On the Aniblog Tournament
I have purposely refrained from comments on the ongoing anime blog tournament as I wanted anyone visiting my site for the first time to get a feel for exactly what this site is about rather than intimating that some sort of introduction was necessary beyond the about page. In short, I didn’t want the first post new visitors saw to be about the tournament. I’ve also kept away from discussing the tournament on the hub itself, but that is for more complex reasons.
I am largely ambivalent about the proceedings so far, being included was, admittedly, a thrill because it is edifying to gain recognition, no matter how small, within a competitive group. My gut reaction however was the same as many others: a self-perpetuating back-slapping exercise for egotistical authors. I was dubious for all of a few minutes until I read the introductory post and listened to any of the people involved (Scamp, Rabbit Poets and Mefloraine) on Twitter – it was clear this was a labour of love and their reason for setting it up was benign: the tournament arrangement was more to encourage participation than to foster an opaque result which is what a large portion of the criticism levelled at the defunct Anime Blogger Awards amounted to. Criticism has of course already bubbled up and in an ironic twist the most vocal of which has caused more visits to their sites because of the tournament than the tournament itself. In reality it’s hard not to see the criticism of not sending an e-mail as entirely trivial – detractors would have picked up on the most banal of points regardless, if it wasn’t the e-mails then the seeding system, or the deferring of more popular blogs or any number of exposed possibilities.
“the best I can do is write what I want to read and hope that others find something of merit within that”
Being included in the tournament forced a re-examination as to why I was blogging in the first place. This site doesn’t get a lot of traffic but this was never a popularity contest for me and simply a way of testing out my writing. For me, writing is cathartic and it airs my opinions out in a wholly one-sided fashion. Selfishly, I write first and foremost for myself and though one could argue about the point of a public blog at all if that’s the reason I write, the corollary is that I always feel a thrill when someone responds with a different opinion or point of view or simply saying they enjoyed reading what I’d written. Responses justify the substantial time spent on each post, but are not the reason for it.
Getting back on point however, the tournament was the realisation that other people would be watching and judging. It changes the dynamic I’d been working to before, whereby I’d egotistically put forward my thoughts, the onus then being on visitors to proffer theirs. Expectancy is a difficult thing to contend with, and it’s no coincidence that I took a, perhaps ill-advised, two day hiatus when my bracket on the tournament came up. Regardless, after much sleep and alcohol – not necessarily in that order – I was ready to resume soliloquising.
The tournament itself I believe is doing precisely what the organisers aimed it to do: introduce otherwise marginal blogs to a wider audience. From the limited match ups so far there are several I’m now following with interest; in that respect then, it is a success. More than that however is that it is promoting a sense of community that, from a hermits point of view, seemed to be strongly lacking before it. Exposing the smaller more cliquey blogs I think broke authors out of their isolated social bubbles and let them and everyone else know that there is a rich body of work being built up around anime and its peripheries that is brilliant to see. It’s heartening to see exchanges beyond the post-comment-repeat formula – essentially getting people with similar interests into the same room is bound to result in some interesting words, and this is without mentioning Twitter which complements blogging so effortlessly.
One of the greatest parts of the tournament however is the feedback that resulted from it. Rare is it to get such varied comments on a blog in general rather than on specific points. I said at the time it would be inappropriate to respond to individual points on the tournament blog, but many of them are salient and, for me at least, fascinating:
“Chaostringent is on my reader. And I prefer it in my reader since that magazine look just doesn’t do anything for me, with the whole quote highlight etc etc. It feels like it was written as a form of resume padding, but it tend to be a nice read.” – omo
To be blunt, it was originally for résumé padding. Before I restored the anime posts, it was mostly dry programming spiels that were aimed at prospective employers. The entire site was a technical demonstration more than a visual one. However, the layout ticked a lot of boxes which included its versatility and that it is simple enough not to repulse me every time I see it – perhaps the greatest test for anything that I produce.
“PoWT vs chaostangent is the hardest choice to date but I went with the latter in the end. He’s a bit tl;dr but it’s generally quite interesting to read.” – Scamp
Too long, didn’t read. The majority of my posts ordinarily hover around 600 words, longer reviews can be up to 1200 or even 1600 words at times. The purpose of this observation feeds into a larger debate that is happening around the tournament regarding the validity of episodic versus editorial blogs. It’s an essay in itself to cover the argument, but suffice to say it was something I was aware of without necessarily using that delineation. My blog is the fulfilment of my aim to be different. I don’t have enough to say about individual episodes to warrant a post but nor did I want to highlight inane aspects of a series to justify an editorial; this is not denigrating either approach as both have their merits and detriments. I am toying with different formats, but for now the system works well even if it does leave conspicuous dead zones in the middle of each season.
“I always find amusing Chaosagent posts. I know that his writing may be confusing at times but I like to read what he posts even though I don’t always agree with what he is saying.” – keikakudori
Where possible I try to be as lucid as possible but often I tie myself in linguistic knots nonetheless. Ostensibly my editing process should alleviate this but late night, blurry eyed sessions are not the most conducive environment to clarity. The latter part of the comment though is something that was also picked up on by Hanners:
“I voted for chaostangent too – At the moment it’s one of those weird ‘blogs where I don’t necessarily agree with any of his opinions on current shows (Angel Beats aside), yet I still enjoy reading his take on the series (which is very well written and presented, incidentally).” – Hanners
This is what makes me feel like posting is worthwhile: when people are able to read the posts and not necessarily agree with them but still enjoy reading it. I don’t need my opinion validated which is why responses are not a prerequisite to my posting, the best response I could hope for is the offering of a counter-point or differing take or a discussion on any points that I’ve raised – those are more than worth all the hand-wringing I do over vocabulary and syntax.
“Chaos Angent appears to be an anime blog focusing on reviews. Right now he’s in the midst of impressions for anime airing this season. His writing style doesn’t really work for me. It reads as a difficult to understand research paper that I spend too much time trying to understand what exactly is being said to enjoy reading it.” – Janette
This is something that I’ve come to accept and in a roundabout way, I think is a net positive. I can’t please everyone and it would be ludicrous to try, so the best I can do is write what I want to read and hope that others find something of merit within that. If someone has read something I’ve posted and come to an informed conclusion that they don’t want to read further, I have no basis to argue with them and appreciate the opportunity they afforded my work – to be read and judged on that alone. Someone I once worked with said that you’re only ever as good as your last piece of work and it’s a maxim I believe wholeheartedly.
The tournament hasn’t been the barnstorming visitor barrage that I expected – on the first day of my bracket visitor numbers were only slightly above normal but pleasingly have risen steadily since then. More than just visitors however it’s made me feel like my blog is part of a community that I didn’t feel before. I am solitary (different to loneliness) by design so the comment/counter-comment reciprocal relationship that many blogs enjoy doesn’t exist for me, so being able to expand my knowledge of that community is excellent, even if I was only fleetingly a part of it.
To everyone who voted for this blog or left a comment, regardless of content, a big and heartfelt thank you.