Sounds like bad advice, right? It seems like I’m sending mixed signals here since being self-aware is usually a good thing and being self-centered is typically a bad thing.
But let me explain.
Self-Awareness as An Anime Critic
When you’re an anime critic (and yes, I believe anyone who watches anime is an anime critic to some degree since we all involuntarily judge the merit of any series we’re watching), you have to be self-aware. You have to be conscious of your own tastes and preferences that color your perception and appreciation of various anime series. It’s simply not enough to say that a series is bad or that another series is cool when you’re critiquing series. Explain why you think so. Lay out your line of reasoning so your audience can follow along and see if they agree or disagree with you and your values.
I’m of the opinion that your own upbringing can influence your outlook in life (and in anime). So as a step in the process of becoming self-aware, it can help to acknowledge the circumstances you experienced while growing up. For instance, I have a twin brother and I was raised in an environment where I would constantly be compared to him. That probably explains why I love narratives that feature a fraud or a clone or what have you becoming the real deal. I can relate to how the fake feels mediocre, how the fake wants to become genuine. And I can appreciate watching the imitations reaching the level of or actually surpassing the original as it makes for a satisfying result following the imitation’s diligence and hard work.
Explaining why I find this particular narrative development to be enjoyable is more tangible than just saying, “it fits my preferences.” Of course, a self-aware critic will sometimes admit that they simply enjoy such content even if the inherent themes are dark or disagreeable. And fans should be allowed to enjoy such content without being insulted. In any case, that sort of stance is also acceptable, but it certainly is an approach that is less logical and methodical.
I’m basically just trying to say that understanding yourself and your values is important. And communicating said beliefs in a way that your audience can comprehend is also crucial. Make your stance clear (but don’t be so rigid to the point that you shut down opposing opinions) so the viewers can voluntarily decide to agree or disagree with you.
Being Self-Centered as An Anime Critic
Whenever you appraise an anime series, you should use “I” more than “you.” Well, whenever you issue controversial statements, at least. Using “you” in these sort of situations is inherently more aggressive and allows misunderstandings, as well hurt feelings, to happen more readily. If you’re not careful with wording, it can almost seem like you’re passing judgment on individuals because of their interests and preferences.
Using more sentences that revolve around “I” instead of “you” can make you look self-absorbed, I know. I start to panic whenever I notice my fourth sentence in a row that begins with “I”. Good thing there is a thing called sentence structure variety that helps change things up.
But let me be clear: I’m not saying that you should never use “you.” Prattle offers a strong argument supporting the usage of said word in order to create engaging content. And I agree with Prattle’s sentiments! Try to sneak in as much “you” as you want to! But when you’re treading on contentious issues, then I would suggest you switch to “I”.
Humor me for a bit and compare the following two statements.
“I don’t like Netsuzou Trap because the concept of infidelity disturbs me and I think the series has nothing of value to offer to the yuri genre.”
“You only like Netsuzou Trap because it’s trashy and features lots of excessive kissing.”
One statement comes across as explanatory (although its intent and contents are, of course, subjective) while the other statement seems more accusatory.
If this brief exercise doesn’t convince you, then just remember that you have your own blog (or podcast or outlet) where you list your own opinions that you personally believe in. It’s only natural for you to take ownership of your own beliefs. Nothing wrong with using “I” in moderation!
That’s all, folks. I don’t think I said anything meaningful this time but I wanted to get this off my chest.