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.
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
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.