What’s the Point of Aniblogging, Anyway?

I realize the question I’ve posed above has a very simple answer: there is no point to anime blogging; there is no point to anime, for that matter. In fact, we are only primitive water-based lifeforms clinging desperately to a piece of spinning rock in space, and ultimately, nothing matters. Now that we’ve covered the ultimate answer, which I see as a matter of doing my due diligence, let’s move on to something worth talking about, because the ultimate/existential answer happens to be really boring.

Seriously, why do we blog about anime? To entertain? To some extent that’s true, but then you run into the problem that certain kind of shows lend themselves to that much better than others. I had a lot of fun blogging Wizard Barristers, which was a pretty bad show, primarily because it was a mess and it gave me tons of material to make fun of. I also had fun with Madhouse’s X-Men anime.* However, doing episodic blogging of a show that’s actually good is of questionable value. For a lot of shows, all you’re left doing is speculating about what’s going to happen, which is kind of pointless; it’s not like you’re going to win a prize if you’re right. And for some shows, like Girls Last Tour or even March Comes in Like a Lion, providing the kind of flippant commentary that blogging seems to lend itself to would feel downright disrespectful.

So episodic aniblogging can be entertaining, providing you’re covering a bad show that wouldn’t be worth watching on it’s own merits…meaning, it’s a format best used for shows that really shouldn’t be worth the effort in the first place. For better shows, especially shows of a more serious nature, it’s better to watch the whole show (or at least a significant chunk, like a season), and then blog about it. This produces better writing, at least in my experience, but it does feel rather limiting. So you watch a 12-episode show, about 4 hours worth of anime, and then produce maybe a 1,000 word essay. That’s it? Seems a little anti-climactic.

There’s another problem with episodic blogging, regardless of show quality, and that’s the tendency for the blogger to become a wanna-be writer; we start predicting where the story’s going to go, then get upset when it doesn’t necessarily go there. With a lot of shows I’ve written about, I’m not sure if they were disappointing because the writing wasn’t that good, or because I was irritated that the show didn’t do what I felt it was supposed to based on the hints that I thought I’d picked up on. So in this case, reading an episodic blog of a show is watching the blogger finish the story in their head, then have a gradual angry breakdown when the story reveals itself to be something entirely different. Maybe that’s fun if you have a sadistic streak, but it doesn’t seem like something we should be aiming for here.

I guess what I’m really wondering is, what are people really looking for from anime blogging, assuming they want it at all? I like it when a show first airs and people are posting all kinds of screenshots, jokes and speculation; I like the community that forms around that process. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s something tailor-made for social media and chat services; Twitter, Discord, etc. It’s a collaborative play on the show that needs multiple people to work, and not something a single blogger can do.

Well, I suppose you could do a blog about an anime and just post screenshots and jokes and silly captions, but then you’re just doing what social media does, only worse. I’d like to think that there’s still some use for the blogging format without watering it down.

I like writing about anime, and I’d like to continue doing it. I don’t think it’s pointless, even though some of the more popular models of anime blogging seem increasingly pointless to me; I think there’s a better way of doing it, and I just haven’t figured out what it is yet. I feel like there’s an obvious answer right in front of my nose, and one day I’m going to smack my forehead and yell “Aha! This is how anime blogging should work in 2018! This is what this format really has to offer!”, but that day is not today.

If you’d like to help me out, you could let me know in the comments what you enjoy about anime blogging and why. Then, if I ever discover the secret to Aniblogging 2.0, I’ll be sure to credit you in my upcoming book, “How to Justify Spending Huge Amounts of Effort on Wastes of Everyone’s Time.” It’s a working title.

*Blogging about X-Men was a little different from blogging about another bad anime because the X-Men were pretty much my first love when I was first getting into the whole geek lifestyle. I wanted that show to be good, and when it wasn’t, I enjoyed making fun of it, but it was still kind of bittersweet overall.

6 thoughts on “What’s the Point of Aniblogging, Anyway?”

  1. Personally I enjoy reading more specific elements about anime, like characters, stories arcs, themes, or why one particularly stands out or is beloved/hated. Plot recaps like you said lend themselves better to social media threads or instant messaging. I also do like speculative reading but mainly for action or shounen type stuff.

    1. Thanks for letting me know your thoughts. Kind of jibes with what I’m thinking about episodic blogging, because then you end up doing a lot of “Sakura took out her staff and defeated another Clow Card” type of recap, whereas if you skip all that minutia, you can really focus on the more important stuff.

      I still like episodic blogging, it’s fun to do, but I’m trying to think of a way to do it that doesn’t fall prey to becoming either a)a boring recap or b)a snarkfest. Snarkfests are fun once in a while, but too many of them and it’s tiresome.

  2. Personally I’d like to see more discussion about character and story implications. Most aniblogging focuses on making snap judgements and or applying a specific lens to interpret value. Very little of blogging is dedicated to expanding on the what if situations that make stories so interesting in the first place.

    For example, take an MMO themed anime with a character who kicks ass and gets the girl. Most aniblogging will be about how good that story is or isn’t based off personal interpretations of the story or some moral lens. The blogging about it comes out as something along the lines of “show sucks, character was too OP, I predicted the story too easily.” Or something like “how dare that heroine spend her points on cooking skill, I’m a woman who can’t cook and I’m offended by the mere idea that a woman might cook for fun!” That kind of blogging is everywhere and it’s tiresome. It doesn’t start conversations because the answer is presented before any questions are asked. Maybe it’s not as honest as it is when I mock it, but you get the idea.

    Reading blog posts about judgements is really only fun when I’m out looking for a debate. That stopped being fun years ago. Most online debates are either too stupid because everyone debating is equally ignorant or they simply aren’t enough of a challenge to be of any value. That isn’t an anime community specific problem. Every open internet community has this issue to some degree.

    Lets go back to my MMO anime example. Something that would be interesting to read about is why the rules of virtual realities change perceptions of what is and isn’t socially acceptable and how the characters represent it. No judgements needed, just the why and the how. Something to enrich the original experience instead of competing with it for attention.

    1. Well now that you’ve said it, it seems like ‘talk about the substance of the show, don’t just make constant value judgments about it’ seems like a pretty obvious way to avoid a lot of common pitfalls. But if it’s so obvious, then why wasn’t I thinking about it in those terms? Heh.

      If we apply that to episodic blogging, then I think the problem you run into is that it’s not clear what shows will lend themselves to that at the outset. Something like Outbreak Company probably would have been fascinating to blog about as it was airing, but I only realized that towards the end of the season. For a recent example, this season I’m enjoying Laid Back Camp, but is there really enough there for me to get a post out of every episode, even if I really wanted to? I won’t know until it’s too late!

      Anime Blogger Problems:)

      1. Writing about the substance is more work. I can theory craft about it all day, but I’ve never been good at doing it weekly. It much easier to do it with a story as a whole.

        Following any one show every week and making something meaningful of each episode is hard. Something like Outbreak Company works for that, but a lot of anime won’t. I have spent some time working of a formula for a weekly blog post to get around the issue, but I don’t have the time to keep up with it so I haven’t attempted it.

        If instead of writing a post for each individual anime you are covering you write a post for the week as a whole there is more flexibility. So like say for example you are covering 5 shows. On any given week one of those shows is featured on the blog post for that week. The other 4 shows only get a paragraph or two for that week if that. If you have two shows that are super interesting on the same week you pick one to feature and save the other for next week. The goal is to always have something to write about on any given week. Of course that’s all theory. It was something I was working on a few years ago, but never got to try. Picking the right shows is still the biggest challenge.

  3. The weekly post system is a good idea, except something like that probably wouldn’t work for me personally. Instead of picking different anime to spotlight, I’d end up writing five paragraphs on each show every week and defeating the purpose, lol.

    I don’t know, I feel like there’s a good way for someone like me to do this type of blogging that’s currently eluding me, and it’s really starting to bug me. If I ever figure it out though, just you watch, I will become the undisputed QUEEN OF THE ANIBLOG!!!!

    …yeah okay not really, it sounds kind of cool though.

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