Saturday, December 25, 2010

Some thoughts on the last year

Today is the one-year anniversary of this blog, and to commemorate it I'd like to avoid doing a best and worst list as we see so often this time of year. I like so much of what I review that thinking of bests is a helpless cause, and I really don't like to talk about bad manga unless it's really, irredeemably bad. Merely mediocre manga doesn't deserve brickbats. (Qwaser of Stigmata was really bad, though. You have my permission to bash it.)

So, what did this year mean to me on the blog?

1) Shilling for lost causes. Nothing made me happier this year than telling people at great length about titles most of them don't read, most of which are poor-selling, and several of which weren't even that good, they just hit the right buttons for me personally to really enjoy them. I am especially happy that some of these reviews *did* inspire people to pick up the manga, and I hope they got as much enjoyment out of it as I did. So, for Excel Saga, Gatcha Gacha, I Hate You More Than Anyone!, Teru Teru x Shonen, and The Magic Touch, I thank 2010.

2) The One Piece speedup. I remember when Viz announced this it was greeted with disbelief and derision. Naruto had the sales to support 4 volumes a month, just. What was Viz thinking bringing a lower-selling title such as One Piece up to speed with 5 volumes a month for 6 months? It will be a disaster! And to be fair, One Piece fans have been used to getting the short end of the stick. But all turned out surprisingly well, as the volumes did sell well, and nowadays One Piece is, though not at Naruto levels, a fairly strong seller. Moreover, reading the series in huge gulps allowed readers to power through arcs both weak and strong, and introduced everyone to the marvel that was Water Seven and Enies Lobby. Most importantly, it allowed other bloggers to join in in the One Piece MMF, which showered love and affection on Japan's favorite rubber pirate manga. Here's looking for more One Piece goodness in 2011.

3) The Shoujo Beat goes on. As I looked over my reviews, it became quite clear that over half of them were shoujo of some sort or another. Clearly it's the genre that appeals to me most, and I thank 2010 for letting me take delight in the adventures of Kyoko and Ren, Asuka and Ryo, Sawako and Kazehaya, Hikari and Kei, Misaki and Usui, and Odette in general. While the right shonen property has been shown to have huge sales impact, I believe that shoujo has been shown to be the more consistent seller across the board, which is likely why we're seeing so much of it. In 2011, I hope to be entertained by more adorably sweet girls who heal the hearts of sullen guys with tragic pasts, or alternately, by strong and stubborn yet dense as lead girls being teased by handsome and flirty guys.

4) That pesky economy. I noted to Deb Aoki the other day how I hadn't regarded the fall of CMX as a 'surprise' of the year, mostly as, given their sales, my reaction was more "Ah, they finally noticed it existed." CMX, after a rough start, carved out a niche of cult shoujo manga that appealed greatly to me, and I still feel the loss of I Hate You More Than Anyone! and Teru Teru x Shonen. Go! Comi likewise quietly died this year (very quietly - as in silently), and their relationship with Akita Shoten gave us some of the more eccentric manga in North America. Both will be dearly missed by manga bloggers, if not necessarily by consumers. (Del Rey also closed this year, though that was for reasons other than economic ones, and they have now come out of their cocoon as Kodansha USA.)

5) Things other than manga. The heading of the blog notes I write about 'mostly manga', which is certainly true. But sometimes I feel a need to discuss other things. I thank everyone for putting up with me going on about how I would stage Shakespeare plays, or analyzing Woody Woodpecker cartoons, or just gushing about Frank Zappa concerts. Hopefully I'll be doing this more in 2011 as well - I need to restart the Woody reviews, and talk about the Zappa 1979 tour (oh, those Inca Roads guitar solos...), and Arden is releasing Merchant of Venice 3rd Edition this February. God knows how I'd talk about how to stage THAT today...

6) You, the reader. You knew this was coming, didn't you? Sappy as it may be, this blog wouldn't happen without the support that I get from those who read it, as well as my fellow bloggers on Twitter. I had initially started this thinking that writing to a schedule where I forced myself to put out a post a day would help me when it came to working on a few of my unfinished anime fanfics that I had lying around. That didn't happen at all (the one-per-day rule has been broken a lot, especially this fall, and I ended up writing only one fic this year, though I'm working on a Zetsubou story, and I have an idea for a Lupin fic). I know that I can be somewhat hard to handle at times. My tastes are eclectic, I tend to like almost everything I review, I geek out in embarrassing fashion about publishers and magazines in Japan, and a lot of my reviews are less critiques than rambles. (Wow, look at that self-deprecation. I could be a manga author...) (Oh yes, and the parenthetical asides. So many parenthetical asides.) But simply put, this year has simply been a hell of a lot of fun. The blog has been great, talking with people on Twitter has been fantastic, I loved meeting everyone at NYAF and MangaNext, and hope to see people at Anime Boston and Anime North in 2011.

Roll on, 2011! What fresh excitement will you bring? Here's hoping I'm still blogging when Christmas 2011 rolls around.


  1. I'd like to thank you for blogging Sean. I read your blog every day. About 2/3 of what you read makes my lips pull back over my teeth in either a scrunchy face, sneer, or occasionally, the precursor to ripping something's throat out. So I'm glad you read it - and review it for me so I don't have to.

    Happy anniversary!

  2. Yeah, thanks for blogging! I really like your 'manga of the week x' posts. I can't believe your blog is only a year old. Keep up the good work ^_^ As manga is my number 1 obsession, I'll be sure to continue being a loyal reader =D

  3. I LOVE to read all your Shojo manga reviews. I love how you differentiate between Hakusensha and Shogakukan and Shueisha shojo, it makes it more interesting to know where it came from and how it is usually structured.