Understanding the Audience: Appeal and Expectations

There are approximately a billion different factors that coalesce into a person’s opinion on a particular anime they watched.  When they watched it, how they watched it, who they watched it with, what kind of emotions did they have at the time, what the animation was like, what the story was about, how good the characters were, what kind of ideas does the viewer like in general, etc.  However amongst these myriad factors there are two that are that widely applicable and really easy to understand, what your expectations of the show were vs what the show actually was and whether or not the show was designed to appeal to the kind of person you are, i.e. whether you were the target audience.  For example, I had very low expectations for Keijo, the tits and ass battle sport anime airing right now, and currently I think it’s the best show of the season because boy did it surpass my expectations. A prominent example of appeal would be the huge war over Re:Zero and whether it’s good or bad, which for the record I’ve start hating the show more as time goes on because it decidedly did not appeal to me.  Which is as good a place to start as any, there will be spoilers you’ve been warned.

Since writing my review of Re:Zero I’ve watched some great videos both pro and anti Re:Zero and have come to the conclusion that the main reason I found it boring was that I was not the kind of person the show was appealing to.  The best defense of Re: Zero I saw was about how it was a tale of self-betterment made specifically with otaku in mind and that some of it’s characters did a great job accurately portraying otaku habits or subverting otaku expectations.  That’s great and all but it doesn’t really reach me.  One of the main lesson Subaru has to learn, for example, is that he needs to treat Emilia as a person to get the relationship he wants instead of treating her like a waifu.  It’s not a bad message to send but, uh how do I put this, it means nothing to me.  Because I don’t really do waifus, as I’ve repeatedly stated in a bunch of posts, I need to see the characters as people first before I even really find them attractive at all.  I don’t want to pedastalize my ideal image of this hot girl, I want to get to know the real girl, then decide if I’m into her or not.  And the closest I’ve ever gotten to pedastalizing the girl I was into  before coming to terms with the idea that that wasn’t healthy or ok, was almost ten years ago, and even then I knew some of my hopes and expectations weren’t fucking ok.  So Subaru’s growth is meaningless to me, because I went past that point so long ago that the struggle to get there doesn’t resonate with me.  I don’t feel the impact of the emotional story that speaks to a lot of otaku in Re:Zero, instead all I’m left with is a character I hate for being inane, and having a terrible design.  Obviously it does appeal to a lot of people, hence the grand battle cry calling it a great show from huge chunks of the anime community.  And that’s fine, it’s nice that it speaks to so many people, but I’m not one of them so I’m not going to like this shit.

I think it’s important for everyone to recognize that because the main draw of the story was completely dependent on who the story was appealing to, there’s going to be a large camp of people who hate the show because it’s not for them, and for everyone on both sides to be ok with the opinions of the other side based on who the show appealed to.  Because the last thing we need is for people to argue over Re:Zero forever and ignore shows they might like better, like Keijo.  This doesn’t apply just to Re:Zero of course, most shows have a very targeted audience and because of that targeting, there’s going to be people left feeling bored because the show isn’t appealing to them.  But I think it’s kind of necessary to keep that fact in mind when talking about a show because to be frank watching two camps of people scream that a show is either great or that it sucks is super fucking boring, talk about why it’s good or it sucks and shed some insight into your personal tastes and experience.  Also it would just be nice if most of the internet and the real world would get on board with the idea of other people’s different opinions being ok.

Moving right along, in direct opposition to appeal, which is about aiming for a specific group and is then affected by a individual factors which can be difficult to describe, expectations are very personal but are also exceedingly easy to explain to a group of people.  For example, one of my all time favorite shows is Utawarerumono, with one of the main reasons being that is has thus far surpassed expectations.  The first time I watched the show I had low expectations so it was pretty understandable for the show to exceed them, and for me to think it was good.  The second time I went in with much higher expectations and was still just as blown as away as that glorious first viewing.  That’s what it means to be one of my favorite shows, to continually surpass my expectations and just being a fucking blast to watch every time I watch it.  It’s also what’s great about Keijo, I read the description and went in expecting the trashiest, low effort ecchi crap I’d ever seen and was rewarded with arguably the best ecchi-action scenes ever made and thus far a decent sports story.

That’s really all there is to this post.  Just be open-minded regarding other people’s opinions, especially if the show has a clearly targeted set of people it’s appealing to, and if you’re sharing your opinion in a public space it would be nice if you mentioned your expectations and how they’ve affected your viewing experience.  Because a good review of an anime is usually about more than just the anime, it’s also a story about the person making the review.  And you can make super interesting posts or videos, even if I totally disagree with your opinion, if you just explain where you’re coming from and how a show appealed to you or how your expectations factored in.  That’s the dream really, a world where we can all understand and accept other people’s opinions, regardless of our own, because the other people explained why they have that opinion.  That would make for more interesting content, which is really a win-win for everybody.  That about wraps this up, hope you enjoyed it.

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