The illegal 10/10 anime

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.

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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?

10 thoughts on “The illegal 10/10 anime

  1. I treat my scores as more of a measure of my subjective enjoyment of the work, rather then as an objective measure of the works quality, which is why I don’t really offer a breakdown of my score in my reviews. Having said that, I’ve noticed that I, thus far, have avoided giving anything either a 1 out of 10 or 10 out of 10 rating. I don’t have a hard rule for myself about never giving anything a 10 out of 10 score, but I guess I feel that something would have to completely blow my mind in order to earn that high of a rating. Time will tell if I ever end up giving out that score, I guess.

  2. That was a good post. I’ve actually seen the first episode of Figure 17 a long time ago. On Iridium Eye, I use the 10 point system, but even then it’s more about my subjective like of a movie or series. Not only that, but I have an Adjustable Score System in all my reviews where the reader can add or subtract points based on their personal tastes or opinions on something because there are people who may like something more or less than me even for valid reasons.

  3. I have only one 10/10 anime and that’s Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu’s s2, which I decided would be a 10 after years of believing there were lots of great shows, but nothing I could swear allegiance to until the end of time, even if I forgot what happened in it. (/That’s/ how seriously I take the picking of a 10…although I use the /100 system on AniList, so it should technically be “100/100”.)

    I have a bunch of things I’ll dock an anime for, such as visual quality (were action scenes still images shaken about? Was the CGI clunky? Did I mind it looked terrible, or did that actually add to the experience? etc.), story quality (was it incomprehensible at any stage?) and most importantly, to get an anime from 90 to 100, “resonance” (subjective enjoyment of the work, emotional reaction/s and/or general experience with the fandom, although fulfilling all 3 normally means I will have poured a lot of effort into my experience with that anime and makes for the highest-scoring work).

    As for Figure 17 itself, due to a certain library of mine having it, I read the manga back in 2018. I think it’s decent and nothing more, but getting my hands on the anime – if I ever do, because licensing and all – could, of course, change that.

  4. Thank you for your comment. I looked up Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu and it does seem very interesting. I am surprised it’s so new, as most people point to the anime of old for their 10/10 classics. I am not sure if I’ll watch it myself because I had a very poor experience with Joshiraku, which seems to be about the same topic.

    I am also surprised that you mention fanbases as a factor in whether a 9/10 show could be elevated to a 10/10 (or 100/100). Do you feel that the community around a show weighs that much on your overall enjoyment of it?

    1. You didn’t hit reply to the comment (you started a separate comment chain), so I never realised I had a reply until I came back to this post. Sorry about not noticing.

      Most of my anime is from 2014+ because that’s my time with simulcasts and so I’ve familiarised myself with more anime from that period. Joshiraku I haven’t seen, but I’d assume it’s more comedic compared to SGRS’s drama focus.

      Certain fanbases can make or break the entire experience related to an anime. It’s definitely not the be-all end-all for a show, since most times I don’t delve enough into a fandom to make that criteria apply, but for anime I commit wholly to (such as a potential 100/100), considering the fandom does help.

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