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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Ogiue 009: Ogiue Maniax 9th Anniversary

Today marks nine years of Ogiue Maniax. Normally, this would be a post reflecting back on just the blog itself, but the world is in such a crazy spot at the moment that the times of a small anime blog seem to pale in comparison. Still, while a huge part of me wants to do more to help my fellow human beings, I still plan on keeping up with all the anime and manga out there.

Nine years is not that far from eight, but somehow it feels like so much more. Maybe it’s because the big “10” is on the horizon, and that’s a pretty crazy place to be. Most anime blogs last maybe two to three years, and somehow I’ve been chugging along. I attribute it to stubbornness, perseverance, and a willingness to let half-baked and flawed ideas get posted (sometimes typos and all). A friend recently told me a famous quote: “Perfect is the enemy of good enough.” I think, when it comes to the things I’ve accomplished in my life, especially this blog, that accounts for a good deal of my success.

Perhaps the biggest topic of the entire year for Ogiue Maniax is the end of Genshiken itself. In my final chapter review, I wrote about all the good times I had with the series, and how it impacted the blog, and the takeaway from all of that is simply, Genshiken changed and so did Ogiue Maniax. What it means to be a fan or an otaku, the cultural associations with these ideas, has morphed significantly over the course of nine years. In a recent episode of Anime World Order, they discussed the increase in the number of fashion designers as guests at Anime Weekend Atlanta (and cons in general). Just thinking about how we live in a world where fashion is a big deal to nerds says to me that we’re in a very different place.

Genshiken reflected these changes well, which makes me want to go back and take another look. For that reason, I am making an announcement:

Starting next year (most likely January 2017), I will be re-reviewing the original Genshiken manga. Rather than going chapter by chapter, I am going to be looking at it one volume at a time on an approximately bi-monthly schedule. I already reviewed the series a long time ago (for my first anniversary!), but I expect to get a new perspective on an old friend, especially with knowledge of Nidaime.

Another sign that Ogiue Maniax is nine years old is that the blog itself looks like it comes from nine years ago. I’ve considered changing the design at some point, but I’m just not sure. Blogging itself in this format seems to have left the lands of trendiness long ago as well, and perhaps I’ve stubbornly refused to adapt to changing times in that regard. YouTube will never be my medium, but I wonder if it’d be worth it to really mix things up.

While not exactly a stylistic change, in light of recent events in the world I’m considering something. I might make more posts that veer towards political thought, though not in a way that takes over Ogiue Maniax or makes it any less of an anime blog. One can argue that just about any action can be political (including actively tried to avoid it), but what I’m thinking about is writing more about the goings-on of politics with respect to the US, Japan, and elsewhere, and how they potentially impact fans, production, and the on-going conversations we have about respect, anger, diversity, and so on. However, I am aware of how much the strength of my writing comes from trying to see all sides of a situation and I wish to not get so embroiled in thinking of “sides” that I don’t challenge my own viewpoint on a regular basis, so I don’t wish it to become too much a part of any “cause.” It’s a balancing act that I’m still trying to figure out as a person, and I still fully intend on maintaining my love of anime’s sheer variety.

That was a bit of a ramble, but those are my genuine thoughts and feelings. I hope you’ll hang on with me as we jump into 2017 and reach a decade of Ogiue Maniax.

Ogiue Maniax’s 8th Anniversary: Fight! Fight! 8! 8! 8!

8-man

Last year, I forgot about my anniversary for about a month. Always looking to improve Ogiue Maniax, I decided that it wasn’t enough, so this time I’ve over a month and a half late for the annual retrospective.

Whoops!

Eight years sounds kind of crazy for anime blog, doesn’t it? A lot of old friends and comrades have set aside their keyboards while others keep marching on, but of course that doesn’t mean anything about their passion for their hobbies. Blogs are just one way of doing things, and it’s the format I’ve come to prefer the most. It’s just informal enough to feel comfortable, while also providing plenty of space to get serious if need be.

Though I think it a bit obvious, by far the biggest change to Ogiue Maniax this past year was the launch of my Patreon. Thanks to my patrons, but also everyone who reads and shares and even just thinks about what I have to say, I’ve managed to make a decent chunk of change from blogging. It’s not a full-time career by any means, but I think it shows that good written content is appreciated for the ideas contained within, even if the tendency in “content creation” is often towards simpler things like lists. Just the fact that my longer posts garner greater attention gives me a little more faith in the world.

I’ve been looking at the idea of being a “content creator” recently, and one thing that’s crystal clear is that written content, especially given how much time and effort is required of it, is often viewed as a losing battle. Video and podcasts are where it’s at. Of course, it’s more than possible to create quality work on YouTube or wherever, and the convenience is something even I take advantage of as a viewer, so I’m not knocking people who focus their energies in that direction. Rather, in light of this, I actually feel pretty good that there are so many people who think my writing is worth something. While I don’t need a confidence boost to keep writing, it at least is comforting to know that the energy I’ve put into Ogiue Maniax can be felt by so many.

Thanks for 8 years, everybody.

A Very Belated 7th Anniversary Blog Post

November 20 is the birthday of Ogiue Maniax, and while I’ve forgotten it before it was never quite to this extent. All I can say is, whoops! It’s not really that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, but an annual look back is one of the traditions of this blog, and it’s one I like to keep up. So, here we are.

Of course the biggest change this year for me and the blog has been moving back to the United States. In light of this, I’ve considered maybe doing something new for it. Perhaps a new banner? Maybe a new series of posts? Then again, the Gattai Girls and Fujoshi Files are still going on, and especially with the former I can only get a new post out once every few months. I also tend to drop a lot of ideas after bringing them up for no other reason than lack of inertia. Switching back to the old daily posting schedule is also a possibility, but at this point it might not be so feasible like it was four years ago.

At the same time, I’m still devoted to posting at least twice a week, though this has come with its own challenges. A few years back, in an effort to not fall behind when I was extremely busy, I started writing a number of posts in advance so I could keep up a consistent schedule. It’s worked, but one side effect is that often-times I’ll have ideas that I should be posting sooner when a show or whatever is fresh in people’s minds, but then I delay it because I have so many. What happens then, if I have a huge archive of drafts such that I don’t have to write anything for a while, is that I start to feel a bit disconnected from anime, manga, games, and even myself. It’s a weird feeling, like somehow I’m engaging less with this stuff (even though I’m still watching and reading plenty). However, if I start posting all of them at once, I get nervous about running out of a supply. I still have posts from like two years ago that I finished and just never published because the timing never seems right, and some I’ve gotten rid of because they just didn’t feel right.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get rid of this feeling, even if this blog magically became my job and I could live off of its profits (fat chance). In fact, that might make me feel even more pressured which might result in Ogiue Maniax losing some of its identity. That’s not always a bad thing, but still something I probably wouldn’t do. I know it sounds like I’m not enjoying the blog anymore, but that’s not the case at all. It’s still my favorite place for talking about the things I love.

To end off, I want to use this post to give a eulogy to my old Tenhou account. Though I managed to reach 4-dan a while back, my own neglect resulted in me failing to log in during the 3-month grace period, and so it’s been suspended with no way to bring it back. I now have to start again from the bottom, though of course that’s not actually the case, seeing as I’m re-starting with a lot more experience behind me.

6 Years Combined Blog Mars

This year’s blog anniversary actually snuck up on me by surprise. Every year before this I had the sense to notice that November was coming up and November means time to celebrate, but this time around was different.

For a long time I’ve been considering changing the banner up top, but I keep hesitating on it. I made it on the fly when I first started, and it was outdated from Day 1, but something about it has me feeling that it maintains the blog’s identity. Simple, to the point, Ogiue. Will it finally change this year? Who knows, but I do have an idea or two.

On the anime front, I never thought we’d get to see another Genshiken anime. This blog actually began in the middle of the Genshiken 2 run back in 2007 (not to be confused with Genshiken Second Season which aired this year), so in some ways it’s come full circle. I think the fact that it sort of coincided with the lifespan of Ogiue Maniax so far makes me realize just how much time has passed and indeed how much otaku culture has changed in its own ways.

Moving forward, though I do always want to keep blogging I get the feeling that the next year may bring some changes to the blog. Perhaps it’ll be just a once-a-week post schedule, maybe it’ll be fewer prepared essay-style posts and more near-stream of consciousness posts (like this one!), or maybe it’ll just be more sporadic posting. I can’t predict the future unfortunately. As someone who has tried his hardest to maintain the blog as both a place where I could relax and challenge myself at the same time, keeping at it week after week has been important to me, and if I can help it I’ll continue to do so.

I still have plenty of things to say, and to ask.

The 5th Time Around

Today marks the 5-Year Anniversary of Ogiue Maniax. That’s quite a big milestone I think, especially when I consider that it’s probably the longest I’ve ever actively stuck to something, but because I actually reflect on where I’ve been as a blogger and where I might go every year, I find myself not knowing really what to say that I haven’t said before. So, I’ve decided that maybe rather than just reminiscing on being a blogger, I would kind of talk about my pre-history of blogging, pretty much how I came to be active in communicating on the internet with fans and such, and how I strongly believe those experiences shaped much of how I write and approach anime. I’ve talked about some of these things in part before, so those who’ve been reading a while may see some familiar things, but I hope you’ll be entertained anyway.

My very first experience with online fando came shortly after purchasing my video game ever: NiGHTS into dreams…. I remember saying to myself at the time, “I must be the only NiGHTS fan out there!” based on how none of my friends even mentioned it, so I was pleasantly shocked to find out that there were communities dedicated to the game, even sites where people wrote fanfiction based on the universe. And so I hung on those early messageboards, things that didn’t even have the luxury of sub-boards and convenient categorizations, and it’s where I first learned about what it means to communicate online. I made a lot of friends then, both older and younger than me, and while I don’t really talk to them anymore I do cherish those times. Amidst the webrings and such I learned how big the world is. I was actually amazed that I could communicate with people from the UK!

My next big steps in terms of internet community went hand in hand: anime and Pokemon. With anime, I of course visited the Anime Web Turnpike and tried to read through every single site with the naive notion that if I did I could learn about every anime in existence. I mean, how many could there be? Though that was a fool’s errand, my pursuit of knowledge of anime is still of a similar sort, which I think shows in my writing. With Pokemon too, I can draw a clear line to where I am today as a blogger, firstly because discussions of the anime back when it first came out were filled with everyone’s wild hopes and speculations and theories, but secondly because a lot of my Pokemon community experience was on the competitive side.

There were the war stories,” entertaining recaps of Pokemon battles you’d had both online and off, where you had to take a rather dry text log consisting of “Pokemon used Attack! It’s Super Effective!” and spice it up into something more engaging. And then there were the strategy discussions, where we rated each others’ teams and discussed the pros and cons of various strategies. By engaging in those discussions, I think I laid some of the early groundwork for some of my more argument-oriented posts today. Obviously I was less experienced then in terms of conveying my ideas, but I remember wanting to present my ideas not only intelligently but also in an entertaining and accessible manner.

The amount of forums I interacted on grew and shrunk depending on various circumstances, but that idea of writing for fellow forum readers stuck with me throughout. It’s the reason I cannot truly accept the idea that the internet fosters idiocy in its communities: I know in my heart that my writing style was forged on internet forums, and I strongly believe that I benefited immensely from these interactions, and not only because it influenced the way I write.

So that’s “Early, Early Pre-Ogiue Maniax.” What you see from me in all of my posts on Ogiue Maniax comes from years of getting into spirited but (hopefully) good-natured arguments with people on a variety of nerdish topics. In fact, the reason why I ended up wanting a blog (and started participating less on other sites) was that I would frequently write forum responses which I felt argued really good points about a certain topic, but it would forever be confined to just that small community. I wanted to write about ideas and thoughts I had on my own terms.

Actually, in writing this mainly internet-oriented summary, I realize that I’m leaving out all of the real life development I had at the time as well. Around the same time, I discovered friends in school who had as much if not more interest in games and anime as I did, and I think the combination of both friends who understood me well (and are still friends with me today) as well as enriching internet communication actually worked together to help instill in me some confidence as to who I am and what I love. Still, it wouldn’t be until many years later that I would truly have faith in my abilities, and though they weren’t around all the way back then, I still feel a need to thank those who support me today.

Year 4 of the Blogging Experiment

Today marks the 4-year anniversary of Ogiue Maniax, and I thought I’d use this opportunity to reflect on a topic that’s been on the back of my mind for a while.

As those of you who keep up with this blog probably know, I began an academic career focusing on manga last year, and part of the reason I was able to do so is that I’ve honed my ability to talk about anime and manga through my blogging. Now though, the question I have for myself is, has my time in academia affected my blog posts in a way that shows an academic influence?

Seeing as I’ve never tried to write a full-on scholarly essay on Ogiue Maniax with footnotes and elaborations on methodology and the like, I don’t think I’ve changed my fundamental posting style in that regard, but I have to wonder if there are any more subtle changes that have to do directly with academia. The fact that I post much less than I used to and make longer posts in general is probably more attributable to my desire to avoid mental fatigue, but I don’t think it really bleeds into the writing itself. I can’t really think of anything major. At the same time, I’ve found myself less willing to make posts with incomplete thoughts like I used to, which may be a sign.

From my own admittedly biased self-examination (as if there is any other kind), I wonder if I don’t let my academic influences enter into my blogging enough. Sometimes I argue things primarily out of passion, and I find myself making assumptions every so often that would probably get hit with a flurry of criticisms in a more rigid setting, which makes me ask if I shouldn’t be reining it in a little bit, researching more vigorously for my blog posts. That’s not to say that every post should be that way (the Fujoshi Files for instance wouldn’t work in that regard), but maybe I should be holding myself to a higher standard.

So I want to ask my readers who’ve been with me for a while, do you find my writing has changed in a manner which reveals my increased academic leanings? If so, do you think it’s something to watch out for, or perhaps something worth encouraging? Is there something about the blog that you like more now, or perhaps something you miss and would like to see more of?

In any case, thank you for these four years. It’s been great walking with you.