Hi guys. Today I will once again be attempting to become a better blogger by talking shop with all of you. I apologize to my readers that are here for the anime. Don’t worry there’s plenty more to come! Today, however, I want to talk about anime episode reviews.

I have been doing episode reviews for a few years now. They have their ups and downs. In fact, I wrote an entire post on that very subject. Last season, when I tried to find some blogging partners to review shows and the reception was much less than enthusiastic. A lot of bloggers find that episodes don,t provide enough content to make a post or that the timetable for seasonal reviews is too strict and limiting. And for whatever other reasons I got a bunch of responses that episode reviews are the thing that a lot of bloggers hate most.

I get it. I share some of those concerns. In fact, I have tried a whole bunch of things to make reviewing anime on an episode-by-episode basis work for me. And that’s what I want to share with you today.

ok gather round…

Now you might be asking yourself, why bother with episode reviews at all? If they have so many negatives, why not just write something else. And certainly, that’s one way to go. No blogger, anime or otherwise, needs to do episode reviews. However, there are some unique perks to the format.

Episode reviews give a nice sense of framing and structure to my posting. I know what I’m going to write on Saturdays because that’s when Shadows House airs, for example. They allow you to really sit down and think about a series on an episode-by-episode basis which is something I don’t normally do and it gives me a different appreciation of the medium. And they bring in the views. Now I can’t really say how much readers appreciate these types of posts but search engines love them and if you’re trying to attract new readers, it’s a good tool. Finally, for me in particular, it’s an excuse to indulge in my screencap addiction.

So for all those reasons, episode reviews are a format that I would like to keep on my blog. I just want to find the best way for me to do it. So I’m going to go over the approaches I’ve tried and tell you which has worked best in my opinion.

In my opinion, Shadows House had an amazing first episode

The first and most consistent of these approaches is the collaborative review. I like these because I enjoy doing collabs in general and it gives readers the chance to see two points of view. However, they are longer to put together, simply by virtue of having to coordinate. And sometimes, I won’t be able to put out a point I had. Not because the other person won’t let me or anything like that but the post is already structured in such a way that it wouldn’t fit in.

Last and by far least, there’s also the enjoyment factor. I generally really like anime but lately, I feel a little alone in that. However, it’s one thing to be having a good time with a series and to see a tweet once in a while calling it garbage or something. That happens daily. It’s a very different experience when you discuss it after every single episode and you find the other person has a very different takeaway. It’s bound to affect the way I watch the anime as well. That’s fine whit one anime a season but if you are reviewing 5 or 6 it can be draining.

I think for me, the sweet spot is collaborating on shows I have no strong feelings about. Those shows I just generally like but that’s it. In those cases having someone else to bounce ideas off of becomes invaluable and it’s certainly way easier than struggling to come up with something all alone.

just putting this here

But I also want to do some solo reviews. For these, I have tried a highly structured format, where I would describe and talk about a number of specific aspects for each episode. The same ones each week. It wasn’t bad but it yielded some really long reviews. My episode reviews were on average as long as my full series ones and honestly, even I got a little bored of them.

I also tried gallery reviews. Where I went over my episode screencaps and analyzed those. Now I loved this format but I found that there were a lot of weeks where I didn’t have that much to say. If a show wasn’t too experimental with the visuals or didn’t have much visual storytelling, then by episode 3, I had covered pretty much all I had to say. As such, this works out best in small, relevant doses. Basically, I can analyze a screencap or a scene when I actually have something to say about it rather than try to come up with something every week.

Finally, I think that for me the word ‘review’ simply doesn’t fit the bill. I agree with my fellow bloggers that trying to wrap your mind around a story from a single episode is very challenging. But I can certainly get an impression and emotional impact from a single episode. I cried a good hard cry at episode 1 of To Your Eternity and it haunted me for days. I don’t need to know what happens in the rest of the show to talk about my experience with that.

I would caption but I’m crying

But that’s not exactly a review. At best it’s an impression. It’s like running up to a friend and going, of man, let me tell you about what I watched last night. So that’s what I want to write. And I think that the shorter 300 to 500-word format is perfect for that. I decided to drop any recap information. If people are reading the pot because they have watched the episode then they already know what happened. It’s just padding for me to repeat it. And if they are reading my post to find out if they should watch the episode then I shouldn’t completely spoil it for them. So a general outline is good for me, I think.

I also don’t need to go over every single aspect of the episode. If something was ok or I liked it, there’s no real reason to go into detail. Just the general impression the episode left on me and anything that may have caught my attention in particular.

Just to be clear, this isn’t a guide. I’m not saying that this is how episode reviews should be written. Or even that this is the type of episode reviews I like to read. But I have been trying to keep my solo reviews along these lines. This season I am reviewing To Your Eternity, Shadows House and Pretty Boy Detective Club (all of which are great by the way) by myself. And I’m really enjoying it. Ok, maybe it’s because I like the shows a lot but I also like the experience of reviewing them.

It’s a little ritual that helps me take in what I just saw and get some thoughts out there. I can discuss them with a few of you to get a sense of community. I get a chance to share the screencaps and it doesn’t take that much time to put together. I really feel like I’m getting more out of it than I’m putting in and that’s a first for me.

This said I would still love to have my readers’ thoughts on the subject. If you have been reading my episode posts this season, do you like them this way or did you prefer some of the past formats? If you write episode posts, what works best for you?

20 thoughts

  1. I get why, it’s good to do episode reviews because they’re like taking notes so you can determine how well or bad a show is fully rather than having to rely on plot summaries to jog memory 🙂 I don’t usually write episode reviews given my schedule and priorities; I’m more stringent on series/movie reviews (mostly on the latter since September of last year) but I do keep notes on Google Drive for certain episodes in case I want to recap or write on a certain topic I found intriguing in the show. E.G. Madoka and materialism last September too 😅

  2. I must admit that I am slightly puzzled by what seems to me the somewhat apologetic tone of this piece. I think you do what you do really well, and there is no need for either apology or explanation. Admittedly, while I tend to comment on your “big picture” posts rather than your individual episode posts, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate what you’re doing or why. And I get that what you’re writing are not necessarily “reviews” in the strict meaning of the word so much as impressions which, if taken all together, might ultimately add up to a “review” (or, at least, the kernel of a review). But I actually think that’s what makes what you write so valuable – you are talking about an episode (and, ultimately, a series’) impact on you, the impressions and thoughts and feelings that were actuated by your viewing of that episode, and what expectations/questions/possibilities are accordingly set up for future episodes. And, frankly, it’s that personal touch that matters most to me. And, along the way, you also manage to reference some of the “big issue” stuff as well.

    I understand what you mean by feeling alone in your appreciation of anime – not necessarily in the sense of being a person who likes anime and is surrounded by people who don’t, but rather in the manner in which you appreciate anime placing you within an apparent minority. But, again, I think that’s what makes what you write so valuable – if all anime reviews followed the same formula for what a review should look like, that’d be pretty boring. In that sense, I think my own reviews are pretty conventional and thus not terribly original, However, by getting your audience to look at anime in a different way, you are at least encouraging them to take a different perspective and deep-dive into each episode and thus understand the meta-narrative of the series in a different way. If folks choose not to take up that invitation – that’s not your fault, nor anything for which you should apologise.

    As for collaborations – well, I would be happy to explore this with you if you would like. I am not sure what I could contribute, but would be happy to throw around some ideas in a side conversation if that is something that might interest you. It might be fun to see what we could come up with! 🙂

    1. I don’t think I was going for appologetic. It mught have snuck in there without me noticing. I was going for please collab with me in the future and it seems it worked! YAY!
      I’d love to do something together.

      1. Ah, was probably just me misreading the tenor of your words – again! 😛

        Delighted you’d be interested in a collaboration – shall I send you a message directly to begin a conversation?

  3. I just started to do episode reviews but reviewing entire anime review got me on the first page of Google at 3rd position very quickly.

  4. I haven’t ever tried writing episodic reviews. My problem is that I wouldn’t want to do the recap stuff. Even when I have to do that for my Galaxy Express 999 posts, it’s my least favorite part of the exercise. (But I think it’s necessary.)

    Personally, I really like how Crow does them. They’re short and focus on one or two elements rather than trying to go deep on a bunch of things. They are much more like how you described the conversations between people talking about the latest episode in the hallway.

    And man, I missed my chance to blog with Irina. That would have been awesome. 🙂

    1. I don’t recap either. Yeah, Crow is an expert at episode reveiews! I’m always happy to collab.

  5. It’s tough for me. I’ve wanted to do episode reviews for a while now for a couple of reasons. Growth is obviously part of that. I don’t think any of us don’t want our blogs to grow. It’s also something (if it’s not a collab) that I could make faster and on a regular basis, which is what I really want, and I think I need.

    I just worry about doing it because I try to write something that appeals to most people. With episode reviews, it’s kind of hard to get into them if you aren’t watching the series. The same can be said for a review of a whole series, but that has more reach for people who want to watch it, and I generally try to write in a way that could still be interesting for those who don’t have interest in it. My last post, for example, is a review of the 2006 Fate/Stay Night anime, but I tried to make it in a way where I’m discussing some of the controversies around the series and why people don’t like it, so a reader could not necessarily be interested in the show but can be like “I wonder why people think that?”

    I have a hard time figuring out how to have episode reviews work similarly.

  6. I only broke my no episode review rule once. That was for Redo of a Healer, because that episode pretty much delivered exactly what the show it promised.

    I think it is up to the writer. Some people can make it work, others can’t. Nothing wrong with either choice.

  7. I do want to do occasional show reviews but I have no idea where to start lol ! Maybe I’ll try do the rainbow tag for a quick review of some of the shows I watch . I’m honestly impressed with how on top the reviews you are . Like you’re always on schedule .

  8. I like your current format. It’s really nice and it makes it feel like you’re talking to someone about the episode rather than read a review.

    I have considered doing episode reviews myself in order to be more consistent; however, I do feel like I would probably have trouble with it since I don’t like to write about a single piece of a puzzle instead of the whole picture— unless I’m doing a first impression of a particular thing.

    Despite me not commenting or anything in these kinds of posts, I do love reading what you have to say in your episode reviews.

  9. Yeah, SEO loves it. If someone searches for Demon Slayer and you reviewed the episodes you are going to have twenty-four plus posts on the subject. Compare that to someone that only wrote a season review then the search engine is likely to recommend your site first.

    I like doing episode reviews/analysis as I find it’s hard to talk about everything in a season review. It’s also fun documenting your journey with a show.

    I’ve moved away from doing seasonal shows live due to the time pressures and the current environment but I do miss them. Now, I’m doing shows I loved and some from the previous season.

  10. Im enjoying your current format of episode reviews, I myself cannot do episode reviews because I find it too hard, but I really like yours. Usually episode reviews bore me, but your always keep me interested throughout the whole post!

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