thoughts on the AniMetacritic, five years late

I just found out about the AniMetacritic (version 2) today, a sampling of the anime scores of aniblogging’s finest. As a physicist, I naturally found myself drooling at the very thought of this sort of data. It’s kind of like why appeals to me: despite its limited functionality, it offers something as simple as standard deviations on my anime scores, scores vs. year, vs. genre, etc. The very act of working with this data to extract something as basic as like “elitist anibloggers believe Legend of the Galactic Heroes is the best thing ever” just sounds so exciting.

At the same time, I’ve always wondered where I could find the definitive list of “good” anime…

MyAnimeList, ANN, Anime Planet, etc. all have userbases that have grown too large, and it becomes a sort of popularity contest (for the ultimate version of this, see the complete joke and shitfest that is Crunchyroll’s “Anime Awards”). While Legend of the Galactic Heroes is top 10 on MAL, a lot of well-regarded shows are stuck with low popularity and low scores. For example, ranking by {scores, popularity}, the divisive yet famous Revolutionary Girl Utena has a {#306, #830}, the original Gundam series has a {756, 1202}, and Satoshi Kon’s trio of Perfect Blue, Millenium Actress, and Tokyo Godfathers all sit at around #230 in scores and >#400 in popularity. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is a show that single-handedly defined modern anime, yet it features a score rank of #555.

Without knowing anything, the only way to find out about these shows is, I think, through word-of-mouth. Data-driven lists like MAL’s top anime page pale in comparison to the words of a few experts who’ve gone through the slow process of learning about what’s important and what’s not. And while everybody has gone on and on about their own top 10s, 20s, and 30s, it should have been obvious to make something like the AniMetacritic long, long before 2013. It’s a list of the shows that all of us in the blogging community already knew were considered “good”, but to see it all laid out in a ranking is so… satisfying.

Of course, it’s obviously another popularity contest, but that’s something bloggers are all too familiar with. And it’s equally obvious that this list is idealized by anibloggers, for anibloggers. It was made by a very specific subset of anime fans: people who were most active around 2006-2010, not too long after small-time personal blogs took off, and not too long before other social media took over. But because I fall into that category, I feel validated looking at (most) of this list. It verifies the tiny voices in my head…

Aria the Origination (AMCv2 #2) is top tier? I knew it all along!

Infinite Ryvius (AMCv2 #57) is an amazing show? Sure, I guess!

Nobody else liked Nichijou (AMCv2 #247)? …I knew that.

Anyway, this list doesn’t meet my expectations for a definitive list of “good” anime. It’s five years old, which in anime terms is an entire generation and a half of anime fans. Remember – Sword Art Online and Attack on Titan came out only a year before the AniMetacritic! It also doesn’t hit some of the older stuff (pre-Bebop), because people like me in 2008 didn’t want to watch 1980s shows. There’s no Ashita no Joe, not even on the “obscure” list. And those small sample sizes? That’s an error bar away from a score of 0.

All that said, and even trying to account for my bias as an anime blogger, I still think that this list is the best data-driven option around. I’ll be using it to fill in the (many) holes in my anime history.

P.S.: somehow I got onto the second version of the AniMetacritic along with a bunch of my fellow retired anibloggers (thank you for remembering me, kadian), though not under this name. I’d also like to point out that that account was made before Nichijou, and my (probably lone) 10/10 score would have shot Nichijou up from #247 all the way to… #241.

P.P.S.: with two seconds more time to investigate, I found out that I’m actually NOT counted as part of the ratings so I guess.. uhh .. whatever

“How much did you like this show?”

A month ago, there was the “Anime of the Year 2017” vote on reddit. At the time, I (obviously) voted for Made in Abyss, but there were many people out there trying to drum up support for a handful of other shows (Houseki no KuniRakugo S2). One comment in particular really stood out:

Rakugo [for anime of the year], and it’s a testament to the quality of some of the other shows that this is even a bit close. Houseki and Shoujo Shuumatsu are my second and third favourite anime of 2017, but Rakugo was the first anime in a very long time that legitimately scared me. There were several times while watching Rakugo that I thought to myself “this might not only be the best show I’ve watched, but it might very well be the best show I will ever watch.” I think that great yet terrible realization is the dream of any dedicated anime fan – I can’t think of any higher praise for this show than that. (source)

In all the tens of thousands of blog posts, reddit comments, and MAL reviews I’ve read, I’ve seen the same few phrases fans use to describe good shows (and I’m no exception!!). Words like “masterpiece” are thrown around and beat up like a punching bag. There’s always people writing disclaimers (relevant? post) about how “harsh” their scores are, or how few 10/10s they give out.

But it’s understandable, right? While a bit of thinking and a lot of writing can answer the question “why did I like this anime?” (and thus propel you to the top of the MAL reviews), it takes different skills to answer the question “how much did I like this anime?” It’s a never-ending search of synonyms like “great”, “fantastic”, “amazing” to “masterpiece”, “magnum opus”, and the worst one of all, “classic.” But do you see what I’m doing? I’m trying to hype something up here, exactly like the people who say how “harsh” their criteria are. I’m no better!

But this guy on reddit is going a little too far, I think.

As I’ve watched more and more anime, I have come to believe that “the best thing I’ve ever seen!” is not at all good praise (though I always end up writing it, even recently). The effectiveness of this statement scales with how much anime I’ve watched, and how varied my anime history has been. Unless I’ve seen everything to date, saying “Nichijou is the best thing I’ve ever seen!” may only say that I haven’t seen much.

Going one dozen steps further is “the best thing I will ever watch.” Not only does this carry the same implications that I said about “the best thing I’ve ever seen,” but it confidently says “there’s nothing else out there that’s better than this, and there never will be.” It sounds good — like the redditor said, it’s the highest praise possible — but it also sounds naive and arrogant. I don’t think I would ever be able to write this, because I know it can’t possibly be true.

It’s not that “the best thing I will ever see” is not high praise. It’s just not good praise.

All that said, Rakugo was really, really good.

Re: Scamp’s rant on Gintama, or Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun 01

Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun is a shounen shoujo-manga parody. The titular character Nozaki-kun is the love interest of heroine Sakura, and holds a secret double life as a shoujo manga artist. This one aspect provides the material for all of the show’s gags, and I could see this show getting pretty old pretty quickly. (But then again, there have been dozens of successful anime about four girls doing absolutely nothing.)

Regardless, I want to respond to a post by Scamp in which he goes off on a rant about how Nozaki-kun shouldn’t turn into Gintama, which in his words, “spends 20 episodes parodying goofy shounen logic and then goes and pulls a 3-4 episode arc of goofy shounen logic with a straight face. They are always the worst parts of Gintama.” Scamp then makes a blatant attempt to troll people into arguing for Gintama, but I’ll bite at the line.

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RIP DEATH ex Machina, Barely Even Ballerina



As you may have heard, a prolific statistician hung his hat up yesterday (imgur link). He was one of the many people from the aniblog community who never followed my blog, and I’d always remembered him as that guy who does all that work to make tables in WordPress. Outgoing, hardworking, charming, and handsome, kevo was the best man for the APR job. He crunched those numbers day in and day out, with no regard for his own health or for his voters’ Nichijou preferences. He would have the APR post up every week, complete with quotes, reactions, and biased opinions, but he never took advantage of his position.

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The Anime Industry

not this shit again


Frog-kun has written a post with a highly sensationalized title that aims to prove how and why the anime industry is dying. Too bad it’s written in such a sloppy manner, with all sorts of ideas thrown haphazardly into a pile of rant. I’m particularly interested in the opinions of jstorming, who commented:

A well-articulated post!

I don’t see anything well articulated here.

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