Why review multiple seasons? It mostly comes down to the packaging when
I saw it. I prefer to glob an entire series together so you get the gist of
a series as a whole. Some titles I do by season if there are significant
differences. I also update reviews if I see more of the title.
Hidden Info & Spoilers - I babble a lot, and I try to keep that stuff
out of the way if it isn't critical to the review. Sometimes that stuff may be
interesting to some which is why I don't cut it out completely. As for spoilers,
I find one of the joys in life is getting an unexpected surprise. Warnings about
a crazy twist is fine provided I don't elaborate too much, but sometimes it's hard
to give a good enough context for a review without a spoiler. The best compromise
is to hide the spoiler you can look through if you want to.
[+] (spoiler) click here for example
Spoiler content is always indicated by (spoiler) in parentheses.
• Why are your reviews so short? - I don't write reviews so you can read my
review, I write them so you can decide to watch something. They're intentionally
compact. Reviews should be like skirt: long enough to cover the important parts,
but short enough to keep your attention.
• Why are your overall ratings so low? - If you like anime, you probably
like the average anime, but this doesn't make it "above average" by definition. Most
review sites heavily skew towards the high end. I've always been wary of opinions
from people who think everything is good. Typically review sites cover popular
shows, but I like to dig up obscure titles and find hidden gems. They're "hidden"
for a reason, and I naturally encounter a lot of bad titles. Warning you about
what to avoid is just as important. I also don't pull punches and rate things better
out of kindness.
Anime I rate as weak may still be worth watching. Even bad titles can have
shining moments. The "overall" rating is my judgment on quality, not necessarily
how much I like them. "Average" doesn't mean it's not enjoyable. My reviews are
intended to inform you so you can decide. It's not me telling you what to watch.
• Why mix first and last names when referring to characters? - This
is a culture thing, as Japanese often refer to each other by last name, but if
on a more familiar basis (friends / family) may use the first name. I refer to
characters by whatever name sticks in my head. Sometimes this means I use the
first for one character, and the last for another in the same show. I've tried
using names consistently and it just didn't feel right to me.
• But I don't agree with you! - congratulations, you're like everyone else.
- Animation: - Covers overall movement. Titles that aren't reliant
on animation, or aren't conspicuously good rate as fair. Fluid movement increases
the score, but the only way to achieve an excellent rating is through artistic
/ high action sequences. I am picky about animation.
- Design: - This covers overall design of characters, machines, cities
and pretty much everything in between. Note that this is not the same as
animation. An anime may have great design and terrible animation, and the
reverse is also possible.
- Characters: - Good character development can play a critical role in
most anime. After all if you don't care about what happens to a character,
or what they do, then you take a back seat instead of really being drawn in.
- Depth: - This is basically complexity in the details of a series. That
includes things like environment structure, how the world works, and attention to
detail. This is separate from the story. Low depth indicates a lack of key
information, or being poorly thought out. Stupidity is always detrimental to
the depth score. Typically I just ignore this in the case of comedies (often
dumb on purpose).
- Story: - General plot. Interesting? Unique? Innovative?
I find the story to be the driving force behind nearly everything in anime,
so this is generally correlates to the overall score (exempting some comedies).
Archen's Overall Ratings
This is my opinion of the title's quality. That's not the same as how
much I like it, and may not neccesarily mean you will enjoy or dislike it either.
Titles that are a mix between good and bad can make
this a tough choice. If a title is mostly bad, but has a really good part
I'll still rate it as "weak". If you think something sounds interesting, I'd
expect you to read the review and decide for yourself. Hey, even I have some
favorites that are pretty bad!
- Excellent - Exceptional title.
- Good - Well worth the watch. May have weaknesses, but overall good stuff.
- Okay - Average, but not too bad.
- Meh - Average, but lacking.
- Weak - Has many problems, or a few severe ones. Might be worth watching anyway.
- Sucks - No redeeming qualities, or overshadowed by something very bad. Avoid.
For the Excellent rating, I make a note to myself to take it under consideration
and wait around 3 moneths before I decide if it should be rated that way.
This avoids "being caught up in the moment" scores.
Review Mission Statement
While I don't claim that all my reviews adhere to these rules (especially the older ones), I
do have a set of rules I try to stick to.
- Every Title Deserves a Chance
- A review is more than a log of random rants and likes. When approaching a title, look
objectively at the good and the bad.
- If a review is to be done, the entire series (per season) needs to be watched. Dropping
a series in the middle is an option for regular people, but it is the duty of a reviewer
to follow through to the concluding and give an assessment of the whole thing. Note:
some older reviews don't follow this.
- Aside from the guts of the review, other things should help to clarify the strengths
and weaknesses. Provide information that is relevant, avoid content that is not. Occasional
babbling is a reality of the way I write, but don't do too much of it.
- Reviews Should be Brief
- Reviews should be short and to the point. Reviews should not become an exercise by
the author to see how much they can talk about a subject. Reviews on this site
look longer than they are due to larger fonts, and the narrow column format.
- Boring is Bad
- Reviews should never read like a boring wikipedia page. Who wants to read a bunch
of dry articles like that? Maybe they don't qualify as entertainment, but
hopefully they're worth a read even if there's no interest in the title. Professionalism
doesn't mean being bland. AAP is founded on the idea of having a personality.
- Avoid a heavy writing style. Instead keep the review light and easy to digest. It should
read much like a conversation. Besides the obvious that I'm not exactly Shakespear.
- Accessible Reviews for Those New to Anime.
- Lingo is one big problem with the anime community in general, and it's really tough
for people who are new to anime to understand what people are talking about. Reviews
offer both a reference section (this page) and in line hints for words like this. Avoid pointless terms like seiyuu which
simply means voice actor, as there is no reason not to simply say "voice actor".
- Some terms are anime centric like "Shoujo", which is a class of anime with it's own
attributes. At times using these terms can't be avoided, but try to keep their use to
- Avoid saying title X is like title Y, because that assumes you've seen title Y.
- Don't talk about animation studios. Each title is judged on its own merit, not by who
makes it. That information is irrelevant and similar to referencing other titles.
Changes over the years
I've put a lot of thought into making reviews clean, brief, yet informative and
in some ways fun. It's been a work in progress though. At first I only wrote a
paragraph then rated shows good, average, or bad. Each review web page was done by
hand and it became such a pain in the ass to maintain that I rarely did them - even
though I kept watching anime.
I decided to keep doing reviews, but I'd certainly have to come up with a system
for them. Not just making new ones, I'd have to re-write all the existing ones. I
studied other review sites to decide what I did and didn't want in mine. This took
years, and for a period of two years I didn't do reviews at all while I worked out a
system for publishing them (a bizarre home brew program I wrote myself - a fun project
on it's own). From that point on things evolved:
- The Review revamp added:
- Screenshots to show what the anime looks like
- Cover art for DVD/vhs/whatever
- Banner art at top for some titles (otherwise random)
- Quotes (for fun)
- Overall Ratings expanded from 3 to 5 grades
- Instead of one paragraph, reviews have distinct summaries and personal
opinions. Mixing these together in a review makes a mess of both.
- Ratings for Animation, Design, Characters, Story, Dub/Sub, Music
- Date title was reviewed
- Alternate title system on review index page (limit 1)
- Categories for a title
- Easier to navigate three column review index
- Depth category added - I think depth is one of those things that can make a
title that much more enjoyable. Conversely it's an easy way to show stupidity.
It can be an ambiguous term, but I think is a trait that's worth pointing out
in any title. Has problems with comedies which are deliberately stupid since
poor ratings may give the impression this is bad. A "fun" rating might
compensate, but I have no idea how I'd relate that.
- Tagline added - I'm not sure if people these days are familiar with
taglines. They're like one line catch phrases that try to capture the idea
of a movie in a way that's often catchy and/or clever. Sometimes they're as
iconic as the movies they describe. I noticed one day that some domestically
released anime titles had these too. Some of these are formal taglines,
but it can also be stuff I just pulled off the DVD cover.
- Type: OVA / TV / Movie - Differences between them aren't as drastic as
it used to be, but some people like to know this information.
- Episode count added - This didn't seem like a big deal to me at first, but
I realized that many people want to know beforehand how much they'll be watching.
This can be a huge factor even for me, so this turned out to be a big oversight on
my part. The length per episode isn't worth mentioning. It's generally about half
an hour, or more for a movie which is only one episode. The combination of OVA /
TV / Movie along with the episode count should make it clear enough.
- Vintage added - The anime made during a certain era can tell a lot about
a show before even watching it.
- Whether I own a title is now tracked but not shown in reviews. May implement later.
- Dropped the music rating category. Music is a personal taste which makes it
hard to grade. Aside from that music is sometimes good, sometimes bad, but generally
ignorable. The occasions that it's noteworthy are few enough that they can be
specifically pointed out per review.
- Animation Studios are now tracked, but not shown in in reviews. May implement later.
- next / previous / related - Sometimes it's not clear what
part of a series you're looking at. This gives an easy way to navigate to previous / next
titles, or others related in the franchise.
- Number grades, 1 to 10; have been dropped. The replacement is five grades:
bad, weak, fair, good, excellent. Number grades are too ambiguous and mean different
things to different people. No one would read explanations clarifying what it means
anyway. Aside from that the difference between grades isn't clear either, and creates
a problem with ranks. For the same reasons, I didn't change to letter grades. Instead
the word based grades make it clear what I mean, and is easy to ascertain the
strength and weaknesses of a title at a glance. That's really what I intended all
- Review index is no longer 3 huge columns. Instead it's broken up by letter (but
still in 3 columns). I'm still not quite happy with this, but I'm trying to keep it
compact enough to avoid scrolling hell. I'd like to add a way to see the overall
rating from this page, but haven't come up with a good way to do that (yet).
- Dropped subtitle and dubbing rating. These were rated by numbers, then I
switched to a system of good (+) bad (-) for a while. Rarely are subtitles bad,
and dubbing has gotten good enough where it's not worth mentioning. If the dub
is bad it only takes an extra sentence to say so. Not worth having a rating for
- Whether I own a title now indicated by a star at the top left of a review.
Putting my money where my mouth is :)
- best episode now tracked, but not shown. Often even bad shows have one
stand out episode I liked. This is mainly a personal note at the moment.
- "Average" rating split between "okay" and "meh". Average is too
ambiguous, and it became a fence sitting non recommendation category. I think
6 rating grades should be ideal for clarity.
It seems dumb to explain categories, however I noticed that some of them weren't very
- robot girl
- A girl in the anime is a robot. Maybe she has super powers, maybe she doesn't. One quirk of this
type is that usually the robot girl has super powers and acts human, or has no super powers but
does not act like a human. Not sure why that is.
- magical girl
- I'm not sure I want to get into the entire genre here because there is just so much to say.
Essentially you have this girl, who somehow transforms herself into a superhero type girl.
This typically involves some sort of "transformation" sequence with stock animation footage.
The girl then has a variety of magical attacks, and typically has one monster per episode to
fight. Sailor Moon is probably the definitive title in this category. You may want to take
a look at the Wikipedia entry if you're really interested in learning more.
- magical girlfriend
- This happens enough that I gave it a separate category. Basically a normal guy ends up with
a specific girl with magical/super powers as a girlfriend. Trouble ensues as the guy tries to cope
with the girl (often crazy) and happenings that accompany her powers. Usually the guy is just happy
to have a woman and is willing to put up with the antics (even if he complains about it).
- Series of this type are dark and mystical. Stuff like witches and vampires are occult themes.
Think of it as the Halloween classification.
- Adventure might require a bit of explaining. The difference between action and adventure is
the difference between Die Hard and Indiana Jones. I consider adventure to be something like
a sweeping quest that takes characters to new heights and experiences.
- slice of life
- I think this category first came about when people tried to describe an anime and realized
it wasn't about anything. If you think following people through their daily lives
is boring, you can see why most titles described like this are bad. (but not always).
- it's a trap!
- Warning, cross dressing ahead. That hot girl is really a guy! Sometimes used randomly
for other stuff as well.
- Horror in anime isn't really scary. Consider this. Take a movie such as The Exorcist: still
regarded as one of the scariest movies of all time; and make it into an anime. It's not scary
is it? This doesn't mean that The Exorcist is not a horror movie, but it highlights the nature
of animation shields us from that kind of fear. In anime, horror is a disturbing element which
would be similar to horror in movies, but without significant empathy and imagination isn't
If you're new to anime, then I'm not sure my reviews will be much help to you.
But I make this page for everyone not just veterans. This list isn't comprehensive and
I'm probably omitting a bunch of stuff, but I'll try to add anime terms as I find them
in my reviews. I also have definitions for some terms embedded in reviews, you just
have to move your mouse cursor over them to see the meaning. Like
- Fan Service
- Basically means unnecessary gratuitous pandering. In the modern context this refers
to showing some skin, lingering on certain poses, and things of that nature. Traditionally
fan service was much more diverse, like pandering to mecha anime fans with elaborate launch
sequences. In moderation and done right, fan service is a treat. When excessive it becomes
detrimental, although these days a high tolerance to this kind of fluff is a necessity.
- OAV / OVA
- Original Animated Video, or Original Video Animation. Both terms are interchangeable.
Basically this means direct to video. Historically TV series weren't
easy to obtain on video, so a direct to video was actually viable in Japan.
With the current market and reselling TV series being the norm, OVA series are becoming
rare. In years past OVAs were noted for their exceptional quality but these days are
about on par with TV series.
- short version: Manga is basically anime on comic book form. Much (if not most) anime is
derived from a manga. The two go hand in hand.
- The Japanese love their giant robots! That's basically what Mecha anime is. Over time
it expanded to "big machines" not just robots specifically. Tanks and jet fighters
can also qualify. Usually mecha anime is futuristic sci-fi. Gundam is an example
of this type.
- That little ditty before and after the commercial break. Some series have them, some don't.
Often the eye-catch is left on DVDs.
- Crazed anime fan. Most Americans don't know what this means, but in Japan it has negative
connotations, similar to being a nerd or a geek. Similar to how attitudes to geekiness
has changed in the U.S., being considered an otaku isn't as bad as it used to be in
- Anime / Manga targeted at teenage girls, thus following the kinds of odeals they (might)
encounter. Shoujo is often emotional, melodramatic, and usually involves romance.
Shoujo is also often introspective from a female standpoint. A perfect example is
Hana Yori Dango.
- Anime / Manga targeted at teenage boys. Shounen series are typically action packed
ass whooping fests. More often than not they involve super over-the-top fighting
techniques. Usually all other elements (which may or may not be present) are sidelined
for action. This is often hard to class because so much anime can be classed as Shounen
for various reasons - thus usually it's reserved for "spot on" titles characterized by
what teenage boys would be interested in. Bleach is a
good example of this type.
- Harem Anime
- The dictionary definition of harem is "a group of women associated in any way with
one man or household". The term was probably first used in Urusei Yatsura in the
early 1980s. With more and more shows falling under this definition, the term came
into common use describing a kind of anime sometime after the year 2000.
- Girl Collection
- This is a term I coined to refer to the girls in a harem anime. I noticed girls
often entered a harem in the story like the guy was collecting them. In a reverse
harem this is obviously a "guy collection".
- Short for Lolita Complex. This is a topic that comes up every now and then in anime,
usually in titles based off a date sim game where one of the girls is underage and
considered the "lolicon option". In that case the girl would be referred to as a
- Short for (anime) convention. Same as pretty much any other convention but with anime fans.
Not to be confused with your normal fantasy alternate reality where guys walk around
pretending to be able to shoot fireballs, and girls walk around in ultra skimpy outfits.
- I'm not sure about the source of this term, but it's short for "costume playing". While
in anime convention land this is usually used in context of dressing up as your favorite
anime character, it can also refer to dressing up in any sort of outfit - nurses,
- Literally translate to girl who wears glasses. In anime this is a phenomena where
there is typically a (one) character who wears glasses as a distinctive trait. Sometimes
thought to pander to guys with a fetish for glasses.
- Literally means "extra". In anime terms these are often short animated bonus content
that is usually just silly fun stuff, that has no impact on the story.
- A more recent term, this refers to an attraction towards some sort of ideal. It's similar
to fetish, but often not sexual in nature. I usually refer to this as a "character template"
in reviews as there is often a character feature set that goes together with a moe
personality, but it can be something as simple as being quiet, or wearing glasses (Meganekko).
- This comes in many forms, but basically refers to an initially hostile person
eventually warming up to someone, or at least showing a tender side. This is also
considered a moe trait. Tsundere originated from early date-sim games where there
was often a girl who was cold to the player and took considerable effort to
- Yaoi / BL
- Term for fiction aimed at Japanese females where the focus is a romantic relationship
between two males. Not much of a market in America, but it is gaining traction and
has a bit of a following. The more common term in Japan these days is "Boy's Love",
often abbreviated "BL". It's weird when you think about it because in America this
genre continues to be called Yaoi which is a Japanese term, but the Japanese
literally say boy's love which is English.
- This is a term without Japanese origins (from 4chan actually). It refers to a guy
dressing and looking like girl - and typically a pretty hot one at that. Due to the
style of character design, anime makes this pretty effective. As for being "a trap",
that's a detailed explanation involving memes like Admiral Akbar, but needless to say
once you realize your date is packing, it's already too late!