Am I missing something? – A Commentary about episode recaps/reviews

So I might get a written tongue lashing for my thoughts, but that’s never stopped me before. I think in part as a young blog, that I simply might be missing something here. The focus for this particular blog post is, what’s the deal and or the point of episodic reviews?

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My face whenever I see several episode reviews in a row on my feed.

This isn’t a hate piece, but just me letting out some musings. I’ve only read a few episode reviews and honestly I wasn’t particularly fond of them. I think there was a disconnect from what I was expected, verses what I read. Additionally, there was a bit of a miss of what people are producing verses what could really make a great piece of content in a review. Well, at least in my limited opinion.

I should clarify that of the episode reviews I’ve read; they were written, in my opinion, to the wrong  audience. There was nothing beyond this happened, I thought this about x event in the episode, and will I keep watching this drama and anime? Yes. Which if that was part of a first episode, a combo episode 1 & 2 would be what I want to know. Adding in a few elements of why you’re going to continue to watch, or what’s making it compelling to you would be a fantastic addition.

My problem, was that episode review, was missing discussion aspects. Just reciting in written form with a few screen-caps of gifs from the episode is boring. Aside from the content being boring, I have no motivation to try and engage in a discussion with you via a comment if there’s nothing in your article for me to comment on! I feel as though, if you are beyond episode one or your first review for the series, it should vaguely be assumed that whoever is reading your reviews is also keeping up the series.

I am most likely talking out of my ass a bit, but I really just can’t comprehend how or why someone not watching a series would be reading about it. I’ve seen the argument that episode reviews are for people who HAVEN’T watched the series doesn’t make sense to me. If you’re catering to this audience with the idea of reviewing what happened, how do you talk about anything in the story without spoilers? How do you write about something without having a commentary or conjecture about the media you’re reviewing?

It sounds like both a fun challenge, and a nightmare for a blogger to try and do that.

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Maybe one day I’ll give these types of reviews a shot.

Turning it over as a reader if it’s a visual media, why would I be reading reviewing about something that’s unfinished? Don’t get me wrong here, I read reviews and I for sure I write them as well. Typically, those that I write are after the media is ‘complete’, as in I’ve finished the season, the series, etc. My reviews tend to take a look at this as a whole, at least for me, and say X was good, Y was bad and Q was so-so, etc. It’s simply easier for me to do it as a whole, rather on an individual episode basis.

So far, I’ve been really taking hits at per episode reviews since I personally, don’t write and don’t read them. Admittedly, this is due to the ‘talked down to’ nature of episode reviews I’ve read before. I don’t need a rehashing of events every review, much like I don’t need a review of events episode in an anime UNLESS they threw a shit-ton of new content in one episode and it’s actually difficult to track what just happened up until then.

Of course, this leads into the value of re-cap episodes which many other have talked about already, so I’ll skip it for now. However, this is also my main argument for episode reviews depending on how they’re done.

I can see the value of an episode review, where a series throws a bunch of events, new character, or just completely switches everything going on in one episode and then just chugs along without a recap episode of further explanation. Nothing is more frustrating to me to watch, have this happen, have to go back to the previous episode re-watch and THEN continue watching the new content. As a viewer who loves doing things in a time effective manner, being able to read a review of the previous episode would be so much easier then re-watching a whole episode. (Especially with hour long drama episodes).

Admittedly, the reason I have so many anime/dramas on ‘hold’ or ‘dropped’ is that I would get stuck on an episode, lose motivation or my place and then stop watching for awhile. I’d rewatch the whole series (another mistake), get frustrated again since I spent so much time watching something I’d already seen, and quit it again. Thus the cycle is seemingly never ending, and certain series I started out loving I have permanently dropped for forever.

This is where that re-cap episode, or re-cap review would save sanity!

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I will comeback, but I won’t slug it out through the majority of the series again.

Hand in hand, I can see episodic reviews being helpful for people who drop a series for whatever reason (I.E. me when I moved), to refresh their minds for 20 minutes reading the last episode they watched and then picking it up again. One day, I will attempt this idea myself (looking at Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi), and will be able to confirm this theory. I have no doubts, truly that this is actually helpful for someone like me who doesn’t want to re-watch an entire series to finish it.

But oh, that contradictory nature! I wrote just earlier that episode reviews should be written with the audience reading them would also be watching the series in time to those posts, and therefore the superficial recitation of events shouldn’t be included. So which is it? It’s selfish of me to say one, then comment extensively that the other is better.

Truly, I don’t have a realistic answer. On one side, the initial audience of people who are currently watching should be addressed. On the other, their is the potential for longevity of the article appealing to someone who have started watching and then dropped it during the initial airing date, and came back. I might actually  be on to something here thought-wise besides a ramble!

It comes down to the author, and how they do things in their recap. Obviously, I read the wrong author, wrong episode recap, at the wrong time. Thus this has tainted my ideas and opinion on the episode reviews as a whole, and made me largely come off as a bitter betty towards this style of article. It doesn’t help that it seems some days that my feed is absolutely flooded with these article types. Since I usually only watch a handful of series as a time, I’m probably just frustrated that I’m missing out on the best part of these posts; the conversational aspects.

I can not tell you how many times as a young anime/drama viewer that I wanted to seriously discuss an element only for the comment section to be flooded with nonsense. This isn’t unusual for any comment section but for JDramas and anime it seems to just get pretty bad.

My best example, including spoilers for your info, is my also my best argument for an episode review. In ‘Suki na Hito ga Iru Koto’ (2016) one of the major plot points is that the main character, Shibasaki Kanata is adopted. The western audience was completely underwhelmed with this reveal and the comment section was flooded with: “Blood doesn’t make family!”, “this isn’t a plot point it’s just filler!”, “What difference does this make to the story??” and the like.

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I still have a lot of feelings about this series.

Clearly, most of the audience wasn’t aware that out of family adoption (aka non-blood related people adopting a child) doesn’t happen in Japan. Like, pretty much ever. They will stick a baby with someone who is dying just because they are related by blood, before they let a non-blood related couple adopt the child. In fact Japan’s adoption system, process and rates of adoption are super low and behind in comparison to Europe and America. They still have orphanages in Japan; the foster system barely extends beyond temporary stays for abused children (and those children are usually returned to the abusive household).

So I, having this info to contribute and elaborate on the situation, dropped a nice meaty comment (that was also a blog article itself at the time!), with my thoughts and info. It got likes/starts/hearts whatever for people who read it and decided to bless me with those, and I had one comment thread with someone who also knew this, but alarmed at the indifference to the subject expressed by the majority of the audience. They also thanked me articulating the main points well. Basically, if I had been a blogger at the time of that drama; I would have made a post to point out this factor and discuss it as an episode review.

Those types of moment that either just go over other people’s heads, move and inspire you, should be more the focus of these episode reviews rather then a recitation of event. Largely, I think that the anime/drama community has been shifting more to this perspective and it gets lost at times. It only really works if something critical happens in the series. Or at least, it works best when those bigger events happen.

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I mean, we’re not tango-ing in the bathroom, but there’s certainly some fantastic stuff to talk about.

There’s certainly beauty in discussing the simple pleasure of going on a picnic or cute girls doing cute things; I just don’t have the tolerance to read, on top of watch that sort of thing on a weekly basis.

There is the hidden but intersting danger of an individual interpreting a certain event as having deep meaning, but other might not having the same reaction. (Those ‘it’s not that deep moments in high school drove me nuts.) Which, honestly is still better then just straight up summarizing a moving medium.

So back to the title, am I missing something with these episode reviews?

Most definitely, depending on the series being reviewed, the blogger writing it, and what actually happens in the episode. For now I’ll have to miss out on the smaller conversation occurring in these blogs, and remember to come back to them when something major happens and I want to share it with someone. Or someone more likely, wants to share it with the world.


If you read my almost coherent thoughts this far, thank you! if you skipped to the almost bottom here, I am curious regarding people who regularly write, read or both, episode reviews;

-What do you think needs to be reviewed on a per episode basis? Do you focus on literal reviewing or your thoughts/opinions on the events that unfolded in that episode/up through that episode?

-What makes you inclined to write them?

-What inclines you to read them?

-Do you have a target audience in mind when you write? For example current viewers or viewers who will watch later on?

Of course, I’m open for other opinion for or against episode review, as I clearly need to give them more a chance.

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3 comments

  1. I tried my hand at writing episodic reviews and honestly, I found it to be quite challenging. Mostly because it was hard not to do a basic recap of the stuff that happened in the episode, and sometimes I just didn’t have anything to say. I think it works as a way to fill some space on your blog if you are struggling with creating content, or if you have a particularly busy time coming up and you won’t have a way to write up some more in-depth stuff. In that manner, it makes sense, but it’s definitely not my cup of tea as far as writing it. I also usually only read ones for serials I’m interested in, but I don’t do it often or it will kill a lot of the intrigue and mystery for me for that series, if that makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel like that would be my problem as well! I rarely have something to say every episode of a series, once in awhile maybe, but certainly not every episode.

      What you said totally makes sense to me! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      Like

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