Look, I need answers. How are you all finding time to rewatch stuff?
I’ve wondered this for a long time, but I’ve been especially curious lately. There is a trend on TikTok that involves using a clip from the theme song of Serial Experiments Lain, probably my favourite anime. The song in question, Duvet by bôa, is a banger if you enjoy mid-90s indie rock. Hearing it reminds me of being mesmerized by a weird, wonderful cyberpunk one-off.
The show is 23 years old, but it holds up today. I know because it’s one of the rare shows that I actually have rewatched. And now that I hear the theme song every couple of days, I badly want to rewatch it again. I mean, like Lain the character, I’ve spent a year and a half locked inside of dark rooms on a computer. That’s also a factor.
It’s just, where the hell am I going to get the time to do that? I work full-time, I’ve got video games on the go, and other anime series that I need to finish. Demon Slayer Season 2 is coming out soon. I can hang out with my friends again (for now).
And yet, other people find time to rewatch stuff all the damn time. How?
My understanding of how people rewatch stuff
From what I can tell, you typically don’t rewatch stuff as closely as you watched it the first time. Maybe you’ll pay attention during iconic scenes or intense moments, but mostly you throw on that show for background noise.
It’s amazing how much less annoying it is too mundane chores while you half-listen to a bunch of people pretending to be people they aren’t. Or really while you half-listen to someone do anything. It doesn’t have to be sitcoms and movies; documentaries also make great background noise.
That’s not going to work for Lain though. Its wild plot demands that you pay close attention.
Thankfully, another common method might work better: hosting a viewing party.
Before Avengers: Endgame came out, two of my friends who are huge fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe marathoned every film in the franchise to prepare themselves. That was 21 movies – 2,690 minutes or nearly 45 hours of film. But they used it as an excuse to hang out with each other. They were fulfilling their social needs while rewatching stuff. Incredible synergy.
I am not a fan of the MCU, but this feat was still inspirational to me. I’m over here struggling to find time to rewatch 13 half-hour episodes (a mere 390 minutes, or 6.5 hours).
Lain is a weird show, so it might be tricky to persuade someone to watch it with me. I’m going to do my best though. The fact it’ll only take an afternoon ought to work in my favour.
My tastes are partly what’s holding me back
Lain is representative of the media I tend to enjoy. It’s therefore a great example of why it’s so hard for me to rewatch stuff. As usual, I am my own worst enemy when it comes to interacting with media.
Among my favourite genres are anime, foreign films, and documentaries on obscure topics. The first two are not in English, so I have to read subtitles, and the third tends to have a strong visual component. Even when it doesn’t, it benefits from a deep listen more so than a sitcom would. In other words, the stuff I want to watch or rewatch tends to need my undivided attention.
Don’t get me wrong though, I love having background noise on. But I prefer when it’s audio-only. When I’m cooking, cleaning, or on a walk, I’m usually listening to a podcast.
I’ve actually become too efficient at listening to podcasts, and I’m all caught up on the shows that I had chosen because of their extensive backlogs. So, uh, please leave some recommendations in the comments if you’re still reading.
Are you not overwhelmed with options?
Of course, there’s another issue. I rarely feel compelled to rewatch stuff because there is so much media that I haven’t seen. That extends well beyond media you watch too. There are experiences in books, video games, magazines, podcasts, and music that, for me, tend to take precedence over revisiting a world I’ve already been to. Lain is an incredibly rare outlier.
I’ve kept a list of anime to watch since some fellow nerds informed me of the genre in high school. While I’ve watched some titles, dropped others, and added many more, some on there have been sitting, patiently waiting for me to get to them since Grade 12. This used to be a literal hand-written list. Then it was something that lived on various social media sites so I could have discussions about it with still more nerds. Now, it lives in a .txt file on one of my computers. It sits largely ignored as roughly four or five new series that appeal to me come out each season. Those series also sit largely ignored by me in my Crunchyroll queue.
And that’s just anime, a medium that I interact with relatively infrequently. Don’t get me started on my video game backlog, the dozens of novels that have been sitting on my shelf for years, the list of movies I want to watch, or the YouTube videos I keep telling myself I’ll get around to.
It’s a good thing I enjoy making lists because I sure do make a lot of them. Maybe I should post them on here. Though whenever I post them, that tends to lead to more recommendations and longer lists.
I think this is just a me probem
My backlogs used to cause me a lot of stress. In university, I found that I was rushing through games, shows, and books without taking the time to enjoy them. I wanted to check them off a list so I could get to the next one. That’s partly because I was an English major, which meant I often had to read things just to check them off a list.
All this student debt and all I got was a bad anime-watching habit.
I’ve long since overcome those feelings. I’m not stressed that my anime list is longer than ever, that I can’t persuade my friends to watch old French films with me, or that I still haven’t read all those books I impulse-bought. They aren’t going anywhere.
Still, despite my laissez-faire attitude toward my backlog, I prefer to experience something new every time I fire up a streaming service.
That is until I open TikTok and hear Duvet again. Then I stare wistfully at the Lain Blu-ray (I liked this show so much I actually bought the damn Blu-ray, the only such disc I own) for a few seconds, before wasting the rest of the evening watching TikToks instead of attacking one of my backlogs.