The Hook Brings You Back

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.

Then we will leap in the shade!

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.

Rocking the Troubadour, loving-the-town style.

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. 😛

Obligatory Motsu pic… in a good way.

6 Responses to “The Hook Brings You Back”

  1. 1 socialorb March 31, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Interesting. I never thought about a hook before… well not like this.

  2. 2 eviltrain April 1, 2007 at 12:33 am

    I suppose if one were to describe an abiding interest in a show in one word, “hook” would be as good a word as any.

    I agree with you and may perhaps be more dogged in that respect. In an effort to “catch up” on a medium I’ve long neglected since childhood, I’ve watched over 100 different anime shows in the last 11 months. Partly because I wasn’t comfortable with my own judgement, partly out of that sense of finishing what your started and partly wondering how many shows might employ the “hook” late in the show, I doggedly watched almost every anime show 7 to 15 episodes into it before making a “final” decision about it. This effort was made regardless of whether I ended up enjoying the show or in hindsight realized I didn’t like the show at all. Having gone through that exercise, I’ve discovered a couple of things.

    1. There is not such thing as a “hook” at least not in the singular sense in my view. It’s the package as a whole that will either please your aesthetic sensibility or it won’t.
    2. One’s opinion of a show rarely changes after having watched the first 3 episodes. I will sometimes raise a shows standing by half a grade (from say a low B to a B+) but never more than that.

    Sometimes you wonder where a story is going in the first episode so you continue to watch until it reveals itself in a couple more episodes. However, even as I continue to chase the plot to better understand the story, you very quickly pick up most other aspects of the anime such as style, budget, music, directorship, voice acting, etc. which all leads to a first impression.

    In the end, I’ve realized anime just doesn’t become “watchable” half way into the season though I will admit to one exception. That was Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien. That show started out kiddy grade than just dropped a soap opera bomb well into the second half.

  3. 3 shinji April 1, 2007 at 9:19 am

    good observations. sometimes when you read a summary of an anime you already get a hint of its plot and if it is to your liking then you go for it. But how it actually develops is a different story. ^_^

  4. 4 Lainforce April 5, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    After all this time, I’m still like a little child who falls in love with everything he sees. Sometimes its hard for me to give a critique unless it’s really boring or cookie-cutter.

  5. 5 Chiisai December 28, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Hehe, that’s such a hilarious picture. And I have to agree with you on your opinion on hooks and whatnot.

  1. 1 Seeing as I don’t have anything good to post about, why not… « Drastic My Anime Blog Trackback on February 29, 2008 at 8:45 am

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