Hello everybody. Today is Wednesday, so you should be getting my normal mid-week rambling about Galaxy Express 999.
But… well… this is a special post. It’s a post that I have been thinking about for probably three months. And after some shenaniganery that happened this weekend, well, it got pushed back from Saturday, when I had it planned, to today.
So yes, I could have skipped the Wednesday post or wrote a Tuesday post, but we’ll get into that down in the body of this.
See, this is my 350th post. Now for some people, that is not much of a milestone. Some bloggers average that in a year and a half, and technically it took nearly 13 years to reach that, albeit with an 11-year break in the middle.
That said, this is my milestone. It’s an arbitrary number that I’m going to celebrate because I like celebrating meaningless anniversaries. Like the anniversary of when I started in my current career (Aug. 4) or the day I started my current job (Oct. 10). (I’m also pretty good at remembering my wife’s birthday and my anniversary as well.)
Before I get into the heart of this, let’s break down the timeline that those 100 posts took place. The 250th post, which was more like the 256th post, was written on Feb. 17, 2020. At the time, I was still talking about RahXephon. I would wrap up that project in March, and then I got wiped out.
I won’t say it was my biggest fear, but I was afraid it would happen. I started a new project and got a few posts into it, but I couldn’t do anything more.
Look. This is mostly something I do for fun. When it’s not fun, I shouldn’t do it anymore. But I do kick myself for just burning out. I like being part of the community. I enjoy sharing other people’s posts and having my posts shared. There is no small part of self-validation I get when someone says, “Hey, that’s pretty clever,” or “Oh. Wow. I didn’t see that.”
So what brought me back. Well, funny story about that. See, even though I had dropped out of blogging for a bit, I was still keeping up with #Anitwitwatches. That’s the Jon Spencer Reviews-led activity where a bunch of us watch a show according to a schedule. I make obnoxiously long threads about it where I pretend I know what I’m talking about.
One of the shows we watched was Kanon. Man, did I have some feelings about that show. I still have some feelings about that show. But it was a perfect place to start blogging again.
Since then, I’ve set a schedule for myself. On Wednesdays, I write about whatever feature series I’m doing. Then on Saturdays, I write what I like to call my Saturday column. It’s just a post about whatever I’m thinking about that week. Then on Sunday, I do the Otakusphere.
All of that said, I do worry about burning out again. I like to think that the schedule keeps me honest. I can’t explain why it’s important for me. I just don’t really have the words without lapsing into saying things like obligation or commitment.
I don’t want the blog to become an obligation or a commitment. I want it to be something I do for fun.
So that background is out of the way, let’s talk about what I’ve learned in the last 100 posts.
What people like
So of the top 10 blog posts for 2021, six of them were written in 2019, and they’re all about one subject: Evangelion.
When I did my series on Eva, I never expected it to be the most popular thing on my blog. I don’t think I said anything earth-shattering about the show. (Although, I do like my revelation that Asuka really is Shinji’s girlfriend.)
People have written college papers about Eva. Every major pop culture media source has written about the show and has far more clickbaity, SEO-optimized headlines than mine. Eva should be the worst performing thing on my blog. In fact, when I started the series, I doubted anybody would ever find my posts, let alone read them.
In all honesty, they didn’t set the world on fire when I wrote them. But this year my post about Misato has 10 times the views of nearly everything else on my blog, and my post about Asuka isn’t far behind.
If 2021 has been dominated by Eva, well, 2020 was even more so. Nearly every post in the top 10 came from that series, except for my post about Babylon and suicide.
Here are the top 10 posts for both years, just so you can see what the numbers look like.
This is 2021.
This is 2020.
I also want to talk about the couple of non-Eva posts that have mysteriously crept into the top 10. See the Eva posts consistently get views, but two posts — In My View: It’s not censorship, it’s editing, and Is Haruhi a manic pixie dream girl? — randomly saw spikes in viewership.
I wish there was a way to track down where these spikes in views came from or why those posts suddenly became monumentally popular. But alas, my Google-fu is not strong enough to track down the source or reason of these spikes.
They are just as ephemeral as the words that were written.
I’ve also tried to make an effort to reply to comments on my posts, even if it’s with a “You’re welcome” or a “Thank you.” I’ve never been big on replying to comments unless I felt like they were asking clarifying questions. But I’ve found people seem to appreciate when I actually interact with them interacting with me.
I’ve also tried to make more effort to reply to people’s posts in the comments. Some people write posts that really encourage comments, and some people don’t. That said, I’m trying to share my thoughts more often.
Just let it be known that I appreciate every comment that anyone ever leaves because it allows me to know that you actually read my words. That means something to me.
That takes me to the thing this blog is the most well known for and what takes the most work.
So I want to be clear that the Otakusphere is probably the most important post I do every week. I mean, I use important relatively lightly here. I’m not curing cancer or designing bridges. I’m writing a semi-humorous run-down of blog posts that I found enjoyable for the week.
That said, whenever I write a post that gets onto Crow’s list or manages to sneak onto someone else’s list, I feel a sense of pride. I hope people feel the same when they make it into The Otakusphere. It’s crucial to celebrate the work that other people do. That’s what separates us from being a bunch of voices in the wilderness and transforms us into a community.
It also has a side effect that I read a lot of blog posts. It keeps me up-to-date with what people are talking about. And it means I can be a more active member of the blogging community.
That said, I will admit I have some biases. I don’t usually include episode reviews unless I happen to be watching that series. I generally favor posts that tell me about a person or make a point about something I care about.
Interestingly, the Otakusphere is the most honest piece of writing that I do for the blog. If you read enough Otakuspheres, you could probably tell my preferences, what I think about subjects and my love for travelogues.
Some blogs have a nearly permanent spot on The Otakusphere because all they do is run travelogue posts about Japan. Just Japan, though, I have to stay on topic.
The problem is that The Otakusphere is seriously the most work I do for the blog. I’ve started working on it on Saturday because I had been starting at 8 a.m. on Sunday and then not finishing until 4 p.m. The list of blogs that I peruse only gets longer.
Typically, I work by opening up my WordPress reader and then going to the manage tab. Then I open each blog that I’ve subscribed to that has posted something in the last seven days.
This makes me worry that I don’t give the blogs at the end of the list a fair shake. I mean, by the time I’m getting near the end, all I want to do is get to writing. It’s like seeing the finish line and sprinting there. I wish I could figure out an easier way to do it, but that would likely cut into my anime-watching time.
It’s a problem that I don’t have a good answer to, but it’s also the last thing I want to give up.
Space trains, new projects and the future
So I’ve promised myself that I will see the space train to its destination. I can only hope that I have enough valuable and pertinent to say, and I don’t start repeating myself. I feel like with a series this long, that is a genuine concern.
Either way, it really is the least popular thing that I write on the blog. I just had my most popular post about it, and it got a whopping 35 views. Those are not posts that people secretly find. Don’t get me wrong. Not being popular offers me a lot of freedom.
I also started my new project, In Search Of.., which is just my attempt to solicit suggestions for what to watch. I like it, though. The posts aren’t as in-depth as I would go with a series, but a lot of time, they’re fun. I just started watching Kaiji for the next one. We’ll see if I can actually finish it this time.
As far as the future goes, well, I hope it goes well. I’ve considered asking people to collaborate, but the last time I did that, it ended up taking more than a year to finish because of, well, COVID and life. But if anyone has any ideas, hit me up on Twitter.
So until I write another 100 posts, this is iniksbane, signing off from my own little corner from the Hinterlands, telling you all to be safe, be careful and learn a lot — not necessarily in that order.
And, as always, thanks for reading.