Becoming A Better Viewer: Making Lists

[Description]: A short series of posts about the relationship between viewer and anime and how to get more insight and enjoyment out of what you watch.

Between just how well cataloged anime is and the presence of popular sites like MyAnimeList, Hummingbird, Anichart, etc – list making is a highly pervasive activity within the anime community. Many viewers have a clear-cut hierarchy of what their favorite shows were from the previous season and of course what their top 10 favorite anime of all time are. The reason I have included this activity here is very simple: lists make you think – they are provocative.

When you make a list you don’t just slap together a ramshackle account of some of the most recent shows you watched. By necessity, there is deliberation – whether you are making the list for fun or for critical purpose, there is decision making and each show placed on the list prompts you for your opinion. Was Fullmetal Alchemist better than Shinsekai Yori? Why or why wasn’t it better. What are the pros and cons for each argument? Lists allow you to suss out your feelings about many different shows within a comparative format and most importantly, create an ongoing, critical relationship between you and the anime listed. This is their integral appeal and why they are being mentioned here.

Your relationship with a show shouldn’t end once you finish the last episode – lists keep you thinking, reevaluating, and contrasting what you’ve seen, granting you greater insight into those shows and why you thought of them the way you did. When you rank shows your opinions of them should be varying and diverse to best reflect the gulfs in enjoyment between each of them and revisiting your ratings should be insightful in and of itself. This is a tall order for those with vast catalogs of anime under their belt and newcomers to the medium won’t have enough shows to illustrate a diverse set of interests but the idea behind making lists should be no less effective.

Lists force us to confront our opinions and prior experiences and become more familiar with what we’ve seen.What you previously thought feeds immensely well into your current watching experience. The act of making a list is a great mnemonic tool and the better you understand what you’ve already seen, the better you can comprehend and process what you will see next. What are your thoughts or reasons behind list making? Are they a waste of time or have you found them insightful and entertaining?

You can read the next post in this series here: Becoming A Better Viewer: Perception and Influence

You can read the previous post in this series here: Becoming A Better Viewer: Valuing Components

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2 thoughts on “Becoming A Better Viewer: Making Lists

  1. The most confronting aspect of having a hierarchical list is looking at older entries. I’d imagine those who have been watching anime for years will encounter the case where you review your list and realize older entries seem “mis-rated”. What I mean is that during my entry years into anime, I didn’t have a well developed set of criteria to apply to the series I watched. I was easily impressed by the simplest of tropes. After coming back over the years, I can reflect on the characters and stories I experienced during this time and realize how lackluster they seem in comparison to the better works I’ve had the privilege to watch. And because of this change in perspective, I’m tempted to change the rating as my list has become increasingly biased towards the shows I watched initially. Unfortunately I can’t really think of a good answer to this problem, but I will acknowledge the dilemma caused by making a list over the course of varying experiences and tastes.

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    • Yeah I agree wholeheartedly with the existence of this problem as a lot of people are constantly developing as viewers and their metrics and things they enjoy become skewed and differentiate over time. I find myself constantly shifting around a lot of the older shows I watch in accordance with how I remember them but they are often volatile and hard to place because of their dated nature. I feel the only real cure is a comprehensive re-watch but a large number of shows likely don’t even warrant or deserve it. I think you just do the best you can with what you think of the show currently in juxtaposition to how you remember it and if it’s something you truly enjoy that you want to gauge the value of once again, then maybe put some time aside to give it another run through. Certainly a provocative issue with long-running hierarchical lists.

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