Scores indicate the quality level I place the title with what it does for itself as well as its placement among works of a similar stature. In myanimelist tag section, there are two symbols:
"◆" indicates if I liked it/enjoyed something throughout and the "★" means I loved it/adored it/a personal favorite, similar to Letterboxd's "♥" option. Hopefully, with this installed in my tag section, the stigma associated with scores would be alleviated and people will focus on what really matters; my feelings for the shows themselves.
Please keep in mind, just because a title on my list doesn't get a "◆" or a "★" doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. I could have enjoyed watching the show in question but the enjoyment was far too sporadic, with elongated moments of dead time for me to state I thoroughly enjoyed watching it from beginning to end. It may even be something I don't have much recollection of to give it a symbol, and if that's the case, adding a symbol for the sake of doing so would be disingenuous. So if you have a question regarding a show without a symbol, simply ask.
10/10 : The crème de la crème of the anime medium. A show that reached a pinnacle rarely seen, not only for the medium but also in the broader storytelling landscape in general. An anime that pushed the envelope far beyond what's expected, finding equilibrium across all fronts in a nearly flawless fashion. These shows are all-time favorites that appeal to me on a personal/conceptual level. I enjoyed these titles from beginning to end. Memorable characters and story, both of which were thoroughly explored and presented. An ambitious project that came the closest to perfecting its vision. The kind of shows that leave you with a void upon completion, the bittersweet feeling you receive from experiencing something truly awe-inspiring. There's no true perfect 10/10 out there, but when it comes to these entries, my strong, personal bias won't allow it anything lower. Whatever minor flaws they have become null and void from how much I adore them. If a show ever made me love like a blind fanboy, these are it. They are the closest to my definition of a masterpiece. They're the reason I remain anchored to the medium to this day. They are irreplaceable.
9/10 : Among the best entries that the anime medium has to offer, and as far as I'm concerned, they are also masterpieces in their own right. Extremely enjoyable. Superb script. Endearing cast. Rich in content. Went far beyond expectations. And it should go without saying, but many of them go on to become all-time favorites. Exceeded in setting itself apart from the rest and left a substantial impact. Properly tackled its themes and concepts in a way that distills its principals. I have minor qualms about this show and most of it was easily overlooked from everything else it did right. Whether propelled to the top for its sheer amount of entertainment value or praised for its thematic resonance, they deserve to be celebrated. This is a show that understands the medium it's working with and utilized audiovisuals with proper writing to achieve optimum results. They're timeless and not limited by contemporary standards.
8/10 : An exceptional show. Its positive aspects overshadowed a majority of its problems. Whether it's the personal project of an auteur or the assembly of passionate individuals pooling together, when you watch the work, you get a sense that a great deal of effort and care was poured into its inception. Utilized its themes in an effective and engaging manner. There may be a few minor discrepancies keeping it from ranking higher but despite that, it's still a solid piece of work. May not always register with a strong personal connection but still a series I look back on with fond memories. They are powerhouses. Titles people use as examples of certain things being done right. Stepped above the call of duty. Might have theatrical displays but never needlessly sensationalized. Titles with integrity and earnestness that you can't help but respect. A series I still love flaws and all. Endearing, memorable and left a lasting impression. Sets a benchmark for others to follow.
7/10 : A good show, memorable and easily recommendable. A show with noticeable flaws but despite those aspects, manage to power through to create something worth the initial investment. A great cast of likable characters. They may not always be the most developed but they were certainly endearing. Good visual and auditory output. An enjoyable experience that left me with satisfactory final impressions. May have been formulaic at times but still sets itself apart with proper execution and presentation. These are the shows that had a clear amount of effort displayed towards seeing its vision through. They might not have captured it in its entirety but they certainly put their best foot forward while trying to. Rewatchable but a few issues hinder it from being better. But as all things go, they're still solid pieces of work, if only not as explored, consistently entertaining or rich in content as they could have been.
6/10 : A decent show. For what it's worth, it had merits that edged it ahead of similar works in its playing field. Had good moments but had an equal amount of times where it wasn't appealing. May have had promise but either poor execution or too many glaring problems kept it from being better. Understand that this score isn't a bad one, in fact, it's still relatively "good," it just means I'm not fully comfortable with assigning it a 7 for a few reasons. These tend to be titles that make for a good time-passer or popcorn flick but rarely elevates beyond the glass ceiling it has imposed on itself. Also, very rarely depending on the effort on the show's behalf or mood I'm in, they can lean towards a 7... emphasis on "rarely" as it doesn't happen often. My enjoyment can also be the biggest reason saving it from being a 5. The functionality of its world and/or characters may not have been finely tuned. With all that being said, it's still a show I can recommend to a certain extent, if only with a few disclaimers coming attached to it.
5/10 : Not necessarily a bad show but at the same time far from a good one. A mediocre / wasted potential / standard / run-of-the-mill type of show. Watch at your own risk, something I can't fully recommend without a lot of precursors. For every highlight or aspect the show may have had in its favor, there's an equally detracting quality found that counteracts it. May have shown promise but squandered it. May also have had a few unique qualities but still does nothing to stand out. It can also be a case where the show excelled in a certain area but neglected a lot of the fundamentals. May have had a good premise or concept but failed to properly utilize it. Sometimes they're easily forgettable. Sometimes its only purpose is that of a time-passer. Sometimes it's a show that I feel nothing for at all. It could be a show that didn't aim that high, to begin with, which is fine. Other times, it's a show that was too ambitious for the content provided. Whatever the path that each title ended up taking, they all find themselves being "middle of the road" in one way or another. Whatever the case may be, it's a show that might still warrant a watch, but one that's a hit or miss depending on the individual at hand.
4/10 : Poorly-realized, bland or subpar show. Now, this is where recommending titles become harder to do. Suffers from more problems than highlights. Way too many noticeable flaws. It may have shown promise for something worthwhile but didn't follow through with it. At best, they're easily digestible pieces of entertainment with nothing of substance keeping it afloat. So basically think The McDonalds of anime; quick to consume but offers nothing of nutritional value. Sensationalized content that's reduced to plot twists, trite storylines, and shock value to hold the audiences' attention. Fail to even meet typical standards or to even get the fundamentals right. Doesn't properly tackle its themes. May only have a few redeeming qualities keeping it from being a complete failure. An anime that's "bad" not because it had nothing good to offer, but because what little "good" was there couldn't help the overall "bad" that it was surrounded by. Squandered whatever idea it had, making no visible attempts to make it better. These works are the bane of the anime industry. Shows that lower the bar for quality content byways of simple confetti and masquerading.
3/10 : Deplorable. These are works with almost no redeemable quality. They're mostly trainwrecks or "bottom of the barrel" type of shows. No highlights to take away from it, outside of those ironically. Mostly one-trick-ponies with nothing else to offer. Very poorly written and poorly presented. A lot of these tend to be "schlock" level titles that serve the lowest denominator. They're throw-away titles that will easily be replaced by another in a similar vein. Trying to defend titles like these require an extreme amount of mental gymnastics and delusion. The kind of bad that even the average viewer could subconsciously tell there's something "off" with what they're seeing. At best, they're easy to consume titles with nothing else to offer but dumb theatrics, and at their worst, a pile of trash that needs to be discarded upon initial viewing.
2/10 : It's shit, shows so bad it's either comical or infuriating. These are shows that failed in almost every category imaginable. The type of shows where the ineptitude has spread throughout the entire production. Narratively and thematically undercooked. Cardboard cutout stereotypical characters. Illogical storyboarding. Sloppy directing. Sloppy writing. No heart or effort seemed to be placed into it. Almost cynically brought together in order to cash in on a recognizable property. The kind of show that left all artistry or personality at the front door to make more room for easy profit. Avoid these like the plague. The only enjoyment received might come from turning the whole thing into a drinking game. No finesse, no integrity, nothing. These are the type of shows that go on to serve as punching bags for endless walls of diatribes. Shows that abandon its craft for cheap gimmicks. Shows that have reached the apex of pointlessness.
1/10 : How was this greenlit to be made? How does this even exist? I'm being held against my will at this point. Shows so bad that it's almost unfathomable to think somewhere out there, someone might actually like it. Cancer. It's the kind of bad anime that everyone could agree that there's something wrong with it. So in a way, these are the kind of shows that bring people together, as we all gather around and fling verbal feces at it. These titles manage to do everything wrong, an accomplishment within itself. Titles so bad they almost become masterpieces in their own right.
Like anything else, there are exceptions to this ranking scale as well. Simply treat it as a guideline to my thought process when assigning scores to a title.
Properly gauging a show makes the enjoyment of them that much better, as successful ones become more rewarding as a result and for the ones that falter, the very act of dissecting it can become a source of entertainment within itself, as it opens up the doors to engage in discourse with others, learning more about the various aspects that led to the final product. There's a level of entertainment from understanding the minor facets that make up a title, so in that sense, you're not only getting enjoyment from simply watching it (something that many viewers stop at) but you're also getting enjoyment from analyzing it as well. If viewing content results in 50% of the entertainment value that could come from a title, then analyzing it would be the next 50%, as you unearth hidden subtext, discuss your feelings with others, learn of the various origins of motifs, see the inner mechanics that may have led to certain good or bad decisions, and the list goes on and on. Essentially, it's the difference between watching someone play a video game and playing the video game yourself.
The misconception that many people have is that "critics/critical thinkers don't have fun." You've seen the comments before, "why are you watching anime if you don't like it?" in more words or less. When in reality, it's the exact opposite. Critics/critical thinkers might be the ones having the most fun, as even content that we may dislike/find boring could then be channeled into its own form of entertainment from the mere act of performing an autopsy on the title.
So regardless of the individual quality of the show, I can always find entertainment from it.
With that being said, enjoyment and quality-control are not synonymous.
Use this analogy to help:
I could enjoy eating a Big Mac, Outback Steakburger and Chicago's Acadia burger with that same amount of vigor. But if asked to place them in accordance with the quality each hold, claiming that a Big Mac was made with the same amount of care and craftsmanship as something found in a Michelin Star rated Acadia burger would be absurd. And the same would also be true if I said Outback Steakburgers and Big Macs were equal just because they're meat on a bun. For the three burgers listed, there's a clear line of separation when it comes to their quality.
So, if I was looking at these three burgers and trying to determine their quality-level through the use of numbers, the Big Mac might be a 3-4, the Outback Steakburger a 6-7, and the Michelin Star rated Acadia burger a 9 or 10. You see how that works? All three burgers could be enjoyable to consume but that doesn't mean they're all made with the same amount of care, effort, and craftsmanship. To say that they are is insulting, not to the lesser created product, but for those that treat food as more than just a priority on Maslow's Pyramid. To downplay Acadia's success would be to also downplay the people that bothered to go to culinary school, become a chef and pour their blood, sweat, and tears into creating something worthy enough to earn that coveted Michelin Star rating for their efforts.
Rating systems are not a matter of "hating" on something while praising another, it's a matter of paying respect for the individual effort at hand and holding things to a standard. I enjoy the medium enough not to inflate the value of shows undeserving of it, but sadly the misconception is that rating everything highly is how you prove your love for the medium. That kind philosophy only breeds complacency. It's that kind of philosophy that gives way to less effort and commitment towards the creation process. Having restraint in awarding higher scores to shows that are truly deserving of them is the best way to give the utmost respect and love to the medium you enjoy.
So take that reasoning and apply it to anime: someone may enjoy Tokyo Ghoul, Ajin, and Parasyte for relatively same reasons, with all three tackling similar subject matter and themes, while lending itself to a comparable story structure. But to claim that Tokyo Ghoul's script writing was better than Ajin's would be a bit ridiculous. In the same way, someone claiming Ajin's visual presentation and written material is equally on par with that of Parasyte's may also be an outlandish claim to make. They may all be in the same boat when depicting its subject matter but the pedigree in which each is written and presented cannot justifiably be stated to be one in the same. There are levels to their individual value, therefore, a degree of separation is needed to show that (ie scores). Understanding your literary devices and how the creators utilize them helps in applying and practicing impartial analysis to determine that.
In the same way, chefs and nutritional experts could measure the nutritional value of the burgers by their calorie intake, protein levels, cooking time, quality of ingredients, individual textures and taste etc. Similarly, measuring a show's individual value can be determined byways of their ability to properly utilize literary devices in accompaniment with its audiovisual output and script-writing capabilities, its execution and functionality with its themes, the flow of its narrative structure, so on and so forth.
You can enjoy that BigMac burger all you want, but at the end of the day, your enjoyment does not change discernable concerns.
People think it's all boiled down to being subjective but there are aspects of every craft that remain signifiers of something's self-worth. And in the case of audiovisual storytelling like anime, movies or TV shows, that rule still applies.
So when I assign scores, it's not out of malice or even dictated by individual preference, but rather, it's simply a means to help separate the degrees of success that I believe a title reaches when using impartial analysis. I could enjoy or hate many things but being able to come to terms with their actual level of quality is the difference between conceit and proper quality-control evaluation. It's for that reason that I could have lower rated shows in my all-time favorites and not be concerned about it. Enjoyment and quality-control can be aligned but that doesn't make them one in the same. My love for a poorly made, sloppy "burger" like a Big Mac does not grant it dominion over something that's made with far more finesse. Favorites and even shows you don't have interest for should be rated accordingly to their inherent value. And the more people come to terms with that, the closer they would come to properly rating a show for its individual merits, instead of the toxic, hyperbolic "the best/the worst" attitude that's exemplified in recent times.
All of this isn't to say that I don't have my bias for certain content, but rather, my bias does not negate problems or successes a show may have. My enjoyment and bias is a factor but is NEVER the only one.