Posted by: AceRailgun | February 20, 2013

Why do we watch anime?

As part of Kai’s project I’m writing about “why we watch” anime or in particular why I watch anime. Sure it’s a good past time and it’s a form of escapism but I want to think about this differently. I’m curious as to why with all the forms of entertainment available for our consumption did we  picked one originating in a foreign country which isn’t accepted by many of our our peers which I (and maybe you) can never openly discuss with more then a handful of people.


The reason I enjoy anime isn’t because it’s unique/foreign (I’m not a dirty hipster) It’s because of the variety. Now I’m not saying Western entertainment is bad. I enjoy quite a lot of western created television series, movies and games but the variety just isn’t there. A large portion of media productions created in the west is often tailor made for mass consumption and because of this it follows very strict story telling guidelines with the end goal of creating money. Often the final result is very dry and predictable in a lot of cases, there is exceptions to this obviously but that’s not what I want to talk about.


Now after thinking about that for a moment lets focus on anime. Sure there is a lot of guidelines for some anime, you know the drill. School, faceless male protagonist and then a cast of girls or whatnot which are all tropes. Those anime are the equivalent of a western comic book movie adaption, the same thing always happens but you can still enjoy them from time to time. I watch anime because of the unique stories which can be told and the sheer variety of anime out there. Anime is always questioning my taste in genres and just when I think I’ve seen it all something new and exciting comes along. It’s that unpredictably which I love and the sheer volume of anime created every three months which keeps me coming back for more.  The unpredictably isn’t restricted to just the genres either a lot of good anime always keep me guessing and the format which I watch anime, one episode a week helps this as it give me time to guess the plot at regular intervals which isn’t something you can do with movies or games since you tend to view them or play them at your own pace instead of the predetermined pace given to us by weekly airing anime.


All those factors contribute to why I started watching anime and why I still watch it now. I don’t see myself stopping any time soon so as long as the anime keeps airing I’ll keep watching it and not being able to share it with anyone offline. I’m interested in seeing everyone else’s reasoning as to why they watch anime. You can also see the rest of the participants over at Kai’s blog post, he should be keeping track of them at the bottom of his post so if he isn’t please let him know in whatever manner you see fit.


  1. The reason I love watching animation in general is because the events are mostly inpossible for anyone to encounter in life but wanting to do so, and mere hoping to taste that experience through the interaction of visual and aural senses. That is probably the closest to feel the hype, yet still a ted behind dreaming it. Since dreaming of it is tougher, animation becomes a form of addiction.

    • Truer words have never been said. Animation is totally a form of experiencing dreams or dream like scenarios and I’ll admit part of the reason I like anime so much is because of it’s ability to take you away to better places filled with impossible things.

      • To add on to that, it’s fortunate that certain series actually work as catalysts that inspire us about things we may have neglected in reality, bringing about encouragement to improve our lives better. Lots of lessons learned from the industry indeed. 😀

  2. I like being surprised by a show. There’s at least one anime that does it each season, and that’s the reason I keep on coming back. On the other hand, I can’t show you any recent american show that surprised me. Also, it’s probably easier (and cheaper) for directors and artists to express their creativity through animation. Film is not an easy medium to work with at all…

    Ah, actually, there’s one (Sweedish) show I found pretty good recently, had a great atmosphere and was leagues away from all these truckloads of american shows in terms of doing some actual, thought-provoking Sci-Fi :

    • Surprise is one of the best aspects of story telling and like you said there is always at least one anime a season which does this which I absolutely love. I acutally try and guess the ones which will be the dark horse of the season before they even start but the funny thing is it’s really hard to pick a dark horse in the early stages.

      I’ve actually heard good things about Real Humans. I’ll have to check it out some time and I’m sure since you are recommending it it must be good.

  3. My first anime was ‘Ghost in The Shell’ which brought me to current impression that animation medium if it prepared well done can be surpass what live-action movie or television series can do. Ghost in The Shell SAC and 2nd SAC was a best example how anime can show up how future technology, action, music and storyline in superb way.
    Even, there a rumor that Hollywood want to make a live-action movie of it but never complete it.
    And, anime isn’t just orientate for children anymore after I more dig into it.
    I became an anime fans since then.

    • On the surface it does seem like anime is for children which is why it always takes a certain anime to break that thought process for someone. For me that anime was Full Metal Alchemist which like Ghost in the Shell shows an excellent story targeted at adults. I too watched Ghost in the Shell fairly early on and I love it. I’m not sure a Hollywood movie would ever live up to the animation but they can try I suppose.

      There is plenty more anime out there which adults can appreciate so make sure to never stop looking.

  4. I don’t really think there’s anything wrong with watching anime on the basis of wanting to try something different – I think it’s natural, except that at present, doing so automatically gets you labeled hipster. The thing is that it often HAS to begin from that, at least for most of us. But other than that, anyone who likes animation more than the average person would more often than not give watching anime a shot; he may not even care that he’s already watching Japanese animation already. Some keep on watching it, some others don’t.

    For the eventual anime converts, I agree that the broader range of subjects is the key the enduring appeal of anime (and let’s not deny the aesthetic appeal LOL).

    Now I’m wondering though why anime fandom is not as feverish as, say, Disney animation fandom, but that’s just me going OT.

    Just my two cents.

    • Aestetic appeal is a big part of it for me as well but I didn’t really feel like going into it since it’s a subject in it’s own right and i wouldn’t be able to do it justice in this post. I’d say anime fandom is as feverish if not more feverish than Disney animation fandom it’s just that you have to know where to look for anime fandom. Any anime convention really opens your eyes to just how into anime some people are and how open they are about it. Disney animation has that western problem of following the story formula to some degree and it’s unfortunate they don’t produce more content because I’m sure I’d be able to get into it if there was more variety and some animation clearly aimed at adults.

  5. I didn’t watch a lot of Western shows or movies but from the limited range of what I had seen, they really isn’t as diverse as anime. Even for so long, anime had still managed to come up with new stuffs. The Japanese had always been creative, going for the more niche market sometimes, and even doing it successfully. Just when we had seen it all, anime suddenly throw at us bizarre anime like Panty and Stocking and Puella Magi Madoka Magica. I’m sure there are still a lot of fixed archetypes which I can definitely make a huge list of right now, but anime is still able to provide it’s viewers with the all needed unpredictability.

    • It’s strange to think about isn’t it. I feel like the Japanese market is more willing to try new and strange things which is why they can create unique stories without risk of losing money because the Japanese public consumes a larger ranges of media and more diverse subject matter in regards to story. If the western audiences didn’t boo new ideas from the the room I’m sure we’d see truly amazing movies and televisions series popping up.

      And that sir is why we watch anime.

    • Now I am just imagining westernized live actions of crazy animes, like midori days. or Prince of tennis or even Yuyuhakusho. XD

  6. because anime is some of the few thing that is still fun to watch.anime is kind of more creative and imaginative compare to most western stuff,sure sometime western stuff can be interesting and anime could be dull but most of the time anime are far better in my opinion rather than western entertainment. these kind of things depend on the masses for their profit,in the western people are more used to focus one things so it basically leads to the lack the creativity and variation compare to anime which target a lot of people with different taste that makes a lot of anime more variant.

    • It’s kind of sad that money effect creativity in such a way but it just shows us how genuine some anime really is in that it’s targeting a smaller audience and trying to deliver a unique story that a smaller group will appreciated. It’s often the more unique anime which do well, I wish more western writers/developers would take a risk every now and then on creative and new ideas instead of sticking to the safe ideas.

      • well i guess trying new idea can be kind of dangerous,i mean a new idea is a hit and miss if you miss then your works will face and endless barrage of criticism(not the one that tries to make you better either…)and you will face a huge loss,but on the other hand if you hit your works will get a a huge profit out of it not to mention a lot of praise from it is kind of risky to actually try new idea since people aren’t so open-minded to new things not to mention it is kind of hard to think up a unique one…as for the money part,well when you have a gain a sufficient amount of money quality and creativity become of no concern anymore but there are some that actually still pay attention to it even though it is quite rare to be honest.

        and if you notice i speak in a broken grammar sorry about that mate,never used to using the proper grammar on conversation.and sorry if it were too long or something.

      • You never have to worry about bad grammar. I can still read it fine so it’s all good. As for the length of comments it can be as long as you want it to be. Since you took the time to write it I’ll always read it.

        I guess I’m too optimistic when I think about the movie industry and sometimes I hope it’s driven by creative minds and not the corporate money grabbers. I believe plenty of unique ideas are out there and there is always something new that anyone could come up with. It’s just a matter of finding the right story to adapt into manga and anime.

  7. Variety has always been one of anime’s strong points…along with their desire to continue breaking boundaries on what their shows can be about…with VERY few exceptions that only manga dare step across. This is something Western media cannot fathom because (as far as I know) they have so many limitations…oh, and the news takes care to talk about sensitive subjects (When they feel like it), which is probably why Hollywood directors mainly concern with pleasing the masses with Megan Fox possibly being cast as April O’Neil in the upcoming TMNT movie (“BLEEP” YOU HOLLYWOOD!) rather than a talaented newcomer or veteran.

    What else to add? Hmm, we don’t talk much so…oh. Stereotypes are inescapable and are anime;s answer to the West’s pleasing their lowest common denominator…especially in hetero harems. anyway, good job brother, brother, OH BROOOTHER!

    • All those cookie cutter western movies are starting to get to me but thankfully there is that large variety of anime to dive into so long as you don’t land in the shallow end filled with harem anime which may as well be someone recoloring the hair and school uniform of an entire anime every season.

  8. Anime certainly provides a lot of new material that you typically don’t find elsewhere. It was the first to truly embrace giant robots and magical girls, and it’s exciting to see what writers will come up with every season.

    • Finding the new exciting anime is half the fun in my opinion and you’re totally right in saying that it really does embrace the weird and wonderful sub-genres which other mediums of entertainment tend to steer clear of for no good reason.

  9. The only Western shows I watch are detective shows (or anything relatively mystery-related like House)…because they rock. But there’s a reason for that…the beauty of a good detective show is how realistic it is, so anime can’t have the same effect (looking at you, Detective Conan). For everything else, there’s anime.

    • i totally agree with that. It’s not often you see good detective shows in anime and that’s because anime struggles to take itself seriously. I’d say stick to the western stuff for the detective genre and mystery in general.

      There is exceptions to that but not enough to warrant giving up on the western produced shows for it.

    • Detective school Q (Tantei Gakuen Q) had really good mystery for a detective show.

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