Most fans hate it when someone poopoos their favourite series. That’s pretty understandable. And they tend to react defensively which isn’t always pleasant. I’ve spoken to quite a few bloggers that tell me they actively try to avoid being overly negative in their reviews and editorials and prefer reading blogs that are positive as well. And that really shows in the overall tone of the WP blogging community. We each occasionally dislike shows and might still review them less positively but generally, it’s not scathing. And very few bloggers are mostly negative. In fact, it’s rare for it to be an even split. For the most part, reviews are generally positive with a scattering of less enthusiastic ones.
This completely clashes with a presentation I attended lately. The speaker was theorizing (well they think they were stating but I’m not entirely sure about that) that a certain amount of criticism is perceived by the general public as a sign of a balanced and researched article. That in a way, some negativity lends credence to the author.
Like I said, I’m not sure I agree but I’m embarrassed to admit that I can think of instances where that sort of thinking applied to me. When I first started regularly reading reviews (mostly movie reviews at the time) I would subconsciously put the entirely positive ones in a “less professional” pile in my brain. A critic could praise a movie or even gush about it as long as they pointed out at least one flaw. No matter how inconsequential. That’s how I knew they were paying attention. This critic was obviously still impartial (even if they spelled out the opposite in their post) and therefore their opinions could be trusted. I’m not a very sensible reader.
There is no logical basis for thinking this way. I probably would have more reason to base my assumptions on an author’s trustworthiness on their choice of font. And this skewed belief has led me to watch a number of insufferable movies. Nevertheless, it was there and I have no clue where it comes from.
What’s more, even though I know it’s silly, it has persisted in a way and leaked into my own reviewing.
Ever since I started putting my disorganized soliloquies about whatever anime I’m watching in writing for all the internet to see (or ignore), I’ve gone out of my way to find something negative to say even about shows I’ve adored. (Certain Natsumes excluded) There is a thought process behind that but I’m afraid it’s not much more rational.
I try to see honest negatives so that readers who actually read reviews to pick their next show will get a more accurate picture. But since I am actively trying to come up with something I will occasionally give disproportionate weight to an irritant I hardly noticed while watching. Not to mention that I have no idea whether anyone actually reads my reviews for recommendations or out of curiosity about my impressions on a show they’ve already seen. Which is how a lot of people approach reviews.
I’m not certain where this idea of the inherent credibility of negative criticism comes from but it is present and does occasionally create false impressions.
Granted, I am personally not that “useful” an anime reviewer. I love the medium, it’s why I watch so much of it and I enjoy most of what I see. That’s what’s kept me coming back to it all these years. If you go by me, you’ll end up with the same completely unreasonable “to watch” list as me. Although I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing, it’s not for everyone.
I find that lately I’m increasingly drawn to passion. When a person can speak or write with an unabashed appreciation for a work, I almost always enjoy it. There’s something contagious about it. It’s true that I remain guarded. Obviously, these people are biased but we’re always biased up to a certain point. The thing is, even though I am told this negativity bias exists and I have convinced myself of it, that’s not what I’ve observed
Out of all the comments I get, I almost never have anyone tell me they’ve watched something because of a review of mine. They may say they were curious about a show and my review encouraged them to either watch it or drop it from their lists but it’s extremely rare that they would tell me they’ve picked up something solely on my recommendation.
This doesn’t bother me. In fact, it takes the pressure off. But there is one exception.
Out of all the shows I’ve talked about, the only one I’ve ever had anyone tell me they watched because of me, is Natsume’s Book of Friends. I wear this information on my heart like the huge badge of honour it is. It’s not exactly surprising. I mention the series every other post and have dedicated dozens of articles exclusively to it. I’ve turned my blog into something of a repository for Natsume fan art and it’s my second biggest Pinterest board.
And I openly announce my lack of objectivity when it comes to it. Even without the disclaimer, it’s pretty obvious. My reviews read like love letters. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever written such enthusiastic actual love letters. Yet that’s the thing my readers have responded to.
I also let go of the pretence of balance in my pretty boy idol reviews which read more like fevered dreams in loosely strewn together words that barely make sense. Understandably those reviews will never stuff anyone to watching those shows but they are some of my favourite things to write. Putting those reviews together will usually have me in a good mood for the rest of the day. I’m pretty easy to please.
I may have lost my point as I was writing. Let me try to get t back. I guess I still feel a little amateurish when I start gushing like a lost cause about whatever I’m watching but I like it and I enjoy when other people do as well. It may come off as very subjective and because of that less credible. I certainly understand how it could. But from radom observation, it seems that despite that, it’s the type of writing that is more persuasive, at least to my readers.
So I may be too positive to be taken as a “serious” reviewer. However, that positivity seems to be convincing. It’s an odd trade-off.