I’ve been blogging for 9 months now and it’s taught me a lot of things but, mainly to foster a greater appreciation for the shows I watch. This is achieved through taking the time to sit back and consider whether there was anything the show was subtle-y hinting at or alluding to. I’m sure you’re all familiar with this process of over-analysing shows to the point it seems, to others, as though you’re pulling stuff straight out of your derriere, it’s something that kind of comes with the territory for a blogger but, is this truly necessary in order to be able to enjoy a show?
In the past I have found some shows utterly impossible to analyse- they have just been far too difficult for me to understand! The first shows that spring to mind when thinking about shows I didn’t really understand are Production IG’s Eden of the East and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Stare at those words as condescendingly as you like but, I wholeheartedly blame my young age, and the fact I didn’t have a clue what a NEET was at the time I watched it, for my not having understood EOE (I’ve since re-watched the show and understood it perfectly) , and Ghost in the Shell just got way to philosophical during that last episode for my puny little brain to cope! Nevertheless, I still managed to enjoy the two shows immensely but, as I didn’t understand the stories as they began to unravel, this enjoyment was due to other factors. I enjoyed EOE enough to earn it a place on my Top 30 because of how stylish it was, how thought-provoking its concept was and, most of all, how gorgeous the relationship between Saki and Takizawa was. And my enjoyment of GITS was because of its awesome action scenes and futuristic setting. So, from that I feel I’m able to confidently conclude, as long as there are other aspects in a show catering to those who may not understand an overly convoluted story, you can still enjoy a show without fully understanding, and subsequently analysing, it.
And of course, on the flip side, some shows are just far too basic to read much into at all, these are shows you can really just take at face value. There are no visual metaphors, no allusions to other media texts, no philosophical, psychological or scientific debate- just good, dumb viewing! There is absolutely no point trying to read a deeper meaning into shows like these- you’ll just end up looking like a bit of a prat, as I’m sure I did when I attempted to blog Binbougami-ga! Now, I won’t name and shame shows- I’m sure each and every one of you has watched more than your fair share of these! Yet, one can’t knock watching a show like this every so often, in extremely small doses. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to just sit back, relax and not have to think about what you’re watching. Again, there’s no need to analyse to enjoy.
Nevertheless, one simply cannot deny the pleasure of gaining a deeper understanding of a show. This is something I have only just begun to do during the last year or so. Whereas before I might have seen Berserk as being merely a lovely story about two men trying to find their place in the world, I can now see the way in which it parallels Shakespeare’s Macbeth, whose main character is also destroyed by his ambition. And whereas before Kino’s Journey would seem to simply focus on a child’s misadventures as she sets off on her travels alongside her talking motorbike, now I can see the way in which it challenges our views on society and our perceptions of the world we live in, among other things, all because these days I actually bother to properly digest what I’m consuming. Sure, I would’ve enjoyed those shows without noticing those things but, now I appreciate them more deeply, as they’re truly meant to be appreciated, because I understand what they’ve set out to achieve and the care they’ve put into achieving this.
Shows which are more subtle about their messages also foster a greater appreciation in viewers. As they don’t practically smash you across the head with their messages, leaving you to unearth them yourself, there’s a great sense of satisfaction when your analysis uncovers something. Part of the reason I loved Penguindrum, and what earned it it’s place on my Top 30, was that throughout the entire series it was dropping hints as to what the apple and our two rambunctious brother symbolised, and when, during the finale, all the puzzle pieces fit into place, I got an incredible rush out of it- the kind of rush that had previously only been experienced during epic battle scenes or, I dunno, at the slightest suggestion InuYasha and Kagome would bloody well get on with it and kiss. Now, if I’d just sat bad and watched the show like some kind of otaku vegetable, I would have totally missed out on that, no kind of benefit would there to have had as, without a little brain power, that ending would only have confused and frustrated me!
So, whilst it may not be crucial to fully understand a show, it is most certainly beneficial. I mean, subjects such as English Literature and Film/Media studies would not be as popular as they are today, (according to, slightly outdated, figures from the Guardian, both are two of the most popular A-Level subjects) were the ability to analyse texts/films, enhancing our understanding and enjoyment of them, completely superfluous. So, give me your two cents on the subject! Do you think it’s worthwhile analysing a show to further your appreciation of it, or would you rather be spending the time you could be doing that watching more anime or, I dunno, having it injected straight into your brain, you passive consumer, you!!