It seems like it’s been forever since I wrote a post about writing posts. I use to share my thoughts on blogging fairly often. But lately, it seems I just don’t have as many. Oh, noes… my mind is going.
I’m sure I have written about something similar in the past. However, I have never gone into too much detail on my personal process for writing anime reviews. I don’t think anyone’s way or trick is better than the other, it’s really just a matter of finding what works for you. However, this is pretty much what has been keeping me going from the start with only a few adjustments along the way.
First of all, I take notes. Now, this is just something I do in general. Long years at school have drilled into me the instinct of just writing everything down. I do this at work, or when I’m creating a personal project. Even when I don’t consult my notes, I find that the act of writing something down makes me more likely to remember it and internalize it better.
So when I watch anime, I will take a ton of notes. Usually around 2 to 5 pages per series. My house is full of notebooks. However in my experience, it’s not just a question of writing things down, it’s also what you write down that helps a lot.
Like everyone else, I write my impressions on a series as I’m watching it. Themes that pop up, scenes and quotes I like, character moments that seem important or anything that’s particularly striking. I think that’s pretty standard. I also start a page to note anything that’s repeated or focused on that’s going to become cues for my drinking games. Paying attention to repeated motifs in order to put together the drinking games has really changed the way I watch anime and made me notice a lot of things about the medium as a whole.
But I also try to lay the groundwork for the post ahead of time. I write down potential titles for my review as they come to me and note which episode I’m at. This has been a great way for me to really see how my mindset evolves as I’m watching something. Of course, there are shows when I don’t get a single title idea and I’m left struggling to figure something out last minute. I’m not great at titles but I think I’ve gotten better.
Next, I will often decide and write down a general structure for my post. Maybe a question that the series invokes and I want to answer. Maybe I’ll frame my review from the pov of a specific character or I’ll focus on one theme above the others. Something along those lines.
I don’t just take word notes though… if you have seen a review on this site, you probably know that I take screenshots. A lot of them. I have a program set up to automatically take screencaps every few seconds. I think it’s every 10 seconds. That means I end up with hundreds of images per episode. After I’m done watching for the evening (this usually means 3 or 4 episodes of a show), I go through all the screencaps and choose my favourites. Sometimes I go back for a specific image.
Taking the time to really look at the “pictures” of an anime does allow me to appreciate different aspects of it. Without the rush of movements or having to keep up with the story (or subtitles) I can just look at the visuals and really take them in. It’s a great way to get a deeper appreciation of the visual storytelling of a piece. For instance, I might notice that a certain character is disproportionally shown from a lower vantage point compared to the others. And then, when it’s later revealed that they were a traitor or something, I know this was some nice subtle foreshadowing and it just makes everything come together. A lot of people aren’t all that interested in these details but it’s a thrill for me. And I enjoy discussing visual storytelling or just visual crafting in my posts.
Finally, I try to sleep on it. What I mean is that I try to wait a day or two after completing an anime before reviewing it to let it sit in my brain a bit. I want my feelings to settle and my impression to mature a little. It’s actually harder than it seems because I write every day and when I just finished a show, I really want to get all my thoughts out while it’s fresh in my head. But I find that it’s not always the best way to go.
I schedule my posts months ahead of time. So even with a little step back of a day or two, I find that between the time I write a post and the time it is actually published on my site, my views may have changed. It only happens once in a while but it’s still odd. Especially when I get comments that tell me they had a different experience and I have to end up admitting that after some time, I also changed my mind.
It’s not the end of the world mind you. It doesn’t happen that often and even when it does, there’s nothing wrong with changing my mind. And if there was a significant change I can always write a follow-up or updated posts. Yay more content!
As you can see it’s not a very difficult or imaginative concept, but this is how I have been prepping for my reviews for years now. For me, the fact that it’s a fairly unintrusive and simple process is probably what has kept me going. I know bloggers that do extensive research and watch series multiple times before starting their posts. And I mean, it shows. You can tell that a lot of thought and effort was put into them. But I honestly could not keep up with that type of workload for a long time. I really just write as a hobby.
However, I am always interested in picking up more tips and tricks. Do you guys prepare for reviews in a specific way? Maybe you take timestamps or soundbites. I’d love to know how different people go about it!