Anime Blogging and Prosody: An Inappropriate Comparison

[I'd like to title this 'kaibitzin on bateszi on Episodic and Editorial' because stealing a title format from Author would make me feel cleverer than I am.]

I’m throwing a few thoughts out into the ether here, but here they are anyway. Talk is cheap, after all.

The ‘classic’ episodic blog entry offers a structure:

  1. Pictures
  2. Summary
  3. Comment

Consider the sonnet. Choosing to write a sonnet (whichever specific type you choose) means voluntarily taking on a set of rules (fourteen lines, a certain scheme of interlocking rhymes et cetera). Great poets play with these rules and produce breathtaking sonnets. The rest of us rely on these rules and produce stale sonnets where the restrictions force the sense and bore the reader.

You can probably see where I’m going here: writing within a structure is difficult. Or rather, writing well within a structure is difficult. I am of the opinion that writing a good blog entry focused on just one episode of a specific series and written within the classic structure is harder than writing a good so-called ‘editorial’ entry, and this increases my respect for those who produce genuinely entertaining and thought-provoking episode summaries.

By the same token, however, if I tried to write an episodic entry, I’d wind up falling back on the classic structure as a crutch, and producing something which contains no new information of interest to the reader, no personal insights not felt and put better by others and no pictures beyond the obvious moments which scream ‘Cap me!’ This is why I have not experimented with episodic blogging within a structure: writing poorly within rules is all too easy.

So-called ‘editorial’ content, on the other hand, has less of a structure to fall back on, but at the same time less of a structure to play with: it’s the free verse of anime blogging (for the record, I dislike free verse). However, a careful read-through an ‘editorial’ archive will reveal that he or she is using a structure which they’ve devised themselves – like Spenser inventing his own stanza for The Faerie Queene, or the way that traditional meters lurk beneath even the most free free verse. And the same seems true of bloggers who tackle individual episodes without the classic tripartite structure.

And finally, remember, children:

E[pi]S[odic] blogs can be derided as an exercise in screencaps, boring summaries, and some perfunctory opinion

while

E[ditorial] blogs can . . . be labeled as a series of poorly formulated arguments about topics that nobody cares about.

And if you’re not interested in the whimsical linking of versification to blogging, you can always stop reading.

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10 responses to “Anime Blogging and Prosody: An Inappropriate Comparison

  1. I like the comparison to a sonnet, and I think you definitely grasped the point I was trying to make. It’s not that episodic or editorial blogging is better; merely, they are both ways to talk about and analyze anime.

    Of course even within episodic blogging there are different ways to structure the summary. Jason Miao comes to mind with his up/down snippets.

  2. Why work within a structure defined by someone else? Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t really see the point (and I think it’s damaging) in mechanically restricting yourself to someone else’s (i.e. Random Curiosity’s) rules just because that’s the status quo for anime blogging. Why waste time writing an episode summary already posted by 10 other people? Come to think of it, the best episodic anime bloggers aren’t exactly sticking to this conventional formula in the first place?

    …Anyway, I’m tired, I’ve had my fill of track backs for today and my original argument is being diluted with compromises on both sides of the fence; basically, leave me be, anime community. I love you all.

  3. I like blogging. I write the way I want to write and I read similar blogs to get an idea on how to write better. I don’t know if what I write is enjoyable since I don’t get as many comments as the more prominent voice, but I just like to write my insights to what I watch. I guess my blog could be compared to Hinano’s (http://www.minaidehazukashii.com/hinano/) because she shares a similar philosophy as I do about blogging.

    Personally, I hate the episodic blogs and editorial blogs. Seriously, who cares what the definition of loli is or what it means to be moe. I don’t want to read crappy editorials like that, but that seems to be all most of the people in the blogging community like to write about. Along with the declining sales of anime in the US and Japan and how the anime blogging community suck and their tips/insights on how to improve it.

  4. definition of loli is or what it means to be moe
    Gee, who writes that stuff? ;)

    If you take episodic and editorial blogs away though, what do you have? Unless you count ‘episode impressions’, which is what you seem to do, as different from ‘episode summaries’.

    Unsuprisingly, both episode and editorial posts have their pros in cons in terms of structure and content. I think what you say about structure is right, considering half my posts end in “well, they’re both bad, and they’re both good,” or some ambivalent thing.

    So, should we just sum this up as “writing a good blog entry is hard” or some other “no such thing as a free ride” adage? Or am I boiling this discussion down too simple?

  5. @ kaibitzin: Miao was, in fact, the first person who came to my mind when I brought up the point that people tend to invent their own structures.

    @ bateszi: Why write sonnets after Shakespeare and so forth have been so successful in the form? Because there’s still something to be done with(in) structure. And probably it’s by playing with that structure that the best episodic bloggers produce their variations on it.

    @ Koji Oe: Strange as it may seem, I like blogging too. And I’m not sure that you can reject the ‘episodic/editorial’ dichotomy quite that easily. Also, I challenge you to find in my archives anything before this post which is a defintion of loli or moe, or about the declining state of anime in the US (where, I must point out, some of us don’t live) or Japan, or about how the community sucks.

    @ CCY: I think my entry boils down to something slightly more complex: that episodic blogging is either harder or lazier than editorial blogging, depending on its quality. Good episodic bloggers work hard to produce something original and entertaining within a certain structure. Bad episodic bloggers don’t put any work in and produce something staler than the stalest of stale editorials.

    By contrast, even the worst kind of editorial blogging takes some effort, but the best kind doesn’t take as much intellectual effort as a really good episodic post (though it may take longer to write).

  6. in time (or the lack thereof), I have realized how editorial blogging (case in point, an overall review post for a series) isn’t really my kind of game, not unless I get so into the series that I well-up with so many things to say, to the point of wanting to dedicate posts in an episodic basis. I find the “ride” with the series more enjoyable this way, “preaching” about the series in an episodic, more-concrete-with-examples kind of fangirling, albeit seeing things in a less broader perspective than most editorial posts do. It’s even more fun if other people join you in the ride (or if you join in the ride with someone else’s bandwagon), as you get to share insights with followers of the same series.

    to each his own, but with the time I’ve spent in blogging ["seriously"], I realized how my experience with a certain series becomes “richer” if I resort to the ES type, with emphasis on insights and impressions. It makes me feel as though I’m witnessing the events in the story with the characters (internal), and other fans at the same time (external). The experience is analogous to the progression of the series in itself, as we also develop, when misconceptions are cleared, impressions are falsified or proven, and various emotions are invoked from us.

  7. Pingback: Anime Diet » Episode Reviews vs. Editorials: Why the Divide?

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