The idea for this blog post came to me after reading the lovely Irina’s post, titled: “I Don’t Know Who I Am Anymore… Why My Anime Scores Do Not Represent Me!” During this post Irina discussed why we ought to take her scores on Anilist and on MAL, which fluctuate over time, with her mood, and as a result of comparison, with a pinch of salt. Please do give this post a read, as it’s very entertaining! Anyway, this got me thinking about my own scores. I don’t know about you, but I take the process in which I score anime very seriously! I think that each show represents an investment, in terms of time spent watching it, so if my scores have a part to play in encouraging people to or warning them off of making a wise or unwise investment, shouldn’t I take scoring seriously? As part of this (very serious) business, I consider lots of different things and use many different rules of thumb. Join me as I discuss some of these! Who knows, maybe you use a few of them yourself!
Keeping It Personal
When it comes to scoring, I like to keep it personal. So if an anime resonates with me on an emotional level because of something that’s happened to me during my life, I’m content to let that affect its score. Conversely, if a show offends me because of the characteristics and experiences that I bring to the table, like maybe it treats its female characters like pieces of meat, you bet that’s gonna affect its score too! In other words, I’m not concerned with objectivity, with removing my thoughts and feelings about shows from the equation. I think that if people want a more impartial score, they are better off looking at the weighted scores (which take into account those given by hundreds, if not thousands, of people) on Anilist, MAL, and other similar sites. If, however, somebody makes the effort to look up my anime list, they probably want to know what I thought about the shows I’ve seen, not hundreds of thousands of other people. Hence this particular rule of thumb.
Looking for the Positives
That being said… Whilst I’m content to let my personal feelings influence my scoring, I do still try my best to be reasonable! I’m not somebody who revels in dishing out low scores… I know that no matter how terrible an anime is, it’s still somebody’s baby! This is reflected in my scoring. My anime list has nearly 600 completed entries, nevertheless, only one of these has earned itself a score of one, two a score of two, and five a score of three. I’m not prepared to do the maths (yuck), but that’s just a puny percentage of the shows that I’ve seen. That’s because, when it comes to scoring, I try to look for the positives! Almost every show has some redeeming feature. For instance, Strike Witches may be a horrible, sexist mess, but I kinda like the Strikers, the equipment that allows the witches to fly, Black Clover may be uninspired and unoriginal, but it has a decent soundtrack, and Fate’s various iterations may be difficult to follow, but, boy, do they look good! I tried to bear these positives in mind when it came to scoring them. The same can be said of the other shows that I’ve seen!
What Warrants the Magic 10
All the same, I do still err to the critical side when it comes to scoring, especially in regards to handing out the magic 10! Over 10 years I’ve handed out a meager 22 of these. I actually went away and did the maths this time (you’re welcome) and that’s a mere 4% of all the anime I’ve ever seen! That’s because, no matter how awesome a show is, to warrant a 10 it must first meet two criteria. The first of these is: did it resonate with me on an emotional level? I’m always extremely impressed whenever a show gets into my head so much that it makes me feel feelings. As such, there’s a strong, positive correlation between the 10s that I’ve handed out and the state of my tear ducts! The second of these criteria is: is there any way I could have possibly enjoyed this show more? Objectively speaking, there’s no such thing as the perfect show. For instance: Naruto has its filler, much of the philosophy of Kino’s Journey was lost on me, and Bakemonogatari is pretty wordy (not necessarily a flaw, but it does mean that you have to be switched on at all times when watching it). However, these things did not detract from my enjoyment of these shows whatsoever. So the answer to “is there any way I could have possibly enjoyed this show more?” is no. To me, at least, they are perfect and deserving of their 10s.
Storytelling and Characterisation Above All Else!
If emotional resonance and supreme enjoyment are the icing on the cake, amazing storytelling and characterisation are the cake itself! An anime can look stunning and have the most banging soundtrack, it might even be fairly enjoyable, teasing an occasional titter from my lips, but if its story is soulless, uninspired, and riddled with cliches, or if its characters (the vehicles that drive a show’s story forward) are vapid, one-dimensional archetypes or just a bit of eye candy, I consider that show to be unworthy of my time. With anime, it’s possible to tell any kind of story, with any kind of characters, that you want. The only limit is the scope of the creators’ imaginations. In other words, its potential to tell fantastic stories through unique, outlandish (or otherwise down-to-earth and relatable) characters is immense! My scoring usually comes down to whether a show achieves or falls short of this potential.
You’re probably thinking: “Wow, this woman thinks way too deeply about this!” And you’re not wrong. But I’m sure that if you give it some thought, you, too, have all these wacky rules when it comes to scoring anime! Before you go, leave me a comment telling me about some of these! I’d love to hear from you!