Order of Watching Anime

When an anime released so many sequels, prequels, remakes, spin-offs and so on, it can get confusing, not knowing which to watch first. Should we follow the order they are released? Or should we watch in chronological order? What about experimenting in a specified order yourself?

The advantages of watching shows in a chronological order is obvious, so that the story flows better. If the sequel’s plots are heavily connected to the prequel, then that makes it more so the reason to watch it in proper chronological order. Even if the stories are not connected much, there also might be slight references to previous prequels, and not having the knowledge to those references loses some level of fun.

Obviously, some franchise specially release prequels to their works years after their success, and one main reason is for viewers to further understand their works. This is certainly the case for Fate/Zero. Story-wise, Fate/Zero is set just before Fate/Stay Night, however, it is better to watch Fate/Stay Night first before watching Fate/Zero as it exposes so much plot revelations and twists which Fate/Stay Night couldn’t cover, so first-timers who are newly exposed to the Fate universe would no doubt be subtly perplexed.

Ultimately though, whether or not the anime is being shown in chronological or non-chronological order does not really matter. What matters the most is your own personal preferences, and to me, what I prefer best is watching anime according to the time they are released, be it chronological or not. One main reason is the difference of quality, enjoyment and production values. I will use Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night again as examples. Comparing the two, Fate/Zero is no doubt innately better, be it visuals, story, characters.. anything. If one watches Fate/Zero first, he will be easily be let down, which completely downgrades one’s enjoyment and appreciation of the Fate universe. So at that end, one should just watch Fate/Stay Night, Unlimited Blade Works and finally Fate/Zero, following the order they were released.

Ghost in the Shell is another franchise I had had experiences with. I watched almost every GitS releases consecutively by this year, which was pretty late as there were already so many different series released by then when I checked in MAL. One is a sequel, another is a prequel, and some are retellings, etc.. I ended up watching the whole thing in my own chronological order and I feel that the series is overshadowed by the more better movies in my opinion. The order that I watched in is GitS (1995), GitS Innocence, GitS: SAC, GitS: SAC 2nd gig and GitS: Solid State Society. In this order, the main problem is between GitS Innocence and GitS: SAC (first season).

For those uninformed, GitS: SAC is released on Oct 1 2002 while the Innocence movie is released on Mar 6 2004. Looking at the order, I should be watching Innocence AFTER GitS: SAC but I reverted it. By doing this, I actually gained less knowledge prior to the movie. For example, I had no idea Batou was so infatuated with dogs, since the first movie didn’t show any scenes of Batou with them. It’s only a fun little knowledge, yet it degrades one’s enjoyment by so much. There’s also the production values to consider aforementioned. For a 2004 movie, the Innocence movie’s quality are tantamount to newer anime films, which is saying a lot. By watching that first, and watching the TV series after that, the disappointment easily downgrades viewer’s expectations and enjoyment.

On a slightly unrelated note, ones who play Devil May Cry will immediately take notice of the series’s awkward order. The stories goes in a chronological order of 3-1-4-2, and players like me, who played DMC3 first will be instantly disappointed at DMC1’s less fluid battle gameplays. So this theory of “playing things accordingly to release dates” could actually be applied to video games as well.

Unexpectedly, the order of watching anime is much more crucial then one thinks. Have you watched an anime which you feel you watched in the wrong order? Are you the type who watched the first season of Haruhi in chronological order? Are you the type who watched Fate/Zero without watching Fate/Stay Night first? Your opinions are always most welcomed.

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29 thoughts on “Order of Watching Anime

  1. I’d say it just depends on the series…I’d say Haruhi is a show better watched in chronological order rather than release just because it’s pretty confusing otherwise. For FSN and F/Z, I’d say it doesn’t really matter…I could see reasons for watching either one first. If you take the example of Kara no Kyoukai, which is a chronological mess, it’s actually better to watch in order of release because the show is meant to jump forward and backward in time like that. As for video games, though, I’d argue that it’s always best to play them in order of release for that gameplay reason you mentioned.

    • I did both, and the second time is when I marathoned it together with the second season. I dunno why but I still prefer the original order as it suits the anime’s randomness. There are certainly pros and cons to watching F/Z and F/SN in either order, but again, best to just rely on their release dates. Too bad they haven’t animate Heaven’s Feel yet, would had been great if they adapted that first before doing F/Z.

      Ahh Kara no Kyoukai, that completely passed through my mind. And yea I’d agree so too, KnK is also better to just watch it accordingly to release. Indeed at games too, and I’m actually glad sometimes I actually tried to finish everything from the first release. When I was playing Assassin Creed, there were already 4 releases for me to finish (AC, AC: Bloodlines, AC II and AC: Brotherhood) and I was one way or the other managed to finish everything in order of release.

  2. I prefer to watch anime in chronological order. If I hadn’t watch Fate/Stay Night before Fate/Zero, I wouldn’t watch it until I finish Fate/Zero. It makes it easier to understand and even to enjoy a series when it’s told in chronological order.

    It may be due to my poor memory, but I find it harder to grasp what’s going on in Hidamari Sketch (which also have disordered episodes like Haruhi) at first so I re-watch the series in chronological order. Then there’s this smooth storytelling that makes it easier for me to understand and remember what’s going on. I guess my brain works in a very sequential manner.

    • I see, the transition from F/Z’s ending to F/SN is certainly good, however the content in them is just mad.

      Haven’t watch Hidamari Sketch yet so I’m not sure, but I guess it’s somewhat like Haruhi in terms of episode progressions? Should check it out one of these days :D

  3. Reblogged this on Just my guilty pleasure reblog. and commented:
    This post is spot-on. There have been times whether I needed to make the decision to watch a prequel or sequel first, but I guess it depends on my current understanding of the series and some strong recommendations from people. I tend to be the guy that likes to follow the majority, but I also like to go against such principles when I can’t firmly grasp the situation of what I’m watching. I don’t even know if I’m making any sense..

    • I see, there are a few time when I just followed the whims of the majority, at times it work, at times it doesn’t. As I’m very busy this year, I tried to force myself like everyone else and watch multiple weekly anime some time ago, and as it turns out, I can’t seem to enjoy the anime I watched since this is not my usual style (I’m of the “wait-for-a-lot-of-eps-and-marathon-the-hell-out-of-everything type). For me, I just need to actually try things out, if it works it’s fine, and if it doesn’t, then I should avoid it as much as possible. However, I think just one or two anime is fine.. maybe I should pick just one for this season.

      • I agree with you. That tends to be my mindset as well every season. Most of the times, I follow one or two new anime whenever it’s airing but more than that and I’m out. Regardless of the situation, if I don’t like it, I can’t continue. I guess the only real problem with waiting out until a series finishes is the discussion, but I think marathoning it gains more satisfaction and enjoyment out of it. I am part of the latter.

        • Likewise, the only times I could actually discuss is when I watch an anime earlier then orginally planned (say around 9 or 10 eps before the series end). Last minute discussions ftw. Yep, marathoning is good, besides watching weekly is tough to organize my time. I don’t wanna watch too many weekly in one go as it would mess up all the stories I absorb, but if I just watch one or two, I will be left with too much time on my hands.. unless I go fap in the streets but that’s a different story.

  4. I totally see the logic behind seeing things in the order which they were released, but when I see a sequel/prequel that interests me in a new season and people tell me I don’t need prior knowledge of the first season to understand, I don’t mind watching it. If I like it enough, that’s when I’ll go back and watch the previous seasons and such. I’m just impatient I guess. I still have to get around to watching Fate/Stay Night, but you think I might be a bit disappointed…I hope that’s not the case for me!

    • Hmm, I think even if people tell me I don’t need prior knowledge, I will still stand by my belief and watch the whole thing from the beginning. If you know about Da Capo, there are so many seasons of it. I asked my friend which one I should watch first and he said the same thing you said, “no need prior knowledge” and can just start ahead at the second series (the one with new characters). In the end, I just watch everything from the very oldest episode, lol.. I rememebered in the second series, the new characters made references and were talking about the old characters in the previous series, which was kinda fun since I already seen the old characters.

      Once you had done so and watched F/SN, I would love to hear about what you feel about all these^^

  5. This was one of the issues with watching shows at an anime club, where they tended to assume you saw the first season even if you haven’t. Off the top of my head, I saw Railgun before Index, the seventh Hellsing OVA first, and the second Darker than Black season first. It can be very confusing and there’s a lot you end up missing, though if what I’ve read is true, this actually improved my reaction to Darker Than Black 2.

    • Oh Railgun and Index. I remembered fangasming at Misaka Mikoto the moment I saw her at Index, and was at joy when I see a spin-off focusing on her. I’m not sure if I would feel the same watching Railgun straightaway without proper introduction and attachment to Misaka. And I’m not sure what I would do skipping out on so many things at Hellsing and DTB, especially 6 episodes of Hellsing OVA! That’s absurd.

  6. In my earlier years of watching anime I accidently took the second season instead of the first one quite often. I felt so stupid when I noticed my mistake halfways :D

    watching shows in a different order might be a funny experience when you already know and watched the whole anime, once I watched the first Haruhi season in chronological order, I can’t say that it was better that way, but it was interesting that way. When you watch first seasons after the second as kind of prequel, it can bring you unexpected entertainment as well, but it depends on the anime in the first place.

    It was a good experience to watch FSN after the first season of Fate Zero. It was cool how I could combine infos from both shows.Overall I think it’s better to watch the shows how it is supposed to be, at least in the first round of watching.

    • I certainly experienced some of those mistakes myself D; Though now with the internet, I make exceptionally sure to get information on what am I watching, and how many seasons are there, etc..

      It would provide a new insight for sure, though sometimes I’m a bit too lazy to rewatch. When watching Haruhi in order, it doesn’t feel randomize but the ending doesn’t feel conclusive, and vice versa once watching in original release. Indeed, indeed.

      I see. Though for me, I don’t think I would enjoy it. I would prefer the things I watch to conclude one way or the other, before watching the prequel/sequel. What’s worse, F/Z of S1 just ends midway in battle, lol.

  7. The Fate franchise is done the same way as the Star wars.
    And both the latest ones which is normally the first part is always better than the latter. I dont mind to be honest but maybe since its most common to have it in chronological im used to it.

    oh the thing is about the inverse is that now I wish that Fate/Stay would be re done by ufotable ^^

    • You mean as in Fate/Zero right? And indeed, it is better then F/SN, though I could think up a few medias where the second part is better then their first.

      That could be possible, since there are so many anime remakes, I could certainly see a F/SN remake soon! :D But I would love to see a Heaven’s Feel adaption first T_T

  8. I skip fillers that bore me and research online as to what the chronological order is, such as Haruhi Suzumiya and Touka Gettan. The only time I’ll watch a show out of order is when the plot is irrelevant, like Zetsubou-sensei or Joshiraku.

    • That’s certainly one way. Though I did both for Haruhi, watching by order of release and by chronological order. It allows me to feel the difference. Please sue me as I haven’t watch the rest of the anime you mentioned.

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  10. I agree with you, the order that it’s released should be the order that it’s viewed. The reason is because the following series were created with the knowledge that a sequel or prequel has already been seen by most viewers. The writers would then make the next series flow with the previous one and try to improve on it.

  11. At one time I remember a lot of discussions where people where arguing in what order to watch Kara no Kyoukai ~Garden of Sinners~ 7 movies. I waited for all of them to become available and then watched them in their release order. It might be confusing to some, not making sense, but if you just embrace it for what it is, the tension builds up nicely finally leading to a profound realization at the point of story convergence. I must say the effect would not be that strong if you are just following a time-line.
    Relating to that I also have a grudge against prequels as they void the impact you get from the closure, that feeling of finality that if executed right leaves you in a state of blissful pseudo-emotional catharsis (or maybe that’s just me). Same goes for retrospection if executed poorly, where knowing where things end up eventually is like having a big spoiler with no warning sign.
    In the end, I just hope companies start paying writers to create new stories, instead of recycling franchises/established venues into endless prequel/sequel/spin-off material.

    • Indeed, Kara no Kyoukai is a textbook example of why one should watch anime in an order by release. The scene between Shiki and Kokuto feels much more conclusive towards the end when watched in this manner.

      I’m fine with prequels if done right. There are a number of prequels which focus on characters, especially important but unfocused key characters in the main series. Fate/Zero did exactly did, and highlighted Kiritsugu, a seemingly crucial character in Fate/Stay Night but was left unnoticed. The overbearingly focus on Kiritsugu in Fate/Zero is actually a fine choice in that regard. There are also some sequel/prequel which could pretty much be treated as alternative timelines, like Da Capo. Spoilers pretty much aren’t a problem with those.

      That would had to depend on the studio themselves, whether or not they are coming with an original story, or adapting from an existing light novel or visual novel.

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