Interstellar Flight: Watching Anime with Fellow Fans over the Internet

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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.

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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:

The Need for (Gundam) SEED: Masochism (& Sadism)

and

To Make The Impossible Possible: Enjoying Gundam SEED Destiny

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?

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33 Comments

  1. Posted January 2, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Yay, now I get to have all the fun of saying, “Shut up, I’m trying to watch anime!” when nobody’s even around me in real life.

    Pass.

  2. Dein
    Posted January 2, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Me and my girlfriend are sometimes apart for long period of time, so sometims we watch movies while on skype. It’s always a lot of fun, and a few months back I thought that watching anime shows is also a good option. So far we only managed to completely watch both seasons of code geass together, but I really enjoyed it. I think the idea itsefl is great fun and more people should try it out !

    p.s. First time posting, but I’ve been following your blog for a year or so now. It’s awesome!

  3. Posted January 2, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    hikkikomori-gregariousaur continuum

    Consider this phrase officially appropriated.

    Also, yeah our little experiment that started in November bore some hilarious fruit at times. I think Watching Yosuga no Sora with about six others was my best moment so far.

    • Posted January 2, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      I’m thinking you’re an outlier past the extreme boundary of gregariosaur.

    • Posted January 2, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      I couldn’t even imagine watching that show with other people unless I was at an anime con in the hentai room late at night LOL! Not no mention wasted out of my mind so I wouldn’t be as annoyed with the catcalling XD

      Otherwise though watching anime online with others has always been fun. I’ve been doing it for about 2 years now and yay :D

  4. Posted January 2, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    not like I’m a graphic designer or anything but I can’t get over the comic sans hahahahah

    • Posted January 2, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, and SEED Destiny certainly deserves the treatment… but i-it’s not like I actually enjoy using the font and making it pink! I swear!

  5. Posted January 2, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    About the only drawback I’ve seen to the SCCSAV is needing to watch episodes more than once to really get them without everyone, their input, and their mocking getting in the way, heh. But I guess that’s not much of a price to pay.

    It’s interesting to me that this year I started first by watching shows with my friends in text chat, and then later on this group was formed…I guess people just can’t resist sharing their fun together. ;3
    (And on that note, I have found that it’s much easier to fangirl over text chat.)

    • Posted January 2, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      Definitely necessary for shows you’re actually invested in (especially if you want to blog the shows). I think we should make it clear that this activity is a little (or a lot) less about watching the anime as it is messing around with fools who happen to enjoy anime too.

      I also forgot to mention the live manga reading.

      THIS SHIT IS SOLID GOLD.

      We should definitely do more manga reading over Skype.

  6. Posted January 2, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    want to join! …someday ^_^

  7. Posted January 2, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    I love how a group of people watching something together can make any show or movie, no matter how horrible, into a ‘so bad it’s good’ situation. And it’s a lot of fun. I’d love to join sometime. :)
    I’ll admit I do try to follow your chats on twitter lol. (Not to sound creepy… at all)

    • Posted January 2, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      LOL just get in touch with the organizers and see what happens. I personally just invited myself in LOL

  8. Marigold Ran
    Posted January 2, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    But… but… what if you don’t have any friends?

    • Posted January 2, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

      Make some new ones (you know where we friendly types hang out online), or clone yourself, or do some Alchemy stuff (don’t forget the equivalent exchange thingy).

  9. Belle
    Posted January 2, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    My friends and I have been doing this on and off for a bit. We started with Toradora so I guess we’ve been doing this since 2009. It can be a lot more fun especially with awful, awful shows.

    Honestly, don’t feel obligated to have lots of commenting going on. My friends and I are really comfortable with each other so we don’t mind minutes of silence while we’re watching. Usually we have a short discussion afterwards which usually boils down to me going “KYAAAA!!!” over the OTP. :P

    • Posted January 2, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Hehe, there’s really no one right way to go about this. So much depends too on how you’re willing to go along with the group. Sometimes insufferable haters join the viewing which just aggravates me — but I know what I’m there for and think better of starting shit up.

      It’s important to remember that the group isn’t really responsible for what we get out of the experience.

  10. Posted January 2, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    This is a pretty good idea, and I think it can lead to some good dialog and nuanced opinions. That being said, I think there’s a lot to be gained from watching alone, especially shows that are good and have lots of quick detailed components, Tatami Galaxy comes to mind. There’s so much to miss in those sorts of shows, that constant rewinds and pauses are needed to truly appreciate everything, for me anyway. As fun as it can get, watching with others can quickly devolve into a situation where all everyone is thinking is “I wonder what the next funny thing I can say is…”

    • Posted January 4, 2011 at 6:08 am | Permalink

      Yes. Agree to everything.

      For shows that demand concentration, I do prefer to watch them alone. If with company, I only know 2 or 3 people I’ll watch it with — and all of them in meatspace.

  11. Posted January 2, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Quiet, nuanced, and contemplative shows get ruined, but the worst and most insufferable stuff become comic howlers. There’s an art to selecting the appropriate screening material too.

    • Posted January 4, 2011 at 6:10 am | Permalink

      Perfectly put.

      I’ll leave that art up to the artists lol, I pretty much only drag people into my personal hell… which is why I am passive most of the time.

  12. Posted January 3, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    I used to do this with my gaming team awhile back, though it was more serendipitous than thought out. We used a program called Ventrilo as our means for voice communication in our games, so whenever we weren’t playing we socialized; rather it be sharing YouTube videos, music, or watching the next episode of a mutually liked anime. That being said, I agree with Aftershok. I have a hard enough time watching Glee with my girlfriend who likes to ask questions about everything she sees, while I’m hoping not to miss the quick, mumbled, random, and hilarious comment from Brittney S. Pierce. I just wouldn’t survive a group of people chatting my ear off while I try to grasp the concept of a show in a different language. Mostly my two cents is if this is something you want to do, I think Ventrilo or Teamspeak is the perfect tool to use if you don’t need to see the people you are watching with.

  13. Posted January 3, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    This is just anime club with better members. Shit gets good, good stuff gets… shit. Stuff you like is bashed and stuff you hate is praised. Though if you’re watching Garzey’s Wing, it might be awesome.

    • Posted January 4, 2011 at 6:11 am | Permalink

      They did get to watch it, unfortunately I wasn’t able to join. I’ve no doubt they had a blast.

  14. Tenryu
    Posted January 6, 2011 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    my only comment; don’t watch the OO movie.

    • Posted January 7, 2011 at 4:00 am | Permalink
      • Tenryu
        Posted January 7, 2011 at 6:58 am | Permalink

        my other comment would be that Gundam X was pretty bad too. Use to be the worst gundam series for me before Destiny came along.

        is there going to be a post about the OO movie?

  15. Posted January 7, 2011 at 1:36 am | Permalink

    I used to do this all the time with my friends back in my anime convention days.

    I really should pull the boyfriend and roommate into another marathon.

  16. Posted January 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    I’m feeling lazy, so I’ll just repeat what I just said to a certain blind dinosaur:

    While I certainly have no interest in wasting time watching anything ‘bad’ because ‘it’s so bad it’s good’ [which, for the record, means 'it's so bad it's still bloody bad', sheesh], but seeing as none of my rl mates are into anime, I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity that the group has given me to meet and actually speak to each other about anime (and anything else we fancy talking about), which would be nigh on impossible because we all live so far apart.

    Clearly, if you don’t like watching anything with other people then it’s probably not for you, and I would never group-watch anything ‘terribad’ (see above) or requiring a lot of concentration in order to keep up with intricacies to do with plot etc, but, personally, it’s fun watching light-hearted stuff such as comedies and rom-coms. As with any social networking activity, the experiences vary and it depends on who you may or may not ‘click’ with soon after you all meet for the first time in a large-ish session, but when you do find yourself gelling with people then it’s a great alternative to just commenting on each other’s blogs posts and twitter feeds, for obvious reasons. (Er, for the it’s-fun-to-make-friends type of obvious that is, in case it wasn’t, lol.)

    /end spam. Also, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this ghosty, and, though I’ve only been around for a couple of the group-watches so far, it was nice chatting with you. :)

  17. Posted January 14, 2011 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Yeeaaaaaaaaaaah, I got mixed feelings about this. One part of me enjoys watching anime alone while the other part of me doesn’t mind watching with a friend, and that friend has to be someone i really like and think is a real boss.

    At the most, I watch a few shows with a few of my crew members every now and again.

    That said… this post just gave me an AMAZING Idea for what to do for our podcast. I’m not kidding.

3 Trackbacks

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