Watching anime at your own pace is almost always a better experience. Every show has a different sense of pacing and should be watched a different rate, but for the most part I don’t want to watch only one episode of a show per week. In spite of that, I continue to watch weekly anime. That’s got a number of disadvantages that I’ll go into, but it has a few positives, and it’s those positives that stop me from totally switching to just my backlog.
Let’s get the negatives of weeklies out of the way. As I said, not every show works at that pacing. Hunter x Hunter’s Chimera Ant Arc would have been hell to watch weekly, and I’m happy that I didn’t start the show until it was over. Even slice of life shows, which you would expect to work best for this watch rate, often work better when watched more than once per week.
Additionally, I’m more likely to drop shows when they’re airing weekly. There are a large number of shows that I’ve dropped not because I didn’t like them, but because it was just too much effort to watch them week-after-week without falling behind on them. This has only become more of an issue now that I’ve started doing weekly recaps, as I feel pressured to stay up-to-date on all of my shows.
Now to the positives. As I just said, with my weekly recaps I now have a reason to watch shows ever week. When I started the weekly recap posts my output rate was incredibly low, and I really needed them. At this point I have numerous posts coming out each week so it’s not as necessary, but I need a place to put my thoughts on each week’s anime, and I figure this is a better space than twitter. This isn’t a major factor in continuing to watch weeklies, but it does keep me here to some extent.
The main reasons are actually fairly simple. The first is staying up-to-date with the community. I don’t watch every popular show, but it’s just nice to know what’s going on with the anime community in general. I’d love if I could do so without weeklies, but as I said in my Why Don’t People Watch Old Anime? post, the community is so focused on weeklies that you kind of have to watch them to stay up to date.
The other main reason is that there are those rare shows where it’s better to be watching along with the rest of the community. I have three main examples for this, and in all of these cases I would have gotten a noticably worse experience if I watched on my own after they ended.
The first is Flip Flappers. This is the best of the shows I’m going to look at, and I would likely have loved what it did just as much if I watched it after it ended. However it was so much better watching it while airing, mostly due to all the analysis and theories. The show got Ikuhara-level analysis way before it ended, and that was a magical experience for me. It was also really interesting seeing the opinion on the show change, from good to great, and then eventually to divisive. The show was, in all honesty, better when watched in chunks, as I found out in my rewatch preceding the final episode, but the experience of watching weekly with the community was great.
My next example is Valvrave the Liberator, one of the worst shows I’ve ever watched. The action was meh, the writing was total garbage, but the community made it one of my best watches ever, and it was only helped by being one of my first weekly anime. The ridiculous shit that happened in this show was only made better by reading the threads on /a/ and /r/anime. It was so ridiculous and absurd that it could only be fun because of the community, but it truly was elevated by watching it weekly. Unless you watched this show while airing it’s not worth watching at all, but at that time it was a magical experience.
My final example is the currently airing Kemono Friends. This one is odd, because I think it would work well if you binged it. I binged the first 6 episodes in order to catch up and enjoyed the show like that. However, I think the show would be way less enjoyable if it weren’t a meme. It would still be a solid show in spite of its visuals, but the whole “cult of personality” surrounding it makes it so much more enjoyable to watch. Unlike Valvrave it doesn’t need to be watched weekly, but I think it would be less fun to watch it in a season or two.
Ultimately I do believe I’d probably be better served abandoning weeklies, but as I think I’ve shown, totally doing so would cause me to lose out on a few things. That said, I do plan on slowly phasing out weeklies. I’ll still watch shows that feel like they would be watched while airing, and shows that I really, really want to see as soon as an episode comes out, but I would like to scale down how many seasonal anime I watch, giving me more time for my backlog and other ventures. We’ll see what the future holds.