First, some recommended reading.

They just found out that Snape killed Dumbledore.

The situation regarding spoilers in anime is rather interesting. Many series use linear storylines, which often rely on suspense in order to keep the viewer interested; getting “spoiled” can often ruin the emotional impact and overall impression on the viewer. This can often have significant effects on the critique a show receives; did Sunrise mess up GSD as much as we all think it did, or did we ruin it for ourselves by reading the Gunota spoilers half a dozen episodes ahead?

Because many shows are based on manga series, games, or novels, a Gunota-type source is not necessary for most people to locate spoilers. This can put a sort of burden on the creators of such a show, since they need to please both the new audience and those who are already familiar with the franchise and know how all the events will play out. (For example, this may be why I haven’t found Bleach episodes very entertaining for a long time, since I’ve read pretty far ahead in the manga.)

Those who exclusively watch fansubs can even easily “spoil” the events of the next episode just by reading bloggers’ entries on the original broadcasts or raws, finding out what happens in the episode possibly several days before actually watching it.

How much does being “spoiled” by a show affect you when you watch anime (including times when you watch a show a second time)? Do you end up paying attention to finer details like animation quality, audio, voice acting, and such? Do people actually enjoy a show any more or less after having been spoiled or while viewing it a second time?

The answers to these questions probably varies depending on the work in question. I enjoyed My-HiME the second time through at least as much as the first time, despite knowing everything that was going to happen; watching Noir the second time, on the other hand, was not nearly as entertaining for me as the first. I watched Gundam SEED without any exposure to spoilers, but read spoilers as soon as they were available for GSD; I enjoyed the latter far less.

Like Jonathan Gray, I usually avoid spoilers; I like to allow myself to be “tricked” by the writers of a work, because that way I am viewing it as they intended.

Aside: Just like seemingly everyone else, I’ve been watching The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya this season, and thinking about how “spoilers” affect thoughts on that show is awkward because, due to its irregular order, it contains numerous self-spoilers. The episode with the Computer Club’s challenge to the SOS-dan, for instance, was a lot less dramatic because the laptops were shown to be in their possession in a previous episode. I wonder if the show would have been better had it been shown in chronological order (even if it would have had less of a viewer base, since Mikuru no Bouken seemed to have gotten everyone interested in the show hook, line, and sinker).