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One Fan's Reaction to a Common Problem in Anime Reviews

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 4:08 pm
by Tachyon
This is a rant and, yes, it will be offensive. You've been warned.

I generally try to avoid reading anime reviews for two reasons. First, I have a pretty good sense of what I like and second, I believe a person needs to gain a certain familiarity with the reviewer in order to tell if that person's reviews will be helpful or not and I simply don't have that much time to invest. Despite my personal guidelines I still end up reading reviews when I'm trying to gather information to start a new section for Gears Online. When I read these reviews I am often aggravated by the ignorance of the reviewers.

I'll cite two examples of this ignorance before I proceed any further with this rant. A large number of reviews for Orguss 02 state that the two nations fighting in that story are resuming hostilities after a period of peace following the events of the Orguss TV show. This is completely wrong! Orguss 02 takes place in a completely different world from the Orguss TV show. Different world, different beings, different factions. The second example is Gall Force Earth Chapter. I read several reviews stating that in the story humans revive Paranoid cyborgs on the Moon and those cyborgs resume their mission to exterminate all human life. Wrong! The MME are not Solnoid or Paranoid. They are human creations that made use of technology recovered from the ruins. The story strongly hints that the ruins provided only Solnoid technology. And the extermination of all humans was a new idea the MME came up with on their own. Long ago, the Paranoid were not genocidal killers. They were locked in a war with the Solnoid but the origins of that war were never revealed and the Paranoid leaders portrayed to the audience seemed like reasonable people.

Other examples of poorly researched anime reviews can be cited but I think the two above establish my point. And the problem isn't restricted to online reviews. Official summaries found on the backs of DVD cases often suffer from the very same problem. What is the reason for all these bone headed reviews? Lots of anime fans read these reviews so bad information circulates rapidly. I'll list below my speculations on why and offer my mild, even-tempered solutions.

1) The reviewers aren't paying very good attention to what they're watching. I've seen this all the time with my own friends. They're checking Email and typing on message boards, talking to other people in the room, flipping through magazines, etc. all while watching the DVD. If you're watching something for your own enjoyment then there's no problem. But if you're watching something so that you can write a summary or a review you need to give it your undivided attention. It's not that hard! Turn off the computer, toss the magazine and tell your wife/girlfriend you're busy watching something. If you can't cut out the distractions then state clearly at the beginning of your review "I wasn't really paying attention so this review may be all screwed up."

2) The reviewer doesn't care about plot or story and only wants to see explosions, sexy chicks and flashy computer graphics. This is all fine and good as long as the review steers clear of plot. You can write a review of something and not mention the storyline or characters. However, this catagory of reviewers has an odd compulsion to follow tradition and talk about the plot they completely ignored. How can you talk about something you disregarded? Easy! Make stuff up! The fact that they're writing nonsense doesn't bother them in the slightest. It does, however, bother me. I recommend swift smacks upside the head to dolts who aren't honest enough to come out and say they aren't "into" things like story and character development.

3) The reviewer doesn't take notes and forgets those little things called "details." When it comes time to write their review they either wing it or copy information from the back of the DVD case or someone else's review. Is it so hard to jot down notes when you're watching something? Did they lose their remotes? Can't find the pause button? If you know you're going to write a review you should care enough about what you're doing to do it right. Even if you're watching it on a cable TV station there are commercial breaks that allow time for taking notes. This class of reviewer needs to be rounded up and sent back to high school - only this time they need to learn the material instead of pass notes and sleep! I've got a yard stick. I volunteer to be a teacher's assistant.

Those are my thoughts on the subject. I will continue to keep a can of salt next to my keyboard so I'll have a grain handy when I need to read an online review. I hope I didn't alienate any Gears Online visitors with this but I just had to get it off my chest.

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 4:25 pm
by Daishikaze
You didn't alienate me, you just took the words right out of my mouth. I've been saying this to people for ages. Sad part is, most people don't and continue to trust these bad, lazy reviewers like they know all.

The only reviewer I trust is Chris Beveridge of Anime On, He's been around the block and he always gives a title a even break. I very rarely disagree with his reviews, we have very similar tastes.

Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 7:01 pm
by Newton
Amen! I learned not to trust the most popularly read reviews (ANN) long ago. One of the reviewers posted a critique of an older anime, only to reveal in context that she never really watched the DVD!

Needless to say I was outraged. I contacted said "critic" with corrections to her review, who responded, "Well, if you don't like the review, don't visit the website." This kind of mature, well-considered response has prompted me to steer clear of all anime critiques except, as Daishikaze noted, Chris Beveridge's at AnimeonDVD.

The smartest thing to do is see some of the anime you're interested in, and make up your own mind. Don't leave critical thinking to others, especially amateurs and n00bs who have no clue about anime before 2002.

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 1:01 am
by Daishikaze
Since we are already in Rant mode here, I have to say how annoyed I am with todays fandom. I'm just at a loss when talking to todays anime crowd, they know nothing but the latest over-hyped Series, and they treat anything older than 10 or 15 years like its something will melt their eyes if they watch it.

I feel like such a dinosaur

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 1:15 am
by Tachyon
When I was younger and anime fandom in North America was new I went to anime gatherings and they would show both old and new. There seemed to be no preference. I go to the large anime conventions now and they only show what's new and nothing that isn't subtitled or dubbed. Fans behind these cons are doing other fans a disservice.

This may be part of why younger anime fans are afraid to look at anything more than 10 years old.

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 1:21 am
by Daishikaze
That certainly is one factor, another I think is the general "I'm the center of the world" attitude most young people have. Its pretty much "if it was around before I knew what anime was, then it doesn't exist", at least thats how alot of them act.

Its no mystery why Dunbine, Saint Seiya, KOR, and many other classics bite the dust. I do my damnest to give people a reason to check out the classics, but if its not Naruto, Bleach, or something similar then they want no part of it.

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 1:29 am
by Tachyon
KOR? Kimagure Orange Road? I'm going to rent that. I've been meaning to see it for a while now.

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 1:35 am
by Daishikaze
Yeah, KOR went OOP last summer, Animeigo lost the rights to it. They did their best to hold onto it, even though it doesn't sell well. They also lost Crusher Joe, a film which only one or two ,of the hundreds I recommended it to, actually bought. This summer we are losing Arcadia Of My Youth, so its been a sad decade for Animeigo so far.

We are losing these titles because the fandom doesn't want the best of anime, they want whatever is hot at the moment, regardless if they will like it enough to actually watch it again once they have it.

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 2:30 am
by Engage
I seem to be one of those rare youths that prefer older animation to newer animation. Unfortunately, I lack the purchasing power to really help a company that is releasing older anime.

Posted: Mon Mar 19, 2007 1:58 pm
by Nu Soard Graphite
Yeah, I definatley miss the old days of the fandom. I got into it right at the beginning of the Golden Years right before the Anime conventions began rearing their heads (the only thing going at the time that I can think of were various Robotech conventions and of course Anime would appear at varios comic book and science fiction cons) and then the first of the Anime conventions appeared....and they were good.

Somewhere around the late 90's I started noticing a trend....Anime Expo, which had been up that point, the end-all, be-all of all Anime Conventions was starting to get lame. Oh don't get me wrong, their production values were second to none. The attendance was HUGE...thousands would show up and it was beginning to rival some of the larger Comicons (though nowhere as big as San Diego, or Worldcon). They had a large number of GoHs etc. However, when it came for the main reason I was see the latest, greatest and rarest of Anime tittles...that portion was lacking to say the least. Whenever I looked at their playlist, it looked like they raided my own apartmen for Anime! I had literally seen everything they were playing.
Of course, as an avid "reader" of Newtype (the Japanese version..this was before the english version was available) I knew about all the latest stuff coming out in Japan....they didn't have any of it! Everything was subtittled or dubbed. And they didn't even show any classics like Zeta Gundam or Dunbine or Saint Seiya. Just the latest Anime releases available in english...I remember complaining to the management and they told me it was a deal they had with the localization companies (AD Vision, Pioneer, Bandai etc) and they couldn't show anime that were in negotiation for translation...which was pretty much everything that wasn't already translated. So for a few years, Anime Expo was ridiculously lame. Myself and my roomates were such hardcore anime fans, we had pretty much everything that was available at the time and a lot of fan-subbed stuff recorded straight off Japanese Tv. I stopped going after a while.

now, since I've been out of the anime loop for quite a while, it might be worth going back, since there's a ton of the newer stuff I haven't seen that their likely to be playing. Maybe I'll go for a day this year.

Posted: Sun Apr 01, 2007 5:34 pm
by Godaiger
Luckily for Saint Seiya, the manga is selling well in the US.