Sometimes I catch myself having negative feelings about an anime for reasons that have nothing to do with the anime itself, and it’s something that I want to be able to identify quickly because I think I shouldn’t let it affect my reviews.
To be clear, it’s not that I think I should be positive all the time. In fact, I do believe there is such a thing as toxic positivity and people should be allowed to have negative feelings or to dislike certain anime. That’s entirely fine. There is no need to be sunshine and rainbows all the time and for a lot of people, it’s fairly unhealthy.
As such, I’m not talking about weeding out genuine negativity. If I didn’t like an anime for reasons that are contained in the show itself, I will say so. I figure that’s what reviews are for. It could help other people to avoid something they dislike as well, or in some cases guide people with different tastes from mine to series they end up really liking.
Let me reiterate now, as I have done so many times, that saying you did not like a show is simply not the same as saying the show was bad or that other people shouldn’t like it.
Ironically though, I find it much more difficult to put down an anime when I have genuine criticism. Like saying the animation was bad or the particular actor did not convey their character or something like that. I usually end up thinking about all the people that put in great effort to make the anime and how I wouldn’t ever be able to do anything close to that, and I lose my conviction in my criticisms.
I watch this YouTube channel called Simon and Martina. They use to live in Korea and then Japan and they would do local restaurant reviews among other things. And in one video they explained that the reason all their restaurant reviews were positive was that they simply didn’t post when they had negative experiences. They felt that their platform was large enough as to where it could affect a place of business and that a singular experience wasn’t enough to risk that. And they would feel bad if it did. So they didn’t give any publicity to those places but they also didn’t speak badly about them.
And I honestly thought of doing that for a while. I mean I already sort of naturally do it because shows I really don’t like I tend to drop in the first episode and therefore do not review. Unless I’m doing a seasonal collaboration that is.
But there are shows I didn’t like that much that I still finish. And usually, I do review them so you will find occasionally negative reviews on my site. Beyond that though, there are a huge amount of shows I kind of liked. You know, shows that have good sides and bad sides for me. In those cases, I point out both the highs and lows. If I avoided all the negative aspects, I think it would give readers a very skewed impression of my experience. So I have thought of simply cutting out the negativity in my posts but I decided against it.
I don’t think bad reviews are necessarily a bad thing. First, it can really help the readers out. And second, there is such a thing as constructive criticism and it’s precious. Unfortunately, I’m not always educated enough in anime production or even just fiction writing to be that useful when it comes to constructive criticism, but I do try.
What I am more warry about is that I occasionally catch myself being unreasonably negative. Or at least, I think I’m being unreasonable. It’s can be a little tricky to properly detect and that’s a problem. So I figured I would try to pinpoint my triggers with you guys so that I can be more true to myself.
One thing I do know is that fandoms can sway my opinion. I wanted to watch Jobless Reincarnation when it was announced and it was on my watch list for a long time. And there’s nothing about the show itself, the subject matter or the art style that I have any issues with. But while it was airing, I kept seeing all these conversations around the series that started with It’s not really pedophilia cause or something of the genre and well, I’m not interested in being a part of those conversations. And there were just so many. I sort of got exhausted with the show before even starting it.
But that’s not the show’s fault. For all, I know these conversations were way overblown and the discourse would never even occur to me while watching the series. In fact, I’m pretty certain it wouldn’t. Maybe someday I will go back to it but right now, it’s like I’m over it. A similar thing happened with Darling and the Franxx.
But that’s not the only aspect. Expectation is a big one as well. Even though I know better if everyone is telling me an anime is exceptional and I will adore it, I can’t help but get my hopes up. Heck, sometimes I manage to rile myself up all by myself. Because I like a general premise or some character designs or the author. And then when the show either doesn’t live up to or is just drastically different from my expectations, I get a bit grumpy. I blame the anime for it. And I realize now that I probably would have enjoyed a lot of shows way more if I went into them without expectations.
The rest gets a bit trickier. For example, there have been several instances of series that I just find boring and everyone else loves. I don’t dislike the show in any way and I can’t point to anything particularly wrong with it but I also can’t get excited about it. I find the characters derivative, the plot unimaginative and the production standard. However, the fact that I am so isolated in my opinion makes me think that there’s something outside the anime itself that’s influencing me and I can’t put my finger on it. Especially when people who usually have similar tastes to mine are having a blast.
Maybe it’s vaguely reminding me of another show that I did not like and the association is ruining my good time? Could there be character designs that I consciously have no problem with but subconsciously really dislike?
Rarely, but it has happened, I realize that I am relating to a character I shouldn’t be. Let me try to give you an example. A girl walks by the main character and trips exposing her panties then runs off embarrassed. No big deal, it happens in pretty much every anime.
And it really isn’t that big a deal. We run around in bathing suits all the time so a panty flash isn’t all that different. If you are looking at the anime from the point of view of an outside observer, it’s just one of those overused tropes. It barely registers.
However, sometimes, the narrative and/or main character seem to be hinting that this girl tripping is in fact a good thing. It is fanservice i.e. something you put in so fans will come back for more. It’s not as if anyone is directly saying into the camera, you should be enjoying the fact that the girl tripped, but the cinematic language strongly hints at it.
For the most part, this works out fine, unless you sympathize with the girl. Then you might feel a little bad for her. You get the embarrassment because maybe you’ve tripped and fallen in the past as well and it wasn’t fun. And again, it ends there. The anime isn’t bad because of that. Putting uncomfortable moments in a story is fine.
But for me, I get a little annoyed when I can tell that a show is trying to drive my impressions and takeaway into a direction that is not my natural inclination. And it’s sort of a cumulative effect. I probably won’t notice if it happens once but when it’s every other episode, it wears on me. I used fanservice because I think it will be easier to understand for most people but personally, I get really annoyed when I feel like a show is trying to make me pity or feel like I need to protect a character that I think is either annoying or just lazy. And in those times it can lead me to really dislike a show.
In a way, that is an element that is directly in the anime, but it seems like it’s more of a personal issue than anything to do with the production or script.
I still have a way to go before I unravel all of this. Do you have any elements that make you unreasonably negative towards an anime? I’ve been seeing a lot of Twitter threads about not using colloquial language in translations (even if the original Japanese text uses colloquial expressions…). I couldn’t care less but maybe some of you also get annoyed by that? I remember being it took me a second to process when I saw Twitter slang in Dr. Stone but I didn’t hate it.