Good Anime vs. Bad Direction?

A thought popped into my head one day: Can I tell if a good anime adaptation was marred by bad direction without knowing actual details about the production? It’s one thing to point at spectacular failures, but what about something that was decent but could have been transcendent? What about if the source material was so strong on its own that not even a mediocre director could remove its shine? Or is it impossible for something to be good, yet suffer from poor direction? 

While I love anime and possess some formal education in related areas, I’m not refined to the point that I can easily make judgment calls about direction quality. Moreover, with anime, there are a lot of people involved—e.g. the actual animators—in a collaborative effort, so it can be difficult to tell where one person’s contributions end and another’s negative impact begins. I’m also generally someone who prefers to point out a work’s strengths over its weaknesses, and this may have left me unable to nitpick to such an exacting degree.

I’m not sure how strongly I desire the ability to be so discerning in the end, but maybe I could develop it. While I’d rather not be an anime snob (feel free to call me out if you think I already am), I’m somewhat wary of giving more credit than is properly due. There have been past cases of me praising something that I thought was a legitimately good work (and still do), only to learn that the person at the helm hindered more than helped. I don’t know if I’m asking too much of myself, but I feel like I have to be aware of my limitations.

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