There are few things as draining to my enthusiasm for watching anime as reading what other people have to say about it. It's like being… no, it is exactly being the one moe fan in a world of anti-moe.
Sometimes, in my darker moods, I have to wonder if I'm the only person who still enjoys watching anime instead of complaining about it nigh-constantly. If it's Not To My Tastes, then so it goes; not everything is to my tastes. I don't complain about the immense popularity of mecha anime or shounen fighting anime, after all.
But hearing myself and my tastes insulted by generalities has gotten old a long time ago. I'm tired, so very tired, of having to defend myself. Which I inevitably have to do any time I express interest and enthusiasm over an anime which has been popularly derided as "moe-blob" or whatever the derogatory term du jour may be, because I still believe that the point of a discussion forum is discussion, and it would defeat the purpose for me to fail to carry on the discussion.
So more often than not, I simply avoid joining in. And soon, this leads to not being able to participate in any discussion about anime. Which leads in turn to not participating in the anime fandom in general, and soon I'm operating in what may be charitably termed a vacuum caused by my own inability to hew to the popular line.
This rant was brought to you by my attempt, now discouraged by negative reinforcement, to find out about the upcoming season of anime. So far Puella Magi Madoka Magica was about the least-reviled among the shows revealed so far, and I'm looking forward to it myself (assuming Shinbo-SHAFT doesn't go Pani Poni Dash on what I hope to be a straightforward Magical Girl story), but I have to question those who claim not to care about something, and then spend paragraphs of vitriol on how much they do not care.
There's something fascinating about watching the Internet pick up on this strange little doujin game from Japan that got released on Steam/Impulse/GamersGate.
Obviously, I love Recettear. It features lots of cute girls, including a cute girl as the player character and another cute fairy girl as her advisor. The art style of the character designs is almost calculated to grab me right there, although where there is I shall leave to your fertile imaginations. The music is happy and cheery, and the tinny retro MIDI nature adds to its charm, because sometimes I just want to listen to something that reminds me of the bright happy games and colours of the games of my youth, ie the SNES era. I'd willingly fork out money for a soundtrack.
The dialogue and much-vaunted translation is amusing, which add points to its favour, but it is not a multiplier per se. I mean, I like it, but it does not loom as large in my estimation of the overall package as the characters and the way they're drawn and the way they act and the catchy music that plays in the background when they do what they do. The gameplay does not take away points, but it's actually not really my main draw towards the game; it's not something which annoys or frustrates me, but it does not add value as such.
Based on the commentary I've seen about this game, I actually like it for the aspects which many others see as a disincentive.
"Too anime", they gripe, and I have to mentally adjust my filters to allow that they do not like anime in the way I do. They do not obsess over anime as I frequently do in my blog postings, and the fact that I even have a blog dedicated to the cute girls in anime sets me apart from these people.
But anime is more of a collection of styles than a specific genre, and further complaints about Recettear include it being "too cutesy". Again, this is contrary to my tastes: I like cutesy. I like sugary sweet, I like high-pitched voices squeaking and gasping and cheerily greeting me "good morning~" and burbling about how they had a wonderful dream about having all the sweets they could eat. I don't cringe from it like many do; I actively seek it out, because I think it's cute, and I like cute.
And to turn this standard rant about liking what I like and how there's no accounting for my tastes into another direction, I found myself wondering why I am different.
Except it's not a good idea to pack all the meaning I intend into such a short statement. What I meant was that yes, I'm free to like what I like… but I'm told this in the same way I might be told that I'm free to not like chocolate (this is true, by the way; I don't like chocolate, although I don't hate it). Or that I don't use Facebook (too many other social networking update sites for me). It sets me apart in a "well, there's no accounting for taste" kind of way, and I wonder why my taste has to be accounted for in the first place.
Who decided, for instance, that "cutesy" was bad? Where comes this social expectation that I am not allowed to squee over cute girls and cute clothes and cute music and other "childishly cute things", just because I happen to be a guy in my late twenties? I am not demanding an answer in the fist-shaking placard-waving manner of the Truly Righteous, but this is not a rhetorical question. I would indeed like to know.
There is this perception that people who like the things I do are… well, less than commendable. Why? What is it about the nature of the things we like that are unacceptable for the greater social (whether Real Life or Internet) milieu? They tell me that moe is killing anime, and I simply do not see it, any more than mecha was killing anime, or shounen fighting series was killing anime, or the shoujo that inspired quite a lot of the moe aesthetic. It's a trend; I happen to like this one, but it too shall pass. Just because there are bad shows cashing in on the trend doesn't mean there weren't bad shows cashing in on other trends. It seems unfair to single out "moe" and "cute" as some sort of disgustingly perverted villain.
Yes, I spend lots of money because of the cute anime girls, although it should more properly be for the cute anime clothes being worn on cute anime girls. This has never struck me as being bad; I spend money on what I like, since it's a drop in the ocean beside the vast fortunes spent collectively on, say, Gundam models, or Apple merchandise, or sports memorabilia.
I get the odd feeling that people try to categorize me based on my interests. I do fit into a category; it just isn't the category people think I'm in. This dissonance is frustrating for me, since it's not like those who categorize me with sweeping generalizations actually care about me and people like me enough to amend their statements.
I am not like what I am accused of being, but neither do I suggest that I am better (or worse) than that. This sudden unspoken and unlisted hierarchy of fandom is mysterious and opaque to me, as are its point and purpose.
Seeing as I was easily disposed of in the first round of the Anime Blog Tournament, I accepted it as all being right and good with the natural order of things, and moved on.
However, I was reminded of this again with all the blogger commentary about the loss of Random Curiosity (note that it's often referred to as "Random Curiosity's Loss", rather than "Listless Ink's Win"), which apparently came with a lot of baggage that I had honestly not been aware of. It is like walking along a pristine garden path, noticing an interesting stone, lifting it up, and seeing things wriggling underneath.
It is not a good advertisement for anyone.
As someone who is mostly on the outside of all of this (I don't have time to hang out in #animeblogger like I used to), I explored the commentary with a sort of morbid fascination. A lot of the back-and-forth is apparently on a new cycle; the initial volleys had been fired long before, and the only evidence of their existence are their echoes, and the inference that something must have happened to keep these people tilting at each other like this.
Remember Koom Valley.
From what I can tell, the contest organizers… didn't like Random Curiosity? Liked Random Curiosity? Didn't like RC, but voted for RC? Didn't like RC, voted for RC, and then somehow fixed the match such that RC lost? I don't know anymore; denials and recriminations fly hard and fast, and I feel a little sorry for Listless Ink that their blog was caught up in all of this through no fault of their own.
I've never quite grasped the concept of the Anime Blog Tournament anyway, mainly because the organizers had better things to do (like, say, actually running the tournament) than answer my insipid questions. On the one hand, we're assured that no action on our parts need to be taken, which implies that the ABT organizers would deal with the advertising of their own tournament themselves, on top of the inevitable drama that accompanies a competition format.
And drama will exist, because this is the Internet, where everything posted becomes a sort of performance art. Quite often, the commentary on a given subject makes it obvious that the commenter is simply not interested in a meaningful discussion, from the way it is phrased. The comment is no longer a contribution to the discussion, but has turned into stand-up comedy. Hecklers do not wish to engage in a formal debate, I think.
Early on, I asked what would happen to the losers of each bracket, once the voting is over and the post falls off the main page. I still have not obtained a definite answer, but one thing which got tossed about was "you'll get more hits on your blog due to exposure". Let's see how this worked out:
Before the Anime Blog Tournament: About 500 to 700 hits daily, with spikes peaking over 1000 hits when someone links GamerS on a forum or something.
During the Anime Blog Tournament: About 600 to 700 hits daily. GamerS did not pick up any new viewers during this time.
After the Anime Blog Tournament: About 500 to 700 hits daily, with spikes peaking over 1000 hits when someone links GamerS on a forum or something.
How many of these are spambots will be an exercise left for the reader, because I haven't a clue how to find out.
An anecdote does not make a statistic, but lacking other sources, it is the only thing I can present. My blog was respectably unknown, remained respectably unknown during my time in the tournament, and will apparently remain respectably unknown until the end of time, or until the AB.net servers die, whichever comes first.
Presumably my life as an anime blogger will have the same general arc in the eyes of the general public: blog started, screencap comic irregularly updated, blog ended. So it goes.
While I'd appreciate a larger readership, what I really want is a larger commenter base. This tends to come with the larger readership anyway, in the sense that the more people there are watching a train wreck, the more likely there will be someone in there willing to wade in and help. And yet, this doesn't really answer for the other people just watching.
It is like performing your finest acts, displaying your masterpieces of creation, in front of a silent, faceless crowd. You cannot tell whether they are unmoving, or unmoved.
Because I cannot in good conscience consider my blog to be in any way superior to the other in this… you know, I'm not even sure what this is supposed to be. A tournament? A cursory comparison? Something deeper and far more sinister? It is a mystery.
I have little to no interest in actually designing this blog. I just take a template (Mandigo, in this case), stick in the necessary links, and then forget about it for the next couple of years or so.
I don't plan my posts. (And about five hundred readers per day go "yes, we know.") It's all based on what floats through my brain at any given moment.
I don't actually have a target audience defined, apart from possibly myself and my increasingly-poor memory. It helps to keep a record of my opinions on something or other… which I end up ignoring anyway because I can't be bothered to look it up in the archives.
I have absolutely no idea how I even caught the organizers' eyes. I've never gotten around to truly advertising this blog around. Considering the state it's in, I doubt I ever will.
I would have posted this sooner, and possibly make some sort of significant difference, if I had kind of sort of actually known about this… competition thing? I'm sorry, I'm still not sure what it's supposed to be. It says "Tournament", but it's one where we don't have to prepare or do anything, and it doesn't seem to have any prize or penalty? Curious.
There is, I have found, a difference between being a fan, being part of a fandom, and simply liking something. An excellent illustration can be seen with the Fallout games: there is the fan-ness of being a fan of the games, and there is the fan-ness of liking the games. These are not mutually inclusive, as is the status of being in the Fandom. As an example, I like the games, and I will be happy to discourse upon them with any others holding the same view, but since I like Fallout 3 a great deal more than Fallout 2 (I have not played Fallout 1 or Fallout Tactics yet), I have been firmly told that I am not a "true fan", and therefore I am forevermore barred from being in the Fandom.
This is not a new position for me. Throughout my years of being in Internet fandoms, I have been in the general vicinity of American comics fandoms, but apart from Astro City, I have yet to really delve into the foetid depths of the convoluted histories of the various popular comics characters. I realize that life in comics is not all about Marvel and DC, but considering what the stores here actually stock, I have to wonder sometimes. And so, when I joined the community at the American Superhero Comics Inspired MMORPG City of Heroes, I have been shunned by some for not coming to the game from the viewpoint of a comics fan. I mean, I really like Astro City, but apparently that is not enough.
Yes, I understand that this is a minority view, and I have been given a sort of pass on the basis that I like CoH/V due to my anime-esque ideas. Apart from my well-known constant requests for More Magical Girl Costume Options, I still await the advent of Paper Control, partly because I can make my own Read or Die Paper Master, and partly because the ofuda-slinging Combat Miko is a common staple in supernatural-oriented anime.
In any case, since this is an anime blog, I have to tie this in to anime. The obvious link here is in the reputation fans have, due to the fandom they may or may not be a part of: if you should feel favourably inclined towards, say, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, you may call yourself a Haruhiist, or you may not, depending on how much a part of the fandom you are. There is no shame in being a fan but not being in the fandom: gods know I'm perfectly happy to put a great deal of distance between my being a Fallout fan, even if not a True Fan, and the Fallout fandom, who I would imagine know what constitutes being a True Fan, ie not me.