The Problems with Anime Blogging: From the Writer’s Perspective

Back with another editorial which I’m making into a two-part piece titled “The Problems With Anime Blogging”. I’m going to explore difficulties and conundrums I’ve seen and experienced, both writing and reading anime blogs.  This week I’m starting with the writer’s perspective.

Currently, my main focus with postings is to go over, review, put up thoughts, and raise questions on a weekly basis as I follow airing series over the course of a season.  Ending each season with an overall synopsis, recommendation, and (starting last season) a rating based on the typical school-grade system, with anything higher than 6.9 being a “passing” grade. The higher above 7.0 a series scores, the better it is, in my opinion, in areas such as plot, visuals, character design, comedy (when applicable), and how much it made me cry (also, when applicable). The reverse being applied to how far below 7.0 a series scored.

Now, when reviewing a series, especially in a final review and when making recommendations, I try to keep a somewhat “centrist” mindset. I think it’s best to find the good and the bad in a series. If the plot sucks, that’s a major set back, but it could find redeeming points if the visuals are top notch, or if the music was particularly well done. I’m not saying all points weight equally, but one failing area doesn’t necessarily require a failing grade overall.  Even the worst scoring series on my list, “Fractale“, would receive redemptive points for the raw potential it had going in.  “Fractale” was set up to be to the epitome of what sci-fi fans have been searching for, but lackluster plot developments coupled with loose ends hurriedly tied or left dangling in the final episode tore it pieces.  The point being, I try not to just rant a series into the ground. Which raises the question, should I actively try to poke holes in a good series? Well, not specifically, but I usually don’t have to look far to find others’ criticisms.  I can take this into consideration, and if I find them based on a logical judgement, I’ll usually include it in my final review. I’m not in the business of selling a series or dissuading someone from watching a series, but I want to present the full package that an anime has to offer, which means the good and the bad.

Some like-minded readers will say “That’s a good position to have, why call it ‘The Problems with Anime Blogging’?” The “problem” is that not all people think alike, and not all people are looking for my kind of reviewing strategy. Some blog readers simply want to see their opinions reciprocated on the internet by someone else they believe speaks for a lot of people. They’re seeking validation, if you will.  It’s not nice, but the average reader is drawn to extremes, one or the other, the anime *** sucks or rules, it’s the simple truth. Now, the individual is most definitely more refined and harder to narrow down, but in general, this tends to be how the viewership falls.  (The titles also tend to be more eye-catching. I mean, honestly, would you rather read “Nichijou: A New Take on Comedy” or “Guilty Crown: All Kinds of Suck!”?)

In summation, writing an anime blog, for me at least, is a balance of truth and appeal. I’m against mis-representing a series as something it’s not, but, at the same time, sometimes it’s not necessarily easy to get people to understand why certain series should be considered over others.  For a while, I was only doing recommendations, using previous series from the genre to establish a profile for a viewer who would enjoy the series in question.  But I’ve also found use for a numerical rating system that, admittedly, others have abused.  Some may call my system too limited to accurately represent the worst/best anime, unable to adequately separate them from the mediocre, but I’ll disagree every day by reminding them that every series has at least one fan out there. If I can’t back an accusation of an anime with logic or proof, I don’t make it. While subjective opinions always play a part, it’s best to always keep in mind where they’re appropriate and where they shouldn’t be included.  (There’s a reason I never really reviewed A Channel, after all.)

Until next time,
– BeldenOtaku

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14 thoughts on “The Problems with Anime Blogging: From the Writer’s Perspective

  1. While it’s true that people who keep their opinions on the extreme will often get more views, I’d argue that it really isn’t worth the pages and pages of the comments flaming the author himself, with no regard to the actual series. I feel like reviewing the way you do is the way to find people who will consistently read your reviews simply because they think similarly to you. Like I am a person who hates saying that an anime is so awful that it should just be tossed to the street, so I’m not gonna enjoy reading some guy’s blog where he flames basically every anime he watches.

    • Well, being a writer yourself, you have a tendency to look for a post with substance, am I correct?
      The average, casual reader will always be drawn to the excessive title that screams in accordance with their own personal opinions. As much as it bothers us, the most we can do is stick the course and hope to keep the interests of the rational reader who longs for intuitive reasoning on anime series.

  2. bashing has always being part of the anime community, but well is increasing in number recently. The only thing we can do is ignore them and continue on our way…:P

  3. Is it really a problem or do people make it a problem for no reason. Sure they are valid reasons for hating a series, but if they are really doing a “review” it should be at least steer away from “extreme” bias and explain the reasoning behind whatever is said. Like most things in life, reviews do not have any set guidelines, which often leads to people abusing every meaning of it or turning it into a rant. If people will write rants they should just do so instead of calling it a review. Although, I guess that depends on the person and if they have any personal integrity for what they say.

    That said, I really do not approve of the numeric system – since it can not adequately express what I can in words. It pains me so much to use MAL’s numeric system, since I feel that it is so off balance. But that is just me. (Also nothing wrong with reviewing a series you enjoyed. If you liked it, you should have no reverse admitting it. It just all comes down to avoiding being partial and owning up to some of the unremarkable aspects as well).

    • Exactly, being fair and balanced, and there’s nothing wrong with admitting one or two or problems with a series that was overall great. It just shows you paid attention, and that you liked it that much more to get past the issues.
      I’m also not particularly a fan of the numerical system (especially MAL’s, my list doesn’t look very well thought out since they all got a 7 or 8 because of the way they’ve scaled the acceptance). But I’m trying to my numerical rating to work with my written reviews, so scaling it like an academic grade means even if it isn’t the best, it still got a “passing” score.

      • Oh yeah, and there’s also the fact that a good number of people don’t look into how an individual’s rating system works, meaning the numbers tend to mean different things to different people. Both in a qualitative sense, and in the sense that some take the rating more seriously than others when considering an anime. (If you base your decision on whether or not to watch an anime series solely on a numerical rating, and not on written reviews by thoughtful fans who want to give you an honest opinion…)

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  5. I only review the anime which I think the viewers will be interested in watching. Anime that is really worth the watch like Steins;Gate, Clannad After Story and Usagi Drop (just to name a few). I don’t like to review things that is terrible or on the mediocre level. People come to read reviews because they are interested in watching that particular anime. Bashing and raging isn’t a good way to encourage them. So yeah, reviewing what is good for the viewers is the way that I’ll go.

    • Reviewing what readers want to know about is a solid concept, so long as you don’t slip into the habit of review what’s popular. Everyone will be reviewing the popular ones, but what about the show most overlook? If it’s any good, readers will want to know, right?
      Just food for thought…and why I don’t immediately jump on band-wagons for popular series.

  6. I like this idea of taking the middle road–or actually, more just not misrepresenting or over-exaggerating an anime’s qualities for sensationalism. I think our jobs as reviewers are to accurately (as best as we can) give a picture of a series and how we feel about it, so readers can have a reference for their own takes. So even if these may not be the most evocative reviews, I’d imagine they’d be more helpful than reviews that tend toward extremes.

    • Exactly, while it’s fine to sell a series you enjoyed, it’s paramount that you don’t oversell, and build a series up to a level that it doesn’t reach (another reason I don’t review A Channel). While equally important, we shouldn’t drag a series through the mud without taking into consideration the possible good qualities a series may possess and appeal to certain viewers. There’s always going to be bias and opinion, which is why I’ll always appreciate the aniblogger who can put preference aside and give a just, objective review of a series.

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