Meta Notes: Making the Anime Investment

by eternal on May 18, 2010


It’s been a while, hasn’t it? It’s funny how the strangest things can cause bloggers to appear and disappear. For many writers, the pressures of work and school build up and eventually lead to a hiatus – for others, the worst case scenario of actually having a social life proves to be the finishing blow.

Of course, I haven’t suffered anything like a finishing blow. I simply took a little reprieve, much like last year. It’s a shame since the Aniblog Tourney is currently running, but it can’t be helped (thanks for voting for me by the way – and don’t forget, my second match is coming up!)

Anyway, something interesting occurred to me while I was not writing. The first is that it’s not very relieving to take a break from writing when you know you ought to be writing anyway, which makes me glad that I didn’t do it intentionally. The second, though, is a bit more important. After all, it’s not like I’m behind in Angel Beats because I have exams or real life tasks to take care of. I’m behind because I haven’t been able to separate myself from the very subculture that I’m writing about.

And that leads me to the point of this post: the hidden benefits of not blogging.

Let’s get the straightforward stuff out of the way first. My disclaimer is that this theory works primarily for editorial bloggers whose only draw is their style and content – without the ability to attract readers by providing information or entertainment, we have nothing to rely on but ourselves. The experience (and lack thereof) of the blogger is often visible in their posts.

With that out of the way, here are the basic facts of aniblogging: to be an anime blogger, one must consume anime, or any similar media. Then, one must process this media and write about it in some way, shape or form. In order to maintain a blog for a significant amount of time, the blogger must consistently consume and process media in this cycle, regardless of their other priorities.

Now, this cycle might be perfect if a person’s sole purpose within anime fandom is to increase their MAL stats and memorize the ANN database, but for many bloggers, this isn’t the case. After all, we refer to anime fandom as a subculture for a reason. There are countless activities that we can do within our fandom – finding new singers and doujin circles to listen to, reading doujinshi, browsing fanart, translating anime, playing anime-style video games, hanging out on the internet. The list goes on and on.

The problem is that most of these activities don’t generate posts.

To me, this is the greatest dilemma of anime blogging. Managing real life is easy – life can have its ups and downs, but at least for me, my life on the internet is rarely affected by my other responsibilities for anything more than a couple weeks at a time. The real challenge is in delving through the farthest depths of the subculture while emerging twice a week with enough material to write a post. It’s an interesting dilemma because both extremes are bad – you either abandon your productive activity in favour of sheer consumption, or you continue to produce without gaining any new information. It doesn’t even need to be said that activities like blogging aren’t only good for the community, but also for each individual writer, so they can’t be given up easily.

Anyway, after giving the issue some thought and drawing from my past experience, I’ve come up with a name for my personal theory: the anime investment.

Generally speaking, good blog posts require a wealth of knowledge. There’s a reason why the oldest, most knowledgeable, and most experienced anime bloggers attract more readers than your average amateur episodic reviewer. However, it’s easy to forget to question where this wealth of knowledge came from. Some spent years of their lives fansubbing and scanlating; some created influential websites and brainstormed new ideas for their community; some spent their high school years lurking on HongFire in search of new CG packs to put to their appropriate use.

The point is that there are an incredible amount of activities that anime fans can do to immerse themselves in the subculture, and even if those activities don’t bring any momentary rewards – and certainly no momentary blog posts – they increase the writer’s own knowledge and experience, aiding future writing endeavors. The opinions that we respect and the reviews that we nod along to don’t come from an endless stream of currently airing anime – they come from currently airing anime in addition to the full breadth of the culture, from AnimeSuki debate to /a/ chatter. There’s no shortcut to experience.

That’s why I believe in making the anime investment: it can make a mess of things in the short-term, but every investment pays off eventually. Danbooru sessions can lead to a fanart post; fighting games can lead to social matches that bring you closer to your friends and peers. No matter how tangential and unrelated they may seem, every experience that the subculture has to offer will contribute to your growth as a fan in some way, even if it’s invisible – and it’s that growth that will encourage your readers to spend 1000 words of their lives listening to what you have to say.

– – –

As the title of the post implies, this is a meta post – in other words, it’s a long and pointless repetition of previously established facts that serves as a bad alternative to contributing with real content. That said, I still believe that some bloggers would benefit from making the anime investment. A high post frequency and a consistent 20+ comment count may look good to newcomers, but only experience can push your content forward and allow it to be the best that it can be – and we all know that blogging is about content.


{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

moritheil May 19, 2010 at 12:06 am

I somehow knew, without clicking on the link, that it would go to XKCD.

And this actually brings me to my response. Is this knowledge – the effort involved in keeping up with the subculture – itself an investment? Perhaps we’d be better served by asking similar questions. Is it an investment for a music enthusiast to go to a concert? Is it an investment for an activist to protest the World Bank?

Technically, I suppose it is. Anything you do which results in knowledge can be seen as an investment, if it ultimately helps you attain status and/or power. But it isn’t really a conscious use of constructive time. It’s a hobby, a recreational activity. We should be asking ourselves if we even want to look at it in those terms, to begin with.


ETERNAL May 19, 2010 at 8:16 pm

I think this is mostly just a case of terminology. For me personally, I like to view anime and the subculture as an actual goal, rather than a passive hobby. It’s something that I actively pursue. Think of it as a personal project, like amateur art: it takes a lot of effort to draw stuff, and it might be more fun to just kick back and play video games, but you still do it because it’s ultimately fulfilling.

So, yes, anime is a recreational activity, but it helps me to think of it in these terms because it adds more structure to a generally passive hobby.


ghostlightning May 19, 2010 at 12:18 am

Nice. I go through binges myself, not writing but just consuming a lot of stuff. This is followed by low consumption and writing one post after another until I run out.


zzeroparticle May 19, 2010 at 12:26 am

The consumption process helps out with one’s perspective. This comes with the caveat that one consumes a lot of different things so that you get more diversity and actually take the trouble to try understanding those other viewpoints and taste preferences.

As for me, the joy is in discovering the new or unearthing the gems that have seemingly been lost to time. It’s been a rewarding process to say the least and I value the discussion it generates moreso than what I actually cobble together into a post.


Chikorita157 May 19, 2010 at 12:28 am

Like they say, knowing is half the battle… The more anime/manga/visual novels/ etc one consume, posts will come out pretty easily. Of course I am not new to anime since I have been watching it since my childhood. I began blogging last year and believe me, it took time until those good post came out. Not only that, I participate at AnimeSuki forums… If it wasn’t for Melative, Twitter and RyanA, I wouldn’t be watching what I am now. Episodics take less effort, but editorial writing takes effort and time. Either way, they are both content providing that the author doesn’t summarize the whole episode instead of sharing his/her opinions.


Ryan A May 19, 2010 at 1:08 am

lol, I take no responsibility! You should totally swim in the deep end more often though.


Ryan A May 19, 2010 at 1:00 am

The problem is that most of these activities don’t generate posts.

It’s all about perception. I think digitalboy9001 pretty much breaks the base case here. He cranks out posts. I don’t read each one, but I know there is thought and perspective behind the content.

I agree that we need to be active in both the primary medium and subculture, but there must be balance. To be honest, it’s not the stationary subculture which is the real threat, it’s the be-here-now, real-time, attention-draining stuff that’s going on (chats, statuses, forums, threads, and even blog entries). This needs balance.

Here is my observation. The more refined users (older) have methods of balance which are unknown to the young and wild. They known exactly what subculture to inspect and spend energy on, and have the capacity to formulate content in the background. The younger crowd (you kids in high school) don’t quite get this refined perspective of time and events; you’ve been in a box called school this whole time (so it might not be you, but your environment).

There are quite large differences between the time and energy available during different phases of life. Primarily it is high school, university, possibly graduate studies, work, career, and family. It never gets easier, stress is always looming, and I believe this progressive constriction on life is what builds perception and good blogging. It’s almost a survival mechanism, and when survival depends on managing time, we learn to make use of what we have.

When the young and less refined delve into subculture, they are easily absorbed, and that causes massive loss of time. Meanwhile, most of the refined users truly don’t lose the same amount of time… at some point, you have to realize that more is less, and vertical accumulation of experience cannot outweigh, reasonably paced experience over time (horizontal).

Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a way to rush through life… nor is there a need to. We get better simply by living, and so long as we exist, the potential is present. So don’t rush your investment, encounter it naturally as if it was an essential part of life, and more than anything, enjoy it.

Also, you should have put that disclaimer at the top (w


ETERNAL May 19, 2010 at 8:27 pm

Good point. Sometimes I read Omo and SDS and I wonder how they can write as often they do, but for lack of better phrasing, I guess they just have more experience in life. You’re right about getting absorbed in the subculture as a result of free time – one of my personal favourite ways to learn new things is to dive right into it and waste a few weekends that should be spent on writing posts. It’s a decision that I make unconsciously.

Of course, I’m not trying to rush things. It can be hard to strike the perfect balance, but you get used to it after a while. Digitalboy is an interesting example because he really does convert most of his random adventures in the subculture into blog posts. The downside is that it can seem like his blog is lacking focus, but that doesn’t change the fact that he does a surprisingly good job of finding stuff to write.

Anyway, I get what you’re saying, but from a practical perspective, there are definitely some helpful activities (reading blog archives, going through ANN) that make it hard to generate new posts, even though they’re worth doing. On the flip side, writing posts about everything you do would just tire out your readers with irrelevant information. All I can say is that I agree that balance is the key, but like you said, there’s no need – and really no way – to force yourself to instantly find that balance. The most important thing is that you’re aware.


kimaguresan May 19, 2010 at 1:16 am

Consumption really defines me. But, I have trouble managing real life. It’s not easy for me, but that’s somewhat of an excuse. Anime is my escape from reality since I’m so bogged down in real life and work.

I came back to blogging after feeling like I had no voice, and the reason to come back was to find a voice, I guess. But the investment, as you put it, is real, and I’m invested. I just need to use it for my voice.


Baka-Raptor May 19, 2010 at 1:37 am

I’m in currently in the opposition situation, a “blogging investment” if you will. Since I’ve had to cut down on anime recently, I’ve been going back through my unfinished earlier drafts and getting back in touch with my roots as a result. Just like it’s always good to gain new perspective, it’s always good to remember where you came from.


Scamp May 19, 2010 at 4:25 am

I hope I reach that realm of the fully experienced blogger on day. At the moment, and for the foreseeable future, I only feel like I am writing about each little part of my investment I’m making. Everything I’m doing now feels like building a retirement fund.


ETERNAL May 19, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Ah, the glorious days of retirement… we all strive toward it. I think it goes without saying that I share your feelings on the matter. Still, there’s something satisfying about fighting an uphill battle. Sometimes I feel like taking a page from Gurren Lagann and charging head-first into every adversary. It’s exciting!


mefloraine May 19, 2010 at 6:09 am

Sooo basically, you’re excusing your lack of blogging due to Touhou? :D?

Anyway, whether it has been brought up before, it’s an interesting point. I know with my blog, it’s easy to get distracted by other things and then come back, because no matter what I look into, there is always fanart. Or if there is not fanart, I am perfectly willing to ramble on about a lack of fanart (probably not the best plan, but eh).

And I’ve always been a strong believer in the idea that everything we do gives us experience that will inevitably aid us at some point in our lives. Be it in blogging, impressing a friend with weird knowledge, something actually relevant IRL, etc.

I could go on, but I’m going to be late to school. /o/


ETERNAL May 19, 2010 at 8:34 pm

There’s always something to bring us back. If I felt like making it sound dramatic, I guess I could call it “passion”. As long as we have that, it’s impossible for anything to pull us from our blogs for a significant amount of time – it’s only the short-term distractions that get in the way. Also…

>Sooo basically, you’re excusing your lack of blogging due to Touhou? :D?


(in other words, yes, you’re pretty much right. orz)


Shance May 19, 2010 at 7:04 am

And here I am thinking I was all alone in this murky quicksand of generating blog content. Now that we can sink together, I think it’s fine enough for me.

Have you tried not blogging for a certain period of time, regardless of reason? Usually this kind of feeling comes after you’re forced to go into hiatus for quite sometime (the usual excuse), and find out that you don’t experience any withdrawal of some sort. You don’t long for blogging, you don’t want to write, and sometimes, you obviously don’t want to come back. It’s a dangerous kind of experience for a blogger, but it does enlighten you to the fact that blogging is done with leisure, not with requirement.

Investment? What investment? All I see here is pure fandom…


ETERNAL May 19, 2010 at 8:40 pm

That doesn’t work too well for me, but distancing yourself certainly gives you some perspective. Back when I stopped blogging for a couple months last summer, I actually didn’t feel much regret at the decision, although I knew that I would come back eventually. I think it just felt good to take the weight off my shoulders. On the other hand, going out of my way to simply “not write” has the opposite effect… every passing day reminds me of the stuff that I should be doing, to the point that I become afraid of my Feedburner count. This would vary from person to person, but at least for me, not blogging is like procrastinating an essay with a dangerously close deadline.

As for the fandom comment… yeah, that’s pretty much it. There are a lot of words to use for it, and I like to organize my own goals with formal plans, but it’s ultimately fandom, and I love it. :D


Aorii May 19, 2010 at 8:53 am

This is one of those moments I envy bloggers like meffy, cause those activities (pixiv surfing~) DO generate posts for her. Nevertheless, since editorial writers have a lot of room of maneuver, there’s no reason why we can’t overlap our writing into activities we enjoy rather than have to go out of the way to do. For me, I know that since I’m going to write/banter to promote certain shows to my friends anyways, I might as well just write up a formal post and then link them to it… stuff like that. Any post that can serve a dual-purpose is time we save between blogger-life and real-life. Yes engineering efficiency~!!! \o/

Also, this is why we need more team editorial blogs, so editorial bloggers can take a hiatus every so while without feeling bad. xD


ETERNAL May 19, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Back when Oi! Hayaku! was still around, I hadn’t even realized why team editorial blogging is such a good idea. Of course the practical problem of organizing a group of people can be challenging, but the potential rewards are worth it. Imagine an editorial blog that produces content three times a week but only requires each writer to post once every two weeks. The posts will always be frequent and they’ll never seem strained or burned out!

Oh, and for what it’s worth, I find myself searching for post ideas in pretty much everything that I do. The only problem is that some of the ideas amount to nothing when I really think about them, which is when the procrastination kicks in :P


Aorii May 21, 2010 at 4:51 pm

FUND IT! I mean, help organize it! xD Go go go!


schneider May 19, 2010 at 10:41 am

>>some spent their high school years lurking on HongFire in search of new CG packs to put to their appropriate use.


I like this theory. As an anime fan, I’m way all over the place, but reading this post allows me to justify somehow all that consumption I do. Maybe some day I can write a post about fanart!


ETERNAL May 19, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Sounds like a plan! I’ve been thinking of all sorts of unique post ideas, but I’m holding off on a lot of them until I amass enough knowledge to talk comfortably.

And I wasn’t referring to myself with that HongFire comment! I use Danbooru… XD


Legato May 21, 2010 at 2:23 pm

The part referring to aniblogging doesn’t concern me for the time, since I’ve barely written 2 posts in my entire life, where I was introducing newcomers to Touhou and roguelikes, but I disgress….

To me, regular lurking is certainly one of the best way to gather knowledge passively, without investing too much time in “active” ways of gathering “anime experience” ,through watching shows and writing posts.

However, I don’t neglect anime watching, but since it’s a trivial activity, I can’t really afford investing too much time in it, with my studies, and all the stuff related to IRL.

My arrival in the “aniblogosphere” as a reader is quite recent ,so I don’t really aspire to create a aniblog right now, because of my lack of knowledge. But it might happen.

And about my “supposed” inferiority complex, I’m sure reading aniblogs plus comments will help me as some kind of catharsis, though I surely envy all of you.

(Excuse me if there are any English mistakes, I’m French…..)


ETERNAL May 24, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Yep, I understand where you’re coming from. I’ve actually been pushing myself toward some other communities (the Gemot, Doujin Style, etc), but it’s a slow process, and it helps to do some lurking first. I’ve found that while you do need to push yourself from time to time, it just feels natural when the time is right for you to try something new.

For lack of a better example, I used to pass by 4chan from time to time since I knew that it was one of the biggest sites for English-speaking anime fans, but I was never able to make sense of anything. Then one day, for no apparent reason, I went on /jp/ and everything started falling into place. Now it feels natural to hang around for half an hour when I have some time to kill. It comes down to the fact that you really can’t rush things.


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