Pointless Debate #41: The Joy of Quitting: When It’s Time to Cut Your Losses and Move On

 

Actual animation in anime is overrated
Actual animation in anime is overrated

Back in January with the sole purpose of expressing just how much I did not like the first episode of Space Dandy, I thought it would be funny if I could go through the entire calendar year with that being the only show I dropped. That was a terrible idea, and as one who tends to lack perspective on most things I needed a reminder. Fortunately, Freakonomics Radio chose to re-broadcast their episode on quitting. Which reminded me of how I made this terrible mistake to begin with. I got caught up in trying to make a dumb point about a show I didn’t like.

The name of this post (minus the Pointless Debate portion obviously) was derived from an idea for a panel I had for conventions. Now, the whole idea of me standing in front of a bunch of people telling them to not watch something in the middle of a commercial event devoted to people who watch it seemed rather absurd. Also, knowing how Baka-Raptor’s attempt at stand-up comedy at the closest thing to a local convention for me went, I just couldn’t pull the trigger. So instead, you get a blog post with a sample of some things I would have hypothetically said in front of the 3 people who went to my panel so they could use a room to eat on a Sunday afternoon before the organizers pulled the plug on me for spreading propaganda.

There comes a time with anything where the entire experience comes to an end. Either the project itself has come to an end, or the participant in question is no longer involved with it. When it comes to anime, that’s usually one of two things happening. The first: the show ends, the viewer is either happy or unhappy with the outcome, but they can just move on after that. The other is the viewer chooses to stop watching, which is commonly known as dropping it.

This post is about the latter and the goal of finding the point where you as the viewer should simply walk away for your own good.

So let’s start by putting things in grand perspective. Despite the attributes the characters you see on screen may have, you personally have only a finite amount of time left on Earth. If you choose to spend literally years in the act watching anime and you find it enjoyable, that’s perfectly fine. The important thing is to get something of value from the experience of watching. Plus, it needs to be worth more than the time put in to watching it.

A good example of this is the credits at the end of the recent Marvel movies. If you knew there wasn’t going to be something after the credits, would you stick around for them? I know I certainly wouldn’t since I think I have better uses of my time than watching names in white scroll on a black background. Other people may feel that the respect afforded to watching the credits is worth more than leaving.

So to make this more of a guide, here are a few common reasons one drops an anime and why you may be compelled to do so at some future date.

When you have an episode with a guy riding a lawnmower as the exciting moment, maybe it's time to move on.
When you have an episode with a guy riding a lawnmower as the exciting moment, maybe it’s time to move on.

1. There Are Too Many Episodes

This is a typical problem with shounen shows, but can also be the case for anything that runs for a decent number of episodes. With the former group, the incentive is to simply have something continue to run for a long period of time so they can serve as advertising for various product tie-ins. The downside to all of this is that there are many filler episodes that do little more than exist.

With the latter group, the most common thing that I’ve seen is that there was not enough material to adapt from either a light novel or manga. So the production company bought time for 12 episodes when there’s really just enough to do maybe 9 or 10. So why not throw in a beach episode and maybe a recap episode as well?

If the production team is willing to throw entire episodes away just for filler, should you still watch? It’s not impossible to do something interesting with filler episodes, but it’s hard to do since they tend to be stand alone episodes rather than be incorporated into the plot of a series.

Seriously, fuck this show.
Seriously, fuck this show.

2. This Show Upsets Me

As much as it is good to keep an open mind on things, there does reach a point where it becomes a little much to be offended. Let’s just take the opening minutes of Elfen Lied as an example. If you are one who is squeamish, the level of violence will get you here. There are other things like my own dislike for how women are treated in Urobuchi’s shows that made me drop Psycho-Pass, as an example.

While I do prefer shows that are willing to challenge the viewer, there are times when I think there could be nothing of value added by continuing to watch a certain show that has ideas that offend one’s own beliefs. I’m not saying that it is perfectly okay to drop at this point (yes, I realize this opens me up to accusations of hypocrisy), but what’s the point in watching something that does little more than upset you? Just find another show or do something else with your time instead.

Something, something. Lame setup, something, guy inexplicably has harem, something.
Something, something. Lame setup, something, guy inexplicably has harem, something.

3. This Show Is Boring

This is a rather simple one and the most common reason why I drop anime. I don’t think any show is really meant to be a cure for insomnia (unless it actually does cure your insomnia, then continue). I want to watch to be entertained or made to think about things in new ways. Boredom is neither of those things. Go ahead and find another show if you haven’t already done so.

Of course being able to split yourself into multiple entities makes time management less of an issue.
Of course being able to split yourself into multiple entities makes time management less of an issue.

4. I Don’t Have Enough Time to Watch All of My Shows

Now this is an area where things start to get interesting. This isn’t so much about the quality of the anime, but rather about one’s own ability to prioritize things in their life. As much as I would like to watch anime, play some games, write more regularly on my blog, watch some sports on TV, go on dates every night, and keep up with all of the shows normal people are watching; I simply don’t have the time to do that and still have a job that pays me money so I can do some of those things.

I already tried watching all of the shows from one season and my free time disappeared in the wake of all these shows I really would have normally dropped. It wasn’t a good experience for me, nor did I really enjoy any of the shows. I simply began to associate any anime I was watching with being a waste of time. Quantity just doesn’t trump quality for me personally. There are other people out there who can soak up everything and think it is worthwhile. I discovered I wasn’t one of them.

I’m of the opinion that it’s best to not make anime a central component of how you plan your life. Unless you happen to be one of the people who has a job in the industry, it doesn’t make much sense. Go find something in your life you can be passionate about and try to make a living that way if you can. Otherwise keep searching for new experiences that will make you a better person even if it means you ultimately have to quit watching anime. Finally, to wrap things up here, the act of dropping a show has a poor reputation, but it will make you a better person in the long run.

Because this show is so surprisingly fun.
Because this show is so surprisingly fun.

Now as to why exactly this post was written, it was basically to tell the people who read this blog’s text (probably a number that can be rounded to 0) that I’ve made some changes on what I’m watching this season:

  • While writing the act of writing Mahouka posts was fun, having to actually watch the show was beginning to become a waste of my time and yours as well. Consider it dropped.
  • The two other shows I’m dropping are Nobunaga the Fool because I was pretty much fast-forwarding through the episodes to avoid falling asleep. Also being dropped is The World is Still Beautiful because I can’t for the life of me understand how the king suddenly turned into an MRA.
  • In the meantime, I’ve just decided to pick up Chaika on a bit of a whim. It’s filled with cliche, but still fun. I’m also a fan of the way it doesn’t even attempt to do “world building.”
  • Also, if you are keeping track of the numbers next to the Pointless Debate number, you noticed I skipped 40. That is coming soon. I hope.

One thought on “Pointless Debate #41: The Joy of Quitting: When It’s Time to Cut Your Losses and Move On”

  1. I’m gonna miss your Mahouka posts. Who is going to put the omnipotent magnificence that is Tatsuya Shiba into perspective now?

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