The Importance of Average Shows

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.

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8 thoughts on “The Importance of Average Shows

  1. Reblogged this on Powered by Moé and commented:
    An interesting blog post I found while randomly looking under the “anime” tag. I pretty much agree with everything said here and couldn’t have stated it better myself. Kudos to the writer.

  2. An interesting point that I’ve never thought of, but makes perfect sense once I think about it.

    More importantly though, I object to you calling GOSICK average. HOW DARE YOU!

    • As a MYSTERY show, Gosick was average. The mysteries were often weak or far-fetched and most of the time they were not solvable by the viewer. Because of this, Gosick is a show that I think of and compare to when I see newer mystery shows (and besides, that picture is too adorable to pass up ^_^).

      That said, I would agree with you that the show is above average or good because I really enjoyed Victorique’s character. She carried the show and I personally liked the way the writers weaved her story throughout the entire course of the show. She didn’t make the mystery portion of the show any better, but she did make the show better in different ways.

  3. Well, what is average to one person may not be to the other, so it all depends on what the person values in their viewing experience. Rarely would I say I watch “average” series (ones that I know that are not well-received by the public) to moderate my opinion, but instead watch just to see “what makes them what they are”.

    That said, I generally do not take reviews to heart, since I want to look at a series with my own eyes and determine its worth. I go with some knowledge of what I am watching, but not entirely by review. Defeats the purpose of watching something I wanted to (even if it is bad) in my opinion. Despite writing a few myself, they are for my own reference not to influence anyone else.

    • You are absolutely right, what is considered average, or bad, or good to one person may be very different when you ask another person. But it is how we feel about those shows, that unconsciously influences our enjoyment of shows we watch.

      And I think “unconsciously” is very important there because I don’t ever watch average or bad shows to enhance my anime experience later. I just watch shows cause I’m interested in them. If it turns out I don’t like them, that is what happens.

      Also, I agree with what you say about reviews, which is why I stopped basing what I watch on reviews. Which is not to say that they aren’t helpful or don’t provide good information, but I’d rather determine its worth myself. Reviews are fun to read after you’ve finished something or if you aren’t sure you want to pick it up.

  4. This was, I think, one of the benefits of being in an anime club. A lot of what they want to watch are average shows you would otherwise avoid, and it helps keep the good shows feeling a lot better.

    • I haven’t been a part of an anime club myself, but I can imagine that would be a difficult part of it. As with any group decisions, sometimes you just don’t get your way. On the plus side, you may find something you really like among the shows that you would have never tried by yourself. ^_^

  5. Pingback: First Year Anniversary and Other Announcements | Through the Frozen Glass

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