A Confession – Iyashikei and Me

The first episode of Tamayura ~hitotose~ is quite good. I’m going to go ahead and drop it.

A big, crazy bong.

I think Sato Junichi is a fantastic writer/director, and I have a lot of respect both for him and the iyashikei style that he’s crafted over so many shows. But, at least for now, I’m done with this genre. I simply can’t handle it anymore.

When I started watching fansubs and joined the anime blogging community in 2007, the handful of people I knew were big into iyashikei anime—most notably TheBigN, whose favorite things were the likes of Aria and Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou. I remember when ex-blogger Shiroth said upon his watching YKK that, “if Aria is the cannabis of iyashikei, then YKK is like injecting heroin into your eyeballs.” Liking this genre was probably what I saw at the time as “the cool thing to do,” so I endeavored in doing so.

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is a fourteen-volume manga of which I read maybe one chapter; adapted into a four-episode OVA, which I watched three episodes of and never finished. I think it took me more than a year to watch the first season of Aria, and I’ve been stalling on Aria the Natural since 2009. I also partook in the likes of Sketchbook ~full color’s~, which I watched seven episodes of, and last season’s Ikoku Meiro no Croisee, of which I only watched one. Never did I consider myself as having “dropped” any of these shows.

I can’t help but want to watch and enjoy these shows. I recognize how good they are, and even more than that, there are so many diehard fans who never shut the hell up about them (namely Aria). I never hear the end of how fantastic Aria the Origination is, but when I think about having twenty episodes of Aria the Natural ahead of me, I just don’t think I can make it.

One of my favorite anime franchises, Hidamari Sketch, is borderline iyashikei. It’s slow, soothing, and heartwarming that way. It took me a year to finish the first show, a year to finish the second show, and though I watched the first episode of the third show a year ago, I haven’t watched any more of it yet. And that’s one of my favorite franchises. Why is this so difficult for me?

Cute girls, scenery porn... what's not to love?

It’s that when I watch these shows, I feel like my brain shuts off and I get lulled into this weird stupor. When it’s over, I don’t even know where I am anymore. I remember the day that my friend and I sat on the couch and watched the first two seasons of Natsume Yuujinchou, and it felt like several days had passed by the end, all of it a muddy and hard to remember experience.

That’s what gets to me. There are many things for me to love in shows like Tamayura. There are cute girls doing cute things, wearing cute clothes, having cute dialog, etc. There are gorgeous sceneries galore, and great seiyuu performances left and right. I even find characters that I genuinely care about. Maybe not so much Tamayura, but I really love Alice from Aria, even though I can’t bring myself to watch more of the show and see more of her. Not to mention Hidamari Sketch, which contains one of my favorite casts in anime.

It’s just that, at the end of the day, I can’t remember shit of what happened in the show. I walk out of each episode wondering what happened, where was I? Like I’m lacking in some feeling of accomplishment that I should get from watching anime. It never feels like I’m nearing the end, or like I’ve made progress. I don’t think—I don’t have things to get excited and worked up about.

I know that I’ll never finish Tamayura, and that even if I did, I wouldn’t remember much of what happened. I might remember liking this and that, but ultimately feel like I just watched it and forgot about it. It’s hard for me to find the energy to watch something, knowing that I’ll feel that way about it in the end. So, rather than continue to clog my on-hold list with iyashikei anime that I want to like but will never finish, I’m just going to nip it in the bud and drop it here, along with Croisee. I won’t drop Aria the Natural just yet, though. I still feel like I owe it to myself to give it another shot.

14 thoughts on “A Confession – Iyashikei and Me

  1. I rewatched random bits of Natural, and it was great. It made me rewatch all of Origination, which was so brilliant. It gave me perspective as I maintain my acknowledgment of the recently concluded Hanasaku Iroha as one of my favorite shows.

    Tamayura however, I watched two or three of the OVA episodes. I got bored the fuck out of my skull. I think it was like watching my own brain ooze out from my nose. This isn’t to say it wasn’t gorgeous-looking and such, but there was nothing in it that I enjoyed at all. Not going near this TV series.

  2. It was difficult to get through Croisee. I’ve watched maybe 3 eps of Aria the Animation. I loved it, especially the acqua alta episode. I haven’t watched anymore of it though.

    I barely remember parts of Someday’s Dreamers…just little standout things here or there.

    It took me like years to finish Mushishi. Which is also one of my favorites.

    So I say take your time with iyashikei. Watch it when the mood strikes. It’s comfort food.

    • But it’s not that comforting to me. Rather, it’s a tad unsettling.

      I don’t remember anything about Someday’s Dreamers either lol. And yeah Mushishi oh man… I said it was probably going to be on my favorites list when I watched 14 eps of it in 2007, and today I’ve seen… 14 eps of it. But that’s more laziness than iyashikei.

  3. It seems to me that this genre/style of anime is almost the antithesis of “a feeling of accomplishment” — sort of like, to watch it is the accomplishment, or just to exist in that moment along with the show is the point. “What happened in the show” is less important than how you felt while watching (though I suppose the secret is that what happens in the show actually is important to be able to lure you into that state). I think it’s precisely because the show can put you into that sort of trance that many feel it’s perfect after, say, a long day’s work or some really stressful situation. Hence, “healing anime”. Of course, it’s obvious that this isn’t for everyone. This is like how some people’s idea of a vacation is to lounge around and do nothing, while other people want to go away somewhere and cram in as much fun as they possibly can. Neither are wrong; it’s just your personality. So, if anything, realizing this about yourself is the more important thing. Forcing yourself to watch one of these shows but “not feeling it” seems like the ultimate waste of time (since I think “feeling it” is pretty much what it’s all about).

    • I think I care a lot more about plot nowadays than I used to. I’ve come to understand its mechanizations better and appreciate how much it can do. FMA Brotherhood was a start as something perfectly put together, but the real money is Homestuck, whose plot is extremely interesting. That said, it doesn’t mean I suddenly mourn the lack thereof. I would cite the fact that K-On!! is still my favorite anime, except that unlike you, I firmly believe that it has a plot. Rather, I guess, http://www.lowonhitpoints.com/p/on_narrative/

  4. Aria is a boring piece of shit I’ve been trying to watch the second season for over a year and a half. I’m planning to watch episode 4 one of these days….(no I’m not).

    Get my hands on the raving lunatic who proposed I watch this show? Boy golly gee would I! (it’s Baka-Raptor).

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