Implications of a Like vs. Enjoy Conflict in Writing A Favorites List

No conflict here, 10s across the board!

This is a continuation of this post wherein I described how one can separately ‘like’ and ‘enjoy’ any given show. Some people pointed out that ‘like’ is a very horrible term to use here, however, the suggested term ‘respect’ does not fully convey what I’m getting at here, so bear with me. In the future, I will never use the word ‘like’ this way again, but for the purpose of this post, please assume that when I say ‘like’, I mean to say ‘something that meets one’s personal standards’, and that when I say ‘enjoy’ I mean ‘something that I was pleasured greatly by partaking in’ (think ‘sex’). That out of the way, I want to talk about what separately ‘liking’ and ‘enjoying’ something means for one’s (namely my) favorites list.

As mentioned in the other post, as well as in this study of favorites lists I did way back, I pointed out how many people have two separate favorites lists. Those people usually call them a ‘favorites’ list and a ‘best’ list, but since ‘best’ doesn’t really exist, I’m going to call those ‘like’ vs. ‘enjoy’ lists. I’ve always been against making those kinds of lists myself, but now that I’ve clarified the nature of the lists in a way that satisfies me, I feel more open to the idea. After all, I’ve had a REALLY hard time in the upper echelons of my favorites list deciding which shows fall in where on my grand scheme of things. After all, as I said before, ‘liking’ and ‘enjoying’ things are hardly mutually exclusive, and in fact I could give a definitive ranking of how much I individually ‘liked’ or ‘enjoyed’ any show I’ve ever seen.

I will tell you about what troubles me in these lists, though, using the examples of the two shows that have been fighting for the place of my third favorite anime (behind Eureka Seven and Gintama), which are Toradora and Infinite Ryvius. Between the two of them, the hardship is very evident.

Perfection.

Infinite Ryvius is what I would consider a ‘perfect’ show. Going by my standards, it does everything right. I honestly could not fault the show with a single thing even if I wanted to – so, by my rating scale, it would honestly deserve a perfect 10. However, in my heart, I know that I do not think of the series as quite on-par with Eureka Seven or Gintama, both of which I also give perfect 10s. The thing is, while all three shows do everything I consider ‘right’, Infinite Ryvius just doesn’t grip me emotionally the same way the other two shows do. Even though it certainly pulled me in immensely, it doesn’t quite compare to those two ferocious god-mode shows. Not really knowing what to do about this, I just shaved a point off of Ryvius, bringing it down to 9.9 and the third place on my list.

Meanwhile, Toradora is the other way around. By my standards, the show is just a tad short of perfect. It’s not a huge gap – I could probably feel comfortable giving it a 9.7 or 9.8 at the highest, but with the things standing above it, it can go no higher. However, Toradora has a HUGE emotional gravity for me. It has two of my alltime favorite characters in it (as amazing as Infinite Ryvius’ cast is, I don’t care about any of them nearly the way I do for Taiga and Ryuuji) and the plot really speaks to me. So then I have to look at it next to Infinite Ryvius. Even if Ryvius has been dragged down to 9.9, I still want to believe that I care for Toradora just as much, if not more than it. My care still isn’t as great as that for Eureka Seven or Gintama, so it’s not like I can give it a 10, but I at least would not want it to be ‘under’ Ryvius. Therefor, to establish balance, I also gave Toradora a 9.9 score.

It’s been incredibly hard to decide if this was the right choice. Do I let that push of emotion override my feelings that Ryvius really accomplished everything I think that an anime can accomplish? I’ve always been a man who judges things by feel. I’ve always said that a favorites list should be made up of the shows you feel the most strongly about. But which one is more true to my feelings – the show that does everything I want, or the show that does a bit less, but manages to touch some deeper part of my soul?

Hey, dumbass! Quit making it complicated!

It’s hard. Ultimately, the thing that makes Toradora more important to me is personal bias. It’s simply a fact that some things are going to reach me in a different way than others. Just like even if I think Baccano is as close to as good as anime gets, the real reason that I rank it so highly has as much, if not more to do with my love of turbo-violence, eccentric characters, and non-linear storytelling as it does with what I think makes a series ‘great.’ I normally would say that ‘this is MY favorites list, so shouldn’t the show I’m biased towards be the winner?’ but then again, my so-called ‘standards’ are also purely my creation. Like I said in the last post, I think that Kure-nai is one of the most well-made anime ever, and a lot of people think it’s total shit, so it’s not like I’m trying for some silly objective idea when I say that something is ‘perfect by my standards’ – those standards still come from the heart.

So, I finally decided that I will embrace the two-list setup, but using my own ideas. I will give every show a ‘Head Score’ and a ‘Heart Score’. The head score is what a show ranks by my standards, and the heart score is what a show ranks in my personal feelings towards it. Ultimately, I will organize my favorites list in the ‘heart score’ order, just because I think a big part of what makes a ‘favorite show’ is that it is something you are lead to think about often. That’s not to say that thinking about it all the time automatically raises the heart score. I probably think about Strike Witches more often than Infinite Ryvius, but that’s not going to make me like it more. It’s a complex system, but ultimately the idea is just to get as close to my pure feelings as possible.

Therefor in the future, I will likely say that Toradora has a ‘Heart Score’ of 9.9 and a ‘Head Score’ of 9.8, while Infinite Ryvius has a ‘Heart Score’ of 9.8 and a ‘Head Score’ of 10. Therefor, Toradora will appear higher on my favorites list. Does that mean it earns the third place spot? Well, that depends on what happens when I apply these ratings to the rest of my favorites list :p

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19 thoughts on “Implications of a Like vs. Enjoy Conflict in Writing A Favorites List

  1. In the end I think that what you define as “head score” would be the score reachd after some short of analysis that takes into account the, how to say, current mores in the anime world. At least personally I’ve found it to be an external imposition, the aspects this “discourse” tells you to take into account. “Heart score” should be what you feel, regardless of what “discourse” on anime says. Personally I’ve stopped considering anything but “heart score” -that is, personal enjoyment, emotions the anime makes you feel, how entertaining it was, etc. That’s the only way I don’t need to justify the way I enjoy anime, or the animes I enjoy or I don’t.

    • Mm. I don’t think my head score thing has much to do with discourse. It has nothing to do with what popular opinion might be, for one.

      Statistically, according to data composed from all of the ‘top anime of the decade’ lists made at the end of last year (source: http://aquabluesweater.wordpress.com/2010/03/06/compilation-of-top-anime-of-the-decade-lists-around-the-internet-series/) popular opinion among anime bloggers would put Haibane Renmei as the best anime of the past decade. That would be so-called ‘objectivity.’

      However, I judge anime by a different standard than public opinion. Some thing I hold in high regard, for instance, include animation. Haibane Renmei has very low-quality animation, which would prevent it from taking a top score from me no matter how good the rest of the show is. Therefor, regardless of whether it is accepted to believe that animation doesn’t make a large impact on so-called ‘objective’ scoring, my ‘head score’ for Haibane Renmei probably will not exceed 9.5 or so.

      My ‘head score’ has nothing to do with justifying what I like, but rather it is about what I do or don’t look for in anime. Infinite Ryvius has amazing art and animation, a great soundtrack, a humongous cast of superb characters, an intriguing plot, prefect tight writing, perfect tight directing, and little bonuses like recurring background characters and motifs. All of these are things that go into my ‘head score’, but if another show plays into my bias harder, then it will exceed that score, and if it doesn’t play into my bias (which Ryvius doesn’t really) then it will have a lower heart score.

    • hehehe. My ratings are only so complex because my ultimate goal in life is perfecting my favorites list. It’s truly my ultimate work.

    • Macross 7 was epic and the only anime I’ve actually finished in about two or three days because I didn’t have internet.

  2. I think, subconsciously, I combine a sort of “head score” and “heart score” when I dole out ratings, which just makes things more confusing, haha. The nature of emotion makes it that much trickier, too — Toradora! and, say, Monster both reach me emotionally in completely different ways (which isn’t surprising considering the nature of each series lol), so it’s tough to really gauge which is more “important” to me. And then there’s all the technical stuff that would go into the “head score”, but that’s a bit easier to sort out. :p

    I do appreciate that you freely admit the bias of your list. People try to grasp some pretense of objectivity with “best of” lists, but you’d have to be a soulless robot to be entirely objective with a list. It’s impossible. I don’t want to read an objective list, anyway; I want to read a list that reflects the tastes of the author. It doesn’t matter to me if I agree with a list — as long as the list makes me think about what the author values, and in turn what I value, then I’m cool with it.

    • And see, what makes it even harder is that if a show has a great head score, it is almost automatically going to have an emotional impact just because the whole point of a head score is that it’s what I consider to make an anime great for me – the mere fact of seeing something great like that unfold for me is enough to make me full of joy. That is specifically what made it so hard to put Toradora in front of Ryvius. It’s not like I found Ryvius perfect but watched it joylessly – I was fucking out of my chair a number of times throughout the show, but during Toradora, I was out of my chair and standing on the god damn back of it, so to speak. That’s what makes teh reconciliation difficult. I guess the best thing to point out is that Ryvius still has a ‘heart score’ of 9.8. That’s still in my top 5-10. That still puts it ahead of about 300 other anime I’ve finished.

  3. I think I understand the “like” and “enjoy” thing now. My favorites lists (and most of my MAL ratings) have been based on my Heart Score. I’ve never made a favorites list for just Head Scores. Maybe I should do that one of these days. But I’ve always thought that anime is something to be enjoyed, whether you “like” or “respect” the fact that you enjoy a certain show so much. My enjoyment of a series is what I care about the most, so in your example here, I would probably rate Toradora! higher than Ryvius.

    Another way I’ve looked at it is that, for shows on my favorites list, the main reason I enjoy them is either because of their story/plot (Death Note, FMA, Air), the characters (Lucky Star, Inuyasha, Kannagi), or for both (Haruhi, Noir, Evangelion). I feel that the story/plot ones are more in the “like” category while the character-driven ones are more in the “enjoy” category (as for the ones for both story and character, it depends on the series).

  4. Momentary mood alone can effect my rankings and ratings. I’m starting to think that rating and ranking anime is a fool’s game, but it’s one I can’t help but keep playing. I can’t count how many times I’ve tried to come up with a system or ranking order that summoned up how I felt about everything but ended up throwing the results away in frustration. In the end, I just need writing to explain completely how I feel about a series… until how I feel changes. Ugh.

    • Yeah, I had to come a long way to find it, but I think that my current rating system is damn near absolute. And this addition of head/heart responses just makes it that much better. I think I’m really moving towards a perfect favorites list.

  5. i should probably stick to flat numbering until I’ve seen as much anime as you have :3

    my My Anime List is horribly out of date

  6. I think I try to get an average of ‘heart’ and ‘head’ scores much like shinmaru. However with respect to MAL I will sometimes rate something higher because of an inflated heart vs head or vice versa score. It doesn’t take a whole lot for me to get marginally emotionally invested in a series so I tend to rate most anime in the upper 6-8 range on the MAL scale. I’m thinking of it in terms of the most recent anime I just finished on my backlog was Casshern SINS. I thought it was a technical masterpiece but most of the emotional investment in the series happens during the first half as Casshern encounters random characters. When the plot kicked in during the 2nd half I wasn’t nearly so emotionally invested. But it was still a technical triumph with some of the most amazing background art, music, and character designs I’d ever seen. So instead of the 8 I might have given if I avg’d heart and head; I gave it a 10.

    Also I would not deign to ever make a favorites list. It’d be flat out impossible for me. I can say what shows I liked more than others but that’s about it.

  7. i always consider my favorites list to be an amalgamation of anime that give me a proverbial boner, and things I’d try to actively get other people to watch

  8. Pingback: Disorganized thoughts on subjectivity « Pontifus

  9. Pingback: Love Cannot Be Bound By Standards! (But I Really Wish That It Could) « Fuzakenna!

  10. Pingback: The Step Between ‘Favorites’ and ‘Obsessions’ « Fuzakenna!

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