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I thought I’d discuss a little bit about the two ways that most people watch anime: week-by-week, or marathoning (I know that marathoning is not a verb, but for the sake of simplicity we will use it in this post). Note that this post isn’t a discussion between which method is better or superior, but rather an objective look at the pros and cons of each. Much like watching a Drama or Television series, people decide on which method usually by personal preference.

As a bit of a sidenote, I will start adding audio clips to my posts so that readers can enjoy some music. This time around Kalafina is our featured artist, and this song titled “Manten” is taken from their most recent single, To the Beginning. This is their second song on the CD, with “To the Beginning” as their first (who some of you may recognize as the Fate/Zero OP2). Enjoy.

In the past, I said that watching anime when it airs was “stupid” because you had to wait for next week’s episode. I asked myself, “why wait when you could simply download an already completed series, and then watch that all in one go?” You can avoid the weekly gap breaks, decrease the total amount of waiting time by 12/24 weeks (on average), and watch your anime with the story still fresh in your mind. It seems based on this argument alone, marathoning is the obvious choice over week-by-week.

However, last year was the first year that I started to watch anime as it aired. Waiting is still not something that I’m fond of, but I was able to look past the initial “bump” and give it a try. As it turns out, what really convinced me to start watching week-to-week was that there were many shows that interested me in that particular year. With the start of Fate/Zero, Boku Wa Tomodachi ga Sukanai, Working!!, and Shinryaku Ika Musume in the first half, then Another, Black Rock Shooter, Senki Zesshou Symphogears (which turned out to be bad), Amagami SS+, Nisemonogatari, and Kill Me Baby, it was hard not to start following.

Moving back onto topic, some may be asking, “If you think waiting for anime is ‘stupid’, why all of a sudden switch?” A valid question; I will address this when we cover week-to-week pros. Let me just say I think it’s important that if you like a series enough, you will be willing to wait and be willing to follow it closely. Week-to-week watching has a lot of benefits that I didn’t see in the past, and thankfully after forcing myself last year, I was pleasantly surprised. Anyway, let’s start with the method of marathon-watching; we’ve already covered a couple of pros:

Anime Marathons

1. Marathons are great for finishing series in the shortest amount of time possible. This is probably the most common reason why people want to marathon their anime, and most likely resulted in the coining of the term. It’s important to note that watching anime requires some patience, just like watching TV drama series; you obviously won’t get to see the entire plot and how it ends beginning with the first episode. For those that choose not to wait, they get the added benefit of being able to start and finish whenever they want.

By watching anime back-to-back you can pretty much skip 5-6 minutes of each episode where they do a small recap at the beginning + intro OP, and a preview of whats to come at the end + ED theme. This saves you close to 5 minutes out of a 23-minute episode, effectively reducing the amount of time spent watching by 20% per episode.

Consider some math:
| (23 minutes per episode) X (12 episodes) = 276 minutes. If we take,
| (5 minutes per episode) X (12 episodes) = 60 minutes;

We basically save ourselves an hour (2 hours if you watch a 24 episode anime) after skipping those. That may not seem like much to the general viewer, but an hour can do you wonders depending on how you use it (A whole hour, wow!).

2. Marathons allow you to retain most of what you saw into the next episode immediately. You basically have a non-stop dose of the anime and how it’s playing out. If you’re watching a mystery, you can make guesses and see if they’re true without having to wait, essentially. If you’re watching a love story, why wait for all that filler when you just want to see the what happens? Yes, it’s important to watch filler as it provides character development, but sometimes you can get by without missing too much.

This is actually really big for me in marathon’ing. Sometimes you forget what exactly happens in a particular episode when you’re watching 4-5 different anime on a week-to-week basis. Why risk forgetting when you can finish the whole show? 😛

3. “Sometimes, I just want to finish it and get it over with!”. Have you ever experienced that one odd anime that really gripes you in a frustrating way? It could be that the character disgusts you, or you want to throw your computer out the window because the plot felt like it went the same direction. Unfortunately if you’re like me, you feel some sort of attachment to finishing a series once you start it. No matter how bad it is or how much it irks you, you just feel like you have to finish it.

This may not be a strong point, but when you marathon an anime that you don’t like, finishing it as fast as possible seems to be a better option than dropping it. The amount of time invested always seems less than if you would have waited week-by-week. Maybe that small feeling of “forced” marathoning can get you through a hated series. Who knows, maybe you’ll turn out to like it.

Thoughts so far: When you marathon an anime, you have the to factor in the abilities to fast-forward, skip, pause, and scroll-through. While these controls are available to weekly viewers as well, many don’t use them simply because they don’t want to miss the new content. Couple that with the advantages of skipping unnecessary parts (point 1), retaining most of what you saw into the next episode (point 2), and simply rushing to the finish (point 3), marathon’ing is fast, efficient, and effective.

On an unrelated note, I find in a lot of anime series you can get a general sense of where the plot is going within the first couple of episodes, so I have a function on my video player that allows me to fast-forward an episode by 3 seconds, or another function that fast-forwards by 5 seconds. I am able to read subtitles fast enough that I can do this without missing too much of the anime. The difference (again personal preference) is that when watching week-to-week, you almost feel like you want to catch every single detail there is because of the nature of the material being fresh and new to the viewer.

Anime on a weekly basis

Next up, this brings us to the wonderful world of weekly anime watching. Let’s get right into the pros:
1. Discussion with others. When you’re watching currently airing series, you know you’re watching it with a lot of fellow anime lovers around the world. Whether it’s discussion on a forum, in an IRC chatroom, through blogging, etc., you have that connection with others that allows you to analyze and share your thoughts on your favourite show. The amount of responses and level of interaction among the anime community have increased dramatically, most likely due to blogging and the internet phenomenon.

Anime watching is most often done alone, though you can watch with others if you wish. As well, anime caters to a certain demographic as well as a particular niche of interest in society, one that is less common in the western hemisphere. Because of this, anime watchers look for online means of discussion as it is the simplest and most efficient way of communication around the world. Sharing thoughts on anime is important, and though you can discuss marathon’ed anime with others, the best discussions come from currently airing series.

2. The thrill of waiting. While this is a con when it comes to marathon’ing, it serves as a pro for those that are willing to wait. Once again let’s establish the fact that waiting requires patience; it goes hand-in-hand with one another. Waiting becomes a form of commitment, one that signifies that a show is worth it’s weight, and that part of the excitement is based on not being able to watch it right away. Pulling out your hair? That’s a good thing from the producer’s standpoint. They want you to pull out your hair; not because you look good bald, but because it means they’re doing something right. Unless of course you’re pulling out your hair because you don’t like it, then they’re doing something wrong.

Cliffhangers, climaxes, sudden plot twist, random miracles, etc… Expectations go way up (or way down) when you have to wait. Remember when you watched Another and you’re thinking “Wait, did he/she really just die”? Remember when in Steins;Gate you find out that ____ kills ____ in the final seconds of episode #__? And finally remember that time in Madoka Magica when you learn of ____ and its scheme to ____ the ___ into ___? Mind. Is. Blown.

3. Increasing your “I am watching..” list. What this means is that in any given anime season, you are most likely watching more than one series. So why is that? The most probable reason would be that you are interested obviously in more than one anime. But then ask yourself, would you able to marathon that many series in one season? If you’re watching two, maybe three, then it’s a possibility, but that’s still A LOT of anime you’re watching. Four or five anime marathons? That seems very unlikely (though still possible if you’re a robot).

Having to wait a week for your anime allows you to diversify your choices, so-to-speak. Coming from a business background, diversifying your portfolio is an important tool as it virtually guarantees that you have a 100% chance to earn a profit in the stock market. Relating back to anime, by waiting on different series, you can essentially fill up your entire week with shows as if you’re marathon’ing one series. Diversifying also allows you to experience a larger selection of anime, and in that sense a larger selection of categories you may be interested in (ie. Horror, Drama, Comedy, Romance, etc..).

Concluding thoughts: So it turns out there are those that want to wait, and those that don’t want to wait. What’s the difference? Well weekly anime watching allows you to experience that a level of expectation set by simply waiting. Naturally, you raise the bar of expectation when you see something or someone awesome, but it ends abruptly until the next episode. In contrast, there are those that hate waiting, and the more you wait, the more you get frustrated at not knowing what’s going on.

The downside of not waiting is that viewers can feel like they haven’t fully absorbed the essence of a show, one that takes time to develop into people’s minds and their emotions. Have you ever cried or felt emotional in a tragic romance? If you watched something that should have taken 12 weeks to grow in a matter of a couple of hours, you can obviously see the diminished effect it would have.

When it comes to waiting (especially if you’re watching 5-6 different series at once), sometimes you lose track of where the story is going week-to-week. Thankfully if you marathon’ed, you wouldn’t have that problem, and you can even skip a few parts to speed up the episode. However, a lot of anime nowadays throw in 2-3 minutes of recap footage, to allow viewers to get back on track with the story. Although your having to watch 2-3 minutes of “repeated” footage, at least you can follow along properly if you’ve forgotten.

Lastly, as always you can drop a series if you don’t like it. However, if you’re like me who feels like dropping a show is not fair (no matter how bad the anime is) to the producer or the story, you still want to finish it after all. The best method for this? Marathon’ing. Alternatively, sometimes waiting nets you a profit in that the story becomes awesome at the end. Blood-C seems like a good example of this, as the beginning was absolutely horrid but the ending was amazing.

All in all, we have covered both the pros and cons of each method to anime watching. We realize that waiting can be both a pro and a con, depending on what waiting means to you. Remembering a series on a weekly basis becomes difficult when you have to keep track of 2-6 series, so you can argue that some time is “wasted” in watching re-cap parts of an episode. While discussion can be done both for marathon’ed anime and week-to-week watching, it is predominately seen in currently airing anime, as those spark the most discussion and the most attention for viewers.

As you can see, there is no “one best” method to watching anime. Marathon’ing has its pluses, and so does weekly watching. I hope you enjoyed this objective look at two methods, and that choosing one (or both!) is just as good as choosing the other. If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to let me know below.