I’m not one to use the phrase “defies categorisation”. The rule I live by is quite simple: if something can’t be pigeonholed, build a new pigeonhole for it.
With that, I’m pleased to announce the conferment of a six-star rating on Sketchbook ~full color’S~ – the very first series to achieve that distinction on this blog, and quite possibly the last for some time to come.
“So what’s this business about ratings?” one might ask. If you’ve ever visited the “Catalogue” page of this blog, you might have noticed the asterisks placed right next to each item in the “Completed/Substantially Completed” category. These are the star ratings: simple visual markers representing my purely subjective assessment of how much I enjoyed each series on the list. The scale starts from one star (*) – although I’ve never had to use this rating, thankfully enough – and rises all the way to five stars (*****). There’s no formula involved, no set criteria; I don’t give 20% to animation quality and 30% to voice acting and 50% to whatever else. Assigning stars involves little more than me pacing around the library after watching the last episode (or reading the last chapter) of a series, thinking about how much fun I had while watching (or reading) the whole thing, then tapping out as many asterisks as I feel the series deserves. Character design, animation quality, voice acting and so forth are considered, but only indirectly as contributing factors to my enjoyment of a series.
In short, my star ratings are determined not by technical aspects but by overall impressions. Did I like it? Four stars. Did I really like it? Five stars. Did I find myself wishing death and destruction upon the people who dumped this pile of s**t on my head? One or two stars.
Now it should come as no surprise that most of the series on the list have four or five stars. After all, star ratings are only assigned to series that I’ve finished (or nearly finished) watching/reading, and the chances of me sticking with a one- or two-star series all the way to the end and giving it a rating are as slim as a carta de musica.
So let’s get back to today’s announcement: a brand new six-star (******) rating. Why bother? And why give it to this particular series?
The easiest thing to do would have been to type five asterisks next to the title and leave it at that. I loved the series, that much is obvious; stuffing it into the highest existing tier would have been a perfectly logical choice. But five stars didn’t seem like an adequate expression of how I felt about Sketchbook ~full color’S. I’m not in any way suggesting that it was inherently better than any of the five-star series on my list: Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu, my all-time favourite, is a five-starrer, as are the comedic gem that is Ouran High School Host Club and the hauntingly beautiful Haibane Renmei. If someone were to ask me if I thought Sketchbook was superior to these other series, I don’t think I’d find it difficult to blurt out a simple “no, not really”.
Why six stars?
Because this series made me feel happy in a way that no other series has managed to do so far.
I’ll have more to say about this in a separate post, where I plan to set down my thoughts about this uniquely wonderful anime. But there it is: Sketchbook ~full color’S isn’t necessarily the best show I’ve ever seen, but it had just the right elements and came at precisely the right time to make me feel really good about the world.
And that is what makes this series a perfect exemplar of the six-star tier. Just because a series has six asterisks next to it doesn’t mean that it’s better in all respects than any of those that got “only” five – it simply means that I found it enjoyable beyond mere entertainment. So don’t expect to see any other series getting the six-star badge anytime soon. This distinction will be used very sparingly to preserve its uniqueness, and will only appear in those cases when, after the final notes of the last episode’s ending sequence fade away and I’m left with a blank screen, I feel as if I haven’t lost anything.
A quick note about my extended absence: work has started to cut into my weekends, eating away what little time I have left for personal activities (blogging included). This situation should persist for a few more months, so don’t be surprised if I drop out of sight for a few weeks now and again; it simply means that the slave-drivers at my company are keeping me chained to my oar.
Okay, I need to snap myself out of work-induced depression. Time for a cute picture (courtesy of Hayate no Gotoku).
Ahh, I’m feeling better already.