Foxy Lady Ayame kindly asked me to participate in a blog carnival, and although I wrote a post about the topic last year, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse (if I had… well, let’s not go there). The topic: what do you want in an anime or manga blog? Let’s examine each of FoxyLadyAyame’s questions individually.
Why not get to reflect on what we like to read and for what reasons? (reviews, commentaries, editorials)
I agree, why not?
Ok, ok, fine! I can already feel FoxyLadyAyame glaring at me. I’ll do some reflecting!
I like to read reviews to compare what I thought of a show to what other people thought, or to know whether I should watch something that I haven’t seen yet. I like reading episodic commentaries to glean an extra bit of insight into what I’m watching. I like to read editorials to gain some further depth or insight into a topic. I guess I like everything. That’s why I do all three of those on this sight.
“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary. Go and study it.” — Hillel
I really like how Ayame calls episodic posts commentaries, I think I’m going to have to start using that term. It fits how I see episodic posts: as an addendum to the episode rather than a summary or replacement. My goal is to write posts which add something to the viewing experience, and I do that here with limited success, for some shows more than others.
There is a perceived division among bloggers between “editorial bloggers” and “episodic bloggers”, with the former tending to look down on the latter. In my experience, episodic bloggers can be more insightful than any editorial blogs out there. Plus, they do it multiple times a week.
What do we do when we stumble across a new blog?
I look at the titles of the posts on the front page. If none interest me, I leave. If one sounds interesting, I read the post. If I like it, I add it to my Google Reader. Not that complicated. I don’t give two hoots about your site’s layout unless it is completely unreadable.
What must a good animanga blog have and do?
It must have posts about anime or manga that interest me. You’d think the “about anime or manga” part is obvious, but you’d be surprised. Here are my secret tips for writing well, as I shared last year:
- Have something to say.
- Say it.
Follow these rules and you can’t go wrong.
Two is the easy part. Your writing style doesn’t matter much to me compared to what you have to say, as long as you use coherent English (or Spanish works too). One and three are the hard parts. The way that most people seem to screw up is in spending a lot of time saying nothing at all. There are so many posts of hundreds of words that could be summarized in a single sentence. Don’t be afraid to write a zero-word post. I follow over a hundred blogs, so I am not going to bother reading something that’s long and going nowhere.
What blogging behaviors annoy us (
anonymously of course)?
First of all, it annoys me when people say things “anonymously” about others behind their back. So I will say everything to specific people’s faces. Don’t worry about any drama or anything, I only chose bloggers I actually like and I asked them if I could beforehand. So don’t be insulted by what I’m about to say, and keep fighting the good fight. I make many of the same mistakes as well.
Reiseng needs to stop slacking off and update more. Unfortunately, I have no interest in shounen manga so I will skip those posts and go straight to this one on Hyouka.
First of all, the title is weak. I have no idea from it what this post is going to be about, or even that it’s going to be about Houtarou. It doesn’t grab my attention at all.
A few weeks back, I watched Hyōka episode 10 and for one reason or another, something in that episode hit me quite a bit, so, I decided to write a post. This here is that post, it happens to be pretty damn late, but here it is regardless.
I get that this is supposed to be some meta-humor, but it says nothing and isn’t very funny. Rule #3.
“Thanks for the summary, shithead. I could have looked up episode 10 on Wikipedia and got the same thing. What the hell are you trying to say?”
At least we have some self-awareness about breaking Rule #3.
Well, I think Hōtarō actually knows that he is talented; he just claims otherwise.
“Woah, woah, stop right there. I know that like most anime bloggers, you are a cocky asshat, but aren’t you pushing it a bit too far? You must be mad or something.”
In the fourth paragraph, we finally get to the point of the post. This should have been in the title. The humor in the dialogue is starting to pick up steam and get a bit amusing, so that’s good.
But I still have one major problem: I thought the premise of the post, that Houtarou knows he is talented but claims otherwise, is obvious. Clearly it’s not, since Reiseng seems to know some people who would disagree. But who are these people? Reiseng’s post would benefit from breaking the anonymity rule we previously discussed, so it doesn’t feel like we are attacking a strawman. Besides, the whole point of blogging is to create discussion: the people who disagree with Reiseng won’t be insulted, they will be glad that someone is considering what they write and interested in discussing it with them.
As we continue the post, the meta-humor continues to be hit and miss. I’m not sure it’s helping.
Next, we have three questions, one of which doesn’t end in a question mark. Punctuation is important. But it’s good here how we have a bulleted list here to break the more monotonous flow of paragraphs. Formatting and pictures are your friends. However, I would suggest using section headings for the three questions instead: by the time we finish answering the first question, we have already forgotten what the next two are.
In the answers to the first two questions, Reiseng provides some legitimately interesting discussion. But then we get to this sentence:
If Hōtarō fails, then people end up sad and he doesn’t like that.
This is a) obvious and b) lame. We should phrase this in a way that’s more interesting and less insulting to the readers’ intelligence. We could toss in some poetry: “Everything depends / on Houtarou.”
I like the section on the personal note: self-reflections are great if they complement something you’re saying about anime, as long as your anime blog doesn’t become a personal reflection for its own sake.
One final thought: Reiseng has an excellent use of paragraphs. It’s not a massive wall of text, which enables you to skim for a bit without losing the thread of things entirely. The post has some good ideas, but it would benefit greatly from a stronger title, organization and focus, and from convincing us that the people we are arguing against are not strawmen.
Flomu fails as a blogger because he doesn’t update enough and makes a new blog every other month. But let’s look at his most recent post anyway.
First of all, the title is again weak. But Flomu address the main topic of the post immediately. He has good paragraph spacing and variety in the post formatting. He address the arguments of a specific person rather than arguing with a nebulous cabal of anime fans. He has a clear point he is trying to make, makes it, and stops. Flomu has mastered Rule #3. An excellent concise and incisive post.
Mushyrulez is the anime blogosphere’s resident loony tune. And we love him for it.
His latest post has no point or purpose, and rambles all over the place. He breaks Rule #1. But these are more guidelines than rules. We’ve come to expect no less from Mushyrulez, so I’ll forgive him. Still, his is definitely a niche blogging market.
Embarrassing confession: Jesus159159159 is one of my favorite bloggers. He has endless enthusiasm and knows how to make people laugh.
Now, some people might accuse Jesus159159159 of breaking rule #1 and not having something to say. He just writes episodic posts and makes “summaries”. But I disagree: he always has a purpose behind everything he says, which is to make people laugh. And there is no higher calling.
Jesus should put some more effort into his titles though.
Anya should update more.
Flawfinder does a good job at having a large variety of posts. Let’s hope he doesn’t burn himself out.
I’ll be perfectly honest though: I don’t really get the Ani-Elitist Reviews. They offer reviews of a show from the perspective of an elitist, but they leave me confused. Is this perspective supposed to be genuine? Is it supposed to be funny? It’s easy to make fun of bad anime, but what is the point? The reviews don’t really make me laugh…
This particular post first summarizes the show twice in two different paragraphs (rule #3). Next, we discuss how the animation style changes in every episode. I guess this is because this is from an “elitist” perspective, but who cares about the animation? I could probably qualify as an elitist but I don’t care.
Next, we move onto a third paragraph of summary. A summary in this case would be fine since no one in their right mind would watch this show, but the way it’s presented in three separate section makes it hard to follow what is actually going on.
Ane Haramix is just a lame incest fantasy which ended on a “semi-shocking” note that is ironically trying to milk its premise for all it’s worth, leading to an overlong and ultimately dry series that didn’t know when to finish.
The conclusion is what one would expect for a show such as this. But I still don’t get the ani-elitist character. Is it supposed to be funny? If you’re going to blog awful shows like this I think humor is the only way to make people want to read them. I feel like I could find these posts more interesting if Flawfinder made them more genuine rather than constructing an artificial “elitist” character. Or at least if he gave the artificial character more of a personality rather than meeting my image of a British guy lounging on a couch and smoking a cigar.
The title tells us exactly what the post is going to be about, so good. But the first paragraph and a half are summary and cruft. I am already losing interest by the time I get to the crux of Illogicalzen’s argument. Rule #3.
At the very root of the problem however are the ideas of race and ethnicity and how they play an immensely important role in the creation of identities and social spaces.
However, the central point is rather vague and ill-defined. What does “immensely important” mean, exactly? Where did social spaces come from? They are never mentioned again, don’t promise more than you offer. And would anyone disagree with this premise?
To Yui, we see how her identity has been formed through her social background and that of her family. Coming from an old established samurai family, along with being a member of Japan’s Imperial Royal Guard she is an elite soldier, someone with heritage and high social status.
Illogicalzen’s writing would benefit from a more active writing voice. This is one of the few ways to screw up at Rule #2. The phrases “has been formed”, “coming from”, “being a member”, “she is”, and “someone with” are all weak, weak weak. Here’s how I’d rewrite these two sentences:
Yui’s roots in an old, established samurai family and her position in the Imperial Royal Guard are central to her self-identity as an elite soldier.
This version says pretty much the same the same thing but is much easier to parse. In my opinion, this awkward language is the biggest thing holding Illogicalzen back, along with a weak application of Rule #3. This post could say the same thing in at most half the length.
AJTheFourth was the only editorial blogger brave enough to open herself up to scrutiny, so thank you AJTheFourth! (Note: flomu is not an editorial blogger, he is a Nichijou blogger.)
The title here doesn’t exactly capture what the post is about: perhaps “Monument to Subculture” or something along those lines would be more appropriate. But it does pique your interest.
The posts’s formatting is beautiful: we have evenly, medium-sized paragraphs, several pictures and quotes, and bolded words to catch the reader’s attention.
AJTheFourth has something to say, she says it and then stops. If I had to criticize anything, it would be that that a few jumps in the narrative are difficult to follow. Particularly the transition between these two paragraphs:
Y didn’t think to submit her manga empire to the Human Monument Project because it wasn’t the right type of culture: the lofty kind that upholds how wonderfully productive and meaningful humanity is.
Except, as the series so eloquently points out, one can be a living monument to culture every day, casting their votes through the things that they choose to consume.
The “except” is the troubling part, because it’s not clear how the second statement contradicts the first. It doesn’t say anything about the type of culture. This transition stuck out to me like a sore thumb in an argument that was otherwise so orderly and logical. Still, overall an excellent post with a clear and succinct point.
Ok, I’ll break my own promise and mention some things that annoy me anonymously because the people who do them didn’t volunteer. Here are some other ways to annoy me:
- Write a letter. This is a blog post, not a letter. You don’t need to have a greeting or sign your name.
- Make your posts unreadable in Google Reader. I don’t want to break my flow to click a link and read more.
- Use walls of text. Use paragraphs.
- Be pretentious. Some people like to throw big words around for the sake of throwing big words around. It doesn’t make you look smart, it makes you look like an idiot. Simple language is best.
- Assume your readers are dumb. They aren’t. Nothing annoys me more than a post making grandiose claims and introducing a word in italics as the most profound thing in the world, especially when the word is one I’ve known since elementary school.
- Ignore comments. If someone took the time to respond to your post, they deserve a response, even if their comment is pointless. If I leave a comment on a post and I don’t get a response, well, I’m not going to feel motivated to comment again.
Thanks again to those who volunteered to be critiqued! They all run excellent blogs that you should check out if you haven’t before. Also, if you are interested in this topic, see what the other participants in the carnival have to say: