Reflections on 2016: Writing for Crunchyroll
If you’d told me just a few months ago that I’d end up writing for Crunchyroll, I would have laughed in your face. Even now, I still don’t know what I did to deserve it.
This isn’t false modesty speaking. I do have concerns, not with Crunchyroll itself, but with the platform and privilege I have been given. While the editorial team proofreads my articles and offers me feedback, I don’t get fact checked. If I spread inaccurate information through my articles, it would be entirely my own fault. It would be one thing to talk out of my ass on my blog, which I frequently do, but on Crunchyroll, where tens of thousands of people read my articles, the consequences are more serious.
I’m not sure whether the other writers experience this feeling, but for me, it’s been a pressure since day one.
12 Days of Anime
#6 – Writing for Crunchyroll
When I applied for the Crunchyroll features team earlier this year, I talked up my credentials because that’s what you’re supposed to do with job applications. I mentioned my Japanese language skills and academic history, and made out that I was this really knowledgeable person who could offer a unique perspective. Because I sincerely want to live up to the standard I claimed that I was capable of achieving, I don’t really regret what I wrote on the application. It’s given me a goal to work towards. But I can’t shrug off the feeling that I’m lying to people, and that sooner or later, I’ll be caught out as a sham artist and no one will trust what I write anymore.
Let’s start with the insecurities I have about my Japanese skills. I’ve made embarrassing mistakes in my fan translations before, and I can only hope that I’ve committed no horrible sins with my paid commissions. It’s true that I’ve studied Japanese very hard, even after finishing my language degree, but I’ve not lived in Japan long-term and I’m still learning new things about the language every day. No matter how much I immerse myself in the language, I feel my own shortcomings very keenly.
As for my academic history, I don’t feel as if I was a terribly good student. I finished my degree with a High Distinction average, but it was on the low end of a High Distinction, if that makes sense. My grades were good enough to qualify me for Postgrad studies, but I just don’t feel satisfied with it. I don’t even like the honours thesis I wrote very much, and that’s the reason why I never ended up posting it online. I feel like the thesis tried to say too much and lacked a clear focus. I’d certainly write it very differently if I were to redo my honours year today.
It’s embarrassing to express these feelings publicly, because I know that some people do look up to me. It just seems rude to self-deprecate around people who respect me, as if I’m telling them they’re wrong to feel the way they do. That’s why I try to have respect for myself, while having a realistic perspective on what I can currently achieve.
So here’s what I’d like to say to people who read my Crunchyroll articles.
I’m only twenty-two. I’m not an expert of anything I write about. I have a Bachelor’s degree, not a PhD. I don’t live in Japan, and I don’t have insider access to information about the anime industry. Most of what I do know comes from secondary sources and from being friends with people who happen to be much more knowledgeable than I am. If I have a talent, it’s my ability to consistently meet deadlines.
In other words, I finish the things I start, no matter what I feel about them.
On Crunchyroll, I try my best to give representation to topics that often don’t get talked about in the English-language anime fandom. Because I often bite off way more than I can chew, there have been a few times when I have really struggled to write my articles. I’d stay up all night trying to write something insightful, only to realise I know nothing about the topic to begin with. I’d spend hours researching and still not feel confident that I was representing the issue accurately.
But I’ll still get my work done in the end because I’m not trying to write a thesis every week. Like any other fan, I’m just sharing my feelings and observations about something I’m passionate about. If my articles can spark interest in a topic or angle my readers have not considered before, then I’ll have achieved everything I could have hoped for.
In the end, I can only ask that others be critical of my writing, and that they let me know when they see things differently than I do. It’s the only way that I can learn.