Preventing Anime Burn-Out

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.

13 thoughts on “Preventing Anime Burn-Out

  1. The only thing I could say about this is that anime burnout is more about you than the anime you watch, and usually the way you watch your show and which and how many you watch play a big role in it.

    In other words, a lot of people who are in process of burnt out watch very few titles. That would be fine if they can pick the right shows to try to follow, that are just right for them. But it’s very difficult to do that when you don’t know what’s out there because you are too burned to care, so instead of watching the right shows you end up watching the wrong shows, further worsening things.

    I think the best way to avoid burn out is to actually try to sample a good number of stuff in a wide variety every season. It’s much better to expect crap and get pleasanter surprised than to bet on only a couple shows you think will be great and then get disappointed.

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  2. I usually wind up rewatching old shows I love whenever I start feeling tired of anime. It usually winds up being SuperGALS! Some people hate rewatching things, but it usually helps me through a funk.

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  3. Re: omo’s comment above, I’m not sure that watching more shows is really the answer, but “watching smarter” is probably the key. If that means sampling more shows to ensure that you’re picking the ones that really interest you most, then great. But I think that, as the original article suggest, this has to be accompanied with a habit of ruthlessly and mercilessly dropping (or at least postponing) shows that aren’t entertaining, no matter how much time was already invested.

    Some people have a ritualistic obsession with following shows to the bitter end, even if they despise them utterly, and I can’t see this leading to anything but dissatisfaction. The same goes with similarly ritualistic obsessions of having to watch shows day-and-date with the original airing, or always trying to be the first to comment/review on blogs/forums, or whatever. There are some people out there for whom those sorts of clockwork-like rituals are empowering, but I think a lot of people take on those habits as a sort of “keep up with the Joneses” routine, and that’s sure to bring someone down.

    All that to say, I think you have to make anime work for you, and not make anime into “work”. People get burnt-out when things that were originally entertaining and inspiring become burdensomeness chores. I suppose that could be because they’re just making bad choices in the anime they watch (perhaps based on popularity and “buzz” rather than personal interest?), but I know that at least for me personally, I can be quite content following the 2 or 3 shows per season that I’m really looking forward to, and just ignoring all the rest. I try to make things work for my schedule, rather than the other way around.

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  4. My number one way of curing burnout: watch Lucky Star. I always watch it at times where I feel like I want to launch back into full-force otakudom.

    Last night I was feeling spent and lethargic over both anime and writing. I’d watched some eps of various stuff and was trying to watch Index 2. I was a few minutes into episode 6 and I just stopped and turned it off. It wasn’t that the episode was bad or that I disliked it, but I realized that I just wasn’t enjoying it, and I had a feeling that I would’ve had I been in another mood. Stopping the episode then was in the name of not winding up with a tainted negative perception of the show.

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  5. I guess I’ll play devil’s advocate. It is okay to not watch anime. If the only reason you are watching is because you eel you should watch it, else you aren’t being a good anime fan, don’t worry so much. Even if you only watched one series before that, you enjoyed that one series and you will have that forever.

    If you get bored with all the anime that is out there, you can always watch something different, like some classic Kung Fu, or go for a bike ride, something. Don’t Stress! ‘Cause here’s the thing, in a couple of months, there will be a new season. Just because you are burned out now doesn’t mean you will never be interested in anime again.

    So go ahead, rest your eyes. Try something different for a while. Most importantly, remember to have fun.

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  6. i get burned out once in a while. 3-4 times in 4 years i think. i get tired from anime in general, those chibi faces, those stupid tropes and so on. actually, right now i don’t want to watch any anime. i forced myself to fast forward 3 eps of kimi ni todoke… what helps is watching american movies and/or TV shows. they provide contrast, smth relatively new. they are VERY different from anime and that is what you really need – smth different. when you are tired of usa tv shows, switch back to anime…

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  7. I’ve never really considered the perspective put forward in this post and in Omo’s comment, so thanks for that.

    My big theory has always been that a lot of these anime bloggers get into anime in college, overdose, then fall off the horse after a few years. And it’s mostly the moe guys, too. I won’t drop any names, but you know who I’m talking about.

    I think people who’ve been in the game since childhood actually have less of a chance of burnout, since when you overdose as a kid, it’s not as bad.

    That said, I probably overdosed a bit in high school/college myself, but it didn’t affect me too bad since I had already been knee-deep in this stuff years prior. For a time in college I’d ONLY watch anime, and partake ONLY of anime/otaku related media. It was a bad scene.

    I find one thing to do is to just explore other Japanese media if you like anime so much… I’ve really gotten into Japanese music, and am slowly but surely working my way into the world of Japanese film. But I think most of the people who get burned out don’t even care about Japan, so…

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  8. I tend to go on a hunt for old ovas when I get burnout. They require little investment in time and remind me why I have been a fan of anime for most of my life. Also watching live-action t.v., going for walks, and exploring other aspects of Japanese culture help shake off the burnout. Oh and thanks again for the One piece review you wrote months ago, I am 91 episodes in and am really enjoying the show. In fact the show helped me get over a burnout from the disappointing winter season.

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  9. This is something that I’ve only begun to notice lately. The Anime club I used to attend religiously every other month has fallen off its scheduled showings to the point where we’re lucky if we have more than one meeting a month. Because so many of the Animes that sound interesting get snatched up on Hulu for license reasons, there’s not much left for us to watch. As a result, we’re left with the dregs, very little of which necessitate immediate viewing. With a lack of continuing narrative or demand to see the next episode in an attempt to find out what happens next, we’re given bite-sized episodes that neatly conform within a 20-minute timeslot.

    The ironic thing is that Anime’s become more fluid in its animation than ever before. Even so, I feel that something’s been lost in the transition to make the animation outpace the scripts. Even when Japanese studios were doing overseas animation for American shows such as Transformers, The Real Ghostbusters, and The Gummi Bears, they didn’t forget the power of a good story. That’s something that I find greatly lacking in the recent Anime output. There’s hardly anything that actually demands to be SEEN.

    It also doesn’t help that most Mangas greatly summarize the story in a faster manner than the typical Anime episode which will naturally stretch out the story over the course of a season.

    I fear that current Anime is just coasting on the success of Otakus pandering to their fanbase. It may take the collapse of the current industry before they start restructering their business again and start focusing on what really counts – quality stories told in an addictive manner. Until then, we’ll be wringing our fingers for the next installment.

    To be continued…

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  11. Pingback: What Is Burnout? at Otaku, No Video

  12. ‘It’s easy to trick yourself into dwelling on the negative experiences… it then can cause you to create unfair demands for anime…’

    Some sound advice (as usual), and well-timed for the new season. I think it’s always a good idea to not follow too many new shows if it means putting the ‘classics’ on hold; better to put one or two of the new ones on hold, maybe, rather than getting so completely wrapped up in the excitement of the new stuff that it leads to the innevitable sense of disappointment. It’s all about a balance of things and keeping things in perspective, I guess. That way, I’d say it’ll be easier to make connections and enjoy the way things can complement each other, rather than focus on the stark/ negative contrasts.

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