Working!!: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for August 2015

The #1 thing I want to talk about for this month’s Patreon status update is that as of late I’ve gotten really bad at regularly updating the Patreon page. People who frequent the blog are likely well aware that Ogiue Maniax updates frequently, but I end up neglecting the actual Patreon page itself, resulting in large swathes of updates at once. It’s not the best way to do things and for that I have to apologize.

Even so, I’m glad so many of you have been sticking around. Due to various time constraints I can’t devote quite as much attention to the blog as I like, but I still try to get out my thoughts on anime, manga, games, and other topics.

This month’s special Patreon sponsors are:

Ko Ransom

Alex

Johnny Trovato

Anonymous

This month, one of my Patreon-sponsored posts was from Johnny and was about making time for your hobbies. It’s as much a reflective piece as I come to realize what it means to be truly, truly busy as it is advice, and I also think it’s worth reading if you’ve ever felt burnt out on your hobbies or fear that you might be heading towards burn-out.

The other post was actually private at the behest of the sponsor. What do people think of this idea? Normally, what would happen is that a Patreon-sponsored post would be there for all to see and discuss, but if people want something more private and in-depth on a personal level, I’m willing to consider it.

Also, I’ve been writing a bit more about games and game design philosophy, even though I’m not a game designer. For example, I wrote a post about the relationship between balance and faithfulness to source material in Super Smash Bros. Would readers like to see more, or less of these? Keep in mind that ultimately the decision rests with myself, but I do appreciate the input.

Curbing My Anime Enthusiasm

In my 6th Blog Anniversary post, I spoke about how my schedule has made it so that for the next few months my posts will probably be singificantly less refined in terms of content and complexity, and likely sporadic. Currently I need to concentrate myself primarily towards another task, and so I basically can’t afford to expend my concentration and mental energy too extensively on Ogiue Maniax. Thus, I’ve decided to switch to a method of posting in which the act of blogging is more stress relief and patchworks of thought. You may have noticed it already.

The funny thing is, while often times this can be attributed to some kind of burnout (be it for their blog or for anime/manga in general), this is not the case for me, and in fact I’ve felt the opposite in the past. The issue is that this desire for more is something I must mitigate. I have to basically force myself to not blog, because if I spend too much time with anime and manga, it encourages too much thinking, too much analysis, and too much desire to just keep finding more. If I blog based on that, it draws me towards putting in some serious effort into what I’m writing in a desire to present really well-structured posts, which is again something I need to make sure I don’t do.

It’s a really odd situation to be in, but I hope people understand. I’m not trying to rekindle a dying flame, I’m trying to contain an inferno.

Burning Out On Quality

A while back I wrote a post about mitigating burn-out when it comes to consuming anime and manga, advice that had the caveat of me never having actually burned out, which means that I’m either very qualified to talk about it or not qualified at all. Recently though, I was in a situation where I had trouble watching anime, and I feel like I learned a lot from it.

I’ve been watching a lot of science fiction-themed anime, series full of ideas about how the future can/will/should be, not necessarily heady stuff but enough to make a person think a fair amount. However, even though I like everything I’m watching, one day I just suddenly had this strong desire to not continue, like my brain and eyes were telling me that they would refuse to process that information meaningfully if I tried to watch more. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, until I could hear my own thoughts more clearly.

I need to watch something ultra dumb.

And so I did, not knowing how long it would be until I could restore my capacity to watch so much science fiction. In the end, it only took a day away from those shows for me to feel the urge to keep watching, but it taught me a valuable lesson that seems so obvious in hindsight: You can have too much of a good thing.

Often the picture of anime burn-out seems to be that someone who just watched too many bad shows and can no longer handle the bottom-feeding tropes which populate low-tier anime, but I think that a more fundamental aspect of such burn-out is just monotony. Much like eating the same food day in and day out with no variety, even the most delicious of meals can lose their flavor, especially if you’re not naturally predisposed to liking them. Also like food, the level of variation needed to keep things interesting varies from person to person. With anime, I find there are shows that I can become quite fond of with little effort, shows that I can watch just about any time, but for other shows, I find I need to put a bit of myself into the show. As a result, sometimes I find myself unwilling to watch another episode because I can sense that my mind is “exhausted” and will not give me an accurate impression, and just pushing and hoping to power through that mental blockade can end up doing more harm than good.

And so, I have much gratitude for ultra dumb shows. Sometimes they’re just what I need.

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.