Why review anything? What does it matter what I think? It’s my opinion, formed through my perspective and biases, which could change through time and experiencing other media. No matter how closely our opinions could occasionally match, we aren’t the same. Are reviews meant to save time and money? If I say something is good, would you be more likely to check it out? I think reviews should provide information, anecdotes, and friction to consider.
Reviews are just more direct, self-aware, commentary than most media.
The Andrew W.K. album You’re Not Alone is a commentary on how we should remain upbeat, self-confident, and persist through our hardships. If a review amplifies these points, then it also indirectly comments on these themes. The major difference is that instead of providing music as a backdrop to fill in the space, the review uses informative context, personal anecdotes, and critical friction explaining how the album could be better or what we should look for in this and other albums. It’s a balancing act because reading or watching a review prior to experiencing a piece of media removes most of the surprise. That’s a balancing act I’m considering if I write a review of this album toward the end of the year, along with maybe a Top 10?
Ideally, negative reviews should warn and positive reviews should spark interest.
I was inspired by buy, playthrough, and review Minit based on a review. That’s effective advertising! This also reminds me of the responsibility of reviewing and why I’ve opted out of writing reviews lately. Most proper reviews require some degree of friction in commenting on the seriousness of flaws within a piece of media. If the level of friction isn’t balanced well, then that becomes friction itself. If I write a scathing review of something, then I have to carefully consider the feelings of my readers and the person or people that created that piece of media. That’s why I’ll typically find more value in reviews that provide anecdotes or asides, which is where my own reviews have gone lately. Besides, other people can write more traditional reviews.
There’s so much information now we can gather about anything new.
Even with all the reviews out there, I still find that earnest first-hand exposure is the best route. I’m now at the point with anime where usually within the first few minutes (or seconds), I can figure out if there is something I will enjoy about the series. Does it have any thought-provoking elements? Realistic character emotions? Memorable scenes? If not, I’m eager to stop watching it immediately. Maybe eventually to return… Why waste the time going through an entire series for the potential that something minor could appeal to me? Because of peer pressure? Because it’s the norm to watch that anime? Because it’s polite? Why not go on to something that might appeal to me more? Something that could hit that same level of appeal with less friction?
Reviews should enhance, but not replace, viewing.
|Sources: My opinions.
Inspirations: This was probably a trivial essay that could have been condensed. I wanted to comment broadly like this to gather unrelated thoughts on reviews.
Picture: The aggregate of my anime reviews and the status of what I’ve seen or will soon see.