Another year down.
Four years. This site is really old, and I am also pretty old. It’s time to celebrate though and, per tradition, I list down ten things I learned in my past year as an anime reviewer. As I look back on it, it’s actually a bumpy and very unique point in my life. A lot of things happened to me, and it feels really weird considering this experiment of mine, about fixing my own life through blogging, has yield some really interesting results. I want to thank everyone that really supported this site. It’s a really small anime review website, but I still get a considerable amount of traffic despite my fourth year being a really slow one. What can I say? I hit a point of not caring anymore, and it reflected in the progress of my blog.
First up, the stats. As I said before, I am not ashamed at showing people the views of my blog. At first, I was actually proud of it because I hit big numbers two years ago. Now, it’s gone bad. Hard.
It’s a combination of lack of activity and personally feeling like giving up at some point in the past year. I didn’t want to quit blogging, but I came to a point in my life where I needed to focus on something else. I had to let blogging go, and the numbers reflect it. I don’t regret my choice because, as I said, last year was pretty productive for me. Eh, just not in this site.
Actually, I was also curious just how far my views number drops before I start caring again. At the start of 2016, daily views dropped to less than one thousand and I guess that’s the point where I really thought “oh sH*t, me no popular no more”, and it did light a fire inside me. I also kinda wanted to start over from the bottom. I think I reached my peak, and I personally want to surpass it, but I also think I just need to restart and go at it slowly again. It’s not about achieving the goal, but it’s more about the journey for me. I also like the view going from the top instead of the view from the top, if that makes any sense.
As for posts, it is considerably up compared to my third year as TPAB. I’ve gone from 390 to 443, which is a lot considering my goal for now is just making one review a week. In my fourth year, I’ve done 53 posts and I think a bunch of those are GIF posts, but I’ll take it. As for followers, it’s up by 98 followers and I want to give my sincere thanks for the support. I promised myself not to follow anyone on twitter last year, so these are really just cool people following my blog. Thank you, also forgive me. I’m following my yearly format, and I use this section to brag about sh*t. I seriously know now, after four years doing this stuff, followers don’t mean sh*t. I am sincerely satisfied with just two people clicking on my posts from time to time. Numbers don’t mean sh*t, and it honestly took me four years to finally understand that. I’ll probably just leave this space blank next year, or just put a GIF of GISS here or something.
Anyways, here are the top ten things I learned blogging and reviewing for four years.
10. Hard work seriously pays off
This isn’t an inspirational BS message coming from me. In my fourth year doing reviews, I was approached by MAL to be one of the first writers for their Featured Article corner and I was really elated. At that time, I really didn’t interact with the anime community and I didn’t actively comment on blogs. I just wrote reviews and continued on improving my writing. I did my own thing, and I was soon given a really big opportunity to have anime as my job. It’s really sweet to write about Japanese cartoons and get paid for it. I didn’t really do anything special. MAL recognized my talents, and they decided to bring on board. I am extremely grateful for the experience, because it validated by belief that hard work can never betray you.
Writing for MAL also significantly slowed down my activity in my own site, but I was paid literally three times my regularly salary in one month just writing in MAL. It was the sweetest thing I have experienced so far. Sadly, it didn’t last and I kinda screwed up the opportunity. I’m mostly to blame, because I’m a dumb ass, but writing for MAL taught me many things. Quick, skip ahead to number one to hear a disgruntled former employee talk sh*t about his work.
Anyways, for all aspiring writers out there, keep this in mind. “You may come to a standstill or feel irritated because things don’t work out the way you want them to. But what you gain from hard work will never betray you.” It’s a quote I really take to heart especially after four years doing this blogging thing.
9. Complacent Studios Deliver Disappointing Anime
This is something I realized after watching a really awful Sunrise anime. Some studio, that has money to burn, often won’t give a damn if they made a really awful anime. It dawned on me even more when I realize KyoAni shares the same philosophy as Sunrise. They’re so rich that they can just literally produce feces in the form of anime, and fans will still eat it up.
That’s right you KyoAni zombies, they’re feeding you sh*t. Be proud of that.
I can’t blame them though, because studio goes by the supply and demand idea. If fans want this kind of product, then the studio has no choice but to deliver. In the goal of money making, why take risks when you can triple profits without any effort? It’s a sound idea, and I don’t blame studios for thinking like that.
Still, the studios listen to their fans and the anime crowd will really be the ones dictating change. As long as you eat up their sh*t, nothing will change and I’ll spend another year doing a KyoAni anime review with “I hate KyoAni” written fifteen times in the post. Actually, I enjoy that but remember, you can’t expect change if you don’t change yourself. So suck on that.
8. You Never Stop Learning
I’m just dedicating this spot to the MAL editor that really helped me improve my grammar. He is a no nonsense son of a b*tch, and I actually feel so little when my colleagues get one or two corrections then I get twenty corrections for not being good at gawd damn English. It’s a humbling experience, and I seriously complained about him to anyone that listens. People would just smile though, because they understand the editor is taking personal time to help me improve. I didn’t see it like that until recently though, after I stopped writing at MAL. At the time, I really hated him but I also know there are always people like him ready to belittle you. He wasn’t actually belittling me, but I was a proud writer and he was knocking me down a peg. I cursed all of his corrections, but I eventually calmed down.
One day, I sent him a private message. It was half-sarcastic, but I thanked him for really thoroughly reading my work and commenting on them. I mentioned that at first I thought he just hated me, but I realized that he was actually helping me improve. I ended the message with a promise that I’ll write him a post where he can’t correct anything, and that’s been my mission while I work at MAL.
He replied with a really caring message about being a teacher and wanting an environment of learning to anyone that needs it. He then personally promised to teach me English if I asked for it. Sir, if you’re reading this, I want you to know that I kept all of your notes and I read them from time to time.
I still fail at tenses, prepositions and some more complex uses of commas but please know that every time I post a review riddled with grammatical errors, I feel like I personally let you down and I imagine the hundreds of corrections you would’ve slapped on that review.
I also want to let you know that I am currently taking a graduate course in teaching, and you were the biggest inspiration for that. You were a hard ass, but you also knew when to help someone in need and I want to be like you.
I still keep this quote you once said to me, “if you aren’t making mistakes then you aren’t trying, and so don’t be afraid to make them because I’ll always be here to help.” I’m gonna e-mail this post to him. I hope you had a good laugh, sir.
7. I’m Starting to Miss the Things I Hate
Back in my 2nd year as TPAB, I really just wrote reviews following the seasonal lineup. I kept on being updated until I started hating what I was doing. I hated LNs for its cliché and accidental harems, I hated otome anime because f*ck otome anime, I hated marshmallow shows because they’re all the same and I hated VN anime because they’re all horrible. In a sense, I hated everything that I watched back then and I look back on it completely amused at myself. I really took this review thing seriously. I didn’t have anything else going on in my life, and I was a depressed guy finding meaning through blogging. I love it so much, I started to hate it.
For my 3rd year though, I could no longer be updated with anime and I can’t do seasonal reviews anymore. I still do it, but not as fast as I used to. Three hundred and sixty two anime will start to hurt, and I kinda developed a flight instinct with a lot of things I hated back then. Marshmallow shows, otome, VN, LN, and Shiba Inuko-san, I avoided them all.
In my 4th year though, I realized I was being too unhealthy with my reviews and I learn to moderate myself. I do one review a week, and it’s enough to stay active here. It’s also enough to properly balance my personal, work, and blogging life. I once said it’s impossible to do both, because they’re directly not proportional, but not anymore. You can achieve balance, but it took me four years to properly do it. Anyways, I really miss those things I hated a few years back. I actually want to subject myself to those horrible things again. I’m crazy like that.
6. Game Reviews
I get a lot of game companies asking me to review their games. I always reply with “I’m sorry, but I don’t know how to play video games.” They always reply with a sarcastic line like “well sh*t, you better start now then” and I just laugh it off. In the past year though, I think I got ten offers to review video games. Most are mobile games giving me free credit on whatever the hell they are offering, and I really just turn them down. One time, I was offered money to review a triple A game and I replied with the same “I don’t know how to play video game” thing. I don’t even know what a triple A game is, and I sure as hell don’t know how to really play one.
It got me thinking though, game reviews are really profitable. If you’re as thorough in reviewing like me, then you can make insane money doing game reviews. I once asked a company why they approached me, and they explained that most video gamers are also anime fan, so there’s a similar audience to it. It soon got me thinking that you can really gain a lot for just reviewing crappy mobile games. If I was solely focused on making money, I think I would’ve jumped shipped long ago. Games have a more broad audience, and you can actually interact with game developers about their work. If you give a positive review, the message will get to them eventually. This is the element of anime reviewing that I really want. I want to call out KyoAni with all their BS, and I want them to reply to it. It’s tempting to be a video game journalist just for the perk for actually getting a development team to just quit the industry, and also make money doing it.
I do believe though that I have a career in the anime landscape, especially if I learn how to speak and write in Japanese. My hard work in this path will eventually pay off, and I’m in no hurry to make money doing it. For now, I do it for myself and I just enjoy the ride till I complete my goal of 1000 anime reviews.
Seriously though, I don’t know how to play most games today. I still play Harvest Moon in my android phone, but that’s about it.
5. Tumblr Has the Most Dedicated Fanbase
I was always under the impression that Tumblr is a site for hippies and feminists. In my short time lurking around, I do believe this is true. If you’ve ever taken a stroll at a yaoi search, you’ll eventually find a hardcore feminist posting nothing but yaoi and female rights. Tumblr is freaky, but it’s also a really nice place.
There are some blogs there completely dedicated to a certain anime, and it’s fun seeing your review reblogged by them and seeing other fans like your post. Whenever a specific anime blog likes my review, I message them about how much I loved the anime. They would often reply with the most wonderful enthusiasm a person would ever give an anime. It’s a warm and positive experience that I love about tumblr. I love interacting with hardcore dedicated fans, and I especially love when they would say how much it means to them that I give equal love to their show. Tumblr is a really nice place to be in, and I really love the hardcore fans that are in there.
It’s better than Twitter, because there is no pressure re-following someone in Tumblr. They’re too hippie cool-cool to care for that. It’s a really mellow place except for the hardcore gay GIF blogs. Oh, the emo culture is also fascinating in Tumblr. I really love lurking there.
4. Video Game Anime Has a 70% Chance of Failing
I recently realized this when reviewing a visual novel anime. Since you can’t properly capture the appeal of the game and you can’t deviate from it, most video game anime are just born to suck. The only notable exceptions are Steins Gate and Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni, and they’re rare considering their follow ups (Robotics Note and Umi Neko Naku Koro Ni) aren’t as great as they are.
Video game anime just has this sand pit that they can’t climb out of. Loyal players will claim that the show isn’t faithful to the game, but being too much like it will alienate casual viewers. There’s no winning in video game anime, and it’s fascinating how no one really tries to make it work. Studios just use anime as a means to sell the product, and that’s about it. For me, 30% chance of success is the best chance a video game anime has at being great. It has 70% chance of really sucking hard, and I’ve seen a lot of shows like these to back up these claims.
3. O. Screenplays Are A Big Practice In Self-sabotage
I have reviewed more than twenty original shows, and I can honestly tell you that a lot of them suck. I always put an intro about how Code Geass influenced studios to do original shows, and a lot of them really try to be like Lelouch’s show. Sadly, a lot of them fail at it as well. It’s not for a lack of trying too. Some studios have a great story in mind, but they can’t quite translate their thoughts properly in animation form. A lot of them end up being a giant waste of time for both the studio and the audience, and it’s perplexing to see so many of them try something that will inevitably fail. If you’re going to watch an Original Screenplay, expect it to fail and expect your life to come out worse than before you watched it. It really feels like a lot of studios are setting themselves up for failure whenever they try and do an original show. The strange part is that I don’t think they really notice it, or maybe they just don’t care as long as it still makes them money. It’s really weird, considering making one episode of an anime requires a lot of money. So they’re making something that’ll fail, but it’ll still make them money? I don’t quite understand. Then again, I just review anime and I don’t know the business side of it all.
I do have one suggestion for studios that I feel will truly help improve their original screenplays. If Bakuman is to be believed, then a lot of editors take pride in critiquing an artist’s work. Why not hire some of them as consultants? They read thousands of stories noting significant changes that’ll improve a mangaka’s work. I think hiring some will also help in improving your original screenplays. If editors takes too much effort to hire, then get a gawd damn veteran to critic your work. A lot of O. Screenplays feel like they’re still in their alpha stages, but studios still green lit them. Someone should just yell “Stop”, and for gawd sakes, produce better sh*t.
Personally though, it is fun reviewing O. Screenplays because seeing others fail is a fun activity. Your life won’t suck as much when you realize someone had to work on something that failed in the end. It did for me, anyways.
2. This Goal of Mine Will Take More Than a Decade to Finish
One thousand anime reviews is not an easy task. Sure, I can half-ass my review but I’m really only cheating myself when I do that. I mentioned already that I’m doing this for myself, and working on my 1000 goal really helped me change as a person. Back in 2012, I was a lazy bum that was battling depression. I had no control over my life, and I wake up every day with the idea of suicide being a wonderful topic to mull over. Four years through this journey, I can honestly tell you that I’ve changed for the better. Reviewing anime instilled a lot of discipline in me. I’ve grown more patient, diligent and positive in my outlook on life. I’ve learned to value my experiences and really learn from it. I take my mistakes and I own them, then I re-evaluate making sure I don’t repeat that mistake. I have grown to love routine in my life, I have grown to enjoy the tedious and boring parts of life and my love of adventure is re-awakened. Back in 2012, I was a miserable NEET. Now in 2016, I am a teacher that instills new values in younger people hoping they won’t do the same mistake I’ve done. In four years, I’ve really made a difference and I owe it all to this blog.
Blogging and reviewing anime really changed my life for the better, and I have never regretted the decision to do 1000 anime reviews.
With that being said, I also realized that ten years isn’t enough to complete this goal. Ten years is the ideal time frame I envision I would finish this goal, but it might not be enough. If I were to focus on my career, this goal will be put on serious hold and the time frame will just expand. Realistically, I think it might take fifteen or eighteen years and it’s going to be a bummer. Of course, I still plan on aiming for the ten year time frame but I always assume the worse. In this case, 18 years will be the realistic time I’ll reach 1000 reviews. Imagining myself at that long a time is a blur to me, but it is exciting knowing TPAB will be with me for a very long time.
1. I Don’t Write For Page Views
Alright. I’m about to rant stuff concerning my time in MAL. It’s actually a really wonderful experience, until one of the editors commented that I can’t write an article because it won’t generate high page views. I stared at her comment for a really long time, and I felt offended and a bit saddened by that comment. They are really focusing on google search terms and page views, but they don’t seem to care about the content of their articles. Top ten purpled hair characters broke my heart when it was in the list of stuff to write about. It’s dumb, and it’s a bit insulting to readers. MAL thinks their readers only care about top ten lists about random characters, and they’re doing their best to cater to them. It didn’t start out like that though. I think their original plan didn’t generate enough money for them, so the whole writing program got redesigned over and over to suit the “business” side of it all. That’s fine, because it’s their money and I understand that. Even the editors understand that, but it really sinked in that I don’t want to be part of something so shallow. It’s also worth noting that my helpful editor also stopped editing my work at this point, so I just lost motivation already. I never had a change to give him an article without any grammatical error, and I feel sad about that.
The funny thing is that my siblings kept telling me to just suck it up. The pay is great and being associated with MAL is a great thing. As time goes on though, I personally feel unhappy with how they do things. The money is really great, but I realized that there’s not enough money in the world to make me do something I am not fully in agreement with. Even with teaching, I would politely ask my supervisor if I can do a different approach concerning the rather retarded and homophobic messages I was required to teach in this religious school. As a grown adult, I feel that money is just a secondary reward compared to the satisfying feeling of enjoying what you’re doing with your life. Work for enough money to sustain your everyday expenses, and then simply enjoy your life. At some point, when I was doing episodic reviews for MAL, I even thought that I would suggest on continuing to write for them without any money. I just love to write, but their entire system changed by then wherein generating page views were of utmost concern. It’s fine, really. I just hope they know their system doesn’t work.
MAL right now is concerned about attracting new visitors to their site. They believe that a high number of unique visitors will generate huge cash in for them, and I think it does work since most advertisers will only do business with you when they look at your stats. For me though, I always envision MAL’s writing program not as a Buzzfeed or Gobiano trash but more of a Cracked endeavor. Cracked creates lists as well, but their topic is diverse and interesting. Top purple hair girls can become “top 5 reasons why Akiyuki Shinbo prefers purple hair girls”, or something like that. They’re wordy, well researched and engaging with a comment system encouraging a discussion among frequent visitors. With a comment system, they’re guaranteed constant site activity. Cracked is a great site that not a lot of people know about. MAL is more mainstream than Cracked, and I think their writing program can be more beneficial if they actually put effort in their sh*t. Whatever, that’s just my opinion. I’m also a disgruntled former employee so take my words with a grain of salt, please.
And that’s that. I want to thank you again, dear readers, from the bottom of my heart for sticking with me for four years. As long as you’re supporting me, then I will always do my best to deliver good reviews for your pleasure. I’m really motivated to continue on, because I know there are people out there who support me, and I want to give you a big cyber hug for supporting The Pantless Anime Blogger. This 1000 goal of mine is shaping up to be a very tedious but satisfying journey for me, and I welcome you all to enjoy the ride with me. See you all in my fifth anniversary post.
For the site’s own growth, I would like to ask for suggestions on improving this place. What do you think TPAB should improve on concerning this site? Comment below. Really, I welcome the helpful suggestions. Thank you.
P.S. I placed a lot of screenshots in this post. Let’s play a game. Can you name all the anime in the picture? There’s fourteen anime all in all. Happy guessing.