Something that’s been on my mind since the last post has been the question of how quickly interest in a series dies. Judging by Madoka Magica it could be a mere week following the conclusion. On the other hand, some series live on inspiring such statements as “Akira is the Casablanca of anime.” The way something gets from the here-and-now to classic poses many questions, some more than others.
Revisiting the Akira comparison again, Casablanca is held up as a classic film even approaching 70 years since its release. A reason for this might be the fact that it was amongst the most shown films in syndication for over 30 years. Most everyone who had an opinion on it had seen it and had found it a classic despite any potential flaws in its characters and story.
Akira can been seen as a classic in this same style. It was release 23 years ago, was one of the first titles that broke through in the West and as a result most older fans have seen it and find it to be one of the best animated films of that period. Another thing to keep in mind is that was this same logic that led to the creation of the 2nd M.D. Geist film in 1996 as a classic of a whole different kind.
I’ve held this idea that as time passes, rating systems begin to shrink in scale. From numerous iterations of good and terrible, eventually it becomes a matter of classic, memorably awful or completely forgotten. The group viewing sessions within SCCSAV tend to follow this same pattern. Sessions are devoted to new series, but the older ones tend to comprise of classics (general or genre specific) and memorably terrible.
Getting into one of these categories really just comes down to the number of people who have viewed it and forming a common consensus of it. There are probably people who really love Mars of Destruction or Apocalypse Zero, while also hating Gurren Lagann or Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Just the idea of holding opinions like this makes the ideas themselves marginalized. It isn’t necessarily an active process, but defying common opinion simply becomes harder and harder with time.
On Newer Series
Consuming any form of media is always time dependent. Even the fact that series get lumped in with individual seasons or given a season number for something running longer points to an association with time. This leads to a number of statements that can be made such as “the winter and summer seasons are worse than their spring and fall counterparts” or “I can’t believe this has been running since 1999.”
These statements also form part of the process of forming a consensus which starts from the very beginning. There’s also a tendency regardless to want to watch something at the earliest opportunity if one wants to discuss it. Discussions go back and forth among those who continue to watch, while those that do drop a series cease to be relevant until a certain point.
The Area Between New to Nostalgia
So what exactly determines how the bridge is crossed between these 2 areas. Even amongst those who could be called database animals there are probably series that never come close to crossing the gap and can only be remembered for 1 or 2 details. The key driver in my opinion is merely the amount of discussion on a series, which brings me back to those who drop a series.
Those who do drop a series usually hold it in little regard and contribute little, if at all, to the discussion on a series. As more people do drop out for longer titles or at the conclusion, those who did manage to complete it may also decide that it was not worth discussing at all. The pool of discussion continues to shrink as time goes on, but I think the difference between something being looked upon with nostalgia has nothing to do with the depth of the conversation, but instead it goes back to the simplified rating scale.
Someone saying something is good from 3 months ago isn’t going to mean as much as that same person endorsing something from 15 years ago. Word of mouth has a way of working like that in creating generations of fans all starting from the initial discussions and common viewing experience to pass on the consensus opinion of the time.
To simplify matters above, visual media starts out as a disposable product. After that, people talk about their shared experience and an opinion forms on it. As time passes, that builds in a simplified manner defining something as good or bad. For those that are less lucky, it becomes little more than a footnote or piece of trivia.
As always, I appreciate any thoughts on the subject, whether or not I’m spot on or wildly off-base on this topic.