Rewatching an anime can be very different compared to watching it for the first time. The suspenseful experience of a story-driven show can turn into one where you focus on appreciating the art, animation and music. The same can happen with a slice of life show, or maybe not. Maybe you want to rewatch a SoL for exactly the same experience as the first time, and a half-decent SoL should allow for that. Rewatching a show with a very specific or unique gimmick can give you the opportunity to examine the more subtle aspects of it, just like how rewatching a comedy gives you another chance to laugh at the jokes you didn’t get the first time around. More generally, rewatching a show can make it easier to pinpoint what you really like and dislike about it.
This is why I sometimes choose to rewatch shows instead of working on my ever-growing backlog. I haven’t actually completely rewatched that many shows, though: Only Bakemonogatari, Nisemonogatari, K-On, Saki, Madoka Magica, Hyouka and Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou, as well as a few movies and OVAs. The Monogatari series and Madoka gave me a ton of new information that helped me understand the characters better, and knowing what was going to happen helped me find details I’d missed the first time. I also found myself able to enjoy the music and art a bit more than before, probably because I already had favourite scenes and tracks to look forward to. Rewatching Saki was a similar experience in that respect, but only in that respect, because I didn’t really find anything new there. I just enjoyed it for the parts that I already loved, i.e. the actual mahjong tournament.
K-On, on the other hand, delivered a surprisingly different experience compared to the first time. Barring the entire final episode, none of the scenes in K-On actually stood out to me, so I didn’t have the same kind of expectations as when I rewatched Saki. Instead, K-On allowed me to fully immerse myself in the atmosphere and the art and the music. This made me realise that as much as I like HTT’s songs, the actual background music of the show doesn’t do much for me. Still, the rewatch was so pleasant that I actually ended up watching the first season twice. I did also rewatch Inferno Cop, but I don’t really know why. Maybe the better question is “why not?”
But rewatching can be a double-edged sword. As I said, it can highlight dislikes in addition the likes, and sometimes those dislikes come out on top. When I tried rewatching Nichijou, the jokes were not nearly as funny as they were when I first watched it. Joshiraku had the same problem. It’s kind of weird, then, that Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou was just as funny, even though it’s the same kind of sketch comedy. I might be related to execution, pacing and continuity, but I digress. A few other non-sketch comedies seem to have similar problems. I tried to rewatch Sasami-san@ganbaranai and Gatchaman Crowds, but they both felt like they were missing something. I wouldn’t be able to rewatch them in full as is, but I might do it for a review. I could also see myself watching certain episodes that stand out, though when I tried this with Cowboy Bebop, the results were mixed.
The most surprising rewatch experience I’ve had so far is K-On Season 2. Unlike the first season, which provided a consistently pleasant experience, the second season separated into interesting and boring episodes much more readily. The reason for this was obvious. The pacing basically slowed down to a fourth of what it was in Season 1 – Season 2 is twice as long but only covers one school year instead of two – and the atmosphere was not enough to carry it anymore. So, because I already knew everything that was going to happen, some parts just dragged.
Ultimately, though, I like the idea of rewatching shows, even if it doesn’t always result in positive experiences. There is genuine value in it, both for the critic and the fanboy in me. Watching a show I know I like is easier and less stressful than jumping into something unknown, and sometimes you end up finding a completely new way of looking at an already familiar show. This is exactly what happened to me with Hyouka. But that’s a story for another time…
Next time qualifies as another time, right?