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ANNCast - This One's About Reviews!

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Joined: 24 Feb 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 9:44 pm Reply with quote
Ah, right now the short list is:

- Case
- PetrifiedJello
- DomFortress

That is, actually, a very good idea. Chatting with forum-ers might be a little tough, since some will be much more hot-blooded than professionals.

That being said, it doesn't surprise me that you'd only have 3(?!) candidates for this project.
I'll be the first to admit I haven't been the most calmest person when it comes to forum.
Picking level-headed people in forem is, quite literally, looking for a needle in a haystack.

But, thanks to this week's episode, I now have a more positive view towards professionals and how they review. I must say, it seems VERY hard!
If a future episode will discuss this topic again, I'll be sure to listen tho that one too! Keep it up!
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 9:53 pm Reply with quote
The King of Harts wrote:
-I don't know who Case is

S(he) is Zac's official stalker. I seem to remember they were once threatened with a ban if they didn't stop popping up and pestering Zac wherever he went.

So yeah, having Case on with Zac would be an unmitigated disaster. Mind you, it could also be quite amusing . . .
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 9:54 pm Reply with quote
The King of Harts wrote:
Zac wrote:
Ah, right now the short list is:

- Case
- PetrifiedJello
- DomFortress

    -I don't know who Case is
    -I like PJ. It'll be interesting/weird to hear his voice.
    -I'll reserve my comments

Actually, the more I think about, the more I look forward to it. I hope you plan on doing one soon.

Case isn't his complete username. He's always around the forums, saying pointless things and all, but sometimes funny and insulting things. Well, he's probably reading this as well. And recently Zac banned him for a week or so, if I'm not mistaken.

But that list seems interesting. I wonder how would DomFortress deal with this, where he won't be able to hotlink his own words? Anime smile + sweatdrop
Case probably would say loads of stuff I wouldn't understand at all.
PJ makes me curious. I wonder if he would speak Japanese for us, you know, things like: ~desu, de arimasu, sugoi, and kawaii...
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 10:57 pm Reply with quote
By the way, I also am a first-time listener to the program due to the content and was pleasantly surprised to be wanting more 70+ minutes into it. Good stuff.

There were a couple of things that I think that the episode touched on but could have made a little stronger. First is the need for reviewers to be identifiable and have a "voice." ANN certainly allows that with folks like Zac and Bamboo and Justin and Carl, whose names I recognize whenever they publish a review. Having written solo for over ten years and around 600 reviews, you can get a pretty good feel for what I like and dislike. But so many review sites are compiled from multiple sources that it's hard to figure out if you'll like what "the site" likes.

This also is a problem for anyone who doesn't start with a reasonable body of work already completed. You've got to start somewhere, of course, but if you have a breadth of material available to readers at the start of your blog or website or whatever, it's that much easier to judge the biases and get a feeling for the reviewer's point of view. It sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but waiting a few months to publish until you have a variety of materials available is worth it. (And most of the time, you'll go back and see just how much better your writing gets when you've written for a few months, and you'll go back and edit your earliest work.) If you're going to get paid work, having a portfolio is also an essential.

My other issue is in classifying reviews in terms of "pro" and "amateur" based solely on pay. There are many of us out there who do this not because we're paid, but because we love it and because we've become pretty good at it. I'd mention any number of others, from the incredibly knowledgeable GrumpyJiisan on YouTube to Stig Hogset on THEMAnime, who occasionally get pull-quoted and are known to various PR departments. There is definitely a middle tier, a "semi-pro" set if you will, where the bar is much higher than a start-up blog or a random fan gushing or wailing on the latest download.

All that said, well done, folks. Very much enjoyed what everyone had to say and will be looking forward to review-oriented 'casts in the future.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 11:22 pm Reply with quote
Well, when it comes to people being passionate about what they love, hearing dissenting opinions because less honest discussion about faults and such and becomes a fight to personally validate their love of whatever being talked about.

Lets say you love...harem shows. Now, someone comes around, and voices their dislike of harem shows. Now, two options are open to the fan.

1. Respect the difference in opinion, and walk away.

2. Feel threatened by someone voicing their opinion about harem shows, which quickly becomes not a dislike of the show, but a personal attack against the fan, who feels like he is now under attack for type of shows he watches.

Which leads to the name calling, and the ever so convienent label of "unprofessional" against his attacker, to somehow justify to himself that his opinion is solid and unreproachable.

Remember, its OK to have a different opinion...just as long as it goes along with the crowd.
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Top Gun

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:52 am Reply with quote
Really great show this week, guys. (Love that soundboard. Smile) The guests and Bamboo had too many good insights into the whole process of reviewing for me to even hope to comment on individually. I especially appreciated the discussion about what makes a good/bad review, and what a reviewer's duty is, and I generally agreed with most of the points you made. I only wish that a few of the...shall we say...intellectually-challenged posters who tend to pop up and rage in particular reviews would take some of those points to heart, though that's definitely a pipe dream.

As far as anime fans not being critically-minded goes, I might consider myself fitting that description somewhat, at least as far as ranking/numbering things goes. (Loved that bit about loathing review scores. Razz) I think I'm the only person I've seen on the site MyAnimeList who has the "Score" column completely hidden because I flat-out don't use it. (Well, with the exception of those very few terrible pieces of work that sank straight to "so bad it's horrible" and fully deserve that 1. They know who they are.) I feel like this is more because of my penchant for enjoying different series for different reasons than any aversion to analysis, though, as I do enjoy looking at storytelling from a structural standpoint. For instance, there's no real way I could compare in a numerical sense a show like s-CRY-ed, which I love for being ridiculously over-the-top and hilarious, to shows like Cowboy Bebop or Wolf's Rain, which I consider beautiful works of art. Both sides give me almost equal amounts of entertainment, but for completely different reasons, so I don't feel like I have any business holding them against each other. I'm content to just say that I enjoyed them and leave it at that.

As far as the oft-repeated "But it gets better at episode X!" mantra goes, I completely understand having a problem with it, and I probably wouldn't be too charitable if it were being directed at me instead of the other way around. But at the same time...I've seen my share of anime, and I know that far too many series out there get off to slow starts yet wind up being at least reasonably good in the end. (And then there are those that can't figure out how to end properly, but that's another story.) I think a lot of its validity depends on the scope of what's being said, though. If there really is a show that's flat-out terrible for several episodes and then slowly starts to get good, I'll agree that there's something seriously wrong. But there are also series that start off at least moderately good for a few episodes and then become substantially more so later on, and in those cases, I'd be far more open to sticking it out.

For instance, many people say that One Piece "gets really good" at the time of the Arlong Arc, which starts around episode 30 or so, and I'd be inclined to agree. However, that certainly isn't to say that the previous episodes weren't solid shounen in their own right; that particular arc is simply where the show first kicks things into a higher gear and shows the sort of spectacular emotional highs it's capable of. Another series that comes to mind for me personally is Trigun. I'd heard beforehand what a great show it was, and what a badass character Vash was, but the first few episodes seemed rather goofy compared to what I'd been led to believe. Then episode 5 came along, and while I won't mention what happens here, suffice it to say that I finally understood what everyone was talking about, and the series had my full enjoyment from there on out. The funny thing is, when I go back and re-watch those first few episodes today, I enjoy the heck out of them for what they are, because I have that foreknowledge of what the series later becomes. In cases like these, where you're obtaining at least some enjoyment from the "not-so-good" parts, I think the statement can be construed as valid.

There are also series that don't necessarily become significantly "better," per se, but instead undergo some sort of significant shift in tone or structure at some point. One of my personal favorite series, Big O, does this between its first and second seasons: while the first largely consists of stand-alone episodes, the second has a far more structured and continuous plot, particularly down the stretch of the final several episodes. I personally greatly enjoy the first half myself, but it's the second that contains the real meat of the show that I love to wrap my brain around. Similarly, Witch Hunter Robin spends its entire first half in a sort of "monster-of-the-week" format that can admittedly drag on somewhat, but a radical change of pace near the halfway point sets up the main plot that forms the focus of its second half. Again, if you're willing to stick with the relatively more pedestrian portion, you'll get rewarded with something more special further down the line.

In any case, that's just my own personal take on that small portion of the show. Again, great job this week, and keep them coming. Smile
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:59 am Reply with quote
Evangelion a rip-off of Zambot 3?

But Zambot 3 never addressed the way being a robot pilot really affected the children, even after it explained that they were essentially forced to do it by their parents via subliminal programming (which wasn't really played as disturbing as it soundss, oddly enough). It's a dark and nasty super-robot show (at the end, at least), but it doesn't cover the same ground as Evangelion. In which case, it's not a rip-off, it's using the same idea in a different way, which is a very good thing.

Evangelion is much more a rip-off of Ideon, which is why it's so inexcusable that it does so many of the same things wrong.

Zac wrote:
...I can't believe I sat through this; it's terrible! Not that Slayers is terrible.


It is hilarious that "giant robots" and "girls with boobs" was enough to peg the show Bamboo was talking about as Kannazuki no Miko.

Last edited by Fronzel on Sat Nov 21, 2009 1:56 am; edited 2 times in total
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Shiroi Hane
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 1:38 am Reply with quote
I have [email protected]
I got it years ago, mainly because it was written by Konaka (Lain, Digimon Tamers).
I still haven't seen all of it - I fell asleep watching it twice.

It's funny, but I can't remember ever reading an ANN review. I oddly think I'm more likely to read a review of something I already know I like, and then more likely if it is in print rather than on screen. Technical reviews I read all the time (but again, I prefer them in print) like PC hardware etc, but for some reason I avoid most anime reviews without even realising I'm doing it.

P.S. - where did the "Kanone" pronunciation come from?
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 1:54 am Reply with quote
And the random thought: Mike Toole has a near uncanny similarity to Mike Rowe in the tone/timbre of his voice; quite sonorous, made for radio or books on tape.

Love AnnCast: Never fails to entertain... and it doesn't take forever to get to the "good part." Ba-Zing!

But seriously, it's a pleasure to hear people familiar with the rules of logic/critical thinking, people versed in communication and discourse, people who can string thoughts together into intelligent arguments, supported by evidence and example when needed, discuss Anime as entertainment and art form. Effective communication is a dying skill, sadly, and we're poorer for it.

And then there's the swearing... Good times.

Lastly, I always learn something. It's interesting to hear the how's, why's, what's, and how come's from people who know, instead of conjecture and wild speculation from "the web."

Re: "Hardcore Fans" The point of entertainment is to entertain, a novel idea, I know. There's nothing hardcore about suffering through the majority of an anime (or video game, or book, or movie, or song, or whatever) to get to the "good part." Who does this? Who keeps playing a video game, reading a book, listening to a song, or watching a movie if the entertainment, if the "hook" to keep you there, engaged/interested (at whatever level) is missing in the beginning? Personally, and I do give things a fair shake before moving on, I don't waste my time (ex. 10 episodes into a 20-odd long series). If a show takes THAT long to start up, to get to the entertainment/hook, then it's either a) poorly written b) poorly designed c) poorly executed d) all of the above and/or e) not for me (because what's entertaining is also very specific to each person, and some person somewhere just might like what's poorly going on... to the tune of wasting hours just to get to a "good part").

I can see watching something if it's compulsory, as a critic might, but otherwise it sounds like you've got nothing better to do other than keep watching because you've got no better options (like only watching anime over other forms of entertainment) or you don't mind wasting your time. I'd say, raise your standards some and value your time a little more, unless you happen to be one of those people who just has to see everything to have seen it.

Further, what is it to be "hardcore," anyway? To be fanatical? Is being "hardcore" ever a positive trait? Unless you happen to be "hardcore" into charity, kindness, and volunteer work, or something.

Re: "Review Rage" People get upset with negative reviews or views counter than their own beliefs for the same reason people get so territorial and touchy about sports teams: it's taken as a slight against them personally. You've attacked something they love, it is the "best" to them and is part of their identity, part of what they get a sense of self from (like following a professional sport/team), get a sense of belonging from. It's them. By attacking their view with a critique or a view different from their own, you've wounded/attacked them and their identity. Don't believe me? Walk into any sports bar in Boston wearing Yankee junk and bad mouth the Red Sox. You won't get to 1 mississippi before someone (or many someones) decide to rearrange all the bones in your body via your intestines. And I'd be willing to be none of them actually play for Boston.

For myself, if you love or hate something, tell me why and be prepared to back up your viewpoint with evidence if need be. Be specific (a great point that Zac made). And just because we might disagree doesn't mean we can't be civil or argue our opinions with civility. But be prepared to defend what you believe, especially your opinions.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 2:58 am Reply with quote
Another great conversation from y'all this week! I really liked hearing all of you talk about what makes a good review to you - it was neat that even though you all had basically the same views toward reviewing, you still all found individual things to say about writing reviews and what their purpose should be.

Also, I think you should do a whole show from inside that cave Razz
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 7:09 am Reply with quote
Zac, you should do a show with voice actors and mess around with the voice effects for the entire show Razz

.. actually, whats the name of the sound board you use? Just curious.

I tend to trust ANN reviews more then reviews from friends (that acutally sounds kinda sad but...) when your friends recommend you to watch akane iro no-whatevertherestofthetitleis and you want to shoot them after suffering through the series then... well....

re forum regulars.. dunno the other two but Dom has some good points sometimes, although he tends to ramble on a bit much. So I guess if you can control how much forum-ers say on your show when/if you have them on you'll be fine.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:19 pm Reply with quote
Only one thing, AGAIN: Clannad, Kanon and Air ARE NOT HAREM. How many more times are you going to make that mistake? Seriously. It's moe, it's not very well animated, they have similar situation, BUT THEY ARE NOT HAREM.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 1:13 pm Reply with quote
Speak of the devil, and who should appear?

I retain the coveted position of Zac's personal stalker? Cool beans. Good to be remembered. Even if I've hardly posted on ANN since I graduated junior college.

I checked out this week's ANNCast yesterday, since I have been disappointed in ANN's reviews for some years now. I started a page of notes to respond to various things throughout the show segment by segment, but I decided it's not really worth it. This podcast confirmed a lot of things I've long believed about ANN's staff and their approach to reviews, and demonstrated for me that a lot of things ANN gets accused and denies guilt of are really just matters of semantics that Zac and others really just frame in a particular choice of words rather than categorically deny.

Suffice it to say that I'm onboard nearly 100% of what Clarissa said in this installment. Though as a matter of reputation ANN seems to be more interested in what she has to say than what I have to say, I think her comments intrinsically reflect long standing criticisms of ANN's reviewing style that I and many others have raised over a number of years when it comes to genre reviews. I think her comment about comic book-inspired movies was ingenious: Different people of varying ages and interests have different expectations, and a good review needs to focus on the reader and take that into account with every word. If you only speak from your personal taste and point if view, you're only going to be followed and understood by like-minded people, and the wider range of fans is going to slowly drain off as they find other communities that more fully reflect their interests and expectations. If ANN wants to better understand what I've been complaining about all this time and is more comfortable hearing it from her, bring Clarissa on staff as a consultant and see how she things you could tweak your review methodology.

Zac, Mike and Brad's comments about getting interesting views and writing from the gut are dangerously double-edged: Those objectives are the modus operandi of blogs. The panel talks about what sets professionals apart from amateurs, but the approaches that Zac, Mike and Brad espouse indicate more in the direction of blogger than professional. The balance, I think, is not between objectivity and subjectivity per se, but between what you might call direct observsation and subjective viewing experience. Several of the most prolific ANN reviewers seems to muddle the two forms of commentary together aimlessly and weigh more on the side of subjective viewing experience, which I think is what brings forum discussions back to genre bias and fandom politics time after time after time.

I was pleased to hear at the very end that Zac was planning to move away from all that junk and moving ANN's focus back on the anime. Really! That's a dream come true for me, I've desired nothing more! But then I thought... the initiative must begin after this podcast? Because this episode, like so many reviews and discussion threads past, relied on cheap lulz at those ridiculous, pathetic Key fans' collective expense to create entertainment.
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ruro niko

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 3:25 pm Reply with quote
Great episode. I was shaking my head with worry when a lot of the guests said things not to do are some things I do in comic book reviews. They do have to be somewhat formulaic due to editorial standards of the site I'm on, and I have to give scores a number grade. I do feel like I play it safe by refraining from definitive opinions and strict negatives, trying to find positives to say about things that don't really deserve them.

I also have a hard time reviewing actual comic book art since I never really know what to say. After a while, I feel repetitive, and what makes it worse is most of the time, I don't care about art. Unless it's really awesome or bad, I don't have any strong feelings for it.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 4:30 pm Reply with quote
Prede wrote:
I think the reason this is, is because there is this huge "group think" thing going on in anime fandom.

I shall agree that there exist certain opinions attributable to larger numbers of people than others, but I question the degree to which such views come to be adopted purely on account of their ubiquity. One can conceive of people coming to hold staunchly positive views about a given director or studio without being influenced by the fanbase. Of course, more people may end up watching these creators' works as a result of popular acclaim, though I expect their developing of a love for such works would a thing of their own doing entirely.
Perhaps I miss the point however. Once they come to adhere to them, individuals holding common opinions may be more inclined to voice their expressions of adoration in a strong and possibly unflinching manner, safe in the knowledge that they side with the majority. If this is all you mean to imply, then I see no reason not to agree with you.

Case wrote:
The balance, I think, is not between objectivity and subjectivity per se, but between what you might call direct observsation and subjective viewing experience.

I would be interested as to how this distinction could be elaborated upon, as 'direct observation' strikes me as being purely experiential in nature. Indeed, we typically consider the direct observation of a motion picture—in the context you seem to use it—as being independent of a subject's point of view, provided all subjects in question have attentively watched said picture (but not via means which distort it).
This invariance of 'direct observation' experiences across distinguishable points of view certainly differentiates them from perspectivally subjective experiences, e.g. the experience of liking something. This seems tantamount to drawing the distinction through a criterion of subjectivity however. Which other criteria should we use?
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