So last Friday I watched 300, which was surprisingly pretty awesome. I came to the theater without any expectations save for the hope of it being epic, and for what it was, it delivered in spades. Yet what was there was pretty shallow: we don’t get to find out much about any of the characters really at all, and whatever plot other than “300 Spartans fight a million Persians, and awesomeness ensues” was extraneous and fairly useless to the movie. Yet that was enough of a hook to keep me interested, and it seemed that other people loved it as well. Watching 300 got me wondering about “hooks” in anime, and how important they are in keeping us interested.
I find it funny how quickly people reserve judgement over a show when they just begin watching it, as if every show has something that’s supposed to interest them in the first couple of minutes. It usually takes me a couple of episodes to wonder if I’m interested in the show enough to keep watching. Friends think I’m silly from continuing to look at something I’m not interested in after a while, but there’s a sort of strange justification in continuing to watch, searching for that thing to fixate on, in hopes that I haven’t wasted my time (and when I do, it’s not like I cry inside, but I get a little annoyed at time wasted). I could be strange for forcing myself to find something intriguing, but I always have hope that something can come around.
Yet people are all different in many ways, as much as we hate to admit it. I see others take a look at the first couple of minutes of a show, not even the entire first episode at that, then decide that it’s something not worth watching, and I just don’t understand it. How do people take a quick glance and immediately deem it not working for them? Why do they do it?
At my college anime club, people know me for saying “You shouldn’t judge an anime by it’s first episode” (unless it’s only one episode… then do all you want with it :P), and I stand by it. It just doesn’t feel like enough information about a show to immediately praise/knock it. Or if it doesn’t connect with you on the first episode, you shouldn’t leave it like that. Keep going for a little bit more I say, since it seems weird that people expect quick appeasement, which almost never works out. Sometimes the hook just takes a little while to make itself known, if at all, and the quicker ones aren’t necessarily the better ones.
When we become interested in a show in one way or another, while the hook often gets you into the story, the rest of the show has to keep you watching. For example, I feel that Futakoi Alternative gives a great hook in the first episode with it’s extreme, madcap action and interesting characters. After the first two episodes, it slows down a bit and tries some things that work and some that don’t. I think it’s an awesome series overall, but there are some rough, slow spots where other people stop watching because it doesn’t fit their expectations.
Expectations are important in a medium such as anime, since people seem to be entertained/placated only when things meet/exceed them. I try to have low ones , for I hope that my enjoyment of that show will be better than if I had high ones, as well as always hoping that things can get better. It doesn’t work all the time (I probably would have been sorely disappointed if 300 wasn’t that epic, for example), but surprises are always good (Haruhi’s Melancholy, for example). While it’s important, finding the hook shouldn’t be the important part. What happens before and after is, or so Negima!? is trying to tell me.