What makes a good anime? The answer to this question has remained elusive to me, and has persistently become more difficult for me to define. Though some things are clear, and I know when I've found something good.
Allow me to elaborate.
Over the years since I acquired a taste for the anime genre I've watched shows that have been absolutely fantastic, and some that have left me wanting my wasted time back. Finding good shows isn't easy, and I've usually left the discovery of quality productions to chance. Doing this has obviously resulted in some amazing finds, but it I more than often leads to disappointment. By doing so however I've come to realize how shows composed of great art and animation can royally suck, and shows substantially lacking art direction and complete animation can be fantastic.
It's puzzling, and a bit confusing, at least at first. Of course it makes more sense when you take into account the quality of the story. While I'm not arguing that visuals don't' count for any form of televised entertainment, I am saying that ultimately the story makes or breaks the deal most often. American shows like CSI or House MD don't succeed on their visuals and effects alone, it's the story that carries the program. A good example of a show being lost without story would be HEROES which was a originally big success, but was cancelled when the show lost it's direction after the first season.
I digress, this post is about Anime not American TV. A few examples of shows with quality visuals but end up feeling somehow empty would be Bakuretsu Tenshi, and Canaan. While these two shows looked great they were terribly difficult to watch, and finish. Why? Because they simply lacked compelling story. They had their pros like good actions sequences, and quality character design, but when something lacks proper execution things rarely work out.
The contrast is shown in a show called Birdy Decode. This show while lacking quality visuals, and using VERY raw cell animation at it's end, was successful. It even received a sequel, but why? Because for some reason the story, it's direction, and the way it played off the characters WORKED. Nothing more can really be said other than that. There was a compelling connection between the characters and their struggle. In the end that proper execution helped to draw myself, and other viewers in, resulting high enough ratings to warrant a sequel. Meanwhile Bakuretsu Tenshi and Canaan, while looking great, receive no succeeding seasons, and only one or two easily OVAs.
Proof, in my opinion, of how story matters far more than visuals ever will; Because in successful productions visuals service the story, not the other way around.
I've ranted long enough,