I’ll cut to the chase right away: This is my final post for The Cart Driver, in all likelihood. Maybe I’ll feel the itch again in the future to write about anime. Maybe not. For the foreseeable future, however, I’m done. It’s been a long time coming. I kept saying to myself that I wanted to keep going, but … it just didn’t happen, for various reasons I’m not particularly interested in expanding upon. So that’s that.
OK, with that out of the way, let me be a big, sappy dork at length.
I’ve blogged about anime in some form or fashion since 2008. It seems both a long time and not long at all from my perspective. Years pass by pretty darn quick once you pass a certain age. I didn’t have any grand ambitions when I started; mostly, I was unemployed at the time (who knew that getting a college degree didn’t automatically come with work) and wanted to fill up the empty time that would otherwise be spent thinking about how much the American economy sucked and how tough it was to find a job. Nothing I wrote at the beginning was particularly special — just gut reactions about individual episodes from someone who didn’t know what he was talking about. (I’m not sure how much that has changed since then.) But writing about shows I liked and didn’t like was something nice to focus on while the road was a bit bumpy.
And, uh, somehow that turned into almost three years writing at my first blog before Scamp emailed me about writing at The Cart Driver. So I did that and now it’s over. The end!
… All right, I can’t leave yet, not without a bit more sap. Most of the time I wrote to amuse myself (and hopefully others) and to work out how I felt about shows I liked and didn’t like. I’m not amazing at dissecting media — mostly because I’ve worked from a limited perspective most of my life — but making myself think more about the shows I watched helped widen my viewpoint. Even if I can’t properly articulate the experience of seeing it all, simply looking at and thinking about storytelling harder has made visual media so much more enjoyable. Take it from me, a know-nothing lout: if you look long enough and hard enough, something will click for you.
Just as fulfilling are the times when someone will mention how me being way into a show and somehow relaying that passion made them interested in the series. They gave it a shot and loved it. I don’t consider myself a big shot tastemaker by any means. The reach of my opinions is pretty darn small, and the circles I travel in quite insulated. So when someone says “Hey, I wasn’t sure about it, but I started Hunter x Hunter because of you and now it’s one of my favorite shows” or “Giant Robo rules and I watched it because you wrote cool things about it,” I take it to heart. It’s nice to hear. I’m not the one making these amazing anime and pouring my energy into telling cool stories, so the least I can do is try my best to translate the rush in my brain that an unforgettable story inspires.
Even if you never said a word to me, though, you’re still pretty cool. That anyone would give their time to a total stranger who throws words on the Internet like a monkey throws shit never stops being wild to me. If I made your day a bit brighter somehow — with a stupid joke, a silly tag, something I wrote that was accidentally smart, or whatever — then I’m happy to have affected your life in some small way.
From a personal standpoint, the biggest change in my life is that shouting loudly and sometimes coherently online has brought a bunch of awesome people into my life. Who knew, right? I could never name everyone (and I’m not sure most of you would want me to talk about a bunch of folks you don’t know, anyway), so I’ll stick to those who had the most profound impact on my wordy business.
Obviously my cohorts Scamp and Inushinde are up there. I did OK for myself on my own, but I was still quite surprised to see that email from Scamp about joining his team. Truth be told, I was thinking about winding down at that time. I’m glad I didn’t. Writing for Scamp has been a fucking joy. I’ve never thought of a dumb, absurd idea that he wasn’t immediately down for — believe me, I tried. I remember wondering if I went too weird with my intro post. Scamp’s response was (I’m paraphrasing here) “haha that’s fucking hilarious post that shit.” He didn’t blink when I turned our WHO IS IMOUTO posts into nonsense fanfiction. (Maybe it helps that it’s, uh, not the first time I did that…) Running our own offshoot of MAL’s Fantasy Anime League? Sure, why not! You want a boss who will make you feel pretty darn great about yourself, then work for Scamp. Aside from that, the tone of his writing — conversational, silly, but always making a point — is something I’ve tried to strive for, maybe not always successfully.
Inushinde I remember meeting for the first time at Anime Expo 2012 either the day Scamp announced our arrival on The Cart Driver or the day after. We shook hands; his grip crushed mine. I’ve been to maybe one convention since then that Inushinde didn’t also attend. Getting into dumb shit with him and our regular crew of weirdos is always a highlight of my year. Would I have seen the masterpiece Chinese film Switch without Inushinde? Doubtful. Would the struggle to become King of Maids be even half as fulfilling without Inushinde to swat me down when I get close? Hardly. Would meeting the Savior of Anime, Yamakan, have been nearly as memorable without Inushinde to take a picture with him? Of course not. As for his writing, what I appreciate most about Inushinde is that we come from way different perspectives in what we’re getting from anime and how we express it, but I’m always keenly aware of where he’s coming from and why precisely he feels the way he does, particularly when we disagree. I never leave one of his posts thinking “I have no idea what the hell that guy is talking about.”
Someone I don’t see nearly enough of these days is ghostlightning. (That’s probably a good thing, because it means he’s living a pretty damn great life working and loving his family!) He’s the first anime blogger I read whose words, ideas, and sheer passion totally blew me away. Smart as hell, but didn’t talk down to people, and unafraid to be sincere and enthusiastic during a time when cynicism and bland snark were a much easier path for writers. Even the times when he’d let loose and completely shit on an anime (boy his posts on Gundam SEED were definitely something), you knew he at least took the time to understand it and understand the people who liked it, even if he didn’t feel the same way.
Schneider and ghostlightning were the one-two punch of getting me way more into mecha anime, for which I will always be grateful. He’s not just good for posts on mecha, of course — schneider can always be counted on to be fair on whatever he writes about, and to also reflect on himself in interesting ways. Not in, like, a narcissistic way, but to understand and challenge his own thoughts and not bury himself in them. That is something I struggle with, so I admire folks who do it with such apparent fearlessness.
AJtheFourth, meanwhile, always makes me jealous in the best way. She is somehow thoroughly analytical with her writing while also wearing her heart on her sleeve. Even when we perfectly agree with something, I come out of one of her posts with a perspective I never thought about before. She always finds empathy where a lot of other people (especially me) wouldn’t bother to look. But above all, she’s a fucking fantastic writer who I love to read regardless of the subject. I’m very happy that she has carved a niche for herself doing what she enjoys. She deserves it.
Everyone at The Nihon Review, but in particular Sorrow-kun, Kylaran, and Akira. All of them very kind to me, always a pleasure to speak with and receive advice from. My writing is all the stronger for listening to them and reading them. Running around and doing interviews with Kylaran for a couple of years at Anime Expo was a lot of fun, and I won’t forget Akira out of the blue on year being like “yo dog it’s your birthday let’s have some fun.” We did! He’s a good dude.
Day is someone I’ve long enjoyed reading for being smart as hell, cutting and super funny, and being an unrepentant lover of ridiculous trash. A noble pursuit if there ever was one. There are few places I could go where I could simultaneously get a ton of recommendations for fascinating World War I history books, thoughtful posts about shoujo and mecha and all sorts of anime, and celebrations of shows most people would dismiss as dumb garbage and never think about again. She also made that amazing screenshot above, so more evidence that she’s hilarious. Day is cool as fuck.
Landon always wowed me for having such distinct personality in his writing and always hitting some off-kilter angle that literally nobody else would conceive. Reading a post about something he loves is like reading a crazed scrawl on a bathroom wall that makes sense if you look at it from the perfect angle, and will always stick with you even if you don’t totally understand it. I swear I mean this as a compliment.
I would be remiss if I left out halfadeckshort, whose anime haikus exposed me to the joys of shitposting long before I joined Twitter. It’s impossible for me to read one of his haikus and not burst out laughing, even if I’ve never seen the anime he is referencing; he is a master of pacing and dumb as hell punchlines (again, 100 percent compliment). My antics on Twitter would be half a deck short without his influence.
Wow, I have farted out a lot of words here. It’s hard to be compelling and interesting about years spent writing about cartoons and chatting idly with people. My main feeling is that it’d be nice if I affected people in any similar to how folks affected me!
Scamp suggested that I end this post by linking to some of the better posts I’ve done, which is tough for me to think about. I can hardly read much of what I’ve written before, simply because I’ve changed so much as a person, and reading my own writing long afterward embarrasses me. I did find a few that make me cringe only a tiny bit, at least — some from my old site, some from here. Enjoy?
In chronological order, I guess??
Alien Nine – Adolescent Blues: The Alien Nine OVA and how being forced to grow up is tough.
SDF Macross – Making Culture the Fun Way: Macross is a silly show that really gets what people get out of culture.
Filming and Re-Filming Culture in Macross: On the use of movies in the various Macross anime.
Why I Love Nanami Kiryuu: Why Utena‘s Nanami is the best and if you don’t like her, you are bad.
Vampire Wars and the Joy of Terribad: Why bad stuff is, in fact, good.
AKB0048 – This Anime Has Microphone Lightsabers and an Android with a Rocket Launcher in Her Arm: Exactly as the title says.
Hunter x Hunter 124 – Tears, Tears, Tears: Killua gets really sad about a metaphor for his friendship with Gon.
Hunter x Hunter 131 – The OP Has Never Been Less Appropriate: Hunter x Hunter turns the cool fighting anime moment into something horrible and sad.
Manga Driver: Diamond Is Unbreakable, Stone Ocean, and Steel Ball Run: The JoJo manga posts I was most happy with. These are probably my favorite posts I’ve written.
There you go! It’s a bit weird to me that stuff I wrote years ago and barely think about now is so easily accessible. The Internet is a strange place. What if it’s all still here after I die? That’s strange as fuck.
Uh, let’s end this before I go places. The end got kind of bumpy, but I still had a lot of fun writing about cartoons, whether a bunch of people were reading the posts or next to nobody. I put a lot of hours and work into all that writing, y’all. Being part of a nice community rules a whole lot, as well. If any of y’all want to keep up with me, I’m on Twitter way too damn much. Beware, I mainly post garbage.