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November 20 is the birthday of Ogiue Maniax, and while I’ve forgotten it before it was never quite to this extent. All I can say is, whoops! It’s not really that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, but an annual look back is one of the traditions of this blog, and it’s one I like to keep up. So, here we are.
Of course the biggest change this year for me and the blog has been moving back to the United States. In light of this, I’ve considered maybe doing something new for it. Perhaps a new banner? Maybe a new series of posts? Then again, the Gattai Girls and Fujoshi Files are still going on, and especially with the former I can only get a new post out once every few months. I also tend to drop a lot of ideas after bringing them up for no other reason than lack of inertia. Switching back to the old daily posting schedule is also a possibility, but at this point it might not be so feasible like it was four years ago.
At the same time, I’m still devoted to posting at least twice a week, though this has come with its own challenges. A few years back, in an effort to not fall behind when I was extremely busy, I started writing a number of posts in advance so I could keep up a consistent schedule. It’s worked, but one side effect is that often-times I’ll have ideas that I should be posting sooner when a show or whatever is fresh in people’s minds, but then I delay it because I have so many. What happens then, if I have a huge archive of drafts such that I don’t have to write anything for a while, is that I start to feel a bit disconnected from anime, manga, games, and even myself. It’s a weird feeling, like somehow I’m engaging less with this stuff (even though I’m still watching and reading plenty). However, if I start posting all of them at once, I get nervous about running out of a supply. I still have posts from like two years ago that I finished and just never published because the timing never seems right, and some I’ve gotten rid of because they just didn’t feel right.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get rid of this feeling, even if this blog magically became my job and I could live off of its profits (fat chance). In fact, that might make me feel even more pressured which might result in Ogiue Maniax losing some of its identity. That’s not always a bad thing, but still something I probably wouldn’t do. I know it sounds like I’m not enjoying the blog anymore, but that’s not the case at all. It’s still my favorite place for talking about the things I love.
To end off, I want to use this post to give a eulogy to my old Tenhou account. Though I managed to reach 4-dan a while back, my own neglect resulted in me failing to log in during the 3-month grace period, and so it’s been suspended with no way to bring it back. I now have to start again from the bottom, though of course that’s not actually the case, seeing as I’m re-starting with a lot more experience behind me.
In my 6th Blog Anniversary post, I spoke about how my schedule has made it so that for the next few months my posts will probably be singificantly less refined in terms of content and complexity, and likely sporadic. Currently I need to concentrate myself primarily towards another task, and so I basically can’t afford to expend my concentration and mental energy too extensively on Ogiue Maniax. Thus, I’ve decided to switch to a method of posting in which the act of blogging is more stress relief and patchworks of thought. You may have noticed it already.
The funny thing is, while often times this can be attributed to some kind of burnout (be it for their blog or for anime/manga in general), this is not the case for me, and in fact I’ve felt the opposite in the past. The issue is that this desire for more is something I must mitigate. I have to basically force myself to not blog, because if I spend too much time with anime and manga, it encourages too much thinking, too much analysis, and too much desire to just keep finding more. If I blog based on that, it draws me towards putting in some serious effort into what I’m writing in a desire to present really well-structured posts, which is again something I need to make sure I don’t do.
It’s a really odd situation to be in, but I hope people understand. I’m not trying to rekindle a dying flame, I’m trying to contain an inferno.
This year’s blog anniversary actually snuck up on me by surprise. Every year before this I had the sense to notice that November was coming up and November means time to celebrate, but this time around was different.
For a long time I’ve been considering changing the banner up top, but I keep hesitating on it. I made it on the fly when I first started, and it was outdated from Day 1, but something about it has me feeling that it maintains the blog’s identity. Simple, to the point, Ogiue. Will it finally change this year? Who knows, but I do have an idea or two.
On the anime front, I never thought we’d get to see another Genshiken anime. This blog actually began in the middle of the Genshiken 2 run back in 2007 (not to be confused with Genshiken Second Season which aired this year), so in some ways it’s come full circle. I think the fact that it sort of coincided with the lifespan of Ogiue Maniax so far makes me realize just how much time has passed and indeed how much otaku culture has changed in its own ways.
Moving forward, though I do always want to keep blogging I get the feeling that the next year may bring some changes to the blog. Perhaps it’ll be just a once-a-week post schedule, maybe it’ll be fewer prepared essay-style posts and more near-stream of consciousness posts (like this one!), or maybe it’ll just be more sporadic posting. I can’t predict the future unfortunately. As someone who has tried his hardest to maintain the blog as both a place where I could relax and challenge myself at the same time, keeping at it week after week has been important to me, and if I can help it I’ll continue to do so.
I still have plenty of things to say, and to ask.
The “Golden Ani-Versary of Anime” is a collaborative effort among bloggers, fans, and experts of anime to celebrate the 30th anniversary of anime on television. Coordinated by one Geoff Tebbetts, the plan is to have one article per year from 1963 and the debut of Tetsuwan Atom all the way up to 2012. I’ve included below an excerpt from my entry on the year 1977.
The year 1977 is something of a contradictory time in anime. Although the industry at this point was at the beginning of an animation boom and had been firmly established for over a decade, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact level of experimentation vs. continuation of formulaic trends, simply because in many cases the individual works of 1977 featured both.
The ’70s were the golden age of giant robot anime, and with six super robot-themed anime debuting (as well as five holdovers from the previous year) 1977 was no exception to that trend. Somewhat unfortunately for the robot anime of that year, the legendary arrival of Mobile Suit Gundam in 1979 tends to overshadow them as a whole, but while nothing in 1977 broke the mold as Gundam would, there were a few series which pushed that mold to its very limits. These shows managed to convey new and interesting ideas while working well within established convention, an impressive feat in its own right.
Today marks the 5-Year Anniversary of Ogiue Maniax. That’s quite a big milestone I think, especially when I consider that it’s probably the longest I’ve ever actively stuck to something, but because I actually reflect on where I’ve been as a blogger and where I might go every year, I find myself not knowing really what to say that I haven’t said before. So, I’ve decided that maybe rather than just reminiscing on being a blogger, I would kind of talk about my pre-history of blogging, pretty much how I came to be active in communicating on the internet with fans and such, and how I strongly believe those experiences shaped much of how I write and approach anime. I’ve talked about some of these things in part before, so those who’ve been reading a while may see some familiar things, but I hope you’ll be entertained anyway.
My very first experience with online fando came shortly after purchasing my video game ever: NiGHTS into dreams…. I remember saying to myself at the time, “I must be the only NiGHTS fan out there!” based on how none of my friends even mentioned it, so I was pleasantly shocked to find out that there were communities dedicated to the game, even sites where people wrote fanfiction based on the universe. And so I hung on those early messageboards, things that didn’t even have the luxury of sub-boards and convenient categorizations, and it’s where I first learned about what it means to communicate online. I made a lot of friends then, both older and younger than me, and while I don’t really talk to them anymore I do cherish those times. Amidst the webrings and such I learned how big the world is. I was actually amazed that I could communicate with people from the UK!
My next big steps in terms of internet community went hand in hand: anime and Pokemon. With anime, I of course visited the Anime Web Turnpike and tried to read through every single site with the naive notion that if I did I could learn about every anime in existence. I mean, how many could there be? Though that was a fool’s errand, my pursuit of knowledge of anime is still of a similar sort, which I think shows in my writing. With Pokemon too, I can draw a clear line to where I am today as a blogger, firstly because discussions of the anime back when it first came out were filled with everyone’s wild hopes and speculations and theories, but secondly because a lot of my Pokemon community experience was on the competitive side.
There were the war stories,” entertaining recaps of Pokemon battles you’d had both online and off, where you had to take a rather dry text log consisting of “Pokemon used Attack! It’s Super Effective!” and spice it up into something more engaging. And then there were the strategy discussions, where we rated each others’ teams and discussed the pros and cons of various strategies. By engaging in those discussions, I think I laid some of the early groundwork for some of my more argument-oriented posts today. Obviously I was less experienced then in terms of conveying my ideas, but I remember wanting to present my ideas not only intelligently but also in an entertaining and accessible manner.
The amount of forums I interacted on grew and shrunk depending on various circumstances, but that idea of writing for fellow forum readers stuck with me throughout. It’s the reason I cannot truly accept the idea that the internet fosters idiocy in its communities: I know in my heart that my writing style was forged on internet forums, and I strongly believe that I benefited immensely from these interactions, and not only because it influenced the way I write.
So that’s “Early, Early Pre-Ogiue Maniax.” What you see from me in all of my posts on Ogiue Maniax comes from years of getting into spirited but (hopefully) good-natured arguments with people on a variety of nerdish topics. In fact, the reason why I ended up wanting a blog (and started participating less on other sites) was that I would frequently write forum responses which I felt argued really good points about a certain topic, but it would forever be confined to just that small community. I wanted to write about ideas and thoughts I had on my own terms.
Actually, in writing this mainly internet-oriented summary, I realize that I’m leaving out all of the real life development I had at the time as well. Around the same time, I discovered friends in school who had as much if not more interest in games and anime as I did, and I think the combination of both friends who understood me well (and are still friends with me today) as well as enriching internet communication actually worked together to help instill in me some confidence as to who I am and what I love. Still, it wouldn’t be until many years later that I would truly have faith in my abilities, and though they weren’t around all the way back then, I still feel a need to thank those who support me today.
If you’re coming from the Aniblog Tourney, welcome. I’ll make this short and sweet.
This blog’s been running for a while now and has what could be considered a rather daunting archive, so I’ve picked out some of my better posts. I encourage you to take a look. Don’t forget to check out the blog that’s going up against me as well, and remember that voting is open to both new and long-time readers of Ogiue Maniax.
Round 1 Opponent: BYE
A while ago, I was linked by a blog which laments the state of anime fandom as a kind of “frivolous space” in which those without confidence try to shelter themselves, those with confidence try to assert a paper-thin authority in the form of blogging, and that in general geekdom is tending away from originality and towards imitation. Going into detail, it links to one of my old posts, in which I talk about a time when I was having difficulty engaging in a conversation because the people I was speaking to seemed to be without interests, and states that I am an example of the problem with geeks, who define people by their interest first and their actual selves second. Seeing as I am being pointed out as an example of what’s wrong with “nerds,” I feel I should respond to this “manifesto” and to take it as sincere (even if it might not be entirely so), not simply to act as a counter-argument but to clarify some of my own views on the ideas proposed by the post in question.
First, I’d like to address the accusation directed at me in particular, where the blogger points out that people should not be defined by their interests and that geeks should not think that having a hobby is priority one. For one thing, I agree. I think that it is a trap a lot of nerds fall into, thinking that their friendships and relationships should be predicated on common hobbies and tastes. However, that does not mean that it is an illegitimate way to begin to know someone, and the original point of my post was not to say that people who did not come prepared to talk about their interests were somehow lesser as individuals. Rather, as Starcraft commentator Day once said, I like hearing people talk about things they’re passionate about.
It’s not about a specific hobby or activity or some kind of material substance, but that I find the best conversations to be ones where people are expressing something they love so much that you can see it in their faces. The “interests” in that sense are just a conduit to seeing the manifestation of joy and drive and desire, and it is how I personally connect with people best. While in hindsight I am aware that I could’ve approached that original conversation better in the first place, if wanting to hear people be passionate about something is a problem, then I am glad to be problematic. Perhaps I need to improve my own conversational abilities further, but I never claimed to be perfect.
Second, I’d like to respond to the title, “Real Life Isn’t Graded On a Curve.” And once again, I agree. Real life isn’t graded on a curve. That’s because real life isn’t graded at all unless you want it to be. Barring extreme situations like poverty leading to malnutrition, there is no rubric that the whole of mankind can reference for an exchange rate between money, health, passion, friends, family, whatever. But if you want to rank your life to see if you’ve hit a passing mark, then that “world” opens up to you, for better or worse. That’s not to say that people shouldn’t try to improve their lives or that they should be content to just coast along in life, but accomplishments are self-defined.
So when the post accuses artists on Deviantart of using art as an excuse for social interaction rather than a desire to perfect their craft, I have to simply ask, what is wrong with that? Yes, Deviantart has a sizable population of people who draw but may not have the training, talent, or desire to learn that will allow them to improve upon their mistakes and grow increasingly adept at making art. However, art, whether you believe in divisions of high and low and whether or not you believe it should have some higher purpose, is not so narrow and simple as to not have room for both those looking to perfect their craft and those who are using it as a conduit for social interaction and many other types of people as well. For some, it is an ends, for others, a means to an end, and it is short-sighted to believe that the only type of artist that should exist is one who seeks only perfection, or seeks only originality.
This applies more broadly to fandom (and people) in general. Occasionally I find myself wishing that anime and manga fans would engage their hobby more actively, with a greater desire to learn and to grow, and in that I can find some common ground with a person who wishes to see only the best of fandom and the best in fandom. However, I think it is a big mistake to disregard the ability for an online space to make people feel comfortable as some kind of “hugbox.” Competition is fantastic, but it is not the end-all be-all, and there is no absolute need to inject competition into a space where people do not need to be graded for performance.
Today marks the 4-year anniversary of Ogiue Maniax, and I thought I’d use this opportunity to reflect on a topic that’s been on the back of my mind for a while.
As those of you who keep up with this blog probably know, I began an academic career focusing on manga last year, and part of the reason I was able to do so is that I’ve honed my ability to talk about anime and manga through my blogging. Now though, the question I have for myself is, has my time in academia affected my blog posts in a way that shows an academic influence?
Seeing as I’ve never tried to write a full-on scholarly essay on Ogiue Maniax with footnotes and elaborations on methodology and the like, I don’t think I’ve changed my fundamental posting style in that regard, but I have to wonder if there are any more subtle changes that have to do directly with academia. The fact that I post much less than I used to and make longer posts in general is probably more attributable to my desire to avoid mental fatigue, but I don’t think it really bleeds into the writing itself. I can’t really think of anything major. At the same time, I’ve found myself less willing to make posts with incomplete thoughts like I used to, which may be a sign.
From my own admittedly biased self-examination (as if there is any other kind), I wonder if I don’t let my academic influences enter into my blogging enough. Sometimes I argue things primarily out of passion, and I find myself making assumptions every so often that would probably get hit with a flurry of criticisms in a more rigid setting, which makes me ask if I shouldn’t be reining it in a little bit, researching more vigorously for my blog posts. That’s not to say that every post should be that way (the Fujoshi Files for instance wouldn’t work in that regard), but maybe I should be holding myself to a higher standard.
So I want to ask my readers who’ve been with me for a while, do you find my writing has changed in a manner which reveals my increased academic leanings? If so, do you think it’s something to watch out for, or perhaps something worth encouraging? Is there something about the blog that you like more now, or perhaps something you miss and would like to see more of?
In any case, thank you for these four years. It’s been great walking with you.
About a month ago, I opened up a contest here at Ogiue Maniax to give away my favorite anime ever, Galaxy Express 999 (and also to give away Adieu Galaxy Express 999). In order to enter, you simply had to leave a comment talking about your favorite example of an anime or manga character growing up. I received many good entries, and it was actually difficult deciding who would ultimately win, but in the end I managed to narrow it down to one.
I’ll let the winner speak for herself.
From a recent anime I watched, I’d have to say that Jomy from “Terra E…” is a perfect candidate for this question. When we first meet him in the series, he is, like many sci-fi protagonists, a sheltered child in a dystopian world (only he doesn’t know it). Over the course of a 26 episode story (and an amazingly short 3 volume manga!), he develops from this child to a leader responsible for the fate of an entire race of people. Most intriguingly, this growth comes with all the troubling moral ambiguity of adulthood.
As an adolescent, Jomy struggles with his unasked-for-power and its implied responsibilities to lead a lost tribe, whether he–or they–likes it or not. After all, Uncle Ben says it best: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Typical (but wonderful) sci-fi/hero movie fodder.
Once he overcomes his frustration at his apparent loss of freedom and decides to accept his duty to lead, Jomy has to learn how to actually do so. Along the way, he finds that his decisions–or rather, indecisions–have life-and-death consequences that he cannot foresee. While he naturally places great weight on emotion and sentiment, he soon realizes that sometimes, these life-affirming things also have immense costs.
His growth as a skillful leader, however, is not without repercussions. In fact, it takes him to deeply questionable places. At one point, he makes the grim decision to kill an entire squadron of surrendered POWs. Although it is clearly a difficult decision for him to make, we never see him waver from this decision or express regret. He internalizes the responsibility for this decision and forges on forward. To him, his charge to take his people to a promised land–a charge that has, in essence, been made for him by the sacrifice of others–has grown to something heftier than his own moral salvation.
The story presents this aspect of his development without necessarily validating it. If anything, it raises the question of whether he has gone too far–whether the responsibility he feels towards those who have gone before him has taken him to a place from whence he cannot return. Without spoiling too much, at one point the audience is made to ask, “were all these struggles and decisions made on a false premise and for an false promise?” The terrifying retort, of course, is “What if they are? Can you still justify them?”
Isn’t that a question that every adult needs to answer for his or her most difficult decisions?
This response had a lot to it, but I was mainly struck by the description of Jomy as a figure who had to make sacrifices in the name of his own people, but that he never regrets his decisions or actions, because he cannot afford to do so. That said, I don’t think this is the only way for a child to “grow up,” but in this instance I thought it rung well.
arianime, I’ll be e-mailing you soon with the specifics of delivery and such. I hope you find the Galaxy Express 999 to be a journey, a never-ending journey.
A journey to the stars!
What a cocky saucy monkey this one is. All the gods were-
Scratch that last part.
When I first began the Fujoshi Files, my intent was to put the spotlight on what I saw as a rising trend at the time: the appearance of the yaoi-loving female fan as a character archetype, particularly in the manga and anime targeted towards that otaku market, as well as the presence of “fujoshi-like” traits in characters who might not qualify otherwise. From what I knew, there were enough to get a decent-sized list, and as it was a burgeoning character trait, I figured if I did one every couple of months or so that I’d be able to keep up fairly easily.
That was not the case, and now I currently find myself with a backlog bigger than the amount of Fujoshi Files currently available on the site. Aware that I had been neglecting it somewhat over the past year or so, I’ve decided to start posting them more frequently. Most likely, you’ll be seeing them every other Sunday, but this is subject to change, particularly if I feel like I don’t have anything ready by then.
One problem that has faced the Fujoshi Files since very early on has been access to the works themselves, because I try to write a profile after reading as much as is available at the time. This can result in entries that are outdated, but it also makes it so that I don’t always feel I can write an accurate description of the characters themselves. Sometimes, a character’s name will be mentioned in passing in a single panel and then never again, and then when I look online and see that there are no records of a character by that name, I have to ask myself if I just imagined it. Still, the way I’m planning on posting these, I believe I will do a pretty good job of reading the source material while still posting entries regularly.
Another issue has been the sheer amount of characters that could potentially qualify. While it seems like the small “boom” of fujoshi main character may have died down recently, there are still plenty of minor fujoshi characters appearing in series, and it’s even gotten to the point where someone will make mention of a fujoshi, or there will be nameless fujoshi in the background and I can’t decided whether or not I should count such things. For example, in Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts, Himeji mentions in one episode that she has a friend who is a fujoshi. What would I even do about an image? If I counted such a “character,” would I be taking it too far? I get the feeling the answer is “yes,” but I’d like for the Files to be comprehensive.
And that’s not even mentioning Genshiken II, which has a whole new batch of characters who need profiling, or the spinoffs and alternate universes that have spawned out of Tonari no 801-chan. Those will come in due time.
What do you think? If you’ve been enjoying my little side project over these past few years, then how comprehensive should I make it? Should I include even background characters? Would you prefer I post somewhat incomplete entries and then fill them back in later?