Giving Out That “Perfect” Ten. We, the Connoisseurs

Gunslinger Girl Henrietta Triela sono

I have often thought what separates an anime watcher from an anime fan is that the latter has a frame of reference for her tastes within the medium. She can tell a good anime from a bad one on a deeper level beyond entertainment values. Perhaps even… a connoisseur of the arts. [1]

“The connoisseur might be defined as a laconic art historian, and the art historian as a loquacious connoisseur.” - Erwin Panofsky

My Neighbor Totoro Kusakabe Mei Ka Xiao En Ka Shu

Tastes and history. I like to think those are the things we—the fans of anime—have over the average watchers, who have only ever seen Spirited Away once at the theater, or Sailor Moon as little kids. We have built for ourselves a context that is more specific than, say, all  visual entertainment, such that we are able to compare, distinguish, appreciate, and judge anime with an anime-specific standard. Utena, Maria-sama ga Miteru, Madoka, Totoro, and countless other favorites have shaped our expectations and tastes, and have elevated us to connoisseurs of anime (or maybe of a specific genre of anime).

Noir Kirika Yuumura Mireille Bouquet

A while ago, I was asked to write on a seemingly simple topic, “What makes a 10/10 anime?” [2]

At first, I wanted to approach the question as objectively as I possibly can—giving a long list of important factors: character development, animation, story, everything. However, in time I realized that would be a somewhat irrelevant exercise. After all, although we all have an anime-specific frame of reference, that frame is only specific to each individual. And, it is surprising just how incredibly specific our tastes can be.

Rozen Maiden Suigintou Kishida Mel

Yes, I did not actually answer the question. Allow me to try again.

“What makes a 10/10 anime for you?”

After taking some time to look over my anime list and some of my past reviews, I think I have an answer. [3] My favorite anime need to clearly get across their vibes. Well-drawn characters, mind-blowing plots, gorgeous animation, and lovely romances are all nice things, but for me to really enjoy something, I need to get a sense of and immerse myself in an anime’s essence. Its ethos, so to speak.

Haibane Renmei Rakka Abe Yoshitoshi

This all sounds a little abstract, so let us look at an example, one of my favorites ever, Haibane Renmei. Haibane Renmei is a cute short series that is full of imagination; the series not only allows for so many different interpretations, but prompts the audience to explore them. Yet, what I enjoyed the most about Haibane Renmei has little to do with any of that. Rather, it is simply its atmosphere—a quaint small town that is wonderfully relaxing yet harbors just the tiniest sliver of angst, waiting to be discovered and calmed.

Some other favorites are clear in their ethos: Samurai Champloo and its anachronistic hip-hop beats, Ghost in the Shell and its urban digital future, Aria and its healing atmosphere. Now, let us, instead, take a look at one that is a little less obvious.

Witch Hunter Robin Sena

I doubt many anime fans would give Witch Hunter Robin a ten out of ten, but I love this anime. I love the lifestyle Robin has. Her quiet world, the classy bar, a secret job, and those relaxing days spliced with the occasional mystery and excitement all hold so much allure. I am a connoisseur, enjoying the fine tastes of that vibe.

__________________________________________________

  1. Be warned, there is an air of pretentiousness in this post.
  2. This post is part of a blog carnival. Please check out the posts of others participating:
  3. Here is my MAL profile, for all those interested.

About Yi

''lol...you're either sleeping or eating'' ''oh and watching anime'' ''and indulge in fashion.'' ... Ahh the busy life~
This entry was posted in Anime/ Manga, Editorial and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

90 Responses to Giving Out That “Perfect” Ten. We, the Connoisseurs

  1. Digibro says:

    I’m glad you reached that paragraph about subjectivity. I would’ve had a hernia if you were going to declare what makes a 10/10 anime while sporting a picture of fucking Noir. No offense.

  2. In the end, I love this idea, because some things resonate so strongly with me. It was part of what i said over on Snippet’s post:

    My Top 5 contain all shows that have personal relevance, but I would argue that Toradora! and Nodame Cantabile touch things deep inside of me that move them beyond my ability to consume them rationally (Toradora! speaks to my experience with high school romance, and Nodame Cantabile my short time as a musician). While both shows are good in their own right, they also send me to a place where I can’t express how I feel watching them beyond pointing at the screen and saying, “see?! see?!”.

    Your post captures an idea that I had about ratings that really anything above 9/10 is actually a personal declaration of excellence (Grave of the Fireflies shattered this and I’ll explain in a bit), that the show struck every note deep inside you and obliterated rational thought about it.

    ON THE OTHER HAND: Grave of the Fireflies. I really HATED watching that movie. It was uncomfortable, depressing, and difficult to watch and I was glad when it was over. But I’m pretty sure that was its intended effect. The sense of hopeless loss and disgust at humanity was engineered by the movie. I don’t think I’ll ever watch it again. And yet, as a result, I can’t help but rate it 10/10.

    • Yi says:

      I definitely agree about resonance. In fact, in my notes for this blog post, I had jotted down something related. Under the whole vibe thing, I had written, “may hinge on resonance or may break new grounds… etc. etc.” Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough space to expand too much on that, so it’s so wonderful that you mentioned it. (Thanks Patches!!) So, I’ll just quickly talk about it here.

      The essence, vibe, ethos, whatever of an anime is the thing that the anime wants to impress upon the audience. And if it manages to do so successfully, then we should be fully immersed in that world. I think for something to impress me, it can either be very resonant–relate to our experiences or emotions, or play with certain flavors that hold particular appeal–or the series could be very revolutionary, and present something that makes us work to understand. The former, I think, may describe your interactions with Nodame Cantabile and Toradora.

      Grave of the Fireflies, indeed, does exactly what it sets out to do: make us cry. For that, it definitely deserves a 10/10, I think. I’d say it’s one of those best things you never want to experience again (much like… say, Requiem for a Dream).

  3. Overlord-G says:

    Hmm, so in a sense you base your selections on immersion if I am to accurately understand what you’re trying to say. Understandable. Witch Hunter Robin eh? I haven’t seen it myself so I can’t relate on whether that show’s universe/setting is quite welcome to my twisted mind. I’ll take it into consideration at the very least. Always great to see you online btw.

    • Yi says:

      I think so. Of course, that’s not to say that I neglect the other areas. It’s just that my main emphasis is on the “essence.” If something has terrible animation, character, story… etc., I still won’t like it regardless of how wonderful it gets across its ethos; or perhaps, it’s simply that the two are mutually exclusive–if an anime is horrible somewhere, it becomes too distracting. Anyway, I digress.

      Witch Hunter Robin has plenty of flaws, but for some reason, I just love it.

      Good to see you too, OG. I’ve been super busy, so I take weeks to respond or update anything. ^ ^

  4. shumbapumba says:

    I agree with Patches last paragraph. Some anime/films/art/etc can blow you out of the water personally, but in terms of a “checklist of quality” can not quite take the cake. (Way way way) back in the day when I had an anime review site, I struggled with this exact problem. I liked to have an objective, almost scientific, approach to anime criticism. A criterion – a critical framework – I could simply apply to all things art which would then cough up a rating out of 5 stars. However, I soon encountered problems with this system when trying to rate one of my favourite animes, Akira. Now Akira is no way perfect, yet it is a very important film (film, not just anime) and it blew my mind and opened new avenues of what I could expect, not only from anime, but from the entire genre of science-fiction! I would then have to try and justify giving Akira a near-perfect rating while a technically perfect film, say something from Ghibli, I had given a lesser rating. (Rating systems encourage comparison.) Akira had resonated with me intensely, it had had a stronger affect on me. As I’ve gotten an older, and let’s face it, only slightly wiser, I have realised that this is what makes effective art – affect. How something moves you; how it makes you feel. And this is a subjective process. I feel criteria, as well as all systems of interpretation and criticism, can be very useful, but as a critic, or connoisseur, one must be ready to dispose of such a system – any system, perhaps – when the time comes. Art is about how it affects you. You, the subject. Acknowledge the critereon, but do not limit yourself to it. Prioritise the work’s affect. That is what matters.

    IMO.

    • Yi says:

      So many great points raised here. I think I had a similar dilemma in the past when I first started writing reviews. For a while, I wrote these lengthy reviews that went into each major criterion, the positives and negatives of each. But in the end, I couldn’t quite get my feelings across when I stuck to a structure, and the reviews often felt like something observed in a vacuum. Nowadays, I’m a lot more casual about my reviews, and lean toward a more impressionist approach–taking into account context, history, resonance… etc. I think it’s a little easier for me this way, and hopefully, a little more meaningful.

      Akira, certainly, is a masterpiece when you consider its role in anime/film history. It was a revolutionary work that pushed boundaries, blew minds, and influenced films following. And it really does impress upon the audience. Without looking at the whole context, however, all of that is lost.

      “as a critic, or connoisseur, one must be ready to dispose of such a system – any system, perhaps – when the time comes. Art is about how it affects you. You, the subject. Acknowledge the critereon, but do not limit yourself to it. Prioritise the work’s affect. That is what matters.”
      OMG I love this!!

      p.s. Also love your last note. IMO.

      • shumbapumba says:

        Haha thanks! Yeah writing to a particular structure can be useful, especially in one’s more immature days of criticism, but once you break away from such limiting modes of approach, you are far freer to explore facets of the work that perhaps your criterion does not address. I think by doing away with critical frameworks you are at liberty to discover and critique all kinds of obscure nooks and crannies of a work and, by extension, produce a far more insightful and unique review. I think most audiences respond more to such reviews. They are more personal and, well, interesting. Which is what you’ve said :)

        • Yi says:

          It’s tricky to find that balance between being personal and being relevant. Even without paying strict attention to structure, it’s still important to keep in mind the general consensus of what good quality is. Opinions may be subjective, but there are still common grounds that have built a broad standard for tastes. I think one of the most fun things is finding how far we deviate from that standard.

  5. Persocom says:

    Great post, I do believe that when it all comes down to it, we as individuals each have our own specific reasons for rating things the way we do. I think certain events in anime can trigger emotions and thoughts that cater specifically to our tastes and interests, and thus there is no universally right way to rate. Due to my recent overload of Pokemon Best Wishes episode watching though, I can’t help but think of Dent/Cilan when you mention the word connoisseur. That aside, it’s a good choice word that fits the situation.

    • Yi says:

      I agree completely. Past experiences, personal preferences, and so many other factors all influence how we enjoy anime (or life), and our ways of rating reflects that. There’s so many approaches people take to rating/reviewing/critiquing anime (or films or art or whatever).

      Cilan, huh? Haha, he does feel kind of like it. ^ ^

  6. Pingback: [Carnival] What Makes a 10/10 Anime? | Anime B&B

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  8. Cely_belly says:

    An anime’s essence . . . I like that :D

  9. Aya says:

    Hi totoro :)
    great post as usual :D well I never actually gave 10/10 and my interest is quite spread on anything :( but I Think I am more towards Comedy and darkness/supernatural/Horror , and Somehow I believe your main interest would be fashion ^^
    ah witch hunter robin wow it’s been quite a long since last time i watch that, I quite enjoy it but I must admit it’s weakness like “monster of the week” at the beginning and ambiguous ending

    • Yi says:

      Isn’t that artwork of Totoro just lovely?

      Hm… 10/10 does kind of imply perfection, which arguably does not exist. But that’s for a different time. I didn’t really get into the numbering system, as I feel that’s mostly just semantics really. The post is more about lists of favorites and relative quality. This again ties into the whole context and history thing.

      Anyway, agreed that Witch Hunter Robin has its abundance of issues, but it does give off a wonderful atmosphere–in fact, I thought the episodic nature only further builds toward it.

      Thanks for the comment! ^ ^

  10. Pingback: Anime Blog Carnival – “What Makes a 10/10 Anime?” by @fkeroge | Ambivalence , or is it ambiguity?

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  12. Wieselhead says:

    “I need to get a sense of and immerse myself in an anime’s essence.”
    SurprisinglyI feel the same way even though I can’t really put it in refined words like you ^^
    Its important for me that I can feel “at home” in an anime, in case an anime delivers that feeling, I can enjoy even the filler episodes a lot. it doesn’t really matter what genre and mood it has as long as its vibe is after my taste.

    There are a few more criterias for me when rating an anime, but I only give a 10/10 when everythings comes together; visual, story, characters and the vibe of the show.

    • Yi says:

      Ooh, I like that. “Feeling at home” with an anime. I think maybe that’s why I tend to really like slice-of-life or episodic anime, and why I don’t usually mind fillers too much either. I don’t actually give out 10/10s too freely. There are still a few considerations I didn’t quite mention, but the most important thing is that vibe.

  13. Smithy says:

    As every anime viewer is still a unique person with their own tastes and views, it’s only natural that someone’s favorites or 10/10 anime aren’t necessarily the same as those of other people. For me the “Aria” series is a definite 10/10, but there’s plenty of people that don’t even like that show.

    But;.. no “Cowboy Bebop” Yi? It’s the work that has become a genre unto itself!
    (With perhaps “Samurai Champloo” coming close in uniqueness.)

  14. Aelesis says:

    I agree with you. To get a 10/10, an anime doesn’t necessarily have to have the perfect art, and the most intriguing characters – it just has to draw you in. Make you a part of its world. I could list Death Note as a personal example – I could never stop at just one episode. Although it could also be said that the immersion of a series can sometimes stem from technical quality factors – for example, the reason (the first half of) Death Note is such a gripper is because of the excellent pacing. Hmm…

    • Yi says:

      Yep yep. Of course, that’s not to say that intriguing characters, good art, or great story/ pacing aren’t important, because they really really are. But they’re important precisely because without them, an anime can’t draw the audience in.

      I haven’t seen Death Note anime, but I did read the manga, and yes agreed. I was totally drawn into this reality, where Kira has successfully controlled crime single-handedly. It’s really quite a brilliant work.

      Thanks for visiting! ^ ^

  15. gozieson says:

    A critic always has his or her moments when he or she finds something which surprises the individual in the most unexpected of ways. The re will be times where people might be in favor of a motion and those which counter that particular subject. There was a favorite speech made by a certain critic that probably sums up something when that particular thing surprises him or her, this critic may seem familiar, but for reasons I will not tell, I will just release his review on a particularly interesting meal he had one fine night from a restaurant:

    In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.

    But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations, the new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core.

    In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more.

    • Yi says:

      I think someone below also had a similar idea. He loves a series when we expect the unexpected… And are surprised by it.

      In any case, love the critic’s words. The idea of risking ourselves in critiques is especially interesting. I do feel a bit too judgmental and undeserving at times whenever I write a scathing review. Yet, when we do find that thing we love so much…
      I often find that it’s very difficult to admit my tastes to people precisely because doing so would be baring ourselves. But that’s what makes them so special I guess. ^ ^

      Also, I’m super hungry now. loll. Thanks~

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  17. Ah Noir… a pretty decent show, constantly bogged down by horrible pacing and a ridiculous amount of reused footage (the flashback that turned up at least once per episode *groan*). Still holds a soft spot in my heart though. Nostalgia goggles, eh!

    To chime in with you and the other posters, I also agree that top-tier anime should resonate personally or build up a level of excitement unmatched by most other shows. I like the idea of rating individual episodes analytically, based on dialogue, pacing, animation quality, etc; however, that system becomes unworkable with a show you truly love. Humans just don’t operate that rationally.

    Out of the nine 10/10 rated anime on my MAL list, I feel only Baccanno and Haibane Renmei captured what they set to do perfectly and without any failings. Still, even if they had I’d have likely given them the same score. I’m more than aware of the faults of the other shows on my list; Mysterious Cities of Gold’s outdated production, Simoun’s slow pacing, FMA:B’s duff episodes or Evangelion’s… well, let’s not get started on that one. The point is you have to get a real buzz from the show or it needs to speak to you personally. Usagi Drop was a series that nary any faults whatsoever, and I loved it; still I could never rate it a ten because it just didn’t gel with me to the same extent. Who knows, maybe it will if I ever become a parent.

    • Yi says:

      Haha, truth be told, there are so so so many flaws in Noir. The animation is particularly weak. I went back to watch it the other day, and the production values are just so… lacking, especially since I’ve been kind of spoiled by today’s quality. Of course, there’s also the mass reused footage and somewhat convoluted plot. Still, I just love the relaxing lifestyle the girls have on their off-days. Just chilling out in a small quaint classy European town. The slow pacing also helps a lot too.

      Nostalgia indeed~
      And resonance (to a romantic ideal). ^ ^

      I think a commenter above also has some really good points as well on the review issue. As reviewers, we both often run into issues when we try to break down anime into its elements. I think so nowadays, I prefer to just go with an overall impression. I’m fine with giving out perfect 10s to anime that may have plenty of problems with execution and others (e.g. Noir). It’s good that we are still aware of the flaws though.

      Thanks for the comment, fathomlessblue. Always great to hear you chime in!

      p.s. Interestingly, after reading your comment, I went back and changed my Usagi Drop rating to a ten. Loll. ^ ^
      p.p.s. I need to finish Simoun among other things. Winter break is going to be pretty jam packed. So many things and projects and goals I have.

  18. Fabrice says:

    for me what makes a anime a masterpiece is when we expect the unexpected!

    • Yi says:

      Yep yep. Even more so when we are still surprised despite having expected the unexpected, I think. For example, Madoka still surprised me even though I was expecting the unexpected.

  19. jreding says:

    Great post, Yi, and good to see Gunslinger Girl as the first picture which is maybe the 10/10 out of my 10/10′s!

    Luckily I’m not a critic for as with some of the other commenters my 10/10 spot is mostly reserved for shows which strongly strike a chord with me personally but which I would not necessarily recommend s/o else as “a masterpiece” (e.g. Elfen Lied).

    I think my 10/10′s can mostly be classified into:
    - “emotionally draining” shows (Gunslinger Girl is a prime example or Hourou Musuko)
    - some “psychological” shows with strong symbolism (Evangelion, Utena)
    - Iyashikei/ slice-of-life (K-ON!!, YKK) and here it clearly is the level of immersion in a relaxed and conflict-free alternative world.

    Sadly there are quite some further 10/10 candidates on my “plan to watch” list (Haibane Renmei clearly belongs to them) but no rest in sight to fully immerse myself in them!

    • Yi says:

      Yep yep. Gunslinger Girl is the header image for a reason. It (both seasons) is probably among my top five anime ever.

      I think we’re all critics in a sense; we know our standards. Even if those standards are not necessarily based on a strict structure and consensus–and they shouldn’t have to be–we still know good from bad. Connoisseurs, critics, fans… That’s what we are. ^ ^

      Our tastes overlap somewhat. Iyashikei is one of my favorite genre. And I do like the vibe of Gunslinger Girl (though not necessarily because it’s emotionally draining).

      Anyway, definitely go watch Haibane Renmei. It’s probably one of the best anime ever, both in execution and in its overall essence. I really love it!!

      • jreding says:

        So I decided to treat myself to two evenings of marathoning Haibane Renmei.

        I’ve been reluctant for a while to watch shows which are regarded so highly. These are quite stressful times for me personally and I thought I might better save a show like Haibane for more relaxed times. It turned out, however, that this show might be just right to watch if you are not fully at peace with yourself!

        At the moment I’m left quite speechless about this show but I sure have found another 10/10 and with Reki another favourite character of mine. Thanks Yi for this good advice!

        • Yi says:

          I have a huge smile on my face now!

          I found Haibane Renmei calming myself as well every time I rewatch it. It’s just such a lovely and relaxing series, but with just the right amount of depth and mystery. I’m so so glad you found Haibane Renemi enjoyable.

          I hope you feel better soon, honey. ^ ^

  20. Sayuri says:

    one only deserves to be called an otaku when one has true understanding and passion about anime.

    In the name of Konata of the house Izumi, First of her Name, Queen of all otakus, Ruler of the anime kingdom and the Protector of the Realm, by the word of Sayuri house of Ojou, Lady of the Akihabara and Warden of the South, I award you with this honorable title.

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  23. Kai says:

    Nice post Yi. It’s good to another great opinion on the “perfect ten” opinion. I do agree with you that the anime had to show us just what exactly it is going to show. Be it relaxed atmospheres, classy atmospheres, excitements. Of cause, settings and artwork played a big part in that too, but this all generally effects what kind of view it is trying to show to us.

    • Yi says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post!
      Indeed, for me it all comes down to how successfully an anime impress upon us.
      Thanks for reading, Kai. ^ ^

  24. lvlln says:

    Oh wow, that Gunslinger Girl art at the top is fantastic! <3

  25. gan says:

    Yi!
    I always like reading your posts,as to how deep and thought provoking they are!
    I’ve been wanting to check uup Haibane Renmei,and seeing how good reviews it had got everywhere I am sure it will be great!
    So for you,Witch Hunter Robin scores 10 on 10 is it? Another series which I havent seen!
    For me,Monster is the one which scores 10 on 10 (have you seen it?)
    Thanks for your post ^_^

    • Yi says:

      Yea definitely. Haibane Renmei and Witch Hunter Robin both rank among my favorites. Haibane Renmei is pretty flawless in every way, so I highly recommend it (as does everyone I’ve talked to who’ve seen it).
      As for Witch Hunter Robin, there are some significant issues and not everyone really likes its pace, so while I still highly endorse it, just be aware that it’s not perfect.

      I have yet to watch Monster, but I’ve heard plenty of good things about it. So once I find the time, I’m definitely picking it up.

      Thanks for reading and for the comment. ^ ^

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  29. chubbybots says:

    This is a great post! I think i’ll classify myself under anime watcher though haha. I don’t think I have seen 1/4 of the animes you listed :P

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  32. Metaler says:

    I never really thought about this as you did. Though I suppose that the imersion is an important factor when it comes to rating not just anime, but any piece of narrative. But in the end, it’s all subjective, and it depends on each person. We all perceive things differently. Some people might feel immersed when watching Madoka, sharing feelings with the characters, cheering on them as if participating in the story alongside them. Other people, not so much.

    But for me, it really is difficult to give something a 10 these days. It usually requires me to deeply analyze the series in mind, which ends up making me really confused. x__x
    I know that, when analyzing something, I try to ignore things like clichés and everything, and instead look deeper into it. Even a series that might seem really dumb at first glance my have been really well-written deep down. For example, when rating a harem anime, I tend to exclude the harem from my ratings. Or rather, I try not to simply rate the series as a “generic harem”… It’s a harem anime. Of course it’d have a harem with an almost predetermined set of characters. Of course we’d see some panty shots and fanservice. That’s why I try to look deeper into the story, attempting to understand how it was written, the devices and tropes used by the writer, character development, etc.

    Of course, even that is completely subjective. Everyone understands a story in a different manner. In fact, that’s what makes everything so awesome.

    But in the end, it all depends on immersion. If the author successfully gets the audience hooked, regardless of how dumb/stupid the plot is, then that author accomplished his mission.

    Anyways, it’s still really complicated and confusing for me. There’s the whole thing about objective criticism, but I don’t really like the sound of that. x___x

    I guess in the end, it’s all according to our tastes… Subjectivity, I guess.

    Ok, I wrote too much, sorry. orz

    • Yi says:

      Nowadays, I find myself super stingy with my tens as well. A lot of my tens all come from my earlier watching days. I think part of it may be that as I consume more material, my standards have become harsher. And the other is, I gave a lot of these ratings sometime after I watched them, and there’s the nostalgia and idealization. Anyway, I kind of digressed there a bit. Haha.

      I really like the idea of looking beyond the tropes and structures of a genre. There are only so many stories to be told. Often times, the important thing, I guess, is knowing how to make find creativity and freshness within established frameworks. So yep, I love your idea of analyzing/rating/reviewing series.

      Subjectivity exists for sure, but there is still a general consensus in broad strokes what good is. I think it’s always a bit tricky to recognize when our opinions deviate from that.

      And as a related note, I don’t believe objective criticism exists. ^ ^

      “Ok, I wrote too much, sorry. orz”
      Haha, not at all!! I love long, well thought-out comments like this! They’re so much fun to read and respond to. So thanks for reading and commenting, darling~

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  34. Vendredi says:

    On Witch Hunter Robin – I know the feeling you’re talking about exactly! The slightly upscale vibe at Harry’s, the spooky and surreal nature of the witches, coupled with the inner politicking and machinations of the hunters themselves, the grey and tawdry feeling of completing a hunt and consigning a (former) human to imprisonment for life – there’s just a rich ‘texture’ to it that’s really hard to find and that’s very unique to it.

    I’m not one for giving out numerical scores, but when someone asks me “favourite anime” – Witch Hunter Robin is always at the top. As it’s an older show I don’t see it talked about much, but It’s always great to hear other reactions to it.

    • Yi says:

      Yes yes! Harry’s, the surreal, spooky, but so relaxing quiet. Witch Hunter Robin really does build that “texture” beautifully.

      “As it’s an older show I don’t see it talked about much”
      I know right? I’m actually really glad as well to see you talk about this, and feel the same way. ♥

  35. Xine says:

    I’m no connoisseur but I guess I agree with you about the overall character and essence of the anime makes it a 10/10. I don’t exactly need to relate to the story or the characters. I think if it can convince the viewers to see and feel what they wanted to convey, then it could be a 10/10 anime. Of course there are a lot of other factors to consider just like you’ve mentioned.

    It’s nice to know that you enjoyed watching Witch Hunter Robin. I like that series too. Gunslinger Girls, Rozen Maiden and Totoro are good in my list as well. ^^

    • Yi says:

      Right. I’d further extend that to say that all those other factors–plot, animation, characters, and such–all build toward conveying this essence. It’s a bit of an abstract way to explain the feel, but yea. ^ ^

      So good to hear that you’re also a fan of those anime, especially Witch Hunter Robin, since it’s a title I don’t hear people talk much about.

      Thanks for reading~

  36. Pingback: Blog Carnival – What Makes a 10/10 Anime and Why Rating an Anime is Hard. | Hachimitsu – An Anime Blog

  37. Pingback: Blog Carnival: What Makes A 10/10 Anime?

  38. Nopy says:

    The vibe of an anime certainly does play a big part in determining how good it is to each individual. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly makes a 10/10 anime when everyone has different experiences, so I agree with you that it’s really up to an individual and how they view an anime’s “essence”.

    • Yi says:

      Yea, in the end, anime provides a very subjective experience, and how we rate things is going to cater to our own preferences as well. Even my focus on the “vibe” is because of my leanings toward a particular type of anime.

  39. Pingback: Nopy's Blog

  40. Akito_Kinomoto says:

    Well, I don’t think you should be worrying about making a pretentious blog post when most of us as anime fans tend to get a bit too serious regarding the subject. :P

    That said, I believe that a serious review needs to have a degree of levity, to allow other people regardless of the writer or reader’s taste to gauge how much they might enjoy the work. Even if perfect objectivity is impossible, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try. After all, what’s atmospheric to one person might be completely boring to another, or what’s creative to me might be completely stupid toward someone else.

    But let me make it clear though that this is simply the standard I hold to official reviewers and to myself on certain occasions. Otherwise, I opt to let myself go along for the ride. Have I become more critical? Perhaps, but I think once you see that I’ve got Hidan no Aria and Kannazuki no Miko with a 7/10 and 8/10 respectively on my MAL, that I’m open to the concept of a guilty pleasure, something that represents the raw enjoyment factor that some people have lost sight of entirely.

    Then again, I literally have two 10′s on my MAL, both of which you could probably call an elitist show. >_> What they did though was surpass the enjoyment and quality threshold to such an extent that I felt bad for giving them any less. Call it pretentious (best word ever, lol), but I honestly wouldn’t feel comfortable giving a 10/10 to something that didn’t exceed both standards. For example, everything about Clannad After Story -screams- “give me a 10!”, but I look at the last few episodes and can only allow my personal sense of a critic to stay off for so long, relegating it to a 9 (literally my highest nine, and I would argue the one thing that needs to be surpassed before I give something a 10).

    On a lighter note, wheee Haibane Renmei! Some people love the interpretations, others for the atmosphere, but for me it was the characters, especially Rakka. She’s cute in the most realistic sense I can think of, which is something I appreciate a lot.

    • Yi says:

      Agreed. The anime community can be too serious at times. For me, I write reviews usually with two goals in mind: let people know how I feel exactly about a work, and have fun. And the latter might just be more important.

      You’re right about subjectivity. To further this point, while objectivity is impossible, personal subjectivity can sometimes be irrelevant. Here’s an interesting note. Although taste is all subjective, there is still a general collective idea of what good/beauty/interest is. We may deviate from that at times, but there is a universal standard based on the majority and common grounds. So to make our opinions matter, we need to address both personal and the universal views. Thus, in my reviews, I tend to be a little more explicit with things I lean towards, recognize the “mainstream,” and where I follow it and where I deviate from it. This hopefully allows readers to have a good idea of a particular anime.

      My MAL list is pretty much a version of the above, but without explanations. So a lot of the numbers may raise eyebrows. But I guess the list is more for me, haha. So yea, lots of guilty pleasures in there as well. ^ ^

      I think Haibane Renmei is pretty much super excellent (perhaps even perfect) in every single way. ^ ^

      Anyway, thanks for visiting!!

  41. anon says:

    As an avid fan of Yuri, I always wondered why I would place a series like Pani Poni Dash as my no.1. The series is full of appreciation for humor and the arts, all filled in references that only a maniac would appreciate. Great article as usual!

    PS: It was awesome of you to mention Robin the Witch Hunter as it is subtle and under the radar, but great series.

  42. koyot3 says:

    Ugh, forgot to ID myself. I don’t want to be an infernal “anon” here (that’s for 4chan).

  43. bluedrakon says:

    it is hard to say what is 10/10 as what I really love may not be the same. It is hard to be objective when you actually like it or are trying to find that balance. Do I sound to harsh, do I sound to nice are always on my mind.

    It is always funny though as no matter what I get, my son is the first to ask if he can watch it. Some of he anime, he is a bit young for, but for the most part can watch. We watch it together and then talk about it. It is amazing what he picks up at 10 years old from what I picked up. We even recently review Gundam 00 movie on the blog and we agreed on some and disagreed on others.

    He is now listening to the opening and closing music as I am making him a anime ost cd. If he likes it, he asks me to add it to his list. Something else that sometimes get over looked while watching, but he picked up on it.

    • Yi says:

      Finding that balance between being too harsh or too nice is hard indeed. I often feel like I’m too polarized in my reviews. That’s why a number is sometimes a good, quick way to summarize overall feelings. On a related note, I treat my rating system as a subjective thing, so a 10/10 is something I really love. I don’t actually think an objective critique of art is possible, nor is it necessary.

      Haha, your son sounds pretty awesome! It must be nice times watching anime with your family. ^ ^ And it sounds like he’s developing quite sophisticated tastes himself!

      Anyway, thanks for sharing! It’s so cute. ^ ^

  44. hearthstone says:

    Thank you for explaining to me why I loved Witch Hunter Robin so much; I never was quite able to understand it.

  45. necrocosmos says:

    I would have kinda big trouble giving anime score 10/10:D. I think big factor would be personal judge that is influenced pretty much over feeling u put in watching one show, excitement, sound pathos, graphic, scenery, story so much factors. Buu troublesome. Thou i think Haibane renmei actually deserve 10/10, its solid in every aspect, i really enjoy watching it, and i would watch it again but i need like 5 years gap so i dont remember most of it. Thou my favorite is NGE, i wonder if movie will be better then original, but its just speculation. Its vast topic afterall:D.
    P.S. was super lazy and didn’t post, was just reading^^.

    • Yi says:

      Agreed. And, a further point, I think as we go up the rating scale, that personal judge becomes more and more important. For me, the biggest difference between my 9 and my 10 are not execution issues, but simply enjoyment issues. I have to honestly ask myself, did I enjoy that to a 10? And, here, taste and genre preferences becomes a huge deal. For example, I admit… I like an anime more if it has cute girls than if that same exact anime didn’t. Also, partly why NGE is so low on my rating even though it is supposed to be this amazing work is because of those personal prejudices.

      Thanks for the thoughts, necrocosmos. ^ ^

  46. Q says:

    I find myself hard to give a score or rankings to things I like or don’t like, with that said it’s much harder to give something a 10/10. The fact that I rate most of my stuff on MAL between 6 and 9 (as of today) kind of shows it that way. Giving a number scoring does seem a little objective in a way, and a 10/10 looks as if I am to look for a “perfect” anime, which I never think of having one. It kind of contradicts with how we view anime or manga subjectively. I could have gone for good, so-so, or not good / not my taste of style, and I am lazy to give reasons or analysis of them -_-

    Interesting to see how much you look into anime. Looking at the comments it feels like that I can’t even call myself an anime watcher ^^; Perhaps I am just a bit too casual on the approach compared to others, and trying to find something I genuinely enjoy with the style changing over the years.

    • Yi says:

      For a while, I find it hard to quantify enjoyment as well. I still do, in fact. After all, enjoyment is so abstract. Further, with any series, there are always things I like, and things I don’t like, and it’s not always clear how much more I like the things I do than I dislike the things I don’t (and by how much…). Nowadays, my numbers are kind of just a very loose guideline, and is certainly by no means, objective.

      For me, the meaning of 10/10 doesn’t imply perfection. Rather, it is a relative score to all the other anime I have watched. I guess it’s just a numerical way to say good, so-so, not good, and not my taste/ yes my taste.

      I’m glad you found this post interesting. And I do think you’re a connoisseur yourself. Even if you haven’t seen that much anime, you have your tastes and standards, and you are aware of the changes in styles that you want. That, not whether you’re casual or you’re formal with your anime ratings, makes you a connoisseur.

      Thanks for the wondeful comment!

  47. The first anime that I ever watched was elfen lied, when we still had DsTV and the animax channel and after that it was death note and negima and inuyasha, I think death note was one of the most suspense inducing animes that I have watched in a wile with good drawings and great voice animation with each character, the plot always just thickened all the time with Yagami light, lisa and L in this stalemate, you could actually see the gears turning in his head. How I love Death note!!!><

    • Yi says:

      All great titles. ^ ^ I enjoyed Elfen Lied, and I really love Death Note as well. I’ve never watched the anime for Death Note, but I did read the manga. In fact, I think I finished the whole thing within days. The plot is just so incredibly well written; the suspense, the mystery, pace, and everything are just amazing. It’s so smart. I love it too!

  48. Ah, a connoisseur? It’s refreshing and welcome to hear someone else use that term – I often use it on myself, describing my passion for Visual Novels and Anime as me being a “Connoisseur of Alternative Literature”~

    I do agree with your conclusion – good point well made. Indeed, I think the fact that what is able to capture our imagination, draw us into each anime’s “ethos”, is shaped by our own individual experiences – and indeed, would explain why “liking” something is subjective in the first place. I would caution against saying having a knowledge of past anime (I assume what you meant when you said history) is important however; for as you wisely told another commenter: even if you haven’t seen that much anime, you have your tastes and standards, and you are aware of the changes in styles that you want.

    Which leaves your point of “taste” – which I think is moot. I would like to think that this basically alludes to how you should be able to talk about what you love, and articulate something about why you love it (even if it may be inaccurate). However, I note with interest how not everyone is able to engage so deeply with their hobbies. For example I asked a friend why he liked a movie he said he liked: he didn’t have a reason! Baffling mindset imho, but I guess at the end of the day it just boils down to people thinking differently after all~

    • Yi says:

      I’ve always felt that connoisseur carried a slight air of pretension, but that’s just fine, isn’t it? I like people who are confident, and I like being pretentious with my hobbies once in a while. ^ ^

      I think it’s important to at least have a personal history. By that, I meant that you need to have built up an anime-exclusive standard to have a basis to compare anime. Without it, one would simply be a connoisseur of visual entertainment, and not so much of the anime niche . It doesn’t have to be a large library, but it needs to be there. How much is, of course, dependent on the individual.

      “would like to think that this basically alludes to how you should be able to talk about what you love, and articulate something about why you love it”
      Hm… This is interesting. Is knowing why we like something needed to really like something? I wonder? A bit of a tangent… This reminds me of a theory that we can only think so far as our languages and expressions allow. I wonder…

  49. anonymous says:

    Wow, so many negative comments regarding Noir. While somewhat flawed, it’s actually a really good anime.

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