An Up-to-Date List of Good MAL Reviewers

My Panel - MyAnimeList.net 2013-07-03 12-39-38

Last Updated: January 14, 2014
(See changelog for detailed update information.)

Anyone who’s watched enough anime has at one point googled the word or somehow otherwise found MyAnimeList, the current de facto conglomerate for anime ratings, lists, reviews, and what have you. Now, anyone who’s browsed the site long enough comes upon the following conclusion: MAL reviews are usually really really bad.

2013-05-17-00:05:05

This is to be expected when the average user has the writing competence of a 5-year old (see the forums for instance), and the average reviewer doesn’t do much better than that. The two top reviews featured on the frontpage of anime titles are quite deceiving in their quality-to-helpful-ratio, and so is the “Most Helpful Reviewers” chart. What’s really bad is that both are considerably tied down by flaws in MAL’s review system (particularly the feedback), but alas, this is an article for another time.

This is a resource list of users I personally find to have quality reviews. It serves multiple purposes: to congregate locations which stem good thought, provoke contributory discussion, and encourage reviewers to place more effort into improving their analyses to the best of their abilities. In order to be listed, the general criteria is to have a decent writing style, a sane command of English grammar, and most importantly, concise yet in-depth subjective arguments backed up by strong, detailed evidence.

The List
These users have written at least one review in the past 6 months and have a total contribution of at least 5 reviews.
Inactive
These users have not written at least one review in the past 6 months and have a total contribution of at least 5 reviews.
Rising and Upcoming
These users have written at least one review in the past 6 months and have a total contribution of less than 5 reviews.

I have not examined every single MAL reviewer from the sands of time, so this is in no way comprehensive. However, this can be improved! If you have suggestions about who else should be on this (clearly prestigious) list, I’m all up for checking them out. Just drop their profile link, or a link to one of their reviews you really like, down below. Self-promotion is cool too.

42 comments

  1. drgonzo7 · · Reply

    I appreciate that you put me on the list. Like the new site man, hope to see more writing from you.

    1. Ah, thanks. I like your Maou-sama review in particular. It’s really that homey, casual feel of the show which makes me enjoy the episodes. You sum up its strengths (and its flaws) quite well.

      1. drgonzo7 · ·

        Are you going to count just the reviews I post on MAL or on my blog?

  2. Roriconfan wrote nearly 800 reviews. Where’s him anyway?

    1. Thanks for the comment! Unfortunately, I personally don’t find him to produce consistently good reviews. For example, his most recent one (Aku no Hana) spends roughly the first 60% of the writing talking about rotoscoping, which while a controversial issue that stands out to most viewers, isn’t nearly as important as to how Aku no Hana executes the narrative itself. Also, despite the length of the rotoscoping discussion, he doesn’t describe how it benefits or weakens the story at all, but merely describes the rotoscoping for the sake of it. His other paragraphs (such as the characterization) don’t go into much detail and make deceiving generalizations as well.

      I love how punctual and brutally honest he can be with his reviews, and I’ve favorited several of them because they’re apt at describing some shows. However, many ones can take a lot of unnecessary time ranting about nitpicks or making non-standalone comparisons (e.g. his Maoyuu Maou Yuusha basically was about how it is worse than Spice & Wolf). His Valvrave review does this on occasion, and his Gargantia review comes across as very offensive and very unfair. I don’t need to agree with a reviewer’s opinion in order to believe that he or she is good, but saying something like “Of course if all you want is fancy visuals, good ideas, and softporn then [Gargantia] definitely works.” is just pure instigation.

      No offense to the man himself of course. If you have some key reviews you’d like to share which you believe makes him a quality reviewer, feel free to share them. :)

    2. drgonzo7 · · Reply

      Roricon is banned for the 11th time for harassing people on MAL for their taste in anime, or something about a review plan idea of his that he told to me on Skype. Needless to say, I see him more as a guy who spreads his ego than reviewing a show. I’ve had multiple conversations with him and the guy has no respect from me.

      1. gedata · ·

        yeah, that roricon fellow can be a decent reviewer when he isn’t being a cynical, raging douchebag

  3. drgonzo7 · · Reply

    Have you thought of putting Orsonius on the list?

    1. Just checked him out! His writing is okay for the most part, but it’s not very concise. The score breakdowns are also like a 2008-09 MAL oldie style, which I personally don’t find very helpful and of which bloats the review length (solid reviews often already take less space than the amount he uses for those breakdowns). I think he could improve his writing by providing less synopses, elaborating on key arguments, and dramatically reducing the number of “reaction” paragraphs as well as the number scorings. Thanks for the suggestion though! Was there any review in particular that you considered stellar?

  4. drgonzo7 · · Reply

    For her? I don’t really think they’re stellar I’m just asking for your opinion because she’s starting to write a lot more reviews on each season. I can understand how her reviews can be overly long with those percentages, I was just curious. I’ve also noticed Skadi isn’t on the inactive list, she’s considered to be one of the more popular ones on the site.

    1. Haha yeah, I have borderline skepticism with Skadi’s reviews. She’s a good writer overall, but it’s clear what her biases are after reading a few reviews (most things shoujo/josei). For instance, she calls Nise’s plot “one of the five worst things [she has] ever seen,” and yet is willing to go at lengths to compliment the originality of Kimi ni Todoke, a work which loves its contrived premises. I also don’t understand how you can “get” the shamelessness in something like Strike Witches but leave no attack unreserved for other shows with generic premises like Working!!. I’m unsure whether to put her on the Inactive list or leave her off, as I have good and bad opinions of her overly personal writing. I certainly wouldn’t be against it if you or someone else writes a short blurb in her defense. I may be too jaded at some of her arguments to evaluate her reviews more “objectively”. Would love your own opinion on the matter.

      1. drgonzo7 · ·

        It is a little bit unfair to belittle a critic for being biased. It’s normal to have those kinds of feelings of preferring one genre over the other as long as you’re completely honest and humble about it, but I can understand where you’re coming from.

        Any chance you might put the ever so popular Madoka Magica fanboy DraconisMarch on the list? :3

      2. Well, “biases” and “preferences” are two different things. What you may believe I’m saying is likely the other. In other words, what I mean by biased is a clear inconsistency in one’s arguments, as I detailed above, when holding preferences that unfairly degrade or praise an undeserved work while a similar one is held to a different standard. DraconisMarch is also another reviewer who I find overly “biased” in this regard. How does one hate on (and instigate with) melodramatic titles when he/she holds Madoka Magica and Angel Beats as stellar? Preferences are fine but that’s definitely unaccounted for logic in tastes.

      3. FWIW, I added her in now. I was too critical of her reviews while too lenient on others.

  5. mahoganycow · · Reply

    Just stumbled blindly into this blog and noticed my name. I appreciate that you’ve included me, I’m rather surprised to see myself next to such prominent individuals on that list.

    1. Oh no need to be so humble. :) It’s always nice to see a polished writer who contributes to the old cog machine that is MAL. I’m also a secret admirer of your writing style, hehe. The user helpful ratios can seem like a gamble at times due to proxy downvoters, but I’m happy none of your recent ones have taken a hit.

      1. mahoganycow · ·

        Heh, well, my old ones are pretty bad, so whether they’ve been arbitrarily “unhelpful” spammed or people genuinely didn’t find them helpful is up in the air. I’m a fiction/poetry writer by tradition, and at only about a year of consistently watching anime, I’m relatively new, so writing reviews is a learning experience for me.

        I sometimes wish MAL would require the helpful/unhelpful votes to be accompanied by a brief comment. It doesn’t bother me when I get hit with a bunch of unhelpfuls, but I’d at least like to know what people think I did wrong <.<"

  6. drgonzo7 · · Reply

    I don’t mean to be the frequent commenter asking for suggestions, but how does Yakub, or MoeGalaticHero, fair as a contender? Is he considered one or just a troll writer?

    1. No problemo. Ask away to your heart’s content. MGH is also who I would consider a really difficult decision. Several of his reviews are plain trolling, and while I enjoy the humor, the reviews in and of themselves aren’t very helpful. Other reviews can resort to a lot of ad hominems, addressing the fan base or anti-fan base in a confrontational (and unfortunately condescending) manner. The rest however have been quite good. He’s been producing a bunch of manga reviews at a lightning Stark700 level of pace, and they’ve all had really really good quality to them. So I’m not sure. Should a few bad apples spoil the bunch? He is producing better and better reviews on each write-up (in my opinion), so I may toss him in a week or two from now. It depends.

      1. drgonzo7 · ·

        I’m sort of the same way but to me the guy tries way too hard to be edgy and feel like he’s saying something that is profound, his review of Aku no Hana and School Days should be a testament to this. He sort of fits the category of pretentious critics who don’t put enough basis on their arguments and instead just put out some baseless theories on the characters and story that do not entail on whether the show is good or not. Though he has made some reviews that are good, especially in his manga reviews, the guy is just too much of a prima donna to take seriously.

  7. drgonzo7 · · Reply

    I’m surprised the princess of C&C ladyxzeus isn’t on here. I guess reviewing nothing but BL Anime/Manga doesn’t count? :3

    1. Oh, they count. I have opernlied up here, and he’s done some fantastic reviews on lewds heh. I like ladyxzeus personally, but am not particularly keen on her reviews. Just a tad short and none very comprehensive. Even fabulous BL deserves fabulous writing after all.

  8. Honestly Roriconfan kinda grew on me. I didn’t like him at first, but I dig his knowledge of obscure and older anime and he mixes his very cynical reviews with a lot of humour. It’s true that he often loose the bigger picture and only focus on smaller details and nitpicks, but at least he put some effort into his reviews.

    1. I like that too about him. I wouldn’t know several older titles, or at least try them out, if it weren’t for some of his reviews. Also, unfortunately, effort isn’t always directly proportional to quality.

      1. BTW Any thought on DraconisMarch ? Most people I know on MAL really HATE this guy, yet he has a relative big fanbase on YouTube.

      2. I wrote a few words about him in one of the comments here. More specifically, I find him intentionally peevish in his writings (and his videos). This isn’t necessarily “bad”, but it’s done in such an exaggerated manner that you can’t help but feel he only wants to do it to instigate internet fights. This makes his reviews in particular a less accurate and cogent description than it ought to be. Addressing the current appeal/fanbase, for example, is hardly a concern when reviewing the work itself; perhaps a sentence or two, but certainly it must be an insignificant portion of (relevant) critical analysis. Also, his complaints can get insanely nitpicky at times, while holding adored titles like Madoka Magica at curiously higher standards.

    2. drgonzo7 · · Reply

      His knowledge of older anime might make him knowledgeable, but his most of his reviews are nothing more than just him trying seem like a hipster trying to spread his ego and call out on new anime being crap and how old anime was so much better. Not even mentioning how there were just as many shit back in the old days than there are in the modern era.

      Plus he’s not what you would call an honorable person in the community.

      1. LOL At the pic ! This is so typical for Roriconfan, but at the same time I still come back to his reviews all the time XD

  9. “I wrote a few words about him in one of the comments here.”

    – Sorry I skipped that part :D But yeah, I agree DraconisMarch overrates anime like AngelBeats or this Clamp anime (forgot the name) even though he is supposed to be an “elitist animefan” *cough*. For the record, I like AngelBeats, but with every rewatch I find new flaws in the narrative. Jun Maeda is great in writing memorable and emotional moments, but his weakpoint is writing a coherent story, I would say.

    “Addressing the current appeal/fanbase, for example, is hardly a concern when reviewing the work itself; perhaps a sentence or two, but certainly it must be an insignificant portion of (relevant) critical analysis.”

    – I feel the same way with Rori. Who cares what the fanbase/internet thinks if you are watching anime for your own pleasure ? Although I find it sometimes funny when a reviewer attacks a certain fanbase, it is not really professional.

    1. No worries. :3 I agree, also on Maeda too hehe.

      As a side note, I’ve nothing personal against the many reviewers I happen to criticize here (or even all most of the anime I mock). Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish “biased negative” comments from “balanced negative” comments, and I certainly can’t tell which from which on my own writings occasionally. However, I do hope that if any of the said reviewers ever see my dumb ramblings, they’ll take it lightly as constructive criticism. Maybe they won’t agree with my judgment (and likely not), but I do want to believe I’m staying as neutral as possible.

  10. I was thinking maybe you should post an update on what reviewer has been changed, that way I can tell who has recently been inducted or not. :)

    1. Oh, a changelog? Ah that sounds like a good idea; it’s good documentation procedure at the least. I was considering it before, but I’m not sure where to log the information. If I place it on this post, it would get abnormally long. Maybe spoiler tags? Or a link to another page?

      1. Yeah, sort of. More like you can edit this article and put in “Update 9/25/13: *****” and change it every so often whenever there is one to be made.

      2. cheapo WordPress can’t do spoiler tags, but I think I’ve found an even better solution!

  11. lol why am i on here

    i’ve written a grand total of zero actual real reviews

    i’m ganbatteing pretty hard (aka. not hard) on reviews for uchouten and kyousougiga though, i guess

    1. I think I put you up here after the Kaikisen review. I dunno. Stop with the troll ones and nil will give you a certified A++. Because that’s all that matters in life!

  12. Whelp, I came here to suggest Jody32 to Rising and Upcoming only to find out that you added him five days ago. I need to catch up. You may have to add him to “The List” here soon, as he’s posted three reviews in the last three days.

    1. Great minds think alike. :)

      1. Oh, by the way, Gonzo changed his name on MAL to Gonzo-kun.

      2. Done. Thanks!

  13. […] boring, non-specific criticism. (If you are interested in that kind of thing, though, nil has an up-to-date list of good MAL reviewers on his […]

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