All posts by Karen

Hi y’all

One thing I learned the hard way a while back is that you should never talk about whatever creative thingy it is that you’re doing on the internet: either do it, or don’t. Post the episode, post the art, post the episode recap, post the comic page, whatever, and if you have nothing, let it be nothing. What you absolutely should not do is write a long, detailed post about “Why I am taking a hiatus from [insert thing]” or “Why it’s is taking me longer than expected to create [insert thing],” and so on and so forth. It’s just boring, and no one cares, and they’re right not to.

Yet, here I am breaking my own rule, because I’m talking about what I am doing with my blog as opposed to just blogging, and I swear I learned this lesson something like 15 years ago back when I first tried to do webcomics (and on that note, OH GOD has it been a long time). But, hey, my life is very different now than when I first started doing any of these little internet projects, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to stop for a moment to take note of that. If it comes off as a massively self-indulgent rant, well, there’s plenty more internet for you to read out there, I guess.

I realized a few months ago while struggling to keep up with editing of the Otakusphere podcast that I just don’t love anime the way I used to. Don’t get me wrong, I still like it; I’ll probably be watching it, to some extent, for the forseeable future. I just don’t feel the huge need that I used to to know as much as possible about it and be included in “the conversation” about it, whatever that means. Maybe I’ve just realized that there really is no Greater Conversation, there’s just tons of little private ones, and do I really feel the need to make my private conversation public? (which, come to think of it, is literally what a podcast is.) Podcasts are another thing that, while I still like them and I’m glad they’re around, I don’t feel this compulsion to try to be a part of them.

I’ve been trying to figure out for the last few months what I should do with this little blog named Otakusphere. Shut it down and start something new that doesn’t have anime associations? No, that’s dumb. I’ll probably have the urge to start something new a few years from now anyway, and then I’ll just be on a treadmill of constantly starting new blogs that never get anywhere. Besides, this blog has been around long enough that there are nifty links to it from all sorts of weird corners of the internet, and it seems like it would be a waste to just discard that; I like the fact that people come here all the time because they followed a link about Tomb Raider, or wanted to read commentary on the 2011 Madhouse X-Men anime.

But I’m not sure how much blogging I’m going to be doing. As I get older, and free time to myself becomes more precious (parenting will do that), I’d rather spend time doing my own creative stuff rather than commenting about other people’s creative stuff. I thought I was done with drawing comics, only to realize I could probably enjoy making comics and make some good ones if I didn’t approach it 100% completely wrong, in the wrong format, with the wrong goals, which is what I did the first time. So I’m currently working on a comic book, albeit very slowly. I also have my fantasy books, which I’d like to do more of; they’ve been pretty well-received, but they need more professional presentation and they need some form of marketing that’s more aggressive than “you can find them on Amazon.”

And yet, there’s going to be a time when I want to write 10,000 words here about some old game, or cartoon, or something, and on one level it’s a total waste of time, and on another, well…that’s just what I do. So I guess what I’m saying is, I still want to do my semi-random enthusiast blogging about sundry topics, but I don’t want to be responsible for a regular podcast, or anything too time-sensitive, really. I do apologize to those who were enjoying the anime podcast especially, because I think that was filling a niche that still needs filling, but at this point in my life, I have to find what works for me. I’m not some college kid who can stay up all night writing recaps of five of the latest anime episodes and then sleep through my biology class; sometimes I wish I were ten years younger, but I’m not, and engaging in any kind of fandom is a smaller part of my life now.

Really, with the exception of discontinuing the podcast, nothing has changed much; this will remain a sporadically updating blog that will feature whatever nerdy stuff I’m psyched about on that particular day, and probably occasional sociological rants with no pictures that will become an immediate embarrassment five minutes after they’re published. I’m just saying that I’m no longer going to make periodic attempts to make this more of “an anime site,” or a whatever site; it’s just my lil’ blog, and maybe for the first time, that’s okay.

Or, you know, I could start blogging One Piece and Attack on Titan from the beginning tomorrow, because sometimes I’m just random and stuff. But probably (hopefully?) not.

Otakusphere Weekly #26: No One Ever Expects Drill Boobs

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Karen’s great “please God let me catch up on the podcast backlog” project continues, with this episode covering the first of the Fall 2016 anime finales and plenty of the other usual nonsense. Personally, I think this episode’s greatest contribution to the human race is our well-reasoned decision to pick Bakuon!! Jesus over Drifters Jesus as the flagship Anime Jesus, but we’ll let posterity be the final judge of that.

Otakusphere Weekly #25: Cleanse Your Palette With Death Parade

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Guess who got behind on her podcast editing HAHAHAHAHAHA *cries* yeah I’m really behind.

On the plus side, this was a pretty good episode, where we discussed a lot of stuff and not just the current simulcasts, including some shoujo manga, the Sword Art Online Vita and PS4 games, older anime like Death Parade and Ristorante Paradiso, and so on and so forth. We also learn that Evangelion was Lifesong’s Gateway anime, and there’s something more than a little disturbing about that. Like, everybody else got into anime with Sailor Moon or DBZ or something normal like that, and Lifesong watches Shinji slowly turn into a vegetable from trauma, but then somehow thinks “hmm, this is a pleasant art form that I now plan to engage with at some length.”

In other news, I would know how intense Izetta: The Last Witch  had gotten if I hadn’t dropped it, Magical Girl Raising Project kills more magical girls before 9 AM than most people do all day, and we may be the only people on earth concerned about the animation quality in Yuri on Ice!!! and not just dissolving into a puddle of mush over Victor and Yuri. Oh, and we want actual Christians to give us their take on Drifters Jesus, since he’s a lot like real Jesus when you get right down to it.

Otakusphere Weekly #24: Finally, Anime Hitler


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In this slightly disturbing episode, we discuss Moe Magical Girl decapitations, evil witches put into stasis as part of a Nazi plot, and the fact that Drifters has given us the anime version of Adolf Hitler that we never knew we wanted. Err, we also discuss some lighter stuff, like funny shipping wars in Kiss Him, Not Me, love between figure skaters and ice dancers, and the fact that Kaiju Girls portrays neither kaiju nor girls with any real enthusiasm.

In other news, LB is reading Welcome to the Ballroom, which he’s not that keen on, but we all need to buy it to prove that a market for ballroom dancing manga exists. I’m just still stuck on the fact that someone made a ballroom dancing manga and tried to make it all shonen-y; now I want a shonen manga all about home redecorating or something.

Otakusphere Weekly #23: I Want You, Main Character Girl!

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This week Kae gets fat again and then unfat really quickly, Ren temporarily jazzes up Uta Pri by declaring his inexplicable feelings for evil succubus Nanami, Izetta handles it’s spying plot in perhaps the most obnoxious way possible yet somehow makes up for it by giving us the visual of Fine eating pie, and uh…something something gay figure skating? Look, I’ll give you a better synopsis next time, I think the Tofu Turkey I ate might have temporarily broke the thing in my brain that allows me to summarize podcasts. The yams though? Those yams were DYNAMITE!

Otakusphere Weekly #22: There Are No Admins

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This time around, Keijo!!!!!!!! and Yuri on Ice!!! continue to earn their exclamation points, Izetta: The Last Witch and Magical Girl Raising Project leave us with some doubts, and this season of Uta Pri continues to be stultifyingly boring. In other news, we have now confirmed that Drifters‘ Jesus is a bad guy (what?) and none of the monsters in Kaiju Girls are ever going to have a cool fight (WHAT?)

Otakusphere Weekly #21: The World Revolves Around Tonkatsu, Once Again

marchlions

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This time around, we discuss March Comes in Like A Lion and how we would all like to either a)Have an Akari-figure in our lives or b) Be Akari. In other news, Magical Girl Raising Project surprises everyone, Keijo!!!!!!!! treats the Vacuum Butt Cannon issue with the seriousness it deserves, and Gakuen Handsome is…there is no describing what Gakuen Handsome is.

Oh, and Drifters featured the Second Coming of Christ and apparently only 1/3 of the audience even noticed. Maybe religious people should be concerned?

Otakusphere Weekly #20: Monologues from Cats

flipflap

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This time around, we jump down the rabbit hole with Flip Flappers, discuss the hidden meaning of the cats’ dialogue in March Comes in Like a Lion, and ponder the proper diet for a modern Keijo player. Additionally, is Girlish Number annoying, or is it just so brilliant in its recreation of workplace incompetence that it’s just painful for anyone who has ever held a job to watch? These questions, and more, answered* on this week’s** episode!

*To be perfectly candid, we don’t really answer these questions. But they are posed, and that should count for something, right?

**Our podcast timing has gotten weird and I have no idea if saying “this week’s episode” makes any sense, but whatever, I’m not getting into “fortnight” or what have you.

Otakusphere Weekly #19: Like Steins;Gate Ate Durarara!!

victoronice

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This week, we survey the full range of fanservice available this season by examining both Yuri!!! on Ice and Keijo!!!!!!!!, which have, between them, 11 exclamation points. I think between this overabundance of exclamation points and the unnecessary semicolons that the Occultic;Nine people love using, we may need to implement some kind of punctuation tax; this is getting ridiculous. Oh crap I just used an unnecessary semicolon, now I’m part of the problem ><.

In other news: Hamburgers, a bi-coastal survey, and Magical Girl Raising Project turns LB into this:

gendopose

On AniFem

If I have any reputation at all in the anime blogosphere (which is optimistic), it’s for being critical of feminist criticism when applied to anime. So, when a site crops up that’s all about applying feminist criticism to anime, you might think I would be against it on principle, but that’s not true; in fact, it’s the opposite.

I don’t plan to support AnimeFeminist on Patreon, but I don’t have a problem with what they’re doing. A site by feminists, for feminists? Sure; that’s not my jam, but so what?

So why talk about it at all, when it has nothing to do with me? Mostly just because I see anime fans demonizing the site right from the getgo, which– in addition to coming off as just mean-spirited–implies that they don’t understand what the most dangerous problem is with current anime criticism. The problem is not the fact that feminist criticism, as one particular lens through which to examine media, exists; it’s when it’s treated as the default for ALL criticism, and anyone who doesn’t agree with its usage is in serious danger of being branded a misogynist.

Let’s look at AniFem: it’s clearly by feminists, for feminists. It wears what it’s doing 100% on it’s sleeve. There is the whole Patreon angle, but the only people who are going to contribute are people who genuinely want to read this kind of criticism; no one else is forced to pay one red cent. If you don’t find value in feminist criticism, you can simply not visit the site and it will never effect your life.*

Now let’s look at other sites, like Anime News Network and other sites that want to be Anime News Network. These sites use terms like “toxic masculinity,” “male gaze” as though they’re completely accepted mainstream terms, with no indication that these terms are associated with a certain ideology. Typically, fans who ask inconvenient questions like “Is masculinity really toxic?” and “Why are you using the original form of gaze theory, and ignoring how the concept has evolved?” are ignored at best, branded misogynists at worst. There’s a generally unspoken rule (although some people take care to make it explicit) that if you have any issue with the terms of academic feminism being engaged in pop culture criticism, it’s because you’re an anti-feminist, a.k.a. misogynist.

Perhaps worse, in this environment, anime criticism that doesn’t use feminist theory is seen as not doing its due diligence; it’s basically taken as an article of faith that a review MUST come from a feminist perspective, or else it’s lacking in intellectual rigor.

Now let’s compare ANN and to AniFem. If ANN were say, Anime Feminist News Network, it would be one thing, but it’s not: it is THE anime news network. You can ignore it if you want, but then you’re kind of shooting yourself in the foot; ANN provides a valuable service in terms of providing otaku news from Japan for English- language fans, and you’ll have a hard time keeping current on anime (and several related fandoms) if you refuse to use either ANN, or sites that source at least partially from ANN. Basically, it’s a hotbed of feminist criticism that you literally cannot avoid if you want to participate in the fandom.

Everybody is allowed to do whatever kind of criticism they want; if a bunch of Marxist fans want to set up a site to review anime from a Marxist perspective, they’re welcome to do that; wild horses couldn’t drag me over to read it, but that’s beside the point. If mecha fans want to build a site that critiques anime solely based on the inventiveness of a show’s mechanical design,** they’re welcome to do that. Many people feel burned out by feminism because of the feeling that they can’t escape from it on major outlets; that doesn’t mean that feminists don’t have the same right as absolutely everyone else to make sites, with their own labor, that cater to their own interests.

TLDR: Even if you have no interest in patronizing AniFem, and even if you blatantly disagree with the show’s approach to criticism, for me it’s still part of the solution, not the problem, because engaging with feminist theory via the site is 100% a choice.

I think the anger of the fandom should be directed at those situations where we don’t really have a choice.

 

*Of course, you might see references or links to it in your Twitter timeline, but if you’re such a special snowflake you can’t even handle THAT level of engagement with views you disagree with, then you’re just being a hypocrite. After all, one of the best arguments in favor of letting all kinds of shows exist, no matter how ‘offensive’, is that if you don’t like it, you don’t have to watch it; similarly, if you don’t like an anime criticism website, you don’t have to visit it.

**I’d kind of like to see more stuff like this, although I can’t guarantee it doesn’t already exist and I’m just ignorant of it– for better or for worse, I spend more time watching anime these days then keeping track of anime fan projects online. I’m sure I miss stuff.