Reviewing anime is a fun hobby. It encourages you to view your series through a more critical lens and it’s nice getting to share your insights and opinions with others. It even makes watching bad anime pretty fun, as you get to rip those series a new one in your reviews. However, writing reviews is a skill that needs developing and I’ve heard from plenty of people who are apprehensive about sharing their work.
I recognize those feelings myself, so I wanted to share my approach to writing about anime.
First and foremost: there is no formal process to follow when it comes to writing reviews. No forms to fill out, no checklist to follow. It’s a creative process you shape yourself, by discussing what matters to you when it comes to anime. However, there are some general pointers that help me make my reviews as good as I can.
I typically begin writing about an anime in-between episodes as I watch it. I jot down notes for my reviews and insightful lines that I would want to include, but don’t yet commit to fusing these together into entire paragraphs. You never know if your opinion of a show might shift as it goes on. Maybe an anime you like peters out or a sudden plot twist ruins it for you. Maybe an anime suddenly comes together in a way that makes everything before it so much more interesting. It’s a shame to then have to go back and toss out everything you wrote, especially if you put a lot of time and energy into it.
After finishing an anime, that’s when I try to write out my entire review of it. You’re memories of the show are still fresh and you’re probably still swooped up in the feelings it left you with. Maybe you haven’t even brushed away the tears yet. It helps me lend a personal touch to what I am reviewing, as I am eager to talk up what I liked or vent my frustrations. That energy dissipates if you wait for too long.
I usually write that review in one sitting, go over it once for basic spell checking, and then let it sit for a few weeks. This is easier once you have a backlog of content scheduled ahead, as you can put that review at the back of the queue and work on something else. I usually have about a month’s worth of content scheduled ahead this way.
My reviews go live on Monday, so in the weekend I pick up the review for the next week and go over it again. At this point it has been weeks since I saw the show and wrote that review, which is helpful for two reasons. Firstly, I am not as hyped about the anime anymore and can look back on the review more rationally and with some added hindsight. That “excited” mindset is great for capturing spontaneous thought, but can also cause your review to leap from topic to topic, or have sentences that don’t flow together well. This is where I correct such problems and remove portions that are redundant or, perhaps, not fair towards the anime being critiqued.
Secondly, it’s easy to read over your own mistakes in writing. If you just wrote a bunch of paragraphs and read over them again, your mind is inclined to read what you intended, rather than what you wrote. Letting it sit for a month creates some detachment from your work, making it easier to spot typos and grammatical errors before you toss it out there.
But what if you’re anxious about putting your work out there? What if it’s not good enough or people get mad at you? That is possible, of course, but it’s just as likely that your work is actually good and people will like it.
My concern when starting up Reasons to Anime was that nobody would care. That my reviews would fall on deaf ears, elicit no reactions whatsoever, and I’d just be another voice shouting opinions into the void. At one point I said “fuck it” and just put my work out there to see what would happen. If being ignored was the worst result possible, then I’d just write those reviews for myself.
I also figured internet weirdos would have bigger fish to bother, at least until I had established myself more and gotten confident enough in my work.
That leaves us with the question of growth. There are a lot of people out there who get into writing or YouTube inspired by their favorite content creators and want to know how to achieve similar success. There are plenty of shit-peddlers out there who pretend to know the answer, but online content creation is massively complex.
Many big content creators gain their audience through hard work combined with a breakthrough moment. A streamer could, for example, rise to prominence when they show up early to a game that would then blow up in popularity. This could be due to sheer luck or it could be a strategic decision on their part. Either way, there’s no method to easily replicate this because you’d have to preempt the next big opportunity and devise a way to seize it before everyone else gets in on it.
Even my modest success with Reasons to Anime is born from my unique circumstances. I had a background in reviewing because I used to work for a games site where I received professional coaching. Had I started as a complete rookie, my work probably wouldn’t have been as enjoyable or coherent, serving more as a learning experience than a long-term project. From there, much of my growth came from reviews that gained massive traction, usually because my odd tastes in anime led to me writing about shows few other people were covering at the time.
I can’t offer you any tricks to “hack the algorithm” or “kickstart your growth”. Anyone who claims they do is most likely pulling a scam. That, or they only offers basic tips like writing good content and doing social media stuff. Instead, my advice is to consider what you want out writing reviews, and what is the worst case scenario you’d be prepared to deal with. Wanting to be the Gigguk of anime blogging is a nice ambition, but would you be fine with doing this for a few 100 views per article? What about a couple dozen?
The best advice I can give is to write anime reviews because you enjoy doing so. There is a lot of competition out there, so even doing everything right, you may still see your growth stagnate or reviews go ignored. If you can write a review and be satisfied, even if that review gains no comments, likes, or notable attention, then that is perfect. But if you approach this like a job hoping to strike it rich, you’ll probably want to take your writing talent elsewhere.