When to take a break from anime

How many Disney characters can you spot?

In past posts I’ve talked about forms of anime “burnout,” from personal anecdotes about people I’ve known who lost interest in anime over time, to discussing exactly how/why someone would burnout on anime. But today’s topic isn’t so much about losing interest in anime as it is simply taking a break from it, which can be a form of preventing loss of interest in the first place…

Froggykun on Fantastic Memes wrote a post dealing with just this: how taking a break from anime from time to time can actually help prevent anime burnout. When people who aren’t into anime themselves, or who are more casual about their interest than others, look at someone who’s really into anime, as in, it’s basically all they talk about online, all they spend their time and money on, and all they fill their room up with (like me? XD) they tend to build stereotypical images of that person, often thinking that anime is all that person cares about and deals in, and they probably don’t have a decent social life or even room for anything but anime in their life. While this may be true for some really obsessed otaku, it’s not so for the majority of anime fans I’ve encountered over the years, myself included. Actually, I would be a good example of this since anyone who looks in my room or sees my blog and Twitter would probably think I’m way too into anime and don’t do anything else. But just because someone is really passionate about a hobby (and isn’t afraid to make it known) doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy other things and aren’t ever willing to take a break from their “main” interest.

Although anime is obviously a very important thing in my life and something I spend most of my time, money, and energy on, I also know it’s not healthy to never branch out into anything else. As Froggykun suggests in his post, watching and dealing in nothing but anime is much more likely to make your interest in it stagnate because you have no other experiences to compare it to – you’ll just see the same tropes, genres, and cliches over and over until you eventually get burned out. This isn’t true for everyone of course, especially for people who don’t have that much free time for anime in the first place, but for people who do have time and use it solely for watching, discussing, and indulging in anime, seeing too much of the same thing continuously could lead to frustration and eventually burnout. Even though anime series can be vastly different from each other, like Attack on Titan compared to Lucky Star, they still have a multitude of subtle and not so subtle similarities due to hailing from the same country and culture, and obviously the more you continuously watch anime, the more likely you are to pick up on all these similarities and get tired of them. But if you find even one other thing you enjoy spending your time with away from anime, that would help.

Doing things like playing video games or reading manga probably aren’t the best breaks from anime, since manga and a lot of popular video games also come from Japan. The more unlike anime something is the better, since anime will be all the more refreshing and different in comparison. If you’re a fan of animation in general like me, watching animation that hails from a country other than Japan is a great way to see anime in a different light and appreciate your taste or lack thereof for culture differences. I’ve always been a fan of Disney/Pixar movies, and more recently, a fan of My Little Pony: FiM, and every now and then I want to watch them to satisfy something in my animation passion that anime lacks, be it the Western look and style of the animation or mannerisms of the characters. This isn’t anything unusual, to quote sdshamshel on one of his posts when comparing My Little Pony and Doremi, “My Little Pony is similar to Ojamajo Doremi in a number of respects, but MLP assumes an American audience first where Doremi assumes a Japanese one, and having the characters behave in ways more culturally familiar can have a significant impact on the connections people make with a show, even if it were basically the same work as the one that is less culturally close. This can even be as simple as information and access just being easier in your own language.” So despite my love and connection to anime and Japan, I live and grew up in America, and from time to time I enjoy the good animated works it puts out that are more culturally familiar to me. And then when I watch anime I better appreciate its Japanese-ness that Western animation lacks, so everything is nicely balanced in the end ;)

While watching American animation or playing video games could be good breaks from anime, it’s probably even better for your worldview and flexibility of interests to enjoy something that isn’t part of that same kind of “geek” culture. I don’t mean things you have to do, like go to work or school, but finding other things you want to spend time with that have nothing to do with anime. For me personally, I enjoy poetry and a lot of classic literature, and get the urge to read them every now and then. Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, D.H. Lawrence, and Edgar Allen Poe are among my favorite authors. I have many novels, poems, and short stories that I enjoy reading over and over. There’s also a lot of music I like to listen to besides anime and Disney songs =P My mom listens to oldies music and I grew to like them too, particularly the Beatles, Peter Paul & Mary, Elvis, Simon & Garfunkel, and Billy Joel. Bob Dylan is probably my favorite lyricist (though I prefer Joan Baez singing his songs). There’s various old TV shows and movies I like too, such as I Love Lucy, The Twilight Zone, and Alfred Hitchock films. I like musicals very much too and like to listen to songs from Wicked and others even though I haven’t actually seen the shows. I loved last year’s Les Miserables and enjoy other movie musicals like Hairspray and Sound of Music. And as they say, it is good to get outside sometimes even if you’re like me and prefer indoor activities. When I find time on my days off, I like to go to fun places with friends such as beaches, botanical gardens, or amusement parks. I also always try to get in 1-2 hours every week for volunteer work at my local animal shelter. Animal welfare in general is a big interest of mine too and I’m always reading books, news, and other things about it.

In the end, I’m certainly not saying you’re less of a person if you’re not interested in anything outside anime or similar so-called “nerd” hobbies. But I do think you can have a healthier relationship with anime, and the world even, if you can find other unrelated things you enjoy doing and take time away from anime to indulge in them. Anime with all its unique cultural aspects and exclusive tropes will become all the more novel and exciting when you take breaks from it with other things that move you in a different way. It’s an interesting phenomena of how spending time with something unrelated to your fandom can actually make you a bigger fan ;)

30 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. Rioraku says:

    Very insightful post. I agree with needing to take a break from anime. For me personally, I tend to go about it in spurts. I’ll have a couple weeks where I watch just anime whenever I have free time and then when I just am not “in the mood for anime” I just take a break from it and watch whatever is on TV. Mostly sitcoms or whatever I find. Then the cycle repeats. My wife is the same, she reads a lot manga/watches anime but then goes into reading harlequin novels or the like.

    All in all, I guess the lesson is everything in moderation which really applies to most anything in life.

    • Yumeka says:

      I don’t think more than a few days have gone by in the past several years without me watching anime, but I don’t watch it everyday. Rather than watching a whole bunch of anime at once and then not watching any for a while, I watch it almost everyday continuously, but in small amounts, like 1-2 episodes a night before bed. Any free time I have outside of that time is for my other interests, so it still balances out ;)

      • Rioraku says:

        I tend to watch what anime I can the most on weekends, so I guess for me its kind of a cathartic release after a week of long school and work days. So I kind of marathon what I watch! :P Its especially great when its an anime me and my wife both get hooked on like Toradora or Clannad.

  2. chikorita157 says:

    While I can understand that watching Anime non-stop can get a bit tiresome. Besides doing Anime and blogging about it, I tend to play various kinds of video games. While the trope in most video games apply to Anime, especially since I play mostly Japanese games as I don’t find the more violent western games that is appealing (except for Maxis games like Sims and Sim City along with racing games). I think the main difference between games and Anime as the former is more interactive and the experience is not necessarily the same. Also, I tend to play more Japanese language games so I can practice what I already learn.

    On the other hand, I don’t care for western music nowadays because most of it is terrible (besides a few). I pretty much only like older songs in 90s or earlier and Rock music outside of Japanese music. Even so, I enjoy musicals. Since I live near New York, I saw Chicago, Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, and Les Miserables. Probably the only TV I watch is Mythbusters. But aside from that, I spend most of my time on my computer, unless I have college work as I spend most of my entertainment time on Japanese stuff.

    • Yumeka says:

      True, although anime and video games can kinda be grouped together as forms of “geek” culture, they are very different from each other too. And I also never cared for the music of my time except for a few select songs, which is why I stick to oldies, musicals, and soundtracks from shows/movies I like such as Disney. That’s cool that you got to see all those Broadway shows! I wouldn’t mind seeing one someday =)

  3. Myna says:

    The Les Miserables film was absolutely dreadful. I hated nearly every second of it. Aaron Tveit is the only person I liked. I loved him in Next to Normal.

    Been pleasantly occupied with my college’s musical theatre touring group for the past two and a half weeks or so. Can’t wait to finally get back to school. My professor/director FINALLY announced our fall production: Avenue Q. I’m excited since I have a really good chance of getting in being the only female Asian vocalist/musical theatre major in the school.

    I finally started reading again and devoured three books within days. I have a few more on the list that I’d like to finish by the end of summer.

    Definitely going to have to cut back on anime watching since I’m taking 17.5 credits/11 classes this upcoming semester. Plus if I get into Avenue Q, that will mean about ten hours worth of rehearsals a week. (Plus fraternity duties, social life, and school work.)

    • Yumeka says:

      LOL, well I thought the Les Miserables film was great and loved every second of it (well, maybe not every second but most of it). The camerawork could have been better, but it wasn’t enough to deter me from the excellent acting, music, and story. Very few movies make me shed a tear but I was crying through pretty much all of it, especially at the end, so I can’t say that it wasn’t emotionally gripping to me. I saw it twice in the theater with my mom and then my boyfriend and they liked it too. I bought the CD soundtrack soon after seeing it and love to sing along with it in the car. So yeah, all I can say is…differing tastes. Though you hating shows/movies I like isn’t anything new XD

      Really glad to hear your music/theater studies at college are going well. Every time I think you’re taking a break from anime I’ll all of a sudden see your MAL list update with 5-13 new anime episodes XD But maybe I won’t be seeing that next semester, LOL.

      • Myna says:

        The singing was the worst I’ve heard in a musical-film in a long time. It’s a bit of an insult to stag e performers. Especially since we/they belt out those songs and relive the story eight times a week.

        At least the Colm Wilkinson cameo as the Bishop made me happy. Freaking love Colm Wilkinson. He’s the only Valjean for me. The tenth anniversary Les Miserables concert cast is the best.

        • Yumeka says:

          The only performance I didn’t think was good in the film was Russel Crowe’s. He hardly changed his expression throughout the whole thing and his singing wasn’t all that emotional. But I thought the others were excellent. Though I’m not that fussy when it comes to singing (I’m rather tone deaf when I try to sing by myself, so maybe that’s why). Though my mom is extremely picky with music quality, having studied at Julliard as a concert pianist, but she still thought the film was great. So I dunno =P

          • Myna says:

            The majority of my fellow musical theatre majors as well as my professor/director detested it. Many of my vocal performance major friends hated it as well. Perhaps it’s because the theatre and vocals are our particular areas of expertise.

  4. Shikon says:

    I guess for me the main breaks that I take from anime are video games and youtube. Most games that I play are created in japan (Dark Souls, Demon’s souls, and Dragon’s Dogma to name a few) but I don’t see any huge similarities that they share with anime.

    I’m in college so for the most part I usually don’t have tons of time apart from summer and the weekends so I usually only watch anime during those times (which isn’t much XD).

    I think the concept of this post could apply to pretty much any interest or hobby that were very passionate about. We all need a break from our interests from time to time to truly appreciate them and realize why we love them in the first place =)

    • Yumeka says:

      By “YouTube” do you just mean spending time browsing through random videos? Or do you make your own as a hobby?

      Yeah, I remember my college days of hardly having any free time. Unlike you, I was always busy on weekends studying and writing papers. I still found time to watch anime though, by setting aside just an hour or two right before bed everyday to watch the latest episodes. But I did have to put my blog on hiatus those two years. I did have tons of free time for summer break though so I was able to blog and do other things then.

      And yes, the idea of “everything in moderation” could certainly apply to any passion ;)

      • Shikon says:

        Ah yes I just like to watch random YouTube videos, probably should’ve explained that one XD although I have considered the latter.

        The fact that you didn’t have any free time in college seems like a good indication that you were doing it right =P something I could probably learn from ( I procrastinate way more than I should).

  5. froggykun says:

    You know, it’s always really fun and really illuminating hearing what a fellow anime fan does besides anime-related stuff.

    I absolutely adore your taste in literature, even though it’s not very much like my own taste. Looks like we both appreciate the classics, though. Personally, I’m a huge bookworm. If I’m not watching anime, I’m writing. If I’m not writing, I’m reading. I used to have a lot more hobbies, but while I’m interested in a lot of things, I don’t have the time to be practice so many different skills. I stick to reading these days, and I average a novel a week. It’s hard to pick favourites, but I’m a fan of anything by Graham Greene, Agatha Christie and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

    I have to say – it’s refreshing to talk about literature on an anime blog!

    • Yumeka says:

      I too love to know what other kinds of hobbies anime fans have, especially if they’re bloggers I know and follow. It gives me a better sense of the type of person they are and then I can better understand why they feel the way they do about the anime topics they discuss.

      Glad to know another anime fan who also likes literature =D It’s funny because I never used to like reading when I was younger, but in high school I suddenly loved it, and plowed through anthologies of Emily Dickinson poems, Edgar Allen Poe short stories, and Albert Camus novels. I read a lot both for school and for fun, and unlike my classmates, I really enjoyed literature (kinda sad that so many of them didn’t). Once I transferred to a university for my B.A. and had to read 100 pages of literature a week (since my major was East Asian Languages and Literature), I didn’t have any time to read for fun (though I liked some of the books for my classes). Since then, I haven’t had much time to read novels since anime and my other hobbies take up all my free time. I do occasionally read shorter things like poems and Mark Twain essays though =P

      LOL, we should totally talk about literature sometime.

  6. Kal says:

    I agree as well. I also tend to cut back on the shows I watch now and then, or just leave them for later. I also play a lot of MMOs (western ones), and play computer games with my father. He’s retired, so he has a lot of time. Read books, go to the movies, exercise on my free days… But yes, I think it is very important to keep a wide range of interests. I think this part you mentioned is very important “watching and dealing in nothing but anime is much more likely to make your interest in it stagnate because you have no other experiences to compare it to”. It’s probably what attracted us to anime in the first place, something different. So we need to keep that perspective for it to retain that “interesting and different” feel.

    Nice post, and really important too. I’m going to get back and finish all the Raymond E. Feist books I have not finished yet, so thanks for the reminder, and push in that direction :)

    • Yumeka says:

      Sounds like you have a healthy balance of other hobbies outside of anime, with reading books, exercising, playing games, and spending time with your dad =) I agree that the new, “exotic” feeling is what attracted us to anime so we should try and retain that by taking breaks from it with other hobbies when we can.

  7. Marina says:

    Anything in excess is never a good thing, so I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment of balancing hobbies and activities. I go through periods of obsession, where I’ll spend all my time on nothing but anime and my blog, then suddenly turn to my video games every day and fall behind by several weeks on airing anime. I’ve found that spending a bit of time here and a bit of attention there really does help, especially if I make myself go out and spend time with my friends and coworkers :) Having a dog helps, too, since she encourages plenty of walking!

    • Yumeka says:

      Heh, my breaks from anime are different from yours in that, rather than take long breaks of several weeks or spend periods of doing nothing but anime and blogging, I just spread everything out. So there will never be more than a few days going by without me watching anime, but I rarely watch more than 1-3 episodes a day. And even if I find a new game to obsess about, I’ll still take breaks from that to blog once a week and watch my anime episodes every night. So yes, there are all kinds of ways we can balance out our hobbies =)

  8. Frootytooty says:

    Definitely an important point. Burnout sucks and can mean that you end up not enjoying it at all later, which would really be a shame. For me, anime has been a pretty constant hobby in my life; though it never really took the spotlight as the central hobby in my life, I also rarely went a month without having watched at least one new series. I’m the type of person who hates to quit things, so even after finding new hobbies I tend to cling on to old ones, even if I have to spread myself a little thin. But hey, it means I have more choice and less chance of being bored!

    • Yumeka says:

      I also tend to spread myself thin since there are a lot of other things I like besides anime that take time, such as video games, other animated shows/movies, studying Japanese, etc,. I’ll give the most time to whichever one I most enjoy at the time, but I’ll also make sure and find time for the others, like how I’ll always take time off every week to blog even if there’s a new game I’m really into or something. I’ve always been good at budgeting my time and planning out my daily schedules, so that helps with my hobbies as well as other things in life XD

      And just curious, since you said anime “never really took the spotlight as the central hobby” in your life, is there another hobby that has?

      • Frootytooty says:

        For the most part, drawing has been my main hobby. :D Anime definitely has had major influences on what I draw and how I draw, though, so they do end up overlapping a fair bit.

  9. Tara says:

    I think I would possibly end up ‘burning out’ my anime interest, and most of my other interests as well, if I focused solely on them or didn’t take the occasional break. In fact, I’ve found that I alternate between my main hobbies (anime, reading and acted tv series/movies). At the moment I’m reading and watching anime a lot but last week I watched a lot of western tv shows.
    Usually I go more in phases of having a couple of weeks to a few months where I focus a lot on one of the hobbies and a bit on another while partially, although never completely, neglecting the third. I still love all three and partake a lot of all of them, not to mention a few minor hobbies on the side that occasionally distract me such as music and writing.
    I hadn’t really thought about it before now but I suppose alternating my focus this way is a good way to keep from losing interest or growing bored of the same old things. I still have a hard time imagining ever truly losing interest in any of my hobbies (I can’t imagine life without them haha) but this way the odds are at least significantly lower. Guess my subconcious is smarter than I thought :)

    • Yumeka says:

      That’s good that you’re always balancing out your hobbies and are confident they’ll always be important to you ;) Obviously anime is my primary one and I don’t go more than a few days without doing something anime-related, usually watching or blogging. But I try to find time for my other hobbies too, and occasionally I’ll get so into them, like with a new video game or something, that anime will take a back seat for a while. But I’ll never totally ignore it for more than a little while. So yeah, even though I focus on anime most of the time, my other hobbies always get attention at some point even if it’s not as much.

  10. Adziu says:

    My answer is NEVAAARRRR! But that’s what works for me. Sometimes I’ll want a break from the cutesy with something heavy, or from action with something very intimate, but I’ll always have anime to watch. Of course, just going down to one episode a day sometimes feels like taking a break, though.

    Interesting to see someone else make the connection between Ojamajo Doremi and MLP. I’ll go take a look at that post.

    • Yumeka says:

      Heh, well seeing as how animation in all of its forms – Japanese or other animated movies/TV shows, manga, video games, etc., – are things you spend just about all your time indulging in and writing about, I’d imagine you don’t have time for any other hobbies. But obviously that’s not a problem for you since there’s enough differences within them so you don’t get burned out on anything ;)

  11. Mikoto says:

    I often have a balance between my hobbies, so anime doesn’t always feel too overwhelming compared to the rest. I do agree though, sometimes I *do* feel too invested in my interest in Japanese and geek culture. I’m not all into sports (though I used to partake in them). But then it’s the hobbies like going out to try different foods, hanging out with friends, etc. that help my interest in anime have a more special place in my heart.

    Expanding your horizons and creating new interests, I feel, is always helpful in creating a well-rounded person.

    • Yumeka says:

      I also sometimes feel like I’m too invested in my anime and “geek” hobbies – but then when I go to work or do an activity completely unrelated to anime, like volunteering at the animal shelter or appreciating classic literature and poetry, I realize that I am a well-rounded, open-minded person who can take pleasure in many different things. As long as I know anime isn’t the only thing that moves me, I’m not worried about it consuming my life in a negative way.

      And I’ve never cared for sports either =P

  12. Overlord-G says:

    I watch plenty of stuff besides anime (Wrestling, Western Cartoons, Late Night Talk Shows, etc.) to never feel an anime burnout. I also watch other internet shows not about anime to pass the time, when I’m not busy with other things in my life. Basically, there are a lot of things I do and watch to balance the animeniac inside me.

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