One year and over a hundred posts later from the date of the first post, and this entire anime blog project of mine has yet to burst into flames. So that is pretty swell!
In the spirit of celebration then: Reflecting on Cool Stuff and eyes toward the future! Cake and drinks are in the kitchen!
1. What do you feel are your favorite posts from this year?
We may as well start this off on a strong note, I feel! Given, these are my personal considerations and favorites, but what I liked did not necessarily need to perform well in terms of view counts or actually drawing people to the site.
A history focused article on the development and release of the original fan animation that turned a bunch of university aged folks into Gainax.
As the initial “long form” article on the site about a singular topic, it is probably a little on the dry side, and has some formatting quirks I would do in different ways now. But, I like that I did it because of both the subject matter itself, a proof of concept push for how I would approach longer content, and how it would play into events later when putting together my rag tag Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise article (which you will see linked elsewhere in this post in another category!).
This was a doozy: I wrote out the English alphabet, then typed down the first anime the came to mind for each letter (meaning they did not all need to be good, just what I thought of), and then writing a paragraph or more for each of those entries. I think this may be the longest article on the blog.
A self imposed challenge after Justin, Editor-in-Chief over at the Organization ASG blog had nominated this anime blog for one of those “ABC Award” chain posts. In its original form the writer is to fill in a word as it relates back to themselves via personal traits, hobbies, achievements, etc. I took the idea and morphed it into a far more titanic beast however.
I think it was a good at a glance look at how my mind recalls a large swatch of anime works in general, especially at the time of writing. Plus, there were interesting scraps on the floor when taken as a whole (“N” did not make me think Neon Genesis Evangelion, for instance, nor did “C” cause me to think Cowboy Bebop, as examples).
The newest of the posts in this list, but I like it a lot for what I tried doing here: Taking an multiformat rising artist from a textiles background whose very limited anime work is mostly in directing music videos. Then providing said music videos with commentary and an attempt to demonstrate how his personal stylistic stamps shine through even in a format so small.
It is very different material and a way of approaching an anime subject than this blog has dealt with before, so it was an interesting and lively experience for myself to undertake as a writing project. It will definitely be the kind of thing that will be very helpful to have done when I attempt doing a dedicated article on my perspectives of a more headliner director’s work
This was a six post series containing a list of ten works, with the first being what would amount to my #10 – #6, while the upper half of the scale each received their own articles for expanded attention and remarks.
The late December through early January part of the calendar year is stacked with events and holidays, so while my intention was to do them far closer together they each ended up a few days apart from one another given personal events. I like the idea of having done the series this way, especially for the top half, as if I rank something highly at the end of the year I would like to have space to indulge on it and give it a nice little spotlight for a time. But, it is also a lot of work outside of my usual posting schedule as well, so some parts may not be as tight as they otherwise could be given the wider spread of my focus.
In either event, I am glad I went with a more ambitious route, I still stand by my list, and I look forward to however I will approach the one for 2014 half a year from now.
From my perspective, pound for pound, this is my favorite post on the entire blog from the previous year.
I feel Mamoru Oshii’s Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer is a really important film when it comes to the increasing development of more auteur professional studio anime works in the early half of the 1980’s and then the later explosion by the later part of the decade. 2014 marks its thirtieth anniversary. I slipped making the post by the actual anniversary date, but it did give me some extra time to think and gestate on how I wanted to approach talking about it.
The feel the final result was something that is both engaging for those who have already seen the film, while also all the while trying to keep an eye towards those who have not. To want to engage their imaginations in such a way to inspire them to go and see it, or failing that, to know the feelings and sentiments contained within regarding the dreams of one’s youth. That they can at least carry such a shard with them, always. I would like to hope I was able to accomplish that task here.
2. What posts performed the worst?
For this, a few posts are going to be ignored. The earliest posts on this site, the initial Mothballs entries for my back catalog watches, are not very well optimized. They are kind of a mess to be honest, often trying to cram in way too many productions, and they lack screenshot images for more robust search results. So it seems unfair to be too harsh on them. But those aside, we still had some rather spectacular failures when it comes to view counts:
This was focused on the Panzer Dragoon OVA, a hyper cheap direct to video cash grab based on Sega’s rail shooter game of the same name for the Saturn. To the point where it actually uses a lot of the same prerendered CGI cinema sequences (except somehow in worse quality than if you were just playing the game), with very low resolution hand drawn animation.
Now, the reason this flopped is rather straightforward to me: Panzer Dragoon as a game series has not been relevant since said Sega Saturn era and the release of Panzer Dragoon Saga. Sure there were later things like Panzer Dragoon Orta on the Xbox or the recent series inspired successor Crimson Dragon. But, there just is not a whole lot of eyes looking for Panzer Dragoon OVA commentary, especially as the resulting production was so dire on every conceivable level that there is very little desire for or even possibility of significant new insight in 2014. It is largely forgotten, dead, and buried otherwise, for good reason.
This post was about the home video version of Mamoru Oshii’s big World Exposition 2005 theatrical animation experience, Open Your Mind (Mezame no hakobune) complete with trying to explain how it was even put together for those in attendance and the massive technical effort involved in bringing it to life.
As what amounts to a grand experimental or “art” film of almost a decade ago but is so linked to the three dimensional theatrical attendance for it achieve its goals in purest form, I can again understand why this did less than optimally. I think it is an interesting and quirky little history peice, given the scale of the effort and the name of Mamoru Oshii attached to it. But the home copy of the production can of course not match what would be possible in its original event spectacle form, so search results or other kind of interest in it not going so well years removed from the event is fitting.
Going forwards, I think it will perhaps be fun for someone embarking on a deep archives binge as a “Huh, that is kind of odd” sort of thing in the future.
This surprised me, going through the numbers. My least viewed post, when accounting for the exceptions I noted, consists of one of my posts from my favorite anime productions of 2013 series.
Of course, of the ten productions that made it into those six posts, and especially of the five that received their own articles, gdgd Fairies is less popular with English language audiences than any of the others. Heck arguably The Flowers of Evil, which was my top pick but moved only a few hundred disc units, was more successful with western audiences.
But, I still like gdgd Fairies a whole lot for its brand of late night improvisation comedy antics, and I do not regret the spot I granted it when looking back on the list now. Comedies are always a tricky thing to recommend. But for me it did the job and was a great time every week with its talk show style cycling of events combined with bargain basement but expressive CGI and the sense that everyone involved really was having a blast making it. I would recommend the show for how much they really do with so little, which is always a great thing to see realized.
As the series is somehow getting a theatrical film in September (entitled as Gekijō-ban gdgd Yōseis tte Iu Eiga wa Dō kana…? or gdgd Fairies the Movie – Wonder What Kind of Movie That’ll Be…? no less), I am looking forward to more and there is no better time to get started if you haven’t already. And given that this one performed the worst in this lineup, well, that may be true for a lot of folks!
3. What aspects of the blog do you think could have been done better?
I feel a lot of my material, while they perhaps get my analytical or perspective point across, or otherwise may be seen as informative, have not often lent themselves well to discussion and a consistently lively comment section.
I like the general weekly rhythm I have gotten into regarding the blog though: one post on all my airing anime from the past week, one older title post of a short page length before the weekend, and every now and again a more showcase or lengthy article as anchor material as a third post.
So the cooler response rate may in part be due to generally directing my thoughts at specific productions rather than perhaps more general editorial topics. I tried floating some editorials for a bit though, such as one regarding Dirty Pair possessing my favorite anime Halloween episode, but even that is still a topical or event focus as it was written in October.
There probably isn’t anything explicitly wrong with a more media directed writing focus though, it just means I may go trough streaks where folks feel they do not have much to say if they have not seen the work in question. This can be especially true when I go on a more arthouse or obscurity binge, like my posts on Shigeru Tamura’s Glassy Ocean or Hiroshi Harada’s The Death Lullaby.
But, at minimum, maybe at least one person (past, present, or future) gets to know those kinds of works are out there, file it into their memory cabinet, and may check them out some day months later.
4. Any particularly memorable blog moments from the past year?
I would say one of the truly great memories I will be able to take away from this year is from my post called Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise and The Shooting Star We Saw.
As a full length article that was originally a series of Reddit comments I made in discussing the film, then reordered and sewn together for flow because I realized that was a whole lot of writing I wanted to save, the piece itself kind of lurches around. But the great highlight memory is in the comment section you see. There Carl Horn himself, longtime anime topic author, convention presenter, and current Dark Horse manga editor, found the post and shared some of their own thoughts. He is a very smart guy, who in many ways one could say wrote the book on Honneamise analysis given his longtime commentary on it and his organizing the recent development of the anniversary fanzine project.
It is in many respects one of the downright scariest things for a little WordPress blogger, honestly, haha.
I posted my rinky dink and kind of messy article forged out of Reddit comments and some duct tape connective tissue. Then individual who is pretty much the foremost English language academic authority on the movie in question, who has seen it far more times that I may ever, shows up in my comment notification inbox for approval one day. Once the initial “How on Earth did he end up here?!?” wore off, certainly he got approval for his positive and insightful remarks, and I provided my own response in kind.
So that was such a nice surprise from the last year to be able to reflect on now. Certainly, it highlights the importance of always being mindful of who may be reading, even when the article itself may feel like it was made out of paper clips and twine.
5. What do you foresee coming up over the next year?
Oh, I have lots of ideas! The risk with revealing some of them always brings at least a little weight of expectation. But, some plans I have been kicking around:
– If one creeps my MAL profile, I’m getting close to 400 completed works. Maybe I’ll do that kind of anime blogger canon fodder overall “Top XX Anime” ranking or all time favorites post by the end of the year? Sure, if one has seen even ten works they can do a top ten, meanwhile others have seen far anime more than I. But, there is always the desire to want to make a strong impression and all when it comes to such things, I suppose.
– I have watched and continue to watch a lot of mecha anime, though it may not always appear that way given my writing topic stretches. And there are always more out there I want to consume, big names even! At some point, I would like to be able to put together my take on a How To Get Into Mecha post, for lack of a better temporary example title.
– I will do a ranking and commentary on the complete catalog of Anime Mirai works from the Young Animator Training Project, as the program may well end up discontinued given the current government funding situation. That post will happen Soon™, mark my words, having seen all but select examples from this years crop. Pending the translation, viewing, and proper digestion and reflection of the final shorts. So… it will still take a few weeks to a few months.
– This year marked my finally having seen all of Mamoru Oshii’s directorial feature films, both in live action and in anime form. I want to do… something… for that. Maybe itself a ranking and commentary, maybe something more. I’m not sure. I just like him a lot as a director. My post on Urusei Yatusura 2: Beautiful Dreamer being my favorite one on the site should perhaps get at least a little of that across!
The interesting thing about this whole situation is that in a year from now, I will be able to look back and see what I actually did in the time since, in addition to what I used to think was important for the blog.
Hopefully you will still be here, when that time comes!