What This is All About!
Originally I wrote up this little description of my anime reviews back in April and posted it on Livejournal. Now a few months later as I prepare to launch into the summer season, it would be a good idea for an update. This is simply a quick explanation of what these anime reviews are all about.
My goal is to attempt to watch and review every single anime show that has been subtitled into English for the entire year of 2011. The reviews are generally grouped into four seasons (because that is how it is divided up in Japan as well): Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Summer 2011 and Fall 2011 — in order to divide everything up objectively, the dividing line used between seasons is when the first episode makes its general audience debut between the seasonal solstices and equinoxes.
Included for review are the following:
- The first episodes of all weekly/recurring television series, including second/third/etc seasons or returning shows.
- Every feature-length movie (50 minutes or longer)
- The first episodes of all OVAs (Original Video Animation), ONA (Original Net Animation), or OAD (Original Animation DVD)
Excluded from review are the following:
- Blatant pornography or hentai shows (anything that could be rated NC-17 or XXX, by my own subjective standards).
- Any yaoi or hardcore “boys-love” shows (where the guy-on-guy relationship is a major part of the show) Again, by my own subjective standards.
- Special extra “bonus” episodes of already-existing series, omake, DVD special features, “Picture dramas”, or similar ancillary material.
How I write up my reviews:
- At the beginning of the season, I write up a quick “Preview” of all of the shows that are expected to be shown during the season, including not only television shows but also OVAs, Movies and Specials. I don’t try to do too much research, track down source material, or spend a great deal of time reading other people’s reviews. Instead, I just want to get a quick impression before I start.
- I then download and watch every show I can find where a first episode has been subtitled, one after another, until I’m through with the entire season. Each first-episode will include a brief description of the series, a few dozen images, a summary of the episode, a few paragraphs outlining my opinions, and a basic thumbs-up/thumbs-down rating. All shows that get a thumbs-down are dropped, all shows that get a thumbs-up (and additional episodes exist) move to the second round.
- In the second round, the second episodes receive go through a similar review process, except with shorter descriptions and fewer images. Shows receiving a thumbs-up move on to the third round, and the process is repeated again until the entire season is finished. Usually by the time a show makes it to the third round, there is a very good chance I’ll end up watching it all the way to the end.
- After the first round is finished, I’ll post a Recap Summary where I rank everything from best to last, picking the very best and very worst shows based on the first episodes only.
- For all shows where I watch every single episode, I will then assign a Final Grade, a letter grade ranking from A through F. Because I only assign a grade to series that I complete, the curve is skewed more towards the A’s and B’s, few shows receive a D or and F.
- All feature-length movies also receive a final letter grade as well. Because I watch every movie, it is likely that I’ll assign a fair number of lower letter grades.
- Often a show will not be available in subtitled format until several months (sometimes more than a year) after the season itself is already over (this is especially true for theatrical movies). Every once in a while I’ll go back and do reviews for these shows for completeness sake.
- Many reviewers seem to spend a lot of time talking about the production staff/studio, the voice actors, or the musical bands. As a general rule, I don’t really care about all that stuff, there are very few Japanese directors/producters/actors/etc that I know or follow. Of course, sometimes it’s unavoidable (for example, everything from Shaft), but I will try to judge everything on its own merits rather than the track record of the people or company making it.
- Also, I don’t spend a great deal of time on the quality of the artwork or the animation, unless it is especially good, bad or interesting. My opinions on a show are usually based 70% on the story/plot, 20% on the art/animation, and 10% on other stuff.
The timing of my reviews:
Most of the various bloggers online are pretty quick to post their opinions and impressions of shows within a matter of days of when the show is first available. But through experience I have learned that I am chronically behind schedule, usually by several weeks or sometimes several months. For example, at the time I am writing this, it is late August and I am still working my way through the 6th episodes of the Winter season and just started the 2nd episodes of the Spring season, and I am about to launch into the Summer season…never mind that the Fall season is only a couple weeks away.
Alas, my reviews are *never* going to be timely, and I’ve just learned to accept that. If you want the most current reviews, there are literally dozens of other bloggers out there that do a great job of that. Just a few that come to my mind are: Random Curiosity, Emory Anime Club, Star Crossed Anime Blog, Hanners’ Anime Blog, Sea Slugs!, Metanorn, Sekijitsu, Lost in America, Angry Anime Bitches, Kurogane’s Anime Blog, Meeping Anime Blog, THAT Anime Blog, A Product of Wasted Time, Orend’s Range, and many more.
A Little Bit About Me:
Unlike the average anime reviewer (and fan in general), I’m practically ancient. My first exposure to “anime” was watching afternoon cartoons after coming home from elementary school to catch the latest “Battle of the Planets”, and then a few years later Star Blazers and then Robotech. However, it was not until I watched Akira in the movie theater that I really started watching anime in earnest. Back then, anime was only available as multiple-generation video tapes passed around among club members, anime conventions did not exist, and the number of commercially-released shows in America could be counted on your fingers (and a few toes). Oh yeah…the web didn’t exist, either…the tiny number of online geeks talked about anime either on rec.anime (later rec.arts.anime) on USENet, or by dialing in to various FIDONet bulletin boards. We’ve come a long way, baby.
Also, in addition to being old enough to be the father of most anime fans, my tastes are also outside of what can be considered the anime mainstream. I strongly dislike mecha, robots, sentai shows, samurai shows, shonen fighting shows, card game shows, and magical girl shows. I am not a fan of many of the most popular shows in the past couple of decades, including Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, One Piece, Bleach, and Naruto, to name a few. If you add it all up, that means that I don’t like a majority of the anime out there.
Yet because there’s so many shows, I have been able to find a few that I do like. To give you an idea of what I have enjoyed, some of my favorite shows include: Haibane Renmei, Azumanga Daioh, Paranoia Agent, Ghost in the Shell, Cowboy Bebop, Read or Die, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, FLCL, and Dennou Coil. After watching every single show from 2010, I gave the highest ratings to Durarara, Shiki, The Tatami Galaxy, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Shinryaku Ika Musume.
I should also point out that while I have been watching anime for the past 20 years, there are some huge gaps in my anime knowledge, because there are various shows I have avoided, and there are times when I didn’t watch anything for a period of months or even years. As time goes on I am filling in the gaps, especially when newer shows/seasons give me the opportunity to try out some of the long-running series as a samplign to see if I want to go back and check out earlier stuff.
Every single anime review for the rest of the year will point to this post, so readers coming across my reviews for the first time will get an idea of what I am all about. Hopefully I will have the time in the future to come back and update and improve this post for clarity, information and links.
I also plan to produce another post that will contain links to some of my more important reviews and summaries of the past year, such as my Best of 2010 and Worst of 2010 countdowns, or my season previews and summaries. Stay tuned!