In October 2016, a friend of mine launched a website called Anime Feminist. I’m really surprised at how well it’s been doing so far. Although I’m not actively involved with creating content, I’m close enough to the action to see just how hard the staff has been working to keep things going. It’s been a real privilege to see the results of their work, and I hope that the site meets all its funding goals in 2017.
I’ve already talked about my motives for supporting Anime Feminist elsewhere, but I do want to talk for a bit about how I first became friends with the site’s editor-in-chief, Amelia Cook. Looking back, it was a rather unlikely friendship….
Today’s post will be short because as the title subtly implies, I’m somewhat pressed for time.
2016 has been a crazy year in world politics, to put it lightly. Anti-globalist sentiments and nativism aren’t anything new in the scheme of things, but they were big factors behind some of the major political decisions of this year. Yet in spite of all the heightened anxiety about immigration and foreign trade, globalisation continues to truck on with no sign of stopping.
The anime industry is becoming more international. In 2016, we got a US-Japan anime collaboration in the form of the SHELTER music video, and we also got to see Kimi no Na wa break records around the world. And these are just the most obvious things that happened this year. These days, more and more foreigners are working in Japan’s anime industry (see: Thomas Romain’s cool website for aspiring French animators), and online streaming is getting bigger around the world. It’s never been a more exciting time to be an international anime fan.
Sure, the world might be fucked in the long term, but at least I’ll be watching good anime until the apocalypse…
I don’t know what I’m looking for when I watch anime. Do I want something with good animation? Do I want something to relax to? Do I want a thrilling story? I don’t know. I don’t have any specific preferences.
Because of that, I can’t really explain my anime taste to anyone. I joke a lot about liking harems and light novel adaptations and whatnot, but when it comes to my absolute favourites, I don’t know how to describe them. Maybe it’s because they don’t fit easily into a single genre, or perhaps it’s because I can’t think of a particular reason for why they’ve captured my heart.
Despite not being able to describe my tastes, however, I am certain of one thing: my taste has changed over the years.
2016 was the year anime and reality started to mix.
Until this year, I had been careful to keep my online identity (and, by extension, my anime fandom) separate from my real life. This was mostly for privacy reasons, although if I have to honest, it was also because I’m more confident expressing myself through writing than through speaking. I still don’t put pictures of myself online, and that’s probably for the best.
Eventually, however, I ended up identifying under my real name for Anime News Network and Crunchyroll, and I’ve met several internet friends in person throughout the year. The result? Nothing really changed. On hindsight, I realise that there was never a clear separation between “reality” and “online” in the first place.
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.
Re:ZERO was a series I became mildly obsessed with as it aired. It resonated with me for similar reasons Oregairu did – because it showed a deep understanding of its self-loathing geek protagonist. In the end, I couldn’t help but root for Subaru, even when I knew that his actions were self-defeating. He felt empty and alone, and he was convinced that he could save himself by becoming Emilia’s knight. I’m not sure that he overcame his white knight complex by the end of the anime, but he did become more capable of empathising with others, and that was significant in itself.
However, anyone who followed me on twitter during the time Re:ZERO aired probably knows which two characters really stole my heart.
2016 was the year I finished writing my honours thesis and graduated from university. The thesis, which drew heavily from my personal observations as a light novel fan translator, was called “Exploring Foreignisation/Domestication Post-Editing Strategies in Machine-Assisted Fan Translations of Japanese Web Novels” (what a mouthful!). Later this year, I published two articles based on my research on Anime News Network, explaining the basics of the subculture.
And now, for some inexplicable reason that I can’t quite fathom, I’m known to the fandom at large as… “the light novel blogger”.
“Postwar extends forever.” This is one of the most memorable lines to come out of Shin Godzilla, Hideaki Anno’s ambitious reboot of the Godzilla franchise. In context, it’s a powerful moment. Our protagonist Yaguchi looks around at the world disrupted by Godzilla’s existence and voices something that he has always felt – that the problems which Godzilla laid bare were always there, and that this is the burden Japan must bear into the future.
2016 was the year the sakuga cartel enacted their sinister plan of world domination. For years, they had been lying in wait, angrily debating the best Megumi Kouno cut behind closed doors. But now, they have moved out into the open. You can find these diabolical nerds in the streets, dancing around the statues of Naoko Yamada they have erected using Precure and Doremi storyboards and genga sheets. But worst of all, you can find them wherever you can find anime fans, crying over their favourite anime and arguing about pointless shit on twitter.
That’s right, any of us could be an agent for the sakuga cartel… even you or me.