Impressions and revisitations: why first impressions are very fickle

Every time there is a new season, bloggers come out with their first impressions of shows that have caught their attention. I often shy away from these kinds of posts because no two individual tastes are alike. Even the most similar individuals have some peculiarity and idiosyncrasy to them. I would rather test the waters of the season myself. I do not, however, live in a vacuum. There are some people whose opinions I trust to recommend a good show.

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Faye Valentine

If one relies on his own gut and instincts, however, it is certain that there will be some overlooked shows. Had we only time, we can watch everything (even the worst anime series), read everything, and do everything. It is truth, however, that our time is limited: there must be a choice; we must choose. These choices reflect our natural attitudes or biases which according to Husserl is inherent to every single human being. We heavily rely on our first impressions and our biases in choosing to either watch or drop a show.

I am reminded of follies these biases cause, however, when I think about my past experiences, one of which made me recently recognize the failures of predilections.

When I was in first year, I qualified for the advanced classes in literature, and our teacher assigned us to read A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man. It would suffice to say that while I was very fond of both the teacher and the subject I absolutely abhorred the book. First, I was uninitiated (then) to the modernist literary technique of streams-of-consciousness; and as a consequence I plodded through the novel with much difficulty. Since I had to read the novel (as I had to write a paper on it), I speedily read through it (and did not understand much, of course).

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Spike Spiegel

I enrolled in another literature subject for our summer classes, and I was lucky to get the same teacher from my freshman literature class. We are very amiable with one another (as often people who share the same passion are), but he once again required me to read the novel. (Most of my classmates had not read it yet, but I had to read it again). This time I was armed with both knowledge and insight, however, and having surpassed The Sound and the Fury five times prepared me to read the novel with much understanding and brio: I knew what Dedalus’s epiphany was, and I was able to admire his vow of silence, exile, and cunning (at the top of the page is the quote which was one of the more beautiful parts of the novel). But while I read quicker and with more understanding as compared to my first venture, I still recognize the difficulty of the streams-of-consciousness technique. Frankly, I would still avoid his later works, especially Finnegans Wake (oh god, the horror).

Grounding this literary experience (reflective of Joyce’s epiphany, indeed) in anime, I once saw Cowboy Bebop when I was twelve years old (it was relatively new at that time) in local television. It was heavily cut and edited. Of course it was exceedingly difficult to understand the story given the non-linear plot of the series. Cowboy Bebop has been one of the few notable series akin to a jigsaw puzzle – the viewer has to arrange the events and make sense out of them from the jumble of the series.

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The one ill-fated love of Spike

What happens when pieces are taken from the jigsaw puzzle? The puzzle simply becomes much harder to understand and comprehend, because one can’t still see the complete picture even after assembling what he has. I believe this was the reason why I despised the series. About two years after that first viewing, my parents connected to the Internet, and thence I was able to download the more popular anime series (among them was Cowboy Bebop). With the complete picture at hand, I had a totally antipodean reaction: from that time on I loved Cowboy Bebop, and although that has waned with the growing number of series I have had been watching it still belongs at the very least in my top three anime of all time. I am a sucker for unrequited love, and the love between Julia and Spike which transcended even death itself was lachrymose to me. Amid a background of violence and squalor, their love expressed itself. To ask oneself if one still lived because his love had died – is that not the essence of tragedy?

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Bang!

Time heals wounds. Wisdom often takes time. When one is bored of all the new shows because they are like rehashes to shows that one has already seen, why not revisit the old ones? Time allows people to gain knowledge, understanding, and insight; these three allow changes in perspectives and beliefs. Openness is often the catalyst for imagination and invention. As long as one is open to the infinite possibilities of this world, anything is possible.

P.S. I took a long time reading Joyce’s simplest novel. I have no plans as yet to read Ulysses or Finnegans Wake. Academics may achieve their intellectual masturbation through his works, but I’m just mostly bored. Maybe I’ll get it someday. And yes, that is the reason why I haven’t posted anything in a while.

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16 Responses to “Impressions and revisitations: why first impressions are very fickle”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Funny how you mention intellectual masturbation when this post isn’t much better off.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I find it quite ironic that you’d mention “intellectual masturbation” when this post is no better off.

  3. Ryan A Says:

    I don’t see anything that can topple Bebop nowadays, for myself, and especially this season. While the Spring looks fun, there are only a couple series which appear with deep potential (Kaiba, Kurenai, Real Drive, Himitsu). I’m not seasonal watching any of these at the moment, but do intend on the experience before year end.

    Everything else is fun of sorts ^^ (I’m a sucker for shoujo, and Spring is dripping in it).

    In terms of impressions, I feel it is difficult to take others’ opinions and it is better to breathe the experience first-hand, but I wonder about trends. Among the blogosphere the taste is widespread, but how should we interpret messages when the widespread opinion is smitten for a series. Kurenai is currently in this position.

    Whatever you give a shot, I hope you find something enjoyable ^^, if not there are always the classics, wooo Cheers

  4. Michael Says:

    Anonymous:

    That’s because I didn’t come and it wasn’t orgiastic. Portrait is hardly jacking off intellectually, and I couldn’t even read those that the academes come over for. You didn’t need to say it twice, though.

    Ryan:

    ‘One must forge in the smithy of his soul the uncreated conscience of our race.’ 😉 While trends help, they don’t specifically apply to one’s interest alone. As long as one is open, however, anything is possible. Absolutely anything.

  5. IKnight Says:

    For many literature academics, it’s not intellectual masturbation. It’s how they put food on the table by justifying their grants. Slightly different.

  6. Michael Says:

    Daniel, I wasn’t meaning to offend you. Seriously, though, works of Joyce have that character. I think he even wrote Finnegans Wake simply to toy with the academe, and he has been successful. He’s like the quintessential troll, even before the arrival of the Internet.

  7. hikago Says:

    Expectation and realization can sometimes be too far apart.

    Anyways, continuing in a similar vein, why not share your thoughts on this season for those who might care to know, or want to experience a different take on a series.

  8. hayase Says:

    I think spring 2008 has the best collection of shows so far since I seriously started following the latest anime series in 2006. I think most shows have been subbed now and I hope the rest get subbed too. It’s just a matter of picking the right ones to watch first. 😉

  9. DrmChsr0 Says:

    tl;dr: Cowboy Bebop rocks, and everyone must watch delicious Cowboy Bebop.

    Good show? Bad show? I consider how good or bad a show is by watching it. If I don’t drop it, it’s watchable.

    Of course, there are some shows I will NOT touch with a 10-foot pole. Junjou Romantica comes to mind. Sure, it’s funny and all, but heck, I’ve read yaoi manga, and it doesn’t go from homophobe to homosexual in under 3 minutes. Nitro+ notwithstanding. They take at least 15 minutes.

  10. Michael Says:

    @hayase

    Ate, I have been patiently downloading all the first episodes of series. And yes, even Junjou Romantica. I will watch them all, but my gleaning will be harsh.

    @Drm

    Not only is Faye Valentine there, the story is such a wonder to piece together and the romance is just as harrowing as a Shakespearean play. As for Junjou Romantica, I think I have to be open-minded and watch its first episode as well. 🙂

    @hikago

    Thanks. I will try to in the following days. Right now, I still have to make a backlog, lol, as I’ve burnt my bridges. 🙂

  11. Berkles Says:

    interesting post, I never thought of connecting cowboy bebop with joyce through a life lesson about time and wisdom.

    also I learned a new word-lachrymose

  12. zzzzzzz Says:

    I have read only one SOC in my lifetime yet I can tell that I like it. I need not devour tons of chocolate bars just to assure myself that I love chocolates.

    Some people opt to amputate a part of them because sometimes there are wounds that time can never heal.

    You are indebted to yourself if you love LOVE that never pays off.

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  16. April Says:

    I do like Justin Bieber but i don't have the fever .. Just In Paper = Justin Bieber .. LOL .. Don't Hate Me guys .. plz :S

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