Finding a Way To Make the Wonky MAL Scores Useful

[Anime-Koi] Sabagebu! - 04 [h264-720p][A829CB07].mkv_snapshot_12.01_[2014.08.09_02.25.53]

I’m hardly the first person to realize the scores found on My Anime List (MAL) are not nearly as helpful as they should be. I could disparage the many users that seem allergic to using the bottom half of the grading scale or the owners of MAL for the current system and its lack of features; but, I’d rather be constructive which is why I was thrilled to discover the MAL Score Progressions club.

The MAL Score Progressions club attempts to extract actual useful data from the scores of currently airing anime.

This is how they do it. People begin scoring an anime as soon as the first episode airs and then alter their score as the season progresses. The members behind the MAL Score Progressions (MSP) club record the series score of a currently airing anime on a weekly basis. If, after the first week, the score goes up the anime earns a +1 for the week and if it goes down it earns a -1. Sum the numbers up over the season and the series that best satisfied the viewer should have the highest numbers and the series that disappointed the most should have the smallest number.

I stumbled upon this club last season and discovered this simple system did a near perfect job of replicating the list of series I’d most recommend to others and which series to avoid at all costs. Now that we’re several weeks into the summer season there’s enough data to start to be useful.

Let’s first look at those with a MSP score of -4 and below:

Bakumatsu Rock
Free!: Eternal Summer
Akame ga Kill!!
DRAMAtical Murder
Glasslip
Himegoto
Majimoji Rurumo
Momo Kyun Sword
Rail Wars!
Re: Hamatora
Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen
Shounen Hollywood: Holly Stage for 49
Tokyo
Ghoul

I haven’t seen all of these titles because many of them were ones that frightened me away even before the season started but I have to agree with the ones I have seen. Tokyo Ghoul has the stuff to be a good anime but the execution has been clunky so far. I still hope that it can pull itself together. Majimoji Rurumo is a rather forgettable light fan-service series. Glasslip feels like it should be good but actually being good has been elusive so far for it.

This system does hide the difference in scores these anime have earned and how much they’ve lost. Free!: Eternal Summer, for example, started at an average of 8.32 and is currently at 8.22. Which means even though it has a MSP of -5, it’s still relatively well liked and hasn’t seen a huge drop in score. Contrast that with Himegoto. Even with a MSP score of -4, that doesn’t quite do justice to it starting at an underwhelming 6.8 and freefalling to a 6.3 in only 4 weeks. So, the MSP system is not perfect but nothing is; visiting their page on MAL allows one to see the weekly scores which certainly helps reduce the shortcomings of this scoring system.

Moving on, if that was list of new summer anime with bad MSP scores then what does the list of anime with good MSP scores, minimum of +3, look like.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
Sabagebu!
Aldnoah:Zero
Ao Haru Ride
Zankyou no Terror
Barakamon

Hey, look at that. Three of the four series that I picked up as being surprising good made the list – Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, Sabagebu!, and Ao Haru Ride – and the other three series are the ones I feel are among the best of the season. So, it looks like once again the MSP system of scoring is doing a good job separating the anime one should definitely try and the ones to avoid. We’ll have to check back at the end of the season to see if these trends continue and if there were any late surprises.

I should also mention that this club also is currently tracking the spring anime series that are carrying over into summer. The series at the top and bottom of this list is an interesting mix of series.

Captain Earth (-17)
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders (-13)

Baby Steps (+12)
Haikyuu!! (+17)

A -17 and +17 means both series have had to decrease or increase their score every week starting with their second episodes. An impressive streak in both instances. I do not watch either Baby Steps or Haikyuu!! but I’m tempted to do so with scores like that. I am watching both Captain Earth and JoJo and have to agree with both scores. Captain Earth has been disappointing from the start and JoJo just is not as good as the first series.

MAL should have a way to track and quantify series scores over time for each anime – just like they should have better statistical package for the user – but, until they do, I’m really glad there’s people willing to run groups like the MAL Score Progression club and MALgraph club. Thank you.

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3 thoughts on “Finding a Way To Make the Wonky MAL Scores Useful”

  1. Oh wow, this is a really interesting idea. Consider the fact that Stardust Crusaders still has an incredibly bloated score in spite of how much of a disappointment it is. Compare that with Sabagebu, which is still criminally underrated, and this MSP score makes a whole lot more sense. Not to mention I agree with every one that’s attached to a show I’m actually watching.

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