An #AnitTwitWatches Discussion
Season 14 of #AniTwitWatches just concluded by time you are seeing this article, but I actually finished RahXephon some time ago closer to the middle of the watch as I lost access to it around then. As a result, I had to binge through the whole thing in more-or-less one sitting past episode 10. Long story short, I don’t recommend doing that, but why don’t I? In today’s article I want to discuss the benefits of a more metered watch like #AniTwitWatches provides, and why some shows really deserve you taking your time with them.
While the primary discussion is on binge watching vs a more traditional “weekly” model, it’s prudent that we go over what RahXephon is as well as pointing at some additional reading material for those of you who might actually want a review or deeper discussion on the show since you aren’t really going to find a ton of that here.
It’s kind of a meme to say that RahXephon is the “kid brother” of Neon Genesis Evangelion, and at a surface level, it’s not hard to see why. There are a lot, and I mean a lot of details that are clearly influenced by Evangelion in this anime. Even if you know nothing about the show, just looking at a few frames of each is enough to make that more than abundantly clear. However, when you peel back that surface layer, you’ll find that they apply almost completely different philosophies when it comes to how their stories are told. Sure, some themes and ideas overlap, but they are both very much their own beasts.
I bring this up for a few reasons. The first being that this kind of surface level analysis isn’t all that interesting, simply watching each show is enough to disprove this kind of thinking, but there is value in the comparison I would like to bring up in our larger discussion. Secondly, it conveys a certain idea as to what RahXephon as a show contains in terms of content, even if the pacing and scope of certain elements differ. Finally, I also wanted to have an excuse to point you at a more extensive look at the series if you want full context as I will assume you have at least some knowledge of the series moving forward (though you can get by just fine with nothing more than what I’ve just outlined above).
As the purpose of the article isn’t to necessarily deep dive this series, it is now that I want to point you to Cameron’s (In Search of Number Nine) blog series on RahXephon where he goes over the entire show over the course of several posts. He’s very passionate about the show and does a great job discussing all of its various ideas and themes. While our takeaways differ in some places, it’s really the definitive article series on this anime and something you should seriously give your time to.
Alright, enough of that, let’s jump into the discussion proper.
The Discussion Proper
It’s no exaggeration to say that there’s been a shift in media consumption in recent years from what I call a “metered” experience to that of a binge model. When I talk about a metered experience I’m referring to more traditional models of consumption, such as weekly tuning in for the next episode of your favorite show or watching 2 episodes from your favorite box set series before bed. With our busier lives and hotly fought for downtime, it’s often easier to engage in a binge session, catching up with everything all at once in a kind of mindless fashion, as if entering some sort of media-driven coma.
Alright, I admit that this is somewhat hyperbolic, but if I analyze just my own viewing habits over the past decade there’s a clear trend away from a more traditional experience to that of a binge model. This also isn’t to say that binging is inherently bad either. Despite the negative connotation surrounding that word, there are times where this can greatly enhance a given experience. However, when it comes to this kind of viewing experience there’s always the risk I do exactly what I described above, burnout and glaze over.
Of course, it’s not like I’ve completely tuned out whatever I’m engaging with, nor is it necessarily true that I’m disinterested in the current media presentation, but rather there is such a thing as over doing it. There’s not a strict pattern per se as to what media triggers this vs what media doesn’t, but the main takeaway here is that binging doesn’t always benefit the media viewing experience.
All of this brings me back to RahXephon. Due to HiDive leaving VRV (the service I was using to watch this anime) prior to the watch’s conclusion, I was forced into a situation where I either didn’t finish the series, not really an option when you are publicly leading a discussion group, or binge the rest of the show in one sitting while I could. Neither is ideal, but it should be obvious with what I went with.
My opinion of RahXephon, as a direct result, is somewhat unfair and unjustly biased because let me tell you, this was a horrible binge experience. I don’t mean to imply that the series is bad, quite the opposite, it’s quite solid, but rather that cramming 20+ episodes into a single day (well two if you count the sleep I took between the final three episodes, I physically could not go on after 3 AM hit) was a clear detriment to the experience.
Like Evangelion, this anime wants you to pay attention and fill in the blanks along the way. It also presents things, at times, in a more abstract manner. While it isn’t to the same extent, you need to actively engage with this show to get the most out of it, a kind of important function when you are discussing it with others and then later taking said discussion to make an article like I am here.
The longer the show went on, the more I found myself engaging in one of the following:
- Legitimately becoming irritated with more minor issues that normally I would have likely just ignored for the most part.
- Checking out in some episodes. I was still paying attention as to not miss anything major, but I know I got on my phone for at least 2 episodes, mostly listening to the dub vs actually watching it. Again, not because I wasn’t engaged either, though I’ll admit that this usually occurred when the show was at its most dull or retreading ideas I had already understood from prior episodes.
- Actively dreading my continuation, even though this was a show I actually did want to watch, and what’s more, was a show I was mostly enjoying.
Obviously, I just needed to take a break and do something else, but the circumstances didn’t allow that. When it comes to binging though, I sometimes think we do the “one more episode” thing, even when we know we’ve hit our limits. I know for a fact I have, and my friends have, so chances are you have too.
Where this becomes a problem in this instance is uniquely specific to content creators who need to really know their stuff when it comes to whatever they are talking about. If a reviewer only half-watched a show, for example, you can almost certainly tell at just a glance. Simply watching for the sake of watching, doesn’t really benefit anyone.
Adding to this idea is the fact that certain shows need time to sit with someone. I’d argue that RahXephon is one of those series, but it’s not because of “heady” or “contemplative” concepts necessarily. No, this can apply to a wide range of media. Take more emotionally heavy series like March Comes in Like a Lion or Anohana, more comforting content such as Bunny Drop, and even the bombastic popcorn shows can benefit from being slowed down and truly savored.
When I say this, I don’t mean a more traditional weekly model. Maybe this means 2-3 episodes at a time, or only on Friday’s with the mates, etc… Binging has its place, and that’s fine, but this experience has really highlighted the benefits of something like how I approach #AniTwitWatches schedule format. It takes a bit of both, allowing for some weeks to be more content heavy, while still having slower weeks where we might only watch a single episode. It paces the experience and lets everyone really think about whatever we are watching at the time.
So with all this said, forgive me for not writing an actual review of RahXephon here and indulging my thoughts on the subject I chose to instead cover. It’s important to take a step back and remember why we are doing what we are doing and ask these kinds of questions. Do I really need to blast through this show? Am I even enjoying it that way? The answer may be yes, but you may find yourself saying no more than you think. What about you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Until next time folks.
A bit of a different article this time around, but I seriously would like to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please consider a donation as well if you enjoy this article, or any of the work I do as it really goes a long way for me. See the buttons below to learn more about that. Thanks again for reading, and I’ll see you for the next one!