I love Japanese language and great stories. I watch anime in Japanese - raws (if possible ofc). However I have to admit sometimes I get lazy and watch with English subs. I read manga only in Japanese. I consider reviews based on dubbed movie or translated book an abomination.
Why read manga in Japanese
I read manga only in Japanese, because knowledge of Japanese language, culture and civilization allows to understand subtle meanings in content - consequently results in improved reading experience. Makes reader more aware that characters think and act in Japanese way. Also it fits more natural to overall design of manga written in classical style - reading from right to left vertically. Note that translations are lossy (missing meaning, translation errors, etc).
Why watch anime in Japanese
I watch anime only in Japanese dub, because very similar reasons as in case of manga. I started with English fan-subs and when I got better in Japanese (note: I am not learning Japanese from anime and manga. IMHO It is not a good idea. If you want to learn find a teacher or a school to teach you.) then I gradually switched to raws. Due to laziness and other factors I occasionaly go to subs. I always recommend to avoid dubbed anime at all cost. Not all non-Japanese dubs are bad some of them are quite good, but none can match original.
I've saying: "When you taste a fine wine, you won't be satisfied with common beverage anymore." (translated)
How long have you been studying Japanese?
For a long time, but very slowly.
What is your proficiency in Japanese?
I have JLPT N2 level certificate.
What I think about reviews
In the end there is no such thing as one hundered percent objective review. I think you can not avoid some level of subjectivity. One can easily overlook flaws if he already likes it. Moreover personal taste changes with time.
What I think about recommendations
As each anime/manga is substantially different and like/dislike is purely subjective it's highly improbable I would like other anime/manga sole on some similarities in story. Especially if reasoning were made by someone else.
What is the best way to find good anime
Simply put trial and error. You find out soon there are lot of people that gladly trash your favorite pieces - especially in so called official site reviews. To be completely fair You would do the very same to theirs.
Anime I have started with (in no particular order)
Dragonball, Sailormoon, Saint Seiya, Slayers
My favorite anime
My favorite manga
My genre preferences
I don't watch:
Generally I don't like Mecha. It is hard to express a reason why. I find it kind of cheap, childish and unimpressive. Sport anime is the second genre which does not interests me. I don't like stupid submissive virgin male leads. That puts most of ecchi and harem on my won't watch or 0.5 star list. For obvious reasons I do not watch yaoi/shounen-ai.
I do watch:
Pretty much anything else not mentioned in don't watch. I don't have special preferences in that regard. Fantasy, comedy, action, romance, sci-fi, horror, yuri, gender-bender.
Anime/manga star ranking (updated 2014)
0.5 F*cked up
2.5 Average / mediocre
3.0 For what it's worth It is ok.
4.5 Like it
5.0 Love it
Reviews (updated 2019)
I score anime primarily by its own merits. I do not care what studio made it. It has no bearing on score whatsoever. I care more about story and characters than animation and sound. This means the later will have little impact on overall score. However I do compare if some another anime I've watched did the same thing (trope, story, character) better or worse.
The sound scoring is quite simple. If an anime has fitting soundtrack for better immersion it means 5/10 points, additional 2.5/10 points for good and memorable OP and same 2.5/10 for ED. Notice that I do not score explicitly on voice acting. Most of time it is fine. I might in some cases point out exceptionally good or bad voice acting. Perfect score on animation can be achieved only by anime which goes an extra mile. It means the animation must be outstanding with beautiful art appropriate for the narrative. Note that my scoring in this regard is softer on older series. As I've said those are not so important to overall score. The story scoring starts with initial ranking score, where
1/10 "cash-grab", pointless sequel
2/10 soft porn (ecchi), harem
3/10 visual and light novel adaptations, sport
5/10 romance, slice-of-life, historical, comedy
6/10 action, symbolism and unusual stuff
7/10 rule of cool, psychological
From this reference point the score can go up or down depending on premise, pacing, plausibility, conclusion and if present the morale message. My enjoyment does enter scoring, but I don't give high score anymore just, because I liked the show.
Japanese difficulity ranking (updated 15.01.2019)
For manga and LN reviews I'm trying to use difficulity scoring system for people, who are studying Japanese and are interested in reading original. This score has no bearing on the total score. It's a useful hint, that I hope is going to help students of Japanese language to get into reading manga. Even If I consider enjoyment of the series more important than difficulity in order to keep motivation to read, there is still need to be realistic. The best progress is at level slightly higher that one can handle at the moment. On one hand you don't want to go too high too soon and on the other hand you don't want to stay at low level forever.
Why it is even necessary? Shouldn't it be like shounen is easier than seinen, etc. When I started to read manga in Japanese I've noticed there are differences in difficulity even among manga targeted to the same demographic. Since my profiency is higher than 3-5 years ago I will have to re-evaluate difficulity on some older reviews (note: It's going to take same time to re-evaluate). Another goal is to improve the scoring system and make it more systematic.
I'm even considering to start something similar for anime reviews as well, but anime is slightly different, because there is no kanji so the ranking system will have to use some different criteria.
The difficulity score table (updated 15.01.2019)
Watched anime/manga ranking FAQ
Q: Why is Grave of the Fireflies 1-star in other words bad anime?
A: The ending is spoiled by showing death of the kids at the very beginning. The finale is so tedious. I was saying to myself "just die and let the movie finish" 20-15 min before the end. It is just captain obvious topic kids die in a war.
Q: Why is Neon Genesis Evangelion 1.5-star in other words cheap anime story?
A: Themes used in Neon Genesis Evangelion are cheap. It is repetitive Mecha. Making mecha part alien does not make it anymore cool. Bogus usage of Christian terminology. If you want a great anime which can to some extent claim Christian themes: Saint Seiya (virtues, divine providence, objective morality, sacrifice) or Jigoku Shoujo (evil, sin, hell). Even if they do not use explicitly Christian terms the essence can be found there.
Q: Why is Devil May Cry 1.5 star in other words cheap anime story?
A: It was recommended as similar to Hellsing Ultimate. It is not at all. It just goes for cheap action gimmicks without any serious plot. It is bunch of episodes, where main character kills stuff. It does not contain any deeper philosophical aspect - the ultimate purpose of story - like Hellsing Ultimate does.
I am going to update/rewrite some my older reviews (hopefully this year 2015), because after consideration those scores are over-blown on some series - Fate Zero and Black Rock Shooter. Now I know better.