Anime Blog Carnival! - What makes a 10/10 anime?

Welcome to a blog carnival! What is it about, you ask? Well, the exact definition is subjective to the participants, but generally a blog carnival is an event where several bloggers get together to write and discuss about the same subject. It's a fairly simple concept that allow bloggers within the same blogosphere to talk about a particular topic, and although the idea that has been used in other blogging circles for a while now, strangely enough it is almost unheard of in the anime blogging community.

And so, I've got several fellow bloggers interested to join in this round of the carnival. Marina, Sam, Marow, Nopy, Draggle, Mira, AceRailgun, Leap250, Yumeka, SnippetTee, Ephemeral Dreamer, Hoshiko and Yi would all be publishing their post sometime today (or tomorrow, depending on their timezone), so be sure to check out their opinions on the subject too.

What makes a 10/10 anime?

You must have heard this a lot. How would someone justify a 10/10 score given to an anime? Depending on the site or blog the score is given, it might be a full 5 stars, a 100/100 points, etc. In a place where the different titles are judged by a single individual (blogs) or a huge number of people (MyAnimeList, Anime Planet, etc), you've got to wonder what the numbers mean to these people. You might have remembered that one guy who gave everything he liked 10/10, or someone else who gave only 3 out of 200 anime titles a full score. How would you justify their scoring methods?

According to my anime list, I'm pretty liberal with my 10/10s. But after writing reviews for almost every anime title I've watched for 6 years, my reviews and my scoring system has changed a lot, and many times. That is to say, many of those titles won't have gotten such a score from my current rating system. Here's a look at how a 10/10 anime meant to me over the years, and probably still do for a lot of people.

Shuffle!, a 10/10 anime based on enjoyment.
Score = Enjoyment (2006-2008)

When I started writing reviews, I had a firm stance that the score should only, and directly represent how much I enjoyed the anime. Stuff like animation quality and production values mean little to me; no matter what they went through in the animation process, no matter how hard they tried to deliver the entertainment, and no matter how well they tried to create a complex and intriguing story, to me, only one thing mattered: The Final Product. If I do not enjoy a 500 million yen project created with a huge amount of talent, I would still score it lower than a 50 million yen project made whimsicality but somehow clicked with me. People watch anime as a form of entertainment and its score should reflect how much it entertained.

So back then, a 10/10 is something I loved to death, despite any flaws.

It took me pretty long to agree that this scoring method is pretty unfair. First of all, I'm not the all-genre person I thought I am. Genres like sports, horror, shounen-ai, psychological and tragedies tend to score lower than others, and I'm more bias towards more moé series. Secondly, this method does not give those unique, avant-garde and crazier shows a fair chance.

Toradora!, a 10/10 anime based on quality.
Score = Quality (2009-2010)

It then dawn upon me that the score should really reflect the quality of the anime. People watch anime for entertainment, and the score should reflect how well it can entertain the people who know what they're looking for. I judge a action series based on how much it got me fired up, a comedy based on how much it made me laugh, and a tragedy based on how much it made my cry. I judged it from the perspective of the target audience, because it only seemed fair that a totally crazy show would be perfect for a totally crazy person. Looking from a wider perspective, I began to take the animation quality and production values heavily into account.

Then, a 10/10 score practically means that the anime is flawless.

But this also created a paradox that I can't avoid. How can I rate something awful like Eiken so low, where the target audience are obviously people who wants nothing but hideously huge boobs?

Hanasaku Iroha, a 10/10 anime based on value.
Score = Value (2011-present)

It was with the formation of this new scoring logic that I came up with the idea where I would put the newer reviews written with this logic in a blog, which was a year ago. This concept came to me while I was watching the first season Shinryaku! Ika Musume... It was arguably pretty funny, and I always laughed every episode. But was it worth it? Despite the fact that the series succeeded in making me laugh, I can't shake the feeling that watching the whole thing was a huge waste of time. I really wanted something that meant more than just a few minutes of laughter. Then it came to me.

The score should reflect how much the anime meant to the target audience.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica, also a 10/10 anime based on value.
My Perfect Score

A very enjoyable anime with excellent production values would only score a 9, tops. When we talk about the value of the viewing experience, a lot of questions come into play. Does it make the audience think? Does it make the target audience relate to something in real life? Does it allow the target audience to experience what's missing in their real life? How original is it? How unique is the plot? How memorable are the characters? The list goes on. Film studies tells you that productions deal with questions like these all the time, and if they can hit the correct spots, I won't hesitate to give a poorly-produced show that I didn't enjoy a perfect score.

Hanasaku Iroha is a good example. The series is far from perfect, with plenty of boring moments, unnecessary moé at times and draggy pacing, but its sincere storytelling, careful play of emotions and extremely refined atmosphere won me over. HanaIro might score high for enjoyment, much lower for quality, but its value makes it a 10.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a different example. Despite being a relatively crappy year, I'll still say that there's at least 12 titles I've enjoyed more than PM3, and only one of which scored a 10/10 (that's HanaIro). But if there's one anime that makes you think, it's PM3. Its originality, bold concept that deconstructs the Magical Girl genre paired with the shocking plot twist and a brilliantly executed ending secured the "Anime of the Year" title even before the next season starts. PM3 didn't get an impressive enjoyment score from me, but it no doubt deserves a 10 for value.

So! What does a 10/10 score means to you?

Other Carnival Participants: (Article links would be updated as they are posted)

(Article) Anime B&B
(Article) The Otaku's Study
(Article) Anime Viking
(Article) Nopy's Blog
(Article) Draggle's Anime Blog
(Article) Hachimitsu
(Article) Ace Railgun
(Article) Leap250's Blog
(Article) Mainichi Anime Yume
(Article) Lemmas and Submodalities
(Article) Ephemeral Dreams
(Article) World of Yamaguchi Hoshiko
(Article) Listless Ink

Related carnival posts:
Ambivalence or is it ambiguity?