Anime and Manga Difficult to Write About

nausicaa sword fire background

This is less about the nature of the shows but rather my own inability to comment on them in such a way that adds value to those who have seen the show, and/or those who would want to.

I noticed that I found myself writing about new shows more often, and finding much to say. This isn’t simply a case of recency bias, because I rewatch shows regularly. Some shows I find very easy to write about, others extremely difficult. Why is this so?

Set aside the fact that I don’t review shows. What I really do is endorse them, champion them, and not act as a filter to serve the interests of those who are on the fence about watching them. To serve this interest requires me, I believe, to be the least subjective of commentators and I am simply much too indulgent for that. So I don’t review shows.

I would find myself fixating on an element of a show or manga and explore it with the intent of generating discussion. Given this, I find myself at a loss in writing about certain works. It confounds me because it would seem that these works are very rich subjects and it’d be easy to find angles to write about them. Here are some examples:

Manga

  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
  • 20th Century Boys
  • Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou

Anime

  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes
  • Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still
  • Spirited Away/Kiki’s Delivery Service/My Neighbor Totoro/Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea

I find myself having nothing to say except that I’m blown away by the experience.

Recently I’ve re-read Nausicaa after finally getting my own copies and rediscover the awesomeness that is Princess Kushana of Torumekia, who I think I’m GAR for as any male character. I’m moved to tears by her rallying her men in a desperate stand against the Dorok Empire’s armies in a battle they were ill-suited to fight. Outside of this statement, however, I’ve nothing much to say. Go read the manga if you haven’t yet.

How about you? What shows do you have trouble talking about? In the case of the works I mentioned, what do you think would be interesting to explore? (I just might take them on)

Further Reading

I did manage to write about Legend of the Galactic Heroes once [->]

I do think that this is far more interesting however (jpmeyer 2009/07/21)

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in fanboy, meta and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Anime and Manga Difficult to Write About

  1. lolikappa says:

    Holy balls Kushana is amazing. Shame she was such a villain in the movie. We really never got to see her shine. Such a badass.

    I should really reread Nausicaa.

    .lolikappa

  2. DonKangolJones says:

    This is an interesting subject. I think I have the hardest time righting about things that I am too personally invested in, or shows that are established with a polarizing factor that leads to extremely opposing reviews. Shows like Code Geass, Neon Genesis Evangelion, possibly Azumanga Daioh, as well. The reason may be because I feel like whatever needs to be said has already been said. I’ll use Code Geass R2 as an example. In my experience in some forums, it’s usually viewed as a masterpiece, or as a complete trainwreck or an insult to the first season. People on either side of the opinion seesaw are not going to change their minds. And given that I fall much closer to the positive side of the extreme, I find it difficult to review or write commentary on something that, if anything, could use some good unbiased commentary. I’m sure this is some out there, I just don’t think I’m the person to do it.

    For the example of something that has already been talked about to death, I’ll use Eva. Love it, hate it or being ambivalent towards it. It’s already a famous, if not legendary work that has been praised and despised in all forms. Be it on blogs, reviews, by animation studios, voice casts, trolls, two ninjas in combat on top of a kabuki theater, it’s all been discussed to death and I once again feel that my opinion fits well into one that has already been established and conveyed to the general audience.

    For the personal example, I’ll use Azumanga Daioh. It’s hard to defend or bash a series that I think is heaven to watch. It’s like me writing commentary on Peanuts specials. They have a special place in my childhood and memories and can do no wrong. Similarly, Azumanga Daioh has a special influential place in my rather early anime viewing adolescence. Before MAL, before torrents, before downloads, before reading manga online, before I cared about Naruto, Bleach or Gundam (I wasn’t much of a fan at the time), this show was one of the best things I’d ever seen. So I doubt anyone would want to read or listen to me uncritically “gush” about a bunch of high school girls and their hot teachers in pointless, random comedic acts. It’s hard to convey & can come off a bit creepy for a grown man in his late 20’s.

    In a way, I think it’s ironic considering the subject of this blog that I ended up writing about them anyway. Maybe you should try that. Write about why you have a hard time writing about each individual thing you have a hard time with. It might push the writer’s block out of your way.

    • Re your last paragraph: The bit about Nausicaa that appeared here is precisely due to what you recommended.

      I feel that as long as the writer brings something authentically from the self into the work, it’d be interesting to read. Knowing this helped me complete a good number of past posts. However, it’s not enough for certain shows I’m stuck with, without anything to say.

    • akuyume says:

      Except for Haruhi Suzumiya, I’ve never been able to write much about my favorite animes. Azumanga Daioh is one of my favorites as well and its also one that I’ve never attempted to write about. With certain shows I suppose it just comes down too much on personal experience to be able to rely on others seeing the show the same way and therefore having a similar experience with the show. Azumanga Daioh was probably one of the first ten or so series I watched (knowing it as “anime” at least) and its been a favorite pf mine since I first saw it as crappy resolution videos on YouTube. I can’t put the main reasons I admire the show in words, yes, its funny, and very cute, but there’s more to it than that as well.

      Gake no Ue no Ponyo, for me, wasn’t too hard to write about, perhaps that’s because I watched it with a friend and we shared several of the same opinions about the film which took a somewhat criticizing angle on it. I’d already spent of good bit of time putting my opinion of the show in words with my friend and likewise heard their opinions.

  3. Ryan A says:

    I’m going to go ahead and bring in, “right place, right time.” First, nothing comes to mind about a series I find difficult to write/express about, though I find quite a few very easy (Hayate the Combat Butler for instance). It’s not to say I don’t have difficult series to write on, as I have encountered them, but I feel it was mostly my environment of experience rather than the content itself; I could be physically tired or just feel that textual expression is meh at the time.

    This actually happens quite a bit, at random, with microupdates. Some days the updates flow, others I am a bit reluctant, but in both situations it could have been the same title/work. (Thank god most of my melative updates are set to !hidden, it would be true/flood)

    To tell you the truth, this happens quite a bit with music. I’ll be listening to tracks and an update is fitting, I feel it. Weeks later, I may be listening to a track I used to update quite a bit on, but I’ve not much to say. The evocation is absent. This situation may be more from redundancy of the experience rather than my personal “state.” I think this is less likely to happen mid to long-duration experiences (film, tv, literature; 2+ hour experiences).

    In the case of your personal titles, I feel you might be more compelled to update is there was a sudden desire to re-experience; not something you can plan/decide, but something that just happens. Also, some “chance” encounter with a re-experience might invoke expression; or even another persons expression of the experience… who knows ^^

    Kay, now off the top of my head, one type of experience which I may find difficult to write would be a punctual (7-8 volume) shoujo manga. Genrefied!

    • In the case of your personal titles, I feel you might be more compelled to update is there was a sudden desire to re-experience; not something you can plan/decide, but something that just happens. Also, some “chance” encounter with a re-experience might invoke expression; or even another persons expression of the experience… who knows ^^

      True. My episodic blogging of Macross Frontier is founded on this notion. Given how each post tries to say something different about the franchise in general, it’s a pretty stiff challenge.

      If you look at my updates, you’ll notice that I rewatch a lot, which ties into your point.

  4. Emperor J says:

    I can relate to a lot of this. I think with a lot of the works that have been discussed to within an inch of their lives, its hard to add anything new except maybe one’s own personal experience of watching it. However, I think a lot of it is tied to just how much someone reads into a topic.

    From personal experience, I can blog on Legend of the Galactic Heroes because it’s the first time I’ve gone through it and I haven’t really read anything on it. I basically haven’t been socialized into thinking about the series in a certain way, so I have freedom to just write on it however I want.

    On the other hand, I have a post on Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou that is sitting waiting for a couple of edits to post. Because I read a lot on it after I finished reading it, there is a lot of hesitation on my part to post it because what are the odds anyone will want to read yet another blog post on it or the more likely reason being that it will be an unpopular opinion.

    Maybe it’s easier just to think as though no one has ever written on it before if you’re having problems.

    • Eventually it comes to that, to think that no one’s ever written a post on X. I’ll just worry about the further reading section down the line. But it ain’t easy, that’s for sure.

  5. animekritik says:

    it’s a good thing if you feel that way once in a while. it gives you some kind of reassurance that when you DO post your thoughts on a show, they’re not just BS or words strung along for the ride but actual substance coming out of your brain.

    I think unconsciously too (as others commented above), it might be harder to blog on older shows because you know the post will be examined and dissected most thoroughly by the hardcore fans (which might or might not include yourself).

  6. Brian says:

    Well, as one person who commented it to me, Nausicaa is like Virgin Mary of Anime/Manga and another comment she is too perfect. Yet one can argue she is manifestation of desire for salvation and redemption. For her holistic pursuit to seek comfort and guidance to many, is rival only by Messiah of the Bible.

    About being attracted to Kushana, you’re not alone. I too have strong desire for Kushana. There was an article where Hayao Miyazaki was interviewed and the interviewer comment how Kushana deserve her own show. Mr. Miyazaki quickly rebuff as being silly. Still I would have watched it if it has been made. Then I read Suikoden III, and I realize my wish has been somewhat fulfilled. One of the main protagonists of the manga/RPG is Chris Lightfellow. I don’t know if it is intentional by creator, but to me she is Kuhana’s mirror image.

  7. animewriter says:

    I think that out of your list Nausicaa would be the toughest one to write about considering how many different plot threads and ideas that are interwoven throughout the entire manga, and I wouldn’t even think about it unless I could dedicate at least 5,000-10,000 words doing a proper write up. About 10 years ago, I saw a list of the greatest graphic novels as voted on by professional comic writers and artists and Nausicaa finished in second place behind Maus.

    I’ve never read 20th century boys so I can’t comment, but to me Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is nothing more than one large picture postcard featuring mono no aware, and I loved it.

    Legend of the Galactic Heroes, while I haven’t seen it yet, it seems quite interesting, but it’ll have to wait until I have time to watch a 110+ episode series.

    As for doing a proper writeup on other Miyazaki films such as Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Princess Mononoke, they require a little knowledge of rural Japanese folk beliefs, and some understanding of the relationships between local kami and villagers under Shintoism.

    If you would like to read about the beginnings of the “Miyazaki/Ghibli” hero/heroine types read this post.
    http://animewriter.wordpress.com/category/anime-film/flying-phantom-ship-anime-film/
    or if you would like to read about the first Miyazaki/Ghibli “troubled woman” character read this post.
    http://animewriter.wordpress.com/category/anime-film/hols-prince-of-the-sun/

    • Those are very good reads, and thank you for sharing those links here. I seldom aim for comprehensiveness, but even so I find it difficult. If I were to note minutiae, I would be paralyzed by choice. There’s just so much, that it overwhelms me.

  8. The Longcoat(Zex) says:

    Even though a lot of people hated it, I really enjoyed Sky Crawlers because I wasn’t expecting an action flick and so came at it from the right angle. In fact, I freaking fell in love with Sky Crawlers because Kusanagi felt so real by the end of the movie and the drama was soooo good. Regardless, I have tried time and again to put a review into words and have yet to succeed.

    I think sometimes we have difficulty writing about awesome or polarizing things because there is so much you have to form into words in order to adequately describe the experience as a whole, rather than just focus on one small aspect. Sometimes an experience is too overwhelming to convey in human speech.

    I think the best way to write about something that is daunting as a whole is to take small notes on all the little things as you go through it, so you can go back and collect your thoughts together into a cohesive whole. You want to put down your feelings and thoughts while they’re fresh or you’ll lose them.

    • https://ghostlightning.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/skycrawlers/

      I think sometimes we have difficulty writing about awesome or polarizing things because there is so much you have to form into words in order to adequately describe the experience as a whole, rather than just focus on one small aspect.

      Yes, this. Part of the problem is that commenters are often concerned if the subject is “good,” while I’m more concerned about a certain aspect of the subject to be ‘interesting.’

      So I talk about one thing, and commenters respond to me with evaluation of the source subject. I admit that it can get vexing.

  9. Vendredi says:

    Yes, I definitely have difficulty writing about shows; most often, the ones I enjoy most are also the most difficult to write about in some sort of analytical way. Sometimes it is, as mentioned above, the fear of bias; other times some shows are just harder to analyze than others.

    This is often compounded sometimes by the obscurity of some shows, or simply the vintage of some, especially for shows that fall into the sort of “in-between period” of the late 90s and early 2000s – there is plenty of coverage for anime after about 2005, some smattering coverage for anime from the 80s to early 90s, but very little coverage for a lot of the stuff in-between. It’s a lot easier to talk about shows that have a lot of discussion being generated again.

    Bakemonogatari, for example, is the perfect example of a show that’s easy to talk about: it’s dense and requires unpacking, and because it’s new, edgy, and perhaps a little controversial in it’s approach there’s a lot of discussion generated.

    On the other end of the extreme you have something like Sento Yousei Yukikaze – it came out in that “inbetween period” before a lot of anime blogs, it’s a relatively obscure OVA, and in true OVA fashion it’s an entertaining story – not to say that there are levels of interpretation that can be done, but it doesn’t demand it in the same way that Bakemonogatari does.

    • I dealt with the bias issue by making disclaimers when appropriate, and avoiding writing reviews altogether.

      Yes, the recency of shows is a clear factor. Bakemonogatari is an excellent example. I can come up with 1,000 words on it no problem, even if I’m only writing about a small part of the episode or series as a whole.

      The comments on the post are what completes it in this case.

  10. Hey Ghost, just a heads up since you seem to be offline a lot of the time lately, Gundamn@MAHQ is going to be doing a Macross Roundup now that they’ve finished Gundam Roundup, which means they are going to be going through all of the Macross series throught the years and doing they’re commentary and analysis on them. Might be something you’ll enjoy. I’m certainly looking forward to it.

  11. gaguri says:

    There are a certain type of shows/movies that I find great difficulty blogging about. Those are mainly shows that are great but have been already talked about in great detail by other bloggers.

    Like you, I tend to choose a particular aspect of an anime and elaborate on it, rather than dissecting a show as a whole (what was good, what was bad, therefore this is my recommendation etc). So, what is there to write about Aria or Nausicaa that hasn’t already been said before? The answer is, not much, if any left…in that case, I just don’t attempt it ^_^b

    I think I was lucky to have already read RoTK, so I could do a brief (interesting for me anyway) comparison to LoGH, but that one I would think is another hard one to tackle. It’s just sooooooo…immense, where does one start, haha.

    I’ve never episodically blogged before but I’d imagine it may or may not be easier depending on different circumstances. On one hand, it’s somewhat easier to write about shows that you just watched, filled with those emotions and ideas that are still fresh, which might help your writing to feel more natural and less pretentious/artificial. On other hand, I hear from many bloggers that there is a point where it becomes a chore and sucks the fun out of it.

    • The difference between my attempts at episodic blogging is how I try to say something distinct… basically a smaller form of my editorials. It’s easier in that I don’t have to cover the entirety of an episode (I don’t do summaries at all, ever); on the other hand it’s challenging to come up with new angles.

      I’m a hundred years too early to call it a chore. But if these are the bloggers who follow a format similar to that used in http://televisionwithoutpity.com wherein everything is commented on in a show (they call their episodic posts ‘recaps,’ an American Idol recap can exceed 10,000 words); commonly via screen caps (see THAT Anime Blog, Animehistory, etc), I can imagine it being very tiring after a time.

  12. gloval says:

    Post singable translations of their songs:

    Ponyo, Ponyo, isang bata na isda
    Nanggaling pa siya sa karagatang bughaw
    Ponyo, Ponyo, kanyang anyo’y nag-iba
    Naging batang babaeng may biluging t’yan

    Yapak, yapak; talon, talon.
    Kay gandang mga paa. Takbo tayo!
    Kapit, kapit; yugyog, yugyog
    Kay gandang mga kamay. Hawak tayo!

    LOL. I watched Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea recently with no initial idea on what it was. The kid in me enjoyed it thoroughly; ’twas both cute and awesome.

    • LOL that’s really cool. I’ve been contemplating meta-output like this, that are original works that reference the subject instead of essays etc that are about the subject.

      • gloval says:

        When you mean meta-output, does that include fan fiction? Now I’m curious at original works you have been contemplating upon :3

        In relation to your entry, I have provided singable Tagalog versions to a handful of Japanese songs (I based those versions from their English translations of course LOL), but I find the Macross songs untouchable. I consider my current skills as inadequate to handle its deculture. Obviously I’m putting Macross on a pedestal, but that’s what being my favorite anime of all time is for.

        As for the other songs, they’re fair game. Some recent anime songs are light and fluffy, so they’re rather easy. If I fail in such ventures, a more hard core fan would definitely point out the epic fail for me.

        • Fan fiction is certainly a great way to remember love. In my post on Legend of Zero (MF 10) I elaborate on ‘remembering love’ behaviors. I’m just terrible at fiction… I can write scenes, and plot narratives, but never at the same time.

          I think you should go ahead with Macross songs. I’ll assist you in any way I can.

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