One Step Off: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for April 2018

It’s time once again to look back on a month of blogging, and to give my gratitude to my supporters on Patreon and from Ko-fi. Thanks to the following!

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

I have to apologize this month, as I was supposed to have written and posted my re-read review of Genshiken volume 8 in March. Unfortunately, I came down with a bad cold towards the second half of the month, and rather than try to force it out I decided to delay it to this month. It’s actually mostly finished and requires largely final touches. Because of this, the final re-read for Volume 9 will be delayed to June.

You might have noticed that I avoided posting this past Sunday. As some might surmise, it was to avoid the chaos that is April Fool’s. I didn’t have any sort of chicanery at the ready, so I didn’t want anything I published to seem disingenuous. I do kind of miss making April Fool’s gags, though, so maybe next year.

On another related note, I’m currently trying to figure out if I should switch to a lighter posting schedule, given my real-life work schedule and my relative dissatisfaction with the quality of my writing as of late. I’ve always valued my consistency and my willingness to (more often than not) just let pieces go rather than sit on them forever. However, recently, I’ve felt that many of my blog posts don’t have the amount of spark, inspiration, and insight that I prefer. Fewer posts per week (i.e. one or two instead of two or three) makes sense on the surface, but I’m worried that having so much wiggle room could make me slack off.

The other concern is my Patreon. I want to make sure there’s enough content to keep justifying it, and I have to wonder if one to two weekly posts is actually enough. If you have any thoughts on either of these matters, feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear it.

It’s not really doom or gloom; it’s a desire to not stagnate. In any case, here are my favorite posts from March:

 

Kio Shimoku and Genshiken Trivia Courtesy of “Mou, Shimasen Kara”

Following Chapter 1 of Hashikko Ensemble was a special interview with the man Kio himself. There’s a lot to learn from it!

A Look at Precure Popularity

Thoughts and musings on the varying popularity of Precure and its characters throughout the years. Spoilers: Cure Marine is amazing, Heartcatch Precure! is the best. No, really.

Defying Assumptions. Fujoshi-style: Kiss Him, Not Me

My final review of a really good fujoshi-themed manga.

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 2 of Kio Shimoku’s new music manga. It’s filled with potential.

Patreon-Sponsored

Aikatsu! and Idol Franchise “Experiences”

Aikatsu! feels rather unique to me, and I try to explore why.

Also, while I didn’t quite consider them my favorite posts for the month, I did review quite a bit from the New York International Children’s Film Festival. Check the NYICFF tag out! I might get around to more of them this month!

Closing

Can Ogiue Maniax make the impact I desire? What shows of the Spring 2018 anime season will get reviewed on the blog? Find out…some time!

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Movie Madness: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for March 2018

Is it possible to see too many movies in a single month? It looks like I’ll be testing that out. Not only is it the start of the 2018 New York International Children’s Film Festival, but we’ve got the recently released Black Panther along with Pacific Rim: Uprising, Isle of Dogs, and A Wrinkle in Time. I’m a bit concerned about the sheer quantity overwhelming my ability to engage with each movie, but we’ll see how it pans out.

As a general rule, disengage before you start to feel yourself burning out. This applies to not just anime or entertainment, but even work. Managing your health mentally, emotionally, and physically to the best of your abilities!

In other news, I’ve started a Ko-fi page for Ogiue Maniax. It’s basically an online tip jar, ideal for those who want to support Ogiue Maniax now and then, but either won’t or can’t commit to a Patreon sponsorship.

So from now on, my monthly list of supporters will include both those from Patreon and from Ko-fi.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

MagiGold

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

My favorite posts from February:

“I Go High, You Go Low”: Hashikko Ensemble

Kio Shimoku’s new manga! Expect to see this every month for the foreseeable future.

Join the Bakery: Kira Kira Precure a la Mode

Another Precure series concludes. How does this one stack up to its predecessors?

The Legacy of a Knight. Mazinger Z: Infinity

The 2018 sequel/revival of history’s most important super robot. A must-see for giant robot fans.

 

Patreon-Sponsored

The Unreality of Virtual Youtubers

Thoughts on the success spawned by Kizuna A.I. and those who followed her.

Closing

Watch A Place Further than the Universe. It’s not just “girls doing something,” it’s “girls getting something done.”

Fan Fan Fine: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for February 2018

It’s February, also known in these parts as “new Precure time!” Satou Junichi (Ojamajo Doremi, Sailor Moon, Princess Tutu) helming the new Hugtto Precure! means I’m eagerly anticipating it, though I’m trying not to get my hopes too high up. As much as I love his shows, he’s not infallible or anything.

Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, the Lunar New Year, or some other holiday, I’d like to thank the following Patreon sponsors for their support.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Viga

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

My favorite posts from January:

Down-Home Food Therapy: Atari no Kitchen!

A food manga I’ve been enjoying for a quite a while, I finally got around to writing about it!

A Strong Foundation: How the Japanese Smash 4 Tournament Format Helps the Community

A detailed look at what I believe are the underlying reasons behind Japan’s noted character diversity at high levels of competitive play.

“We’re Just Like You!”: The Empathy Scam of the Alt-Right

A post on a more serious topic: how the alt-right’s use of internet memes and subculture might act as false masks to lure in frustrated young men.

Return to Genshiken

Part 7 of my Genshiken re-read delves into the depictions of love and lust in my favorite manga.

Patreon-Sponsored

The Past and Future of Anime Blogging

I wax nostalgic about anime blogging but also how it’s positioned versus other mediums.

Closing

I’m high off of watching EVO Japan 2018 and seeing both Asuka and Shinsuke Nakamura win the Royal Rumbles. I’m also hyped for the new Kio Shimoku manga coming out this month.

May your February be as inspired.

The Past and Future of Anime Blogging

In many ways, anime blogging is a living relic. Born in the age when “Web 2.0” was a newly coined term and blogging in general was a young and exciting differentiation from the era of fan shrines and webrings, the anime blog was a way for writer-fans to establish an identity outside of enclaves such as forums and livejournal groups. Like the anime websites of old (and even the IRL anime clubs before that time), they filled a desire for information, appreciation, and criticism of anime and manga.

I think there’s a charm to the written word that allows it to endure and keeps it falling out of true relevance, and this applies to anime blogging. Certain ideas are better conveyed through writing (especially extremely complex ones that require a lot of small detail to fully explain), and certain people (myself included) are more comfortable with text than speech or visual performance. Writing will never truly go away because it’s just capable of so much with so little. Nevertheless, it is true that the amount of anime blogs have declined over the years.

I don’t have a falsely inflated idea as to the supposed “importance” of anime blogs in year past—it’s always been a niche. But where once an “Aniblog Tourney” existed not just as a popularity contest but as a sign of a loose “aniblogosphere,” the increasing prominence of social media platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and even something like Anime Amino have moved discussion back into more isolated communities. I think, on some level, “aniblogging” feels less like a distinct position than it used to. Perhaps it’s because so many anime fans these days are omnivorous consumers of pop culture that the “fan” is more important than the “anime,” but I think the rise and dominance of social media networks and alternative formats like YouTube also makes it less enticing for younger, enterprising fans to enter the field. In a “field” with a high turnover rate due to burnout and just the passage of time, not having new warriors to pick up the mantle means a gradual decline.

The anime blogs of today, whether they’re young and fresh or old and crusty, are contending with new ways to get one’s thoughts and opinions out to the world—alternatives that can be more attractive to would-be bloggers. In particular, the minor stardom that can come with YouTube can also mean potential income, perhaps even enough to earn a living. Anime fandom isn’t the only realm affected by this, but because anime is more niche than, say, gaming, it also means a smaller pie to share overall. Only a select few vloggers can get six-digit views, but it’s a lot likelier than accruing those numbers through blogging. For even the best and most charismatic writers, blogs are at best a partial or supplementary income. In other words, it’s never been easy to sustain a living just from anime blogging, for better or worse. At the same time, it’s also never been easier to actually make money from blogging thanks to platforms like Patreon. While I’m not exactly filling my coffers to the brim, my own Patreon has been a great boon.

All it really takes to write an anime blog is a genuine passion for anime and manga, as well as a desire to write one’s thoughts. It’s profoundly simple, which is why, even as anime blogging as a “thing” has waned, I think you still see the occasional challenger take on the endeavor. Writing is timeless. I don’t carry any illusions that it’s the path to fame and fortune, but it’s a space that remains open and welcome. If we want to rebuild the aniblogosphere, however, it’ll take a restored sense of “community,” no matter how nebulous and disparate it might be.

Once upon a time, anime bloggers debated the merits of “episode blogging” vs. “editorial blogging.” In hindsight, it seems so quaint.

This post was sponsored by Johnny Trovato. If you’re interested in submitting topics for the blog, or just like my writing and want to support Ogiue Maniax, check out my Patreon.

The New Year Isn’t Just For Show!: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for January 2018

Happy new year to all! Amidst a topsy-turvy year, what have been your favorite shows? 2017 might go down as a surprisingly robust year for anime, and I hope to see an industry that allows creativity to rise to the top. After all, the better anime is, the more there is for this blog to talk about.

Going into 2018, I’d like to thank my Patreon sponsors, especially the following.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Viga

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

New Year’s is of course the time for resolutions, and while I tend not to make them, I want to hold myself accountable this year.

As I’m interested in improving my language skills, most of my resolutions are focused in that area. I want to have true Japanese literacy. I’m fairly fluent overall, but I’m still not technically “reading newspapers without help” proficient—which is how Japanese literacy is officially defined.

I also want to improve my Cantonese, learn Mandarin Chinese, and/or reach a greater level of Dutch. I’ve been practicing the last one in the Duolingo app for a while now, to try and make up for my lack of true fluency when I lived in the Netherlands. My goal is to be able to read Dutch comics. Ik wil lezen Nederlandse strips.

I know they say not to try and learn more than one language at a time, but I just want to do everything, I guess.

My favorite posts from December:

Gattai Girls 7: “Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars” and Moriyama Nayuta [Anime Secret Santa]

A combination Gattai Girls entry and Secret Santa review! Shingu is really good; you should watch it.

Spotted Flower and the Role of the “What-If”

This story about an alternate Genshiken took on some crazy twists recently. But how does its proximity to Genshiken affect our perception of it?

Japanese vs. English Yu-Gi-Oh!: How the Two End Up Being Almost Different Shows

Inspired by the recent Yu-Gi-Oh! marathon on Twitch.

Patreon-Sponsored

Aikatsu Stars! Christmas 2017 Thoughts


“We wiiish you a merry Christmaaas…”

Closing

2017 was a tumultuous year for many. I hope you stay strong. I look forward to a world where reason and compassion defeat hatred and bigotry.

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It’s Time to Yule: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for December 2017

EDITPatreon has decided NOT to go through with the changes described below.

This month’s Patreon sponsor update is, funny enough, going to be about Patreon.

Before I go into detail, I’d like to give thanks to my Patreon sponsors.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Viga

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Yoshitake Rika fans:

Elliot Page

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Recently, Patreon has changed the way it handles patron subscriptions and creator payouts. There’s some controversy over the exact intent behind this change too–Patreon claims it’s to increase consistency of payments, critics argue it’s a greedy move to extract more money. Either way, what it means is that many users might end up paying more. Where a $1 pledge once meant you pay $1, it now means $1.36 per creator you support.

If you want to keep supporting Ogiue Maniax at your current pledge level, feel free to do so. But if the extra financial burden from this Patreon change is too much, feel free to lower your pledge amounts as much as necessary–even to $0.

One thing I’m considering is lowering my rewards to compensate for this change, so patrons can get the same perks for the same amount. Tell me in the comments or on Patreon.

My favorite posts from last month:

Teikoku State of Mind: Anime NYC 2017

It’s been a while since New York City’s had a dedicated anime con. Check out my thoughts on Anime NYC (spoilers: it was fantastic).

10 Years After: Ogiue Maniax 10th Anniversary

Wherein I reflect on a decade of anime blogging.

Raspatat at Koshien: An Iconic Dutch Snack at Japan’s Most Famous Stadium!

A snack from my time in the Netherlands!

Genshiken Re-Read

Return to Genshiken: Volume 6 – Eyes as Black as the Abyss

My favorite volume of Genshiken, period.

Patreon-Sponsored

Aikatsu Stars! and Nikaido Yuzu, the Ultimate Kouhai/Senpai

I was asked to write about my favorite Halloween anime, only to realize that most of them are Precure episodes. Go figure.

Closing

Kio Shimoku announced a new manga. Am I going to review it on Ogiue Maniax? The answer is “very yes.”

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10 Years After: Ogiue Maniax 10th Anniversary

10 years. What kind of fool keeps blogging about anime for an entire decade? It’s a milestone, but not the end of the journey. Still, looking back on my time here, there’s a lot to reflect on. That’s why I’m devoting this celebratory post to writing a not-so-brief history of Ogiue Maniax.

The Birth of Ogiue Maniax

Back in 2006, I had already been interacting with my fellow anime fans online for years. Long, essay-style forum posts were the norm in my communities, and it was just fun to read and write them. However naively, it felt like we were pushing critical thinking about anime and manga. However, the spaces in which I wrote began to dry up, or saw a new generation of moderators too afraid of what outsiders thought, shrinking beneath the judgment of their peers. I wanted a place where I could write what was on my mind.

At first, I didn’t think to start my own blog, and tried my hand as a “guest contributor,” a charitable term for “asked friends if I could post stuff to their sites.” The otaku news blog Heisei Democracy agreed to post an odd essay I had originally wrote for class, titled “Moe as Commodity”-—perhaps more relevant a topic today than ever before. Shiro, who ran the blog Toward Our Memories, offered me a chance to write about Gurren-Lagann and its connections to giant robots of years past. It was thanks to these opportunities that I thought maybe, just maybe, I could go off on my own.

I did not write the first anime blog, of course. The “scene” was well established when I started, with many more cropping up alongside my own. However, as I began to write in those early days, I noticed a tendency for other bloggers to slow down. Sometimes it had to do with real life—something I understand more than ever 10 years later. But in other cases, I heard a common refrain that there simply wasn’t enough to write about. Too many anime were too similar. Yeah, there’s some good stuff, but how much is much is out there, really?

I saw this as a challenge. I truly believed that there was always something worth writing about when it came to Japanese pop culture, and I wanted to see if I could keep it up. My ideal was to publish at least one post, long or short, once a day for seven days a week. It was an odd thing to get stubborn about, looking back.

While I’m no longer writing every single day of the week (I simply don’t have that amount of time or mental energy to devote to Ogiue Maniax), I think I’ve kept the flame of that original desire alive. Sure, I’ve sometimes talked about things that aren’t strictly anime or manga—esports theory, fandom and politics, and mahjong—but I see those topics as an extension of how I’ve grown as a writer, scholar, and human being. Anime isn’t isolated from the rest of the world, and even the decision to draw back and “heal” through media interaction carries effects and consequences.

Blogging as Blessing

Reaching a greater level critical thinking and expressing it through Ogiue Maniax is itself the product of the good fortune that has come from blogging. Back when I first started to gain some traction among online fans, I actually ran into one reader named Erin. At the time, she and her boyfriend (now husband) Noah had their own anime podcast called Ninja Consultant. While I’m naturally introverted and loathed the act of networking, meeting Erin and Noah was enormously beneficial. I didn’t even really consider it networking; it was just meeting new people. That encounter helped set me on a path to working various media jobs over the next few years, and was a catalyst for positivity in my life.

Not long after, I met through my blogging the woman who would one day become my wife. While writing Ogiue Maniax had been beneficial for a number of reasons, I never considered myself a particularly good writer. I just saw myself as someone who wanted to think more deeply about entertainment and media, with the blog being the conduit through which my thoughts are shared. But my wife helped foster in me an unusual, unfamiliar feeling: confidence. She told me that my ability to make complex and difficult ideas accessible and comprehensible to a wider audience was an admirable skill that reflected both my writing ability and my outlook on life. Last year, I decided to take a Harry Potter Sorting Hat test online and it put me in Hufflepuff, the school focused on humanity and providing opportunities for all. In hindsight, it makes sense.

Eventually, this led me to actually living abroad in Europe and taking my academic interest in manga and anime to the next level. For four years, I poured hours and hours of research into manga to an extent I didn’t even think possible, and it filled both my waking hours and my dreams. Even during this time, however, I still blogged. I looked at all that Ogiue Maniax had allowed me to achieve, and I loved the site too much to want to abandon it, even if might have preserved my sanity more effectively. This is the point at which I had to dial back my daily posts into something more manageable: two to three entries per week. Even with the reduced schedule, the constant swirling of ideas and readings and attempts to articulate labyrinthine thought processes brought about a change in Ogiue Maniax. I found myself compelled to delve deeper into my musings on anime and manga as it relates to not just pop culture or subcultures, but human culture in general. It forever changed the way I approach Ogiue Maniax for the better (at least in my opinion).

A Measured Success

More recently, I started my Patreon, and I make a modest amount every month. It’s not enough to make a living, but it supplements my existing income quite nicely. I’ve never had the largest readership around, and it’s even declined as anime blogging itself has dropped off. The Ogiue Maniax path is certainly not what you should try if your goal is to make writing your career, but I think my modicum of success is a reflection that I’ve held onto those core beliefs that originally fueled this blog at its inception even as I, the anime industry, fandom, and the world have changed. More than ever, I believe that there’s always something worth saying about anime and manga, and I hope that I’m able to inspire others to think the same as well.

Focused practice is supposedly the ideal way to improve a skill; knowing your weaknesses and drilling them into strengths is how one should approach the honing of a craft. I did no such thing. I brute forced it by making myself adhere to a schedule and making myself put out something—anything—on a regular basis. While I don’t always produce the best-edited pieces (a string of typos over the years can attest to that), I like to think that it’s made me unafraid of putting my thoughts and feelings out there in the world. Courage is a flower that needs to be nurtured.

Shout-Outs

Seeing as Thanksgiving is around the corner, I’d like to express my gratitude to the following:

Kio Shimoku: Although I know you’ll never read this, thank you for creating Genshiken. It’s been an inspiration in more ways than one, and has helped me grow as a human being. キオ先生は多分読まないけれど、本当に先生の事、感謝します。『げんしけん』のお陰で人として成長しました。

My fellow Genshiken fans: Whether early on in the blog’s life, or later as I did my chapter reviews, I’ve received much love for my Genshiken musings. Thank you for reading.

MrShadowAnt: My friend for many, many years, you were one of the first people I could truly nerd out with. Thank you.

6th Floor: There are fewer times I look back on more fondly than those afternoons and lunches spent playing games, talking anime, and just being friends. I believe those conversations became a major cornerstone of how I approach the world and my writing. Thank you.

Alain: Thank you, Al, for being someone to bounce ideas off of, and for providing a measured perspective on things.

Anime World Order: To Daryl, Gerald, and Clarissa, thank you for providing a template for how to talk about anime and manga while being entertaining and informative. You’re one of the reasons I even considered starting Ogiue Maniax at all.

Arco: When I think of ridiculously long posts, I think of you. Thank you for writing.

Jeff Lawson: Although you’ve long since left the aniblogging game, thank you for linking to Ogiue Maniax way back. It was the first boost in views I ever got, and I consider it a major cornerstone in the blog’s history.

Shiro: When I first felt that itch to blog about anime, you were one of the first to give me a platform to tackle my ideas. Thank you for providing me that opportunity. That Gurren-Lagann post became one of the two pivotal moments that prompted me to start Ogiue Maniax.

Shingo: Thank you, Shingo. I wrote the article “Moe as Commodity” many years ago at this point, and I think it stands as a precursor to what Ogiue Maniax would become. Also, I want to give an even more personal thank-you for showing me around Akihabara in 2005. I still haven’t forgotten!

Johnny Trovato: Thank you for believing in me and my Patreon more than anyone. I look forward to your requests every month.

Dave Cabrera: It’s funny how we met years before seeing each other in person without realizing it. You’re definitely one of the funniest writers I know, and as you strive to get out there and make yourself known, it inspires me to push ahead. Thank you, and Rosa GIgantor forever.

Veef: Thank you for being an ally in measured mecha fandom, eager for dialogue and civil even in disagreement. I always look forward to podcasting with you.

Patz: Another robot ally, thank you for helping to show the world that robot fans can be more than their stereotypes. Let’s do more con panels together.

KRansom: Whether we’re working together professionally or just for fun, it’s always great to get your thoughts on goings-on in Japanese pop culture and scholarship. People still read the Nausicaa article we translated. Thank you.

David Brothers: We first met on a fighting game forum, but at some point I began to see you not just as a friend, but also as a writer whose strength of voice and desire to do good in the world was something to aspire to. Thank you for making me want to better myself.

Divine: Thank you for having my back in the Netherlands. I do not underestimate how much it helped to have a familiar face abroad.

My friends and colleagues in Europe: Thank you for challenging me and pushing me to improve how I construct and express ideas.

Mitch: I know life has you busy, but I’m still grateful for when you’d take the time to catch any typos in my posts. Thank you.

Erin and Noah: Thank you for reaching out to me. I still owe you a lunch or dinner or something.

Ed Chavez: You’re still the smartest person I’ve ever known when it comes to manga, and I value our conversations. It’s always a pleasure to pick your brain. Thank you.

My wife: You saw something special in me, and encouraged me to recognize it. We’ve been through some interesting times together. Thank you.