Reviewing Anime – My Approach

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. Thus I 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 of 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.

6 thoughts on “Reviewing Anime – My Approach

  1. It is interesting. When I started to review more than a year ago, I promised to myself that I will not look at a “How to review guide”. Everything has worked out nicely for me.

    Having said that, whenever I have seen someone sharing their thoughts on reviewing, a pattern starts to emerge. Watch the show, take notes, write the review after it is over, let it sit for some time, and then go over it again.

    1. Do you follow the same approach or did you form a completely different method? I never used a guide myself either, but figured I’d use this opportunity to share a few things I wished I knew when I first started out.

  2. It’s cool to see your writing process all laid out. “I usually have about a month’s worth of content scheduled ahead this way.” — I’m curious to hear where you get your motivation from. I admire bloggers such as yourself who keep up with it regularly. Meanwhile I feel a little burnt out from blogging and don’t write as much as I used to.

    1. Firstly, thank you for your kind words. I appreciate it greatly.

      As for my motivation, it helps that I have always enjoyed writing down my thoughts to begin with. Anything I watch, play, or read feels incomplete if I haven’t expressed my thoughts on it somehow. This helped me push through the rougher early years of my online presence, because I was going to write the things I did anyway, regardless of how many would read my work.

      The amount of content I have prepped in advance is also thanks in large part to my friends. About half the anime I review is stuff that I watched with my friends on weekly get-togethers or online groupwatch sessions. That way, even when I don’t feel like watching anime on my own for a few days, I don’t fall behind on my schedule much.

      I do need to note that I have no experience with burnout, so I want to be cautious with my advice in that regard. What has helped keep blogging fun to me is that I don’t see it as a responsibility. If an anime is just too boring to watch, I just drop it and move on. Maybe make a short post about it instead of a full review. If I don’t feel like writing at all, I just don’t. I toss in a vacation and come back when I feel like it again. Sometimes I don’t like how an article is turning out, so I just scrap the whole thing and write something silly nobody but me cares about. I take it all just seriously enough to seem professional, but I am careful not to treat any of this like a job.

      Hopefully that’s helpful to you. I was looking at your blog earlier and it’s really nice!

      1. May I ask how long you’ve been blogging for? It’s great that blogging fits with your schedule so well, especially with the groupwatch sessions. Seems like you’ve got a great balance in terms of seriousness and not being too serious about blogging. Thanks for sharing. & thank you for the nice comment. My blog is over 10 years old, haha. So I’m an old-time blogger. I used to blog a lot but not so much anymore. I used to write more about anime but now it’s just pictures. I think I’m still figuring out what I want to do with the blog.

      2. Hi Rose, sorry for the late response. I was still abroad.

        I started writing for someone else’s site 11 years ago and then tried to set out on my own a few years after that. My old Tumblr site was apparently banned, but my first WordPress blog I started in 2016. Reasons to Anime was founded the next year and quickly became my main project after.

        Thanks a lot for your kind words. It means a lot to hear this from an aniblogging-senpai 🙂

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