Part 1 of Anime Feminist’s six-month anniversary Q&A. Amelia, Dee, Peter, and Vrai answer questions about the founding, development, and future of Anime Feminist.
Date Recorded: Saturday 29th April 2017
Hosts: Amelia, Dee, Peter, Vrai
01:45 Origin stories
16:20 In those 6 months running AniFem what did you guys enjoy the most? And what was the biggest challenge? – Marion Bea @marionbwrites
30:38 How much of what you’re doing now is a surprise to you? Like what’s unexpected, what’s not? Quiet Dove @theplatinumdove
39:21 How did you become what you wanted irt media criticism, and do you have any advice on that front? Quiet Dove @theplatinumdove
53:31 What do you think the NEXT six months will look like? @7_is_lucky
AMELIA: Hi everyone and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast. My name is Amelia, I’m the Editor-in-Chief of Anime Feminist, and I’m joined today by Dee, Peter, and Vrai. Would you like to introduce yourselves?
DEE: Hi, I’m Dee Hogan. I’m a writer and an editor for AniFem as well as the Contributor Liaison and, I dunno, Office Admin? Scheduling Czar? I make spreadsheets and then remind people to update the Trello boards. I also run The Josei Next Door, a friendly neighborhood anime blog. It’s kind of just turned into a hub for my freelance writing, but I do crank out some exclusives every once and a while. You can also hang out with me on Twitter or Tumblr @joseinextdoor.
PETER: I’m Peter Fobian. I’m an Associate Features Contributor and Editor at Crunchyroll and a Contributor and Editor for Anime Feminist.
VRAI: I’m Vrai Kaiser. I’m a Contributor and Editor and whatever Amelia needs done at the moment for AniFem. I’m on Twitter @writervrai, or if you just throw “Vrai Kaiser” into Google you will find all the things I do: freelancing at various places, or recapping and being tired all of the time. [laughs] Cause I recap Steven Universe and they hate me. [laughs]
AMELIA: Yes, so what we’re getting at in the intros is that I’m a lot better at teamwork than I was six months ago, which is really relevant because AniFem is six months old!
AMELIA: We turn six months old on the 11th of April, 2017 and it has been quite a six months. Or seven months actually because we all got involved a month before launch. I just want to run through quickly how each of us got involved in AniFem. We’ll start with me because [chuckles] because it was my original idea to have some kind of collaborative blog.
I really wanted some kind of feminist space on the internet and around, I think, July last year… I’d been talking about it with friend of AniFem, Frog-kun, for months and we’d been discussing different ideas of how you could have some kind of collaborative feminist space in anime fandom.
Then in August, I think I’d been publishing pieces on The Mary Sue and it was becoming evident that a space like that was badly needed. I bought a domain name thanks to Peter, actually, and Peter can tell that story, and then in early September I published my last piece on The Mary Sue and got kind of dogpiled by people who didn’t want to hear a feminist point of view. I’d already bought the domain name by then, I’d already had this kind of thing in motion, but it really solidified the fact that we needed this kind of space.
So I sent an email out that week to a bunch of people that I knew, which is the category Peter is in, people I knew of but hadn’t really interacted with, which is the category Dee is in, and also people that those people recommended, which is the category Vrai is in. So I’m really glad to have the three of you here to talking about your experiences of getting involved. It will have been, I guess, mid-September, early- or mid-September, and then we launched October 11th.
So Dee, how was your experience getting involved with AniFem at the time?
DEE: So you reached out to different writers who, like you said, you were familiar with and you asked if I wanted to join the team. This was, I wanna say, five days before I had a trip planned to England, and I was trying to juggle some different pieces for different sites. I thought I might be doing more weekly blogging that season, and I saw and went “Awww, I want to do this, but there’s no way I can commit to this right this second.”
So I wrote you back and was basically like “This sounds amazing and I want to be involved but I don’t know if I can. Is that okay, can you keep me up to speed, and if I do end up having the availability, I would love to help out.” And you were like, “Yeah, that’s fine, I’ll keep you in the loop,” and brought me into the group even though I was so wishy-washy about it to start.
As I was trolling the groups and paying attention to people’s conversations, I really liked what you were talking about and what you wanted to do with the site and I was like, “Okay, I will make time for this. I want to be a part of this.” So I kind of shuffled some of my other work around, that I wasn’t… it’s not like I pushed things off that I was excited about to do this, which I was really excited about…
VRAI: You stopped writing for Nazis…
DEE: Hrmm, yeah, I mean there were other things there too that are not even interesting, it’s just like business-work stuff. Then I just got slowly more and more involved. I started doing different pieces. I started offering up ideas when you asked for advice on the site, and then all of a sudden you needed a contributor liason for the site and I was like “Oh, me! Me! I’ll do it!”
AMELIA: And I’m so glad you did. I don’t think people realize how much you do for the site.
DEE: [crosstalk] Aww, thank you.
AMELIA: I don’t talk about it very much. I don’t talk about people’s specific contributions very much unless they make it clear that they’re happy with it, because there have been times where being associated with AniFem has come with a lot of baggage and I try not to inflict that on people. But the longer we go on and the more comfortable we are in our space and the more of a community we have around us supporting us, the less of a risk it feels to talk about specific contributions. For anyone unaware, Dee is the person who herds me.
AMELIA: Which is badly needed. I’m the massive bottleneck of the site, and that’s a hangover from the earliest days when I couldn’t pay anyone to do anything. People really wanted to believe in the site but they didn’t have anything to believe in yet, so I didn’t really feel comfortable bringing anyone in to do the heavy lifting at that stage because that was asking them to put themselves out on quite a limb.
So I did a lot myself, and over time we are chipping away at that and out of that bottleneck, and getting other people who are more reliable and consistent and organized into that space. And Dee is currently the facilitator of that space. She deals with emails, the trello board, our project management aspect, and also just getting logistics-wise for things like this podcast. So thank you Dee, hugely, for your contributions there. It’s massively appreciated every day.
DEE: You are very welcome. And I do like spreadsheets.
DEE: So it kind of works out.
AMELIA: Peter, how did you get involved?
PETER: Well, I remember we basically first met because of Re:Zero.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Yeah!
PETER: You just commented on… I wrote like 12 articles on that series when it was coming out and we got in touch on Twitter and just had a lot of really awesome discussions about the series.
I remember really liking your perspectives, because usually people are pretty polarized regarding Suburu and some of the female characters. It’s either love it or hate it. But you were very—and this is what stood out to me—you were unapproving of what Suburu did but not condemning. You still didn’t think he wasn’t worthy of empathy, I guess? Correct me if I’m wrong, that was just the perception I got.
AMELIA: That feels like a real bare minimum for humanity, doesn’t it?
PETER: Uhhhhh, I….
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Willing to extend empathy.
PETER: You’d think so, but it stood out, so maybe not. So that got us talking, and we basically starting talking regularly for what was, I guess, a pretty long time between then and AniFem.
AMELIA: Months, yeah.
PETER: My memory of this is pretty addled because it was during PAX and I was sleep-deprived, but we were basically like…
AMELIA: That’s how I got him involved. [laughs]
PETER: I was at PAX West. We were messaging back and forth pretty much constantly about—we were doing… we were both thinking of some blog stuff and I guess you came across the domain for AniFem. Of course we were both shocked no one had taken animefeminist.com.
AMELIA: [laughs] You’re being sarcastic when you say “shocked” though, right? That’s in air quotes.
PETER: [crosstalk] That’s cynicism, yeah. I loved how you just described it, by the way, where you were like, “People are harassing me but I already had the domain” so sunk cost fallacy or something like that. “I had to go through it.”
AMELIA: That’s not quite how it was!
PETER: But yeah, I remember I was just like “Yeah, you should totally do this assuming you’re willing to put yourself on that cross,” because I felt like you would be a really good voice. I guess we just kept talking about it and the idea got bigger and bigger and more developed, and you seemed to get really excited about it. We both had talked about The Mary Sue and agreed that there was really no space like that for anime specifically. I don’t even know where it went from there. We got a bunch of contributors together and just kept talking about it. Next thing I knew you were writing up all the stuff and then announcing it and then here we are. It’s just a blur.
AMELIA: I think I remember that much more clearly than you do then.
PETER: [jokingly] I have an awful memory—
PETER: —and specifically when you got the domain I was operating on three hours of sleep per night.
AMELIA: Yeah, no, entirely fair.
PETER: [crosstalk] It’s just like a dream to me.
AMELIA: A good dream, hopefully.
PETER: Yeah, a good dream.
AMELIA: What happened was, we were talking about domain names in general for anime blogs and I went back to 123reg and looked up a domain name that I had noticed in January that hadn’t been taken, which was animefeminst.com. I went back in August and looked at it—or in September—and I looked at it and I said: “Ha! It’s still there, big surprise, who would turn down this prime piece of troll bait?”
And you said, “You know what? That would actually be a really good domain name for a site that was a lot more collaborative with more writers.” And I went: “Oh no, it would be, wouldn’t it?” [laughs] And I was thinking about it all day and that evening I bought it. And from there.
PETER: [crosstalk] Did I plant the seed?
AMELIA: Yeah, I mean I had been, like I said, talking about it with Frog for months. We had been talking about the prospects or the possibilities of some kind of space to discuss anime from a different perspective than is dominant in fandom at the moment. Or was dominant at the time, I guess.
When I brought this domain name up as a joke, “Haha, animefeminist.com, can you look at that!” and you took it quite seriously and said, “Well actually that would be a really good name for a site with bigger scope.” I went, “Ah, that really would.” I started thinking about it and the wheels were turning, and a few hours later I remember I was on the bus home from work and I was like “Fine, I’m buying it.”
AMELIA: It was quite impulsive like that! I’m sure you guys have seen this about me. There will be weeks when I get so much done and I do, I just obsessively just work on AniFem. The pre-launch period was one of those times. I went straight into emailing everybody that I knew and respected in the space; asking them, “Recommend me other people, I definitely don’t know everyone who is worth knowing.”
And that is still the case, by the way, so if you’re listening to this and thinking, “I want to be involved too!” please get in touch. We desperately want more representation, absolutely. I just… I got an amazing amount of responses back. I expected eight out of the people I emailed and in fact it was over twenty who said that they were—
DEE: [crosstalk] Wow.
AMELIA: —who said they were keen to be involved. That eventually reduced to the nine or ten we have now who actively input, of which seven of us are involved in the actual day-to-day running of AniFem. So it’s, yeah, from there we’ve built our six months.
Vrai, what was your experience like? You were someone I had never spoken to, I’d never read your work, which now I’m very sad about because your work is amazing.
VRAI: Awww. Well I don’t…..it was understandable because at the time you emailed me I had come off of blogging Utena, which was a really, really… still probably the thing I’m most proud of, but was very exhausting. Also at that time I wasn’t really keeping up with present anime. Once and a while I’d pick up an older show to binge and follow because there’s always a backlog, but I wasn’t really part of the contemporaneous conversation.
I think you heard about me from Caitlin who had found my write up of Fujiko Mine, which was one of the last times I was really on-the-ball with something that was airing. So I got a Twitter DM from you, who I had never heard of, at which point I promptly sent a message to Dee like: “Is this a troll? Is this a weird tactic?”
DEE: I think I remember that. I think I do remember you being like “So I got an email from an Amelia, do you know about an ‘anime fem’ or what is this?” and I was like, “Oh yeah I got one too, you’re good. Cool! We can be on the team together!”
VRAI: Right, ‘cause I’d known Dee for a while. I found you because I was feeling nostalgic about Zoisite and you had just reached his introduction when you were recapping Sailor Moon. So I was like, “Oh yes, I must have this experience!”
VRAI: So originally I was like “Well I’m poor already so I can’t really offer a lot of free work, but I have all of these evergreen pieces of content that you can totally reprint or link to, and that might get you some baseline content for the site while you’re getting on your feet.” That turned into me just lurking around. I think I did one of the first contributor pieces the site had where I rewrote one of my really old pieces talking about what garbage I am for School Days.
VRAI: That’s just kind of evolved over time as the Patreon took off to me being down. And since I work from home, I’m available to do curative posts. I put together the Links posts every week, that kind of thing. Just day-to-day things that are low-effort but take a lot of time that I just have time to do and enjoy doing; and being able to ensure there is content for people to look at when the come by even if it takes a little longer for the full pieces to come together.
AMELIA: And, again, that is absolutely invaluable. It’s a huge contribution, and I’m trying to pull myself away from this day-to-day because it’s just not my strength. But you guys are so good at it and you really make sure the site is still running, whereas if it were down to me it would have died so many times by now. I really don’t want people to underestimate the amount of contribution that all three of you—because Peter edits the podcast and Peter is also my…
I don’t know a good way to put this, but when I’m thinking of something relating to AniFem, Peter is often the first person I go to and we talk it through. So you’re kind of the person I bounce off quite a lot I think. As well as all the practical stuff you do behind the scenes. The three of you are really a core part of keeping AniFem running the way it does, and you’re going to be an even bigger part of getting it running even better in the future.
VRAI: I hope so. I’m very proud of how the site has evolved over time, and that we built a little audience of very nice people. Mostly.
AMELIA: Let’s start looking at that, because what we did to celebrate our six months was that we asked on Twitter for questions and we’ve had some really amazing questions. We’ve actually had so many that I think we’re going to have to split this into two podcasts.
In this episode we’re going to look at the questions relating to AniFem. I’m going to ask the questions, and I’m really interested to hear what you guys think, because we could just spend the next forty minutes with me telling everyone [laughs] what kind of job I think I’ve done and what I want to see in the next coming months. But we don’t often hear as much from you guys and I’m really interested to know.
So, question one was from Marion Bea, who is @marrionbwrites on Twitter, and she says: “In those six months running AniFem, what did you guys enjoy the most and what was the biggest challenge?” So who wants to start that one?
DEE: Okay, so for what I enjoyed the most, I am going to give the most shounen answer of all: friendship!
ALL: [Laughter] YAY!!!
DEE: No, like, it’s a little bit cheesy but I really…getting to know the rest of the AniFem staff, not just as coworkers but as friends. We disagree about stuff, but everyone is really chill about it. We get to vent; we have conversations about what shows we’re really liking this year; we get all excited together. Things have been a little rough in the world the last six months.
VRAI: [sarcasm] Ya don’t say!
AMELIA: [sarcasm] Really?
DEE: [dryly] Yeah. And so having that community to talk about not just anime, but what’s going on and how we’re all doing…that’s been really nice and beneficial, I think, in a lot of ways. That’s what I have probably enjoyed the most. I also like working with contributor pieces, but we can talk about that a little more later, I think.
The biggest challenge for me is making sure that Amelia sleeps sometimes.
DEE: I’ll shoot out a Slack from the Central Time Zone at like 9 PM my time and I’m like, “No! Got to bed! How dare you! You have work in the morning, miss!”
DEE: In all seriousness, I think the biggest challenge is figuring out how to balance the fact that I really want to do a lot with this site with the fact that realistically I too have to sleep. Finding that place… when to say yes, when to say no, and when I can go, “Okay I can offer up a little more help here and there,” and not overloading myself. Because I do have a history of doing that, and it’s not a good thing. So trying to keep myself not… going whole hog in on this because I do have a nine-to-five as well. That’s probably been the biggest challenge on my end.
AMELIA: That’s a challenge for me too. Like, how much can I ask of you guys, especially the unpaid stuff. I mean, I do pay you for admin, but I pay you for a limited amount of admin per week, and there are times when you offer to take on more than that. So figuring out how much I can reasonably ask of you and also making it clear that you can say “no” to things.
This goes for all of you. I try to make sure that I’m really clear that you can say “no” to things and it’s not a problem. But I don’t know how successful I am with that because you take on so much!
DEE: Well and half the time I’m the one going to you and going: “Hey Amelia! I like to do this thing, let me do this thing.” And you’re like, “Oh, I don’t know, it’s a lot of work.” And I’m like, “No, no, I want to do this thing. Just please let me do it.”
AMELIA: I am getting so much better at saying yes to those.
AMELIA: I hate asking for help but when you offer it, I’m starting to realize that actually taking you up on that is just enormous.
PETER: [crosstalk] The better course.
AMELIA: It makes a big difference. Yes, exactly.
DEE: Well, and honestly it took me a little while to get to the point where I would offer because it was that sense of: “I don’t want it to be stepping on toes.” I don’t want it to be looking like I’m taking over the site because…
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Oh my God, no, please take it over, do it!
DEE: Because that is not my intent.
DEE: If only. If only I didn’t have that nine-to-five.
AMELIA: Yeah, same.
DEE: So getting… so that was part of that, knowing when to offer and when to say “no,” was also that sense of “Will Amelia mind if I volunteer to take this on?” Getting over that hesitancy there and just being “Hey, yo, let me do this. Let’s do it.”
AMELIA: Even better than that! These days you’ve started going into my DMs and saying “I’ve done this thing. Can you just take a look?” [laughs] It’s just fantastic! The work is just done.
DEE: Yeah, sometimes that happens.
AMELIA: You and Peter have both done that actually, just surprised me with: “Hey I’ve done this little bit of admin and I thought you might be interested.” It’s like, exactly what I was thinking of, so perfect. Please do more.
AMELIA: How about you Vrai?
VRAI: I guess like Dee says, the community has been really nice because it gives me a reason to be back on the pulse of what’s happening in anime, which I have been watching since I was five and kind of fallen to the edges of it in recent years. So this is a reason to not just have to keep up because “content” but also because there are people I really enjoy discussing it with and that’s nice to have.
I really love that this can be a thing where I come to… “Hey Amelia, do you mind if I write about this ‘70s manga that I really love and that only two other people have read besides me?” And you say “Yeah, sure. Do the thing.”
VRAI: And it’s really nice.
AMEILA: And we get really positive responses for that as well! We got so many tweets…that got retweeted quite a lot as well. We got so many people saying “I’ve never heard of this and I’m so grateful to see it, and I hope it gets licensed some day.” Which is exactly your intent in putting that piece up.
VRAI: [commanding] Read From Eroica With Love, Internet! Do it!
PETER: [crosstalk] And those two readers are hardcore fans as well.
DEE: [crosstalk] Take note, publishing companies!
VRAI: The biggest challenge is probably… it can be frustrating because we are—our budget is limited by what we can do with the Patreon, so I probably have the loosest schedule of anyone on the team. As a freelancer I work by project instead of by hours, so I’m usually up at two in the morning just having a nervous breakdown over manuscript editing and that kind of stuff. There are things I want to take on, like doing the throwback posts or doing more premieres, that kind of thing, and we just don’t have the budget for it.
AMELIA: And at the moment, the way it works is that I put those posts up and instead of taking a fee, I pay that money to Dee to take care of admin. And without that, the admin wouldn’t happen. So that’s kind of a non-negotiable arrangement. But because of that, it means I can’t hand over those kinds of posts just yet, so weeks when I’m particularly busy, they just don’t happen.
And it’s far from ideal, but it is going to change once we get more patrons. So we’re just in the space right now where we have enough money to do some things but not as much as we want to, and I think that goes for all of us.
VRAI: Definitely, it’s definitely a team-wide concern.
AMELIA: And Peter?
PETER: I actually really like all of these responses so far. And also the fact that Amelia from this is learning the main lesson of One Piece which is to ask for help from your friends.
PETER: This is very shounen actually.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] That’s me!
PETER: I would say one of my favorite things is the area we have to discuss things, because I think one of the attractive things about Anime Feminist from the get-go for many of us was the fact that there wasn’t a whole lot of this around for anime in regards to content, but also just space for discussions. Because it’s hard to have these sort of discussions on Twitter.
So in addition to seeing a lot of the content we like, it also has created a space where we can talk about these aspects of anime or, particularly in my case, hear these sort of things, since a lot of it is from perspectives I don’t really have and can’t appreciate. Well, I guess I can appreciate, but I get to learn about it in the course of these discussions. That would probably be my favorite aspect of it.
Also podcasting, because I think that’s the funnest content to make. Whereas in writing it’s very structured, in podcasting it’s a bit looser and it’s basically just talk in voice chat with a lot of cool people. That’s been a good experience.
PETER: I think the biggest challenge is probably some surprising aspects of site maintenance. I think a lot of the stuff we thought was going to be really hard was actually rolled out fairly simply. But there then there’s stuff like taking stances on certain issues that are brought to us, how we want to handle our policy regarding comments on the website.
Stuff that would seem to be clear-cut turns out to be kind of a quagmire, because you want to create an open space for people to have controversial opinions but you also want to make sure that everyone is approaching it with good intentions. I think that’s probably the hardest thing to do in regards to the website, at least from my perspective.
VRAI: [forcefully] We don’t have a rubber stamp, stop asking!
AMELIA: Yeah, that’s really hard. What will happen when we get a difficult comment is, someone will link to it in our group space and we’ll say: “What do you guys think? This is my impression, this is what I would do if it were up to me, what do you think?” I’m quite open to people challenging me and there have been times when I’ve been quite gung-ho about something and you guys have talked me down from it. That’s happened as much with our comments as anything.
We do have quite a strong moderating policy, I think. If we’re erring on the side of caution with things. There might be comments that seem quite innocuous that other sites would greenlight, and that we would say, “This is too close to the line.” So figuring out where we stand in that gray area is quite difficult, definitely.
PETER: Yeah, and usually if it’s like a… I think we’ve approved some pretty questionable stuff, too.
AMEILA: [crosstalk] Yeah, I agree.
PETER: But it’s how it’s phrased. If they approach it as a question, if they’re inquiring about it—even if you think “Wow, what you think about this is really problematic,” if they’re asking a question instead of telling someone about it, especially talking down to them, I think we’re more inclined to approve it because they seem to be seeking knowledge as opposed to just talking down to people or telling them that they’re wrong.
AMELIA: This is it. The relevant part of our comments policy is this Good Faith clause, is that we need to believe you to be acting in good faith. And we will extend that as far as we can, but if we know you on Twitter and you’ve shown no good faith there and then you come and comment on our site, obviously your comments aren’t going to be approved no matter what the content is. I think that’s just entirely reasonable, your personality is consistent across your social media platforms: you don’t get the luxury of that division because we don’t as well.
PETER: Yeah, we know there’s no good faith.
AMELIA: Yeah, we know there’s no good faith. There’s going to be no positive outcome for our readers, who are our priority. Whereas there’s some stuff that’s posted, where it’s people who are enthusiastic but misguided, and absolutely we’ll approve that, but we’ll try to comment on it straightaway and we’ll try to respond to the person straightaway to correct any kind of misconceptions or to try to reach common ground. But it is a constant struggle to figure out where that line is.
PETER: It’s a hard way to do it, for sure.
AMELIA: Yeah. Okay, so from my perspective I’ve really enjoyed building a community. Now we’ve talked about this a lot, something I think I can say here is that we’re actually looking to build a community like the one we currently have as a team. We’re looking to extend that to our patrons. So that’s a work-in-progress that I hope you’ll all keep an eye out for.
But it really is so amazing to have to space to talk about anime from a feminist perspective [and] to not be challanged on certain things that get challenged every time. I’m so fed up answering questions about: [Twitter Dude impression] “But why is fanservice a problem?” It’s such a basic level of conversation that I would rather avoid it if I can.
And in our space, talking about anime, we don’t have to deal with those questions because we understand that even if we disagree on things we can focus on the things we do agree on and have productive conversations out of that. So it’s fantastic to have a space like that. But also the wider space that we’re currently building in Twitter and on Facebook—I don’t know how much time you guys spend on the Facebook page, but we get some really great comments on there.
VRAI: I don’t think I’ve been on Facebook in three months. I’m sure the page is doing very well.
AMELIA: It’s doing better than I expected! I mean, we’ve not utilized it as well as we could by far because we have people who will engage with absolutely everything we put. And I see you and I appreciate your support massively. And I do intend to engage with you more. That’s one of the many many things that’s on my to-do list for the next six months.
VRAI: Sleep. Remember to sleep.
AMELIA: We can discuss that some other time.
AMELIA: The community we’re building in Twitter, in Facebook, in the comments of our post, it’s absolutely wonderful. In our Patreon space as well, I mean, you guys don’t have access to that and I’m so sad about that because our patrons say such amazing things and it’s so fun talking to them. Knowing in advance that the people you are speaking to are allies, they are supporters, they really want you to succeed, that feels so good. It’s been wonderful.
I went into this project expecting to be beaten down—and coming into it having just been dogpiled for two weeks, I think, and then having that die down a bit. And then we launched AniFem and it all flared up again and I thought, “Oh great, this is the way it’s going to be now.” And it’s completely died down. We’ve had so many people rise up and support us publicly to say, “Yes. This is something we wanted to see.” It means so much.
The biggest challenge: we really need to get out of this bottleneck. Right now AniFem is still too tied to me and if I’m having a busy week, stuff doesn’t get done and that’s not the way it should be. It’s not the way I want it to be. I really want to be able to pay people to do all of this instead of me, but I feel very uncomfortable asking people to do it for free.
I think if I ask you to do something as a one-off, that’s a favor; that’s helpful. I don’t mind asking. If I’m asking you to do it every week, it’s a job and it should be compensated as such. So I’m very reluctant to give that work away just yet, but at the same time I’m not always very good at keeping up with it by myself, so that’s continuing to be the biggest challenge.
But things are better now! As an example: our recent premiere reviews, I didn’t do all of them. Of the twenty four, I did a selection, Vrai did a selection, and Dee did a selection. And that was, again, you guys coming to me and saying, “We’re willing to do this, let us do this.” And I’m so glad I took you up on that. So it is getting better, but there’s a long way to get it where I want it to be. Where we’re consistent, we’re reliable, we’re a much more distributed and delegated organization.
Okay. So Question Two is: “How much of what you’re doing now is a surprise to you? What’s unexpected and what’s not?” That’s from QuietDove, @theplatinumdove on Twitter. Who wants to start this one?
VRAI: I can. I don’t think I expected to be as involved as I am, especially not in day-to-day stuff. I figured… well, I guess I’ve never done anything like this, so I didn’t know how much daily maintenance and kinds of… I guess I expected it to be more like experiences I’ve had with other websites, where it was very cold—not “cold” exactly, but already automated. And this has been very “in there” from the ground. It was not a burden to take on things; I wanted to, and I feel almost a more personal stake in this than I expected when I just assumed I’d just pop in a contribute a piece or two now or then.
AMELIA: Yeah, definitely. I think that’s been… I’ve been amazed by how much other people have been involved. I thought it was just going to be me for a really long time, and actually you guys started stepping in and taking on much more very quickly.
DEE: We like this cool thing you put together.
VRAI: We want to help!
AMELIA: I’m really pleased! Well it’s our cool thing now, which is so much better. Peter, your thoughts?
PETER: I guess I… well first of all, I didn’t think I’d be editing a podcast.
PETER: I was definitely advocating for a podcast early on. I thought it would be a great idea. Got some pushback, but I guess we overcame that.
AMELIA: That’s his polite way of saying that I flat-out objected to there being any podcast anytime soon. [laughs]
PETER: You came around though.
AMELIA: Yeah, I did come around.
PETER: But I’d only done a bit of audio/visual editing back in high school, so it’s just like, a need arose and I thought I could probably handle it and it just turned into my contribution to the site. Just like everybody else is doing their own thing, that’s just how it fell out.
VRAI: [deadpan] The kids these days like their “podcasts,” I’ve been told.
AMELIA: [dryly] Communicating through an audio/visual media, yes.
DEE: [jokingly] These “Interweb Radios” they speak of.
AMELIA: Yeah, we’re all old.
DEE: We’re not that old!
AMELIA: Speak for yourself.
AMELIA: What’s unexpected? Who hasn’t answered yet?
DEE: Oh, I haven’t.
AMEILA, PETER, VRAI: [crosstalk] Dee!
DEE: I can’t wrap my head around the idea that I am kind of a respected voice in the anime community. I get people who want my opinions on things. Amelia, I remember we were talking the other day and you made some comment to the effect of: you’d been following my work for a while and were in a “Senpai Notice Me” situation.
AMELIA: Yes! Massively!
DEE: I don’t… I’m somebody’s… I’m a Senpai? I don’t understand!
DEE: And you see, like, the other day, I was kind of joking about how I hit one hundred twitter followers, so I’m a big deal now.
AMELIA: A hundred?
DEE: But it’s weird. And that’s really… to me I’m just geeking out with my friends about anime like I’ve been doing since high school. I had a contributor who—I was editing their work—and they said “I really like your site!” and I was like “Oooh, people know about me!” That’s been this unexpected thing that I’m never probably going to get used to.
AniFem has definitely been… the past 6 months I think have taken off a lot more and I think the involvement with AniFem has been part of that. It’s way too much pressure and I’m definitely going to screw up.
DEE: Be patient with me when I do! But yeah, I think that’s been really unexpected on my end. And not just me; AniFem as a whole. I see people who come to us and are like “You guys are doing a really good thing here. I love what you have on the site, the recommendations, the reviews.” How quickly I think it took off in certain areas… and again we’re still not enormous, but people have heard of us. And that’s really cool but also kind of surprising so I… It’s neat.
PETER: Dee meant a thousand followers, by the way. She was being super super humble.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] I was going to say!
PETER: Like a magnitude humble.
DEE: Oh. Whoops. Yeah, my bad. I just misspoke. Yeah no, I hit a thousand. Big deal.
AMELIA: It supports your point that you’re more popular than you think.
VRAI: We see what you did there.
DEE: Very true.
AMELIA: I’d read your work on The Mary Sue. It’s because I’d read your work on The Mary Sue that I decided to pitch to The Mary Sue! You are the reason for that. [jokingly] So thanks for the dogpiling, I guess.
DEE: Oh no!
VRAI: Actually, come to think of it, because your Korra piece got picked up by The Mary Sue and I was like, “How’d you do that?” that was how I ended up pitching the Steven Universe recaps to them.
AMELIA, DEE, PETER: Ohhhhhhhhhh.
DEE: Yeah, I told you, “Dude, just submit to this forum, you’ll be great.” I remember that.
VRAI: And then I didn’t get paid for a year.
DEE: Well, none of us did.
AMELIA: Oh dear. Oh dear. I have never invoiced The Mary Sue for my work. [laughs] So I have been completely unpaid.
VRAI: So you got harassed for free!
AMELIA: I got harassed for free and entirely down to my disorganization. So anyone who’s really offended that I haven’t read your email or responded in time: remember, it impacts me too.
PETER: [crosstalk] Or if you think she’s in it for the money, obviously that’s not correct.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] This is not me treating…
DEE: [exasperated] Yeah.
AMELIA: [sarcastically] All that money The Mary Sue were giving me.
DEE: [deadpan] Those sweet sweet feminist dollars.
AMELIA: [sarcastically] Yeah those feminist blogging dollars. I’m about to mine them with this site.
AMELIA: That is a legitimate criticism we get, by the way, or that I specifically get is that people say I’m in this for the reputation and the dollars. [exasperated] Oh boy, there’s so much wrong with both of those points.
For me, I’m just so amazed we have a comment section. I wasn’t going to open up comments. Peter is probably the best person to give an account of this because he was the one saying we should have a comment section. I was saying, “Nope! We cannot possibly open a comments section,” and he just kept suggesting it and eventually I said, “Okay, we can give it a try under very specific circumstances.” I opened it up to the group, got some feedback, and then we opened the comments section and it’s completely fine. Same with the podcast.
AMELIA: Again, Peter saying “We should have a podcast” and I was like, “Nope, absolutely not. Not going to happen.” And then months later here we are. And soon— again, exciting announcements—we will have some kind of convention presence in real-person form in front of other real people. So keep tuned for that.
So, the fact that it’s so interactive…I think at the beginning I was so focused on self-preservation that I really, really needed that barrier between me and other people, but again the responsibility has been shared. There are many more of us now; we have more of a supportive community around us. We can afford to be more interactive and honest, to be more open. To be more honest? That’s not quite what I mean. I find it very difficult to speak in an unguarded space, if that makes sense.
AMELIA: So when I speak on Twitter, everything is quite carefully edited. There’s a lot of stuff that I’ve written and then deleted. Same for comments for posts on our site. I edit a lot of what I write. It takes me a long time to write emails and Tweets, etcetera.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Yeah, in general.
AMELIA: Because of a lot of what I have written has been screenshotted and passed around and made viral. Once you’ve had that happen a few times, you get a bit careful with how you phrase things. A podcast is an example of something that I can’t really protect myself. So I say things like I just said now where I say, “Yeah, it’s really great to be more honest,” which implies that I’ve been lying before and that’s not what I mean at all, and in this space I can’t really edit that.
Building up the courage to do that and to put myself in that position and just trust that, at this point, people know me well enough to know what I mean. That there are supportive people who will give me the benefit of the doubt that I so badly need. And that if I really do need something edited out, I can say, “Please edit that; it didn’t come across as I meant it at all.”
And the fact that I’ve been able to build up that confidence to the point where we have an open comment section, we have a podcast, that will be in front of real people—that bit scares me, by the way—but that’s been a huge surprise to me.
Okay, next question: “How did you become what you wanted in regards to media criticism and do you have any advice on that front?” That’s from Quiet Dove @theplatinumdove on Twitter.
PETER: As far as becoming where we are now, I think it was mainly just… There’s obviously a lot of feminist bloggers in the anime community. Or a good number I’d say. I know none of them have gotten the attention that Anime Feminist has. I think that was literally just because Amelia took the burden of the “feminist” label upon herself and made a collaborative site, which wasn’t just one person with their own opinions on feminism but was a location where everybody could come with their opinions and have an open discussion.
One thing that really made me interested in the idea of this site was: the discussion on Twitter was very surface-level. You mentioned before, talking about fanservice, you have to constantly explain just why it’s bad. It’s like you can’t get into deeper discussions because you always have to restate the premise of the thing you’re discussing before you can get into the thing you’re discussing itself, because other people always get involved in that sort of thing. It’s nowhere else.
By becoming like The Mary Sue for anime, I think that facilitated a lot people to get into deeper discussions or go to a place where they know they can have conversations without just having these surface-level conversations like that. I think that’s what made Anime Feminist different and deeper than these other sites—which are very important, I love reading articles on personal blogs as well. I think all of them are pretty much the same quality you can get on Anime Feminist, but it’s not only the content, but the forum that goes along with it and the staff promoting and pushing it forward that differentiates it.
DEE: So, personal feminist bloggers, submit your pitches to us.
PETER: Yes, please.
DEE: We will pay you and you’ll have a bigger platform.
VRAI: It seems like the question is asking about how an individual gets started, too. I guess it’s like that pat answer, but: just do it. The reason my blog started is because I was hanging around on the internet and I just finished The Woman Called Fujiko Mine and I found Oscar really interesting because he’s my beautiful trash baby.
VRAI: And nobody was talking about the things that I thought were really interesting about his character and what Sayo Yamamoto was, I thought, trying to do with queer narratives and themes, because the Lupin fandom is traditionally kind of bro-ey. So I thought, okay, I just need to do this. But I can’t just have one article on a blog because then no one will respect or read it, so I wrote for six months so that I could have enough clout or backlog so that people would read this one essay that I really wanted to do.
DEE: That is the long game right there.
VRAI: I really love Oscar, you guys.
PETER: Wrote for two years just to put Oscar out there.
VRAI: [laughing] Yes, no, you’re joking, but I’m not.
AMELIA: Well, it worked.
VRAI: Well but then that became really useful because even if only one hundred, two hundred, five hundred people saw a piece that I did that, then became practice to have deadlines that, even if it’s only a couple dozen people, you’re expected to get a thing out. The more you write, the more you begin to get an idea of what people like or what things you’ve tried that were effective.
And then those pieces become samples that you can submit to bigger places when you pitch a basic idea of: “Hey, can you string two words together and are your arguments cogent?” So having a personal blog, even while wildly successful on its own, is a very good thing to have just in terms of getting you other places. Even for AniFem, I wrote for Fujiko Mine which got the attention of Caitlin who’s on our staff and runs the Tumblr Heroine Problem. She saw those recaps I did, which is how she got to know my stuff, and she was the one who recommended me to Amelia.
VRAI: So having your own personal space where you’re just kind of doing your own shit is a long, long game, but it’s really helpful.
AMELIA: And if you want to contribute to us as well, I will just say as well it really helps to know that you have a stake in what you’re talking about. We don’t need any particular expertise or anything, but to know that you believe in what you’re writing so much that you’re willing to write posts and put them up and post them yourself, that instantly gives me the impression that you are approaching us in good faith. That you’re going to be really committed to what you’re what you’re going to be writing, that you aren’t….
I mean, we have some kind of drive-by freelancers who approach us and that’s a bit of a shame. We have some people who approach us who aren’t in good faith and that’s a shame. A personal blog is just a great demonstration of your intentions. I love reading people’s personal blogs when they approach us.
PETER: I guess on the advice front it would be: if you’re writing a personal blog and are trying to get yourself into that space, it’s just a pitch. If you want to specifically do feminist stuff, obviously our site seems to be pretty good for that, but you can also pitch articles to Sakuga Blog, Anime News Network, even Crunchyroll, and get your work out to a wider audience. They always direct back to your blog and you can build your style from there and make your work more visible.
And who knows, maybe if you work with one of those sites long enough, they invite you onto their team and you can do more content for them, and from there that allows you to shape what the site is. Make yourself part of the community, I guess.
VRAI: Have a tagging system. For the love of God, tag your shit.
VRAI: So that people can actually find things you wrote more than a week ago.
PETER: At least put in an article signature that links to your Twitter and to your blog. Necessary.
DEE: The first part of the question, “How did you become what you wanted”: I don’t know if I have yet, and I almost hope I don’t, because if I do then I’ll get bored and just retire.
DEE: So I want to keep striving to get better and learn more and be able to talk about more things, and, etcetera.
So… I feel like my answer almost contradicts what you guys are saying and I don’t want it to. I think these are all important. But for me… and I’m one of those people who… I tend to, like if I’m out at a party or something with people I don’t know that well, I’m really quiet for while, getting a feel for the crowd and listening to other people’s ideas, and then I’ll jump in.
That was basically what I did with The Josei Next Door. I was reading a few different anime blogs and The Mary Sue throughout grad school, when I was way too busy to do anything else. During that time, I picked up different ideas, different opinions from different people. I saw what was being said and noticed what things weren’t being said. And then there was that thought of: “Well do I want to say it, and if so, how would I go about doing that?” Over time I think that’s where my writing has built from, is this idea of: “Can I join that conversation and what can I add to it?” Which is how I went through school too, basically.
I’ve tried really hard not to turn it into a lecture and I know I’m not great about responding to comments, so I apologize to everyone who is listening to this who reads my stuff who is like, “Why don’t you ever respond back?” I read and I just like to soak it in and not have an immediate snap response and every… I read them all and they inform me as I go forward.
Nuance is my favorite word, and that’s kind of what I try to dig at with criticism is, I try to think: “Okay, here’s what I think. What maybe could be another way of looking at this?” Just to have that expanded horizen, which is how I shuffled more and more into the feminist side of anime blogging. As I was picking up those different opinions, those more diverse viewpoints, experiences not my own, I started to get a feel for how much is out there and how much we weren’t talking about that maybe we should be talking about. So I guess my advice—this has been really jumbled and I apologize. Peter, fix this in post.
PETER: I’ll do what I can.
DEE: My advice is just listen. Listen a lot. Listen to people whose experiences are different from your own. Read their stuff. Don’t immediately respond with some pithy comment. Think about it. Think about what you’ll say. And maybe you’ll disagree; maybe what you’ll take away from that is “I disagree with this,” but you’ll also take away “This is why I disagree with this.”
That can expand your own voice, it can… you incorporate those other viewpoints into your own voice and then you also figure out what maybe you bring to the table that other people don’t. Because you’ve been listening to all these different conversations going on.
VRAI: I think that’s… I don’t think that’s necessarily counter to what we’ve said at all. I think that’s amazing advice because even if the thing is “put your stuff out there,” at the end of the day the process of becoming a better writer is listening to other people and listening to what they say, particularly if you want to write about equality and marginalized voices.
We’ve all got some manner of privilege and inevitably you’re going to run into that situation where, “Whoops, I stepped in it, I put my foot in it and now I’ve got to listen to how I fucked up and sincerely learn from that.” And it sucks and it’s important and we all gotta do it.
AMELIA: I would echo a lot of what Dee said. I think when I first got involved in anime fandom again… this was last January and I hadn’t been involved for about ten years.
DEE: That’s a long break.
AMELIA: It’s a long break, but actually it’s not that uncommon. I’ve had a lot of people, particularly women, approach me and say: “Yep. Dropped out about the time it started getting quite fan service-y, quite moe.” They just felt like they didn’t have as much available to them that they wanted to see.
I mean especially at that time, because anime was much more gatekept by what DVD distributors were willing to pay for. Whereas now with simulcasting we have more options, we have more ability to try-before-you-buy so you can… it’s a much lower barrier for entry. It was, what, 2006? It was kind of DVDs or nothing really. That was about the time I was watching anime with people in my anime society in university. That was quite a typical experience at the time.
So a lot of people have taken this long break. But I came back after these ten years and I was amazed at how male-dominated the space had become. How normalized the male gaze had been. I get criticized a lot for my use of the “male gaze” and I get that and I’m open to it, but right now I think you get what I mean when I say that.
A lot of things that I didn’t like, that I didn’t feel comfortable with, I felt were quite unfeminist, I felt were worthy of more criticism or more exploration—they weren’t being criticized. They weren’t really being explored. The most high-profile names were people who had viewpoints that I found very interesting but they didn’t address the specific points that I wanted to discuss.
So again, there was a niche there that I wanted to be in. Nobody else was there, so I made it for myself. I did this personal blog first of all, and then shifted it over to AniFem, obviously. I don’t blog, I don’t have time to blog on a personal level anymore. But in terms of media criticism, something I was very keen for with my personal blog was that things be quite positive.
A piece of criticism that I get all the time is that “Oh your blogging is really negative, you’re always criticizing things.” And that’s true, but actually I think it’s quite positive because we do try to give benefit of the doubt. We do try to look for the good in everything that we talk about. We try to come up with better alternatives.
That’s something I feel really strongly about in my personal blogging. I love coming up with alternative ideas. You know, “I didn’t like the way they did this. Here’s how they could have done it that I would have enjoyed more, that I would have appreciated more, that would have been more fitting.” That’s something I actually enjoy on a personal level.
For AniFem specifically, as a whole, it was very important to me that things be quite balanced. So again that balance between positivity and negativity, a balance between the kinds of representation that we have. We are still not as diverse as I want us to be. We still don’t represent as many voices as I want us to represent. That’s going to be an ongoing challenge. I would love us to have more voices from certain sectors of our community.
There are people who currently… I don’t know certain sectors because I’m not in the right parts of Twitter or I’m not in the right parts of the internet. I can’t know everything and I can’t know everyone, and just being constantly open to try and get more people to give us their insights from different perspectives, that’s something we’re trying to constantly do.
We have done better than some people in this first six months, though. We really are trying to get people to speak about their own communities. The fact that I’ve had to write posts at times—and I say “had to” since they were time-sensitive—but I’ve had to write posts about issues effecting mostly queer people and that sits very uncomfortably with me.
And I’m going to try not to do that again because now I have the luxury of being able to approach people and say: “I will pay you to do this for me in the next forty-eight hours.” But there have been times where it has been a case of it just needs to be done now or not at all, and we can’t really afford to pay people so I’ve ended up doing it. I want to not do that anymore.
I actually don’t think we are there yet with the kind of media criticism I want, but I feel that we’ve got a better foundation than some people do. I really appreciate the fact that we have good relationships with professionals within the industry, but that we’re not worried on calling them out when they do things that are a problem. That’s something I really value.
Okay, so the last question that we’re going to answer in this podcast: “What do you think they next six months will look like?” That’s by @7_is_lucky.
DEE: I think it will look like me trying to get really comfortable doing podcasts.
DEE: I’m getting better. I’m definitely getting better.
PETER: Miss Humbleness.
DEE: No, I really just… speaking without—like Amelia was saying—without that buffer of being able to edit your own words is very stressful. Getting more used to being able to… doing that more frequently is going to be a little bit of a thing to work on over the next six months.
As far as actual “plan” things and things I’m hoping for going forward, I’m kind of echoing Amelia here: I really hope we can make this a platform for as many different feminist-minded voices as possible. Get more diverse opinions and different ideas.
Just to make this clear, in case it wasn’t, to our readers and listeners: if we post a piece that you disagree with, you can write that. You can pitch that disagreement to us. We’ll post the conversation.
DEE: We like that kind of interchange—exchange, sorry—of ideas, so I really hope we’re able to get more of those kinds of opinions across the spectrum on different topics.
And then also: diverse voices, different experiences. And then article types too, because we have been critiqued—I think somewhat understandably—for the fact that we pitch ourselves as “anime and manga” but we mostly do anime at this point. Manga is difficult because it’s not as easy as getting a Crunchyroll account and streaming a bunch of stuff at once, so it’s a little trickier for us to get a hold of.
But I do hope we can get more of that in. And I think contributors will have a big part in that because they’ll have series that they’re reading that maybe we all can’t get a hold of, but we can post their thoughts on that series. So definitely expanding our contributors and the kinds of articles we put up and things like that.
And then I am going to get that damn Tumblr up and running, I swear! I will get us a Tumblr. Dear readers, we will have a Tumblr soon, I promise.
DEE: [crosstalk] Those are my two…
PETER: If you want to write about manga, pitch it to us.
AMELIA: Yes, please. Please, we will fast track it.
AMELIA: I mean, as much as stuff does get fast-tracked. I say this knowing there’s a backlog of editing that I’ve got to do tomorrow. We do really want to be more equally talking about manga and anime, ideally. We currently have two contributor pieces going up each week. I would love for one of those to be manga-focused and one to be anime-focused, and I think we can manage that in the next few weeks. We would like to keep that up. So please pitch us your anime thoughts.
VRAI: I’d really like… we’re really getting to a place where we can start hammering out what the site looks like on a day-to-day basis, and I would love to get that stabilized.
DEE: [crosstalk] For sure.
VRAI: Knowing that, if you come to the site on This Day, this is the content you will find, and it will be there reliably. That’s not like me throwing shade, it’s…
AMELIA: It’s well deserved if you are. It’s fine.
VRAI: There are eight billion mitigating factors, but I would really like to help the site get on… because I want our readers to be able to reliably know they can come to us and see that kind of thing. Also, I really, really want to get a panel going for premieres. That’s the—writing these for the last season was my favorite and I also loved reading everyone else’s takes. I would like to do basically what Anime News Network does, but for our site.
AMELIA: And that has been a goal of mine since before launch. Because I wrote the first set of premiere reviews before we launched and at the time I was thinking: “This is just my voice, this is just perspective, we’re missing so much that’s of value.”
I would love to have, as you say, a panel of people who represent voices, different segments of fandom who can see all of their views on one page and from that get a really strong idea of whether or not this series is for you from your particular perspective. That would be amazing. And yeah, shade completely deserved. [laughs] I really want to see AniFem…
VRAI: [crosstalk] I don’t want you to collapse!
DEE: I definitely agree that having a calendar and being able to… especially with contributors, being able to tell them, “Your piece has been approved, it will be out on Friday the X day of the month,” so they know in advance, too. And again, it’s tough. Please be patient with us, dear listeners. We all work day jobs. This is something that is very much a hobby. It’s a jobbie, I guess?
DEE: Because there is some payment involved, but it’s the second thing we do. So that has definitely lead to some challenges, but I think we’re getting there. I think the past two, three months, we’ve been edging into having a more set schedule and keeping things running when they need to run. I think, like Vrai was saying, we can definitely keep that going as we move forward, too.
AMELIA: Yeah. There were a good few weeks there where I was really keeping on top of it. There was one week where I had everything scheduled in advance. I was so proud of myself. And then premiere weeks happened and it all fell apart again.
AMELIA: [heavy sigh] So maybe next premiere season.
DEE: [crosstalk] Premiere weeks were wild.
VRAI: [unintelligible under crosstalk]
AMELIA: By then I want it to be really… I want us to be producing our usual content as well as the premieres. That’s my goal for Summer 2017. You can hold me accountable to that. But I promise you, you won’t hold me more accountable than I do myself. I feel this every single day. I want do more for AniFem; I want to do better for AniFem; I want AniFem to be better than it is and better than I can make it. So I’m constantly working with that in mind, and I want the same things that all of you do.
I think we’re in a really good position to make it happen. It feels like we’re always just a few weeks of good work away from getting past that tipping point where everything is practically running itself. Obviously it’s all of us running it together, but where everything is kind of flowing, and where we all have certain responsibilities that we fulfill and as a result everything is stable. Everything is predictable and reliable. Getting to that point where that is all the time and not a few good weeks before premiere season is absolutely my goal.
VRAI: Any final thoughts, Peter?
PETER: Yeah. There’s a couple of things that I really… I think after podcasts, I think the kind of thing I really wanted to see happen was, well, the Tumblr and also….
DEE: I’m going to do it, okay?!
AMELIA: [crosstalk] All kinds of shade today!
PETER: [crosstalk] I believe you.
PETER: And live events, which it looks like we’re going to be moving into.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Yes!
PETER: One of the things we’re talking about all the time is how we can really expand the value to our patrons. Really give them—try to figure out what they want to get. And a lot of them, we’ll ask them that and they’ll just be like, “Oh keep doing what you’re doing” but… [crosstalk] Which is sweet of you, yeah.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Which is lovely of you! We want to do more for you.
PETER: We want to give you extra value for the amount that you’re contributing to us. We’re always looking for new ideas on that front. One of the things we do think would be cool is doing live events for that kind of thing, or maybe meet-ups and conventions, that kind of thing.
PETER: Panels is something I definitely want to get into, and it looks like it’s something we’re exploring right now, which I’m pretty excited about. Given that we’re spread across three continents it’s kind of a question as to how many people we can get or how often we can do collaborative things. We’re still a super young site, at the end of the day. These are all very interesting things to talk about and plan right now, but that’s some stuff I’d really like to see rolling out in the next six months.
As far as content, I’m really looking for some… we said we’re talking about expanding voices, getting more unique perspectives. Something I really want to bring to the site is more academic perspectives, like people who really study this kind of material and provide more researched work, I guess. As opposed to, I guess, more of a blog thought. Not to say that that’s bad, but something that has more academic weight to it, I guess. Also, Japanese perspectives, specifically in regards to feminist criticism.
DEE: [crosstalk] Oh my gosh, yes.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Yes!
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Yes, absolutely!
PETER: Yes, ‘cause one of the constant push-backs we get is that they just don’t criticize their media in this manner, which I am very confident is not true.
PETER: I know of a few voices in Japan who are specifically looking at media this way. It’s just extremely hard to find their work. And then if you do find any criticism like this, it is of course in another language. So that presents multiple challenges.
First, finding individuals like this, especially ones who release regular content, especially ones who release content online. Speaking with them and then potentially translating all this work is a really huge undertaking, but I think it’s one that is very valuable. So I would really love to see some more stuff like that in the future. I really think that would be just absolutely amazing for the Western anime community.
AMELIA: Yes, seconded. We do have a few Japanese people who follow us and support us, and there’s one person in particular—she knows who she is, and we’re incredibly grateful for your contributions! She comments regularly under our posts. These people are out there and we do really want to enjoy more with Japanese people.
The obstacle is asking people to write in a language that is not their native language. I think that’s quite a lot to ask. And even though we do pay people, I think that’s still probably not as much as it really is. Because if we speak to native Japanese speakers like we did in our interview with Masaki, ideally it will be a bilingual post. Ideally we’ll have it available in two languages. So that’s kind of asking them to do double the work. If we do that, I want to be able to pay them double, but… again, funding. Always funding.
AMELIA: So, interviewing more people would be great. Hopefully we can make contact with more people who are willing to write in two languages for us. Hopefully our budget will increase so that we can actively seek that out.
The only other thing I’d say, following on from what Peter said about patrons, once again: Amelia is an obstacle. I have asked multiple times, “Patrons, what do you want?” or “What would make you become a patron?” People have given us answers and I’ve said, “Yeah! That’s a great idea!” and then not really put in into action. I’ve not necessarily engaged in it. Or I’ve taken it onboard and then said “Actually, this doesn’t really work with what we do.”
So what I prioritize in the next six months—actually really much sooner than that; this is really a high priority for the next six weeks for me—is to really transform our patron offering to go from what it currently is, which is “the more you pay, the more influence you have on our content”—which is really something I shouldn’t have promised, I think, and it really hasn’t worked out because our content is kind of decided by what people want to pitch. And that’s as it should be and that’s what people are enthusiastic about at the time. Trying to curate that is more of a challenge than I thought it would be.
I really want to support people to work organically and to say “I’m feeling really strongly about this right now, I’d like to write something.” The amount of people who’ve approached me from within the team and said, “I just really want to write about this one thing,” and they’ve given me a post within twenty-four hours—it’s great to be able to go with that, but it means that I can’t tailor things to what our patrons want as much as I assumed I would be able to.
So I’d really like to shift from influence on content to a model where you actually get more access to the team. So the end result may well be more influence on content, because if you have something that you really want to hear about or you really want to read a post about, chat to us in a chat situation.
Or if you’re in a Google Hangout situation, you can really pitch us this idea and say, “I don’t want to write it myself, but I really want to see a contributor write about it for these reasons, etcetera.” It might have the same outcome, but it’s a little less tied directly with “if you pay X amount of money, you get X amount of posts” as a response. That kind of transactional relationship hasn’t really worked out well.
So more access to the team, and also the amount of people who, like Peter said, have said, “Just keep doing what you’re doing. We just really want to talk to you and be onboard with what you’re producing.” Great! Come chat with us, we like talking to you. That’s a high priority for me in the near future. Hopefully by the end of six months we’ll have an even stronger community around us as a result.
So I think that’s everything for these questions. Is that right?
VRAI: I think so.
DEE: Yeah, that’s the AniFem Gang. We did have a couple…if you sent in a question and you didn’t hear it, it’s because we did get a couple that were very similar. So we kind of picked and chose that way. We were not intentionally ignoring anybody.
AMELIA: No, absolutely not.
DEE: Just kind of letting you know.
PETER: This isn’t your last opportunity for sure.
DEE: Oh no, we’ll probably do more of these. This was kind of fun.
VRAI: Yeah, totally. I do enjoy the sound of my own voice and opinions. This is great!
PETER: Likewise. Same.
AMELIA: Okay that’s all for the questions today. We have another podcast that will come out with the second batch of questions. You guys gave us some really great things to talk about. We had to have two podcasts to cover it.
In the meantime, you can find our work at www.animefeminist.com. You can find us at Twitter @animefeminist. You can find us on Facebook at facebook.com/animefem. We do have a Patreon which is www.patreon.com/animefeminist.
Now we said once we got to $900 in income we’d be able to commit to weekly podcasts and this would enable us to pay Peter, who is our editor, $15 an hour for his work. But Patreon pledges do fluctuate. We’re currently hovering around that mark. We’ve kind of gone up to $902, down to $898, and there is always a dip in that when the bank balances actually get hit. Really, we need to be closer to around $920-$925 to really secure those weekly podcasts going forward.
So, if you do have a dollar to spare a month, it does add up. So please go to www.patreon.com/animefeminist and send us a dollar to continue our work.
Thank you so much to Dee and Peter and Vrai, and we will see you in the second part of this Q&A answering questions about anime.