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.
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.
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.
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.
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?