My 2016 Anime Challenge

About halfway through this year, I was struck with an idea. It wasn’t a completely novel idea, nor did it come without outside inspiration. It wasn’t something that would necessarily help me improve as a person,  but nevertheless I resolved to challenge myself.

“This year,” I proclaimed early in July, “I’m going to watch a whole lot of anime.”

Why would I decide to start this halfway through the year? What is a whole lot? Who really cares if I do this? While these are all good questions, and the answers aren’t particularly profound, my anticipation towards what I planned to do is what made this a worthwhile endeavor for me. It is my hope that those of you who decide to follow along in my journey, which I will chronicle as best I can through this blog, may enjoy the experience as well. Newer viewers may gain some insight into an unfamiliar anime, and veteran otakus might see an anime you’ve previously watched in a whole new light. In the end, this blog should serve as a way to explore anime and spark conversation.

If you choose to indulge in a little story-telling, you can read below on how this idea came about. If you feel storytelling should be left in the past, along with nap times and sing-a-longs, feel free to skip to “The Challenge” section below to jump right in.


Background

As I was watching, and nearly completing, another anime this year, my wife made an offhand remark. “You’ve watched a lot of anime lately.” At the time of this exchange, I had watched five series to completion this year. I jokingly said that I should do an anime challenge the way that some people, such as my wife, undertake tedious book challenges. Feeling suddenly inspired, I emphatically declared “I ‘m going to watch 100 anime this year!” After being talked down from my hype, and realizing I didn’t factor in working, sleeping, and other necessary obligations, I settled on a much more realistic goal of 30.

The number 30 isn’t entirely arbitrary and, as you will see after I get through some rambling, does have some personal significance. For starters, I have been a fan of anime for roughly twenty years, watching whatever I could to satisfy my fledgling, and rapidly growing, anime cravings. I started with VHS tapes of Ranma 1/2 that my friend got from who knows where (he wouldn’t tell me). I think we’ve all known that kid that would find something cool and then lord it over you, giving you just enough to keep you coming back. Aside from finding the art style intriguing, the story was fantastic enough to hook my young mind on the premise. You see, Ranma 1/2 is about a boy and his father who turn into a girl and a panda, respectively, when splashed with cold water.

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Would totally watch it again.

While I can safely say that I’ve watched a ton of anime episodes since then, the number of series I have watched to completion isn’t that many. In the past, my particular difficulty in doing so was the simple lack of accessibility. If I couldn’t easily get all the episodes of a series, I didn’t finish it. This left me strictly within the bounds of what my friends could find from their secretive anime contacts (and considering that I never finished Ranma 1/2, it wasn’t much), or what was on television in the USA.

These days, that is most certainly no longer the case. Not only is there a lot more anime being made now, but thanks to streaming services from the likes of Crunchyroll and Funimation, most of us can watch hugely extensive libraries for free. These sites have paid options also which allows subscribers access to more content and services. Other paid options like Netflix and Hulu provide a respectable number of titles in both English dub and subtitled formats. Sites like RightStuf have a huge number of anime collections for sale, at very attractive prices, for what used to be a rather expensive hobby. There has been no better time, to date, to watch as much anime as one could want easily and cheaply, and I couldn’t have asked for a better setup with which to start my goal.

Prior to 2016, I had managed to complete the following series:

Televised shows, from Cartoon Network and the like
Sailor Moon (Bishoujo Senshi + R + S)
Pokemon: Indigo League
Yu-Gi-Oh
Gundam Wing
Tenchi Universe
Outlaw Star
Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team
Ronin Warriors
The Big O
Hamtaro
Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex
Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex 2nd Gig
Cowboy Bebop
Fullmetal Alchemist
Trinity Blood
Samurai Champloo

Series that I found on my own, or borrowed from friends
Neon Genesis Evangelion
FLCL
The Vision of Escaflowne
Trigun
Peace Maker Kurogane
Hellsing
Hellsing Ultimate
Magic Knights Rayearth
Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight
Black Lagoon

Streamed from Netflix
Death Note
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Attack on Titan

You may notice a lack of enormously popular shonen series, like Dragonball Z, Naruto, and Bleach. This isn’t because I didn’t watch those shows, actually very much the contrary, but because my list only included anime that I’ve finished. While I watched DBZ for what must have been more than five years I’ve never seen the series to completion. Just like the case of Ranma 1/2 – I couldn’t get all the episodes. While the complete series very well might have aired on television at some point, I had long since moved on from that iconic, but frankly limited, series. Naruto and Bleach had a different problem – way too much filler. I couldn’t force myself to sit through countless episodes that were designed to take up space until more chapters of the mangas they were based on were released. Especially when the filler content was either forgotten or completely inconsequential afterward.

You may also notice from the list above that I’ll watch almost anything. From technically shoujo series like Sailor Moon to shameless violence like Hellsing Ultimate, simple kids shows like Hamtaro to darker themed ones like Black Lagoon, and iconic anime epics like Evangelion to little known titles like Peace Maker Kurogane.

What I am interested in, both in general and for the purposes of this challenge, are complete series that present a narrative which concludes at the end of the run. The number of episodes isn’t entirely important. The series should just have a contained arc and a planned ending (so once again, no hugely popular shonen series that are designed to go on for ages). For those of you who were counting in my list above (which I doubt any of you did, so I’ll help out here) you’ll find that I’ve only completed 29 such series.

It seems rather pathetic for an otaku, self-proclaimed or otherwise, to have watched only 29 series in twenty or so years. Naturally, I feel the need to rectify my slacking ways so that I can become worthy of this weekend otaku title that I’ve so graciously bestowed upon myself. So, do you remember when I said that the number 30 was significant for some reason? Exceeding the number of anime I’ve watched in 20+ years in the span of a single year, that… my friends… is madness (also known as genius). Some time after deciding on this number, I concluded that simply watching by myself wouldn’t be a very interesting prospect. If I shared my experiences with others, maybe we could all have some shared stake in it. Plus, it’s more fun this way.

With all that out of the way now, we come to…


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The Challenge

  • Complete at least 30 (thirty) anime series within the span of one year. A series being a completed work that has a final episode.
  • For a series to count, I need to have started and finished it within the 2016 calendar year.
  • Episode count is not strictly enforced, but it would be too easy if I end up with less than 360 episodes total by watching a bunch of twelve episode shows.
  • Series choice has to be based off my interest in the premise. With so many to choose from, I will only choose what I think could be fun to watch.
  • Write about each series as I complete it, providing some recommendation for readers who haven’t yet seen it, and some thoughts to consider for those who have.
  • Maintain all personal responsibilities. This includes work, spending time with my wife and family, and various other activities (like trying to write something engaging on this blog every once in a while!)
  • No re-watches. I may end up going back on this rule as I am currently re-watching some shows to enjoy them alongside my wife, but we’ll see as I get closer to crunch time.  🙂
  • Have fun! Considering how enjoyable the activity is, it would be a real shame if it felt like a chore and I won’t ruin a good series by trying to blast through it just because of this challenge.

 

As of this writing, I’ve finished nine series this year. I’ll put up a post for each one in the order that I finished them, but it may take some time as I’ll need to place a decent amount of time toward watching in order to meet my goal. Regardless I plan to get every post (and series…!) done before the end of the year. I have a list of certain anime in mind, but if anyone reading has a suggestion, I would be glad to hear it.

Look out for more posts related to this challenge, which I’ll tag accordingly for our convenience. With only 160 or so days left in the year and 21 more series to complete, I might have to become a weekday otaku. -_-‘

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