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Moe Check! ยป Know Thy Readers

Nice axe.

One of the things I've often been told to capital-C Consider is my capital-A Audience, which means you. You, the reader, and those who, like you, are reading this blog at this moment for whatever reason, all lumped together in one statistical bundle, where you might find yourself sharing your personal space with people who do not yet exist, mere hypotheticals who may or may not read these ramblings in the future, but have the potential to do so. Like Schroedinger's famous feline, we will not know unless we actually take a look.

When I started this anime blog, I had in mind an Audience of One, namely myself. This was supposed to be just a repository of all the random thoughts about anime I happened to have, where I can actually wax enthusiastic about my primary hobby and interest, without appearing too creepy to the non-anime fans on my Livejournal friendslist. (There are a few, surprisingly enough. They know of anime, but they're just not interested, and I can understand entirely.)

Almost twenty months later, I have to finally admit that there are actual flesh-and-blood people out there who are interested in what I have to say. I'm not sure what you see in this blog, and I'm not sure what I'm doing right (or wrong), but it's pretty good for my ego.

Now that I have an Audience, I must Consider this. I could just ask "so what are you here for?" and sift through the comments, but apparently this will be a biased sample, of only those who care enough to leave a comment. Also, I've been told that this method is too anecdotal. I dunno, I never scored very well at Statistics.

So we'll just have a look at what WordPress.com Stats tells me. This will presumably include the hits by spambots, so there's the grain-of-salt thing and all that.

Some sort of game CG?

By far the most popular type of post I've ever done are the screenshot comics (also called Remix Comics, apparently) of Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. And with "by far", I mean by at least an order of magnitude. My hits seem to come primarily from forums, as people spread the links around. Considering I started posting up the GamerS comics only because I was getting burned out of having to think of Deep and Insightful posts all the time, it is safe to assume that I never expected this to be that popular.

Runners-up are my Card Captor Sakura episode summaries, at about a tenth of the hits, even on a good day. The interesting thing is that if I'm hurried and harried and just want to post something, I can whip up a GamerS comic from scratch quite easily. (Whether it'll be funny does not come into consideration.) Whereas the CCS episode summaries take the most time, effort, and bodily fluids in the form of sweat/blood/tears, out of every post I could create. I have fifty screenshots from episode 21 sitting in a special directory on my hard disk, just waiting for me to pare down to a manageable twenty or so, and write up witty comments for every one of them. I've actually typed out a fair amount of notes for the episode that can be easily hacked together into a coherent post; I just can't decide which screenshots to keep, because Tomoyo, dammit.

All of this illustrates the two broad groups of potential readers I can attempt to reach out towards. There's actually a lot more, but I don't feel qualified to write for those Audiences, so we'll leave them out of the Consideration for now.

There is a sort of divide that I've noticed among the English-language anime blog communities, which, I hasten to add, may be a figment of my imagination. This is not an adamatine barrier, and people cross over fairly often and without much thought, but there is that difference nonetheless, which can be pointed out with a scenario and a question: you currently possess, through whatever means, a new anime. Now, gut reaction answer: is that anime available in R1?

Exceptions do exist, especially considering the rise of legal streaming, which might not quite satisfy the requirements of "is available in R1". But the US does have the most recognized system of translating Japanese-language anime into English, be it dubs or subs or whatever, and English is the lingua franca of international business, and through there a familiar piece of culture. And since we're talking about Anglophone anime blogs, it is a valid shibboleth, I feel.

From Princess Maker 4.

Card Captor Sakura is… not a very good example, I realize, after what seems like the implosion of the US anime distribution industry. But theoretically, if Geneon (or Pioneer) were still around and a source of the CCS DVDs, then you can obtain your own set, and watch along with my episode summaries, if you so choose. You don't need to be a "deep" anime fan, and I try (if I remember) to explain all the jargon I may use as simply and succinctly as possible. I am writing for, to use a potentially loaded term, the "casual" anime fan. By no means do I imply that sticking to R1s indicates a lack of seriousness, but more that the habitus of the fandom is alien, irrelevant, or just too far ahead of the licencing curve.

Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS is not available in R1 yet, although the first season is… just released, I think. (In the works? Completely released as a box set? I haven't been keeping track.) I make full use not only of the by-now familiar cliches and character archetypes, but also fan reactions to the characters, and their memetic mutations. Often, I don't bother explaining myself, simply assuming that the reader knows what I'm talking about. This implies a deeper assumption that the reader knows what I'm talking about because they already know how to obtain StrikerS, and thus are part of the "deep" fandom.

It's a bit like trying to decide whether I should try to explain the term "tsundere", linking to Wikipedia or TVTropes. (Usually I link to TVTropes, because they actually have articles on the terms.) The term is commonly-understood among those who've watched enough anime (or at least enough harem anime) to recognize the personality; the number required for "enough" is not large. English has no equivalent, however, and among the "casual" fans, I cannot safely assume that the term comes across as anything other than nonsense. Anecdotal evidence has suggested to me that while the personality that is described as "tsundere" may be instantly recognizable, the term itself may not; after all, the idea of pleasure at the misfortune of others is an easy one to conceive, but surprisingly few of the people around me have heard of the word schadenfreude.

Therefore, I can try to accomodate the "casual" fans as much as possible by avoiding too many niche terms or subjects, making my posts a great deal more accessible. Or I can throw caution to the wind and embrace the core of Deep Geek. Currently I'm already explaining as much as I can, and for the non-anime references (say, City of Heroes), I try to make them non-essential, or at least elaborated using everyday terms. I could spread this practice to jargon and memes from anime fandoms, but after a certain point it becomes unworkable: I'm already too immersed in the habitus of the general anime fandom to be able to grok, at a basic level, what the "casual" fan understands. And yet, I refuse to contemplate the notion of marginalizing the "older" anime (like, say, Angelic Layer, which I'm planning a rewatch of) in favour of the latest from Japan. It reminds me of the dilemma faced by many game companies these days: establish a die-hard fanbase with the "gamer" gamers, or rake in the embarrassingly large amounts of money from the "casual" gamers?

Of course, there's another question that should be asked (and hopefully answered): does it really matter?

I've survived for this long without Considering my Audience. I'll never get the massive readership more popular blogs have, but as mentioned way back in the beginning of this entry, my true Audience is myself. Actually Considering my Audience will theoretically increase my readership, or at least cause the influx of new readers to reach parity with the haemorrhage of old ones. And it will give me a more satisfactory answer, since the obvious doesn't appear to work, to a question I keep getting asked: "what's your anime blog about?"

But it's not urgent. Until I figure out whom I'm writing for, there's probably no harm in continuing my aimless, meandering postings on anything remotely anime-related.

Also, I have an excuse to continue inflicting bad jokes on MSLN StrikerS screenshots. So it goes.

The one-armed fist pump.

11 Responses to “Know Thy Readers”
  1. GreyDuck says:

    I tend to follow people online for the tone of their presentation rather than specific types of content. With that said, I love the CCS summaries (and completely understand that they're one hell of a chore, so no worries there) and the Nanoha comics. Well done, it must be said.

  2. P-Dash says:

    Hey, any excuse to make more of your MSLN comics is a good one.

  3. TheBigN says:

    I started blogging because I wanted people to hear what I have to say. Now my problem is getting out how I feel in a way that makes sense to everyone else reading, especially when I start worrying about if I'm getting things across the right way. Then I take a step back, breathe, and blog what I feel. :P

  4. Silverdragon15 says:

    I first started reading when I got a link about the comics, and then I bookmarked and started checking your blog weekly, reading all your posts. I don't know why, but you always provoke some kind of thought.

  5. Baughn says:

    What your anime blog is about?

    I figured it was about anime. ^_^
    You don't have to change anything for our sake, although if you want to embrace your deep geek, don't hesitate on my behalf. I'll stick around.

  6. Balorn says:

    I think I started reading from a link from your Livejournal, which I believe was linked from your CoH forum account. I've enjoyed your style of writing as well as most of the subjects (we seem to have a lot of interests in common – I just don't write much). Reading your journal is what got me curious about Nanoha, and it also introduced me to TVTropes.

    As for explaining things too much, I'm reminded of something the creators of MST3K said at some point – it was to the effect of, "we never ask 'who's going to get this [joke/reference]?' – we always say, 'the right people will get this." If nothing else, if someone is reading this, they can always google any words they don't know (which, coincidentally, I had to do myself for schadenfreude just a couple years ago). At least, that works for text; purely visual references can be a bit trickier, but you still probably shouldn't be overly concerned. If someone really wants to know, they can always ask.

    Oh, and Amazon says Nanoha season 1 R1 is out on 11/11.

  7. Ayumi08 says:

    I like your meandering style because it speaks of you and what you think of rather than what you think others might think of. I enjoy your blog so far. So, keep doing what you're doing. :-)

  8. Hets says:

    I came on here originally to look at the Cardcaptor Sakura Episode summaries, because it was the only anime series that I'd ever seen and it really interested me. I've read them all now, but now I also read your other blog entries, seeing as I'd like to start embracing more animes and I'm looking for ideas ^^ That, and all the wandering tangents in your blog make it enjoyable to read! So I'll keep checking up regularly, that's a given =P

  9. ETERNAL says:

    I can't even remember how I ended up here (probably from a blogroll somewhere or the other), but I've been following it ever since simply because I find your posts to be interesting to read. Interesting can mean funny, or thought provoking, or anything in between – all that matters is that people will read whatever they find interesting. It's a difficult decision, thinking about specifically who your target audience is, but I personally think the best option is simply to write; there's bound to be someone, most likely more than just one person, out there that's willing to read your honest opinion.

  10. 9taileddemon says:

    Heh. Got here through the MSLN Strikers comics. Which are by the way quite hysterical.

    Your posts though are pretty interesting. They usually have a good amount of though behind them and actually get me to think. It is probably okay to embrace deep geek every so often and if someone doesn't understand they can look it up. What you are doing now is probably just fine.

    LOVE THE STRIKERS COMICS

  11. Zeroblade says:

    IIRC, you commented on my blog once and I ended up adding you to my feedreader. Seems to be a habit of mine now.
    Likewise, I don't really know my audience. I just write stuff I feel others might care about, even in the slightest, and then people read it. I haven't even bothered with looking at the statistics, though a decent number seem to come for the scant articles I have on games and either one of the two incomplete guides I have on some doujin games.
    Which reminds me, I need to get to finishing them.

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