Welcome to another bi-weekly edition of “Up to Snuff”. We’ll be taking the pulse of out writing team as usual, but not just us this time as we introduce a new wrinkle…

As for our writers, after a very brief course change normalcy has returned and Dororo is once again well clear of the field at the top, turning in one of its most lopsided wins yet. Kimetsu no Yaiba takes a big dip (after yesterday’s episode I’m not too surprised), and the rest of the top 5 are all familiar faces in the rankings this season.

As for that wrinkle – instead of “Ask the Writers” this week it’s “Ask the Readers”. Yes, I’d love you to weigh in on an anime topic of the day – and if we get good participation, I’d like to do more of it in the future. See below – I look forward to seeing how this one comes out, because I honestly have no idea.


Weekly Staff Poll

Dororo (2019) – 22 points, 2 first place votes
Sarazanmai – 9, 1
Fruits Basket (2019) – 9, 1
Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari – 7
Kimetsu no Yaiba – 6, 1


Ask The Writers Readers


  1. Interesting early returns. For me, I sort of inevitably see aggregator scores for adaptations when I write season previews. As rule I’d have to say “only after I’ve watched” is my preferred M.O.. But there are times when I look at scores for an episode before I see it, even though I know that’s a bad idea generally speaking. That stuff can color the way we watch an episode whether we want to admit it or not.

  2. The options don’t properly encapsulate how I use review aggregators. I read them before hand but scores are subject to selection bias and I generally don’t care unless it drops below half as ratings are highly biased towards 100% in people’s minds with anything at or below 50% being I hate it to varying degrees. I generally watch everything of interest regardless of score sometimes shows I enjoy get very low ratings where I consider 50% of a scale to effectively be 0%. When a show has very high ratings it can be a good sign but it can also just be a sign of a dedicated fanbase pumping the score artificially as review bombs work in both directions. I’ve seen many high scoring anime that I just hate. Viewing 1-3 episodes is typically enough for me to evaluate how accurate a score is. One thing that does influence me is that if blogs/reviews/scores are pegged to one end of glowing if I am not interested in it initially I will give it at least >3 episodes to see if I still don’t like it. Number of votes and other popularity metrics are an indicator of how many people are watching review scores get really wonky in low viewership. Individual reviewers/blogs are helpful to read about anime that might have been overlooked but that is a guaranteed way to get spoilers.

    I just watch everything of interest and if it stops being interesting drop it and look at scores at any point with a wall of fine print.

  3. Generally, I’m only interested in the preview’s artwork
    and genre. After that, the studio and maybe the voice cast.
    An aggregator score carries little weight for my viewing.

    I’ve always sorta been like that, but ever since Slime,
    even more so (since that really got a low initial preview
    but the first half of the series turned out really strong).

  4. I look at them every once in a while. Like I’ll look at the score for one of my obscure favorites of the season and then be like, “Yep, sure enough, AniDB is calling it trash. Poor saps who don’t know how to enjoy life.”

  5. They don’t have that much impact on my viewer experience, however they do have an impact on when i use those review sites.
    I will make a small split for the question though as review sites for movies are different then those for series in regards to my answer.
    If they can just get the base points correct with the movies, like location given, time, descriptions and the like then they can enhance the viewer experience. Lets take doctor strange for example here as that is an easy example. The tagline was rather boring when it was just released, with it being about a neurosurgeon being on a journey of physical and spiritual healing, he is drawn to spiritual arts. However, when i read some reviews about it using science as a way to explain how their magic worked, some of the locations and other stuff, it actually made the viewing more enjoyable for me as i knew it wouldn’t be explained with the lame excuse of: it is magic, i don’t have to explain anything.
    With other movies, if the reviews expanded or explained some fussy things then it could also enhance the experience as some things would start to make sense.

    With series however, it is a bit different. If we go with a single review for a series then it can certainly affect ones enjoyment as certain points have to get spoiled, which reduces the tension or excitement. Thereby potentially lowering the enjoyment. (For me, that always lowers it but okay ).
    However, if we go with each episode a review, then it can enhance the experience for 2 simple reasons. One, it can explain things or bring things in focus so that you don’t get confused as quickly and two, there is usually some kind of interaction between the reviewer and the people who read them. In which case, the exchange of information can enhance the review, which in turn can enhance the viewing experience.

    1. I find it surprising that so many people(According to your poll) use them as a basis to decide if something is worth watching or not. Ignoring the fact that opinions are entirely subjective and they could actually be skipping something they may enjoy just because of a few bad opinions.

  6. This isn’t specifically about anime, but more TV shows in general. There are countless shows out there that are universally acclaimed and pushed heavily by critics but are hardly watched by viewers. Which is one reason why acclaim doesn’t always translate into an actual audience(See shows like Mr.Robot).

    I mostly brought this point up because I think in general people like to make their own opinions about things and I think reviews don’t play such a huge role like they may have done in the past.

  7. What exactly do you mean by “aggregator review sites”? Is RC an ARS, since there are multiple reviewers? Or are you talking about something like Anime Nano, which aggregates multiple blogs as a feed? Or something like MyAnimeList, with averaged user reviews?

    I don’t know where to even begin trying to answer the question as presented.

      1. In that case my answer is None, more or less.

        I follow season previews on a number of blogs, and read detailed blogs for series I’m watching, but the overall ratings on places like MAL don’t mean much to me. Aside from even having trouble deciding for myself what a given number should mean, I have no idea what everyone else’s numbers are supposed to mean, outside the vaguest approximations. I find myself disagreeing with you, Enzo, on a huge number of factors in most shows, but I’ll take your detailed review over some abstract number rating any day of the week.

        Having said that, I do find it interesting to see some of the charts some people make, which show the progression of ratings of all the running anime of a season, week-by-week, and how they all compare to each other. Mostly to see which shows have significant climbs or drops in ratings as the season progresses, as that says a lot more than the ratings themselves. I only encounter those charts by chance, though, which is why they just remain a curiosity.

  8. If RC counts then I misunderstood the question… nevertheless, I don’t have enough time to watch much anymore so I try to figure out what Stilts is watching and just go with those. We’ve got similar tastes.

  9. As with another commenter, I didn’t know what was specifically meant by ARS until I looked around. There are sites like MAL which provide reader aggregation but not site aggregation. I’ve never been to any of the latter but I do use MAL for other purposes.

    MAL has a penchant for herd idiocy. While some shows which I consider objectively good (e.g. Natsume, Haruhi, Nodame) have good scores there, many shows which are just dismal have even better scores.

    In advance of a show, all I want to read is its premise. A preview which speaks about the show but not about its plot (such as those found here) is fine, especially since not all premises are well-written.

    I don’t wish to know anything about an episode prior to watching it but am not troubled should I see viewer scores since I don’t value them highly. Avoiding spoilers is important to me however and it seems nigh on impossible for many commenters to not give them (or not answer a rhetorical question literally). There are certain shows that attract such commenters so it is easier to just stay away until the season ends. Putting aside the inherent value in evading spoilers, I think viewers owe it to a show’s storytellers to play it straight and let them set up and tell their story.

    1. I definitely think there’s a tragedy of the commons situation where shows that have amassed a cult-like following smash apart the rankings, irrespective of their substantive quality when compared with fantastic shows that have flown under the radar. I actually had a friend tell me they gave a show 1/10 even though they had never watched it, because other shows deserved to be above it. That people actually do this, I will never be able to understand.

      As for the premise, I’ve found that even with solid ones, the anime industry currently seems to struggle on executing them. So for what it’s worth, I think checking up on the staff involved has typically been a more reliable metric of predicting how a show might turn out.

  10. A dismal tale but I can imagine it being true. I watched the first season of Shingeki no Kyojin when it aired and I recall that amidst the sewer of commentary on the show, that there was an ongoing controversy over people making fake accounts and scoring the show a 1 so that it would stay below the other highest scored shows (at the time). I think it was third highest then and so its fans railed against it not being number one. Weird and kind of pitiful.

    I sometimes struggle with choosing shows but lately, if I think there’s merit after reading the premise and scanning through the previews here, I’ll just watch an episode or two and make a decision. A studio can come out with a Haruhi and then it’s six years before Hyouka, and in between what is there to be excited about? Or since (although I quite liked Evergarden)? And pretty much any studio/staff has similar patterns. Some years ago, I would often look forward to a show with good seiyuu but I soon discovered a good seiyuu can be hired for non-good shows as well as the good ones. Nature of the beast.


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