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March 30, 2012 / Bradley

Tempered Expectations: What I Expect from Episodic Blogging, and What You Should Expect From Me

Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine premiers in a couple weeks, coming at the tail end of a new and exciting season that starts Sunday morning. I’m still ambivalent on how much I plan to about beyond the new Lupin for the Spring 2012 season, but seeing as to how promising many of the series look, I wouldn’t be surprised if I felt compelled enough to try to write about several other series. But before the season begins, I think it’s worthwhile to sit down and hash out several ideas about episodic blogging, and lay out exactly what I think episodic blogging should and shouldn’t be, so that you know what to expect from me.

Episodic blogging seems like the perfect fit for an anime blog, and while there are plenty out there, most of them aren’t very good. Most of the blogs I follow- and I would like to think I follow all the great ones- either eschew the format entirely or have tried it and decided it was a bad fit. The style would also seem like an even better fit for a professional site like ANN, Otaku USA or Crunchyroll News- you could have an easy source of reliable hits every week. But most of the professional writers in anime seem to rely on news, articles and reviews. Perhaps this perception is simply a consequence of what sites I visit, but I’ve been reading about anime on the web long enough that I’m fairly confident I know every major hub. Chris Beveridge and Co’s work at the Fandom Post is the exception to this, and bless ‘im for it- he’s been chugging along writing about new episodes as they’re released for years, and seems to be the go-to guy for that niche. But beyond that, the amount of episodic blogging is sparse, since many episodic “posts” are simply visual recaps, with a lot of screencaps and a sparse number of words. We deserve something meatier.

Because of this, my model for what good episodic blogging looks like comes from outside of the anime blog-o-sphere. The AV Club has been my go-to place to read about what I’m watching while I’m watching it for years, and it’s always a pleasure. After every episode of Archer, Treme, or whatever else I’m watching, I immediately load the appropriate post. Some of this is simply because I find other people’s opinions innately fascinating, but mostly because an ongoing conversation among fans enriches enjoyment of a series. Episodic blogging is a fantastic service for folks like me who like to spend an excessive amount of time thinking about our favorite TV shows comparing opinions and catching details we missed thanks to a careful recap of each episode’s events.

To get that effect, here’s what I think episodic blogging should do:

  • It should be timely: A new post should be up within a few hours of the latest episode, since reading a new post is most rewarding shortly after a new episode airs. This will probably be the hardest part for me to do- heck, I didn’t even do my Weekly Press this week, despite having plenty of time.
  • It should recap what happened: Some people skip this when blogging, but I think it’s essential for several reasons. Writing out a detailed recap gives the blogger a chance to organize her thoughts about what she’s seen, instead of simply writing what he thought as it came to him. This also makes for an imminently more organized and readable post. It also gives the readers a nice refresher, and helps them follow your thinking as you lay out why you think an episode was good or bad.
  • It should establish and continue an ongoing narrative of what has worked, what hasn’t and why: This is the primary reason I read episodic blogs, and I hope it becomes the reason to read my work. Simply saying in so many words that you liked or didn’t like this episode is boring- it’s more interesting to explain why, and explain how and why your opinion has changed as you watch future episodes.
  • It should rely on words, not pictures: I plan to have only one screencap per episode.

These points are all fairly mundane, and obviously not worth much if I have no success practicing them. My criticisms of other, politely unnamed bloggers will ring hollow if I can’t quite live up to what I’ve written here. So truthfully, this is as much a note to myself as it is to my (five!) readers. Bradley, you know what you want now. Go get it.

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One Comment

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  1. Hanners / Mar 30 2012 11:57 am

    Well, your check-list is pretty much everything that I try to do with my episodic ‘blog (aside from the “being any good” part), which is reassuring I suppose. :p

    That said, I run my ‘blog very much as a quick and dirty “diary”, stream of consciousness and reference point for myself (it’s incredibly handy for picking up on my opinions, nabbing images and the like when a show gets licensed and I need to write a news story about it elsewhere), so I’m amazed that other people tend to read it at all!!

    Good luck with your own efforts though, hopefully you can find a style that fits what you want to do and is actually fun to write into the bargain. 🙂

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