May 19, 2014

[A-P Originals] Quality of User Reviews

Note: This is an unaltered blog originally written for Anime-Planet. Originally published in July 23rd, 2011.
The information/opinions may or may not be outdated and nothing has been edited compared to the original version.

So I've been around this site for almost a year and it has become a great source to not only keep track of anime I've already watched but also a good way to found new anime to watch based on recommendations and annotations.

That being said it's often hard for me to decide whether I'll like the anime or not based only on annotations. That's where the reviews kick in and I usually like to read at least 2 or 3 reviews before adding anime to my 'Want to Watch' list. Also not all anime have Official Site Reviews so it's nice having User Reviews section.
I don't want to offend or pick on anyone but it's just my personal opinions about user review quality around this site and my own preferences.

Generally, there are 4 types of user reviews that I've noticed:

1) One or two lines of text - It's not a review but an opinion. Although rather rare lately, I've seen plenty of 'reviews' that have about 2 lines of text and really don't help me decide whether I'll like anime or not.

2) Subjective reviews - I absolutely hate these. These are opinions and not reviews. The writing style depends on author. Some of these reviews consist of only 2 lines of text, paragraphs or even the actual format of Site Reviews*. I find them unhelpful and I made a separate blog where I express my take on these reviews.

3) Reviews that don't follow the site review format* - overall, I don't mind these as long as they don't fall into 1st and/or 2nd type. It's made clear that user doesn't have to follow the official site review format. These kinds of reviews usually consist of one or few paragraphs and overall are helpful and easy to read. There are plenty of good reviews like that around and even though they tend to not fully explain the scores given there are a plenty of objective reviews with this free-style format.

4) Reviews that follow the site review format* - my favorite type just because it makes a review to look more professional and easier to follow. Usually people who like to use this format try to give rather objective opinions and tend to explain their given scores. This is the format I follow writing my own reviews. Unfortunately, there are quite a few user reviewers that do follow the format and yet are incredibly subjective (2nd type).

*Site review format - basically each category is divided from each other by a paragraph. So in one paragraph author gives his thoughts on Sound, next one on Animation and so on.


  1. Ahh yes, this is a blog i enjoy reading. Crisp and to the point, arguments supported by examples or facts or both. Great job. I hope to edit my "Quality of blogs" blog to match the level of this here blog in the near future.

  2. This here is a blog I totally agree with. I, too, am similarly annoyed by "reviews" consisting of a couple of lines...sentences like "It's teh greater animey evaaahhhhh!!!1111eleven" are NOT reviews. I, too, prefer reviews adhering to the site format, because not only they look more professional but they look more..."tidy"? You know, more "organised". In my reviews I tend to deviate a little from the format by splitting the "sound" paragraph into two, "Music" and "Cast", in order to explain both elements more in depth (I'm a music lover, and I like to go look for what other roles a certain seiyuu has done, because the same performance may be "average" for a certain actor's standard, "awesome" for another one's standards, or "bad" for yet another one's standard...that's what I think. For example, if I hear a Jun Fukuyama voicing a cowardly, shy, insecure young boy, after I've heard him voicing Lelouch...well, I give him additional praise for his adaptability).

    Well, any review, even the most professional one, will be "subjective" up to a certain level, at least in terms of what the reviewer considers important, but also in terms of their reaction to something (I've read people bashing "Code Geass" considering it a waste of time, citing the very same reasons which made me love it...), but yeah, it is true that there should be a balance between subjective and objective. For example, you may like or dislike the watercolour effect in the artwork from "Valkyria Chronicles", but either way you must intellectually honest enough to give it praise for the fact that it's absolutely unique; then you can give it a 10 or a 7, but giving it a 2 because you personally didn't like it...and I think this is true not only for reviews, but for life.

  3. Hmm, interesting blog I guess I sort of agree, although I rarely look in the user review section of an Anime unless there are no official reviews or if I recognize the name of a person I've talked to who has a similar taste. I generally don't mind bad quality in reviews (my own are bad, especially the older ones) but the one thing I can't stand is the overrating that occurs frequently. I feel as though when someone reviews an Anime they love and want to give it a 10 out of 10, they give each section (story, animation etc.) a flawless score to justify the final grade. Even if the Anime in question is a low-budget OVA from 1988 they write "I know it looks old, but it's still kind of good" and give it a 10. I hate overrating in general...