You ruined everything! – Thoughts on spoilers

This post is going to be something a bit different from what I’ve written so far, as it’s a general reflection. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my blog and how I’d like to fill my twice a week post goal plus occasionally maybe a bit more (or should I actually bump it up to three times a week? I’ve been posting nearly three times a week as it is). I feel like committing myself to doing one series review per week is the act of a madperson, as I’m sure it’s not realistic to get through an entire series every week and be able to write about it, and I only have a finite amount of shows which I have already seen (plus for a lot of older shows my memories are so vague that I couldn’t write about them with any assurance). Perhaps reflections will become a regular part of my blog, or perhaps they will be a more occasional feature. I do have a few ideas for topics which I’m hoping to share with everyone.

The idea of spoilers is very much a hot topic. With information readily available to us these days on the internet, you can be only one click away from finding out something about a film, book, or a series which you haven’t seen yet, or you haven’t seen up to the point which has been discussed. Sometimes it’s even friends who are excited about something that you both enjoy who are a bit further ahead than you and share things that you don’t want to know. Some people can get very annoyed about finding out details, and there seems to unfortunately be some people who take joy in intentionally revealing information about something which will upset those around them.

I know that some people will go to great lengths to avoid being spoiled on details of things they’re excited about, which can definitely be a challenge when the thing they’re interested in is very popular but either not available in their area or they haven’t had a chance to check it out. For instance I know people who are trying to know basically nothing about the newest Pokemon games outside of what has been directly revealed in trailers.

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I personally find this topic really hard because I’m virtually never upset by spoilers. I’ll very happily re-read mystery or thriller stories where I already know the conclusion, I’ll sometimes look at detailed reviews of a show discussing the plot and themes before watching the show, and I even watched an entire playthrough of Persona 4 prior to playing Persona 4 myself (what with the game being 70+ hours, I probably could have figured out if it was for me without seeing the whole thing if I wanted to be surprised by the plot. Also, Persona 4 is great). The only time I can think of being even faintly disappointed about knowing future details of a show I was watching was when someone gave me a detailed explanation of the end of Death Note when I was already about a third of the way through. I hadn’t asked for this, I just mentioned I was watching the show and they said ‘oh I loved the end when ____’. It wasn’t the end of the world, but knowing the details of the finale did mean that the outcome of certain events partway through the show were a foregone conclusion.

Why am I like this? I’m not entirely sure but I have done some thinking on the topic and think that one of the reasons may be that I don’t particularly care about surprises. While I wouldn’t say that I hate them (I wouldn’t for instance be mortified if friends decided to throw me a surprise party), to be surprised doesn’t generally add to my enjoyment of an experience. I’m just as happy to receive a gift from a list of suggestions, or even one which I’ve picked out myself, as one where someone has chosen it without my knowledge, even if the gift is something I really like. It’s the same with stories; a story which surprises me isn’t necessarily bad, but I can receive just as much enjoyment from a tale which is predictable or one I already know.

Another point is that in my viewing I highly value learning and laughter. As you can (and often do) learn more if you’ve watched something before, and many jokes can be funnier the second (or fifth, or twentieth) time, prior knowledge of the content is not a disadvantage, and can at times even be an advantage to my personal enjoyment. My personal priorities when it comes to anime aren’t especially reliant on being surprised by the plot.

What this means is that I don’t always have a great sense of what would spoil something for others. When it comes to reviewing anime, how much of the series is considered reasonable synopsis, and at what point is it reaching details that others would like to experience for themselves? How much can you talk about a character without revealing plot-important details? Would revealing something like themes covered in a show generally be considered to spoil the show or is it just story that people really don’t want to know about. I realise to a certain extent this is a subjective thing, but I also know that the balance for the average person probably falls on the side of preferring to know much less about things that they’re planning to watch than I would. I certainly don’t wish to intentionally ruin the experience of others with my posts, but I cannot use the idea of ‘treat others as you would wish to be treated’ to guide the information I share.

Some people fully discuss all of the content of a show when reviewing it, and of course in an episodic post I would consider the details of the series to be fair game, but I think that there’s also a place for reviews and discussions which don’t contain spoilers, despite my personal difficulties with knowing exactly what a spoiler may be.

Obviously if people are really concerned about not knowing about a particular thing they can try their best to avoid the information, but I think for many people there’s things which fall in-between really wanting to know all the possible details, and really wanting to avoid all possible details.

How much do you care about spoilers? What would spoil a show for you? Are there things which you would really hate to hear about or prefer to know in advance when watching an anime? I’d love to hear from you!

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30 thoughts on “You ruined everything! – Thoughts on spoilers

  1. I really hate spoilers and feel like they ruin the enjoyment of a show. It’s probably the biggest reason I try extra hard to write spoiler free reviews (a real challenge considering how much I usually have to say about a series!). I err on the side of caution as well. Eg: I might not even say that Light joins the Kira investigation, but if I did I would be careful not to reveal the circumstances under which he does.

    My reasoning behind this sentiment come down to a few reasons:

    One – The writer of the story or the production studio that made the anime intended for the viewer to experience it in a certain way. Differences in language or intended audience aside, they definitely didn’t create it so your friend can say “Oh, it was really cool when ABC happened because it really made XYZ make sense. Best series ever.” without you having seen it yourself.

    Two – There is an irreplaceable feeling when you see something or learn something for the very first time. Seeing anime as an art form, I value this feeling with every scene I watch because I’m only ever going to get to feel that way once. Different series have different rewatch potential, but you’re never going to be able to redo that moment.

    Three – This is heavily tied to the first two so I don’t know if I can make a third point of if, but here we are. I feel like when most people spoil, aside from those who do it maliciously, simply can’t hold back their excitement/shock/disgust over the thing they’re spoiling. It’s selfish and shows a lack of consideration for others (and if there’s one thing in this world I hate more than anything it’s inconsideration). If you were moved by a certain part of a show, wouldn’t you want others to feel that same way? Let them experience it and enjoy talking to them about it afterward.

    If you ever want help in deciding what is or what isn’t a spoiler, think about what surprised you in the show or what excited you when you first saw it. That’s usually a good candidate for exclusion if you’re writing a spoiler free post. Instead, talk about aspects of the series or episode that may be interesting and leave the juiciest details for the show itself.

    PS: Sorry for the long reply. I can’t help it sometimes! -_-‘

    Liked by 1 person

    • Long replies are interesting. It’s nice to know that people have read my thoughts and have something to say about them!

      My friend who told me about the ending of Death Note was only about 13 at the time (I was some years older), and I did speak to her about it (as in I mentioned most people don’t like it when you tell them the ending of something you’ve seen and they haven’t). I’d agree that it’s probably irrepressible excitement or really wanting to share their feelings with someone which motivates someone to knowingly or unknowingly spoil plot details. I think it definitely was in my friend’s case with Death Note as it’s such an exciting series and it keeps you guessing the whole time, and she probably didn’t have the maturity or life experience to understand why telling people these things may be a bad thing.

      I hadn’t really considered the idea that the creator had in mind for a show to be viewed in a particular way. I can honestly get a lot of different viewing experiences out of the same thing (watching it the first time, watching it again, watching it with a friend….), and I wouldn’t feel that any one of these is superior, although I know that a lot of people get excited by the novelty. I guess none of them are ‘I had my friend tell me the important plot details first’. There are definitely some series which I wouldn’t want to touch as a spoiler-free review for that reason, because I think that even discussing that they have a surprising twist would affect people’s view of the show.

      I guess did it surprise or excite me is reasonable when it comes to deciding if the details are a spoiler or not! I’ll definitely bear that in mind.

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  2. I did a post on this a while back and I’m much the same as you in that I don’t really care about spoilers because I rewatch and reread so many things that its definitely more about how we get to that point that’s important rather than what actually happens. That said, if I know I’m about to say something in a review that is a major plot point or something not revealed until later in the show I try to flag that there will be spoilers because I know some people don’t really want to know until after they’ve watched a show.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject.

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  3. I do a lot of my reviews spoiler free and if I i wish to do a seperate post on detailed things that happened in the series that I can freely speak about. People have a choice then of which one to read for example I’m working on a chihayafuru detailed post on the battles and teamwork I just in general like to talk about details things not in a review. Personally I avoid spoilers I don’t like going into a series blindly it’s more fun that way for me

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    • Having both an in-depth discussion and a spoiler-free one seems like it could be a good idea! Of course it would mean twice as much writing for me. ^_^ I suppose it would be an option for shows when I both would like to recommend it to others, and would also like a chance to discuss a certain aspect with those who have already seen the series.

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  4. I really enjoy going into shows a lot of times not knowing anything, so the element of surprise is big for me when watching a show for the first time. But with comedy, the jokes get better with age. So I suppose it is indeed a tricky, very grey area. Typically I try to make a separate section in a review that contains spoilers, since I know that I personally would get a little upset knowing the ending to a show.

    On a side note, to add to your remark about people who take some sort of pleasure in spoiling things for other people, they are getting way too clever about doing it. I remember a friend of mine who got the ending to a video game he was really looking forward to spoiled for him, by reading an article online that disguised itself as a news story. However, the article’s content was the ending of the video game. People are too crafty these days, it seems. They need to use their powers for good!

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  5. We’re on the same page. I also don’t mind spoilers. In fact, I sometimes ask friends to tell me what they know about a series when I find the first 3 episodes rather predictable. Although, I am also very critical in telling my friends not to tell me anything about a show when I find it mysterious and highly engaging.

    PsychoPass, for instance, roused my curiosity and I felt like uncovering what it was all about, how the Sibyl system works and what not so I’ve been very careful not to read reviews or let my friends spoil anything about it.

    Generally though, I don’t have anything against spoilers. I spoil stuff to my friends sometimes so, yeah. It’s a welcome thing that’s best given in moderation. Nice post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I wouldn’t go out of my way to tell people things unless they ask them, but I also have no qualms about asking people about the plot of something myself, especially like you said if I’ve seen a bit of a show but I’m not especially interested, or I think that it’s not to my taste but I’d still like to know what happens.

      As long as you only spoil things for friends who have asked you, I definitely don’t see the problem! While I think that some people really value being surprised when it comes to shows, it’s definitely not for everyone.

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  6. I think that how much something was intended to be a surprise is relevant.

    Sometimes spoilers can be hard to avoid and they don’t always ruin the scene, but they do tend to detract from it if being surprised was part of the point.

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    • There’s definitely shows which were surprising at the time which I think it would be almost impossible to go into now without at least knowing that there is some kind of twist even if you don’t know the details. You still get to get your own viewing experience of the show, but it wouldn’t be the same as watching it and being totally surprised.

      At the same time, if a show does break away from the expectations of its genre, I’m not sure if people would rather know this in advance or not. I watched Kuma Miko which dealt with some pretty heavy themes for what seemed like a fluffy slice of life show (I hope no-one is going to be upset about me revealing thematic details from a slice of life show), and I’m not sure if I would have picked it up knowing that in advance, or at least I would have watched it when in a different mood.

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  7. Spoilers for things like Pokemon Sun and Moon, video games that don’t have major plot to begin with, I enjoy hearing about. I watch my older brother who hasn’t learned a single thing about the games while I have gone to learn every possible detail.

    The spoilers that do bother me are for anime that are centered around their use of storytelling and surprise. These ruin my enjoyment of the piece and I will go radically far away from these kind of spoilers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it definitely highlights the differences between people that you’re happy to seek out things for Pokemon Sun and Moon and your brother is going out of his way to avoid them. It’s amazing the diversity of what can increase or decrease personal enjoyment of an experience! Hopefully you guys both have fun playing the game when it comes out though.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

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  8. Think spoilers just piss people off because they want to be able to be in the moment where their emotional peak is at its highest and have it satisfied dictated by the subject’s pace. Usually if people aren’t really into something, spoilers don’t bother them as much, while people who want to be able to feel the surprise of a major spoiler are likely super into it. Probably a manner of preserving that emotional impact for the right moment and to cherish that moment to add to their overall enjoyment of the subject. Plus it adds a lot to memorability. When I’m spoiled by something, I normally have that spoiler stuck in my head and become super-focused on when and how that spoiler will come into fruition during the course of the subject’s run, distracting me from other things that could be going on. I guess that added anticipation kind of dulls the other experiences one could have with the rest of things in the structure. That could also just be me being insane.

    In terms of reviews, the safest bet would just be to give off vague strengths/flaws about general terms such as “Story” and “Characters.” While that drives me insane, I try to make it so reviews are geared towards pointing out (still vague) points about why the plot/characters/whatever else are good/bad the way they’re presented. I think detailing specific scenes down to the background and exact dialogue is considered spoiler-heavy, but if one were to say “Blank is cool due to the repetition of honor he exudes in battle,” I think that’s fair game. It is, as you said, subjective, but I think people would be more appreciative if you kept things behind a bullet-proof window.

    Also, reviewing a series a week may be insane to some, but second nature to others. Just ask Karandi up above. Interesting piece.

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  9. I’m definitely amazed at how much Karandi posts each week! I know that her fairly short posting style definitely helps when it comes to making more posts, but I’m still in awe of her output!

    I think that’s an interesting point about if you know a spoiler, you’ll be constantly waiting for it to come up and wondering when it will happen and it can affect your immersion. I know this can definitely be the case for some movie trailers, especially if they show off a particular scene instead of just having a short teaser.

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  10. I’ve become dull towards spoilers, considering my mom spoilers everything in 100% detail of everything she does, be it movies, books or series. I still get a bit salty if I’m spoiled a twist tho xD But after a while, even if I get spoiled, I’ll continue because the journey is important too. Who hasn’t rewatched or reread their favorites? Did we like it less for already knowing the twists? The answer is no, plus the brain works by flushing out things, so by the time we rewatch or reread something, we’ve forgotten a lot about the journey, but still remember the end.
    People who cry “SPOILERS, YOU’VE RUINED MY LIFE” are over-dramatic tho

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    • Wow, it would be a bit frustrating to have your mom constantly tell you everything in detail. It’s one thing to not worry about finding out details yourself, but it’s another to find them out whether you like them or not!

      I definitely agree with you that experiencing the journey of a show or a book again can be just as enjoyable as seeing it the first time.

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  12. Speaking for myself, the reason I avoid spoilers to a rather extreme degree isn’t just for the sake of preserving the surprise of witnessing each show’s content for the first time but because I like the opportunity to form my own unbiased opinions. I like deciding for myself whether I think something is good or bad and why I think that is before seeking the opinions of others. This isn’t an ironclad rule or anything and I care a lot more about some shows than others but this is more or less why I avoid spoilers – I just value the feeling of not knowing what’s ahead and thinking for myself.

    When it comes to reviewing – I think the first thing to think about is what you’re trying to accomplish with a review. Are you trying to get people to avoid or watch a show? Or are you trying to share your opinion? I write spoiler-free reviews because I want to give people my impression of the show’s worth and what I think it did well and where it stumbled. To do so, I sacrifice the ability to be explicit – to talk about how dumb I think a certain scene was or how surprised I was when [X] happened. I’ve found the best way to balance this out is to talk about it elsewhere and write analysis where I can freely talk about things more comprehensively under the umbrella of a spoiler tag. Whether a review is for somebody who has never seen the show or is directed at those who have already come to their own conclusions I think is the crux of whether they should concern spoilers or not.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  13. You spoiled everything! Just kidding.
    Hmm I struggle figuring out what could be defined as a spoiler, too. That’s why I usually just slap on a warning about spoilers being in my post without exception. That way people who hates spoilers can avoid. Its probably a win-win.

    In regards to spoilers, I don’t particularly hate them. But I do try to avoid reading other episode reviews of shows I’m reviewing on a weekly basis to avoid having their interpretation affecting mine. But maybe it’s the wrong way to approach things.

    Thank you for sharing! You’re definitely right about Persona 4, by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Persona 4 is great! I’m so hyped for P5 coming out next year too.

      That’s an interesting point about you worrying about other people’s views affecting your own when reviewing a show. I actually like reading a broad range of reviews of something, although I haven’t done it concurrently to writing about the show yet. My taste in anime is such that I think I’m likely to do episodic reviews of shows not many people will pick up to blog about. I don’t see the internet ablaze about Long Riders. I think it is a fair point that other people’s views may colour your own, whether that’s good, bad, or merely inevitable.

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      • Fingers crossed for P5. It’s got big shoes to fill.
        Yeah, it’s just a bad tendency for me to get influenced too easily. But I do read other blogs’ episodic reviews after I write my own – just not before.
        Mmm I feel you. Long Riders just isn’t too popular, I guess. I’m not too impressed with it myself.
        Thank you. I think your willingness to browse other reviews and blogs is great. It really opens up discussion and perspective.
        Thank you once again for such a nicely written article.

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        • I’m in the weird position of being both interested in slice of life anime and cycling. I don’t think Long Riders has mass appeal, I don’t know if I’d go out suggesting it to others, but I’ve been really enjoying it. There’s a different cute girls doing cute cycling series announced for next season and I’ll probably watch and enjoy that too, despite hardly anyone else caring about it.

          I’m still pretty new to blogging, but I think that being open to discussing things with others is really good. I’ve had a chance to see lots of thoughtful opinions and also receive some on my own posts.

          P3 and P4 were both so good, hopefully P5 can live up to our expectations! It definitely has big shoes to fill.

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          • I totally understand your position. Being into things that could be considered niche is rough. As long as you’re enjoying, that’s all that matters.
            Oh, really? I’m always slow to take notice of the shows that’s to air the next season. It might be interesting to compare the two after the second series is done, yeah? That’ll be like 18 weeks from now, though, haha.
            Mmm that’s good. Blogging sure is tanoshii when the community is thoughtful and eloquent!
            Huge expectations! It’s been a long while since P4 was released, hasn’t it?

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  15. While I don’t mind spoilers, I would much rather not be spoiled in most cases. If you want to tell me about a show/movie/book/game I have no intention in watching/reading/playing, then all good. If it’s something I am indulging in, or plan to then please do not tell me anything. But if someone does spoil it for me, it’s not like I’ll be angry, or lose my enjoyment of said thing.

    It’s been said already, but I’ll say it again. My reasons for preferring not to be spoiled are because I want to experience the thing, the way it was intended to be experienced. Knowing what’s going to happen beforehand, makes that experience considerably less memorable or impactful. Things that are on the “higher end of the spoiler spectrum” are often things that are very surprising and carry emotional weight to them. I want to be emotionally overwhelmed in my otherwise generally unremarkable emotionally devoid apathetic life. Self-deprecation aside, I prefer not to be spoiled, but if I am spoiled, oh well.

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  16. Great topic of discussion. Personally, I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE spoilers!!!! I love them so much that I would spoil an entire anime if I could in my blog. I don’t warn others about spoilers in my blog. I’ve been called an a-hole, an SOB, a bastard and other similar insults just because I spoil shows. Oh well. Too bad. Don’t get me wrong though. I’m not always insensitive…there are a lot of times, that I’m careful for not spoiling shows, but where’s the fun in that? People are different. I’m the type of person who’ll read the last chapter of a novel first…not all the time, but often. I’m just too curious of a person, I guess. However, there are times that I avoid spoilers just because I want to heighten the suspense and I end up being heartbroken because I was caught off-guard by a favourite character’s death that I didn’t see coming. (wipes tears)
    Anyway, this has been an enjoyable read. Thank you for sharing it to my blog carnival. I appreciate it. Keep on watching anime… Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think there’s definitely a place for detailed plot discussion, and it’s not bad having blogs which do that. Plus, I think some things are just so well known in the public consciousness that it would be almost impossible to watch a show without knowing them in advance (Soylent Green is people and such). I have to admit that sometimes I’ll crack and read the last chapter of a book part way through too! Sometimes the suspense gets to be too much and I just want to know. I find it just as interesting seeing how events get to the conclusion even if I know the conclusion in advance.

      Thanks so much for hosting the carnival and your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Great to hear. Indeed, there’s definitely a place for spoilers. I also understand that there are a lot of people who avoid spoilers because they want to discover the ending for themselves. Unfortunately I’m not that kind of person. So for people who avoid spoilers, don’t visit my blog. I personally like reading reviews filled with spoilers. I find “spoiler-free” reviews too general and, frankly, boring. It’s just my preference. And you’re right. Since we’re so connected to each other through the Internet, it’s almost impossible to watch a show without knowing what it’s going to be about in advance. Anyway, you’re very welcome. Feel free to join us again for the next blog carnival this coming December. Cheers!

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