This post will expand on the points raised in my last one, as well as continue my lifelong obsessive analysis of favorites lists.
In the last post, I described how, in following an individual work differently from how I approach other works of the same medium, I start to disassociate the individual work with its place in the medium. As it turns out, this is something that I think most people do automatically, and which I’ve spent the last six years trying to grasp.
It may come as no surprise to anyone that I’ve talked a number of people into making favorites lists. I’ve worked closely with some people and even written guides, all to help people make interesting and cool lists. However, rather than discuss one of the favorites lists which I’ve helped to get made, I’m going to look at one which I’ve been failing to instigate for five years: that of my BFF, D.
When I met D in 2007, he had, without question, seen more anime than anyone I’d ever known, and is still a top contender despite near abandonment of the medium over the past two years. Naturally, I started bothering him about favorites right off the bat; but he never even vaguely could tell me what any of his favorites were. I knew that there were anime which he was a big fan of from the way he talked about them, but I could never get him to admit to anything being a favorite.
Eventually, I went through everything he’d seen with him, and we put together a list of 300 shows which he was willing to call favorites, but none of which he was willing to put above the others. My goal was to trim it to a top 100, but his lack of interest and my exhaustion at trying to work with him prevented it from ever coming together.
In the time since then, I’ve badgered him and my brothers about naming favorites on a constant basis. My brother Victor has an easier time naming top fives, especially with anime, but he’s not interested in doing so because he thinks they change too often to be worthwhile (a valid argument). My brother Shade, however, won’t budge an inch. I ask him all the time what is his favorite game, or at least what are a few, but he won’t answer.
The reason I’ve been so persistent about this is that, to me, it’s obvious what their favorites are. With D, in terms of anime, it’s not as obvious, but I don’t think it would be hard to put together 15–20 series which he’s shown himself to be a huge fan of in the time I’ve known him (Gintama, Hajime no Ippo, Dragon Ball, Full Metal Panic, Lucky Star, FMA Brotherhood, K-On!!, Eureka Seven, One Piece, etc.). In terms of video games, there’s no question that he clearly cares more about Dark Souls than he does about any other video game. However, even still, he won’t call it his favorite.
The same goes for Shade. He’s a big fan of Minecraft, Terraria, and Dark Souls, but won’t call these his top three, nor define anything of the sort.
I used to view this as general obstinance on each of their parts, but I’ve come to notice something about these guys that isn’t true for me or Victor: they’re both capable of getting completely engrossed in something that they don’t necessarily love, and are capable of loving something that doesn’t engross them.
Actually this is true for Victor and I to an extent. I certainly love OVAs and movies, which I don’t find as engrossing, while getting engrossed in something like Ranma 1/2, which I don’t like as much as Akira; but this still isn’t the same thing.
D and Shade were both huge World of Warcraft players. D has poured thousands and thousands of hours into WoW, and built up an account so powerful that he eventually sold it for $400. However, if you ask how he feels about WoW today, he’ll tell you that it’s fucking terrible, that Blizzard are evil, and that he’ll never touch the game or anything that they make again. Shade, more forgiving, bought the Diablo 3 collector’s edition, but doesn’t count Diablo nor WoW among his more favored games.
If I spend a thousand hours on something—fuck, if I spend a hundred hours on something—you better believe it’s one of my favorite things in the history of ever. Things which I’ve dedicated anything close to that much time to in the past two years include Tera Online, Gintama, Homestuck, and My Little Pony, all of which you’ll see represented in my canon and every time I mention my favorite things.
But Shade—that kid has spent hundreds of hours playing MapleStory. MapleStory! And yes, he’s entirely aware of how shitty that game is. It doesn’t horribly matter to him.
Victor and I have the tendency to dart from thing to thing a lot. He has a longer attention span than I do, because he takes on much bigger works on a more frequent basis. He’ll watch an entire HBO series and play a fifty-hour RPG over the course of weeks, whereas I rarely finish that kind of thing unless I do it all in the span of three days. Nonetheless, we both have this sort of attitude that goes like “I’ll watch all the good anime!” and “I’ll watch all the HBO shows!” and “I’ll play all the cool video games!”
This is why, as mentioned in my last post, when I became a Touhou fan, it felt out of place to me. It wasn’t just an anime that I could throw onto a favorites list: instead, it was a thing which I could be a fan of in a manner like how I’m a fan of anime on the whole. I made and prototyped a lot of favorites lists which resemble my current canon over the years, in which I’d have a list of my favorite anime, favorite manga, etc., and then Touhou would just have its own section, and I never knew what to do with it. I needed some way to convey that without being a particular thing, it was still as important to me as other things were.
I did not create the current iteration of the canon (.02) with the realizations that I detailed in my last post. I made the subdivisions still in a state of uncertainty over what went where. Only as I come to hold more things as favorites outside of their existence in a medium, have I started to see what I think others were seeing all along. It’s the meaning behind people who say that it’s impossible to compare two shows of different genres. I never had a hard time with it, but now I think that those people really mean they experienced the things in very different ways, like how you wouldn’t talk about an iOS game the same way you would a console game. And that’s why people have such a hard time defining things like what is a game, or what is a genre, or even a medium.
I’ve done a lot of grappling with the concept of ranked favorites lists precisely because of what I’m describing. I’ve still felt that for the most part, I could easily rank my favorite anime, but doing it with other mediums always felt awkward. Now I know that trying to divide simply by mediums is the problem. Instead, I should divide by feeling, as much as possible, until each stand-alone list makes sense in its own context.
Canon .03 is gonna be fun to make.