Negative Mood and Its Effect on Watching Anime

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There are a lot of factors that effect our enjoyment in watching anime, be it internal factors like the appeal of the characters or the settings of the anime world, to external factors like the time and place in which we watch them, quality of the video and so on. One of the most important external factors is our current mental state, and how it effect our enjoyment of anime.

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A human is capable of vast emotions, and since humans are such emotional creatures, it gets awkward, or perhaps even irritating when we are doing something in a contrasting mood. Attending courses while immensely ill, going on a vacation with lots of unsettled problems at home or work and so on. It will be alright if one had perfect mood when doing something, but as a person grows older, so does his responsibilities – which means being free of obligations when doing something is next to impossible. So, how do we fit anime in? Likewise, it can’t be helped that sometimes, the experience of watching our favorite anime can be a little awkward or unsettling due to one’s current mood, and learning to cope with that is essential.

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Obviously, I myself tend to be okay with any types of anime whenever I’m feeling fine without stress or pressure. Since my mental state is okay, it is more open to anything. When I’m feeling depressed however, my choices of anime is a bit complicated. At times, I choose a lighter anime to soothe my mind, body and spirit: Aria, K-ON and Natsume Yuujinchou for examples, are all great anime for their thematic relaxation and gentleness. Some of them may be a bit awkward to watch due to their exaggeration of happiness, but that exaggeration is just what I need at the time.

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However, there are also times of depression where I think the complete opposite. At times, I can’t relax properly, as my mind keeps wandering back to the future tasks and obligations I need to commit myself to. At such times, I embrace the darkness. Oddly fitting with my dark, depressing feelings, I finished anime like Elfen Lied, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and more recently, Hellsing Ultimate. Not limited to anime however, I never forget to impose myself on other violent media, catching up with all 300+ chapters of Berserk (the anime is less gore from what I can see), and some time later I also finished one of the most disturbing visual novel of all, Saya no Uta. Quite recently, I also finished Kara no Shoujo in a similar fashion.

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What goes into my mind as I watch anime? As you can see from the above, I go for the two very different sides of extremes, it is either I went for the more lighter, yet positive and meaningful anime – extreme optimism, or to the heavier and darker anime – utmost pessimism. However, both sides are a different kind of escapism. Watching light and peaceful anime awarded me an obvious route of escape for all the problems of real life and when watching dark anime, it also counts as an escapism of sort in a way that I can regard the dark world in the anime as a reflection of my real life societal enemy, and seeing the characters fighting against such a world gave me strength.

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How does this relate to our overall enjoyment of anime? I feel it is important to know how to cope with one’s negative emotion, and to choose anime that you feel most comfortable with at one’s current mental state. Everyone will have their own ways of dealing with them however. Do you still watch anime when on a negative mood? Or do you prefer waiting for a better time?

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This entry was posted by Kai.

40 thoughts on “Negative Mood and Its Effect on Watching Anime

  1. Emotional anime help to let emotions go that you would otherwise bottle up inside. I see anime with topics that are emotionally difficult to cope with as a way to relieve the soul. Like AnoHana or Angel Beats did, showing topics that are hurtful, but displaying them for the public. Creating some sort of relieve of negative emotions.
    Whereas anime such as K-ON!, try to give the ordinary a more positive touch. Emphasizing that the normal, is fun and special too.

    • Interesting you mentioned Angel Beats! – I happened across that a few years ago while going through a VERY difficult period involving my father and extended family, and specifically because it recalled a time in my life when I was an older teen (oh, so long ago) that was very painful and I realized I had suppressed most of it (with some help from my brother and family acquaintances) I’m sure it had a much more significant impact on me than had I watched it, say, before said incident with my father occurred a few years ago.

      • Most of Key’s anime specialized in familial drama after all, I don’t experience any major problems with my family (fortunately), but it’s good that Key’s masterful familial works can relate to situations like yours^^ It seems more of Clannad then Angel Beats though, since one of the prominent plot element there is the concept of fatherhood.

    • Also, having a bittersweet conclusion in the end, tying up all the drama helps too, which is pretty much the case in both Angel Beats and AnoHana. Nice perspective you have anyhow, but both the anime’s not dark enough for me though ;p K-ON’s indeed an ideal anime to watch when relaxation is needed.

  2. Hmmm, like I said in an earlier post, me and anime met as I was down, bored, unsatisfied with myself and hated school. It really helped me to watch these, funny that I started with NGE and ecchi comedy afterwards XD

    Now I just watch anime for having a good night with great entertainment.

    It doesn’t matter in which mood I am, I can completely relax in this shows. It actually depends only on my biorythim, When Im tired I don’t watch anime, cause reading subs requires some kind of concentration ^^
    Well, when Im sad I won’t have the need for heavy drama, but aside from that I watch what is available at the moment.

    “stop making our TV blue” Haha, thats great, Gintama must be awesome ;D

    • I think it’s actually watch any anime without any complicated feelings, I was able to do that back then too, I could watch anime at any time and it won’t effect my enjoyment. But now, I need to think of the perfect time and place, and condition, choice of anime and a lot of other things to be considered before actually watching. My increased amount of obligations, jobs and tasks might be the cause of it, or perhaps it might be because back then, I barely know about anime so I was able to enjoy it regardless. In any case, it’s complicated :p

      I’m fine with reading subs at any time, I even read light novels when I’m tired. Yea, when I’m sad, I go for anime with elements of insanity.

      And yes Gintama is awesome. Go watch it! (if you haven’t). So many quotes I can use from them :D

  3. I’d be too angry to even think about playing a game or watch a show if I were in a bad mood. Thankfully my gasket has yet to blow high enough to ignore my hobbies.

  4. I can’t say i’ve experienced any extreme moods since i’ve started watching anime more regularly, but I do understand what you’re getting at. Sometimes you just feel like something light and not so serious, though I can’t say i’ve noticed a link to my overall mood.
    The thing I have noticed is that when I am sick or stressed I find it harder to concentrate on what I need to do and instead want more of all the things I enjoy (be it anime, games or whatever). I think i’ve mentioned before that I can’t normally marathon anime, but that changes when i’m sick, almost as if my anime tolerance improves XD Perhaps my changes are just more generalized than those that you have described. (I wonder what that says about my emotional sensitivity >.>)

    • It will come for you soon, hopefully, or not lol ;p Indeed, there are dozens of time where you just feel like relaxing and watch a few moe girls having fun and drinking tea, instead of thinking of complicated stuffs about the newest Evangelion, or grinding obsessively in some RPG game, or reading walls of text in a VN. Actually, I can’t grasp myself that well too, but I noticed I tend to go to two extremes side, either to the most lightest or to the darkest.

      I’m not sure either but I’m usually able to marathon better when I’m sick too. In my case, it’s more of boredom. I’m sick, got a sick leave, ate medicines and had woken up from a good sleep. After that, I got nothing else to do but just anime, lol.

  5. Usually when I’m in a bad mood, I don’t watch anime xD But I don’t remember when the last time I was in a bad mood so I can’t really comment. Although in terms of time restraints due to part time work and university. I’ve had to drop a lot of shows that was building up in my backlog (I HATE BACKLOGS! D:). So not being able to watch as much as I’d like is disappointing :(

    K-On is definitely one of those that I might rewatch when I have a lot of spare time and just want to relax to~ But yeah… not sure actually. Probably either not watch any anime since I need to do my assignments and etc or watch really fluffy and funny series to lift up my mood(?)

    I know I can’t play games when I’m not in a right mindset. I’ll just rage and get worse! Same thing for visual novels. If I’m playing it while in a bad mood or I don’t have the time, I’d be like “I’m not interested in this anymore…” and it’s happened to Rewrite sadly :\ Holidays is coming up soon so hopefully I’ll find the motivation to continue playing it ^^

    • That’s a good thing :D Time restraints and backlogs are always a challenge indeed. I don’t think it particularly effects mood, though, disappointing, indeed. Ironically, when I was pretty down, I was able to complete some anime or games faster in my backlog I originally planned for later, mostly the dark ones.

      I’m sure there are a lot of other relaxing shows out there aside from K-ON, though watching the four Light Music Club members messing around is always nice to see ;p I’m stressed out with piles of obligations and tasks too but even if I can’t fit in anime in my hectic schedule, I do managed to fit in some dark manga as well. Manga’s faster and more easier to go through after all.

      Ahh I see, best to stop then if you think the enjoyment’s fading. Rewrite’s a good visual novel too so it will be sad if you weren’t able to get the most out of it ^^” I do find video games to be great stress relievers – worrying about levels, skills, boss strategies etc.. does actually takes my mind off things.

  6. It depends for me. I’ve had times where my mood (coupled with being tired from uni) didn’t allow me to focus enough through an episode that the dialogue flew over my head. I found that it was probably impossible for me to watch “heavy” shows like Mushi-shi or Spice & Wolf without missing a beat.

    If I’m just a tad bit sad though, I can still watch anime to get at least a good laugh out of it :D

    • Ahh this reminds me of a certain dillema I only experienced recently. Instead of the details flying over my head, I actually dozed off, literally. Last time when I watch anime, no matter how boring it was, I won’t doze off. But now, I tend to do that a lot, and had to force myself to rewatch certain parts I missed out after I woken up from my “nap”. Of cause, it’s not because the anime is bad, as I experienced this with almost any anime, I think it maybe perhaps I’m just too tired.

  7. You make a good point. I find myself drawn to certain shows depending on my mood. Sometimes when I am down I like to watch “junk food” anime like harems or comedies. I watch anime pretty late at night, so it is difficult to watch a deep story.

    • Ahh I see, that is indeed a fine choice when stressed out. When I’m too tired to just think of anything, I tend to watch those too.

  8. On the spot Kai.

    there would be time when watching your favorite anime feels different from the time when you watched the last episode.

    thanks for posting. . I learned about this post. . My Emotion strains really do have an effect on my mood when watching anime. .

    Looking forward to your next post. . .

  9. I stick with my weekly anime schedule no matter how I feel so I’m not sure how my emotions affect my viewing habits. For the most part, series that I enjoy usually maintain a good reputation in my mind no matter how I’m feeling throughout it.

    • I see. I’m a marathoner myself so I’m not sure how weekly anime viewer would go about it, but I guess they have the advantage of watching anime in brief moments, whatever mood they are in at the moment. Also good that the difference in emotions doesn’t really effect your anime viewing.

  10. In general, mood isn’t much of an issue, but I do find there are certain shows I avoid when I’m at an extreme. Actually, I do have a list of about 10 or so shows I may pull up to rewatch when I am depressed or over stressed. These shows are, for me, like muscle relaxers, pain killers, stress relievers and mood enhancers all in one. Better and cheaper than smoking a join, and without the next morning hangovers to much alcohol can cause :)

    • Indeed. Likewise, I may have a few anime I may need to rewatch too due to watching the wrong ones when I’m depressed or pressured.

      “These shows are, for me, like muscle relaxers, pain killers, stress relievers and mood enhancers all in one. Better and cheaper than smoking a join, and without the next morning hangovers to much alcohol can cause :)”

      Awesome! :D

  11. Interesting thoughts… but in general, I watch mostly happy stuff as it calms me down from a stressful days of college. I have wrote about Iyashikei, which is basically a healing series that have an escapist element and everything looks so happy that you forget the pains of real life…

    On the other hand, if you watch something depressing like Madoka or something when one is depressed, well, it’s not a good idea… But in general, I probably hold off something with a serious story until later and just watch something happy.

    • I see. Sometimes it’s good to relax, true, but sometimes I find I also can’t “relax in peace”, and there goes with my dark anime and games ;p Ohh that term, I do like my frequent doses of Aria from time to time.

      That’s a pretty standard way of watching anime, indeed. And well, I couldn’t manage to wait that long, currently, most of my stresses are originated long-term tasks and obligations, and I mean extremely long-term at that, almost reaching half a year at the moment. I can’t wait for that long to watch the anime I want, and eventually, I found out I developed this habit.

  12. I tend to pick anime with lighter mood sort of setting, particularly slice of life. My reason is, well, to relax, unwind, which is pretty much the main reason to have a hobby, I’d think no?

    My mental state doesn’t affect what type of anime I choose though since I’ll watch anything that I consider good. That being said, sometimes my anime seasonal watch list can be a mix of different emotions, so to speak. In a way, I’m glad my current workload doesn’t affect my anime watching enjoyment. I don’t let my work/personal troubles bother my time with my hobbies. It does, however, affect the amount of time I get to watch anime…

    • I do need some dark elements of anime with certain characters fighting their way through it with heightens my fighting spirits. (Berserk was great btw) How you feel strength through powerful rock songs is similar, now that when I think about it, I tend to always pick rock songs to listen to whenever I’m at my office and could listen to a few tracks.

      And not letting work or anything effect your anime-watching is always a good thing, I found out that I developed this habit recently, due to stresses. Not sure if it’s a good thing, but it does force me to watch anime or read manga from things I never thought of checking out (for example, again, Berserk).

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  14. Pretty interesting…I’ve never focused on my emotions when watching anime.. To be honest, I think most of the anime I watch follow the same themes. They usually have happy or carefree plots with some action, or following an underdog type character. (weak in the beginning, but later rises up)

    I’ve also watched a few others, thanks to Funimation on TV. Guess those don’t really count since I watched whatever was on.

    I just don’t let my mood affect what I do I guess. I’ve never been a fan of darker stuff, but there’s been a few series I’ve liked with a darker theme or ending. (School Days for example) As long as I like it, I’ll watch it!

    • Seems like a majority of romance comedy and shounen stories, the former is indeed good to watch during relaxation.

      Not letting your mood effects you is definitely a good one. I would like to watch School Days during my “down” days too, but it seems only the ending is where the darkest occurs. I’m afraid the build-up to there may be a bit slow as sometimes I need those dark elements as soon as possible. Then again, I’m not sure since I haven’t watch it, nor played the visual novel.

  15. Hm. BTW, I notice when you’re depressed/dark you mention what I’d describe as mostly violent anime, with dark overtones. Such anime are often revenge/hidden power wish fulfillment and are actually quite empowering. Well, aside from Higurashi, that shit’s just whack ;)

    When I feel sad/stressed I have no problem delving into happy anime, or comedies, etc. They may not cheer me up, but they are time when I do not have to think and dwell on my depression, which is the worst thing to do while depressed.

    If I’m sad, watching sad anime can be really bad for me. Even if I’m not depressed, due to my somewhat morose tendencies then such an anime can fling me from a balanced state of mind to a depressed state of mind. This recently happened to me with Welcome to the NHK – where I was slightly less than happy and it really made me feel bad. And this is the difference, I actually watch anime in order to feel sadness, those poignant moments of extreme emotion. Depression isn’t made up of such moments, but is an endless slope of nothingness and generally low mood – Welcome to the NHK, especially in its beginning, is such a show, not one full of sad moments.
    It didn’t do me well to watch it, especially when I did.

    Nitpick time: “its” in the title. Also, media is the plural form of medium, so “Medias” is wrong.

    • And because they are so empowering, they are sorts of eacapism in itself, an escapism different from the normal ones through watching lighter “healing'” anime. And Higurashi is awesone. Braaaacee the iinnsaaniity.

      Anime with a happy atmosphere is definitely good to watch when in stressed out, and is usually the most standard mindset of most – the most normal of escapism by tipping the opposite scale, when sad, watch lighter, funnier anime to balance it out, and as a result, the stress on any obligations will slowly fade away on the corner of one’s mind.

      I also had similar experience with Welcome to the NHK. I think the problem here is that the anime is depressing and at the same time, extremely realstic – what the characters are facing are what us real life people might face at any time. Back then, my basis in watching anime is different from now. I didn’t even want to think about if I could relate to the characters, I didn’t feel any inspirations, and I watch anime purely just for escapism and simple entertainment. In that case, realistic anime was definitely a no-no. What’s worse was that when I was watching Welcome to the NHK, I was having similar issues with what the characters are facing, and seeing such realistic execution in a medium where I want my escapisms from, made me more depressed then usual.

      And edited, professor.

      • I don’t like the term “escapism” in this regard. We are aware it’s not reality, we’re aware of what reality is, we just want a short break from it. There is no muddling of realities, there are no serious thoughts of “How I wish I could live in anime-world instead of the real-world!” – BTW, The World God Only Knows makes this point really well.

        I can also see how the mindset you come to an anime with also influences what you take away from it, I mean, you can see it with Welcome to the NHK. I’m thinking though in terms of “connecting to characters” – I wanted to say that relating and connecting to characters is a major axis of all characters and thus it happens in all shows regardless of your intentions, or you can’t even understand the characters – but definitely, should you come to a show with the intent of relating emotionally to characters, then the relation would be greatly amplified if there, and if not would lead to a sense of disappointment with a show that couldn’t deliver.

        • @Guy: I totally get what you mean. The combination of teenage angst (as a loner) and reading Welcome to the NHK! my mental health totally deteriorated; I was seriously depressed (as in the I feel numb and robotic and lacking in emotions, not just sad) for about a year and a half. I’m over it now, which is great. I have to say that Welcome to the NHK! was an amazing read, but it certainly wasn’t good for my health. The whole experience left me wiser, but it took me a while to regather my concentration, which had deteriorated during my low mood.

          • I have to say guys, stay positive! And it’s okay to be alone! Finally, I hope I didn’t exaggerate how crappy I was feeling at the time – it was a minor depression that was mixed in with my teenage angst, which lasted for a while but now it’s over.

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