What I look for in anime and manga (Updated)

Six years ago (when no one read this blog) I wrote about what I looked for when choosing anime and manga series to follow. The content is still relevant and now that I reach a larger audience I would like to know what you guys think.

Every anime fan has their own criteria for what they consider good quality anime and manga. I would like to share my own standards.


Obviously the story is one of the most important aspects of any storytelling medium. Anime can focus on stories with more mature themes such as erotica or horror. Some stories are rather simple (Pokemon) and other can be complex ( Evangelion). Both can be enjoyable for different reasons obviously. Creating an engrossing world, with characters that are easy to relate to is important. If the creator can’t make you love the characters, why would you care what happens to them.

Art/ Animation

I’m an artist and generally judge manga/anime based on art style and quality animation. Some of my favorite manga based on art are Naruto, One Piece and Bleach. If you know anything about these series you know that they’re also among the most popular. I believe part of the reason they’re so successful is due to their art. Each series has its own unique art style.

Anime animation can at times appear to be limited. Sometimes the mouth of a character is the only part of a characters face that moves during dialogue. The consistent use of static imagery can leave a lot to the imagination. However, there is superior animation found in some anime called “sakuga“. It can be too time consuming and expensive to animate this way so it’s often use occasionally.

Character Balance

Some anime/manga suffer from “main character syndrome“. Many of the main characters tend to be disproportionately stronger than their counterparts. Almost all characters live to be saved by the main character, it becomes tedious. In some cases secondary characters are on par with or surpass the main character although its generally temporary.  That said I understand the main character can’t lose every battle or even most battles. Some balance between characters is required. In Bleach the main character is Ichigo, I think he’s a over powered.

I don’t recall him ever losing a battle and he seems to always find new hidden powers somewhere. I makes a mockery of the other characters, as they become reduced to simple placeholders until Ichigo arrives to save everyone. Monkey D. Luffy (One Piece) is clearly the strongest of his crew but they hold their own in battle against many foes. Luffy has lost many battles and isn’t the even close to being the strongest character currently in the series. He of course still benefits from being a main character. He could never died but he can still lose.

Character Design

The design of the character’s are not really important to me personally. However, I feel you could generally tell whether a character is important or not depending on their detail. Characters like “Sai” in Naruto and basically all the soldier’s in the Quincy army in Bleach ( see Manga 544) are rather plain. This tells me that the importance is temporary , non – existent or  they’re going to died soon.


Not all the manga and anime I enjoy are battle heavy (Death Note) but, most are. Generally speaking the best battles tend to have sakuga animation. Sakuga animation usually makes action better but doesn’t necessarily mean that a scene couldn’t be good without it. The length of battle matters, too short and it’s a disappointment. If the fight is too long it can become a drag.

So what is your personal view on what makes anime/ manga good? Do you agree with me? What are your criticisms? Should I add to my standards?

One response to “What I look for in anime and manga (Updated)”

  1. I think story is a big one for me. The only thing bigger than that would be themes/symbolism, mostly because that’s what I like to structure my reviews on. I also like decent animation, but also a superb musical score as I’m a huge music lover.

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