Last week, I reviewed the past year in terms of anime releases, manga release, and the best and worst companies in the industry. However, there was still one more thing that gained a lot of traction and notice in 2008 -
The Anime Almanac and its ever lovable blogger! (^_^)
I started this blog a few years ago while in college, but the stress and time I needed to devote to school work left the site on a constant hiatus. I’d pop up during a school break to make a post, but for the most part, this site failed to get anywhere do to my lack of consistency.
When I attended the New York Anime Festival a year ago, several different events occurred that I felt needed to be told to the world. I had four posts already in mind, but I didn’t just want to pop in to post those few things and then disappear again. If I was going to be returning to blogging, this time I was going to commit myself to something big.
So I bought the animealmanac.com domain name, I redesigned the site to have a more contemporary feel (which I later redesigned to have a more moé feel), and I set a goal for myself – I would post at least one article every week.
These changes paid off quickly and tremendously. I started off the year as just another opinionated jerk with a blog, but I ended it as an opinionated jerk with a press badge, access to exclusive interviews and information, a professional reputation, and a growing readership who look forward to seeing what I’ll write next.
This week, I’d like to go over my top ten posts over that past year and why they made the Anime Almanac the site it is today.
This was a retelling of a post I made years ago, but I added a new found disgust over the website 4chan this time around. I ended with the optimistic hope that anime fans should all really stop putting each other down, and a lot of people did take to this message.
But as was also expected, a 4chan raid was shortly initiated on me because of this post. However, because I do not allow comments on the site, the raid was cut short because they were all too cowardly to troll me over email. The only ones that did email me were nice enough to explain a few things to me, which I quickly appended to the end of the post. See? Take away the anonymous facade and people can actually act nice over the internet.
This was a post I wanted to make the year before when the show was airing in Japan, but I decided to unleash it just before it saw its US release.
The series Lucky Star had become so freaking popular among the fan community, and for the most part, I felt that everyone was just drinking the Kool Aid and worshiping a golden calf. I realized that the only reason why I got into the series was because all the magazines I was reading at the time paired it up with The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, as if Lucky Star was some kind of Haruhi sequel.
So taking the religious metaphor to the limit, I denounced this false idol and told my readers to not let the hype machine control what makes a show good or not. This was the first time I actually pissed off some people inside of the blogging community, and the first time someone wrote a nasty response since I relaunched the website.
When I was working on this post as a cross-blog experiment with my good friends at the Reverse Thieves, I saw a potential for a hit by including a lot of shock humor with my review of an explicit yaoi series. After getting the Thieves’ permission to go NSFW with it, I wrote some the funniest bits ever on the site by interlacing some explicit images in the middle of an otherwise straight-faced (and conservative) review.
It worked a little too well, as it did draw the attention of many people to both of our blogs. Some people overreacted to some of the things I said about homosexuality and rape as an erotic plot device. But a lot of other people read through the negativity and sent me emails of admiration for giving the genre a try.
“Maybe this one was a just too much for you,” they’d say, and then suggest a series that was a little less hardcore than that. But I’m pretty sure that being the moé loving heterosexual fanboy that I am, I’m probably never going to get that into this genre.
Although this one didn’t get a lot of attention, I just freaking loved this post. I spent an entire day with the Bang Zoom dubbing studio as they taught fans and amateur actors how to do anime voice acting.
This was the first time I had ever arranged a private story with a major anime company before, and I was surprised that they thought I was credible enough to let me observe the $300 class. But the most amazing part of the experience was just being able to witness my fellow anime fans just magically become anime characters right in front of my eyes.
As I mentioned earlier, there were several stories that came out of my visit to the NYAF, and this tirade over some idiotic remarks from Bandai’s Ken Iyadomi was the first post to show up exclusively on the new website.
It was also the first one to get some attention from blogs and forums, calling for mass protest and boycotting of Bandai Entertainment for their mistreatment of Lucky Star. I had to quickly add a message to the end saying that the Lucky Star release would probably be fine (which it was), and that the post was just about Iyadomi’s backwards take on the US anime market.
I have always written about anime and the Internet, and how if the Japanese ever wanted to fight the problem that illegal fansubbing was creating, then they would have to adapt to the new form of distribution. Well, after years of saying they need to do it, Gonzo finally stepped up to the plate. And with a free-streaming or DRM-free download option for the new show, they did everything perfectly.
Tokyopop was the reason why I got into manga, so I have been keeping a very close eye on them for the past seven years. That’s why it pained me to see them fall to pieces in the past year for reasons I saw coming a mile away.
The big thing about this post was how it was the first to reach beyond the normal anime blogging community and introduced my blog to professional bloggers and freelance writers. My knowledge and insight into this company really impressed a lot of people out there, and they have continued to return to my site specifically to read my take on the industry.
Do a Google search “Anime News Network” and what’s the second result after the site itself? Well, for a couple of weeks back in April of this year, it was this article. That meant that I got many visitors to who were fans of the website, and I think that I got the attention of ANN itself.
The first big shock was how much the anime blogging community hated ANN. Right after I posted this essay, I had received several very long emails detailing people’s gripes with the news site. The response was so overwhelming that I ended up posting up a follow up that only consisted of these emails.
The second big shock came months later when I sat down to do an interview with Anime News Nina artist Robin Sevakis. During the interview, Robin had brought up the article completely unaware that I was the one who wrote it. I have a feeling that if she had read the article, then probably the other staff had gotten wind of it themselves.
But ANN did it again for the fall season, and whenever I try talking to anyone on that team about this issue, they always jump around it. So that is why I placed ANN on my “Worst Companies of 2008″ list last week.
I was inspired to write this after reading an Anime News Nina comic and recalling a post I saw on Boing Boing a long time ago. Within hours of posting this humorous look at common annoyance in America, it landed on several social bookmarking sites and quickly went viral. Several thousand page views flooded in other the course of the following few days. But even when the flood was over, the post still brought in hundreds of page views every day, and it still shows no sign of slowing down in the near future.
Because of this steady flow of traffic, I’d say 75% of my total page views this year was just on this article alone. It’s a silly article and I haven’t really made much references to it since the post, but that kind of viral star power just cannot be ignore.
Controversy, controversy, controversy.
After saying for years that the death of anime DVD market was going to come at the hands of fansubbing, I was finally able to tell the story through the voice of a well known figure in the anime scene. When I found out that Greg Ayres and I shared the same views and opinions about this issue, I knew that there was a great story there that needed to be told. So I took a chance and told it.
This was my first time ever doing something like this. My first time going to a convention as a member of the press. The first time I’ve ever sat down with someone for an interview. But most of all, this was first time I’ve ever produced something that actually looked professional.
I loved the way this post turned out, and I can still hardly believe that I wrote it. The structure of the paragraphs and sections, the way I mixed in Ayres’ quotes with my own narration, and the emotion that went from Ayres to the readers… It was the best post I have ever written, and I’ve been using it as my sample piece since then.
But I think the emotional aspect to the piece is what got me in so much trouble, especially because I was dealing with guilt. From reading this essay, fans realized that downloading anime and not paying for it was showing their own selfishness, and the fact that they never even considered it a bad thing made them feel all the more worse. I most certainly realized this while I was working on this piece, so I did what I felt was right and stopped downloading from that point on.
However, a lot of readers turned this guilt into anger and then turned their anger all on me. This has lead to many fights and quarrels ever since then, and they refuse to forgive me even up to this very day.
It’s hard to write when you get this type of negative feedback from a very loud crowd, but if I was afraid of offending a few people, then I’d never get anywhere in my writing. And I think that’s the ultimate theme of the Anime Almanac. I go for a brutally honest take on the American otaku culture, and I’ll say all the things that no one else is willing to say.
You could just be a casual manga reader and go, “You know, he is totally right about those damn manga hobos in the bookstore. Let me put this on Digg!” You could be an aspiring voice actor and say, “Wow, that workshop looks so amazing! I want to go to it!” You could be a professional anime journalist and go, “You know, I guess Tokyopop did ruin itself by ignoring the 100% Authentic Manga novelties.” Or you could be a causal fansub watcher and go, “Wait, why the hell am I actually angry over this? This guy must be so full of shit! Let me blog about this!”
Either way, after I relaunched this blog under animealmanac.com at the start of 2008, this website has grown and evolved tremendously with each and every post. Thanks to all my frequent readers who let me know that they’re still reading no matter what topic I end up talking about. Thanks to all the industry reps who treat me like a professional and give me interviews and exclusive information. Thanks to all the much larger blogs who take the time to link to my posts every week. And I guess a thanks also goes out for the few of you who absolutely hate me in the blogosphere. If it were for your constant nagging, I wouldn’t be nearly as popular as I am today.
I look forward to presenting to all of you many new stories, editorials, and essays in 2009. (^_^)