Man, I hope this doesn’t make people angry. Let me start by explaining what I mean by the title Should Anime be Judged by Different Standards. The first question is probably different from what, and to that, I say from the rest of entertainment, i.e shows and movies.
You may be wondering what brought this on and I’ll try to explain by putting you in context. There was a bit of a hoopla in the community regarding a professional critics review of anime it raised the question of whether professional reviewers should be intimately acquainted with the medium of anime before being “allowed” to review it. At least in a professional context.
This isn’t a new debate and most people tend to say, why yes, of course, someone should be familiar with what they are reviewing before they can do so. And on the surface, I tend to agree. But when I really think about it, why would I agree.
If this is a professional reviewer who is familiar with media and film then what difference does it make in how many anime they have seen. A show is either good or bad and it doesn’t really matter that much if it’s animated, live-action or where it was produced. does it? I guess it’s good to have some knowledge of the production side if you ate going to discuss the technical aspects in detail but that’s not what was at issue here. And it rarely is.
it’s something that’s way more pronounced with anime than any other area of filmmaking. For instance, I know a bit about both Swedish and Spanish filmmaking. They are very different from one another and they both have deep and long histories and cinematic traditions that still strongly influence the cinema made today. From the general tone to the themes explored right down to the choices of colour palette, I can usually tell within a few minutes if a movie or series was made in either Spain or Sweden. I also read a lot of reviews of those movies and use to be quite involved in the international cinema community.
I’m saying all this because I almost never saw a fan base dismissing a critique because they hadn’t watched enough Swedish cinema to review Jan Troell or something. It’s just an argument that doesn’t really come up. Fans will call the critics hacks or decide they entirely missed the point of a movie but it’s not based on niche experience.
It is however a point that I see all the time in the anime community. And the only reason I can see why it would matter is if anime had a different set of rules. In that case, a critic would need to be familiar with those rules in order to critic it. Again, I’m not even sure I completely agree with that but I do see the logic in it. Hence the question, should anime be critiqued by different standards?
I already know that a vocal part of the community believes the answer to that question to be: YES. I know that because I see various criticisms of anime get answered with “that’s typical or anime and you wouldn’t bring up that criticism if you knew that” or less polite variations of that argument. As if the fact that something has existed for some time invalidates any less than fully positive assessment anyone can make.
Personally, I think not ever questioning anything simply because it has existed for a while is not the best way to grow. But it still begs the question of whether anime should have a special category and I don’t know the answer. Or rather I’m completely split between yes and no.
There are a variety of little reasons that are preventing me from clearly falling on one side of the issue or the other but for now, let me give you my two big ones.
NO – Anime should be judged in the same way as all other movies and shows
My biggest reason for thinking that anime should not be separated from other media when it comes to criticism is a fear that if it is, it will stagnate. If the fans never ask for anything different or new from anime because it is what it is, then it runs the risk of just becoming a homogeneous pool of the same old thing over and over again.
Despite what some fans may think, anime has evolved drastically over the years and it’s at least on some level because it has had to compete with international influence both for the viewership of Japanese audiences and for the lucrative overseas market. And that has been invigorating for the medium.
I think the same applies to criticism. If anime is only judged by a very specific set of expectations that are singular to the medium and never get updated, it won’t get challenged. There will be no reasons to push or improve anything. I’m exaggerating but I think you can see my point.
Criticism is supposed to be a boon to the industry. It helps it as it is a form of publicity but it can also open creators up to possibilities they may not have otherwise thought of. It’s a symbiotic relationship and in any ecosystem, variety is the key to not only surviving but thriving.
YES – Anime should have it’s on rules
But let’s face it anime is different. It has to be, doesn’t it? Otherwise, why do I find most other forms of entertainment so boring? There is something in anime that isn’t captured in other media and without understanding that, a critique will likely miss a lot of the magic of the medium altogether. And this runs the risk of turning away tons of potential fans through misrepresentation.
I also made a point above that critics can influence creators. This is becoming less and less true in the age of social media where everyone has a voice. Still, in conservative Japan, I bet official reviewer voices are way louder than anyone else’s. So it stands to reason that these critics that represent the audience should represent the fans. And the only way to properly represent the fans is to be a fan. Right?
After all, just because something is an issue in one society or within one context doesn’t mean it has to be the priority across the board.
Both are good arguments, right? At least they both sound reasonable to me. And as such, I’m just not sure where I stand. I think I tend to believe that a good anime will be good no matter how many animes the viewer has watched. Also, criticism and reviews both have many subjective elements that will change from person to person so in the end there’s no way to ever really make sure people fall into a precise category.
But I would also hate to see anime dismissed simply because it’s different and unfamiliar.
And so here we are. Not sure where to stand. Do you have a stance on this issue or are you in the middle like me? And if you do have an opinion, why do you think or feel that way?
76 thoughts on “Should Anime be Critiqued by Different Standards?”
I don’t see a logical reason for it to be either-or. People who pay attention to professional critics pick who they agree with the most and then let them do the thinking. Some will see anime as special and some will says the laws of what makes for good entertainment apply equally to all. Let a thousand flowers bloom, I say.
I don’t pay attention to professional critics. Did I like the last production by these people? Is the anime just a formulaic rehash of popular anime tropes? What are various amateur anime bloggers saying about it? If I’m in any doubt, I’ll watch an episode or two to let the anime itself make its case.
There are many things in anime that make me cringe. Tropes that keep popping up because they sell to a certain demographic. Like the obsession with breast size, empty-headed harem protagonists where you’re suppose to insert yourself in the role, non-consensual sexuality presented as acceptable behavior, gratuitous panty shots, sexual pratfalls,and prepubescent children presented in a sexually manner. If i “critique” an anime, I might say, “This was great… but THAT made me cringe…”
“This is common in anime” doesn’t hold any water for me. I’m not such a cultural relativist to think that just because a certain demographic likes it, that it’s a good or even neutral thing and ought to be accepted without question. But that is a topic for all forms of entertainment and not just anime. In that sense anime is not “special.”
There’s no reason not to include both standards of critique in the same review. By “anime is special” standards this… but in terms of “general entertainment,” that…
Well it’s a bit difficult for one person to be both well acquainted with and oblivious to anime concepts simultaneously, although I certainly try. This said I also think the more reviews the better. However in the case of professionals I do understand why some would harp about professional integrity.
I think people bothered by the issue are pretty interested about how this impacts individual viewers and much more worried about industry execs and investors who may not even watch anime but have a huge impact on it. These people do use professional reviews up to a certain point to determine future investments and for some fans the thought that a showrunner they think does great work will never get a fair chance because of stilted reviews can be daunting, you know?
By the time a critic sees a show, it’s too late to do anything about that show. Presumably those decisions would be made early on based on test audiences and story boards and such. Or is anime not up to that level of sophistication?
All the critical acclaim in the world won’t save a flop from being a flop. So there’s that.
My own personal feeling is that successful professional critics try to get in front of where the audiences will eventually go and plant their flag. Their job is to tell us whether we’ll enjoy something. If their criticism lacks predictive value, there is no reason to read them,
That’s arguable. Most anime is actually fairly uncertain and we have had a ton of series get cut short or go steeply down in quality because funding was cut midseason. But I was talking more about future projects.
My understanding is that the lack of ressources and time in the industry, coupled with the sheer amount of anime, makes test audiences completely non viable. Moreover, anime isn’t exactly made for ratings. It’s ofte more viable for investors to pick a run of the mill show that corresponds to local censorship laws for the most countries possible and won’t get panned, than it is to invest in a show that going to get a lot of viewers or be loved by audiences. The business model is not like what we are used in western enternainent, or even in other forms of Japanese enterainment. From what i have read it’s closer to a hybrid of an advertising vehicle (like 80s cartoons) and a way to move money around legally.
Anime as money laundering? Hmmm…
Lovely post. It made me want to write again.
And I’m leaning more towards “No, anime shouldn’t be judged differently.”
I’m leaning that way as well, I think
I would definitely say it should be critiqued the same way as other mediums. I mean, in general anime may have a different set of tropes for example than a Hollywood movie but even then there are so many sub genres in both sets that I think it works out well. A professional reviewer (Or any reviewer to be honest) should still be able to give a good review based purely on what they’re seeing.
I’d say it should work both ways, even for fans. Let’s take the Demon Slayer film for example. Whether you’re a film critic who’s never even heard of Demon Slayer before or a mega fan who already read the manga and watched the anime, I think you should judge the film purely on its own merits. I know for some if something is changed from the manga it’ll instantly lose points or gain points if it keeps something in but I think you should go in not considering points outside of the film like that.
Purely subjective of course so that’s just my view on it. Only time I would find it a bit annoying is when someone jumps to Avengers Infinity War or they go straight to Madoka Magica Rebellion and say the films are confusing. If it’s specifically a film sequel to another film then while you don’t have to watch the original I think you shouldn’t say it’s confusing or something. A sequel does play by different rules than an original imo.
In short, I would say the actual critiques should be the same standard for each
I’m torn on this. On one hand, I like seeing fresh perspectives, and I hate the idea of gatekeeping people for not watching all the anime. One of my favorite things to read online is when someone sees a beloved older anime for the first time and offers a fresh take on it.
But on the other hand, I don’t like it when people turn around and make bad faith arguments due to their lack of knowledge or experience with the medium. Like people who say anime is sexist, because they’ve only seen one isekai harem show and they think all anime is like that. Or even in the community, people will often hate on a popular Shonen anime just because it’s Shonen. It comes off as petty and ignorant, and I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life. Anime has its problems, all fiction does to some extent, but you should at least try to see the good parts before brushing off the whole thing.
I see what you mean. To be fair I have never seen a professional review do that as usually they are selling to audiences that like anime and want to keep them on their side.
Hmm… I feel the same way about anime, Kdramas and Jdramas.
I love when something old is being watched and reviewed for the first time, but it is also never fun to stick around for reviews that are based on shallow assumptions either.
I think it helps to know about anime or have some familiarity with it regarding the many cultural aspects specific to it. Many people find anime weird for the first time – largely for being made for Japanese audiences first – and if they can’t reconcile that fact they will be forever bemused and/or put off by it. But it is the differing parameters, logic, and “rules” of anime that make it what it is to our “foreign” eyes, and you either get it or you don’t.
You can usually tell when a UK film reviewer in the papers or TV listings magazines knows nothing about anime as they use phrases like “a Japanese manga film” and find it all a bit baffling, or extreme, or very “uncartoon” like, meaning they don’t get it, because they are expecting something akin to Pixar or Bugs Bunny.
If you don’t get it then you are bound to hate it because you are judging it like any other animation, which is an unfair comparison since they are all come from a different place creatively and philosophically from anime. Things like fan service or violence will be either titillating or abhorrent to someone who doesn’t know or understand anime – usually because it is animated – and whilst I won’t defend it all, I am able to accept it as an anime quirk.
The chicken and egg caveat to this is of course you need to watch a lot of anime to “get it” so how do you get it if you don’t watch anime because you don’t get in the first place?
So I think I personally do review anime through a different lens than I do live action films because it is a different medium and has many facets to it that won’t be found elsewhere that make anime what it is. However, it can still be judged fairly on the story and entertainment value as any other piece of art even if the presentation or delivery isn’t what we expect.
Expertise isn’t a requirement in judging anime per se – just passion, understanding, and an open mind.
I don’t know how familiar you are with Quebec cinema. It has a very distinct tone. Not bad at all, in fact some really great movies are made are but they are very much a product of their culture. Even though I’ve lived here for a long time now, there is still something in the fundamental view that goes over my head. Unfortunately, there isn’t much of a critic culture in Quebec and the ones we do have don’t have international appeal. That chicken and egg problem you mention applies for pretty much every movie here that hopes to have broad appeal. Not even international appeal just outside the province appeal…
I’ve seen most of Xavier Dolan’s films. Does that count? 🙂
Sure it does, the one’s he directed at least. I found stuff like Martyrs didn’t quite give the same impression.
I think it comes down to the reviewer! Per example most WordPress reviewers review from a personal angle. “I liked this because..” Expertise is never needed for this angle. I would say candidacy and honesty is. Like when you say “I generally don’t really like the romance genre and haven’t watched that many romance shows” It gives us an angle.
What standards you use is up to you! You like colour and characters and have shown that you sometimes like a simple villain. All those standards can be applied to both western media and anime. Yet i do think rather than other standards, we need to keep an open mind.
A good story , is a good story… but I can hardly compare the stories of My Hero Academia and Avengers and claim I like Avengers more because it establishes all Avengers in separate arcs (movies) then brings them together. I can’t say that Midoriya’s hits feel much more painful than Captain America so that Chris Evans should try harder to sell his punches. I can not complain that Bakugo’s blast lack the lighting effects of Iron Man’s beams. Nor can I explain that Thor’s attacks happen less in close up than Todo’s ones.
We can hold anime up to the same standards as movies but we can not compare them and treat them like they are the same. Fundamentally story telling is culturally different as well. If anime Tony Stark would be cocky in front of Pepper Potts, Anime Pepper would smack Tony to the ground giving him a back lump on his head while crying in a smoking crater on the ground and we would laugh and say “comedy in this show is good” if Gwynetth Paltrow did that to Robert Downey Jr in the movie and he lays there with his tongue sticking out we would probably all say the comedy is ” a little bit weird”
I think a lot of the people who are critiqued are doing these two things wrong. People are annoyed that “GamingWorldMagazine” writes “Our Ultimate Top 5 of the Best Anime Ever… total must see anime for the hardcore fans” then they make a list with Naruto, Sailor Moon, One Piece, Attack on Titan and Madoka. While saying One Piece has good humor like Pirates of the Caribbean and how the show would be perfect if the green haired swordsman wore cutlasses instead of Katana’s to really sell that pirate feeling but it ‘s a great show otherwise. These reviews are often in the “we” form or in the “you” form. “If you are an anime fan YOU will like One Piece” which distances me from the author because he thinks I am still at the basics. If they wrote from an angle “here at GamingWorldMagazine” we do not watch a lot of anime, but these are the five anime that we all loved anime.. so thats why we think they are maybe the ultimate anime.. I think they would get a lot less critique.
One distinction I would like to make is that I do think reviewers (any and all) should watch the show they are reviewing. When reading cookie cutter articles such a stop anime lists, I often get the feeling that someone just read the synopsis or didn’t watch past episode 3. I remember reading a professional think piece which was essentially attacking another piece for name Miss Kobayashi in a anime mother post. And there were some decent points but mostly the author was hung up on the point that Kobayashi didn’t have a child and seemed to assume that Tohru was the one regarded as the kid. Had they watched to the end of the season they probably would have figured out that there is an actual adopted child in the story and crafted an argument that was more relevant.
True we talked about this before , the industry did force me to review stuff I have not seen or played yet.. for the sake of sales and clicks.
If I had to do that , I was at least smart enough to pretend “My First Time playing a Fifa game” or something like that to get away with it.
If I had to write about Kobayashi based on three episodes I would just rave about those and say “I am not gonna spoil the rest” The industry will be the industry and weird standards will happen but like you said, review what you know.
Don’t pretend to be an anime fan. Don’t write a top 5 anime for the true fan, when your not! Write a top 5 Anime that anyone can enjoy. You can lie, (the industry might force you to) but take an angle you can pull off. If you haven’t seen anime at all… do a top 5 on how cool the characters look or whatever. Hire an intern that watches anime and let your writer correct his article.. You have be genuine to some extent at least.
I do think the fanbase is to harsh as well though, a lot of writers may genuinely like Naruto or MHA as their are great entry anime and they already get attacked for liking them when “The Ancient Magus Bride” or “Girl’s last Tour” offer much deeper things or whatever.
So I a lot of the standards we measure by and condemn a reviewer on are also community imposed. So I think the true answer to how we should review for a certain community may be lost in an ocean of interfing opinions
I genuinely like Naruto and MHA. A lot! Then again, I genuinely like the OG Star Wars too so there’s a pattern there.
I like Naruto a lot as well.. up to a point where they lost complete track of being ninja’s at least. There is nothing wrong with liking them either.. MHA was not for me, as I find it too “shonen” I kinda grew out of that I guess?! At least for new stories.
I also like Star Wars, but there is an irony in there in the eyes of some of the community.
In western eyes, if you like Star Wars you are a nerd. In the eyes of anime fans if Naruto is one of your favourites you might be called basic or casual.
So weirdly in movies people want you to be as broad and generic as possible.. while in anime the community kind of expects you to go niche before you can write a post?! I might be wrong there but sometimes it kinda feels like that to me. So critics catering to a wide audience in anime will always be blamed of being.. inexperienced because they just watched one piece… even though it has near infinite episodes.
Hmmm, I hadn’t thought about it like that.
But you’re right- depending on the people I am communicating with.
Like in the art community, it is often frowned upon if your tastes are too commercial or popular, but in general populous, anything that is not commercial can be seen as either presumptuous, amateur or… as Irina mentioned before, labeled as “kid shows” in the case of anime.
In some realms, being mainstream equates belonging. In other realms, there is a competition over who is the most____ of all.
Sometimes I really do find both irritating, but usually I find something new from it, and sometimes it can be really funny. Like when I catch myself competing over who had the most embarrassing memory.
Why would I even want to win that medal? smh
I don’t think an American audience really cares about most things critics talk about in anime. When you immerse yourself in a fantasy world, having someone pointing out the historical background and traditions isn’t necessary to enjoy the show. When it comes down to it, enjoying the show is the only thing that matters.
I’ve watched shows any number of times that were critically panned. and thought they were fabulous. I’ve watched others that were critically acclaimed and snoozed out on them. The last time I paid attention to professional critics was the old “Siskel and Ebert at the Movies” show. They were cool because they brought different tastes and standards and I could walk away with some idea of whether I’d like 3 different movies over a half-hour show. Most importantly, the critics were entertaining as they interacted. Of course, that was like lightning in a bottle. One doesn’t catch it very often.
A single critic is not very useful unless you are looking to them to tell you what your tastes ought to be. And reading multiple critics is not worth the time. If 5 critics agree on something it only means they float in the same socio-philosophical bubble – distressingly common. They would need to disagree in ways that are meaningful and could be easily compared. That’s a lot of effort for me to put in and more than I think it worth.
So I look to people offering short reviews, stuff where I can digest 3 different pieces in 10 minutes and come to a conclusion as to whether I’ll try it. (Or good old word-of-mouth.) To do a good short review of an anime one does not need to be a critic or a scholar. All it takes is a summary and brief articulable reasons why they personally did or did not like it. That requires no background in Japanese culture or anime production. If I am interested in that stuff at all, it is because the anime itself gripped me and made me want to find out more. Then it is more of a research project than looking for criticism.
I don’t actually know if critics and reviewers have much impact anymore. I’m not sure how to measure it at all. But it does seem that fans do still read them occasionally because I do hear the complaints.
I didn’t even know that there had been a Siskel and Eber show!
I often look up their reviews about films when I am grappling with a concept. The reviews on Space 2001 Odyssey and Spirited Away were especially amazing!
But that is it for critiques. For reviews, I do pay attention!
I go back often to this site for that very reason… well, not the ONLY reason. I love the camaraderie here, and Irina you have one of the greatest gifts- seeing the world at a new angle- and a beautiful one at that.
I am very behind in anime viewing, and I love getting recommendations.
So, I definitely read reviews… of course, bearing in mind that tastes differ greatly.
I enjoy reviews of shows I have seen cause it’s a bit like chatting with a friend about it.
That’s so true! I like watching some things alone, but some experiences are just so much better with others.
I don’t think that anime should be judged by any different standards BUT whoever is reviewing/critiquing it should have some baseline of Japanese culture before doing so. You can tell right away who actually knows about Japanese culture and mindset when reviewing, and who doesn’t depending on what they point out and how they point it out. But that’s just my two cents.
I’m going to pretend you mean for professional reviewers only so that I don’t have to stop reviewing anime…
Absolutely professionals only otherwise, I’d have to stop reviewing it too lol
I tend to have a different way of reviewing/critiquing various different media. For example, how I review comics and manga is going to be different than how I review novels books (and such ebooks vs physical books; I don’t read audiobooks because my ADHD hates it) because it’s a whole different narrative style. Same goes for films vs tv serials (I also review international media differently because there’s many cultural aspects that I like to be mindful/respectful of while reviewing), vs anime. But that’s just how my brain works and compartmentalises the various sorts of media and mediums that I seek out for entertainment and intellectual stimulation. Video games are similar. How I review a visual novel will be different than how I review JRPG vs how I review a first person shooter. I think it’s entirely a personal preference thing for the most part, as individuals consume media quite differently from each other. At the end of the day, I just try to be mindful and respectful of an individual person’s way of critique, even if I don’t necessarily agree with it. What works for me won’t for others, and vice versa, and that’s 1000% okay.
I’m not sure what you mean by differently in this case. I think everyone would review a visual novel differently from a JRPG vs a first person shooter. After all these games all have very different elements that impact the experience. How responsive and exact the movement on screen is could make a unplayable while it matters less in a JRPG and is completely irrelevant to a VN, just to name one. So I would say it’s super reasonable not to review them in the same way. But I’m not sure if you think, I have played 50 VNs this year so I can review them but I only finished 3 JRPGs so I can,t review those?
No, no. I didn’t mean anything like that at all. My wording may have came off skewed. I’m sorry. I just meant that all reviewers have their own criteria to which they refer when they review. Video games may have been a poor example but I do know some people who review all genres of gaming with a single mould or lens and sometimes what works for one doesn’t work for the other. It was a generalisation.
Oh I agree with you, you sort of need to adapt to what you’re reviewing.
OK, I feel like the toddler that stumbled into a serious discussing, but I have to say it anyway.
That second GIF is amazing! I can’t stop looking at it. It reminds me of “The Thing”
Great topic too!
My goodness, I didn’t even double check my autocorrect- discussion not discussing! Aiiiigoooo!
Toddlers are always welcome!
Yay! No wonder I always feel so welcome her. XD
Honestly, I don’t know why you keep apologising for raising interesting and important topics for discussion! I mean, I know I’m a relative newbie follower of your blog, but sometimes I get the impression that your readers – or anime fans generally – must be really thinned skinned! 🤔🤣
But I think the ambiguity of your own response to the question points to the deeper reality – namely, that if people are going to insist that anime be judged by “different standards”, then they need to articulate what the criteria for those “different standards” must be. And no, I don’t think having watched a lot of anime or being familiar with the animation process counts as legitimate criteria. Because, quite frankly, if that were the case, then 99% of anime reviews, professional and amateur, would be “illegitimate”.
Likewise, I think your point about people saying things like “it’s always been like this in anime” or similar is well made. Because anime, like other artforms, is never – has never been – static, and is constantly evolving and changing. Thus, even if it were possible to establish separate criteria for anime, there could never be a “once and for all time” set of criteria as such. Because as anime changes, so the criteria would also have to change.
At the end of the day, we simply have to accept that any given review is a somewhat subjective reaction by the reviewer to whatever it is they are reviewing. Yes, that reaction may be informed by direct experience – a novelist reviewing a novel, for example – or by academic or professional training, but ultimately what a review articulates is the impact which the reviewed artform had on the reviewer. In the case of anime – and live action film as well – there may be consistent categories across the various reviews – plot, characterisation, story development, cinematography/animation, acting, etc – but ultimately what the review expresses is the sum total experience which all these facets cumulatively provided to the reviewer. Reviews are not “scientific” or objective; and, of course, we are perfectly free to take them or leave them as we choose.
Which isn’t to say that any one review cannot be subject to critique itself. But to my mind, that critique needs to confine itself to the content of the review, and not include ad hominem attacks like “you don’t understand anime” or “you don’t know what you’re talking about”. Likewise, I incline to the view that calls for reviews of anime to be conducted according to “different standards”, while they might express a genuine frustration about the wider social perception of anime (one I often feel myself) don’t ultimately hold water.
Uhm, you might be on to something with the thin skin. I do tend to offend people without realizing it on this blog.
I pretty much agree with everything you said. I wonder if the same debates take place in Japan where the industry isn’t considered niche.
Seriously? I’ve not read anything you’ve written that could possibly be the cause of offense….unless some people think asking questions and sharing ideas is offensive….
You have this habit of asking questions that make me stop and think.
At the level of story, no, it doesn’t matter. Across human history, stories are stories. They share common elements that a professional reviewer can talk about.
Now, if a reviewer calls a younger sister “onee-san” instead of “imoto-san” (don’t ask how I found out!), I might note it and smile. But unless that’s the point of the review, it wouldn’t invalidate any larger points.
Heck, I’ve read Marvel comics all my life, and I sometimes mis-speak when I talk about X-Men or Avengers lore.
For me, it comes down to the intent behind leveling the accusation of “you don’t know anime!” If the intent is gatekeeping, I’ll generally oppose it. If the intent is to improve a review, well that’s fertile ground for discussion!
The intent is usually both I think. Of course to a lot of people “improving” a review often means aligning it closer to their point of view.
How can the medium grow if only a certain type of person can critique it? Whether professional or not, the person who analyzes a given work can never truly be objective. We are all humans after all. What will be detrimental to the medium is making it an exclusive club. From what I am understanding, the end goal is always about the money despite how much I dislike the idea.
I’m not sure it has gotten to the all about the money part yet. Anime is a very odd and bizarre industry where most of it is not actually expected to make a profit. In a way it is about the money in the sense of the anime itself being advertising and propaganda or money laundering but not in the same direct way that we often think about. But that’s changing so it might have become a more straightforward business.
A good story is a story despite its medium. There’s no real logical method behind the making of it, but of course I’m speaking from a creative standpoint.
In a way, I would compare Entertainment to Sport – Somebody’s favourite Football Match can’t be compared to somebody’s favourite Ice Hockey Match, and yet someone from each sport is eligible for “Athlete Of The Year”.
Anime and manga are in their own league, with their own audience, casual and hardcore, and their own niches. There are also the best anime and manga based on genre. We don’t compare Akira to My Neighbour Totoro in terms of whether one is better than the other. Because each catered-towards audience will disagree with each other on that. How they can be compared is how much they make us think and feel. Apathy is an enemy of entertainment, and unless we can experience what the creators intended, such as unsettledness in Blood On The Tracks, cosiness in Laid Back Camp, or a sense of growth and adventure in One Piece, it’s a dud.
The ones that can be the most thoughtful and most feeling, through writing, visuals, and sound as a perfect cocktail – are the kind that can be selected for a world stage. A Movie, Book or TV Show Of The Year, regardless of where or how it was presented and expressed. It is why Spirited Away has been an anime lover’s champion for the last twenty years and Your Name for the last five.
It’s great that you picked pretty much all examples that are widely appreciated outside the anime fan circles!
Another interesting post with some good comments, that I do not have much to add to. But if I had something to add it would be this. First off having a reviewer familar with anime would lead to a better more informed review as they would be familar with the medium and it’s nuances. Second I would say beeing familar with Japanese culture would almost be better in some places as the reviewer could explain why something appeared or was done a certain way, as there are definetely cultural dissonece occuring for western fans even though familar with anime on the more distinctly Japanese anime. Third I think having somone from outside the anime sphere reviewing anime cna be benefical as that outside view can put a lens to things that fans regularly look past or ignore, the most obvious example being certain types of fanservice.
There are things you stop seeing and appreciating after a while
I think that if you’re bringing in personal views in your reviews then that can be s good thing since you’re connecting with the readers that are reading on the other hand if it’s something like MyAnimeList then of course anime should be judged without personal opinions.
I also like personal views, I find that it’s what makes each review different and unique
It is wise to know when not to speak on a matter. Usually that refers to very weighty matters (ethical, philosophical, moral, etc.), but it’s nonetheless true universally. If more people thought that way a lot of things would be better, from the world’s problems to people’s relationships. But that aside. I think the same wisdom applies to reviews. I think fresh perspective can come from the inexperienced, so I would never completely discount the views of newer fans to anime, but I can’t give them the same credit I would to someone who’s watched a lot of anime. It wouldn’t be fair to the seasoned fan if I did so. So I think it’s best if newcomers to the medium don’t weigh in too much, and it would be best if they came to that conclusion themselves.
But I always say, the large spectrum of opinion in animedom is something that I find interesting, so I can’t be too picky about anybody’s credentials at that rate.
I do love to hear what people have to say about the first anime they watch. It’s usually very unique
Critiqued? It should be 100% critiqued by anyone who wishes, in any way they wish.
Cancelled by Twitter because it doesn’t meet modern United States/Western standards? No. Not everything has to meet Western standards.
In my humble opinion.
Amen to that.
It’s a good thing no one takes Twitter seriously anymore
Because there is no solidified criteria for what makes a show “good,” everything is subjective. Even for myself, one thing that really bothers me about one anime will be my favorite thing about another. In some shows I love how everyone is an unabashed tropey caricature, and in another I’ll cringe if even one character is. I generally say “Show, don’t tell” is the best way to do storytelling, but I love how the Monogatari series is driven solely by dialogue and monologue.
Because of this, as long as a reviewer recognizes their experience, I say it doesn’t matter what that experience is. Knowing the taste of a reviewer is what makes the reviews useful. That way, if someone who absolutely loves shonen and battle anime comes along and says “Hey, this slice of life was great!” then you’ll know there’s something in it that would appeal to general shonen / battle anime fans.
I watched Darling in the FranXX before watching any other mecha anime (I knew the names Evangelion and Gundam, but hadn’t seen either or knew anything about them). As such, I didn’t have the generational “Mecha-fan trauma” of having so many shows set up beautifully and then veer into bizarre territory for the last bit. Because it was fresh to me, Darling in the FranXX is one of my all time favorites. Everyone who grew up with Evangelion and Mecha, however, loathed that it committed these same sins while not bringing too much new to the table, because their expectations and experience were different.
It all comes back to the reviewer’s responsibility to say where they’re coming from and acknowledge that they aren’t some universal source of truth, otherwise the review won’t be very helpful.
I actually didn’t know people hated Eva. I watched it as a kid and really liked it a lot. I guess it goes to show that even with experience there’s no guarantee it will math up to general fan experience either.
I’m just here for the Spanish & Swedish film recommendations
It’s not Swedish, but I’d recommend Rare Exports which is Finnish. There’s also Troll Hunter which is Norwegian. Of course there’s the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Let the Right One In which are Swedish, but then everyone probably already knows about them. As for Spanish films I would suggest checking out the Rec trilogy.
Why thank you, good sir. Allow me to return the favor, by sharing that I found “Oslo, August 31st” quite moving.
Awesome. I will add it to my to-watch list. Thank you and a good day to you, good sir!
Twin Murders: The Silence of the White City (movie)
Cathedral of the Sea (show)
Ministry of Time (Show)
Only Ministry of Time is not available on Netflix anymore. But it’s damn good if they make it available again.
The Restaurant (show). I didn’t finish it because the lack of time, but it’s on one of Prime VIdeo’s channels. It’s like a Swedish Downton Abbey
Muchas gracias. I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up “Patria”, a gripping portrayal of a Basque community torn apart by separatism & terrorism. Easily my favorite show from 2020, alongside the Neapolitan “L’amica geniale”.
Thanks! I’ll have a look at those
I’m late to the party… I know it’s really not original at all but I did quite enjoy let the right one in when I first saw it, as well as the 100 year old man. Open Your Eyes has a ton of elements I tend to love in stories and I liked it way better than the remake
Can’t spell “original” without “Irina”, so you’re forgiven.
I feel like a certain level of experience matters when it comes to professionally reviewing anime. I feel like in any medium, experience with the genre matters more than how much you’ve watched. A person who’s seen 50 battle shounens and nothing else would probably be terrible for reviewing a slice of life anime. A person who’s only seen 20 slice of life anime and nothing else would probably be better for that. Not only are their genre conventions, but anime is often inspired by other anime, and understanding these references and inspirations come a long way in understanding a show. So if genre experience matters, then obvious experience with the medium itself should matter too.
I don’t think anime should be excused simply because “it’s always been that way.” There are some contexts in which it’s a good argument, but not in general. But I don’t think the concern with outsiders is them criticizing things common to anime. I would think regardless of your experience, you would recognize fanservice is a fair thing to criticize, even if it’s always been a part of anime.
I think the real concern is the ability to understand the appeal of anime, especially concerning each genre individually. I think there is a reason people tend to get annoyed with non anime fans criticizing anime. Their criticisms tend to not be that good. If they were good criticisms, I think people would be less hostile towards these reviews. Beyond just tropes, I think there are elements to otaku culture and Japanese culture that’s often captured in anime that newcomers wouldn’t really understand.
I think, assuming the review is actually good at their job, would be able to make a fair assessment of an anime from that viewpoint without resorting to “well it’s an anime thing so it’s okay and you can’t criticize it.” I think your concern with only anime fans criticizing anime to be based around the common weak defenses you’ll often find from casual fans. But considering the topic is about professional writing, I think that concern is way less founded. Obviously not all professional anime writers are good, but you could probably say that about any medium.
I understand the theory behind what you’re saying but I’m not sure why. Why would a person who’s seen 50 battle shounens and nothing else would probably be terrible for reviewing a slice of life anime if they are very good at reviewing? It sounds like it should be correct but on a practical basis I don’t know why. There’s no element I could point to and say unless you’ve watched enough SoL you won’t be able to appreciate that.
I’d take it case by case; read the review and make up my mind then. It’d be a little silly, for example, if someone happened across SSSS.Dynazenon this season and then said the show is sooooo original because there’s giant robots and they even combine. It’s in the presentation; make it an impression post and it’s fine, but if you’re a professional reviewer with an audience then you’ve just not done your job. Similarly, I’m having lots of fun with Godzilla Singular Point this season. It’s the first Godzilla anime that works for me, but my hunch is that I know too little about tokusatsu films and especially series to get the full picture. I know just enough to feel like the show gets it, but I wouldn’t dare review it. But the context I’m lacking here isn’t actually anime.
Every anime has its own set of reference. I don’t think you need to have watched a whole lot of anime to review Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, however you’ll be missing a lot with Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. Some shows change drastically after you get the references; some don’t change all that much.
It all depends on what you’re saying, and if you’d be saying the same thing if you’d watched more anime. Especially otaku anime is a niche product and not really targeted at anyone outside of that niche. I’ve seen reviews that felt like they reviewing porn as if it were standard romance, though not quite as extreme. It doesn’t help that there are still people around who think cartoons are for kids. They’re going to be mightily confused by something like Made in Abyss which has kiddy protagonists and cutesy character designs but a fantasy/horror story line that really doesn’t hold back. Hardcore anime fans won’t get the same cognitive dissonance as they don’t expect a cutesy look or kiddy characters to point towards a show for children. The reviewer might not actually think the show’s targeted at children, but the preconception might still influence the way the show’s perceived, because knowing something as facts and being familiar with it are different things. So the show might come across as gratuitious, because you’re not bringing the horror mindset to the table. These things can be subtle and hard to pin down.
Generally, as long as people don’t flaunt their authority in other areas while missing what’s obvious to the fan, it should be fine.
I guess ultimately it also depends on your audience. Like you said Nozaki changes a lot with the references but if you are writing for an audience that won’t get them, then you need to be able to put yourself in that mindset as well. Although I guess if you do get them it’s easier to imagine the other way around than if you don’t.
Also the robots in SSSS.Dynazenon combine!?! No one told me that! It need to watch it soon.
Every person, whether critic, blogger or joe blow, comes into every piece of entertainment with ‘baggage’ whether it is life experiences, expectations, or personal history. A pure objective review or response is impossible.
However. Good reviewers and critics leave their personal baggage at the door as much as they can. To me, bringing in your personal views, or politics, or expectations can make something out to be what it isn’t, or a mountain out of a mole hill.
Look at Wonder Egg Priority. For my view, I think ALOT of people have had blinders on for that show, ignoring the blatant plot issues and ass-pull revelations in episode 11. They don’t care however, because it speaks to them on a personal level, or addresses this or that issue.
Is that wrong? I don’t think so, but you have to look at the whole picture, not just what you see. Anime should be given the same weight as cinema or television, but it is also it’s whole complete genre, and has its own standards and ideas. As a Harem fan, I’m going to look for different things than someone who hasn’t even seen one before. But both views should be counted as legitimate, unless of course the person is being unfair or ignorant with their views.
But again, that’s subjective. See how difficult it is? There is no magic bullet here, we just need to show empathy, understanding of the other side and maybe, just maybe, check some of our baggage at the door.
I guess you’re saying anime experience doesn’t really matter but you personally prefer more impersonal reviews?
To me, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been around since the 80s, or just started watching My Hero Academia yesterday. You’re an anime fan and welcome, but I think if you are going to judge something, criticize it, then I think you need to make sure you view it from all angles, a 360 degree view.
We all take something out of things we view, or watch, or play, but it is important also to see the other side, to be empathic and try to be in the shoes of another viewer.