Assorted Explorations is my honorable opponent!

So I guess it’s time for the anime blog tournament thing? I haven’t been paying much attention, partly due to my schedule and partly because I have mixed feelings about these things. If I may evoke an immortal excuse: it’s not them, it’s me. I’ve never done much in the way of publicity. I’m fascinated when people wind their ways here through unexpected channels. And I really haven’t had time to keep up with the blags, so, for the sake of fairness, I haven’t been voting.

But it’s good to meet new people, right? So I didn’t object when informed that my blog would be thrown into a cage with other blogs and invited to eat their souls or whatever it is blogs do to one another. The whole thing makes me a little uncomfortable, but I agreed to it, I’m complicit. Which I suppose means I should be friendly and write a post about it.

Let’s go about it this way. Prior to about a week ago, I’d never heard of Assorted Explorations. The author has more Twitter followers than me, so maybe you have heard of it. But I figure it’s not enough to have heard of it. This is my monstrous zombie pet blog’s erstwhile rival. Let’s familiarize ourselves with those bits of it that I consider to be pretty good.

Quite a big header. But I like it.

For a general overview, you may want to start here — this is the aniblogging credo in play. Actually, it’s a credo that hasn’t been in play for long; author Jay has blogged anime in earnest only since winter. His being pitted against a blog that came about in summer 2008 is evidence of the randomness of the matchups, I suppose, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that his newness is a handicap. Plenty of bloggers with hefty readerships started after I did — it’s a matter of breadth of appeal, something I only became interested in well beyond my start date.

Newness can be used to one’s advantage. You’ve got a truckload of blogs to consider when designing and focusing your own. You can keep what worked for other people and toss out what didn’t. If I had to identify a singular problem with Assorted Explorations, I’d say that it hasn’t finished doing this yet, or reads as such. And this is fine; Jay should take as much time as he needs to refine his voice.

With that said, we can certainly begin to discern a shape. Here’s a quote from the page linked above:

This is *probably* the only anime blog in the Aniblog Tourney that is powered by @tumblr.

This is exciting to me. I realize it defeats the explicit purpose, but I want to see more people use tumblr as a long(er)-form platform, or at least push the perceived boundaries of the tumblelog. The simplicity of the platform might offer certain advantages over others. It’s easier to customize — demands payment for CSS access — and it comes with its own social ecosystem.

And another thing:

Jay is confirmed for bad taste.

This is a good foundation, barring an assertion that “taste” shouldn’t be ranked at all. Maybe the former is a better foundation in that it’s less activist, and therefore less potentially offputting. It’s a simple acknowledgement that Jay writes about what he writes about, whatever the greater weebiverse thinks of it, and he feels no particular need to insist that the things he likes are better than the things you like.

This makes him useful. His best posts (that is, my personal favorites) don’t appeal to the desire to see products and their fans torn down, nor do they fit neatly into anyone’s confirmation bias. They aggregate in an almost lelangirian way. They point to amusing, insightful, complementary, contrary, and/or tangential opinions, and they allow you to choose among them as you see fit, in a suggested but not mandatory sequence. They resemble meeting minutes more than essays, only the meetings are fabricated, are in fact the “art” of the posts.

Which brings us to the important part –

Before you vote on Sunday, read “Watchlist: Symphogear #3. Tsubasa is still in…” and “Tweets of the Day: Against Symphogear (as per Episode 2).”

Full disclosure: I know approximately fuckall about Symphogear. I never even read a season preview for it. And the posts linked above aren’t examples of pushing tumblr boundaries; that’s something I’d like to see in general, an unrealized potential that may prove to be a product of my imagination, rather than something Jay actually does (or even needs to do).

But, when I’m not in the mood for extended analyses, this is almost exactly what I want out of episodic blogging.

I mentioned the lelangirian metawankery already. They also remind me of how Cuchlann approached the task of blogging shows reaction-by-reaction, episode-by-episode. The first post begins as a simple list of observations, then blooms out in many hypertextual directions — it even ends with links specifically for people who aren’t satisfied yet. The second is more of an addendum, but it demonstrates Jay’s willingness to track down opinions of all kinds for fun and profit and science.

You begin to realize that soapboxing isn’t what Jay’s about. He doesn’t really summarize, he doesn’t praise or complain with great voracity. Instead, he mentions things and invites you to think about them.

let’s take a look at the Nethustan armor

let’s look at the story rather then the art styles and the thingamajigs out there

Then he offers you examples of other people’s pursuits of these lines of inquiry. I called the posts meeting minutes, but maybe they’re more like transcripts of recordings of seminars.

They aren’t perfect. Being new and comparatively young has its disadvantages. But if Jay continues to work at prompting consideration and tying threads together, he could end up with a vast archive of diverse fan activity punctuated by personal insights. An exciting prospect.

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  1. Wow. This is the best ABT post I’ve read so far, writing about one’s opponent. What better endorsement than one’s destined rival? Good luck to you guys!

    • What’s better than a circlejerk? Mutual masturbation!

      In all seriousness, this tournament should encourage feedback and cooperation, and when it comes to criticism/advice, I tend to just point out promising areas for people to focus on.

    • Thank you, bro. You make my soul cry manly tears. *sob* I’ll vote for you!

  2. animekritik

     /  21 April 2012

    Good luck to everyone. I’d be shaking in my boots if the Ghost was next.

    • It’s a guaranteed “loss,” but, really, a vote for WRL is a vote for two of my posts and several by other people who have written here. Everybody wins!

    • Either way, Ghostlightning will win.

  3. It’s funny that, as someone who isn’t included in the tourney, I would do the very same thing Pontifus did if I was participating, partly because I don’t really find most of the material from it amusing to the eye. What better way to participate than to create an equal ground between two competing blogs and hope that both of them will fare well afterward?

    • Thinking about it, anime rivalries are never trivial (possibly a consequence of the medium’s tendency to make a big deal out of everything). You either despise your rival with every fiber of your being, or they’re also your friend and they drive you to do better. I much prefer the latter, and I figured that, these being anime blogs, I should do it anime-style.

  4. Campaigning for your opponent is a great way to “put” yourself on the polls! You, sir gained a follower in me. Hope to see more great posts in the future!

  5. Tzu

     /  24 April 2012

    You won my vote with those Utena posts. I may come check the site often.

  1. Aniblog Tourney Opinions « Rainbowsphere

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