If you've hung around Ani-TAY recently (or many other anime communities), you've probably heard it: "This season is pretty dry", "Winter season this year isn't very good", or something else along those lines. Compared to other anime seasons, Winter 2015 DOES look pretty rough. The volume of both good shows and shows in general is severely lacking relative to last year's seasons, and at first look it seems to some like this season was the time for some studios to just unload some 'crappy' projects or to wait out a season for something big this Spring. Claiming that this season is 'dry' is clearly a fair statement. However, I would argue that the Winter 2015 season is more than up to the challenge of being considered decent.

The manifest purpose of our viewing of anime is entertainment. We indulge in the medium because it entertains us. Thus, I argue that all judgement of quality should have relevance to entertainment value in some way.

The problem that surfaces here is our interpretation of what makes a 'good season', something that needs to be addressed first. The general idea of a good season tends to follow these guidelines:

  1. There are a large number of shows that are at least passable in quality.
  2. Out of those shows, at least a couple of them are especially awesome.
  3. A large variety of genres are represented by at least 'passable' shows.

However, I would argue that in fact our judgement here on Ani-TAY is affected by a few other factors:

  1. There are a large volume of shows hyped up before the season airs.
  2. At least a dozen shows are so entertaining that many look forward to them each week.
  3. Shows that started in previous seasons don't count.
  4. How does this season compare to previous and future seasons?

The above factors are not a bad thing to judge a season by. However, I would say that to a certain extent, we are sometimes blinded by these goals and fail to realize to a certain degree the level of awesomeness of what we actually are presented with each season.

The assertion that a large number of shows should be good is something that is very much a symptom of the crux of the problem. What defines 'large'? In truth, YOU define what large means it varies based on how many shows you as an individual are hoping to see and like, and this varies both in number and which shows qualify as 'good' to each person. In the case of Ani-TAY, point 3 of the other factors actually applies pretty heavily, as many of us (myself included) watch a dozen or more shows each season. As such, there is often a debate as to which season is the best season, which is not bad per se. The problem really surfaces in seasons like this one, Winter 2015, which is universally awarded the 'shitty season' award by many people.

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I disagree. Strongly disagree, in fact. But not because the people that make that claim are wrong. For them, this season might be a bad season. But for others? Not so much. The characterization of a season is flawed because many make the assumption that a bad season is bad for everyone when in fact it is only bad for them as an individual. Let's examine this season in my subjectively objective viewpoint by addressing each of the factors listed above.

Main Factors

- There are a large number of shows that are at least passable in quality.

I am going to define 'large' as seven shows to reflect my opinion. I believe seven is a fair number because that means there are as many good shows as there are days in a week. I would say that there are at least eight this season that would at least be 'passable'. Saekano, Death Parade, Parasyte, Your Lie in April, Shirobako, Assassination Classroom, and Tokyo Ghoul would all qualify for me personally, and I know that other shows, such as Durarara!!x2 Shou, Yoru no Yatterman, Yuri Kuma Arashi, GARO: the Animation, and more might be on others' lists as well. Seems to me like this season clears that goal for me personally, at least.

- Out of those shows, at least a couple of them are especially awesome.

Easy. Parasyte, Death Parade, and Your Lie in April more than qualify as top-tier anime for me, with others such as Saekano arguably up there as well.

- A large variety of genres are represented by at least 'passable' shows.

Also handled. Saekano is a rom-com, Shirobako is a slice-of-life, Tokyo Ghoul is a seinen action show, and so on.

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So in my case, this season qualifies as a 'good' season of anime. Now, this could very well not be the case for you. I wasn't super big on the Fall 2014 season like others were, so it's all about different tastes and opinions. Now for the 'other factors' that more or less pervert our opinions against a season using qualifications I think are inherently unreasonable.

Other Factors

- There are a large volume of shows hyped up before the season airs.

This season didn't have a whole lot of super hyped shows. Durarara was certainly hyped, but other really good shows such as Death Parade and Saekano managed to slip under the radars of many people until after they began airing. The issue with this is that when there aren't a lot of shows that you are looking forward to, you will go into the season expecting it to be bad. As humans, it is likely that confirmational bias will make this a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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- At least a dozen shows are so entertaining that many look forward to them each week.

I added this point to illustrate an altered form of the one of the main factor criteria. It is unreasonable, in my opinion, to look at a season and expect an insane volume of shows to be amazing. It leads to you ignoring the fact that tons of shows are great because you are too focused on quantity. Quantity is important, but quality is important enough that if there is a bit of both there is no reason to be so focused on more and more quantity.

- Shows that started in previous seasons don't count.

Why? Why would shows from last season not count? Are they not airing right now too? The manifest purpose for us as individuals for watching anime is to be entertained. If the content streaming this season is entertaining, then why does the fact that it started before this season matter? The main reason I have been enjoying this season more is because most of my favorite shows from last season continued and were augmented by several good selections new to the Winter 2015 season.

- How does this season compare to previous and future seasons?

This is what I refer to as a relativity complex. Instead of judging a season for how much it entertains you, you instead judge it relative to other seasons, effectively making a comparison that isn't actually relevant to whether or not the shows you are watching are entertaining.

Overall, our judgement of the quality of a season of anime is flawed. Sometimes it's easy to forget that opinions are subjective, and we forget the manifest purpose of watching anime: entertainment. We will frequently let unnecessary comparisons or early biases influence our opinions unfairly. As an anime enthusiast, I think it's important to at least consider your opinion and evaluate it for relevance and fairness before jumping to harsh conclusions.

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Thanks for reading this incredibly long (and maybe tedious) opinion! I know that this subject is a polarizing and debatable topic, so feel free to share your opinions in the comments below.

You're reading Ani-TAY, the anime-focused portion of Kotaku's community-run blog, Talk Amongst Yourselves. Ani-TAY is a non-professional blog whose writers love everything anime related. Click here to check us out.


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