[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.
Given the nature of visual media such as film, live-action television, and anime it is important to be aware of what you are watching. What characters are doing what? What are the implications of this or that plot development? Where is this story going? It’s important to pay attention to what you are watching in order to grasp what is going on but it is additionally important to pay attention to ‘how’ you are watching. Becoming aware of what factors weigh against your own interpretation of what you are watching can tell you a lot about why you identify certain elements in the way that you do. This understanding can change the very degree to which you enjoy a show.
The first example I’ll use will be a familiar one because this topic relates very heavily to the first post in this series: Creating A Space. The atmosphere within which you watch a show insofar as time, activity, noise, mood, etc can alter how you perceive it enormously. Watching the first episode of a new show while commuting through a busy city on a crowded bus is atmospherically day and night compared to watching it in the comfort of your own home. With fewer distracting variables in your vicinity, you are innately able to better focus upon the events and intricacies of the episode and get a lot more out of it. Some of these distractions we impose upon ourselves – having multiple browser windows open, listening to music while you watch, and talking to other people can all take away from the potential experience a show has to offer. In creating a space, you attempt to preserve this focus and present the show to yourself in the most appealing way possible.
With the most surface level of examples out of the way, I can now talk in a vaguer sense about how you yourself are a major factor in how you perceive what you watch. “Well of course,” you say. “I like the things I like and enjoy the things I do and so obviously I will favor certain shows over others”. This is undoubtedly true but what I aim to discuss here are the more fleeting circumstances under which you can alter your own perception. Perhaps you’ve had a hard day at work and when you return home and pick up the latest episode of some dark, brooding, psychological show it doesn’t quite bring you that sense of escapism you so desperately need. This might make that otherwise thrilling episode fall a tad flat for you while something more immediately enjoyable and lighthearted might appear additionally charming. Carrying this forward, these intermittent, differences in judgment can inform what you think of the characters or the show as a whole.
The previous example is essentially just a single case of what you bring to the show. Your mood is one thing and your real world experiences are another. If the subject matter of a show features something that resonates with your personal life then you are likely to enjoy or dislike it more than had you not brought that experience to the show. Spoilers and outside opinions can greatly influence how you watch – causing you to pick apart the show’s most insignificant shortcomings or forgive it’s most blatant failures in order to coincide with what you were predispositioned to think. Remember that without these things, you have the liberty to form your own opinion, unfettered by the sentiments of others.
This topic is complicated and carries with it endless implications and situations that influence your ultimate enjoyment and understanding and to list them all would be impractical. The important thing to take away from this is: be aware. You shouldn’t avoid watching shows on the bus because you might become distracted and you shouldn’t avoid watching movies or television with your friends because they might tell you what they think. Some shows or movies deserve this kind of careful treatment and others don’t and it’s up the individual to decide which those are. The best you can do is be aware that these factors exist and are acting upon you. What do you think? Feel free to leave comments and responses below.
You can read the next post in this series here: Becoming A Better Viewer: Thinking Critically (Publishes tomorrow, July 30)
You can read the previous post in this series here: Becoming A Better Viewer: Making Lists