I'm still processing thoughts on things I'm watching, mainly because I've ripped through nearly the entire first season of Honey and Clover in the last week. I'm liking the show, and it looks like there's a similar relationship chain now developed between Yuuta, Shinobu, and Hagumi, as there was between Rika, Takumi, and Ayumi. The dynamic is different, but looking at what I've watched in the last few weeks has made me examine something about anime that I haven't considered before.
The issue of "Density"
It's not just Honey and Clover which made me consider this, but also the fact that anime which I've dropped I've seemed to continue watching, including a rather unfortunate episode of MajiKoi that I discussed last week. There's also anime that on the face of it I couldn't explain why I'm watching, and I think that the issue of the anime's density might have something to do with it. Ben-To is not the most brilliant thing I've ever seen, but it's so lightweight that it seems like a nice change of pace and an easy thing to zone out to and watch. It lures you into seeing it on the play list and gravitating to it because it's easy to consume. Meanwhile, I've had a hard time watching a show like Last Exile which seems more dense with characters, intrigue, and motivations. Last Exile is still something I'm looking forward to, but it also the anime that seems like the jumping off point for a larger point.
Last Exile has the same issue that a show I adored in the last two seasons had, the issue that the narrative felt dense enough that watching it in small doses made it feel like details were slipping through my fingers, and that I was missing something. It was only by walking away and letting the episodes build up until finally hitting a point where I could run through them in short order that it developed enough narrative flow and continuity that I finally found myself becoming entranced by it. Tom's Watch and Learn format didn't allow him to push through the more dense parts of Steins;Gate, and stopped at episode six of the watch and learn, which was about the point where I was starting to allow the show to gain critical mass and pushed through the sixth through ninth episodes in one sitting.
Where Last Exile might be a show like that this season, another show this season has had that breakthrough point happen first, and it's the show that displaced it on the Super Six. It's strange, since Fate/Zero is the first show where that point of needing to build up momentum happened so early, but the first episode is so richly dense, and in fairness it's a double episode, that it was hard trying to digest everything I was seeing to the point where pressing on to the second episode seemed pointless. It's the radical change in tone once the setup has taken place that made watching three episodes of Fate/Zero in a row push it past anime that I like more, but don't respect as much on my list. I think that having a show that despite, or because, of it's density still shines as being entertaining is something that I put a large value on when I try to slot shows into my own personal list of favorite currently running shows. Shows that aim for density are taking a risk, as they're like any object being launched like that. It's easier to throw a basketball than it is a medicine ball, but at a certain point, that medicine ball can gain enough momentum if propelled right to push past the basketball. Steins;Gate pushed past shows like Hanasaku Iroha because it had more density in the end and enough propulsion to shoot it past that series. Mawaru Penguindrum holds itself in high order on that list for the same reason.
Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere on the other hand failed to do anything interesting under it's burgeoning weight and was cast aside in the drop pile. MajiKoi and Mashiro-Iro Symphony on the other hand still end up in my viewing rotation, although I should know better, and in the case of MajiKoi after episode 6, I should really know better. The thing is, I'll still probably still watch the seventh episode, just not before I watch the seventh episode of Persona 4 or the 20th episode of Honey and Clover.
The Queue is Closed
Thoughts and opinions on the measure of density to anime? Post them in the comments here... ok, down a little, now over... there.