Before the big slump of 2015 (more on that later), I had a routine. For every anime season, I would review the massive JPEGs of doom to see what shows are coming up, shortlist the shows that sound like they could be good and prepare my streaming, torrents, etc accordingly. I had been doing this routinely since roughly 2008-2009 when Toradora was airing (the first anime I watched weekly as it came out with the fansubs).
Fast forward to 2012, specifically the Autumn or "Fall" season. This season was home to a few big names: Chuunibyou season 1, Hidamari Sketch x honeycomb and Girls und Panzer to name a few. Now, generally speaking, each anime had a description, cast, hashtag, etc to give you a rough idea and it was this that I would base whether to watch a series or not. Sometimes I'd pick something up from recommendations too I should add. So generally, you'd get something like this:
But there was one show that just plain didn't have anything written about it. One show that stood out as a "who cares". One show that made me think "sounds stupid, like YuGiOh but with idols. I'll watch one episode as a laugh."
So, first things first. Yes, I watched the first episode of Aikatsu! completely on a whim and expecting to drop it. As part of writing this blog post, I just this second finished watching episode 1 again to see if I can remind myself what made me continue watching. It has been quite a while since I last watched it, so it might be nostalgia talking, but the characters, the music, the genuine fun the show seems to have is still there, even if the CG was super wonky back then. Truth be told, I often skipped the song in old episodes of Aikatsu! as they often repeated the same songs every week for a while and the CG was super wonky.
Fast forward to today and we're approaching 3 whole years since the first episode. I've watched every single one and I've seen the first movie too. Lately, they've got a much bigger variety of songs to choose from, and the CG looks fantastic! Click here to see a comparison of just how far the CG has come over the first 54 episodes, not to mention the newest ones look even better!
So what is "the big slump"? Well, in 2014 I got a significant other who encouraged me to watch shows I wouldn't normally be interested in because I watch "too many little girl shows" and not enough of what they liked. So I figured I'd try and expand my horizons a bit and watch some other shows. This lead to me trying to watch a bit of everything and not really having the time to do it. This person became particularly toxic towards the anime, music, and basically everything I enjoyed and, eventually, me as a whole. I was watching less and less anime to the point where I hardly watched anything. I finally left that relationship at the start of 2015. That person is long behind me now and I want nothing to do with them ever again. This left me with an issue: I had many series in my backlog that I couldn't bring up the enthusiasm to attempt to catch up on. Despite parting ways with this individual, I was still, what I consider, quite broken. I just couldn't get the enthusiasm to watch most anime. I can't watch something if I'm not in the mood for it, and the mood only happened a couple of times a week at most. The biggest issue for me was starting new series, not knowing what you're in for. I also blame part of this on Madoka Magica, a series which I utterly despise, probably not because it's a bad show, but because I forced myself to watch it all and became completely depressed as a result. It's not a show I enjoyed, but I watched the whole thing because everyone else was and I didn't want to feel left out, but I feel worse off as a result so thanks everyone. Any sequels or continuing shows I was fine with, I'd still be watching these every week. Most notable of these is Aikatsu! of course. This slump continued until mid-2015 where I got myself into another relationship of sorts, but one that basically had an agreement that neither of us were super sure about whether it would work out for various reasons. I was very happy with this relationship and, although it has since ended, I feel like a better person because of it as I'm starting to understand just who I am, what I am and what I enjoy and be way happier with it. It also seems to have reset my anime watching-ness...that's a word, as I'm now marching through my backlog with a few episodes a day, rather than a couple of episodes a week. I basically consider this relationship-like thing I had to have basically rebooted me and I'm on the way to getting to how I want to be.
Let's go back to Aikatsu! again. I'm still watching this show every week and I have been doing for almost 3 years (minus 2.5 weeks at time of writing). I can't explain quite how happy this show makes me. I have so much fun seeing what the characters are up to, hearing the new songs, buying the CDs and, hell, I even managed to meet Ruka, Mona and Miki from Aikatsu Stars while I was in Japan last month (they seemed pretty psyched that someone from the UK came to see them, and I can gloat that I was the only westerner there). I just have so much fun with this whole franchise every week! I'm going to do my best to get to Japan to see the third film (second story-based film) next summer, as that's my new number 1 goal after I completed my "just get to Japan, doesn't matter what happens while you're there, just get there" goal in July.