mighty Internet trend. To go back to One Punch Man, when my friends were watching it, I was checking out another great anime from a previous season: Gangsta.
All For The Love Of Binge Watching
Not being pressured is perhaps the biggest benefit of not being up to date. But what I did with One Punch Man shows another great perk of being late: commodity. Binge-watching is a great thing to do, even when you’re not swallowing 6 hours of a show in one sitting. Watching a single episode each night is much better than waiting for a whole week for the next one, let alone waiting through year-long hiatuses. Thanks to the Internet and streaming services, we are way past the point were we must watch the new episode of our favorite show on TV at a certain time. Six episodes in a row? You got it. One episode a day at lunch? Yep. The whole series on a Friday night? Yes. We can watch it whenever we want.
This is also a good way to test the show you’re watching. If the anime isn’t as good after things have calmed a little, it probably wasn’t even that good in the first place and people were just being victims of the hype, as usual. You can save yourself the let down of getting too involved with something only to be disappointed later by waiting until a season or two has passed. I am never staying up late again only to be met by a mediocre episode.
And lastly, another great advantage: The fandom is way ahead of you. This means that by the time you join, there will be tons of stuff: fanfics, fan art, remixes, AMVs, cosplays, and a ton of merchandise to choose from. The manga may be officially available in your country at this point. There may be video games out or in the making. The soundtrack is out. You have much more to consume, if that’s what you want. If you’re really lucky and your show was popular enough, a new season may already be in the making. You get reviews out! You already know if that promising first chapter is as good as the finale (In fact, our friend Julian did a great review of Dimension W! That’s the first show I’m watching this season).
Every season has good shows that are worth watching. But the point is, these shows will still be there in a month or in a year or whenever we’re ready to watch them. Remember: You watch anime for fun. Don’t let it become some tedious chore just because you’re too afraid of not fitting in.
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