The 'Art' of Reviewing Print
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Saturday, 12 December 2009 20:31
This post was inspired by a short Twitter exchange earlier today, mainly featuring @animealmanac. The exchange started by looking at whether you could enjoy watching a title when you knew you had to review it, but got me thinking on a few other tangents. Let's take a look at those meanderings...

First, a few facts and figures:
- I post a review every weekday on AnimeVision, so that's a minimum of five titles that I have to review each week - a title can be a 2-episode OVA or a 26-episode box set. Figure the time to watch those episodes, plus around an hour to write it up.
- A portion of those reviews are the rejigged and "cross-posted", sort of, to (AnimeOnDVD as-was) - reviews for Mania need to be substantially rejigged to fit their review format, so that's another half-hour.
- I review everything I watch. This includes review copies from Manga Entertainment UK and MVM Entertainment (and I review everything I'm sent), whatever I've bought or rented myself, as well as a few titles from the archive that I'm revisiting to see how they've stood the test of time.
- For each review I try to write a content section of 600-800 words - that's not counting episode synopses, or disc & technical information on review for Add it all up, and it can be safely said: I write a lot. And that's not counting the other, non-anime website that I maintain...

You would think that all that would quickly lead to burnout, but not so. Writing about shows that I enjoy is never a problem - those are the shows that are easy to gush about, easy to identify what's good and what's bad, and where I want to share with the world just why it's worth investing the time in the show. This is doubly true where I wasn't expecting to enjoy the series, and it's the part of the reviewing gig that's simply fun.

The challenge comes with shows that I don't like. It would be very easy in these cases to simply write two paragraphs slagging the show off and leave it at that, but that would be doing a dis-service. There's a distinction between not liking something because it's genuinely bad (hello, Psycho Diver), and because I'm not the target audience. Take Naruto as an example: I'm 37 years old, but Naruto is aimed at people less than half my age. Looking through my jaded eyes, the show is full of fatal flaws; but if I allow my inner child to look at it instead, I can still see the appeal it may have for those that the show is aimed at. Taking a step back when writing about a series that simply "isn't my thing", and seeing and writing about what allows it to appeal to others, is something of an intellectual exercise, and while watching the show itself in these cases may not be much fun, writing the reviews can be. (My inner child got to write part of a review once, illustrating the dangers of nostalgia: hop over to the review of Voltron to see how that turned out...)

I've been reviewing now for just over six years. A huge number of DVDs have passed through my DVD players in that time - some of them I've loved, some of them I've hated, the vast majority have simply been 'meh'. But burnout, reaching the point where I've had enough of anime & need to take a break or find another hobby, is something I've never come close to reaching. Despite the gloom and doom around the industry at the moment, there's still a huge quantity of entertainment out there, waiting to be picked over and have its hidden gems exposed. I'm having too much fun digging through what's out there to give up just yet.

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