Lately I’ve been thinking about my blog. It seems that after a long time, I’ve gotten to the place that I yearned for when I started. Most of the comments I get are thoughtful and illuminating, which leads me to the conclusion that my readerbase has matured.
But what makes me stop and ponder is my posts. My tone has changed–it’s older and more deliberate, as if I’ve realized that I don’t need to run my mouth off. If anything, I attribute this to the passing of the blogs I used to read, some of which have closed shop entirely. I read those blogs because they were informative, analytical, and sincere (most important). But since they aren’t going back, no one’s going to help me write my own thoughtful posts. So I started doing them.
Honestly? It’s not that hard. I had been awe of the bigger editorial blogs before. But what they had been doing was no Herculean feat–they simply thought clearly about what they watched and read, then wrote down their thoughts. I only realized this when I started writing similar posts; what limited me at that time was that I was thoroughly convinced that I couldn’t do it. Nothing could be further from the truth. When I resolved to write what I thought would be interesting to me and my readers, things started picking up.
Am I thankful for their passing? Of course not! People keep on saying that anime blogging is dying and implying that this is a good thing, which I disagree with. But If I wanted change, I’d start with myself.
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I admit that I’ve cut down on reading anime blogs for some amount of time. There are a variety of reasons, but the most important one is that I don’t need to keep up with the lot of them. This does not mean I actively hate or dislike them; it means that I’m dedicating my time to things I value more. That said, the lack of quality in anime blogging is another reason, and I’ll talk about this soon.
The role of anime blogging has changed over the years. A decade ago, when a fansub would come out weeks after the raw aired and not be considered late, people read anime blogs because those who could understand Japanese could post episode summaries to make the wait less painful (or arguably more so, for the plot-thick ones). A few years after that, when fansubs thrived, but still before the age of simulcasting, editorial blogs started popping up, because more astute people could watch anime and lend their valuable perspective to shows. I remember in 2008-2009 about all those rivalries between episodic and editorial blogs. Now, with legal streaming and Twitter, and the big blogs dying or fading away, what’s the niche that anime blogging’s supposed to fill?
For me, it’s a place where you can be true to yourself.
I stopped going to anime forums and imageboards. I lurk and occasionally post on ADTRW, which is the most reasonable anime forum I’ve visited with its high signal-to-noise ratio (lol 4chan), manageable activity (lol Animesuki), and quick action against spoilers (lol everything else). But it won’t take over Twitter or blogs as far as anime discussion is concerned. The problem with forums is that it’s a community of people, whom you may or may not agree with. If you post an unpopular opinion in a forum then expect to be condescended on. If you want to keep on posting there, then you’ll have to adopt the forum’s culture, which puts a damper on what you can say. With a blog, you have full control, and it’s not like there are roving bands of Internet Warriors out to get you if you post something “wrong”.
With Twitter, 140 characters is too short to say something more than basic impressions, and carrying a conversation is absolutely clunky. So that leaves the blogs.
What do I look for in a blog? I look for interesting and relatable people–maybe they’re funny, smart, or sincere. Actual writing quality is secondary. If I care about the author, then I will read them, period. Unfortunately, a lot of bloggers have taken to the cynical, I’m-too-cool-for-this-shit approach. They’re full of themselves and follow a hip way of enjoying depraved Japanese cartoons by being snarky and having an opinion on everything (see: season previews where they deride 80% of the upcoming shows). Admittedly, these bloggers have a readerbase that’s significantly bigger than mine, which probably means that they are decently successful at least. But have you read the comments they get? No, thank you.
Snark is hard to pull off, and it’s easy to come off as a pretentious ass. It also discourages bloggers to be sincere, because they have to keep up their cool image of being MAD ABOUT CARTOONS. Their fans would throw a fit if they admit that they like anime! But if you’re writing for the /a/ crowd, sure. Just don’t expect me to read you.
I’m not saying it’s bad to mock anime. It can be funny and entertaining. But please, make it clear that it’s all kayfabe. That, and illuminate us with what you think is good, or what you’d really like to see. If you keep on doing it without showing me what you like about the medium, then I’ll be disinclined to read you. When a person dislikes everything and doesn’t tell you what he likes, it sends the message that a) he fears that he’ll get mocked for his tastes, or b) he hates everything and wants to ruin everyone’s fun. How do you trust someone like that?
Next: Anime blogs I still read (some of which may have stopped being anime blogs entirely)