On watching a lot less anime this year
Looking back on this year in anime for me, one thing that definitely stands out is that I've watched a lot less shows than I usually do. It hasn't been because I'm out of time, or because I have some limit on how many shows I want to watch. Instead it's because I've become a lot more willing to listen to my gut, to mostly not watch things unless I'm actually enjoying them, and to drop shows that I've stopped being interested in even if they're quite late in their run (and I thus have a lot invested in watching them, in a way).
(It would be snappy to say that I'm watching less but enjoying it more, but that's not true. The shows that I'm enjoying are not magically better than they ever have been, it's just that I'm not watching much else.)
Looking back, things here have probably been building for some time (cf my Winter 2014 grump), but this year is evidently when my feelings quietly boiled over and I started cutting back pretty drastically. I dropped or didn't even start a lot of perfectly decent or okay shows this year that I probably would have watched in past years, and I've mostly not checked out shows that are outside of the areas that usually work well for me, even if they're getting a lot of praise (this season, for example, there's Bloom Into You among others).
When I started watching less, I think that I wondered if I'd feel idle and bored and wind up just coming back to fill up my time with anime again, especially since in the past I've used various shows basically to fill the time over a cup of coffee or the like (cf, and also). It hasn't worked out that way, for all that there's a part of me that wants to feel the urge to watch more. Although I sometimes think 'a year ago I'd have been watching anime at this point in my week', I've not wound up short of other diversions to fill up my time with (if nothing else, there's always my technical blog).
This all feels like a vaguely unsettling big change of some sort. I've been watching anime for a fairly long time, and usually a fairly decent amount of it, much more than I currently am now. When you suddenly get less active in a fandom you were previously pretty active in, well, it's natural for certain thoughts to spring up in your mind. Is this a sign that I'm about to quietly slide mostly out of anime fandom entirely, as I've slid out of other things in the past? I don't think it is, but then I probably didn't think that about the other fandoms either, not at the start.
(On the other hand, my past dropping out of fandoms has generally been pretty abrupt, even if I didn't do it deliberately. This is not that kind of 'doing it one day, stopped almost entirely the next' that those have often been.)
However, this also doesn't feel like something that's going to reverse itself. I don't look around and feel that there's spare time I could watch more shows in if I wanted to (perhaps old classics, or things I have fond memories of, like Stellvia); instead I feel that I'm basically watching as much anime as I have both time and interest for.
Who knows. Maybe I've just gotten a little too jaded and worn down about anime, and it'll wear off in a while. There's certainly a part of me that wants it to, that identifies as an anime fan who watches fairly voraciously, that wants to go back to four or five shows a season the way 'it should be'. Or maybe I've finally stopped feeling like I should watch everything just because I started watching anime in an era when we grabbed for whatever scraps we could get because they were so rare. Anime today is a feast of simulcasts and available shows that we can pick or choose from, and that's a great thing.
(These personal ramblings and reflections are part of my contribution to the 12 Days of Anime 2018.)