Insight to my Review System – Part 1

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I had been reviewing for awhile but what goes into my mind when I review? This had been something I want to write for a long time, basically a post about review, and also to explain my style, structure and grading system in more detail. Ideally I would link it here too, which explained just a bit, but feel like doesn’t do it justice. So here we are, and while writing this, it basically spawned 3 different posts total. Since it’s just too long, I’ll post them consecutively for the following weeks.

So before I begin for real, in the first part here, I will first talk about the few commonly debated aspects of reviewing.

kato-spoilers

Spoilers in Reviews

Ideally, spoilers should not be revealed in reviews. For example, you can describe the character development rather than writing about what happened to him or her, you can critique the story like the pacing, themes and so on and not the actual events in the story. To tell you the truth, this is what I’m still not too good at-I’m especially bad during my early reviews in this regard and feel like I got better over the years. To me, writing a review is an ongoing battle to be vague yet critical, which can be especially challenging sometimes when story and twists are an anime’s main highlight. It’s certainly achievable; albeit it does takes a certain grace and skill to pull it off… not to say I possess said grace and skill, I’m a shitty writer.

Sometimes though, depending on the stories, these spoilers really DO need to be written just in order to critique the title as a whole, if not, it’s hard to get anywhere. Stories like the one in this game, is practically based on a massive spoiler as it’s entire premise. But I feel if you really do need to reveal spoilers, you can write a warning before you get to it. It might alienate readers from the post but at least it will let people know that you care about not revealing spoilers.
 

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The Necessity of Scoring

Some reviewers like to score the title they reviewed-some use a numerical value, while some use a more traditional school-based grading (A, B, etc…) and so on-I personally combined both of them. While some reviewers prefer not to score, and just write a summary or perhaps just a list of pros and cons of the title, I feel like scoring has it’s uses. Scoring definitely isn’t the be all and end all of a review, but it lets readers know how much you like a certain title conveniently-which is essentially similar to a summary or pros and cons, only expressed numerically.

I also think it’s perfectly fine to go back, revise and possibly change your scores as time goes on. I will make a confession here-I have actually made quite a few changes to my scores in some of my reviews like a sneaky rat. The thing about scores is that they recorded the moment that you like it, but as time passes on, our tastes may change-titles which we may not like before we can possibly grow more appreciative now; and titles which we may like before we perhaps grow more critical of it’s issues. With that being said, I feel it’s actually important to go back and revise your scores.
 

moeshit

Objective or Subjective Review?

The short answer would be that there is no such thing as an objective review. Whether or not it’s a personal or a professional review, these reviews are basically written after experiencing the story. To that end, reviews are opinions, and opinions are always subjective in nature.

The purpose of objective reviews is to have unbiased opinions, though admittedly, objectivity is a tricky debate in reviews. Of course we can try to be as objective as possible, but complete objectivity is impossible in reviews. One way to do it is to judge an anime within a genre and not outside of it. For example, “Moe shows are boring, they have no plot and drama”, while simplified and sounds like an objective opinion at first glance, is actually a horrible criticism which clearly tell said reviewer is not a fan of moe, and is even blatantly expressing his dislike for the genre. Instead, “While there are close to no story developments in this show, the fun characters drive the show and makes it a worthwhile watch” is a better criticism which actually strives to find the positives in the show despite not being a fan of the genre.

By being close-minded and criticizing the genre (and sometimes even culture) as a whole, it ironically directs the opinion far away from objectivity. I won’t dare say watching/reviewing a title with an open mind will bring you closer to objectivity as well, but it definitely sounds like a more fairer opinion when you’re criticizing the title within the genre, and not outside of it. And really, at the end of the day, everyone has different tastes so reviews and opinions will always be subjective.

In other words, your opinion is shit.

shitopinion

I’m going to stop right here for now since I want these segments to be short, and admittedly, I didn’t delve too deep into any of these aspects at the moment so my thoughts may appear a bit shallow. These three topic are something I might want to revisit again in separate posts in the future, but nonetheless this post is to show that at least I’m aware of them.

So while in this part I talked a bit about some of the more commonly debated aspects of reviewing, I will finally get to talking about my style, structure and mindset of my reviews in the next posts.

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This entry was posted by Kai.

7 thoughts on “Insight to my Review System – Part 1

  1. Pingback: Insight to my Review System – Part 1 | Just my guilty pleasure reblog.

  2. Taking issue with a few things here:

    – A ‘spoiler-free review’ is one kind of review; an in-depth critique is another. Spoilers may alienate readers who haven’t watched the show; not having them voids your review’s potential to have specific, objective reference to the show as evidence, which makes the review less engaging for readers who have watched the show and want to see read persuasive evaluations of it against their own.

    You can do both in one review: I’ve seen Kotaku do that quite well. Have a spoiler-free section that recommends or does not recommend the show and then delve underneath that, in depth, into why the top bit says what it says.

    – ‘Scoring’ is often seen as necessary because it makes the blogger feel like a professional reviewer, or because they believe audiences always expect scores. While each review should be an explanation for its own score, the score often serves as a summary, a paratext, that affects how the review is read. Some people prefer that; it helps when you have in-house standards in a professional publication. On a personal blog, I think words matter more than numbers. I try to ignore scores and never write them myself. If my review is engaging it won’t matter that there isn’t a numerical summary for people to skip to, and an engaging paragraph of summary ought to communicate the same as a boring little grade. RandomC have been excelling at this long and popularly enough to demonstrate that scores aren’t essential.

    Taking away your scoring also makes you pay attention to how many things in your review /show/ that score rather than tell it.

    – “Moe shows are boring, they have no plot and drama” is a good example of very definition of subjective. Boring stems from boredom which is subjectively experienced and can’t be objectively noted. ‘No plot’ is a subjective summary and hyperbole, ‘no drama’ likewise, and drama, being also felt, is even more of a subjective experience to note.

    “While there are close to no story developments in this show, the fun characters drive the show and makes it a worthwhile watch” is also a highly subjective statement, however. For it to tend to the objective, it must be grounded in facts. We can make ‘no story developments’ more objective by noting how, perhaps, ‘[character] has a goal to do X but this is never mentioned after the third episode, and never achieved’. ‘Fun characters’ can be made more objective, perhaps, by citing what aspects, scenes or actions can be evidenced as having an appeal to the target audience.

    If you consider, grammatically, that the ‘subject’ of the review is the reviewer – ‘I review’… and the ‘object’ is what’s reviewed – ‘…this show’ – it becomes simple: anything that has an explicit or implied ‘I think’ is to some extent subjective, because it’s about you and your perspective and you thoughts and findings. On the other hand, anything that ‘I think’ would be extraneous to is objective. I think this show is bad, but I don’t ‘think’ the main character dies in the fourth episode. He just does.

    Using objective facts, which often have to be spoilers, keeps your review from being passable by someone who simply doesn’t share your taste. Your argument will act as a reinterpretation of what they’ve watched; they may have seen [character] as fun, but you might not have. Keep it at that level and they just pass by or argue in the comments, where you might go into more depth. Immediately have them read your reasoning however – ‘[character]’s main flaw was contradicting their ethics in the penultimate episode, by doing X when the before they had always criticised the rest of the cast for similar actions: [instance], [instance], and let’s not remember [instance]’ – and you’re challenging their thinking a lot more. Again, this sort of stuff would have to go underneath your spoiler-free review, but it’s better to put it in your post, where you’re in full control of the discourse, than have to have to have it come out in the comments.

    Just my thoughts on these few things. I find myself often chipping in with posts like these because the art of reviewing doesn’t seem to get much of a look-in otherwise.

    • Making two different sections is a good idea, but not something I personally prefer unfortunately. I feel like it just ruins the flow of the post. I do get what you’re talking about in regards to using objective facts/spoilers as evidence to expand on the initially non-spoilerish opinions. If I were to do that though, I would rather do that in a separate post. Doing this also helps me to especially zoom in on a single idea/theme instead of piling everything on a single post/review, which honestly, would get too long at this point imo, as I generally prefer my posts to be short.

      Furthermore, some people read my reviews without watching/playing the title at all, and even if I use a lot of objective facts, they can’t really relate to them anyway, which again, is why I like writing these “spoilerish” posts as completely different posts as it helps give a place for people who did experienced the story to discuss at length. Though admittedly, I do seldom write these posts myself.

      I guess we will agree to disagree with scoring but I find scoring immensely useful in giving precise “measurement” as to how much a person enjoy a particular title. Like, without my scores, readers might have a poorer understanding of how much I like a title, I can try my best to textually express my opinions, but honestly can’t beat scores imo, since without it, I feel like people at best would only think he “likes”, dislikes”, or “average” — like just the extreme ends of the spectrum.

      “Again, this sort of stuff would have to go underneath your spoiler-free review, but it’s better to put it in your post, where you’re in full control of the discourse, than have to have to have it come out in the comments.”
      This is fine to me though imo. Throughout my blogging years, I have quite a few moments where my commenters ended up commenting way beyond (but still related) the ideas expressed in my posts. Aforementioned, I seldom write these ideas/spoilers discussion posts so anytime they want to talk about these in the comment section, they are more than welcome.

  3. Pingback: Last Week Today: Week End Recap- Mar. 13th to Mar. 19th – Nice Job Breaking It, Hero

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