Sorry about putting this here guys. There’s this new site that has been stealing all my content (and content from a lot of other great bloggers) called Anime Sensai. They really suck. But I figure I might as well use the opportunity for some advertising. So if you actually came across this post on Anime Sensai, please know that 1 – they did not write it and 2 – although their bots are doing a pretty good job at stealing posts from all over as soon as they are published, they don’t seem to do to great at lifting al the awesome screencaps I collected or all the extra material bloggers put into their content. So make sure to go visit the source link you see on top of posts and as for this one, just come visit my blog: I Drink and Watch Anime. I post daily and actually have awesome readers to interact with. I’m going t be posting this paragraph on top of my posts for a little while. I hope it doesn’t annoy you guys too much.
It’s the new year, so you know what that means. A whole bunch of sites and blogs are going to start putting out their Best Anime of the Year posts. I like these types of posts. I put one out every year as well although mine is a list of anime I enjoyed during the year, but they could have come out at any time so it’s a pretty random affair. Still, I have a great time writing it every year, it makes me think back on great anime moments I got to experience. I figure it does the same for all those other authors that put together best lists.
In any case, I certainly like seeing the best of the year more than the worst of the year but that’s another issue.
However, there is an inherent problem with superlative lists in general. Let me try to illustrate my point. This morning I saw one of these lists on Kotaku. I guess they’re starting early this year since it’s the first one I’ve seen (I’m writing this on Dec 6). I happen to come across it pretty quickly after it was published and it only had one singular comment. And that comment was that the writer’s list of animes they thought were the best in 2022 was wrong. You know the type, the: you didn’t put this show in your list but it was in fact the best.
It wasn’t an aggressive comment. I’ve certainly seen much worse. Believe it or not, I’ve seen people insult each other passionately over their choice of subjective favourite anime. But it still illustrates something. Top lists are more or less meaningless.
There is no completely objective metric with which to measure art. Going by popularity certainly doesn’t guarantee you’ll end up with the “best” and even popularity can be difficult to properly determine. Moreover, there’s no clear definition of “best” in anime to begin with. I personally love calm introspective stories where nothing much happens. But you might think they’re boring. And it’s not like either of us is wrong.
So right off the bat, “Best Anime of the Year” is a title with no clear definition. But it’s also so common that a lot of people think they know what the definition of best anime is. Meaning that we have all these different fans going into it with completely different expectations but thinking we’re all on the same page. Which makes it baffling when someone doesn’t have the same picks.
Another issue is the emotional entanglement a lot of people have with the idea of best anime.
Anime fans can be a passionate bunch. Especially online. And they can take other people’s views on anime very personally sometimes. So even a completely innocent article about a handful of anime you thought were great can be interpreted by some anime fans out there as saying that particular anime were objectively better than others. And that can make them defensive of their own favourite shows. Things tend to escalate quickly in online spaces.
I‘ve always been very careful with the wording I use in my top lists. I will say they are my favourite instead of the “best”. I will stress why certain shows spoke to me personally. The format of my posts also makes me talk about older shows that are no longer fresh news when my post comes out so that mitigates a lot of the downsides of putting out these types of posts. But it also makes my posts less popular and much less SEO friendly. So I don’t necessarily recommend that other authors follow my lead, especially if views are important to them. It’s a bit of a Catch-22.
And honestly, if you feel those top lists with disclaimers and explanations about how they aren’t really top, it’s a lot less fun to read.
As far as I’m concerned, Anime of the Year lists are fine as they are. They are a celebration of our enjoyment for the medium. That’s a good thing! But we just have to all agree that they don’t actually mean anything beyond this one random person who liked these anime and maybe you agree with them.
But what do you think about Anime of the year posts? Do you agree that they are more or less meaningless and just for fun? Do you think there are certain aspects of anime that can be objectively compared to create a less subjective list? Do you post this type of list and how do you choose which anime make the cut?