Since beginning my blog in 2016 I’ve tried out a range of content and have written anime series reviews, anime lists, anime articles, and anime episode reviews. In any given week the bulk of my blog’s content will be episode reviews with the occasional article, list or full series review thrown in.
There’s definitely a practical reason behind that arrangement with anime episode reviews taking less time to write than an article or even a list (though that said, it still takes time when you take into account planning the main points of discussion, trying to make it flow, editing, formatting, etc). But there’s a far better reason why I continue to write anime episode reviews despite individual episode reviews getting less views than a full series review or one of my other post types.
Basically it comes down to the reason why I started my blog in the first place. I wanted to talk to people about the anime I was watching. Sure I enjoy diving into issues with more depth in an article or listing my favourites in a particular category and looking back at a whole series definitely gives a different perspective than each twenty minute segment, but after I watch an episode I want to interact with people about it.
I enjoy reading the episode reviews of others, sometimes even of anime I’m not watching, because I like seeing the progression of their thoughts week to week on how a series is unfolding. If I’m also watching the series I enjoy speculating about where a particular plot of character point is going to go. It can get very interesting when someone has had a very strong emotional response to an incident in an episode that you barely noticed or when someone has seen events entirely differently.
Anime Episode Reviews are conversation starters and give fans the opportunity to connect.
However, recently I’ve been seeing a few negative comments on twitter and even a couple of videos on YouTube that are very firmly against anime episode reviews or reactions and those who create them. One tweet (and I couldn’t find it again to link) more or less said that they hated episode reviews because of spoilers and they wished people would just wait until the end of the series because they’d then have more to say.
And, in fairness, anime episode reviews inherently will not be spoiler free. A person is dissecting twenty minutes of viewing so they are probably going to discuss the key events and characters moments and how they effected them. Certainly watching or reading an episode review prior to the episode will almost definitely change how you view the episode and may ‘spoil’ the experience.
Also in fairness to the video I linked to, some episode reviewers really don’t put effort in (though the same could be said of some people who review a whole anime series when they haven’t watched the entire thing or even people who do analysis videos who claim they’ll explain the ending or motivation for a character and basically just retell the plot contributing nothing to the conversation).
And the video does make a fair point about the poor quality of some of those episode review videos out there as well as the problem when searches can’t differentiate between episode reviews and series reviews as it does make it difficult to find the content you are actually looking for. However, it really doesn’t take into account the plethora of anime episode reviewers out there who actually put some thought and effort into their content.
But, what neither of these criticisms (lack of effort or spoilers) really addresses is the overall point of this type of content.
A single anime episode review isn’t necessarily attempting a deep dive analysis. While some reviewers may get into a production aspect or might break down a character moment in more depth, most people would save that kind of content for a separate article.
Instead, the single anime episode review is really just trying to capture the moment the episode was watched and emotional response to it. Its the equivalent of turning to the person next to you in the cinema after watching a movie and breaking down your favourite moment or asking what the writer was on when he thought characters might be able to outrun the sun-rising.
Generally there will also be some discussion about how the episode connects to what has come before it and possibly some speculation about what the episode is setting up. However the key goal will usually be that gut reaction in the moment. Which is very different to reviewing a series where you are trying to step back and look more broadly across three months of viewing and usually requires a full series rewatch if you are going to do it well.
And that idea of capturing and sharing a moment is one that those of us living in a world of instagram and social media are very familiar with. Bite sized media is sometimes what we are after. It isn’t the only thing we want to consume, but it has a place and can be fun and engage us and may spark a conversation or a share and then yes, we’ll move on because there’s other episodes airing and there’s other things to talk about.
Its kind of daunting thinking about creating content that really is designed to be consumed and forgotten but that really is where anime episode reviews stand. They are really only relevant close to the time of airing and may be rediscovered if someone has found the series later and wants to see how others reacted to it.
Now some anime episode reviewers may look at the disposable nature of their reviews and think that given their short life span they don’t necessarily need to spend time and effort on them. But that isn’t everyone and what you’ll find fairly quickly if you regularly read or watch episode reviews is that there are some reviewers you are drawn to and others that you kind of glance at and move on from.
Certainly I’ve come across blog posts where you get a wall of text in all caps ranting about something that happened in the episode without providing any context or really giving any kind of lead in or conclusion to the thoughts. I don’t tend to return to those blogs.
Likewise I come across people who really do invite you to join the conversation about the episode sharing their thoughts, random questions that they considered, some interesting moments through screen caps, and they make you want to hit up their blog more or less as soon as you’ve watched the episode just to see what they thought of it.
For me writing an anime episode review is an important part of the viewing process. As is searching for other views on blogs and on twitter and occasionally watching a video that someone has made about it. It’s part of being an anime fan. I get that for others they would rather just wait until the season ends to put together a more formal review but then they’ve missed all those conversational moments along the way.
I like episode reviews and have found them a great way to engage with other anime fans. It isn’t the only type of content I create but it is a type of content that I am happy to make and enjoy reading or viewing. But I’m just one person.
So I’ll open the discussion to my readers. What do you think about anime episode reviews? Do you read them? Do you create them? What purpose do you believe they serve?
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.