Anime Blog Carnival: What makes a 10/10 anime?

Today’s post is part of a new project called an “Anime Blog Carnival,” started by du5k. What it consists of is myself and a handful of other bloggers writing a post about the same topic, linking each others’ blogs, and submitting our posts on the same day. The first topic of discussion for the carnival is “What makes a 10/10 anime?”…


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Before I get into exactly what kind of anime I feel deserves a 10/10 rating, I should first mention how I rate anime. In a post I wrote a while back, I discussed the two distinctions I feel exist in how we rate anime – the “head score” and the “heart score.” The head score is our rating for an anime based on how good we feel it is in terms of the usual things – story, characters, pacing, narrative flow, logicality, creativity, etc,. Our heart score however, is how good we feel it is in terms of our personal tastes and what we find entertaining, regardless of the other factors. It could be that it has tropes we like, character archetypes we adore, or a certain art style we can’t resist. For example, I find Angel Beats! vastly inferior to Cowboy Bebop in terms of story, setting, direction, character development, and other things. However, I personally enjoy watching Angel Beats! more than Cowboy Bebop. I’m more willing to spend money on Angel Beats! products and am basically more “into it” than Bebop. Why is this? Because Cowboy Bebop has a high head score for me while Angel Beats! has a high heart score. To simplify, the head score is our objective rating, the heart score is our subjective rating.

Some fans rate anime based solely on their head score, some base it solely on heart score, and some rate based on a balance of the two. So, with all that in mind, what anime would be deserving of a 10/10 rating from me? A very high head score for me practically guarantees a 10/10 rating. What this would encompass is an interesting story/plot that’s built up and resolved in a satisfying way, and a cast of characters that are entertaining and well written. I like to look at anime holistically, so every episode of the series doesn’t have to be 10/10 as long as the whole work averages that rating. If there’s any noticeable method of creativity and innovation when it comes to presenting these things, that would also increase the score. For slice-of-life/comedy anime that don’t rely on plot and character development, I’ll rate in terms of how good I feel the humor is and how fun the characters are. For all anime, if things like animation quality, character designs, music, and seiyuu performances are good, that’ll only increase the score to. But I can forgive these factors as long as the story and characters are of top quality.

While a very high head score for an anime equates a 10/10 rating from me, a very high heart score doesn’t unless I feel my head score for it is also of comparable quality. For example, I’m a big Pokemon fan and love watching the anime despite how flawed, predictable, and redundant it is. So, because of these things, I can’t give Pokemon a high rating despite my high heart score. But then there are series like Evangelion where I have a high head score and a high heart score for it. The head score alone would maybe be a 8/10 or 9/10, but my attachment to the characters and personal nostalgia (heart score) gave it that slight boost to a 10/10.

So to summarize, I feel there are two ways to rate anime – a head score and a heart score. For me, the head score is mostly what determines my number rating of an anime, though an additional high heart score can boost it. A 10/10 rated anime would, in my eyes, have a great story/plot, cast of characters, and narrative flow. Commendable music, art, and voice acting can also help give it extra points. But it’s my (mostly) objective view of plot, characters, and execution (characters and humor if it’s a plot-less slice of life/comedy) that determine the score.

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That concludes my post for the carnival topic. I didn’t make it as long as my usual editorial posts because the idea for the carnival is to read the other participants’ posts too, so it wouldn’t do to make mine a chore to read through. If you’re interested in helping us make this project a success, please read and comment on the other bloggers’ posts on the same topic:

Anime B&B by Marina
The Otaku’s Study by Sam
Anime Viking by Marow
Nopy’s Blog by Nopy
Draggle’s Anime Blog by draggle
Hachimitsu by Mira
Ace Railgun by AceRailgun
Leap250’s Blog by Leap250
Lemmas and Submodalities by SnippetTee
Ephemeral Dreams by Ephemeral Dreamer
World of Yamaguchi Hoshiko by hoshiko
One Minute of Dusk by du5k
Listless Ink by Yi

Not all of the above bloggers will have their carnival posts up today, so you may have to check back if there are certain ones you want to read. Don’t feel like you have to read and comment on everyone’s posts. I know it’s a lot, so feel free to read and comment on as many or as little as you’d like.

On January 15th, we’re all supposed to write a round-up post about the results of the carnival and our opinions about it. I plan to have a regular post in a few days, and then the round-up post on the 15th. So…I’ll see you all then. Thanks for reading/commenting ^_^

38 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. jda95 says:

    Hmm, interesting how you place different scoring emphasis on different genres.

    For me, it’s really a mix between “heart” and “head”, mainly heart though. A lot of people have criticized my list of 10s for being childish and all I can tell them is that the value I get out of watching those are definitely 10/10.

    • Yumeka says:

      Well, it would be unfair to rate slice-of-life anime like K-ON in terms of how good their story is since having a story isn’t their goal. So I guess I try to score in terms of what the anime is trying to do. Something like Evangelion is trying to convey a narrative while something like Lucky Star is trying to be funny, so I’ll grade them respectively.

      Yeah, I give a lot of 10s too and MAL doesn’t seem to like that. But like you, that’s just how I feel. I’m more of an anime lover than an anime critic.

  2. Vampt Vo says:

    I see where you’re coming from with the “head and heart score” thing. I’ve often found myself saying a show is “bad” in terms of how I thought the story, art, music, and such were executed, but “good” because I simply enjoyed watching it. (Like MD Geist!)

    However, the assertion that the “head score” is an objective measure goes against the main tenet of reviewing: you are always subjective. Regardless of whether you think Cowboy Bebop falls within generally accepted modes of quality storytelling, you are still providing your own opinion, not some sort of scientifically proven score of its effectiveness.

    Personally, I find that over-thinking numerical review scores (i.e. “It’s a 9/10, but this other thing gives it a +1″) results in a rote, database-centric reviewing style that mischaracterizes subjective opinion as something measurable. This is why Ani-Gamers doesn’t use numerical review scores. I try to keep us thinking about the entire experience of the title we’re reviewing; the score itself is simply a concluding phrase to sum up our review.

    • Yumeka says:

      By saying the “head score” is objective, I didn’t mean 100% so…I figured it was a given that any review can’t be completely free of subjective opinion. What I meant is that with the head score, we’re making a conscious effort to be as objective and open-minded as we can – in a way, trying to see the anime from the point of view of the target audience and doing our best to keep our preconceptions and such away.

      I agree that numeric scoring alone tells us little about what the person really feels about the thing they’re scoring. I don’t even use any numeric scoring on my review posts here on the blog. I use it on MAL though just because it’s there and will at least offer a general idea of how I feel. But while I don’t really follow it myself, I enjoy trying to categorize my fandom as I always end up learning something new and interesting even if the topic itself – scoring anime by numbers in this case – ends up being ineffective.

  3. Karasu says:

    I’ve always found it kind of interesting how we rate animes, though I tend to do as you do, where I attempt to find something with a good head score and heart score; however, for myself I usually try to place the two into separate categories, leaving head and heart score to have their own values. This is something that helped me rate Nichijou giving it a 10/10 for a head score, given its high production values and seiyuu performances, but giving it a 7/10 for a heart score just because there was some comedy that just kinda flew by, or couldn’t be understood because of the differences in culture and language.

    • Yumeka says:

      That’s an interesting way of looking at it – so for you, head score is more the production values of the anime in terms of animation and voice acting, while the heart score is your enjoyment of it. So would things like characters and story/narrative flow be in your head score or heart score?

      • Karasu says:

        I would definitely place characters in the heart score, mainly because I am much less inclined to keep watching a show if I dislike the characters. An instance of this would most likely when I think of Shana. A friend of mine absolutely adores Shana, while I feel quite the opposite, which heavily influenced my thoughts on the Shakugan no Shana series as whole. Narrative flow and story are more or less in the head score category. When events seem forced or the pace of a show feels too slow, I tend to mention that, as opposed to how I felt about the story to that point. I love story in anime for the most part; however, I will always look at stories in a more objective form rather than emotional.

  4. skorpigeist says:

    I have a pretty simple system myself, though it does sort of follow the head and heart metric you have.

    I have to ask myself only one question: Was I entertained? if the answer to that question is yes, then most shows will get a good rating (6-7) minimum. The more I start to qualify that statement depends on how the score slides. I don’t worry as much about the technical stuff, though something that is obviously well done will “raise the score.” The numbers are really arbitrary, but people like to assign “objective” values to something that is totally “subjective.” So All this exercise really does is give us something to discuss as fans of the medium.

    There are some things that I am not fond of, but that you can’t deny they were technically sound, and even good.

    I will give an example. Both Gosick and Madoka scored an 8 on the scale rating for me. I loved Gosick, and was very entertained by Victorique and the setting. I also thought the development arc for Victorique’s character (and to a lesser extent the whole cast, as the directors chose to focus on the main female lead) were all good. It could have been better, but all in all it did what it was trying to do. It is because of “heart” that I rated it highly. Madoka was in my opinion a much more tight and cohesive show than Gosick. This can come down to many factors that I will not discuss here, but that is my opinion. I was not as fond of the art, or even many of the characters (though I appreciate them more after a second viewing). That said though, the story line was well done, the tropes used were well placed or inverted in a satisfying way. That being said, in the end both shows scored that 8, which I think is fair. I would recommend each show without reservation, but to different people

    I also feel the idea of having a 10/10 is a bit odd. to me that would imply perfection, that there are no flaws or complaints about a show… and to me that is impossible. So the best a show can do for me is 9/10. Only three shows have gotten nines on my list, and even at that there are still lots of things I can point out that keep them from being perfect.

    • Yumeka says:

      For myself as well, if I was at least entertained and the show wasn’t a chore to watch, the series shouldn’t get lower than a 6, usually a 7 at least. And you certainly have a point that it doesn’t make much sense to assign objective numbers to something so subjective, but we anime fans enjoy categorizing our fandom that way for some reason XD

      Your comparison with Gosick and Madoka is similar to mine with Cowboy Bebop and Angel Beats! In the end, we like the two for different reasons and with different frames of mind, and would of course recommend them to different people.

      I don’t think there’s anything in this world that’s perfect, certainly not any anime. So I grade anime on a curve so to speak – a 10/10 means the best in terms of what’s out there, not necessarily something flawless.

  5. AceRailgun says:

    Heart and head scores. It all makes so much sense now. I think my scoring crosses both these thing as I’m never 100% objective or subjective.

    I think i is possible to be too objective as well. A rating should reflect personal taste so when someone is too objective it makes the rating kind of pointless.

    • Yumeka says:

      One could be too objective, but I think it’s impossible to be completely objective. You’re right that you shouldn’t force yourself to be objective with an anime when you have very subjective feelings for it. Whether the heart score or the head score dominates for you, go with that.

  6. Myna says:

    I think I’m kinda used to way that you rate anime. I usually rate an anime based on a mix of both head and heart scores. Though there’s only one show where I gave it a ten based solely on heart score. /just wrote about it actually. :P

    • Yumeka says:

      Heh, I figured you’d be used to my scoring since you’ve been following my blog for so long =)

      Would the anime you’re talking about be Yu Yu Hakusho? Sadly I missed out on that one since I got cable TV too late and couldn’t watch it when it was on Toonami/Adult Swim.

  7. Artemis says:

    I agree – a mix of head and heart (that’s a really good way of putting it) is important for me whenever I review an anime. I usually try to make the distinction very clear, because although I have a lot of anime that I’d be willing to give high scores to based on things like production quality, I also have a few titles that I deem ‘guilty pleasures’ and wouldn’t recommend to people unless I knew they had very similar tastes.

    • Yumeka says:

      Yeah, if I feel it’s necessary I’ll say something like “These are only my personal favorite anime, not the ones I necessarily feel are the best quality.” Sometimes the two distinctions overlap, but usually it’s more one than the other ;)

  8. chikorita157 says:

    Although I’m a lenient grader, I never graded everything with a 10/10 since I believe that even though a show is really good, there could still be minor flaws to keep it perfect. Not only that, I grade everything with decimals, which in turn goes by a letter grade scale.

    Aside from that, content, character development, animation and enjoyment are the main factors of my grading. A show can still be enjoyable, but if it has a lot of flaws, it will impact the overall grade in the end… Still, most of the titles are in the 9-10 decimal range if you count all the dropped and completed anime thus far.

    • Yumeka says:

      Sometimes I do feel my proper score for a series would be in decimals. Nothing too technical, just some .5s at least =P But yeah, even if I have a high heart score for a series, I try to search out it’s flaws and not be too biased.

  9. draggle says:

    Think with your heart, not with your head!

    For me, it’s all heart! Although I don’t think the two scores are quite as distinct for me as they are for you. Penguindrum, for example, pricked my head which let it steal my heart.

  10. Hoshiko says:

    I like how you give a “head score” and “heart score”. I believe the “heart score” would justify the ratings on genres that don’t rely heavily or with absence of a plot. Otherwise, it would be unfair to series of such genre. I’m sure some series deserve a 10/10 because they provide the overall entertainment value. So I’d say it’s a good method of rating.

    • Yumeka says:

      Yeah, slice-of-life and comedy shows are much more akin to heart score rating simply because their appeal doesn’t come from the traditional means of storytelling. The most head scoring you can do for something like K-ON is how good the atmosphere is and how well written the gags, dialogue, humor, etc,. But humor and moe is much more subjective than whether a story was told decently or not, so heart scoring would usually take precedence for a show like that.

  11. Nopy says:

    I think I’m like you in terms of weighting of head score and heart score. I tend to give series with a complex story a higher rating than ones that are more emotional. That’s not to say that I won’t give something with a high heart score a 10/10. Seitokai no Ichizon, for example, is devoid of any complex ideas, but it was just way too funny to not give a 10/10.

  12. jimmy says:

    This is how I’ve always thought about reviewing, and why I find MOST reviews of music totally useless. (If you’re a fan of heavy metal, the reviews section on encylopaediametallum is worse than useless.)
    I pretty much agree with you in terms of how I’d grade on subjective and objective interpretations – insofar as there can BE the latter – though personally I’d place Eva on a head score of ten and heart of nine. (Rebuild gets a head score of nine and a heart score of at least eleven. It has some of the best fight scenes ever.)
    This is also why I’d grade Lucky Star any rating at all, as subjectively I just plain don’t enjoy it, whereas I can see from analysis and from its impact the quality it does possess.

  13. Marina says:

    Hah! Your thoughts and mine are pretty spot on for rating anime, that being the two different methods of evaluating anime: head and heart. It’s funny how much my own personal feelings about one area of any given anime can overshadow the flaws elsewhere.

    Thanks for sharing your down to earth thoughts like always, Yumeka!

    • Yumeka says:

      Thanks ~^_^~

      As subjective as my feelings can be, if there are glaring flaws in an anime I love for whatever other reason, I try to take that into account when scoring. Hence the reason Pokemon and Angel Beats! don’t get 10s from me despite how much I love them. Of course, I know even the series I give 10/10s for heart scoring aren’t perfect, as nothing is, but they just don’t have flaws that are glaring.

  14. Kal says:

    That’s a good way to put it. Heart and head. Objective and subjective. And I do rate them that way. I can see and understand many anime can be good (story, plot, characters), but I may still dislike it. Or like some anime that other people did not like much (like Lost Universe).

    A 10/10 anime for me would have to have both. Something with really good elements, that also clicks with me. So there are very few 10/10 anime for me. Clannad, Full metal panic. Even really good anime like Code Geass probably gets a 9. Even if I like it a lot :P

    So both are important for me in that case.

    • Yumeka says:

      That’s a good way of scoring. Probably more balanced than me as I tend to lean towards head scoring. Your way of doing it probably yields a more accurate idea of how you really feel about that anime.

  15. Savo says:

    I fully agree with your rating system. That is really a great way to describe how people view shows and their quality. I more or less follow that system when I’m thinking about which shows I like and which I don’t.

    Generally, I greatly appreciate how well done a work is, so my head score and heart score aren’t too far apart. Many times, I will watch a show simply because of how well made it is, and am usually rewarded for it.

    There have been several shows where my “head score” completely disagrees with my “heart score”. As you said, Angel Beats is an excellent example of that. Honestly, there are some considerable flaws with the series, but I absolutely love it despite all that. Star Driver is another show like that, I realized how many flaws the plotting had, but the characters and flashy action kept winning me over week after week.

    Every once in a while though, I run across a work that just doesn’t click with me, even though everything falls into place. The Macross Frontier movies were like that for me. I loved the original series and should have loved the movies but came away with a mixed impression despite the excellent objective quality of them.

    • Yumeka says:

      Sounds like you understand my rating system very well ;) Some people would call heart score-only anime your guilty pleasures. But to me, guilty pleasures are series you like that most people don’t like (AB! was very popular despite its flaws, so I wouldn’t consider it a guilty pleasure). Then there are titles you know are good but just don’t click with you, like your example with the Macross F movies. But I actually think it’s a sign of great maturity to acknowledge the good quality of something even if you don’t love it yourself =)

  16. SOS says:

    For me a 10/10 is one with good plot ,good characters and interesting. For example LoGH.

  17. Kai says:

    Certainly a nice rating system you have there, like how you differentiate between head score and heart score. You’re right, I tend to go with head scores most of the time. Most anime I watched tend to be at 9/10 at most. The ones in my list rarely made it to the 10/10 mark actually o.o

  18. du5k says:

    Our scoring system is even close than you think…

    “If there’s any noticeable method of creativity and innovation when it comes to presenting these things, that would also increase the score.”

    That’s value for me =)

  19. @fkeroge says:

    The heart score is the perfect way to describe my rating system. As I have written in my own Anime Blog Carnival post, I rate anime as subjectively as possible. In my early days, I would still consider the head score, but now I have dropped that factor completely as I think the head score is also a part of my heart score. What I think is good writing may not be another person’s idea of it, among other things.

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