AAW Review Conventions Site Info
What the parental guide numbers mean, along with other conventions used in the writing at AAW.
Review Star Rating System
The five-star scale on which we rate anime might be scaled a little differently than you expect. Also keep in mind that things are reviewed as what they are; you can't legitimately compare a slapstick comedy to a moody psychodrama, but you can rate each within its own genre.
It breaks down like this:
- Absolute garbage--avoid unless you're a masochist.
- Bad, but there's something in it that's a little entertaining or at least interesting. If you're a big fan of the genre, you might find something enjoyable, otherwise almost certainly not worth it.
- Completely average for whatever it is; if you like the genre, you should probably enjoy this, but otherwise it's unremarkable.
- A solid production; not fantastic, but entertaining.
- Very good; a little short of a masterpiece, but you'll have to look to find flaws.
- Perfection for whatever it is, and complete success at whatever it's trying to do.
In summary: Less than two stars is bad news; two stars is probably only worth it if you like the genre; three stars should be entertaining if you like the concept; four or five stars are extremely good, and worth watching unless you really hate the genre.
Parental Guide Details
The parental guide section of the reviews gives an age range that the reviewer feels is appropriate for the anime in question. The rating or age recommendation given with the North American release will also be noted, when one exists (and we'll also comment if we feel that rating was inappropriately strict or lenient).
The content is further broken down into four categories of potentially objectionable material, and each is assigned a score in addition to an explanation of any details to assist parents or sensitive viewers. The scores are based on a version of an old video game rating system, and mean the following:
- Harmless conflict.
- Light violence and non-serious fighting; people or animals may be injured; most cartoon violence.
- People or animals killed without much gore or realism; this includes milder action-movie violence and more extreme comic violence.
- People killed with blood and gore, or more realistic depictions of violence.
- Gratuitous violence or gore; torture; sexual violence/rape.
- Gratuitous amounts of realistic, extremely graphic violence.
- No exposed skin at all.
- Skimpy clothes.
- Partial nudity (breasts or backsides) in small amounts, particularly if lacking in detail.
- Moderate amounts of nudity, or larger amounts of undetailed nudity.
- Large amounts of nudity and/or detailed frontal nudity.
- Huge amounts of detailed nudity or very graphic nudity.
Mature Themes/Sexual Content
- Minimal, innocent romance and no objectionable mature content.
- Kissing, or mildly mature themes.
- Clothed sexual acts; mature humor; more significant mature themes.
- Non-graphic or brief sexual acts; adult humor; very mature plot themes.
- Explicit or drawn-out sexual acts; sexual violence.
- Extremely graphic sexual acts or sexual violence treated as erotica.
- Mild slang ("shoot").
- Mild expletives ("damn").
- Light use of standard expletives (more than usually heard on US TV).
- Moderate use of expletives.
- Heavy use of expletives; particularly offensive language.
- Extreme use of expletives, unusually vulgar language, and sexually explicit descriptions (exceedingly rare in anime).
All dates on AAW are written ISO-style, in the order year-month-day (so 2001-01-02 would be January 2nd, 2001).
In Japan, one "season" of a TV show is exactly that; 12 to 13 episodes (on rare occasions 11 or 14) broadcast weekly, in order, over the span of three months. Some shows will extend over two (or more) seasons. As such, when discussing "seasons" of anime, we are almost always referring to these 12-13 episode chunks, not sequel or follow-up series. Code Geass, for example, is two seasons (26 episodes) long, and its sequel, Code Geass R2, is another two seasons. Exceptions are sometimes made in reviews when a sequel series or second chunk is marketed in the US as "season 2" or something similar.
While AAW is written in a style appropriate for a mature audience, we attempt to avoid profanity and to keep descriptions of potentially offensive content suitable for a general audience when possible. That said, if it's necessary to describe something in detail, we will.
AAW's main writer is a US-native, so our perspective, intentionally or otherwise, is generally North American-centric. We use US-standard spelling, prices are in US dollars, and most of our English-language release notes and shopping assistance are for official North American versions. We also assume some familiarity with American culture. That said, official reviewers current and past also hail from Canada, Australia, and the Middle East, so there will occasionally be non-US expressions and spellings popping up.
Most anime is produced in Japan, so here are a few language conventions used when discussing Japanese, for those curious.
In spoken and written Japanese, native Japanese names have the family name first and given name second. In the site's early days, we used this convention when writing Japanese names (for example, "Miyazaki Hayao" or "Takahashi Rumiko"). We have since switched to the standard English order, with given name first and family name second ("Hayao Miyazaki," "Rumiko Takahashi"), both for clarity and because Japanese people always give their names in that order when speaking English. There may, however, be a handful of leftover names in the other order, and I've been known to occasionally type one backwards without thinking about it.
When romanizing Japanese words, we write long vowels written as they are in phonetic Japanese, either with a double vowel ("ureshii") or with "ou" for a long "o" sound ("Ryou-ouki"). If a name or term has a different widely-used romanization, however, we will stick to that in most situations (for example, "Ryoko" instead of "Ryouko"). In the Japanese lessons, long vowels are always written with a double vowel, to avoid confusion.
We otherwise use the most common romanization system, with "shi" rather than "si," "fu" rather than "hu," and "wo" rather than "o" for the object-marker particle (を). The subject-marker particle is written as-pronounced, as "wa," rather than as it is written in Japanese (は).
Language and cultural notes are almost always checked with Akemi, a native Japanese speaker, so mistakes, while possible (particularly in older reviews), are unlikely.
The official reviews at AAW are written for people who are interested in an in-depth analysis of what is notable about a particular work; they're long, detailed, and wordy, and are intended to be. If you prefer a short blurb before digging in, use the button to switch to short-form reviews.
Our reviews assume some degree of familiarity with anime and the terminology that goes along with it, but any anime-specific jargon or imported Japanese words used will also be defined in the site's glossary, or in the review's Notes and Trivia section.
Notes and Trivia
Speaking of which, the notes and trivia section of reviews contains just that; notes (both footnotes and unrelated commentary) that did not fit in the main review, cultural and language notes that might not be obvious, and factoids and trivia that we found interesting.
Reviews themselves attempt to minimize spoilers, and in the event one is necessary to discuss some aspect of the anime, an effort is made to mark it or put it in a footnote.
Footnotes in reviews contain asides, unnecessarily extensive discussion, additional information, or things that are spoilers; they can be skipped entirely if you prefer shorter, more-focused reviews, or want to avoid spoilers.
In the stats box at the top of each review, you will find the specific details about the anime, and some things intended to help you know what to expect. The Look For section includes a list of what we consider the most memorable features of it. The You Might Also Like list includes other, unrelated anime that have something in common, so may be of interest if you liked the show (or vice-versa); see the Related Recommendations section below the main review for more detail on the titles appearing here and why they were selected.
The Original Title is the title of the anime as it was written on the original release, in whatever characters it appeared as; usually this will be Japanese, though some anime is produced elsewhere, and even Japanese series sometimes use non-Japanese characters in the title. The Romanization and Literal Translation items are as you'd expect, showing the way to pronounce the title if you can't read it (usually this will be phonetically Romanized Japanese), and what it literally means. Titles that were in English to begin with will omit both of these; titles that are an English (or nonsense) word written with a phonetic Japanese subtitle to help Japanese speakers pronounce the title will, likewise, not list the phonetic Japanese.
Production Date gives the date that the movie, OVA, or TV series was first viewable by the public; in the case of movies it is the opening day; in the case of TV series it is the range of dates the series was first broadcast (a comma will separate dates or ranges if there was a gap); in the case of OVAs the date or range will be when the video(s) first went on sale.