Philosophers of all times have been wondering what decides a person’s character – how much of it is inborn (what we would now call genetics), how much is decided by upbringing, surrounding circumstances and such. On a smaller scale, anime fans often wonder how a person’s so-called "taste", their personal preferences regarding what they watch, come to be. Personally, I have always thought the more long-term factors were the key here. After all, a mecha fan doesn’t become a moe enthusiast overnight, and while getting somebody to acknowledge the quality of a series from a genre they dislike is often possible, getting them to actually ‘like’ that series is a tall order. This made me think that if somebody’s tastes can change, it has to happen over a longer period of time.
But apparently, I’ve been underestimating how short term circumstances affect what we want to watch. After recently switching from a full vacation lifestyle to an eleven-hour workday, I find myself prioritizing action series (Sword Art Online, Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon) over more artsy or thought inspiring content (Jinrui Suitai, Hyouka, Kokoro Connect). It’s not that my opinion about the series’ relative quality changed that much or anything, I just find myself looking forward to silly sword-swinging more than something that demands I use my brain cells. And it seems I’m not alone in this.
All this makes me think that the main factor behind ‘good entertainment’ is how it fulfills certain needs, rather than any more objective quality. What’s more, anime as a medium can be used to fulfill many different needs because of its varied content, and the priority of those needs can change in the blink of an eye. Almost any series can become a personal favorite if you watch it at ‘just the right moment’, when the message and tone of the show happen to coincide with specific moods and events in our life. Some of those special circumstances can last a day, until you sleep your problem off. Others affect our tastes for much longer periods.
When discussing objectivity, most people mention how no two people can ever see the same thing in exactly the same way. But now I wonder if even the same person can experience something the same way on two different days.