As Anime fans, our opinions are something that are very dear to us. They define our interests, our tastes and who we are as individuals, and as such, we love to share our opinions with other people and discuss our thoughts on whatever the subject of choice may be.
And within this sea of opinions, is an idea that I always seem to come across, one that I have always found to be backwards and some what silly: the idea of objective quality.
There are many people who believe that every work has an objective quality to it, that there are shows that are “objectively good” and therefore, everyone should love those shows and appreciate their quality like they do.
Likewise, there are shows that people consider to be “objectively bad” and that we shouldn’t support them because they have no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
But I’m here to argue that objective quality doesn’t exist at all. At least in relation to art.
For something to be objectively good, its quality would need be embedded into reality itself. Its quality would need to be defined by the Universe itself and be completely free of human judgement or bias. But Anime is a form of art, it is a human creation, and the “objective quality” that these people speak of, is based on our own opinions.
When judging the quality of any art form, bias is inherent. You can’t approach an art form in an objective manner. It’s just not possible and it never has been. You can definitely come close to it, but your opinions, in some way, will always override your final thoughts on the quality of anything.
Reality didn’t decide that say, Legend of the Galactic Heroes is an amazing show. The Universe doesn’t care if a show is good or bad, people do. Objective quality is a human concept it doesn’t exist outside of human beings. It is not part of the natural law of the Universe. We ourselves dictate what is good and what is bad, and therefore a shows quality will always be subjective.
The notion of objective quality just baffles me. Just try to apply this to anything else and see what I mean. Imagine someone presented you with a block of cheese. A big block of cheese. Now imagine they tell you that cheese is “objectively good”. Reality decided that cheese is good? But what if I don’t like cheese? I really don’t like cheese. I despise cheese. So how can cheese be objectively good if I don’t like it? I can’t be wrong for not liking cheese can I?
So why can’t we apply this logic to the quality of Anime?
I don’t understand why this is so difficult for people to grasp. It’s frustrating. I’ve had countless people slam my tastes time and time again because many of my favourite shows are “objectively bad”. But for something to be objectively bad, no one can like it, everyone must think it’s bad. If even one person thinks that its “decent” or “good”, then it can no longer be considered “objectively bad”.
Sure, you can argue a lot of things, such as “the writers put effort into the script” or “a lot of care was put into the artwork”, but that doesn’t make it good. Effort does not equate to quality.
A lot of people consider Fate Stay/Night: Unlimited Blade Works to be “well drawn”, but I disagree. It’s beautifully animated sure, but the character designs don’t appeal to me, I don’t think they’re all that detailed, and I’ve seen far better in other shows. Does that mean I’m wrong, or that I’m an imbecile? No, it means my subjective opinion is just different from that of the consensus.
People seem to think that what the consensus believes is the objective truth, but that’s nonsense. It just means a lot of people think the same as you do, which proves nothing. I disagree with the consensus opinion all the time, and I couldn’t care less. To hell with the consensus.
This is a dangerous mindset to have. It’s gotten to the stage where I’ve seen people say things like “it was an enjoyable show, but it was objectively bad”. I don’t get it. How can you think it’s bad if you enjoyed it? Isn’t that the whole reason you’re watching entertainment in the first place? Doesn’t that mean the show succeeded somewhere if it managed to entertain you?
It’s all about the subjective experience. It’s okay to enjoy shows that a lot of people hate. If you like Keijo!!!!!!!! this season, then good for you. If some how you thought that Taboo Tattoo from last season was a masterpiece, then power to you. That doesn’t make your opinion trash and it doesn’t make you wrong, it just means you like something that a lot of people dislike or find bad. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying yourself and having a good time. That’s why we’re all here. That’s why we watch Anime.
I’ve been fighting this battle for years. I still think Tsubasa Chronicle is one of the greatest Anime I’ve ever seen with fantastic writing and beautiful characterisation. I still believe that Naruto is an excellent coming of age underdog story with great character development and fantastically handled plot twists. I still consider World Trigger to be the most underrated Anime of the 2010’s with an engaging narrative and well choreographed battles and yeah, I think the animation is fine despite all the ridicule it gets. That’s my subjective experience, and no amount of “objective” arguments will ever change that.
Because bias is inherent and objective quality is not a thing. I deny its existence, I always have and I always will.
Just enjoy things. It’s okay to enjoy things. You’ll be a lot happier if you do. Trust me.
What are your thoughts on Objective Quality?