Hey everyone, got a quick post today, mainly to discuss something I’m experimenting with. So, if you’ve read some of my other posts, you may recall that I typically prefer to binge watch a series in its entirety, rather than watching as they air. Recently, though, I’ve been contemplating if that’s really the best way to watch, as I’ve been enjoying watching a few series this season as they’ve been coming out. After thinking on it for a bit, the conclusion I came to, as you might have guessed, is it depends. How do I mean? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Let’s start with binge watching. Bingeing (or binging, but both look weird ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) can vary in approach, but the premise of marathoning episode after episode remains the same. I usually do it in 4-8 episode clusters, depending on my time available, but I’ve also finished entire 26-episode series in one day. While the number of episodes per session and the frequency of sessions can differ, they all still fall under this binge category, so that’s the definition we’ll be working with for the following discussion.
The biggest advantage to binge watching is you don’t have any of those pesky cliffhangers driving you crazy. An important character died? Go see what happens next. A cute romantic development happened? Let’s see how it affects the characters. There’s no waiting, you just go to the next episode, riding the high that episode caused. You know what I mean, when you’re so excited that you’re tense and can’t contain yourself. Waiting for the whole season to be out so that you can just go one episode to the next is massively advantageous in this regards.
Another advantage to waiting is many series air in their censored version. I know this frustrates me a lot, especially if it’s a major draw for the series or genre. If I’m here to watch Guts bathe in the blood of his enemy, I want to damn well see it. If the fanservice is supposed to be the main appeal, I don’t want any stray, mysterious light beams ruining my experience. Fact is, uncensored is usually the way to go if you want the full experience of the series. Now, waiting doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the uncensored version (which is often tied to the blu-ray release), but some streaming sites will replace the censored version with the uncensored one after the physical release.
Final advantage that we’ll talk about in this post is the sheer quantity of anime you can get through. Being disciplined enough to rip through a series can be tough (we’ll talk more on this point in the cons), but I know I was finishing upwards of 3-5 series a week at some points. So, if you have a huge backlog like I do, you can cover a lot more ground bingeing (I swear, I can’t get used to that word spelling…).
Now, binge watching isn’t the clear winner here. It can be extremely tedious if the series isn’t really drawing you from one episode to another. You know, those series that kind of feel like a drag, where it’s not really as well done as you originally had hoped, or when the series starts to feel stale after a good set of opening episodes. Now, you could make the argument to just drop the series and move on, but I personally MUST finish a series once I’ve started it. It feels like I’d be slighting the creator’s work, which doesn’t sit well with me. I think there was only one series I dropped, and it was due to the series striking a nerve in my real life more than anything. But, of course, this decision is up to you.
Additionally, it’s veeeeeery time consuming. You basically need to be able to set aside large blocks of time to just watch anime. Now, I’m typically all for that, though I’ve found it harder as I’ve gotten busier. That’s what spawned this post, to be honest. I’m sure many of you know what I mean, where you’d love to watch more anime but either work, or school, or children, or anything else really just keep getting in the way. How dare they not have the same priorities as us! But, it is what it is.
We now get to the other part of this discussion. I typically don’t watch each episode as it released. I think the last time I did it was with either One Punch Man or Vinland Saga, simply because of my excitement for them. But, this anime season, I decided to give it a try with a couple series (Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san and Odd Taxi, if you were wondering). And, I’d have to say, I’ve been pleasantly surprised, and can definitely see some advantages and disadvantages.
Firstly, it’s a lot easier from a time commitment perspective. When you have a lot on your plate, sparing maybe thirty minutes to an hour every day is significantly easier than several hours. If you’re only watching a single series in a given season, it’s even easier (figure thirty minutes each week, though you might be craving more). It also gives you the ability to effectively multitask, watching several series concurrently. Typically, binge watching ties you to one series (though I guess you could try to binge multiple at a time, seems unusual to me though. Let me know if you do this and how it is), but you can easily check off several series in each season.
Watching it as it airs also lets you participate in the hype for a series. If you’ve got friends who watch anime live, or go to fan events (conventions, etc.), it’s kind of nice being up to date on the current hot anime. You also can nerd out with people as they’re all still on a given series’ hype train. That being said, anime tends to mold people into diehard fans of a given series, so you can still find people to nerd out over a given series even if it’s older. It’s something I love about this fandom. It also helps anime not get lost in your ever-growing list of “must-watch” series… We all have one, it’s okay to admit that you probably neglect it too much like I do…
This point can be a pro or a con, depending on your stance. The cliffhanger. Ugh. Part of me actually likes it, as being excited for a whole week as you anticipate the next amazing episode can be pretty great, and it helps you get through the week. On the other hand, though… Mother… Fucking… CLIFFHANGERS! I hate them with a passion! LET ME SURRENDER TO MY IMPATIENCE! Like, it’s a mark of good writing if that’s how you feel, but it’s so frustrating. Nothing is worse than an episode ending on a cliffhanger and having to wait a week. … Well, maybe a season ending on one and having to wait for months or years. Or worse, a series being dropped after one… (┛◉Д◉)┛彡┻━┻ But that can happen with either of these methodologies, so it’s moot. And, honestly, I usually just go to the manga at that point.
Another downside to watching live, as I alluded to in the binge watching section, is those black bars of the fun police. Yep, censorship. I don’t think I need to elaborate too much on this here. Censorship is lame, and all you can really do if you’re watching live is hope it’s one of the rare uncensored ones. I guess you could go back and re-watch it later, but that can be a bit of a pain. Really, you’d probably be better off going to the manga at that point (assuming there is one).
Welp, this post ended up being a lot longer than I expected. Sorry about that. But, in summation, there’s pros and cons to both binge and live watching. Binge watching is more time consuming, but can leave you overall more satisfied in the short term. Watching live gets you into the action as it’s happening, but you’re basically stuck waiting a week no matter how frustrating it is. Arguably, the best solution is to watch the series that you’re really excited for as they come out, and binge watch others in the time between weekly episodes. Well, regardless of how you prefer to watch, there is no wrong answer, as long as you’re getting your anime fix.