May 5, 2018 3:02 PM
Foreward: Most people don't probably don't care, but I figured I would make a post anyways. The way I feel about certain anime might change overtime, especially after re-viewings, so some of my ratings might not be up to date.
Anime is a medium of art, and like any other form of art, I believe that it possesses an abstract value, which my scores reflect. It goes without saying that these scores are subjective, and the value that I find in one anime will not be the same as the value that someone else finds. Many people don't see the importance of giving scores to anime and similar mediums of art, but I have a different perspective. There are two reasons why I find it important to give scores: the first is that I believe it is important to personally give recognition to the work in question. I have a personal experience with every anime that I watch, whether it be good or bad, and my score will reflect that experience at the end. The second reason I believe that scores are important is due to the presence of our large community. The opinions that we have on anime open the floor to discussion, which can provide us with more insight and a greater relationship with the anime that we watch.
Ultimately, if I have to break down my rating system to its base level, I rate anime based entirely off of my own feelings towards something. There is no single metric or system that one can use to rate all anime, or any art for that matter. Usually, the people who attempt to do so try to veil these ratings as 'objective', when in reality they will be skewed due to a misplaced attempt at creating a rigid system that encompasses everything. One reason why this type of system tends to fail is it doesn't take into account the artists intentions. An artist generally intends to do something with his art, and anime is no exception. One artist may choose to present an overarching message in their piece through the narrative, themes, visual components, etc., while another might just want to create something beautiful. This is a distinction that is important to draw when rating art.
All of that being said, there are elements that are present in many anime that I look towards when I give ratings. I will do my best to explain my process in a way that makes sense. My ratings can be at least partially based on three significant components: the personal, aesthetic, and metaphysical dimensions of the anime. The personal aspect of the show describes how the show resonated with me personally, and my level of enjoyment. Often times, I will find myself emotionally enthralled with particular anime, some of which leave a me in a state of happiness or despair when I am finished with it. This may also factor in my genre preferences, as well as if I liked the concept of the anime, however, I have enjoyed many different genres of anime, and I find execution to be much more important than the conceptual aspect. The aesthetic element of an anime is just as it sounds. This element includes segments like art style, animation, cinematography, sound design, music, and overall direction. The aesthetic design plays a part not only in personal enjoyment, but also in storytelling. Aesthetic elements such as symbolism, visual metaphors, or cinematography choices can provide a great deal of exposition, both in regards story elements and to more intangible pieces, such as narrative themes and ideas. Finally, the last piece components is the metaphysical aspect. This aspect is comprised of how I feel about the beauty and truth of the work at hand. This may include the spiritual, moral, and philosophical themes and ideas that underpin everything else. This also includes the anime's ability to sway me towards transcendence, and how impactful this was on my life or thoughts.
There is, perhaps one other element: storytelling. I will always praise an anime that succeeds in telling a great story, but I believe that the elements of a narrative, such as the plot and characters, are merely tools that are used to embolden the three components I spoke of previously. There isn't a consistent litmus test for something like a 'good character' that you can apply to every anime; each anime you watch will be different, and the character and plot of every anime will need to be molded individually. Storytelling is the surface level of an anime, while the personal, aesthetic, and metaphysical dimensions are at the root level. Thus, I don't necessarily factor storytelling or characters into my rating directly, as they will come through indirectly via the other components.
As you can see, all of these components are very subjective and personal, which will translate to the overall rating. I will not always weigh each component equally, depending on the anime. For example, If I am watching a pure comedy, I will not expect any deep transcendence to come out of the experience, but I will instead put a lot of weight on whether or not I found the anime funny. It should also be stated that an equal rating does not mean I felt the same way about each anime. If one anime was lacking aesthetically, but was very enjoyable in other ways, and another anime was the opposite, they might both receive the same score.
10 - Masterpiece: This class of anime is what I consider to be paramount in the medium. Themes are examined deeply and are deftly bridged with the narrative as a whole. Outstanding, intelligent writing, with phenomenal and memorable characters. A piece of art that is pushed to its limits and fully expressed, where the artist's vision is able to shine through. Aesthetically beautiful, creative, and imaginative in their plot. These anime are one of a kind, and will only be appreciated more through repeated viewings. These are also anime that have had an impact on me personally, and hold a special place in my heart. The best of the best, these are truly masterpieces by every standard. [On a side note, what I consider masterpieces are not perfect or flawless, as nothing is.]
9 - Excellent: Like the aforementioned masterpieces, these anime are also some of the best the medium has to offer. They are able to stand next to masterpieces in their ability to move me towards transcendence. While they are still some of the best, these anime have one or two minor, easily overlooked flaws that prevent it from becoming a masterpiece. Nonetheless, these anime deserved to be revered right next to the masterpieces. Highly memorable and incredible pieces of storytelling, and are still some of my personal favorites.
8 - Very Good: Exceptional pieces of art, still a cut above almost everything else. Superb anime that are still executed well, but are usually held back by one area of weakness that would otherwise allow it to reach its full potential. Nevertheless, they can usually be held as shining examples of a solid approach to the medium. While they may not move me emotionally as much as others have, they will still earn their rightful place as some of my favorites, and as remarkable pieces that I wouldn't mind re-watching. They are very enjoyable, very memorable, and well-crafted overall.
7 - Good: These anime have one or two areas of weakness, or some minor flaws, that are difficult to overlook. Usually not innovative or imaginative. Despite this, these anime are still noteworthy additions to the medium that should be commended for rising above the mediocre rabble that makes up the majority of anime. These are still anime that I would easily recommend to others, and they were enjoyable and generally properly executed overall. Many of these pieces seemed to have high potential that missed the mark somewhat noticeably.
6 - Above Average / Decent: There is usually nothing truly unique about these anime that makes them stand out significantly from the thousands of other titles. While there is some room for improvement, these anime usually excel in at least one area, and can still create a pleasant and satisfactory experience that sets it apart from the average fodder. With few exceptions, these anime generally don't move me at all emotionally or transcendentally, but they can still be enjoyed in their own right, and are usually still recommendable. Decent by most regards.
5 - Average: Completely average and moderate. While these anime can't be classified as 'bad', they have many areas of weakness that cause it to drift into mediocrity and blend in with the rest of the medium. Many of these anime seem to be lacking in vision/direction, and thus are already hindered before they leave the starting gate. On the other hand, there are some that are too ambitious in scope, and were then poorly executed as a result of over-extending on initial concepts or premises. While it is a partially varied group of anime, most if not all of these titles end up being forgettable and bland. Many of these pieces adequately serve to pass the time, but they are usually not shows that I would recommend.
4 - Below Average / Sub par: These titles have a troubling amount of flaws that degrade the overall experience. These anime are generally just as bland, unimaginative, and forgettable as the average titles, the flaws in these titles tend to be more prevalent to the point where they stand out above some of the strengths. This tends to lead to an experience where the anime is unpleasant to watch more often than not. While there are some redeeming factors, the execution is poor, and some basic elements of storytelling are lacking. Overall, these are unsatisfactory, forgettable, and generally not enjoyable.
3 - Bad: These anime are marred by an excessive amount of flaws, with very few things done adequately. They are hackneyed, predictable, usually boring. While lacking in any creativity, these anime usually also fail at basic storytelling, with unsophisticated writing and one-dimensional characters that only serve to create an obnoxious experience. There are very rarely any components that are worth exploring further in a different context; all in all, they are poorly made.
2 - Very Bad: These anime begin to fall into the so-bad-its-good crowd, but every few of these are enjoyable at all, even if examined ironically. Suffers from all of the flaws of the aforementioned 'bad' anime, but it quickly becomes clear that these anime have no redeeming qualities whatsoever, there is almost never any reason to keep watching. Most of the time spent watching these is agonizing, and most of these will be dropped before they are finished. Some of the worst that the medium has to offer, but they aren't quite at the bottom of the barrel...
1 - Atrocious: Satan has a special place in hell for these. These anime cause you to question your sanity, as you can't bring yourself to believe that these really exist, and that someone took the time to create them. These anime make me question whether or not they should even be rated, as they are so far removed from everything else that they arguably shouldn't be held to the same scale. These anime are worthless cancer cells, and the only tangible value they provide is that of shock value regarding their atrociousness. Likely one of Nagao Takena's works.