Notes on Scoring

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20150522

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Notes on Scoring




For full reviews, there are five categories that I will be scoring: story, character, art, sound, and personal enjoyment. Furthermore, the character, art, and sound scores are each split into two subcategories. Every subcategory as well as scores for story and personal enjoyment will be assigned on a 10 point scale. The character, art, and sound scores will be the average of the two subcategory scores, and the final score will be the average score from the five category scores. This will result in final scores with single decimal place precision, though that precision is misleading, as there is no way for e to actually be that precise with my scores.
 
Consider the following sample score:
Story: 8
 
Character Design: 9
Character Development: 8
Overall Character Score: 8.5
 
Art Direction: 7
Animation: 7
Overall Art Score: 7
 
Music: 8
Sound Design: 6
Overall Sound Score: 7
 
Personal Enjoyment: 9
 
Final Score: 7.8
 
Allow me here to briefly expand upon the categories for scoring. Story is my umbrella term for the plot and overall content of the show. This is flexible in that different genres can have drastically different goals in engaging the viewer with what is happening, so while I call the category "story", there doesn't necessarily have to be a single clear plotline or narrative. In addition, this is the category where I'll address any thoughts I have on the writing, whether that's the actual Japanese dialogue or the English subtitles. In an English medium, I would probably devote an entirely separate category to writing, but it isn't fair to judge the writing based on the translations which the creators of the anime had no control over, and critiquing the original Japanese is less useful when many other American viewers understand almost none of it.
 
Character design refers to construction of characters as players in the show. That is, I am here more concerned with motivation and personality than I am with visual design. If the visual design plays into the characterization, then it can certainly have relevance here, but for the most part, visual design is more pertinent to art direction.
 
Character development refers to the growth and change of characters over the course of the story. Clearly, this is closely tied to the story category, but I don't mind splitting them because I feel that they are some of the most important parts of a good show, so giving the scores more weight is reasonable. As with story, the scoring here will be very dependant on the goals of the show. One could argue that in some cases a good show could be created with a full cast of static characters, though I do not think this is as feasible as it may sound.
 
Art direction again covers a broad range of important aspects, including aesthetic/color choice, setting design, shot framing, etc. Clearly, these can vary in quality amongst themselves, but I will do my best to mash them all together into a single score while highlighting the important points.
 
Animation should be fairly self-explanatory.
 
Music should be similarly easy to understand.
 
Sound design covers the range of sound beyond itself. This includes obvious things like sound effects and voice, but it also takes into account details such as the mix levels of the three in scenes where that is relevant. As with art direction, I will do my best to come up with a single score for these components and will try to highlight the points that I found noteworthy.
 
Finally, personal enjoyment is what it sounds like. It's the score I would assign if I were rating purely on how much I enjoyed the show. It's hard not to let some bias leak in when scoring an artistic medium because the whole point is that it should lead you through some sort of experience, and people are bound to react differently. But the personal enjoyment score is not just a way for me to quantify my bias. This score matters because it's my way of trying to account for that something which the viewer inexplicably feels. It's like with food. There are things like fast food which are unhealthy and of low quality by all accounts including my own, but I'd be lying if I said that I never have really intense cravings for Taco Bell.
 
For the sake of clarity, the general guidelines for what the scores in the 10 point scale mean are as follows:
10 - Amazing/Incredible/Fantastic/Pick your favorite word for better than great
9 - Great
8 - Very good
7 - Good
6 - Decent
5 - Meh
4 - Bad
3 - Very bad
2 - Horrible
1 - Appalling/Disgustingly bad/So bad that it offends one's sensibilities
This scale is very heavily influenced by the MAL rating system, primarily because I want my overall ratings to be consistent with the scores I give on MAL. I think the major difference is that MAL calls 6 "fair" and 5 "average", but I've shifted that a little bit so that 5 is a little below average and 6 is a little above average.
 
The fact is that if I write a full review, it will probably be for something I would want to rave about, so don't expect many scores below 7 in a full review.
 
With this in mind, the scores assigned in short reviews are limited to the above 10 point scale. I do still run through the full review scoring to come to a number, but it is then rounded off, potentially with a little bit of fiddling, to reach an integer score that I feel is appropriate. The above score would almost certainly be rounded to an 8 unless I very strongly felt that the categories failed to capture some key aspect of the show which dramatically affected the experience. I can provide the full review scores if anyone is ever curious, but I probably won't unless asked because giving the full scores leads me to want to justify them, and that defeats the purpose of writing short reviews in the first place. Scoring is easy; elaborating upon why is the hard part.

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