My anime and manga hobby is too, a social activity. It isn’t quite enough for me to watch a show by myself and be content to enjoy it by myself then move to the next one. I derive a lot of gratification sharing the experience with others. It is why blogging is so enjoyable for me. As I get to tell people what to do, how to think, what to watch, how to watch, etc., other people get to tell me. Sometimes, we even get to agree.
But blogging is a slow, ponderous, and work-intensive process for me. Sometimes I just want to chat people up. Instant messaging sometimes works but I am limited by the availability of people I know. Twitter is great: a virtual Genshiken that I hang out in and share things with other fans. Often though, I run the risk of posting spoilers and blowing off a load at the expense of others.
Recently a group of anime fans on twitter (Executive Otaku, vucub_caquix, & Scamp) came up with an idea to watch anime remotely, but simultaneously. The group watching would be connected via Voice Over Internet Protocol services (which eventually had us logging on Skype), and we could watch shows while discussing and reacting as if we were hanging out inside a clubroom. I thought this was one of the greatest ideas ever.
The group has since grown and many people I don’t know very well have participated. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ll tell you that I personally got a lot out of the considerable amount of time I put in there (sometimes it just got crazy and wrecked my schedule). Thanks to the bros I got to meet there, I was able to power through a show I wanted to watch but have not been able to survive: Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. Seriously, the show was so bad I couldn’t imagine watching 50 episodes of it without the support of true bros who’d seen it before and wanted to remember love for.
Even more amazingly, I was able to find a few bros who did watch a couple of episodes of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny with me. While it truly is unreasonable to make anyone watch any more of that atrocity with me, those bros going as far with me as they did gave me the strength to power through the show (with more than a few h4xx0rz I needed to survive; if you want to know what they are, just ask me).
The fruits of our labor:
Watching bad anime can become amazing experiences having a bunch of people around. Though conversely, having a many people talking can suck the awesomeness right out of a good show (unless the show is suited for groups – funny shows perhaps). In some cases watching shows in a franchise with people less experienced with it allows you to give context and perspective about the show (relative to the franchise) you’re watching. I particularly enjoyed doing this watching Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket with Gundam fans who have only seen Alternative Universe shows, as I could talk about the Universal Century as a whole and set up the experience of not only this particular show but for other shows in the continuity.
For an advocate like me, this is priceless. It’s the least I can do for them after they so generously watched all that crap Gundam with me. It made what would’ve been an impossibly unpleasant experience into some of the most enjoyable anime viewings I had in 2010.
So consider this: you can watch anime with others and discuss the shows in real time. You don’t have to join a forum or put up a blog. You can do this in the comfort of your own room. You never have to smell the people you’re watching with, and they never have to smell you. You don’t have to say anything and just listen to the whole thing as if a live podcast. Often you can just use text chat if you want to join the discussion without sharing how your voice sounds like. So wherever you are along the hikkikomori-gregariousaur continuum, there’s a way for you to enjoy these viewings at your own comfort level.
So here is what you need to do:
- Round up a bunch of friends and/or acquaintances over the internet (they maybe friends who went to different schools, who work in a different city; people who you met online, people who are impossible to get together and watch stuff with)
- If you haven’t done so already, get the appropriate hardware (voice chat enabled computer; microphone, webcam – if you’re so inclined, headset – for best results)
- Install, or sign up with your group’s preferred software or service (we sometimes use tinychat, we often use Skype)
- Agree on a show and schedule with your mates.
- Have a great time.
Is this something you’d like to do? You don’t really need further guidance to set up your own group but I and the others who became part of this will answer questions and share our experiences in the comments. How would you describe your ideal set-up for something like this?