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.

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

I lived for quite a few years in the Netherlands, where I learned that roadside snacking is a pretty big deal to the Dutch. Snack shops are an institution, serving foods such as kroketen (croquettes), pataat (fries), frikandel (deep-fried sausage), and more. I’d been reminiscing about these delicious treats recently, and just happened to come across one in a rather unlikely place: manga. While reading the series Kyuujou Sajiki (Three Ballpark Meals), a series about eating at ballparks all across Japan, I encountered an old friend: raspatat!

For those unfamiliar with raspatat, it’s an unusual form of french fry, essentially taking mashed potato and reconstituting it back into fry form—think of it as the Pringles of the fry world. The taste is very unique, with a kind of buttery toastiness that borders on knish territory. It’s worth trying at least once.

Here’s a commercial for it:

Anyway, not only does raspatat show up in Kyuujou Sajiki, but it’s actually found in Koshien Stadium of all places! Koshien is basically the mecca of Japanese baseball; it’s the site of the grand finals of Japanese high school baseball every year, and is enshrined in countless manga, anime, and other Japanese media. The manga is based on what you can find in real life, so you can actually travel to Koshien and get some for yourself!

On the official Koshien website, you can find it listed as rasupoteto. It’s not quite the same as the raspatat you can find in the Netherlands (they’re way longer, for one), but the website’s description specifically says it’s a style of Dutch french fries. There’s no mistaking that this is the most famous Japanese baseball stadium’s own rendition of a Dutch snacking tradition.

Even if it isn’t to watch high school athletes’ dreams get fulfilled and/or crushed, if I ever manage to visit Koshien, I am definitely getting some rasupoteto. I feel almost obliged to do so…and my stomach wouldn’t mind either.

 

 

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Ten! Ten! Ten!: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for November 2017

This month is the tenth anniversary of Ogiue Maniax. I’ll have a special post for that occasion. In the meantime, I’d like to thank my Patreon sponsors, especially the following:

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

My favorite posts from last month:

The Precarious Balance of Tradition and Progress: Sakura Quest

A review of the unique P.A. Works anime

Love Live! Sunshine!! and the Complexities of Anime Tourism

A follow-up post of sorts to the Sakura Quest review, this one looks at the relationship between anime and influencing the movement of populations

Gattai Girls 7: Shinkon Gattai Godannar and Aoi Anna

The latest Gattai Girls is actually one of my favorite anime ever. (It was also a somewhat subtle hint towards me getting married.)

Patreon-Sponsored

 

Halloween Means Precure!

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

Closing

I’d like to end this month on a more serious note.

This past Halloween, there was a terrorist attack in lower Manhattan. While I did not know any of the people who were hurt or injured, my condolences go out to their friends and families. I went to school in the same area back in 2001, when 9/11 occurred, and hearing about the attack brought me back to what I felt then: the confusion, the need to evacuate, the unsettling feeling that the world will never be the same. Circumstances were different this time around, but I know the fear and unease that can linger over New York City in the face of such a crime. At the same time, just as then, I’m always surprised by the resilience of New Yorkers to just get back up and go about their day. On some level, it’s a product of being accustomed to the hustle and bustle of such a crazy metropolis, but I also think that it’s a semi-conscious effort to not let fear cower us into submission, or make us doubt each other as human beings.

Hate does not defeat hate. Trust, education, and openness to new ideas are the key ingredients to a better tomorrow.

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[New York Comic Con 2017] Mashima Hiro Panel Thoughts

New York Comic Con 2017’s biggest manga and anime guest was, without a doubt, Mashima Hiro. Mashima came to NYCC after concluding his most famous series, the hit shounen manga Fairy Tail, and he sat down for a couple of panels. While I only have a passing knowledge of Fairy Tail, I attended his Saturday retrospective panel at the Hammerstein Ballroom. An hour later, I came away with the sense that Mashima Hiro might be closest to the mindset of anime and manga fandom than other creators.

Because NYCC had another major shounen manga guest last year in Naruto creator Kishimoto Masashi, and because Mashima himself mentioned during the panel that he considered Kishimoto his “rival,” I can’t help but compare the two. Listening to both of them explain their motivations painted two very different pictures. Kishimoto talked about how, at some point, Naruto became a story of redemption, while his becoming a father during the course of his manga’s serialization also influenced the messages he wanted to leave behind. Mashima, on the other hand, seemed to thrive on the simple yet effective premise of “what would be cool?” Fairy Tail was apparently powered by questions such as “Who would win in a fight?” and “What kind of magic would be awesome to see?”

Combined with the greater amounts of fanservice in Fairy Tail—it seems as if, after a certain point, every panel in the series of a girl is pinup quality—it just seems like a series that didn’t have especially lofty goals, not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s a certain kind of purity, and has in its basis much of what makes shounen manga so popular in the first place. It’s part power fantasy, part adventure. The kinds of ideas floating around in Mashima’s head seem to be cut from the same cloth as much of the fandom, especially when taking into account Western fans. Fairy Tail in Japan is no match for One Piece, but I always get the impression that they’re much closer in popularity at least in the US. I feel like this fan space, where crossover dream battles are practically the potatoes of online discussion (the meat is “who do you ship?”), is one where Mashima’s mindset can thrive.

The Fujoshi Files 174: Mejiro Juon

Name: Mejiro, Juon (目白樹音)
Alias: N/A
Relationship Status: Single
Origin: Princess Jellyfish

Information:
A popular yaoi manga author, Mejiro Juon lives in Amamimizukan, a girls-only shared home occupied by nerds and geeks. Due to her social anxiety, she never reveals her face to others, and instead communicates purely through written notes. She was not always in BL; in her younger days, she even drew shoujo manga.

Compared to her housemates, Mejiro adheres most strongly to Amamizukan’s “No Men” policy.

Fujoshi Level:
Other than the fact that she is a published author of BL works, nothing specific is known about Mejiro Juon’s fujocity.

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Chouchou and Body Confidence in Boruto

I’ve been enjoying Boruto: Naruto Next Generations quite a bit, even to my own surprise. The series is quite different from Naruto, akin to how the transition from Avatar: The Last Airbender to Avatar: Legend of Korra involves fundamental changes to the world. It’s a new era in the Hidden Leaf Village, and this is reflected in not just the setting, but how the newer generation of characters behave. One of my favorites in this regard is Chouchou, especially because of her body positivity.

As a daughter of the Akimichi clan, Chouchou is a heavyset character just like her father. However, unlike Chouji in his younger days, who was extremely sensitive about comments to his weight, Chouchou barely bats an eyelash to those who would call her fat. She’s confident in her lifestyle, and to anyone who points out how much she eats, she responds that it’s necessary for an energetic girl like herself. She may be larger than her peers, but it’s anything but a negative for Chouchou.

One of the biggest indicators that Chouchou is not meant to be your stereotypical fat character is that she lacks a “fat voice.” It’s very common in anime for overweight characters to have a rounder, deeper voice that is meant to accentuate their size. Instead, Chouchou sounds perky and fun to be around.

That being said, the “fat voice” does appear in an episode with a different character, a film actor who was fired because he put on too many pounds, so it’s not as if Boruto is entirely without fault in regards to its portrayal of fatness. Even so, Chouchou is still a step in the right direction.

 

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Changin’ My Life: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for October 2017

October is going to be a special month for me from this point forward.

That’s because something big has happened, something I once thought impossible: I got married.

Seriously.

I won’t go into too many details, but I’ll just say that my wife is a very special person to me, who’s stuck with me through thick and thin. This even includes my time abroad in the Netherlands. I actually met her thanks to Ogiue Maniax, though I wouldn’t recommend writing anime blogs as a way to find relationships.

So I want to give a very, very special thanks to my Patreon members this month, because your continued support lets me pursue this blog as a passion project.

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

 

In other, non-matrimonial news, I recently did a series of manga recommendations on Twitter. Check out the thread!

Also, here are my favorite posts from last month:

Tomino Yoshiyuki’s “Big Picture”: WHy the Gundam Creator Can Be So Hit or Miss

Recently, I got to thinking about Tomino and all his eccentricities. Here’s my hypothesis on the “Tomino style.”

Fighting Evil By Moonlight – Heartcatch Precure!: The Novel

I reviewed the Heartcatch Precure! novel, which ostensibly focuses more on Cure Moonlight than the anime.

Beyond the Brokeback Pose: Don’t Meddle with My Daughter

A look at the idea of superheroine sexualization and fetishism as a kind of cultural export, through the lense of the manga Don’t Meddle with My Daughter. It actually got retweeted by the author!

Return to Genshiken

Return to Genshiken: Volume 5 – Pride and Fujo Justice

Part 5 of my Genshiken re-read. Ogiue starts her journey here, but it’s Sasahara who really grows.

 

Patreon-Sponsored

My Favorite Light Novel Anime

Self-explanatory, but a fun topic all the same.

Closing

Here’s to an exciting new life!

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