first impressions go nowhere

One of the most popular anime blogs ever was JASCII’s old page. At one point, it was higher ranked than nowhere, which is a feat considering neither person posted more than six screenshots of anything. There is a fundamental difference between both blogs… JASCII did nothing but post first impressions and gave grand reviews of entire series based on one episode. nowhere actually followed series to completion. I guess my question is… how can you accurately judge an anime after one episode? Like when I railed F/SN for failing expectations, I get comments like, “Don’t judge a 26 episode series after 9 episodes.” Yet… it’s okay to judge now with just 1? At what point is it okay to say, “Hell with it, it sucks, I’m not watching anymore?” 1? 9? All 26 and potentially waste 12.5 hours of my time?

Sometimes, I just have enough and know it’s time. For example, Gokujo Seitokai. I just knew it wasn’t for me after an episode. Even if Rino’s doll ended up turning into a rampaging giant mecha and a huge lesbian orgy were involved, I wouldn’t have watched. I guess that’s the value of these “first impression” blogs… whereas a blog like nowhere engages the vistior throughout the course of a series, first impressions are good if one’s tastes are aligned with the writer. For example, if a reader has the same feelings about nekomimi meido, Sunrise, and “melonpan” as I do, then my first impressions of Gokujo Seitokai might apply to you as well. Versus, let’s say, someone else who hates nekomimi meido, thinks Sunrise is better than Miyazaki, and haardo gay is to only way to go… then my Gokujo impressions may not be as beneficial to that person.

However, that’s a catch-22 as how do you know that your tastes are aligned with the blogger if that blogger never follows through? It’s pretty tough to get a sense of AoMM if someone only read the first episode posts, but throughout my posts about Shana or Otome or Hanaukyo, the picture becomes a lot clearer what I like and what I dislike. It’s always good to be first, but anime blogging isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon.

12 Responses to “first impressions go nowhere”

  1. It’s never a smart thing to judge a show after just one episode. Even 2 might not be enough (depending on the length of the series). There’s always time for a show to pick up, and it’s easy to miss out on some real pieces of work if you skip out after only one episode.

    Of course, there’s always a limit. I think if you’re not feeling a show by half way (and that’s pushing it), there’s really no reason to continue if you don’t feel the need.

    Personally, I’ll give a 13 to 26-episode series a good 4-6 episodes before I make a decision, give or take a few (mostly give). For a longer series, like 52, I may give it 10-15. If it’s one of those go-on-forever shows like Naruto or One Piece I may go as far as 30.

    I missed out on a lot of stuff in the past by judging too early. Luckily I went back and gave those shows a second chance and realized how great they were. I try not to make those mistakes anymore.

    As for blogging, if it doesn’t interest me in the slightest after one episode then I probably won’t be writing about it. I hate writing about stuff I don’t like unless I can mercilessly make fun of it. But even then I’d have to have at least a SLITHER of interest in it. I mean, it’d have to be one of those “so bad it’s funny” shows.

  2. When it comes to a season-long series, I always place a limit at 4 episodes. 8 if it comes highly recommended. If it can’t hold my interest after 4 eps in most cases, there is rarely a good reason for me to continue. F/SN isn’t bad per se, but it’s nothing special to me. After 4 eps, I was done. When it came to Mai-Otome, I went for 8 since it was highly recommended. I’ve wound up following the series, but it’s at a leisurely rate. It’s not great, but it’s watchable enough.

    But yeah… The soft line is 4, the hard line 8. Anyone who demands more is out of their mind and way too close to their fandom to have a balanced opinion. There’s something to be said for patience as a virtue, but not when it means I have to devote that much time to something that, for all intensive purposes, is just entertainment.

  3. Eh, I concur with Jase. But that’s the reason things like Blogsuki are nice. They give you the freedom to watch an episode, see if it’s your thing, and then not care if you don’t think it is. If it turns better later on, the buzz will generate, more people will be saying good things, etc etc. If it really is bad, then you won’t have wasted your times. You don’t get an award for watching series as they come out.

    Anyway, I have strong opinions about first episodes and even the OP stuff. If a show can’t bother to be impressive (or at least try) right off the bat, then what reason should I expect it to try any harder later? Yes, there are exceptions going both ways. Gonzo in the “amazing first episodes” and stuff like Tsubasa Chronicle in the opposite. Like I said though, that’s why communication online exists, so people can share their opinions and be (not to be overly mechanical… but…) efficient about what they should or shouldn’t watch. If you exist in a vacuum, then yeah, your opinions mean nothing, but the fact that we’re hear, and reading these blogs tells that we’re actively networking and gathering info.

  4. That’s a good question. Personally, I have a habit of watching any show I think has any potential to the very end even if the quality starts dropping early on in the series. I think it also depends on a person’s taste. I like slice of life dramas quite a lot and if I start watching any show of that type, the chances are I will watch it to the every end even if the quality spirals downwards half way through the show to the very end. My tolerance for these kind of shows is high and that enables me to endure any decay in quality. If, however, I am watching a show with supernatural powers and magic, I will stop watching as soon as I sense any drop in quality. Why? Because I can’t tolerate these kind of shows unless they are really really good.

    A recent but famous example of this is Suzuka. The show had a weak and cliché start and the animation was poor most of the time but I continued to watch to the very end (along with many fans) since the story is a realistic romantic drama and that is something I can tolerate. I was rewarded later when the story got a lot more exciting and intriguing by episode 13 and continued that streak to the very end.

    You mentioned an interesting example which is Gokujo Seitokai. The first half of the show was a bit slow and weak (though it had its share of great moments) but the later half was just pure awesome. It was so awesome that I used to grin just by looking at the Gokujo Seitokai episode files on my hard drive because I knew I was in for a wonderful treat if I open any of these files (just like a music box). The reason why I continued to watch this show to the very end even though the first half was weak is because I have a high tolerance for these kinds of shows.

    Blogs that follow shows to the very end are very useful. Even if I’m not watching a particular show, I might still read the blog posts about that show out of curiosity and that might convince me to watch the show in the end or at least watch the best episodes of that show. An example of this is Mushishi. I didn’t watch this show at the start because I thought it was going down the path of disturbing horror but reading many blog posts about it (especially posts in Memento and Moetry) convinced me that it is more than woth my while to watch it. Another excellent example is Shuffle. I still haven’t watched the whole series and don’t intend to but I did watch all the Asa centred episodes (including the last 6 episodes) because reading the Shuffle posts in Random Curiosity convinced me that they are worth watching. I still consider the last 6 episodes of Shuffle to be some of the finest anime drama episodes ever made and I would encourage anyone to watch them even if the show as a whole doesn’t suit his or her taste.

  5. >>F/SN isn’t bad per se, but it’s nothing special to me. After 4 eps, I was done.

    FSN’s progression has been pretty ludicrous. I want to know who decided to make the first five episodes so incredibly boring. I further want to know who decided to suddenly make the show not only decent, but good, three episodes ago.

  6. >> but the later half was just pure awesome.

    I just don’t want to claw my eyes out for 13 episodes (six hours!) to finally enjoy something. Some shows like Gokujo for me just was not watchable no matter how many pot brownies I had that day. Other shows like Gun x Sword, while doesn’t pick up until the latter half, was at least watchable the first.

    A general problem with the anime blogosphere is that there’s very few blogs that will honestly point out, “This sucks. Avoid it.” I actually get hate mail sometimes for AoMM because I’ll rag on shows. While I think most bloggers will only blog about something they like, it’s sometimes a good exercise to blog about something that they feel negative about. (Coming up: My First and Last Episode of Lemon Angel Project!)

  7. I’ve found that if a show doesn’t tend to start strong, I’m probably not going to end up continuing with it. If I’m watching on a weekly basis, I’ll end up giving up after about four episodes or so (shows that aren’t necessarily shows that I might like in the first place get two at most). Then again, if it starts getting lame towards the end, I usually end up sticking through anyway. Shrug.

    The other problem is when I quit after a few eps and then I find out that the show “gets good” later on. That still often doesn’t really help the show with me because that still means that if I pick it back up, that I’ll still need to slog through X lame episodes first.

    I think maybe the idea with first impressions is to focus on things like the what the show I dunno, “is”. For instance, F/SN’s sucktitude comes from how nothing happens, vs. Joshikousei’s sucktitude which comes from the fact that panchiras and WACKY ZANY ANTICS aren’t going to make me laugh. It doesn’t seem like the F/SN kind can get picked up for awhile while Joshikousei’s is readily apparent based on the kind of show that it is? Maybe?

  8. It’s funny that you mention JASCII because I used to always go there to figure out which shows to watch (or at least try out). Back then getting info on series was pretty tough, so it was really an indispensable resource. I really wish it was still active.

    I think the “first impressions” blogs are useful, especially in a season such as this upcoming one, where there are more shows than a (sane) person can possibly watch. It’s a good idea to get multiple opinions, too (I noticed one blogger didn’t “get” Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu).

    I dunno if I agree with the whole “you can’t judge an anime by the first episode” argument. If a show doesn’t impress me with the first episode, why should I try and give it more chances? The whole point of a first episode is to get viewers interested in watching the rest of the show!

    Certainly there are cases where the first episode doesn’t represent the anime as a whole (Kiminozo, anyone?), but in most cases, I think it does.

  9. I’m generally a completist, and that was much easier when I stuck exclusively to DVDs; the only series I had ever given up was Love Hina.

    I think you can give up on something after an episode if there’s a lot of other stuff to go around; the anime world at the moment is so big that it’s nigh on impossible to watch every single show on offer. You can even dismiss some shows out of hand. I don’t think everyone should be expected to watch everything and, now that we’ve got such a breadth of opinion available, we don’t have to.

    Although it’s a navel-gazing world, it’s a winning situation.

  10. Hate mail huh? How could anyone possibly have malicious thoughts just because someone doesn’t like what they like?

    Do they go “XXXX u, u no me fav show fate stay nite! WHY?? u suxxxx”?

  11. >Even if Rino’s doll ended up turning into a rampaging giant mecha and a huge lesbian orgy were involved, I wouldn’t have watched.

    That is such a lie =D. You probably would just have skipped to the good parts then.

  12. First impression isn’t everything, but enough. First episode already has music, voice acting, animation, character design and which genre it’s going to be. Those things rarely change and include 80-90% of how i rate anime. There is no way rest 20% make good series. Only one that did so is kgne and i doubt i see similar anytime soon.

    If i miss some good shows that’s too bad. I don’t have interest or neither time to watch 4 episodes and after that say it’s boring crap. Even if series end up being most awesome ever there is surely posts about it on blogsuki and i can always watch it again later if needed.

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