As a new anime season is dawning (isn’t it poetic? I hope so, I tried to make it sound poetic…) I find myself in the familiar position of choosing which (if any shows) I will be watching and reviewing as they air. This is actually a trickier decision than it sounds. Watching anime as it airs affects my viewing experience a lot. I’m also not that suited to episode reviews in general.
But there’s something really attractive about how efficient and organized seasonal episode reviews are. You always know what you’re going to write about. It’s a great excuse to feed my growing screencap addiction. Not to mention the sweet sweet views. But it wears me out so I have to discipline myself and not just pick everything that seems even remotely interesting or else I’ll end up whining nonstop by mid season like I did this winter.
In an attempt to remind myself to be disciplines. I have put together this top 5 list of things I personally find difficult about doing episode reviews. If I end up picking up 12 new shows to review, you can make fun of me. I deserve it.
Sure you always know what you’re going to write about, but what happens when there’s not much there to write about. Most good seasons of anime have peaks and valleys. They have built up and episodes that are just there to set up the action. They may even have emotional palette cleansers or dampeners. Episodes that are purposefully more devoid of impact that serve the overall pacing of the plot but by themselves are just a building block.
These episodes can be great but they are also often really difficult for me to talk about. Aside from, they’re setting up something for next week but I’m not sure what and I’m not sure how I will like it…. Not exactly a thrilling review there. In every seasonal show I’ve reviewed, I’ve come across these types of episodes and writing posts for them is always a huge challenge. I sit staring at my screen trying to pick up on anything I can actually discuss and often end up with posts that I’m not entirely satisfied with.
This season has been particularly rough for me. Work ramped up considerably making it so I often didn’t have time to watch as much anime as I wanted, let alone write about it. As such, posting seven days a week here and four days a week on Karandi’s blog, with galleries, has been difficult. It would have been way easier if I could take full advantage of my precious free time and just write a whole bunch of posts in advance.
Sadly, that’s not an option with episode reviews. Not only can I not write a whole bunch to give myself a comfortable little fallback and then not worry about skipping a day or two, but I also can’t be too lazy about getting the episodes out or else they pile up and the next one has aired. Nothing wrong with reviewing multiple episodes at the time but it makes my ocd itch. It’s a me problem.
Like I said, watching and reviewing a show seasonally really affects the way I take it in. As I’m getting used to it, I start realizing just how often I would have enjoyed a show more if I could have taken it in as a continuous story. And that makes me a little sad. This is by no means the case for every show. There are series that are written in a way that piece meal consumption doesn’t really affect the flow. Usually shows without an overarching plot or serious character development.
As such, I really need to be just more mindful of that aspect when I’m picking shows to review. The downside is, series with huge plots can be really fun to review on an episode by episode basis because you really get to enjoy and take into account the climaxes and action in contrast with the slower moments and build up.
It’s a puzzle, this said, I do want to make sure as much as possible that I’m not bringing down my anime experience because of my blogging experience. That would be so counterproductive!
2. Lack of Feedback
In my experience episode reviews get views and not much else. They get a lot of views. However, unless you have access to my stats page, you wouldn’t guess that because they get by far the least interaction. My essays get enough comments, occasionally not very positive comments, for me to be able to adjust my style and figure out what works or not. My full series reviews get less interaction but I am starting to see what’s likely to get certain readers interested and I more often get comments telling me someone is going to try a show because if a review I wrote (or stay away from it). Sometimes I even get a follow up on how they are enjoying it. These are highly rewarding comments and I’ve also been able to improve on the clarity of reviews and focus a bit more of what’s useful to readers.
I get very little about my episode reviews. So not only is it the post format with which I am the least experienced and the least comfortable, it’s also the format I have the least information on how to improve.
Consistency is a good thing. I really like consistency and I think it can improve a lot of things. But I also like variety… I love Haikyuu, it a wonderful series and season 4 has been brilliant. I love watching it every week, I love getting all my screencaps together and I love writing about it. Except for the fact that I think I’ve written essentially the same post 7 times. It’s a great show with incredibly solid fundamentals. It’s simply beautifully crafted and exceptional in a very traditional way. It’s great a large cast dynamics and tackles complex, often contradictory and confusing relationships with respect for both the audience and the characters.
Great, now I just need to write that over and over again once a week for 3 months or so. Now Haikyuu really is an exceptional show if you ask me. One of the best of it’s kind (a kind I happen to appreciate a lot). As such I don’t mind this ritual. However, very few shows are exceptional (that’s sort of what exceptional means). And writing variations of the same posts multiple times a week is just not my thing. I’m not talented enough a writer to let the words carry the post.
Writing seasonal episode reviews is a specific art. Some people really enjoy it and are great at it. I admire these people. I think that’s why I trick myself into thinking that with practice I could be one of those people. But I’m not there yet. So for now, I think I need to take it a little at the time. A couple a season rather than the 7 I was doing this winter. Or stick to collaborative posts cause those are always awesome to write.
Do you enjoy writing or reading episode reviews? Is there anything that makes writing them easier. What do you look for in an episode review? Please let me know, I could really use the feedback!