Comparing Anime

Comparing Anime

Introduction

I’ve heard the argument that we shouldn’t compare two or more anime to each other, and that we should instead simply enjoy every anime for what they are. Today, I’m going to argue against that point because I truly believe comparing anime is both natural and necessary.

Throughout this post, I’ll be explaining why comparisons between anime are a natural occurrence, why these comparisons are good for us as consumers, and why they’re good for the anime industry as a whole. But, before I get into that, let me take a brief moment to further explain the other side.

Their basic argument is that each anime should be viewed within its own bubble, free from being compared to anything else. The idea behind this is that the viewer doesn’t go into a series with a pre-existing bias towards or against it.

But, those who use this argument are almost never using it to combat a pre-existing bias towards an anime, only against. The reason for this is that they tend to bring up this argument when attempting to defend a “less than good” anime which they like; for example, TenSura.

Those who use this argument also like to say that just because a concept has been done before, doesn’t make an anime bad. And, you know what? They’re right. But, the point that they’re missing is that I’m not saying the anime they like isn’t good because it’s been done before, I’m typically saying it’s been done better before.

Natural Comparisons

So, the first thing I need to explain is that comparing things is a completely natural part of being a human. It’s not specific to anime, but since it’s natural to humans, it’s therefore applicable to anything we see. However, there’s an extent to these natural comparisons.

You’re most likely not going to see me compare Yuru Yuri to Parasyte even though I have them both rated at 8/10. They simply have nothing in common, and so there’s nothing to compare. On the other hand, Fullmetal Alchemist and Brotherhood are one of the most popular comparisons because they’re literally two different adaptations of the same series.

Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood anime series cover art
Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Cover Art

The next step down from two adaptations of the same series would probably be two series which fall into the same categories and sub-categories. For example, Madoka Magica and Yuki Yuna are both dark magical girl anime which subvert the usual tropes of the genre in similar ways.

While you might not always agree with the conclusions someone arrives to when comparing two series, I find it hard to say we should simply ignore the comparison altogether. Just because two series are their own entities doesn’t mean they aren’t similar to each other in a number of ways.

Then, there are also comparisons between series whose similarities lie beneath the surface. For example, Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo don’t seem to have much in common at first glance, but they’re both structured in the same way and share their director, Shinichiro Watanabe.

Now that we know comparing anime is a natural thing to do, we can move on to some of the reasons for why it’s helpful, and in some cases, even important.

Ranking Anime

One of the most obvious reasons to compare anime is for ranking purposes. If you compare two anime, and your comparison clearly shows that you found one of them to be better than the other, this is probably going to be reflected in the scores you give to each one.

If Anime A was better than Anime B, you’re not going to give Anime A a lower score than Anime B.

So, why does this matter? Why should we even rank anime to begin with?

Simply put, it’s a way for you to gather your thoughts on multiple series at once in a concise way. Not everyone gives scores to the anime they watch, but I find that it’s a great way to keep track of what series you’ve watched and how you felt about each one. It can also be helpful when recommending anime to others.

For example, if someone asks me for a general anime recommendation, I’m more likely to recommend something which I scored as a 7 or higher. However, if they ask for a more specific recommendation, like sports anime, I may then recommend things down to a 5 because since they’re a fan of that genre, they still may like those titles.

This also works the other way too. If I rated something as a 2, I’m probably not going to recommend it to anyone unless they’re looking for a bad anime. But, I can look at that anime which is rated a 2 and find a similar anime which I rated at an acceptable score to recommend instead.

You should also always remember that ratings aren’t set in stone across the board. I’ve seen people complain that ranking anime against each other is bad because it discourages people from watching specific anime which are deemed to be bad.

Just because someone else thinks an anime is bad doesn’t mean you have to think that as well. And, just because an anime is bad doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable. My Sister, My Writer and Garzey’s Wing are both bad in different ways, but I was still greatly amused while watching them.

Comparison & Creativity

Okay, but maybe you don’t have friends and so don’t have anyone to recommend anime to. Fine, then you don’t have to rate anime, but there are still reasons to be a part of the discussion surrounding the comparison of different series.

One such reason is to influence what anime are actually made. For this section, I’ll be using the isekai genre because it currently seems to be the most popular and has at least one new entry every single season.

Before going any further with this point, I should mention that I’m not saying that we should be comparing anime with the intent of eradicating a genre we don’t like. Instead, comparison should be used to raise the bar for anime within a genre to make the genre better as a whole.

In Another World With My Smartphone and Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody anime series cover art
In Another World With My Smartphone and Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody Cover Art

So, let’s take a look at the two anime pictured above. In Another World With My Smartphone and Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody are both extremely generic isekai anime and aren’t that good either. For reference, I rated the former as a 2 and the latter as a 5 (5/10 is average).

Even if I were to watch these anime in a void with no other reference to anime of any kind, I still think I would have increased their scores by only one point each. But, because I do have other anime to compare these series to and use as reference, their scores are as I’ve listed them.

Basically, by comparing these anime to good isekai like Re:ZERO or KonoSuba, I’m holding the creators accountable and saying that these series don’t reach the bar which has been set by their peers. Does every anime need to be as good or better than its predecessors? No, obviously not, but it’s at least something that should be striven for.

Specifically, In Another World With My Smartphone goes for the bare minimum when it comes to new concepts and ideas. All it really does is take the overused tropes and run with them without adding much else, and that’s not something we as consumers should accept.

So, by comparing it to better series, we’re showing that we recognize the difference in quality between the two series. We’re showing that we appreciate better art, animation, plot, characters, everything, over a quick cash grab by a studio jumping on the isekai train as it rolls past. Just by looking at Production Reed’s previous anime you’ll find this is the case.

We shouldn’t just sit back and accept the bad anime which are handed to us. Instead, let’s use comparison to hold authors, creators, animation studios, everyone, to a higher standard and force them to actually use their creativity rather than falling back on whatever’s popular at the time.

Conclusion

But, seriously, if you don’t believe me, In Another World With My Smartphone is the most generic isekai I’ve ever seen. It has a bland protagonist, a blonde heroine, a loli, some twins, a gothic lolita, a traditional Japanese girl, and more. You can tell they really made sure to have a girl for everyone so they could sell as much merchandise as possible.

Anyway, I hope now you see just some of the reasons why comparing anime isn’t something to deny, but to accept. It’s natural, useful, and even important. And, for reference, my choices from the comparisons earlier on in this post are FMAFMA:BMadokaYuki Yuna, and Samurai ChamplooCowboy Bebop.

If you enjoyed this post or found any of the points made within it to be particularly insightful, then be sure to click the like button ❤ down below. Also, give me a follow over on Twitter @DoubleSama while you’re doing things for me. I’ll even give you my hot takes on various anime comparisons if you tweet them at me.

Finally, I’d like to thank HeavyROMAN for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about how you can become a supporter of this blog, head on over to Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

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