False Start and Forward Progress

Behavioral and psychological studies have repeatedly shown that people value first impressions and final impressions a lot more than anything in between. Not me. I’m a middle man. Some of favorite shows have beginnings or endings that flat-out suck, but none of my favorite shows are anything short of brilliant in the middle. To account for this, I’ve adopted two rules into my rating process from the great game of football.

Best Image Ever

So much better than soccer

Even three-legged soccer

False Start

Rule: If a show starts out poorly, it will be penalized unless the initial sucking is necessary or incidental to preventing future sucking

Most shows can’t help starting out slow. Plot-heavy shows need time to set up. Character-driven shows need time to introduce and develop the cast of characters. Action shows can’t reveal the best moves right away. Even comedies aren’t categorically immune. They’re often obligated to use their most predictable jokes in the early episodes. It’s not until these jokes are out of the way that the writers are pushed to their creative limits.

If a show starts out weak but gets good, I’ll overlook the beginning if it played an important role in setting it up the good parts. Example: Claymore

If a show starts out weak and gets good, and the weak parts are largely independent of the good parts, everything is taken into account when I’m rating. Example: Kenshin

If the show starts out bad and stays bad, it doesn’t really matter whether the false start rule applies. Example: To-Love-Ru

Forward Progress

Rule: If a show is forced to have a crappy ending due to incomplete source material, its grade will be predominantly based on the state of the show before it went downhill. If a show intentionally has a crappy ending, the ending will be fully considered when rating the show.

Endings are a big part of what drew me to anime. Practically every American TV show is designed to keep putting out episodes until cancellation. I was sick of it. It was refreshing to start watching shows that concluded by design, not by some network executive pulling the plug.

Maybe I’m desensitized to all the fake/fraudulent endings that come out these days. Maybe I was already desensitized to crappy endings by the long history of American networks shitting the bed. I’m still appalled at how they ended The Silver Surfer. Who in their right mind ends a series with an episode titled The End of Eternity Part I?

If an ending is weak by design, it will lose points. Example: Clannad After Story

If an ending is weak due to incomplete source material, the final grade will largely reflect the state of the show before the ending. Example: Claymore

In conclusion, Claymore kicks ass.

87 people love sucking up to me

  1. Typical comments of an american who can’t stand the fuss on the World Cup (that’s normal =P USA team is really weak anyway), to me “football” only appear to be nice on films or Eyeshield 21, real ones are so damn boring and sloooow >_>

    • The World Cup is awesome. We kicked England’s ass 1-1!

      to me “football” only appear to be nice on films or Eyeshield 21, real ones are so damn boring and sloooow >_>

      That’s exactly how I feel about “football.” Giant Killing has been great so far. Too bad “football” in real life is mostly spent kicking the ball back and forth at midfield.

      • wut ? that is why we play Futsal instead of Footbal. With a small pitch size and only 5 people on the team, it is much more fun and enjoyable to play.

        And ultimately a tie is not “kicking some one’s ass”, Portugal,Argentina and Germany were the only teams who have kicked ass.

        And for the simpsons…some games are just like that, perhaps, because they were american teams ?

        • Futsal looks a little better. Americans like scoring. If you’re playing most of the game in the middle of the field where there’s no real threat of scoring, Americans will get bored. A smaller field might change that.

          A tie against a serious soccer nation like England is as close to kicking ass as the US is ever going to get at soccer. Just like we kicked Brazil’s ass last year.

          (Against Brazil, anything less than a blowout is a victory.)

          • Yeah i remember that game, it is most unlikely team usa would score like that again in the world cup against the brazilian team (i think). It was a nice game though.

            I play futsal since high school, and i must say it is the facto soccer that everyone that doesn’t play professional sticks to. It is so much of a nice game that even some girls like to play along side us.

            All this talk about soccer made me want to watch Giant Killing, i guess that is what i’m going to do right now =P

          • The tie with England is not a big deal at all because England was not on their top form for this world cup. They are like France and Italy. They just got lucky and will not survive the second round.

      • Please a 9 man team of quadriplegic’s could beat us at the moment, England are shit.

        Anyway the US aren’t that bad, kinda like a raptor with asthma. Good and all but being held back from being top class.

    • This isn’t just good stuff; it’s vintage. Until this week I hadn’t touched this draft since February 2009.

      Toradora is definitely one of those shows that can’t help but look generic at first. The well-executed generics are frequeht beneficiaries of the false start rule.

      • The ending of Toradora sucked badly, in my opinion. It still ended up being a decent show, but its ending was rushed and that totally ruined it for me.

        By the way, have you tried watching Tatami Galaxy? It stays constant most of the time with little epiphanies scattered across the different episodes. The only thing that I’m worried about is the ending. I’m hoping it’s a majestic one. It’s a show you can’t help but focus a lot on since there’s a lot of nuance that passive viewing won’t reveal. If you liked Kaiba you’d probably like Tatami Galaxy as well.

        Also, where’s my Opal Mehta? Send it already~.

        • Come on, you were borderline Code Geass R2 in your ranting and raving about Toradora. Does a crappy ending really compromise all that?

          I just gave the first episode of Tatami Galaxy a shot. They spoke way too quickly. Normally this wouldn’t be so bad, but right my eyes can’t focus on the subtitles that quick. I’ll give another shot when I get better.

          • Yeah, it did. It was a downer.

            Just keep pausing … don’t worry, it’s meant to be that way, but you’ll manage. Code Geass R2 just awoke the fanboy in me, and it also gave me the most comments. It was fun speculating while it lasted, too.

            Also, do you know where I can find the complete DVD episodes of Touch? I have only up to the first 27 and don’t really have seeds for the rest.

  2. Claymore is awesome (except the ending of course).

    Clannad After Story I hate with a passion, this one of the few anime that actually has me raging about the ending, I felt like it raped me and threw me like a rag. Because even though the middle parts were good the ending just killed everything that made the middle so good.

    • I totally agree with you about After Story, i though i were the only one in the world who hated this series that baddly.

      Claymore is awesome even with that crappy ending, i’m very curious to see what the producers will do to “fix it”, will raki become a badass swordsman along side claire’s icy mountain training ? or will he suck ass changing what we saw on the manga (sorry for the spoilers).

      Visit my blog in myanimelist.net, there’s a post about Clannad After Story.

    • My one regret about Claymore is caving in and starting to read the manga before the anime ended. I’ll always wonder what I’d think of the anime ending had I not read the manga. Who knows, maybe it might’ve been C-grade suck instead of B-grade suck.

      I wasn’t crazy about Clannad/After Story in the first place, so while the ending sucked, it didn’t piss me off as much as a lot of other viewers.

  3. I’ve got a problem with “necessary or incidental to preventing future sucking”. Necessary strikes me as reasonable, incidental lessso. Take Claymore. There are some things which involve setting the ground for future episodes, and others, like the bad pacing in episode one, which are just straight-up poor. Surely those failings still matter? An introduction which lays out necessary information whilst being weak entertainment seems to me like the definition of “weak by design”. Can’t say I like excusing shows because they’re incomplete adaptations either. A bad end is a bad end, no excuses.

    However, I have no quarrel with your conclusions.

    • I stuck in the incidental part because necessary alone is too demanding. If something is going to suck no matter what you do, I’m not going to demand C-grade suck instead of B-grade suck. Just let it suck and move on.

      As for bad ends from incomplete adaptations, they’re not much different than filler. If it’s good, I’ll watch it, and if it sucks, I’ll pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s not like I’m letting the show off the hook either. If I treat the show as having ended at the divergence point, it’s still be a show without an ending and lose points, kind of like Berserk. It’s also a matter of capacity to judge a fake ending. If you know it’s fake, can you really judge it without bias? I’m still shocked to hear FMA manga fans bitching about the original TV adaptation.

      Lastly, this isn’t some experimental rule I’m laying out or encouraging others to adopt. I’m just trying to put a finger on how I actually watch anime. Objectively, yes, everything should matter, but as a practical matter I seem to let bad beginnings slide and ignore bad endings from incomplete adaptations.

      In conclusion, Claymore kicks ass.

  4. Both football and american football (or soccer and football) have their fun moments, too bad I live in Argentina and only get to watch american football whenever ESPN isn’t broadcasting soccer or motherfucking poker.

    Also, Bakaraptor, I’ve read the entire Eyeshield 21 manga and I have 2 questions:
    1) Is it worth it to watch the anime, or at least the games?

    2) Could you recommend 2-3 sport animes that rule as much as eyeshield?

    • I watched a little of Argentina vs. Greece this morning. Your team looks pretty solid. It’s definitely a lot easier to like a sport when your country’s good at it.

      1) I’d say you don’t really need to watch the anime. I prefer anime to manga for sports/action/anything where movement really matters, but the action in Eyeshield 21 is so broken down into individual scenes that it’s not all that different from reading a manga. However, there are some moments there are just too awesome not to watch, like Sena faceplanting Agon.

      2) Hajime no Ippo is an awesome boxing anime. Touch is an awesome baseball anime, but it’s more about the characters than the sports.

      • I’ve read all of Hajime No Ippo’s manga (YES, the almost 900 fucking chapters) and it is indeed pure win. I may try touch, but it’s 101 episodes and I have the attention span of a retarded pineapple.

  5. Brazilian tv networks also shit bed. (they broadcast american content around here too so…) Everyone says that about One Piece, that it is “awesome” past its 250 episodes, but i’ve picked “random episodes” after dropping it and i can assure to you they all suck.

    Berserk is also a middle anime and it is another strong candidate to get a new series loyal to its manga.

    I totally agree with you, Fairy Tail for instance started strong, got watered down, and then managed to grow little by little. As an overall series i should point out a (+), but the fact i didn’t drop it yet just shows it is good in the middle and thus entertaining.

    Filler Comment Ratio 10.5

      • read. the. manga.

        the biggest mistake anyone can make with prolonged media like Naruto and One Piece is to watch. sure, it might be more awesome to watch it, but jesus fuck is it going to take forever.

        the biggest mistake anyone can make with prolonged media like Bleach is read it or watch it in the first place

      • Start from scratch and read the manga, it’s better than the anime, and well, it may still not hook you but it’s very well written, specially compared to other mangas that just throw shit around week after week (I think at this moment Bleach couldn’t possibly be worse).

  6. “Practically every American TV show is designed to keep putting out episodes until cancellation. I was sick of it.”


    However, no for everything else in the post. Bad starts are simply bad, no excuses. I may come to forgive a show for its weak beginnings, but there shouldn’t be any bullshit excuses made for that. There are clever ways to introduce characters, to setup plot points, and whatever else “needs to be done,” that don’t bore or fail to be gripping. Per your example, Claymore could have easily started out better (shit, it could have nixed Lucky all together, but I digress).

    Bad endings tend to hurt more than bad starts. The fact that the Soul Eater manga is still in progress does not help choke down the terrible conclusion to the anime. It now becomes hard to recommend Soul Eater as a complete experience, given how bad it bombed later on. The caveat of “stop watching a few episodes before the end and start reading the manga” is no good way to go about things. Also, consider that the need for an anime original direction for Fullmetal Alchemist lead to a better anime overall (yeah, that’s right). There are good ways to go about anime original endings, and there are bad ways. And yes, sometimes it’s better to just leave things open (hello again, Claymore).

    • Yes, bad starts and bad endings are objectively bad. The question is how much do I care? Looking over my anime list I can honestly say that I don’t care much, or that I’ve come to accept them. It’s not the critically appropriate thing to do, but whatever, it’s not like I’m being dishonest.

      Introductory stuff trying to be clever often comes off as gimmicky (Haruhi episode 1). If it succeeds in being clever (Taisho Yakyuu Musume), I’ll give it extra credit. I just won’t take away points for a conservative approach.

      I consider a bad non-manga ending to be similar to filler. It’s fine to ignore it. More in my response to comment #5. If an original ending does work out, I’m perfectly happy to acknowledge it.

      The anime-original parts of the first FMA series were incredible, but I got that “HP/MP Restored! But you’re still hungry” feeling when it was all over. I never knew why until I found out it wasn’t the manga’s story. The new series does a better job tying up certain loose ends, especially regarding the nature of the homunculi and philosopher’s stone. Both are great series in their own right.

      By the way, nixing Raki is never digressing.

  7. I’ve always seen the midfield battle as a sort of tactical game as one team tries to move about to find the holes in the defense. I liken that sort of action to a fencing match, except fencing matches are resolved much more quickly. Still, patience does pay off.

    Guess that analogy pretty much speaks for how I look at anime as well.

    • It all looks like a mess to me. Maybe that’s because I only watch soccer once every four years. I could try reading about soccer to better understand it.

      …eh, maybe in 2014.

  8. We really need another season of Claymore…nay, a re-telling. It is my belief that once the manga approaches the end, they will pull a FMA:B or maybe an InuYasha: The Final Act and finish animating it. At least they better.

    I knew Claymore was coming from the opening paragraph.

        • Oddly enough, I just finished up Idolm@ster. I’m not really sure that it was worth the time, ultimately, as the beginning was pretty blah and it basically remained pretty blah for thirteen or fourteen more episodes… and even when it did pick up, it wasn’t really anything amazing. But, hey, maybe love triangles involving mechs makes it worthwhile on the bizarre scale.

  9. If a show starts out slow, I just take a bit longer to get into the swing of watching it regularly. OH NO.

    the only source-based end I remember seeing was FMA.

    To be honest, considering the plot progression at the point it diverged, I think the anime ending was perfectly valid. However, the manga/brotherhood ending is just plain feelgood and awesome.

  10. Oh hey, wait a second, incomplete source material isn’t an excuse for a bad ending. That’s more bad writing than anything else. These sort of things should be taking into account when any show goes into production.

  11. With the exception of the very end (where the series leaves off with Guts shouting and then goes straight to the ED), I loved Berserk’s ending. Those final episodes were actually my favorites in the show; I love how everything builds to those moments, and then hell is just unleashed on every character. Crazy awesome. I did penalize the series for being an incomplete series but seriously flirted with giving it a 9 instead of an 8, just because what was there was fantastic.

    Claymore’s ending is bad, but for me it wasn’t bad enough to override how good the rest of the series is. And, really, I think Madhouse chose the lesser of two evils with the ending once it became apparent they were going to end the show with an anime-original close.

    • Have you read berserk’s manga ? Actually the hell is unleashed over everyone after the end…you can’t imagine how badass it became after that “ending”…i wish berserk were reanimated like brotherhood was. It really deserves it.

      Claymore is a different story…it appears the manga has a looooooooooooooooong run to go off as yet.

      I don’t like reading mangas in general, i like to watch ANIMES only, but berserk and claymore were totally awesome i had to go after their respective mangas for more 😉

    • My problem with the ending of Berserk, aside from the incompleteness, is that it turned supernatural out of nowhere and didn’t stick with it long enough to cohere with the rest of the story. Maybe a few more episodes would’ve won my acceptance.

      Claymore could’ve gotten away with following the manga. Spoilers: Show that everyone “dies.” Then show some sign they’re still alive 7 years later and ready to kick some ass. That would’ve been a satisfying enough ending for me. Maybe they could’ve followed it up with a movie or two.

  12. I think I’m way to influenced by endings and first impressions. I hated Berserk because of its ending. I loved Ergo Proxy because of its first few episodes. Still, Claymore does kick-ass.

    • It’s human nature to put of lot stock in beginnings and endings. Dinosaurs are different. We pay attention to everything, or nothing.

      There’s some good Claymore yuri out there. Everyone’s gay for Miria.

  13. A few points here:

    1. Claymore is AWESOME.
    2. soccer is SOOOO BORING. However i will watch the US games. Once they are out, i will not longer watch (kind of like how i dont care about the aniblog circle jerk after you and glo are out)
    3. I give almost every show 3-4 episodes to get into the plot. and if its still not getting into the plot, there is a good chance i will not like the show and i drop it.
    4. The silver surfer cartoon brings me back… i actually remember seeing that ep when it first aired. I also remember drinking heavily trying to forget the live action movie. (both FF movies were awful).
    5. Lastly there are a few shows that suffer due to incomplete source material that I want to see continued so badly: Claymore, Gantz, and Berserk are the biggest ones for me.

  14. I feel you about giving an anime the benefit of the doubt for having incomplete source material, but it happens so damn often that there is a huge lack of satisfying endings out there. And considering how much anime is adapted, it’s a frustrating problem. You invest a lot of time hoping for a “real” ending, whatever that might mean, and then you get gypped. Could be worse I guess. Could be Lost.

  15. I enjoyed reading Eyeshield21 more than watching it. Should I watch or read Touch?

    I also dropped Claymore anime at Ep 20, should I just start over from the manga or carry on watching the anime?

    • I saw Touch. Tried to read it too but couldn’t find scans at the time (this was about six years ago, the manga is pretty damn easy to find online these days). The anime is awesome. I’m sure the manga is too. Take your pick.

      Stick to the Claymore manga. Episode 20 is around the divergence point. You’d have to read the manga anyway.

  16. I think the worst thing is when a show has sufficient material (like a near completed manga source) but doesn’t have enough runtime/the creators don’t care enough to completely tell the story.

    Aah, Dinotopia. Brings back fond memories.

    • One of the benefits to rarely reading the original source material prior to watching its anime is that I rarely know if there was enough material to make a full sequel season. Still, I can imagine how much it must’ve sucked to be a Legend of the Galactic Heroes fan back in the day.

      I must confess, I’ve never read Dinotopia. I’ll add it to my list, right behind Opal Mehta and Captain Raptor.

  17. American Football blows. There I’ve said it. I know I live in America now and should love it, but its EFFING BORING!

    Only in American football can you look at the clock, see 5 minutes on it and 15 minutes later the game is STILL GOING ON! The only thing more destroying to the soul is having to sit through Maburaho.

  18. claymore is shit and soccer is better then football any day

    for a show to be truly good it must have all 3, a good middle ending and start, however the middle is main portion of the story and requires the most creativity

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