To me, binging an entire season of anime throughout a single afternoon was the ideal viewing experience. My friends who suggested watching seasonal anime weekly was a repulsive concept. “Who in the right mind would want to watch a twenty-four-minute episode, enjoy it, then hunger for more only to be forced to wait an entire week?”, I’d think to myself. Back to the present day and it seems that I’m now a hypocrite. There’s no inherently “correct” way to watch anime as everything varies case by case, but let’s just look into what makes each kind of viewing experience enjoyable in its own right and find out what made me open up my mind to enjoying something I otherwise found silly.
Whether it be watching through the entirety of Game of Thrones in an unhealthy amount of time, or binging that one generic Shounen the entire anime fandom raved about the previous season, binging is a common feat normies and otaku alike enjoy. There’s plenty of reasons why it’s such a justifiable and enjoyable viewing experience. For starters, you aren’t time-gated for when you’re allowed to watch the rest of the episodes. “Oh, you’re hit by a cliffhanger? It doesn’t matter, the next episode is readily available to you!” There is no downtime between episodes where you’re painstakingly waiting the entirety of the week to find out what happens to your favorite character who could possibly suffer from an untimely demise. All you’ve gotta do if you’re binging is hit the next episode and BOOM, you’re heartbroken because the said character really is gone for good. Binging brings instant gratification, and even from a writer’s perspective like myself, it’s an excellent thing since It allows me to crank out an old anime for writing content. All of this is good and all, but the pros that binging brings to the table are precisely what brings out the best in watching a seasonal anime weekly.
It’d be hard to believe, but there’s plenty of gratification for enjoying anime weekly versus waiting for the whole season to release and cranking it all out in one go. The big kicker being, you have time to digest and breathe after each episode. Using the previous example about cliffhangers, if the episode a loved character seems to be meeting their demise closes on a cliffhanger; initially it’s frustrating needing to suffer through an entire week keeping in mind that said character could be gone for good next episode. Suffering may not be a desirable feeling, but its the build-up of anticipation that makes the next episode heavier and more impactful. Maybe the character you’ve been worried about for the whole week does perish in the next episode, it’s still plenty depressing, but there could be large amounts of pay off for being forced to wait. In that week of waiting, you’d unknowingly become more attached than ever to that character, reminiscing on their character arc up until this point of conflict. If you were to have simply cranked out the next episode right after being hit with the “cliffhanger” which you simply bypassed, your brain wouldn’t have time to process the immediate dangers and outcome.
“Alright, you may make a point, but what if the anime has no good cliffhangers or awe-inspiring character arcs?” you may be thinking to yourself. To that, I say, “You also make a good point… me…” (yea, ultimately talking to myself through text). Some genres of anime like Slice of Life don’t have long drawn out story arcs where taking a week break to digest all the action and story development is necessary. It doesn’t have to be all about the digestion process and story. Looking at an anime like Laid-Back Camp, one of the first animes I’ve reviewed for the site (check it out here), the anime wasn’t high octane action but instead refreshing and “laid back”. I watched this anime while it was airing, so I had to wait for each episode to come out weekly. This viewing style didn’t ruin my viewing experience or make me ever desire to drop the anime. It actually resulted in me making watching each episode apart of my weekly routine. Would binging have made me think any different of this anime? No, it wouldn’t have, it would have been great either way, but that’s the thing. If the anime were to have been bad, I’d have dropped it after watching the first few episodes and lose interest and motivation to hop back in to watch the following episode. Binging shines here where weekly does not by minimizing the time between episodes holding interest longer than if you were to need to wait a week. In an anime like DARLING in the FRANXX, it wouldn’t matter to me if I had to wait a week for the next episode cause I enjoyed it so much I’d just be hyped for the next episode. Whereas if I were to be watching something like… Hand Shakers… I’d drop it after the first two episodes knowing waiting the third week for such a horrendous anime wasn’t worth the time. Trust me… it isn’t worth the time.
Wrapping things up all in a nice bow, there’s many many variables to whether one style of viewing is better than another, but in the end, it doesn’t matter. If you missed out on watching something like Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World, I implore you to go binge it, you wouldn’t be wasting your time. Then right after thoroughly enjoying that and thirsting for more, you’re in luck because the second season has an anticipated release date of Spring 2020 (or April to be more exact). At that time, try out watching it weekly, there’s a deep satisfaction for being on the bandwagon. You’re even able to share your thoughts of the anime as it airs with friends or even family members if they watch as well. Overall; enjoy the fandom and choose what works best for you, because there is no “best choice” unless you’re a manga reader; since the source material is allegedly always better!
Re:Zero Season 2 Announcement Trailer above for those whose interests I’ve peaked