Anime Question of the Week: When Should You Drop an Anime?
Please get mad at me over the anime I dropped
I want to preface this with an apology. I wanted to keep the content coming every week but life got a tad hectic these last few weeks. I ended up getting a new full time job and they worked me for a week straight before giving me a day off, and plus there’s all the COVD-19 stuff going on, and since this new job is a retail job I’m not getting leave or ordered to stay home.
Anywho the point is I have had significantly less time to write recently and will have to do it during my time off. Sorry about that. I’d love to just do this full time but until I can make it work (check out the Patreon if you want to help with that!) you’ll have to bear with me. But worry not! I still have stuff in the works and recently got a new anime subscription to watch a ton more anime to write about. So hardly anything changes for you all. With that in mind, let’s get to today’s topic!
It’s no question that there’s A LOT of anime coming out these days. The sheer number of shows per year and season exploded during the last decade. In 2010, there were 96 new TV anime that aired. Last year that number more than doubled to 211 new TV anime. With so much anime out there, it’s hard to keep track of it all, and you really need to be picky, and that can require dropping shows that do not interest you. But every show is different. Some only get good after a number of episodes, rewarding the loyal viewers with luxurious writing, voice acting, music, and animation with a big payoff at the end. But even that payoff might not be worth it, which brings us to this week’s question: when should you drop something?
I’ll say right now that I don’t have the exact answer. Anime come in many flavors and in my opinion there’s no universal approach that works for everything. So I’m just going to list out some common suggestions and then end with what I personally do. Sound good? Good. Then let’s start with this:
The One Episode rule
If a series doesn’t pull you in immediately, it should get the can. This usually applies to people who like checking out a LOT of series, perhaps most or all series in a season. It can be used to winnow the field quickly. If you limit yourself like that, it gives you the chance to try everything while still only keeping up with the ones that are good from the beginning, and you still have plenty of time to drop things later. This can also overlap with the other methods. Just drop something if you lose interest. In my opinion it can be good for people who are pressed for time — it IS pretty efficient — but does eliminate some of the slow burners that can really surprise you later on during the season.
The Three Episode rule
Probably the most common way to determine whether or not you should stick with something, this method stipulates that a series has three episodes to pull you in instead of just one. You allow the series some time even if you aren’t completely pulled in by the experience. It’s the “wait and see” approach. The most balanced of the methods. Gives the series some time to interest you while keeping it on a deadline.
The 1/3 rule
This is basically a mirror of the three episode rule, but is more flexible to apply to series of various lengths. If a series is a long runner, you’ll probably concede that it may take time to get invested in a title, so instead of three episodes, give it a few story arcs instead. There’s some arbitrary meaning here, but if a series is 148 episodes, like “Hunter x Hunter 2011,” for example, you may want to check out up to episode 58, which lines up with the first three story arcs out of 6 (the 5th arc, Chimera Ant, is notoriously long). Or if there’s a 24 episode series out there, you could try the first 8 episodes. Or for a 21 episode series like “Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front Babylonia,” you can try episodes 1–7. You get the idea.
It’s in line with the three episode rule, but it does require being more generous to a longer series, and requires more raw investment. Dropping out after three episodes (about 75 minutes of runtime), is a hell of a lot easier than popping out after not being interested after God-knows-how-many-minutes-58-episodes comprise. That’s something to keep in mind as well.
And now there’s my personal philosophy….which is…
Whenever you feel like it
To be honest I’ve dropped anime with only a few episodes left. Sure, I could tough it out and finish it, but why should I when I don’t have to? Maybe I’ll come back to some of those titles some day, but for now, they’re effectively dropped, even if there’s one or two episodes left. I’ve also dropped things after one episode, and sometimes in the middle. I watch whatever catches my interest, and if it no longer interests me, I drop it. Or rather, if it starts feeling like a chore to keep up with it, then all the fun of this hobby is gone and that’s unfair to myself and the medium if I’m simply watching to keep an obligation. So I guess this is a variation of rule 1.
Ultimately none of these answers is more correct than the others. You should enjoy this medium the way you want to see it. If that means putting up with some bad episodes to get that big payoff, so be it. Go for it. But if you’re pinched for time and only want things you know you can finish, then you can hop around too. The anime universe is huge, and there’s an endless amount of exploring that can be done. So get to it and start dropping!
What about you? When do you usually drop anime and what have you dropped and when? Let me know in the replies! If you have any other questions like this, ask those too!
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