Every so often I’ve been asked how not to burn out on anime, but I haven’t been able to formulate a proper response. Sure, I’ve talked about how to not burn out on anime blogging, but nothing tackling the beast itself. With the new season starting up though, I figured now was as good a time as any to address that malady which afflicts so many otaku and their disposition towards anime. It won’t be a sure-fire guide to preventing burn-out, but I think it’ll at least help get you somewhere in the realm of a right mind.
I’ve never really burned out on anime, so in the sense that I have never hit the bottom and risen back up to fight another day, I may not be entirely qualified to talk about avoiding burn-out. However, I do have times when the act of watching anime can seem overwhelming, as well as times when I just don’t feel like watching anything or feel myself not enjoying what I’m watching as much. One such moment occurred a couple of months ago, as I found my attention was drifting away while watching Creamy Mami. I had some other shows I was watching at the time, but I was feeling a stronger desire to check out competitive Starcraft II matches. I had to ask myself, was it really happening? Was I really getting tired of anime?
Then I remembered that just the day before I was being riveted by Legend of the Galactic Heroes. I had an untouched full series of Ojamajo Doremi Sharp that I know I would enjoy but hadn’t gotten around to yet. The fantastic Heartcatch Precure had just finished or was about to finish, and I’d just been enjoying Star Driver since the fall season. I also knew that some of the shows I was ignoring in favor of watching Nada siege tank someone to death were not shows I was chomping at the bit to follow…at that moment. Things could change given a couple of days. Rather than finding myself in the beginning stages of anime burn-out, I realized that I was simply being incredibly short-sighted.
It’s easy to trick yourself into dwelling on the negative experiences. Remembering the bad more than the good, it then can cause you to create unfair demands for anime because they’re based on a desperation to be knocked out of your funk, and when the next batch of shows don’t rescue you from yourself, the burn-out becomes that much worse.
So then, how do you stop that from happening?
If you’re worrying about the shows in the here and now, I think it’s a good idea to just take a mental step back and look at the shows you’d been watching previously. I know that on the internet and among anime fandom there’s a tendency to quickly forget anime after it has finished airing, but don’t be like me and get caught up in your own myopia. One year ago isn’t that long a period of time, let alone three to six months ago.
Don’t be afraid to stop watching those specific anime that seem to be dragging for you and to replace them with something you think you’d enjoy more. If you’re not sure whether you actually dislike a show or if you’re just not feeling it, put it on the back burner for a while. If it’s a current show that you’ve been keeping up with week after week, don’t get so attached to the rat race that watching it becomes more of a chore than anything else. See if you can come back to it a few weeks or even a few months later, when you’re feeling sharper. If you must keep up with it as it airs, and I have to again recommend you not fall into this trap, let it run as you’re doing other things. A lot of television in general is made with the assumption that its audience will not always be paying full attention.
Anime burn-out is largely psychological. How you define it is ultimately up to you. If you find the amount of shows you’re interested in dwindling, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not enjoying anime anymore, it can just mean you’re watching fewer shows. If you’re not feeling any of the shows currently running, don’t be afraid to look backwards, to older anime. If you’re really finding nothing to watch, perhaps think about what it is exactly you’re looking for. Whether you’re following ten shows or just one or are even deciding not to watch any anime for a little while, the quantity of anime doesn’t have to define your interest in anime or your identity as an anime fan.