I’m sure it happens to all of us – we watch an anime, and it completely bowls us over in it’s awesomeness. The show changes our perspective on how great anime can be and effects us on emotional and personal levels we may not have thought possible, etc. After watching a show like this, we might have to totally redo our favorites list just because this show rocked so hard, we have to wonder if the rest of our favorites deserve to compare, even if we can’t figure out if we can really put something above the shows that we’ve been obsessing over for years.
I’ve tried to beat this problem by constantly evolving and changing my favorites list to always reflect my current emotions, and the biggest way I did this was the creation of my ‘heart’ and ‘head’ scores. These scores were basically made to account for ‘obsession.’ When I watched Infinite Ryvius, I reacted in the way described above, but I instantly knew that I wouldn’t be ‘obsessed’ with it. I created the heart/head split so I could still express how amazed I was by Infinite Ryvius and give it a ’10′ without having to compromise the fact that the show didn’t hold the same standing in my heart that, say, Toradora did.
Now I’m looking at this on another new front, and I’m starting to think that maybe all of these favorites shouldn’t be on the same list at all. Now, I’m thinking of a divide not between ‘head’ and ‘heart’, but a divide between ‘favorite’ and ‘obsession.’
It’s not a matter of which ones I actually *like* more than the others. Rather, doesn’t it seem like there are some series that just get into your head the way that even your favorite anime don’t ever do? The best way I can really explain this is with my own examples.
The shows I would consider myself most obsessed with are the likes of End of Evangelion, Lucky Star, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, and non-shows like Hatsune Miku and Touhou. These are series and franchises that always seem to be on my mind. They’re the sorts of shows that interact with my everyday life, and that I rewatch frequently or buy tons of merchandise related to.
Some of my *favorite* shows don’t get this level of obsession from me, nor much obsession at all from some. Toradora, for instance, is a show that I have undying love for – it touched me pretty deeply and inspired no shortage of fanboying on my part for quite some time; and yet, it’s not a series that’s always on my mind. It’s not something that I go out of my way to look for on a daily basis or something. That’s not to say I don’t shower it with fandom – I’ve read plenty of Toradora doujins and bought some related merchandise, but it simply doesn’t compare to the level on which Lucky Star is a part of my life. Even though Aisaka Taiga is perhaps my favorite anime character, she doesn’t appear in my mind nearly as often as the likes of Konata and Kagami~n.
I began to recognize and define this divide while I was at this year’s Otakon. At each Otakon, I’ve gone in with a level of intent to buy things from each of my favorite series. The first year, I bought something from every favorite of importance – Gunslinger Girl (favorite manga) merch, Eureka Seven (favorite anime) merch, tons of Yoshitoshi ABe (favorite artist)-related stuff, Boogiepop (favorite franchise) books, etc. This year, however, I really broke it down and said ‘what are the series I’ve been the most *obsessed* with this past year?’
What I came up with was not a list of my ‘favorite shows’ from the past year. In the time since the last Otakon, I’d added Kara no Kyoukai, Gintama, Infinite Ryvius, the Gurren Lagann movies, Canaan, the Utena movie, The Sky Crawlers, Raildex, Durarara!!, Bakemonogatari, Utawarerumono, Neo Ranga, and Saki to my favorites list. However, even with Kara no Kyoukai and Gintama occupying two of my top 3 slots, and both having as much of my love and admiration as Eureka Seven and Toradora from years before, they didn’t stand out as ‘obsessions.’ Instead, the things I found myself most obsessed with from the past year weer Canaan, Raildex, and all things pertaining to the Scarlet Devil Mansion from Touhou. It was with that in mind that I made the purchases I did.
I don’t think being obsessed with a series rather than just admiring it as a favorite is something that simply ‘happens’, though it does involve personal inclinations. I don’t think I’ll ever be as obsessed with Infinite Ryvius as the other things in my favorites list, because even if I respect it as one of my favorite anime ever, I’m not inclined to think of it in the same manner. I do, however, think that there’re series which I could learn to be as obsessed with as I am others.
The easiest way to become obsessed is when there’s plenty of culture to consume. Lucky Star never would’ve become such a huge deal for me if I hadn’t been almost constantly surrounded by it’s culture. The same goes for Raildex, and obviously for the Scarlet Devil Mansion (considering that it only exists through fan culture). But that culture isn’t absolutely necessary – just having things in everyday life that’re easily applied back to favorite series can create an obsession.
One series that I’ve felt myself becoming obsessed with is Baccano, which doesn’t really have much culture surrounding it. However, it’s a very big influence on my fiction writing, and it’s characters are both an influence on my own characters and on my personal life. The show also features many of my favorite roles by many of my favorite voice actors, which means that the show tends to come to mind whenever I think about those actors. Things like this make the series appear in my mind a lot, which makes me care for it more and more, as well as drives me to rewatch it more frequently than I would most series. That’s why, even though Infinite Ryvius is on an equal, if not higher level of importance than Baccano on my favorites list, it doesn’t earn as much of my obsession.
“Building” my obsessions is something that I really feel a desire to do, because at the end of the day, the shows I’m obsessed with have more impact on my life than anything else. When I recently watched Lucky Star for the fourth time, I was thinking that I wanted to move it further up my favorites list because I felt that the show had so much impact on me; but when I looked at the list, I couldn’t do it, because it wasn’t true that I liked Lucky Star more than the other shows on the list – it was only true that Lucky Star occupied a bigger part of my brain. Because of that, I will instead divide my list into series that are ‘my favorites,’ and series that are ‘my obsessions’.
(as if my favorites list really needed to get more complicated.)