[Carnival] What Makes a 10/10 Anime?

In participation with du5k’s carnival, I and a good handful of other bloggers will be taking a single topic and discussing it individually on our own blogs.  You’ll be seeing these posts pop up anytime between today, the 9th, and the 15th.  During that period, we invite you to take a look at each of our blogs and see how differently we handle the topic.  At the end of the carnival, bloggers will then write a follow up post summarizing and evaluating the opinions of the others.  We hope this will create a nice, lively discussion among both writers and readers,  If all goes well, this event may be held again.

The chosen topic for this cycle is, “What makes a 10/10 anime?”

Simply put, I have two ways of rating an anime a 10.  The anime may earn it the more publicly legit way through a list of criteria covering such areas as plot, character, setting, and voice.  It may also receive it in a less official manner, being that it is an anime that I “love”.  An anime that may rate an 8 or a 9 after evaluation may be given a 10 once I put on my nostalgia glasses.

Criteria [examples: Gankutsuou, Monster, Steins;Gate]
Very few of my blog reviews actually show my whole breakdown of an anime, but I do usually have a checklist under consideration every time I rate a completed anime.  One of the major points is plot, and is where anime most often falls short.  The original concept may have been the most creative idea ever, but if the story fails to follow through, the shot goes wide and we have no goal.  Fractale is a good example of this, since the opening episode had my hopes up extremely high for an anime that would become a classic adventure.  However, the plot decided to go willy nilly and run everywhere attempting to pick up every trope from every adventure anime.  In the end, we had a mess of a story with no clear conclusion to the multiple raised conflicts.  I don’t care how simple or complex a story may be, only that every one is well grounded, believable, and that they are all concluded to a certain degree.  Open conclusions work, as long as it fits the overall atmosphere of the anime.

 My second most important area covers character.  If I do not care about the characters I watch from start until finish, then we have a very serious problem.  Too many anime neglect character and focus solely on the story.  Who cares of Boy A is set against a world he must save because of some traumatic childhood experience.  If I haven’t been given time to see as he does and sympathize with him, then my connection to the plot, as great as it may be, weakens.  Take a look at Guilty Crown, whose cast list fails to bring even one person of interest.  They are all cardboard cut outs of either moe archetypes or characters of other anime of a similar genre.  We’re already halfway through the 2-cour season and I still could care less about any of them.

Setting is perhaps one of the easiest criteria to fulfill, at least for me, since a good majority of anime I watch ends up being fantastical in some way.  We either have other worlds or super high-tech future worlds, or more rural magical worlds.  As long as the anime is not just another school anime whose classmates and teachers could be clones of a plethora of other shows, then we’re good.  I’m not against all school anime, per se, as long as the anime gives the setting some type of twist.

And last, but not least, voice.  For me, this includes dialogue, narration, even atmosphere.  I look at how the anime speaks to me, the type of aura is gives off.  Are the lines between characters natural, or do they feel forced? Does the anime choose to use dialogue or voice over to tell me what I should think, as opposed to showing it to me? I always prefer showing instead of telling.

Nostalgia [examples: Uchuu no Stellvia, ARIA, Nodame Cantabile]
All too often, my ratings reflect the nostalgia I have for any given anime.  The story may have not been perfect, with one too many plot holes, or the cast list may have been too long for me to get a feel for all the characters, and yet I still give the anime a 10.  Ever since blogging, I’ve lessened this method of rating, but I still notice myself giving in now and then when an anime of exceptional personality makes me fall in love with its story, its setting, the characters, and the feelings I have during and after watching it.  A good example of an anime that does this to me is Azumanga Daioh.  It was one of the very first anime I ever watched, and I love it now almost as much as I loved it back then.  The transitions were a bit sloppy due to the adaptation from a 4-koma manga, and the characters were extreme in their one-dimensionality, but I laughed harder than I had for any cartoons, tv shows, or movies that I remember seeing growing up, before I stumbled across anime.  These types of shows, ones that steal my heart, are the ones I can re-watch over and over again, and they stand out against the slew of anime that pop up every season.  Their colors never fade, and their characters never grow old.  With their imperfections, they are still loved.

ABC Participants (Please allow time for the bloggers to get their posts up throughout the week!):

47 thoughts on “[Carnival] What Makes a 10/10 Anime?

  1. For me, I pretend like I have some criteria for storytelling, characters, and production when I write reviews, but the final score actually is independent of those and is fully determined by the “nostalgia” factor!

    Also I like your “Voice” criteria a lot! Your and Nopy’s posts are making me consider changing my plot / characters / production categories in my reviews to storytelling / attention grab / characters / voice.

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    • Haha, it seems like we’re very similar when it comes to rating our anime :p

      I’m glad I could contribute something to the way you view anime. Although I didn’t discuss voice to the length that I discussed my other points, it still matters a lot to me. The original concept and characters may be promising, but if their interactions with one another is extremely awkward and just plain unrealistic, it ruins the whole anime for me.

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  2. Nostalgia isn’t a bad thing. If something was good enough that you still think about it even now then why shouldn’t it get a high rating? The stories and characters that stick with you over the years are the ones you should be telling your friends about.

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    • I’m pleased you agree🙂 And the anime I score with nostalgia are definitely the ones I recommend the most to my friends, especially when introducing them to anime for the first time.

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  3. I agree with your Criteria list, especially Characters and Dialogue (voice). I mean, the plot maybe awesome, but generic and/or transparent characters would really tick me off. More so if they start delivering not-very-well thought out lines. I’d enjoy an awesome back-forth dialogue over a generic shounen-style battle anyday, lol.

    I’m a sucker for Nostalgia. Like how, I know Fate/Stay Night basically tanked, but it’s still one of my favorites. It’s the first anime I tried watching in Japanese audio, and probably the first that I was so intent on finishing. Although I watched a lot of shows now that I know are better than F/SN, it’s still hard to rate it down ^^

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    • Why thanks, Leap250🙂 It’s interesting that you discuss both dialogue and shounen battles in the same sentence, since I find that to be a controversial topic in and of itself. That was one of the major complaints I read about Katanagatari, being that people disliked just how much talky talk went on between the two combatants. You see this quite a bit in Dragonball and Bleach. The reason why I thought it worked in Katangatari was because of the quality of the dialogue. It was witty, and fun.

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      • Yep, the dialogue works well in Katanagatari, even the ManiWani felt like they had so much character in each of them. And the fights were, in my opinion, well done, and those didn’t usually last long. I can’t relate much to mainstream stuff, but another example I’d think of is “Bakumatsu Kikansetsu”, which also had some nice dialogue, despite being about samurais. ^^

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  4. Just like you, nostalgia gives a lot of impact whenever I watched anime. That memorable feeling is actually one of the few things which determine how much attachment on this anime I would be experiencing. On the other hand, characters are something that occupy quite a lot of share on how I rate an anime anime because for me they are the storytellers of the plot and the ones that ‘befriends’ the viewers.

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    • Yes, character really is paramount to my enjoyment of an anime, sometimes even more so than plot. Genre like slice of life need to have stellar characters, or else the anime just sloughs off into the pile of forgettable s’life.

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  5. Sounds just like my 10/10 list – these days I judge purely on categories similar to those you’ve listed (though animation quality is also important to me, I like my Top 50 list to look nice!). However, there are still series on that list that I rated as perfect years ago, when I hadn’t seen many series and wasn’t as critical, and the more I up my standards and refine my list, the more they stand out. Yet I can’t bring myself to lower their ratings.😛

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    • You mean as you watch better shows, the lousier the ones you’ve topped seems to be? I get that a lot too. But thankfully I’ve started with top-tier stuff like MoSH and Elfen Lied, so I got a good idea what the best series in the industry were.

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    • You’re a sucker for nostalgia, then :p

      Animation and art quality are definitely important to me as a viewer now, but I do factor in the age of an anime before being too strict in my rating. There are also newer anime that have somewhat sloppy looking graphics, but that roughness is meant to serve the style of the overall anime. I’m thinking of Kyousogiga and Hyakko. The awkward angles are sort of part of the charm of the characters, if that makes any sense at all.

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      • @du5k, yeah, that’s the problem. Coincidentally, Elfen Lied was one of the 10/10 series that I thought was beginning to look out of place on my list – it’s far from perfect when you take off the nostalgia goggles – but it stays on the list anyway.😛

        @Marina: Oh, I take all of that into account too when it comes to animation – there’s no sense judging shows from, say, the 1970s by today’s standards, and I agree with you on Hyakko as well. It’s decreases in animation quality that affect my ratings most… if something started off looking great but gets notably worse later on, I probably wouldn’t give it full marks. Nice character designs always work in a series’ favour too.🙂

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  6. Plot, characters, and setting are some of the things that I used to rank anime by, but I have never considered voice or nostalgia. Voice certainly is something that affects how everyone views an anime and I don’t know how I could’ve excluded it in the past, but nostalgia seems more personalized. I love late 90’s anime because that’s what got me into it, but I know a lot of fans will avoid it like the plague because it’s “old”.

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    • Yes, there are certainly a good number of older anime that makes me smile, ones like Kimagure Orange Road, and Hana Yori Dango. There’s this sense of…what can I call it…clean faced honesty that permeates them in a way that I don’t see too often in current anime. Does that make sense?

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  7. I like the nostalgia part a lot. While I’ve considered it as part of my assessment, I haven’t really thought of it as a key point in assessing it. I’m cheating a little since I often factor that in my review before I felt any nostalgia at all though.

    I usually call that “lasting impression” instead. I guess that the best anime out there are really the ones that would burn a positive image into the viewer when they think about the anime.

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    • “Lasting impression” makes a lot of sense, as well. Though, I think the feelings I’d have for nostalgia versus an impression can definitely differ. There are tons of anime that leave a very negative impression, and I have absolutely no longing for any bit of it every again. :p

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      • Opps, I meant a lasting positive impression, lol.

        Stuff like Guilty Crown left me with a lasting negative impression, and yeah, I don’t ever want to see it again.

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  8. I tend to rate some of mine via nostalgia too The fact that you can still remember an anime aired like 10 years back and can still feel in awe of the awesomeness of said show, it is a sign of a long-lasting masterpiece ;D Other then that, I also rate mine subjectively through various criteria like animation/sound, plots, etc.. So in a way, I guess mine is a lot like yours o.o I sometimes also rate mine purely through “enjoyment”. The last one especially works well with pure comedy anime.

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    • Enjoyment does factor in greatly to how I rate a show, though I can also really enjoy something, but not necessarily feel any nostalgia for it after I’ve finished watching it. Nekogami Yaoyorozu is a good example of this–I had a lot of fun watching it while it was airing, but I don’t feel any particular desire to watch it again, nor do I have great attachment to any characters.

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  9. Nostalgia…does that mean say after a few years, you still remember the good feeling you had, you’ll change your rating accordingly? Or is it only applicable when you’re giving a rate to an anime you’ve seen years ago?

    Hmm…I guess it’s because I usually rate an anime right after its completion so I never really considered this.

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    • Nostalgia as referring to the warm, glow-y feelings I have after having finished the anime. I miss it and think very highly of it. So, I guess that aligns mostly with your first question, since I do sometimes go back over ratings from the past and adjust them.

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  10. I watch anime only because I enjoy watching anime, not to have a critical view on them, and so I rate based solely on enjoyment. Of course all in all, all the characteristics you mention, between others, will affect the enjoyment. But I think that in the end what matters is how they mix up together and result in how much I enjoy the anime.

    Sometimes a story may have an average set of characteristics, but that together work very well and make you like it a lot. Sometimes one specific characteristic will have a much more important role than the others. And even sometimes, we like or dislike a story because it was able to connect with something we experienced (whether a bad/traumatic experience can have a negative effect), because it defends or attacks an value/ideal (be it moral values, beliefs, etc).

    While I can see why would someone want to rate and make a review being more technical, as it gives a more professional look and credibility, I tend to avoid these as they don’t really work for me.

    And what make a 10/10 anime… I guess it’s something that with all it haves, reaches an “high” of enjoyment I can easily set aside from most other series. That “high” can come in many forms: The pure feeling of awesomeness that Code Geass and Haruhi have all through it’s story; the quiet but “feels just right” feeling from a story that just makes things fit perfectly like Monster and Spice and Wolf; the ultimate happiness and heartwarming that Kimi ni Todoke and ARIA can produce; the roller coaster of emotions and bittersweet feelings you get on Clannad; a high level of interest/fanboyism where the love for the series goes into a cycle and recharges itself which I felt with Ore no Imouto; between others and even more of one of those.

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    • Thanks for going so in depth with your reply and thoughts on rating anime, CP🙂 I think you’re absolutely right about how the highs of any given anime differ from one to another, and that the criteria can’t always be the same. It would be silly if I were to have the same expectations from Haganai as I do for Kino no Tabi.

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  11. I guess nostalgia is something that we cannot avoid. I still have memories of the first ever anime that I finished, Mahou Sensei Negima!, and that does send some waves of nostalgia (and Nodoka) that prevents me from rating it lower than 5. But still, I think that nostalgia doesn’t seem to affect me much as most of my early anime tend to get low scores from me. I guess the nostalgia factor varies from one person to another, just like everything else.

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    • I haven’t seen Negima!, but I do see it around quite often. It sounds like you are very level headed in your approach to rating anime, and don’t let your affections for a show stop you from rating it poorly. Despite your earlier anime getting low scores, I wonder if you truly enjoy them now as much as you might have back then.

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  12. […] Marina notes that the voice of the anime must feel natural and consistent to her, and that her ratings reflects the nostalgia experienced for any certain anime. Sam brings up another interesting important factor to consider: the age of the anime as in when it was released and whether its quality was consistent at its time. Mira says that to earn a 10/10 score, the anime must raise a new standard for her, and that nothing can top it at all. SnippetTee even goes so far as to draw up a complete statistical chart outlining what weights the most when watching and why she is entertained by the anime in the most general sense. […]

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