MyAnimeList.net uses a system of reviewing that says, in addition to evaluating a series overall, there are five distinct categories that a critique needs to cover. Each category is rather relevant, but how relevant are they individual? Moreover, how complete of a picture to they form together.
tl;dr? It’s far from the worst.
Word choice is key here. An anime is a story. The visuals, the audio, the characters; it’s all a part of the story, from one perspective. I assume MAL’s perspective is that story means plot.
The quality of a show’s plot can vary from the main attraction to a side note, depending on the show and the viewer. Making it appear as one of multiple aspects of a show is a good way to balance those changes and perspectives out. Sadly, the story category does little for me. It’s vague enough to be too close to “Overall”, and in practice answers more the question of “what” than the question of “how good?”. But considering plot’s overall importance and the fact that it can be a part of a show’s strengths, I’d say this is a good category.
MAL calls this category different things. I think “Animation” by itself as a category is not as good as overall “Visuals” would be. Plenty of shows have brilliant art styles and visual choices, while not having Nakamura-quality animation. But I won’t dock points because it’s basically what they meant.
Not every show has notable sound. Chuunibyou, Gargantia, and Wolf Children are some examples of anime that I loved, but remember nothing of the sound quality. I just wouldn’t have a number of I were to rate them on their sound. Maybe it was bad because it’s forgettable. Maybe because I didn’t notice it, it did its job. It’s a subtle category!
That’s why I didn’t give “Art/Animation” a 10. Not because of my naming issues with it, but because I think the best way to recognize sound in a review is to lump it in with visuals. A category of overall aesthetics means that whatever about a show stands out can be the topic of discussion.
Should the same be done with writing? Putting “Characters”, “Story”, and any other category into one “writing” section so anything that stands out can be the main topic? It would make every show be able to be reviewed according to its strengths. I think there’s more diversity in enjoyment of writing elements than production elements, even if the actual sources of those production elements are so diverse.
Characters are key to nearly any show. It’s also the only category that I use too.
Enjoyment should be the main experience of a show, not just one subset of the experience. What about shows that are grueling to watch like Texhnolyze? They shouldn’t be docked a whole category just because it functions outside of their goals. What you enjoy about a show is important, but this category doesn’t go far enough.
Where I will give it credit for is its ability to capture all the things that don’t make it into the other categories. A miscellaneous category is great, to say “When I write it all down, it’s not so impressive. But this show has something others don’t!” or “I don’t really get why this isn’t my new favorite show”. I think the spirit it promotes makes it worth having.
The overall score is a must. Plain and simple. It’s not revolutionary, it’s not essential. Sometimes it’s better just to talk about some aspects of a show. The average of the categories isn’t everything, but it is worth considering.
As for my overall rating of this system? 1/2 right now. Because I only really know two systems, and mine is the other one.