Friday’s Feature: Reviewing Mediocre Anime

This is more a personal reflection than an actual feature.

A lot of the Summer shows are ending and I’m left trying to write a series review and I’m finding that for some series I am drawing a blank. Why? Because too many shows this season were not particularly good but they weren’t particularly bad either.

Bad shows are easy to review. Or at least easy to rant about. There’s plenty of issues to pick fault with and discuss and usually plenty of examples. Sometimes there’s even a nice contrast point if the show does something well.

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Hand Shakers was an excellent example. I ended up cutting my review of that series short mostly because it was quite obvious what my opinion of the show was and continuing to tear it apart would have served little purpose. This season I’ve had fun writing my review of Knight’s & Magic which tragically suffers from most of the plot issues of Hand Shakers when you sit back and think about it (though visually Knight’s & Magic is pretty good to look at). That review hit the 1500 words on its first draft and I still need to go run some edits and change a few things.

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Likewise, shows that are fairly strong are pretty easy to review because there’s a genuine reason why you liked it and things to discuss in terms of what it has done well. Again, there may be a point or two that didn’t work so well to contrast with all the positives, but again, it all becomes pretty easy to get your point across.

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For instance, my review of March Comes in Like a Lion is more a gushing love letter to Rei’s character and his journey and that was the cut down and edited version of the review. Similarly, this season I had a great deal of fun thinking about my final review of Princess Principal. By no measure was that anime perfect, and yet it was a great deal of fun to follow along with during the Summer season and there are some really strong points in the show’s favour that can be discussed.

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So what then do you do with a show that you don’t actually have any kind of strong opinion on? It didn’t do anything overly noteworthy in either a good or bad way. It just kind of was. Everything is more or less functional and while it wasn’t exactly inspiring it didn’t make you want to run for the hills either.

Which brings me to my current draft reviews of Clean Freak Aoyama-Kun and Fastest Finger First. Both anime pretty much stayed in the ‘okay’ category for the season. Fastest Finger First I had a lot of fun with but have admitted all along is not objectively very good. Clean Freak Aoyama-Kun was a bit more up and down but overall the anime works as a comedy even if it isn’t overly funny (that isn’t actually the end of the world for most comedy).

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All up, my drafts of these two anime barely come to 1000 words (that’s combined) which officially makes them the shortest series reviews I’ve ever written. But even going back through them, I can’t think of anything noteworthy enough to warrant expanding on any particular point.

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And with so many other anime in the same boat this season I’m really wondering what I will do with these reviews. At the moment my plan is to wait a week and re-read them after reading through my reviews of individual episodes and hoping something stands out. Otherwise, I think I’m going to have some very short reviews going out after this season wraps up.

Apparently being mediocre is worse than being bad when it comes down to writing a post about the show. Which makes me think about the next season and which shows I will keep. This season, I kept a lot of average shows because they weren’t bad and I didn’t really have anything better to watch. But maybe it would be more fun to be writing a review now about Classroom of the Elite or even Netsuzou Trap (both of which I considering a binge watch of anyway). Maybe average shows just don’t need to stay on my review line up because after awhile reading that the show has maintained its average tone with average characters and average story-telling is going to be as boring as writing it week after week.

What do you do about reviewing shows that just don’t have that much to talk about?


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Karandi James.

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9 thoughts on “Friday’s Feature: Reviewing Mediocre Anime

  1. Makes sense that a mediocre series would be harder to review. There’s nothing to hate on and nothing to love about and I bet it gets dull after a while to just find various ways to say “eh this was ok”. Good luck editing those reviews though. And I’d say short reviews are perfectly fine given their subject but I can imagine why they wouldn’t feel satisfactory.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In those instances, I think it is fun to write what you would have changed make the show better than what was presented to the viewer.

    I found taking the position of the writer/director of a mediocre series and seeing how you could make it better than what it was, while keeping as much of the original material as possible, a fun thought experiment.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. yeah, i can understand that feeling. there are definitely a lot of shows that feel like the series itself is not doing anything special to grab your attention positively or negatively, so it’s hard to figure out where to make the comments. a recent example of this in my eyes was isekai shokudou. the series itself has a charm to it and was enjoyable to watch, but it was really hard to put my finger on what exactly worked because it was such an unassuming show.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hmm, you raise a fair question. I agree with you that some reviews are simply harder to write than others. And that usually happens when the thing you want to write about is mediocre. Somehow the words don’t enter fast enough for some reason, or you even draw a blank. When I started my blog, I made it my mission to write a review a review for everything I read, watched or played. Nowadays I don’t do that anymore. I just try to write the reviews for stuff that I feel is easier to write about. I don’t want to struggle for days trying to write something, and end up publishing a post that I feel is mediocre itself 😊 So that’s how I deal with it 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I think I need to change my method for choosing a line up of shows to watch and review next season. As much as I enjoyed watching Laughing Salesman a while back, every episode review ended up much the same and the series review was pretty bland. Fastest Finger First has been pretty similar this season. I enjoyed it, but there’s nothing really to say about it.

      Liked by 1 person

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