10 of the best ways to enjoy manga, anime and games more

Today’s fast-paced world can be utterly exhausting, both physically and mentally. It feels like every day there’s a new controversy that everyone feels the need to comment on; every day there’s something terrible and awful happening to your favourite medium, and everyone has Strong Opinions on it.

In the midst of all this, it can be easy to lose sight of the things that are important: the fact that you love manga, anime and video games. So here I am with 10 super-helpful tips that anyone can apply right now to get the most out of their favourite hobby and minimise the amount of daily rage in their life.

Enjoy what something is, not what you think it “should” be

Enjoying games, anime and manga more

One of the most common sources of online rage these days is people getting furious about something they were looking forward not being quite what they expected in some form or another.

Often this is the result of the furious person in question hyping things up to an unreasonable degree in their head and developing a strong picture of what they felt it “should” be. And when it doesn’t meet those often excessive expectations, disappointment is inevitable. Sensible people shrug their shoulders and go “oh well”, but the worst people online shout and scream and rage about it on Twitter, inevitably leading to a barrage of angry and outraged quote-tweets either agreeing with the original rage-monger, or attempting to “dunk” on them.

You can avoid both the disappointment and any risk of making a fool of yourself online by approaching something with the intention of exploring and enjoying whatever form it ended up taking, rather than what you think it should be. Sometimes you’ll end up having fascinating experiences by taking the time to appreciate something you expected to be one thing, but which actually turned out to be another.

There have been numerous examples of this over the years, whether it’s a “visual novel that looks like an adventure game” such as Nocturnal Illusion, a game that uses the trappings of another mechanical genre to tell an interesting story, like Gun Gun Pixies, or an anime like Madoka Magica, which plays on the conventions of an established narrative genre to do something rather unexpected. (At least it did at the time it was originally released, anyway!)

Listen to your own tastes and acknowledge others’

Enjoying games, anime and manga more

Everyone online is playing some multiplayer shooter you couldn’t give a toss about? Great! This is a great time to fire up a single-player game you’ve been meaning to explore for ages. All your friends watching the latest isekai/idol/shounen anime that you think is just another example of an oversaturated genre that you wish would just die already? Fantastic; delve into the back catalogues of anime streaming services or Blu-Ray distributors and watch something you think looks cool, but no-one else has heard of.

Both of these situations represent a terrible time to jump on social media and tell everyone how much you hate the thing that is currently popular, because you’re probably not going to get much support. You will, however, likely receive any or all of the following: patronising Shrek GIFs that reference “cringe compilations”; furious messages from 12 year old fans of the popular thing who think you should die for your lack of taste; clown emojis; a string of quote-tweets from people keen to start a very public argument.

Instead, don’t waste your time. Life may have been dull for the last year or so thanks to the global pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you should fritter away the hours of the day being angry at strangers online. Go find something you do like — or try out something new. I can guarantee you’ll have a much lovelier time.

“Current” is irrelevant

Enjoying games, anime and manga more

I’m not entirely convinced anyone knows exactly how many video games, anime series and manga volumes exist in the world today, but there’s a hell of a lot of them. And only a few of them came out in the last week! While it’s nice to be able to join in on the discussions surrounding new and exciting things, you should never feel pressure to drop everything and get right on something — particularly if you’re in the middle of something else.

Instead, wait until you have time to enjoy something to the fullest — even if that isn’t the moment it’s released. In the case of video games, the longer you wait often means the cheaper you can get a particular title — plus the greater likelihood that any issues it had at launch will be fixed — while in the case of anime and manga, waiting a while before starting to explore a series means you’ll have more of it ready to enjoy when you finish the first bit.

If you’re really worried about missing out on something — a limited print run of something, for example — you can always buy it now and play it later. And bear in mind a lot of stuff gets rereleases these days, too — the Atelier Mysterious trilogy is one of many examples. The important thing is not to place pressure on yourself; entertainment media is supposed to entertain, not stress you out!

Don’t make excuses for yourself

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How many times have you enthusiastically told someone about a favourite video game, anime series or manga only for them to reply with some variant of “oh, that sounds great, but I don’t have time for that sort of thing these days; my job/life/kids take up all my time!” Annoying, isn’t it? So don’t do it to yourself.

If you want to play all 100+ hours of Persona 5, play Persona 5. If you want to watch all of One Piece, watch all of One Piece. If you want to read all of Dragon Ball, read all of Dragon Ball. If you find yourself thinking “I don’t have time to play Persona 5/watch One Piece/read Dragon Ball”, calculate how much time you’ve spent in the last week looking at memes, watching YouTube videos you weren’t really interested in, getting angry at people on Twitter or staring blindly into space thinking “I don’t know what I should be doing right now”.

All of that time can safely be replaced with time spent playing Persona 5, watching One Piece or reading Dragon Ball. Stop making excuses — and, again, stop putting pressure on yourself. If it takes you all year to play through Persona 5 (it did for me — my wife liked to watch, but she also likes Final Fantasy XIV) then so be it.

Ignore Metacritic scores

Enjoying games, anime and manga more

If there’s one thing the recent release of Nier Replicant has shown us, it’s that the etched-in-stone score Metacritic lumbers a piece of media with is complete and utter bollocks and can be safely ignored. Hell, there are plenty of games that are enormously popular with a particular subculture — the Neptunia and Senran Kagura games, say — that get crapped on by mainstream critics and are thus, again, stuck with mediocre or outright bad Metascores.

Should you let this inform what you play? Hell to the no. The only thing that matters is whether or not you think you will enjoy something. If it sounds like it appeals and looks like it appeals, give it a try. The worst that can happen is that you don’t like it — in which case, just move on and try something else.

That said, there is one helpful thing Metacritic can be used for: in more recent years, the site has started listing a lot more in the way of smaller, independent sites rather than relying purely on large, mainstream outlets. If you check a game’s Metascores and see an obvious outlier that suggests one or more critics might have “got” a game that others didn’t, that may well be worth investigating further. So don’t rule it out entirely; just view those numbers with an appropriate amount of caution, and use them as a starting point to explore further!

Ditch the disclaimers and take pride in what you love

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If you thought something was cool but worry about what other people might think of you for liking that thing… don’t. People are much more interesting and attractive if they take genuine, unconditional pride and passion in the things they love, rather than if they feel the need to add unnecessary “disclaimers” about their tastes.

You’re under no obligation to simply parrot popular criticisms if you don’t agree with them. If you like a piece of media that has been branded “problematic” by the loudmouths of social media, but you think it’s just fine and dandy — great. Talk about the things you love about it; don’t go on the defensive. You love it for a reason, after all, and the people who focus solely on the negative things other people are saying about it often don’t get a balanced picture of why it might appeal to someone. So set them straight!

This extends to technical discussions, too. If you played a game that you really enjoyed and don’t give a crap about the fact its frame rate was 30 rather than the holy 60, don’t bring it up at all. It’s all too easy to get bogged down in things that absolutely, positively don’t matter at all, when what you should focus on is being entertained by your entertainment.

Consider if trophies/achievements are adding to your experience

Enjoying games, anime and manga more

I saw a game released recently (Legends of Talia: Arcadia, above) that a bunch of people bought because it was a short kinetic novel where you could simply hit the Skip button, ignore it completely and get a Platinum trophy for your troubles. Is that really a useful, productive or enjoyable way to spend your time? Does that Platinum trophy really give you a sense of achievement that you’ve done something worth celebrating? If not, don’t do it.

This goes the other way, too. If the trophy list for a game asks you to do something ridiculous like, say, use a specific skill several hundred times (I’m looking at you, Tales) and taking on that “challenge” will do nothing more than make you bored and resentful of the game… ignore it. No-one cares if you didn’t get the Platinum trophy, and it’s not worth souring your experience with a game that you were otherwise enjoying for the sake of a shiny icon on your profile.

If you have somewhat compulsive tendencies in this regard and can’t stop yourself from chasing tedious trophies, consider playing on Nintendo Switch, where trophies don’t exist, or buying PC games from a platform other than Steam, where there are no achievements. If the temptation isn’t there in the first place, it can’t ruin your enjoyment, can it?


Enjoying games, anime and manga more

Playing a game you really like? Great! Concentrate on it for a little while. Turn off the music, switch off the TV, forget about the other games in your collection and just enjoy immersing yourself in a single experience. You’re more likely to finish the thing as a whole, more likely to think back fondly on your time with it and more likely to be able to talk about it with greater knowledge and authority. The same is also true for anime and manga; eliminate all other distractions and just concentrate on the thing you’re enjoying for a while.

There are also a fair few games, visual novels, anime series and manga that change significantly over the course of their complete run time — and if you don’t sit down and actually focus on them, you might never get to that really interesting bit. This isn’t saying you should force yourself through things that you decide you’re not enjoying after you feel like you’ve given them a fair amount of time — but it is saying that you should give them a fair chance before giving up on them.

Also finales in anime, manga, video games and visual novels are awesome. Our favourite Asian creators sure know how to send things off with a bang.

Put the phone down

Enjoying games, anime and manga more

I cannot stress this enough: tying in with the suggestion to “focus” above, please take your smartphone and fling it out of a window (or at least put it in another room) while you’re attempting to enjoy something like a video game, anime or manga. You will enjoy the experience far more without the consistent distraction of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Discord or any of the bajillion other services constantly vying for our attention.

Fiddling with our phones is a nervous habit most of us have picked up over the course of the last 20 years or so, and it’s counterproductive. It distracts you from the things that you want to pay attention to, and the apps and services you fiddle with are often designed with less than wholesome intentions in mind — usually an attempt to make you look at more ads.

Putting your phone somewhere else also has the added bonus of making it more likely that you’ll work things out in a game for yourself rather than immediately looking for walkthroughs or YouTube videos the moment things get tough!

Care about what you share

Enjoying games, anime and manga more

Finally, while we’re on the subject of phones, if you do feel the need to share your experience on social media — and doing so can be a great way to start a conversation, add to your enjoyment or find new friends, I hasten to add — consider what you’re sharing. For a lot of people online, there’s no faster way to get yourself muted than if you post a screencap of every single line of dialogue from the anime episode or visual novel chapter you just enjoyed — not only are you putting people at risk of seeing spoilers they don’t want to see, but it’s also just not very interesting.

If you’re sharing things as you go along, too, you can completely break the flow of what you’re enjoying by stopping to post something on Twitter every few minutes. That breaks your concentration, it ruins your appreciation of the piece of media as a coherent piece of work, and just generally results in an inferior experience for everyone.

Instead, try this: take screencaps and videos and whatever while you’re in the middle of enjoying something, but forget about them until you’ve finished the episode, come out of the game or whatever. From there, pick a few that you really like — you can fit four images in a tweet, so that’s a good number — and share those, ideally with some commentary as to why you liked them.

Keep the rest of the images for your own personal collection so you can refer back to them if you want — or perhaps include them in a blog post or later social media post — but resist the temptation to blast everyone’s timeline with every frame of the latest Nagatoro episode the moment it’s finished airing. Everyone will thank you.

So there you have it! Follow these handy rules and not only will you find yourself enjoying video games, anime, manga and visual novels a whole lot more, you’ll be going about your online life without irritating everyone around you, too. Everyone wins!

Any more suggestions? Let us know in the comments below, or hit us up via the usual social media channels!

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Pete Davison
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