The other day I was thinking about what my biggest pet peeves are when reading a review, and while there are a few, instead of listing them I figured I’d write about what I consider to be the biggest one.
And that pet peeve is when someone writes in a way that completely lacks diplomacy.
First off, I absolutely acknowledge that someone’s blog is their own blog. They can write whatever they want, however they want. That is their right. But I, as a reader, also have the right to dislike what I read. Which is why I don’t see any issue with writing about what I don’t like to read in someone’s review.
As I mentioned, there are several things that will turn me off from a review. But after thinking through the list I had come up with in my head, I realized that none were as irritating to read as a review that is completely undiplomatic.
What do I mean by that?
My personal interpretation is that it’s when someone writes in a way that carries a “I’m right, and you’re wrong” tone. Basically when it feels like someone is stating facts when they are in fact, not facts, and just opinions.
But it’s not necessarily just that tone that gets me. What really gets me is when you couple that tone with disingenuous, nonsensical, or irrelevant arguments. Fact is, some things are facts. But in a review, most things aren’t. What generally irritates me the most is when someone writes a bad argument with a very standoffish tone.
I feel like this sort of thing is more common in negative reviews, but it’s definitely possible in overly positive reviews that refuse to acknowledge any issues and possibly throw out jabs towards those who didn’t like the anime.
I’ll try to construct an example of this.
Let’s say you’re reading a review of Overlord. The writer disliked it, and the writer’s arguments are something like:
“The worst part of Overlord is that there are no redeeming qualities. It’s just such a cringeworthy power fantasy that finishing the anime was a challenge. Honestly, I don’t even see what Overlord was trying to accomplish – people can just watch One Punch Man if they want an example of a proper overpowered protagonist. Why even watch Overlord? Also, video games aren’t fantasy, they need to stop tagging anime like this as fantasy. It’s not. If you want actual fantasy, do yourself a favour and watch Spice and Wolf instead of this video game trash.”
Admittedly, it was difficult for me to think that up. But it does have that sort of standoffish tone I was trying to explain, coupled with some awful arguments for why “Overlord is a bad anime”.
Ultimately though, it’s the lack of diplomacy, not the arguments, that gets me. Because even that paragraph could be saved with a little diplomacy in the writing. Honestly, you can say ANYTHING, and if it’s diplomatic enough, I’ll be right there nodding my head and having no issue with it. It’s often not WHAT is said, but just HOW it’s said that’s the issue.
“For me personally, Overlord just had no real redeeming qualities. While I know many others like power fantasy anime, there are only a few anime in that field that I’ve actually enjoyed, like One Punch Man (which you should check out if you like overpowered protagonists). Unfortunately, Overlord didn’t do it for me there and so I had trouble finishing it. Also, while Overlord has fantastical elements, I tend to prefer a more classical fantasy anime that doesn’t incorporate video game mechanics. Like Spice and Wolf.”
A little diplomacy goes a long way, I think. It’s all about adding that emphasis on individual opinion, as well as acknowledging that others may think differently.
And you really can say anything, it’s all about how it’s said.
“Erased was a bad anime not worth finishing. Why? There were no mechs. Despite the poster clearly making it look like a mecha anime. Instead of having mechs, they decided to make this boring anime that’s been done a million times before, seriously. They could have easily put some mechs in the anime. I had to suffer through several episodes of the anime just to realize that it was a total waste of time.”
“I couldn’t finish Erased. This may sound stupid, but the reason I didn’t enjoy it was that I thought it was going to be a mecha anime and it wasn’t. Before starting it, I saw the poster for it and for some reason I thought it looked like two characters inside the cockpit of a mech. So, I figured that it was going to a mecha anime following those two characters. Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish it because I was really expecting a mecha anime, and not a drama or whatever Erased actually is.”
Just wanted to throw another example out there because it really is the tone that’s the issue.
You can write that “Divine Gate is a good anime because the characters have interesting names” or that “I didn’t like Sword Art Online because it didn’t take place in France”, and if it’s diplomatic enough, I’ll just nod my head and think something like “I can see where they’re coming from” or “I don’t quite understand, but alright” without issue.
That’s really about all I wanted to say about this topic.
For me, it really just comes down to how the writer goes about framing their opinions. Because in the end, they are just opinions. And while it’s expected that someone’s blog post is going to contain their personal opinion, I still don’t appreciate reading something that is written in such an undiplomatic way when I know that the writer could have easily framed their opinions differently.
Of course, I also appreciate a good argument in a review, especially if the writer wants to convince me of something.
But the point I wanted to get across here is that the argument itself isn’t even the issue.
It’s all about that diplomacy – the art of dealing with people in a sensitive and tactful way.
Until next time,
Thanks for reading.