Reverse Sour Grapes: the plight of the anime fan, and the illusion of “anime burnout.”

Originally found at this link which is no longer there.

It's a great article on what otaku peer pressure can do.

Blog of the North StarFor Pop Culture Thrillseekers

Reverse Sour Grapes: the plight of the anime fan, and the illusion of “anime burnout.”

Posted on February 1, 2012 by Milo (blogofthenorthstar.com)

People talk about anime burnout a lot. What causes it, how to avoid it, etc. It’s most often discussed as a mild impediment that can be overcome with some handy dandy tips, the way people write about writer’s block. Follow these five instructions, and you’ll be back to marathoning 50-episode TV shows in no time!

Wrong! It boils down to this: people unwittingly watch anime they don’t really like, and the activity of watching anime loses its overall value as a result. It’s the opposite of the Aesop’s Fable where the Fox can’t get the grapes, so he lies to himself and says they’d taste bad. In this case, people force themselves to eat sour grapes, and respond to their displeasure by thinking they must be burnt out on grapes.

The question is: why do people eat sour grapes in the first place? I’m no psychology expert, but I’ve had plenty of conversations with anime fans. Here are some possible explanations.

“Anime backlogs.”

01 Holy crap. Is there a faster way to suck the joy out of anything than thinking of it as a backlog?

“I’m backlogged on hiking trips. I’d better have one this weekend for fun!”

“I need to tackle this backlog of posts tonight. (Original sleazy idea snipped out).

People think about anime in this way, and it’s sad. Leave backlogs to people who are paid to deal with them. It’s not a word that should pertain to a hobby. Treat anime like a second job and it will inevitably begin to seem like one.

Anime as a social experience supersedes anime as something enjoyable in its own right.

There’s always going to be something social about entertainment. But sometimes the enjoyment of an anime is outpaced by its function as a social adjunct, with bitterness being the inevitable result. I made a conscious effort not to pick on Gundam fans this entire post, but they’re a prime example here.*

Some people have seen every Gundam series ever aired. Is it because Gundam is a franchise made up of nothing but awesome shows? Hex no. It’s because Gundam fans seek an encyclopedic common ground from which they can derive a never-ending stream of arguments and debates. Look up the “Gundam tier lists” people have compiled, where they rank the shows that make up the Gundam universe into different levels, and then argue about it. Or the endlessly unproductive discussions of what someone new to Gundam should watch and in what order.

Some people are “burnt out” on anime because they forced themselves to watch stuff they didn’t enjoy for social reasons. Perhaps they watched it with friends. Or so that they could blog about it. Or because they felt obligated in order to converse about anime at a certain level.

* I’m not talking about all Gundam fans so please don’t beam spam me

“I like anime, I’m supposed to watch it!”

sluggerdemon Maybe you don’t like anime. Maybe you outgrew it. Maybe you’re only going to enjoy the same fifteen shows and seven movies for the rest of your life.

It can be hard, especially for geeks, to admit these sorts of things to themselves. Geeks tend to self-identify by their hobbies more than normal people. If you have an enormous amount of information about anime stored in your head, admitting you don’t have much use for it and would rather play Roller Coaster Tycoon for eight hours straight can be hard, even if it’s true.

(It’s often true. If you like anime, you don’t have tell people you’re also a gamer. We can do the “99% of anime fans like video games more” math.)

In conclusion:

If you’re not having fun watching anime, there could be a million reasons relating to the anime itself, the aesthetics of your viewing experience, or personal life issues that are getting in the way. Or you just don’t like anime anymore for whatever reason. In this light, “anime burnout” quickly becomes a dumb, vague descriptor for the complex relationship between your self-image (I am a person who is supposed to watch anime) and your behavior (I am not watching anime).


Jrnemanich on February 1, 2012 at 11:38 am said:

While I want to argue about the Gundam thing, I can’t b/c it’s true. Even though I don’t really talk to other Gundam fans, I feel, as a Gundam fan, to watch every show to be apart of the “club”.

I understand. Gundam fans can be… opinionated about their show. It isn’t just in Gundam fandom, it’s also in the Mecha genre as a whole. When someone goes on /m or a forum and asks if “I liked Gurren Laggan, Gundam 00, whatever, what should I watch next” they are given a list of 70s and 80s shows with a comment like “watch these and then come back”.

It’s very off putting and pushs people away from mecha. They don’t look at the show they person that original likes, they just say watch the foundational shows and, once you watch these 10-15 shows, you can come back and be apart of mecha.

George J. Horvath on February 1, 2012 at 2:01 pm said:

Neat piece, man. I won’t admit that I have a large “backlog” of anime to watch, but I rarely think of it as a backlog… I’m only 25, so I feel that I have plenty of time in my life to get to something in that “backlog”. Once you feel that you “have to watch” something for a reason other than your own enjoyment, entertainment, or curiosity then you start to not enjoy something as much. That’s why I usually don’t give a damn about what’s popular right now or whatever; if it interests me then I’ll watch it when I want to watch it. I don’t care if it’s not being talked about anymore, since I’m watching it for myself.

As for Gundam, my friend has seen every Gundam TV series out there, but it was for his own enjoyment and curiosity; he wanted to know how each series was for his own personal knowledge. As for me, I’ve started a few Gundams but only fully watched a couple, but that’s fine with me.


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