Lethargic Ramble: The Significance of Scoring Shows

Disclaimer: Just putting it out here that I’m not trying to tell people how to score things. Use whatever method you feel comfortable with. This is just a ramble on how I do it, and you shouldn’t take it personally.

As many of my readers are aware, back in my early days of writing online content about Anime, I used to be a reviewer on MyAnimeList and other Anime List websites.

And as a writer of reviews, I would award scores to the shows that I would review, according to the rigid scoring structure of the sites I was writing for because I wasn’t allowed to otherwise.

For example, when writing for MAL, I always had to give a score to each of the categories they provided for me. Story, Characters, Animation, Sound and “Enjoyment” (don’t quote me on those, it’s been forever), then provide an “Overall” score based on the values assigned to those categories.

But as time went by, I became more and more annoyed by this ridiculous idea of averages.

You see, sites like MAL, and many reviewers in general, seem to have this notion that applying an average based on the scores you would give to a shows components to be the way to go about awarding something a final score. But I’ve always found this to be pretty weird.

I’ll try to give some examples to explain my stance on this whole thing, because I feel I’ll struggle to get my point across otherwise.

I gave Free! Iwatobi Swim Club a 2/10. Many people would find that very strange. I’d cite my main reasons for giving it such a low score being that I found it boring, that I struggled to finish it and that I really, really didn’t care for the characters, storyline or anything happening in the show at all. It’s one of the worst shows I’ve ever gotten all the way through.

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*shudders*

And in response to that, people would bring up some very valid points, such as telling me that the animation was above average and the music quality was great. And they’re right. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of the art style (I dislike the KyoAni aesthetic) and even though I didn’t particularly care for the music, surely the show deserves at least a 5/10 right? They put effort into it and I can’t deny that it looks nice.

Well, no. Because I don’t score things based on averages or based on its components. I definitely take them into account, but at the end of the day, my scores are based primarily on the experience I had when watching the show, how invested I was and how much I enjoyed watching it. My scores are based on those components as well as intangible factors that can’t be measured by mere numbers.

And before people tell me I can’t base a score on enjoyment, isn’t that the whole reason we’re watching Anime? If I didn’t enjoy something at all, why would I give it a 5/10?

People seem to think that a 5/10 goes to something with bad animation and a good story, or vice versa. But to me, a 5/10 goes to something that had a lot of heart and merit, but just didn’t quite get to where I’d hoped in the end. Something like… Code Geass R2? Yeah, I’ll go with that. That’s a 5 to me.

codegeassr2

If you look at my Top 9 Anime series, all of which I’ve given scores of 9 or 10 to, you’ll find that every single one of these shows is deeply flawed in several areas.

I gave a 10 to World Trigger, despite the fact that its animation is not very good. It even borders (no pun intended) on being awful at times. If I were to go with the typical scoring system, I’d give the Animation a 6. Heck, I did give it a 6 when I reviewed it on MAL.

Yet, World Trigger is a 10. It’s worthy of that score because I had one of the most positive viewing experiences I’ve ever had from the medium while watching it. I was never bored. I was always invested. I was obsessed with this show and it was incredible from beginning to end. I literally cried when it was taken off the air prematurely because I loved it that much. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen, and it’s now one of my favourite shows of all time.

world-trigger
Come back!

Yet, people have frequently insisted that I’m wrong for giving World Trigger 10 because it’s not perfect. I’ve already made this point in my very first post I ever made on this blog but a 10/10 does not mean a show is perfect. A 10/10, in my opinion, should go to a show that does “the most good things” because nothing is perfect. No show is free of flaws.

I just find it kind of funny when I look at other peoples lists, and don’t see a single 10/10. You mean not a single show you’ve watched is worthy of that score? I find it really hard to believe that there’s not one show that is worthy of a 10 to every individual. But maybe I’m just weird.

A lot of people seem to have this idea that a score is purely a rating. And while it most certainly is a rating, it’s also a ranking. It’s where you would rank a particular set of shows.

If you give two shows a final score of whatever that means they are around the same level of quality to you.

If I were to give World Trigger an 8 or a 9 because of some shoddy animation, I’d be lying about how I feel about the show. Because World Trigger is around the same level of quality as Hunter x Hunter was to me, and that was a 10. So World Trigger is a 10. To me.

I’ve had people tell me that giving a 9 to Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods was “wrong” of me, because the story is standard and does nothing special. Sure. It doesn’t do anything special, but that doesn’t make it bad. Because Battle of Gods is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. It’s one of the few times I literally applauded in a public cinema after a movie. I cheered with a huge crowd of Dragon Ball Z fans who were literally hailing at the return of the franchise. Why the heck wouldn’t I give it a 9?

And at the end of the day, who really cares anyway? A score should only matter to the person giving that score. People shouldn’t be telling people how to score things, because everyone is different!

What matters more to me, is the write up: The “why” behind the score and the analysis of the series itself. It’s the overall experience that matters most to me, not some average number worked out from the sum of different parts.

That’s why, barring First Impressions posts, you’ll never see me put a score at the end of a review I post here. Because I don’t really like giving them out. To me, they’re just personal rankings to help me keep track of what I consider to be my favourites and least favourites and they shouldn’t really matter to anyone else. I’m just not that kind of reviewer any more.

Anyway, that’s more or less all I wanted to get off my chest. It’s an incoherent mess of a ramble, and it’s just something I thought about while making up a new MAL account under my current username. Don’t mind me. Carry on folks.

And thanks for reading!

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16 thoughts on “Lethargic Ramble: The Significance of Scoring Shows

  1. This was a great post! I also have a hard time giving shows a numerical score because some of my favorites would probably score low. I used to just give random numbers on my profile on MAL but have stopped scoring altogether. The only 10 I gave was to Your Lie in April on MAL and that was the last time I scored something. But, I agree scoring shouldn’t be so regimented it’s definitely going to vary from person to person in terms of enjoyment! Great read and valid points! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!

      Yeah, I suffer the same problem obviously, since most of my 10/10 shows are deeply flawed such as Reborn! and World Trigger.

      I still score things on MAL, but I do so with my own personal ranking as opposed to the whole “averages” thing.

      I should probably watch Your Lie in April sometime. I’ve never gotten round to it…

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. An interesting read, and I totally get your point. If you’re scoring based entirely on how you felt, then it’s definitely a personal rating/ranking, because people’s tastes are so diverse.

    Assigning a score on a site like MAL is there for other people to see. To look at your score, averaged with everyone else’s, to get a general consensus of how people feel about the show. That said, you’re totally right in saying that the written explanation is the more important part in expressing your opinion on it, because people give “unbiased” scores based on personal preference anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly!

      Yeah, that’s true. By being on MAL, it’s definitely in the public domain for all to see and therefore compare, but I mostly just use it to keep track of my own personal rankings anyway.

      And indeed, nothing is unbiased, which is why I really like seeing the reason as opposed to just “X/10”.

      Thanks for reading and for your own thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “. . .the animation was above average and the music quality was great.”

    Here’s the thing, though: some people don’t give a damn about things such as that. There’s the aspect of putting every component of a show at equal value, and then there are people (like me) who have a (generally) set ratio of what’s important to them in terms of judging the quality of an anime. Animation, to me, is about 15% of what I put into a score, with sound making up between 0-5%, because I hardly care about OPs and EDs and voice acting and what-not. (I probably should, though. I’m trying to get better at that.) Characters and Story are the big chunks of what I look for in the quality of anime (or media in general) with about 30% for both of them, and Enjoyment making up about 20%.

    If I were to judge Sound and Animation equally to every other aspect, every Disney film would basically start out at a 5/10 and only lower if I genuinely despised the film. I find that garbage. Flashy animation and sound is such an overrated aspect to things that I find myself prioritizing it lower and lower as the years go by. Because the trend goes, if the animation is amazing, it’s probably compensating for the atrocious writing of the story/characters.

    Hopefully that cleared up a tad about how someone who actively tries to organize their own objective ratings into shows outside of enjoyment prioritizes things. Definitely agree about the “why” on things are rated the way they are. It’s so easy to just put numbers on shit, but the juicy details come into what’s behind the number.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I completely agree with you there actually.

      That’s what I was getting at really, everyone’s perspective is different, and not everything is equally weighted to every individual. I’ve never considered every component of a show to be equal because, in my opinion, they aren’t.

      Like you, when looking at the components that make up a show, I’ll often consider the story and characters to be most important. Pretty animation and good music can enhance a show for real, but it should never be what truly defines the show.

      That’s why I dislike most KyoAni shows. They look great, but they have nothing else going on for me.

      Still, it’s nice to have a look into the head of someone such as yourself. I personally really like the way you think and how you lay out your scoring for your reviews. It’s definitely got that personal influence that I myself go for, as opposed to the “everything is averages” sort of mentality I’m not keen on.

      Like you said, it’s the details that count, and that’s what I love to see.

      Thanks a lot for reading and for sharing your own insight into the topic!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The way I approach reviews is taking in to the said factors (above) of what made the anime, plus how I felt about it. Which leads my to impartial grading. A review should always be balanced (for the most part) imo. MAL review guide is exactly that; a guide line. Sure I’ve used it in the past, as it gives me something to write certain componets of the anime about. I never understood why people did that on MAL or any other sites for that matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a pretty solid way to approaching reviews.

      I personally feel that the experience and “feeling” is what matters most to me, but everyone is different in what matters to them the most.

      But yeah, I agree. Guidelines aren’t necessarily meant to be the “right” way to review something.

      Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is why I don’t even attempt any kind of scoring or star system when I review. I like some deeply flawed shows and dislike some truly well put together ones and any system I used would end up being entirely arbitrary.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh well. i can relate to this rating thingy post.
    I am a movie, drama,anime and book reviewer. I review in the most common way. I give a quantitative assessment based on what I experienced watching or reading. My rule if I don’t like the movie or book..then I won’t review it all. i mean it won’t deserve a space on my blog. I avoid displaying very low score as well because I know it might be very bad for me but on the other hand I consider the people behind the film who worked hard for it. I am still polite hahaha.. If the movie will score above 5 then I will make a review about it. I don’t give a perfect score because nothing is I guess is perfect. I also avoid being biased! i remember in my first year of blogging I just review for the sake of fangirling. I feel embarrassed when i read my first blogs. Eventually, I think I improved a lot. I can be subjective yet I know how to be more objective. 🙂 I aim to be a credible reviewer. One of my goal as a blogger so I need also study about it.

    Nice post LR! You made me comment this long. 😮 It’s been a while I am not reacting to any post here in wordpress but I can totally relate to this so…. yeah…
    I’ll see more of your blogs! Let us do our best! ^o^

    Like

  7. You raise a lot of very interesting points. I still work with handling out scores to my reviews, but as I said on my about page, it is really how I feel about a movie, series, anime, or whatever it is that I am reviewing. Whatever it is you watch, it will always be how you yourself experience something. The fun thing is, what works for one, might be a completely different experience for someone else.
    It is just very important to be respectful to the opinion of someone. I would never be disrespectful if someone were to disagree with a review of something. It is pretty much how that person experiences it. I recently gave a 10/10 score to Erased, because it was for me a real masterpiece, even though it most certainly had it’s flaws. It is always hard to score things…sometimes I might even have given a series or film too low a score or even to high a score. For now, I will still continue to score things, but in the future I might just give up on that.
    Really enjoyed reading this one, and it gave me a lot of stuff to think about 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Scoring anime is SOOOO hard!

    I mean, I once gave “Kamigami no Asobi” a 7/10 on a blog review only to later go… “But, this was only good because it was so bad, and there are other shows that are good because they’re actually good that put it to shame, but I still enjoyed it, so…”

    Anyway, I completely understand where you’re coming from in terms of enjoyment vs quality. I don’t rate things much unless I feel very comfortable doing so, and even then, if I REALLY love something, I’m much more likely to ramble on about WHY than to simply assign it a score. That is not comprehensive, and the reasons that you like one show in comparison to another vary and can’t be justified by a number.

    Off topic, can you help me out by answering a question? You said you’re not a fan of the KyoAni aesthetic. What aesthetic does the animation of “Hakuouki” have? That’s a good example of my favorite style and I’d love to be able to subscribe a term to it when discussing it with someone.

    Good thoughts, Leth. Good post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For me, it’s all about the experience. If you had a blast with a show, then why not give it a higher score, you know?

      But I agree, scoring things is often really hard for me as well. I just go with my overall feelings instead of trying to pick it apart objectively. I don’t really believe in objective quality anyway.

      I prefer to ramble and go in detail about things myself, which is really what this blog if all about. Although I’m going to start posting reviews on here soon, I prefer to be more broad in my discussions and talk about wider things than just “Was this show good or bad?”

      Your ramble posts are really unique and a lot of fun, so I encourage you to keep doing what you do!

      And sure thing! It’s all related to whatever studio made the show. Free! has the KyoAni aesthetic because KyoAni animated it, and most of their shows have the same kind of look to it. In terms of Hakuoki, it was Studio Deen that animated it, so I guess it’d be the “Deen aesthetic” you’re a big fan of 😛

      And thank you very much Shoujo! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Liked by 1 person

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