A Question for the Readers #17: No Fair Taking Shortcuts!

Whenever a series gains notoriety, you will inevitably hear about it talked about quite a lot whether it’s on the internet or amongst your peers. However, sometimes you just don’t want to get into it. It’s not necessarily because the series is bad; perhaps you’re just too busy with other stuff to check it out. When you finally end up taking the plunge, it may even be after the series has concluded. You’ve effectively done in the span of a month or so what fans had to wait years to see unfold. I myself have done this a few times, and the results have been interesting.

One of the most obvious examples I can think of would be Hiromu Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist. I heard many great things about it, yet by the time I finally checked it out for myself, two separate anime series had run their course: the original 2003 adaptation and Brotherhood. The former started as the manga was running, so things got interesting when it caught up. In these situations, one of two things happens. Either the story will greatly deviate from the source material or the writers will resort to filler – either by padding out the existing story or by creating filler. In extreme cases, an entire story arc could serve as filler. The original adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist opted for the former strategy, and like in most cases where something like this happens, the changes ended up leaving the fans divided. Brotherhood, on the other hand, was far more faithful to the source material and was better received overall.

By the time I got into it, it was 2014. After watching Brotherhood, I can definitely say it lives up to the hype and it is easily one of the best shows I’ve ever watched – animated or otherwise.

The year 2019 marked the debut of the final How to Train Your Dragon film – The Hidden World. I heard many great things about the series, but for whatever reason, I never got around to seeing any of the films. I decided to purchase an advance ticket for The Hidden World so I would be obligated to watch the first two films beforehand. This allowed me to effectively skip a nine-year waiting period. I’m glad I did because while I greatly enjoyed the first film, the sequels ended up losing me a little. The Hidden World especially suffered due to its overreliance on comic relief characters and ditching what made the original two films unique and timeless.

Perhaps the single strangest example of me getting into a series after its conclusion was Metal Gear. I played Snake’s Revenge as a kid, and I heard that the series had been going strong well into the 2000s. However, because I didn’t grow up with a PlayStation (mostly favoring Nintendo consoles), I could never have experienced a majority of the games for myself. Fast forward to 2008, and after a bizarre set of circumstances involving taking multiple wrong turns while vacationing in a different state and ending up at a GameStop that happened to have a copy of Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes in stock, I decided to finally see what the hype was about. You see, by then, Metal Gear Solid 4 had been released, and I was told it was to be the final game in the series. Because of this, I used the Twin Snakes as a testing ground. If I liked what I saw, I would do what I could to purchase a PlayStation 3 so I could experience the rest of the series. Sure enough, I did enjoy The Twin Snakes, and in March of 2009, I got a PlayStation 3 that could run PlayStation 2 discs so I could marathon the series.

I heard of just how divisive the ending of Metal Gear Solid 2 was, yet the foreknowledge that many of its plot threads would be addressed in Metal Gear Solid 4 made its inconclusive nature much more tolerable. Essentially, I was playing through the series to earn the right to play Metal Gear Solid 4, which had been hyped as one of the greatest games ever made shortly after its release. In an ironic twist, I ended up appreciating the journey to get there far more than the destination when Metal Gear Solid 3 ended up becoming my all-time favorites. Metal Gear Solid 4 itself was decent, but it really has not aged well in light of its interminable cutscenes.

Strangely, after I got into the series, I learned it wasn’t to end with Metal Gear Solid 4. There were two new games in development: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. I ended up getting into a series I thought was over only to learn it still had some life left in it. I’m glad it did because Peace Walker in particular ended up becoming one of the greatest games of the 2010s. Metal Gear Solid V had a chance to follow suit and allow the timeline to go full circle, but because Konami pulled a Konami, it was released in an unfinished state – albeit fully playable. It just wasn’t meant to be.

So, now it’s your turn.

Have you ever decided to get into a series after it concluded (or was just about to wrap up), thus saving yourself a long wait?

37 thoughts on “A Question for the Readers #17: No Fair Taking Shortcuts!

  1. I actually just finished watching Avatar: The Last Airbender a few days ago. I had heard so many great things about it and it ABSOLUTELY did not disappoint! While I was bummed to have missed it for so long, I’m glad I got around to it! It was a quality show with relatable characters, and it skipped out on the terrible dialogue and nonsensical scenarios that so many other cartoons fall prey to.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, then it appears I have good timing, huh? I too have heard a lot of good things about it, but outside of seeing a few episodes when it happened to be on, I never really got into. Maybe now that the series has been released in video format, I can more easily rectify that. That was the difficult thing about getting into shows with ongoing narratives back then; if you missed the debut, you were lost unless the reruns lined up exactly as you needed it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • That’s very true! While each episode does get divided into its own “subplot,” there is always part of the larger story running behind the scenes (sometimes very directly). I would highly recommend it if you get a chance!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Most of the franchises I was extremely interested in had only just started when I got into them, though I will say I’ve tried games from franchises already established but never getting into them that much. I think I just know what I like and I get into it as quickly as I can.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I do this all the time with book series 🙂 Peter F Hamilton’s in-particular (Void Saga, Commonwealth Saga, Fallers Saga). With games though, I don’t. I play them as and when I feel like it/have the time to 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think it’s easier to do with books and video game series because they tend to have sparse release dates, making it easy to catch up. It’s a shame you don’t do that with games; they’re a bit more of a time sink, making them more of a waste if the ending isn’t good.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m afraid I don’t understand what you mean. I find books (especially by PFH) often end on unsatisfying cliffhangars, which is why I wait. But I haven’t come across games that end in a similarly unsatisfying way. The only one that comes to mind is Halo 2.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh, one of my rules is that if a work ends on a cliffhanger, it must be resolved in a timely fashion. If more than seven years pass without any evidence that a sequel is being made, it will be disqualified – just like any other work with a terrible ending.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. For me, this series was Legend of the Galactic Heroes. I did a marathon of the whole 110-episode series several years ago along with the movies that fall into the same timeline. I didn’t really wait to watch these games in the same way, given the fact that the series started airing in the late 80s and I didn’t know it existed until well after I’d started getting into weird anime like Evangelion. Still, I watched in two weeks what it took ten years for other people to make it through, and without being kept in suspense for months about end-of-season cliffhangers, so I’d say it was a shortcut. LOGH is still one of my favorite series ever — it looks a little like anime Star Wars on the surface, but it’s really more like World War I in space with a massive cast of characters, a lot of political intrigue and backstabbing and some romance thrown in as well. It’s a true epic.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It was certainly a shortcut in the sense that you watched a show that spanned several years in a fraction of the time. I think I’ve heard of that series; it certainly does have an interesting premise. I do think it’s interesting whenever authors use a fantasy (or in your case, sci-fi) motif to flavor a story involving political intriguing; that’s what I especially enjoy about the Fire Emblem series.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Speedrunning is big on this, if you watch some of Summoning Salt’s excellent videos. Some gamers break a game to cheat their way to the best possible time. And I find it all rather fascinating. Although I prefer to take the route the devs intended.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I would annoy my brother whenever I played this course because I discovered the pictured shortcut before the internet was really a thing.

      Now onto the main subject: have you ever decided to get into a series after it concluded (or was just about to wrap up), thus saving yourself a long wait?

      Liked by 2 people

      • With TV. Game of Thrones, ja, I binge watcheed it all in April up to season 7. Just before 8 launched. I think that helped with the “disappointment” of the final season, as I just found it violent but entertaining.

        This guy on YouTube, Mauler, just posted a three hour rant about everything wrong with the fifth episode of season 8. I kind of just watched it and then moved on. I guess I wasn’t overly invested in the series in that way, I just enjoyed it more as light entertainment.

        Liked by 2 people

        • That’s how I felt about Metal Gear Solid 2. There are a lot of works out there that benefit from not having been viewed as they’re airing.

          I’ve had my share of disappointments over the years of parsing art, but I’m not sure if I could rant about a slight for three hours in a row.

          Liked by 2 people

  6. I attempted this at the beginning of the year leading up to the release of Kingdom Hearts 3; I had never gotten around to playing them and had a co-worker that was SO excited for the new one. This was proved unsuccessful as I played about 1/3 of the way through the first one and then kinda fell off…this always seems to happen with Square Enix games for me. I could mention the Harry Potter books and movies too, though that wasn’t really an intentional decision to wait until they had finished to dive in.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Funny enough, I almost exclusively get into stuff after its conclusion, and it’s a deliberate choice. I don’t like waiting around for things to continue, and I jump from hobby to hobby, from genre to genre, and from series to series faster and more often than some people change their underwear. So, when the next part eventually comes out, I am already wholly disconnected from the series and have to start over again.
    Therefore, most of the time, I wait until it’s over (or it seems to be), and THEN get into it. Advantages: I get to experience it in one go, it’s usually already quite cheap, and I have access to explanations, interviews, BTS and fan theories on the internet. Disadvantages: Everyone talks about it, and I can’t be a part of these conversations, I still have a rather high risk of spoilers (no one cares a year about release anymore), and when I finally get to it, people aren’t interested in it any longer (if it’s not a timeless classic).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, I myself have a difficult time approaching long series. I know there’s a good chance that a popular show can go off the rails in the final season, making the journey to reach it a wash. Even if that doesn’t happen, there’s the fact that I’d have to watch 50+ episodes in a short time. As you alluded to, it’s obnoxious whenever it’s a popular show the media assumes everyone is keeping up with all the time, thus putting spoilers on the front page of your news outlet of choice. It’s not as bad with video game series with self-contained installments, though it can still be daunting.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. More than a few. I’ve only started watching seasonal anime from just before I started my blog so 3 – 4 years. Before that, given streaming access was incredibly difficult, I really only watched anime that were already completed. I enjoy a good binge watch, though I’m finding seasonal watching has its own fun.

    Liked by 1 person

      • That I hadn’t seen streamed? School Live or Phantom Requiem for the Phantom. A couple of Gundam shows as I’m trying to fill in my Gundam knowledge (though it takes a while to watch those because they get a little depressing on mass). Largely, it is dictated by what is available – usually on DVD or that someone I know is willing to lend. Though I am currently working my way through Kyou Kara Maou on Anime Lab because I only ever had a video file given to me by someone else and that one has never had a proper release that I could watch before so now that I can access it through an actual service I’m watching it again.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Well, similar to being in a GameStop, I was in an EB Games (can’t remember if it was before or after the GameStop buyout) and picked up “The Orange Box” on advice from Electronic Gaming Monthly that it was a good value. I played Half-Life 2 and the two expansions and was blown away. This introduced me to Steam, where I played the original Half-Life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, there’s an easy trick to remember whether or not they had been purchased by GameStop at a given point. Were they still cool? If not, then it was after the buyout.

      Anyway, I too had actually purchased the Orange Box back in 2011 and greatly enjoyed playing through all the games in the compilation. It even ended up being my introduction to Steam as well, though I eventually jumped ship to GOG once any semblance of quality control was erased.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Fullmetal Alchemist is one of my all time favourites too 😀 (And yup, Brotherhood is far better!)

    I loved How to Train Your Dragon 1 & 2, but I refuse to see 3 because of a lot of things but mostly the ending. I hate ‘time passes’ epilogues with a passion, and I like the end of 2 better so I’ve decided Hidden World doesn’t exist xD

    I didn’t get into Gotham until season 4 was airing, so I got to binge most of that. Still haven’t finished it, but I will one day!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Talk about a show that lived up to the hype!

      Honestly? You’re not missing out on much. The first two How to Train Your Dragon films really put interesting spins on the fantasy genre. The Hidden World, on the other hand, fell into that strange trap I’ve seen a lot of initially subversive series fall victim to wherein they, in their attempts to provide a more mature story, become a straight example of what they were subverting in the first place. While the first two films provided timeless experiences, The Hidden World was very much a product of its time. Highly disappointing.

      I’ve heard some good things about Gotham. Maybe I should try it in the future.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sounds like it wasn’t just the end of Hidden World that was disappointing! I’ll continue to give it a miss!

        Gotham is interesting mostly in how it handles the villains. It makes a lot of them relate-able even though they’re terrible people. Starts a bit slow, I think, but worth a watch 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  11. Fullmetal Alchemist is one of my fave shows too. Brotherhood is the better series, due to it’s more satisfying ending. The original anime is worth watching though. I think it starts stronger, as it doesn’t rush through the early episodes like Brotherhood had to do.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, that’s what I’ve heard as well – that Brotherhood is the better show overall, yet rushes through the first act. I think the original 2003 anime ended up overtaking the manga and a lot of plot points had to be made up on the fly. From what I’ve heard, the main villain was replaced entirely, which I can imagine was quite strange for those who had been following the manga.

      Liked by 2 people

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