No More Disclaimers!

Don't judge this anime by just one picture! This may look like a crappy anime for girly girls, but it's not! Don't be judging! Don't be hating! It gets better, I swear!

Just a fair word of warning: these are all my own opinions so if you disagree, good for you.

I watched the first episode of Ben-To a couple of days ago, and I decided to check MAL and read the lame attempts at reviews people put up two minutes after the episode airs to get lots of likes.

At the end of the top rated, first review, the guy says:

Now reviewing a show that only has one episode out is a pretty dumb thing to do but the reason for me doing so was not to really “review” it, but to tell you to give it a chance.

Good for you!  Don’t review it!  Your review is dumb!  I watched the first episode, dubbed it total shit, and now I think your review is completely wrong.

But wait – it gets better.

The second reviewer lays it out at the beginning of his review:

Its hard to write a “review” from the first episode of a series. but I’ll do my best

Then don’t write one!  He goes on to talk about the show itself, strongly making his weak opinions known to the full five people who read his review:

So you could say (by the broadest definition) Ben-To is inspired by reality. Of course Ben-To takes it to the next level by adding a competition component to this.

Ben-To seems to be equal parts Bukatsu and fighting/martial arts with splashes of harem thrown in for good measure (as extrapolated by the intro).

Now, the big question. Is it any good?

As extrapolated by this review, the reviewer is cautious.  He wants people to know his opinions.  But by placing all of these distracting phrases in parentheses, who’s going to take him seriously?

I'm not trying to nitpick at the guy's review, though. It was a fair and solid review of Ben-To.

I don’t understand what it is with people and feeling the need to tone down their opinions with pointless disclaimers that make their efforts look like total bullshit.  “Oh, before you read my review, note that I suck and my reviews suck!  I also hate Mexicans and Chinamen and Jews and everybody!  Just click ‘Not Helpful’ and end my suffering already!  …now let’s get on with the review!”  Who in the right mind would want to read something that the reviewer himself says is terrible?

Granted, nobody’s actually saying something like that.  But the point still stands.  Most people tone down their arguments by adding little words here and there that just take all the opinions out of an inherently subjective review (or a blog post, or anything).  Of course, not all people do this – some bloggers and reviewers and people who write stuff in general get it right.  When they want to make a point (usually), they go ahead and let ‘err rip, devoid of any and all disclaimers.

Disclaimers can, however, be useful.  You put them in to address another point or an important subtlety or argument that you’re glossing over in your opinions.  You do it when you review Persona 4: the Animation, which you thought was average, and don’t bother talking about the main character’s extremely wordy and talkative nature.  You don’t do it when you review Nichijou and really want to emphasize how big a fanboy you are of the series.  Here, Nichijou can be replaced with your favorite series.  If you like it, say it.  If you don’t, don’t say it.

But I'm a blogger.

And if you’re writing a review of a first episode, please, please, PLEASE don’t say:

Reviews of shows that haven’t finished are utterly pointless. They are only good for a couple of weeks at most, and of no use to anyone once the show is finished.

Even if you follow that up with:

And yet I sit here, writing this review. I am fully aware that this review will become useless waste of space, it is inevitable, but having seen the series average MAL-score of 7.6, I decided to make a statetment:

Nichijou is fucking awesome.

And even if you spell “statement” wrong in your excitetment, DON’T USE DISCLAIMERS!  Your point is lost on people like me who could care less about your philosophy on reviewing unfinished shows.  And the tiny bit of interest I do have in the subject is blown away as I realize that you’re “[sitting] here, writing this review” because that just makes me want to scream, “WHY ARE YOU DOING IT, THEN?”  Your response (“Nichijou is fucking awesome”) is not sufficient because you did not give Nichijou a 10/10.

On that note – oh wow, your rating scale must be really tough, huh?  Why don’t you…

P.S.: Another notable area of DISCLAIMER MANIA is rating scales.  If you think you rate anime lowly, you don’t.  If you think your 8/10 should mean an anime is good, it doesn’t.  And even if it does, nobody cares.  And if I read one more review that has, in big, bold, red, underlined, italicized letters in 54-point font at the top saying “I RATE LOW SO  THIS 9/10 IS REALLY DAMN GOOD,” I’ll… I’ll… I’ll KOROSU YOU!!!

P.P.S.: Just kidding, I wouldn’t do that.  That’s a little violent for me!

P.P.P.S.: Yes, yes, I use “IMO” a lot.  But for me, it’s a habit instead of a disclaimer.  It originated from an anime forum I used to frequent where every member liked to nitpick and every member was a moefag.  I sure am glad I’m out of that stage, IMO!

8 Comments on “No More Disclaimers!”

  1. Marow says:

    “Reviews of shows that haven’t finished are utterly pointless. They are only good for a couple of weeks at most, and of no use to anyone once the show is finished.”

    Hey, I know that guy via another forum! I love coincidences.

    Maybe people are afraid of being judged and that’s why they use disclaimers. At least I have the feeling that people nowadays are scared to state their opinions in case someone gets offended. Just a feeling, but dang, it wouldn’t amuse me if it’s true.

    Oh, and MAL should fix the reviews. Make a category for “impressions” or something.

    • flomu says:

      I’ve caught myself using disclaimers a lot. I type a sentence, then change bits and pieces of it until I end up with a watered-down argument that’s much more water than opinion.

      MAL reviews are usually pretty bad. People who write long, confusing essays filled with fancy words and stuff get voted up because nobody reads beyond the first line. Plus every review is 8/10 and above. I guess every anime is equal, then!

      It’s a problem with people in general. I don’t think making an “impressions” section will help. The full-season reviews aren’t much better than the based-on-first-episode-“but-first-episode-impressions-are-pointless” reviews. They just have a little “26 out of 26” at the top instead of “1 out of 26.”

      off topic rants yeah yeah

      P.S.: I found your forum from my referrers. Thanks for the hits!

      crazy swedish people..

  2. idiffer says:

    i disclaim that this comment was written while being very sleepy, so there will be stupid shit. madoxx v.2 lol. bitching about small stuff, cool. although, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to read 3-4 lines of text that you don’t like. i would just go broader and say – “don’t write short stupid fanboyish or hater reviews”. smth along the lines of “this show is so awesome, i shit my pants twice watching the last episode” is way more infuriating for me.
    and why would you read reviews on mal? for ongoing shit animesuki is better, for finished shit you can go read anidb (esp. roriconfan’s reviews), so…

    • flomu says:

      It’s 1 am here, and I’m tired from a week of midterms and finals. And I want to sleep. And my life is SUCK!!1 (true story)

      I don’t usually read reviews on MAL. I trust the opinions of bloggers I know (esp. flomu) more than reviews on a website, and I trust my own gut more than I trust others’ opinions. I just check out MAL reviews from time to time in a vain attempt to get something to blog about. After all, they’re a dependable source of crappy writing, crappy ideas, and crap in general.

      Note that I usually don’t fanboy about things. But I fanboyed about Nichijou twice on this blog – that really means something. For me, who amari performs this action, to perform this action twice for Nichijou means that Nichijou is an exceptional anime. This isn’t to say that your opinion about Nichijou is invalid – of course it is! I’m just saying that because I’m doing something out of the ordinary, I believe that IMO Nichijou is better than other anime. Eureka Seven and Welcome to the NHK are pretty good, too, but Nichijou is the only anime I’ve fanboyed over, except for Railgun, but that was an exception because Mikoto is a goddess. Now this isn’t refuting anybody’s opinion on Mikoto, but she’s slightly better than Kanade, whom she lost to in ISML. ISML isn’t the best gauge of “moe” in general, though, since Angel Beats was a much more popular show than Railgun, so it’s understandable why Mikoto lost.

      >this comment
      >this post
      the dangers of disclaimers!

  3. Mushyrulez says:

    I’d write a post of my own using every ‘bad’ point you made but you can just pick any post I write.

    Also, ratings are stupid shit when they’re not on a total scale, so really, all ratings should be ‘bad’, ‘decent’, ‘good’, or ‘great’. However, the reason people write reviews is not actually to give other people their opinion of a series, and the reason people shout out to everybody their ratings is not actually to tell everybody how good the series was – it’s just an instinct to want to tell everybody every little thing (twitter helps here). Also, pssshhh who blogs for other people to read

    If people blogged for other people to read there would be no blogs

    Except Cracked and the Gawker blogs

    cause they make money from blogging

    what monsters

    P.S. Blogging must be torture for them

    • flomu says:

      Blogging is hard shit, man. It’s like writing an essay, except you actually know what you’re talking about and you’re voluntarily doing it. I was never good at essays…

      on rating scales

      In the past, I’ve considered going down to a simple good/bad or thumbs up/down scale. It’s a lot easier, and it makes you think harder about the score you give to a show. You need to justify each show’s inclusion on the good or the bad side.

      At the very max, a five-point scale should be sufficient. 10-point scales are pushing it, and 100-point scales should be reserved for exams, not anime. Or movies. Or games. There’s no difference between an 85 and an 84. Or even between a 78 and an 88. Or between a 6 and an 8.

      on reviews
      I don’t think anybody writes reviews to help other people. Nobody’s going to believe you unless you’re the resident expert in the field, or God (see, this is why we have politics). But announcing one’s love/hate for a series? I can see that as a reason for tweeting and blogging!

      on torture

  4. […] Of course, this is my conclusion.  It’s what I came to after taking my 10th grade English teacher’s advice and kept asking “why?”  For bloggers with lofty goals (publishing, making money), their reason is going to be radically different.  But for those of us in the niche anime blogosphere, I think this covers it. […]

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