It’s been a busy week here in Laurenland. There’s the affiliate guide I just finished plus some new client work on top of my usual responsibilities, like my web developer job, writing for Forbes, studying Japanese, and doing my weekly streaming reviews. And even that’s on top of stuff everyone has to do, like laundry and cooking dinner and commuting.
In the midst of planning how I’d getting it all done, I got an email from Zac at Anime News Network asking if I could review the new Zeta Gundam Blu-ray release. We try to review shows with a very quick turnaround to make things timely for readers, so I knew this meant that I’d be aiming to, on top of everything else, watch 2 hours of Zeta every day.
“Sure!” I emailed back without a second thought.
Now, whether you think my week was hell or awesome says a lot about you. For many people, myself included, getting paid to watch anime is a dream come true. But the funny thing about dreams is that they never quite match up to the reality of the situation. No job is fun 100% of the time, and that means there are some un-fun parts of watching anime for a living, too.
I’ve blogged a lot about how to get paid to watch anime, but never why or why not to do it. Here’s a list of reasons that you might not want to pursue this line of work:
1) You don’t want to marathon shows at a moment’s notice.
Sites that publish anime reviews, like Anime News Network, have a duty to readers to deliver reviews in a timely fashion. That means the onus is on reviewers to watch anime in a timely fashion, too. You can’t watch something at a leisurely pace or “only when you have time.” And because anime releases in the West depend on translations and a whole slew of other contingencies, it’s not like reviewers can often get “early” review copies.
What’s more, we don’t have total control over when releases come out. I had Zeta on my calendar as releasing in March, but things went well and RightStuf released it early. That means my review needed to come out now—today, in fact! If that kind of schedule would simply not fit with your life, you’re going to be miserable reviewing anime for a living.
2) You only want to watch anime you personally enjoy.
Let’s transition to my Anime News Network Weekly Streaming Reviews. We review any show that readers like better than Naruto (really) and sometimes that’s not a very high bar. Take the winter season, which has been notably lackluster for good anime shows.
As a result, I’m reviewing one show I adore, another show that’s just so-so, and a third show that I’m convinced is pretty much garbage. Will I be watching all three of them to the end regardless? You bet! You can’t quit in the middle of a weekly streaming review. And sometimes shows can get a lot better (or worse) over time. And by the way, I almost always choose which anime I want to review, and sometimes, with just one episode as a preview, I choose poorly, (looking at you, Attack on Titan: Junior High). If I weren’t a reviewer I could see the error of my ways and drop a show, but I never drop a show I’m reviewing.
Could you spend your time watching shows you’re just not that into, and dedicate an hour weekly to writing 500 words on each of them anyway? If the answer is no, this isn’t for you.
3) You don’t like writing, or you’re not a fast writer.
Now about those 500 words. That’s my minimum for a weekly streaming review (for a show review it’s 1,000). Though I can get deadline extensions if I need them, generally I write those reviews three times a week whether I feel like it or not. There’s no time to wait for my muse to appear when I need to have a review out within 24 hours of the show airing.
When I was younger I used to be a slower writer and a bit of a perfectionist. But my former job with the Daily Dot, writing up to five posts a day, cured me of that. Writing for a living, whether about anime or otherwise, means treating the writing process as a job instead of an art. If that would ruin writing for you, you’re not going to have a good time.
4) You’re allergic to keeping a schedule.
Writing weekly reviews on a show means staying committed to that show’s schedule, whether it’s convenient for you or not. I’m currently reviewing Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans, which comes out on Saturday in Japan—and 4 AM Sunday my time. That means that by the time I wake up on Sunday, I’m already at a time disadvantage for getting my review done. And I have to do this every single Sunday while Orphans continues to air.
How does working on the weekend sound to you, even if it’s for anime reviewing? What about altering your schedule for twelve to 24 weeks at a time to do that work? If that sounds impossible, or simply unsustainable, this work might not be a good fit for you.
5) You wouldn’t be able to enjoy your hobby as your job.
I recently tweeted, “I have monetized everything I enjoy and now I don’t know how to relax.” What was going through my mind was that, if I’m going to watch anime, I really ought to review it; if I’m going to build Gunpla, I might as well document it for Gunpla 101; same goes with lighting a candle; and with writing for fun; or dabbling with web design. This was a joke tweet, because I’m a bit of a workaholic and mixing business and pleasure works for me. But I realize that for other people, it could be suffocating. Think carefully about whether knowing that there’s anime you are now obligated to watch would totally ruin it as a hobby for you.
If these five reasons apply to you, that’s not a judgement against you. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to watch anime for fun, end of story. It’s just best to figure it out now before you find yourself in an unenjoyable situation.
After reading this, do you still think getting paid to watch anime would be fun for you?
Photo via elderleaf