As a writer, I’ve been through the process of receiving feedback from other individuals who read my works in progress. Likewise, I’ve had my fair share of experiences with giving feedback to other writers as well, particularly those who I know fairly well (or at least, as well as one could know on the Internet). Reviewing other people’s works requires a particular brand of constructive criticism. For works in progress, the whole point of editing and critiquing is to provide input for the purpose of making a work better than it currently is. Explaining to a writer what works and what requires more work is a fickle process; if the feedback is too overwhelming in pointing out faults, then it might be detrimental to a writer’s motivation going forward, but if the feedback is too positive, it doesn’t give the writer much to work and improve upon.
However, this applies mostly to works in progress. When something is already completed or already packaged for commercial consumption, there is no more room for improvement. The material presented is final, and there is no opportunity to change it any further. Critics ultimately are the final word on a piece of work, and there is no longer any need to provide that balanced approach to critical analysis. As a result, we see tendencies from critics to be much harsher or overly fanboyish than they are.
However, I still see finished works as an opportunity to see how something can be improved even further. From the perspective of a writer, one has to make as many revisions and re-writes as necessary until the work personally feels “just right.” As the author of a work, the process of reaching that “just right” point is as lot easier than finding the theoretical “just right” of another person’s work. From the perspective of an outside reviewer, we assume that the original creator of the work has reached that point.
Regardless of whether or not the original creator of the work feels that their product is truly finished, I tend to feel that the work isn’t “just right” with me. I think it is because of my outside perspective on the piece that I’m reviewing. I wasn’t there during the revision process, and somehow I’m inclined to go from the very beginning; from my perspective, I look at works as if they were my own. As a result, seeing/reviewing something for the first time feels like I’m critiquing a first draft.
As such, my approach to gauging my reactions and feelings towards a show is that of a critique. I strip off this concept of a finished work, and assume that there is still opportunity to make the work “better,” if necessary. In the context of anime, I look at a series, and look at it the way an editor would with a draft. I look at the big picture. I look at structure. I look at flow and beats. I look at tone. I look at themes.
Most importantly, by taking this critique approach to reviewing anime, I end up enjoying the anime more, even the ones that are panned. Some shows may be remarkably bad, but there is enjoyment in finding things to like about it, and finding ways to make it better. Such shows are an exercise in developing a better understanding of what makes for good writing, and what it takes to make the jump from terrible and amateur to “potentially good.”
I learn a lot about writing whenever I help others become better writers. Even when my feedback for a particular show will never be realized, I can still gain experience by taking this approach to works that don’t require critique. By critiquing anyway, I look at what makes it work, and understand the underlying elements and mechanics that make a piece more enjoyable.
If I can benefit from a show like Fractale, then my generally negative reaction to the show will not be a total waste. Just don’t expect a fix fic from me anytime soon.