Our 2018 Q&A podcast, with members of the staff answering inquiries from readers and discussing our fundraising efforts!
Recorded: 19th December 2018
Hosts: Amelia, Caitlin, Dee, Peter, and Vrai
0:01:28 LumRanmaYasha: Chatty AF watchalong/retrospective of Pokemon when?
0:04:28 KuroWoof: Do you have different viewing habits for different shows? Are there shows you would watch after work with a drink in hand vs. watching carefully early in the day and taking notes?
0:08:55 Flarglepuf: Have there been any articles you’ve wanted to write for the site that haven’t worked out for whatever reason?
0:13:39 sakoku_otaku: Who, outside of AF regulars, do you seek out for insight / criticism / analysis of anime from a critical perspective? Are there academics you trust? Are there academics you don’t trust?
0:25:17 Doctor_Whodunit (Assad): The contributors and the AniFem staff write such brilliant and insightful pieces so I was wondering if you, as writers and editors, think an MA or MFA in Creative Writing is worth the time and money to pursue a career in anime writing (or any kind of nonfiction writing career)
0:35:57 Dennis_wglasses: In your opinion, what was the most underrated anime of the year?
0:38:54 sephyxer: what are some adult characters you liked, especially (but not limited to) those from anime with a main cast made mostly out of teens?
0:40:44 GreyLurker: A question to the Staff; What is that one Show you were never supposed to like? I don’t mean a problematic favorite, I mean something that just came out of nowhere and hooked you, when it really shouldn’t have. The “Oh I would never watch a show about
**something(Football, cardgames, Golf, whatever) ** ….but then I saw this and it blew me away.” show
0:43:25 Wonderweeb91 (Lauren): If you could give any one manga a quality adaptation, which would you choose?
0:48:41 blusocket: I’d love to hear about the process of / plans for producing ethically sourced merch. What does that look like? What were/are some challenges or surprises?
AMELIA: Hi everyone and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast. My name’s Amelia. I’m the Editor-in-Chief of Anime Feminist. I’m joined here today by Caitlin, Dee, Peter, and Vrai. If you guys would like to introduce yourselves.
CAITLIN: Hi, I’m Caitlin. I’m an Editor and Writer for Anime Feminist, as well as having my own blog, I Have a Heroine Problem. Heroine with an “e”. I am a, uh… regular contributor reviewing anime for The Daily Dot.
DEE: Hi, I’m Dee! I’m the Managing Editor at Anime Feminist. I also run the anime blog, The Josei Next Door, and you can find me on Twitter at @joseinextdoor.
PETER: I’m Peter, I’m an Associate Feature Editor at Crunchyroll and a Contributor and Editor at Anime Feminist.
VRAI: Hey, I’m Vrai. I’m an Editor and Contributor for Anime Feminist. You can find me on Twitter at @writervrai. If you checked my pinned thread, there’s a bunch of places across the internet I freelance, or you can find the other podcast I am on at @trashpod.
AMELIA: And there’s a bumper crop of us here today because we’re answering reader questions that we received this week on Twitter. Just asking some questions about us, behind the scenes, how AniFem works—we thought it’d be a nice way to kind of finish off the year. So we’re just gonna jump right into these.
Um… we have… first of all, a question from LumRanmaYasha.
AMELIA: Asking—I’m gonna struggle with some of these names, I can tell you now—“Chatty AF watchalong/retrospective of Pokemon when?”
DEE: [laughing gleefully; crosstalk] Someone’s been following my Twitter!
AMELIA: [crosstalk] And—Dee, I think this is your moment!
DEE: Uh yeah, this… I know this follower—they follow my personal account too where I have been regaling people with my following along of the Twitch Pokethon they’ve been doing. [laughs] So, I don’t think we will be doing a watchalong of Pokemon. It is over a thousand episodes long: that’s a bit much.
AMELIA: As much as we would love too [laughs] we would stress.
DEE: That’s— It’s a lot.
VRAI: [crosstalk] It’s so many.
DEE: [crosstalk] I think some kind of a—
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Let’s start a separate podcast for Pokemon watchalongs!
DEE: I mean, twist my arm at this point! [laughs]
No, I… I think some kind of a retrospective would be really fun. I don’t know if we’d wanna split it up like we’re trying to do with the Sailor Moon ones or if we’d just wanna do one. But it would be—obviously, I’d need to find some other folks who… feel passionately enough about it.
But I actually do think there’s probably enough there for us to at least fill an hour. So I’m not—I’m not opposed to the idea.
DEE: There will be articles, I can promise you there will be articles! There’s one in the can and there will probably be more on the way!
VRAI: It’s true; it’s a good article.
VRAI: I mean… I do enjoy the fact that Dee and I have slowly pushed Team Rocket into, like… the general face of team articles and posts.
DEE: I have it in writing! I have—Amelia, I kept the receipt. I have it in writing that you said Team Rocket are “absolutely the kind of ambassadors we want here at AniFem”! So… [crosstalk] we do have permission from on high!
AMELIA: [crosstalk] I stand by that! I stand by that. That wasn’t a statement I made in crowdfunding euphoria. That wasn’t it. I completely stand by it.
And yeah, I’d be very happy to have them representing us, but a thousand episodes is a lot. Our criteria for watchalongs—we do try to look for series that are like, twenty-four, twenty-six episodes long so that we can do four episodes.
And getting a guest in for four consecutive recording sessions is quite an ask already, so for longer… for longer series we do tend to do retrospectives where it’s just a one-off where we talk about the whole series in one episode. Or we kind of keep it to the team. That happened with Fushigi Yugi I think.
[Sounds of agreement]
AMELIA: I’m not sure what… what—have you got a guest for Sailor Moon?
VRAI: Yeah, but like… Anne’s whole thing is being a Sailor Moon fan.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Right, exactly.
VRAI: [crosstalk] So it’s very easy for her to…
AMELIA: To twist her arm, right.
DEE: Yeah, and there’s only going to be five of those because we’re just doing one per season. So… it’s not…
AMELIA: Right—so when we get to the longer series, we kind of get more flexible with it. So yeah, maybe, a Pokemon retrospective at some point. But it’s not in the immediate pipeline, I think it’s fair to say.
[Pause, then laughter]
AMELIA: So, moving on: KuroWoof has asked, “Do you have different viewing habits for different shows? So, are there shows you would watch after work with a drink in hand versus watching carefully early in the day and taking notes?”
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Absolutely!
AMELIA: [crosstalk] I mean, yeah, this is definite yes, isn’t it?
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Yes! Um… I mean—I would say since anime is not a relaxing activity for me most of the time anymore because I’m sort of… no matter what I’m watching, I’m kind of watching with the thought of: “Is this going to be something I can turn into an article?” I’m kind of watching actively, although there are a couple of series where I feel like I can sort of safely watch without it really, like—I don’t feel like I really need to write an article about Toradora or A Place Further Than The Universe. Those series are so positive that they are probably the only ones that I can really relax—feel relaxed while watching currently.
There are also series that I watch with my fiancee every season. The way I watch those series is different from the series that I watch on my own to write about. So, yeah, no, definitely, there’s some fairly big differences between different series I watch.
AMELIA: And there are some shows that are just like, comfort food, right? I mean, I certainly—I’ll put on like, long-running shounen when I’m washing up or cooking and things like that. I can just kind of have that running in the background and it’s no big deal if I’m not paying too much attention to it because it takes so long to complete every step that happens in a shounen fight. [laughs]
So, that totally works for me, especially something like Naruto, which I’ve seen through all the way, so it’s… you know, going back to old favorite arcs can be really useful for getting housework done.
CAITLIN: Nozaki-kun is anime comfort food for me.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Oh yeah!
DEE: [crosstalk] Oh, for sure!
AMELIA: Good choice!
VRAI: Yeah, I actually only take physical notes when I’m about to either do a premiere on a show or I’m writing up a commission that somebody has asked me to do, but I also tend to watch things with an eye towards, “Is there Hashtag Content here?”
VRAI: The exceptions are—definitely tend to be when I’m watching things with my wife. Either when she’s showing me something older that she likes, or we’ve been watching My Love Story recently, which is good and healing and nice.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Oh, so good!
DEE: Peter! You watch everything every season: are you always plugged in—you’ve been quiet too. [laughs] Are you always plugged in for the… for that Hashtag Content or do you have shows you can kind of chill during, too?
PETER: I do think I—especially since working for both Crunchyroll and AniFem, I kind of maybe actually even watch more anime than I need to ‘cause I start watching slice-of-life shows as kind of, like, palette cleansers.
So, I don’t know if I’d watch as many SOL if I was spending so much time thinking about other anime and I needed to, like, maybe watch something in-between to just kind of… stop thinking about the first thing and start thinking about the next thing. So, yeah, I definitely watch—I really like Laid Back Camp, earlier on this year, because it was very good and I could just watch it without any critical thought whatsoever.
AMELIA: I think the important context here is that when you write for Crunchyroll, you need to write about the most popular shows for the most part, right?
AMELIA: So, when you talk about not having to think about it, it’s because you’re probably not going to be required to write multiple articles about it.
PETER: Uh… yeah. And those I even, I mean like—the stuff I’m watching for maybe Anime Feminist, or for… just my own enjoyment, often, I’m thinking about in different ways. So like, I’m thinking critically about some series and, I guess, promotionally about other series. Like, what are good moments to maybe share or what could I turn into a meme or a joke. That kind of stuff too.
PETER: Especially with like—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Hashtag Content!
PETER: [crosstalk]—you know, Boruto and Black Clover. That’s kind of how I watch those shows.
DEE: [crosstalk] Right.
PETER: [crosstalk] Just trying to look for good moments to share.
DEE: [crosstalk] Never stop memeing, baby!
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah, that’s… that’s the grind.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Right, like you’re not gonna watch Ulysses expecting to write about it for AniFem. But—
PETER: [crosstalk] Um, well, unless it’s a problem.
DEE: [crosstalk] Unless it’s a takedown!
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah! I watch it mostly for Crunchyroll, but during our mid-season and post-season, I tend to, uh… bring a lot of the events that happened over the course of the show to discussion.
AMELIA: So: “Have there been any articles that anyone here has wanted to write for the site that haven’t worked out for whatever reason?”
PETER: [crosstalk] Oh, God.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] So many!
VRAI: I was thinking about this one. There is one. It’s not writing, but we’ve… we’ve talked about wanting to do translations, and there was one where we got really close. That was this Japanese article someone had written about Banana Fish and Ash as a relatable figure as a rape survivor and how that connected to #MeToo and #UsToo, and the… We actually—Chiaki contacted the original writer who was in favor of it, but unfortunately, we weren’t ableto secure permission from the original site where it was published. So that fell through, and that really bummed me out.
CAITLIN: All the time. There have been—I have a whole list of article ideas. There’ll be some of them I just can’t wrap my head around exactly what I want to write.
Like, I really want to write about the manga All My Darling Daughters. I think it’s an incredible series. I think our readers would get a lot out of it because it does have a specifically feminist point of view. But every time I write about it, I just end up kind of gushing [laughs] instead of writing something, you know… thoughtful and critical.
There have been times where it’s like, “Well, I’m gonna watch this series” and then I just sort of burn out on watching it. Like, I was going to write an article talking about common plot threads in Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress and Guilty Crown, um… and talk about, sort of, how those two shows—from the same creators, from the same creative teams—represent women. Commonly, there’s a very Whedon-esque— But I just burned out on watching Guilty Crown. [crosstalk] It’s a really bad show.
DEE: [crosstalk] That’s fair! Yeah…
AMELIA: Occupational hazard, I think, when you watch stuff for this kind of purpose.
CAITLIN: And there are times where I just… lose momentum on an article. Or, like, I just never get around to starting it because I work a hard—my day job is hard and takes a lot out of me. I don’t always have the energy to start working on an article before that sort of [chuckles weakly] “time’s up; it’s no longer fresh enough in my head” hits.
AMELIA: Yeah… and—yeah. It’ll remain perfect in your head forever.
VRAI: Yeah, when you say that, I do definitely—I never think of articles as “cancelled” because I could finish them sometime [crosstalk] even though half the time I won’t.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] I could finish them anytime I want to.
DEE: You just send them to the farm.
VRAI: [crosstalk] They can frolic!
DEE: [crosstalk] Like your parents sent your childhood pet.
DEE: They’re happy there!
PETER: [under laughter] Is that what you called your Drafts folder? “The farm”?
DEE: [crosstalk; laughing] Yes!
VRAI: I do have one that I have like… researched, still bookmarked, and it’s on the backburner about Kill la Kill and the fashion world. But part of me, everytime, is like, [wearily] “Do I wanna deal with Kill la Kill fandom again?”
VRAI: “I don’t think I doooooo… ”
AMELIA: I don’t think you do.
AMELIA: Like, I wrote a huge one on Super Lovers back in the day. This was something I had planned for my personal blog before I started AniFem. It was all about, like, not just Super Lovers being awful, because it is, but also about how Crunchyroll handled it. Because they actually didn’t have an age gate in place until, like, episode 9, which is actually where the parental guardian kisses his like… I don’t know, twelve-year-old charge.
AMELIA: And it was only at that point that Crunchyroll was like, “Oh I guess we need to put an age gate on this!” [wryly] And it was almost like a manga didn’t exist that told you exactly where this show was going.
So I thought that was quite interesting how it was clearly, like… kind of responsive rather than preemptive. I wanted to write about that and I wrote this whole thing, but I think it just kind of turned into me… I don’t know, providing evidence for how awful Super Lovers is with screenshots. It just got way too complicated, which is absolutely my typical pattern.
I’ve got so many ideas that started off as something quite simple and turned into this, like… monstrosity before I could even finish it. Thank goodness, one of you—I think it was Dee and Vrai, you just went through the Drafts and cleared them out. I’m so grateful for that because it’s just drawn a line under them for me.
VRAI: Yeah, you can thank my literal OCD that looks at articles that are unfinished and laying there just like, “I can’t. It needs to be… please, I can’t look at it like this.”
AMELIA: Funny enough, I reactivated my EverNote yesterday, and I apparently, the last time I used it was in 2016 and the first draft of that article is still there. So it’s preserved forever—
DEE: [crosstalk] It’s just staring at you!
AMELIA: [crosstalk] —just to haunt me.
DEE: [crosstalk] Send it to the farm, Amelia! Send it to the farm!
AMELIA: [crosstalk] It’s never—it needs to go to the farm.
DEE: [crosstalk] Yes.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Nobody cares about Super Lovers anymore.
VRAI: [crosstalk; deadpan] Thank God.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Nobody… nobody should ever have cared about Super Lovers in the first place, myself included. [laughs] But…
Moving on: “So who outside of AniFem regulars”—‘cause we do have a lot of authors that we stan writing for us; I think we’re very fortunate in that, so… a lot of you guys are people that I was originally a fan of your work, as bloggers, so I invited you to AniFem.
I think we now have a network of writers where we’re in that position where we enjoy the work on their individual spaces, and they now have content on AniFem, which I absolutely love.
So: “—apart from these regulars, who do you seek out for insight/criticism/analysis of anime from a critical perspective? So, for example, are there academics you trust? Are there academics you don’t trust?”
CAITLIN: I am very fortunate to have some very good friends who I can text and talk—you know, just talk things out with who write for other publications. When I’m watching a Netflix anime, usually to review for The Daily Dot, I am friends with most of the people who are on This Week in Anime, and so—since I know they tend to watch a lot of the Netflix anime, a lot of times, I’ll DM them, like, “Can you believe how—like, what is going on in Hero Mask?! This show is awful!” We’ll talk about some of the ridiculous things.
Rose Bridges was a close friend of mine before she wrote for AniFem—before she wrote for ANN and before AniFem was a thing. We made friends through Heroine Problem. So, you know, I’ll—she’s getting her PhD in Musicology focusing in Film Music, especially anime music. She literally wrote the book on Cowboy Bebop music. So if I have anything related to music, I’ll talk to her. We’ve done a couple of panels together about female creatives.
Yeah, I’m very fortunate that I’ve managed to befriend a lot of people who are able to—who have a lot of critical insight that they are… that they publish on the internet.
VRAI: Yeah, I’m always kind of bummed that academic writing isn’t—is by design not very… [crosstalk] accessible by the average person—
DEE: [crosstalk] It’s super inaccessible and I hate it! [crosstalk] Sorry, continue.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] It’s true!
DEE: [crosstalk] I’m not gonna go off on a rant about how much I hate academic writing, but I did have to at least get that little burst in there. Continue, Vrai; sorry.
VRAI: [crosstalk] It sucks, I mean… there’s the… the transformative works archive has that—I think their journal is publicly accessible, which is nice. But, yeah. I think the last time I read an academic text on specifically anime fandom was this collection of essays about—the book was literally just called Boys’ Love Manga. Which was—I mean, there was one pretty good article in there about the Yaoi Rondo of the ‘90s, but otherwise, a lot of academic circle jerking, which is what a lot of academia is.
Fortunately, my wife Dorothy is very smart: she has an MA in Rhetoric and is scary fucking smart. So, I get a lot of brain exercise that way. But, um… yeah, I don’t know. I… nothing specific comes to mind. I am always really excited when I see people doing interesting critical analysis. Doing the links, I feel like I get to run across that more on the regular than a lot of people on the team.
DEE: Yeah, I don’t have a ton of time to read stuff outside of the AniFem pieces that come past me. But… it’s kind of the same—some of the same folks that Caitlin was talking about. I really enjoy the This Week in Animes. I know that’s not exactly academic because it’s [a] very relaxed conversation, but they tend to bring up good points, and I like the writers on that.
I’m really fond of—I might butcher this—Atelier Emily—
PETER: Oh yeah.
DEE:—AJ Rand on… or @AJtheFourth on Twitter. She does the for me, in full bloom blog, and she did a really good series on Revue Starlight recently.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Oh, those were good!
DEE: [crosstalk] Her stuff tends to be, just like… really well done, and I don’t think she’s ever actually written for us, and I’d love to get her sometime. So, if she’s listening… !
AMELIA: She actually does a few series, doesn’t she? She did a series on—I can’t remember what show it was. But she did like four posts on the language on flowers; four posts on the language of art use. I think her background must be in some kind of art analysis. [crosstalk] So, it’s kind of visual art.
PETER: [crosstalk] I think that’s just a pet interest of hers.
AMELIA: Oh really? [crosstalk] She’s so good at it!
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah, I literally know I’m gonna see an article by her if there’s flowers even in the opening or ending. She did one for Darling in the Franxx as well.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Yeah, yeah, that’s it.
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah, she’s actually an eSports writer.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] She’s done this a few times, yeah?
DEE: Really? I had no idea!
PETER: She covers League of Legends, Overwatch, a couple other sports. She used to write for Crunchyroll, but now she’s like, a big shot in eSports, so… I honestly don’t even know where she finds time to write about anime anymore, but I guess she sees a good anime and sometimes has to—that’s what the blog’s for.
VRAI: Seems like she always finds one per season.
PETER: [crosstalk] She did a good series on Orange as well, when Orange was coming out where she would write a weekly article about the episode, and then write a letter to her past self at the end.
AMELIA: Her blog is well worth reading. I’ve always enjoyed it when I visited.
VRAI: Um… Natasha shows up in… fairly often. Her articles are always interesting.
AMELIA: And she writes on Shibireru Darou.
VRAI: Yeah! We’ve had her on some podcasts, but I don’t think she’s ever actually—I don’t think she’s written a piece for us. [crosstalk] I’d love to commission stuff from her too, for sure.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Yeah, I’ve—We’ve—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] I think we—we approached her about one or two things that Crunchyroll then poached her for.
CAITLIN: Well… she’s busy. She’s got a day job, and she works and [crosstalk] writes regularly for a couple of different sites.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] She has indeed! Yeah.
VRAI: I’d love to have Jax write for us again. They did that Kare Kano piece and they were on the Michiko and Hatchin watchalong. [crosstalk] It was—it’s good, all good, extremely good!
PETER: [crosstalk] Oh yeah, that was a great podcast!
AMELIA: And also on the podcast about learning Japanese as women of color.
DEE: Oh yeah!
AMELIA: Jax is on that as well. Yeah, Jax is great. Jax works for noirCaesar, which is a company that creates manga for—starring Black people, basically. [chuckles] Which manga traditionally isn’t amazing at. So, it’s like Black-lead stories, Black characters everywhere. So, I think the work that noirCaesar is doing is incredible.
AMELIA: I think—I wanna name-check Rachel Thorn here, because Rachel’s analysis of manga is just second to none. Rachel has been in the industry for an extremely long time.
I read one of her articles that she wrote in the Shoujo Comics, uh, edition of the—no, the Shoujo Manga Edition of the Comics Journal, that’s it. Way back in like, 2002 or something. It completely shaped my view of the industry and now, I feel really fortunate to have that contact with her one-on-one and be able to ask questions.
But she’s so knowledgeable about the industry. She lectures on manga at a university in Kyoto, and her—she occasionally puts up these threads on Twitter that are just so insightful, and just… absolutely invaluable.
VRAI: Yeah, and she’s translating The Poe Clan right now, which I want so bad. [crosstalk] Give it to me!
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Yeah! Right, she’s been—
PETER: [crosstalk] She’s like, the Moto Hagio translator, so…
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Right, exactly. And, personal friends.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Yeah, she was able to contact Hagio and like… ask her to redraw a panel that was, um… that has aged poorly, which is incredible.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Right.
CAITLIN: For a lot of, even like, translators working directly in the industry, that is… huge.
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Yeah.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] She’s… she’s done so much.
PETER: Those tweet threads too! Those could easily be articles, or they were probably just come off of her lectures. Each time she’s just like, “Oh, it’s just some random thoughts, you know.”
VRAI: Yeah, I’ve tried to get her back on the podcast like, twice, and she’s always like, “Oh, I don’t know if I know enough about this.” Like—
PETER: [crosstalk] Oh my God!
DEE: [crosstalk] Yes, you do!
AMELIA: I know. And she has—she tends to try to defer to people that she feels are underrepresented in this space, which I respect so much. And… she’s absolutely fantastic and is always trying to signal boost the voices of others. She’s a huge supporter of AniFem. If we’re talking about insight and criticism and analysis you trust, like… 100% for manga, Rachel Thorn.
Other than that, I just wanna give a shout-out to the… the kind of sakuga discussions that happen. Those conversations can get a bit fractious online, but there is more information about the behind-the-scenes of animation than I’ve ever known to exist. And I really appreciate the people who are out there and writing this stuff.
So… like this stuff: it’s a really broad and growing field at this point, but I really appreciate that that information is there now. I think Sakuga Blog have done a huge amount to try and raise this profile, but also you have, like, the ANN writers have been talking more about behind-the-scenes than I remember happening ten years ago, fifteen years ago.
And you have people, you know—even those working in the industry, kind of giving what information they can. But, I mean… anime is such a black box. If you’re in the industry, you’re kind of entrusted with a lot of confidential information that you can’t share because it could put your commercial relationships at risk. So, they share what they can, and I just appreciate that information is there in whatever quantities at this point.
VRAI: Yeah, definitely—definitely Kim Morrissy’s articles are always worth reading.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Oh, absolutely!
VRAI: [crosstalk] She gives great industry info.
AMELIA: Yeah, and she’s a correspondent for ANN now, but even before that, she had some incredible analysis on her blog [crosstalk] for sure.
PETER: Yeah, it seems like most people who are writing professionally, you can always check them back to a blog that has even more interesting stuff on it, as well.
AMELIA: Well that actually leads us nicely to our next point, [crosstalk] so thank you for that, Peter.
PETER: [crosstalk] Can I—can I get my, uh… I wanna get mine in. My answer to the question, if that’s okay. If we can do that.
AMELIA: [wryly] Well, you shouldn’t have segued so well if that’s the case.
PETER: [jokingly] Oh well! [unintelligible due to crosstalk and laughter]
AMELIA: No, go ahead, go ahead, go on.
PETER: I do wanna say I’m in kind of a similar situation to Dee in that I’m doing a lot of editing on… Crunchryoll all the time, so pretty much I just read every single article that comes out on our Features team. But I did wanna, and… this is gonna sound so promote-y, but I do wanna talk about— I think VRV Blog is really great. This sounds so, like… I’m just selling my own company stuff.
It’s run by Merritt and she’s been doing a really awesome job. It’s like multi-media, but they’ve been doing a lot of anime stuff too. Like, there’s this article from Gretchen about the portrayal of suffering in Evangelion. So, I think that we’ll hopefully turn it into a pretty cool source for some more analysis-type material than [crosstalk] we usually get on Crunchyroll. It’s been pretty consistent—
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Yeah, yeah. Merritt’s been killing it, absolutely.
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah.
DEE: [crosstalk] Mm-hm!
PETER: My thoughts—I don’t have really time to look at all the stuff that’s coming up on VRV Blog, but then I end up reading half their articles because I think they kind of gave Merritt free reign, and she’s really, like… out for that kind of material.
VRAI: Yeah, VRV—that blog is great, and I don’t just say that because, uh, I… write over there.
CAITLIN: I pitched for them, and she told me that pitches are closed until the new year, and I’m just like: “Aagh! I want to submit for that.”
AMELIA: And that’s an endorsement in itself, right? Because anyone on this team—you guys wouldn’t want to pitch somewhere that you didn’t feel was kind of in-line with your values and so on, so… I see that as a pretty strong endorsement whenever I see any of you pitching to an outlet.
PETER: Yeah, for sure. And if it makes you two feel better, I pitched for the blog, and it was also denied by Merritt, so…
DEE: [teasingly] Well, the quality is really good!
AMELIA: [crosstalk] No special favors!
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Again, when it opens back up.
PETER: Even I…
AMELIA: Even you.
So I’m gonna go back to your wonderful segue now, which is… no longer quite as good. [laughs] Which was to Doctor_Whodunit on Twitter, who is Assad, a contributor of ours: “The contributors and the AniFem staff write such brilliant and insightful pieces, so I was wondering if you, as writers and editors, think an MA or MFA in Creative Writing is worth the time and money to pursue a career in anime writing, or any kind of non-fiction writing career?”
So… before anything, I just wanna promote an episode that we did on Chatty AF on pretty much this subject where we talked about freelancing in anime. I think in that episode, we basically stressed that anyone can become a freelance writer. It is not something that there are qualification barriers, so anything like that. Editors want pitches, so as long as you can pitch something kind of strong, and you can do the work reliably, then you can become a writer.
Now, as to whether or not an MA or an MFA is of value in getting you to a point where you feel like you can put together strong material: does anyone else have strong opinions on this?
DEE: Well, oka—
AMELIA: I say, knowing that you do.
DEE: I have a question: am I the—correct me if this assumption is wrong. Am I the only person on the team with an MA or an MFA?
AMELIA: Or at least on this call. I guess I shouldn’t speak for the entire team.
VRAI: Uh… Yeah, I’ve only got a BA.
DEE: Okay. Well, I feel like that answers the question because y’all are just as good of writers as I am. [laughs] So…
CAITLIN: Um, I do think Lauren has an MA in Journalism.
AMELIA: Journalism, yeah.
DEE: Yeah, which, I… [laughs] That’s… maybe slightly different.
Here’s kind of my stance on it, having gotten one. I don’t regret it; I don’t think it’s worth it. It was very, very expensive and I will be drowning in that debt, uhhhh, forever. But, if you can get in to a program that is, um… where they’ll either pay your way or most of your way, I would say “do it,” because the one thing that it really does is it encourages-slash-forces you to just eat, sleep, and breathe writing and editing for two-to-three years.
I think that that sense of structure and focus can be really helpful, and can kind of like, maybe force you out of your comfort zone into reading things you wouldn’t necessarily. Or, you know, learning about different fields of criticism that you wouldn’t necessarily track down on your own.
That having been said, with the internet and with libraries, if you do have the focus and you don’t want to be mired in debt, I think it’s perfectly possible to essentially give yourself that same sort of experience. That’s really what it comes down to: it’s just experience. It’s just, you know, learning about it and thinking about and then practice, practice, practice. Which you don’t have to do with a degree.
So, yeah: it’s not essential. Don’t bury yourself in debt folks; just don’t do it. Don’t do it!
AMELIA: And stepping back a little: I mean, we mentioned earlier the value of blogs. I think we can’t emphasize that enough in this space. Like, if you wanna become a writer in anime or in any other kind of geek space or media space, having a blog that you update regularly with quality content, that is invaluable.
Lauren will tell you, too: she’s got an MA in Journalism, but a lot of the opportunities that she’s ended up with has been a result of her blogging regularly, reporting regularly, on this space, whether she was being paid for it or not. Now, you should be paid for your work as often as you can be, but creating your own content on your own space with fully creative control and then promoting [it] is absolutely a recognized avenue to paid work.
DEE: Well, I mean, we were talking earlier about how pretty much any writer that you find on any of the official sites, like ANN or Crunchyroll, you can—a lot of them you can trace back to a blog that’s been around for years.
DEE: And that was functionally their resumes. I watched a lot of them—like, over the five-odd years I’ve been kind of in the AniTwitter fandom, I’ve watched a lot of them ease into those positions, and it’s been very exciting and fun.
PETER: Some… all of our writers used to be just former anime bloggers, or are still anime bloggers.
AMELIA: You mean Crunchyroll, when you say
PETER: On Crunchyroll, yeah, yeah. I mean now… at least half. Some of our writers literally never even wrote before Crunchyroll and like, in a blog or article format. They just wrote very intelligent things on Twitter, actually.
PETER: When asked if they would be interested in writing an article, it did very well, and they just slowly got incorporated into the team that way, too. So… kind of any medium of writing, if you do it a lot and write insightful things or entertaining things—doesn’t even need to be smart, it can be funny too—can get you in the door.
PETER: Well, I mean, there’s like, entertainment writi— I mean, I don’t wanna diss Cracked or anything; some of our writers are from Cracked and they didn’t necessarily—they’re not writing analysis, at least not all the time. I mean, there is a bit of analysis in humor as well, but they’re focusing on making people laugh or pointing out funny things, right? And it’s really entertaining to read.
CAITLIN: I do wanna speak a little bit about, like… not necessarily getting an MA, but the value of education. The way I think of it is, there are sort of three different dimensions to it.
Like, there’s writing as a craft. There’s the knowledge base and the… But, writing as a craft, I never really formally studied. I took one writing course in college, and I took AP classes in high school. But other than that… it is not something that I studied. It’s just something of a skill that I developed. Knowledge base, um…
AMELIA: Analytical skills.
CAITLIN: Yeah, analytical skills, thank you! Like, analytical skills—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] And the craft of writing.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] —that’s sort of hand in hand. That sense that I developed just through doing it and checking books out of the library. Knowledge base: some of it does come from college. I took a couple of cultural studies courses, and I think that’s the hardest to create… to acquire just off the cuff because it’s hard to know where to start when you’re looking at critical theory and stuff.
So like, those classes—those courses definitely influence my perspectives more than the others. So I would say if anything, if you’re going to write about cultural commentary, I would say look at doing, like, a media studies degree.
AMELIA: Academic writing is very specific to academia, and I’ve actually found that I had a time, like, working in marketing where I was very focused on copywriting. Learning commercial writing has been far more useful to me as a freelancer than anything I did in the post-grad courses I dropped out of without getting any kind of qualification from them.
So, yeah, you can learn so much on your own without needing to… kind of feel like you have to reach the bar academia sets, I think.
VRAI: It is nice to have a curated experience by people who are experts. And like—
DEE: [crosstalk] Yes!
VRAI: [crosstalk] —my current skill set is from so many different sources. It was invaluable to me to have a traditional English education where I had those theory courses, with like, feminist theory, Marxist theory; reading those foundational texts. But also, I studied a little bit of journalism and I have a theatre degree.
I’ve done a lot of personal study into film studies and that kind of language. All of that has kind of come together, and been honed through having a blog for almost five years, where just some of those early pieces are just so embarrassing.
DEE: No, I know what you mean. I think a lot of the Japanese literature and culture courses I took in undergrad have served me more in this particular field than the stuff I did in my master’s. I think that sort of broad study that you get for a bachelor’s can be super useful if you’re going into media studies because, again, you do get that range of opinions and thoughts and like, how to media criticism and… yeah. So, I do agree with that.
AMELIA: And I just wanna kind of round up by saying that we do actually invite pitches from anyone. Whether you’ve written before, whether you have experience in this area, whether you’re only background is academic, whether you don’t have an academic background [crosstalk] we accept pitches from—
VRAI: [crosstalk] Although, please don’t write it like an academic paper. Please.
DEE: [crosstalk] Yeah!
VRAI: [crosstalk] We’ll have to break you of it.
AMELIA: This is something we encounter, is we have writers who have only ever written academically, and it takes a little bit of time for them to shift to a more informal approach. Ultimately, we are looking to offer analysis, but in an accessible way. [crosstalk] So being accessible in our language is important to us as being accessible in any other way.
DEE: [crosstalk; whispering] So important. Mm-hm!
AMELIA: So, if you feel like you’d like to write in that way, then you know, get in touch. [crosstalk] We’d love to hear from you.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] And even if you’re not a good writer and you feel like you’re not good enough to write for us, [laughing] listen: most people are bad writers. It’s okay.
AMELIA: This includes us. This includes us. Like we, I mean—first drafts: very few people get a good first draft. So, the kind of skill that you hone is the skill of editing yourself. And we’re happy to help edit you in that early stage so that you learn what to look for and you learn how to refine your own writing.
We’ve had a few writers where that’s been particularly successful and now, [when] they submit us a draft, it’s so much closer to the version we end up putting up than when we first started working with them.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] It’s true! It’s really awesome to see that, too. It’s always really satisfying when someone I’ve worked with a lot has really grown as a writer.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Right, right. Very rewarding.
PETER: [crosstalk] That’s probably the biggest industry secret is that all writers are actually bad at writing.
PETER: Every single one. There’s not a single good writer in this entire world.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Yeah, the greatest—
PETER: [crosstalk] Everyone needs an editor. Editors need editors.
PETER: Nate and I are both editors, and we send our articles to each other to edit them and both of us are really bad at writing despite being good editors.
PETER: It’s pretty unusual. Like, they’ll point out stuff that I’ve pointed out about their articles but didn’t see in my own articles.
You really need somebody else to look at your work, and help you kind of… crystalize your ideas, I guess, and get rid of a lot of stuff that maybe kind of sounded like it was important, but is unnecessary to the points you were trying to make. If you think your writing’s bad, that just means that you’re like everyone else on this planet.
CAITLIN: Mm-hm, yeah.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Honestly, the best skill you can learn is reading a site that you’re going—that you want to work for, and molding your article to be what their style is so you have minimal edits coming back, because then [crosstalk] they will want to work with you again.
PETER: Oh my God, please!
PETER: Also, don’t make your pitches sound like they’re gonna be… like they’re homework that you were assigned in the eighth grade.
AMELIA: Okay, we’re moving on now to some more quick-fire questions. We’ll get through as many of these as we can. So… first of all, we’re looking at 2018 now: “In your opinion, [crosstalk] what was the most underrated anime of the year?” asks Dennis_wglasses.
DEE: [crosstalk; immediately] ClassicaLoid!
AMELIA: Whoa! Okay!
DEE: ClassicaLoid! Next!
CAITLIN: Are we talking about critically underrated, or underwatched?
AMELIA: I think you’re over complicating this. [laughs] What’s your first response to “what’s the most underrated anime [crosstalk] of the year.”
DEE: [emphatically] ClassicaLoid, next!
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Not enough people watched Planet With. [laughs] Everyone needs to watch Planet With. It’s so good!
DEE: It was… It was pretty highly rated, as far as the folks that did watch it, but it… yeah it was—not a lot of people watched it.
VRAI: Uuuuuuuuhhhh… I don’t know? I’ve had to drop so many seasons this year.
AMELIA: That’s fine. Maybe you can take some recommendations. ClassicaLoid and Planet With, apparently.
VRAI: I just… Place Further is clearly not underrated.
PETER: Ah, no.
VRAI: It got on a list. Well, you know—you’re right. Not everybody watched it; everybody should watch it. But it did get on—it broke into the “normal” sphere, if you will.
PETER: It was, oh my God… New York Times? Yeah. [pause]
PETER: I think it was—yeah. It was like Planet With: very critically rated. I think it was watched more than Planet With, but it was definitely not watched as much as it should have been. Yeah, agree.
AMELIA: So is that your answer?
VRAI: I wanted it to be Double Decker! I wanted it to be Double Decker so bad, but it’s not! It’s not, and I still am in a state of woe about it!
PETER: [unintelligible beneath crosstalk]
CAITLIN: You’re grieving for what Planet—for what Double Decker should have been. Me too. Me too, Vrai.
VRAI: [sobbing dramatically]
AMELIA: Peter, what was your answer? Most underrated anime of the year?
PETER: I actually wrote an article that had six of these [laughs] but if I had to choose one… [slyly] It’s on Crunchyroll.com. Um, I think…
AMELIA: Slight feature.
PETER: If I’m just talking about how good it was versus what people said about it, if anything, I would have to say like, the biggest discrepancy is Caligula, because I thought that anime had some cool stuff in it. It was written by the guy who did the first three Persona games—basically invented Persona. [crosstalk] And that’s like his new—
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] But Persona 3 wasn’t very goood.
PETER: The first three. All first three of the—
VRAI: So one, and [crosstalk] the two part twos.
PETER: So—and it’s like his new Persona-esque project. I thought it was—I won’t say it’s really good, but it had a lot of interesting ideas in it and literally nobody watched this show. I could not find one person to talk about it with. It was very sad. So, like—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Aww.
PETER:—just raw amount of quality versus, like, interest… I think Caligula cannot be beat.
AMELIA: So… if you’re listening to this and you did watch Caligula and you also want someone to talk to you about it, Peter would like to talk to you.
PETER: [crosstalk] Please talk to me.
DEE: [crosstalk] He’s lovely!
AMELIA: On Twitter, please talk to him. He needs this so much.
PETER: I wanna hear your thoughts on… Vocaloid-run alternate realities.
AMELIA: That’s a bonus question, right?
Okay, @sephyxer asks: “What are some adult characters you liked, especially—but not limited to—those from anime with a main cast made mostly out of teens?”
CAITLIN: [crosstalk;interrupting] Kotetsuuuu!!! Kotetsu Kaburagi from—
DEE: [crosstalk] From Tiger and Bunny.
CAITLIN: Tiger and Bunny is—
AMELIA: From Double Decker, right?
VRAI: [crosstalk] Does Kotetsu count? Because that entire series is made to be, like, a comforting fantasy for that specific older audience, where he is the dad to everybody.
AMELIA: I think it can since it’s just adult characters that you liked in 2018.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Oh, is it—
DEE: [crosstalk] Oh, well, 2018 anime?
CAITLIN: Didn’t specify 2018 anime!
AMELIA: It’s—I’m, I’m specifying, because it’s, “What are some you liked?”
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] That’s a much harder question.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] I’m taking to mean this year.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] What are some… if I watched—
PETER: [crosstalk] It plays it too—No, it’s too much if it’s my entire career watching anime. I would prefer it be like, 2018 please.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Let’s narrow it down.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Okay. Well, now I have to pull up a list of 2018 anime.
DEE: Um, I liked—
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Oh God.
DEE: —I liked the, uh… I don’t remember names, but the adult women in A Place Further Than The Universe were really good.
VRAI: [enthusiastically] Yeeeees!
AMELIA: Yeah, that was mine also.
DEE: [crosstalk] And then the drunk teacher in Laid Back Camp is also excellent.
PETER: Also, the older sister—[crosstalk] mmm, I mean, she’s going to college right?
DEE: [crosstalk] She’s all right.
PETER: You didn’t like the older sister? Man…
DEE: She—No, I like her, but her first scene is like… kinda mean and it sort of set a bad taste in my mouth. The rest of the time she’s great! But…
PETER: Mmm, okay.
VRAI: I don’t have a current answer, but we’ve been rewatching Azumanga Daioh, and I’ve just been soaking in how very good Miss Yukari is.
AMELIA: Miss Yukari… yeah, she’s a favorite.
DEE: The teacher in Bloom Into You is also really good.
CAITLIN: I really like the characters in Dragon Pilot. There we go. Now I have a 2018 series.
AMELIA: And very, very willingly given, I can see.
CAITLIN: No, it’s good!
VRAI: Kirill was also good, even if Double Decker turned out to be a trash fire. But he’s really good, you guys! [faux sobbing] He’s good and I love him!
AMELIA: So moving out of just 2018: “What is that one show you were never supposed to like?” asks @GreyLurker. “Though not a Problematic Favorite: something that just came out of nowhere and hooked you when it really shouldn’t have. The ‘oh I would never really watch a show about [something]’ like football, card games, golf, whatever… but then I saw this and it blew me away!”
[crosstalk] So which show is that?
VRAI: [crosstalk] Uhhh, it’s absolutely ZOMBIE LAND SAGA.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Yeah, ZOMBIE LAND SAGA.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Ooooh?
PETER: [crosstalk] Oh, that’s good, yeah.
CAITLIN: In a similar vein to ZOMBIE LAND SAGA, School Live.
CAITLIN: I don’t do moe generally, and I don’t do zombies generally, but School Live… really worked for me.
DEE: The negative times the negative equaled a positive! I had the same reaction to it, yeah.
PETER: Yeah, I didn’t think I had an answer, but I think it’s ZOMBIE LAND SAGA actually because I… If there’s one genre I—there’s like no genres I don’t watch except idol anime. I just can’t connect with it. I think this got me to watch idol anime. I didn’t think I had an answer. Thank you, Vrai.
VRAI: Oh that’s right, you didn’t watch Revue Starlight, which is totally an idol anime.
PETER: [crosstalk] Is that the Takarazuka—
DEE: [crosstalk] I mean, it’s a theatre anime. It’s Takarazuka!
VRAI: Well that’s true, but like structurally, it has a lot of it.
DEE: [crosstalk; skeptical] Ehhh. I guess.
PETER: [crosstalk] I can also say it’s marketed like an idol anime. If you go to Akihabara, they’re selling the mobile game and they’re, like, showing all the different gachas for the girls and stuff like that. It’s definitely—everything about it is idol except [crosstalk] the performances or theatre.
DEE: [crosstalk] Except the actual show.
DEE: Um… I think definitely—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] My uh—-Oh yeah, go ahead!
DEE: —School Live. I agree with Caitlin on that one. And the other one: Chihayafuru. It’s a hard one—I have a hard time pitching it to people because I’m like,“It’s about a traditional Japanese card game… ?”
DEE: But it—I kind of picked it up on a whim back when I first started streaming anime. And I was like, “Oh! OH! This is wonderful!” I’m very excited for season three. So this was also a good excuse for me to plug Chihayafuru, and tell people to catch up in time for season three this Spring.
AMELIA: Yep, please do, because it’s amazing. I completely second that. My answer is actually Pop Team Epic [laughs] because I know, like—you all were like, “Amelia, you’re gonna hate this one. You’re absolutely gonna hate this one. We won’t even ask you if you want to join in the discussion on that.” [crosstalk] And, like—
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Well, you don’t like weird anime! And what is Pop Team Epic?!
AMELIA: [crosstalk] I don’t like wei—I don’t like weird anime?!
PETER: [crosstalk] The literal weirdest animation.
DEE: [crosstalk] Pure undistilled reality surreality. Yeah
AMELIA: [crosstalk] I don’t like—I don’t like anime that doesn’t have a linear story to it. I don’t like anime that kinda… has non sequitors thrown in. I don’t like that. But I loved Pop Team Epic, and I have no idea why. I still don’t know why; it’s just a mystery! But it completely—I watched it every week. It was kind of my palette cleanser compared to other anime that was going on at the time. Yeah; loved it. No idea why.
Okay, we have to start wrapping this up, so one more question from the… from the kind of quick-fire part. “If you could give any one manga a quality adaptation, which would you choose?” And Lauren, who is @Wonderweeb91, has asked this.
CAITLIN: Red River. [crosstalk] Red River.
AMELIA: Okay. [crosstalk] What’s that?
DEE: It’s a shoujo. [crosstalk] Go ahead Caitlin.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] It’s a ‘90s shoujo isekai manga about a teenage girl who is pulled into a… the Anatolian Empire around the time that they’re warring with Ancient Egypt. Like, the time of Rameses II. She is pulled there to be a human sacrifice by the witch queen. But then she ends up falling in love with the prince—with the crown prince. It is a Problematic Fav, but I think a modern anime treatment of it would be so cool!
VRAI: Uuuh, Pet Shop of Horrors. I’ve gushed about that series over on our Manga Variety Hour, the Monster Mash one, and I love it so fucking much. But it’s beautiful and gothic and real gay and it—a modern anime budget from like MAPPA could make it look sooo pretty. It would be beautiful.
And for a second I wanted to say Eroica, but then I remembered the Banana Fish anime and realized… perhaps that should just stay a manga.
AMELIA: Anyone else?
PETER: That’s a hard question. [crosstalk] I guess I would say—
AMELIA: [crosstalk] You read a ton of manga that doesn’t have adaptations.
PETER: I do! Right now, if I—like, we’re saying quality, so it’s gotta be good.
AMELIA: A quality animation.
PETER: Then I’m probably going to have to go with what is my current obsession: Innocent and Innocent Rogue. Um… because that deserves an anime adaptation, but the art quality is so fantastic that if it doesn’t have a huge budget, it’s going to look very bad compared to the manga.
It’s a really, like, dark, almost Berserk–esque: beautifully drawn, kind of a picture of the Sanson family, the executioners of France before, during, and after the French Revolution.
DEE: That’s cool!
AMELIA: Nice. Dee?
DEE: Yeah, I’m gonna go with the answer I’m constantly giving to this on The Tweeter when this question comes up: Pandora Hearts! My fantasy trash baby. It got a twenty-six episode adaptation, what, like… God, maybe ten years ago at this point? We’re probably getting close to ten years.
It was unfinished. The ending is a big hot mess, and it’s on a shoestring budget. I would love to see BONES get a hold of it and just go to town [laughing] on that Jun Mochizuki art and all those messy feelings. It’s, yeah… it’s one of my—like Caitlin’s is, kind of a Problematic Fav, but I think given the right creative team, it could be a really, really engaging fantasy epic series for folks. So, that’s mine.
CAITLIN: All right. And I have one more. [laughs] One more: The Demon Prince of Momochi House. Pretty shoujo. Pretty shoujo fantasy.
PETER: Isn’t that two though? That’s cheating!
AMELIA: That’s… [pause] oh, now everyone’s gonna want two. [crosstalk] Okay, let me cut this off!
DEE: [crosstalk] The question did say any one manga, so Caitlin, you have to choose between the two of them.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Oh, if it’s between the two, then Red River.
PETER: [crosstalk] Okay.
DEE: [crosstalk] Okay, well there you go. We’ll send that wish to the Anime Fairy. Anime Santa, with the holidays coming up.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] I think Natasha has magic powers, so we’ll just send these to Natasha. [laughter]
AMELIA: Oh yeah, let’s just make it happen! [crosstalk] Um, my—
DEE: [crosstalk] She will somehow doom it along the way, but it will happen!
PETER: [crosstalk] All of your worst ships will be realized, but they will be made. [laughter]
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Right. I think my answer is 20th Century Boys.
PETER: [crosstalk] Oh yeah.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Which would be such a hard one to adapt. But there are some live action films that don’t really… kinda capture what makes 20th Century Boys incredible. It’s Urasawa Naoki, who’s a highly respected mangaka. His adaptation Monster, the anime for that was quite popular.
20th Century Boys is a really complicated story. It starts with threads of storylines in about three to five different timelines and then it slowly weaves them all together. And it’s absolutely fantastic as a manga, but I can’t really recommend the live action films. Everytime it comes up, I’m like,“Watch them after you’ve read the manga!”
But the manga’s like… thirty volumes or something? That’s a—it’s a bit of an ask. It’s a bit too much of an investment to ask of people, but it’s such a great story. I’d love to be able to share it with more people and give them that experience of not knowing where it’s going that I had when I read the manga volume by volume as it was coming out.
So, yeah. Big, big fan of that. I’d love to see a quality adaptation that really does the story justice, which kind of includes clearing up some of the issues I had with the last quarter of the manga series itself. I think that’s part of the job of a good adaptation is to clear up the things that were sort of an issue, first time around.
PETER: That would have been a perfect Satoshi Kon project, I think, actually.
AMELIA: [sigh] Yeah, yeah. But it needs to be kind of long, unfortunately…
AMELIA: Okay! Final question is from @blusocket: “I’d love to hear about the process of or plans for producing ethically sourced merch. What does that look like? What were or are some challenges or surprises?”
So… I’m gonna take this one because you guys haven’t been involved in these discussions yet, very much. But basically, for crowdfunding—we are still crowdfunding by the way, animefeminist.com/crowdfunding, and it will end on December 29. So if you’d like to support us, please head over there and see what perks we’re offering.
For our crowdfunding, we have put together our very first line of merchandise. This is like T-shirts, tote bags, stickers, things like that. And, some of the surprises for me were actually how affordable and easy it is to produce products. Now I understand why everyone makes merch, because it’s really simple.
In terms of making sure it’s ethical, there are companies that just produce merchandise; that’s what they do. So they have the blank shirt or bag or whatever. So as long as you can verify that what they’re giving you wasn’t made in a sweatshop—which they proudly proclaim, so hopefully, that’s accurate—you’re pretty much good to go.
So as long as you treat your artist well, which we did. We approached a member of our community and just said, “How much would you quote for this amount of work?” She gave us a number, and I said, “Great, that’ll do.” and paid her that. So it’s very, very simple. That’s kind of the end of it for merchandise.
However… from this point, I actually want to open a shop on the site and make it a much bigger project where it’s not just merchandise, it’s actually products. So rather than having something with just the Anime Feminist logo on it, it’s something that an anime fan would buy, whether it’s made by Anime Feminist or not.
So at the moment, we’ve got our community saying, “We want to display the fact that we support you and that we’re a member of this community so we can recognize each other at cons!” That is absolutely something I’m really happy to support and enable. But I wanna make something that’s bigger than that.
There’s a lot of challenges ahead there. I’d really like to make products that are more accessible. I’d really like to make products that are not as easy to find on other anime shops at the moment. I’d like to find a way to use a shop as a platform to support independent creators, which is what we’ve done with AniFem to date, so that’s nothing new. But it’s supporting artists and makers instead of just writers, but also supporting writers.
So I’ve got some more detailed ideas on this, but I mean, the biggest challenge is just that I’ve never done this before. We’re just figuring it out as we go. The important thing is just to make sure we stick to our values and make sure it’s in line with everything we’ve done as content creators and as hosts and curators of content on our platform.
If we can create some kind of… kind of commercial space, like a shop that serves the same purpose for the same audience in a way that is just as praised and highly rated as our content platform currently is, I think we will have succeeded.
So I’m just kind of going on instinct at the moment and hoping [that] over time, I figure out exactly what that looks like. Our community is going to see this unravel every step of the way.
Unravel?! Oh God!
DEE: Wrong word.
AMELIA: Not unravel! No! What are words?!
Our community’s gonna see me reveal this as we go because we’re pretty transparent and we will keep you updated on what’s happening. So, in… kind of February or March 2019, that’s when we’ll be looking to launch the shop, assuming we meet our $25,000 goal, which we’re about… $2,300 away from at the moment.
So: animefeminist.com/crowdfunding. Please go there and throw us some money so that you can buy AniFem merch that is not AniFem merch, and support accessibility, independent creators, fair pay: all that stuff that we’ve been supporting all along.
[sighs] Do any of you guys have questions on this, by the way? We’ve got a couple minutes.
CAITLIN: Um… no? I feel like we’ve talked a lot about it, internally.
AMELIA: Makes sense. I’ve tried to loop you all in with what I’m doing, but it moves so fast. The crowdfunding has moved so fast. It’s been—that’s been another challenge, is just figuring out how to get stuff done myself, but also make sure I’m communicating properly. It’s been a learning experience, I think it’s fair to say.
PETER: Do you know… what type of… I guess I’ve got two questions. What type of merch you might want to move into, or how a partnering system with artists might work? How—if you’d want them to reach out to us, or if there’s some way you’d wanna find artists to collaborate with for any kind of graphic stuff in the future.
AMELIA: Oh yeah, both! I would love to have the option, exactly as we do with content right now. If we see someone’s work we like, we approach them and say, “Hey, do you wanna pitch? We’d love to host your work on the site.” But also I wanna set up a system where people can submit their work to us and say, “I’d like to be part of the AniFem shop. Please consider my products for sale through your platform.”
Then it would be a case of we would take a cut for each sale in return for exposing their work to a larger audience, and what the audience gets is a more centralized place where they can find anime and manga products of a specific kind of aesthetics. This isn’t just DVDs and manga. You can find them anywhere, and there certainly won’t be figures and such.
So, it’s gonna be more… it’s hard to explain at the moment because I am still working on the branding for this, but it’s gonna be something that’s a bit more for people who want to communicate the fact that they are anime and manga fans, but in a way that’s subtle enough that it could fit into “normie” life without being obvious.
VRAI: Stealth merch [crosstalk] as we lovingly call it.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] Stealth merch!
CAITLIN: [unintelligible beneath crosstalk] to the 31-year-old.
AMELIA: [crosstalk] That’s such a good way to put it!
VRAI: Yep! [laughter]
AMELIA: Yeah, exactly! Me too, completely!
CAITLIN: I think we have an older readership, so I think stuff that does not just scream, “This is the property that I am a fan of!” is sort of more our speed. I know it is definitely for the people writing it, because I think we have—Vrai might be our only writer under thirty.
VRAI: Yeah… [surprised] Um, really?
DEE: [crosstalk] Like, staff!
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Yeah, our only staff.
DEE: [crosstalk] Not writer overall!
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Our only staff writer under thirty! So—
PETER: I think we’ve had contributors under twenty, so…
CAITLIN: Yeah, yeah.
AMELIA: Exactly. That kind of aesthetic is hard to find in a lot of anime shops. You can find it from a ton of independent artists, but finding them is another challenge, so if we can create a space where the artists can come to us, and we can invite suitable artists to join us there—and obviously, it means we can signal boost the work of marginalized and underrepresented creators—that would be, just, my dream.
That’s kind of what I’m aiming for here. And obviously making sure people get paid fairly. Like, this model of taking a cut from sales in exchange for giving you a space on the platform is really common, but usually the cut is very deep. The artists sacrifice a lot to be in places that are quite prestigious, and I don’t want it to work that way. I want them to get the vast majority of what they would get if they sold it on their own site, basically.
VRAI: I imagine that we’ll have to grapple with copyright law as well. Things that Etsy and RedBubble don’t worry about.
AMELIA: We will absolutely be keeping that in mind, but I have—like, it’s basically something I’ve already been getting information on from trusted sources. I’ve been kind of making sure we’re in the clear.
I’m not gonna do anything that would negatively impact creators in Japan. I’m not gonna do anything that will bring licenses breathing down our necks or anything. I’ll make sure to protect the Anime Feminist community from legal action affecting us or anything like that. We’ll be okay.
AMELIA: On that bright note…
VRAI: We’re not gonna get arrested! Yay!
DEE: [crosstalk] We’re not gonna get sued!
AMELIA: We’re not—we’re not gonna get sued for copyright, but you know… there’s plenty of other opportunities.
Um, on that bright note: we are now, I think, just about to enter the holiday season, so Happy Holidays to everybody. Just a little bit of housekeeping to wrap up.
You can find more of our work on www.animefeminist.com. You can find us on Twitter at @animefeminist. You can find us on Facebook: facebook.com/animefem. We’ve got a Tumblr: animefeminist.tumblr.com. And we do of course have a Patreon, which is patreon.com/animefeminist where every dollar you send us really helps us continue our work.
Right now the big thing we’re promoting is our crowdfunding campaign which will end by December 29. So, animefeminist.com/crowdfunding: that will take you to our IndieGoGo page. Please send us any money you can to get us to our goals before December 29 when this will shutdown: we will not continue it and it’s our last chance to really get to where we need to be at the start of 2019. So, animefeminist.com/crowdfunding.
Thank you very much for your support. I hope everyone has a great end of the year.
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