One of the tenets of keeping peace within any anime club is making sure people who have previously seen the shows being screened do not talk about future plot points and effectively “spoil” the experience for those yet to watch them. Same rule applies for AMVs of shows being screened that use footage from as-of-yet-unseen episodes. The definitions of what is considered “spoiler” material differs from person to person but there seem to be underlying standards in classifying them. Although this type of jerkish behavior occurs in other media like movies or television, I think it’s due to happen more often with anime because different people watch fansubs/DVDs along a seemingly wider spectrum of time.
What can be universally agreed upon as a “spoiler” is giving away plot details or the ending of a show or movie that a person would find out in the regular course of watching said piece of medium. Bluntly stating who gets together with whom at the end of a romance anime may save a current or potential viewer from sitting through tens of episodes but most of the enjoyment that comes out of watching a series is seeing the characters, and the relationships between them, develop over time and speculating week-to-week with co-viewers or in solitary as to what will happen next.
Now for the splitting hairs and personal views portion. I wouldn’t consider something like a throwaway joke or line to be a spoiler because it has little to no effect on the plot. I am wary of calling discussion of a comedic scene or sequence (such as Twister in Honey & Clover) as spoiling it because while it doesn’t seem to advance the relationships of the people involved, that particular Twister eats up a lot of time during the episode in which it occurs. The argument on the other side is “Now I’m going to be waiting for that particular part to come up! Thanks a lot!” That is a good one but if one only mentions said scene and doesn’t elaborate on it (like also saying which episode), I don’t see a problem unless that person, for some odd reason, then waits in baited breath in the coming weeks for it to happen. Most likely the person will forget about it a couple days later and it won’t come up again.
I suppose anyone, especially bloggers, could argue a variation of “fair use” when making top ten lists (e.g. favorite death scenes). Also I think there is a faux statute of limitations on anime that have been out for a while. Don’t know exactly how long “a while” would be but more than three or five years? Things like Evangelion are fair game in my book but they may not be where you are so check the otaku pulse in your area for details on how to comfortably proceed.
There is one series that we are currently showing in club that a significant amount of members have seen before: Ouran Host Club. The others — like KIBA and Hunter x Hunter — are less high-profile and almost no one is likely to have seen it prior to this year, which is a good thing. I would rather have a club discover new anime they have never experienced rather than be weighed down by “fan favorite” shows.
However, there is a downside to selecting a show to screen that only you or a couple of other people have seen in its entirety. Once you let it that fact slip out, then some first-timers will pose general, explanatory questions. It’s kind of like how you unfortunately become the “computer guy” of your apartment complex when you fix one thing, except less annoying. This is happening to me this year regarding Mahoraba and of what little queries there have been, they have included “how many personalities does [Kozue] have” and “why is Sayoko depressed”. Most of my replies have included some variation of “you’ll find out later”, the more polite way of saying “stop asking questions and watch the story develop”.
*sigh* If only there was a way to use a [spoiler][/spoiler] tag in face-to-face conversations, this whole thing would be an non-issue. Or maybe a “bleep” sound like they use on TV or edited versions of songs. Perhaps the best solution would be just to ask someone if they’ve seen a series and carry on according to their response. By the way, I am not trying present myself as all-knowing on the subject of spoilers — I just felt like musing on it for a bit and getting my thoughts out. I’m sure I could have written this more succinctly but if you’re already this far down, then you must not have cared about the length that much.
So what’s your criteria for determining what’s a spoiler and what’s not, or do you just not care at all? Do you feel a little guilty when someone yells “Spoiler!” at you and covers their ears or do you evilly chuckle at how silly they look? I prefer the laughing myself although I do respect most pleas to stop in order to avoid prolonged tension.