Thursday, December 13, 2007

An idea in the making: Blog in review, or Watch me be suffer from MPD

So, I've gotten a lot of great suggestions on having a blog review column. I'd like to say that making in consensual is a great idea. The voting so far after 20 votes is 15-5 in favor. I'm going to leave the voting up for the duration, but I'd thought that I'd give a general run down on my ideas because really I care about my readers. And honestly those are some great suggestions.

First - The rules

One: I will send an email to the blogger asking if they would like to participate, or they can volunteer. If they reply, then I'll start. If not, well that's that.

Two: I'm not going to be cruel. To be honest, I run a Review Club for fiction, generally I'm pretty good at knowing the line between constructive criticism and just being cruel.

Three: There will be no prior review, meaning the reviewee will not get to see the critique before it runs. But they will get the chance to comment. And I will not respond to opinions of my opinions, but I will answer any direct questions.

Second- the format

Okay, so I'm thinking about a Q&A to begin it. Then followed by the critique. For demonstration purposes I will use my own blog. None of these comments are meant to fish for compliments. They're just to show that I can pick on myself as well as anyone else.

So Blog in review: In Search of Number Nine


Name: Cameron Probert
Age: 30 (almost 31, eek)
Occupation: I sell furniture over the phone.
Location: Nottingham, Maryland

Q: So when did you get into anime? What was the first anime you watched?

A: Well I have faint memories of watching Star Blazers, when I was really really young. But I didn't know it was anime. Really the first anime I watched that I knew was anime was the Oh my Goddess OVA in 1995. I didn't really start seriously collecting anime until 2003 when I bought my first DVD player (I've gone through three of them so far).

Q: So how much do you watch in a week?

A: In general, I watch about a series a week. Sometimes more sometimes less.

Q: Which anime do you enjoy the most? What type of anime do you enjoy the least?

A: Well the anime on my top eight list are the ones that I enjoy the most. But generally, I enjoy any anime that makes me think, that makes me root for the good guy, that makes me punch the skip button at the end of the episode so I can get to the next one. I need compelling characters, a good plot and maybe a bit of a twist on the mundane.

Generally, I dislike repetative anime the most. Series that just drag out one plot point to exhaustation. I find that shounen fighting shows and most romance subplots are the worst at this.

Yeah and character growth is nice too.

Q: When did you start blogging? And why do you blog?

A: I started two and a half months ago, mostly because I really wanted to voice opinions about anime and the industry. But really, I've been hunting for my ninth favorite anime for well over a year and I'm just not finding it.

And to be honest, I like picking on "classics" of anime.

Q: If you had to pick three posts that were your best, which ones would they be?

A: To be fair, my personal favs were my ANN rant that I just wrote, I only found one typo in it. My RahXephon versus Evangelion post, and probably my Why not EVA? post.

Q: Any closing thoughts?

A: Mostly I want to thank everyone who reads this on a regular basis. I appreciate all of the well thought out comments, even when they disagree with me.

Okay so onto the show.

Content - the good, the bad and the indifferent

The great thing about this blog is it's ability to provoke discussion. Cameron tends to focus on whatever issues might be hot right now, but he does have enough original content that it isn't completely a response forum. Generally, I think when he hits, he hits. Some of his columns are insightful, intelligent and pretty clear.

The problem is that when he flops, he flops pretty hard. Case in point- his column about stereotypes in fiction. His primary point is pretty well taken - that stereotypes exist in fiction. In general, it's well argued. Where it falls apart is his final point. I mean what is his final point? Also I note that sometimes, he vassicilates. His opinion can change from column to column. Or he'll make a moral note, but then later on dismiss it or undermine it.

I'm pretty much indifferent on the fact that he likes to use big words. Usually they aren't too big that I have to dig out my dictionary.

In general, the blog doesn't really have any central theme. Just whatever he feels like writing, which isn't good or bad. But can lead to a bit of an uneven read.


It's a standard blogger format, so I'll forgive his long list of tags. Overall, it isn't too special. I do like that he tends to take like material under a particular heading, such as his Why Not columns, or his In My View stuff. But some of the tags are a bit extraneous.


The comments on his blog are really well thought out responses to his points. In general, he does take the time to respond to comments and rarely attacks commenters who disagree with him. But it doesn't seem like he gets much interaction beyond the initial comments.

Closing thoughts:

Overall, I'd reccomend this site to people who like discussing anime. Who don't mind seeing their classics trashed and people who generally like analysis type pieces. He tends to not focus on newer shows, I'm guessing because he doesn't watch them, so he probably isn't going to appeal to people who want to see episode recaps. He also seems to not have much humor on here. Unless it's unintentional.


Okay so that was really a lot harder than I thought it would be. So my big questions would be do you guys want the Q&A at the top? What else would you want me to look at?


CCY said...

Gah, thought I commmented here. Maybe I just clicked preview instead. Curse you, sleep lost.

Well, again:

* Q&A works good on top; it lets the blogger say what they think first, and then your critique can support/counter that.

* Format, I assume, will touch on all non-post aspects of the blog? Not just tags, but maybe like theme / readability / etc. Important stuff.

* Looking forward to this; with all the talk around anime blogs about "community" recent, this combination of recognition and constructive criticism might be something interesting and helpful.

Sophist said...

I like the Q&A at the top as well, it puts a person behind the blog you'll be commenting on and as CCY said it allows them to get a word in before your critique.

omo said...

Personally I like to see something you can bring to the table because it's you. In other words, I just don't know enough about you and what you think about blogging (or anime, for that matter) to really take you seriously/not seriously enough.

But it sounds like fun, and as long as you can make it fun I'd be game. I could really care less about being reviewed, but I do care about what practical steps I can take to make my own blogging experience more fulfilling.

Michael said...

I find that this is a good exercise, Cameron. It would be alright for me to be reviewed; but there aren't too many people open to criticism around. It's a fun idea, though, no question or doubt about that. :)