You saw the latest episode of Super Title Robot Anime Harem Can’t Be This Explosion and thought it was pretty great/terrible. But you want to see what other people thought of it. Maybe you want to tell other people what you thought of it. So where do you do this? Well, apart from the fact you are on a blog and therefore you are already reading what other people thought of the latest anime, but let us leave that point aside and engage in this piece of near-meaningless analysis anyway. I’ve compiled 8 different places people post and discuss about anime on the internet and compared their strengths and weaknesses. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but if you want to argue otherwise, by all means leave a comment because huzzah for discussion.
Overview: MAL’s main draw is its anime listing features, so most of its truly sizeable number of users never visit the forums. MAL does make the forums quite easy to see on each anime’s page though, so it draws in a lot of people making edits to their lists. Double bonus points for MAL having a feature that sends you to the latest episode discussion thread when you update your list if you so wish.
Ease of use: High. Search for the anime you want to discuss. Go down to the forums section. Click on the forums for whatever the latest episode was. You do have to have a MAL account, which is not complicated. Older forum discussion on past episodes are easy enough to find. It’s only let-down is occasionally the entire site breaks and forums become impossible to use, but that’s rare enough for it not to be a deal breaker.
Discussion intelligence level: Low. The main problem with MAL’s forums is everyone who posts in the thread rarely comes back to reply, so it’s not really a discussion thread. Hence it’s primarily a sentence or two of reaction and that’s it. In that sense, MAL is great for getting that raw numbers reaction. The fact each episode discussion starts with a poll of how much you liked the episode really helps add to that raw reaction data. But discussion-wise, it’s crap. What little discussion there is usually comes down to two people yelling at each other while everyone else ignores them. Sometimes someone makes a sub-forum for more general discussion, and they are always terrible.
Humour: Medium-low. This tends to be a general rule of discussion, but the quicker the response time, the funnier the responses tend to be. As a connoisseur of comedy, this is a little saddening, but there you go. Sometimes MAL humour can come from people being really stupid, but stupidity holds only brief amusement. However there are some legitimately funny people posting on MAL and can sometimes come up gold in the forums. It can highly depend on which series forum you read though.
Newbie friendly: High, albeit that’s mostly because nobody will argue with you because nobody actually replies to each other. There is a community, but it’s only a very small percentage of people who use the forums that actually know each other, while most everyone else gets lost in the sea of usernames. If you act incredibly stupid or offensive someone might call you out, but you just don’t have to look at that forum ever again like everyone else who uses it.
Final words: Easy access raw reaction is what to use MAL forums for. They’re stupid, but so are most people in the planet and at the very least the MAL crowd can usually spell correctly. Actual discussion is basically non-existent though.
Overview: Reddit is based on a karma system where what gets read and what rises to the top is determined by how many people ‘upvote’ the post. The anime subreddit top rated posts are usually either some latest news that you could have found out yourself by reading literally any anime news site, or someone showed off their anime fandom by making something, like a Spirited Away birthday cake or whatever. I find those types of things to get kind of old after a while, but the site does have latest episode discussion too, albeit usually only of the popular stuff (good luck finding an Arata Kangatari thread).
Ease of use: Medium-High. Reddit is relatively easy to use, all things considered. If the episode just came out, it’s usually on the front page. Otherwise searching for “gargantia” or whatever in the search bar (and making sure you limit it to forums on the anime subreddit) and you’ll find it pretty easy. The way the threads are structured aren’t like a typical forum thread, with nested replies making everything awkward to follow. The nested replies however do make it easy to follow a discussion going between two or more people. Posting is relatively easy too.
Discussion Intelligence Level: Medium-low: You would think the karma thing would make intelligent posts rise to the top, but often it’s just some dumb pun sitting at the top. That said, once you actually get down into the actual longer posts, there is more intelligent discussion to be found. Admittedly ‘more intelligent’ in anime forums style means they can actually string a few sentences together, but baby steps. Nested comments means people actually talk to each other, unlike MAL’s ignore everyone status quo. The actual users I’m not convinced are any more intelligent than MAL users, but the format allows them to actually talk to each other.
Humour: Medium-low. You’d think the format on Reddit would facilitate humour better than any other of these forums, but after reading through several, the humour level is really no better than MALs. It’s puns and memes for the most part, which both are very low down on the laugh-out-loud chain. I’m not sure what to blame this on, so I’m going to blame it on the community. I get the impression that Reddit’s anime community is very young, which fits given it’s a relatively new forum anyway.
Newbie friendly: High. Despite being a pretty small board, it’s young and welcoming, two things which go hand in hand. Doesn’t take long to get used to the reddit format, and even displaying total newbishness won’t hurt you too much because people are whoring out for karma so tend to be happy to help.
Final Words: As much as reddit might have a bad reputation for its Mens Rights boards and weird libertarian side, this doesn’t extend into the anime forums. Still some misogyny sure, but no more than any other place on the internet. They’re not actually very smart or knowledgeable about anime, so I find the dialogue more tedious than engaging. They’re dumb but welcoming.
Overview: A traditional forum through and through. If you have seen any forum, you have seen the Animesuki forums. The main site lists torrents, albeit its not really the one-stop shop it used to be for that. Forums are still thriving, albeit like any traditional forum, it has the tendency for a few people to take over the thread.
Ease of use: High. Currently airing anime clearly marked. Forums easy to navigate. Actually has a search functionality. Old forums simple enough to browse, even if find that specific forum for an older anime isn’t as easy as it is on MAL. Setting up an account is about as rote as anywhere else on the internet. This is your plan white shirt of anime discussion forums. If you have spent any time on the internet, it’s easy to use.
Discussion Intelligence Level: Medium-high, although I’m sure they think it’s stratosphere levels high. I hadn’t visited the site in years, but the reputation Animesuki forums had was there couldn’t be a forum base more stuck up their own backside. Didn’t see any obvious cases of this in my more recent research though. The people there definitely know more about anime than MAL or Reddit do. People actually criticise the anime in meaningful ways and there is discussion between people. You’re not going to get discussion on deeper themes or directing, but at the very least you will get discussion of the plot’s effectiveness and pacing. Unfortunately it tends to be the same people over and over again, which means you’re getting a limited viewpoint.
Humour: Non-existent. I have never seen a funny post on Animesuki. Laughed at people’s self-righteousness perhaps, but not their cutting wit. I think the long-form forum format (now there’s a tongue-twister) doesn’t breed humour in general. As I said back on MAL, the reason is probably because the reactions are delayed so the instant-reaction humour isn’t there anymore.
Newbie friendly: Medium. Again, I’m not sure if the users are still stuck up their ass, so take what I’m saying with a pinch of salt. It’s a fairly close-knit community so a newbie will stick out, doubly so if you say something stupid. But neither is it actively hostile to newbies. You’ll probably have to do some lurking before posting, but otherwise you’ll be safe.
Final words: About as bog-standard an anime discussion forum as you can get, but that’s fine. It’s a formula that works, and the users are definitely a level above MAL or Reddit. What it lacks is that broad instant reaction that MAL or Slash Aye has, particularly since the same people tend to hijack each thread, but such is the issue with standard design forums anyway.
Overview: 4chan is more than just that one anonymous board you hear about occasionally in the news. That’s just their random board. The site is otherwise split into various other boards, with the anime board being one of the biggest alongside the video game ones. Each individual board still have a similar tone as their infamous random board, which is largely by design. You can post anonymously with incredible ease, and the community look down upon posting with a name attached.
Ease of use: Medium-Low. Theoretically it should be really easy, since you can just bash a few words into the box and hit post. No faffing about with accounts or any of that nonsense. Problem is the site is not very intuitively designed. Finding a specific topic or anime or whatever is not easy at all. If you want to talk about a specific anime, you’re generally better off just making a new topic altogether. There are sites that archive old posts, but since 4chan deletes threads after a period of inactivity, there’s no chance of going back to that thread and replying with something of your own.
Discussion Intelligence Level: Low. Actually to be fair, you will find the odd intelligent post here and there, but they will always get piled under heaps and heaps of people being shockingly stupid. It’s not the unaware stupid for the most part, although there is still plenty of that. It’s people arguing over taste with no further analysis to back that up. I think the userbase is definitely smarter than that of Reddit or MAL, but the format doesn’t allow for it. Derailing an intelligent discussion is practically a badge of honour.
Humour: Medium. Tempted to rank it higher because it can produce moments of absolute pure magic when the hivemind react in a singular fashion that no other site can recreate, but those moments are very difficult to find. For the most part it’s completely asinine attempts, mistaking calling people faggot cum-slut whores for humour. Not that the words faggot, cum-slut or whore cannot be used in a way that would be humorous, and I personally prefer shock humour to puns. But on Sash Aye they’re mostly used by people who substitute offensiveness and rudeness for humour.
Newbie friendly: Bahahahahaha no. Good fucking luck trying to post there as a newbie. For a site supposedly known for its ‘anything goes’ policy, you have to learn the jargon and etiquette before even attempting to post anything. That’s just the practical side, you’ll also have to learn to mentally steel yourself for their attitude and derailing and shocking pictures and all that. If you are really that determined to join in the discussion, start by lurking the site for a while. All this newbie unfriendliness is intentional because the regulars don’t want the uninformed ruining their board.
Final words: The thing about Slash Aye is that many of the perceived problems are completely by design. Trying to take away the rudeness or thread derailing destroys the core of what makes the place unique. Well, actually I do think the place could do with a greater attempt at shutting down pathetic ‘nuh uh ur taste sux’ posts, which is ultimately why I can’t stand the place. There are ways to eloquently explain why your favourite anime is terrible while still keeping the lingo and abrasive tone.
Overview: The larger a gaming forum gets, the probability of there being an anime forum approaches 1. I just invented that theory, but I think it’s pretty accurate. I went through a couple of big gaming forums and they nearly always had some anime forum, sometimes even entire subforums to themselves. I picked Neogaf because of the others I visited, SomethingAwful was trapped behind a paywall, Giantbomb wasn’t big enough, and the people on Gamefaqs were so mind-numbingly stupid that I could feel my brain trying to escape.
Ease of Use: Low. The anime forums are just tossed in along with the ‘everything else’ category so it’s a bit of a trawl to find an anime-related forum. Plus it has no search bar. If I want to find what Neogaf is saying about Valvrave, I have to google “neogaf valvrave”. After that it’s just a regular old forum when it comes to reading the posts. Making a post yourself though, you need an account, and that’s next to impossible. First your e-mail needs to be from a paid e-mail account, so no luck to gmail and hotmail users. Even if you get that, they have to approve your account. The guy on twitter who told me about this said it took a year for his application to get through.
Discussion Intelligence Level: Medium-high. Gaming forums for the most part aren’t the best place to get good quality discussion on anime because the people there aren’t very knowledgeable, but Neogaf seemed to be the exception to that rule. Conversation was spirited and fairly in-depth, basically at the same level as Animesuki.
Humour: Low. One thing I’ve noticed about these gaming forums’ anime boards is the people there are way more laid back. I guess it’s because they found like minded folks on a forum not dedicated to that topic, so they’re just happy to have found each other. So that’s why there’s actually some humour next to something similar like animesuki, but for the most part it’s pretty dry stuff.
Newbie friendly: Low. Oh sure, the people there are grand. But considering what it takes to simply get an account? Nope, not happening.
Final words: What are you doing on a gaming forum discussing anime anyway? Oh sure, if you’re a regular of that forum through gaming then it makes perfect sense. A lot of anime fans do play games, so that’s why these boards often appear in gaming forums. But if you’re not already involved with a gaming forum, find somewhere better.
Overview: For the most part, discussion about ongoing anime happens in the episodic blogging format, where the author writes their thoughts about the latest epi-oh fuck it you know what an episodic blog is since you’re already on one. The format and appeal differs from site to site. Random Curiosity has a comment thread big enough to practically be a sub-forum in itself. Sites like Star Crossed are mostly built around cult of personality. But most episodic blogs are pretty similar in design and appeal.
Ease of Use: Medium-high. Navigating each individual site is generally very easy and any blogger worth their salt will make it easy to follow their writing and format. The most difficult part is, oddly, finding the blog you actually want to read. Anime Nano is generally the best option. Search for the anime in question and flick through the blogs until you find one you like. From there, reading the rest of their stuff is fairly easy, and you get the bonus of knowing that the quality level will stay the same because it’s always the same writer.
Discussion Intelligence Level: Medium-high: If I was just counting the blog posts themselves, it would be high. Not that bloggers are incredibly smart or anything. I’ve read plenty stupid blog posts in my time, but they’re still miles ahead of your random forum poster. Even the quality of a Random Curiosity post, generally considered to have the least critical episodic posts around, are still far ahead of the kind of crap you read on a forum. Blogs are probably the only place you’ll find discussion about things such as directing and themes and whatnot. What I’m deducting points for is the comments section, a big part of the discussion, being mind-numblingly stupid on the rare occasion a site gets popular enough for the comments to not be bloggers jerking each other off.
Humour: Medium. This one depends wildly on the blog in question. There are bloggers who are very dry, like Lost in America, and others who do try to inject humour like Metanorn. Where anime blogs tend to shine in this regard is when they get their hands on a truly terrible show and you delight in watching them break down as they tear apart the show in question.
Newbie friendly: High, with one caveat. If there ever was a place more delighted to see new people, it’s anime blogs. There is no form of foreplay more effective than saying to a blogger “first time commenter”. That’s only if all you’re interested in is reading other anime blogs. Starting your own blog means you get to spend at least a year, probably more, toiling away writing post after post of in-depth analysis with nobody reading or responding. You need to have innate narcissism to get any enjoyment out of blogging, because it sure as hell won’t be from the discussion.
Final words: Frankly, anime blogs are not for discussion. As in a back and forth between people about the merits or otherwise of the latest anime, there’s just not much of that at all, even in the more active comment threads like Random Curiosity. You are there to read that blogger’s voice. It’s a one way interaction for the most part, and any comments left are purely reactionary to the post. This is because the blogger adopts a higher position than that of the respondent, and is more like people fielding questions to a politician at a press event than a round-table discussion. That definitely has an appeal though, because it’s basically the only place to get long-form critique of anime.
Overview: Twitter and tumblr. Twitter is where I do most of my anime discussion, and tumblr is growing at a phenomenal rate with anime fans. Their format lends themselves to very short-form posts. Twitter by pure restrictions and tumblr because everyone there is too lazy to read anything that’s not expressed in gif fashion.
Ease of Use: Low: Getting it set up is the biggest hurdle, because finding the relevant people to follow is the hard part. There really isn’t an easy way to find a lot of people relevant to your interests. Finding anything about the anime you want to read about is pretty difficult too. The search function on twitter and tumblr are bloody rubbish and will give you the most bizarre mix of content that’s impossibly to parse. To use microblogging in any useful way, you have to get deep in there and become part of the system.
Discussion Intelligence Level: Medium-low. Sometimes it’s worth remembering that ‘intelligence’ can be done in short form as well as long-form. The benefits of microblogging is you can choose who you follow, so you can make sure you only follow smart people. That cuts out the worst parts of any forum in that you don’t get the stupidest people derailing the conversation. That all said, 140 characters and series of gifs really don’t allow for much room, and the ease of posting means even smart people get lazy and moments of cleverness are more fluke than careful craft.
Humour: High, although again it depends on who you follow. If your tumblr feed is full of people posting pictures of gifs of the latest moeblob girl going moe moe kyun, or even worse, you follow a bunch of social justice warriors, then yes your feed won’t have much humour. But most people I see post clever images and comics. What’s great about both tumblr and twitter is the retweet/reblog function means the funniest posts by people you don’t follow still get into your feed. Twitter in particular has a natural tendency to promote the best content from every other anime discussion/creative forum, so you get the best of both worlds.
Newbie friendly: Low. The sites themselves really try to ease the signing up process and promoting the people you can follow, so kudos to them for that. However you’re there for anime, and that’s pretty difficult. The best starting point is to find a starting person to follow and follow the people they follow and retweet/reblog. It does take time to build up a worthwhile following count, and it’s pretty easy for a newbie to be totally at a loss what the hell they’re supposed to post themselves now that they have this big public forum to rant on.
Last words: Social media is where discussion worldwide is going, and forums have been on a steady decline for years, so you should probably get yourself on twitter anyway. But it’s pretty baffling to a newcomer why this kind of stuff is so popular. It takes a long time of cultivating a list of interesting people to follow to make it worthwhile. It’s fantastic and dead easy once you get into it though, and it’s where I personally do most of my anime discussion, apart from this blog obviously.