So I have this problem with the listed favorites in my MAL profile (the anime moreso than the manga). I feel like the list is out of date because I haven’t really updated it since I joined the site last June, and I’ve seen at least a dozen very good series since then. So many series could easily move into that empty fifth slot, and so many other series seem like they’re viable contenders for the titles that are already there. How do you go about choosing? Which factors are more relevant than others? And for a public listing, how much are you going to invest in using your declared favorites to brand yourself?
As far as the branding goes, my favorites list kind of makes me laugh. The only real point of unity is mecha, which I didn’t realize was something I cared for as much as I do until I compiled the list in the first place. What kind of person do I come across with such a list? Gurren Lagann is almost a cop out because there are very few people that don’t care for it; perhaps having it there makes me ordinary. Code Geass is something that might start some polarizing debates on the aniblogosphere, but the first season is almost universally accepted to be more worthy than the second. So maybe that makes me oridinary also. Gundam SEED seems to be hated on a grand scale and many Gundam fans seem to associate liking it with being ignorant. Stand Alone Complex is another title that faces little criticism, but a few dislike it for its rampant politics. So maybe having it there makes me look smart.
So, what does this list say about me on the whole? I am mostly an ordinary mecha fan that enjoys both testosterone-filled gar and intelligent political drama, but is ignorant towards the Gundam franchise. Not really sure if that’s the exact branding I would choose for myself, but I wouldn’t say the description is wildly inaccurate either.
Self-branding is an interesting thing, particularly when it’s of a social consequence and not a commercial one. Sites like MAL allow for the traditional judging that used to take place when you took a look at the books on someone’s shelf or what they’re reading on the bus. It might be bad to judge based on negative stereotypes, but the judging that takes place when you glance over someone’s favorites list is something that I’d consider to be nearly always useful. Whether comparing lists comes up with more similarities or differences is largely irrelevant as long as you aren’t derisively writing someone off completely for holding whatever series in high regard (that would be negatively stereotyping). There’s a difference between thinking, “Oh, this person likes mostly sappy shoujo titles, I guess we don’t have much in common,” and thinking, “lol, this idiot only likes mainstream shounen, what a useless newb.”
If there are only differences, well, no loss, and you’ve saved everyone time by not pursuing a conversation that would have likely led no where. If there are only similarities, then perhaps you’ve found a fangasm buddy with which you can merrily spout fanboyish or fangirlish nonsense with. The best list comparisons come up with both similarities and differences; they are the things that prompt conversations like, “I see you like such and such also, but also that you enjoyed so and so — what was it about so and so that you liked? I didn’t find it very satisfying.” And lovely discussions (or interesting debates) ensue and friendship, rivalry, and comraderie spreads across the Internet! Hurray! Judging is built into our social structure for a reason; it’d be a shame to cast it off completely.
It does make the self-conscious even more self-conscious though. Even online, you have an appearance. Picking the series that go on your favorites list is like picking a fashion to wear. And you have to find something that both satisfy you and your desire to be presentable to the public. Luckily, I’ve never been too bothered by the latter, so I’m fine with people thinking I’m an ignorant Gundam fan for having SEED as my favorite. When I commented on his aforementioned related post, ghostlightning mentioned that all the titles on my list are fairly recent, which might indicate that I’m a newer fan. I’m not, really, but oddly enough, the nostalgia factor hasn’t been that big for me. My old favorites include Gundam Wing, Yu Yu Hakusho, BECK, Dragonball Z, Cowboy Bebop (you know, the Toonami golden days!), and My Neighbor Totoro, but I can see that my love for them is mostly because of nostalgia and not because they’re actually better series than what’s on the list now. It might be unconventional to consider the new better on all aspects than the old, so maybe I’ll seem even more like an ignorant newbie, but hey, whatever, man.
My only problem is deciding what my “real” favorites are and correctly representing them on this damned list.
Back to my dilemma, huh? That favorites list needs updating. Who gets the empty fifth slot? And is there anyone already on the list that needs to be ousted? Here are the new contenders: Ouran High School Host Club, Nodame Cantabile, Mushishi, Planetes, and maybe even Lovely Complex. Score-wise, all of those series I’ve reviewed and scored with a 9 overall, except Love*Com, which has an 8. All of the series currently on the list are also 9’s, except for TTGL, which is the only anime I’ve scored with a 10. Sometimes I wonder about that 10, but if anything else, TTGL is the only series thus far mentioned that I watched three times consecutively in a month. I guess it still deserves that top spot.
Since Love*Com is the lone 8 here, maybe it should be dropped from consideration (especially since there are a lot of other series I’ve scored with 9’s that aren’t up for consideration here), but even though both its technical merits and story/character merits are lower than the competition, it’s a series that I’ve been rewatching random episodes from a lot lately — what does that count for? Perhaps it’s just a weird mood I’ve been in; after all, I don’t usually take so readily to standard shoujo. Should a favorites list represent a more stable subset of favorites, or should it be more flexible? Should Love*Com be represented above the others just because I’ve really taken to it lately? Should it change and drop off as soon as I get out of this phase? That begs the question of, just how often should a favorites list be updated? Is there really anyone e-stalkerish enough to check that often? Or is it more for your own satisfaction?
Personally, I think I prefer the more stable route. It’s too much trouble to constantly update something based on recent whims. Besides, the list is a better branding tool if it has series that stand up to the test of time, right? So Love*Com, as much as I love it, is out. That leaves four other series. What’s the next factor to consider? Mushishi and Ouran probably have the highest rewatch value out of those four. Both series are fairly episodic and allow for better casual watching. Planetes and Nodame are both wonderful, but even though Nodame is largely slice of life, it does have a linear story, which hurts its rewatch potential to some extent since it’s harder to jump in the middle. Planetes’s first dozen episodes are also pretty episodic, but the latter half gets very character-involved and plot-heavy. How important do I want rewatch value to be?
It must be important if it’s one of the reasons TTGL has the top spot, and even though it’s not the second season that’s on the list, Code Geass R2 is the only series I’ve followed as it aired that I watched three times per episode… one for every sub release (Chihiro/Nightspeed, gg, and Eclipse) because I was just that much of a fantard. And dammit if each rewatch wasn’t still fun. I’ve also seen the second half of Gundam SEED an obscene number of times… SAC I like to catch sometimes when it reruns, but since I stopped watching TV altogether, that doesn’t happen much anymore. Maybe SAC is the candidate for removal then…? If I swap out SAC, then I could add both Mushishi and Ouran, but there’s gotta be other factors, right? And even if I do do that, which of the new listees should be ranked higher?
I always gravitate towards character-driven series, so maybe series with characters I like better should have preference. All the series on the current list have strong characters that I love, though it might be worth noting that there are no TTGL characters on my top ten favorite characters list (then again, I also have problems with the items on that list; that can be another discussion altogether, though it would probably be very redundant). Mushishi would be out if it’s a question of character, not because Ginko is a weak character, but just because he’s very simple and doesn’t go through a lot of changes. It’s a hard fight between Ouran, Planetes, and Nodame, but I’d probably also drop Ouran there. Great, so the series with the greater rewatch value are exactly opposite those with the stronger characters. Woe!
This entry has gone on long enough; I’ll spare you the rest of my inner debate. But you understand my problem, right? I obviously haven’t updated my favorites list yet. I really don’t know when I’ll be able to figure it out. Picking favorites really sucks; I love all of these series! But I can’t very well not have any, can I? What would you think of me then??