Most media is trash. I don’t mean this in the pretentious way I might in other context. If you asked me to recall every video game I played in the last year, I probably couldn’t tell you. I probably would fair even worse at shows, movies, youtube videos, articles, music, any medium really. The only exception is anime. Anime isn’t special on its own. In fact, I probably watch, on average, worse quality anime than I do interact with any other medium. What is special is MyAnimeList. MyAnimeList forces me to engage critically with every anime I see.
First off, let me test my theory. I have no way to see if I’m correct about every anime I’ve seen in 2020, but I do have a good way to check anime I’ve seen that aired in 2020 using MyAnimeList (MyAnimeList can store your personal completion dates, but I fail to log this every time). So here’s a list of the 2020 anime I remember watching off the top of my head.
- Ahiru No Sora
- Haikyuu!! To The Top (Parts 1 and 2)
- Darwin’s Game
- Toilet Bound Hanako
- God of High School
- Tower of God
- Keep Your Hands off Eizouken!!
- Great Pretender
- Adachi and Shimamura
- If My Favorite Pop Idol Made it to the Boudokan, I Would Die
- Smile Down the Runway
- Aggretsuko Season 3
- My Hero Academia Season 4
- My Next Life as a Villainous: All Routes Lead to Doom
- Akudama Drive
- ID: Invaded
- Sing Yesterday to You
- Millionaire Detective: Balance Unlimited
I actually surprised myself and only forgot (the possibly most horrible one to forget) Hulaing Babies Aratame: Staying Babies. The fact that, off the top of my head, I can list every single full length television anime I saw amazes me, and that’s 22 shows. I don’t even like some of the shows at all. Some of the titles are actually incorrect (such as me misspelling Villainess), and I’ll leave the mistakes there for posterity. If you ask me to name video games I didn’t like that I played in 2020 or any year, I’d have a hard time giving any answer. I did this exercise for video games and animated western shows in the past (and anime, but the results were same and I had about half the entries at the time). I forgot several video games I really liked that came out this year, like Super Crush KO and Monster Train, until I noticed them later and remembered. I forgot that She-Ra and the Princesses of Power and BoJack Horseman had finales this year until I was reminded.
MyAnimeList’s score feature leads to me thinking about the quality of each show I watch. MyAnimeList doesn’t demand anything from you, much less require a score. It does have features to log a lot of information including how many episodes you watched, start and end watch dates, rewatch value, storage medium, a totally personal tag and comment system, and more. The score, status, and episode count are the only ones they do show on the main page of any anime, with the user having to click edit details for more.
Determining a score makes me think critically about the anime I watch both while watching and after completion. It’s not a big thing, I think a lot of people rate things after they finish them. I probably could give you a score for some video games I’ve played. MyAnimeList immortalizing the score I chose directly after finishing the show makes committing to a score much harder. I do occasionally change it later if I come to new conclusions or realizations, but that generally only applies to anime I would think about a lot regardless. To look at a show I didn’t like, Sing “Yesterday” for Me (incorrectly written as Sing Yesterday to You above) would likely have received a middling 6/10 if I didn’t score anime using MyAnimeList. The show has it’s good and bad points, and I could manage to actually watch all of it. I didn’t take it in as trash to be thrown away, but a work to be engaged with critically. I ended up giving it a 4/10: generally signifying a show that has great faults but is pretty watchable and might have notable positive aspects according to my personal rating system. I thought the large focus on relationships between minors and adults feels creepy, and while the show doesn’t condone them, it still features them prominently in a “who will they end up with” kind of way. If I didn’t care about the score, I wouldn’t even have remembered my criticism at all. I treat all anime as important works for me to engage with rather than trash to quell my boredom.
I also just think the act of cementing the shows I’ve watched works wonders itself. There’s something about the process of finishing a show, looking it up, and clicking completed that’s satisfying and memorable. The fact that I can even reference a complete list is nice because I might start thinking about a show that’s escaped my mind again. That thing will never happen with a game that I forgot and no one mentions. For example, the game … yeah I can’t really bring up an example of something I’ve forgotten. I can bring up that when I was thinking about shows not from 2020 that I watched in the past year, Humanity Has Declined is a show that I didn’t remember off the top of my head, but I do like that show and think it has a lot of value in remembering it. I obviously couldn’t name all 400+ entries that exist on my list off the top of my head, I do wonder how close I could get, but it’d probably be quiet the exercise. Scrolling through the list almost every entry feels vividly familiar. I can probably bring up plot points and critical analysis for a lot of the shows I watched: even ones from five years ago. I struggled talking about some of my favorite games of all time simply because I couldn’t remember them at all.
I think all media could benefit from having a MyAnimeList equivalent. I want to engage with the media I consume critically. It’s more interesting and impactful that way. It might be hard for media you’re meant to consume in more of a trash way. I wouldn’t dare log and rate every single tweet I’ve ever read. The thought of going backwards in time and even attempting to remember the thousands of games I’ve played is daunting. I’m starting smaller. I created a excel sheet to keep track of the video games I’ve played this year. I did this in worse form in 2019, and I actually end up fondly regarding a large amount of games I played in 2019 (I even made a game award show for fun that year). I simply forgot to do it in 2020 until it was too late, and I think I was worse off for it. Hopefully I’ll keep up the games list this year, and, maybe, I’ll be able the idea even further to include more media. I’m grateful I made my MyAnimeList way back in 2014 because my critical analysis skills have benefited because of it.