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The 3 things about ANN Reviews.


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Brice_Armstrong



Joined: 07 Jun 2009
Posts: 19
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 8:43 am Reply with quote
I've been reading ANN's reviews for a while and I always like the Reviewers' way of seeing things, what I'm wondering about though, is if anyone has noticed that when it comes to the three points listed below, ANN reviewers' opinions are similar and maybe (just maybe) a bit biased:

#1 BLEACH !!
Simply put, a good Bleach DVD is showered with praise, an average Bleach DVD is called very good, and an absolutely horrible Bleach DVD (like the Bounto fillers) is somehow referred to as "good and still fun to watch", it's like everything involving Bleach gets a bonus, safe to say all ANN reviewers are hardcore Bleach fans..

#2 English Dub:
While I'm a huge fan of dubbed Anime and I fully agree that certain dubs (like Fullmetal Alchemist and Rurouni Kenshin) are better than the original Japanese version, I still think ANN reviewers tend to lean towards dubs a little too much, we often read lines such as "[insert actor name here] manages to find the perfect balance in his character...etc." when hardly anyone else would agree to that.

#3 Shounen Cliches:
I believe that all ANN Reviewers understand the concept of Shounen animes, all of them are almost entirely based on concepts such as "increase ur strength to the next level to battle ur opponent, then a stronger opponent surfaces so u need to take it up a notch", as well as other common formulas that I need not mention, if you think about it, those common traits are not devoid of hit anime series like Naruto and especially Bleach (which ANN praises so fervently as though it's overflowing with originality), and yet when reviewing other less popular shounen series, reviewers tend to quickly slam them and call them a complete cliche, when in truth even the more popular Shounen series are of that very same mold.
In conclusion, this is by no means a criticism, even if it does appear that way, this is no where near my intent, I just want to discuss these points so I ask that you please not reply with things like "an anonymous reader like urself has no business criticising our reviewers", cause that's not what I'm doing here, I fully respect every single ANN reviewer and do not hide the fact that I've learned a thing or two from each and every one of their reviews.
may this thread be met with the purest of intentions.
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Dorcas_Aurelia



Joined: 23 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 5:24 pm Reply with quote
Brice_Armstrong wrote:
#1 BLEACH !!
...
#2 English Dub:
...

Welcome to the wonderful world of differing opinions!

The best way to deal with the opinions in reviews that don't match your own is to learn how reviewers preferences compare to your own, and than keep that in mind and adjust for it while reading the reviews.
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Keonyn
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Joined: 25 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 5:35 pm Reply with quote
The purpose of a review isn't to tell you facts of what is good and what is not. It's to tell you what the reviewer enjoys and why they enjoyed it so you can determine how your preferences and views compare to theirs. If a reviewer likes something and gives reasons you know would cause you not to like it, then the review still does its job as it clearly shows you may not like what's reviewed even though they did.

It's to provide you a baseline by giving you their opinions and enough supporting information to determine whether you'd agree or not. This idea some people have that a review is somehow word of law and that if it states something they don't agree with then it must be a bad review is ridiculous. It's neither right or wrong because it's an opinion on an artform, which is completely subjective in how that art is appreciated and viewed. A bad review is one that doesn't provide the information the reader would need to agree or disagree, it has nothing to do with whether you agree with it or not.
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abunai
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 6:34 pm Reply with quote
A useful review can also be a glowing review of something, written by someone whose tastes are completely different from yours. Knowing that you almost never like what the reviewer likes is as useful to you as getting a positive review of something, written by someone with the same general taste.

- abunai
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littlegreenwolf



Joined: 10 Aug 2002
Posts: 4796
Location: Seattle, WA
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 6:48 pm Reply with quote
abunai wrote:
A useful review can also be a glowing review of something, written by someone whose tastes are completely different from yours. Knowing that you almost never like what the reviewer likes is as useful to you as getting a positive review of something, written by someone with the same general taste.

- abunai


Has ANN ever considered giving reviewers their own page with all their reviews on it? Like let's say I read a review, I could click on their name and see a list of their other reviews maybe? There are some reviewers I love, and some I never agree with, and you never know who did it until you randomly click on it, and I think I'd probably use that sort of feature. I'm probably the only one though.
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sailorsarah08



Joined: 30 Aug 2008
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Location: Houston, Texas
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 7:19 pm Reply with quote
I would also use that feature littlegreenwolf so your not completely alone. Smile

I have always found the reviewers here to be pretty good about reviewing. There are some reviewers who really hate dubs and to balance it out some love them blindly, sort of like the fanbase.
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JacobC
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Joined: 15 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:43 am Reply with quote
What abunai said. I take all reviews with a grain of salt by applying not WHAT they say, but WHY they say it to my own tastes, and honestly...there are a couple reviewers on ANN that when I see their name on anything I think "Okay, I'm probably going to disagree with this completely," and some reviewers that I will immediately believe what they write even if my previous experiences told me otherwise. (I was convinced Romeo x Juliet was a very pretty pile o' poo when I first saw the fansubs, but a glowing review on ANN by a reviewer I usually strongly agree with convinced me to give it another chance and I'm very glad I did.)

Overall, I'm gonna actually side with the initiator more than the replies here and say the reviews on ANN are...a little more subjective and irrational than I would like. I still read them because unlike many other anime reviews, they are almost always well-informed, well-written, interesting and informative. But yeah, I think most of them are too biased even for reviews. The best example of this that springs to mind is the review of Death Note DVD 3 that I still remember for establishing a VERY good point that had NOTHING to do with what the review should have been about. Yeah, Death Note can be morally repugnant sometimes, but the far worse examples like Gantz and Elfen Lied got fair treatment, so one should leave their impressions of its shallow sensationalism out except as a quick closing statement, because it was well-executed sensationalism and didn't pretentiously try to be anything else.

To be fair: we all have subjective tastes in entertainment. It is, after all, a commercial art. The commercial part is what makes it judgeable at all because heck, with the advent of modern and experimental art forms, the visual art and sculpture world is 100% subjective. I could stick a teddy bear's head on a naked mannequin and someone would no doubt find it astounding. (No really. I saw that at an art exhibit once. It won a prize over many wonderful REAL sculptures present. -.-')

Brice_Armstrong wrote:

#2 English Dub:
While I'm a huge fan of dubbed Anime and I fully agree that certain dubs (like Fullmetal Alchemist and Rurouni Kenshin) are better than the original Japanese version,


FOR INSTANCE! Laughing

That statement there. Now if you were a reviewer, you might say that RuroKen's english dub was better than its original Japanese version, but people like me would disagree with you. (I think it's a good, perfectly listenable dub and has a few great performances, but it's DEFINITELY inferior to the original for many reasons.) Tony K., who I think abhors the dub, might just strangle you. Laughing So, yeah, see what I mean? Just recently I unwittingly got in a wee fight with Zac on the forums when I said the Evangelion dub was perfectly fine. I didn't even say it was good, I just said I thought it was watchable, mostly enjoyable, and got better as it went along until I found it on par with the Japanese near the end. He kinda bared his fangs at that because he thinks it not only unlistenable, but just an insulting pile of garbage and one of the worst travesties of dubbing. In that dispute, there were respondents who argued that it was one of the best dubs they had heard, and some that also said it was horrid. I was kinda like..."just...a statement..." Anime dazed

This is why I figure video reviews are best for visual media because if I say I hate a dub but the less anal viewers watching my review can hear it and love it, or vice versa, then I have done better than words on a page. I can bash Air and get the right people interested. I can praise Black Blood Brothers and get the right people disinterested. (Trying desperately to be objective, I gave them the same overall score.) ...But video reviews are a complicated pain-in-the-butt, so we all gotta rely on print more. It's just going to be a crapshoot, so read several reviews on several (good) sites, and within 3-5, you'll have a good idea of a series' merit. But not one, no.

...P.S. ...Brice Armstrong? Um, like the voice actor? Laughing That's either a coincidence or really awesome.

EDIT: Oh, this thread is kinda old...HA HA HA. Hard to tell in a more bare forum. Sorry. Embarassed
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dtm42



Joined: 05 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 2009 9:19 pm Reply with quote
JesuOtaku wrote:
The best example of this that springs to mind is the review of Death Note DVD 3 that I still remember for establishing a VERY good point that had NOTHING to do with what the review should have been about. Yeah, Death Note can be morally repugnant sometimes, but the far worse examples like Gantz and Elfen Lied got fair treatment, so one should leave their impressions of its shallow sensationalism out except as a quick closing statement, because it was well-executed sensationalism and didn't pretentiously try to be anything else.


Don't forget the Death Note Box Set 1 Review. The review was almost as bad as the DVD 3 review, but oh my, the comments section was just batcrap crazy. I'm still flabbergasted at all the people who defended what was the worst professional review or analysis I have ever read or watched for any medium you care to name; television, movie, book, music, computer game, theatre, singing, sport, vehicle, home appliance, house/property, consumer electronic product, general consumer product, et cetera.

I don't care if a person dislikes Death Note, I don't even care if they hate it. But to single it out and apply to it unfair and unfairly-weighted criteria that no other show must endure, well that is unarguably and undoubtedly an example of bias. And for a professional reviewer to do that, and not just some random ranter on the 'Net, well it was inexcusable in my eyes.

I know ANN wanted to have an alternative view on Death Note, and that is commendable in a way. Although, we already had that view in the DVD 3 review. But just because a viewpoint is alternative does not automatically imply that it will be any good. Look at FOX News, which offers a break from "left-wing" media, but also manages to be one of the most biased and least intelligent news outlets in North America. Fair and balanced my arse.

So yeah, to sum up; if you want to apply new and incredibly-harsh criteria regarding the morality present in fictional works, do it for every show or none at all. Singling out a target and is bias, pure and simple. Well, actually, it could be a hit job instead...
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JacobC
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 10:33 am Reply with quote
dtm42 wrote:

Don't forget the Death Note Box Set 1 Review. The review was almost as bad as the DVD 3 review, but oh my, the comments section was just batcrap crazy. I'm still flabbergasted at all the people who defended what was the worst professional review or analysis I have ever read or watched for any medium you care to name; television, movie, book, music, computer game, theatre, singing, sport, vehicle, home appliance, house/property, consumer electronic product, general consumer product, et cetera.


Oh. Geez. Yeah, that review was bad. But you're right, the debate it started was worse. Some people were fairly rational about it, but for the most part, it turned into a hate-fest way too fast for people that loved the series so much that they turned it into a personal attack on Kimlinger. Shocked In fact, I don't remember that I commented there, despite wanting to break down the review and show why it bothered me, because hey guess what! I AGREE with what Mr. Kimlinger said about the series. I have the same feelings about it, differing pretty much only in that I can acknowledge that it was NOT attempting to be anything more than sensationalism and it hit a great balance with this "Shonen Jump" approach to the controversial premise. But that opinion of its shallow characterizations and monstrous portrayal of morality did not need to factor into his review. He should write a separate essay on it if he wants because its his ideal of what Death Note should have been, what would have been healthier and deeper for its premise. But premise isn't everything. Within the first episode, you can tell what tone this story is shooting for and it's SENSATIONAL THRILLS, not realism, not depth, not even a moral stance. Morality was irrelevant to the story in the same way that it would be to Die Hard, really. But no one slams Die Hard for being ridiculous, and it is. Die Hard and Death Note are great works of entertainment. On a technical level, story development, everything, it did EVERYthing it set itself up to do. You judge a work by the standard that it has created for itself, not one you created for it. (One of those "Here's the point. And you missed it." moments.) It was a far cry better than Bleach's awful pacing and cliche/shortcut-ridden crawl, and Bleach gets more praise from Kimlinger, as mentioned in the opening post here. That's why you never slam a tragedy for not having a happy ending unless it is was not a tragedy and the tragic ending was forced. We may always want a happy ending, but the story may not and the story is paramount.

Like, on a personal level, and this is probably widely known, I HATE HATE HATE Evangelion with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. I probably could not be paid to own it. I would look at the DVDs, suppress my gag reflex, and sell them off to someone who actually wants them. I hate it THAT much. But I am not going to pull a Kimlinger because of that. I want to give it its due for what it does right, what it does wrong, and what I can admit is just going to affect a select few like myself. (Part 2 of my review was stuff that may just affect me, but given the numerous complaints about Shinji and aspects of the storyline, I thought it would be good to expose them for consideration. Some people vehemently agreed, some didn't see my point. So those who just didn't think that way went to part 3 which has more universally valid arguments.)

However, if that's the worst review you've ever read of anything, you should read more. I've seen WAY more misguided and biased diatribes against films in official newspapers. It was just...not a good review. It wasn't laughable, though, he hit several valid points, but overall the big convoluted sentences (I can always recognize his reviews fast: the overcomplicated phrases...) don't hide very well that his heart was in entirely the wrong place. You write reviews for other people, never for yourself.
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PetrifiedJello



Joined: 11 Mar 2009
Posts: 3782
PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 12:09 pm Reply with quote
JesuOtaku wrote:
You write reviews for other people, never for yourself.

I'll challenge you on this one. After reading your post, and this line, I was immediately taken back to my college years when my professor said the same thing.

So, we agreed to challenge each other by writing up a review. I took the first person approach. After reading mine, he simply stood up and said, "I shall not read mine. You've clearly won. Excellent job."

Of course, he goes off to tell the class why it's good.

Think about this: when you're with friends, do you give your interpretations in the "it's not for yourself" approach? Of course not. Most people will state something similar to "I HATE HATE HATE Evangelion with the fiery passion of a thousand suns."

Note for a second the use of the word "I". This is no longer a review for other people. It's for yourself. We're just listening for the ride to determine why you disliked it so much.

I've always wondered why people never write reviews in the first person. They are, after all, personal opinions. I've always felt reviews in the third person distanced the reader.

Granted, a review shouldn't soapbox to extremes, but it also shouldn't discount such opinions as unnecessary. An anime having the best animation and story means squat if someone is upset a political message was embedded to the point of removing any enjoyment.

My only beef with ANN reviewers is using the terms "moe" and "fanservice", given these terms are just too broad and vary between anime fans to be consistent enough to mention.

But then again, they are used in light of the personal opinion as given by the reviewer, so there's that aspect it is written "for themselves" while trying to notify the reader.
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Zin5ki



Joined: 06 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 12:46 pm Reply with quote
I'm in the position to submit reviews to IMDb and MyAnimeList etc., as is the case for any other person, but I choose not to.

To heed JesuOtaku's maxim on the purpose of reviewing would leave me unsure as to what I should assume of others' tastes and dispositions. I'd end up having to generalise these 'unknowns' by making vaguely statistical estimates: "It is most likely that a given person won't enjoy this, but there is a small chance that they will." Of course, accuracy in these guesses would still not be entailed solely by considering probable majorities in opinion.

My alternative would be to wallow in my biased preferences, relying on the assumption that quite a few others would be disposed in the same way I am as regards anime. I don't know if I'm at a stage of my fandom in which I can safely presume this.
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jgreen



Joined: 14 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 1:57 pm Reply with quote
PetrifiedJello wrote:
Note for a second the use of the word "I". This is no longer a review for other people. It's for yourself. We're just listening for the ride to determine why you disliked it so much.

I've always wondered why people never write reviews in the first person. They are, after all, personal opinions. I've always felt reviews in the third person distanced the reader.


I think one of the chief reasons is that the first person makes for repetitiveness--lots of setences starting with "I think," "I feel," "It seemed to me." It's also unnecessary, redundant language, because people reading it know that (A) it's a review, and (B) it's your opinion. You don't need to say "I think this movie is terrible" when "This movie is terrible" will do.

That being said, the first person has its merits in certain situations. As someone who has both written plenty of reviews and edited hundreds of reviews by other people, there are times when I think the first person is necessary, when the opinion you have of a work is intrinsically tied to your own personal experiences in biases. There are reviews where I've removed every instance of the first person a writer put in, and others where I've left in dozens of them. I think it's up to the author to determine which approach is more appropriate in each situation.

Zin5ki wrote:
To heed JesuOtaku's maxim on the purpose of reviewing would leave me unsure as to what I should assume of others' tastes and dispositions. I'd end up having to generalise these 'unknowns' by making vaguely statistical estimates: "It is most likely that a given person won't enjoy this, but there is a small chance that they will." Of course, accuracy in these guesses would still not be entailed solely by considering probable majorities in opinion.


I think you're taking the maxim a little too literally. Writing reviews "for other people" doesn't mean that you need to be able to spell out "if you like X, then you'll like Y" for every statistical category of fandom. But what you should try to do in a review is to spell out not only whether you like something or not, but WHY you liked or disliked it so that the reader can read your reaction, compare it to their own tastes, and decide if it is worth their time to watch it.
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JacobC
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 2:04 pm Reply with quote
PetrifiedJello wrote:

Of course, he goes off to tell the class why it's good.


Well...which was why? Your anecdote didn't really tell me anything. Confused Could you go into more detail?

All I know is that I immediately tend to discount reviews that start going into "I didn't like this character. I didn't like this ending." Well, who CARES what you think, anonymous reviewer? We're not your buddies and this isn't your personal diary. Say instead "This character was poorly developed because" or "This ending was unsatisfying because" and then I can know your thought process and whether I'm likely to agree with you or not. This heads off that whole big problem of reviews being subjective opinion. Yeah, they are, but if you know where that opinion is coming from, that reveals an objective basis by which you can accept or reject it. I despise moe for the same reasons that many people love it, Zin5ki being a prime example. So if I give my reasons, saying I hate it has helped Zin5ki by telling him he'll like it. See?

Reviews are important. Critiques are necessary to promote good work and discourage bad work, not to "tell people what to like." So just saying "IT'S ALL SUBJECTIVE! MAKE IT OPINION!" is a copout. It doesn't encourage any intelligent thought at all, it encourages whorish media consumption and produced gems like ABC's evening fall lineup. -.-' (Some of those ads seriously depress me.)

Quote:
Think about this: when you're with friends, do you give your interpretations in the "it's not for yourself" approach? Of course not. Most people will state something similar to "I HATE HATE HATE Evangelion with the fiery passion of a thousand suns."


Well, sure. They are my buddies. That is my personal soapbox to be myself. (And they all either hate EVA or have never seen it, ha ha, so I'm safe.) Would I ever put it out in published form as a carefully constructed critique? No. Goodness, that's like the difference between an e-mail and a thesis paper. Cannot be compared at all.

Quote:
Note for a second the use of the word "I". This is no longer a review for other people. It's for yourself. We're just listening for the ride to determine why you disliked it so much.


Well sure, if someone is an entertaining reviewer like the Nostalgia Critic, etc. NO ONE watches his reviews to see if they'll like some movie he's discussing. They know it's going to be bad and they watch for the jokes. However, many people read reviews because they are honestly looking for recommendations before they dive into 4-8 hours of Japanese animation that may or may not suck. I do that: I read reviews looking for the good stuff so I won't get stuck watching something like Hellsing TV or Bleach for the hype and miss out on gems like Mushi Shi or Welcome to the NHK that are rarely discussed. Again, I'd cite Romeo x Juliet. I seriously remembered hating it. Now I think it's, well...pretty good. It's well-constructed anyway, massive plot/character cliches notwithstanding, and the dub helped it tenfold. The best reviews should probably be a combination of entertainment and information...I think?

Quote:
I've always wondered why people never write reviews in the first person. They are, after all, personal opinions. I've always felt reviews in the third person distanced the reader.


They sound less informed and less professional. Why do you write essays in the third person your school years? It's the correct way to do it. Reviews are kind of like essays. (Specifically they are critiques, but you just don't write many of those in school, so...yeah, analogy ruined. Sorry.)

Quote:
Granted, a review shouldn't soapbox to extremes, but it also shouldn't discount such opinions as unnecessary. An anime having the best animation and story means squat if someone is upset a political message was embedded to the point of removing any enjoyment.


Yeah, so bring that up! Make that clear! But make it a footnote or an aside unless your review is called "An Examination of Morality in Death Note." If it's a general review of Death Note as a series, then you stay on topic. General reviews cover general topics, not scholarly, massively subjective theoretical readings. (I realize Kimlinger used the term nihilism but...that was actually my biggest beef with the review. Horribly horribly horribly inaccurate use of that word. It's not true of Death Note at all, not of any character's philosophy in the show, much less the show's collective worldview.)

To keep the cries of hypocrite at bay, that's part of why I split the EVA review at the point I did, part 2 being the sticky and most disagreeable part, but you'll notice that I still clarified why the philosophies and development of the story were damaging to the more objective narrative structure, not just "I don't like postmodernism," but "Postmodern development of this story thread hurt the narrative's evolution and the validity of Anno's message, and this is why."

Quote:
But then again, they are used in light of the personal opinion as given by the reviewer, so there's that aspect it is written "for themselves" while trying to notify the reader.


See, why would you write reviews for your own amusement? You KNOW what you think! If you're writing it for others to read, then you should format it in a way that helps others form their own opinions about what you've written, not impress them with what you think and "oh, aren't you good at talking about Japanese cartoons and how they make you feel." Again, no one cares. They're not your friends and confidantes, they're coming to your review because they want to know about the show, not you. That's all I meant by "for others, not yourself."
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Quark



Joined: 07 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 9:44 pm Reply with quote
PetrifiedJello wrote:

Note for a second the use of the word "I". This is no longer a review for other people. It's for yourself. We're just listening for the ride to determine why you disliked it so much.

I've always wondered why people never write reviews in the first person. They are, after all, personal opinions. I've always felt reviews in the third person distanced the reader.


Roger Ebert tends to write reviews like this. One of his reviews stated "I hated, hated, hated this movie. Hated it"
I agree with you, I like the first person review too. For some reason it's a little easier to read "I thought the story was crap" rather than "The story was crap" The first person makes it an opinion, whereas the third person style tries to make it sound like fact.

Anyway, speaking for myself, I basically follow some of the tactics that others use - there are some reviewers where I agree with them most of the time (Bamboo) and others that I never agree with. I also tend to consider what they liked and disliked and compare it to my own personal preferences. It works fairly well.
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penguintruth



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 10:55 pm Reply with quote
Well, the reviewer shouldn't have to state it's their opinion. A review is based on opinions. It's assumed that it's their opinion, who else's opinion is it going to be?

If I say a movie is crap in a review, I shouldn't have to back it up with, "but that's just my opinion". Obviously, it's my opinion. Of course, without supporting your opinion, it's hardly even an opinion, it's a reaction.

If you constantly qualify your opinion by stating it's your opinion, the writing is passive and weak, and doesn't grab the reader's attention.
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