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The Winter 2015 Anime Preview Guide


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HayateAyasaki



Joined: 28 Dec 2007
Posts: 2
PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:33 am Reply with quote
Might I make a few constructive criticisms on how ANN delivers their "Preview guide." And please bare in mind, I am trying to be as polite as possible as to minimize stepping on "the powers that be" toes.

A. Format of your "premieres" in relation to each individual page for each anime. Place the anime's name along with the link to the anime within the encyclopedia on top and place an adequate spoiler blank space before the first reviewer, I mean premiere. I've asked this in the past. Some people who use this site as a reference don't want our viewer experience soiled by other people's reaction to the first episode.

B. Redefine exactly what you intend to contribute while writing these "premieres." I've watched the first eight shows after seeing the base "score," then read what each writer had to say. Needless to say, despite the disclaimer that the entries aren't intended to be "blanket judgements," many of them are. Horribly. The casual reader would read these judgements, then rather than making their own judgement based upon their personal experience, they would draw a conclusion which completely invalidates the "blanket judgment" disclaimer.

C. Have authors keep their personal feelings out of their premieres. This isn't the first season where I've read a writer's premiere knowing full well they don't like a particular genre. What's worse, their prejudices become apparent by their choice of imagery while explaining particular characters, story plots or seasonal setups. It's akin to taking someone to the ballet, knowing they hate the ballet, then once they're home, asking them "how was it?"

D. I love how you guys decided to let the reader have a say with the scoring poll. Please continue to utilize that and perhaps find a way to incorporate that into the "preview" page reflecting the staff average and the readers average. If you ever wanted a benchmark to rate the premiere of each show, that would be it.

E. If these entries are supposed to be a "preview guide" to the series, please consider not drawing conclusions on the storyline based upon the first episode. Several reviews, sorry premieres I read left me thinking "what did this author expect?" "Does every anime, or for that matter, every TV show spell out everything in the first episode?" No! Creatively, you build a narrative with the premise at the beginning, then expand upon it through your storytelling. How many times have shows began with the climax scene from the final episode at the very beginning, THEN build the story from that climax by taking the viewer back to the beginning? By all accounts, the reviews, errr critiques Wink from episode 1 would spill the ending while the author expresses their thoughts. Perhaps taking the premise that we know about, then comparing that to what happens in the first episode is a better approach?

Thank you for your time; I sincerely hope my critical input on your preview guide can help in the future. If not, meh... I got it out of my system at least. Laughing
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leafy sea dragon



Joined: 27 Oct 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:51 am Reply with quote
I should say that critics in everything will often relate what they're reviewing to their own personal experiences. Roger Ebert, for instance, started his review of Pleasantville with recollections of his childhood growing up in the immaculate mid-20th-century Americana the bulk of the movie is set in, which caused him to rate the movie high because he could relate to the experiences and messages the movie was trying to make.

It's all part of the viewing experience, really. Even if a reviewer dislikes a genre and has to write a review for that genre, it could still be useful to understand if the work makes any attempt to appeal to people who aren't already fans of that genre.

The problem lies in if the reviewer has already made up his or her mind whether the production will be liked or hated, and this sort of prejudice rarely comes up in professional criticism, as it goes against the nature of the job. Nevertheless, examples do pop up, such as Game Informer's review of Sonic Generations which was given a negative review solely on the author's dislike of the Sonic the Hedgehog games after 1994 and slammed the game solely on the fact that it celebrated the Sonic series past that. I personally don't see that very much on Anime News Network, but then again, I don't watch that much anime to begin with.
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poonk



Joined: 05 Jun 2008
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Location: In the Library with Philip
PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 2:28 am Reply with quote
HayateAyasaki wrote:
C. Have authors keep their personal feelings out of their premieres.
This type of request never fails to blow my mind. If you want an opinion-less account of what happens just watch the show yourself, it's that simple. Otherwise, for most of us the point of the previews is to be a time-saver to clue us in to what shows we might be interested in (and in this regard even a negative review, if well-written as I feel most all ANN's [p]reviews are, would convey the idea).
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Shadowrun20XX



Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 1907
Location: Vegas
PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 4:42 am Reply with quote
YuriKuma EP 2. WOW Yurizono what is going on! God, this is the Filet mignon of the season. Yum.
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gloverrandal



Joined: 20 May 2014
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 7:34 am Reply with quote
leafy sea dragon wrote:
The problem lies in if the reviewer has already made up his or her mind whether the production will be liked or hated


My only complaint about certain reviews would be this, or if the writer is clearly using the review to soapbox about their political views on certain subjects like religion, violence, gender, and similar topics. The best reviews tend to be ones where the reviewer themselves are invisible and you forget they're even there, because they appeal to everyone, not just people looking for validation of their own views through someone they feel has authority on the subject. Judging by some comments in this thread, it's a bit obvious they weren't going to like certain shows regardless, and they're only interested in seeing them get a bad write up because it validates their own views on it, which sadly I think a lot of people use reviews for mainly on the internet.
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Darkmagick
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 8:31 am Reply with quote
gloverrandal wrote:
The best reviews tend to be ones where the reviewer themselves are invisible and you forget they're even there, because they appeal to everyone, not just people looking for validation of their own views through someone they feel has authority on the subject.

I strongly disagree. A review where the reviewer is invisible is, to me, both bland to read and not very useful. If I can't "see" the reviewer, then I don't really know where they're coming from, how it is they're interpreting what they've seen and coming to the conclusions they are.

I like reviews to have personality. In the end, all people are shaped by their experiences, and that reflects in how they view everything, especially fiction. Writing a review with no biases is absolutely impossible - at that point it wouldn't be a "review", it would be a plot summary. I can read those on Wikipedia.

As you read lots of reviews by the same person, you start to get to know them, and understand where they're coming from, what they like and don't like. If it's a reviewer you're very familiar with, then at that point reading their review is kind of like asking a friend their opinion on some new thing that just came out. A friend who happens to be good at writing and articulating their opinions.

Not to mention, reviews should be enjoyable to read, not a chore to get through. I don't want it to be an emotionless robotic monotone - that's boring. (For example, even though I only agree with Bamboo maybe 2 out of 3 times, I love love love reading her writing. There's something about her style I find really appealing.)
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Zac
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Joined: 05 Jan 2002
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 9:34 am Reply with quote
HayateAyasaki wrote:
Might I make a few constructive criticisms on how ANN delivers their "Preview guide." And please bare in mind, I am trying to be as polite as possible as to minimize stepping on "the powers that be" toes.


Thanks for your suggestions, I'll take them into consideration.

Minus the "no personal feelings in a review" thing. Sorry, can't tell people to not have feelings about what they're watching.
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Kyon27



Joined: 05 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 9:39 am Reply with quote
gloverrandal wrote:

...not just people looking for validation of their own views through someone they feel has authority on the subject.


Do you realize the irony of what you're saying? All I've seen from any of the people complaining about the writers for the preview guide is that they don't review certain titles the way they "should." Or that fans of a given genre should be the only ones allowed to review that genre. Doesn't that mean that you and the other complainers are really the ones seeking validation through a review that agrees with your opinion?
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octopodpie
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 11:18 am Reply with quote
gloverrandal wrote:
the writer is clearly using the review to soapbox about their political views on certain subjects like religion, violence, gender, and similar topics. The best reviews tend to be ones where the reviewer themselves are invisible and you forget they're even there,


This is always coded language for "erasing minority voices." As long as readers can pretend that the writer reflects the majority [i.e. White, hetero, male] then your write-up is okay. As soon as the illusion is dropped oh no~. This has beaten to death by the writers themselves, including Hope, up thread. They aren't going to erase their experiences attached to their feelings while watching media.

I wish people would realize how insulting it is to suggest people do that. It's asking individuals to pretend offensive things aren't offensive when they've experienced it themselves in the real world.
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MaxSouth



Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 1301
PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 2:33 pm Reply with quote
octopodpie, Zac:

You are right that it is both wrong and, more importantly, blatantly impossible to take out reviewers' feelings about what they watch.

However, this possibly can be compatible with a certain structure to the reviews, where besides usual free-style authors can categorize their estimations by types of aspects of the show they are analysing.

Obviously, it is totally different thing from essay genre, but it could make ratings and overall output of reviewers more balanced due to certain number of categories-anchors they had to cover. For example, I would offer the following categories, united in two groups:

_______________________________________________________

1) concept: points regarding the concept of the show. How much original or not it is, what is new in it, how it compares to other shows;

2) story: points on how well the concept was executed, whether the analysed show has continuous story, or it is story-per-episode thing (Dandy, Kino Journey, Mushishi, etc.), how dramatic or shallow it is, condense or thin, consistent or sloppy and random with plot holes, so on;

3) characters: how original characters are by behaviour, whether they are nuances personalities or a cardboard cliché, whether they are cute/moe, or annoying/disdainful, whether they are realistic or ridiculous overboard; whether characters are equal to themselves at the end comparing to beginning (character development is main law of drama) so on;
_______________________________________________________

4) style: whether this certain anime has distinct style in terms of how scenes drown, which angles scenes have, whether it is overall an old style like anime of 1980s, or it is a mix of styles (such Dandy), or it an something relatively new (like Monte Cristo from 2005 was);

5) visuals (as a set of static imaginary): characters' graphical design, setting, whether those are original, detailed, or bland, colourless, incredibly inventive (say, like in Dandy), or absolutely dull (as in most of countless of slice-of-life school club anime), so on;

6) animation: how many frames per second this certain project has -- 8 or 12, whether the colours are dirty as in, say, most of digitized old anime, whether animation is "fluid" or rigid, whether the characters get crooked when they move, or it is perfect, so on.

7) music: whether it is petty awkward little melodies or epic neo-romanticism, whether it uses cheap synthesiser or real orchestra, whether there are plenty of themes or just few, how versatile music in style and rendition is, so on;

8) sound: sometimes this can be noticeable subject on its own -- e.g. how innovative the sounds are.
_______________________________________________________

Example of following this scheme is analysis of Hellsing OVA: animenewsnetwork.com/bbs/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=4319585#4319585

Of course, such scheme can not turn human into computer, but it helps to look at things relatively more objectively when you are "forced" to think of all major sides of a project, not mostly about things that make you happy or annoyed as you would naturally go.

At least, this has helped me to give much higher ratings than most people think I gave to the many shows I am bashing and crushing (I am "evil" viewer). And I suppose this can work not only for sceptics, but also for those who mostly see bright side of things: the scheme would pull aspects of the show that are not so great, and in such cases the final rating could become a bit lower.


Last edited by MaxSouth on Fri Jan 16, 2015 7:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Key
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Joined: 03 Nov 2003
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 3:09 pm Reply with quote
The problem with that, MaxSouth, is that such a tight and involved format doesn't work for the Preview Guide. These entries are meant to be snap reactions, ones which are done quickly and take on a more casual and personal approach. They are also holistically scored. Try doing your method for a half-dozen or more series in one day - including 4-5 back-to-back (not common, but it does happen) - and you'll see how unrealistic the approach you describe would be.

Besides, we usually cover most/all of what you ask for anyway. We just don't break it down into bullet points.
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TarsTarkas



Joined: 20 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 5:29 pm Reply with quote
So is this the last of the reviews, or are there going to be any episode 2 reviews, as has sometimes happened in the past?
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Zac
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 5:41 pm Reply with quote
TarsTarkas wrote:
So is this the last of the reviews, or are there going to be any episode 2 reviews, as has sometimes happened in the past?


That's it for the guide. Daily Streaming started Wednesday. We move immediately to that now.
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MaxSouth



Joined: 11 Oct 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 7:52 pm Reply with quote
Key:

Yes, category by category method can not possibly create easy reading experience as essay genre provides. This is why I am not offering it instead of essays. This could be complementary (for "prosumer", more hard-core audience).

Even more: the scheme may not turn out even as an addition to a review -- just having a list of questions to answer for yourself as a plan for essay can help.

For example, for any review, I would write down a list of questions like this:

1) In a pure drama aspect, do things move much in this project?
2) Do characters develop, change, grow within the depicted time frame of their life?
3) How much the story this show offers is continuous?
4) ... (all the other questions that come from the earlier discussed categories)

Having such questions before you would help to keep it real with any project. For example, I have called Space Dandy an outstanding masterpiece in terms of visual and musical design, animation, style, setting, fantasy, you name it.

However, it would be also absolutely fair to mention in a review that this show does not offer drama (as in best class definition), that main characters do not change/develop. And that there is not much of big-scale story to tell, it is mostly episodic show.

This way readers who love drama (again: real drama, not in sarcastic sense) in anime would be warned. As well as those who hate episodic shows. Neither reviewer nor readers would be blinded by only good or only bad sides of the project.

And, by the way, this does not prohibit reviewer to conclude that Space Dandy is an absolute "must watch" anyway since the positive qualities are overwhelming beyond limitations of regular preferences. (Though usually it is not so at all. Does anyone remember the horrible Zenki anime? Kappei Yamaguchi did not save it.)
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leafy sea dragon



Joined: 27 Oct 2009
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 3:36 am Reply with quote
MaxSouth wrote:
1) In a pure drama aspect, do things move much in this project?
2) Do characters develop, change, grow within the depicted time frame of their life?
3) How much the story this show offers is continuous?
4) ... (all the other questions that come from the earlier discussed categories)


The problem with a review that boils the production down to strictly multiple-choice questions is that not only owuld it be incredibly boring, it neglects more nebulous, not-easily-understood reasons why something may be good or bad. That's the thing about human opinion and tastes: It cannot be defined or determined simply by asking a lot of questions. In the end, whether one likes or dislikes a show, movie, game, book, or whatnot is determined by how the person felt, and there can be two productions that could yield the same answers to such a questionnaire, and yet someone may love one of them and hate the other. It's all in the presentation.

You don't have to look any further than user reviews in any sufficiently popular site (assuming there is no moderator-based filter on that site) to see that most of them can't even explain why they like or dislike something. They will say "This sucks," "There's nothing good about this," "This is the greatest thing ever," or "Everything comes together wonderfully." When you see reviews like these, you can tell the author isn't really sure what it is they liked or disliked about that work, just that they did.
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