1. It’s been about a month and a half since the start of the Aniblog Tourney, which has introduced me to a lot of blogs I’d have never found otherwise and given me a more complete picture of the anime blogosphere as a whole. My Google Reader is now bursting with new content thanks to the likes of chaostangent, Grand Punk Railroad, GAR GAR Stegosaurus and Anime Yume, which have given me more thought-provoking and fun entries to pick over in my spare time than, well… pretty much all of the other blogs that I looked at combined. But that isn’t as much of a slam against the rest of the anime blogosphere as it may sound. What I mean to say is, at least as much as 75% of the rest of the blogs I looked at were heavily episode-focused, and with an emphasis on series currently airing on television in Japan. Keeping that up to date with anime requires a certain degree of tenacity and discipline and that I really don’t possess, nor do I feel prepared to set aside the time necessary to seek out, download, and watch the fansubs that allow these kind of fans to enjoy and comment on these new series within days (hours?) of their original broadcast. My personal viewing habits couldn’t be any further removed from this approach, so it goes without saying that the great majority of these blogs aren’t exactly for me. Maybe someday I’ll watch Durarara!!, K-ON!!, Angel Beats!, or Working!! (and you thought indie rock was overrun with superfluous punctuation), but odds remain that it won’t be for quite some time.
2. I don’t think I’d bother with blogging in the first place if I didn’t believe that my thoughts and opinions wouldn’t be interesting to at least someone out there. I’d be lying to myself if I said that I was doing this chiefly for my own amusement. If I were the last man on Earth — due to a global catastrophe that somehow also left both the electrical grid and the Internet functioning flawlessly and indefinitely — would I still be blogging? I doubt it. That said, wanting to attract readers, but avoiding one of the most successful approaches of doing so (see #1), seems like a counterintuitive strategy that would lend itself to assured and permanent Internet obscurity. However, the more blogs I read, the more comfortable I feel with leaving that kind of heavy lifting to others and just doing my own thing for my own satisfaction. I do want this blog to be relevant, but it likely never will be in the same way as the most popular episodic blogs are and that’s just a fact I’ll have to accept.
3. I’ve already said that I’m not drawn towards anime blogs that exclusively cover the new, but that’s precisely what I look for in most of the music blogs I regularly peruse and in most of the music-focused forums I participate in. Am I holding each to a double standard, or is it natural for people to use the Internet in such inconsistent ways? I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not anime and music are apples and oranges, or not so different after all.
On one hand, while being an intimidating landscape for any entry-level American otaku to navigate, the current lineup of new anime series airing in any given season is still small enough to illustrate in a simple chart. Trying to do the same with music and the thousands upon thousands of albums, singles, and mixes being put out at any given season would be impossible. In our digital age, sorting through this eternal tsunami of releases without the help of blogs and other Internet resources would be an immensely difficult and possibly joyless task. So could it be said that music blogs serve a greater purpose and are simply more necessary than anime blogs, which by comparison, take a magnifying glass to what’s already a much more manageable sample size of creative works?
Or perhaps that kind of logic could be easily reversed: maybe the comparatively limited offerings of anime make it ripe for any upstart fan to take a crack at covering a few series and stand a good chance at coming away with a pretty film grasp on where the medium is today. And I’m sure that finding plenty of other fans out there doing just the same thing — with the same series — is half the fun.
4. And that’s really what it all comes down to, right? I used to assume that these episodic blogs were penned by fans who had either already seen every anime series worth watching, or who simply didn’t care about anything made before, say, 1998. I never considered a third and more likely reason, that being the social opportunities that new series provide. The shared experience on a mass scale that television provides us is nothing new. But the individual’s access to the Internet (and its free tools of mass communication) to reach other fans is, and it’s opened up a new space for socialization that’s changed the way that fans interact with both their favorite shows and each other. Which feeling is more rewarding? The one that comes with completing a satisfying blog entry, or the one found in connecting with another person over said blog entry? If it’s ever the latter, then is it any wonder that blogs inevitably become, over time, less about the subject matters that they were created to cover, and more about themselves and the communities that form around them?
5. There’s always the time and the place to discuss older series. Both longtime fans and newcomers will likely be debating the merits and meaning of Evangelion for as long as anime and the Internet are around. But could the consensus or baggage that older series carry actually stand in the way of the kind of discussion that bloggers crave? When it comes to new series, bloggers find themselves in the unique place of responding to, and in effect, helping to define what they’re watching in almost real time. The possibility of breaking fresh ground and discovering and discussing a series’s unique qualities before they become well-worn tropes has to be exciting. Maybe just seeing and talking about a show before it’s licensed in America is its own reward.
6. From the looks of it, the average anime blogger, at least out of those that I’ve read in the Aniblog Tourney and elsewhere, is in their early to mid 20s. Few dare to hold themselves up as authorities on the hobby, but most will speak of or allude to their lengthy experience in it. I don’t remember any who’ve admitted to watching anime for less than five years, which means that pretty much everyone who’s blogging about it now was regularly watching it before there was Youtube, Hulu, or Crunchyroll. Of course, there was always Bittorrent, but from what I’ve heard of fansubs throughout the 00’s is that they mostly sucked until recent years.
So where were these young turks (who were in high school and middle school during the Bush years) getting their anime from? Were they really buying 4-episode Inuyasha DVDs for $20 each? 2-episode FLCL discs for $30 each? Where were they getting this money? Or were they always downloading anime and finding ways around paying for it?
7. I’m not the least bit deluded as to think that anything I’ve spewed out here is a wholly original observation or not subject to a hundred exceptions. I’m just dumping my thoughts in this manner to try to sort them out, and in hopes that they won’t later come out in the form of rambling tangents when I don’t necessarily mean for them to.