Hi there! I’ve been encouraged to do more of op-eds by a few people, so I guess this a good place to start off.

Before we begin, though, how about that JoJo news? It feels like it’s been in the wings for a while, but Vento Aureo is finally getting an anime adaptation this fall! We even got the main staff, which is a mix of newcomers and vets alike, and a key visual! Heck, the first episode is even going to be shown at Anime Expo!

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - Golden Wind Anime Visual - 001

Look at those magnificent designs!

Today’s a day for hype!

…So why couldn’t I help feeling down about this news?

To be honest, I was woken up at about 4:00AM today, when my phone started going nuts with news alerts… old habits die hard, I guess… Natalie, Animate Times, Ota-suke, even Nijimen were dropping at the same time. I should have turned these off when I stepped away from the news beat, but old habits die hard. Bleary-eyed, I went to reach for my phone before stopping, and reminding myself that I don’t do that anymore. Instead, I just flopped back in bed, and went back to sleep until the real alarm went off two hours later.

After the usual morning routine, I finally checked the news, and my jaw just dropped:

  • Comic Natalie: 「ジョジョの奇妙な冒険」第5部「黄金の風」TVアニメ化!10月に放送開始 (“JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” Part 5 “Golden Wind” TV Anime! Broadcast in October)
  • Ota-suke: 「ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 黄金の風」が10月より。7/5にキャスト発表 (“JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind” in October, Cast Announced July 5)
  • Nijimen: 『ジョジョ』第5部がアニメ化決定!『ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 黄金の風』が2018年10月に放送予定!(“JoJo” Part 5 Gets an Anime! “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind” will air in October 2018!)
  • Otakomu: 【速報】『ジョジョの奇妙な冒険』第5部、アニメ化決定!今秋放送開始! ([Quick News]: “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” Part 5 Gets an Anime! Broadcast Starts This Fall!)

At first, I had that quick moment where I let out a little fangirl squeal. New JoJo anime is always a huge, amazing, awesome thing. A day like this is like Christmas and Easter gifts bundled in a glorious, ludicrously muscular wrapping paper.

After the little euphoria wave washed by, though, I just had to know. I paged through, first to Reddit, then to Twitter, then to the usual US haunts. The news was literally everywhere.

My heart sank. Deep down, a voice in my head was saying “you blew it, girl.”

This really shouldn’t be a thing that bothers me. After all, on June 2, I announced that we’d be stepping back from news. Instead, we’d focus on all manner of things, from Nerdy Talk, to editorial content, to long-reads, and more. And, in those past few weeks, we’ve really delivered on that, with several reviews, and a pair of long-form articles that we’re incredibly proud of.

But, at the same time, the habit is hard to kick.

I’ve been working the news desk since 2004, when I took over for Anime Dream. For nearly fourteen years, my life literally revolved around the schedules of Japanese outlets and American Twitter feeds. I was reporting live when Attack on Titan was announced, and I was delivering blow-by-blow reports as the western anime bubble burst in the mid-oughts.

This was basically my day. It was just what I did, as a college kid with nothing to lose. At the same time, Matt always nagged me to slow down and take it easy.

But, well… the news desk is weird. It changes you, in some ways. Working the news desk means that you’re constantly, constantly immersed in a stream of information. You enter this odd state where you’re constantly hyper-sensitive to every little detail that crosses the wires, from new show reveals, to casting calls, to even offbeat convenience store promotions. It becomes your priority, your drive, your very reason for being in this subculture to begin with.

Animation Runner Kuromi. © Yumeta Company, 2001

At the same time, you grow addicted to the rush of breaking stories, being the first one to spread the word. And, in search of that little burst of endorphins, you get an odd ultra-competitive streak, as every single story becomes the next “must-run.” You start jealously guarding your information until your article drops, and just grow increasingly anxious whenever you’re away from your post. After all, who knows what will drop when you’re sleeping, or eating, or at the market?

The hours begin to fall away, and those 2-3 hours of work quickly balloon. Three becomes four, four becomes six, six becomes eight, and eventually, that just becomes a meaningless number, as sleep becomes a luxury you have to earn.

Chihayafuru 001 - Kana

Yes, after four or five nights without sleep, you do hallucinate.

That I was able to last for fourteen years on the grueling routine is kind of an anomaly. That I was doing it for free for those fourteen years was nothing short of surreal. Most news desk writers who put in the shifts I was pulling, those 16-18 hour days, last one… two years tops. Flaming out is common, and the stress just eats people alive.

It’s a grueling business.

Honestly, it took a burnout of my own – a very loud, public burnout, to realize that I was probably going to kill myself with work if I didn’t make real, serious changes. As recently as May, I was working 16 to 20 hour days, literally waking up, going to work, coming home, going back to work, and collapsing in a heap as something resembling sleep overtook me. Holidays were an illusion, as the news doesn’t take breaks, and I was regularly working sixty to seventy straight days without so much as a half-day.

To be honest, though, I’ve actually had thoughts of going straight back. Numerous times, even! Every few days, I begin to crave that rush again… that thrill of getting the big, early scoop. And, on more than a few occasions, I’ve had to be pulled back by my friends, who have kept me from just falling back into those nights where I would be sitting, sleep deprived, as I zoom through one J-Blog after another in hopes of finding something, anything that would be worth writing up to fill that 7-16 article quota.

You folks know who you are… and thanks.

And, well… today’s JoJo news kind of brought that feeling back up. To be honest, when I started Anime Herald, I had lofty goals. I was a 26-year-old kid who was ready to take on the world. I had some big plans, and ultimately wanted us to become the hot-spot for anime fans across the globe. Plans were a bit sparse, but it’d work out, somehow.

Eight years later, that’s clearly not happening.

Still, I sometimes get caught up in the questions of “what could be,” as I ponder what things would be like with a 24-hour news team, or a real production budget, or, heck, even just a dedicated editor. Maybe we’ll get to that point someday. Maybe we’ll be able to grow to that place, where we can pay our team a real salary, and where every dollar we take in isn’t being consumed by server costs.

But until then, we’re a bunch of scrappers. We’re that pirate radio station that even Wikipedia’s ashamed to be sourcing, despite being active and reliable for nearly a decade.

But you know what, though? I’m okay with that. We’re fighters, and we’re scrappers. We’ve been around since the turn of the decade and we’re going to be here well until the next (and beyond).

Will we ever bring in a full newsroom? Probably not. (Seriously, that’s expensive!). But, fuck it. That just means that we’ll find new dreams to chase, and new frontiers to explore. We’ll find new walls to scale over and new topics to gush over.

Like Gearless Joe, we don’t know the meaning of the word “quit.”

Seriously… the sky’s the limit. But I’ll talk more about that when the time comes. For now, I just want to make one small request. All I ask is that you give your local news writers a “thank you” today. Regardless of whether you read ANN, Crunchyroll, Otaku USA, Moetron, or heck, even us, a quick word of thanks will make your favorite news team’s day.

Being in the trenches day in and day out is exhausting, often thankless, and fraught with stress. Reporters sacrifice sleep, personal events, holidays, and even their health to maintain that daily flow of anime goodness. A little bit of encouragement goes a long way in keeping the motivation up.

To all of my fellow trench dwellers out there… thank you so much. Your work is and will always be appreciated.

I can’t be that crazy pixie girl who marathons a convention with nothing but coffee, sugar, and a laptop anymore. I’ll be here, though, doing what I do well, and wishing you all the absolute best as we head into the summer con season.