Has hype ever ruined an anime for you?

Credit to linked pixiv user

Every time a new season of anime comes around, or even when discussions happen to bring up past titles that were very popular, you hear people say things like “It was overhyped,” “Don’t give into the hype,” and “The hype ruined it for me.” But what exactly is meant by that and can the hype of a show really affect your personal viewing experience?…

A hyped anime is one that people get excited about early on, before they’ve even seen one episode of it. It could be because its source material is already a hit, it has a renowned director who’s made other popular works, or it’s shown to have very high-production values in terms of animation, music, and design. People build up expectations for the anime, which leads to them creating their own idea of how the anime should be in terms of story, style, themes, etc., rather than go into it freely and let the anime show them how it’s going to be. I suppose we can get hyped about any anime we take an interest in before we’ve seen it, but some have the notable staff or source material to cause more hype than others.

A recent example of an anime with hype that may have ruined it for many viewers is the currently airing Space Dandy. My friend and fellow blogger Neo-Shonen Fujoshi wrote a great post about this actually. We all know that Space Dandy was really hyped among the English-speaking anime fandom even before it started airing. And the reason for that? It’s directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, who also directed one of Western anime fandom’s most acclaimed series, Cowboy Bebop, as well as a few others like Samurai Champloo and Kids on the Slope. All of these shows had their moments of comedy but they were mostly dramatic and serious with thematic, developing narratives even if some things seemed episodic (I actually haven’t seen Samurai Champloo so correct me if I’m wrong on that one). These shows are also known for not having the usual anime cliches of moe girls, modern school settings, and fantastical battles, but more “believable fictional” settings and characters. So of course, when Space Dandy was announced, people already started putting it on a pedestal, claiming it’ll be the next Cowboy Bebop (the fact that it’s also a space adventure like Bebop made people even more prone to comparing the two).

But…after the first episode or two of Space Dandy aired, people became disillusioned with it. Many who got so hyped for it now found it underwhelming, or worse, disliked it and eventually stopped watching it. I admit that I was one of the people who was a bit disappointed with the first few episodes. But thinking about it now, I can’t help but feel that the only reason for the Space Dandy backlash is because people overhyped it, or more specifically, they made hasty assumptions about what Shinichiro Watanabe wanted to do with it. Since he directed other acclaimed anime that had dramatic stories and dark tones, that’s obviously what he’s going to do with this one, right? It’s a sci-fi space adventure just like Cowboy Bebop after all! So once they saw the completely un-serious, wacky and wild comedy adventure Space Dandy actually is, so out there with its comical hijinks that it doesn’t even keep continuity between episodes, their expectations were dashed. They wanted something with comedy like Cowboy Bebop, but comedy that underlies mature themes and dramatic storylines. The Bebop fans wanted another Bebop, but as it seems now, Watanabe and the rest of the staff wanted a totally episodic space adventure that’s 99% comedy. Thus people let the hype they constructed for the series based on one factor (it’s director) paint a picture in their minds of what it should be beforehand instead of going into the series with a more or less blank slate. One has to wonder, if Space Dandy had a lesser known staff behind it, if it would have gotten the backlash it got. Unlikely since no hype means no expectations, and people would have appreciated the innovative things it has and not what it doesn’t have that they got themselves yearning for. I’m not saying I really like Space Dandy, since I’m 9 episodes in and find that it has its moments but it’s not my cup of tea, but I’m willing to see it through to the end and mentally remove all comparisons to Watanabe’s other works.

Another, older example, is the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime. It’s first half followed the original manga fairly closely, so fans reading the manga as well as watching the anime were pleased. But in its latter part, the anime went off in a completely different direction from the manga, which eventually lead to its own original ending for the series, even with an original follow-up movie to fully complete it. I don’t know much about the FMA fandom, but I’m assuming a lot of manga fans were outraged by this. However I, and I’m sure many other people who never read the FMA manga, liked the original anime ending. Some even like it better than Brotherhood, or at least as much. And I’m sure a good chunk of that is due to not being familiar with the manga and thus not creating hype about it during the initial airing of the first anime series.

Besides knowing an anime has a respectable writer or you’re familiar with its source material, there’s another way to get hyped about it beforehand, a way I like to call “second-hand hype.” Basically if you haven’t seen the anime yourself but it’s a big hit, you can’t help but get hyped about how great it is because everyone else is. I suspect this was the case for anime fans who, for whatever reason, weren’t watching Madoka Magica when it was airing back in 2011. It was all over anime and related social networking sites and blogs – people were praising it through the roof, Kyubey’s face was on every meme you could imagine, and there was no end to speculation about, and later interpretation of, its story. So you can imagine someone who hadn’t watched the series yet seeing, hearing, and reading this bombardment of praise and adoration, getting themselves hyped about how excellent this show must be if so many people love it. Now what happens when they finally watch it themselves? Perhaps they thought it was good, but because, to them, it wasn’t GREAT like everyone else said, they feel like they’ve been cheated in some way and that feeling creates a bit of resentment towards the show, causing their overall rating of it to fall…something that may have never happened if they didn’t get all that second-hand hype about it beforehand!

I know it’s happened to most people at least once, but I personally can’t recall hype ever ruining anything for me, anime or otherwise. There are a few good reasons for this of course. One is that I don’t pay much attention to staff members behind certain anime, like who the director is. I do, however, like to look up what animation studio is producing the anime and if it has any seiyuu I like, but those just give me ideas about how the animation style and voice acting will be, which have little bearing on my overall opinion of an anime compared to the actual story and writing quality. I might end up hearing about notable staff members one way or another, like I did with Space Dandy, and end up getting a little hyped. But it’s never enough for me to get myself excited about how great an anime is going to be before I’ve even seen it. Secondly, I rarely read manga and light novels anymore, so it’s highly unlikely I’d be familiar with an anime’s source material beforehand. And even if I did, I would still try not to get hyped about the anime being exactly the same. It’s best to think of it as a different interpretation of a story you know rather than the exact source material depicted in anime form. And as for getting the “second-hand hype,” I usually watch the very popular anime as they air, and typically end up liking them, so it’s rarely a problem for me. Even when I watch them later on but get exposed to the hype beforehand, I just don’t let other people’s praise or lack thereof interfere with my own personal experience with an anime. When everyone around you is praising something, you can’t help but expect it to be good when you finally watch it yourself. But for me, the key is expecting something “good” and not necessarily “great.” If it does end up being “great,” then yes, you can join in everyone’s praise. But even if it ends up only being “good” to you, you can still join in the praise, just not as extremely so as others. And if you only thought it was “ok” or even “bad,” chances are it wouldn’t have clicked with you anyway whether you had gotten hyped about it or not.

So…has hype ever ruined an anime for you? If so, how and why?

20 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. Shikon says:

    Like you, I cant think of an instance where a series was ruined for me due to the hype. I generally don’t pay much attention to hype, because everyone has different preferences, so I usually go into a series knowing little to nothing about it, and also not really expecting anything. I just get on the ride and see how it goes lol. I will admit though, sometimes when an anime is extremely hyped, I find myself reluctant to start it until a later time, until the hype dies down a bit (or it finishes airing). That’s what I did with Attack on Titan and Sword Art Online.

    I completely agree with the points you made about FMA. I watched the first series that aired and then brotherhood and I have to say, I didn’t care much for brotherhood at all, it just missed that dark tone that the first series had.

    Btw, it’s Samurai Champloo, and you should give it a watch! If you like samurai-type series obviously :P

    • Yumeka says:

      I also rarely research anything about new anime beforehand other than read a short synopsis of the series and maybe see what animation studio is producing it. But unlike you, if I hear a new anime is hyped and I’m not already watching it, I do so right away XD The more people watching a series, the more fun it is to follow it with them as it airs and go wild with speculation and suspense ;)

      I actually really liked Brotherhood too but I still think the original series is just as good at least.

      Oh, whoops…fixed my spelling of Samurai Champloo ^^,,, I may give it a watch one day.

  2. Frog says:

    I think Attack on Titan was ruined for me, personally. I find it kinda hard to explain why I just didn’t get into that series, even when though it really seems like something I would like.

    Typically, though, I keep my expectations low and/or neutral.

    • Yumeka says:

      It seems like your preferred anime are the “lighter” ones in the slice-of-life/romance/comedy genres, so perhaps Attack of Titan is just too dark and morbid for you to get that into…but then again I don’t know your tastes in anime that well (I know you like imoutos at least XD) so maybe that’s not the reason. But I’m sure everyone has at least one really popular anime they just can’t bring themselves to like that much (I guess it would be Gurren Lagann for me, and Bleach).

      Yeah, low and neutral expectations are the way to go~

  3. Midonin says:

    Only once. The second Hayate no Gotoku season.

    The love the fans have for Hinagiku was reaching levels where it was actively putting me off. Now, I like Shizuka Itou and don’t have too much of a problem with Hina herself – but I thought that, other than being lovestruck, she didn’t have much comedy potential. I was a fan of the more gag-centric first season, so as the second season lowered the amount of comedy while raising the amount of romantic and Hina-centric subplots, I started to be actively put off by it. I don’t dislike the season, but that was a clear case of dueling expectations people have for a franchise.

    • Yumeka says:

      I was never huge on Hayate no Gotoku but I do like the anime and watched a lot of it (the first two seasons, which I liked, and the Can’t Take My Eyes Off You series, which I didn’t like). I didn’t follow the fandom much though, but I did get an inkling about how popular Hinagiku is. I’m actually the opposite in that I found the more character-driven rather than gag-driven second season better than the first. But I can definitely see how a fandom like HnG can create hype and influence your take on the anime adaptations.

  4. Kal says:

    I do not pay much attention to the hype surrounding shows. I mostly keep to your blog, and come into each new season not really expecting much, So it’s usually the other way around, and I find shows that were really great and I had not even heard of before (Nagi no Asakura, Madoka, etc). So is that reverse hype? Well, it works fine for me :)

    I have suffered that with computer games though… Games that are really hyped, that are expected to be incredible, and then… Well, they turn out much, much worse than expected. Movies as well, but not so much anime. I guess that’s good though, and keeps anime fresh for me.

    • Yumeka says:

      Like I said to Shikon above, hype can actually determine if I’ll watch a new anime or not – if I hear people talking about a particularly new anime more than others, I’ll likely watch it since I enjoy keeping up with the popular shows in the fandom and following them in real-time with everyone else. But even so, I’ll still keep my expectations low and won’t get indulgent about a series until I’ve actually seen it.

      But yeah, that’s good that anime rarely turn out worse than expected for you XD

  5. Rioraku says:

    Great post as usual, i think it’s interesting how hype can affect the perception one has for something they have yet to see. Personally though, I don’t think I’ve had that happen to me very often. In fact only one instance stands out for me, Death Note. I’d heard so much about how amazing it was and it was becoming a lot of people’s favorite anime. When I saw it however, I thought it was just OK. Not bad but not that great either. Maybe it was just the medium for that kind of story but afterwards I started reading the manga and got a bit more into it.

    Other than that, I rarely even read about what other people think of an anime before watching it except for taking a peak at its score on My Anime List.

    • Yumeka says:

      Death Note was one series I watched because of people hyping it. I loved it and it’s consistently ranked among my top 15 favorite anime since. But of course not everyone is going to like it that much, and as I said to Frog above, we all have at least one super popular anime we personally think is overrated. Nothing wrong with that XD

  6. Heh, when I got to my dashboard just now and saw a bunch of hits to the Space Dandy post from your site, I knew something must be up. XD

    I’m actually liking and admiring Space Dandy more as it progresses. The latest episode where the crew lands on a planet populated by plants was beautiful and unique – I don’t think I’ve ever seen animation quite like it. Also, I read somewhere that Watanabe is actually using a different animation staff for each individual episode of Space Dandy which accounts for the strikingly different look of each episode.

    I love Samurai Champloo and didn’t know it was a Watanabe production. It’s very good but I’m not sure it would be your kind of anime (samurais, fighting, cynical humor and oddball main characters). You might give it a try though. ^^

    • Yumeka says:

      I have been liking Space Dandy more in the past few episodes – I agree that the plant one was good, probably my favorite episode so far, and the recent one with Meow’s family was nice too. I can see how Watanabe is using a different animation staff for each episode since the designs of each of the aliens and planets in each episode really stands out from each other, so that’s cool. I still can’t say I think Space Dandy is more than an “alright” show so far…but that’s just me…for now anyway, as we still have more episodes to go that could change my mind XD

      I’ve seen short bits of Samurai Champloo in AMVs and it looks like a fun show. I’ll give it a try some day.

  7. Kai says:

    Rarely for me. I think one of the reason is that unlike the others, I don’t watch most anime weekly, and wait for a good chunk of episodes to air before actually start watching myself. By this time, those “hype” of anime viewers might already changed in regards to some of the shows, lol. So I was able to get “updated” impressions like that, not just the initial hype. Although other problem like subjectivity comes to mind too, I find that for some shows, even when people were saying they are overhyped or didn’t really like them, I still find myself liking them nonetheless. I guess the motto is – just watch them, and ignore any hype or expectations that everyone else is initiating, lol.

    • Yumeka says:

      LOL, that’s a good motto XD And you’re right that hype is a fickle thing that can change after just a few episodes, which is exactly the case with Space Dandy (everyone praising it before it aired and than bashing it after the first few episodes). Since we are a community of fans, it’s hard to completely distance ourselves from hype if we partake in the fandom, but it’s easy enough to simply not get our expectations up too high before actually watching something for ourselves.

  8. chikorita157 says:

    I wrote a whole piece on hype back in January and of course hype is a double-edge sword, especially on things like studio, staff and/or premise. To me, I think it’s better to avoid the hype and view the show as it progresses so it doesn’t impact the enjoyment. If it’s lives up to expectations, than it’s good. If not, I’ll just accept it as it is. At the end of the day, one’s impressions of the show is highly subjective likewise with expectations since some people will feel differently about the people behind it or the premise.

    • Yumeka says:

      I avoid hype as much as I can by not actively looking at all the staff behind an anime or finding out much of anything about its source material beforehand. But I usually can’t avoid some hype for very popular shows since people keep talking about them. As you said, despite all that I just keep an open mind with every new series and keep my expectations low.

  9. Overlord-G says:

    Happens all the time whenever something made by KyoAni is mentioned. Because of that, the mindset of the IAC (Internet Anime Community) automatically labels that show as a MUST WATCH regardless of how good or bad it ends up being.

    Second-hand hype happens a lot more often than regular hype. I cannot count the amount of shows I ignored specifically because of all the praise it gets from the mainstream or serious crowd. I get a lot more cautious because of it.

    On the bright side, I hype myself when it comes to Yuri and Slice of Life shows and the odds of those shows disappointing me are slim.

    I’m an animeniac who mostly watches what I WANT TO SEE, not what everyone else says is worth watching…unless said show has something worth my time. For example, SnK has YumiKuri and the possibility of them getting more screen time together in an inevitable second season is what motivates me to (eventually) pick up SnK.

    • Yumeka says:

      KyoAni seems to get two kinds of hype – one is what you mentioned, everybody thinking all their shows are must-watches oozing quality, while another group of fans is the opposite, saying that all their shows are the same old moe/cute girls fare again and again. I can see how having moe elements in pretty much all their shows is part of their style, but for me, that’s no reason to automatically think a show is bad (unless you have a total aversion to moe, which some people do, so they should just not watch KyoAni shows). I don’t think all their shows are great, but I like watching them because I usually like them, and I like keeping up with what everyone’s watching.

      Heh, I’m the opposite in that, if an anime gets a lot of praise, I want to watch it because usually my tastes are the same as the majority of anime fans when it comes to popular anime (not always of course but usually) and I like to see the ground-breaking anime that set new trends in the fandom, like Madoka and Attack on Titan have recently.

  10. sweetpotato says:

    I agree, it’s the same with other media too, like TV shows, books, movies. Personally, I felt this way about all the hype with Rise of the Guardians and Frozen. Both had legions of fanart all over tumblr and deviantart (and the pairing, Jack x Elsa!).

    I ended up watching RotG about a year and a half after it premiered, and all I can say is that it was rather mediocre :/ fun to watch, but not the best in storytelling.

    Frozen was to a lesser extent, I enjoyed it very much but being exposed to so much praise on tumblr did hamper my expectations of it. Not sure if I’m the only one who has this opinion on these movies ..

  11. Mikoto says:

    I think hype ruined Space Dandy and Kill la Kill for me, though it isn’t the only reason why I find these series meh or average (I dropped Space Dandy and am currently finishing up Kill la Kill). I do genuinely think that the two directors for both series have sort of broke their streak of good shows – for example, I absolutely love Samurai Champloo and Bebop, and also TTGL, and I find that Space Dandy and KLK are three steps down from what they were able to produce before.

    I try to avoid the hype, but damn, it was almost impossible for me to do so with Kill la Kill and Space Dandy because it was -everywhere-.

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