The State of the Anime Review 2008

So What Happened?

This fine site, updated throughout much of my seminary experience with minor breaks for the summer, has hit a rather long standstill -- at least for a couple of months or so in the winter of 2007 and early 2008. Two updates in November, one in December, and now almost 45 days of silence save for a Christmas greeting. In the grand scheme of things, that isn't a terrible record. However, in the ever-updating world of the Internet, it feels like a lifetime, especially since once not so long ago this site was updated every single week -- a pattern I had going for almost ten years. Thankfully, I suppose, I've received no nasty emails asking for the next update. Perhaps my roughly 6,500 weekly readers have fallen asleep waiting, or have moved on to big and better (or at least more regularly updated) sites.

I feel I owe you not only an explanation, but a map as to where I'm headed.

A few years back, I wrote about how the anime landscape was changing -- how DVD had made television shows the most popular form of anime, which was a big change from the early days when movies and OVAs ruled the scene. I got feedback that people liked to hear about the latest shows on the market but still loved to hear about a forgotten masterpiece or an old but impressive program. The long and short of it was, everybody wanted a bit of everything reviewed. And for a while, I have attempted to do just that.

The problem is, sampling a lot of anime can be interesting for a time, but it's no way to really feel great about your hobby and your passion. ADV Films has been wonderful to send me lots of screeners, but it is honestly quite rare for them to send out anything but the first volume of a new series. They know quite well that name recognition is how things get sold, and the buildup usually occurs when the first disc streets. But what happens when a series starts out wonderfully and then falls apart? In my recent reviews of Mezzo, for example, I noted how strong the first disc was only to have to write a second review on the latter volumes backtracking. Now that's an older show, of course, but the principle is still the same. And one of the things that makes most of us interested in serialized anime is that the episodes rarely stand alone but instead fit into a larger whole. Volume one is great -- so what? If a program falls apart and delivers a lame conclusion, is the journey worth the effort? And moreover, should a reviewer be giving you that information before you start? Perhaps so, at least on a regular basis. And sadly, at this point in time anime distributors are falling to their knees. For example, Central Park Media used to be a great source of free screeners, providing the whole of series like Shadow Star Narutaru. They're kaput.

But what's also true is that I have amassed quite a library of my own apart from freebies from the studios, most of it still waiting to be watched. In my scurrying to update you on the latest and greatest shows that have hit the scene, I might have kept "current" with the anime world but I really shorted myself. I still have not watched all of Trigun, Escaflowne, Ghost in the Shell: 2nd Gig, Berserk, Votoms, Legend of Black Heaven, Nadia, Noein, Utawarerumono -- even though I own those and many, many other series in their entirety. To update every week and to have a title to add to my list, I've missed many classics. And frankly, that isn't helpful to you the reader either. In this age where there are hundreds of anime titles on the shelves screaming for attention, it is better that you pick up something great rather than something that is merely new. I've done all of us a disservice, mostly by losing passion by watching anime I'm only mildly interested in to keep "up to date." I'm sorry where I've failed on that front.

So What's The Plan?

Here's what's going to happen starting now -- I am going to review what I want to watch. Period. I'm going to finish up the current run of discs I've listed, and then I'm going to get into some series I've wanted to see. It may take time to get through them, and I may simply post updates as to my progress on how much I've watched. There will be the occasional review of a first volume, particularly if that's all I've got of the program, if it really interests me, or if it's so bad that I won't be watching any more of the series. Occasionally, when I'm invested in a show that's currently being released (like Welcome to the N.H.K.), I might post updates on a second, third, or fourth volume. While I gave notice a few weeks ago to ADV Films about my change, they have graciously agreed to continue sending me screeners, and I can decide what ones I wish to review and which ones I don't -- that's how much they like my work. I have to say that I am incredibly grateful to them for this show of faith; it's rare to see that kind of support for a site such as mine.

What I'm hoping is that this will make The Anime Review less of a place where there's a weekly review of a program that may not interest you (or even me, for that matter). Instead, I'm hoping to be reviewing shows that are of genuine note, even if they turn out in the end to be junk. To be honest, I'm hoping this will work well, but I cannot guarantee it. The last few months have been crazy as I graduated from seminary, finished up my work at Hospice of the Bluegrass, and started working full-time at my local church as the office manager. What's more, as of this missive, I have been certified ready to receive a call -- which means in layman's terms that I can start talking to churches about taking a position as a full-time ordained pastor. That search for a church will take a lot of time, and once I do have a ministry job, the constraints on my time may become even worse. What this will mean for this site, I really can't say. But know that it is my plan to keep The Anime Review running for the long haul. I just purchased the domain name for another five years, so I'll be around at least until 2013. And during that time, I hope to continue to write passionate reviews that inspire you to watch good anime. At this point, that's the best I can do.