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View Poll Results: When you think "critic", which definition first comes to mind?
a person who is professionally engaged in the analysis and interpretation of works of art 42 32.31%
anyone who expresses a reasoned judgment of something 58 44.62%
someone who frequently finds fault or makes harsh and unfair judgments 22 16.92%
other (please describe) 8 6.15%
Voters: 130. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 2011-10-08, 03:17   Link #101
erneiz_hyde
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Originally Posted by Gamer_2k4
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Originally Posted by Akito_Kinomoto
The expectations of some people are almost like they're actively trying to find the next Cowboy Bebop or Evangelion when that just doesn't happen.
Why is that a bad thing? Once a standard of excellence has been set, it's up to other works to meet that standard or be considered "good but not great." One hundred years ago, 2 meters was the high jump record. Today, it's 2.45 meters. The bar has literally been raised, and you don't make the Olympic team unless you can go well over what once was a world record.

Media is the same way, and anime is no exception. People say, "Oh, you can't expect the animation to be the same quality as Tom and Jerry was" and I say why the heck not? That was 50 years ago, and accepting less nowadays is a sign of complacency. Similarly, people say, "The next Evangelion will never happen," and I say it's because people don't care enough to make it happen. Anime can get away with being mediocre because no one pushes it to be better.
Typical elitist mindset. If you accuse no one is trying hard enough to push it to be better, I accuse you of discouraging anyone from trying at all. I'm not really familiar with Olympics, but with this logic, every Olympic team has to be a world record breaker to be worth anything, and how often does a world record get broken compared to the number of teams?

That logic might apply to the team who set the record in the first place, but everyone else has to start somewhere below that. I can accept someone criticizing Gainax not making another masterpiece like Eva, but I find it less justifiable criticizing other studios for not (yet?) being able to create something like it.

Though, I sorta know how you feel because I also had similar view with you in the past. I became tired and adopted a more passive view, believing that "the next Eva or CB" will eventually come.
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Old 2011-10-08, 10:56   Link #102
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Heh -- I'm always somewhat amused when this thread gets bumped from time to time and new thoughts and replies are contributed.

In the two+ years since I started this thread, I have to say that I've thought about this issue a fair bit, and have even done some experiments of my own to try to better understand the mentality involved.

Basically, I think a change in thinking happens the moment you start either watching anime for the purpose of writing about it, or watching episodes while thinking constantly about what you're going to write. At that moment, the "product" or "outcome" of your watching experience changes. You're no longer thinking only about the show vis-ŗ-vis your own enjoyment, but about the communication and the audience for your writing. You start viewing the shows through the "filter" of what you need or want to say about them. And sometimes, rather than allow yourself to be taken with child-like wonder, you force yourself to maintain a certain personality and adopt the view that you should be expected to take. Once that change in mentality occurs, it's very hard to stay grounded.

Art is an emotional experience informed by intellectual/physical concepts, but it can be easy to get so focused on the analysis of those concepts that you start thinking your emotional reactions are based only in fact. Or worse, at some point you might think that you stop having emotional reactions to what you watch, since you're thinking only about the analysis and the outcome (your review). Some people almost become a parody of their own persona, watching shows in order to write reviews that will fit their personality and appeal to their target audience. (At what point do the reviews "write themselves"?)

Many critics say that a primary reason they write is to help the "uninformed public"; since most people won't have the time to watch everything, reviews can help people know whether a show might be worth their time. But in the end, it's up to that same public (the readers) to know how to properly use this information to inform their thinking. Just because many critics are better writers (based on their experience writing) doesn't mean they're better thinkers. Because of the critic's unique obligation to writing, their opinions can be both more objective and more distorted. If we take their opinions at face value and choose to blindly adopt or parrot them without applying critical thinking of our own, we risk missing out on a lot of shows we might genuinely like, even though the critic did not. Understanding the critic and where they're coming from can be as important -- or arguably even more important -- than whatever it is they say about the work they're critiquing.

I still personally don't like to think of myself as a "critic", even though I think I can make "reasoned judgements" with the rest of them. I guess the main reason is that I don't want to watch in order to write. I'd much rather have my writing flow out of my passionate feelings for a topic. That means that I likely won't write about things that are "mediocre" or "uninspiring" to me... because I won't have anything to say. The discipline of the writer is forcing themselves to find the words when none come to mind (no wonder some of them sound bitter!), but the privilege of a fan is to be free of such obligations and to just like what they like with no strings attached. The latter is a heck of a lot more appealing to me.

So anyway, those are a few of my thoughts on this topic two+ years later. We'll see what the future brings...
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Old 2011-10-08, 12:13   Link #103
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First time on this thread ^_^.

Well, Iím just what you call an Ďanime admirerí. I watch anime mainly to enjoy them, not so much to judge them. Still, over the years, Iíve built my own taste for anime. Thus, now I can say whether an anime is great, good, average, bad or abyssmal which all of them applied to me only (even though some others might share my view). I surely will never consider myself as an anime critic (until someone pay me a good fortune for my writings/reviews ).
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Old 2011-10-08, 13:02   Link #104
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I think there's a bit of misconception here that critics don't enjoy being critics.

To try to shed some light on that, I'm going to make a bit of a confession here.

I love anime shows that I would call "fun messes". In fact, I love them almost as much as I do shows that I would consider masterpieces.

It's very enjoyable to pick apart a "fun mess" show, and to joke about its 'lolwut?!' moments, and its unconventional eccentricities

For example, Hanasaku Iroha (a genuinely pretty good show, but also frequently a "fun mess" one to me) provided loads of laughs for me in how much it reveals the unusual proclivities of its head writer, Mari Okada. For example, it's now become a bit of a running gag that if Okada is the head writer of an anime, be prepared to see a male character in drag.


For me, a lot of the enjoyment of anime comes from talking about it with other anime viewers (be they fans, critics, or whatever). Reviews can be good catalysts for discussion, so I appreciate those who take the time to write episodic and/or series reviews. I also find that, for me personally at least, I find that the most interesting reviews come from people willing to point out the flaws in something, even in the shows that they like.

I think I know what prompted Marcus H's last post on this thread, and in fairness to him, I do think that a couple people perhaps went a bit too far in criticizing Shana III Episode 1 in its Episode 1 thread (I myself may have overstated my argument a bit). So I understand where he's coming from, even though I obviously disagree with his take on critics in general.

But by the same token, I don't see the point of a discussion forum if it's just going to be an echo chamber of everybody saying "I love everything about this show! It was awesome! 100/10!" over and over and over again for each and every new episode of each and every anime show. I think it's good for people to be able to genuinely enjoy something, but still be able to admit to any potential flaws that are in it, because its those questionable elements that spur some of the most interesting discussions. Not to mention the fact that flaws in anime can sometimes be pretty funny to lampoon.

I thoroughly enjoyed making this, for example.


I respect that some just want to like what they like with no strings attached. But for me, I would find it unsatisfying to be at that place within the anime fandom. I sincerely find it a lot more appealing to be a critic who gets to laugh at the foibles and absurdities of some of what I watch than to be a fan who will not stand for any criticism of any show that I like.
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Old 2011-10-08, 13:13   Link #105
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Hmm ... I think that most critics do enjoy being critics.

But to backpedal a bit - I think there are two primary associations most of us have with the word "critic".

The first has its main focus in a professional context centered around evaluating something: i.e. "the art critic".

The second has as its main focus verbal venom - whether directed at other people individually or at a thing. It is not necessarily in a professional context but can be: i.e. "everybody's a critic" and "they are so critical!" and "stop being so critical of others".

Of course the two can (and often do) overlap at times.

I think the thread is primarily dealing with the first aspect - in asking whether or no one considers oneself to be an "anime critic".

In that light, then, of course there will be some professional critics who love their job and others who do not (whether from the beginning or gradually so, over time) - this is just like any profession imo.
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Old 2011-10-08, 14:26   Link #106
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There appears to be some kind of false dichotomy that exists across on the internet that criticism and enjoyment are exclusive.

Honestly, I find that assumption fairly nonsensical, because it's possible to dislike certain aspects of a series while enjoying other parts. It's not an all or nothing deal. You can legitimately enjoy parts of a show and find fault with it constantly. It's part of the experience; you take in the good for the bad. Excessive denial of either does not not stimulate good discussion.

A critic isn't some kind of authority figure; professional critics are paid because they can express their opinion better and are willing to point people in a direction; it doesn't mean they're better than you. But it's ultimately up to the reader to actually read, and to be honest if you read one and feel insecure, well perhaps there were doubts within you to begin with.

But that's assuming there was right or wrong in the first place. Ultimately, it's an opinion of their own, and if you fear your own opinions being monopolized by their own, you might have to try thinking a little harder. Or perhaps you don't care about the subject; that's fine too.

If someone bashes a show I like, I see if their logic, reasoning, and preferences are consistent with each other and forms a coherent argument. I'm not gonna cry in a corner and tell them to stop being so mean. Everyone can have an opinion, and as long as it is expressed reasonably, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. But obviously the ones that are expressed better tend to deserve more attention.

That's why I think anyone who gives a damn, can be a critic.
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Old 2011-10-08, 14:48   Link #107
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Originally Posted by Archon_Wing View Post
....A critic isn't some kind of authority figure; professional critics are paid because they can express their opinion better and are willing to point people in a direction; it doesn't mean they're better than you.

But it's ultimately up to the reader to actually read, and to be honest if you read one and feel insecure, well perhaps there were doubts within you to begin with.....
The bolded section above is really what pro critics are in a nutshell. Well said! And they certainly are useful and "have their place in society" and such.

Although I would only make the small addition that critics can easily turn into an authority figure for some - which is not necessarily bad in of itself, of course.

The ideal result (as with any mentor or teacher, etc.) is that the person exposed to an excellent articulation of a subject will themselves develop their own mental abilities and tastes ... to slowly, gradually, continually grow in "standing on their own two feet" - both through agreement, disagreement, etc.
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Old 2011-10-08, 15:15   Link #108
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I love anime shows that I would call "fun messes". In fact, I love them almost as much as I do shows that I would consider masterpieces.

It's very enjoyable to pick apart a "fun mess" show, and to joke about its 'lolwut?!' moments, and its unconventional eccentricities
I think it's clear that critics often love shows they can pick at (it's a lot easier to talk about than shows that leave them with nothing to say), but in here lies a key difference: the desire to watch things in order to talk about them, or the enjoyment of talking about the thing as much as or more than the thing itself. Therein lies the key difference in mentalities.

We often have cases on this forum where people will force themselves to watch shows they rather dislike simply because they're popular and they enjoy talking about them (because they're fun to "pick at", or their audience is fun to "pick at"). This mentality is fundamentally different from someone who watches primarily for their own enjoyment, and writes only as an outpouring of their experience. That doesn't mean that people who watch primarily for their own enjoyment will not find fault in shows -- far from it -- but they're unlikely to dwell excessively on said faults because, after a certain point, they'll lose interest and pursue other shows they enjoy more. The critic, on the other hand, is likely to stick out a show they aren't enjoying because it gives them plenty of material to criticize, and that critical process is what they enjoy most. (In other words, a viewer enjoys finding shows they like, and complains about flaws they find. A critic may also enjoy finding shows they hate, because it gives them plenty to criticize.)

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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
But by the same token, I don't see the point of a discussion forum if it's just going to be an echo chamber of everybody saying "I love everything about this show! It was awesome! 100/10!" over and over and over again for each and every new episode of each and every anime show. I think it's good for people to be able to genuinely enjoy something, but still be able to admit to any potential flaws that are in it, because its those questionable elements that spur some of the most interesting discussions. Not to mention the fact that flaws in anime can sometimes be pretty funny to lampoon.
This is the strawman that is always proposed in this argument, and it has never made sense. It's not "fanboys" vs. "critics" here; the alternative is not 100% love all the time. You can be enjoying a show enough to watch it and still find faults with it. But when you lose the mentality of "I'm trying to enjoy the show" and it turns into "I'm watching the show to write/complain about it", it can be much harder to find commonality. I think that is the distinction that is more important.
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Old 2011-10-08, 15:28   Link #109
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...We often have cases on this forum where people will force themselves to watch shows they rather dislike simply because they're popular and they enjoy talking about them (because they're fun to "pick at", or their audience is fun to "pick at").

1.) This mentality is fundamentally different from someone who watches primarily for their own enjoyment, and writes only as an outpouring of their experience. That doesn't mean that people who watch primarily for their own enjoyment will not find fault in shows -- far from it -- but they're unlikely to dwell excessively on said faults because, after a certain point, they'll lose interest and pursue other shows they enjoy more.

2.) The critic, on the other hand, is likely to stick out a show they aren't enjoying because it gives them plenty of material to criticize, and that critical process is what they enjoy most.

3.) (In other words, a viewer enjoys finding shows they like, and complains about flaws they find. A critic may also enjoy finding shows they hate, because it gives them plenty to criticize.)....
A good distinction ... and by this distinction I am definitely NOT a "critic" and am instead a "viewer". There is no way I would keep watching a show simply to talk about or harp on its failures and bad points to others. I am definitely more the example I bolded above.
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Old 2011-10-08, 15:42   Link #110
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I should say that's the distinction I'm trying to make for the sake of argument and to compare the two apparent points of view, but even that is obviously simplistic. I'm certainly not under the impression that it's so black-and-white.

I can tell you, for example, that there are some forum members who obviously wear both "hats" depending on the show -- they'll watch one sort of show because they love the genre and can scarcely find anything to criticize even if it's there, and they'll watch other shows more because they're popular and they just want to be part of the conversation despite not liking it. The "line" is also very fuzzy; I know that I've certainly watched my share of shows that I wanted to like, but couldn't help but find lots of faults in (a certain visual novel adaptation from last Fall comes to mind, for example), and I suppose that to someone who enjoyed the show more, my disappointment may not be conveyed as I intend. But I guess the distinction I'm trying to make is simply criticism that comes from genuine disappointment, and criticism that comes from a simple desire and drive to be critical. I'm not even necessarily saying the latter is bad by any means... but I have seen that it can sometimes be problematic if people take it too far.
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Old 2011-10-08, 17:14   Link #111
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When you think of the word "critic" in this context, which of the definitions above tends to spring to mind?
The first one springs to mind, but my personal definition has become blurred. In the past, I always thought of a critic as a paid reviewer with ample experience in both writing and the medium/genre. However, there are unpaid reviewers who do good work, as well as fan established sites with high editorial standards. Likewise, there are paid reviewers with very little experience.

I guess it's similar to the argument on what qualifies a person to call himself/herself a writer. Is a published work a prerequisite? How about people who write quality stories as a hobby?

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Based on that, do you consider yourself an "Anime Critic"?
No. I rarely attempt to think too deeply on anime, let along write about it.

I don't think I'm qualified to assess anime either. We're often obsessed with script, plot development, and characters. However, that's only one aspect of anime. Animation, storyboards, and cinematography are equally important, and I lack the technical background to say much of anything (beyond something "feeling right", "flowing well", "looking good", or "seeming neat and creative").

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When considering which shows to watch, what factors into your decision? Do you tend to watch shows you think you'll like, or will you watch anything that seems popular or technically interesting?
It's a mix of both.

Initially, I aim for the shows that interest me. That's dictated by genre, story premise, and creative staff. I'll also look at some popular and experimental shows just to see what the excitement is about (and hopefully emerge a fan as well).

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When considering which shows to discuss on the forum, what factors into your decision? Do you tend to discuss shows you like, or do you tend to discuss any show where you feel you have an interesting/differing argument/perspective?
Anything that piques my interest. I drop shows that I dislike early on, so discussion tends to be limited to ones I enjoy.

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How do you decide when to drop shows?
If I write off a show, I usually do so at the beginning of its run. It happens if I dislike what I watch or if I feel too indifferent about it to commit (i.e. show seems decent, perhaps well made, but I don't feel compelled to keep watching).

Other shows aren't dropped but go on indefinite viewing hiatus - it could even happen 3/4s of the way through. Occasionally, I might get back to one of these (put Clannad on hold in late 2007, finished it this summer. Now After Story is on hold six episodes in), but it's rare given the regular influx of new anime, as well as the large catalogue of older shows to try (Funimation's SAVE and Classic Line sets, Bandai's Anime Legends, 80s anime subs). In practice, these shows are as good as dropped, but there's always that lingering intention to finish.

Quote:
What factors into the decision?
Time is a big factor. So is interest. While I could watch more anime if I forced myself to, my attention wanders to other things (incl. discussion forums).

Max capacity seems to be three series at a time. I could push up to five (with three regularly viewed shortly after fansubs and English streams emerge), but that usually results in viewing delays and at least one series going on indefinite hold after a few weeks.

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Does forum popularity/participation factor into your decision-making?
Never. I don't watch shows for the purpose of discussion. Forum participation is a side effect.

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Which of these two problems seems more troublesome to you: that people feel unable to present contrary/opposing opinions and arguments, or that people feel unwelcome/uncomfortable posting in threads due to fear of having their personal preferences unfairly questioned?
They sound like symptoms of the same thing.

My feeling is that people are too concerned about having to validate their opinions, hence the aggression and ensuing discomfort. On one hand, you could take a policy of not giving a damn about what people say about a show or your opinion, but then you'd be unlikely to have the passion to participate in a discussion for long.
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Old 2011-10-08, 17:29   Link #112
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Personally, I don't usually bother reading critics of any kind. That's because I watch, read, play, experience things for enjoyment. I feel the vast, vast, vaaaaaaaaast majority of critics have lost sight of that underlying reason for doing things, and are instead caught up on how a shot is staged, what literary prose an author is using for a given scene, whether that lens flare is appropriate, etc. I also realize that for some, this may be the actual source of their enjoyment of any given medium, and there's no reason why that can't be equally valid.

That said, in my eyes, the entire premise of critics is a bit wobbly anyways. Where exactly does that faint line between the objective and subjective stand when it comes to works of creative art? Criticizing the subjective seems awfully...pointless due to the very nature of the word, and if one was to limit themselves to simply criticizing the objective...well, there isn't much about a tv show, film, book, painting, etc, that is objective. Video game reviewers are usually the most blatant example of this pointlessness, as the vast majority of their reviews are an opinion on the subjective, since there's nothing particularly sexy about simply writing, "The framerate is fluid at 60 fps. You should buy this game." But, what's the point of living if one simply follows another's opinion on the subjective, rather than going out and experiencing it on your own to form your own opinions?

Which is why I think "professional" reviewers are all pointless. I like writers who throw any pretensions of being a "critic" out the window and fully embrace the reality that what they are writing is their opinion, as they tell us their reactions to a show, video game, book, etc.
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Old 2011-10-08, 17:31   Link #113
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Heh, I think the "critic" is something that's latent whenever I watch anything. Sometimes I notice puzzling behaviour:

- Why am I still watching this? (Last season: Blood-C)

There are shows you're eternally dropping, but decide to give it one more episode, until you've seen the last episode. You sit in front of the screen and stare at it in disbelieve. You know you don't like it, or more aptly, the things that you don't like are more prominent than the things that keep you watching.

- I should be liking this, so why don't I? (Last season: Kamisama no Memouchou)

The critic in me reacts positively to everything he sees, and since he knows my anime fan he keeps recommending the show, but my inner anime viewer goes, "Meh". It's probably the most confusing experience: the show bores me, but my inner critic only has good things to say.

These sort of experiences suggest that there's always a little critic riding piggy-back on my inner anime viewer. And only together they make up my viewing experience.
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Old 2011-10-08, 18:36   Link #114
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That said, in my eyes, the entire premise of critics is a bit wobbly anyways. Where exactly does that faint line between the objective and subjective stand when it comes to works of creative art? Criticizing the subjective seems awfully...pointless due to the very nature of the word, and if one was to limit themselves to simply criticizing the objective...well, there isn't much about a tv show, film, book, painting, etc, that is objective.
Well, keep in mind two things:

1. People don't have time to watch/read/experience everything. Time is finite. Reviews (ostensibly) provide a way to sift through all that's out there and understand what is worth one's time (and what to just skip).

2. There is an entire field of study dedicated to the "objective analysis" of the creative arts. I guess you could say that this is an attempt to qualify and quantify people's emotional reactions by dissecting the material that triggers those reactions.

So if you combine these two factors, you basically get the professional reviewer: a critic who tries to use objective analysis to quantify their emotional reactions, in order to help others decide whether something is worth experiencing for themselves. If you want to be more cynical, I guess you could say that they're "people paid to do our thinking for us" or "paid to experience things on our behalf and report the results". So it was always intended as a cheap substitute for personal experience (with the benefit ostensibly being that they'll be able to help people avoid experiences they won't enjoy).

With that in mind there, I guess there are a few things to consider:

1. Is the critic's opinion reasonable, understandable, and well-argued? (Do they properly separate the objective from the subjective in their writing, or can they not tell the difference?)

2. How is it aligned with my own preferences and point of view? (Sometimes finding a critic with the exact opposite preferences can be just as valuable as one who usually agrees with you.)

3. How has the experience of critiquing day-in and day-out affected the critic's ability to be a good barometer of my own enjoyment? (Do they dwell too much on things that don't matter to me? Are they too jaded by past experience or a feeling of "been there, done that" to give the work a fair shake?)


The anime community is a bit different because, outside of a few major websites, most people we'd call critics are bloggers or simple fans who choose to write reviews or critiques in their spare time. Here on the forum it's even less distinct, since most people who'd call themselves "critics" are forum members like everyone else. But some do try to emulate the ways of the professional critic, trying to use objective analysis to explain their emotional reactions, and trying to be a voice that can speak for the "people on the fence" wondering whether they should give the show a chance.

(I've had people tell me that they decided to post their negative opinions in a thread simply because they didn't want "people out there" to think everyone loved the show. I personally always found that a bit puzzling (it's an odd sense of either nobility or arrogance), but I won't say it's totally illegitimate.)

I honestly don't know if all this is pointless or not. I will say that I think it's a bit less critical here because the needed investment is smaller. If you were being asked to spend $60+ to experience the product (as with games), then knowing if it's worth the money is valuable. But with anime being what it is, all you're investing is bandwidth and 25 minutes of your time. Time is valuable (and not everyone has unlimited bandwidth), but you could end up spending more time reading the forum than it would take you to just watch the episode and decide for yourself. So I do think there's certainly less "criticality" here. Most of the people who write reviews do so because they enjoy the writing and critiquing process, hence the previous discussion about when it crosses the line from "watching to enjoy" to "watching to critique". Perhaps it's easier to classify the latter when you know they're being paid to do what they do. Here on the forums, you can only tell the two apart through long-term observation.
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Old 2011-10-08, 20:07   Link #115
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Originally Posted by relentlessflame View Post

This is the strawman that is always proposed in this argument, and it has never made sense.
It's not a strawman as it's not a commentary on what Anime Suki actually is (Anime Suki is thankfully far from 100% love all of the time). It is, however, a commentary on what I can't help but think that some anti-critics would like this site to become.

I have met some members here who honestly seem to think (at least from what I can gather) that in order to be a fan of a show you can't write anything critical about it. Well, if that attitude persevered it would logically result in a site that's 100% love all the time. So it's just this attitude, specifically, that I'm arguing against. I'm arguing that there is value in reasonable and measured criticism.

Admittedly, sometimes the person wearing the critic's hat does go a bit too far. But the answer to that is not the opposite extreme, imo.


Quote:
You can be enjoying a show enough to watch it and still find faults with it. But when you lose the mentality of "I'm trying to enjoy the show" and it turns into "I'm watching the show to write/complain about it", it can be much harder to find commonality. I think that is the distinction that is more important.
I don't think it's impossible to do both at the same time, although I will admit that there will be a bit of a disconnect between people near or at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Most anime shows I watch I do want to enjoy, but at the same time I'll pay extra attention to certain elements so that I can write on them. It's similar to my approach to some pro sports games - I genuinely hope to enjoy the game, but I'll pay extra attention to certain players so I can gauge their effectiveness (right after they're acquired in a trade by my favorite team, say ).

I will admit that sometimes a show is so heavily hyped that I'm watching it mainly with the thought in mind of "What's all the buzz about?" moreso than for personal enjoyment (think of someone who hears great things about a specific player, musician, artist, etc... and who's just evaluating them against the expectations set by what s/he heard).
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Old 2011-10-08, 22:06   Link #116
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I have met some members here who honestly seem to think (at least from what I can gather) that in order to be a fan of a show you can't write anything critical about it. Well, if that attitude persevered it would logically result in a site that's 100% love all the time. So it's just this attitude, specifically, that I'm arguing against. I'm arguing that there is value in reasonable and measured criticism.
Well, I certainly won't deny that some people take things more personally than they ought, and this is at the root of a lot of animosity from all sides. Some of this is preventable, and some of it "can't be helped" (as they say). Sometimes I perceive that certain "critics" enjoy finding "sore spots" among the hardcore fanbase and "poking" at those areas simply to provoke a reaction. I think this sort of "teasing" is what provokes a certain fatigue of people who call themselves critics, because there is a sense that they are no longer speaking out of a genuine interest in the property, but only to cause trouble.

There's a concept of "constructive criticism". Normally when you talk about constructive criticism, you're talking about giving advice to the person responsible for something in order to help them improve. But here on a forum, you don't really have an audience with the creators; your audience instead is other forum members. So, what is "constructive" when discussing on a forum? To me at least, it has to be something where other forum members can engage reasonably and equitably in the conversation without feeling attacked or needlessly provoked.

Now, I realize that some people find "blind fanboyism" to be provocative. And truth be told, I too feel that people that refuse to think critically about a show and choose instead to be unreasonably provoked by any negative comment are a potential annoyance. However, censoring someone's "child-like enjoyment" of a show seems to be too cruel, so long as it operates within the normal bounds of the Forum Rules. When it crosses into attacks or unreasonable defensiveness, obviously that's a no-go, and I have been known to step in when threads get too bogged down by "fanboy tra-la-la", so to speak, which I assure you isn't very popular.

But by the same token, I find that some critics expend little effort to hide their disdain not just for the show, but for the fanbase, and this is certainly unwise. It demonstrates a certain arrogance in the critic, and this is certain to rub others -- even those with similar misgivings -- in the wrong way. There are ways to discuss a show that take a more neutral tone and are conducive to the sort of "constructive" discussion I talk about above. While it may be true that we're often taught in school to "write boldly" and "justify our statements with objective facts", we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that enjoying a show is still fundamentally personal, and that there is actually value simply in enjoyment. Just because you aren't enjoying something doesn't means you must drag everyone else down with you, but there's nothing wrong with explaining reasonably why you feel the way you do. This, in my mind, promotes a reasonable discussion, since it emphasizes that all enjoyment is personal and that having your own perspective is more valuable than "being right".


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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
I will admit that sometimes a show is so heavily hyped that I'm watching it mainly with the thought in mind of "What's all the buzz about?" moreso than for personal enjoyment (think of someone who hears great things about a specific player, musician, artist, etc... and who's just evaluating them against the expectations set by what s/he heard).
Sometimes I think misunderstandings can be defused with some disclaimers. I had one person once explain to me that they used to literally pick their shows at total random, and proceeded to write about everything they watched. You can expect a person coming from this perspective to have a totally different perspective than someone who carefully sifted through the options and chose the show because they thought it'd be right for them. While the latter may have criticisms and disappointments, their careful selection process is more likely to give them a more positive overall attitude about the property. Sometimes critics discount this selection process and resulting disposition as if the audience "lacks in better judgement" or "can't think objectively", whereas sometimes it's actually the reverse: people who researched the show and chose it assuming they'd love it (and were right) demonstrated wisdom and good judgement, whereas people who just chose the show at random (or for whatever other reason) are wildcards who just never know what they're going to get. This sort of "I'm here, show: feed me!" attitude seems to some to be a bit counter-intuitive to the goal of "seeking enjoyment in watching". Truth is, not all share that same goal, hence the tension.

So all that to say, perspective matters. In a discussion among equals, we have to be careful not to push ourselves up too high or put other people down. If someone considers that to be "too troublesome" or "an encumbrance to expressing my opinion", then they're really saying it's other people that are too troublesome, and thus they shouldn't participate in a Forum filled with -- you guessed it -- other people.

So yes, this is all about "can't we all get along?", which is obviously a lofty goal, but I have to imagine that there's some middle ground here where people can enjoy a show and enjoy discussing about a show (whether they're enjoying it or not) without feeling threatened, belittled, or marginalized. After all, it seems to me that this hobby is already marginalizing enough as it is without us being at each other's throats.
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Old 2011-10-08, 22:58   Link #117
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Originally Posted by relentlessflame View Post

Sometimes I think misunderstandings can be defused with some disclaimers. I had one person once explain to me that they used to literally pick their shows at total random, and proceeded to write about everything they watched. You can expect a person coming from this perspective to have a totally different perspective than someone who carefully sifted through the options and chose the show because they thought it'd be right for them. While the latter may have criticisms and disappointments, their careful selection process is more likely to give them a more positive overall attitude about the property. Sometimes critics discount this selection process and resulting disposition as if the audience "lacks in better judgement" or "can't think objectively", whereas sometimes it's actually the reverse: people who researched the show and chose it assuming they'd love it (and were right) demonstrated wisdom and good judgement, whereas people who just chose the show at random (or for whatever other reason) are wildcards who just never know what they're going to get. This sort of "I'm here, show: feed me!" attitude seems to some to be a bit counter-intuitive to the goal of "seeking enjoyment in watching". Truth is, not all share that same goal, hence the tension.
I strongly agree with you here.

Anime is a broad medium, with a significant amount of genre diversity and diverse target audiences within it. So it's probably too idealistic to expect to like every anime that's out there.

Furthermore, anime companies, Directors, Writers all will influence the quality and taste (how dark it is, what comedy elements does it have, and so on) of a final work, and many of these have established reputations, so it's helpful for fans to familiarize themselves with them. In fact, I see a role for critics here, as it can be helpful for critics to speak about Directors and Writers in reviews, as this can help inform newer anime fans who are reading the review.


With the above all in mind, if Gen Urobuchi wrote a prequel to Elfen Lied and it was animated by Manglobe, it would be a bit strange for a viewer to criticize it for being overly bloody and dark.

But such a response could easily arise from someone randomly choosing anime to watch.

Speaking for myself, 90% of what I choose to watch is based on carefully sifting through the options available to me, and the other 10% are shows that are getting a lot of attention but I never initially planned to watch. I personally find hype to be inherently provocative, both for good and for ill, so it's hard for me to ignore.

I will say that, for forum discussion purposes, I don't see much point in following a show you downright hate right to the bitter end. There's some shows I dropped after one episode, because I could tell almost instantly it just wasn't my cup of tea, and I'd be doing a disservice both to myself and the show's sincere fans if I watched and commented on every episode of it.


On the whole, I largely agree with your last post. Pretty even-handed and measured overall.
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Old 2011-10-08, 23:20   Link #118
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Just curious, but would people find the title 'critic' to be something given to someone or something that a person can declare oneself to be?


People who tend to call themselves critics I personally think fall into that third category in the poll, especially when watching out of their comfortable genre.
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Old 2011-10-09, 00:06   Link #119
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Speaking for myself, 90% of what I choose to watch is based on carefully sifting through the options available to me, and the other 10% are shows that are getting a lot of attention but I never initially planned to watch. I personally find hype to be inherently provocative, both for good and for ill, so it's hard for me to ignore.

I will say that, for forum discussion purposes, I don't see much point in following a show you downright hate right to the bitter end. There's some shows I dropped after one episode, because I could tell almost instantly it just wasn't my cup of tea, and I'd be doing a disservice both to myself and the show's sincere fans if I watched and commented on every episode of it.
As another little anecdote, I once encountered a certain forum poster who despised moe/harem anime. He decided that it would be a good idea to get a list of all such shows (from ANN or somewhere), watch them all in alphabetical order by title, and then post his reviews of said shows on the forum after each viewing. Imagine my surprise when said "reviews" were full of bitter, hate-filled vitriol about just how horrible these shows in fact were, and the fans who love them by extension. Talk about setting yourself up for disappointment.

Nobody takes those sorts of "critics" seriously. They're trolls. Even if you happen to agree with their negative opinion, it's not because you really think they're being reasonable, balanced and even-handed. It's not unlike the love of hearing someone praise your favourite sports team, or hearing someone extol the values of your chosen religion or political party. People like hearing opinions that match their own, and the more "vigor" shown, the better. It's shallow and childish, but it makes people feel good about themselves; it makes people feel that they're not insignificant -- they're right!

But thankfully most people don't watch shows this way, because frankly most aren't that bored and self-loathing. I think most people basically agree with your point of view that they do try to show discretion in what they choose to watch, but also leave the door open for some "wildcards" based on hype and public perception. Even then, most people won't stick with a show only because it's popular; there are typically some grains of enjoyment there (discounting for a moment those whose enjoyment is only the discussion).

I think the biggest challenge is when shows take a "turn" and the established/engaged fanbase is divided. In that case, you have fans who were watching the show for their enjoyment that now feel "betrayed" that the show isn't heading in the direction they wanted or expected. To these fans, the "problem" is in the turn the show took. Meanwhile, you have other fans who either don't mind or actually like this turn of events, and so can't fathom what it is that others are so upset or distraught about. Perhaps they may even say "you should have seen this coming". When people who dislike the turn blame the show for its "fault", this seems to fly in the face of the second group who don't see the "fault" as a problem at all. They would argue it's not a "fault", it's only a preference. (Because if it is in fact a "fault", and they like it the way it is, does that mean their opinion is a "fault" as well? Some like to play ignorant of this little insinuation.)

This is the real point of contention, and the main reason for nearly all the true "tension" we have on the Forum when discussing shows. The truth of the matter is that people have differing values, and a "fault" to one may very well be a "feature" to another. Both perspectives are valid and justifiable. But that doesn't stop both sides from trying to have their opinions validated by others. It goes back to that base instinct and need to have other people tell you that you're right. But the more "insistent" one is of their correctness on matters of opinion, the more likely they are to be perceived as arrogant, conceited, and inflexible, thus increasing that emotional tension (and decreasing the likelihood of understanding and compromise). It's like the proverb says: "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Sometimes attempts to explain and justify a negative reaction or opinion can come across with a certain "harshness" that is very difficult to resolve.

So... it's a challenge. We want to have good, vibrant discussions where opinions are shared freely, but when people start taking things too far it causes unsustainable tension that's not conducive to a constructive exchange of ideas between equals. Moderating the "inherent arrogance of negativity" and the "inherent arrogance of refusing to acknowledge different opinions" is a constant struggle, and I know that I certainly don't have all the answers. All I can say is that I think about this issue often because, suffice it to say, all the staff and I encounter it all the time. Considering the problem and reflecting on its nature at least brings us one step closer to recognizing it for what it is when we encounter it "in the wild". And I feel like if everyone could at least do that, we'd be making some progress.


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Just curious, but would people find the title 'critic' to be something given to someone or something that a person can declare oneself to be?
It's probably no surprise that I phrased the title of the thread this way. Perhaps it'd be equally interesting to ask: "Would other people consider you an 'Anime Critic'?" I tend to agree that that question has entirely different connotations. If you think that being a critic implies a higher degree of knowledge, expertise, or experience, then calling yourself a critic could certainly be seen as a form of arrogance or presumption. But if other people respect your opinions enough to call you a "critic" (by that definition), it could be seen as an honour and trust.

I guess in a way the "professional" distinction might be more useful for that reason, because that way the term is applied based simply on what you're paid to do, with the insinuation being that if someone is willing to pay you, you probably know what you're talking about at least to some degree. (Whether that's actually true or not is another discussion... )
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Old 2011-10-09, 04:37   Link #120
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This is such a good discussion thread. It's good to know that the internet still have some sages in it, and not just the usual "stop liking what I hate" vs "stop hating what I like". Restores my faith in humanity (actually, the internet) a bit. And I can learn a lot from this. Thank you very much.


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So yes, this is all about "can't we all get along?", which is obviously a lofty goal, but I have to imagine that there's some middle ground here where people can enjoy a show and enjoy discussing about a show (whether they're enjoying it or not) without feeling threatened, belittled, or marginalized. After all, it seems to me that this hobby is already marginalizing enough as it is without us being at each other's throats.
Amen, and bold for QFT.
Spoiler for a little extra something:
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