Strap in folks, we’re going Meta today!!!!

There is a tepid debate in the anime community (and potentially the post writing community at large, about the value of top 5/10 posts. Some call them valid pieces of page filler with nothing to bring except as time wasters, others call them entertaining and unassuming for when your readers want a distraction.

I call them post structure for whatever you like without inherent merit or detriment. But then again it is possible that I haven’t quite yet properly grasped the concept of a numbered list which is why I use it to write editorials.

All of this said I have started to pick up on some trends in anime numbered lists that make these posts very different from one another and difficult to compare. Here are the top 5 types of top lists I’ve seen on anime blogs:

anime museum
it’s not a gallery but museum is close enough

5) Gallery top lists

These can be on just about any subject but they all have one thing in common, as few words as possible. These posts are really more visual, like an excuse to for the author to post all their favourite pieces of art.

Like any art, for me these posts are hit or miss. If they gather original art from the blogger or ?researched and credited pieces of fan art, I can really enjoy them. If they’re just a collection of the same screen caps and promo art we see everywhere else, then they don’t do much for me. They are all a very easy “read”, so that’s a plus!

sales are tough!

4) Promotional top lists

I’m sure you’ve seen these before: top 5 reasons you should be watching X (x as in random not as in the clamp anime, it’s a fun anime though, I’m sure there are at least 5 reasons to watch it. In any case, these are a bit like a sales pitch for a show or like a really positive review. It’s a pretty interesting way to use the numbered list structure.

There are variations of this list, like top 5 reasons so and so is best girl/boy as a way to fangirl/boy to your heart’s contempt. There’s also the reverse negative post, top 5 reasons you should skip X.

In a way, these lists are great for streamlining reviews and allowing the author to get straight into what they want to talk about, even if they can be a bit one sided by their nature. An alternative could be, top 5 reasons to watch this show and 2 reasons not to. It doesn’t quite have the same ring to it…

anime fetsih
watch Beyond the Boundary to find out exactly which fetishes are portrayed here

3) Fetish top lists

I tried to find a better name for it. Fetish makes it sound all sexy and maybe a little freaky… I call fetish lists those really odd and specific top 5 lists. The top 5 animes in which a character breaks the zipper on their backpack… Somebody would only put a list like that together if they had a particular kink for that specific situation and that’s why they always notice it. Otherwise, Who even pays attention to that sort of thing?

Me! That’s who!!!

I’m either surprisingly full of fetishes (can’t really argue there) or a complete weirdo (I’m really leaving myself wide open to criticism here), but I love these weird specific types of lists. For one thing they tend to be completely unique and impossible to find elsewhere. They are fairly rare though and in my experience, pretty difficult to put together.

why not

2) Essay/pointed top lists

Top 5 reasons fanservice is ruining anime! I made up a post title to make a point yet I’m sure that post exists somewhere!

I guess these are a bit like the promotional lists. These posts are trying to convince the readers of something. And there’s nothing wrong with that of course. The main difference here is that they are not promoting (or bashing) an anime or character, but rather promoting the writer’s opinion on a particular issue.

These posts are really just a different way to frame an essay. They often don’t have a rigid hierarchy or if they do, and there actually is a true number one then the order of the points themselves is part of the idea the writer is trying to share.

I really don’t mind these posts either. They take a bit of finesse to work right but when they do, it can be very effective and more fun to read than a wall of occasionally preachy text!

there’s a pretty convoluted thought process behind this choice of picture

1) SEO top lists

I remember reading that the internet loves numbered lists. One of the reasons they happen to be so prevalent no matter which field you’re writing about, is that they consistently do well on views. It is sort of a new phenomenon. Top lists have always existed of course but they tended to be more unusual in traditional print media. Some magazines would have them as a regular column but that’s about it. Yet they’ve grown to be one of the most popular post formats on the internet.

Possibly because of this, top lists tend to also be SEO friendly. Algorithms trying to offer visitors things they want to read might have a tendency to prioritize top lists since historically people read them a lot.

So when you combine the word “top” with whatever SEO optimized search term you can find, you’re likely to get a lot of hits, regardless what your post is actually about. I had a fellow blogger write a “top anime boobs” post and to the surprise of no one, it’s still their most viewed post.

This method can create posts like “top….(name of currently popular seasonal anime)” even when we’re just a few episodes in. Or top 5 episodes of “popular long running anime”…. After a while you can see the people that are good at that sort of thing!

I have been watching a lot of YouTube videos lately that are critical of media content and I just want to be clear that just because a top 5 list is SEO optimized or a rearranged editorial doesn’t mean it’s not a great post. I just wanted to say that numbered lists can come in a great variety and we can’t really assume much just from the format.

Also, I like top lists and once in a while, I feel like defending them. So to all my fellow anibloggers that put these together, keep up he good work!

Rini 2020 (5)

12 thoughts

  1. I suspect the most common reason is that they are so SEO friendly – not to say borderline click bait. That doesn’t mean the post isn’t read worthy – that’s up to the blogger. Like any SEO method, it can be overdone. But I have not seen that as much in anime as in other, more commercial, subject areas.By and large anime bloggers are sharing their passions, not just trying to make a buck so these blogs don’t end up as gimmicky as those set up purely to make money. I’m sure for some writers it helps to give a post structure, and it’s a set structure that is fun to work with now and then. For some subject matter it might be the best structure. As a reader, I don’t seek list posts, but I don’t mind reading one either. Again, it depends on the writing. Or if it’s a gallery – the art choices perhaps. Like anything else in the world, it’s what you make of it – on both the writing and reading side. As long as the mavens of make millions on the Internet praise Top 5/10 whatever lists as money makers/traffic draws we are going to see a lot of them. Bloggers who write interesting material will make interesting lists and will have readers for them – and possibly draw in a few surfers to subscribers. Nothing wrong with that! Bloggers who are just cranking out crap to try and make a buck are going to make what I think of as “spammy” lists no one cares about and no one is going to bookmark their blog for a revisit. That’s a lot of words to say “meh”. LOL.

    1. I agree..surprise surprise… You can have completely legitimate, interesting posts or articles with baity titles, seo optimized tags and format just like you can have substansless drivel presented in a very somber way.

  2. “Post structure” sounds about right.

    How about “Top 5 ways to choose accompanying images”. Cryptic taglines are fun, but I (almost?) never figure them out. Are we supposed to relish the mystery, or should we ask? This is the meta-mystery.

      1. In that case: What are the convoluted throught processes behind the choice of the final (non-avatar) image in this post, and does it have anything to do with the t-shirt inscription to the left?

        1. I did like the mir inscription which I decided was “world” wich fits with the www motif also their robots that looked pleased…so seo pleasing. My mind is pretty simple

  3. This gathered likes so fast! I guess people really do like top 5’s . Some of mine also get the best traffic.. though Ash as a Girl is mostly getting hits. Might need to do a new part of that :O.

    Love how you totally Meta Top 5 you went. I really think Top 5’s can really help the writer declutter their brain. Which Pokemon do I really like at the moment? Make a top 5 and you somehow create a bit of order for yourself. Who do you think would win in a fight .. the top 5 strongest anime characters. It can help put things into a context we oddly desire. I remember when I ranked James one of the best Pokemon trainers in the pokéverse giving me some answers as to what it meant for me.

    There is something clinical and relaxing about it for me.. you take a step back from the material and choose based on a feeling which we than rationalise. I at least usually try to see how my opinion stacks up to that of others searching for similar top 5’s. Ranking things make them feel more real to me as well.

    Say if we rank the top 5 sexy creepy clowns I realise I might have more in common with you than I thought. because I would not Rank Pennywise or Joker above Hisoka either! But I would also realise I know a bunch of scary clowns!

  4. Ah, I can’t really say that I’m the largest fan of list posts because I don’t do them often, but they are good for getting attention and getting content out when you don’t know how to do so. Like, I use used them to celebrate anime at the end of the year and even recently. Just don’t do them very often. Thanks for the idea on what lists to create in the future maybe.

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