Before I began watching shows as they aired, I would choose my anime very carefully from review sites such as Anime-Planet or The Nihon Reivew. In doing so I got to see a number of really great anime, but it also severely limited my exposure to the medium. In time I began watching a lot more anime and I became less particular about what I did watch. Following shows as they aired led me to watch a lot of average or mediocre shows and some downright awful ones, but even if they weren’t the best things around, I still found that there was a lot of benefit to watching them.
A Way to Moderate One’s Expectations
While I don’t think you have to end up liking everything, watching being exposed to a wide variety of shows (ranging from good to bad) helps temper one’s expectations. If you only watch the very best you are potentially missing out on some good shows that simply don’t aim as high as the one’s you are accustomed to. Or, consider a scenario where a show has an average beginning before going on to be superb. If you only have patience for the top tier shows, you probably won’t see this one past its weak points. I do believe that looking at what you watch critically is a good thing to do. But I do think that your expectations can get to high which can be a detriment to your ability to enjoy what you watch. Viewing a wide range of shows has its benefits in that we become more accustomed to looking past a show’s missteps and still trying to find some enjoyment in them.
A Way to Enhance One’s Experience
The other benefit for watching even the mediocre shows is that they enhance your experience when you do watch the top tier anime.
Let’s look at Honey and Clover, an anime that I finished watching not too long ago, to see some examples of what I mean. Honey and Clover is an extremely good show and is probably up there among the best slice-of-life stories. Part of what makes it so good, though, is a result of how much it stands out next to other shows in the genre. A romantic comedy (drama?), Honey and Clover differentiates itself from the beginning by placing its characters in an art college as opposed to a highschool. In a genre (or maybe even medium) that is over-saturated with shows set in highschool, Honey and Clover is a breath of fresh air and simply more interesting because it is away from the familiar setting and tropes that I have become so accustomed to. Avoiding common school anime cliches like beach trips or school festivals (there are several festivals, but they serve very different purposes), the show separates itself from the crowd even further by having the characters graduate one by one and enter the working world. This move opened up countless possibilities for the characters and it quite frankly made the show more interesting because of how unfamiliar and unpredictable the setting was.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the romance aspect of Honey and Clover. Superb writing aside, the show again stands out in this aspect because it is so different. Rather than the average love triangle or web, Honey and Clover explored cases of unrequited love and the fear of rejection; something which is not common in anime. Before Honey and Clover, the cases of unrequited love I was used to usually revolved around the third wheel (the one you knew had no chance) in a love triangle that existed solely to cause melodrama for the leading couple. Such characters were, quite frankly, boring because you knew the outcome from the beginning and the character’s feelings were never explored beyond “liking” an individual. However, this was quite different in Honey and Clover because not only was there no main couple, but the story fully fleshed out its characters. Thus, watching Honey and Clover was impressive not only for the emotional depth the writers gave their characters, but it also stood out for doing what many other shows did not even attempt.
Not to turn this post into a post about Honey and Clover, but it is an excellent example of what I am describing. There were many other examples I could have used and you can come up with some as well by asking yourself why you like your favorites shows. It is our innate habit of comparing the shows that we have seen which makes the best of them stand out even more.