It’s probably been lurking inside my mind for years, but I became particularly cognizant of this phenomenon during the Summer 2017 anime season. I realized that a lot of viewers seemingly draw premature conclusions based on the titles of anime series. In other words, their first impressions are influenced by their perception of these titles for better or for worse.
For example, Knight’s & Magic received a lot of flak for the extraneous apostrophe. Even before the show started airing, you could see people mocking the unnecessary diacritical mark as proof the show was trying to be extra. Humorously enough, Karandi likened the unneeded punctuation mark as being emblematic of the series’ tendency to go abandon moderation for the sake of being cool. And I find myself feeling the same way after tolerating 13 episodes of a mediocre series that neglected pacing and characterization in order to focus on flashy robot battles. So in a way, this particular first impression based on a title was actually accurate! Imagine that!
The same can’t be said for Tsurezure Children and Princess Principal, however. I came across several individuals who had mistaken the title as “Tsundere Children” and who refused to watch the series until they became aware of their error. In their minds, the fact that a series was (not) titled after an extremely common character archetype made them assume that the series in turn would just be another common, dime-a-dozen series that lacked any sense of nuance. They reached that conclusion just from one word that wasn’t actually there!
And then Tsurezure Children turns out to be one of the most memorable modern rom-com series in recent times due to making good use of its episode length as an anime short, featuring hilarious reactions as well as situations, and for portraying couples who actually get to confessing early on instead of dragging it out for an entire cour (well, that wasn’t the case for every couple in Tsurezure Children, but the go-getters were definitely the majority). Talk about a misleading first impression!
Similarly, Princess Principal looks and sounds like a title that was chosen just because the two words formed an elementary level alliteration. I saw individuals admit that the title led them to think it would be a typical “Cute Girls Doing Cute Things” show (and indirectly revealing that they didn’t actually read the summary or watch the trailer before starting the series).
To be fair, however, the tag #PriPri is pretty great. Furthermore, the series was actually awesome with steampunk, spies, ninjas, political drama, AND princesses despite the anachronic episode order which seemed to do little for Princess Principal as a whole. Yes, I’ve gone back and forth on that last bit several times to the point that I’m about as flip-floppity as a pancake, but I’m resting my case here until someone else can convince me. The important point, however, is that this first impression, which was based on a less than impressive title, was also hilariously incorrect!
In the service industry (according to Gordon Ramsay, at least), first impressions are everything. It’s hard to deny the impact first impressions have on anime viewers, too. Just take a look at the examples I’ve brought up in which viewers start assuming before they even start viewing just because of their opinions of a show’s title.
This tendency may be difficult to stop for some. In fact, maybe it’s preferable to not stop assuming based off a title since it could make for an amusing anecdote to tell others later on. I just thought this whole business was rather entertaining.