We’ve probably all come across someone, whether in real life or online, who was once very enthusiastic about anime only to claim later on that they’ve “burned out” on it. I’ve never experienced anime burnout myself, but I have heard many different reasons for it over the years…
Unlike what I discussed in a past post about people I’ve known who’ve lost interest in anime due to lifestyle constraints and changing interests, I think of anime burnout as resulting from a dissatisfaction the person develops for anime itself and not solely because of circumstances in their life (though both could be a factor). The person may finally become fed up with the myriad of cliches in anime after so many years, or they might just grow weary of the animation medium as a form of entertainment. Another possibility is that they eventually see so much anime that little to nothing in any new series they pick up seems novel and exciting to them anymore.
Whatever the reason people have for burning out on anime, whether it took years or months to happen, the word “burnout” to me leaves the connotation that the person may rediscover their enjoyment of anime after a certain amount of time away from it. An “absence makes the heart grow fonder” kind of thing. If the reason they burned out is because of too many overused tropes, maybe all it takes is a number of months, or possibly years, of having no exposure to anime for it to seem new and exciting to them once again. I’ve also heard cases where a notable new anime came along and rekindled a person’s interest in the medium after they heard all the buzz about it from friends and online discussion.
Nowadays, with more anime being produced each year than ever before, and online access to it being easier than it ever was, is there any way people can avoid anime burnout? Like John over on AnimeNation talked about in a recent post, even though most moe, slice-of-life, mecha, etc., anime share a lot of tropes and cliches, there are enough differences between them to make at least a good chunk of them refreshing in some way. To quote what John said, “If every moe anime, harem anime, slice-of-life anime, magical girl anime, and mecha anime was practically the same, the anime industry would have stagnated forty years ago.” So if one is open-minded enough, there’s a good chance you can find many anime in a particular genre distinct from each other if you take the time to watch them rather than read a quick synopsis and say, “Oh, another moe anime” and dismiss it right then and there without giving it a chance.
But what if the reason you’re burning out on anime in the first place is because you’re just plain bored with all the moe, harem, shonen, and whatever genres of anime with their tired pandering? Even though fans complain that moe, harem, and slice-of-life anime dominate each new season, they are certainly not the only genres available. If the reason you feel you’re getting burned out on anime is because there’s too much of these genres, then just don’t watch them. Anime offers a huge variety of genres and stories despite the fact that certain genres are more common. So rather than give up on anime because you don’t like all the fan service in new shows, catch up on old fan-service-free shows or watch the few seasonal shows that aren’t otaku-pandering. It seems ignorant to say that moe has taken over the medium when shows like Sakamichi no Apollon, Space Brothers, and Fate/Zero are airing right now.
Another thing that happens is that people burn out on one specific part of the fandom, which may lead to losing interest in the entirety of it. Anime blogging is a prime example; if someone burns out on blogging about anime episodically, they may become apathetic about watching anime. If they’re a huge fan of mecha anime only and one day get tired of it, lack of exposure to other parts of the fandom might make them just stop watching anime all together rather than seek new outlets to stay into it. I think burnout in this case can be avoided if one is flexible. If blogging episodically burns you out, try different types of posts or a different outlet to express your fandom, like fan fic writing or making AMVs. If the genre you love isn’t satisfying you, branch out into a different one. Not only does anime offer tons of different genres, but tons of different ways to express your fandom, too.
I’ve heard it said that people who burn out on anime are probably not “true” fans. How can a true fan of something burn out on it? Even if they come back to anime later on, since they already burned out on it once they’ll probably do it again. But rather than divide people into true fans and untrue fans based on that, we should look at how they relate to anime. Was it just something they got into because it was popular among their friends? Were they just a fan of the action/fantasy in anime and not really into anime as a medium? If they fell out of the loop of anime fandom for a while, did they develop a “sour grapes” attitude towards it later or did they make an effort to try and get back into it? Even if they burned out and stopped watching anime, did they continue to respect it and humor friends who were still into it only to come back to it themselves years later? There are a lot of questions we can ask about whether someone’s anime burnout may be permanent or not, none of which is set in stone of course. So to finish this post up, I’ll end on the same note as John did in his post – that whether we burn out on anime or not comes first and foremost from our own attitude towards it. As he said:
“A fan that constantly bemoans redundancy and expects nearly every new anime to be bad will invariably eventually find enough evidence to convince himself of his sentiment and become disillusioned and bored with anime. The optimistic anime fan sees each new show as a new possibility, a way to put a new spin on a familiar trope, breath new life into a tired genre…If we assume that every new anime in a tired genre will be an uninspired, uninteresting rehash, we’d overlook anime like Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu, Lucky Star, Evangelion, Toradora, OreImo, Futari wa Precure, Lyrical Nanoha, and Madoka Magica, which would be a terrible misfortune.”