What Is A Rating System?
In the context of watching stuff, a rating system is a tool to subjectively measure and communicate the value of the media. I want to stress subjectively because there is really no objective way of viewing anything without bias. One can grade things like in school with a number or a letter, one can rate things with a thumbs up or down, once can rank things with a place on a list, one can average a set of numbers, one can choose from many systems; ultimately, it should be a tool of communication whether it be subjective or not. (Honestly, there is no objective review but that's another post.)
No rating system is flawless as well since it is based on one's current taste and preference. Where yesterday I liked it for visuals but hated it today because it is outdated, one's taste grows and matures over time so a constant reexamination is required and changed. One moment Pluto was a planet, the next it is not; science is not exact and so am I. So if you think my rating of a video is wrong, remember it is just my take on it not yours which is ultimately matters at the end of the day.
As a tool of communication, what I want to impart with my audience are simply three things:
- Whether you should watch it or not
- What I think it is from a viewing experience
- What it means for me as a person
My Rating System
My rating simply is a scale of 1 to 5. Specifically, *one scale for the casual viewer, one scale for my taste, and a note on what it means to me* for a total of three scales of measure. I used to have a numeric scale of 1 to 10 but I realize it did not help me understand what I was watching. Having only one numeric scale had the following problems:
- I can't say which films are easy and hard to watch
- I give Angel's Egg and Song of the Sea the highest rating I can give but the problem is that one film is very hard to watch from a recommendation point of view. I would also give the art films Enemy and Under The Skin the masterpiece rating but I can't recommend it to a casual viewer but I can't give it a lower rating just because it is hard to watch.
- I can't separate my preference and bias
- As with the Star Wars and Studio Ghibli franchise, I might not be able to give a more objective point analysis since I am a fanboy to both. So having two scales allows me to consider the perspectives from which I am watching from.
- I can't tell you what the rating really means for me
- If it is just a number or letter, how can I convey my feelings about the work in general? The film Kimi no Na wa is masterfully done but I believe it is counter to everything done at that point, a number or tier cannot say that.
Those are my primary problems that's why I switched over. The third of the scale is what this blog is for. My habit of watching films has led to create a watch list where I put a solitary rating of my second scale alone, so as an extension I will create a page indicating everything I reviewed and analyzed so far. For now my numeric or tiered scale of 1 to 5 can be described by the following description:
- A piece of art, should never be passed up
- A good work, deserves praise and your time
- A passable experience, good enough
- A bad work, a lot of errors
- Atrocious, a crime against humanity
Not a mouthful, but that's pretty much how my scale works. I only recommend a 4 or 5, but I rarely watch a 3 and below since I do research on what good things I should watch and how I should watch it. The descriptions themselves are vague but I have several points from which I measure the overall quality:
- Does the film look good? Important but not really drives my criteria
- Plot / Story
- Does it tell a good story? Which is what a movie should do in the first place.
- Are the characters compelling? I still like Coraline Jones despite being mean spirited.
- How is it filmed? I'm not an expert of but I can gauge a film's quality by the number of shots, cuts and edits which shows consideration, care and effort by the director
- Is well done? The primary criteria. Even if it is dumb and stupid, if it is well made; it is well made although I might not like it.
- Message / Theme
- What is it saying? My secondary criteria. If it has a deeper meaning than a medium, then it becomes a far better work but execution is still king.
Despite having multiple points, I don't put numbers on each one where others average over them as there total; my problem with that is one aspect could redeem the others despite being capped by a number. For example, Kingsglaive is a 3 for me if not for the stellar animation but I really don't like it still. So how do I put a overall number on subjective scales? Enjoyment. Which is really a hard way to define itself. If the film is depressing like Melancholia, are you suppose to rate the movie by fun or enjoyment or by the depressing or intellectual catharsis? It is very nuanced indeed for art or uncommon themes but most of the time I can gauge it based on the execution and cinematography then by its enjoyment, meaning and message and my reasons are written down for your judgment.
My own guideline on what rating it is if it follows what that rating defines most of the time, I can argue about the pros and cons of the media but what helps me simplify it is in tiers although that too can be misplaced. I do want to stress my rating is not a review although you might consider that, I prefer to do analysis instead since there are so many of them. What I want others to tell me is how to watch the film or how I can appreciate it further, not why I shouldn't watch it. My first scale might be considered an watch approval, while the second scale is my personal approval and the third my deeper analysis. In short, I really like to think about them more than I want to watch them and that's what I want to impart if I can.
As A Rater
I am more an intellectual than enjoyment viewer. I may cry on Inside Out but I am more stimulated by what it entails; I may laugh on Scott Pilgrim but I am observing the scene transitions, use of effects and respect on gamers; I have seen too many movies that I predict the story first before actually watching. I have been spoiled.
I do have a secondary taste for animated or animation, such as cartoons and animes since they allow for greater variety in color, tone and setting. I like aesthetics more than graphics or maybe my eyes are bored with a normal shot of a town. So I am a fanboy of Studio Ghibli, Cartoon Saloon, Makoto Shinkai, Satoshi Kon and so on. Color is such a nice thing.
Lastly, I don't like passable material, something that is neither good nor bad. I constantly seek out and research approved and good material. I don't watch on-going series or media because I want the movie for what it is. Most of the time I go against the current media and watch oldies such as black and whites and older anime. My fundamental drive is that it must be good, and nothing is wasted more on a movie that just wastes your time. Popcorn movies are not my thing but I get a kick from time to time.
At The End Of The Day
It's just me explaining my feelings and thoughts on anything animated. My ratings are not absolute and I merely here to offer my perspective, not to rip apart your enjoyment but to simply respect your preference. Whatever that form might be, I should be able to reason out and not just say I feel like it. If I don't convey it properly, it is a failure on my part. But I might be just spinning my wheel if I don't analyze anything at all, so to test this out I will give my thoughts on Kimi no Na wa for my next blog post.