There's been some pretty good stuff lately, I doubt I'll forget something like Made in Abyss or SSR any time soon.
There are so many factors that go into that. Perhaps you just naturally find things less memorable over time, regardless of quality, because each one is a less novel experience and adds a proportionally smaller amount to your total time watching anime. Perhaps your tastes are changing, and nowadays the types of series you pick up aren't as memorable for you. Perhaps the anime you remember more vividly are those which you discussed heavily on busy internet communities, but now you don't spend as much time reading, posting, or making or finding OC about them, so the overall experience is diminished. Perhaps you've been picking up too many things each season, and so they're competing more for head space. Perhaps you're just in a slump.
And yes, it's true, over time the industry has trended from fewer, longer series to many more, shorter ones. And some people lament that not every series gets a huge dedicated fanbase that sticks around for years anymore. So the paradigm is slightly different now, but I don't really see that as a bad thing. And I personally haven't felt that anime are exactly "less memorable" recently, but my criteria are probably a lot different than yours.
there's a lot of good stuff, so it's harder to make out anything that truly outshines the rest
we live in the golden age of anime, after all
Seikon no Qwaser was pretty memorable for me.
I don't think it's less memorable per-se. Madoka, Fate/Zero, etc. might be some of the few super-memorable shows (though, since I have good memory and watched loads of shows, I can think of many more, like Dantalian, Black Bullet, D-Frag!, KLK mainly for how stupid it was, Log Horizon, Overlord, Gate, etc.), but think of this another way - how many big super-memorable shows were there for the decades before this one? Lucky Star, TTGL, EoE, Kenshin, Haruhi…
When it comes down to it, this is essentially the same complaint that no quality writing is being churned out anymore, because we look back we see masterpieces like Moby-Dick, we see King Lear, we see the Death of Ivan, we see the Raven, we see the Divine Comedy and the Journey to the West. And we look around and we see Hunger Games, 50SoG, and assorted rubbish piled as high as the sky.
But then you think a little. How many of those rubbish heaps do you remember from when Tolkein was around? When it comes down to it it's not so much "less memorable anime is being produced", so much as "you don't remember how much unmemorable anime was produced", because in the end the other anime were memorable enough to ping in your head as 'right, something aired then'. When we think of Lucky Star or whatnot, many of the 'trash' anime that aired around it, doesn't even register as having potentially existed, like how it doesn't register that, potentially, there was plenty of garbage churned out alongside Crime and Punishment.
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Sorry for the late response to your quality post. This isn't sarcastic either, just stating so you don't think I am being an asshole.
I think you're probably right on the mark. I've watched more anime proportionately to what I had when I started, so everything seems to blur together. To be honest, I can't remember a single show I watched from 2012 onward. I won't even be able to remember a single thing from 2017 probably by Spring 2018. I remember them if I see the name, but if I think of shows I've watched in the past years, I can't come up with their names on my own.
When I started watching/getting into anime, it was such a foreign thing to me. Stuff like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya or Gurren Lagann captivated me with just how foreign and interesting the concepts were. They were truly like none other; I had not seen anything like it at the time.
The highschool setting and general differences in Japan of Haruhi was incredibly intriguing to me, where as now I know just about everything the "high school" setting could offer me, so proportionally its less memorable. Maybe if I had started anime with something newer that was a High School setting, such as Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, that's what I would consider "memorable anime"?
I think the biggest part though is definitely in talking about them on internet communities. I would never have gotten so heavily into things like Code Geass, Fate/Stay Night, Haruhi, Lucky Star, etc., if there weren't constantly threads and images and jokes and pictures and lore and general "what if Shirou did ___" type questions to be shared and discussed. Now it seems like the shows that are talked about are just talked about because people have made an identity out of the show, rather than the show being something genuinely entertaining.
This is another good thing I hadn't really thought of. I've only been into anime since the 2000s, but the stuff that I was into when I was getting into it was the bigger stuff because it was more entry level and accessible to new people like myself. Imagine watching something like Revolutionary Girl Utena as your first anime. You'd be really confused! If it's something like Haruhi or TTGL though, there's not much you can't get from following along.
My parents would often sing along to no name people from the 70s on the Radio when I was a kid, and I would always be confused because I had never heard of the bands before even though they insisted they were popular back then. I had heard of the "defining artists" of that era, though.
Maybe I should take a break from anime for a bit. I've been watching it consistently for over 10 years now, I guess it's bound to get a little stale by then.
Utena was one of the first anime I watched when I started moving past Sailor Moon and Speed Racer reruns to more "serious" stuff. I loved it, but I didn't understand it. I've rewatched it as an adult and I still don't feel like I have a handle on it.