A metric ton of people in the anime community adore sequels. I don’t necessarily blame anyone for this, and I definitely have been guilty a handful of times, but it seems like constantly everyone’s immediate question once a single cour show concludes is when season two will happen or whether or not it will happen at all. As a community, fans of shows quickly and easily get attached to their favourite airing show and once it concludes the mourning begins over what was a great show that everyone who enjoyed it will miss. With that said, what happens when a show slips into the inevitable space of disinterest and is unable to stand the test of time by remaining relevant regardless of age?
The anime community is extremely centralised on new productions to consume constantly being created. As a community centred around a form of media with an endlessly increasing library of things to consume, as with most (if not all) media, we are extremely tied to seasonal shows. While it may come to the disliking of many people just getting into the medium or not entirely familiar with it, it’s not very rare for a show to go a single cour and then end abruptly with no immediately apparent planned continuations. To anyone who’s been around for awhile, this is no surprise. But again, it’s not unusual to not only want a sequel to a seasonal show we liked a great deal, but also forget about it as soon as the next season starts.
Everyone, say hello to Attack on Titan. Easily the most popular series from 2013, Attack on Titan was the flagship title for the brand new animation studio, Wit Studio, that made everyone including some people from outside of the anime community pay attention to the first thing they made. While the most vocal of it’s audience absolutely adored the production, many people both enjoyed and heavily disliked the show for varying reasons, and after two cours of it the world was left waiting for more. Not only were they left waiting for more, but they were left waiting for more for four years, putting it to the ultimate test of relevance and staying power.
While you couldn’t go anywhere in the anime community when the first season was airing without hearing about it (and for a good amount of time afterwords as well thanks to Toonami airing the English dub of the show in 2014) now that the second season has began and is nearing it’s conclusion, how has it’s relevance stayed and has the anime community maintained interest? While it clearly maintained some, as there are people who genuinely liked the show a lot and were dying to see the next season for all four years, it doesn’t have nearly the same general mass interest as the first season did.
During season two’s beginning I saw a handful of people talk about how they waited four years for twelve episodes, but after that virtually nothing. Compared to season one where everyone and anyone was talking about it, season two has had the same amount of attention as some off-list show everyone ignored but the audience it did have enjoyed it a lot, just not vocally. It reminds me of shows like selector infected WIXOSS or Ping Pong The Animation, where relatively no one is talking about it but it clearly isn’t going without an audience.
Meanwhile, the show Boku no Hero Academia doesn’t only have an audience but a relatively huge one and constant attention for it’s stellar animation and excellent storytelling in an exciting tournament arc. Season one having aired at the middle of 2016 and the second season airing alongside Attack on Titan season two in the spring season of 2017. While Attack on Titan died in relevance with every year that passed, more and more people are watching Boku no Hero Academia with every episode and what once was excitement for Attack on Titan is now undying interest for superpowered kids in a sports festival.
There are definitely arguments that could be made that Attack on Titan‘s second season was lacklustre in comparison to Boku no Hero Academia‘s overall high grade production is pushing it into the lime light rather than Boku no Hero Academia being more relevant, but what I honestly believe is that rather than continuing and riding it’s success as long as it could, Attack on Titan took far too long of a break and now considerably less people care about it. Sequels will always do worse than their source if they come out too fast or too slow.
While people can want sequels more and more, shows quickly lose relevancy and with every year that passes people forget a show further. Unless a show has become a centrepiece off attention for outstanding reasons (see your Madoka Magica‘s and your Steins;Gate‘s and your Evangelion‘s), it will die off extremely quickly. As an easy comparison, Madoka Magica Movie 3: Rebellion Story came out in theatres for a western audience in 2013, the same year as Attack on Titan, and not only is Madoka Magica still heavily relevant but high hopes for a proper conclusion to the series are still ever apparent.
But what if you’re a normal production? What if you’re, let’s say, Re:ZERO. I think I’ve made my opinion that I rather enjoyed Re:ZERO fairly clear, and while it’s assumed that the anime just completely ran out of source material to adapt, what will happen if even just two years goes by without any second season to Re:ZERO and then it suddenly showing up again? Undoubtedly, it’d die in popularity quite a bit and I’d even guess that it’d have an extremely lacking western audience. The way the conclusion left people wanting more and the way it had a fairly large portion of it’s audience growing to dislike it with every episode past the half-way point set it up for dying out in popularity extremely quickly.
Due to the nature of this community and it’s focus on new things, of which here are an overwhelming amount every single season let alone year, a buildup of disinterest is inevitable. Unlike streamable television, the entirety of an anime doesn’t air all at once. Streamable television is able to wait in suspense and excitement for a new season of something even after years because of it’s spontaneity and how much easier it is to maintain interest in something past it’s conclusion. With airing anime, we have to commit to a show from anywhere from 10 to 25 weeks and in that time, any other show we watched will quickly be forgotten as something we absolutely need to see more of.
This of course doesn’t mean we won’t occasionally remember a good show or talk to others about it, but as a community at large, there will be something new to talk about every waking moment. With inevitable disinterest comes prolonging expectations and a loop of “I want this” but forgetting that we wanted it in the first place. I remember watching Mondaji-tachi right after it finished and wanting more. Of course, inevitably sales were low and the anime industry sadly does what’s more profitable more often than what’s more interesting, and with every season that passed I more or less forgot about and lost my strong wish for a second season. With every new show I watched and every season that came and went, I was slowly dragged into being okay that Mondaji-tachi just existed and was really good.
Not only do we slowly forget that we wanted a sequel, but a majority of the time the strong desire for a sequel is more of a wish in the moment than a genuine idea. Everyone probably knows this from experience of when you were first getting into anime and every show you watched you wanted another season of more than anything (or at least I did…). Of course the expectations now are that anime end suddenly and abruptly and this is just something we deal with now; not that this is a bad thing or something we can do anything about in a large meaningful way.
What’s interesting to me, is this ever-persistent yearning for sequels, because I surely can’t be the only one to realise this. I’m not saying it’s bad to want a sequel of something you enjoy by any means, but to me it’s interesting that even people who have been in this community for a considerably long time get bent up over a lack of sequels and the “trolls” and other various… unkind people… of the community still find “Yeah but it isn’t getting a sequel” as a sort of “Heh got ’em” moment that I don’t quite understand. In my honest opinion, the initial expectation should be that the anime will only last it’s expected air time and while we can wish and hope that something gets a sequel, it should remain indifferent to us when it doesn’t and a moment of “Oh well” instead of an overreacting mess.
Odds are, the next show you watch that won’t have a sequel you’ll end up keeping only as a fond memory and not as something that will remain omni-relevant through the next decade. Not every show is a Madoka Magica or a Monogatari, most shows just end. And that’s okay. While I’m typically more antagonistic or critical towards things some people can get behind or majorities that have opposing majorities facing them, but for this I feel like I’m taking on a large majority’s perspective relatively alone (sans for a few people whom I wouldn’t really be surprised if they agreed with me). Instead of prolonging expectations and dwelling on something that will only reappear to not meet expectations at best (in most scenarios), move forward and enjoy the world of anime that we have in front of us and that’s growing with every single season.
Woo! Long post! I worked on this for two days straight and was constantly in this mood of “Man I really dislike this” but now that it’s finished I kinda like it. I dunno. Anyways, as always thank you so much for reading this post! I hope you liked it, and if you did why not leave a comment with your thoughts if you have any to share, I really like reading what you guys have to add to the topic. And hey, if you’d like to see what I’m up to when I’m not writing for this blog, why not follow me on Twitter? Sources for all my dates and such are below the artist credit like usual, and I’ll see you all next week!
The featured image for this post was drawn by pixiv artist むっしょ.