Anime Rating Guide

This is a graph of the ratings I have given to the Anime I’ve seen.  Below the chart, I have included short descriptions of the ratings.  Below the ratings are the main elements that are included within the overall rating.

Masterpiece:  This anime is an exemplar.  All the elements in this anime are very strong or above.  At least two elements must be masterpiece.  For an element to be a masterpiece, it has to be excellent, but have done something really special, unique, or interesting.  I would personally introduce this anime to someone by watching it with them.

Excellent: This anime is highly notable. Generally, this anime has extremely strong elements.  There’s an 85% chance I’d re-watch this anime while showing it to someone.

Very Good: This anime is a strong pick.  The elements are better than average. This category also contains anime that average out – some really strong elements that are able to mitigate some weaker ones.  There’s about a 65% chance I’d personally introduce this anime.

Good: This anime is worth watching.  Overall, the elements are competently done.  Generally, this anime is not particularly strong, but doesn’t contain any glaring weaknesses.  While I might recommend it to someone, I’m not exactly likely to watch it with them.

Decent: This anime doesn’t stand out.  While it could be worth a watch for some mild entertainment, it can generally be described as “bland.”  It won’t really stand out for good or ill.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but wouldn’t caution against it either.

Not Really Good: This anime was underwhelming. Generally, there will be some problems with the elements that detract from an otherwise competently executed anime.  I might give a caution for someone wanting to watch the anime.

Weak: This anime was disappointing.  There’s usually wasted potential. Aside from the potential, there are usually elements that significantly detract from what could be a competent anime.  I would not recommend these anime.

Poor: This anime was notable for its failings.  Glaring weaknesses are present in this anime.  The weaknesses substantially get in the way of a pleasurable viewing experience.  I would warn people away from this.

Bad: This anime was painful to watch.  These anime have weaknesses that could be described as gaping holes.  The weaknesses were so severe, I often wondered why I was wasting time watching it.  So painful, even Statler and Waldorf wouldn’t have fun criticizing it.

ELEMENTS:

Purpose:  The overall path the story takes to reach its resolution.  This is the “bird’s eye view” of the path from beginning to end.  A strong purpose ensures that the path is always making progress towards the end goal.  A weak purpose takes unnecessary detours – it makes the path go places that don’t really help the viewer reach the goal.

Does the anime have a clear goal? What is the overall goal of the anime?   Where does this anime end up?  How many detours from the goal does the anime take?  Do those detours make the viewer lose sight of the goal?

Characters: The actors in the story.  Good characters have breadth and depth in the form of “rules” that guide their actions, much the same way as real people do.  For example, good characters have unique or complex motives, goals, ideas, ways of thinking, ways of interacting with the world, etc.

How well developed are the main characters and supporting characters?  Do they have complex goals, motives, reasons, etc. for acting?  Do they have complex flaws? Are the characters closer to a real person or can they be described as a cardboard cutout?

World/Setting: This is where the story takes place.  The world itself can be a “character” in the sense that it has its own set of rules and can strongly affect the story.  A “bigger” world has more moving parts in the form of events, characters, factions, history, etc.  These parts turn the story even without the characters’ intervention.

How interesting and unique is the world in the anime?  How much attention to detail went into the creation of the world?   Is the world internally consistent?  What kinds of things are happening in the background, apart from our characters? Is the world bigger than the characters or are the characters most of the world?

Plot:  Important changes or events in that happen in the story.  Generally, it’s like a snapshot of a particular situation that changes the course of the story.  These snapshots act like stepping stones towards the resolution.

What kinds of challenges, difficulties, or situations are presented to the characters? How do these situations drive the characters closer to the purpose (or end point) of the anime?

Storytelling: A broad category that relates to the presentation of information to the viewer.  Artistic elements, writing, tone, mood, and perspective are all parts of storytelling, among others. In broad terms, storytelling is how the various plot points are connected together and guided to the resolution.

How is the information (plot, character development, setting, etc.) presented to the viewer?  How many stories are being told?  Does the anime shift perspectives?  Is the viewer told things that are going on or shown what’s going on?  How is the anime’s timeline constructed?  Is it chronological, story/concept-focused, etc?  Do these devices help the viewer or get in the way?

Pace/Tempo: An important part of storytelling – so important, it gets its own category.  This relates to the anime’s ability to manage the spacing of the plot points and the speed of the storytelling.  This involves how long the anime lingers on and develops plot points.  The pace can control things like mood, dramatic tension, and sense of time.  Pace is a little odd in the sense that a stronger pace is less noticeable.  In other words, the better the pacing the more invisible it becomes.  In a sense, it’s like a good office manager – if it’s doing its job properly, you don’t realize how important it is.  It’s only when it goes wrong that you notice it.

How quickly is the information presented to the viewer?  Does the speed of presentation allow for an appropriate amount of depth?  Does the speed change?

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