The use of review scores for anime and others

Pretty much what I'm currently focused on right now, btw

Image Cred­it: p‑suke from Pixiv

…and why I don’t use them.

Now, if you’ve man­aged to fol­low my blog since its con­cep­tion (con­grat­u­la­tions for putting up with my non­sense), you’ll notice that when­ev­er I do overviews of an entire ani­me series (like Puel­la Magi Mado­ka Mag­i­ca and Mirai Nik­ki, the lat­ter of which I’m ashamed for even enjoy­ing), you’ll notice that unlike review sites like THEM Ani­me Reviews, Ani­me-Plan­et, the ani­me por­tion of IGN, etc., I don’t end off my reviews by giv­ing these series some form of a review score, be it stars or numbers.

Why is this? Well, to be frank, it’s because I believe the con­cept of giv­ing out review scores is the most idi­ot­ic and coun­ter­pro­duc­tive thing in the realm of prop­er cri­tique. Review scores are some­thing review­ers in gen­er­al, let alone ani­me blog­gers, should­n’t use. At all.

Pretty much what my セレナ looks like in XY

Image Cred­it: ちま from Pixiv

The Mis­use of the Scale System

While not as bad as the video gam­ing com­mu­ni­ty, where games tend to be rat­ed much more pos­i­tive­ly than deserved sim­ply for being a video game by review sites like GameSpot and IGN, the ways peo­ple view and use rat­ing sys­tems are still pret­ty mis­con­strued across the board of enter­tain­ment, includ­ing ani­me. The use of the 1–10 sys­tem is prob­a­bly the best exam­ple of rat­ings being great­ly mis­used, result­ing in the mass­es hav­ing a mis­con­strued view of how the rat­ing sys­tem works as well.

For exam­ple, in order to avoid point­ing fin­gers, let’s say a well-known site reviews a pop­u­lar ani­me series like Mirai Nik­ki, or Sword Art Online, and gives it a 5/10 because they think it’s an unwatch­able piece of filth. Now, I’m will­ing to bet a lot of you will look at the num­ber “5” and in your heads, will think that it’s a very ter­ri­ble score.

Fun­ny thing is, it actu­al­ly isn’t.

Just look at the 1–10 rat­ing scale more close­ly. Using com­mon sense, it’s easy to ratio­nal­ize that “10” is per­fect and “1” is, well, a com­plete pile of abysmal crap. So why did­n’t this hypo­thet­i­cal site give it a 1? In fact, in a true 10-point rat­ing sys­tem, 5 is actu­al­ly aver­age — mean­ing it has an equal amount of both good and bad points about it. But with arbi­trary num­ber sys­tems like this, peo­ple view it with­in the per­spec­tive of a teacher doing a report card. Any­thing below a 70% is either a D or an F, and with­in the realm of media, every­thing below 6 basi­cal­ly equals “ter­ri­ble”. Even though the actu­al 10-point sys­tem dic­tates that every­thing above a 6 is actu­al­ly above aver­age. What a pick­le. Con­verse­ly, I’ve seen review­ers go on and on about the good points about a show with­out stat­ing whether or not it has any flaws, yet give it a 9/10 in the end. If it’s pret­ty much flaw­less, why not just give it a frig­gin’ 10?

With rat­ing sys­tems in gen­er­al, we have folks who insert dec­i­mals at the end of their num­bered rat­ings, or a “+/-” at the end of their let­ter grade rat­ings. Can any of you guys tell me the dif­fer­ence between a “7.9” and an “8”? Because I cer­tain­ly can’t see the fuck­ing dif­fer­ence! With the let­ter grad­ing, akin to the school grades we use in our Amer­i­can edu­ca­tion sys­tems, the plus and minus­es basi­cal­ly make it a dou­bled ver­sion of the 10-point sys­tem and makes a once-sim­ple (in actu­al con­text) rat­ing sys­tem into a con­vo­lut­ed pile of crap. It works in school, where if you get a C‑, that means you scored on the low­er side of aver­age in terms of per­cent­age. But in the realm of enter­tain­ment, there isn’t any sta­tis­ti­cal bull­shit involved with the qual­i­ty of the work. It’s either aver­age or it isn’t. If you’re not going to give it a straight C, then give it a D. Jesus!

Even in the cas­es where review­ers use rat­ing sys­tems cor­rect­ly, a large amount of peo­ple who like the series they’re review­ing might go bat­shit insane because they gave it an aver­age score, because they don’t know a 5 or what­ev­er is actu­al­ly aver­age! It does­n’t mat­ter how obvi­ous your stance on it in your review is, because…



Seri­ous­ly! In reviews that end with an over­all score, peo­ple tend to skim past all the cru­cial details and meat of the review, just so they could look at the end score — because in these types of reviews, the score is the con­clu­sion that ulti­mate­ly mat­ters, and serves as a numer­i­cal sum­ma­ry of your review. Why would peo­ple both­er read­ing a giant wall of text when it could be sum­ma­rized by a giantic score at the bot­tom of the page? This is why peo­ple put Famit­su video game scores on a pedestal even though the mag­a­zine pro­vides only two or three fuck­ing sen­tences if you’ve actu­al­ly both­ered read­ing those Japan­ese “reviews”. If you gave the series the wrong num­ber as a score due to igno­rance of how the rat­ing sys­tem works, you’d think that prob­lem would eas­i­ly be reme­died by the read­ers actu­al­ly doing their job and read­ing the actu­al review… but too bad that’s not the case. Whoops. Looks like you screwed up.

This is why when­ev­er I review an ani­me or what­ev­er in its entire­ty, I break it up into bits — talk­ing about points I felt it did best in and points it did bad in, and pos­si­bly giv­ing it a final ver­dict, with­out pro­vid­ing a review score. I like mea­sur­ing an ani­me’s qual­i­ty by describ­ing the ups and downs to how it tells its sto­ry, pos­si­ble plot holes, ani­ma­tion, the OSTbasi­cal­ly with the prod­uct itself, not by some arbi­trary score that ren­ders my writ­ing point­less. That, and what I view as good and what what you view as good is all sub­jec­tive — I don’t want to scare some­one who might oth­er­wise enjoy that series by giv­ing it a score of 5/10 for exam­ple, just because I thought it was aver­age. Even with an ani­me that I do end up enjoy­ing a lot — I find it hard to give a numer­i­cal score to. I just let my words do the talk­ing (as it should) and call it a day.

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