Spy x Family is an animated adaptation of a pretty beloved manga airing this season. It’s really well animated. It’s super cute. It’s also really funny. It’s doing everything right and has been from the beginning. It has a cool, suave main guy, a badass attractive female lead, and an adorable kid that makes you laugh every few minutes. It’s the perfect anime, right? No wonder it’s rated so highly. Maybe it is the best anime ever!
Or so I would say if more than only two episodes have aired. Despite only having two of the episodes out, Spy x Family has an incredible 9.09 rating on My Anime List (as of writing this) tying it with Gintama for the second-highest-rated anime on the site. You know, the website that is one of the biggest and most popular databases of anime for us westerners.
Spy x Family is certainly really good, but when you sit down and really think about it, does it deserve to be so highly rated just two episodes in? I don’t take much stock in rating systems. I never have, but saying it’s 2nd out of every anime ever, is literally suggesting that these two episodes that have aired are factually better than the thousands of other anime in the world that it beat to get there. It’s saying it’s better than every anime ever, except for Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood. That’s a bold claim, to say the least.
What’s interesting is that this isn’t the only time something like this has happened. As soon as when the Fruits Basket Remake was airing, it briefly took 1st on MAL while still airing until a bunch of FMA fans mass downvoted it to keep their series up top. The exact same thing that will happen to Spy x Family if they dare cross that fanbase, which isn’t far off. For reference, FMA is only .05 ahead currently. Also, FuRuBa fell to 9th, so yeah, we know who won that.
This trend, I guess we can call it, isn’t really a good one on any front, but it’s not really on purpose. It’s just that both Spy x Family climbing to the top as well as the aftermath are bad for completely different but almost equal reasons. Both sides play a part in this weird war of wholesome spy shows. You have to first ask yourself what you believe the purpose of rating systems is and how you personally rate things.
I usually rate things a little higher than you’ll see on MAL, which makes sense since the actual rating is a combination of everyone. Spy x Family’s 9.09 is a result of the 92,000 people that rated it. When you compare that to the almost 2,000,000 that gave FMA its score, you can probably see one of the big issues. It takes the average of all the viewers, not really the number of viewers. AOT, which is only .01 behind? Over 1,000,000 ratings. Those 92,000 took it down.
Now, in all honesty, this isn’t really anyone’s fault. People can watch a series and rate it highly if they enjoy it and the MAL ranking exists because fans of the series make it happen. Still, I don’t think anyone would agree that it’s fair the opinions of 90,000 can completely overpower that of millions. It feels like election fraud or something.
So when FMA gets overtaken by Spy x Family over the next weeks, I feel like the FMA fans are entitled to be a little upset. Of course, they shouldn’t take it seriously in the first place, but this is under the pretense that they do, and you know they do. But another problem arises from this. Their way of retaliation is to go give whatever series opposes them 1 out of 10s just to keep the top spot—actually picking a fight with people who only rated their series high because they enjoyed it, not to take the top spot. Of course, some of the later high ratings might be for that purpose, but not the early ones. You just can’t coordinate something that big.
So, essentially, you have a war started by a bunch of innocent people who just really enjoyed their series. That enjoyment is taken as a threat, which the other side then retaliates by basically dropping a nuke on them, rightfully pissing off the once peaceful people. It’s literally a war that goes on in MAL started by a side that wanted nothing to do with it.
If someone has to take the blame, it would mostly be the FMA fans that rush to crap on a series trying to overtake theirs, but ultimately, it isn’t really fair that a series with only two episodes even has the ability to threaten them in the first place. The whole game is rigged, really, and again, it shows why I don’t like rating systems. The fact that any of this can happen is pretty stupid.
But there’s not really any way fans can solve this. This is more a problem MAL has. If you look at the AniList top anime, you’ll notice it’s much more reasonable. Besides a few movies, most of the top 20 are made up of series that have been out for at least a few years and are at least finished. For comparison, Spy x Family is 20th on their list. This can be for a few reasons, like fewer people using AniList than MAL, but I would say the biggest problem is their rating system itself.
MAL uses just a 1-10 scoring system. Honestly not in-depth enough once you have enough series under your belt. It’s more straightforward, yes, but a simple system will give you simple results, correct? AniList, on the other hand, gives you give different scoring systems, the 1-10 only being one of them. You can also do 1-100, decimals…smile faces. All of these options are calculated in different ways to give a series its final rating.
So while you could say that this all complicates things more, it’s probably a more accurate view of the public opinion at large because nobody is forced to rate things in a specific way. They get to choose how they want to rate something, giving a more accurate result. I know that I sometimes have to round a score up or down. And let’s be honest, a seasonal reaching second of all-time is ridiculous, even with the popularity it will have for people watching each week it airs. Being in the top 20 is far more reasonable. Almost expected.
And if you’re wondering if AniList just has fewer users, there are currently 80,000 people with Spy x Family set to watching on AniList. 10,000 fewer people won’t change the vote that much. Anyway, is it right that Spy x Family is so highly rated? Not really, at least not until it gets more than two episodes out. But the problem really lies with how simple MAL’s rating system is. People are expecting too much out of it really.
Another potential solution is to take the number of viewers into account, which would probably be the best way to do it, but that would shake up literally the entire thing, and I don’t know if they really want to do that or if anyone really cares enough. Nobody should really care about any of this. I just thought it would be interesting to discuss. Tell me what you think about it all too.
Thank you very much for reading
It’s just numbers at the end of the day.