Being on the website for roughly a year now, I have taken an opportunity every now and then to write a thorough review on an anime or a manga I have recently read or read in the past. The results have been astonishing since every time I publish I review, I get a great amount of feedback on them. Whether its because they are awesome reviews or people recommend anything I do because of my greatness remains to be unseen. However, as I was looking through some of the recent reviews this evening, I began to think of what goes into a good review. So this guide is meant for those who have never written a review of something or you have done a review already and want to know how to get better.
This sounds easy but I think picking a series is a crucial element to writing a good review. When choosing a series, whether it is manga or anime, make sure you have a thorough comprehension on what the series is all about. Reviewing a well known series like Dragon Ball Z or Pokemon without ever having watched an episode can hurt you if you can't actually back up anything you say in a review with definitive proof, especially if someone calls you out on it later on. I would also recommend picking a series that has yet to be reviewed since your opinion can help make or break how others react to it. The only time you would review something that has been done in the past, in my opinion, is when the reviews are skewed in both directions without a clear idea on how the series is overall.
Saying right off the bat what your immediate opinion is of a review does not work out for the piece and we'll mention why towards the end. The way I try to set up each of my reviews is by coming up with a fun or informative set up that gets you prepared for the review. It might be a personal story that builds up to the series in question or a fun little bit of comedy to lighten the mood. Either works well and you can balance the two if you prefer. You should feel that the review is meant to be informative as well as entertaining.
If a person wants to know is something like Ah My Goddess is any good and they look at your review, they need to know what the premise is behind Ah My Goddess. You don't need to be as detailed as some of the Wiki entries are, but try to be thorough. A paragraph works best here with a simple "This is the main character. This is the plot. This is what happens after the main character and the plot meet. This is who created the series." You don't have to follow that to a tee since its vital to put your own unique spin on things.
Believe it or not, nothing in life is absolutely perfect. Nor will it be utter garbage (most of the time...95% at least). No matter what series you decide to watch and review, remember that you should explain things that work for the series and don't. I know some reviewers are known for their extreme cynicism when it comes to reviewing things, especially people like Ben Croshaw, Doug Walker, and James Rolfe to name a few. But again, when you make a review, you have to come up with your own style. Saying everything sucks and trying to be funny doesn't work for everyone. But at the same time, don't claim something is perfect. If I ever find a five star review on this site, I guarantee I can find at least a few fatal flaws of the series. And I'm not saying that to be a jerk. It's better to have a balance.
So when writing the review, start out by saying something or some things good about the series in question then focus on the negative or vice versa. Try to avoid hyperbole unless its a bit subtle or can work to your advantage.
This is a bit hard since Ben Croshaw once said that all reviews are in theory subjective and will have some bias in them in one way or another. However, you can still have bias and be completely objective. You just need to remember that you should focus solely on the facts. People don't care if you actually like the show or hate it. If you are writing a review, it is your duty to be fair to the letter in what you are talking about. This is not a place to simply state "you a like a series because of X, Y, and Z." That's not a review. That's just your opinion. Instead, focus on making it more about the series and less about you. Say something like "X, Y, and Z work out for the show's strong points and I really enjoy how it meshes together." Stating something like that puts things into perspective not only for yourself but for the reader as well.
This isn't "write a bunch of reviews" this is "review what you just read." Using Microsoft Word or some sort of writing program helps to see what you are writing and how you are writing it. It also helps with the typos since in a review, typos and misspellings should be avoided at all costs. If you decide to forgo using Word and simply write your review all in one go in the space for reviews, I recommend Google Chrome when doing so. It has a function that underlines words that are misspelled so you can catch mistakes easily. Don't fret about Japanese names like Natsu Dragneel or Ryuk or Hattori Hanzo. All word processors are anal when it comes to proper names.
However, you should still read over what you wrote. Make sure it flows well and there aren't huge blocks of text mashed up together. Grammar is your friend even if you hate it with a dying passion. Ask yourself "Is this the best quality of work I can put into a review?" If the answer is yes, then submit. If no, then go back and fix it.
Here are some final thoughts that you can take with you when you write a review in the future.
I guarantee if you follow these steps and put your own twist on making a review special and unique, then you will have no problem writing reviews from now on. See you on the review boards!