The Problem With Traditional Anime Reviews

If you’ve been watching anime for any length of time, you probably can think of a show you watched that didn’t live up to the hype surrounding it. You might even have a show that you absolutely love, but it seems like nobody has even heard of it. Maybe there’s a show that you just simply think is “underrated”.

So how do we decide which anime are worthwhile? Everyone probably has their own methods, but I’d like to focus on the traditional point review system for this post.

Traditional review sites are great. If there’s an anime I’m curious about, I can hop over to My Anime List or Anime-Planet and see how popular or well-received that anime is to get an idea of what I might be getting myself into. Anime Planet even has a fairly large collection of recommendations of similar anime. These recommendations can be really useful when you crave more of a certain genre or sub-genre.

However, I’ve come to realize that not only do I dislike the standard point-based rating systems, I am almost incapable of actually giving something a score myself. Lately, it feels like the more anime I watch, my tastes move further and further away from the mainstream.

Genesis of Aquarion is a perfect example of an objectively terrible anime that is amazingly enjoyable.

Genesis Of Aquarion

The plot is nonsense, the animation looks awful, and the dialogue is cheesier than you can imagine. However, it has an amazing soundtrack (thank you Yoko Kanno) and is silly enough to be a fun watch. Also, I happened to be drinking with a friend when we watched this show, so that also likely contributed to its enjoyment. I’ll probably go into depth on Aquarion in a future post, but my point is that it’s not something that I would have found had I gone by a standard rating system.

Ratings as of 6/29/2016
Anime-planet: Rank #2,676, 3.3/5 stars
MAL: Ranked #2574, Popularity #1117, Score 7.21/10

The opening is amazing too:

Of course, there are examples in the other direction as well. Take “C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control” for example.

It's all subjective, I guess.
It’s all subjective, I guess.

The premise sounds interesting enough, the opening is awesome, and the reviews look pretty decent. This kind of ties into my original premise that enjoyment is all subjective, but this anime wasn’t even worth the time spent watching it. I only managed to finish it out of stubbornness and could not recommend it to anyone.

Ratings as of 6/29/2016
Anime-Planet: Rank #1,280,  3.8 stars,
MAL: Ranked #1668, Popularity #297, Score 7.46/10

There are a few more issues to keep in mind when using review websites. We have to consider if the reviewer is comparing a show to other anime in the genre or just comparing it to all anime ever. Also, the ratings tend to get skewed for sequels. Naturally, you’re not going to watch 3 seasons of something after you hated the first season.

I’m not against review sites and continue to use them myself. That said, some of my favorite finds have been things that I stumbled upon on my own. Go ahead and use review sites, but try to use them more as a base of reference instead of letting them guide your viewing.

What do you think? Do your tastes match up to traditional review sites? Do you ever leave reviews?

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