It’s the middle of December, and we’re nearing the holiday season. We’ve seen ups and downs, as we meandered through the year. Things haven’t been dull though, as we’ve seen features added and changed, focuses altered, and even a brief medical emergency. Tomorrow, I’ll be closing on a new home and next week, I’ll be moving. So, tonight, I’d like to host our very first “State of the Herald” piece.

As we close out our first full year, it’s clear to see that things have changed. We’ve grown from modest, aimless beginnings into a vibrant site that reaches over 100,000 viewers per month. We’ve seen features come and go, and we’ve taken steps to look at just what makes this industry tick. Our numbers grew, as Erin joined the team, and I hope we can continue to grow in this coming year. I must admit, though, that I chose a hell of a year to begin The Herald. This year alone, we’ve seen changes in both America and Japan, that will impact things for years to come.

In February, Borders filed for bankruptcy. This was the spark that led to a chain of events that would eventually see to the retailer’s demise. By June, it was clear that the company wouldn’t recover, as they prepared to liquidate most of their assets, and over six hundred stores would gone in an instant. This was the manga industry’s Musicland moment: a vast market was destroyed, and casualties were claimed, as TOKYOPOP announced they would close their doors that April. TOKYOPOP cited their troubles with the bookseller as a major reason for the closure. While we haven’t seen situations as dire as what was seen in the anime industry, the landscape was forever changed, and a gaping hole was left in TOKYOPOP’s wake.

In April, powerful earthquakes and a tsunami wracked Japan, which led to the destruction of towns and the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi plant made parts of Fukushima uninhabitable. Hundreds perished, and many more were injured. A silver lining came from the event, as we saw the nation pull together in solidarity. Figures from the anime and manga industries held benefits,and sent well-wishes through Twitter and Facebook, musical giants hosted charity concerts, and citizens pooled their energy and cash to bring relief to those who needed it most. As a writer, and an industry watcher, this was one of the most striking moments of my career. There was plenty of heartbreak and upset, but there was a perseverence behind it that was simply inspiring.

Things haven’t been all doom and gloom, of course. In September, Sailor Moon made its grand return to American shores, as Kodansha Comics released the first uncut volume of the Sailor Moon manga, as well as the first volume of the long-requested Codename: Sailor V. Manga publisher Vertical was acquired in February by Kodansha and Dai Nippon. Later this year, FUNimation and NicoNico joined together to form an impressive joint venture known as FUNico, which would seek to simplify licensing between the two giants.

So, from the bottom of my heart, I want to extend thanks to everyone who’s contributed – Erin, Anime Dream EiC Matt Brown, and most important, I want to thank you readers. I thank you for sticking with us through the good times and the bad, the busy and the quiet. I hope that you look forward to our next year, and the surprises it’s sure to bring.

Here’s to a fantastic 2012!