I have now been reviewing some shows on an episode by episode basis for weeks, WEEKS, so I’m fairly sure I now know everything there is to know about this particular process. I’ve thought about the differences of these types of posts as opposed to full series reviews and I figured those of you who have never tried your hand at both and wonder how they compare, desperately want to hear my thoughts on it. You know, cause I’m an expert and all…
For your personal convenience, I’ve even gone ahead and structured my thoughts into a handy dandy list complete with 😊 advantage and ☹ disadvantage visual guides. Enjoy, comment, let me know everything I’ve missed, forgotten or not realized yet! There will be lots…
😊 Shorter works are easier to analyze
One of the things I’ve found in general is that the longer the series, the more daunting I find it to review. Not only is it hard for me to find space in a single post to fit all my thoughts in but it’s simply hard for me to organize everything I feel about a long running series in my own head. I almost always forget something that was important to me and the end results tends to be incomplete in my mind.
However, the more restraint breadth of single episodes allows me to go into minute detail if I want to without it getting out of hand. I can touch on everything I want to mention, even describe the action when necessary and not worry about forgetting anything or making it overly confusing for a reader that may not have seen the show. I don’t need to pick and choose specific elements to concentrate on.
☹ They can be too easy
The downside of course is that occasionally an episode is meant simply to be a set up or a filler and this can make writing an entire post on it a huge chore. I usually end up inventing something or wandering onto a different subject but I only review a few shows on episodic basis. I have to imagine that doing this for half a dozen shows every season can get incredibly tiresome when the episode itself cannot be relied on for inspiration.
😊 They help your enjoyment of anime
Even shows I would not have had the patience to sit through under normal (binging) circumstances are so much easier to take a single episode at the time, especially when I get to make fun of them in a post right after. It’s the hate watch effect and although it’s not for everyone, it’s still better than nothing.
☹ They hinder your enjoyment of shows
When watching an entire series, if it’s a good one, there’s a point when I get into it and forget about reviewing it. I might still scribble notes now and then, but I don’t feel the need to hold every detail in my head and study it like it was a job. I know I can simply think back on the experience as a whole when I write my post.
This doesn’t work so well for single episodes. If I forgot a plot point, it’s pretty embarrassing and changes everything, even if it may have no impact in the series as a whole it is likely still important for the single episode in which it features. The shows become fragmented in my mind instead of the single unified experience they are meant to be.
😊 ☹ Limited screencaps and media available
I’ve mentioned this a whole lot, but new shows will have little to no readily available media (clips, pics, gifs…) for my particular post format this means creating a gif per episode and screencaps galore. I really, really, enjoy doing this but that may not be the case for everyone and I can’t deny it’s time consuming.
Basically, if you enjoy this then it’s a plus. If you dislike writing, then you can draw people to your post with your unique and beautiful screencaps instead. Otherwise, it’s a setback that adds time and effort to every review you write.
😊 They are great for getting your blog discovered
We are watching three of the less hyped and popular shows this season, yet I get searches for them every single day. If the search terms on my WP stats are to be believed, 70% of all search engine traffic coming to my blog is due to the new season episode reviews. They are probably some of the best publicity for my blog.
☹ They require a demanding schedule
In order for these reviews to be of interest to readers, you need to publish them at least before the next episode is out. Otherwise what’s the point, and anyway dozens of others will have been published in the meantime. That means you have a few days to watch the episode, write a post, edit it, get the screencaps and publish the entire thing.
Personally, I have no issue with the amount of work involved, but in order to post every day, I schedule everything in advance. That way, days when I feel lazier and just want to play video games or something are offset by days where I’m super productive and manage to schedule 3 or 4 posts. You can’t really do this with episode reviews and I’m finding it challenging to keep up. HUGE props to those of you who do this for multiple shows every season!
😊 They get Views
Like I mentioned, these posts are popular. Even the shortest most offhand episodic reviews I’ve posted generally get more views than some of my detailed and lovingly crafted full season reviews.
The difference is rather impressive, to the point that I originally considered either adding episodic reviews as a regular feature to my blog (I may still do it with a single show per season) or even converting to that general format (I will not, see below…)
☹ They don’t generate much engagement
Even though a lot of people seem to be viewing them, or at least clicking through the page, they get a lot fewer comments. I understand why, in general, there just isn’t that much to say on any given episode. You are much more likely to have general thoughts on a series as a whole. But for me, the episode reviews fell a little lonely.
My personal experience has been that writing for single episodes is in fact much more akin to anime challenges, that give you a specific question to concentrate on, rather than full series reviews. You are commenting on a tiny little segment rather than the big picture so it limits you but also helps you stay focused.
I do enjoy the immediacy of sharing my thoughts with you guys right away and I like getting pictures for you. Once in a while I know exactly what image I want to use and it’s great being able to go get it for you guys. But I would miss my meandering odes to series I’ve loved as well as my ecstatic barely coherent tributes to series I’ve found ridiculous. I feel like I get to share more with you in those and although less people go out of their way to see these posts, those that do often give me a sign that they’ve read it and I truly appreciate that.
Out of curiosity, what do you guys actually enjoy reading more? Not only from me but in general? Have you tried writing both types of reviews? Is there a format you prefer?
34 thoughts on “The Joys and Struggles of Episodic Reviews”
Great post! You have some really great insight. I tried starting an episodic anime review blog about a year or so ago. I gave up about 3 or 4 episodes in. Though maybe the problem was the anime I chose: Tonikawa, which I only thought was decent; and Talentless Nana, which took me way too long to realize was bad. I’m thinking of starting one up again, so this was really valuable for me.
Btw, I only discovered your blog today and I really like your writing. I figured before I start writing a blog again, I should go find some blogs that I liked first. Your blog ended up being the first I found and also the first I ended up following. I’m looking forward to reading some of your other posts!
Oh wow. Thank you so much. I hope you have better luck with your next episode reviews. They can definitely be tricky and the anime you chose makes a huge difference. It’s a matter of getting lucky in many ways
In general, I tend not to read episode reviews because I want to let my thoughts – especially about a series – have time to form and organise themselves without interruption from other sources. That said, I read this because it was a review about episode reviews, which is just fine! 🙂
Good to hear!
Great post, I loved the analysis. I blog randomly about random stuff so far but it’d be very good for me to be more punctual (gets more done). So maybe one series with episodic posts would be good training – I never considered that before.
I personally read episode reviews only at the start of series to see if I should pick it up or (more rarely) if someone else agrees with my view/ picked up on a Thing. Sometimes even more rarely the series is not something I want to watch but I am curious about some plot so go looking for spoilers.
So in short I mostly look for reviews about series.
For some people the structure of episodic reviews can be really motivating. For others it’s stifling… It’s a good idea to try it out with just one series you like. I am loving reviewing SpyxFamily this season. It’s fun to talk about the episodes after I watch them
A very interesting post as well as informative especially for someone who is new at doing episodic reviews. I always wonder what are the ups and downs in doing those reviews and always wondered if I am doing okay.
I’m not really a fan of reviews as much too, but wanted to give it a try since I thought it would be a good way to improve myself as a blogger and writer for a bit. You brought up a point of how demanding it is even doing a weekly mini-review feels time consuming. I even planned it that way because of my busy schedule too. Like you said too, if you are enjoying the show sometimes its easy to forget that you should remember to review it. I’m the type who gets really into a show so I always forget to tell myself to review the show. I just recently started doing anime reviews too!
I takes a while to get used to doing reviews. It took me a while at least. And it’s not for everyone but it can be pretty fun. Especially when the show is ridiculous
This was a really interesting perspective. My blog is fairly new; when I started, I intended to write something once a week, balancing this with my full time job and some other part time work. I realized I needed to be easier on myself and adopting more of a (rough) monthly schedule. Although I try to cover a variety of mediums, I have been thinking of covering individual arcs from longer series and beginning that way. Trying to take on episodic reviews has also been on my mind, but… I sort of like to see where the entire series goes and analyze it from a more macro perspective, I guess. I am interested in trying it though!
I wanted to keep up with only recent releases across the media spectrum as well, from anime to movies and to video games. I usually catch up on a year’s notable anime in a giant binge during the first quarter of the following year. Trying to keep up with more seasonals weekly this quarter, though!
Thanks for following me, and I look forward to reading your posts in the future! 🙂
Breaking up longer anime into arcs is a really good idea! I remeber doing that for HxH
You brought up some good points. In particular, it really is hard to find media for new series. And if it’s a new series and one that’s not top of mind for many viewers, it’s even more of a challenge.
I’ve often wondered why episodic reviews generate more traffic but fewer comments. You could easily be right, and there’s just less to say. I hadn’t thought about it from that perspective.
I like your approach to mixing episodic reviews with whole-series reviews and editorials, FWIW.
Matt once told me that a lot of the episodic views are just people hoping to watch it online that click off when they realize it’s not an upload of the episode…
Oh ye of youthful reviewance! Give it 20 years. You’ll either be a pro at the whole reviewing thing… Or me. Don’t be me.
So reviewing episode by episode vs the entire series at once. If you end up reviewing the entire series at once? Your either posting a year end recommendation or a general recommendation, which doesn’t require multiple reviews to sum up your feelings on the series… Or the series is so insufferably boring and empty of content you might as well review it all at once. Reviewer opinions vary on what counts as a one and done review.
The main reason your dissecting a bigger series is that, as you said, you’ll no doubt have lots to say. The more into a series you are, the more likely you’ll have lots to say about it. The less into said series you are, the more likely it is you’ll one and done it. Or… You’ll rage review it. Dissect it purely to vent your frustrations at it.
Yeah no. Rage reviewing comes from a dark place, and should be avoided at all cost. If you hate it that much? One and done it. Or limit your rant to as few reviews as possible. Your followers are not here to be dragged down in negativity. They want to see good reviews. Yes, we need to warn them of bad series… We don’t need to repeatedly hit them upside the head with said bad series. A few reviews will get the job done.
I agree with you on the lack of screenshots. So while I can never guarantee perfection I go grab my own screenshots each review. So all the visuals seen in my reviews are freshly taken that day. It’s not perfect, but it gets the job done.
At the end of the day reviews are just opinions. Our opinion on this or that. We are not so arrogant as our high paid Monied Media Mirror Universe counterparts who believe they being reviewers makes them some high grade influencer making choices you are more than capable of making yourself. Each review we do is simply one view on a series. You’ll take all our reviews, and use them as one of several sources to make up your own mind on a series. Love or hate, at the end of the day it’s your time and money going into these series. Only you can decide what’s best for you. We can only give you an option to consider. Nothing more. Ok. Bye.
I am curious how old you think people are…
…I am 49 and I’ve been at this for 20 years. Odds are in my favor I’m older… Because I’m older. Also slowly dying so even if I’m not physically older it doesn’t matter. I’m not long for this world regardless. May I die before they re-reboot Lilo & Stitch though. Stitch living in Okinawa was reboot enough.
Good news, I think you’re roughly in the average. I know a lot of folks have grandkids so that’s usually around that age.
I thought you were way older than me, oh well. Hopefully, we’ll get some more boomers around!
(Pats Irina on head) That’s nice. I know other people’s grandkids too… They make me die a little more each day. (Stops paying head) Also who wants to be average? Not me. I’m abnormal. Just ask your fellow reviewer Mechanical. Bye.
Who is mechanical bye?
Oh I recommend you for a project with K at the Movies. Hope you have fun!
Taking notes then transcribing some of them in to my episodic post, taking screen caps, making a feature header whilst having to be creative with it, using small clip in ace of diamond case. It’s time consuming, fun but bloody time consuming, hence why I slow down a lot when it comes to epi reviews. Newer shows will bring in the views, older shows not so much.
That’s true, older shows are though to get going which is too bad.
I’d enjoy quarterly reviews, say every 3 or 4 episodes. Enough material that you can get some of the meat of a show – a filler here and there won’t matter – but not so much that you’ve forgotten half of the series and when you go to review it.
Of course, I don’t think anyone does them that way.
Oh wow, quarterly reviews. That couuld revolutionize the genre! That’s actually really interesting to think about
I would like to take undeserved credit for this article. After all, I did asked you about this, didn’t I?
Aside from me fluffing my feathers at your expense, I think this list was great. Just today I had trouble in finding right image for the cover image for one of my book reviews. I wouldn’t want to go and do that for every single episode.
Also, you need to watch sub for that. Dub is always later, and by the time you’re putting your thoughts down after watching dub, everyone has already moved on.
In my case, I’ll have to learn Japanese enough that I can understand what people are saying, because I’m blind, and trying to read subtitles with a screen reader is no fun at all.
Thanks for this wonderful list, IRINA.
You did – I mean this is a report from an article I wrote in 2017 and it has been scheduled for over a month but you can still have full credit.
Having a demanding schedule is definitely what took me out of it. Being a full time student alongside getting essays and homework done, and then on top of that having to do multiple reviews in a week? that’s a no from me lol.
That sounds perfectly reasonable!
This might not be very helpful to hear as a blogger, but I tend to like reading blog post about series or anime genres I’m currently interested in. Like when I was really into The Case Study of Vanitas a few weeks ago I would read any blog post about it or related genre. Conversely, I like writing about the anime world as a whole and looking at it via different facets. Like when I finished watching Inari Kon Kon, I didn’t write a review of Inari Kon Kon, I wrote a post about the unique qualities of the fox character in anime and all the fun fox characters that I’m familiar with in the anime world. In fact, I rarely write straight forward reviews, but weirdly enough I love reading them!
That’s actually very interesting. I guess you just have a specific writing genre!
I’m usually not a fan of episodic reviews. They feel like duty-content when there’s nothing to say. I think they exist because people like to talk about what they watch, and much of anime conversation has transferred from message boards to blogs, but I still think forum posts are a better way to talk about airing shows (I don’t do that anymore either). Episodic reviews are a great way to engage when the episode merits it, but that’s usually about 2 to 3 episodes per show.
The exception, for me, is when I drop a show because it annoys me too much but I’m still curious. Then I’ll actually actively seek out episodic reviews. The core example would be the second season of Gatchaman Crowds. I read lots of reviews about them; almost all of them praised the show, and almost all of them made me feel better about dropping it.
The best thing about non-essential episodic review posts are screenshots. You sometimes notice things you missed.
That is so sad to hear as you are one of the few people I chat with over episode reviews…
Don’t worry; it’s fun to chat, and I’m not going to stop – at least for shows I’m watching. (Can’t say much about the season 2 of a certain Mecha show I dropped early on in season 1, for example.)
At least I got Scott for that one
I’m not a seasonal watcher and I dislike too many deadlines especially I’m busy and don’t really get to sit down and blog. I prefer series review tbh
That certaily works for a lot of people. And it’s fun to write