On the topic of myanimelist (MAL)’s anime database

Hi everyone. It’s been a long while since my last post here. Today, instead of doing an usual review, I would be sharing some things about the nature of MAL (myanimelist.net)’s anime database.

I think most deeply-invested fans of anime medium would at least heard of MAL, which is basically an online site where you can update what you’ve watched on your account. While there are similar types of sites, like hummingbird and anilist, myanimelist remains as the the site with the biggest user number. To give but an example, the most popular anime on MAL, Death Note, have as many as 460,000 members! With such a big sample of users scores, we can do some basic calculations to know more about the parameters of the population of MAL scores.

I have extracted all MAL data from this site http://test.animeadvice.me/, which is a program that someone else built.


Distribution of All Anime on MAL database

By all anime, I meant anime that is on MAL’s database and with more than 50 user scores. There are 6922 anime in total at my time of data extraction.

Having copy and pasted all those data entries into excel, I can easily calculate the average and standard error of *MAL score of the entire anime database.

Average = 6.87

Median = 6.87

Standard Error = 0.76


mal score frequency
Frequency Graph Divided in range of the standard error

So basically, the distribution of MAL’s anime database scores is a normal distribution, with a slight negative skew.


*MAL score is calculated in Bayesian average.
Weighted Rank (WR) = (v / (v + m)) * S + (m / (v + m)) * C
where S = average score of anime; C = average score of entire anime database; v = number of votes for the anime; m = minimum votes (50 votes)


Average Year Aired of the Most Popular Anime

Are people only into new anime, or are people still immersed in the nostalgia of past glories? I also find it worthwhile to investigate into the average year aired for some of the most popular anime (on MAL).

I have computed the average year and standard deviation of the top50, top100, top250, and top500 most popular anime on MAL.

Year Table

The current time would be formatted as 2014.5 (2014 June). This means that the average airing time of top50 – top 500 are 7 to 8 years in the past. Whether this means that MAL users are obsessed with new anime, or are they overly fond of the old anime, it is entirely up to your discretion.


9 thoughts on “On the topic of myanimelist (MAL)’s anime database”

  1. Thanks for an informative article. I’ve just recently started up a MAL account and was wondering what aspects of it you think are good (I’ve only really added a few titles to my list and not much else).

    1. I would say above all the best thing about MAL is its episode discussion forum threads. This means that you can actually discuss the episode of whatever anime you just watched in its specific thread. Usually, there are enough users on MAL to build a meaningful discussion about that episode.

      There are other aspects of MAL that are good, but these merits are also found in other sites/methods.
      1. record your anime – to be fair though, for the purpose of recording, you could just as easily write them down on your computer…
      2. top anime rank page – this is the page that result from all of the user scores of anime. Even though MAL have the most number of user scores on any site, there are also other sites with reasonably good top anime rank page (user voted) that are very, very similar to MAL’s, with significantly less user votes (hummingbird, animenewsnetwork, even bangumi.tv (chinese))
      3. reviews and recommendations – this is another of MAL’s forte. Because of MAL’s huge user base, there are many good reviews written for each anime (almost). Recommendation is also a very helpful feature. Though, many other anime sites have good reviews too

      1. Thanks again for your helpful reply. I think the new episode discussion and anime/manga reviews and recommendations are the aspects that interest me most, I’ll be exploring those further. Cheers!

  2. Now that MAL has pissed off the majority of it’s users base, and is practically killing itself… what do you have to say about it now? Personally, I’m starting to drift more over to Anime-Planet, AniDB, Hummingbird and Anilist. AP, despite their dead weighted/biased review/custom list/and recs actually have admins willing to listen to complaints, suggestions, and actually work with their community. AniDB and Hummingbird have a fair review system. Though Hummingbird is much more similar to use than AniDB. Anilist I have only glimpsed at but it seems fair in their reviews, and navigation. They even allow custom CSS for the list which neither AP, AniDB or Hummingbird do.

    Still, MAL has seriously fallen in the past years to the point where people are missing the days of Crave.

    1. Your comment wasn’t deleted… apparently I have to manually approve each comment on this blog for it to appear on public and I rarely go on this blog nowadays…

      Well I guess some (most) of the changes MAL are making are pretty nice, but a few of them are pretty bad. The ones that I can think on top of my head are
      1. Removal of unhelpful for reviews
      -Pretty bad; it’s like you are only allowed to vote 10/10 for anime..
      2. Making top page for review adjusted by time
      -sometimes reviews with less than 5 votes can actually sit on top page

      I am neutral about the change in profile layout. After using it for a few months, I think it’s okay.

      The article feature is nice, though most of the articles aren’t that “deep” per say. The new way of listing anime for category search is nice, I suppose, but I don’t really use it that much. The anime/manga entry page has become more detailed with more pieces of information. Especially the recent addition of PV. It’s a pretty nice touch.

      Everything else just stayed more or less the same.

      Actually, personally, the biggest decline in quality for MAL occurred in the forum section, especially anime discussion forum. I remember that a few years ago some of the threads actually generate discussion. Now it’s just a bunch of naive, repetitive threads that are created on a monthly basis. I remember that a few years ago if there is a duplicate thread, an user would immediately point it out -> thread locked. Now, the duplicate thread would go on for 100 posts and still be on the top. I suppose this change should be attributed to the recent influx of younger and newer anime fans into MAL. Well, we all got to start somewhere.

      In the end, the most valuable asset that MAL has isn’t its layout nor its features, but its user base. For me, I don’t just record things I watched/read. I also want to find out in a convenient way what other people thought about the work. MAL ranks at something like the 2000th world most visited site, while the other two are at least one magnitude smaller. Unless MAL screws up its key features in the future, I wouldn’t easily switch to another site.

  3. I don’t suppose you are able share a copy of that program you used to extract MAL’s database data, are you? Or maybe a copy of the excel Document itself? I am looking to create an offline Microsoft Access database of anime to use as reference for personal project. I wish that MAL would create an XML Database dump that users like me could download for this… 😦

    1. Sorry I am not the best person to ask for these sort of things. Maybe ask around in MAL’s forum since there are definitely people extracting data from MAL. I recall that you need access to the database or something..

      This club will probably offer you some insights, they run an alternate website that store MAL’s data http://myanimelist.net/clubs.php?cid=67199

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