I tend to see that most reviews, whether it is on each episodes or a whole show, seem to be more positive reviews rather than negative reviews. The negative posts I’ve read are usually completed series reviews that look at some of the cons after explaining what makes the show good. Or even if the post is a mostly negative review, they still highlight a bright spot for the show.
But recently, I have been interested in seeing a post that just breaks down the negative parts. Explaining why they didn’t enjoy a show; a total beat down; a complete massacre. Looking at all the negative elements of the show and why it made the experience horrible for them.
Those posts, however, seem almost non-existent; the ratio is around 9:1 or so. But, this makes sense to me; I mean, I, too, don’t tend to write many negative posts. And I see a couple of reasons why this is the case for me and other viewers.
- It’s hard to write negative reviews
When I’m trying to write negative reviews, it usually comes down to two elements: it’s boring or it looks ugly.
I think it’s very much possible to go in-depth about why a show is boring — it can have bad pacing, it can have mundane stories, it can have too much exposition, etc — but it’s not fun writing about that. And most of the time, it’s hard to expand further than, “this happened and it didn’t make sense so it was boring.” If anyone wishes to go further than this, you are going to have to go back and watch these boring scenes that you didn’t enjoy to properly talk about these shows and no one wants to sit through scenes they didn’t enjoy over and over again.
On the other hand, aesthetics is quite hard to comment on.
When I made my GoToubun post and tried to explain why the characters look so ugly, it was hard to articulate the artistic elements that go into making the characters look like that. This, of course, is because of my lack of knowledge in colors or artistic fields but I’m sure a lot of people also have a hard to go deeper than “it looks janky” or “it looks weird” unless the facial parts are evidently out of proportions or something (even then, there’s not much critique other than “proportions are off”).
Of course, aesthetics is easy to talk about when it’s done well. For example, how certain colors or textures evoke certain emotions of an audience. I went on extensively in my Tanaka-Kun post on how the desaturated color palette of the show adds a lot to the relaxing overall atmosphere of the whole show. However, when it comes down to why you think an aesthetic is not done so well, it is hard to specifically point out one area of the aesthetics of the show as the problem usually is just that the show is bland.
Most of the time, when I write, negative reviews just end up taking the same shape because of these reasons. Usually, they are all just “I don’t like the color they used,” “it feels boring” or “I don’t like the writing.” Of course, I try to give my best explanation to why I think this, but they never end up being in-depth enough, compared to the more analytical approaches that I am able to make on positive elements. I think this is why on most of my posts, even if I dislike certain elements of a show, I still try to gear the whole post towards the positive side of the show — parts that intrigued me. While I think this choice makes my posts better because I’m able to articulate my points more fluently with better supporting arguments, it also makes it seem like I think all these shows are 10/10 masterpieces which is not really true.
Recently, I’ve seen a few negative reviews that look a lot different from my attempts at doing so, really diving deep into specific scenes or events of a show they selected. And they have been an absolute joy to read.
Another negative review that works well outside of these two factors is breaking down a frustration that someone feels with a character. I think it’s very fun reading about what actions cause outrage for the writer. These types of posts usually are very emotional and done in-depth which I find delightful to read.
I think the only time where writing negatively overall becomes easy is when the show is seriously awful in every area that the writing, the camerawork, the aesthetics, or the story are just so easy to criticize. My Arifureta review that I did a while back fits into this category because of how this show reached far beyond bland; it took extra steps to be extra horrible. These shows are really helpful in avoiding my next problem with writing negative reviews.
2. People don’t want to read other people criticize shows they like
Unless a show is widely seen as a massive directorial failure by almost everyone in the community, there are bound to be some people that enjoy the show that you write a negative review about.
Hey, I trash at Arifureta every time I get the chance to and it seems like no one is complaining about it. Though I guess I do dub it as the best anime of 2019 because of how hilariously bad it is. So I guess in a sense I am praising it?
On the other hand, the Gotoubun review that I posted, I realized, probably has a wide fan base around the blogging community. Now I don’t know if it was my lackluster writing, bad choice of topic, or just bad timing, but that post ended up getting significantly less amount of engagement compared to other positive posts that I make here.
Even myself, before I started blogging a lot more frequently, enjoyed posts that praise a show rather than criticize a show. Criticism has its pros, like the way it helps to digest different opinions on a show, but the former is much easier to read than the latter because of how optimistic it is.
Naturally, I’m sure most people find it easier to read a review that they agree with rather than one where they vastly differ in opinions. The difference, however, between negative and positive reviews, is that I believe positive reviews of shows that you dislike are easier to digest because positive reviews have felt more like an articulation of personal opinion
While recently, as a reader, I do find negative reviews, regardless of whether or not I enjoy the show, more interesting to read most of the time, I can definitely see how someone would enjoy reading a more optimistically toned opinion, especially in a blog when reading is done after a tiring day. And as most bloggers do wish to see increased reader interaction in their blogs, it’s also easily understandable why you would stay away from something like this. Though I think the blogging community is extremely nice overall that they tend to respect everyone else’s opinions like how a normal person should react to different opinions.
3. No one watches bad shows enough to write on them
I don’t know about others, but this is definitely the biggest reason why I can’t write negative reviews.
Recently, I saw this negative review by Blue Hawk on Aniteiku Anime Review about Akashic Record and I had a blast reading it. I think this is a type of show where I could have also easily written a negative post about pretty specifically. From that post, it seems like the show has quite a lot of problems that were very fun reading about.
But the thing is, I didn’t even watch Akashic Record for more than 5 minutes. I saw the visuals and lazy setup in episode one and immediately proceeded to drop a show.
Of course, it is kind of impossible to write a negative review of a show if you watched only five minutes of a show and dropped it. You are going to have to nitpick every single frame in those five minutes to make a post that is anything longer than 5 lines (actually, this sounds pretty interesting; might be something I attempt doing for shows I dropped recently). In the first place, the reason why I drop shows usually just end up being really vague ideas about how uninterested I was in the show conceptually, and those aren’t really topics that I can go on about for 1000+ words.
Since most reviews require a look at different scenes from different arcs of a single show, it usually requires you to finish a show. This circles back to my first point; no reviewer wants to go back and rewatch any type of media that they disdain on their first watch.
I know that a lot of people, especially when writing about seasonal shows, don’t drop too many shows. But as a person who frequently drops shows left and right unless they seem to like shows that I would give at least a high six to, even finding a negative show to write about is a tough obstacle to overcome. Maybe I can find a show I dislike next season and break down every reason why I would have dropped a show every episode. But that’s rough for both the writer and the reader.
Anyways in conclusion, what I’m trying to say is, if I (or anyone else) make a review that criticizes a show, please read it. It’s all personal opinion and criticism in good faith.
Thanks for reading!