It’s December, and you know what that means… Time for the “Best of 2009″ lists! (^_^)
Every Wednesday this month, I will be posting a new list recapping the best anime, manga, and companies of the year, plus I’ll come out with a new set of industry predictions for 2010. This week, I’ll kick it off with my ten favorite articles posted this year.
Interviewing artist Uruma of UrumaDelvi.
The Anime Almanac went through a major change this year. When my “industry going digital” editorials began losing the impact they once had in 2008, I started feeling a serious case of writer’s block and went weeks without posting anything. At that point, I had gained a substantial following on Twitter, including some PR reps from some major anime and manga companies. They asked if I was interested in reviewing their new releases on my blog, and I gladly accepted their offer.
So half way through the year, I switched over to writing mostly reviews of new anime and manga releases. I increased my posting frequency from once a week to around 2-3 times per week. The blog gained a larger readership with the change, but I had to cut back on my editorial content because of it.
So while I had a much smaller list of posts to chose from this year as opposed to last year, there are still some good ones in this mix. I began interviewing more artists and industry folks at conventions, and dived a lot deeper into the Japanese music scene.
So here are my favorite editorials, interviews, and features from the past year with the background of why they mean so much to me.
Ed Chavez is one of the most interesting people I’ve met in the manga world, but listening to him talk can either be a blessing or a curse. His mind goes off on a million different tangents, and it is unpredictable on where the conversation will go.
So when I was prepping to interview him at the NYAF over Vertical’s impressive showing this year, I knew that six simple questions would easily fill an lengthy column. And sure enough, we ended up with 20 minutes of pure conversation and a very interesting take on how Vertical was able to acquire some key titles for next year.
This was the first time I ever got an exclusive screening of an anime that was still relatively unknown in America that point. Fuji TV and Production I.G. were generous enough to invite me to this movie that was just released in Japanese theaters months prior.
Why was I there covering the film? I don’t know. It is not slated for American release any time soon, and that one screening in New York City was intended only for Japanese audiences. But I did love the film, and it was very interesting to deal with the Japanese PR people on making sure the article came out well.
Kannagi was the talk of Otakon this year, and Bandai did an amazing job promoting it in this unprecedented move within the American anime industry. 2009 was not kind to Bandai, but for one weekend they were on fire. So I was very enthusiastic to talk to their Marketing Director Robert Napton to find out just how they managed to pull off this impressive stunt.
This was an article I wanted to post with an interview with Scott Pilgrim artist Bryan Lee O’Malley himself at the New York Comic Con. The interview never went down, but I decided to write the article anyway.
Much to my surprise, O’Malley actually stumbled upon the article by himself and sent me a private message over Twitter to respond to some of the things I said. While I would have much rather had a one-on-one with him on the topic itself, I was still very happy to know that the man himself got a to chance read what I wrote about him.
This was actually the worst interview I ever did. I had only 15 minutes to talk to her, so I prepared a short list of concise, hard-hitting questions for the exported rock star. But… all she gave me were simple short answers. So my 15 minute interview was over in 5 minutes, and I left the room bitter with practically nothing to work with.
I sat on it for about a month before I forced myself to type up an article. Once I combined her short quotes with her Wikipedia-provided biography, I manage to come up with a very interesting piece on her. That was the reason why I wanted to interview her, I thought she would have an interesting story to tell. And apparently I could do a much better job telling it than she did.
This was the first time I got to interview an artist that I was actually a huge fan of. I have been following the Butt Biting Bug phenomenon for years, so when I heard the team behind it was going to be making a rare American appearance in New York City, I leapt at the chance for a face-to-face talk with them.
Unfortunately, I only got to meet with one member of the team, Uruma, but she was a very pleasant woman and I really enjoyed talk with her. And as you see in the picture above, one of their cartoon characters even blogged about me too!
These 16 members of the peppy girl group were, without a doubt, the biggest celebrities I have ever met and talked to. The whole process was actually kind of annoying, as their management really tried to control how the girls would be perceived by the media with silly and stupid demands that I had to abide by. And even though I was granted three pre-screened questions to ask four of the members, I had to do it in front of a crowd of Japanese TV cameras and photographers.
But still, I’d do it all again in a heart-beat, because that was a pretty cool experience.
I stayed away from the fansub issue this year after all the headache it caused last year, and this post was my final word on it. It outline exactly what I was going for in lashing out against piracy and what I actually expected of my readers and anime fans in general. And I don’t think it’s a very unreasonable plea, so I hope more of my nay-sayers have had the chance to read this very personal editorial.
The title alone makes this post a winner for me, and I wrote this whole essay in my head as I was watching the film in the theater. Not only was I able to come out with a very unique take on a very hot topic that week, but it was my chance to combine my passion of anime with another obsession of mine: Hollywood movies.
The result a post that went viral among social network communities, which made it the the most popular post of the whole year.
If you ever ask me why I do this blog, the answer is to write articles like this one.
I just stumbled across a flyer for this aspiring j-idol at the New York Comic Con, so I decided to check out her show a few weeks later. What I witness was this amazing portrait of American otaku culture when a Japanese girl cosplayed as a bunny girl, and a crowd of New York men gathered to hear her sing anime songs at a small karaoke bar.
Here was this hidden gem that very few people knew about, and I wanted to share it with the rest of the world. So I got in contact with the girl’s manager, we did an interview, and I put together an article written with a unique narrative that I’m still quite proud of. In fact, I sort of reused a lot of my writing in this essay for my AKB48 feature.
And beyond the one article, the Reni story continued through out the rest of the year. I helped out her management get in contact with people I knew in anime cons, so she went from unknown to now becoming the highlight of the local convention scene. And I even spent a whole day in the summer co-writing her first American single, My Shy Master, with her and her manager in a stuffy NYC apartment.
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So even with all the new reviews being posted every week, my goal with the Anime Almanac is to always tell the story that you won’t find on any other anime blog, and I believe that these ten posts really showcase that feeling in the past year. So here’s hoping that 2010 also brings many new opportunities to write about this unique subculture of ours. (^_^)