I spent the day reading Tom Clancy’s Command Authority, squeezing out the final hours of my Battlefield 4 Game Time trial and watching Guardians of the Galaxy with several friends. After the movie ended, my friends decided to do dinner (there’s an Applebee’s a short walk from the theatre, where I decided to try their new “Nacho burger” and was treated to a Man v. Food-level taste experience) and Karaoke. Partly because of how late that dragged out, and in part because this is a solid question that can lead to all sorts of good discussion, today, I will be answering a single question from Vimitsu, rather than my usual two to four questions. Thinking of a good answer was a fun challenge, a test of my ability to be fair and honest. I’ve never really given the question much though before, but this offered me a chance to look back, and in doing so, I’ve found my own answer.
What do you feel about those who rant about how “terrible” certain anime are? Are they justified in openly sharing their views? —Vimitsu
It should go without saying that all people are entitled to their own opinions, and anime is no different. By the freedom of expression, people are allowed to share their opinions, too, and that encompasses the individuals who write rants about how some anime are “terrible”. From a personal perspective, I am more bothered by individuals who blindly agree with an author’s content on the virtue that the writer has a propensity towards sesquipedalianism or a large online presence. My main desire here would be for readers to pass their own judgement about things, and assess things fairly before coming to a conclusion, rather than leaving “I agree” or similar in the comment field. As I typically do not watch shows that lead me to rant (or else drop them quietly before that happens), I realise that rants are motivated by a variety of reasons: it is quite possible that a particular genre or series simply did not meet the viewer’s expectations when they had began it, thinking it to be something they were interested in, but ultimately winding up disappointing them instead. Some rants are written as a reaction, intended to blow off some steam at having wasted their time in watching it. I come across these every now and then: if I agree with the rant, I probably won’t watch the show, but otherwise, I’ll go and give the show a fair shot before making my own assessment. Rants that I find useful are decidedly rare, and for the most part, I tend to regard them as alternate positions. There are bound to be shows that disappoint or infuriate even the most tolerant of anime viewers, and reacting to it is quite a natural reaction. The mature thing to do is simply to not watch the sort of shows that lead to such a response.
- I ignore rants that I disagree with, and while I won’t begrudge those who write rants, it does bother me when people agree with the rants without a second question. Several examples crossed my mind while I was drafting this, but for courtesy’s sake, I won’t name anyone in this post. However, I can say confidently that it’s not anyone I follow 🙂
However, there are some individuals or bloggers who go well beyond what might be considered normal ranting, and invest considerable time towards criticising a series. Compared to normal rants, these individuals persistently remind others, whether through forum or blog posts, that a particular series is lacking (usually, for being “bland” and not “intellectually stimulating”, for “pandering” to a demographic, for having “banal” jokes, etc). Well beyond simply sharing their opinions with others, said individuals do not miss opportunities to interject their stance on certain anime into discussion. Some of these individuals may even have numerous blog posts (written in varying quality) to remind their readers that such anime are “terrible”, and in a few cases, employ passive-aggressiveness, implying the readers should feel “terrible” in equal measure for enjoying those anime. People are permitted to believe whatever they see fit, provided that they do not impose their beliefs upon others, and the same holds true for anime rants. Since readers are free to interpret and agree/disagree with rants as they will, it follows that people are free to rant as they will, even if their aim is not to share, but to persuade (or even intimidate) others into accepting that their perspective is objectively correct. Rants and hated leveled against anime are only going to continue, so it’s up to readers to make their own decisions as to whether or not rants are something that deserve consideration.
- The phenomenon of hating on what’s currently playing is a double-edged sword, and the plus side to all of this is that once a series finishes airing, interest in it wanes, and people stop talking about it in favour of new things. For instance, now that K-On! is done, people are quite free to enjoy it without seeing frequent, new blog/forum posts on how the series is deficient.
With that said, writers who rant with the intention of presenting their opinion as an objective one should expect some of their self-aware readers to disagree with them, as they have no business in telling people how they ought to watch their anime. Conversely, a fair criticism of an anime would be one that discusses any merits they found in a series in addition to the limitations, and mentioning which audience they feel would enjoy it. One of the more recent examples includes all of the ranting there was about SoniAni back when it was airing (including one at MyAnimeList that was so fixated on the lack of “intellectually stimulating” content that it was later removed by the moderators). Another example that comes to mind is how much spite K-On! received from people who were, to use a phrase, “missing the point” of the anime and proceeded to complain about how music was not at center stage, how the jokes were poor, ad infinitum. While people should be allowed to rant (this is not Orwell’s 1984), I do find it surprising and disappointing that some people will be willing to invest such a significant amount of time towards gathering intel needed to justifiably hate on a show. These are the individuals who watch shows “so you don’t have to”, and will sit through a season with an eye out for things to criticise and mock, meticulously detailing every aspect of the show that was “wrong” and continuously remind their readers that this is a show not worth watching. Granted, it is their time that’s being lost here, but life is too short to be living for hatred and anger. Moreover, as anime fans, no one can be said to have a necessary duty of watching every anime that airs to provide “objective” opinions for everyone’s sake, and individuals who do see themselves as occupying this position are fulfilling an unneeded niche. People are more than capable of deciding for themselves what they like and do not like to watch. Quite personally, I cannot imagine pushing myself through an anime for the sole purpose of explaining why it is poor to “spare others the trouble of watching it”, and I’d much rather be doing other things with my time.
Long story short, I don’t mind rants nearly as much as I mind people blindly agreeing with them. It is my desire for people to be critical-thinkers, and decide for themselves what’s best. If one does agree with a rant, they’d better have an iron-clad (or at least, well-rationalised) reason for why they agree. This week’s Mail Sack thus draws to a close, and I’m left thinking…wouldn’t it be nice if I got more questions from the readers like these? In the meantime, there are still two more weeks to August, and so, two more Mail Sack posts will be made. In the meantime, I’ve finally beaten the Battlefield 4 campaign and got to level four in the multiplayer, so I’ll have a few thoughts on that for the future. I’ve also beaten Deus Ex: Human Revolutions; I picked the Sarif ending, for anyone wondering, and I should have a final reflection for the game out before August is over.