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Note: I have nothing against any user. They are free to ask any question about any show as long as they are on-topic.


Suppose X is an anime. Consider it a light hearted slice-of-life show meant for casual watch and occasionally throw jokes for giggles. Now, if I want to discuss something about the show, for e.g. "why is this phrase used in this joke?" or "why is this character holding this thing while delivering the joke?" or "why is this character wearing this costume at this time of the year?", this could ruin the show considering it is just a casual show not meant for analyzing any minute details.

I get some users will not understand something and they are free to here but then again if we were to discuss each and every bit of the show, that will lead to the site being an open ended discussion forum rather than a proper Q&A site (Do note that some shows are plot heavy and sometimes confusing like NGE, Naruto etc. and it is inevitable that somebody will ask questions on this type of show).

It seems like a rant but my genuine question is: Is it ok to overanalyze an anime?

Tangentially related: Is it ever acceptable to ask about whether an anime event is realistic or plausible?

Some users may not like this post and I welcome every form of downvote/criticism. But I would like to have a community view on this

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  • Do you perhaps have some example questions of what you would consider over analyzing? there are some good questions I know that have been asked for the current examples you give, and fail to see how this could ruin the show/experience.
    – Dimitri mx Mod
    Apr 21 at 8:15
  • 1
    Thank you for bringing this up. I have seen so many questions in the last few months that I (personally) have considered really over-the-top coming from this perspective. @Dimitrimx This is one I remember which I considered overanalyzed (sorry Pablo if you're reading this :)) Apr 21 at 18:46
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    @Dimitrimx recent questions from Kaguya-sama-love-is-war Apr 22 at 2:25
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    @Wondercricket thanks for the example, I've closed that one with a link to the "realistic or plausible post" mentioned above. As I agree, that question is strongly over analyzed. Anime is (usually) not based in/on reality in such a way. And we should not assume it to be so.
    – Dimitri mx Mod
    Apr 22 at 23:06
  • OMG is this about me? I saw this in hot meta ' Is it ok to overanalyze an anime?' and then the post says 'a light hearted slice-of-life show meant for casual watch and occasionally throw jokes for giggles'. Edit: 'recent questions from Kaguya-sama-love-is-war' --> HAHAHAHAHA LOL ok it's definitely about me then right? XD
    – BCLC
    Apr 25 at 14:05
  • I have 2 more questions for you. 1 - Why do you have to bring genre into this? This kind of question for Death Note it's fine, but when it comes to Kaguya-sama, there's an issue? Perhaps your question should be like is it ok to overanalyse comedy anime or a joke in an anime. 2 - Kaguya-sama is supposed to be like Death Note/Kaiji/Akagi but applied to romance right? (They've got red vs blue, and they've got a narrator...)
    – BCLC
    Apr 25 at 14:08
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    Hi @BCLC. Just to make myself clear, I am not throwing any personal attacks here. If I had issues with your questions, then I would have asked "why BCLC is asking such type of questions?". I am asking as a general question and it's nothing to do with you. Apr 26 at 1:25
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    Personally, I also follow the show. Being a non speaker of Japanese language, I also find some jokes difficult to understand because subtitle doesn't do justice, but that doesn't mean I'll go and ask "why the character used this phrase?" everytime I'll get confused. But then again it's your choice and nobody is stopping you to ask such questions, at least not me. Apr 26 at 1:29
  • Fumikage Tokoyami, oh yeah I know it's not a personal attack. (I even upvoted your post.) But what made you think of this question was my questions right? XD
    – BCLC
    Apr 26 at 3:51

4 Answers 4

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Personally, I would say that overanalyzing is not good, but analyzing is.

Especially in the more casual shows, jokes and comedy are often hidden in the minute details. These require the viewer to have a decent, if not good understanding of either Japanese, Japanese culture, and sometimes even both. Those kind of questions can either be a hit or miss, as the answer may just be "there is no special meaning here"

However the premise, phrasing, and scope of a question is really important.

For example: "why is this phrase used in this joke?"
The title implies that there is some context as to why it's strange, or out of place that a certain phrase is used within a joke. In the question body it's reasonable to expect the OP gives some context as to why they consider this out of place or strange.

If no such context is given, it's reasonable to ask for additional details. And if non such are given, or the reason given is strongly opinionated we have the close reason Needs details or clarity.

The other end of this being "Why is this phrase used" which would be too broad, and could also be closed as such.

Off course there will always be edge cases. In those scenario's feel free to reach out and see what others in the community think. You can do so via a meta post addressing the particular post, or drop by in the chat to discuss the post in question with other community members.

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  • TL;DR base by base casis?
    – BCLC
    Apr 25 at 14:00
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There might be problems, but I think "overanalyze" might not be the term we're looking for. As far as I can tell, "overanalyze" just means to analyze in too much detail. I think this is a little too vague and subjective to be forming site policy on.

I actually think a lot of my questions and answers would fall under the category of overanalysis, such as this one: Why did Hiruzen not meet with Fugaku? and this one: Did Miki really never bully Shoko?. Or this: Has Miko Ino's morality been corrupted?. But I'm not sure this is what you're actually worried about or not. Based on what I'm reading, I think you might mean something different. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe you might want to know whether it's okay to ask questions that seem to be analysis questions on the surface, but are actually complaints about a series or it's characters.

I think this problem needs to be broken down into different parts, which might need additional Meta questions (or might already be answered).

"This Show is Ridiculous" Masquerading as Analysis Questions

Sometimes users ask a question, but what they're really doing is complaining about a show.

From time to time, we get questions like this (this is one of mine): Is there any explanation for how Akihiko Kayaba managed to trap everyone in SAO?

Perhaps a better example of a bad question: Why didn't Ash release Charizard?

These questions can be annoying, but often they can be objectively answered with a little (or a lot) of overexplaining. Though sometimes the answer is so obvious that it's questionable whether anything of value to the site is generated. I'm not sure if we have any Meta questions about these types of questions. If not, perhaps someone should ask. This is probably the closest thing we have right now: How should we deal with posts that complain about the plot/characters/author?

Users Treating the Site Like a Forum

This can happen with the previous category, if one gives an objective answer and the user doesn't accept it, and ends up writing a lot of comments and being chatty. I would say this is actually a user behavior problem, so the solution isn't close votes, but rather to explain the rules to the user. Though if the user is inviting discussion in a question (for example, by asking whether Superman or Goku would win in a fight), that can usually be closed on the grounds of opinion-based.

Reality Check Questions

Such as this one: How is Misaka's railgun so destructive? or the previously mentioned Why was the Otsusuki clan genetically compatible with humans to the point they could have children?. These would seem to already have a Meta post: Is it ever acceptable to ask about whether an anime event is realistic or plausible?

Personally, I kind of like questions like these, and I especially like seeing the clever answers we sometimes get. The problem is whether the users on here have the expertise and patience for answering them. I don't know whether or not they should be on topic.

Overanalyzing

As far as overanalyzing and analyzing go, I don't think these questions should be closed as being out of the scope of the site unless they're obviously going to generate opinion-based answers. However, I can see overanalyzing questions being annoying, as they might require an excessive amount of work to anyone trying to answer. If someone is willing to do the work, then the question can be answered. If not, it just gets ignored and maybe downvoted.

And we can perhaps take a note from the Literature site, where they say literary analysis is on topic: https://literature.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/42/is-literary-analysis-on-topic

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Honestly I'm just happy that people are asking questions about anime on the site.

This is way too much hand wringing IMO; we're not getting into a situation where the questions are explicitly and blatantly off-topic, and there can be answers for them that do have some kind of benefit for those who are curious.

When it becomes a problem, I think we'll know about it. But for now, I'm content with letting sleeping dogs lie on this.

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  • (I think I kinda agree with your conclusion but disagree with your reasoning but anyway...) I think this sounds like something you'd say if this site hasn't, what's the term, 'graduated' (?) from beta, but this site has, soooo...?
    – BCLC
    Apr 28 at 12:24
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    @BCLC: Yes, but traffic on this site that wasn't just localized to identifying some thing from an anime is virtually nonexistent. So, seeing someone talk about anime in this capacity is a refreshing break from the norm. Again I stress - once it's actually a problem we should do something about it, but so far I haven't personally seen it raise to the level of "problem" such that it's choking off other legitimate traffic or draining attention away from other questions.
    – Makoto
    Apr 28 at 15:54
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Actually you didn't (directly? explicitly?) answer my question

Why do you have to bring genre into this? This kind of question for Death Note it's fine, but when it comes to Kaguya-sama, there's an issue? Perhaps your question should be like is it ok to overanalyse comedy anime or a joke in an anime.

But anyway...

My obviously biased answer to your question, which I find good and which I upvoted, is

  1. I note your example is comedy anime.

  2. What I understand of the term 'overanalyse' here is applying the way 1 would analyse a drama anime to a comedy anime.

  3. And to say that if it's ok to 'overanalyse'/analyse a drama anime, then there shouldn't be an issue in 'overanalysing' a comedy anime...unless there's something up specifically with comedy anime, that I may have overlooked.

Note: For the case of dramedy anime...I guess it's about the specific question like if it's about a comedic or a dramatic part of the anime.

Happy Easter!


Edit 1: Ah, unexplained downvotes because of my arrogance when they actually agree with me. Interesting.....

FYI Shaymin Gratitude answered after I mentioned this meta post here: Has Miko Ino's morality been corrupted? (where Shaymin Gratitude self-answers a question about Miko Iino from Kaguya-sama).


Edit 2: About Kaguya-sama and Death Note:

Also at first, he wanted to do more intellectual battles like Death Note but the theme changed more to "clashing of romantic emotions".

  • Edit 2.1: This is what OP says

Yes, definitely both show started on the right note on having intellectual battles

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    I have just read your answer and let me answer your question that here: I intentionally chose comedy/SoL anime because there is nothing to be asked. They are made just for casual watch and not meant to be taken seriously. I am pretty sure the author didn't thought of this much while making the anime. Surely, some things are left unexplained for us to speculate, so should we go ahead and ask, "what's the joke here?". Why does it matter to discuss a character's height? Why does it matter that the character did this and not this? It's pure fiction and let it that way (I didn't downvote btw) Apr 29 at 3:13
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    As for Kaguya sama, at this point you have almost asked around 20 questions (I didn't count). You have almost took the show to absolute limit and took the skeleton out of show. I am very sure, the author didn't thought of that much. Maybe you want to contact the author if he ever has writer's block. (Don't take this seriously, I am seeing the funnier side of things) Apr 29 at 3:18
  • @FumikageTokoyami Anyway, so why don't you edit your post to ask what you really mean: about comedy anime ?
    – BCLC
    Apr 29 at 5:03
  • @FumikageTokoyami Wait what about 1 - anime.stackexchange.com/questions/62274/… ? 2 - Kaguya-sama is supposed to be like Death Note/Umineko/Kaiji/Akagi but applied to romance right? (They've got red vs blue like Death Note/Umineko, and they've got a narrator like Kaiji/Akagi...)
    – BCLC
    Apr 29 at 5:26
  • 1. For that post, you can talk to Shaymin. 2. Why are comparing Kaguya and DN? One is romcom and other is a psychothriller with murderous intent. Just because both has psychology involved, that doesn't mean you can say they are similar. C'mon leave Kaguya alone. It is supposed to be a casual show. Apr 29 at 7:37
  • @FumikageTokoyami 'Also at first, he wanted to do more intellectual battles like Death Note but the theme changed more to "clashing of romantic emotions".' What do you say to this?
    – BCLC
    Apr 29 at 8:06
  • I don't want to engage in this discussion anymore but Kaguya and DN are two different show. Yes, definitely both show started on the right note on having intellectual battles, but the theme changed. Now, Kaguya is nowhere near to DN. Apr 29 at 9:08
  • @FumikageTokoyami 'Yes, definitely both show started on the right note on having intellectual battles' Ah yes. Exactly.
    – BCLC
    Apr 29 at 11:31
  • @FumikageTokoyami Is this overanalysis? Does Kaguya actually have doubt about Miyuki Shirogane? I thought the whole point of the series is there should be no doubt. (S03E08) (I assume you will focus on not the length but the purpose of the question itself.)
    – BCLC
    May 29 at 10:15
  • Dimitri mx, is it targeting if it's a compliment? Lol. I think Shaymin Gratitude will take it as a compliment, but maybe for others who don't like overanalysing anime they will see it as that I'm insulting Shaymin Gratitude. But Shaymin Gratitude and I know I am complimenting Shaymin Gratitude
    – BCLC
    Jul 20 at 14:05

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