Aria recently raised their thoughts about the term of ‘middling’ anime, or more accurately “Those Anime Left Behind“. I left my initial comment there but realized I had more thoughts I didn’t want to burden Aria with them their comments, so now we’re here! If you’re like me, native English speaker but not completely sure of what ‘middling’ means, I’ve gone ahead and added the definition here:
“moderate or average in size, amount, or rank.”
I agree with Aria’s thoughts, almost entirely actually. So this is more an elaboration… extended play on my thoughts inspired by their original post. Anyway, let’s continue.
Honestly ‘middling’ anime, tends to be passed over in the grand scheme of things. It has it’s audience and moment, but not exceptional enough to really be talked about beyond that. This is only compounded by how widely anime, new and old titles alike, are now available. On top of it, social media allows the exchange of upcoming or ‘hype’ titles – there’s a metric fuckton of anime out there to watch.
It’s also damn near impossible to watch a quarter of it, let alone ‘all’ of it. I’m sure there’s one or two people lucky enough to have time on their hands to do it. Or at least try.
So that’s where the filtering comes in. Personally for me, fantasy and isekai series are usually a no. It’s not my speed, so I don’t bother…. until I hear something about it that would make me want to investigate it. That something usually being a review, be it first first impression, mid-series commentary, or after the whole season has wrapped from someone who made the time to watch it, and then made time to give their thoughts on a platform that reached me. These reviews are largely subjective too, typically falling into sparkling praise category, lukewarm, or negative ‘this-series-did-everything-wrong’. I’m honestly more inclined to comment and engage with a sparking praise or negative review then a lukewarm review on top of it!
So the cycle seems to continue, a middling anime caters to a middling audience, receives a general middling review or two and gets swept away by the avalanche of other anime. Honestly, I feel sort of bad for these anime series when I think about them this way. By no means are these series bad; they have their audience, their moment, the production team did their best with what they had and overall are solid productions that just for whatever reason don’t have the spark to make them truly exceptional. And luckily(?) don’t have something to drag them into the realms of being awful.
In mulling this over, I’ve almost come to the conclusion it might be worth it, in this day and age for a studio to make a terrible anime over an middling one, that is if the majority of factors for the anime are the same across the board. It might have a bigger pay off for someone to make a sub-par product with the same budget because at least more eyes would be on it.
I can think of the past year, that Ex-Arm got a ton of coverage, for how bad it was. It was bad for a variety reasons, and there were many factors as to why Ex-Arm ended up being awful. At the same time because it was so bad, there were so many people talking about it. Viewers were intentionally seeking it out, due to this. I’d even argue that for some, Ex-Arm is going to be a point of reference of ‘this anime was bad, but not Ex-Arm levels of bad’. The category of anime you watch to remind yourself why your favorite anime are so superior. I can’t say I can replicate that affect with a middling anime.
Even in terms of watching a middling anime, and reviewing it can be troublesome. It’s middling; you won’t heap tons of praise on it because there’s nothing exceptional to praise, but you have no reason to drag it either. There’s no real spark to the writing process, and the result lacks it too… The end the result is the same, the review is lukewarm, the reception is typically lukewarm… and the cycle continues.
Aria then poses the all important question of “So, how should one increase the presence of the so-called “middling” anime? “. And honestly… I don’t think there’s really a way to do so. At least not without irritating someone along the way. Aria mentioned that the titling of the listicle, as well as the term ‘underrated’ is what got a response out of them. That’s usually my response too, as well as disagreeing with the contents but not enough to usually comment.
Without someone intentionally seeking out a review of a specific series, seeing a recommendation of ‘like this, then watch this’, or click-bait… I’m at a loss on how to raise awareness for the perfectly average anime. Honestly seeing a blog title with “Top Ten Completely Middling Anime to Chill and Watch” would make a good start because it sounds like click-bait, but wouldn’t be… probably… Not to mention it would probably generate a ton of comments and debate as inevitably someone would get pissed their absolutely favorite anime was deemed ‘middling’, by some stranger on the internet.
I’m not entirely sure where I was going with this one. I obviously had thoughts, and did my best to have them form into a logical order although that’s probably very debatable. I’m curious to see other’s thoughts on middling anime – be it here, or better yet on Aria’s post.
Let’s get controversial; name your favorite middling, completely average anime, in the comments below. A few of my favorite middling anime to recommend are: Houkago Teibou Nisshi, Koisuru Asteroid, Kabuki-bu!, and Aishiteruze Baby. With that, I’ll see you next post!