Today’s article is a guest post from Annalyn of Annalyn’s Thoughts. One of my favorite anibloggers (and an aspiring author), Annalyn has long been a friend of Beneath the Tangles, and previously wrote an entry for our Aniblogger Testimony series.
I have a confession to make: I am a complainer.
I watch Naruto Shippuden, which means I watch a lot of fillers, and I have a lot of opportunities to complain about them. And why shouldn’t I? Everyone else complains. And I’m tired of getting excited about the main storyline, only to have the suspense diminished with dozens upon dozens of flashbacks and unimportant battles. Don’t I have the right to complain a little? I’ve spent well over 180 hours on this franchise. Aren’t I entitled to more episodes from the main story? Don’t I and the other fans, fans who have invested much more time and money than me, deserve better?
Whoa, wait. Hold on. “Entitled”? “Deserve”? I thought I hated those words. I roll my eyes every time commercials try to sell me something that I “deserve,” because if we all got what we really deserved, we’d be dead. It’s time to step back and face the facts.
- If I’m complaining about fillers (or bad dubs, long flashbacks, annoying characters, or anything else), I’m not being humble. Too much complaining is a symptom of my self-centeredness. It means I’m focused on myself and my wishes, not on others, and certainly not on God.
- If I’m complaining, I’m definitely not shining like a star in the sky the way Paul described in his letter to the Philippians. And I’m sure that when he told the Philippian Christians not to grumble, they had much tougher things to grumble about than a few Naruto fillers. Paul himself was stuck in prison, and he wasn’t complaining, either. In fact, he talked about joy. So I have no right to complain about annoying things in my entertainment.
- Chronic complainers are annoying. I know this from experience. A group pity party can be an effective stress reliever when we’re all complaining about the same thing, but once I’m done, I’m done. If I know someone has a bad habit of complaining, I avoid them. In real life, I find other people to converse with at a gathering. Online, I visit their blog less and I’m tempted to unfollow them on Twitter. Is that really the reaction I want others to have toward me?
- Complaining promotes a critical, negative environment, not a fun one. When I watched the first Naruto series, I didn’t know what fillers were. A good chunk of those 220 episodes were filler, but I neither knew nor cared. As a result, I loved almost every episode of it. It’s tempting to pass this off as “ignorance is bliss.” It’s tempting to say I was new to anime, so my palate was still underdeveloped. But the truth is that I didn’t scroll down to the comments. I didn’t visit forums, blogs, or Twitter feeds. I neither read nor wrote a single complaint about Naruto. I was free to get excited about every mission without being annoyed that it wasn’t in the manga (which I haven’t read anyway). Even when I realized that some of those episodes weren’t part of the main story, I didn’t associate the negative feelings with them that I do today. My self-contained Naruto viewing environment was a little lonely, but at least it was generally positive and uncritical.
- If I participate in chronic complaining, which often comes out as criticism, I’m likely to shut down those with different opinions than me. This is an unfortunate result of self-centeredness: if I’m focused on my own preferences, I automatically dismiss others’ preferences. If I’m focused on proclaiming my own feelings, I end up hurting others’ feelings. Some people enjoy fillers, dubs, and that one voice actress whose voice grates on my nerves. And those recaps? Yeah, some people find those useful. If I and others complain like there’s only one right and good way, then we may diminish and isolate those who feel otherwise. I know what it’s like to feel insecure and alone with my opinions. I’m ashamed at the likelihood that I’ve helped create those feelings in others.
- People worked hard to create those filler episodes. Sometimes, they have to come up with completely new characters in addition to the cast Kishimoto Masashi, the original mangaka, created. They stay true to the personalities of the original characters while giving them new challenges and occasionally new settings. They help turn out a new episode every week, giving us more time with our favorite characters. And how do I thank them? I complain. It’s kind of rude and ungrateful, even though the crew will never read my grumblings.
So, I’ve established six reasons I shouldn’t complain about fillers. Or dubs when subs aren’t available. Or recaps. Or commercials. Or anything else, fandom related or otherwise. So what do I do instead? What good habits can replace my bad habits?
After considering this question, I’ve come up with a few answers for myself:
- For every negative, find a positive. When a complaint comes up, find something good to say instead. For example: “I was hoping that Naruto would reach the battlefield this week, but oh well. It was pretty cool how his shadow clone helped Shino out. Speaking of whom, that bug-lover was pretty smart when he [spoiler edited out]! I’m glad I got to see him do that!”
- Find something to look forward to, even if I already know the next episode is a filler. For example: “I wonder which characters they’ll focus on next. I hope I get to see more Shikumaru!”
- Make a game out of it. List all the things common to fillers (flashbacks, friendship theme, certain side characters, hot springs) and check them off if an episode has them. Have the fillers compete to see which has the most elements from the list.
- Don’t watch. If I can’t say or think anything nice about a topic, I may as well not say or think anything about it at all. Instead of creating a negative environment for myself while watching the anime, I can go watch something else.
I’m not saying it’s never okay to express our frustrations. It’s not complaining if I mention that I hope the main storyline returns soon. But that’s it. I can mention it and move on. No whining and grumbling. No being inconsiderate of others’ fun as they enjoy the episode. If they can enjoy fillers on their own merit, then good for them! I should learn from them instead of raining on their parade. And no wallowing in discontent. I can’t change the episodes the company decides to release, so there’s no need to dwell on the topic.
I’ll be happier and more pleasant to be around, both online and off, if I stop complaining. So I think that, from now on, I’m going to try to follow Paul’s advice and have joy in the midst of all things – including the next Naruto Shippuden filler.
Like what you read? Read more from Annalyn at her website, which explores connections between anime, faith, and life.