I was going through my MAL and Anilist the other day, trying to find material for a post, and I was genuinely surprised by some of the ratings. Who is this odd person I thought to myself. Wait, I liked this show way more than that show, why do they have the same score? Why is this so low?…
This isn’t even the first time I’ve gone through this sort of thing. I’ve upended my list and reassessed my scores at least twice before, without rewatching the shows.
That right there is part of the reason I don’t add clear ratings to my reviews. It’s not that I have any peculiar issues with arbitrary values getting assigned on subjective basis, in fact I find them quite useful. It’s more that I can’t be counted on to agree with my own assessments. I will still generally have the same perception of the anime (i.e. great supporting cast, sloppy sound design, brutal conclusion that left some important questions unanswered) but I will change my mind on what that means in terms of personal enjoyment and how to represent it in star form.
….as a quick aside, I would just like to shout out Nefarious Reviews. I’ve been a fan of that blog for a while now and that pros/cons rating system, with clear well defined categories and icons for each, is just fantastic. I really wish I had come up with something similar myself, but it looks like a lot of work to set up.
This said, I do in fact assign ratings to my MAL and Anilist, yet even those are not to be trusted. Isn’t that odd? For one thing, I usually add and rate shows right after finishing them. As such my mood in the moment makes a big difference. It takes me a little time to properly assess my feelings about a show and look back on it a bit more objectively. It’s not unusual for me to find that a series I was originally unimpressed with lingers in my mind and goes up in my esteem. Perhaps I had been too harsh. In any case being memorable is also worth something. Alternatively, shows I adored will flitter out of my thoughts and blend in with the crowd. I’ll always remember them fondly (if I ever think of them again) but perhaps they were not quite that special.
This is one reason why readjusting my scores with the benefit of hindsight makes sense but it’s not the only one. There’s the problem with comparison. Now that I’ve switched to Anilist and can play with decimal points, it’s gotten much better. For me a 10 point system wasn’t doing it. For one thing I’ve never scored anything under 4. I know that makes it only slightly under average but what can I say. I usually find at least something of value in the shows I watch. I also have a very though time giving away perfect scores. Effectively my scale is 5-9. But as shows pile up, I often find myself thinking: I liked this series more than this one I’ve rated 7 but less than this one I’ve rated 8. Depending on the day I’ll either average up or down. In time I end up with shows ranked a full point lower than others I liked considerably less.
Then there’s the intangible nature of enjoyment. Let me take Fastest Finger as an example. I reviewed this little show and was quite open about its shortcomings. Fact is, this is an objectively bad anime. The technical merits are unimpressive and occasionally lacking. The writing is basic, the characters flat. Without being unpleasant, the show is nevertheless subpar in most aspects. If I was to grade it objectively it would probably deserve a 4 (4.6). Basically, it’s a slightly below average anime. If I want my ratings to be as realistic and neutral as possible, this would be it. However, I enjoyed Fastest Finger. It was decently paced, incorporated a lot of sports anime tropes I’m partial to and I like quiz bowls. I also got a general impression of good will from the series, that may in fact be all in my head. As such, if I want my list to represent my subjective tastes, I would rank Fastest Finger a 7. I had fun with it and would watch another season. That doesn’t mean I would recommend it to someone else…
Just like my uneven rounding up and down, I find that I am uneven in the importance I put on personal enjoyment. There are shows which are good. I can clearly see how great they are and I would suggest you watch them without hesitation, that doesn’t mean I liked them. I still tend to rank them high mind you which explains my overall high average. What can I say…I want to live in a world where all anime is good. That doesn’t mean I want to watch a similar series. I wouldn’t want an algorithm to suggest a show based on that rating.
At this point, I could just call it a day and accept that my ratings are abstract at best. However, my particular brand of crazy is simply not going to let this chaos go on for long. And now that I’m sharing my lists with you guys, I feel like I owe you at least some consistency. You’ll read a review here that’s going crazy over a show just to see me give it an average rating on Anilist… That’s bound to be unnerving. Yeah I know no one takes the lists that seriously, or seriously at all. Just play along, my concerns are very petty. I’ve therefore decided to review my scores one last time and I want your opinion. Should I go with objective scoring so that you guys can get an idea of whether you would enjoy a particular series or not? Or subjective scoring so you can mock me for my ridiculous tastes?