Attaching numbers to our opinions about anime is an easy way to stay organized amongst so many titles. After all, it’s not very plausible for most of us who have watched hundreds of anime titles to write full reviews of every single one, so giving it a number rating on sites like MyAnimeList (MAL) keeps things simple. However, as keikakudoori has recently pointed out, everyone not only has different opinions about the anime they watch, but different ways of rating them. A “10″ rating given by one person could mean something different than a “10″ rating given by another person. Thus, to remove the vagueness given by a standard number rating system for anime, I wanted to delve further into what my ratings means…
I never really thought about an anime rating system until I signed up for MAL in mid-2008. Since then, I’ve been rating all the anime I’ve watched using their 1 through 10 numbered system, with 1 being the lowest (unwatchable) and 10 being the highest (masterpiece). If you’ve read my previous post about head scores and heart scores for anime, my ratings are usually determined by my head score, with the heart score sometimes playing a part. For example, even though I’m not that into the Ghibli movies (average heart score), I give them high ratings on MAL because I recognize how good they are. And although I’m a huge Pokemon fan (high heart score), I know the anime is not the best quality, thus a lower rating.
My personal opinion behind each number is as follows:
(1) Unwatchable – I’ve never given an anime this low of a score. I honestly can’t imagine an animation fan like me finding an anime with absolutely nothing good about and nothing I can enjoy in it.
(2) Horrible – Again, I’ve never given such a low score.
(3) Very bad – Haven’t given this score either, but I would imagine this would be an anime where there’s just like, one good thing I find in it while everything else is utter crap.
(4) Bad – I guess I’m just not that picky when it comes to anime and I try to focus on the good rather than the bad in everything I watch, hence I’ve never given this low rating either. But if I did, it would be a title that has a few more good things than a (3) rated one, but still mostly crap.
(5) Average – These are titles that I liked a little, but for the most part they bored me or were full of issues that I felt were begging for improvement, i.e., unlikable/under-developed characters, flawed/uninteresting plot, etc,.
(6) Fine – These are anime that I find “okay.” Either I half like them and half don’t like them, or I do like them but I can see that as far as head scoring goes, they’re below-average. I couldn’t really recommend these titles to anyone unless they have specific tastes.
(7) Good – Anime with this rating are ones that I liked and thought were pretty good, plain and simple. They’re not great but not bad, just good. I had some issues with them, but enjoyed watching them for the most part. Both this and a (6) rating means I liked the series, but this one leans more towards overall positive feelings about the anime while a (6) is more negative.
(8) Very good – These are anime that I felt went the extra mile than a (7) rated one. Even if they had some flaws, something about them made them stand out to me, whether it was cinematography, art style, a certain memorable character, or any number of things. An (8) rating basically means “above average” to me. These tend to be titles where my head and heart scores are almost the same, with one or the other dominating a little.
(9) Great – These are excellent titles, not quite masterpieces, but almost there. Lots of great things about these; unique and interesting story and characters, quality animation and music, or some other form of goodness. What prevents them from being a perfect (10) is either my lower heart score feelings interfering, or just one or two noticeable, but not incredibly significant, issues. I could easily recommend these titles to anyone even if they’re not a particular fan of that genre.
(10) Masterpiece – These are the gems that give anime a good name and keep reminding me why I’m a fan. As far as I’m concerned, these titles do 99% of what they’re meant to do right, and in no uneventful way either. Even if my heart score for these titles is low, their greatness is so obvious that it doesn’t matter. Every fan should watch them since I believe they define all that’s great about anime, or even the animation medium in general. I think they could even impress some cynical non-fans. Basically they’re just that – masterpieces in storytelling, characters, visual beauty, or some combination of great attributes.
I think MAL’s rating system is pretty good, which is why I’ve been sticking with it. The only thing I would like to improve on it is to add middle ratings, such as a “7.5″ rating between a “7″ and an “8″ because I often find myself torn between two different ratings.
I’d also like to mention that I think ANN’s way of rating anime in their reviews is pretty good; writing a synopsis and full review, assigning a letter grade to things like “Story” and “Animation,” then finishing it off with quick bullet points of pros and cons. If one wanted to skip the time-consuming task of writing the synopsis and review, just the letter grading and short list of pros and cons would also be a great way to give easy anime reviews, perhaps even more telling than MAL’s.
So, what do you think of the 1 through 10 rating system for anime? Have you seen rating systems on other sites that you think are better? And feel free to share what each of the 1 through 10 rating numbers means to you, or your own personal rating system if you have one.