Do Anime Creators Pay Attention To Reviews?

by Justin Sevakis,

Norman asks:

Id like to ask if any of the anime studios or production committees that pay attention to review scores or ratings from any Japanese review sites or even large English anime review sites like ANN? Is there a metacritic of anime scores that they pay attention? Are there even large japanese anime review sites? I understand that anime is a business and im under the assumption that looking at sales of DVD/Blu-Rays in the domestic market is a good indicator whether an anime is popular or not. But surely theres something more to that for the anime studios and production committees to gauge the audience's reaction and opinion?

Japanese press doesn't really do the sort of blunt criticism and analysis of movies and TV that Western audiences take for granted. The press is too non-confrontational for that sort of thing. While there are prominent film critics in the media, the critics themselves are often media personalities, acting as a guide to analyze films' artistic content, interviewing talent, and singing the praises of work that they found enjoyable and wish to recommend. Many film critics also have other jobs in entertainment.

With that in mind, a Japanese aggregator of critical opinions, such as Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes, would be anathema in Japan, because the whole concept of criticism that harsh and direct is just not how the media in that country does things.

So aside from viewership numbers and DVD sales numbers, do creators have anything else to go on? Actually, until the last few years, the answer was no. And then social media came along. Even in Japan, people get confrontational and a little too honest online. When the firehose of blunt fan criticism first started, the creatives often were so shocked by it that they didn't know how seriously to take it. Some of them over-reacted to it.

The problem is, anime has such a long lead time that, by the time the first episode airs, every episode is already in various stages of production, and it's too late to actually change anything. So while a producer or a show staff might be keeping an eye on Twitter to gauge fan reaction, there's usually not much that can be done in reaction to it, good or bad. However, it's likely that fan reaction might play a role in decisions made for future seasons of a show, if any.

As far as reviews and fan reaction in English, few in Japan are reading it directly, save for a handful of English-speakers working in overseas licensing. However, on occasion, the general gist of what's being said might trickle up the chain of command. But as far as fan feedback goes in the anime world, that's pretty much it.

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Justin Sevakis is the founder of Anime News Network, and owner of the video production company MediaOCD. You can follow him on Twitter at @worldofcrap.

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