Numbers are math and math is objective truth. 3+4+2=9 and no amount of magic can turn that 9 into a 10. And 9 is a number I am very familiar with after years of reviewing games for media outlets and tracking anime on my MAL account, which I have since replaced with AniList.
Because, no matter how good a piece of media is, it can never be truly perfect, which is what a 10/10 score would imply. So when I say that Figure 17 is a 17/10 anime, I hope you can stick with me while I explain these crimes against mathematics. Because Figure 17 is not a perfect, yet it also kind of is.
I don’t actually use a scoring system on this website. My reason for doing so is that I feel that scores have a tainted reputation. I grew up reading magazines and websites that would reliably score anything 8/10 or above. Too afraid to upset publisher relations or offend fans, or perhaps due to genuine over-excitement for the medium. Due to this, I fear people are trained to view scores through a cynical lens and interpret numbers differently than how they may have been intended. I am sure many of us are familiar with this graph:
I do keep scores on my AniList account, but even that I am not wholly fond of. Numbers imply an objective reasoning. Giving a whole anime a 10, or even break it down into categories and hand out 10s in those, implies perfection. You are saying that there is no room for improvement.
And I have spoken with people who passionately believe that a 10/10 is not done, which is my second reason for not using them on this website. Of course, I am not literally giving Figure 17 a 17/10, but if I were to give it 10/10 score, I’d expect people to argue with me about it. Did I truly feel that Figure 17 was flawless in every possible sense? Not, really. Character designs are only mostly nice, I wasn’t too fond of the episode where they do a school play, and I felt that Oldina’s character arc was a bit rushed. So it’s not a 10/10 and I am a filthy liar?
In reality, my score for Figure 17 on Anilist breaks down like this:
But is this really what is important in anime? This mathematical breakdown of a show’s quality, expressed in subjective numbers that pile together and form one big number? I like thinking about this stuff and I like scoring a show’s individual qualities. If they had to be representative of my actual opinion though, then there’d be an extra category called “Passion”. A category that would then be the only metric that actually counted towards the final score.
This “Passion” represents a bunch of things. It’s my own personal investment in a show, my beliefs about how significant it is for anime as a medium, and how unique of a product it is. Higurashi is my favorite anime of all time. Yet following the mathematical scoring above, if I were to be honest, it’d probably not rank higher than a 6. And I’d still say it’s a 10/10 anime because it made me weep like a little girl and it still astounds me that it even exists in the first place.
The same applies to Figure 17. The fact that it actually came to exist is already one of those “the stars aligned perfectly” situations. A moving, anime original story produced by a dream team at OLM and somehow given a unique double timeslot and monthly development schedule? That is amazing! We will never see that happen ever again.
And Figure 17 uses that unique position to tell a story that I was completely invested into. I can’t believe I went for years without having seen it. It would have been life-changing had I actually seen this show when it first came out.
Figure 17, Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Higurashi, Toradora, Chobits, these aren’t perfect shows when filtered through the boring logic of math and scored categories. Yet they are also shows that defined anime, shattered conventions, opened up the medium to new people, or which have stuck with me for most of my life. To argue they don’t deserve a 10/10 because they aren’t literally flawless every second of their runtime is, frankly, preposterous.
To my fellow reviewers: what is your policy on scoring? What motivates you to give that perfect 10/10 or that dreaded 1/10?