Man watching anime takes a lot of time. Have you seen some peoples MAL profiles…they spend YEARS doing it. Who has that type of leisure? Certainly not YOU! We’re busy people, we got….stuff to do. On top of that watching and even occasionally writing about anime, impossible! Imagine how much you could get done if you could skip the watching part of watching anime.

Impossible, you may be thinking! My dear friend, you are lacking in imagination. My time on anitwitter and this blog have taught me that there are people out there that have fully formed and detailed opinions about shows they’ve never seen or have seen mere snippets of. Admittedly, such superpowers of observation aren’t innate in all of us but with a little training, we could all gain the ability to psychically analyze shows, sight unseen. 

Konosuba peeking.jpg
just a peek

Well sight unseen is a bit misleading, you do have to look a lot in fact because your first and most important source of information is going to be the covert art. First if there are only characters of one gender illustrated, you know that it’s either Yuri and Yaoi. Great, job done, you can now safely love or hate the show based on your personal preferences of these genres and probably write an entire series of essays on it. Huzzah!

Of course, the above is a best case scenario, but it will cover a lot of ground. But what if you get one of those tricky cases where it’s not quite as obvious. Well you can still make some pretty well informed guesses. For instance, the character designs will let you know instantly if you like them or not. Dark colours mean, gritty, sophisticated, mature while soft pastels means sweet, lighthearted and easy to watch.

If you can tell a character’s occupation, then it’s a workplace sitcom. A lot of characters with only one of a particular gender – it’s a harem (reverse or regular) which of course means it’s nothing but hentai light. Take that Steins;Gate! Does something look vaguely like fantasy. Maybe a castle or an elf – BAM we got isekai folks. And isekai is….passé(?). Is anyone holding a microphone, because that’s an idol show. Also true if the entire cast is mid jump!

anime idols.jpeg
I’m going to guess, crime procedural?

The great part about this, is that once you figure out the official “genre”, you know everything you need to know. There are well established and detailed descriptions of all these anime types you can refer to, to trick people into thinking you’ve watched every second!

However, you should watch out for a few things. lately some studios think they’re very smart and pull the old switcheroo on us. A cover that seems to clearly indicate one thing gets subverted a couple of episodes in, and you end up with a very different show than expected. I have found this to be particularly true with series full of adorable looking girls on the cover. If you have a suspicion, maybe something about the cover isn’t quite right, do a quick # twitter or google image search to get a bunch of caps and make sure the girls don’t all get murdered or something. Usually it’s murder…

If you want to get all fancy, you could always look up what the show runner or studio have done previously. If you’ve seen any of those shows, assume the new one is the exact same thing. This will give your review a more personalized touch and lend you some extra credibility, not that you need it.

Kill la Kill.jpg
not worth it!

If you have the nerves for it, you can always see what reddit has to say about a given series. Copy paste that, once you’ve cleaned up the language, it probably won’t even count as plagiarism anymore!

A few more things you can do to spice up your…opinion. Google the name of the anime in question + the word feminism. You don’t need to click on any of the links, the little search engine snippets will let you know if there’s anything you should be outraged about! Alternatively, you can Google the name of the anime + the word fans and see what the suggested autocomplete is.

For example on my computer, if I search:

“Darling and the Franxx fans” Google suggests: “angry”.

Darling Zero Two.jpg
only because there isn’t more of it???

Once in a while though, you get these real enigmas. The cover is just a landscape or there’s just one character that’s not obviously an archetype of some sort. The show is too obscure to have a google autocomplete or essays written about it and the colour scheme is neutral. Also it’s made by a production theme you’re not familiar with. Of course the easy solution here is to simply forget about this title and move on to the next. But I get it, you’re a perfectionist, once you’ve randomly latched onto a particular series, you can’t just abandon it like that. You’d feel like a quitter.

You may be tempted to look up the summary or wiki page here. But that’s a whole lot of trouble. You might as well watch half an episode if you’re going to do that. And we are trying to avoid watching anime at all costs here! No worries, I have a solution for that. Talk about the soundtrack. Mention that it isn’t exceptional but that you enjoyed it. You can say pretty much what you want after that. Alternatively, you can pick a random character (you don’t need to know the name just describe them) and say how much you enjoyed the voice actor.

Trust me. No one ever argues on those things.

Finally, make your opinion an extreme in either way. The show must be either an unsung masterpiece misunderstood by the masses or an overhyped piece of garbage (garbagepiece)! This is really the trick to selling the whole thing. After all, no one would hold such passionate views about a show they’ve never seen… That would be crazy. 

There you have it! If you keep your posts at a modest word count, you can be reviewing 4 complete series a day! You will have the most exhaustive review site around. The authority on the subject! I’m pretty sure this is how some (they shall remain nameless) professional sites do it.

Lupin the 3rd.jpg
now you have more time for…whatever…

63 thoughts

  1. Fantastic! With all these tips I can start my journey of completing every single anime ever made without ever having to watch one again! Nice! Thank you Irina for making me enjoy anime in a way I never thought possible!

  2. I am blessed; the most solid advice ever. I finally can catch up on reviewing seasonal anime this way lmao

            1. I know this is a killjoy but would you mind using a diffrent term on the blog? Otokonoko maybe? It does hurt some of my readers’ feelings

  3. Reviewing things without watching them would make me feel depressed- I hate feeling validated in my cynical predictions!
    Gotta keep positive! There has to be some creative stuff out there…

    1. Some day you’ll find a show you enjoy so much you won’t be able to stop talking about it. I believe in you…

  4. “I don’t think anyone except me actually reviews shows without watching them”


    I think it is not rare. Every now and then I’ll be doing background for a review of my own and I’ll run into a review where absolutely nothing that was said that wasn’t available on the Crunchyroll blurb for each episode and the screenshots were taken directly from the fan wiki. I cut amateur reviewers quite a bit of slack on this but I’d show no mercy for a “professional” or “professional wanna-be”.)

    Plotlines are easily found. So are SJWs with hyperbolic reactions. I want to know how it affected you personally, at a gut level. I want to learn something special about the author as well as the anime.

    For extra giggles and laughs, sometimes I’ll see a plot development described that never happened in the show. I can only conclude it happened in a different medium but the author either got mixed up or forgot to mention. If you are reviewing anime, please don’t confuse us – and yourself – by mixing up anime, manga, game, and visual novel events.

    My own anime output is pretty low. I *try* to watch what I’m reviewing twice, once for content and once for screenshots. There is always something good you miss the first time around. If it is a partial season or a very short offering or REALLY long, I’ll make an exception. (Of course, if I am bored by episode 6 and drop, 7 will almost always turn out great.)

    If it is a really good anime I may watch it MANY times because I simply can’t get enough of it. Those reviews are the most fun and meaningful to me.

  5. @AKB0048: Crime Procedural? No. Dystopia. What the picture shows is the resistance.

    If the show’s obscure enough you can always throw out an oddly specific line, like “I love the ostrich scene.” The view people who watched the show probably haven’t been talking about the show to anyone and while they probably remember the scenes they like, how will you remember if the show had an ostrich scene or not. The trouble with more plausible bluffing, like “I love the bento scene,” in a school setting is that people might get excited and agree and try to talk about it with you.

  6. This reminds me of that collab we did a while back, where a bunch of us reviewed Scorching Ping-Pong Girls without having seen it, going off only a short synopsis and like, 10 stills from the show!

    1. That is a big part of the ispiration. I loved that collab and I loved how we all decided she was an exchange student. Then when I watched it, we were all right! Magic!

  7. Mako was the perfect pic for this post! Could anyone have categorized Kill la Kill with just a glance? (I’m still not sure how to do so. . .)

  8. This is exactly the kind of funny post I needed to read today! Kinda reminds me of A Modest Proposal, but in ani-blogging form!

    1. well now that’s High Praise indeed. I should always figure out a way to grind homeless people into pet food in my posts…

  9. I don’t really… understand. Like, I don’t know the extent of what you think of what you actually wrote here. Because, no offense, but this kind of just seems like a shitpost. With the way you presented this I assume you’re saying that these are actual techniques that some scumbags will use to pretend like they know everything there is about anime. And… Yeah. That’s about right. Like, if they go to such an extent as described here then they should be called out for such. But I wanna step in to say: this isn’t ALL wrong. Well, one thing is wrong… A new person who hasn’t watched anime at all can’t just know about these techniques. Because anime is a very compact medium. A lot of the animation techniques, the concepts, designs, genres etc. are very similar or, straight up, the same. Even if a fraud was described to about these things by a veteran watcher; he wouldn’t be able to put a lot of into words on his own. At best they can say something like “Ah yeah. This show is bad because it’s JUST a harem and that is just a guy getting with a bunch of girls and it sucks”.

    But, at that point, I feel anyone can easily claim such a person has no idea what he’s talking about. There’s no specific details as to why it is bad other than “it’s a harem”. Yeah, I know you’re probably being hyperbolic but I just wanted to clarify that. My main point though is that some of these techniques are legitimately okay. You can identify the entire conceit of an anime by the first episode, if not, by the cover itself.

    For example, “Bloom into you”. Never watched it. Can tell by the cover that it is simply a dramatic show about 2 girls discovering their lesbian love for each other. I am sure that summarizes the whole show. I say that because I’ve watched a fair bit of shows like those and I see no reason to consider it different. I am not just saying the “genre” of the show is the same. I have a good idea of how it will be composited. The atmosphere, the characters, the less-than-interesting designs of a high school setting. I can probably tell what the main characters are like. The protagonist is, for sure, the one with pink hair. Has a very cutesy demeanor, maybe a bit clumsy, probably even a tiny bit nerdy. That would moreso show up as her hobby of reading manga; BL if I had to guess. Now, there will be a connotation to these characters given their age. Most of the time they won’t know what their sexuality actually is. The pink-haired girl was probably confessed to by the black-haired girl and she felt weird… Almost aroused. And I would assume that’s how the entire show is kickstarted. The black-haired girl seems very bland. But in anime world that means “classy”, “intelligent” and depending on the show can either mean “depressed” or “omnipotent”. Given that this isn’t a light-hearted comedy I’d assume this one’s a depressed student body president. Maybe she’s depressed about her sexuality. Maybe she’s done being someone she’s not. I can’t say for sure.

    And if I was wrong about anything then you can correct me. And I am sorry I get pretty rant-y I just don’t want any room for errors and I feel posts like this can give the wrong impression.

    1. Let me try to explain. The post was meant to be comedic and lampshading my casual and non analytical review style while pocking gentle fun at the genreal assumptions we all tend to make. It was also a throwback to a feature I’ve done a couple of times where I got a few bloggers together to do just this (i,e, review an anime based on a few pics only). I’m not entirely sure what a shitpost is. If you mean you think the post is shit then fair enough! If you mean you think the post was shitting on someone, then not at all. Except maybe me? and even then, it’s a strong term. More like playful ribbing.

      1. No I don’t mean that your post is shit but… This’ll differ from person-to-person but what I define as a “shitpost” is simply someone stating a, maybe, controversial opinion in such a blatant and goofy manner that they can just say “Oh it’s just a shitpost”! whenever they’re challenged to be in an argument. I’ve been adamant in saying this is such a cowardly way to “get your opinion out there”. Anyways, fair enough!

        1. I was making fun of myself…Obviously I don’t think anyone except me actually reviews shows without watching them and of course getting some information from obvious cues to go along with everything else is perfectly legitimate.
          I do think basing a precise and adamant opinion on very partial info is a great way to miss out on fantastic shows though. I stand by that bit

    2. I am putting up a review of the first 6 episodes of Bloom in a couple of days.

      It is not just about a couple of lesbians showing their love for each other. Like any good anime, it is about personal growth. The genders and sexual preferences of the characters are secondary to the real story. “Pink hair” is far from cutesy, is not ditzy and is a good athlete. Doesn’t read BL. Nobody is confused about what their sexuality is and being a lesbian may be unusual but not a terrible thing.

      Pink girl doesn’t do arousal. Not in her repertoire of emotions. There’s a boy who is certain he is “aromantic”. (Google it, it is a thing.) The most important facet of black-haired girl is not that she is a lesbian. She has real problems and gradually learns to overcome them.

      A good anime is one where you can see bits and pieces of yourself in the characters. That is what makes one care for a moving set of drawings on a computer monitor. You allow your disbelief to be suspended and participate as “a fly on the wall” in the story. It is difficult to make 3-dimensional people out of 2-dimensional imagery over such a short period of time. A good author and a good director can sometimes manage that.

      1. Well… Alright man. Go for it. If you can prove me wrong I’m all for it. Maybe I’ll even pick it up to see my errors or to back up my claims. I don’t care so much about seeing myself in characters. I mean it’s nice to relate to them on a deeper level, of course. But if the rest of the moving bits and pieces are mundane, unexceptional and/or terrible then I can’t consider it anywhere near a good show.

        1. Didn’t the comment make you at least a little curious? There does seem to be a lot more depth in what Fred says than your original assumption. This said even if the pink haired girl read BL it can still be a well written and realized show that will make you think about the nature of romantic relationships in modern times…..i haven’t seen it….

          1. Um.. I’m not particularly.

            And I didn’t mean to say it can’t be well-written. An anime can conform to all its tropes, archetypes and stereotypes and still be “well-written”. But it’s not hard to write a show like “Bloom Into You” well. It’s not hard to write a lot of less dense shows like that well. In a manner of speaking it is like juggling. You can probably juggle 2 balls just fine. 3? Cool. 4? Okay. But it’s rare we see anyone juggling 5 or more. And when they do and people don’t think they’re juggling perfectly suddenly the anime itself is overhyped or garbage (Tokyo Ghoul, AoT etc.)

            TL;DR: I like simplicity in writing but I don’t like simplicity in concept; breaking down big, complex structures into simple characteristics is my bread-and-butter.

  10. This post is amazing! I’ve finally found a way to write a review on those pesky long-running Shounen shows without watching them! Thanks, Irina; I’m gonna put this article to good use and make you proud!

  11. How to review an anime-style video game:

    – Do not, under any circumstances, play the video game

    – Make reference to how “Japanese games” and/or “JRPGs” have been “dead for a long time”. Do not offer any evidence for this, and certainly do not acknowledge the fact the market has shifted considerably since Final Fantasy VII came out in 1997

    – Look at the cover art and determine what you consider the age of the characters to be; if you think they look too young make sure to call the game “creepy” at least 6 times in your article

    – “Oh, Japan” is a useful phrase, as is making reference to Japanese games being “notoriously weird”; it is important not to display any understanding of Japanese culture, be it popular or traditional, it’s all “weird”

    – Determine whether the main character’s skirt is above the knee or not; if so, make sure to use the word “hypersexualised” at least 7 times throughout your article

    – Repeat the above process for whether or not any characters in the game have visible cleavage; these two requirements stack with one another, so be sure to use “hypersexualised” at least twice as much if both are true

    – Think of your most perverted, disgusting sexual fantasy that you’re ashamed to admit and accuse the game of “pandering” to people who like that sort of thing (obviously not you!), even if said game has no sexual content whatsoever and is rated “E” for “Everyone”

    – Be sure to insert the word “melodrama” 9-12 times throughout the article, even if the game is a comedy

    – It is extremely important that you criticise the story for being indecipherable while simultaneously noting that you skipped most/all of it for having “too many words” or “too much talking”

    – Useful adjectives for describing female characters: “simpering”, “doe-eyed”, the aforementioned “hypersexualised”, “teenage boy’s fantasy”, “wank material”, “porn”

    – Useful adjectives for describing male characters: don’t talk about the male characters

    – Make a hilarious joke about “too many zippers” even if no character in the cast displays any evidence of having zippers on their outfit

    – Devote no more than one paragraph to the gameplay, based only on press screenshots you have seen. Useful comparatives to draw: “it’s like a low-rent Tales game” (for games where you can move around in combat); “it’s like Warriors” (for action games with lots of enemies on screen simultaneously); “yet another dungeon crawler” (for anything involving a first-person perspective; “it’s nothing new”/”it’s very traditional” (if it’s an RPG with a visible menu)

    – Conclude with a disparaging remark about the sort of person who might want to play this, and how if nothing else this disgusting game will discourage them from sexually assaulting people in the real world

    – Rate the game no higher than 60% and no lower than 40%

    – Complain on Twitter about being “harassed”

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