MyAnimeList is the go-to website for anime reviews and ratings.
What makes it so good is how:
- You can see ALL your favorite anime at a glance, and how many you’ve watched.
- You can even see how many hours you’ve wasted in a lifetime.
- And better yet – the latest anime series that air airing (and how many episodes they’ll have).
- The forums on MyAnimeList are some of the BIGGEST online for anime.
But there’s one thing MyAnimeList is unreliable for: and that’s reviews.
Here’s why, and what to do about it…
Why MAL Reviews Are Unreliable:
1. Only 1-3% of MyAnimeList’s visitors bother to write a REVIEW
I didn’t pull that statistic out of my A-hole, so pay attention.
According to the website: SimilarWeb, MyAnimeList had 76 million visitors in December 2018.
With that in mind – 1-3% of 76 million is around 700,000 – 1 million+ users.
It’s a well-known fact that on MyAnimeList – not everyone bothers to write a review.
In fact – some people don’t even leave a simple “rating” for their favorite anime series. Either because they’re lazy, or they don’t see the value in it (I don’t blame them).
Why does it matter?
The reason is simple:
- You’re judging an anime’s quality based on 1-3% of MAL’S audience.
- Most people don’t leave reviews. This is true for any type of review site on the internet.
- And reviews aren’t the “be all end all” of whether an anime is worth watching.
- Plus – MyAnimeList isn’t the only popular site where reviews exist.
Anime Planet, Anime News Network, Crunchyroll, TV.com – these are a handful of anime sites you can leave a review for an anime series.
And ALL of them have millions of visitors every month.
So depending on MyAnimeList isn’t just unreliable, it’s misleading.
That leads me to my next point…
2. Opinions aren’t written in stone
I see it every single day.
Anime fans get caught up in their ego and smoke their own crack. Convincing themselves to believe their opinions are “facts” you can’t argue with.
But the truth is: people are caught up in their strong feelings for their favorite anime series.
It’s not like I don’t get it. But…
No matter how you look at it – opinions are fragile, different, changeable and subjective.
For every person who loves Naruto, there’s someone who hates it, and another who thinks it’s “OK” but nothing more.
The same is true for dozens and dozens of anime shows.
According to MyAnimeList – the movie “Your Name” has a rating of over 9/10
But I’ve watched Your Name. It’s one of the most awful, cliché and lifeless romance series I’ll ever watch in my life.
I was about as disappointed as a divorced man who expected marriage to go smoothly.
Does that mean my opinion is wrong?
Less than 1% of MyAnimeList’s audience bothered to write a review (or leave a rating) for Your Name.
So it’s a bit far-fetched (and naive) to rely on such a “small” set of reviews.
Especially considering how when an anime has “high” ratings, less fans are willing to share an opinion that disagrees with public opinion.
Mostly because people tend to criticize and “bash” you for having an opinion that’s different to their own.
3. Reviews and ratings have no correlation with “success”
Let’s talk about an anime 1000’s of fans “supposedly” hate with a passion.
SAO haters come in 3 slices:
- People who genuinely hate it.
- People who jump on the bandwagon (sheep).
- And people who feel it’s “overrated”.
And the problem with SAO haters:
- Everybody who loves SAO is shunned by the gang of haters in the anime community.
- And so – these types of opinions aren’t as popular or common (fans avoid criticism).
But MyAnimeList tells a different story
You see that? Sword Art Online’s first season (and 2nd season) is under 8/10. On average.
So much for SAO being the “worst” anime ever.
And that’s not even the most important part
Sword Art Online is rated lower than dozens of anime series with ratings ABOVE 8 or 9/10.
One example of an anime series is Guardian Of The Sacred Spirit.
I love this series. Even more than I love SAO. But like plenty of anime shows on MAL – Sword Art Online is much more successful, despite having lower ratings.
Which is why ratings and reviews aren’t reliable at all.
Otherwise – how could Sword Art Online be so stupidly successful after so many years?
You can’t argue with success, no matter what “reviews” tell you.
4. Reviews and ratings don’t tell you the full story
This time I’ll use an anime like Naruto as an example to make my point.
Naruto is one of the most famous anime, ever. I don’t have to tell you because you already know.
But what if you were the type of person to “judge” an anime lower than 9/10 as “not worth my time”?.
You probably wouldn’t bother watching Naruto.
After all – it’s less than 9/10. With the first season lower than 8/10 like SAO.
But like I mentioned before: Naruto, like SAO, outsells 100’s of anime shows with higher ratings on MyAnimeList.
Ratings don’t mean sh**
If ratings were really so reliable, wouldn’t Naruto be one of the LEAST successful franchises in the anime industry? In terms of quality?
Reality seems to tell us otherwise.
5. MAL reviews aren’t black and white
If I paint a wall blue, another wall green, and I show it to you, no matter how you feel or what your opinion is… you have no choice but to agree that one wall is blue and the other is green.
That’s because it’s an example of something that’s “black and white.
Meaning it’s undeniable. It’s absolute.
MyAnimeList reviews are the opposite.
- They’re not black and white.
- It’s NOT factual.
- And it’s not the absolute truth.
Because opinions aren’t black and white either. Which leads to my last point…
6. There are too many variables
Opinions are fragile like broken glass. Easy to break, shatter, and smash into pieces.
That’s why there are so many opinions on what a “great anime show” is supposed to look like.
Or why so many fans have different view points and feelings towards an anime like Dragon Ball Z.
It’s the reason so many anime blogs exist, even though many of them share “similar” content but very different opinions when writers review anime shows.
Or how websites like Honey’s Anime share “recommendations” of what anime you should or shouldn’t watch.
Opinions have too many variables
One person says: “Rem is the best female character because of her devotion to Sabaru”.
Another fan says: “Rem is the best female character because she’s powerful and has a unique design”.
Who’s opinion is right?
There are too many variables to what makes a good character.
And the same is true for an anime series.
Reviews happen to only be “one” element. But it’s not enough by itself.
Here’s what Reddit users have to say about it
About 1 year ago – a user on Reddit asked the question:
Are MAL ratings reliable?
And here’s what people had to say about it…
“MAL ratings are reliable to generally show if an anime is more well or less well received by the users of MAL. When it comes to detail, all cards can be flipped.
Note also that not all people have seen all anime and that not all anime are watched by all people. Leaving you possibly two very different crowds of voters for two individual anime.”
Sounds like a logical point of view.
Here’s what other Reddit users had to say:
“MAL has a section for reviews, but the ones I read (and usually are in the the top) tended to be blind praise, blind hate or someone who clearly wasn’t made for that show (e.g: rating a comedy the same way one rates a drama or romance).”
They’re right. Blind hate or praise is a common thing I see on MAL as well.
That’s why it’s not 100% reliable.
More answers from Reddit users…
“Never because MAL can be pretty fu*** retarded with scoring.”
“The only ratings you should trust are your own.”
“Why would you even worry about the MAL score. It’s other people’s opinion, not yours. If you like a show, watch it, enjoy it and save it for later.”
“Ratings tell you how popular a show is – not how good it is.
Does that mean MyAnimeList is worthless?
Of course not. That’s not what I’ve implied.
It’s as simple as this:
- MAL by itself isn’t reliable to judge the quality of an anime series.
- Relying on 1 source is always a bad idea. That’s like a bunch of people saying the world is gonna end, and blindly believing it.
- Nothing beats first hand experience.
- Public opinion has nothing to do with whether something is “true” or not.
Can MyAnimeList reviews be reliable?
- Reviews are between 1/10 – 5/10.
Otherwise it’s hard to judge with 100% accuracy.
So when you decide to use MAL reviews:
- Take it with a pinch of salt.
- Do your research.
- Watch the anime.
- Then decide whether it’s good or not.
Otherwise you’re bound to miss out on so many good anime shows because you chose to ignore an anime based on someone else’s opinion.