Aw dang, it’s Wednesday. That technically makes it time for the week in review, but there’s a bit of a problem – most of the shows I was watching have actually ended, so I don’t really have much to talk about. I’ve already written enough words about Beautiful Bones to last several lifetimes, and I even covered IBO on my ask.fm, so in the absence of much to discuss, I guess I’m just gonna pack this one in. Cya next time, guys!
Alright, clearly I’m not doing that. I wouldn’t have written that opening paragraph in the first place if I was just going to end it there. Instead, let’s do the very stupidest and most labor-intensive thing to replace the week in review. It’s December 30th, 2015 has been a pretty interesting year for me, and I might as well take a brief moment to look back. Let’s turn our eyes back to the year that was and RUN IT DOWN.
2015 was my first full year writing for ANN, and I certainly learned a fair amount during that time. I can vividly remember thinking how having this break off from my day job last year was great, because it allowed me to complete twelve whole episodes of Log Horizon in a week – by the time this fall came around, I’d be watching eight episodes of Idolmaster or Black Lagoon in a single day. That’s still probably not much compared to the pro marathoners out there, but it’s certainly a lot for me – I’ve never actually been good at the whole “watching media” part of media watching, and so this year has definitely been a learning experience in that regard.
And jeez, I sure have watched and reviewed a bunch of shows this year. I’ve reviewed great shows, like the aforementioned Idolmaster and Ping Pong, and I’ve reviewed terrible shows, like Dragonar Academy and Looking Up at the Half-Moon. I’ve reviewed reasonable shows that just weren’t my thing, and I’ve reviewed shows that managed to surprise me long after I thought I’d learned all their tricks. It’s actually pretty interesting, the situation you find yourself in when you need to finish a given show. I feel less resentful of failure when I’m on the clock – both me and the show are professionals, and we’re in this together. Many failures are not particularly interesting, but plenty of others have some endearing personal spark to them.
I also wrote a bunch of essays/editorials this year, for both Wrong Every Time and ANN. Here on the blog, I “finished” (at least for the moment) my series of posts on the strange ways we engage with media, with two posts tackling media as it relates to identity and how we define media according to personal experiences. A combination of gamergate being a thing that exists and UBW being a thing I reviewed made these feel pretty inescapable, and for the moment I’m fairly content with that being that. Over at ANN, I wrote articles on all sorts of subjects, from Shirobako to Kyoto Animation and even anime idols.
These articles pretty handily track a broadening in my own focus and tastes in anime, something that’s been happening for a while now. I feel pretty happy about coming to see the appeal in a wider range of shows – I still have somewhat specific tastes, but it actually feels like shows such as Idolmaster were only ever one tiny surface-aesthetic step removed from exactly the kinds of shows I already loved. I’ve been making an active effort to become more knowledgeable about the mechanics and creators behind anime, and I’m hoping that means my criticism is improving just like my ability to enjoy shows is. It turns out a whole bunch of the intimate, character-focused storytelling I like so much was hiding right under my aesthetic-mislead nose!
I also learned my day job was ending this year, and after many months of hemming and hawing and general panicking, I went full-time on criticism at the beginning of September. Since then, I’ve been on a stressful and uncertain journey, but one with plenty of rewards as well. I’m not at the point of financial stability I was pre-freelance, and honestly even that level of financial stability wasn’t, well, “stable,” but I’m working extremely hard at things I love to do. I’m doing work I find valuable, work that I think makes far better use of whatever talents I may have than basically anything I’ve done before this. Things are still pretty fraught, and I may never be in anything approaching a secure situation while I do this work, but I’m just as dedicated now as I was four months ago to writing these pieces about the shows I love, for you great people who somehow really do care.
It’s not all anxiety and optimism, of course. Things have been coming together over time, and I’m still working to find new ways to best do both what people want to see and what will earn me delicious food. I initiated my Patreon back in the first few months of the year, and that’s been both a great financial aid and the impetus for all kinds of fun mini-essays. I moved my site to independent hosting at the end of last year, and since then have been getting a steady trickle of ad revenue from banners and whatnot. I’ve made myself completely available for freelance criticism/proofreading/writing advice/etc, and have actually had a lot of fun offering tons of comments on people’s various manuscripts. And most recently, I started the Current Projects, er, project, which has been a tremendous success, and is currently one of the major pillars of my weekly workload. I’ve written essays about films both great and terrible, and am enjoying my current Hyouka rewatch roughly as much as is legally permissible.
None of these initiatives would work if you people out there didn’t find something worthwhile in my work, and for that I am eternally grateful, and will continue to work hard to be worthy of your trust and support. It’s been a hectic and very strange year, and I really couldn’t have imagined I’d be here twelve months ago, much less when I started my blog three years ago. Whether you contribute or commission or read my work or just like to see the funny comments in the top shows list, I’m glad you’re here, and I hope you’ll stick around in 2016. Let’s watch some silly cartoons!