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.

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Aniblog Tourney II Quick Guide

If you’re coming from the Aniblog Tourney, welcome. I’ll make this short and sweet.

This blog’s been running for a while now and has what could be considered a rather daunting archive, so I’ve picked out some of my better posts. I encourage you to take a look. Don’t forget to check out the blog that’s going up against me as well, and remember that voting is open to both new and long-time readers of Ogiue Maniax.

Round 5 Opponent: Metanorn (June 25th)

Round 4 Opponent: Sekijitsu (June 20th)

Round 3 Opponents: Atarashii Prelude, Bokutachi no Blog, Loli Salad (June 6th)

Round 2 Opponent: Shonen Beam (May 4th)

Round 1 Opponent: BYE

Long Posts

Explaining Decompression in Comics

The Divide of Time, Space, and Imagination: A Look At the Concept of Nostalgic Merchandise

Seeing the Darkness of Madoka Magica

Short Posts

Understanding the “Emotionless” Anime Girl

Drossel, the Best Figma

More Powerful than Aizen and Freeza Put Together

Dumb Posts

Another Legend is Born

Testing Out Comipo!

What is Kuronuma Sawako’s Favorite American Football Team?

Reviews

You’re Magical: Ojamajo Doremi

Moe Anime Girl Gets Pregnant, Has Baby – Jigopuri Volume 1

Brilliance of Life, Billions of Stars: Rintaro’s Galaxy Express 999

Genshiken

Why I Like Ogiue, Part 2

Battle, Fever: Genshiken II, Chapter 64 (SPOILER WARNING)

The Difference in Variety in the New Genshiken

Break Through the 2nd Floor Window: Ogiue Maniax

Ogiue Maniax managed to overcome its opposition in the third round of the Aniblog Tourney, in a match so close that a mere image macro could have swung the vote either way. I thank chaostangent for a fine match, and I really enjoyed seeing people talk about how they preferred one person’s style over the other. Voting for content, that’s what I want to see.

My fourth round match is against Tenka Seiha, a popular episodic-style blog which also has a doujin game translation arm attached to it. Or maybe the blog is attached to the translation. One likely event is that the match will come down to the pseudo-dichotomy of “episodic” vs “editorial.” I hope that doesn’t happen, and again, that you read at least some of the content before you vote. I already have primers for the Ogiue Maniax style here and here. I’ve also included a couple of my favorite posts below.

The Aniblog Tourney has seen many of the criticisms that other popularity-based tournaments have had. First, similar to Saimoe, vote results are considered “irrelevant” by some because the number of people voting is far less than the number of blog readers out there, let alone anime fans. Second, like the GameFAQs Character Battle, accusations of snobbery run against cries of appealing to the lowest common denominator, resulting in overwhelming indictments of the personalities of both the writers and the readers.

The first issue revolves around a simple question: What would it take to get the people who read anime blogs to vote in a tournament about anime blogs?

If it were a contest of favorite anime characters or series, then I think people would be more willing to participate. The act of discussing anime is one step removed from actually experiencing it, and to be reading the thoughts of someone who is watching anime creates even further distance. And the more you go along this path, the less likely people are going to care. In order for more blog readers to vote, the competition has to be somehow relevant to them; they have to want to be involved.

That leads to the second issue, that of elitism vs mob mentality. Here, there seems to be trouble relating to the other side, perhaps even a strong desire to not want to relate to the other side. I want to bridge that gap, and I will do so with an extended metaphor.

Imagine you’re at a restaurant eating a cheeseburger. Every bite makes you want to take another. What are your thoughts at this time? Perhaps you’re thinking that it’s simply “delicious.” How delicious? You might compare it to cheeseburgers you’ve had in the past that stick out in your memory. You might begin to wonder why you find this burger delicious, or why the people who hate cheeseburgers do so. Or maybe you’re wondering if you’d eat it over an expensive filet mignon. Why do we eat the things we do? How has the act of enjoying food affected commercialism and vice versa? What of the cattle that went into the beef? Or maybe you’re not even “thinking” at all, and you’re just savoring the flavor, the wanderings of your brain temporarily shut down so that you can fully engage the beef and the cheese which lies melted on top.

Are there any thoughts from your burger experience that you want to share with others? If so, which thoughts? What is your purpose behind making people aware of cheeseburger and cheeseburger-related topics? Do you want to recommend the place to others? If you’re going to compare it, do you compare it with other items on the menu or with other cheeseburgers? Or do you want to talk about the concept of the cheeseburger and how ubiquitous an icon it’s become?

Clearly there are some topics in my cheeseburger metaphor that when translated into anime blogging clearly lean towards the side of the “episodic” blogging, while there are others that would clearly be considered “editorial.” But there’s also this gigantic middle area where the division becomes increasingly tenuous. Some can easily exist in both types of blogs, and it all just comes down to what it is about anime that interests you, what you want to say about it, and what kind of discussion you expect from it, if any at all.

Anime can be emotional. It can be intellectual. It can be sophisticated and it can be visceral. It can be all of those things and none of them, and there’s no clear definition of which is which or how things “should” be enjoyed. Irrespective of any notions of quality in either the anime being watched or the blogs being written, people have real reasons for liking the things they do, even if it’s as simple as “killing time,” that’s still a valid reason. Similarly, someone who has gotten to the point of analyzing the cultural effects of anime and not the anime itself may risk being too far-removed from the anime itself, but it’s still a decided direction. You may not like either reason, but that doesn’t mean that the first person is a mindless sack of waste, nor is the second necessarily incapable of talking “normally.” And just as you can respect someone else’s approach to anime, someone can respect yours, even if you disagree entirely.

It’s easier to understand each other when we’re not being so aggressively defensive.

What Does “Accessibility” Really Mean?

It’s the final day in my matchup at the Aniblog Tourney, and compared to when the voting began, both featured matches have had a surprising turn of events, leading to extremely close vote counts. It’s been a lot more thrilling than anyone anticipated, and this unpredictability has me asking a simple question: What do fans want in a blog?

Writing Ogiue Maniax, I’ve gained a reputation for having an intelligent, yet accessible writing style that has given me a unique voice online. I am constantly working on improving all aspects of that voice, and I work towards having my posts be fairly easy to digest while also encouraging further thinking. But the Aniblog Tourney has made me well-aware that there’s always room for improvement and change, particularly in the area of accessibility.

Looking at anime blogs, the most popular ones tend to be “episodic blogs,” or ones that review shows episode by episode, laying down summaries and opinions on a (mostly) weekly basis. Most commonly, the latest shows are the ones that get episode blogged the most, though there’s nothing stopping people from doing the same with older shows. Not only do the more well-known episode blogs get more hits, but they also garner more comments, and as the tournament has showed us, have their fair share of staunch defenders and loyal supporters. In these, the most prominent of episodic blogs, their voices and content have reached a great number of people.

So I wonder, is the fact that I write in what’s often categorized as an “editorial” style holding me back from improving my accessibility?

I know that this sounds suspiciously similar to “Why isn’t my blog more popular?” but that isn’t really what I’m saying. Instead, it’s that anime fans appear to feel more comfortable with the episodic mode of anime blogging that has me thinking hard about the way I write. How can I reach more fans without scaring them off with meta-posts such as this? Would I be able to encourage more people to examine anime and their own fandom by adopting an episode blogging format?

Don’t get me wrong though, I like the way I write, and the basic format of Ogiue Maniax isn’t going to change any time soon. I’m not even sure if I would be able to even pull off Ogiue Maniax-style episode blogging all that well. It’s just something I wanted to contemplate. Though, if any of you are up for the challenge, be my guest. Out of what’s currently there, I think Unmei Kaihen‘s style is roughly where I’d be aiming for, as I always feel like I learn something from reading his Giant Killing posts.

Aim for the Ogi 2! Fudebuster

Once again I am up in the Aniblog Tourney, an idea devised by Scamp to expose more types of anime blogs to people through the guise of (mostly) friendly competition. My opponent this time around is Chaostangent, and opposite our duel is the match between Tenka Seiha and 2-D Teleidoscope. Best of luck to all.

For those of you new to Ogiue Maniax, I want to direct you to my previous introduction for the tournament, as I believe it does a good job of summarizing what this blog is all about. In short, my approach to anime and manga is less about seeing what I like and more about seeing what anime and manga are. Of course, I still enjoy myself, I still cheer for the shows I love, laughing and crying along the way.

This tournament has been a good fun so far, but amidst accusations of elitism and the like, as well as visiting some communities I hadn’t in a while, it reminded me how easy it is to get inadvertently boxed in by the fans you interact with more often, and that for nearly every instance of “No one could ever possibly think this!” someone inevitably will.

Of course, I don’t think you have to spend time with every type of community. I for example tend to avoid livejournal groups as they tend to be a little overwhelming. It’s just good to keep in mind that there all sorts of anime and manga fans out there. But that is perhaps a topic for another day.

Now, for those of you who have come to know Ogiue Maniax through the Aniblog Tourney but are wondering just how much more there is to see beyond the list of posts I’d given previously, I’ve provided an additional set for your browsing pleasure. Take a lot of time, or a little, in either case I hope you get to know this blog well.

Ogiue/Genshiken

Fujoshi-related

Analysis

Translation

Reviews

Bad Humor

Artwork

Let’s Try to Foster Better Discussion in the Aniblog Tourney

Ogiue Maniax wins its first round in the Aniblog Tourney (technically the second, due to a higher seed allowing me to bypass Round 1), and I am happy to be the victor in this instance. I want to thank Caraniel of course, who was not only respectful and courteous during the week of competition but also is a good blogger in her own right.

Ogiue Maniax goes on to face Chaostangent in Round 3.

Now one thing about the Aniblog Tourney is that for those who are actively participating in it, either as voters or contestants or both, the whole endeavor has allowed people to discover new blogs, to get an idea of the range of styles available from just these 96 examples, let alone branching out to ones that haven’t been included in the tournament. But it’s very clear that there’s a lot of blog readers out there who simply are not participating in this fully and are not bothering to read the majority of the blogs available, or at least are not voting.

The first big piece of explicit evidence that the tournament is not reaching as far as it could is the matchup between Colony Drop and Canne, which got by far the most total votes in Round 1. This had very much to do with both the Pro and Anti-Colony Drop campaigns conducted when Colony Drop was poised to lose and then to win, but it’s clear that here was an audience of readers (if only for the one blog) that could have voted in or even looked at other parts of the tournament but didn’t. The second piece of evidence is the matchup between Star Crossed Anime Blog and Just as planned, where, to put it mildly, Star Crossed is dominating like Godzilla mixed with Guts from Berserk. 568 votes, just for Star Crossed! And I don’t think it’s a big leap to say that the crowd that voted so much for Colony Drop is not the same as the one that was so eager to show their support for Star Crossed Anime Blog.

I understand that not even the people who are actively participating in the Aniblog Tourney are voting in every single matchup. I’ve missed a few opportunities myself, but there’s a whole bunch out there who just vote for their favorites without looking at the other.

While Star Crossed garnered plenty of comments on its own blog in regarding the tournament, there were comparatively few on the Aniblog Tourney page itself. Then an equally titanic blog came up, but Random Curiosity’s situation has been far different. Unlike Star Crossed, Random Curiosity is not crushing its opponent and its fanbase is much more vocal (though still obviously just a small fraction of the actual readership Random Curiosity garners). And in those comments is a classic accusation among fans of competing or opposing sides, the foul cry of elitism.

Amidst the complaints that the people running the tournament (and by extension the primary audience of the tournament) are biased against popular episodic blogs, I left a response basically saying that instead of throwing out accusations of elitism or using overall popularity as a metric of superiority, that those who disagree should state just why they read the blogs they do, why they are fans of certain blogs and what keeps them coming back for more. Rather than just  naysaying the other side, we can express our own opinions on why we read anime blogs at all and come to understand each other, even if it’s just agreeing to disagree.

Just to give you an idea, I’ll talk about a blog I enjoy that’s not in the tournament at all: Subatomic Brainfreeze (though actually he writes for Colony Drop so he wasn’t completely removed from it).

While I am friends with Sub and even engage in mahjong camaraderie with him on occasion, the reason I really enjoy his blog is his informative yet accessible writing style. Now I know that I am credited as having an accessible writing style as well, but Sub’s is on another level. When I read his posts, I feel like an arm is reaching out from the computer to grab my shoulder and occasionally high five me. Even his stuff on Colony Drop which makes fun of other fans still has the same basic feeling.

I know that not everyone who enjoys something is willing to comment about it, let alone write lengthy posts discussing the nature of preference itself, but I encourage everyone to think about why they enjoy the blogs they do.

Welcome to the OGI!

Ogiue Maniax is up today in the “Aniblog Tourney,” a competition which asks readers of anime-themed blogs to vote for their favorites while also encouraging everyone to check out anime blogs they haven’t seen before.

For those of you who are already familiar with Ogiue Maniax, I recommend that you check out the other blogs for the day before you decide your votes.

hountou ni

chaostangent

Caraniel’s Ramblings

Who knows, you might find a new favorite.

Now, for those of you who are new to Ogiue Maniax, an introduction is in order.

As the name implies, I am a dedicated fan of the character Ogiue Chika from the manga and anime series Genshiken, who I honestly believe to be one of the greatest characters ever, if not the greatest. However, the content of Ogiue Maniax goes well beyond my interest in this blog’s namesake. As it says on my About page, I strive for a holistic view of anime and its fandom, approaching and analyzing a great number of anime and manga-related topics from multiple perspectives.

As you read my blog, I’d like you to keep in mind my three basic goals in writing Ogiue Maniax:

First, I want to share and express my own passion for anime and manga.

Second, I want to increase my own understanding of these subjects to which I have devoted so much time and energy.

Third, I want to encourage my readers and fellow fans to look more closely at the fandom in which they exist, to think and rethink and to challenge themselves.

It doesn’t matter who you are or how much you know, there’s always something worth learning, even if it’s about yourself.

Since I began Ogiue Maniax back in November of 2007, I have posted at least once every day. As the content of my posts are subject to my everyday whims, the content of Ogiue Maniax is extremely varied. Combined with the large archive, it can be somewhat daunting, especially if you’re new, so to ease you along, I have provided a small sampling of some of my favorite posts. I think they give a good idea of what this blog is like as a whole. Take a look-see and tell me what you think.

Ogiue/Genshiken

Analysis

Fujoshi-related

Translation

Review

Bad Humor

Artwork