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Old 2012-01-31, 00:13   Link #1
Akito Kinomoto
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Watching the anime: innocence VS experience

When I was browsing around on other places, I noticed a few questions popping up regarding what one thought of the anime fans that tend to be easily impressed. It was a question that I knew was aimed at the more discerning viewers, but what I didn't expect were the responses. Instead of condescending, what I saw most of the time was envy. And quite honestly I'm inclined to share those sentiments.

Given enough time and exposure to anime I suppose it was inevitable that I and a very sizable portion of the Internet otaku community would become ever more demanding. The more I'm impressed by one performance the more difficult it becomes for the next act to succeed.

It would be a safe bet, then, to assume that the less experienced viewers are, on average, going to be easier to please. What the old veteran sees as the upteenth loli tsundere the newcomer witnesses as a cute, petite girl with a feisty personality.

But there's always the thought on my mind that goes are these newcomers really enjoying what he or she is watching or is it just 'new car smell' providing a temporary high? Maybe deriving immense enjoyment from a show despite the amount of savvy is pleasurable in and of itself. On the other hand, experience will help someone determine what kind of shows they feel would be worth spending more time on, while the only thing the uninitiated will have to see his or her preferences is trial and error.

So with all of that said, do you think innocence, that lack of exposure to tropes, cliches and subtleties plays a bigger role in terms of enjoyment? Or would you say otherwise for experience, arguing that familiarity can be used to one's benefit and having that certain sense that one knows he or she is truly enjoying something and not just being, for lack of a better word, intoxicated?
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Old 2012-01-31, 00:19   Link #2
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i think it depend, i'm have watched anime for a year now and i'm still enjoying what i have enjoyed in the past.
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Old 2012-01-31, 00:23   Link #3
Marcus H.
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Well, we can't say that innocence doesn't contribute even one bit to a new anime viewer's outlook on certain character archetypes because it happens all the time. You did forget one other factor when it comes to the topic: the effects of the first-timers towards the experienced and vice versa. There are times when a too vocal fanbase that consists of relatively new fans of anime can tick off the more experienced bunch, while an experienced anime fan's review of an anime series might reconsider a new anime fan's viewing choices.

Quote:
The more I'm impressed by one performance the more difficult it becomes for the next act to succeed.
I feel you. I myself feel that certain series raise the bar on a certain theme. For example, Toaru Majutsu no Index, handled a "modified modern world" theme very well in my opinion, and it caused me to drop Hidan no Aria because the latter just fails to grasp the same concept well.

Quote:
So with all of that said, do you think innocence, that lack of exposure to tropes, cliches and subtleties plays a bigger role in terms of enjoyment? Or would you say otherwise for experience, arguing that familiarity can be used to one's benefit and having that certain sense that one knows he or she is truly enjoying something and not just being, for lack of a better word, intoxicated?
It can contribute, but these tropes also happen in other forms of literature, so we can't say that an anime fan is truly innocent to these tropes. Meanwhile, an experienced anime fan can still get the enjoyment of a newcomer only if he/she knows how to watch anime properly (taking one's time, avoiding multi-series marathons, etc.).
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Old 2012-01-31, 00:31   Link #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Akito_Kinomoto View Post
So with all of that said, do you think innocence, that lack of exposure to tropes, cliches and subtleties plays a bigger role in terms of enjoyment? Or would you say otherwise for experience, arguing that familiarity can be used to one's benefit and having that certain sense that one knows he or she is truly enjoying something and not just being, for lack of a better word, intoxicated?
Something tells me that you're still quite young... the above is true to just about everything, not just anime.

The more you learn and know about any subject, not just anime, the more you come to expect from it. The bar has been set higher, as it were, so it's not as easy to be impressed. I, for one, have been thoroughly bored with pop music for several years now, and find it refreshing when the occasional singer taps styles from years past. What's old becomes new.

Here's a thought: Have you ever wondered why professional critics get so cranky? They've seen and heard so much that it would take a lot to make them sit up and pay attention.

It need not be a bad thing, though. It simply means that you've discovered other things to look out for in the anime you enjoy. It doesn't make you "better" than new fans, just a little bit more informed. It's a bit like learning to appreciate fine wine. If it's a good vintage, everyone would enjoy it. But connoisseurs would not just enjoy it, but would also be able to describe in greater detail why the wine was fabulous.

And that, should be the role of more experienced anime fans, I feel. Not to be condescending towards or dismissive of "innocent" new fans, but rather to be facilitators, helping them discover a road that you once walked yourself.
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Old 2012-01-31, 00:58   Link #5
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After you've seen dozens of variations of something Shakespeare knocked out of the ball park several hundred years ago... it isn't that you're jaded, its just that you get pickier about what you want to commit that very precious TIME towards. Quality of execution, a collection of memes that provide enough interest and perhaps you haven't seen before? Or perhaps the sensibilities are different from earlier incarnations (e.g.its alright to see the couple kissing/makingout).

And yes, this is a phenomenon of all experience in life... not just anime. Unless of course, you have memory loss syndromes that let you see things for the first time every day o.O
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Old 2012-01-31, 01:09   Link #6
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I love questions like this, Akito; questions like this are those which people have wondered about for millennia, I think.

The issue in essence imo is the issue of enjoyment, or even outright pleasure that one experiences in life, the arts, encounters, relationships, etc.

What comes to the crux, I feel, is this: people like, seek out and even crave enjoyment, to be happy, to be fulfilled and the rest of the gammut of "positive experiences" (setting aside for the moment any questions of moral or immoral, natural or unnatural - in all its aspects and shades - or the rest).

There are issues of all sorts of things that enter in here - what is enjoyable for an individual? Why is it enjoyable for them individually? Is what they enjoy "right"? (This one, of course, is an explosive, highly sensitive issue, and putting aside whether or no one feels it is right to think about things in this way it cannot be denied that the question in of itself is one that has occupied many peoples of all nations and countries for millennia as well.)

I guess the point of my musing about these things aloud is to bring out the aspect that the question is an extremely fundamental one that touches on so many areas of one's life, and that the questions of what degree inexperience (innocence) and/or experience (loss of innocence) have in the ability to enjoy things - in this case animation.

****

I guess for me the starting point I feel best begins to answer the question for me is the word "innocence". There are a few different ways to understand the word, and the feeling I get is that the way you are using it would perhaps better described as "inexperience" and the excitement one feels when exposed to something for the first time (or very early on) and discovers a whole range of things (whatever they may be) that they begin to explore.

This is not necessarily innocence in the sense of how the word itself has been used throughout the centuries, where it carries a moral context reflective of an entire "posture of soul" or "way of life". To put it another way, anyone can experience the excitement of discovering something one experiences for the first time. Not everyone who does so is innocent in the moral sense.

One might use the emotional rush and bio-chemical "burbling" associated with the experience of "falling in love" as a comparison and/or reference point - the first time it happens it can be very powerful indeed! But just because someone goes through the experience we call "falling in love" does not mean by any stretch of the means that they have actually arrived at a deep, or even "true" state of love - in the sense of tried and tested and strong and deep and that has gone through many trials and remained firm and spread both its branches above and roots below out wide.

And this arrives at what I feel to be the answer: an "innocence of being" if you will that is the result of many experiences. Or, in other words, the result of a conscious effort, maturing, self-denial and struggle of a moral nature ... just as similar general elements enter into the conscious effort, maturing, self-denial and struggle when one grows into a deeper love for another person.

In other words, one has experienced many things in life and gone through and been exposed to many things, but has not lost their "innocence" or their "childlikeness of soul". Or rather, which some might say is even a greater feat, has lost it and then consciously sought to recover those very childlike qualities that he may have lost track of or even deliberately thrown away (for whatever reasons).

As silly or even trite as it may sound, there is an example in anime that comes to mind as being a general image or reference point for what I am describing (although perhaps others may think of more as well), and that is Ametsuchi Akino, or "Grandma" from the Aria series - the one who founded Aria company with "Aria-shachou" the Martian cat. Younger examples could be found in Alicia Florence and Mizunashi Akari of the same anime series.

Anyway - that is prolly a short enough answer for now.
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Old 2012-01-31, 01:23   Link #7
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Here's a thought: Have you ever wondered why professional critics get so cranky? They've seen and heard so much that it would take a lot to make them sit up and pay attention.
I think this explains it very well. I don't watch a ton of movies, but occasionally I'll watch a movie that I find to be very moving. Out of curiosity, I'll check its ratings. They are usually fairly abysmal, with criticism claiming that certain parts were too slow, too unoriginal, and so on. When you consider that many of the people making these remarks have seen nearly every movie ever created (and probably every movie created over the past 10 years), yeah, they were probably bored out of their minds.

There's probably something similar with anime, but I think it's more than just comparing it to what you've already seen, or having the newness of it fade away. One thing I've considered recently is how your reactions change as you age. For example, consider the common theme among almost all anime series of intimacy with a member of the opposite sex (think of those scenes involving accidental boob/butt grabs, seeing panties up a skirt, spending alone time while standing close together, etc.). There's something that tickles the male instinct with scenes like those and makes them enjoyable (not necessarily in a perverted way). "Harem" series are pretty much made entirely around those scenarios. I used to enjoy those types of series when I was a hot-blooded teenager who had yet to start dating. Now, as a married man, the appeal just isn't there. It's only partly that I know what to expect: even if I went back to watch a harem-type series that I used to really enjoy (something like Love Hina), I'm not so sure that I'd enjoy it. It wouldn't connect with me very well, because of my non-anime life experiences and life situation.

Indeed, good topic - I've been considering how the significance and connection with anime changes as you age for a few months now, and love to read over others' thoughts and experiences on the matter, as well.
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Old 2012-01-31, 01:41   Link #8
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Certainly it's true that a newcomer have an easier time liking things that veterans would have a harder time liking, but I don't think it's right to dub it as "untrue enjoyment" or something. It sounds pretty elitist to me. When I started watching anime, I myself have enjoyed some shows that, put today, would probably bore me out of my mind, but it's still good memories for me.
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Old 2012-01-31, 01:41   Link #9
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It is certainly an issue. I mean if you watch too much of something you'll get sick of it. So a degree of exposure to different types of anime can help. The first dozen anime will have sentimental value, for better or for worse. However, given that cliches and stuff like that are prevalent through any form of media, I think we've been influenced long before we picked up any anime.

Certain shows are gonna be novelties, and others will last. One false but common assumption is that some think that one's views are rock solid and never change after you hit vote in that ratings poll. Nah, on a rewatch or discussion you might end up changing your minds-- it's the sum of all experiences. Though it is true that I may rate a bit harsher than back then, as I get to see a better look at what things seem to be. Something like Serial Experiments Lain or Evangelion have been more impressive in my mind in the long run, while other stuff while anime like Fate/Stay Night and AIR don't seem as great anymore. Stuff like Haganai and Angel Beats are novelties at best.

However, it really depends on HOW you watch an anime, rather than by sheer volume. If you've already entered anime prejudging them and not really watching it, you'll miss small things and enter self fulfilling prophecies that said work is "uninspired or cliche", thus causing you to "hunt" for flaws. Another issue is getting killed by hype. If you start borrowing people's ideas, then your viewing will also be poisoned. This causes general entertainment failure, aka fucking wasting your time.

Take the time for grasping what anime is-- entertainment, and these thoughts shouldn't poison your enjoyment. Of course, you shouldn't mindlessly eat whatever crap you got served, but you should never forget the first duty of entertainment, and that is not be some arbitrary representation of objectivity.
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Old 2012-01-31, 02:09   Link #10
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Let's see... been watching anime on-off since 1994. Plenty have started later and have seen far more than I have. Nevertheless, at this point, it feels as if... "I've seen almost everything" anime has to show. Nevertheless, I keep on watching -- looking for series that are... "different" than what is currently shown or has ever been shown.

Yet, no way can I ever revert my attitude towards anime to my "newbie" days, as if it's "the best thing since sliced bread". Nowadays, I am actually watching more... than just a few years ago. Even so, my approach to new series range from "meh" to "ok" to "it better be good". On rare occasions, I can get "hyped" for a series again.

Quote:
So with all of that said, do you think innocence, that lack of exposure to tropes, cliches and subtleties plays a bigger role in terms of enjoyment?
To a newbie -- all these "cliches" are the "newest funniest most awesome things" seen. For many of us -- it's... seen this... seen that... move on. And it doesn't matter which preferred genre.

Aww hell. If you're a "veteran" regarding "anime conventions", you can easily see the difference between newbies and "seasoned" people.
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Old 2012-01-31, 02:31   Link #11
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Originally Posted by Archon_Wing View Post
However, it really depends on HOW you watch an anime, rather than by sheer volume. If you've already entered anime prejudging them and not really watching it, you'll miss small things and enter self fulfilling prophecies that said work is "uninspired or cliche", thus causing you to "hunt" for flaws. Another issue is getting killed by hype. If you start borrowing people's ideas, then your viewing will also be poisoned. This causes general entertainment failure, aka fucking wasting your time.
Those are very good points. There is a tendency for "veterans" to become elitist, prejudging shows based on what they've come to expect of a genre. It does get harder to keep an open-mind as one becomes jaded but, still, this is definitely something one should consciously avoid.

If nothing else, such blinkered attitudes would prevent "veterans" from rediscovering the very novelty they seek from their entertainment. And, yes indeed, it's hard to predict how "entertainment" may or may not affect you. Take this season's Rinne no Lagrange, for example. It's the very epitome of the "cute girls doing cute things" meme popular in shounen/shoujo anime. By right, I shouldn't even be enjoying it. And yet, I am. If I had to give a reason, it's simply that its main character, Madoka, makes me laugh. It's really that simple (although, if I had to give a more substantial answer, I suppose I could attempt an admiring assessment of the voice actor's performance; that's when my "experience" as a viewer would come into play).

Most anime is, essentially, entertainment. Granted, that is not the key reason I came back to the medium in the mid-2000s, but it would be silly to expect popular entertainment to be more "substantial" than it needs to be. That's something "veterans" often forget.
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Old 2012-01-31, 03:20   Link #12
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I used to hold the belief that you can't judge a show before watching it. Well, if you have watched enough, know your own tastes and are holding up to the state of the industry, you actually can. You don't necessarily even need to watch a single episode to do it. Sure there is always the 1% chance that you're wrong, but you'll hear from it afterwards anyway.

When I first started watching I did have lower standards, but I was also picking out the all time classics for watching, because I had no experience and went by ratings and fame. It is no surprise that a good portion of the anime I watched back then is still among my tops. When you've watched all the classics, they will become almost impossible to top or even closely matched, even inside their own genre. You stop wanting merely okay and decent anime. You want something that truly stands out. And you're lucky if there is even a single anime per year that does that for you.

Last edited by mecharobot; 2012-01-31 at 03:39.
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Old 2012-01-31, 03:55   Link #13
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As other posters have said, this applies to everything. But there is more to it. Once you play the critic for so long, you kind of come to realize that you are being way too cynical for your own good and start enjoying simple things again (or just switch to another medium if you quit before you come to the realization). You won't ever go back to having as much fun as when you are completely innocent but you will be much more forgiving than you tend to be when you have just about seen it all but not yet realized that that's a good thing and not a bad one. Oh and you might continue to portray yourself as a hardheaded critic (for various reasons but mostly because you are hardwired into talking in that tone) but you'll be chuckling at the same stuff you criticize as your guilty pleasure.
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Old 2012-01-31, 04:33   Link #14
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What happens from personal experience is this
Stage 1: Wow, transforming robots, comedy, romance! (sing a long with the OP!)

Stage 2: Hey Series A is yucky but Series B is great (great animation + music = wonderful, story is not needed)

Stage 3: Duh, boooooring, saw this before, i know what'll happen after seeing 1 episode (danger of getting stuck here and will never reveal specifics. If cornered will offer generalities and excuses when it bombs)

Stage 4: Shit, i thought i knew what would happen... WTF? Shiiiit! Ok i'll admit it, i *can* be wrong but still Nichijou is nonsense (aka missing the point)

Stage 5: Hmm could be a moe seller or a story using moe to pull the viewer in. Needs more time to see. It might go like series A or like series B or like series C or it might be insane. Nichijou is crazy but as a gag anime, it should be. Series G and Series C is trying to be serious but it has a lot of illogical parts. Nice animation and music though.
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Old 2012-01-31, 05:14   Link #15
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This does not happen for me at all.
If anything, the more I watch, the more I notice all those little details and different styles. It broadens my spectrum of watchable shows which makes me appreciate series I would have shunned before.
Of course I never watch the exact same show more than once. So it is hard to judge if I would still love my past favorites today.
It may be, that I have less patience enduring a bad show than before, but that is only because I know there are better alternatives.

It's easier to analyze with music. Because the same thing happens for me there:
I still love many of my old favorites but my general taste is much broader and at the same time more refined than when I was younger.
Opposed to anime/books/movies(==stories) I have no problem listening to music I like over and over again (obviously), so in this case I can be sure of it.
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Old 2012-01-31, 06:08   Link #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Akito_Kinomoto View Post

So with all of that said, do you think innocence, that lack of exposure to tropes, cliches and subtleties plays a bigger role in terms of enjoyment? Or would you say otherwise for experience, arguing that familiarity can be used to one's benefit and having that certain sense that one knows he or she is truly enjoying something and not just being, for lack of a better word, intoxicated?
Well, as the old saying goes, a little bit of Column A and a little bit of Column B.

It's certainly true, as other posters have wrote or at least alluded to, that what you're noticing here applies to pretty much all entertainment genres/forms/mediums. This doesn't apply just to anime. However, I think it might be a little bit more pronounced with anime (both for good and for ill) because both of the following apply to modern anime:

1) It is largely supported (commercially) by a passionate core group of merchandise/DVD/Blu-Ray customers that number in the hundreds of thousands (rather than the millions or tens of millions that some other entertainment genres/mediums like video games, pro sports, pro wrestling, etc... have as a real customer-base).

2) It has creators that tend to be very in-touch with the desires and tastes of this passionate core group of merchandise/DVD/Blu-Ray customers.


So when something becomes popular in anime, it tends to become insanely popular and almost kind of omnipresent through out anime as a whole. Now there's a good side to this as it means that good ideas that become popular thankfully get to be played out to their full and utmost potential. It's rare that I find a good character concept or series premise in anime, and think to myself "Man, why didn't they ever do more with this?"

Also, synthesis of different popular elements tend to get steadily more and more refined over-time, which in turn can provide a nice blending of flavors that at times can even result in a brand new type of flavor (consider what the Nanoha series did in fusing some of the best elements of magical girl anime with some of the best elements of mecha anime).


Now the downside of this, though - At least for me personally - Is that anime tropes are particularly easy to perceive. It's often a bit easier than I would like for me to perceive "the man behind the curtain", and to get lost in a meta-level understanding to a degree that it's very hard to truly immerse myself in an anime show's narrative (which I find is necessary for me to truly care about an anime show's characters).

Now, for newcomers to anime, this meta-level understanding is going to be a complete non-issue. Even the oldest and most common of tropes are brand new to a person experiencing them for the first time. I think this is something that more experienced anime viewers should try to keep in mind, particularly when a show is aimed at newer or younger anime fans.


But do I envy the "innocence" of newer/younger fans? With some shows, yes, but not across the board.

This is because the more experienced you become as an anime fan the likely more able you are to differentiate between an anime show that's truly aiming for greatness and/or an ambitious breaking/changing of the mold, and an anime show that's content to be totally generic.

I think that with some shows you can have a deeper appreciation for them if you're already well-versed in the anime tropes that are pertinent to that show. I think that a good recent example of this is Madoka Magica.

While I certainly think that even the newest of anime fans can enjoy and love Madoka Magica, I also think it's a show viewers will tend to have greater appreciation for if they have at least some familiarity with the more commonplace magical girl tropes (and such familiarity tends to come with experience).

So there's both a "cost" and a "benefit" to being an experienced anime fan, when it comes to the level of personal enjoyment one can get out of anime.
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Old 2012-01-31, 06:15   Link #17
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....But do I envy the "innocence" of newer/younger fans? With some shows, yes, but not across the board....
Hmm ... I didn't think of answering that question directly.... I guess my answer would honestly be no, I do not envy them.

To be honest I am happy when I see someone else experiencing the "throes of their first love" in an interest/hobby that I also love. (I may disagree on what they like generally, of course.)
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Old 2012-01-31, 06:24   Link #18
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Hmm ... I didn't think of answering that question directly.... I guess my answer would honestly be no, I do not envy them.

To be honest I am happy when I see someone else experiencing the "throes of their first love" in an interest/hobby that I also love. (I may disagree on what they like generally, of course.)
Well, I didn't view "envy" in the more adversarial sense of "I hate you guys for being able to love this when I no longer can!".

I just viewed it in the sense of "Ah.... it's sometimes good to be young and innocent, isn't it? It would have been nice if I still had that sort of "innocence" when it comes to this show."

It is good to see newer fans experiencing the "throes of their first love".
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Old 2012-01-31, 06:57   Link #19
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post

And that, should be the role of more experienced anime fans, I feel. Not to be condescending towards or dismissive of "innocent" new fans, but rather to be facilitators, helping them discover a road that you once walked yourself.
This needs to be framed and stickied somewhere.

As someone who watched anime since the first airings of Grendizer, Harlock, Cat's Eyes and Cobra back in the day, in France. I have gone through the highs and downs as anime fan, first new then a veteran.

The early 90s was the time I was a teenager, back in the day, when the fear of the third millenium, was all the rage, I wanted nothing but things that are darker and edgier.

I think somewhere, in the 2000s, I eventually lost sight of why I like anime in the first place. I got ticked off whenever my younger siblings tuned in for the airing of the next pokemon episode, I got a little condescending toward Naruto. Yes, I did become condescending toward my own siblings as anime fans when my role should have been educating them, nurture their love, and make them appreciate what I liked, and perhaps, as far as I was concerned, learning to tolerate, at least, or respect, at most, what they were growing with.

I think I can thank my youngest sister and watching Card Captor Sakura with her, she was about 7 y/o by then, for making me snap out of that very embarassing phase. Thanks to that, I could eventually manage to make my youngest brother sit through Jojo OAVs, or Hokuto no Ken, and we could appreciate Gungrave together.

My bottomline is that experienced viewers should help the more innocent people to nurture their love for the hobby through civil and polite guidance, not with thinly veiled insults, and utter contempt, toward the fact that those "innocent" viewers just discovered anime and think that everything they saw is awesome. Them experinced fans have, one day, been innocent too.

Last edited by Sheba; 2012-01-31 at 07:12.
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Old 2012-01-31, 07:04   Link #20
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Ineffectual Loner
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
LoGH, Steins;gate Urobuchi's recent animated works, has left me pretty finicky about what I'll watch and what I won't even second glance. I try to be open-minded, but that is exceedingly difficult when you have an original work or a fine adaptation set the standards high. Most anime don't feel obligated to be ambitious and try to make something quality based.

The more I've seen of one genre the most I'm liable to expect the same things. A kind of desensitizing. Maybe I'm over-simplifying it. But I do try to enjoy every anime I come across and willing to watch. Though, I was pretty finicky about what I watched to begin with.
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