Reflections: What I’ve learned in 250 posts

Welp, here I am.

This is the 250th post to go up on In Search of Number Nine.

I’m not sure if I should celebrate or if I should cry or if I should just hang my head in shame.

Well I mean, I am writing about this, so let’s just celebrate. Woo woo. I managed to write a medium-sized novel between 2007 and 2009 and since coming back, I’ve nearly written another novel worth of words.

Yes. They’re not really novels. I’m sure real novelists would have something to say about that. But writing more than 250,000 words is an accomplishment.

Scene setting Big O

I’ve collected 69 followers, of whom some number are likely bots, and two are definitely from defunct accounts.

But numbers are boring.

What I really wanted to talk about was the things that I’ve learned since returning. I’m hoping not to drown anyone in maudlin middle-aged antics or tire people with frankly boring numbers.

So let’s start with the obvious.

I’m a dinosaur in anime terms

While my corner of fandom (the ones that write on blogs) is getting older, I’m would guess that I have a few years on most of this crowd. Well, except for Crow. He’s old enough that he watched Star Trek on television when it came out. He’s a cool dude, but he’s definitely older than I am.

OK. So I am making an assumption, but it’s likely a pretty safe assumption.

This means the arguments that I was invested in — mostly around digital media — are largely moot, and the ones that haven’t faded away — like dubs vs. subs — were irrelevant 10 years ago.

Now there are a whole host of arguments around gatekeeping, sexualizing children, animator pay and characters like Mother’s Basement that I simply don’t know enough about to have an opinion.

The Eva as monster

It’s why I don’t use my “In My View” section much and just stick to these loosey-goosey Reflections posts. This is the section where I use a combination of shooting from the hip with a healthy dose of navel-gazing to talk about things that I’m thinking about.

There are so many things that weren’t around when I used to blog. The big gaming websites like Kotaku and Polygon didn’t dip their toes into talking about anime. No one else reported on anime news except for Anime News Network, and now there are at least three anime news blogs, along with sites like Sakuga Blog that do long-form pieces.

On top of that, the tenor around discussion has changed. People are so much angrier now. It’s likely because Twitter’s 240-character limit encourages declarative statements, and leads to more misunderstandings.

I also don’t have the stomach for controversy that I used to. My most well-read post from the old days was one where I was wrong. I want my posts to be mostly correct now.

Or at the very least, vague enough that I can escape the pitchforks.

My most popular posts

It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that my most popular posts since I’ve returned have been The Otakusphere. What’s strange is that I started doing these back in 2008, and they were never a big hit. But when I saw Crow, Karandi and The Little Anime Blog doing similar posts, I decided to follow suit.

I intended them as a way to promote my own posts, but I dropped that about halfway through Evangelion, because the list just got too unwieldy.

I hope they’re enjoyable, and they’re fun to do, but I always feel like I’m cheating a little. Really, I don’t see many people click out on the links, so I’m getting traffic for responding to other people’s stuff.

The_Otakusphere

I feel good for sharing, but I wonder if I’m just heaping praise on posts everyone has already seen.

When I say popular, I should qualify that. My top post for 2020 has about 50 views. It’s not super exciting.

What I’ve found strange though is the number of people that come across my older posts through Google. My most popular non-Otakusphere posts for 2020 are Sad Shinji in the Rain and Other Pretty Pictures from Neon Genesis Evangelion and my criticism of how Babylon handles suicide.

These mostly got their views through search.

What I don’t know is how to attract more people’s attention with my own material. I just keep plugging away and hoping to learn the secret.

Accepting who I am

When I restarted this blog, I wanted to write long-form analyses of shows that I enjoyed. That’s what I’ve done. I never figured that would be popular, but maybe I kind of hoped it would.

What I have to accept is that it may never be popular. I may just be the James Joyce of anime blogging, writing for the same 15-20 people.

The girl in yellow

It’s still what I want to do though. I’ve made it halfway through RahXephon, and I’m hoping to finish it up by the end of February. I’m thinking about putting together a Twitter poll to help me pick my next series.

I accept that I write pretentious nonsense. I hope the posts are interesting enough for other people to read, and that I don’t get anything too wrong. I’m not the strongest writer, and I might not be the strongest thinker, but I hope to bring a different perspective to the table.

I mean no one writes about RahXephon, so any perspective I bring to the table is going to be a new one.

I’m never going to be the guy who keeps up on the current season. It’s just too much of an investment, and I’ve never liked watching as things come out. I prefer seeing the vetted list and being part of the conversation later.

Rediscovering the community

A couple of months ago, I joined up with #AniTwitWatches to watch School Days, and I decided to stay on for a watch of Girls Last Tour.

That never would have happened 12 years ago.

The same is true about the tag posts and other people sharing posts from around the community. Those are all things that came about in the intervening years.

While the arguments are more strident, I think the positive forces in the community are equally as good. Even if Jon Spencer and I disagree about whether Setsuna’s actions make sense, it’s an amazing amount of fun to engage in those conversations.

There is simply so much more community out there, and that is a good thing. There are so many people I could thank for being awesome people. I don’t want to leave anyone out though, so this is my blanket cop-out thank you to everyone.

Now if anyone can help me change my blogroll, that would be awesome.

And, as always, thanks for reading.

7 thoughts on “Reflections: What I’ve learned in 250 posts

  1. 250 posts is a respectable milestone, and going from your archive, you’re certainly no stranger to blogging. I hope you will continue with your journey and make new discoveries along the way!

  2. At least you’re doing better than me in that you’ve kept one blog after all these years. I start afresh on a new platform/blog every so often because current me is embarrassed by past me.

    Inevitably, if there is someone who’s in very similar spheres of influence to you, chances are they’ve seen the posts you’re sharing, possibly before you even share them as a round-up post – it’s just a probability thing. Don’t get too worked up about it and maybe follow the people who’re giving you reads if you haven’t already, because if your paths cross a lot, chances are you’d be good (at minimum, online) friends.

    I think the best way to be a blogger is to not be afraid to experiment and know how you function best.

  3. When they brought Sailor Moon and Voltron to U.S. TV decades ago, I remember my excitement about finally being able to share anime with my children. . .so, yeah, I feel you on that dinosaur bit!

  4. “Well, except for Crow. He’s old enough that he watched Star Trek on television when it came out. ”

    To be clear, we’re talking about Star Trek (before it was called Star Trek Original Series).

    It was on a Zenith color television, too! The kind with a screen that curved outward. It had a single speaker, we got 3 channels — 4 on a good day if WOUS/PBS came in. The antenna was on the roof and my dad had to run the strange flat antenna cable outside and under the door, because we had a brick house.

    No. I don’t miss those days.

    “These mostly got their views through search.”

    With some rare exceptions, my most popular posts are older ones, and the traffic comes through search. I’ve read several bloggers say this, and my experience agrees: it’s a long game.

    “I accept that I write pretentious nonsense.”

    Um, you know, I like your writing, right? I almost feel insulted! Not really; I’m kidding. But I not kidding when I say I don’t consider your writing either pretentious or nonsense.

    250 articles is nothing to sneeze at. Glad you took the time to celebrate! If nothing else, I now appreciate my flat screen TV even more!

  5. Congrats on such an amazing milestone. Reading this reflection, I could really see how much this blog and its small, niche, yet welcoming community means to you. I am merely a brand new blogger who is still very ‘naive’ in what I do, but I’m really loving every second of it. I really hope that you continue your blogging journey.

    P.S. And please don’t feel bad for being a ‘dinosaur’ otaku. As a younger otaku, I find the topics you mentioned above simply tiring and repetitively. Sometimes, I even wished I didn’t know what the discussion was and just to watch my beloved anime in peace.

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