The Otakusphere: Micro-blogging, Identity and an unhealthy dose of navel-gazing.

So I’m going to try to avoid too much navel gazing in the post.

But recently there have been at least a couple posts about the nature of micro-blogging and its place in the Otakusphere.

What I found interesting about both Hige’s and Michael’s posts is specifically the idea of identity, both the identity of the writer and the identity of the blog. Now everyone takes on different characteristics depending on the role we’re playing at a certain point (some people do this more than others.) We’re different depending on whether we’re at work or if we’re at home or if we’re with friends or talking to teachers. Now these changes are greater or lesser depending on how drastically different the roles they play are.

Or at least that’s how I think about it.

But every writer has an identity. We generally refer to it as a voice, but largely it’s something we cultivate. To be honest, I think that’s where The Animanachronism’s micro blog comes in. It’s a little more personal, and it doesn’t really fit his identity as a writer (I can’t say anything about Owen’s because I haven’t really read it.) It might provide a scratch pad of sorts for ideas in later posts. But largely, it wouldn’t fit into the type of writing that we’d expect from him.

(If you’ll permit a little navel-gazing here, I’ll try to make it quick.)

Now, this is largely where I fit in. I have an identity as a writer. If someone pinned me down and made me describe it, I’d probably call myself an intellectual plebian. Basically, I’m smart enough to get myself in trouble, but I’m nowhere as smart as say, The Animanachronism, Martin, Hige or Michael. I’m not as good of a writer as bateszi, Hidoshi or CCY. I’m not as funny as Baka-raptor or lolikit. (I apologize if I left anyone out there, because I do think there are an awful lot of good writers in these circles.)

In fact, I’d say the strength of my writing identity comes from two major points. I try to state my point clearly (and forcefully). And I generally take a radically moderate point of view (although sometimes I just take a radical point of view.)

But largely, writers should cultivate a writing identity. Because, most readers read a blog or a column or anything because of the writer. (Or at least I do, so I might be generalizing here.)

Now a blog identity is a different thing. I think there is a good case for having a blog identity. Say if you write episode recaps and that’s what people come to your blog expecting to see. Essentially people are creating a brand. This way they’ll attract loyal readers. Or as Daniel states in his post, there’s a necessity of having standards.

Ironically, by accident and design, this blog doesn’t really have a brand in the same way. As most people point out, I tend to cover a wide range of topics. Now I do think that my identity as a writer sometimes shifts a little depending on what I’m writing about, but I’d like to think it remains fairly consistent. In a lot of ways, I’d attract a more loyal crowd if I picked a particular brand for my blog like bateszi has (with Bateszi, Afterimage and his posts in Nakama Brittanica). But unfortunately, I can’t seem to reign in the different parts of my brain so I can consistently write one type of piece.

In general though, I’m not sure if it’s a good thing to get strangled by your own blog. Because honestly, I’d read what bateszi wrote if he writes it on Afterimage or on Nakama Brittanica or on… well… Bateszi’s anime blog. I don’t think his identity as a writer shifts enough to really warrant three different blogs.

But that said, I’d read any of those three blogs anyway, so I doubt that it matters.


The Otakusphere: Impz’s brief history of the world (or at least all of the world that matters)

You can blame Impz, Martin, Bateszi, Hige, Lythka, Author and Michael for this post.

Really, I know a collective groan goes up anytime someone starts talking about “the community”. But after reading Impz’s brief history of the Otakusphere (that’s still my word for the anime blogosphere), Kabitizin’s interviews and Os’s new blogging initiative (which is really cool by the way), it has made me wonder.

Why do we blog?

And I’m not going to talk about why I blog, because frankly, no one cares, but I’m curious about the stories from everyone else. How did you get started? Why did you start? Did you do research or did you just jump in? What type of niche do you try to get into? And probably, most importantly:

What do you get out of it?

As far as the readers of the blogs, who don’t have blogs of their own, what do you get out of reading them? Do you normally read for news or opinions or both?

Really, I’d like people to leave comments or leave links to posts of their own. I’m curious.

The Otakusphere: Civil Liberties, Dead Titles and Living Monkey Armor

Yeah, for those of you who don’t know, I’m a radical Civil Libertarian. And when I say radical I mean “no closed door meetings, destroy the FCC, try the prisoners in Gitmo and let the Nazi’s march” type of radical Civil Libertarian.

So when I read usagijen’s post on Library Wars, I just about got up ran around my apartment screaming, “Yes, yes, yes, you fricken rock!”

And then I remembered that my roommate’s asleep.

Working at six o’clock in the morning must really suck. It’s been a long time since I had to do that, but what must be worse is going into work and finding your job has been replaced by a monkey. And not somebody who looks like a monkey, but a real monkey.

Alafista has a report (with video) of a bar that just started having a monkey serve drinks. Really, now if they could just train them to simultaneously link hands to form living monkey armor, the world would be a better place to be.

Just imagine being guarded by a horde monkeys at your beck and call.

Anyways, in the WTF category, Borderline Hikkomori has a post up about FUNImation releasing some show that no one has heard about, and the people who have heard about it, don’t care. Really though, I have a sneaking suspicion that they picked it up for bargain basement prices. As much as I’d like to suspect the industry of stupidity, for the most part FUNI’s been pretty smart about their licenses. I mean they do have at least four of the top selling anime of the beginning of 2008.

Now if they could just start working on that living monkey armor.

And on a more painful note, I just came across this post on How a Girl Figures. I’d heard about how much money figurines sap out of you. But Jiminy Christmas. See this is why I appreciate super_rats and Happy Soda – all of the fun of seeing a figurine, none of the pain.

And one final note… living monkey armor, just think about it. All of the cool of monkeys, all the use of armor.

Wait, no. Okay, so on a real final note, voting for the Anime Blog Awards is wrapping up. And vote for DrmCshr0 for best Dorama. It’s certainly some of the most intelligent.

The Otakusphere: A long line of dead blogs

So recently I was checking through my backlog of stuff and stumbled across an old Otakusphere column that I wrote back in February. Mostly because I wanted to find out what had happened to Only the Bitch Knows.

What I found was a fairly long post about how she’d had her identity stolen. Honestly it was one of those posts where even a crusty curmudgeon like me finds myself unexpectedly feeling a pang of something in my chest.

But it got me thinking about last posts on blogs. I mean CCY had brought up Like Water earlier in the year, and that was another really good last post. But what I found kind of went like this. There are two types of “dead” blogs. Those that just fade away and those that march into that good night.

So, I’ve decided to try and find some actual good posts on those blogs. So I’m going to take a step back into the way back machine and look at some blogs that either are on indefinite hiatus, or are, well, dead.

First up we have Equivocal Resolution, who really did suffer from the slow death. But it was her last post that I think is her best post. She did a review of Touch and brought up a complaint that I honestly haven’t heard much these days. That 70s and 80s animation seemed old and dated. I mean granted, it probably is old and dated, but really, I don’t hear that complaint much. Especially with the spate of people who have reviewed Legend of the Galactic Heroes in the past few months. (On a site note, she does have bateszi listed as “an interesting NEW blog.”)

Now Kimagure may not really be dead. I mean he (or she) might just be resting. The blog has only been inactive for about five months. But I do like his (or her) second to last post about the controversy surrounding Kodomo no Jikan. Personally, I don’t have any feelings about the title one way or the other (read: there’s stuff I want to read/see more). But I think it’s a pretty good opinion about why pulling was probably the best thing to do for Seven Seas, but that it was still a good title.

Die Fanboys! has arguably the best name of any anime blog that I’ve seen to date. Okay, maybe not the best one. But this was definitely a case of going out on a last hurrah, but not one that said, “So long and thanks for all of the fish.” Matrim posted a fairly long rant about the decision to yank the twelfth episode of Higurashi off of the air. To be honest, a lot of it’s common sense. But on the other hand, I still am not sure whether Higurashi is actually any good and worth getting all that worked up over (I’ve got it cued up to watch at some point.)

And just for flavor, I’m going to throw in Pretty Scythe’s review of Paradise Kiss ep 6. Mostly because I like that show.

Just one final note, a green haired loli trap sent me an e-mail to let me know that the voting for the anime blog awards has started, so go vote. And by some random trick of fate, I did manage to secure a spot in the Rookie of the Year category which is nice. So thank you for everyone who nominated me. I do appreciate it.

So in the spirit of Drmchsr0: Go out and get your vote on!

The Otakusphere: My DVDs are attacking me, Crunchyroll sucks and my obsession with classic Southern cuisine

If there’s one thing I like about living this close to the “South” it’s fried chicken. Oh yeah, nothing beats stopping into the local grocery store and seeing boxes of the stuff laid out for me like pre-packaged heart attacks. Which is probably why I found Hinano’s post on buying merchandise interesting because I own two wall scrolls. That’s it.

But I have a ton of DVDs. I mean I have them coming into my bed and attacking me in the middle of the night. That might be the reason I don’t have much merch.

Or it could be the fried chicken.

Speaking of DVDs, Atama Ga Warui put some final words on the obituary for HD-DVD. But you know, I can’t see me buying a Blu-Ray player anytime in the near future. Maybe it’s because I’m a closet Luddite. These new fangled technology things secretly scare me. What happens when my collection becomes obsolete? I couldn’t imagine having to buy all of this stuff again. That’d be crazy. Like I said, they’re starting to form political parties on my shelf.

And just as I’m about to complete the party of Gekkostate, they go and announce a Eureka 7 movie. Really? I haven’t even finished watching the series (I’m waiting for that last disk to come out before I do.) It makes me feel completely inadequate. Really I just will need to go hang my head in shame.

Well for that and the fact that I heaped loads of love on Crunchyroll and they fricken pulled Tower of Druaga. I’m sure that those liars and thieves over there have some really good reason why they played with my heart. (Okay, they might really have some good reasons that I don’t know about.) But then again, maybe they don’t. But you can still watch it on YouTube or BOSTTV. I’m not necessarily sure which one I support more. I’d love to support BOSTTV more, but I’m a little low on cash this cycle (I spent my extra buying anime and fried chicken.)

I don’t have a good transition for this, but CCY reminded me about something I really want to write about one of these days. Basically that it’s okay for a series to be good. It doesn’t need to be radical or amazing; it can just do what it does well and move on down the line. Granted people won’t talk about it in five or six years. But they might…

Oh yeah, and double reminded me that summer is still coming to Baltimore. Man, I hate summer here.


Agree or disagree? Leave a comment or e-mail

The Otakusphere: The Anime Blog Awards

So when I came back from my hiatus, I had a whole bunch of hits coming in from some page called the ANIME BLOG AWARDS. I thought, “Huh?” I mean, the last time I’d heard about Web Page Awards was back in the mid to late 90s when every Joe, Bob and Martha with an established Web site had an award saying, “So and so, thought my site kicked ass and so should you. Here’s a cookie. What? You can’t block it? Um… yeah… why exactly is that my problem?”

And then over time, I saw those types of awards become fewer and fewer, until they died completely off. But I’ll admit, I always thought they were kind of cool. Someone with no vested interest in a Web site went out of his or her way to give this person a pat on the back and a flashy jpeg. In all honesty, that kind of recognition is hard to come by, especially in the cutthroat/apathetic world of the Internet.

So I followed the link over and checked out the page. Honestly, it’s a really simple concept. You sign up (if you have a blog). You nominate within specified categories (that may or may not be the best things ever). And then you move on. It’s an almost streamlined process. Except that I had to wait for my password. I hate waiting for my password. It drives me up the wall. It’s like having to take a number when the deli counter is empty and having the kid behind the counter count up to your number.

Yeah, that’s a kind of petty complaint. Okay, it’s a really petty complaint. However, I read through the blogs there. Checked out a few that I didn’t know. And nominated in a couple of categories. If you want to know who I nominated, then go to the Web page and look for iniksbane. (No I’m not telling you what it means. Just that no matter where I sign up, I can guarantee it hasn’t been taken.)

I did exactly what those sneaky masterminds over there wanted me to do. And every so often I go back and look at some of the other blogs I don’t know. Now, I may or may not read them consistently. But anything that drives traffic to sites that don’t have a big following deserves some praise at the very least.

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I have been nominated in two categories (Rookie of the Year and Best Editorial Blog). I don’t expect to win. Hell, with the competition I got I don’t even expect to place. But it was a pleasant, if strangely surprising, thing to see this blog even on the same list as omo, Jeff Lawson, The Animanachronism, The End of the World and bateszi.

But every good idea has its problems. Impz wrote a fairly long Q&A post over on T.H.A.T. Animeblog, answering all of the various concerns. But I wanted to throw in my two cents. Is this a beauty contest? Sure. I don’t know how anyone can expect it wouldn’t be. The larger (and older) blogs have more readers, more experience and let’s face it, probably deserve to win. Hell, RIUVA’s been around since Christ was a corporal. Bateszi and Martin just celebrated their two year anniversaries. The one time omo linked my site, I got 20 hits just from him alone.

I’m not surprised that they got nominated. And I won’t be surprised if they win.

That said, if you’re sitting around your little corner of the Internet sulking because the other guys are getting the love then you’re missing the point. If you’re missing this opportunity to step out of your personal box and say, “Hey look, I think you’re missing this other guy, who’s good and deserves attention” then well, shucks, that’s no one’s fault but your own. In the end, yeah the system’s got problems, but any system is going to have problems. But if you choose not to participate because it might not be the most perfect thing in the world, I think you’re missing out on a grand opportunity. In fact, I encourage everyone to step out of their little section of the playground for a minute and pick a blog at random off of the list. Any blog. Make this contest your own, because yeah, the big guys might win, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only game in town.

Here, let me help with some blogs that I don’t think get nearly enough love.

Claiming Ground – I came across this one a bit ago and it has a lot of promise. Mostly he does straight reviews, and he likes Nausicaa, which isn’t necessarily a high point for me, but I think it’s worth reading.

Criminally Weird – Part of that network. It’s part personal blog, part anime blog and largely the inspiration for at least two of my posts.

Baka-Raptor – Probably some of the most cutting reviews and remarks about anime that I’ve seen. He’s got a quick wit and he’s not afraid to lampoon anyone. Including himself.

Anime Almanac – Seriously, Scott is one of the best voices talking about the industry right now. I don’t always agree with him, but I do think the guy’s got some great points. (Some of which I’ve made myself.)

Koji-Oe – Definitely an interesting blog. Again part personal, part anime, part gamer, it has got some interesting insights into the geek world from someone studying Japanese.

So those are my thoughts on this. Honestly, I know the Internet thrives on drama (and I refuse to call it dorama), but this is something I don’t think deserves it.

The Otakusphere: Downtiming on the Nightside in the Way Back Machine

Recently, I reached my 100th post, and I got to thinking that the nature of blogging seems to be to keep putting new stuff out there, but it’s pretty rare that we go back and look at the older stuff that people have done. Mostly because there’s usually a huge backlog and because usually we’ve been keeping up with our favorite bloggers. So in this edition of the Otakusphere I figured I’d step back into Mr. Peabody’s Way Back Machine and paw through some older blog posts from some of my favorite bloggers.

I’m not really sure how to categorize this one from far away no where, other than to say, “Oooo teenage girls are scary.” And spending an awful lot of time on YouTube, I’ve found that to be the case. If you think anime fans are prone to some rabid fanboyism then you should spend some time trawling through the comments on that site.

And one for the “stuck in the anime rut” pile, Michael at Anime| Otaku had at great post about feeling refreshed when he started watching School Days. I completely understand the sensation that the shows that I’ve been watching start to feel recycled. But on the other hand, I haven’t been there in a while. I don’t know if it’s just the fact that I watch a lot of stuff, or that I really have low expectations.

Speaking of my low expectations, I ran across bateszi’s listing of reviews for the end of the 2007 season. And I couldn’t help thinking, “Man, am I missing something here.” I really liked Claymore. I mean I didn’t think it was another Beserk. Honestly, I’d put it more in the category of Gantz. But even then, it got me clutching my sleeve and biting my knuckles. And I’m liking Code Geass. Is there just something wrong with me? Or am I just easily amused?

However, I can always trust CCY to say what I think, only better. Here’s an editorial post about how people tend to judge a series by its first episode. And that it might be more because of the serial nature of anime, rather than the fact that the first episode is really bad.

And because I couldn’t find Martin’s argument about whether anime is deep or not (a discussion I really wish I could have joined in on, but I kind of figure my opinion would have ruined it), I picked out this one on the “Hoo-hah” factor in anime. If you’ve watched “Scent of a Woman” then you probably know what that means. I’m not sure if I entirely agree that a show can be too manly. I think it depends on how it applies that extreme. This in essence is his argument here.

And last, but certainly not least, here’s a figure review from Happy Soda. I can’t ever get enough of these. I don’t know if it’s the photography or the figures themselves, but that plastic sure looks sexy. Man it makes me dirty to say that.