In the mood for some writing, and decided to search for a writing prompt. Luckily for me, the “recent discussions” on MyAnimeList caught my eye, and that is where I found this one, which seemed interesting enough to write about.
So let’s do that.
Is it strange to not rate based on enjoyment at all?
An interesting idea, and one I’ve honestly never thought about. I’ve always figured it was just a given that enjoyment would play a role in a rating. In fact, I’d have assumed that it would play the most important role!
For me personally, that’s how I see it. Art, sound, characters, et cetera… if I didn’t enjoy the anime, the quality of those things doesn’t seem to matter as much. Of course, there’s definitely a link between the quality of those things, and the enjoyment we experience from watching the anime, to some degree.
But even in the extreme case where an anime is beautiful, has an amazing soundtrack, interesting characters, and just seems like something of the highest quality, if you don’t enjoy it, could you really give it a high rating? I couldn’t. If I watched Clannad and hated it (I don’t), despite it’s amazing quality, I would likely rate it accordingly, with a poor rating.
At the end of the day, isn’t that what the rating is supposed to do?
Provide an idea of how the reviewer felt?
I can sort of understand someone bumping up their rating of an anime they disliked because they acknowledge the quality, but then, wouldn’t that be dishonest? If I hated Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood (I don’t), but rated it an 8 / 10 because “while I personally hated it, I know that it’s a quality anime“, it just feels like the rating has lost its meaning. “I hated it, but I rated it well” sounds really bizarre to me.
If the reviewer’s enjoyment isn’t what the rating reflects, then what DOES it reflect?
Just the reviewer’s opinion of the anime’s quality?
I guess there may be some serious anime connoisseurs out there that simply seek out anime of the finest quality regardless of enjoyment, but personally, I watch anime because I enjoy it, and I’m going to take a wild guess that I’m not alone in that. As for the idea of anime connoisseurs, well, they wouldn’t be connoisseurs if they didn’t enjoy anime right? Like you’d never find a wine connoisseur that hates wine, it doesn’t make any sense!
Rating the “quality” of an anime is also just as subjective as rating your enjoyment from the anime. One person may love an art style that another hates. One may love certain VAs that another doesn’t, and so on. Plenty of people prefer older animation styles to modern ones, myself included in some cases (for example, I like the character style from Clannad with the overly exaggerated eyes / faces).
Here’s another example: I hate the animation of Devilman Crybaby. I disliked it so much when I first saw it that I almost dropped the series within the first 5 minutes, and I ended up dropping it several episodes in anyways because I also disliked the story / characters.
But I guarantee if I look up some MAL reviews of Devilman Crybaby, many will rate the animation highly, and others will rate the story / characters highly.
So the idea that enjoyment is subjective, but quality isn’t, isn’t a good one.
It’s all subjective to our individual preferences, and those preferences affect our enjoyment.
Which means to me, in the end, it just comes back to enjoyment anyways. If I rate an anime’s story a 10, that means I had to enjoy the story, right? Because the alternative would mean that I “acknowledge a good story, but didn’t enjoy it” – in other words, it would mean that I don’t enjoy good stories. And from there, you could argue that the story clearly wasn’t good if it wasn’t enjoyed, right?
After all, enjoyment is the objective of the story, and if it fails in that, can it really still be considered a good story in the eyes of the one who didn’t enjoy it?
The only other alternative is that someone rates not based on what they thought of an anime, but instead what they think that others will think about it. But in the end, that’s also just subjective and speculation, and can’t exactly result in a proper rating. The idea that “I disliked it, but others probably will like it” is just a guess at best, making the rating itself just a guess, and less based in the reality of the reviewer’s personal thoughts and opinions.
Wrapping up, I think that it is indeed strange to rate anime without any consideration for enjoyment, and I would argue, it’s not really possible to separate the two. If you consider the various aspects of something good, that must mean you found them enjoyable, or else you’re simply lying to yourself as the objective of anime is to be enjoyed!
If you rate an anime highly but claim you didn’t enjoy it, then clearly it wasn’t worthy of a high rating as it failed to accomplish its goal of being enjoyed!
And conversely, if you rate an anime poorly but claim you enjoyed it, then clearly it was worthy of a higher rating as it accomplished it’s goal of being enjoyed!
After all, isn’t that why we watch anime?
I’m glad I stumbled upon that topic, and I’ll probably find more because it was fun to think about. So often I sit here and think that “I want to write something anime related” but can’t think of any topics. This was pretty handy, so I’ll probably do it again soon enough! It may even become a regular thing, we’ll see.
What are your thoughts on the topic?
Is there any merit to rating an anime without any consideration for enjoyment?
And is that even possible?
Until next time,
Thanks for reading.