Marth's Unofficial Guide to Writing Anime Reviews


I've been writing a lot of reviews lately, so I came up with this idea. There's no correct way to write a review, so this isn't really a guide. It's more of an attempt by me to walk through the process I use to write each of my reviews. Naturally, this process has changed a lot since I started, but these days, I have a sort of rhythm to them so that they don't seem like a hassle. For my examples, I'll be using Code Geass to make things easy. Usually, I take a few days (probably around half a week to a week) to write a review and this is important. When I finish a show, I'm super excited and ready to talk about it. It's important that this doesn't blind side me, so I give it a few days to die down.

Step 1: The first thing I always do is research. Look at other blogs or look on sites like MyAnimeList or AnimeDB. Find out what everyone else is saying about this show. This step has two aims. The first is to come up with ideas or to remember things that I have missed. Make sure I have all of the data. The second is more psychological. I find that my views coincide with others or something to give myself the confidence to put forth my opinion. Of course, I'd never copy another person's review...this is purely inspirational.

Step 2: The next part is simple. Write everything down. I don't like to just start typing up a review cold turkey. Instead, I create a note list where I put down all of the points I want to make sure I cover. This keeps me organized and helps with not forgetting something I want to say. This step usually spans a few days. I'll keep the note list active and write down a point the second it comes to me. It doesn't matter how it's organized. Just write every thought down so you don't forget. I'll probably come up with more stuff while I'm writing, but I have to make sure I don't miss certain things.

Step 3: Now that I have some content, the next step is to create a template. By this, I mean making a post on my blog (a draft) with just the skeleton of the review. This step is usually done in bulk for multiple shows. When I'm trying to write a lot of reviews, I don't want to get bogged down with the mundane parts like making the post, selecting categories, adding tags, and formatting. I want all of this done so that I can just focus on the show itself. So when I have free time, I create a bunch of posts to save myself some time in case I have to review in a pinch or if I'm on a roll reviewing a lot of shows.

Also in this step, if I have notes already or when I start taking notes, I try to organize them into the appropriate parts of the post. Look at the example to see what I mean by that. Plot points going into the story part, stuff about specific characters only go into the character part, stuff about animation and music go into the animation/music part, and anything that doesn't really fit anywhere else goes into the last part.

Step 4: This is the simplest part. Write the review. I sit down, think about each section and just write. In the story part, I start off by thinking about how I'd tell someone who had never seen the show what it was about. So I try to say it in a way to get them interested in the show without giving anything away. Then, I try to talk about pacing and the ending because those are pretty important to me. Then, just comment on what I liked and what I didn't like. In the characters portion, I try to name as many characters as I can without having too long of a list of names. Then, I come up with some sort descriptions for the more prominent characters. I try to point out favorites and talk about character developments.

Animation gets a bit tough for me. I can't really see the flubs in animation that others seem to catch. I do what I can, though, commenting on battles and trying to say if there was anything specific I found that wasn't up to snuff. Music is where I can go nuts, though. I love to talk about music, so I try to mention how well the music melded with the show. I also talk about the openings and endings, pointing out any particularly good ones. After I'm done writing, I add some screenshots...if I already have some from following the show, then great! But if not, I have to load up some episodes and find some good scenes.

Step 5: This is the last part. When I finish writing, I don't immediately publish or forget about it. I give the review a "pending" status and give myself at least a day to think it over. Then, I come back and read the entire review again to see what I think of it. I try to catch any mistakes or just points I missed. Also, I proofread and look for spelling/grammar errors. When that's done, I send the review off and get ready for the next one.

I really hope this post has been helpful or entertaining (I don't care which one it was!). If nothing else, I sure hope you enjoyed this tiny insight to the inner workings of this blog and my own mind!



  • feal87

    April 3, 2012, 3:11 p.m.

    Now I know how your mind works! I just need to use this info to steal your bishoujos...:P

    Seriously talking I quite like the way you review anime series. Keep up the good work!

    Reply

    marthaurion

    April 3, 2012, 3:13 p.m.

    I always knew you were evil...

    Reply

  • Rednights

    April 3, 2012, 3:20 p.m.

    Just some additions:

    1. You can try having a little text file for moments of inspiration WHILE you're watching whatever show... ie. themes, awesome scenes, etc .. blah blah
    2. Relevant pictures per paragraphs ... or pretty pictures to hold attention o_O
    3. Sites like afterthedeadline.com are good for grammar checking outside of Word ... there are many i use to catch everything through multiple passes.

    Reply

    marthaurion

    April 3, 2012, 3:26 p.m.

    I try to do 1 whenever I can, but sometimes I don't think I'll blog a show or I review a show I watched before I started blogging. I did that for Kara no Kyoukai, though. Not completely sure what you mean by 2, but I mentioned that I try to add screenshots in the reviews. As for 3, I usually grammar check just by eye, so you might be right that I should try using some other source to check things.

    Reply

  • John Sato

    April 3, 2012, 5:23 p.m.

    What a cool idea/post! I absolutely love it when people post things like this, so...way to make my day.

    That's a very interesting strategy. I personally am a very impressionable person, so I dislike looking at other's reviews before I write my own (this helps avoid plagiarism on a more subconscious level, and forces me to put things in my own words). Because I usually take notes when I watch/rewatch a show (works best for short shows), I don't tend to miss to much...but it's also true that sometimes I don't even realize things until I see them in someone else's review. I definitely respect the amount of time you put into this, as well as the amount of time you let things settle. I usually try to write the actual review as close to when I finish something as possible, because that way it's freshest in my mind and my motivation to write on it is at its peak. Your way, however, leads to what may be a more neutral view of the show, and also as you said allows you to gather all your ideas.

    Once again, great post, and thanks for the little insight into Wordpress (I say this as someone who uses Blogger).

    Reply

    marthaurion

    April 3, 2012, 5:33 p.m.

    The problem I run into a lot is that I will sometimes review shows that I haven't seen in over a year. I don't always have the time to rewatch them because there's always so much more anime to watch, so even if I can't help it, I will forget things. I know how it is about being impressionable, but I try as hard as I can to only read for specific points in the show itself...in other words, just for data.

    No matter what I do, my review will always be subjective. Despite that, I want to be in the most rational state of mind when I'm talking about it. As for the post itself, I know I was clueless when I started reviewing, so I thought this might make things easier for other people so they see what's going on in the background. That way it doesn't look like I just wake up one day and write a review.

    Reply

  • Yerocha

    April 4, 2012, 3:59 a.m.

    This sounds a little like how I write reviews. I'm not the best when it comes to making the skeleton or anything, but I know that good writing takes multiple steps and a lot of planning.

    Reply

    marthaurion

    April 4, 2012, 10:24 a.m.

    I would feel too uneasy if I just published it right when after I wrote it. Have to give myself time to get a bit more confident.

    Reply

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