I Enjoy Reading Negative/Bashing Reviews

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What reviewers who bash my favourite anime look like to me

This might come as a surprise, but I really enjoy reading negative reviews, sometimes a lot more so than positive reviews. I generally put up with people pissing all over my favourite shows. This happens very often, what with my taste and all. Negativity sometimes gets overbearing, especially when the writer appears to take their own opinions way too seriously, but in general, I think exaggerated hate is hilarious.

The reason for this is that I read reviews to be entertained, not just to get an idea of what others like or dislike. I don’t take the actual recommendations seriously, but I don’t think that’s the point of reviewing. It’s all about having fun sharing your opinions.

“But wait, what’s the point of reviews if it’s all just opinions?” you ask.

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Broad opinion pieces can be fun and well-written in their own right. The reason why I think this is because reviewing is a form of art, too.

Just like the creators of anime, reviewers are in charge of making their own piece of work engaging. Good reviewers approach their own writing like a craft. They don’t consider themselves exempt from their own standards. You can really tell the difference between someone who is just ranting and someone who has taken the time to structure their thoughts in the most logical and persuasive way.

If you can spin a good tale out of your experience with an anime, that’s great. If you don’t care about how entertaining you are but have the gall to tell me that [insert anime here] is not entertaining enough to be worth my time, I’ll just get angry.

My advice to reviewers: Don’t take yourself too seriously! Just have fun expressing yourself and people will value your reviews.

Why I Enjoy (The Occasional) Bash Review

Fictional characters are not real. Fictional plots are frequently illogical. I think it’s perfectly okay to take a few steps back and appreciate how ridiculous the art of storytelling can be. Stories don’t actually matter in real life, so there’s no need to take the messages in stories seriously all the time.

My favourite kind of bashing is character bashing. Sometimes, there’s this annoying as hell character who just won’t shut their pie hole. I have never really hated a real person, but that courtesy does not extend to fictional characters. I don’t have to give a crap about their feelings or whatever, which is great.

This brings to mind all the immature Kikyo bashing in the Inuyasha fandom, which is extremely hilarious on retrospect:

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lol

(I personally believe Kikyo is Best Girl, especially in her yandere moments.)

Or the Flay bashing in the Gundam Seed fandom:

Source: Tumblr

Source: Tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… And also a recent comment on my High School DxD New Review:

Like the bitches in the show but fucking have a seething rage for issei because he gets all the nice horny hot bitches when he looks like twat faggot dipped in steaming shit with a hippos ass for a head and isnt even fucking fit! Issei if yourl listening hope you know your a little bitch cock sucking piece of shit asshole!!

Actually, a lot of character bashing comes from people taking characters too seriously. Although I occasionally relate deeply to fictional characters, I don’t always take characters that seriously, and in general I see them as puppets to do whatever I want with. (This could be my inner fanfic author speaking.)

The other kind of negativity I enjoy is nitpicking, as long as it’s in small doses. Having all the stupid little continuity errors in a story pointed out to me really makes it clear to me that it’s not always that DEEP or MEANINGFUL, and prevents me from taking other reviews which argue that it is DEEP and MEANINGFUL all that seriously.

This could possibly be the reason why I chuckled my whole way through Rebecca’s rant on Witch Craft Works and it definitely helped put Josh’s wordier analysis into perspective. If Takamiya makes shojo heroines look intelligent, I’m kind of scared to watch the show now.

As intelligent as a sea cucumber, she says...

As intelligent as a sea cucumber, she says…

Final Thoughts

Basically, bashing/nitpicking reviews and any kind of writing that forces the reader to take themselves out of the story and see it for how inherently ridiculous it is offers a great alternative way of looking at anime, as long as you don’t take the opinions themselves too seriously.

I think if there’s a purpose to anime reviewing, it’s this. It’s not about who has the best opinion or who has the most insight. It’s about seeing what other people have to say and coming up with your own interpretation that satisfies you. You can’t really say that your opinion is your own, after all, until you’re aware of what others think.

So you don’t have to be a hard-boiled academic or critic to write something that’ll challenge my ideas. I don’t take anime reviews seriously any more than I take anime itself seriously, but it’s all in the spirit of fun, and that’s pretty much all I’m looking for in a piece of writing.

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Edit: This is the article formally known as “I Am Incapable Of Taking Anime Reviews Seriously”. Beside the title and the intro, the post is pretty much the same, so I think that the current title is a much more accurate picture of what the post is actually about.

Posted on March 31, 2014, in Editorials and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 36 Comments.

  1. I thank you for revealing your real opinion about my reviews up to this point in this post. As long as people stop by to share their opinions I won’t stop reviewing.

    Kikyou’s my fav Inuyasha babe (Sango second) because of her “I’m back from the dead and I’m in no mood to play games” personality. Plus she’s hot.

    Haven’t seen that particular Gundam show Flay’s in so I can’t share your disdain for her. Witch Craft Works does not interest me.

    • This post was mostly about negative reviews, but I do enjoy positive reviews when they’re fun and feel original, too. A lot of it depends on how much you enjoy writing it. I think the boring positive reviews are ones where the reviewer didn’t really think about why they like something, so it just feels like they’re writing without any real point they’re trying to make.

      As for how I feel about your reviews, I have to admit I prefer commenting on your editorials and other random articles (not as much to discuss with a review), but it’s definitely great you get comments on your reviews, and I’m glad to hear you won’t stop writing.

  2. making a quick stop here before class to say one thing about that inuyasha picture

    i think the roles there are reversed, dude

  3. I suck at writing reviews. Usually it boils down to “I like this” or “I don’t like this.” It is much more fun to write reviews for shows I don’t like though. :) When I don’t have anything to say I try to keep it short at least.

    I only write reviews so that I can watch my big list of reviews grow and so people have a quick reference for my thoughts on everything. And so people have a place to bitch on my blog about shows I’m not writing about.

    Also I don’t know, I wanted to punch everyone in Gundam SEED in the face continuously.

  4. I hate writing reviews, and usually stick to one or two things in a series that I liked/didn’t like/found interesting/etc. However, your post jogged my memory about a bit of a poisonous thought process that’s present not only in anime blogging, but academia, and that’s that reviewers who are more likely to rip something apart will both be taken more seriously and seen to be as more intelligent. Additionally there’s always this horrid rush to see who can tear something apart first that I personally abhor. I’d rather champion things I like, and appreciate reviews where, even if the writer tearing a series a new one, they’re doing it in a clever way that reflects how much they enjoyed watching something, even if it was awful.

    • I hear you. I hate writing reviews too and in fact almost never write them myself. I also prefer to write about things I like and/or find interesting, rather than focusing on evaluating how “good” something is. The latter just feels like a very narrow way of looking at art, and in general I think it’s just presumptuous to have reviewers tell me what’s worth my time. That’s probably the main reason why I don’t take reviews seriously at all.

      Positive writing – or at least writing that focuses much more on the why than on the what – is definitely something to aspire towards!

  5. Wait, you write fanfic? Why didn’t I know of this? Time to scour the internet relentlessly in search of your work.
    Also I have to say your “not taking reviews seriously” certainly doesn’t detract from your work. You have a laid-back tone when you write, which is a draw for me to your blog.

    • I used to write fanfics, but I haven’t written anything in over a year. I’ll probably look back on what I wrote and think it’s terrible, meep.

      Oh, and thanks for the compliments!

  6. That Chitanda pick absolutely destroyed me, and is now my new favorite thing.

    As you and Emily have both pointed out, negative reviews tend to be a lot easier to write and give off the sense that the reviewer is more intelligent (and leads to this “tear it down!” culture, which I also dislike). Because of this, I think actually writing a good positive review that can describe everything a show does well, why it worked for you, and what qualities it has that people will like to really be the mark of a fantastic critic. And it’s one of the reasons I love(d) reading Roger Ebert’s reviews!

    I think not taking anime reviews too seriously is a good way of going about this. I was actually just reading something by Film Crit Hulk on removing ourself a little bit from what we consume (http://badassdigest.com/2013/06/05/film-crit-hulk-smash-hulk-vs.-spoilers-and-the-4-levels-of-how-we-consume-a/), which also seems to line up with this type of thing.

    In the end though, what really matters is you still enjoy reading reviews and watching anime though, right? :)

    • That’s a great article by Film Crit Hulk. Going by what he wrote, I generally consume every anime I watch across the first three levels (the fourth will forever be beyond me as far as anime goes. I think I do reach the fourth level when reading novels, essays and blog posts, though). On my first time watching anything, I want to get right up close to the “feels”. But my critical mind has developed to the degree that I simultaneously analyse a lot of what I’m watching, even as I’m engaging in some really fanboyish behaviour.

      I see reviews as kind of like fanfiction – they’re supplementary texts designed to convey a specific interpretation of a particular product. I will never regard any kind of review, no matter how in-depth it is, as the “definitive” or “ideal” reading of any product. But just because I think that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy reviews as their own works of art. That’s pretty much what the entire post was about.

      I developed this kind of strategy of looking at anime criticism, because honestly, the general state of it is shoddy. We anime fans are the least qualified people in the world to write about anime as craft, and it really shows in how amateur-ish the standards are. We have a lot to learn from film, animation and lit studies. Like you, I do instinctively prefer reading writing that is precise and well-reasoned, and usually that means not indulging in childish cynicism. But at the same time, I’m also aware that I need to practice what I preach. Writing this comment is motivating me to study even harder!

  7. I guess I enjoy character-bashing (and/or general anime bashing) if a) the review is actually written cleverly, and b) the reviewer obviously isn’t taking themselves, or the characters/anime, too seriously. Otherwise things tend to get really boring mighty quickly for me. As for the more serious anime reviews, I write them from time to time and read a few from other people if the anime is something I’ve been interested in watching myself.

  8. I’m glad you found my rant entertaining! My basic rule of thumb is: if it isn’t fun to write people aren’t going to have fun reading it. I think it’s SO much more enjoyable to write angry ranty reviews, which is probably why it’s more fun for people to read them in general. When a show is really good and only gets positive feedback, most of the time people already came to the nice conclusions themselves and don’t really need anyone else to lay them out. For the most part, I don’t really see anime as a high art form (I’m sure Josh would contest me on this) and therefore agree with you on not needing to take/write reviews too seriously. On another note, Takamiya really is like a sea cucumber. You have been warned…

  9. As an avid FF reader/writer, I am well verse in the art of reviewing!

    God, that sounded better in my head. But it has a point.

    I’ve been on FF since I was 14, I’m now 20. Recalling back my days during my time in the Naruto fandom (I got hooked on NaruSaku and NaruHina shutupdontjudgeme), I recall leaving reviews like ‘lol good job’ or ‘omg cool’ and crap like that. But as the years went by, and I know more about properly analysing and criticising, I think by reviewing, I’ve become a far more acute person when it comes to literature. And when I moved to the gaming section of FF, I’ve met great writers who are talented to write their own original fiction. I’m actually editing a friend’s novel and I met him when he was writng Fallout fics!

    So after years of reviewing, beta-ing, editing people’s work, I’ve submitted my very first fic of a show that just irked me because of wasted potential. And because of my aforementioned years of reviewing, I can safely say that while I’m not the best writer in the world, I would say I’m quite competent and avoided the many mistakes that normal writers make.

    And then I got reviews.

    The reviews that go ‘update faster’ and ‘good writing!’ It gives a morale boost for sure, but I would trade 10 ‘good story!’ reviews for one very angry cynical review. I find that reviews that point out more negatives are far better than the positive ones. Not to say the reviews that go ‘I like your stuff but you made so and so errors’ are bad but negative ones are just better for the writer.

    I actually have you to thank for, Froggy. I read your SAO fic (Double Edged Sword) and it did inspire me to start my first SAO fic. Which is funny since I’ve been around the Fallout, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Elder Scrolls and just a bunch of game fandoms but my first fic was an anime one. It’s about gaming, but it’s an anime one. Deep down inside, my fic was also my attempt at poking fun how bad SAO was, how SAO ‘should have been’.

    My fic was a mental yearning of criticising SAO while also being an attempt of making a better version of SAO. Tell that to a psychologist.

    So wow, didn’t expect this post to be this long. So if you’re still with me to this half-baked rant of mine, thanks for reading.

    • An SAO fic, you say? Is it on the Internet somewhere? If so, can you link it to me? Am interested to see your take on it!

      For me, Double-Edged Sword was undoubtedly born out of the same desire you speak of – wanting to rewrite the characters and premise of SAO to my own vision. So I totally understand exactly why you’d want to write an SAO fic, despite being very critical of the show. In fact, really good fanfiction can be read as critiques of the source of they’re based off – they offer entirely new and original perspectives.

      Another thing: The nature of anime reviews on the Internet and fanfiction reviews will always be different. The difference is that the latter is always written with the author in mind. Scamp sums it up really well here: http://thecartdriver.com/i-would-criticise-anime-very-differently-if-i-thought-the-original-author-was-reading-2/

      Constructive criticism is really useful and really helpful, and writing reviews that only ever focus on positives is never going to help a developing artist get anywhere. Being able to take criticism is an important skill in itself, which I’m glad to see you understand!

      • I’m not gonna shameless whore myself to get more views! Who do you think I am, Jesse Cox?

        https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9911916/1/Aincrad-Retold (Google Aincrad Retold by Agent 94 if link doesn’t work)

        Leave a review, tell your friends, fav and head to the forums! Shamelesswhoringshamelesswhoring.

        /

        I see your take on it. I recall you writing that SAO was Kawahara’s own fairy tale that was really good only for him and I’ve heard around the net that SAO was in fact wish fulfillment. And while I can understand that the creator’s intent can conflict with the reader’s expectations, it still doesn’t excuse the bad writing and plot holes that would be 10k words if I wrote it here.

        I think it all depends if viewers/readers/players ‘get it’. Example: Spec Ops: The Line is hailed as a grand game despite it being a pretty shitty TPS but due to its satirical nature, it’s considered a really good game story wise even if the gameplay is crap. And that was the intention of the developers and people ‘get it’.

        Go back further to Metal Gear Solid 2 where Kojima wanted to make a satire of gamers being professional soldiers, discussing memes (not the one you’re thinking) and the gap between gamer and avatar. People did NOT ‘get it’ and people raged hard. Though nowadays, a decade later, I for one consider it as a brilliant piece of satire. It STILL does not excuse bad game designs.

        So in essence I think that the conflict of audience expectations and creator intent can really make or break a piece of work. I personally wanted dungeon raids, poking fun at gaming culture, epic quests, grimdark questions of what is real and what is fantasy when it came to SAO. I did not get what I wanted. Thus Aincrad Retold was born (shamelesswhoring).

        And when Log Horizon came along, I only expected a good anime. Not the expectations I had for SAO, just a good story. And it delivered very well. Due to the fact that I went through SAO before LH, I was a lot easier on the series. Had it been the reverse, I would most likely tore it apart (WHY ARE THEY NOT PANICKING?! AKATSUKI THIS IS NO TIME FOR FREAKING LARPING!) like I would with SAO.

        • So I started reading your fanfiction. I might leave an *actual* review via FFnet when I’m done with it, but for now, I have to say that while there are some genuinely interesting ideas in it, it feels rather drawn out. I think you’re too fixated with spelling out all the details, and a lot of them actually aren’t necessary in creating the mental image you want to achieve of a sprawling MMORPG world. I think you just need more practice in learning how to describe things more precisely.

          Prose-wise, it’s still better than the LN translation though, lawl

          • You know that one writer that would go on and on detailing how one gun works for the next three pages? I’m kinda like that but with tactics and armor. But you’re right, a lot of things could have been summed up. This is what you get for being a Dark Souls and Mount & Blade player. Details overload.

            Still, I look forward! Btw off topic, you going to see SAO II/Phantom Bullet?

            • Being detailed is never a bad thing – it just takes a lot of skill to pace those details in a way the reader will absorb easily. The joy of reading is getting sucked into the details, after all :)

              And yes, I’ll be watching SAO II, but mostly for Sinon, who is quite clearly SAO’s best girl. I stopped taking the game-y aspects seriously sometime during episodes 11-12 or so.

  10. I definitely agree with plenty of your points, especially on positive reviews. When all you’re doing is pointing out things that you liked about an anime, it’s hard for it to sound objective (strangely, talking about video games in a positive light feels far more natural to me). Sarcastic/satirical reviews will always be my favorite to read and write though.

    And I take everything I hear, whether it be by word-of-mouth, review, or otherwise, with a bucket of salt to compensate for bias. Reviews are a good way to get opinions out, but I don’t understand why some people treat them as fact.

    • On the Internet, it’s shit or the shit. There is no middle ground!

      • There’s a middle ground! It’s called “this was decent so I’m not gonna talk about it” or “the hardest reviews are ones for shows that were only average” in case they actually review. Decent is so boring to read reviews for and boring to watch.

        • I think that by being decent, that is somehow, in a twisted way, worse than being super good and being super bad. Log Horizon isn’t super excellent best anime eva to a lot of people, it certainly is for me.

  11. I never cared about reviews, despite that I do read them. The main reason for that is most of the anime that I like to be reviewed are less watched by your average anime fandom, especially if they are geared towards kids. Most of the time, they are just simply ignored in seasonal previews (but the idea of “kiddie-shit” pissed me off, though).

    When it comes to actually reading them, I do take them with a grain of salt because everyone has their own biases and I will definitely get a different watching experience myself. However, they do serve as guides to help me get a better experience, though. Hopefully I’ll stay this way.

  12. Wow, this makes me feel really good about you liking my KlK review. And I agree: the only point of reviewing anything is to have fun with it and play with the ideas. The concept of :”review” is a form of art like any other. People easily forget that!

    • I know right? It’s the means that matter much more with reviews – playing with the ideas, like you said. I don’t often comment on reviews, but I think they can be pretty fun when they’re not so obsessed with validating the reviewer’s opinion! :)

  13. Personally, I lack the patience to follow a show from week to week so I prefer to marathon them after the complete airing. This is where anime reviews is useful for me, I use them to get a feel if the show is worth watching.

    Having said that, I find myself constantly influenced by the reviews that I’ve read and unable to fully develop my own feelings about a show. I just looked through my MAL list and almost everything is above 5 (lol).

  14. Ho ho ho.

    Between this piece and this week’s piece, you are left with almost nothing except “I like X because I do!” – Anything that attempts to analyze something is too elitist, and anything who attempts to generalize is too serious, and again, elitist. So people are reduced to only being able to describe what they like, and how they feel, and not even say “If you like X, you should like Y”, because that hues too closely to elitism and describing others ;-)

    The above comment is a result of some thoughts – I was going to say, “So you don’t like reviews, but how about editorials?” But that is exactly what this week’s post sort of went against.

    I feel there’s a bit of a knee-jerk here. While people who are negative about a piece too often become negative about people (“I can’t see how anyone with a brain would like this show!” or “I’m not brain-dead enough to like it”), you’re now swinging so amazingly hard in the other direction, where all those who are negative about a show should be quiet.

    Make no mistake, that’s the thread running through your last two entries, where you basically do what is bothering you – people are negative and that impacts your fun, so you are negative about allowing them to be negative.

    Food for thought.

    P.S. From this piece I can’t really see why you’d like any of my pieces, as they usually take themselves seriously and don’t spin tales ;-)

    • Wait, wait. Hold on here. I think you’re misinterpreting some of my thoughts, because I actually argued about something quite a bit different in this post. Take a look at the “final thoughts”:

      Basically, bashing/nitpicking reviews and any kind of writing that forces the reader to take themselves out of the story and see it for how inherently ridiculous it is offers a great alternative way of looking at anime, as long as you don’t take the opinions themselves too seriously.

      I enjoy opinions of any shape and form, and I enjoy negative reviews too. I think any kind of piece, if well written, can offer some great perspective.

      It’s not specifically drawn out here, but I think there’s a difference between ‘review’ and ‘criticism’, where a ‘review’ is a subgenre of criticism.

      Since reviews are usually broad opinion pieces, the point is that they shouldn’t be taken seriously at face value – as in, they shouldn’t be accepted as fact or argued about to bits. But nevertheless, being exposed to a wide variety of opinions can only be a good thing.

      The other post is saying that certain types of anime shouldn’t be thought of as “elitist” and you’re not intelligent or unintelligent for liking something which is thought of as high art. I wrote about acknowledging that taste is a social construction, and this should actually help you understand where you and others are coming from. I’m actually arguing against calling someone an elitist just because of their taste!

      Nevertheless, neither post of mine is well-written. They ramble and they don’t get to the point. I’m sorry you misinterpreted my ideas, but that’s my own fault, and I’d be better off just rewriting them entirely to streamline my ideas.

    • Okay, so. In the end, I didn’t think the whole article was worth rewriting, so all I did was change the title and condense the intro. I think the current title is a much more accurate indication of what the post was actually about to begin with. I have a terrible naming sense.

  15. I love negative reviews, especially on shows I like, but even more on shows I hate! The only problem I have with this, is that reading a negative review might alter how I see an anime, pointing out flaws I didn’t see before. But I guess that’s the risk of reading reviews heh

  16. Lol I have never looked up to you more then I have now, I have a problem of taking other people’s comments to the heart when really not everyone will think like you and everyone is different no matter how much I want to think everyone is the same underneath.

  17. It does seem like most bashing reviews tend to be a case of the person taking characters too seriously or pointing out flaws of reality, though one can’t blame them if they get too immersed into the anime. xD

    Though, when I read a serious review for deciding whether to try an anime, I do like to see both positive and negative things pointed out, at least so I can know if any of my absolute no-no’s of anime are in it, or anything particularly good that stands out from other anime of its’ genre.

    So, I would prefer a bashing review over one that only praises it, as long as it is reasonable.

    Actually, a post on this site even lead me to watch an anime I would have never watched if I read anyone elses’ review, because it looked like a typical moe all-girl-cast anime that I assumed would have had tons of male-oriented ecchi fanservice(ex: pantyshots and boob-jiggling). It turned out that it has no ecchi fanservice at all(from what I have seen), and overall is entertaining.

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