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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

An Aran Sumishii (5th Anniversary) Post: Burn, Obscusion, Burn

"The Internet" is a massive space, almost a universe upon itself. In some areas the denizens of said universe can communicate with each other, either sharing similar viewpoints or arguing over differing ideologies (and, let's face it, this is putting it very mildly). Still, between those planet-like areas that make up your usual big name sites, forums, message boards, & communities, there's nothing but the void, where many smaller satellites also exist, sending out their signals to anywhere & anyone that may receive them. For many of these places, the proprietors behind them may give up trying to communicate, feeling as though they are doing nothing but broadcasting to nothingness (or maybe they're just yelling at clouds, it's hard to tell at times).

Why do I bring this up on what should normally be a celebratory occasion for me? Because I have some news to share, but first please look at this chart.


I've always been nothing but completely open with my stats, especially my monthly pageviews. If you haven't guessed by now, the chart above is for my monthly pageviews ever since the beginning. The very first month The Land of Obscusion came into existence, December 2010, I had a total of 220 views. Since then my overall view numbers has generally trended upward, and while I truly have never cared for how well, or poorly, my actual numbers were I will admit that the upward trend was always welcome & encouraging to keep on writing. That being said, you may notice something that happened on the far right, something that happened this very year. The blog started its fifth year very strong, with a nice surge of views in December 2014 & the following January. The drop this past February & March was understandable, and I was outright astonished by the sharp increase this April, where I hit 9,826 views. If April 31 was real I may have even hit 10,000 views, which I thought was downright impossible for me to ever hope to reach. Following that, however, I hit a sharp drop which I have yet to even get close to recovering from, with me ranging from 4,700-5,800 monthly views; even at its recent best I can't even hit 6,000 views in a month. Again, the numbers themselves don't matter to me, though they do make me glad that I never tried to monetize this blog. But like how an upward trend helped encourage me to keep pushing & writing, this depreciation & stagnation, not to mention being so close to five digits that I could smell it yet failing, has made me think if it makes any more sense for me to continue operating The Land of Obscusion.

It's not like this year has exactly been encouraging for me when it comes to where I look for inspiration & personal challenge, either. While Justin Sevakis, whose Buried Treasure/Garbage column over at ANN was a big reason for me starting this blog, came back with Pile of Shame in 2013, he put an end to that column in Novermber 2014. Then this past July, Jason Thompson (& Shaenon Garrity) put an end to the House of 1000 Manga column, another big influence, after a five-year run. Following that, Mark Bussler of Classic Game Room, yet another place I looked to often, announced a month or so ago that CGR would be closing down as a full-time/daily product after eight years; Bussler will still do CGR as a hobby, however. I also can't forget Phillip O'Connor's Trap Door column over at Ani-Gamers, which came to an end this year. Paul Chapman still technically does The Vault of Error over at Otaku USA, but it's so irregular now (only three entries this past year!) that it's hard to think of it as ever being a regular column again. For a few years, it looked as if writing about lesser known & forgotten anime/manga (or media in general) had some real appeal & cachet to it, but now it looks to be a mostly dead direction to go in.

So what does this mean for The Land of Obscusion? Is this the end of the blog that's all about the obscure & forgotten? Not quite, but it's a little closer than you think.

Essentially, after this last month of 2015, I'll be slowing down in terms of updating the blog. Ever since I started this blog my goal was to hit an average of 52 posts a year, or an average of one post per week, and every year I've surpassed that number, with this year being no exception. This year I tried to be a good bit more loose with how I operate, relying less on planning out what to review well in advance like I had slowly been doing as the years have gone by. The introduction of Demo Disc & Obscusion B-Side was to help with that, and I think that, for the most part, I stayed true to that goal. While in previous years I tended to hit somewhere like 30-40 anime & manga reviews every 52 weeks, this year I only did 16 (with one more planned for this month, but technically this month is the start of my sixth year, so take it however you want). In place of the usual fare, though, were new ventures for me, whether it was trying out small portions of various anime, reviewing video games that had nothing to do with anime, or even covering animation from a country other than Japan for the very first time.

Hell, I even went to the trouble of contacting Robert Grebe, the man behind American Laser Games, just so that I could interview him about his venture into FMV gaming during the 90s! I especially put a lot more effort into sharing that post than I ever did for any of my other posts, and yet even that one-of-a-kind interview more or less went nowhere, outside of one retweet from YouTuber Erika Szabo, who I think is at least way more known than I am. If something like that can't get any sort of real traction, then it's not exactly encouraging me to try to do another post like that, which is disheartening.

All that being said, however, I don't want to give up the ghost completely. I went to Rutgers because I enjoyed writing, and I wanted to become better at doing just that. I don't do so as a job, though I think I have a respectable enough "real job" at the moment, this blog has allowed me to do exactly what I went to that university for. Also, deciding to start this blog has resulted in some really cool & awesome stuff that I've been a part of, like writing some Genesis & Master System reviews for Sega-16, being a part of the massive Golden Ani-Versary blog, & even being on ANNCast a handful of times. I've also been able to meet all sorts of people who also talk about anime, whether it's through professional channels like ANN & Otaku USA or personal products like other blogs. People like Mike Toole, Justin Sevakis, & Zac Bertschy of ANN, Daryl Surat of AWO, Chris Beveridge of The Fandom Post, & Evan Minto of Ani-Gamers & CrunchyRoll, among many, many others. None of this would have likely happened, at least the ways they have, if I never started up The Land of Obscusion & became the weirdo who writes about crap that no one else cares about. Hey, for a fair portion of the stuff I've covered, if I didn't do it then I doubt anyone else would have. At 29 (and a half) years of age, I've been doing this blog for nearly a sixth of my entire life, so it's not just something I can simply stop doing cold turkey, right?

I'm planning to maybe do only half as many posts starting next year, though there could always be a point where I feel inspired & want to do a bunch of posts again for a month or so. So, while I won't be posting anywhere near as much as I used to starting next year, I'll still be around. I still plan on doing Demo Disc as a kind-of-seasonal thing (look for a new, special one next!), there are still plenty of things I want to eventually write about, and, at the very least, I want to definitely reach Review #200. I already know what will be the subject of that review, & I think it fits the criteria (i.e. self-inflicted torture) well, so I will guarantee that the blog will continue to exist & be updated up through that moment. Regardless, whenever I decide to finally close The Land of Obscusion down, leaving the blog to its final form as a place for people to come across & explore what's housed inside like archaeologists, I will definitely make a final post to make it so. I made the mistake of ending my old, decrepit YouTube channel with an "I'm not dead, I swear I'll keep making content," video, like many other now dead channels have done, and I promise to not let the same thing happen with this written blog.
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Hmmm, I usually do something special to end these Anniversary posts, but I got nothing this year... How about I re-embed that Robert Grebe interview again? I put a lot of work into that, yet I've only gotten 29 views over at YouTube. Can you all help a guy out & spread the word? Thanks.


Well, thanks if you actually spread the word. If you don't, then at least thanks for actually bothering to read all the way down to here.
*nothing but dead silence*
Knibb High Football Rules!!
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Huh, it worked for Billy Madison...

4 comments:

  1. Seeing the stars fall can be disheartening, but I'm glad you'll continue to glimmer if only every other week. With others jumping ship, you might turn into the next big source when the collective whim returns. In any case, it's been fantastic to have you and this blog around. I'm always enjoyed your writing and our talks.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Ink. I know that there are people who really do appreciate what I do here, including you, and I am eternally grateful for all of them. I just don't want to fee like I'm pushing myself if I don't have anything really pushing me to do so anymore.

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  2. I only discovered this blog late last summer, so it's a bummer that things will be winding down in the future. I was trying to find a place to watch AWOL, and I stumbled upon your post detailing your journey through it, and I've been tuning in ever since. Since its not completely closing down, I'll save most of my thoughts for when that day comes. I will say that I think your blog has offered a different experience than most "obscure anime columns", because this one has always had a feeling of optimism to it, and has always felt from a fan perspective, both of which are uncommon attributes.

    Your journey through obscure anime/Japanese culture has always been a relatable and enjoyable one, but I respect your decision to move into a final phase of sorts. I've been in similar situations of making online content I'm passionate about, but just feeling like you're getting lost in the shuffle of the internet.

    I'll admit I did not watch your FMV interview, simply because I've had no experience with laser discs or FMV games, but I'll try to watch it since you seem rather proud of it, and maybe it'd be a nice crash course into the subject. Also, I know you've had Twitter questions answered on ANNcast several times, but have you actually been a guest on any episodes? I haven't been listening to the show its entire run, so I don't know if I missed you.

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    1. Thank you so much for the kinds words. I wouldn't say that the blog is "winding down", but instead I'd say that it's simply moving to a posting pace that keeps me from feeling like I "have to" write something rather than me "wanting to".

      As for the general feeling you mentioned, I will admit that I try to find something positive in anything I review. I personally feel that negativity/cynicism is more prevalent in critiquing now simply because it's both easy to be negative & it's very appealing to many people now. Trust me, if I find something I review to outright suck then I definitely call it out as such, but I'll still try to find that little element that showed that the bad product may have had a chance at being better than it was.

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