I’ve been posting anime reviews (and recently a manga review) on this site pretty consistently for the last year or so. At the end of each review, I provide a list of scores which reflect how well I feel the anime or manga in question fulfills certain criteria that help me to determine how subjectively “good” it is, however I realize I have never actually defined these various parameters. I figured it would be a good idea to lay this out in writing, so I can reference this post in future reviews (and retroactively update the old ones) to give some solidity to my scores.
A note on scoring — if you’ve read this blog at all in the past, or know me IRL, it probably comes as no surprise that I love rating and listing things. I don’t know why, exactly; all I know is that sites like RateYourMusic and MyAnimeList are Godsends to people like me. I understand why some people wouldn’t want to attach a number to represent how “good” something is, but I really do — firstly because it helps me maintain organization and it helps me to reference the “best” of things at any given time (i.e. if someone asks “What’s a good anime to watch given X and Y criteria?” I can look through my list and quickly get an answer), and secondly because it just works better in my head, and it gives me a point of reference. I have no problem changing ratings as time goes on and my opinion changes; throughout this blog, any ratings/reviews provided on any given anime or manga or whatever are a reflection of what I was feeling at the time I posted the rating or review. But I feel like they can be helpful to those who don’t want to sit and read through my often long-winded reviews, and in any case I feel like posting my scores at the end acts as a nice general summary and wrap-up.
…Who am I justifying this to, anyway? It’s my blog, after all. Oh well.
Aaaanyway, here’s a breakdown of the various scores I give and how they’re weighted, as well as what I look for when I score each one:
Characters: How relatable are the characters? Are they interesting? Multi-dimensional? Do I care about them? Do they contribute to the overall story in a meaningful way? The more the main characters in an anime do these things or meet these criteria, the higher this score will be. (Weight: 15% of overall score)
Animation: Animation doesn’t necessarily have to be “pretty” or take advantage of modern techniques to get a high score here. Does the style contribute to the overall feel of the anime? Does it stand out in some way? Are color palettes utilized to intensify mood? Generally, the more unique the animation feels, the better this will score. (Weight: 15% of overall score)
Story: How much does the story suck me in? Is the story told in an engaging manner? Is it consistent within its own framework? Does it end with all the loose ends tied up, assuming they need to be? Do I care about the things that happen to the characters? In general, the best stories are also the ones I haven’t heard before, so creativity in the category goes a long way. I don’t care how convoluted or straightforward the story is – if it’s well thought-out and executed in a thoughtful manner, that’s what is most important. (Weight: 25% of overall score)
Pacing: Does the series/movie/OVA end where it should, or is it too long or short? Are there too many filler episodes? Do certain episodes tend to drag with no purpose? Basically, is the anime engaging on a consistent enough basis to make me want to keep watching? (Weight: 10% of overall score)
Sound design: Not always terribly important in my book to how I perceive an anime, although in a few cases it makes a sizable difference. Is music used in an effective way? Does it enhance the mood? Does it make sense in the context of what’s happening around it? How does voice acting contribute to the characters’ personalities? Are there any voices, sound effects, etc. that feel out of place? Usually I only really notice this if it’s outstanding or really poor, so there probably won’t be many middling scores. (Weight: 5% of overall score)
*Please note: Up through 11/2018, this score was only for evaluating the impact of music on an anime. Since then I have decided to make this score about overall sound design, which includes music as well as other elements.
Personal value: The most subjective category, this is how much I liked the anime in spite of everything else. Sometimes, I can objectively say that the characters sucked, the animation was boring, and the story was mediocre and still really enjoy the anime. Some things, anime and otherwise, just have that je ne sais quoi that makes them enjoyable in spite of their flaws, and this score measures that. Ultimately, this score probably best reflects what I think of the anime as a whole. (Weight: 30% of overall score)
Overall: The above scores added together, taking their various weights into account, and put into an “out of 100” for context (rounded to the nearest whole number). This does not necessarily reflect accurately on my personal opinion of the anime (the “personal value” category will be the best numerical reference), although it does give a good idea of whether the anime is generally worth watching or not for the average viewer. If you want the most detailed look into what I really think, obviously, the review itself is the place to look.
Please note that manga is reviewed with the categories above altered somewhat, due to some key differences between anime and manga; obviously, there is no “Music” rating, and instead of “Animation” I rate the “Art”, which takes into account the mangaka’s technical skill with character designs and backgrounds, as well as other aspects such as visual composition, creative use of panels, etc. Finally, the weights are different as well (see below); notably, “Pacing” is rated at 20% instead of 10%. This is because manga takes me a longer time to get through, usually, and a poorly paced story can end up being a huge waste of time for me, especially if the manga isn’t consistently engaging.
For manga, the scores are weighted as follows:
Characters: 15% of overall score
Art: 20% of overall score
Story: 15% of overall score
Pacing: 20% of overall score
Personal value: 30% of overall score