For about a week Twitch and Crunchyroll paired up to stream anime on Twitch. Crunchyroll picked a couple of popular and well liked anime from the past few years and you could tune in, jumping in and out with the live stream as the chat scrolled down the side. I tuned in for a few episodes myself because it was hard to stop myself. Partly because they basically picked all my favourite anime from the last year with Mob Psycho, Yuri on Ice and Tanya the Evil, partly because I wanted to see what watching anime with a live chat would be like, and finally because I think this is a super cool initiative I would like to see return someday, and I’m pretty sure it will do too.
It’s not like watching anime with a live chat is exactly new. Heck it’s what Nico Nico has been doing for years, although it never really caught on when they tried to do it with English-subtitled anime. But Twitch-streaming anime caught on with an audience that are used to watching streaming TV in general and watch a lot less regular cable TV, if they watch any at all. At one point watching Mob Psycho it reached 34,000 concurrent viewers. I’m pretty sure that’s nowhere near what concurrent viewers you would get on American TV, but that’s still a lot of people.
More importantly, there’s a good chance it caught people who have never watched anime before because it was right up the top of the most popular streams basically the entire time it was running. Crunchyroll basically picked perfect anime to run during it as well, even if everything wasn’t to my personal liking, there were no obvious stinkers (although trying to convert a new anime fan with Kemono Friends feel like a misguided effort, I can at least get why they felt it was worth a shot sticking in the low-viewer timeslot). Flicking on the show as a young, impressionable teen boy and catching a few episodes of Mob Psycho and wondering what the hell is this thing, or a young teen girl clicking on Yuri on Ice just in time for Yuri to start his routine where he turns to the camera and kisses and the entire chat fills up with WE WERE BORN TO MAKE HISTORY. It leaves an impression that I can see new fans wanting to find more.
I hope to see Crunchyroll and Twitch bring it back one day. Keep it infrequent, like maybe every 3 months or so. Especially if they could get a big shounen like Naruto or Dragonball, or heck even all of Attack on Titan would be great. Particularly if it shows success, companies could be eager to get in on it. It has the potential to bring in new fans in a way TV used to and does less so nowadays. Anime probably has never been bigger nor more visible than it is right now, but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying to attract new people. It’s an interesting move by Crunchyroll too. As they’re getting outbid for all the best new anime, they instead double down on their catalogue and getting their name out there as THE place to watch anime. Especially if Funimation backs them on this and starts to throw some of their best catalogue titles on there (again, throw Dragonball up there). In turn though it does make it weird that Twitch were OK with this. Aren’t they owned by Amazon? Shouldn’t they be competitors? I mean whoops shhh maybe Amazon doesn’t realise this happened.
As for the live chat itself, it has its ups and downs. It was fun watching Yuri on Ice all constantly spam WE WERE BORN TO MAKE HISTORY and rainbow faces (KappaPride ya’ll) while every minute some impressionable young bloke would come in and say “wait this is really gay isn’t it”. It was slightly less fun to watch Tanya the Evil and the neo-nazis come out of the woodwork. Sure I could try typing an explanation about how this is really about the flaws of viewing the world through a psychopathic lens, but that would get lost under a stream of GOING TO JAIL feelsbadman. I definitely think it works better for marathoning anime you’ve already seen so you’re less bothered about missing parts. And there are anime I would never touch Twitch chat with, like the Monogatari Series. But then there are others like…
I want to watch Code Geass with Twitch. Please. Make it happen.