The following "guide" should not be treated as the official AniDB way to review anime. The following are suggested guidelines to help beginning reviewers structure and give them points of interest to comment on. This is not a manual. Writing takes creativity, and a reviewer’s style and structure varies from one person to another. The following guidelines are what I personally try to follow, and I believe it is a fair way to review. This guide is meant for potential reviewers that want to receive an in-depth opinion on writing effective reviews at AniDB. However, I am confident that if you are taking the time to read this guide, you must be interested in furthering the quality of your reviews. I hope you enjoy my "guide".
Many reviewers at AniDB prefer to divide their reviews into the follow sections: Animation, Sound, Story, Character, Value, and Enjoyment. It is logical, and by no means a bad way to structure an anime review. Structuring your review into sections allow readers to easily locate information they want instead of searching for it in your review. However, explicitly dividing your review into sections may restrict your thought process. If you choose to not divide your review into such sections, try to at least keep in mind the following guidelines stated later in this guide.
Always keep in mind that your review is to help users decide whether or not they want to watch. "Sell" your opinions and ideas. Do not hold back simply because your opinion does not jive with the majority. Perhaps whoever is reading your review may have similar tastes. By not stating your honest opinion, you may adversely affect your credibility in the future.
As you watch more anime, it may be beneficial to reference other anime to help readers see your point of reference. However, do not just simply state that "so and so" anime is just like "this" anime. Justify your comparisons by commenting on what is similar or different. If you can't comment on how the two or more anime are similar/different, you may end up confusing your reader.
Personally, I believe that using emoticons detract from a reviewer's credibility. I treat reviewing as if it were an essay. There are far more creative ways to express your thoughts without using emoticons. However, if you must use them, use them sparingly. Good writing comes from "presenting", "expressing", or "showing" your ideas to your reader. Try to do so by varying your word usage and keep in mind the connotations of your words.
Commenting on Fansub Quality
Commenting on fansub quality is unnecessary because you are reviewing the anime itself, not the fansub. You can comment on a particular fansub's quality by either voting or posting your thoughts on a particular group (see: groupvotes per anime) in the Group Info area. This area can be found for all anime entries. Post your comments on fansub quality there.
Try to keep your review as spoiler free as possible. Although it is quite hard to review certain anime without spoiling, try to be as informative, but as unrevealing as possible. Please consider those who have not watched the anime before. By including spoilers you will more than likely hinder his or her viewing experience.
In the process of writing a review, just watching the anime alone only provides a certain amount of information. Production studios, voice actors, broadcast dates, opening and ending theme singers, character singles, Easter eggs, and DVD specials are useful bits of information that can be included in the review. It can also help to read the manga, and do a comparison of the TV show versus the book. All of this extra information can supply a much more critical, in-depth review that is significantly more useful.
There are TONS of other sources, such as personal websites, Japanese sites (if you can read Japanese), and even IMDb. Most importantly, the purpose in doing any research, though, is to find relating subject material to the anime, and applying it carefully to provide insight.
Areas of Potential Commentary
Animation Style and Detail
Many anime have differing animation styles. Here are some points that you may want to comment on:
- Is the animation realistic, cartoony, or fantasy-like?
- What kind of perspective was the animation done from?
- What mood do you think the director was trying to achieve with this kind of animation?
- Is the animation style unique, or is the animation style similar to another anime you are familiar with?
- Does the animation style fit the mood of the anime?
- Was this animation style memorable?
- Does the animation use repeating frames? Did this add or detract from your enjoyment?
- How was the animation's fluidity? Was it choppy and jittery?
- Did the anime use pan shots? Were they used effectively, or overused?
- Did the animation quality vary greatly from episode to episode?
- How were the backgrounds and inanimate objects drawn? If they were detailed, point out certain examples that you could.
- Were they memorable? Did they immerse you or had no effect?
- If they weren't detailed much at all, do you think it was done that way on purpose?
- How were the characters drawn?
- Just from looking at a character, could you know their personality, or whether they are a hero or a villain?
- Did all the character designs they look the same, or did they vary?
- Could you recognize characters easily by say just looking at their silhouette?
- If characters looked similar to each other, was it frustrating, or it wasn't important?
- Describe the opening and ending sequences. Did they fit the anime? Was it misleading or memorable?
The Sound aspect has a very broad spectrum. You could comment on a few of those aspects, for instance:
Seiyuu, also known as Voice Actors in regular English, are the people who provide voices for the characters. Those people are chosen to fit a character and although some really make their voice fit the character, some also terribly fail at doing so.
- Were there any exceptional voice actors who managed to make a character feel complete?
- Or were there voice actors who didn't really suit the character?
- Were the voices pitched too high?
- Was the voice too dull and uninspired?
- Did you notice a voice actor/actress doing a voice they usually don't do?
Opening & Ending music
Anime usually has an Opening and Ending song. Some are catchy, some are slow, some are dull.
- Did you like the songs?
- Does the lyrics and/or theme of the song somehow relate to the anime?
- Does the sound fit the show, or does the slow drama series end with a wild hardrock song?
BGM stands for BackGround Music and it means all the sounds (music) which are used to support the anime. Often they're instrumental, but sometimes there are also vocal songs during some scenes.
- Is the BGM adding to the atmosphere of the show?
- Are there silly sounds added to spoil the mood of the show?
- Is the OST (Original SoundTrack) worth listening to?
- Are there specific songs which are worth pointing out?
There are three ways to tell a story. By having a continuous storyline, from a point of view of different characters or timelines, or episode-wise. The latter means that the story often starts at the begin of the episode and ends at the end of that same episode. A few suggestions what you can elaborate on are written below:
- How did they tell the story?
- Is the story interesting?
- Are there plot holes (unexplained issues) in the story?
- Does it have an open ending?
- Did the story satisfy you?
Different characters / timelines
- How did they tell the story when it comes to different characters / timelines?
- Are those involved in some way? Try not to spoil here!
- Doesn't it become too complicated?
- Does it even have a story?
- Is it fanservice/ecchi only and does it do a good job on it?
- Is it comedy and are the episodes funny?
- Are there only good episodes or are there better/worse ones? Which ones?
- Are there "filler" episodes?
Characters are the base of an anime. If they don't interest you, the anime often fails to be interesting. A few aspects of what you can comment on when it comes to characters:
- Are the characters realistic? Meaning they have flaws as well as strengths, they are not perfect.
- Do the characters behave in a realistic way? Can you relate to them or do they do things which are so stupid that it is truly unbelievable?
- Do the characters evolve? Do they undergo a realistic change in behaviour because of specific events happening in the series?
- Are the characters meant to evolve, or is it a comedy where they're meant to be stereotypes?
- Is there a character which develops him/herself much more or much less than other characters while (s)he doesn't deserve it?
- Do the villains/antagonists have personalities, and reasons for what they are doing, or are they just there so the protagonist has someone to fight?
- Are the characters likeable? A character can be done really well, but can you enjoy seeing that character on-screen or do you despise that character?
- Why does a character deserve to be named specifically? Is it because you enjoyed seeing him/her or was it because of certain actions that character took, or did (s)he undergo a change of behaviour?
Don't mix this up with 'Enjoyment'! It has some similarities with it, but Value is mostly aimed at whether you believe it is worth buying, re-watching or perhaps even recommending. There are a few ways of deciding what value a title has. A few aspects you can think of are written below:
- Is it an anime you believe you can watch a second time, or perhaps more often, over time?
- Is it an anime you could watch all over again, or are there only a few episodes/scenes worth re-watching?
- Sometimes an anime is good, but after having seen the first time, the second time doesn't have to offer anything because you already know the culprit, or the secret and that was what it was all about.
- Even though you didn't like the show, do you think others who did like the show believe it is worth re-watching it?
- Would you like to keep this anime around, even though you might not re-watch it?
- Would you buy/Have you bought this anime, or you would only rent/borrow it, or you would only watch it for free?
- Is it something you would like to have in your collection?
- Is this an anime you will remember for a long, long time and will still be talking vividly about even after years have passed?
- Is this the director/producer/studio/seiyuu's first anime ever?
- Is this anime a bold move in a new direction, or is it very formulaic?
- Is it likely to be a major influence on many future anime?
- Would people still be watching this, say, 20 years from now? How about 50 years from now?
- (for anime movies) Would people who are not anime fans, but just movie buffs, enjoy watching it?
This is easy. Did you enjoy it? If yes, how much did you enjoy this title? Tell us what you particularly liked and disliked (try not to spoil though).