I like the term “guilty pleasure” as a nice catch-all phrase. For such a difficult idea to quickly summarise, two words do such an excellent job at getting the idea across effortlessly. On the other hand, however, the existence of an idea like guilty pleasures, makes getting an idea like what I want to talk about today much more difficult to get across. A guilty pleasure is what Oreimo is to me, a show that I’m fairly certain most people I could tell about it would dislike even though I personally enjoy it a lot. However, the idea I want to talk about this week is different in that after finishing the production you personally dislike a production but at the end of the journey look back fondly and remember moments where the show made you enjoy it. Usually, this is pretty rare for me. The most recent example before the Winter 2018 anime season was with the anime adaptation for planetarian, but with Winter of 2018 coming to a close I realise now that all but one of the shows I was watching airing, at the end I ended up disliking. Nonetheless, I still vividly remember moments along the way that were very enjoyable.
While I’m usually not one to disclose exactly what anime I’m watching and my thoughts on all of them, since the internet doesn’t take very kindly to conflicting opinions and the last thing I need is someone yelling at me for giving their favourite anime a slightly lower score than 10 on MAL, in Winter 2018 I watched Mahoutsukai no Yome, citrus, Pop Team Epic, and Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san. As I’m sure I’ve made clear with my post on it earlier in the season, the only show I walked away from with the pure opinion of “I like this show, it is very good” at it’s conclusion was Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san. Every other show I watched I would at the end of the day call below average at best and I don’t necessarily think I enjoyed any of them for what they were. I did, however, have fun with every last one.
I could talk about how airing anime is easily disappointing, or how quickly bad pacing can destroy a show, or how having a show that tries to make you feel bad for awful things happening to awful people isn’t a show that’s going to end up doing it’s job well nine out of ten times, but instead I want to talk about the wondrous feeling of willingly sitting through the last episode of three shows you dislike. There are different reasons I disliked each show that wasn’t about cute middle school kids being cute, so I want to touch on each one, explain why I disliked it and why I kept watching it even though I wouldn’t ever rewatch the production.
Mahoutsukai no Yome seems like a show that works a thousand times better as a manga or light novel in comparison to how the anime worked. It was clear that the main selling point of the production was the world it was introducing everyone to. As the show went on I became curious about characters and the world at a lot faster of a pace than any other show I’ve watched before. This creation and expansion of an interesting world flooded with magic around every corner is part of what pulled me through to the very end. Another thing that pulled me through to the very end, however, was that every few episodes the end of the episode would be this lovely ramp leading into an interesting conflict to be solved the next episode.
The problem with Mahoutsukai no Yome is that those ramps were all crafted out of rotting wood and the interesting and mysterious world remained more mysterious than anything else through the entire show. Each conflict build up that I wanted to see more of at the end of every episode was instantaneously solved in the beginning of the next episode all the way up until the climax at the very last episode. The amazing thing is that Mahoutsukai no Yome was able to make me think that every time the conflict was going to be elaborated on this time. Surely the OVA was a reflection of what the actual series was going to be like, with each conflict having proper build up and a proper resolution, right? Unfortunately, at least in my opinion, it didn’t.
However, those build ups and the parts of the world that were explained through the duration of the production were wonderfully entertaining with the glimmer of hope that the show was going to get better still caught in your eye. I didn’t like the Mahoutsukai no Yome anime adaptation, but it serves as a great example of how not to pace your production and I’d be lying if I didn’t say the bits of information I learned about the world made it very interesting.
citrus was a proper yuri, or girl’s love, production about a girl who falls in love with her new step sister who just so happens to be the student council president at her new prestigious girls-only high school and also just so happens to be a horrible human being. The show itself was filled with plenty of proper cute moments and there were more than a handful of episodes that made me smile and say “Good for them” as the credits rolled. Yuri in general as a genre is one I like quite a bit regardless of the quality of the plot, as any remote amount of drama or character development easily gets me to latch on to the story, but citrus took that and filled it’s plot with several arcs of drama that were a fascinating car crash to watch unfold, similarly to what I imagine reality television shows are like when watched.
Where citrus missteps is in it’s failed understanding that just because something bad happens to a character doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll feel bad for them. A good at least 80% of citrus‘ cast is made up of horrible, horrible human beings that range from girls who without a second thought just commit sexual assault, to jealous and selfish girls who cant stand to see their best friend speaking to another human being, to psychologically manipulative girls who play mind games on one another because they want some extremely trivial end result. While, sure, these abominations of human beings are super entertaining to watch, and the few decent human beings are actually worth wholeheartedly cheering on, the show presenting me with a horrible human being crying because their horrible human being shenanigans failed them as if I should feel bad is silly.
The number of times there might as well have been a flashing sign saying “Feel bad” in each episode gets played a bit too much, but moments when it didn’t tell me I should feel bad for someone I would literally never feel bad for in any situation, it was fun. I liked the gay adventures of the main character and her attempts to woo her sister while also fighting the internal conflict of “This is my sister, should I really be doing this?” quite a bit, the garbage human beings just rained on my parade a little bit… Okay, a lot.
And here is where I would talk about why I disliked Pop Team Epic if the reasons weren’t just because I dislike short form comedy. At the end of each of these productions, I came out from them thinking they were bad. Each one left me ever so slightly displeased with the conclusion and each one made me think about why I so eagerly continued to watch of the production was bad in the end. Sure, I’m not one to leave anime unfinished, but why continue something with such excitement if it’s bad?
I think what each of these shows displayed was an appeal to what I inherently find interesting in a production while failing miserably at actually following through. This idea, to me, is neat. I like productions I can watch and no matter what my overall opinions were at the end, I can look back at and say that was an enjoyable experience. I would prefer to walk away from every show I personally deem as bad having gained something. This slightly goes back to my overall mentality that you should look for things to enjoy in a production rather than things to dislike. Sure, I wish each of the aforementioned shows were better, but I don’t feel like I wasted my time watching them — I didn’t leave each day hating anime a little bit more. Instead, I’m glad that I could enjoy something I ultimately see as flawed.
Thank you so much for reading this week’s editorial! I hope you liked it and I’m a bit curious about what others might think about this topic, so if you have anything to add please leave it in the comments below (or tweet at me or Anime Corps, or write your own post as a reply, etc.) so I can see your thoughts on the matter. Additionally if you’d like to see what I’m up to when I’m not writing for this blog you can follow me on Twitter! While I have been going more or less strong for the first three months of 2018, I might take a week or two break sometime in April. Nothing’s set in stone, I just want to throw out the possibility. See you all (hopefully) next week!