Why There’s No Such Thing as “Objectively Good”

Through blogging and reading other blogs, I’ve learned quite a bit about analyzing shows. I’ve also been able to see what sorts of things people look for and like seeing in shows.  However, in the process of doing so (combined with my interest in psychology and philosophy), I’ve stumbled upon quite the interesting theory: that there’s no such thing as being “objectively good”, or even objectivity itself to a degree.

I used to think that presentation was everything in a show, and was what determined whether people ended up liking whatever they were watching or not. Now I have a different mindset, though it’s a slight spin on the previous one.

It’s actually perspective that’s king.

Okay, editorial over.

Alright, fine, I’ll go into details and give examples. Be prepared for a ton of text, because I intend to fully prove my point.


You see, most people would say that execution is what’s important in a show: any show can have interesting or unique ideas, but if it doesn’t make the best use of them, then it’s just wasted potential. After all, “different” does not automatically mean “good”.

So if a show knows what it’s doing, even with pretty standard or generic ideas, it can be great show if done correctly, right? Isn’t it the way a story is handled and told that should determine whether it’s a pile of trash to be forgotten, or actually objectively good and should be praised by the masses? That’s why execution is so important.

But herein lies the problem: objectivity implies fact. Is there a show that is unanimously considered to be good? Of course not. There will always be at least one person that will disagree. So that means that execution doesn’t actually determine whether a show is good or not.

Sure, you could argue the majority card, but if there’s anything Twilight has taught us, it’s that the majority can be pretty damn stupid sometimes. But if you’re a Twilight fan or don’t buy that argument, here’s another one: if a group of three people rule a country, and two of them say stealing is okay, does that mean that it’s okay to steal? That may sound like an absurd example, but that’s the entire point: the majority opinion doesn’t automatically become a fact.

Instead, as I said before, the answer is just a bit of a twist on the idea that execution is what’s important.

Perspective.

I’m not even talking about how people like different genres or anything like that. Of course that still plays an important part when it comes to people liking a show or not, but even with genre preferences, people tend to have exceptions. One of the biggest ones is how most people who don’t like mecha love Code Geass.

But no, by perspective, I’m talking about something much more vague.

So then what do I mean by perspective? I mean how one person can watch an insane scene from a show and say, “Oh wow! This show is intense! That was amazing!” while another person can see the same exact scene and say, “Wow, that was just absurd. This show is so stupid.” Luckily, Future Diary aired recently, and is a good example of this. Some people saw the show as being too crazy and insane, while others were sucked into the fantastical world and events of Future Diary.

Now, that brings up the question of how exactly these different reactions are brought about. The thing is, nobody knows. After all, if we did, Hollywood would have already found a way to harness it and make even more money.

Sometimes there are threads of logic that connect these unconscious thoughts: if you’re a contrarian like me, then you’ll look for faults in any show that’s popular or gets praise you think is undeserved; if a friend or someone whose opinion you respect likes a show, you’ll probably be more likely to notice positive things about that show; etc. There are situations like these, but there are still times when people will get completely different opinions on a show without any sort of catalyst to fuel those perspectives.

Honestly, there’s only one thing about shows that can be considered to be objective, and that comes in the form of plot holes.

It’s up to the show to establish the type of universe it has and the rules that surround it, so if it breaks those rules, that’s a true fault that can actually be proven. Arguments like “it moved too fast, moved too slow, came off as forced, etc” can’t be proven, and you’re guaranteed to find at least one person that will disagree with you.

But alas, this has been a lot of reading so far. Now would be a good time to take a break with some examples and accompanying pictures.snap1

A good example of what I was just talking about would be [C].

Some people would say it was a fun ride, others would say it was completely pointless and a waste of their time, but that’s not want I want to talk about with this show. Sure, those have to do with perspective, but there’s not much to say about them besides pointing them out. I’d rather refer to a specific aspect of the show that’s solid grounds when dealing with perspective.

Let’s talk [C] and economics.

Some people say [C] has absolutely no deep messages about economics and it’s just fluff for the setting and attack names. Others would say that the show has some deeply-rooted messages in economics, but you’d have to actually be an economics major to understand them.

Now, who’s correct?

Sure, maybe an interview with the creator would reveal the answer, but let’s say you weren’t able to. How would you decide who’s right? You wouldn’t, because both sides are right. A show is, after all, what you make of it.

An argument that occasionally pops up that I find utterly ridiculous is the famous “you’re reading too deeply into the show” one. It’s not like people go into a show trying to link a topic or idea to what they see, the show just makes them think of whatever it is and then the connection is formed. The show acts as a catalyst for whatever the person thinks up.

So then what decides if someone thinks the show is smarter than they can comprehend? Obviously if the show is on a topic the viewer doesn’t know much about, odds are they’ll assume they just don’t get the message, but it may even be linked to lack of self-confidence in general. If you naturally assume the show’s staff is smarter than you, then of course you’ll think the show is DEEP if you don’t get it. Similarly, you could say the reverse for people who think the show is full of crap.

Of course, those aren’t necessarily required parameters, they can just help determine the odds of which opinion you’ll have.snap2

Another aspect of perspective I mentioned earlier is how other people’s opinions can sway your perspective on whether you end up finding a show to be good or not. If someone you respect likes a show, you’ll be more likely to find it good, and if they dislike a show, you’ll be more likely to find it bad.

My example for this one is a lovely post by (the sadly retired) 2DT on Un-Go.

Now, I’m not saying 2DT was wrong nor right in liking the show. That’s not what the post was about, after all. Instead, it addressed the complaints many people had that Un-Go was a bad show due to not conforming to Western mystery standards. This isn’t even really an opinion, he pointed out a fact.

My point is, what if he hadn’t written that post?

Un-Go was never all that popular, but a lot more people liked the show and found it to be good after reading 2DT’s post. Would it have gotten this decently positive reception if that post had never come to be? Would it have been another Fractale?

The show never changed, people’s perspectives did.

Not perspectives regarding their opinion on the show as whole, but rather what they wanted out of the show and what they looked for in it. A simple mindset changed a show that a lot of people didn’t care about into a show that had a fairly positive reception among the blogosphere.

Now, what if people had this mindset much earlier? You see, another mystery show aired a few seasons before Un-Go, and it got about the same wave-of-the-hand reception that Un-Go initially got. In fact, one of the commenters on 2DT’s post mentioned the very show.

Yes, I’m talking about Gosick.

If people knew of the different approach to mysteries that Eastern literature took, would people have enjoyed the show more? Most people dropped it after the first few episodes because the mysteries were either too “easy” or too “ridiculous”. By going into the show with the mindset that the mysteries are there to highlight and develop the characters, it suddenly becomes a lot better of a show, no? Again, the show isn’t doing anything different, just your perspective when watching it has changed.

But briefly going back to respected opinions for a moment, this is why you shouldn’t automatically agree with whatever those people say. You may have enjoyed a show that you didn’t if you hadn’t taken their word as absolute truth. There’s a difference between respecting an opinion, and blindly conforming to it.snap3

Oh yes, I’m going there.

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Baka-Raptor wrote a post saying how Queen’s Blade definitely wasn’t as bad as people were making it out to be. While everyone was busy focusing on the fanservice, there was actually a good plot to be found from the show.

Now, I could just stop my point at that, and point out how fanservice can distract people from aspects of a show that would cause them to actually enjoy it, but that’s much too simple. I could broaden it and point out how even minor problems with shows can do the same thing, but even then, it’s too simple and there isn’t much to add.

So let’s bring Nisemonogatari into this.

Nisemonogatari had its fair share of fanservice, yet people largely ignored it, or in the case of one (in)famous episode, even praised it. People just accepted it as part of the package that came with the show, and focused on all of the positives of the show.

With Queen’s Blade, it’s basically the polar opposite. Everyone was so focused on the fanservice that they couldn’t see any of the positives that the show had to offer. Now, it’s not like every single person would have loved the plot, but at least there would be more complaints from people than just “WOAH LOOK AT ALL THOSE TITS”.

So what’s the big deal? Why the bias?

The first argument would probably be that Nisemonogatari had Bakemonogatari as solid ground to stand on, but that doesn’t seem to entirely fit. If anything, shouldn’t people be even more disappointed in Nisemonogatari since it had so much fanservice plaguing the show compared to Bakemonogatari?

Both Nisemonogatari and Queen’s Blade have positives to them, but one show gets almost nothing but flak while the other gets almost nothing but praise. Perhaps I just don’t get it, seeing as I haven’t seen either, but I think they’re perfect examples of perspective as far as both ends of the spectrum.snap4

Sometimes, all it takes is one scene for someone to decide if they love or hate a show.

Bringing back yet another old post, TWWK posted about how the scene of Euphy’s carnage completely ruined the show for him. It was violence for the sake of violence, and only served to shock and awe the viewer. It served no purpose to the story.

Or did it?

I could counter that the entire point of the scene was to drive home the message of how there was no easy solution for Lelouch anymore. He accepted the Power of the King, and now he had to suffer down a long and torturous path. The Geass is a power that “isolates people”, as C.C. put it. Lelouch caved and was willing to accept Euphy’s help, but the Geass is both a blessing and a curse.

In fact, there’s two scenes in Code Geass when the Geass screws Lelouch over. The first is the Euphy scene in the first season, when Lelouch is at his most hopeful. The second is in the second season, when the Black Knights find out about the Geass and turn on him, a time when Lelouch is most depressed.

Of course, I’m sure TWWK could come up with a counter to what I said, and I could again do the same, and we would endlessly go back and forth. That’s because neither of us is wrong. Similar to what I said before about a show being what you make of it, the meaning behind a scene is the same.

Now, some people may change their mind about a scene after debating about it, but most of the time both sides end up where they started. Though now they may understand where the other person is coming from a bit more.

Once your mind is made up about something, it usually takes quite a bit to change it.snap5

Oh yeah, I’m going there, too.

One of the more common examples for perception is wanting more than a show gives, though in this example I suppose my argument is like my Code Geass example combined with my Un-Go one.

I personally think people went into Shakugan no Shana with the wrong perspective. Similar to how people at first didn’t like Un-Go for the way it handled mysteries, people didn’t like Shakugan no Shana for the way it handled Yuuji. He’s been infamously branded as being the most personality-less male lead in history.

To that I ask, is that not the point?

My arguments on how being stubborn and having a martyr complex are personality traits aside, allow me to copy down one the very line assigned to Yuuji in the light novel:

“The average high school freshman – Yuuji Sakai”

Isn’t the entire point of Yuuji in Shakugan no Shana that he’s supposed to be this ordinary kid thrown into this crazy situation, and we see how he responds and grows due to it? Doesn’t this perspective make a lot more sense than expecting some unique personality from him? Sure, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s ordinary, but just like with Un-Go, it’s not the show that changes, but your perspective.

Of course this is a slightly biased example since Shakugan no Shana is my favourite series, but my point still stands. Not to mention, this is further proof that it’s perspective that decides if a show is good or not. You’d be hard-pressed to find people in the blogosphere and even beyond that think Shakugan no Shana is a great show, yet it’s my favourite series and I have absolutely no complaints towards it.


Now, while I’m usually not one to ask questions, think about it for a moment: isn’t there a show that you like that most people say is bad? Isn’t there a show that you hate that most people say is good? I guarantee there’s at least one example for both in every one of you.

Obviously Shakugan no Shana is my own example for the former, but for the latter it’d be Cowboy Bebop. I’ve just never been able to get into a show with a sci-fi western setting, and the episodic nature of the show didn’t give me much motivation to go through each episode. I do see why people like it, but I just can’t get into that mindset.

This probably because, as I said in my Code Geass example, even with conflicting opinions, people aren’t about to go through a show they thought was bad and vastly change their opinion. People are usually stuck with the perspectives they first get upon watching a show.

However, this topic begs one giant question: what’s the point of anime blogging if shows being good or bad really does ultimately come down to perspective (subjectivity)?

Good question, voice in my head. One of the reasons is the same one as why actual critics exist: because people need an extra opinion when they’re on the fence about actually starting a show (or watching a movie, or playing a game). Not everyone has the time or patience to give everything a shot, so they let other people decide for them. There’s nothing wrong with this, you just have a chance on missing out on a show that you might really enjoy.

Another reason is simply because it’s fun. At least, I would hope that people who take the time to write up their thoughts on shows and post them enjoy doing so, otherwise that would be a pretty counterproductive hobby.

But lastly, and most importantly, it’s because it encourages critically thinking. It’s almost ironic, but by pretending our opinions are facts and objectively true, we actually fuel the mindset that causes people to analyze shows as they watch them and form these perspectives about shows being good or bad, which are anything but fact.

And besides, the world wouldn’t be as fun without people arguing with each other with comments like, “My dog has better taste than you, and he licks his own ass.”

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30 Comments on “Why There’s No Such Thing as “Objectively Good””

  1. Game8910 says:

    If everyone could agree on everything, world peace wouldn’t be just a dream.
    Thats pretty much the only thing I can say after reading this.

  2. TWWK says:

    Great post! Well…probably. I didn’t read ALL of it. :P

    I do agree with what you said (about what I said). And my perspective certainly had everything to do with what I saw. And I’ve had a difficult time really explaining scenes like the one I posted on, where I feel a scene is there in a fanservice-y, almost torture porn-ish (or sometimes actually that). And as such (and even w/o my inability to give a strong defense), I would never put down anyone who enjoyed Code Geass, because I really, really liked it…until the most horrible episode ever.

    • Riyoga says:

      Honestly, I don’t blame you. The word count says this post is about 3K words. Maybe taking ten days to write a post isn’t such a good thing.

      I am disappointed that you’ll never finish Code Geass, because I think you’d find the ending just as fascinating and thoughtful as I did. But alas, your perspective is your own, and I respect it.

      • TWWK says:

        Ah, well, I did read through episode summaries of the series! After all, I just had to find out how it ended. The end was nice…but I don’t regret my decision.

  3. TRazor says:

    Yeah, I agree. It’s all about how far you’re willing to convince yourself that the show had purpose and excelled in it.

    I tldred.

  4. Baka-Raptor says:

    It’s implicit in most positive reviews that there’s at least an element of subjectivity. Can’t say the same for negative reviews. The prevailing attitude in the blogosphere is as follows:

    – Some shows are subjectively bad. They must include explicit statements of subjectivity or the author is a jerk.
    – Some shows are objectively bad. It’s ok to not only criticize those shows but to make fun of them without any explicit or implicit subjectivity.

    I’ve been vocal in my support of Queen’s Blade because I found myself liking one of those “objectively bad” shows that everyone unabashedly makes fun of.

    • Riyoga says:

      Agreed on your points, though it also seems to work that way for other media, like movies and video games. The obvious problem, as you also pointed out, is that if someone doesn’t like something that everyone else does, they need to emphasize that it’s just their opinion or they’ll get shunned for it.

      As you said, I’m sure most people already know that subjectivity plays a role when liking a show, but some people don’t see it also playing just as big a role when not liking a show.

      The fact that you were willing to openly defend Queen’s Blade is one of the reason’s you’re so awesome, Baka-Raptor. You’re not afraid to tell it how it is.

  5. John Sato says:

    I think there are two reasons why people liked (or claimed to like) Nisemonogatari more than Queen’s Blade: the first (and less important one) has to do with quantity. Ecchi is much more prevalent in Queen’s Blade than it is in the Monogatari series (at least, that was my impression). The second reason is that (I think, in my opinion, every other quantifying statement you can imagine) people liked Bakamonogatari and so they wanted the sequel to be better. It has to do with your preconceptions before entering a show. They wanted to like it, and that’s why they did. Of course, that certainly doesn’t apply to everyone, but that’s one of the reasons.

    And as for why we blog anyways, I think the answer also has to do with *similar* perspectives. Sure, everyone has different ones, but how different are they? I’ve found a number of people who have very similar perspectives to my own, which serves to purposes: 1) I can get a good idea of whether or not I’ll like a show or 2) I can think “hey I’m not the only one” when I agree with someone else.

    Of course, I’m not arguing any of your points, just trying to expand on them. Anyways, great post. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as a tl;dr situation unless the author was just wasting words, which you most certainly were not. I really appreciate the level of detail you put into this, and you really explore the idea very fully. Once again, great job.

    • Riyoga says:

      I’m not sure about quantity, since I haven’t actually watched either, only read about them. I do know for sure that Queen’s Blade was more blunt since it didn’t bother hiding the breasts, while Nisemonogatari was more teasing about it. If anything, that makes me respect Queen’s Blade more for being straightforward about it.

      You make a good point with your second reason, though. I figured since people expected so much out of the show, the fanservice would have ruined it for them, but instead they may have taken it the other way and just blinded themselves to all of the faults.

      Good point on perspectives with blogging reasons, too. I didn’t mention it in the post, but other than doing it because it’s fun, I blog because it helps me sort out my thoughts on shows. The process of writing stuff down just helps me organize my thoughts.

      Oh no, I don’t mind people adding to my posts at all. In fact, I encourage it. It’s the same with arguing any of my points, because I like debating.

  6. ciddypoo says:

    “… people didn’t like Shakugan no Shana for the way it handled Yuuji. He’s been infamously branded as being the most personality-less male lead in history.”

    I agree that yes, one of the points of the series is to portray an average, run-of-the-mill student through Yuuji, but a run-of-the-mill character doesn’t have to boring. Shana is the titular character, so it’s obvious that Yuuji shouldn’t shine brighter than the star (at least not off the bat), but it didn’t mean Yuuji had to drown in his own inadequacy.

    And to be honest, I didn’t really think he changed much as a character. I’ve only been able to read the first two officially translated novels, though I’ve watched the entire series — but Yuuji is still a pretty meek guy near the end of Series 2. Which is why I took such a huge exception to his sudden ‘S-class status’ at the beginning of Final thanks to his Snakey friend.

    • Riyoga says:

      Seeing a character as boring is another aspect when dealing with perspective, because I didn’t find Yuuji to be that boring. Like you said, he did take a backseat to Shana, but he served as a great contrast to her. Shana represented realism, while Yuuji represented idealism. And that clash made both of them interesting for me.

      What I find most fascinating about the two is how their approach towards those mindsets get practically swapped over the course of the series. Shana starts thinking more emotionally (more human), and Yuuji thinks more logically (less human). It gets to the point where, while they still respectively represent realism versus idealism, they essentially switch places in how they approach those. That would be the third season.

      That’s why Yuuji’s behavior in the third season wasn’t a shock to me. It was confusing at first, of course, that’s what they were going for, but he was still trying to achieve the same goal he had since the very first episode of the series. He just got a free pass to more power.

  7. The one thing I can say is that anime, like most businesses, have deadlines. You can’t expect a show to be perfect all the time. Especially considering a show must be completed or capped off by the end of the season. So even if a show has little things that are lackluster or left unresolved I generally don’t become bogged down by them. Which makes me ponder what I truly love about anime. Even while certain series, that may be widely accepted as good or the best anime as a whole has to offer, have their flaws, it’s a show’s vision that truly captivates me.

    Nonetheless, as mentioned, not all can be truly original but as “different” does not automatically mean “good”, “good” does not automatically mean “different” as well. And this is where a show’s execution comes into consideration, quality examples include well-written slice-of-life shows like Honey & Clover or Showa Monogatari. Every show has it’s shortcomings though. Either technically or as you said, subjectively (i.e. Cowboy Bebop), where there will be some people who just won’t buy into the subject matter or atmosphere of the show.

    Out of all the anime I’ve watched, these are my current favorites (which are always subject to change):

    Mushi-shi
    NANA
    Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
    Dennou Coil
    One Piece
    Cross Game
    House of Five Leaves
    Haibane Renmei
    Ergo Proxy
    Nodame Cantabile

    I feel that my selection covers a wide array of genres, demographics, themes, styles and intentions. I firmly stand by my assessment that my affinity for anime is akin to my appreciation for music. I think this because like each song or album, watching anime serves a purpose. The three principal and simplest ones I’ve come up with are: entertainment, artistry and relevance. Anime can be entertaining. Anime can be artistic. Anime can be relevant to understanding the world. Hyperbole, maybe, but nonetheless something I tell people about why I watch anime.

    Ergo Proxy is a wonderful example to include in this discussion because it’s a show whose concept and atmosphere are vivid and unique even when it’s narrative was, I think, intentionally convoluted. Seeing a show with such an uncommon approach makes anime a powerful and artistic force to be reckoned with, even when flawed. I’ve read reviews praising some aspects and others scrutinizing different parts of Ergo Proxy but that’s beside the point. The point is that each and every anime, the better ones, the worse ones and everything in between, aren’t just good or just bad, they’re continually a particular blend of both.

    How do I tell if a show is good or not you ask? It’s not subjective or objective, it’s collective. A collective judgment means accumulating your opinions and that of others. One should also acknowledge that a show can be a masterpiece while not being perfect. Anime was never white or black to begin with; it’s always been varying shades of gray. This too includes people’s interpretation and critiques of anime.

    I figured my reply would be a little scatterbrain but whatever, there you go.

    • Riyoga says:

      Another good addition. And it’s good to see you again, Ken. You were gone for a few days.

      I’d question your addition of other opinions to your own to decide if a show is good or not, but I can understand that when you’re on the fence with your own opinion of a show, others can help you decide.

      But as you said, your judgement towards shows is based on entertainment, artistry, and relevance. Obviously, my post is pointing out that some people will see entertainment where others do not, artistry where others do not, and relevance where others do not. But like I also said, you should stick to your opinion on what shows fit those criteria, even if others don’t think a show does.

      • Every anime ever created has at least one of the three principals. Obviously entertainment is chiefest of these three but they certainly do not have to be exclusive. A good example is The Tatami Galaxy. One that showcases an entertaining story, excellent artistry and a show that should hold real significance to the viewer. Not every show uses these three aspects in harmony but the truly great ones do. This deduction is using my subjective reasoning of course but there is also a process in determining the magnitude of a show.

        The reason why I emphasized a collective examining of a show, is if there then is no truly objectively good shows and if one own’s interpretation of a show will be limited than why hesitate to cultivate as many opinions as one can about the consistency and quality of a given show. This furthers your point of trying to delve deeper into the communion of anime blogs and reviews.

        • Riyoga says:

          Hmm, I see what you’re saying, but I’m still iffy on collecting other opinions. It is important to keep other perspectives in mind since they can also help yours, but it’s also important to filter out opinions that you either don’t find valid or can’t agree with. While every perspective is indeed just as valid as the next, it’s important to value your own perspective enough to know where to draw the line. Otherwise you’ll just be one of those people that do nothing but regurgitate points that other people say.

        • So basically the point of the article was to say that each anime is unique, each viewer is unique and each reviewer is unique.That’s what I call a case by case basis. Haha.

        • Riyoga says:

          Just reminding people that “oh god you like show x you have terrible taste” is a silly thing to actually believe.

          That and this consists of a multitude of editorial ideas I had, and I just found a connecting thread.

  8. Cheshire_Ocelot says:

    Nicely written post; I can tell you’ve given this quite a bit of thought. I wrote about a similar topic recently on my own blog, so I have a lot to say but will try to be brief. First, though:

    >…there’s no such thing as being “objectively good”, or even objectivity itself to a degree.
    [old but obligatory] Is that objectively true? [/obligatory]

    With that out of the way, I would agree that perspective is the most important factor in how most people do judge anime (and other art, for that matter). However, this does not mean that it cannot be judged objectively. For example:

    >Un-Go was never all that popular, but a lot more people liked the show and found it to be good after reading 2DT’s post.
    So, people changed their opinion when faced with new data? Doesn’t this imply objectivity? This may not have mathematical precision, but a lack of total precision does not mean 100% subjectivity, either. We can still look at a show and say whether or not the plot’s coherent (as with the plot holes you mentioned), how detailed the art is, how fluid the animation, etc. These things can be difficult to articulate, but that’s a matter of education – for example, I found myself much more able to discuss the quality of literature after reading Aristotle’s Poetics and Ezra Pound’s ABC of Reading. With better education in the arts, my guess is that at least some of the disagreements over what’s good and what’s not would also be resolved.

    • Riyoga says:

      “Is that objectively true?”
      [obligatory retort] Objectivity is rooted in truth, but they don’t equal each other. In other words, you could say that objectivity is a subcategory of truth. So comments dealing with the truth of objectivity are valid. [/obligatory]

      Yes, you could say it was new data, but since it wasn’t explicitly about the show itself, I’m reluctant to say that. This new information was addressed towards viewers’ psychology rather than anything the show itself was doing.

      The problem is that people will argue over the coherence of a plot or the fluidity of the animation. For the former, I bring up Future Diary again, where some people would say it was on caffeine and was all over the place, while others would say that while it had a lot of adrenaline, it still had a pretty straightforward plot it was following. For the latter, some people have complained about the sketchy animation used for fight scenes in Zetman, while others think they compliment the show pretty well.
      For both of those points, you can argue either side pretty easily, but neither is more true than the other. You might be able to convince one of the sides, but it doesn’t mean their opinion was any less valid. If anything it just means you were better at arguing.

      As for education, I’d argue that it doesn’t help you find more quality shows, so much as it tends to cause people to have similar perspectives when they approach shows. Otherwise opinions would just be shotgunned all over the board, rather than people usually coming to a consensus on certain shows, like Cowboy Bebop and Baccano and such.

      • Cheshire_Ocelot says:

        Could it be that there’s a consensus on Cowboy Bebop and Baccano because they are, in fact, good shows, but there’s a lot of debate over Future Diary and Zetman because they’re borderline cases?

        Do you listen to many podcasts? On a recent ANNcast episode, the co-hosts and a couple guests shared their top ten favourite anime from the 1980’s. All four of them have watched and written about a lot of shows, so they seem like good examples of what a well-educated anime fan would look like. Though their lists differed mainly due to personal preferences, and they occasionally disagreed about how good a show is, in only a few cases did they disagree about whether a show was good.

        That’s the point of education. When people have a similar amount of experience, a common vocabulary, and a similar methodology for judging a work, then you can have intelligent discussion and come to a consensus about what’s good and what’s not. I suspect that part of the reason you’re seeing so much disagreement about quality is that many shows are borderline cases, and that many commenters either haven’t seen enough to have a well-formed opinion or confuse their preferences with objective quality.

        >You might be able to convince one of the sides, but it doesn’t mean their opinion was any less valid.
        Presumably, though, the ‘losing’ side of such an argument would’ve decided that the ‘winning’ side’s case had more support in the show in question. An old professor of mine once said about literary analysis that ‘All interpretations are equal, but some are more equal than others’.

        Nice response to the obligatory question, BTW.

        • Riyoga says:

          Some shows will just hit the right notes with more people. If you want to say that proves they’re objectively good, then fair enough, I see where you’re coming from. I just can’t see it that way, because as I said, as long as one person doesn’t find a show to be good, then doesn’t that counter the point of it being objectively good?

          And as for the borderline shows, you could just say that people are more vocal about them. For some cases it really is a case of one or both sides just being for forceful with their opinions. But in these cases, it’s more like it’s because people found fault with concepts the show itself is based on. Nobody questions the foundation for shows like Cowboy Bebop. And before you say that counts as it being good, I’d argue that not agreeing with the foundation of a show is actually a very basic (and initial) complaint, despite it covering so much about the show.

          I don’t listen to many podcasts, no. Though it’s kind of tough to argue this one, if anything because it could be something as simple as human nature. While they don’t hesitate to chime in their differing opinions on shows, they aren’t about to come out and say one of their co-worker’s favourite shows is a pile of turds. It could be as simple as respecting opinions. Plus, I could spin around the example and say that the fact they didn’t say any of the shows were bad as proof towards there being no such thing as objectivity. If you can’t have objectively good, you can’t have objectively bad.

          Well if you’ve got a similar amount of experience, a common vocabulary, and a similar methodology for judging a work, odds are your perspectives are going to be pretty damn similar when going into a show. As for bringing up the borderline cases again, there are a lot of those. There are honestly only a few shows that people hardly argue against.

          Not necessarily. Some people just can’t argue their point as well. I know that my defenses for Shakugan no Shana used to be pretty terrible, but now I think they’re pretty strong. It’s like when you’re in an argument with someone about something, and then an hour after it’s over you think up the best retort to something they said.

          Argh, I bloody hate that saying. Despite the fact that I disagree with it on the most basic of levels, it doesn’t even make logical sense. Not to mention Animal Farm intentionally used it to show how absurd it was, but some people actually clung to it. I just don’t get it.

  9. Nadja says:

    “There are no facts, only interpretations.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

    In the anime world, as with anything, there isn’t an unanimous opinion. And even if ten out of ten people you ask swear up and down the show is the best they’ve ever seen, what of the people who are ignorant of the show, the people who will never get the opporunity to watch the show? Can they not toss in their opinions as well? Are their opinions not just as important? How does one judge other’s opinions? Where does this divine sense of entitlement come from?

    Cue brain implosion.

    • Riyoga says:

      As I tell everyone when asked, I don’t care so much what people’s opinions or stances are, so much as their evidence and/or reasons for it. There are so many people that believe or follow something, but when asked why, it turns out they don’t have any real reason for it (cue comments on politics, etc.).

      It’d be cool if everyone just took a minute to take a step back, think about things they’ve had debates about before, and ponder why the debate happened, and why they believe what they said.

      • Not to toot my own horn but that’s why it’s nice to have a top ten or something similar. Instead of just one ‘best anime’ pick which is just asinine.

        It lets people know that masterpieces come in different genres and styles but also gives them an idea of what you look for in anime and how the entries in a list contrast and compare.

        Discussions can also be brought up to as what what made each show great and the different reasons and explanations behind them.

  10. […] I was a wee young lad and first read this post, it made quite a strong impact on me for one simple reason: when I got to the end, where […]


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