Anime Meta-Review


Quality Index


By Date




At the heart of every anime ratings page there's some sort of quality grade. This is potentially useful information, giving some idea on what to seek and what to avoid, but it also carries a risk. The risk is that a review page is really just a collection of personal tastes and biases. Even my own tastes change over time, or with the mood, so sometimes even I can't understand why I gave an anime a particular grade.

Even if I tried to grade my own opinions it's really difficult. In order to be manageable there cannot be too many grades, however this means the difference in quality within a grade can be immense. And there'll be lots of titles that hover close to the boundaries of a grade but don't have this fact expressed. Although reading the actual review should give you some more information.

As a result I present the worlds most fuzzy rating system ever designed. No Stars, No points and no percentages will be found here. Oh, you can feel free to place them in order, assign the categories scores, but that wasn't the intent. Instead you'll find some overly broad categories which don't say anything about the quality of the video. They express how I found the experience of watching the video. Be sure to read the descriptions for each category to understand what i'm trying to get across.

Here's the short version for those who find me too verbose.

  • Exemplary: Here is my money, give me the tape.
  • Worthy: Hm, I guess i'll buy that.
  • Watchable: I'd love to rent that.
  • Flawed: At least I didn't buy this.
  • Burnable: Tape, meet Mr. Magnet.


This is the `oh wow' category. The sort of stuff that quickly lets you know that you're in the presence of a creation with depth and quality to spare. It tends to have good production, strong story, characters and far too much directorial skill. The creators knew what they wanted to do, aimed high, and achieved their target. It's the sort of anime you want to put before the people who say "anime is for kids" and make them eat their words. The stuff anime fans should know and anime fans will talk about.

So you should just watch what's in this category and ignore or else? No way. There is a weakness with many of the titles in this category. To keep them tight they tend to be short, focused and often somewhat dry and humorless. It's like the literary classics, they're impressive pieces of work, but they sometimes make you lust after something that's a little bit more loose, fun and simple.

And as mentioned many of these are short, with movies tending to be the most responsive to the effort and money needed to reach this level of quality. It's rarely possible to keep the degree of focus and control needed over a long series. Yet long series are one of the best parts of anime, watching characters grow, sometimes be serious and sometimes be silly, and becoming a part of their world. These series might not make it into this category, but that doesn't make them less valuable.

And there's also a more immediate problem. There's simply not an unlimited number of shows in this category. It took Miyazaki a long time to hone his craft and then 10 years to produce the Nausicaa manga and many more to recover from doing so. And even with dedication and skill not even the best creator can fashion a masterpiece everytime.


This category covers the anime series that have something special. They're the sort of titles where you sit down and find yourself watching all the episodes you have in one sitting. Where you feel you can watch it again without any problem. Where you wouldn't mind owning it and have no trouble recommending it. They're not perfect, but they're noticeably better than most.

These titles, while they have many strengths, will also have some weaknesses. And as such bias starts to strongly come through in this category. This is because they include a judgement of what is important and how much they stand out from other similar anime. An average story with great characters. Average characters but great sense of energy. Great story with average characters. Even an average anime in a generally bad genre (fighting game anime springs to mind) can be classed as worthy.

In essence all this category says is that these are titles worth taking a good look at. Some of them you won't like, with some of them the value of novelty or superiority in a genre will be eclipsed by the things they don't do well. On the other hand they should have enough quality, and good points, that you'll not regret the effort taken to find out whether it matches your own taste.


This category is full of stuff that simply isn't rateable. This is because it's unusual enough that personal tastes and anime knowledge will dominate how you react to it. Some people will adore it, some people will hate it, and you'll never know into which category you fall without trying it. It's not unarguably great, or unarguably trash or I would have rated it as such.

Even more entertaining the reasons for which it falls into this category are varied. It might be experimental or arty anime. It might be stuff that depends on your tolerance for violence or smut. It might be stuff that needs a particular mood and sense of humor to adore. It might even be parody material where, if you don't know your anime history, you're simply going to wonder what's so funny. It might even be stuff I can't make up my own mind about.

However, in the final analysis, I adore the fact that anime like this exists. The fact that anime is a broad enough media to offer strange and specialised shows is what makes being an anime fan worthwhile...even if many of the products don't end up matching your tastes or your tolerances.


This category is not an insult. Most of these shows are solidly produced, entertaining and worth experiencing. Many of them are a mere hairs breadth from being worthy, especially once personal tastes are accounted for. However, for one reason or another, perhaps for only a single weakness, they didn't do quite enough to stand out from the generally high level of mainstream anime.

These shows tend to be mixtures of strengths and weaknesses. The most common limitation can often be traced back to an inherited story, such as when merchandise must be sold, a genre's conventions followed or a manga animated. They also tend to show evidence of the tight budgets anime runs on, in many cases a bit more time, or money, could have made these far superior. Anime is a business after all, and sometimes the market demands good enough anime which is not too strange or odd.

There is a lot of really enjoyable material in this category. Especially stuff that started off weak, or has many weaker episodes, but sucks you in none-the-less. Sailor Moon is perhaps one of the best examples of this. Those who demand disney quality animation and every episode to be complex and deep will quickly write it off. However there are a lot of fans out there who have found something very special in the show as the story draws them in over time and any weaknesses are forgiven or forgotten.

Of course there also is some stuff which is simply average anime...


Perhaps it's cool...but it certainly is ancient. So if you like anime history or are willing to cope with some dated elements you might still draw some enjoyment from these titles. If nothing else it's possibly worth being aware of their existence even if you don't watch them. Mind you tapes in this category are probably hard to find.

This category is also used for modern material that has been obsoleted by a more recent release. Such as when a pilot succeeds in spawning a series that completely obsoletes it.


This is the sort of anime where you notice something is annoying you as you watch it. It's attracting your attention for the wrong reasons, making you realise that there's a couple of elements that could have been better. The sort of material where you wish they'd made the one or two changes needed to fix the problem. It may still be enjoyable, but the weakness is noticeable enough to take much of the fun out of it. And you'll probably suspect that the more you watch it the more irritating the flaw will get.


The `what were they thinking?' category. The sort of stuff that is obviously trash, that I didn't want to watch and you can't imagine why anyone would want to buy it. In fact it's the sort of stuff you wonder why it was made in the first place.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:40 WST 2009