|03-06-2008, 07:55 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Mar 2008
No review pointers?
Wasn't there a thread (I saw it mentioned somewhere else) where a few pointers of how to write a good review were enlisted or am I blind? Time to make one? I doubt it would hurt in that case as I am all for helping people improve their skills of how to make a good review.
Delete, lock or sticky this thread then depending on what is most appropriate ;)
How to write a good review
As with any medium, spending time is very important to begin with. Since we are speaking anime here, spending time means to at least watch the series from start to stop once and even preferrebly take notes on the way if it helps you to remember things as character names or certain situations you liked. Notes are never a bad thing and you can nickpick those that fit in the most later once you start writing.
Also, if you were somehow biased before watching, do mention so. If you watched a mecha anime while not generally liking mecha, then say it might have got a generally lower score because you don't like the genre. It might also be good to mention which fansub you were using if any and maybe give a short description of how good/bad it was and why. It might make people want to look for other fansubs which will improve their viewing experience.
Spend time on your medium of choice. Mention if you were biased before watching or if there were other factors involved which could change a score. Mention what fansubs you were using and what your thoughts about their work are.
There are obviously many ways to start your review. Some people like telling small anecdotes why they came to watch it, others take a historical/hype factor angle, some might want to start ranting straight away why they liked or disliked it in qutie a subjective manner and others might start with a plot synopsis. I have probably used at least all versions once.
For Death Note and Mushishi, I started out something like "... in the year of 200x anime y came and it was highly acclaimed among critics...". Then I later move to explain why it was so well received etc. Make it all sound logical so the readers can follow a red thread in how you were thinking. If you give one thing out, remember to give out the others which follow.
For Interlude, I started to write something similar akin to a hate rant; it has a quite controversial first line: "Interlude must be one of the worst anime I have ever seen since Elfen Lied." It gives us a hook feeling, many people will go, "wa, why? Why was Elfen Lied so bad?" etc, especially since I seem to be one of few people that truly dislike Elfen Lied. I then follow up explaining why I found Interlude to be as bad as Elfen Lied to later only focus on Interlude explaining plot and characters etc.
I have myself as I am aware never truly written an anecdote, but it can be something like "A couple of years ago, my friend really liked anime x and told me to watch it. I didn't want to because my first impression of anime x was that it sucked badly and I was sure it wasn't my type of anime. However, now y years later, I decided to still watch it and it surprised me...". Then a continued logical explanation is made why it was surprising in an obviously positive way.
A history review would be something like "Once during the year of x person y got an amazing idea which later turned into anime z. It was however rejected by many studios until studio a accepted it and which delivered us anime z".
The actual review
Anime-Planet is using the typical 4 point system where sound, animation, characters and plot are all to be reviewed seperately and later equalized into a final score. Therefore I will also mention these sections seperately of what one should think over while writing a review in order to give it not only length, but depth.
The plot is, no matter what one may think about it, one of the most important elements to think over when reviewing an anime. We often solely base our will to watch an anime depending on the plot and the plot can be stereotyped into certain genres such as ecchi, hentai or mecha. The plot is in that sense, the most overgrasping element as it will determine not only what characters will be used but how they will function within it. If the plot then is following a more typical shoujo-pattern, we are to expect love and romance and maybe triangle dramas.
However, first of all, plot and theme should be seperated. The plot is as said, the most overgrasping feature and the plot can in turn trying to convey a certain theme. A theme as such can be defined as a developed thought, like in Fruits Baskets. Fruit Baskets' theme would be something similar like "how will a friendship be changed if a friend changes for the worse?". Most anime will carry certain themes and the key is to figure them out. They often deliver the answer by their own but you might have to look hard to find them.
Of course, a short synopsis of the plot can also help to improve a review. Remember to not make the synopsis too long; keep it short and simple. You should not tell too much of the plot in the actual synopsis but rather use it as a tool as means to convey other parts of the review, such as characters.
Also remember to mention what genres an anime belongs to. Is it action, mecha, drama? Most people know what genres they like and nickpick depending on genre. It may also be important that some genres might be bunched together such as action and mecha so mentioning mecha will make the reader automatically conclude any type of action will in one or another way be involved. If such would not be case, try to make sure you mention that bit. Maybe one can like big robots but not a lot of drama, then that person might still be certain to not watch it based on such conclusion. Therefore as example, saying Neon Genesis Evangelion is a great action mecha series will be misleading as the emphasis is not put on the mecha fights but on dramatic events.
Make a short synopsis of the plot, try to mention one of the most important themes, mention important genres and/or influences
The next most important thing are the characters. Certain character types follow certain plots so harem anime will often have one male lead followed with an array of female ones.
While it is not important to mention how characters look like, it can be mentioned without going into deep detail. In my Mushishi review I mentioned that Ginko is quite standing out and is as such easy to discern thanks to his white hair and modern clothes. However, the emphasis when it comes to describe characters are their personalities and your thoughts about them.
Such thing would be something alike "Shinji is a 14-year-old-Japanese boy that has serious troubles believing in himself. He is in general rather silent and tends to be pushed around by other authority figures...".
Also try to look whether the characters are showing any progress in changing as the story goes by. If we take poor Shinji again it would be something like "While I admittedly found Shinji to be a weak character and to add quite annoying, he later turned to change for the better as the story was closing in on the finale and became surprisingly quite likeable as he finally seemed to find the courage to stand up for himself".
Of course which should be mandatory, don't forget mentioning all the important characters throughout the show. It means main characters and certain ones from the supporting cast that had a great impact on the story, or even those that you might have found yourself to be better without while watching. While not all of them are needed to be explained in great detail, give us a great overview of how they are like.
Try to give the most important characters a good overview of how they look and act like. Try to explore their personality into greater detail. Look for any character progress.
While animation doesn't need to be explained as much as the two pointers above, it might be good mentioning it, especially if it's done by a specific studio like Ghibli.
Try to look of how well animated it is. Does movement look realistic, did you like the character design? How well detailed are the backgrounds, are the backgrounds realistic compared to real places? If there is a forest in the anime, compare it to a real forest. Something which is important to look after in action anime are of course how well the action scenes are drawn. Do the characters move sloppy and does it all look like two people fighting? Color depth, does it suit the mood? Examples can be Ergo Proxy, Paprika and Boogiepop Phantom were certain colors were picked out to create the mood which fit the anime stylistically.
Also, try to compare the anime to another anime whose animation you liked, may it be a modern or an old school one.
Mention the general impression of how well it is animated, does the animation look realistic if it attempts doing such, does the color depth fit the mood of the anime, which studio produced it and try to compare the animation to another anime as to give a fingerpoint of how well animated it is.
Lastly, we have the sound. If a sound is good it should be functional without disturbing. I remember when I was watching the first Halloween installment and I found the background music which was played everytime Mike Myers showed up to drive me nuts. I had to turn it off because I couldn't stand it. For me, that little piece of music really ruined my experience of that movie and as such, it was a very bad choice as background music. However, we can also have the opposite where the background music is so great we would like to download the OST afterwards. Then we have strange cases when there is no background music at all, how do you think it functions with the rest of the anime?
The OP/ED can maybe be mentioned although I wouldn't say they should have a huge impact on the final score.
What were you thoughts about the sound, was it good or bad? Did it fit with the anime? What were you thoughts about the OP/ED? Did they manage to produce a good build up until the anime actually started?
It is always good to summarize of what you came to conclude after writing a review and whether you would recommend the anime or not to other watchers. Anime-Planet has a mandatory Enjoyment section which is a great place to mention things that didn't fit into the rest. Here you are also free to rant how much you want as this section will be more or less purely subjective. Try to get an overgrasping picture of how you enjoyed the anime as a whole and give it a final score and justify why so.
Write whatever comes to mind but try to make sure that you at least explain why you gave the anime the final score you did!
While one can be completely objective in the first four sections it is not by far needed and objectivity/subjectivity can be well weaved together as long you remember to make it logical. First explain things objectively, then subjectively explain your personal impressions. If you are unsure of the quality, ask a friend to read it through. If you feel you cannot write well enough in English, write it in your mothertongue. While such a review wouldn't generally be accepted on most sites, I rather have a well written review in Spanish than a a really bad one in English. While writing can be a great tool to improve one's language skills, be sure your skills are sufficient enough before you attempt writing a serious review as people will directly be turned off by poor use of grammar/spelling.
One last pointer: do not by all means use any kind of slang/internet language! A review should sound serious, then make it look serious! I am directly turned off by a review where I find the user too lazy to write out "you" and instead use the internet form "u" even if it's otherwise well written.
Also... spend some time on your review. A review should not be hastily done and finished within a few lines. A review is a work of art, a work of love. Love your reviews and I bet they will love you back ;) If not it will be notably easier to read as people who spend time on their reviews tend to be more throughly and thus they serve their purpose better than "i love naruto becuz i love ninja lol. u must watch naurto or u are stupid. thnx reading bai".
Last edited by LeaT; 03-06-2008 at 08:08 AM.