The 15-Point Scale

At the end of my last post, I left you with this:

“the very evaluation of an entire anime as good or bad is at best a vast over-generalization of all the elements composing the anime. I do rate all my anime, and find it worthwhile to do so, but at the same time, I don’t feel like a number or word can possibly do it justice.”

Given that, why on Earth would I write an entry on how I like to rate my anime? It is for the benefit of you, dear reader, so that you we can avoid confusion in the future when I actually rate my anime on this blog.

4, 5, 10, 100

These are the most common scales on which anime are rated. The 4 and 5-point scales are often subdiviced in halfs, making them more like 8 or 10-point scales. They are all fine scales, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not going to assert the superiority of my scale here.


Not too coarse, not too fine. This number works for me. It is the maximum of precision I can offer. On a 5-point scale, two 3-point anime can be so far apart. On a 100-point scale, a 66 point anime and a 67 point anime are hardly any different from each other.

With a scale, I envision each number as a level. I can hold 15 levels in my head, but not 100, or even 20. This is why I say not too coarse, not too fine.

What do the Numbers Mean?

Neither quality nor enjoyment. I feel like ranking personal enjoyment is too capricious, whilst ranking quality is too pretentious. I can’t tell you whether an anime is objectively good or bad with any level of authority, and indeed the very idea of objective quality is one that is contested, to say the least.

If it were pure enjoyment, then Garzey’s Wing would get pretty close to the top of my list (I recommend it for those who seek out “so bad it’s good” titles). I don’t feel like a ranking system like that is terribly useful; I still want to communicate some concept of quality here, garbled as it may be by my subjective biases.

The best way to describe my ratings is that they denote respect and appreciation. They represent how much I got out of the show.

How is the Scale Calibrated?

In broad strokes:

15-14 = I consider it to be a masterpiece. I worship it.

12-13 = I really respect it a lot, but it is not a masterpiece.

10-11 = I think it’s great, but it’s either flawed or lacking in some (minor) regard.

8-9 = It’s generally a good show, but I find plenty of things that hamper my appreciation.

6-7 = It has some redeeming qualities, but I’m not about to praise it.

4-5 = I can’t appreciate a show with these scores. This is the level where bad habits might arise and I’ll call a show “bad”.

1-3 = A show down here has nothing for me. Don’t worry about what these scores mean, because I’d never watch, let alone be compelled to write a review, for a show with a score this low.

Using certain shows as reference:

15. Spirited Away, Samurai X-Trust and Betrayal

14. Evangelion, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Cowboy Bebop

13. Samurai Champloo, Mahou Shojo Madoka Magica, FLCL

12. Gurren Lagann, Nodame Cantabile, Infinite Ryvius

11. Last Exile, Shiki, Aria the Animation

10. Ore no Imouto, Kamisama Dolls, Senko no Night Raid

9. Fate/Stay Night, Shakugan No Shana, Deadman Wonderland

8. Fractale, Zero No Tsukaima, No. 6

7. Mashiroiro Symphony, Guilty Crown, Devil Hunter Yohko

6. Horizon In The Middle Of Nowhere, Garzey’s Wing, Girls’ Bravo

5. Canvas 2: Niji Iro no Sketch, Macademi Wasshoi, Kanokon

4. Mahou Shoujo Tai Arusu, X

I tried to pick a lot of well-known titles, but still, bonus points if you recognized all of them!

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4 Responses to The 15-Point Scale

  1. kadian1364 says:

    Mahou Shoujo Tai Arusu a 4? Worse than Horizon/Garzey’s Wing/Kanokon? That’s quite controversial. It should at least earn favor for its commitment to a unique art style and cynical reimagining of the children’s fantasy genre. It’s not clean or straightforward, but has creative courage to spare.

    • bricksalad says:

      I know that both Mahou Shoujo Tai Aruso and X are way “better” than Kanokon, so my ranking of them is a bit more capricious than usual. They are that low simply for the fact that, despite their qualities, I was never more unhappy in my anime-watching life than when I watched those two shows.

      I guess you could say that I have a literal hate for MSTA. I watched it as an exchange with my roommate where I had to marathon it and he had to marathon Evangelion (which he hated). Looking back, I don’t understand why my reaction was so strong, but I don’t make a policy of doubting past judgments unless I rewatch a series.

  2. kadian1364 says:

    Nitpicking individual ratings aside, I always wonder why bloggers and reviewers have ratings at the bottom they will never use. Surely you have an idea of what would earn a 2 or 1, but you’ve never experienced one, even as a mistake? Maybe such things are figments of your imagination, having never existed except in your own mind. I think it’s valuable to have something tangible to point to to say, “Here, this is the worst thing ever and why I think so,” both for prospective readers who want to get to know you better and for you to understand your own specific tastes and preferences.

    Anyway, my apologies for coming across as a bit critical. I’m genuinely interested in what things you have to say about anime in the coming months.

    • bricksalad says:

      This is actually a decent point. The reason I leave some space on the bottom is because I feel like there are hypothetical things that could fill it. A 1 means I have absolutely zero respect for the show, which has yet to be the case. Maybe some wannabe-postmodernist will come along and make an anime that is just a black dot going around in circles and give it a pretentious title like “Joie de vivre”, in which case I’ll happily slap on the 1 rating.

      Part of leaving space at the bottom is signifying that I have some level of respect for every anime I’ve seen. Even in the laziest, stupidest productions, I can see that a ton of work was involved. So, for that a rating of 1 or 2 seems insulting to the creators.

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