The first anime I ever binge-watched was Love Hina. I don't actually remember the series well anymore. It was when I was barely out of high school with few responsibilities, just entering the workforce, and KaZaA was the go-to source for anything worth watching. I learned the basics of Japanese etiquette (and lack thereof), honorifics, and school culture. It was also the first subtitled series I watched and I knew by the end that I wanted to learn Japanese. Still working on that.
That was almost two decades ago and the very idea of binge-watching anything was thoroughly scrubbed out of my system by the washboard of responsibility. I had actually forgotten how to watch anything for any significant length of time without darting off to the web to find trivia about the very thing I'm watching. What are the character bios, who was the orginal manga author that inspired it, who were the voice actors, are any of the people still alive etc...
The Internet had robbed me of my ability to enjoy the things it offers.
The notion of sitting down to take in the labor of the creators was slowly fading away. Even owning the DVDs didn't prevent me from grabing the laptop. I think I realized how bad things were when I couldn't sit through Spirited Away or Nausicaa again without pausing to browse.
What was I doing?
The first episode of Yawara!, by Naoki Urasawa ironically, was going the same way for me until the end credits shocked my system into stopping. Something about that last song, "Stand by Me" with vocals by Himenogi Rika, and the changing seasons in the credits really pulled me in. I was too young to remember the 80s and most of the early 90s, but here I am, bathed over with nostalgia and a strong desire to continue watching.
Romance has for some reason been a prerequisite for most of the series I've enjoyed. If there's nothing to love, it usually doesn't hold my interest. That's not to say I don't enjoy the occassional hack and smash as much as the next person, but there's the human connection has to be there somewhere. Yawara! has its share of over-the-top scenes typical for late 80s anime, especially for a sports and martial arts themed show, but I'm enjoying that human feeling most of all. I'm not sure how it's possible, but I feel a longing that I'm think was felt in contemporary audiences when it first aired. I think that's the hallmark of a great series; Making you feel without the wisdom of experience.
I first came across this series, which is almost unkown in the U.S., because of Naoki Urasawa's Monster. Who knew the Manga Hitchcock had romance and comedy in him. I just finished episode 12 before stopping for a snack, a bathroom break, and to write this post.