Hey friends, relative newcomer to anime here posting in this thread for the first time because I had an experience recently with two very popular series that I’ve been itching to just talk about as I parse it out? Anyway, my experience with anime has been relatively hit-or-miss since forever. That experience: I grew up on Pokemon and still fucking love it (hence my handle), but from that point until 2019 I basically bounced off every series that was recommended to me. In hindsight they were all shonen — Death Note, Fullmetal Alchemist, Hunter x Hunter — which I thought maybe explained it, but also doesn’t because, well anyway…
(This is just shows, also, for some reason. I’ve enjoyed anime films and games immensely.)
Then the whole Evangelion reemergence happened in summer 2019 and I fell for it hard. Like that show fucked me up in a very singular way. But I figured that was a one-off kind of thing until last fall, when I met my current partner, who loves anime and, after getting a sense of my taste in shows, recommended a few extremely mainstream ones for me to wet my feet (we also tried Food Wars and Saiki K., which I did not like, and Kakegurui, which I really enjoyed just for its sheer off-the-wallness). One of them was Attack on Titan and the other was My Hero Academia. And boy, have I ever had two completely different reactions to two things that have been heavily recommended to me, often by the same people, over the years?
I watched MHA first and — this is the reason I don’t think my bouncing off issue has been with shonen — I fucking loved it. Way, way more than I expected to. I devoured it in a few weeks, movies too, can’t wait for more, and I’m still trying to figure out why? It ticks a lot of boxes for me — I like high school media, superhero fiction, utopian/dystopian fiction in general — but not enough to explain how much I’ve vibed with it. It tickles both the part of my brain that wants something familiar and comfortable to watch and the part that wants to be able to pick something apart for its themes and questions, and I wasn’t expecting that from it. It might be that the character writing is genuinely compelling, that everyone (except Mineta) is worth caring about. Also that it’s not just limited to the kids; from someone who never enjoyed Superman-esque characters, I’ve appreciated All-Might’s arc a lot for the way it’s willing to have him fail. Even the flatter ones still seem to have some dimension to them. And even the melodrama is good! All in all, it struck me as this zany, creative, yet comfortable thing — which I guess wasn’t something I was expecting from a show that seemed relatively uncontroversial? Maybe that’s unfair. Anyway—
Then, recently, I tried watching AoT and was just immediately exhausted. Having existed as a prime consumer of YA media during the early-2010s, every dystopian element was so familiar — but these things that I loved to the point where I literally tried to write a walled city novel once felt so, so incredibly grating in this package. Might have been the gore porn-ishness to an extent… but I love horror media and that usually doesn’t bother me. It might have been that I feel so familiar with this genre by now that I feel like I can see where all of the threads are going to go — that it seemed almost gratuitously proud of itself for employing those tropes too — and my brain just doesn’t want to follow them there again. It just didn’t feel like it was in service of anything interesting. If I want this collection of tropes I’d rather just go read the first two Hunger Games books again. Maybe I just know how fascist it’s gonna get via cultural osmosis and my brain is pre-judging despite trying to go in open, idrk. But like all the ones I’ve bounced off, I was left wholly uninterested in following this one anywhere.
Idk if there’s anything to this, or if I’m just boring everyone with uncontroversial opinions and half-cooked takes on like two major tentpoles of a genre I’m comedically unfamiliar with, but I needed to write these feelings somewhere lol and this is the zone for discourse, after all. Thanks for having me.