Standing On My Neck’s Origin Story (And Hopes For The Future)

So Standing On My Neck is on its third year now and I’ve been in the anime community for at least a year longer than that. Think it’s time I attempt to combine all of my experiences regarding anime, why I started the blog, and why I plan to continue running it for a while.

Like most anime fans, even before I realized what the medium was actually called, it was a big part of my life growing up. Thanks to the friends I hung out with along with Nintendo and Fox and stuff, I grew up watching the kiddy shows like Dragonball Z, Pokemon, Monster Rancher, Medabots, Shaman King, Yu-Gi-Oh, and so on and so forth. Digimon in particular was a big favorite of mine because of how much “darker and edgier” it was to Pokemon, and I thought that “dark equaled good” at that age. This is most likely a result of me not having Cartoon Network growing up and my parents never allowing me to watch stuff like The Simpsons, so I was mostly exposed to stuff like Animaniacs, X-Men, Looney Tunes, Recess, Pepper Ann, and several other Disney/Warner Brothers stuff. I enjoyed a few of them, but even compared to the superhero stuff I saw like Static Shock or the 2003 Ninja Turtles, they were never as “adult” as Digimon, and they definitely did not have “stories” like Shaman King or Yu-Gi-Oh. As such, I started to favor the idea of Japanese animation over Western ones, but I was still limited to what my local channels showed.

ConanBaker

Then sometime during a vacation in Alaska, I happened to watch an episode of Detective Conan, or Case Closed as it was called in America, and thought it looked cool so I researched it a bit. Whilst I didn’t know jack of how to watch anime online at the time, I got into the world of online manga through it and ended up reading large chunks of the series – mostly out of order because at the time, fan translations were inconsistent. Then when my parents brought me to Frys for its grand opening, I happened upon the anime section where I saw some Case Closed DVDs and my parents allowed me to buy one. My brother and I thought it was cool, which led to us buying some more of the series…with restrictions of course because of how expensive anime generally is, along with singles being a big thing back then. But it was a hit with my friends, and that made me happy.

It also was through those DVDs that I happened to come across a preview for Ranma 1/2 and Maison Ikkoku and thought the former looked intriguing (the latter looked too girly for me). Then when my friends introduced me to Youtube and showed me Naruto on it – a series I knew about from the Shonen Jump magazines my friends showed me – I ended up using it to watch the Detective Conan stuff I read with moving pictures, and it was kinda cool. Afterwards, another friend let me read his first volume of Ranma 1/2 and I liked it, so I thought “why don’t I’ve give that Ranma thing a try?”, searched up the episodes on Youtube, and ended up really loving it. Didn’t care for the way Akane abused the dude because the several manga I read beforehand – including Girls Bravo…brrrrrr – gave me a huge distaste for that kind of comedy, but everything else made me laugh myself silly and I had a blast marathoning the show with my brother over the span of a few months.

Although he was never really a big anime fan – even less so these days – my brother was addicted to shonen stuff, so we ended up watching stuff like Rurouni Kenshin, Prince of Tennis, and Fullmetal Alchemist together. And then my friends would show me Black Cat and Haruhi Suzumiya. He even introduced me to JRPGs with the Tales series, although I was the one who continued on being a fan of it after leaving high school. Then he introduced me to Inuyasha and once I found out it was from the same writer as Ranma, I ended up buying the series eager to watch it.

Although my female friends loved it ALOT (pretty obvious why too) and it had a kinda cool first opening song, I got bored with Inuyasha around the third season. The story wasn’t progressing, it wasn’t very funny, and it just stopped appealing to me after a while. Then I happened around Crunchyroll and discovered that “anime that didn’t go on forever” was more the rule rather than the exception, so I tried out a bunch of stuff on there. I was really into romance at the time and I really hated mecha due to some bad experiences with Transformers and what I saw of Gundam, so I couldn’t be assed to bother with this Eureka Seven that some people were talking about and instead focused on other great anime romances like…Shana, Zero no Tsukaima, Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora, Midori Days, LoveLove?, Shuffle, Negima (original and Shaft, although I dropped the latter when the subs fell behind), Maburaho, Hayate the Combat Butler, Love Hina…yeah I think you see where I’m getting at. Zero no Tsukaima 2 ended up being the first anime I watched as it aired weekly because I wanted to see that romance go somewhere annnnnnd…it ended up sucking so sooooooo hard that JC Staff probably heard my rage from across the Atlantic. I also discovered the existence of School Days since it came out around the same time and learned it was based on a porn game that had an infamous reputation in regards to its bad endings.

And I thought to myself “wait, there are porn games?” So my research inevitably led me to Fakku and I ended up getting into the world of doujinshi, hentai, and the VN adaptation craze that anime was currently in. Not going to elaborate on my experiences with the first two other than I watched and read a ton of that shit and still keep up with it on occasion, but I was big into learning about these VN adaptations because although they were also harem anime, they were harem anime that were more than just random monkey cheese. This was especially proven to me when I discovered Higurashi through Youtube comments and Clannad on a random ad that had over a million Youtube hits. And I’m not going to lie, I really liked them at the time. Not because of the plot, both of which I thought were as dumb as VN writing got. I liked ’em because the males were pimps who didn’t let the women walk over them (much), had more to them than just lame fanservice jokes, seemed to have romance that went somewhere (and it did in Clannad’s case) and considering I also watched shit like Myself;Yourself, Nagasarete Airantou, and Da Capo around the same time as them, fucking Sola looked good by comparison.

Clannad

Even though I ended up hating the second season of Higurashi and got spoiled for how Clannad would end because I could not avoid the VN spoilers that said “no, Nagisa and Ushio die, but then the light orbs revive them at the end” when the movie came out three episodes before the first season ended, they were still the cream of the crop in regards to satisfying my romance needs. I wasn’t good at looking up recommendations, so I didn’t know Kare Kano or Honey and Clover even existed. I did watch ef, but whilst I didn’t quite realize it at the time, I really hate love triangles. Plus, it was Shaft and I found their artstyle dumb at the time (and I kinda do now), so even though I thought the show was tolerable upon finishing, it never really appealed to me and I quit watching the second season too early to get to the parts where the fans ended up realizing how awful it was.

After After Story ended, I randomly found Suzuka and it was so awful that I decided I was done with romance stuff, so I didn’t even bother with Spice & Wolf when people went nuts for it. In fact, I stopped watching the airing stuff altogether (aside from K-ON, and I think you can guess how that went), put a halt to the Shonen Jump stuff I kept up with like Reborn and One Piece, and just went through various phases in terms of watching anime whilst mostly indulging in movies, video games (particularly the Shin Megami Tensei stuff like Persona 4), and western cartoons.

And it was always series. Whilst I had definitely heard of Studio Ghibli and my brother made me aware of the Akira film due to checking out the manga in his elementary school library (don’t ask), I never really felt motivated to touch non-franchise anime films aside from those Key movies (which barely don’t count since they came out before the series and all) and a random rental of Tekkonkinkreet at a video store back when they were around. And this is kind of embarrassing, but when I read the summary for 5 Centimeters Per Second, I was too afraid of getting depressed to try it out. Of course, I’d watch those movies later, but it wouldn’t be for another two years or so.

Code-Geass

I discovered the existence of “cooler” stuff on various discussion boards like Black Lagoon, Monster, and Darker than Black and enjoy them for their American-ness (although in Monster’s case, I read the manga first, which kinda ruined the show for me). The same Ranma friend introduced me to Code Geass and when I saw that the main character could control people with his left eye, I put my mecha bias aside and ended up having a lot of fun marathoning that show. A cousin of mine informed me about the existence of Ghost in the Shell, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Cowboy Bebop, but I only watched the last one and never got to the other two. I’d look at MAL’s top list and go “huh, Kino and Mushishi are ranked really high” so I’d watch them and love ’em just as much as MAL did. I discovered the existence of Baccano through one of Darker than Black’s DVDs and end up marathoning the whole series in one day just to see if they’d do something interesting with those immortal gangsters (which they did not). I tried Gurren Lagann, only to find it too cliche to overcome my mecha bias and dropped it around the sixteenth episode. I don’t remember how I found out about Paranoia Agent, but that show was a lot of fun and I didn’t even know who Kon was until years after finishing that.

– There was also some forgettable crap like Sky Girls, Bamboo Blade, and Digimon Savers, but let’s not focus on them.

But what I loved the most about my anime hobby were the blogs. I don’t remember how I discovered Anime Nano, but I’ve been following it since the days when every single person blogged Clannad and after some on-and-off periods with the only anime that really drummed up some debate being Haruhi S2 and Bakemonogatari (which I didn’t touch because I didn’t want to see a fanservice harem anime ever again), a bunch of new ones popped up with hype for Durarara because it was by the Baccano team. It was fun to read their stuff for reasons I’ve gone into before, and it was even more fun when Angel Beats, Madoka, and especially Guilty Crown aired. I wanted to join in the fun, but here’s the thing: I was really shy back then in regards to Internet communication. I didn’t like leaving comments to people I didn’t know (think Draggle’s blog was the first one I ever commented on), never used Skype in my life, had a Twitter account that I didn’t know the first thing about using, and I didn’t even have an MAL account until Valentines’ Day of 2012. I sure as hell didn’t know that you could make your own blog on WordPress for free. But sometime before the Summer 2012 season started and people started to complain about Kids on the Slope’s direction despite me loving it, I decided enough was enough and made the blog.

When I first started the blog, I had many goals in mind. I wanted to be critical. I wanted to get along with my colleagues. I wanted to be different from the other anime blogs. I wanted to follow the rules of what was acceptable for anime blogs. I wanted to like the things they liked. I wanted to like things I actually liked. I wanted to copy the Internet critics I enjoyed watching like Todd Nathanson or Benjamin Yahtzee Croshaw. Bottom-line, all these goals conflicted with each other, causing my writing to just become a huge inconsistent mess, my taste to see-saw wildly to the point that even I couldn’t tell if I was being truthful regarding whether I liked something or not, and my Internet personality to become incredibly bland and unworthy of respect.

Obviously, I’m not going to devote words explaining said time and some people are still doubtful that I’ve grown up from that period. Maybe I haven’t. Hell, I’m still trying to repair the damage caused by that reckless time of my life, not helped by how I’m still trying to use new methods to get new fans and very few of them are paying off. And even though my current attempt at blogging animated porn is succeeding far better than my other projects have, I can’t promise that it’ll last any longer than my other short-lived projects. I hope it does though. It’s easily the most fun I’ve had with writing in a long time, even if what I have to watch can be pretty goddamn painful at times.

So what has remained consistent about me? Well, I’m never going to stop thinking that most anime are completely horrible, even the ones that the majority of my colleagues enjoy. I’m never going to drop the pessimistic/snarky/direct “Daria-like” personality I’ve constructed for myself on the Internet because I think the anime community as a whole isn’t critical enough and I chose my username and the name of this blog for a reason. I’m never going to have any love for the moe, the mecha, the shipping, the merchandise that isn’t a DVD/Blu-ray, or whatever else that makes anime “anime”. At the end of the day, I watch anime because I like animation and that’s pretty much all I care about regarding the medium. What can I say? Anime culture was never really a part of my childhood and there’s no f*cking way I’m getting into it now.

But despite me thinking that way, what I’m never going to do is try to change people’s minds, and I’ll never respect someone who wants people to think a certain way about something – short of stuff that’s directly harmful to others like NAMBLA or ISIS of course. I’ll take jabs at the community of course, but that’s not the same as saying they should stop liking or disliking the things they do. I like it when people recognize the things I do, but that’s not the same as changing people’s minds. I mean I understand that Forrest Gump is supposed to be a representation of how America has changed over the years, but that’s not going to change the fact that I hated how it needlessly shat on a woman in order to carry that metaphor out.

At the same time, I feel like I gained something by understanding the supporters’ viewpoint and I want to make other people feel the same. I mean it’s not like the fans of my favorites – let alone me – like everything about them to begin with (*cough* Kill la Kill *cough* Captain Tylor *cough* Mawaru Penguindrum *cough*). And when it comes to people who are generally negative about what you enjoy, even if you still like it at the end of the day, I think it’s important that you take what they see as faults into account – unless they actually are one of those elitists who don’t accept other people’s opinions and end up sinking themselves knee-deep into the fanboy hypocrisy as a result of course.

Anime

And above all, I’m never going to stop being an anime fan. Even if the industry gets too shitty to the point that it can’t produce anything I find worthwhile again, I own all my favorites on a shelf right next to the computer I’m typing this very post on. I can just rewatch those and go “well, anime had a good run”. Not to mention, I have other things I can talk about, as evidenced by the summer movies and such that I write about every Monday when I don’t have an anime I want to discuss. Anime blogging in general has fallen into a rut as of late and unless you make it into the “really popular” league like Wrong Every Time or The Cart Driver, it’s hard to survive, let alone get much use out of something like Patreon. Yes, my non-anime related stuff gets way less hits than my anime ones, but if views were all that important to me these days, I wouldn’t have kept blogging Durarara long after people’s patience for it ran out. And yet, I still continue to write about anime. Despite that their are many other products out right now that I enjoy much more than my favorite eastern cartoons in the last year or two, I still write about anime.

So that’s how I became an anime fan, that’s why I created this blog, that’s why my blog progressed the way it did, and that’s why I’m going to continue keeping it alive with my current direction. F*ck me this post went on really long.

PS: Okay, I do remember how I found out about Paranoia Agent. It was when Adult Swim name dropped it during one of their commercial segues.

9 responses to “Standing On My Neck’s Origin Story (And Hopes For The Future)

  1. Man, you make me feel old. I’ve been an anime fan for 8 years, yet I’ve completed only over 200 anime. It didn’t help that I’ve burned way too much time in Europa Universalis, Total War and Fire Emblem. My taste for anime doesn’t change as much as you are, but I have plenty of on-off period, and I’m also very selective on what I watch. For me, my top favourite anime series and films can stand among classic in other medium. I love Penguindrum, Dennou Coil,LOGH,Mushishi, Ghibli films… as much as much as I love Solaris, Tokyo Story, War and Peace novel, Firefly, Twilight Zone…

    I simply can’t get into western cartoon. I have tried most of the popular ones like Adventure Time, Simpsons, South Park… Only liked anime inspired ones like Avatar TLA, and kind of like Batman TAS. Disney and Pixar films are hit and miss for me and I’m saddened to see 2D animated pretty much disappeared from Hollywood.

    Anyway, thank you for your contribution to the anime community, despite the fact that I disagreed with you 80% of the time. I’ve seen so many anime blog I liked died or dying, and not many new blogs emerged. Let’s hope for a better future of anime criticism.

  2. Good post, even if I also disagree with you a good chunk of the time I still think you write interesting stuff that at least gets the gears in my head turning. So long as that’s the case (and I don’t doubt that it’ll change) I’ll probably continue to stalk read this blog.

  3. Whatta lengthy and entertaining post you got here. I sometimes wonder if we have watched the same show while reading your reviews (Oregairu might be the best example I had here) but I think your criticisms are probably one of the most unique (forgive me for the lack of a better term) I have read in the anime blogosphere.

    And oh, I really feel relieved seeing that many animes that I liked (Penguindrum, Hyouka, Eden of the East, FLCL, Sakamichi no Apollon) are either in your most favorite list or best of the year despite your less generous reviews (at some) on those.

    • I have some new thoughts on Oregairu that I want to publish when the new season ends. Felt it only fair since I really hate my previous posts on it.

  4. 3 years? I thought this blog was around a lot longer. I found it not long ago but I got the impression that it was up for some time. I really wish your blog were more popular though. Every since I discovered the anime blogosphere (is that the term) I’ve been addicted. I just love reading all the entries and the different views that up until last year I wasn’t exposed to, let alone knew existed. To think there was a world where anime was analyzed beyond ships and best girls. Amazing.

    With that said your blog is one of my favorites, it seems like the authors for the blogs I like all have cynicism in common. I just wish I could repay the bloggers more for what they’re doing, I know it isn’t easy to run a blog.

    • I just wish I could repay the bloggers more for what they’re doing, I know it isn’t easy to run a blog.

      You could donate $1 to me a month on Patreon. ‘Course, that’d require you to make an account.

  5. …Gods, I’ve only been here for a year- started with Log Horizon, Hamatora, and the Spring 2015 anime season. (Though I read Shonen Jump, FMA, and Negima before that.) I found E Minor when SAO II came out, and I’ve just been wandering around here ever since. Feels weird.