Due to the ending of the current fall anime season and the resulting influx of new anime into my Ongoing Anime Rankings, as well as a fascinating discussion about the 1-10 ranking scale over on the Crunchyroll forums, it came to my attention that my current ranking system, while good, needed some fine tuning. Below you will see the new system, but first, I want to share some of the philosophy and general standards that have been considered as I put together the new system.
The first, and most important consideration I have made in my ranking system is that I wanted to rank anime on their merits before their faults. Call me an optimist, but I am looking for reasons to recommend anime to people, not for reasons to tell people to stay away from shows. The reason for this positive mindset is that I believe very strong that anime (and media in general) can and do have effects on the people who engage with them. I am searching for those anime that can provide the most positive effects, coupled with the least negative ones, but sometimes the positives are so good that the negatives are simply overpowered.
I also am very interested in finding shows that are uplifting in nature. I have a particular hatred for the generally depressing tone and messaging in postmodern media and finding a counteragent to the gloom of postmodernism is something I very much enjoy. Within the uplifting category, I consider tone and messaging, as well as the ending. I will blackball shows for bad endings. A story is a complete unit, but endings are incredibly important in determining the overall affiliation of the show towards the uplifting or depressing.
These rankings do account for both objective analysis and my personal enjoyment or tastes. I have tried to allow objective analysis to outweigh my personal opinions, but the degree to which I have been successful is quite debatable. After all, these are my rankings, determined by my standards, so they will be necessarily biased. However, I do believe that, overall, I have been quite fair and that, for recommendation purposes, these rankings are very useful. Genre has not really been considered, so that will be left up to those choosing what to watch.
Finally, there are a few areas of emphasis that have been considered in placing shows. They are: the authenticity of the human element (includes characters and character relationships), positive thematic elements and general artistry. Anime is an artform, and the best of these shows are true art.
The Remodeled Tier System
Tier I (10-9)
Qualifications for Tier I: Tier I anime tell stories: real, human and uplifting stories. Populated by developed, authentic and compelling characters, they display quality writing. Almost all of these shows have the “It” factor, that inexplicable feeling that something is just good. Each of these shows contains high levels of positive thematic material, resulting in uplifting messaging. Quality aesthetics, while always subordinate to storytelling elements, also play a large role in the transmission of these messages and themes. Tier I shows can be recommended solely on their virtues. Overall, Tier I shows are art, possessing the ability to create catharsis in the audience, emotionally involve them and the potential to cause a meaningful effect on their life. The truth of the human experience shines through these anime.
Tier II (9-8)
Qualifications for Tier II: Tier II anime rank as exceptional media. Their virtues outweigh their faults by significant ratios. Well-written and uplifting, they contain elements of the truth and are supported by high production values. They often rely on their excellent characters to propel their stories. Artistically presented, these are shows that are well worth the time spent watching. It is worth bearing in mind that shows in this tier most likely miss out on the top tier only due to personal preference or a lack of that final bit of depth. They are essentially tier I shows that just didn’t quite get to the very top.
Tier III A (7-6)
Qualifications for Tier III A: Tier III A anime are shows that have been held back from being in Tier II. While can they possess certain flaws or objectionable elements, these shows are good entertainment; usually uplifting and containing positive messaging with excellent or above average production. Overall, the finished product makes up for the flaws and makes these shows good choices.
Tier III B (5)
Qualifications for Tier III B: Tier III B anime are shows that have been pushed up from Tier IV. They are, above all, fun and good watches. Sometimes containing traces of Tier II elements, they fail to push their positive elements far enough forward and can contain objectionable content. However, they are, essentially, too good to be dropped into the bottom tier. They are not a waste of time to watch.
Tier IV A (4)
Qualifications for Tier IV A: Tier IV A anime are just entertainment. While pure entertainment has its place, it cannot be said to be equal to those shows coupling entertainment with numerous positive elements. Occasionally boring or containing objectionable material, these anime are basically average; the reasons for watching them are equivalent to the reasons to not watch.
Tier IV B (3-1)
Qualifications for Tier IV B: Tier IV B anime give reasons not to watch them. Bland, boring, depressing or containing numerous objectionable elements, they are basically a waste of time to watch. They do not offer redeeming value as entertainment or positive agents on lives.
Anime in this category were dropped before their conclusions. Don’t bother.