My Rating System

For future references and just because I want to talk about it, I will now explain my rating system for anime. This rating system might not be the end all be all, but it has come a long way and I am pretty happy with it.

But first I’d like to explain why I personally think ratings are useful.

Ratings tell the reader or viewer without greater detail how good or bad you think an anime (or anything else) is. Rating systems are used in schools and universities to tell the students how well they did on a specific scale. We also ratings in other aspects of life, like when purchasing products we’d like to see how good it is.

However ratings alone are worthless, what you need is a system which is revealed to the people interpreting the ratings, and this is what I will do now for my anime ratings.

I use a scale from 0-10.

Why 0? Because I think an anime can be so bad it fails in every regard. It also makes 5 the base. And I use 5 as a base.

5

Starting with a 5 I can then add or retract points from a category.

Category you ask? Yes I have 5 categories which I scrutinize all anime I watch under.

Those are:

artandanimation

Under this category I evaluate the artwork and the quality of animation.
I divide this category in 5 subitems

Artstyle

What kind of style did the anime go for? How well did it work with the themes and presentation itself? Was it lazy and used something generic? Was it creative?
(colors, realism, detail in general artwork)

Based on the quality of this aspect I either remove a point (-1), leave it be (0) or add a point (+1).

Quality of Animation

Pretty straight forward, how well was the anime animated? Artwork can be crude but animation can be fantastic, but also the other way around. Shows that have not much action in them usually cannot pass well here as there is nothing to evaluate. Basically if a show is sloppy it I remove a point (-1), if it is working well but not outstanding I give no point (0) and if it is well animated I add a point (+1).

Backgrounds

How detailed or interesting are the backgrounds in the anime? A studio like PA Works usually have very detailed backgrounds, mostly based on real photographs. Some other shows just have generic schools as backgrounds and boring cities and trees etc. . You also can be weird and experimental to gain a point as an anime here.

Same rule for Backgrounds, (-1) for anything that looks boring or lazy, (0) for anything that works but doesn’t get my attention and (+1) for backgrounds that stand out.

Character Designs

Besides backgrounds the more important part are the character models. Here I rate how original or well drawn the characters are. This one is highly subjective usually because my taste in character designs is not equal with anyone else’s. Rule of thumb is, if your show is filled with the most stereotypical character designs you can think of, bet on getting a (-1). (0) again for anything that is not offensive to the eye and (+1) for anything I feel looks good, interesting or impressive in any other way.

Visual Effects

Visual effects become more and more a thing in anime. This categories cares about the use of CGI, lighting effects and any other alternative art method (like paper cuttings such as in some of the Shaft shows).
Shows that use horrible CG usually deserve a (-1), if a show has no visual effects or uses them okay (0) and (+1) for any anime that can either use CG well or has some other creative method of presenting the story.

After I evaluated I calculate the score for Art and Animation.
An example would look like this: Base 5 + {Art 0; Quality +1; Backgrounds 0; Character Designs -1; Visual Effects +1} = 6/10

musicandsound

Music and Sound cares about the used OST, ending and opening song, the sound effects and voice acting. If all goes well it can achieve 10/10 just as any other category.

Voice Acting

This is probably the category which is the hardest to fail but also the hardest to impress. Basically if a show features at least one decent voice actor which does a really good job it gets a (+1), while if one voice actor fails miserably I remove (-1). In any other case it stays neutral and receives a (0).

Opening and Ending

Another highly subjective field are opening and ending songs. However I think they are important. Anime do have them and they rely on them (remember Attack on Titan, Guilty Crown, Death Note?). I usually just care about the song itself, but also animation and directing of the opening and or ending itself can play a roll here.

Usually a show only gets a (+1) if both opening and ending are to my liking or either of them are superb. (-1) if it fails in both or has one really bad and one I don’t mind. (0) for either one really good and one really bad or no good or bad.

Soundtrack

The only category which has a (+2) or (-2). The BGM, OST is very important to me in an anime. If an anime is effective in using its soundtrack it can greatly enhance the viewing pleasure. Thus an outstanding soundtrack will receive (+2), while a horrible one will receive (-2) as they can make or break an anime.

Sound Effects

Sound effects are less important than visual effects but they still add a lot. Realistic gun sounds, explosions or just cool sound effects of lasers or super powers can add a lot of weight to action. A comedy using funny sound effects for jokes also adds to the experience. Usually this category stays neutral (0) but some shows just do a really well job in creating awesome sound effects or failing miserably.

storyandcontent

Not every anime has a plot, if an anime has no plot I will not give it better than a 9/10 because an anime with plot beats any anime without one in my opinion. I will evaluate plot-less anime on their other merits such as genre execution, wittiness in writing, and how long it kept me interested. But down I will focus on anime with plot.

Premise

What is the whole thing about? Where does it play? About whom? These questions are what makes the premise a factor which many anime get right but fail in executing that premise. Some anime don’t even try and just make some random stuff at highschool happening. Those are the ones I give a (-1) or anything that just fails right at the start. (0) for anything that works but isn’t super amazing. And (+1) for interesting settings, world, starting points or concepts.

Pacing

Pacing is about the way the story progresses. Anime that have no plot also have no pacing thus are immune to this point. Instead I talk about the content. But again about pacing. A show which is too slow drags on, filler, or overly long events which lead to nothing, monster of the week etc. are all bad elements of pacing and deserve a (-1). Also rushing can remove a point, when an episode has too many things going on at the same time, or if an event is not dealt with long enough for it to matter, especially the end. (0) for anything that works, and (+1) for an anime that has the perfect pacing which is basically you watching the anime and not recognizing any form of rush or drag while doing so. A constant flow of progression and exploration.

Complexity

Complexity is about how complex, and deep the anime is. The world building, the conflict and the way the anime uses twists and turns. Any anime which has a shallow, or not well thought out world will receive (-1) unless the plot is the focus and excels the generic setting. If an anime relies too much on simplistic black and white concepts or the twists are shock factor it also gets a (-1).

The in between receives a (0) as usual and complex, deep world and or story deserves a (+1), those are usually anime which handle their setting/premise well, are less predictable and have meaningful conflicts.

Plausibility

An anime filled with plot holes or stupid occurrences gets a (-1)  as you might expect. This includes any high enough amount of “why didn’t he/she do that!?” without having an actual explanation. Deus ex machina, plot conveniences, or simply factual things that are wrong or make no sense gain nothing but a (-1).  On the flip site a show which has no such errors or very very small ones gets a (+1). Anything in between that isn’t too horrible earns its (0).

Conclusion

The ending of an anime can make or break the entire story. If whatever happened is negated by the ending then this means the ending is bad and thus gets a (-1). Also all unsatisfactory endings will not gain a point here. However anything which gives you this sense of accomplishment in the end gets a well deserved (+1).

 

characters

Besides story, characters are usually the one aspect people care the most about. Visuals become outdated and music is too subjective, but a good story and good characters can be told in any era.

Personality

This includes mostly the main cast but can also include supporting characters. Basically I kinda use the same method as ThatAnimeSnob uses, which is the one to four dimensional character types.

1D = (-1) because one dimensional characters which just are based on some stereotype don’t deserve a point.

2D = (0) because two dimensional characters which might be based on some stereotype are also no good enough

3D = (+1) because any character which is closer to an actual person than the stereotypes has a good defined personality.

Behavior and Chemistry

How do the characters interact with each other? And how do they react and interact with their surrounding? Given a characters pre established personality are they consistent? Do they act like you’d expect them to? Or do they do random things all the time which make no sense? Also how do they work together with other characters? Good chemistry makes for an enjoyable watch!

Rule of thumb:
inconsistent flip flopping and bitchy behavior (-1)
General stuff (0)
Anything that doesn’t break the characters, that makes them look smart or charming (+1)

Development and Progression

This is the territory of 4D. Whatever happens in the anime might or might not change the character. If the character does not change even though many things happen (aka the Ash Ketchum syndrome) guess what? Yeah (-1). Same applies to character change which doesn’t make sense, or regression where a character changes but then goes back to roots.

For minor things (0) and any good development like in most SoL anime they get a (+1) here.

Motivation and Backdrop

Besides the way a character changes you also need to know what the character used to be. Backdrop gives you perspective, it makes the story and the characters deeper because knowing what drives them makes the whole things more realistic and understandable. Motivations matter because people don’t just do things because, they need an initial impulse. Some cause, because without cause, no effect.

Any sketchy motivation, or lousy backdrop deserves nothing better than a (-1), any generic explanation (0) and anything which makes you really understand the characters (+1), which also isn’t some cliche or asspull, sad story that is convenient for the plot.

Likability

Likablity might sound more subjective than the other ones but is also important. What does it matter if your protagonist is a fleshed out, multi-faceted who goes through much change if you just cannot stand him or her? What if the rest of the cast is unbearably annoying? No matter how well written a character might be, if the characters aren’t likable, you will not enjoy this aspect ever. It’s crucial and thus unlikable characters will get a (-1), while likable ones will get a (+1) whether they are deep or not. Everyone else as usual (0).

 

valueandenjoyment

While many people think this aspect is too personal to count, these are my ratings so I include it. Also it shows you if a show which isn’t all that great can still be enjoyable.

Art and Animation

Despite all that I said about art and animation did I enjoy it?

No (-1), so-so (0), yes (+1) pretty simple aye?

Music and Sound

Despite all that I said about Music and Sound, did I enjoy it? etc.

Story and Content

Same here.

Characters

And again.

Value

This is an odd one. It basically is the only “objective” statement about my enjoyment. It basically talks about my impression on how significant the anime is on the overall community. It is about how popular it is, what it does for fans, either perfect entry or most overhyped etc. being the best of a studio and much more.

Basically any anime which is forgettable and will not be talked about it 6 month to 1 year will get a (-1), unless it is my personal treasure. Anything that keeps some uproar gets a (0) and anything which has some significant impact will receive a (+1). This is also true for any anime which I think did something no other anime did, or has become my favorite.


So this is it. When I have all the points I add them, divide them through 5 and voila I get the score which I might or might not round up or down.

If you like this system feel free to use it, expand on it or tell me what you think or what you’d do differently.

 

Thanks for reading :3

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My Anime Matrix

So over the past days during my weekend I was thinking about what I want to talk about, until I came up with (at least to me) interesting idea how to categorize anime in a way it doesn’t tell you simple black and white good and bad but a more nuanced way.

The Anime Matrix

animematrix

Based on a similar matrix called the political compass, I thought of a way to put anime into perspective.

Beginning with the Y axis you have a spectrum going from (top) a serious tone, to (bottom) a less serious or light tone. This refers to the intentions of the creator. A movie like Ghost in the Shell would be very high at the top of this spectrum while a lighthearted comedy like Nichijou would be closed to the bottom. This doesn’t tell you about the quality however which is why…

On the X axis you have a spectrum on how well the anime was executed. The more left the less well executed the anime was, the more right the better.

Which brings us to the 4 squares.  The red one says ‘Pretentious‘, meaning the show tried to be serious but failed because of something making it a poorly executed serious anime. An example could be Mars of Destruction which is one of the worst anime ever but tried to be serious.
The green square south west is called Trash and just generally refers to any anime which is just mindless but fails to be entertaining. I don’t have an example for now (but will add some candidates of mine here later) so just think of any show that didn’t try to be serious but also wasn’t good in being light hearted. (well maybe something like Vividred Operation could be considered here)

On the right side we have both Art and Fun. While fun is easy to pin point, it is basically just shows which are very entertaining but also well crafted at doing so. Example could be Baccano which is more on the light end of the spectrum but was also very well made.
Art is something that might not be easy to pin point at first but it is basically something that takes itself very seriously, has a consistent tone and also is well crafted. A good example would be Mushishi, which is not particularly fun to watch but is more a piece of art.

 

Now to some of my picks this season:

season

Wixoss clearly tries to be serious and also does it quite well. It is not perfect and also not super serious. Chaika also falls into the “art” category, while ‘art’ surely doesn’t suite all as a description it basically means well executed serious show. Chaika is less serious however than Wixoss but is pretty well executed. Unlike Mahouka which lies in the realm of pretentious. Not that ‘pretentious’ is the one and suite it all description but you get the idea.
Akuma no Riddle lies somewhere between absolute trash and absolute pretentious. While it tries to have this serious tone, it throws in all those stereotypical shit and ecchi and fan service and fetishes etc. It just does it all very badly.
Dragonar is a guilty pleasure. You know it is shit, but you still kinda like it. It is somewhat serious as it tries to have a plot but also throws all this fan service at your face. Similar is No Game No Life, which is better executed than a mediocre show like Dragonar however is also less serious as it does not only rely on ecchi fan service but otaku pandering, breaking the 4th wall and reference humor. On the furthest right is JoJo as is encompasses everything you have to do in order to create a “fun” show, a show which relies more on entertainment than on deep thought. It’s so over the top and campy but also extremely well made in its own right.

This all of course is debateable as this is merely a beta version of this Matrix. Feel free to use it yourself, expand it and put in your shows!

Misconceptions about objectivity, criticism, taste and personal preference.

I got into a discussion about my last post on how I criticize MAL ratings on shows and how they do not apply any critical thinking when rating (of course not all of them) thus deeming their opinion as invalid or less worthy.

objective

When I say something is shit, I mean that in a personal way. While I can still use arguments to persuade you, in the end there is no objective evidence I can show you, because statements like “it’s shit(bad)” are based on values.

So we first have to share these values in order to come to the same conclusion.

There are no objective values however, so again I have to persuade you to accept my values.
We do that all the time, our values are usually inter-subjective meaning that many people share the same subjective values and thus together we have some sort of “objective” consensus.
We can even use facts to back up our values, but in the end no one has to accept them.
When you have a set of inter-subjective values you can derive “context objective” qualities about something.

 

When applied to anime lets say – Realism is a positive value (aka good). Therefor if a show has realism in it, it is objectively good in that department.

However if you don’t accept the statement “Realism is a positive value” then this does not logically follow.

Now of course people who hold this value can point out all sorts of facts like “unrealistic portrayals lead to misguidance and can’t teach the viewer important information, it makes them delusional and ultimately harms them in the long run unless they apply critical thinking to these kinds of escapism shows”. But however well you articulate your argument, even if you could show empirical evidence to how escapism anime (or anything) leads to long term unhappiness no on has to accept those values and apply them to their life.

This might all sound very futile to reviewers and the likes, since whatever they do, you cannot change the minds of those who aren’t willing or able. However, reviewers have no obligation to persuade all people. All reviewers have to do is review. This means apply a critical eye to a show, analyze it and evaluate it. The reader/viewer then takes the parts that persuaded him or her and might object to the rest.

So what are my core points here? 

  1. First reviews aren’t objective.  They are context objective in the sense that the reviewer has certain values which he or she should be communicating to their audience  and then based on these values can judge the quality of a show.
  2. Secondly critical thinking is the ability to scrutinize something based on your knowledge and position it in the larger text, question it and don’t accept it right away without evaluating it first.
  3. And lastly, I can trash talk what I like, if you disagree I am willing to engage in a debate but don’t say I can’t point out my opinion just because it isn’t “objective”. See the framework I am talking in and take what you want out of it :>

I will make a post in the future about how I rate anime and what I look for in them. But not today.

What this is and who I am

erio

So this blog is still in it’s early stage. To get some basic idea out there, it is just me talking about anime and anime related things. I try to be somewhat consequential when posting my thoughts here and try to get a post at least once a week in the future (and of course hopefully more). Right now I aim for one post per day, or one post per two days. I don’t want to be too strict on me since I just keep this as a hobby and outlet to share my ideas.

By the way, if you are not already coming from MAL or Hummingbird, I do have accounts there and you are free to contact me there, follow me or whatever you like. I have written reviews on both accounts (more on MAL, more recent on Hummingbird)  Here are the links:

http://myanimelist.net/profile/Orsonius

http://hummingbird.me/users/Orsonius

I also plan a Youtube channel in the future and maybe then make video reviews of shows I like or feel are worth talking about. But all in due time. For now I just focus on writing down my thoughts and sharing my ideas and taste with people who care.

I don’t really want to just post some personal information about myself, so just some basic ones. I am a guy, I watch anime and I am not a teenager anymore. Any additional info you can ask me directly.

I also have skype and sometimes hang out there with other people, talking about anime, but usually I am busy with work, playing video games or of course watching anime. I also have some other things I do but they don’t matter for this post. I do answer all kinds of questions and am willing to debate. For now of course I am not super confrontational to be arguing about anything, but don’t worry I have some strong opinions about the one or other show, or concept.