Note: It's a 11 minute. TLD:DR a guide to making anime reviews.
It’s not my place to tell people how to run their blogs but it’s really a poor use of one’s time not to reflect on things that can be improved. I’ve been publishing anime reviews once in a while and I do my best to adhere to the criteria set on what I think should be included in a review. As a content consumer of the media and reviews that come along with it, I can fairly tell the difference between a good vs bad review.
Whether you want to expand your content to writing anime reviews or just curious about the how to, this post was meant for you. I googled articles about how to write an anime review and I noticed the pattern that is prevalent among these articles. Turns out I’ve already been applying them but never really put into conscious thought that these really worked that way.
I’m saying BE A CONTENT CONSUMER FIRST. It takes years of being exposed to the media that gets your neural wiring trained to spot what works and not when consuming content. You experience this through having an immediate preference and bias over the pilot episodes of anime released yearly. The same energy goes for reviewing, well, an anime review.
The Formula I follow but not strictly adhere to:
What Makes it Good
What Makes it Bad
The part of the post where you give out some short trivia about the show. The first few paragraphs of your posts are critical in trying to get your reader’s attention. I keep this in mind when writing but it’s not a cause for stress as most people aren’t into anime reviews. Perhaps they will just brush by my post, check a few paragraphs and be on their merry way. That’s understandable as most of the following I have accumulated on the platform come from a variety of communities I have been exposed to.
But for someone that made their account solely dedicated to anime content, this becomes a heavy factor on your future posting habits. You’re going to be competing in a niche so be at your best when you’re writing your anime blog.
The first few paragraphs should content a brief snippet/summary of what your readers are in for. Will it be a show of their type of genre or not? What did you use to evaluate the show? is your review limited to the animated series of the story or did you go over the manga and light novels too? What other interesting trivia can you put on? Are the animators, writers, and production studio are also known for their other projects?
It’s really up to your discretion whether you want to be go over the small facts behind the show. A good rule of thumb I follow is, if it’s interesting for me then I’ll put it in. Why? Because I learned to like what I’m doing and the content I’m going to publish. Of course you also have to consider putting a balance on the amount of trivia as overloading the audience with facts will only bore them than hook them in.
Give a brief summary without spoiling the reader anything. Unless part of your posting idea includes spoilers then there’s supposed to be a warning spoiler ahead notice at the beginning of the post. Tell the story in your own style but try to keep it short, relatable, and direct. Some plots in anime are way too complicated to explain but try to dumb it down for your audience as much as you can. You can always lead them to an article that does a take on the plot and see who made more sense. The point here is trying to let your audience know that you have committed to watching the show and you can explain it in your own point of view.
Nothing spells fake more than having the difficulty of articulating a show that you have been presumed to watch and review about. It’s either you have a short attention span or just have a limited skill set to express your thoughts into writing. Respect your reader’s time and go out of your way to articulate the thoughts better.
I have a pet peeve when reading other people’s reviews on this platform. Instead of giving me a general idea about the flow of the story, they end up retelling/spoling the whole show unintentionally. Don’t be that type of writer unless you goal is actually to discuss spoilers then that’s fine.
What Makes it Good?
Tackle on aspects that made the show worth while to watch, is it the animation? World building, character story arc, animation, original sound tract, expression of art, and all the good stuff that makes a show entertaining. I think most people are heavily reliant on this part to supply the bulk of their content. It’s hard to make a review about a show you are not interested in.
A beginner mistake on making anime reviews are using general words of praise without adding any depth. The show is good, I like it very much. I like this character because they look cool. The story is inspiring. There are a lot of variations on how these mistake happen but the gist is setting up a general vocabulary for praise about the show without any depth created.
Discuss the aspects of the show that makes it more interesting beyond telling people how good this and that is. Let’s say you’re watching an anime that features a musically inclined story arc and the protagonist happens to play a flute. Talk about how the simple piece of instrument has an impact on the story in terms of world building. Let’s pretend that it’s an isekai anime and flutes don’t exist in that world that is dominated by string type instruments. The existence of someone that can play the flute and the flute itself can give a variety of meaningful impressions among other characters in the story.
How do people in the story react to the flute and player? Again this is just a figurative example. You talk about your insights of the show. Because writing about how good the protagonist is with the flute is boring and the audience can visibly see that if they watch it themselves. But when you talk about how that simple instrument changed the course of that world’s history, the economic impacts, and how it changed relationships between character dynamics, then you’re on your way to becoming a better anime reviewer.
Why? Here’s a thought, if your review contains the content that can be derived from a regular google search about the show, then people are wasting their time reading your post. They can get better satisfaction from the same type of content elsewhere. But when you add your own personal style of story telling and discussion you are producing content that can’t be found elsewhere.
Try to increase your vocabulary when making some praises in small increments. Be creative when saying something good about the show because generic nice, great, amazing words aren’t nice, great, amazing in the long run. Your blog says a lot about your personality when posting and more info can be derived when you write about a recurring theme.
What Makes it Bad?
This is that one section I wish I often see on anime reviews. If there’s no perfect show, then it has to have something negative to be talked about in the review. Most posts here are about praises and it’s understandable. It’s difficult to write about something you’re not interested in. Talk about things about the show that let down your expectation, what makes it not up to standards when compared with other shows on the same genre, and the negative stuff that the show can improve on.
It’s a dull review if it’s just all praises and vice versa. The same guide applies when talking about something bad about the show. Explain why and be in depth if you can. If you are expressing a different opinion make sure you present it as creative and as rational as possible. Going back to the the flute and the protagonist example, while the hero ends up wooing the masses with their talent and charisma, the amount of plot armor can be a source for dislike.
The best source of dislike you can find on every show is how character flaws are written. If they are Gary Stu or Mary Sue archetypes, then these are the best parts to nitpick for your negative review about the show. Does the character archetype suit their character design? You would likely find it odd to see an elf using an axe as a weapon being muscular and named Bob. It just doesn’t fit the stereotype? If the story attempts to try to be unique, write a critic that punishes intentional flaws written wrong.
Take One Punch Man as an example, his flaws are in his inability to connect to other’s suffering due to being more capable than the rest of the cast. While his reactions are perceived as comedic whenever he isn’t worried about Genos’ poor conditioned state at times, it goes back to how much his strength has shaped his world view of things around him. This character flaw built in him added value to the overall story as it creates different scenarios of comedy and depth in the show.
On the otherhand, we have Gary Stu Kirito from Sword Art Online that has an unfounded amount of BS plot armor loaded into his entire being and the story does not give enough justice to whether his strength is justified. Spoilers: even the light novel writing was bad.
When having negative opinions about a show, examine it based on the genre it’s in. One Punch Man is a comedic show therefore the weight of world building being realistic become less of a priority. SAO, on the other hand relies heavily on fantasy connecting with reality, so there has to be some realistic ground to paint on when it comes to tackling situations where life and death becomes a priority, Kirito’s BS plot armor wasn’t explained but is implied and we the audience just have to accept that. We’re not watching a comedy show here so there are rules of fantasy meets reality are suddenly forgotten.
Bofuri gets a pass on the BS plot armor because having it on the protagonist adds value to the show. It’s also under comedy and fantasy genre where the stakes aren’t that high as SAO. Being able to know why you dislike something and putting it into words separates veteran anime critics from beginner reviewers.
This is the section of the post where you discuss additional elements that make or break a show. The music, animations, technology, and perhaps something related to the production staff that published the works. Related content section can contain both positive and negative reviews.
How would you rate the show? Would you recommend it to whom? What type of audience will it appeal to and not? These are the main questions that ties the post together. You could also put in a few updates you scooped up about updates from the show.
Reviewing is a skill and it takes a while to get used to creating posts that exemplify your own voice while still being competitive about the quality of content you put out. These are just my own guides I use that works for me. It’s also the same guide I use when evaluating someone else’ work on this platform and off the platform.