I like a lot of stuff. I also dislike a lot of stuff. And so do you, and so does everybody else. The fact is that everyone has different tastes, and so to assign a certain numerical score to dictate whether an anime is good and worth watching seems like an ineffective rating system to globally rank any given anime over another.
My Anime List
We all know about MyAnimeList. I don’t know about you, but I, in my days of cringe-inducing weebiness, would give things ratings of 10 across the board just because I was /that/ invested into the anime. The final episode was life-altering, and left me in awe with the accompanying existential dread where I am left wondering what I’m supposed to do with my life after that knockout story, which in retrospect wasn’t actually all that good. I’d ride the hype train and circlejerk with other people who were also hyped about stuff like Attack On Titan, or Death Note.
After my tastes had, for lack of a better word, “developed”, or had become “refined”, I’d go back in and change those ratings to be closer to what I thought the anime really deserved (not a 10). There’s also some anime I had nostalgia for like Inuyasha – my gateway drug, or Love Hina – my first experience discovering what love was, or Green Green my first…it was Hentai. How can I possibly be objective with things for which I have emotional attachment? I can’t, and that puts me in the weird position of not being able to arrive at an appropriate rating.
According to My Anime List, an anime with a rating of 10 is considered to be a “masterpiece”. 10/10 is 100%, flawless, has attained perfection, and really stands out above the huge number of other anime you have seen in your life. And yet, you see so many lists littered with perfect 10’s. Too many highly rated anime yields diminishing returns as far as a ranking system goes.
Why does the rating matter?
Believe it or not, I used to be an ardent believer of the rating system. At the beginning of every season I’d scout out the anime that received an 8 or better. That way, I won’t waste time with “shitty” anime and only see the good stuff. It was condescending and elitist. I’m not special, so I’m probably just one of many people who do or used to do this. You can see this post I made two years ago with ratings, and looking at it again it feels inaccurate.
Oftentimes novice anime fans will wonder, out the thousands of available titles, which should they sink their teeth into next? People Google stuff. People will browse lists and recommendations, and come across anime that are rated a 5 or a 6 that they actually might love, but won’t ever discover it because they feel like these 50 other anime rated 7-10 would be a better bang for their buck.
It’s like Googling “best shows on Netflix” before deciding what to binge. You’re entrusting random strangers that don’t know anything about you with the task of recommending you things that you’ll enjoy. Anime ratings kind of work the same way.
Here’s an Example:
This season I am really enjoying Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san. In summary, it’s about a Ramen fanatic named Koizumi that travels around Japan, constantly on the lookout for great Ramen restaurants. The really cool thing is that these restaurants actually exist IRL. It’s rated a 6.2/10. Now normally I wouldn’t even bother with this, but I actually just sampled every anime this season and this one stuck. I sampled things regardless of their ratings – in fact I just flat out ignored them. I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of enjoying this had I stuck to my ratings method.
These numbers are pulled from here.
Darling in the Franxx: 8.01/10
Death March kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyousoukyoku: 7.06/10
Mitsuboshi Colors: 7.23/10
I’m up to date with all of these currently airing anime, and yet I genuinely like Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san more. It’s more appealing, engaging, and overall more entertaining to me in spite of it having a lower score than all of the above. I’m so happy I didn’t skip over it. And believe me, I would have not too long ago.
But it doesn’t matter because we all know that Yuru Camp is the best anime of the season anyway, right?
Yes, I’m a foodie. I’m biased. But that’s the whole point I’m trying to make. We all have our personal biases, and the number that suggests how good an anime is does not, and cannot possibly account for the entire population’s bias. You have the group that tries to put the “correct” number on it, and you have the group that tries to put “their” number into the algorithm (you also have trolls that rate things 1/10 because fuck your normie shit). The algorithm digests all of that unfiltered bias and spits out a weird number that attempts to tell you how good it is. I shouldn’t have to justify why I like something more than another, just because it has a lower number next to it.
Which is not to say that, for instance, an anime rated a 1/10 should be given equal opportunity as one that goes for a 9/10 or 10/10. The rating bears some weight, of course. Even if the number can be skewed, which it so often is, it’s still at minimum a quick averaging mechanic which can work with a grain of salt.
But it’s just a really messy system…
…that I have recently decided I don’t want to be a part of. I don’t agree that a rating should be as strong a factor as it is when it comes to saying whether one anime is better than another. It’s fun to discover what you like and dislike through raw exploration, or recommendations from others. I’m sure McDonald’s doesn’t rightfully deserve any Michelin Stars, but I still love me some chicken nuggets.
I believe reviews DO matter – scores/ratings don’t. Detailed reviews give me an idea of what the anime is like; scores only show how popular it is. I don’t expect other people to have the exact same preferences in anime, and consider their “likings” to be useless – they contain information about the fans, not the anime.
I hope you enjoyed reading.
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