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An Open Letter to Japanator.

Dear Japanator,

What do you lack: brains, guts, or both?

If you need at least six figures to count your unique visitors per month, then congratulations! Youíre a major anime blog! Many anime blogs are only read by maybe dozens of people, many of them anime bloggers themselves. But not you! You sure must have something interesting to say. I mean, would all those people come to your site if you had nothing but trite pablum? Letís take a look:

Annotated anime is a lot like Random Curiosity, only with fewer pictures and somehow even less opinion about the episodes. Japanator at least doesnít try to get a separate post out of each episode, but this is really the bare minimum of an episodic post. One image and an episode summary and maybe a line or two of opinion. Is... is that it? Really? I can get episode summaries off of Wikipedia, and I can get barebones ďitís good/itís badĒ statements anywhere. Am I supposed to put more value behind that because it comes from someone on a byline instead of just some random username? That seems flimsy, so there must be something else that makes your opinions especially relevant, right?

Of course! You do reviews! This must be what youíre saving up all your opinion spouting for, right? Letís take your latest review of Shakugan no Shana. Your two grafs above the jump are just fluff. You could skip right over them and miss nothing about the show. And then two grafs after that are all plot summary. Oh. Okay. I still donít know anything you thought about the show even though weíre four grafs in, but sure, letís keep going.

The next graf is the teensiest bit of opinion about a seiyuuís performance, a summary of character relations covered in the thin veneer that theyíre generally good since theyíre ďthe thing that makes Shana work so well.Ē Well, at least you never elaborated on why thatís so. Unless you thought just describing the relationships counted as an explanation. But come on, nobody could be that naive, right?

The next graf and the concluding graf have more vague opinions with no explanation, all largely just ďitís good/itís badĒ in more verbose form. Itís a whole lot of words to say a whole lot of nothing. And reviewís over.

You have something else, right? Is this really what people come here for? Just to look for a review that echoes their own opinions without offering any substance? Ha. Ha ha. No! That couldnít be!

Oh, of course! You have pictures of scantily clad idols! And each images on its own page, too. Just think of the ad impressions. So you have opinions that could be expressed in fewer characters than a Tweet allows and PG-13 Sankaku Complex style posts. But where the effort really shines is when you post YouTube videos and images you grabbed off of Pixiv. Not just anyone can do that. You have to be able to both copy and paste. Throw in random offbeat Japan and otaku related stories that youíve aggregated, and thatís it! Thatís Japanator!

So why? Is it that you cannot do better, or that you are afraid going for something beyond these pandering, lowest common denominator posts will cost you readers and upset daddy ModernMethod? If you cannot produce better than this, why should any of us come here? But if you could, and you just will not, that is something that can be fixed.

What could be done? Lots! Iíll give you two very roomy examples. And I assure you, there is an audience for all of this:

1. Many in the fandom frequently complain those who arenít otaku donít take anime and manga seriously. So why donít you lead by example? These arenít just cartoons, theyíre texts. You can critique a show from a feminist standpoint, analyze the cinematography, review how it reflects culture via class, race and a host of other factors. Really, anything more than saying ďI thought it was good!Ē would be a great step up.

2. These shows and manga arenít abiogenetic. Why not profile interesting directors/animators/mangaka/etc. and show how theyíve evolved and tell us why theyíre worth paying attention to? Maybe describe how some people have had a profound impact on the industry? Iíd rather hear about the people who make the media I like than see this weekís ďWomanís breasts barely constrained by swimsuit!Ē post.

Iím sure you could come up with more. Iíve only held back more ideas because this would become a wall of text otherwise, and my point is already made. You donít even have to give up the posts you have now if you donít want to. You could have those popular posts and these deeper pieces. Youíd think if not your own integrity would inspire you to be more ambitious, at the very least your own sense of shame would compel you to.

So the question is: Why donít you? Which is it you lack? Is it the brains to write articles like that, or the guts to reach higher?

(Oh, and if you do start writing more engaged posts, could you not drop it after 5-10 weeks as is the usual lifespan for a Japanator column? Thanks!)
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About EBKone of us since 2:05 PM on 03.02.2010