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How we review: Part II

Not satisfied with our short summary of how our reviews are done? Well, here's a blow-by-blow description of what we look for in the various titles that we review. After reading this, you could start your own review site.

[ production info ]

  • copyright info
  • director
  • screenplay
  • production info
  • length
  • format (VHS/LD/CD/DVD, sub/dub/original)
  • MPAA rating if available

[ plot summary ]

Include enough information to provide background and episode set-up, as well as any key points that may occur. We try not to make spoilers out of the synopsis but in many cases, this cannot be helped.

[ capsule review ]

Your opinion of the show, usually broken into the following:


Include animation quality, soundtrack, story, casting, general production


Include screenplay, plot devices, direction, voice acting

It's very important to give reasons for your opinion; that gives the reader a reference point to work with. Key point which occur in the show and interpretations (such as symbolic references, historic references, etc.) are a good idea to throw in. Any culture-specific items are good to include as well. Some items may be held back if they make good trivia questions.

[ café rating ]

Done on a very subjective 5-point scale in the following categories ( 0 being lowest, 5 being highest):

  • Story:

    Is there one? Is it logical? Is it interesting? If based on historical events, is it accurate, or does the screenplay provide an interesting or original slant to the story?

  • Direction:

    Does the show have flow? Does it take advantage of the tools and talents available? Use of innovative ideas and techniques to give new life to old ideas?

  • Acting:

    Does the voice fit the character? Does the seiyu convey the scene effectively? Are you able to relate to, or believe that the character is real? If a comedy, does the seiyu have a good sense of timing and delivery?

  • Animation:

    Is the cel work smooth? How detailed? Effective use of colour, depth of field, panning, framing, etc. (composition)

  • Music:

    How well is the score written? Does it fit the mood and scene? Is it appropriate? How well is it played? Is the score merely a single phrase played over and over again with scale / harmonic variations, or is it rich and complex? Are levels set correctly relative to SFX and vocal track?

  • Translation:

    How accurate? How appropriate? Does the translator re-write parts to take advantage of the scene, or is it re-written for either cheap humour or convenience?

  • Overall rating:

    Very subjective score for the entire package; may not necessarily be an average of the previous scores, but of the show as an overall package.

TV shows, OAV's and movies are ranked differently. We use a sliding scale based on what we feel is appropriate for each of the media. For example, we would expect a far better technical production for a theatrical release over a weekly TV serial. In the music section, we also pay attention to the musician's skills. For example, there's a very good indication that the score for Macross Plus was done in a single take -- one of the trumpeters goes way off tune during the 'Macross Anthem'. With all the sound effects going on, it's not really audible during the OAV. Makes for a good sentence or two of discussion. Sometime, a story will seem to undergo a major change in the middle of a series. (Maison Ikkoku, for example, changed character designers in the middle, Several series have different writers, each with their own style. -- e.g., KOR during the final season.)

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