It’s Time to Say Goodbye
Over the past three years I’ve run a group watch called AniTwitWatches over on Twitter. In that time we watched 20 different shows, had wonderful discussions, and had a pretty good time (well, mostly) along the way too! Today’s article, however, marks the end of this program after season 20, Big Order. I’d like to take this time to explain why we stopped, how Big Order represented the spirit of the program (even if it might seem like a strange note to end on), and whatever related thoughts I may have along the way. This isn’t a typical review, but I will talk about my thoughts on Big Order here so if you want that I’ll section it in a way so you can easily find it. With that, let’s get right to it.
Why is the Program Ending?
Let’s start with the most important thing since you might be wondering. The short version is engagement. After three years of this program it has turned into a fairly regular group with little outside involvement. Obviously, we still got some, but those folks would typically silently vanish part way through and it would eventually result in a rippling effect that impacted everyone. In short, people were kind of losing steam.
Beyond that though, there have been issues with the format that only really became a problem in the last year. Notably the vote system and show selection. This has always been the weakest part of the program, and while there are solutions, they would require me to completely overhaul the program to the point where it simply wouldn’t be what it has been currently. Rather than try and force that through, we are ending the program. Will it come back in a new form? Quite possibly, but time will tell on that one.
Finally, know that this was NOT an easy decision nor one I made unilaterally. I discussed this with Patrons and participants prior to the ending of the program. I greatly value the support and input from everyone, so thank you. While a few folks are naturally sad about things ending, all things eventually must come to an end. At least this one isn’t fading away quietly, I wanted to give it a nice send-off.
I actually have personal reasons for ending the program as well. You may have noticed I’ve slowed down blogging considerably. This has been a combination of lacking the opportunity, but also my losing interest with WordPress as a content creation space. Without sugar coating it, producing content here isn’t rewarding. Does that mean I’ll stop posting here altogether? No, I still want to do that, especially with established content, but expect me to be trying out other stuff.
Recently, I’ve also been working on paid projects. I’ve been actively pursuing graphic design work, some of which you’ve probably already seen if you follow me on Twitter. This has benefits in that I make money (kind of important) and I also really enjoy doing it. Beyond that, I’ve been working with another creator to try and push into other spaces. Keep an eye out if that all sounds interesting.
Lastly, I’d like to take my writing and other similar projects and put that kind of energy into things I see more value in. Things like my games on itch.io, the partially complete novel I’ve written, and a few other secret projects that got put on hold. Having the time I’d spent on ATW back will go a long way, because I put a lot more into the program than I think people realize. This isn’t meant to be a “woe is me” kind of thing, it’s just there is only so much time in the day and I do a LOT of stuff that is time consuming.
What About Other Programs?
Naturally, you may be concerned about other community based programs after reading this. I don’t blame you. Here’s what’s going to stay for the remainder of the year or beyond:
- Thursday AMQ – I would do this even if nobody showed up, this is something for me. I like doing it.
- The JCS – I won’t lie to folks, this is on the way out the door, but until the year is over, it will happen when we have a host. More details on that later. Just know I’m stepping away from it come 2023.
- Discord D&D – If you happen to be in that group, we are still doing that. If you want to join a game I run, unfortunately our current table is full but I appreciate your interest.
- Discord Events – These used to be every Friday, now they will be a bit more random but still on Fridays. Guess you’ll just have to join the Discord for that 😉
- Patron Exclusive Content – I have something interesting happening there, if you are a Patron you already know about it.
If you don’t see a program on this list, it means it is going away or has already gone away. New things may come to replace them, again, if you are more active in my community you may have a decent idea of what’s going on behind the scenes. Still doing lots of stuff though! So please don’t worry about me vanishing into thin air.
Why Big Order was a Great Stopping Point
Here’s your review/discussion of Big Order if you were looking for that. When it came to #AniTwitWatches, I always wanted us to watch shows that didn’t get as much attention, had controversy surrounding them, or were otherwise outside of the community’s “usual” watch radius. While other entries certainly did this, not every one did. That’s why I’m so pleased we watched Big Order for the finale of the program.
Even though this show wasn’t the best, there was a range of opinion and actual discussion present that had started to feel absent from some of the more recent watches. The show itself also gave us something to say without being boring, which is always important. It was fun to see the rollercoaster most people went on when it came to their opinions of Big Order each passing week, and what was perhaps more surprising than anything else, how most of us walked away feeling this brought more to the table than expected.
That last line, that’s what I wanted #AniTwitWatches to be all about. Regardless of show quality, I wanted us to zero in on what a show was, how it succeeded or failed, and what we ultimately could take away from it once we were done. Big Order wasn’t the first time we had achieved this goal but I am glad it was our last because that’s what this series dissevered.
My Thoughts on Big Order
To put it simply, Big Order is a mixed bag. There are aspects of the anime that stand out in a positive way, such as its visual motifs with the flowers, while other areas are quite lacking. Each episode is pretty whacky, but it isn’t like that doesn’t entirely work. Really, the show’s biggest problem is with how it sidelines the main characters. Eiji isn’t really allowed to do much, or rather, he lacks agency in a lot of the scenes he’s a part of aside from a few key episodes. When he does have that agency, the show works pretty well as there’s a clear goal for the characters to work towards and the audience understands what that is.
Unfortunately, that isn’t how a bulk of the show goes and it suffers for that. In exchange it tries to make up for this by either engaging in over-the-top antics or mind game-like interplay with the other characters similar to something like Code Geass. Actually, while I’m on the subject, a lot of the show feels like it wants to be something like Code Geass. I’d be all for that if this show weren’t a mere 10 episodes and I felt it could reasonably set that kind of thing up. However, regardless of whether it was deliberate or not, Big Order is constantly doing thing to compare itself to this series. Throughout the watch several of us thought this, so I don’t think it is a coincidence.
Either way, as a fan of Future Diary, I found Big Order to be somewhat disappointing. This doesn’t get close to hitting the same highs, but it comes with equal, and sometimes worse lows. In spite of all this though, the ending does come together somehow. I’d argue it’s the single best episode of the show, even if it is a little rough around the edges. The visual presentation is unique, thematically the writing gets to where it needed to, and you can almost forget the rocky road to this destination. Almost, but that’s still a feat in and of itself.
Unfortunately, the 10 episodes Big Order got just weren’t quite enough. That’s why I can’t say the show was particularly good or even memorable. As someone who kind of likes messy media like this, just look at my love for shows like The Lost Village or King’s Game, this just didn’t quite land on the right side of ridiculous for me. As a result, I personally don’t hold the show in great regard, it’s like a 4/10 but I could understand if somebody walked up to me and gave it a 6. So do I recommend it? Eh, well it’s not like I don’t recommend it, but I wouldn’t argue for anyone to rush out and see it either. It’s one of those shows that will give you something to chew on should you be willing to seriously engage it, but it’ll also likely have a pretty bland taste with only pockets of flavor here-and-there.
Closing Thoughts on ATW
With 20 different anime under our belt with this program there were some real highlights for me. I’m very proud of the School Days watch and the subsequent article that came out of that. I also enjoyed all the mystery shows we watched, even if I had already seen several of them. Not all of our watches were winners though. The Princess and the Pilot wasn’t exactly memorable, but again, that was never the goal. Taking risks and seeing what a show could offer was part of the deal so I don’t regret a single thing we watched. You can find all 20 seasons of our watch below, I will indicate if a review is a legacy review or not (written prior to our watch). I hope you’ll check them out, and if you are feeling particularly wild, why not try watching them all yourself?
- Tonari no Seki-kun – The very first show we ever watched. Highly recommend it, had a much better time than expected.
- Rampo Kitan – This is a legacy review, but I’m also glad I got people to watch this one. The show is quite interesting, but my main goal was to point people toward Edogawa Rampo, a famous Japanese author. Intrigued? Check it out!
- School Days – See the link above. I already mentioned this was probably my crowning achievement with the program. Surprise yourself, give it a try!
- Girls’ Last Tour – This was a weird one. Most of us enjoyed this one, but it also wasn’t an explosive watch. Still, the show is good and worth checking out.
- Wandering Son – I thought this show was very important for us to watch as a part of this program. I know not everyone liked it, and by no means is this one perfect, but it tackles its ideas in a way I hadn’t seen before. It’s a shame that you can’t find this legally anymore.
- The Perfect Insider – Another mystery show, it’s good. I like mystery shows and will always recommend the good ones where I can.
- The Rolling Girls – A show you probably don’t know about but one of those weird shows that tries a lot of things. Kind of under appreciated, even if the quality is debatable, but personally I like it and would recommend it.
- The Princess and the Pilot – See link above, like I said this is a forgettable film. Unless you are doing something like we did and making this a watch group event, I don’t really think you should bother. It’s not great.
- Another – Legacy review. It’s very old, I probably should have updated it but… Good show though, a lot better than its reputation would have you believe and a solid mystery show too if you want it to be.
- Kanon (2006) – Had good intention with this one. Mileage will vary, but if you care about Key works and the history of what they’ve produced it is a very important transitionary work.
- SSSS.Gridman – Kind of disappointing, but you should watch the sequel for sure!
- From the New World – Another older legacy review. Show has a lot of good stuff in it that I enjoyed, but I also studied a lot of the stuff it showcased in college. For everyone else, you may not care but it is one of those shows with a notable reputation. I’d recommend it regardless.
- Astra Lost in Space – Legacy review. Watch it, good show.
- RahXphon – Just don’t binge it like I had to, you will regret it. Take it slow and easy.
- Fate/Stay Night (2006) – An excuse to start my Fate journey. I’ve written about this franchise a lot, so maybe go check it out!
- UBW Film – Part of the previous entry, but we counted it as a separate season.
- Girls und Panzer – Just really like this one :p
- Terror in Resonance – Legacy review of one of Watanabe’s works held in lesser regard. Not sure it should be, but hey, why not decide for yourself?
- Sound of the Sky – Another Legacy review. Not a show for everyone but I liked it.
- Big Order
I’m not going to rank these, but they all brought something to the table. I hope you had fun with us as we went through all these shows too! Hope to see you for whatever we do next.