If you’re on MAL or Hummingbird or AniList frequently, chances are you’re pretty accustomed to ratings, particularly scores out of 5 or 10 or 100. I rate most of my Anime and so do most frequent users of those sites, but just how much meaning do those scores really have? I would honestly have to say not much. Scoring is always based on arbitrary personal standards, no one person rates the same and no personal way of rating has any legitimate inherent value. Does a 10/10 mean an Anime is perfect in your opinion or that it’s simply a favourite of yours? Does a 5/10 mean you thought a series was average or does a 7/10 mean you thought a series was average? There’s just so many different meanings each score can take.
Those personal standards themselves also have no actual rhyme or reason. There’s bound to be numerous inconsistencies and scores given on whims that don’t correlate with the standards by which you rated the last Anime you saw. It would take a whole lot of effort to even be close to having a thorough rating system, but that in itself would be a worthless effort considering the aforementioned. When you boil it down to its core, what makes scoring fundamentally worthless is quite simply the fact that they’re just numbers and letters. Does the 4/10 you gave Aldnoah.Zero or the F you gave Mars of Destruction or the 5/5 you gave Legend of the Galactic Heroes or the 72/100 you gave Evangelion actually have any value whatsoever in expressing your opinion besides giving a simplified answer as to whether or not you liked it? Probably not. Us human beings develop more complex opinions on the media we consume than a scaled number or grade can ever hope to properly summarise.
With that in mind, another question would be why we score things. For a fair share of people it’s usually a matter of ego. Some people feel a sense of power and authority in their opinions by having control over their own personal hierarchy of scores and rankings. Another reason would be plain old laziness. Scoring can be a half-assed substitute for articulating an opinion. There’s nothing wrong with doing that and with not taking interest in critical discussion, but that’s how it is for some people. I’ve even seen some Anime critics fixate themselves on scores out of laziness, granted most of them don’t actively seek profound critical nuance and would openly admit to that.
As for why I and every other critically interested person who believes scoring is pretty worthless does it… I don’t think I can give a satisfactory answer. Some formally employed critics like a few of the folks at ANN do it reluctantly out of obligation, but a lot of people like myself do it just ’cause. Like I said earlier, scores are an elementary and reductive statement of your overall opinion, but I guess what little you can get from a score has some minimal degree of usefulness. Still, by no means are they even the slightest bit crucial.
There’s a much bigger picture beyond a score when it comes to opinions on Anime or any other form of entertainment or art, and if you’re interested to see that bigger picture there’s nothing stopping you. Ganbatte!!