OPELOUSAS, LA — Mason Dougherty sits quietly in his room — full of crooked wall scrolls, misplaced figures, and empty tissue boxes stacked ceiling-high — staring forlornly at his computer screen. It’s been a difficult few days for the 34-year-old, who after repeated absences from his customer service job finds himself unemployed again.
This is the third job he’s been fired from this year, and it means he’ll owe his step-aunt yet another month of rent. He spends most his time at home watching anime, having recently dropped out of community college because it’s too far away and his mother stopped allowing him to borrow her car.
“It’s a pretty big bummer,” Dougherty tells Anime Maru. “I hit one mailbox and it’s like a big deal or something.”
But among the piles of unpaid bills, worn clothing, and fast food containers, Dougherty still finds positivity in his life: his anime fandom. Over the course of 15 years, Dougherty has completed over 2000 anime and logged each one meticulously on his MyAnimeList profile, complete with a normalized score, tags, and a brief paragraph on what he thought of the shows. His collection is carefully archived on multiple external hard drives: indexed by year, season, season, studio, and title. For many series, he even has downloaded and watched multiple fansubbing groups.
“For example, Lunar’s subs for Ashiteruze Baby is the most popular,” he explains. “But I liked AnimeOne’s typesetting better and I think a.f.k translated the common Japanese idioms best.”
He showed our correspondents his method of tracking exactly when each of the 27 shows he is watching this season airs in Japan, and he uses a meticulously fine-tuned series of automated scripts, calendars, and macros to schedule downloads and livestreams. Dougherty brags how he has developed an algorithm to watch shows in a specific order to optimize his enjoyment and get him in the mood to watch the next anime, all while balancing when the shows air so he is always up to date on the latest episodes. For several hours a day, every second of his life is scheduled.
“I like anime, but I do get bored of it and wish I could do something more productive,” Dougherty told Anime Maru while poring over an open Microsoft Project Gantt chart that he was scripting to synchronize with his Android phone via Google Calendar. “But I guess I just don’t have any skills that help me in real life.”