The role of the reviewer

Please excuse the lack of picture for the time being, but I’m out of town and on a laptop that lacks basically everything but an internet browser. Being in such situations often forces me to think about things that normally wouldn’t process in the hectic nature of everyday life, and as such I’ve been pondering some unsolved, albeit abstract, issues that have come up in my time at the NHRV. Frankly, this blog needs updates so I’ll post my mental ramblings in a hopefully coherent format.

Reviewers are faced with the undeniably difficult task of assigning an objective rating to what is ultimately a subjective experience. The number scale of 1-10 is unbelievably flawed, but there’s no other practical system available to us reviewers that adequately assigns value to any given work reviewed. Of course, the art of reviewing centers around being able to provide sufficient warrant for a given rating, and enough qualification that would limit the target audience (most fans of DBZ will find it hard to place Honey and Clover on the same field, and vice-versa). Of course, there’s a sort of natural arrogance in doing so – after all, who are we to call Tekken laughably bad? I wrote a draft recently of the anime Code-E, and browsing the internet out of curiosity, I found people who had opinions that could only be considered the polar opposite of my own considering the series. Are my opinions better than theirs? Am I worthy to call REC amazing when so many others feel that it’s horrendous? Surely the review is simply one person’s opinion, but then what is the point of the review, other than a glorified soapbox for someone to rant about how much he loves Nana? Of course, I continue to review because I find it fun, but that’s ultimately self-serving, and often I question what the use the review is to the people. Obviously, there is a use to the people; if that weren’t the case Robert Ebert would be out of a job. Usually this is enough to keep my doubts at bay and continue to self-indulge in reviewing anime (and very occasionally, music – something I should probably review a bit more).

Despite this, there has to be something to account for the differing of opinions, and it’s damn arrogant to say that any given person’s opinions mean anything more than someone else’s. After all, so many people like Bleach not despite of, but because of the filler episodes that the “elite” people on arcane anime forums grumble about constantly. I haven’t watched Bleach, but I more likely than not fit into the latter category – but surely there’s something about the former group that seems at least somewhat compelling. Normally the bandwagon approach is a logical fallacy, but when there’s no explicit truth in the matter, things become even grayer. What service am I providing to the everyman of anime, the one who will undoubtedly like the popular anime that the snobbish and jaded anime veterans will toss aside? Of course, most reviews along this vein reek of snobbishness, and when the typical popular otaku anime gets mentioned in an overly glorified light (Haruhi, H&C, etc.) get ranted and raved about, I can’t see the appeal reaching out to more than a small portion of the population. It’s not as if I expect said reviewer’s mindset to change out of the blue, nor am I calling for the abolition of the review altogether on the grounds that it’s useless. I think that one of the most useful services that I provide as a reviewer to the Joe six-pack of anime is that I often review shows that won’t normally appear on the average person’s radar, and thus allowing them to enjoy media they would have otherwise glanced over. The problem, of course, is that I come full circle because I have tastes that won’t necessarily appeal to the average guy; if the everyman I’m targeting watches Yu Yu Hakusho and DBZ (old shows, but stick with me), and I find both to be average at best, and abysmal at worst, what exactly am I providing for them? Obviously I can’t change my opinions, and the typical shows are mainstream because of their typicalness, and thus the paradox.

Hopefully this post made some sort of coherent sense, and wasn’t some sort of stream-of-consciousness nonsensical BS. I guess that ultimately, once thought about for sufficient periods of time, become completely unresolvable and drenched in confusion. Still, it’s a good thought experiment, at least for me, despite not having any impact on my review. At the end of the day though, I’m an opinionated person – thus I review.

3 Responses to “The role of the reviewer”

  1. Not all opinions are equally valid. If something is wrong with your car, whose opinion are you going to trust, the auto mechanic or your grandma who has zero experience with cars. Whose opinion are you going to trust more to tell you if an anime is unique and exceptional, a guy who has seen 400 anime or 4? You’re absolutely right. What we’ve done at The Nihon Review is useless to the guy who just wants to watch anime from a single genre, or the guy who just wants to watch Bleach. The Nihon Review exists to help those who want to experience new and unique anime. We’re not trying to change the Bleach guy’s mind, although that may be a nice side effect of our reviews.

    People like things that are familiar. That’s why people who like DBZ also tend to like Naruto and Bleach. These are very similar shows. Hollywood has realized this which is why they make so many sequels now instead of new ideas. The review site exists to give people a chance to break with their familiarity by telling them that certain titles are good. There may be no way a reviewer’s opinions have any bearing on whether someone will like a title. But they may try something new and like it. That’s all we can hope for with these people.

  2. commenting on an inactive blog

    HI MOM

  3. DEAD

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