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.

I thought it was a good illustration of toxic

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.

there are exceptions

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.

still looks like fun

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?

this is getting a bit surreal

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.

for some reason, this is the image I get when I type uncomfortable in my library…

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.

17 thoughts

  1. I really reached a point where if I did not like something I simply didn’t review it – like the Youtubers you mentioned and the restaruants. I put it all down to different tastes and roll on.

    I do get the disappointment factor, very much. Being all hyped for a show, then it isn’t BAD so much as it isn’t as GOOD as you expected. Of course, my memory is super rotten so I set it aside and a few years later I :”discover” it and can probably enjoy it then because my expectations are gone. Sorry if that didn’t make sense, but it makes sense to me. I do think that Jobless Reincarnation suffered from all that controversy. I had already started watching it before I became aware of all the talk. And by the time I saw all that blabber, I had already come to the conclusion that the show was a pretty dull run of the mill follow the boilerplate pattern isekai with no real creativity involved. That is, I was bored with it. I didn’t bother to finish it because I just didn’t care. Nothing about the show grabbed me at all. So many anime, so little time, eh? I do wonder if maybe the reason the people who liked it were so over the top defending it BECAUSE they had to defend it? Here’s how little controversy bothers me, I watched Goblin Slayer long after all the screaming and fanching over the rape scene. And my thoughts when I saw were; Seriously? Wow, these people never played D&D with me. (Mind you, my D&D games were all adult) I liked the show and the “big deals” weren’t even a blip on my radar.

    As far as unconscious negativity though – well, I don’t do reviews, so generally if something hits me wrong I just quit watching. I know I probably have not given some shows the chance they deserve because they hit a nerve with me with something personal – like characters that scream all the time, or artwork that I cannot stand. And I know that’s purely personal and would never put it in a review. Well, I would probably but I’d make it clear that it’s a personal problem. More likely, I just wouldn’t review them because I can’t even make myself watch them.

    I’ve been reading your blog for several years now (wow) and overall I think you hit a very fair and reasonable note. There’s no over the top for the sake of ranting or ratings ugliness in criticism and I like that. If something really is “wrong” with the show, then you are honest about it, too. You’re just not mean about it. Back in the day we considered that professionalism. I’m glad you stop to think about all the talented people who put so much work into creating an anime – because they do and they are human and they probably read reviews and feel warm and fuzzy – or hurt – and I wish more reviewers would keep that in mind. Maybe there wouldn’t be (as I once read) about one idol a month who suicides in Korea.

    But then I think all of the over the top nastiness on the Internet, and out in the world right now, does not contribute anything positive – or necessary – to the universe. Really, I think a return to the sort of professionalism that you show would be a very good thing for the world in general. We really could be a kinder, gentler universe that lives in harmony by sharing compassion. But we might have to give up that ugly negativity and viciousness that apparently some people really enjoy.

    Yeah, I’m an old hippie.

    1. Wow, you brought a lot of perspective here. I might revisit my policy and just not review shows I don’t like. I think it will make me happier as well.

  2. If you don’t get on with a show or film you have the right to say so, but I personally find it more palatable as a reader when somebody articulates this with reasoned discussion and makes valid points to support this view, rather than blind hatred. To me that is ignorance of the highest order and tells me more about the author than the product under review.

    Comments decrying a film or series as “compete trash”, “worst ever”, “waste of time”, etc. reek of laziness and knee jerk arrogance. I don’t mind if things like poor writing, lousy performances, or terrible presentation are a problem for a writer, that needs to be mentioned but again this can be subjective. But opinion and fact are two different things, a concept some people struggle to recognise.

    Similarly, if something doesn’t work for you because it reminds you of something else, that is a valid point; if it makes you uncomfortable that is a valid point, it’s not your fault, that is down to the show or film making you feel that way. Lots of things influence our opinions and feelings but only you can reconcile them, it is only if you choose to share them with others then it it is best to choose your words carefully if you want to avoid confrontation.

    Sometimes I feel some reviewers/critics believe their own hype and criticise for the sake of criticising and expect their readers to accept it as gospel. That is poor form in my book, and shows their are influenced by their own ego not what they are watching.

    Like you, I tend to want to reward the effort in making something. so I rarely go below two stars if I dislike it, purely as an amateur filmmaker I know exactly what goes into making a film; but even I have limits and will make an exception if necessary. (and have but very rarely)

    Of course, if something doesn’t sound like your cup of tea then it is probably best you don’t watch it. Simple. 😉

    1. Happily, there are very few things that don’t sound like my thing. I tend to have very varied tastes

  3. The thing about the slang is that if you don’t realise it’s there in the first place, you can’t nitpick about it. It’s the fallacy caused by the (in)visibility of the translator (check up Laurence Venuti on this). Also, why would colloquial speech be bad? It’s just a way we speak.

    I instantly knew what the screenshot being “uncomfortable” was all about, even though I’ve never watched How Clumsy You Are, Miss Ueno (Ueno-san wa Bukiyou) – the most infamous thing about that series, even /worse/ than the interdimensional portal used to avoid boys seeing up girls’ skirts, is how the title character tries to get her crush to drink her pee…and that’s why I’ve never consumed that series…

    Anyways, about bad reviews: it just proves there are many viewpoints in the world, the crystallisation of our many experiences. That’s a wonderful thing. As to what I drop, I made two separate lists analysing why I don’t like what I don’t like back in December.

  4. Glowing reviews for shows I still sort of like tend to make me like the show less than I otherwise would. I sit there, wondering what they all see in this show instead of actually watching it. It can be the entire show, or just an aspect.

    The show directing your attention wrongly is precisely the problem I had with Mushukou Tensei. I enjoyed the show a lot, but I never made my peace with Rudy’s leeriness, precisely because I felt all two seasons long that it’s supposed to be relateable, and we’re supposed to indulge. It’s worse, because that’s not generally the show’s style, so you can’t get used to it.

    Also, you’re managed to make a post where I’d fail the screenshot guessing game for almost all the images. Other than the obvious Mushuko Tensei, the only screenshot I recognise is How Clumsy You Are, Miss Ueno (the last one). The header could be Senryu Shoujo, maybe. Other than that I’m drawing a complete blank (though the eye-shot feels familiar, and the girl in the rain draws me in several directions at once, the only one I can name being Black Rock Shooter, which it almost certainly isn’t).

    1. The eye shot I had to use trace.moe for, but after that I realised why it looked familiar – it’s Sara from Sarazanmai (which I finished a few years ago while it was simulcasting).

    2. Let’s see, the header is Senryu Girl. The top image is Happy Sugar Life, then Akudama Drive, Jobless as you mentioned, then Sarazanmai. I stuck to images in my library for this one

      1. Ah, so the one that bothered me most was Akudama Drive. I definitely wouldn’t have thought of that, but I can see it now. (As for the header, Senryuu Shoujo was my intitial impression, but the drawing girl had white hair, and while the hair would fit with the main character, I didn’t (and still don’t) remember her ever using a drawing. (It obviously happened.)

        I’m not surprised I didn’t get Happy Sugar Life, but I now can see it. I should have gotten Sarazanmai.

  5. “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.”

    That got me thinking.

    I wonder if you’re reacting to a show trying to manipulate your feelings? Not honestly earn a dramatic or emotional reaction, but to try to almost subliminally trick us into thinking a certain way?

    Thinking back across several series that I just didn’t like (and dropped, like Triage X), I wonder if that was part of it.

    I like going with an author on a journey. I don’t like them trying to make me feel something that I don’t feel. And the harder they try, the less I like it.

    I think you’re right in saying this tactic has nothing to do with production quality. I suspect it’s more like the difference between the a well-reasoned essay and propaganda?

    You have a lot of really interesting insights!

  6. To be honest I skimmed the latter half because I always seem to read these when I should be exercising and grinding surveys for earnings. But these always come out when I’m doing that and I can’t wait to dice in so… I need a better time to sit down to enjoy these.

    So disclaimer. If the topic of an Anime is why having cute gals in your story not pedo like? Well… Guess who these people have been seeing in Twitter! Go on! Guess! Here. I’ll help you. Complete this puzzle. You’ll need to buy a vowel or three… P_r_t_n C_lt_re. You can do it! I believe in you!

    As for unwarranted negativity? Yeah. It’s not nice, But As I see it that comes with choosing the path of the reviewer. I struggled with this question in my early days, and I tried to be as optimistic as possible. But as time passes, and you are exposed to more dreadful content, and as such you’ll becsaddened when the negativity flows a lot more freely.

    (And yes dreadful content is universal. (THANKS JAPAN, FOR BLASPHEMING MY LATE MOTHERS FAVORITE ANIME MOVIE KIKIS DELIVERY SERVICE WITH THAT LIVE ACTION REMAKE!! YOU JERKS!!)

    (No. We don’t talk about the horrible live action Attack On Titan movies in this here parts!)

    The point is maybe I’m jaded because I’m dying… Technically every human is dying as death is nothing unique or special in a finite mortal existence… No. Watching the Green Goblin (Wilhelm Dafoe) ham it up in Death Note is not considered death. But I have reconciled that negativity is an unpleasant, but necessary tool in our Arsenal as reviewers. We don’t want to be negative, but sometimes it’s a necessary tool to critique with.

    Yes. Staying on track with your negativity is a must, I agree, but we are human. Sometimes it’s impossible to divorce the review from the emotions the review brings out in us. If only Leonard Nimoy was still with us. He could teach a Masterclass on human logic 101… Whatcha mean I’m letting my nostalgia bias me! Next thing you know your telling me that Avery Brooks isn’t really a prophet sent by ancient interdimensional beings to watch over us!… Ok. You might have a point.

    To sum up. Hate the negativity, but realize at times it’s inevitable. The more emotional a thing makes you, the more you’ll become negative when it disappoints you. And no. Listening to Cancel/Puritan Culture isn’t a legit reason to be negative. Step away from the Twitter! Come on. Come over here with the same people… Good reviewer!

  7. I somehow managed to enjoy Redo of Healer, so you probably shouldn’t be asking me!

    Putting the fandom-induced irritation aside, what other story elements grate on your nerves? You mentioned disliking when shows force you to feel sorry for characters who don’t deserve it.

    If you draw up a list of anime that really annoyed you, can you find more general commonalities between some of them. For example, unlikable characters, nihilistic streaks, misanthropic worldviews… Etc.

    1. Part of the issue is, there’s not real criteria for who deserves pity. It’s really a personal thing and it can change over time. I occasionally get annoyed when a premise seems to think it’s being so creative and unusual and I happened to have read and watched like a dozen almost identical stories bot that long ago. That’s a common one as well.

      1. I personally don’t think either concern is unreasonable per se. It’s hard to detach yourself & your previous experiences from how you perceive a show in the moment. If you find Texhnolyze derivative or Flowers of Evil pretentious or whatever, I think it’s perfectly fine to write a post saying just that, while finding humorous ways to illustrate your points.

        I realize it doesn’t jive well with your typical tone, and that it might feel a little ungrateful of us to dunk on a show many people earnestly worked very hard on. I’m an irreverent ass so I don’t mind. You’re a better person than I am.

Leave me a comment and make my day!