I’ve thought about what we’re gonna be going over today (or tonight..) a lot — much more frequently in recent years, as I find myself growing more mature (/kek) both in my world-view as well as with my overall understanding of certain ideas and concepts (whether relating to anime or some other discipline altogether), and I was wondering if this had also crossed the minds of you guys who’re reading this now.
Humor me this: imagine a scenario where you’re given an opportunity to wipe any and all memory of you having watched a particular anime so you can, in the truest sense of the word, watch it for the first time again — what show do you choose?
Think about it for a second. Actually, take a bit longer than that. Really think about all the anime titles you’ve seen throughout the years — not just what the shows were about, try to recall the moments as you were watching them. Try to remember what you were feeling while watching certain shows; what thoughts went through your head; what memories do they leave you with. What shows stand out?
And what if, with just a snap of a finger, or a flash of some bright white light, all memory of that show gets erased as if you never watched it. Granting you a once in a lifetime opportunity to watch that title again.
It might seem like a trivial and nonsensical proposition at first but I do think there’s some merit to the notion of getting to have a clean slate, so to speak, for an anime show.
Here I’ll posit three situations where I personally would want a memory wipe.
A show that you wish you hadn’t watched as early as you did
I always think about how much I would’ve enjoyed Bakemonogatari more, if I’d watched it 2-3 years later than when I initially saw it. Bakemonogatari would be within the first 20 or so titles that I started watching anime with, and at the time my barest appreciation for it was its quirky style of animation (which I come to learn later on in life as just Shaft being Shaft) and how magnificently gruesome the “fight” between Koyomi and Kanbaru was.
Hitagi’s sordid tale of abuse didn’t hit me as hard as it would’ve now (I mean, what would a 12 year old know about all that) I didn’t care much for the story behind Mayoi and how she came to be. I couldn’t take Nadeko’s arc seriously because all it seemed to me was just some ecchi eye-catch and nothing more. I was not yet emotionaly mature enough able to become invested in Tsubasa’s character and thus was unable ot grasp the depth of her narrative. Suffice to say, my experience upon seeing Bakemonogatari for the first time felt rather shallow.
I lament that fact every now and again, thinking about how much I would’ve revered Bakemonogatari as a show ahead of it’s time if I’d watched it a bit later in my life. That I was not yet able to understand and subsequently appreciate its more nuanced side when I first saw it always leaves me feeling a bit robbed almost. Like I’d spoiled myself on what could’ve been an amazing viewing experience. Of course, there was no way of knowing what I was in for at the time (as I was just trying to watch anything and everything I could get my hands on), but it still doesn’t stop me from becoming a little jealous of fans just starting to get into Monogatari now.
An anime that was so good, that you’d want to wipe the memory of it just to experience the feeling again
There are certain shows that you can only truly experience once. By that I mean, the value of said experience lies in how irreplicable it was. For some shows, the impact of story development gets dampened once you know how it’s gonna go; the plot-twists lose their shock-value as they only really work when you don’t know what’s coming; the jokes aren’t as funny hearing them the second time; the tears might not come out as easy anymore; the visuals might not be as stunning — all these things, and then some. The genuine-ness of watching something for the first time is hard if not outright impossible to duplicate.
One title that comes to mind right away for me is Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou. I had the good fortune of being able to watch this series as it aired and I absoluted loved every week of it. It was hella funny; equally as cute; and it was all I could ever really ask for in a romance-comedy feature. It’s not a show with a whole lot of plot dynamics that’s for sure, but the real meat of Kawaisou was in its characters. The main cast has an adorable chemistry between them that’s just infectious. I’ve caught myself wearing a stupid grin on my face on multiple occassions watching this show.
I mean, I’d still probably do that if you made me watch any episode of Kawaisou right now xD It was and still is an easy show to pick-up again whenever I need a feel-good anime to watch, but I’m also of the mind that no matter how much time may pass (and so long as I have my memories of the show intact), Kawaisou won’t ever be as sweet than it was the first time.
A show you want to try watching again because your first viewing experience didn’t go as well as you’d hoped
Sometimes we end up watching anime in less than ideal circumstances. You start watching a show that then gets amazingly spoiled by someone, or worse, by yourself (which does happen); you get hyped for something only to slowly be let down with each passing episode; you end up watching a complete series in your friend’s car ’cause you’re stuck in traffic. It can’t be helped. This sort of stuff happens sometimes.
One of the worsts for me was when I just started getting into watching shows seasonally back in 2011, where I very readily hyped myself up for Guilty Crown. I’ve since forgot why I had such high hopes for this show at the time — but my best guess would have to be the production side of it. The idea that a really good arist from deviantArt of all places (I mean, normally it’d be pixiv right?) would have his original character designs be the basis of an original anime just seemed very appealing to me. I come to find out later that it’s a Production I.G project that brought in a LOT of my favorite female seiyuus and supercell’s ryo (later dubbed EGOIST) on the music side. So really, I took all that to mean that it was a guaranteed recipe for success.
Such was my naivete in my youth as an anime fan. I got sucked in by production hype and as a result loathed every second of Guilty Crown with a burning hatred. I continued watching it out of spite, or at the very least in the hopes that it could redeem itself in the later episodes, but by the end of it all I was left with was a bitter taste in my mouth and a new-found yet widely misplaced dislike for Yuki Kaji. I want a do-over to see if I’d still end up despising this show without the hype I’d built up for it. I think I owe Yuki Kaji that.
So I pose the question again:
If you were given an opportunity to be able to watch a specific anime title (or titles) again for the first time, in the truest sense of the word, what show do you choose?