My fellow anime fans, good evening.
Before I begin, I’d like to say “Happy New Year!” I hope that you had a good 2018, and I wish every one of our readers a wonderful 2019.
Just one year ago, we launched the Anime Herald Patreon campaign. Though we had spent months preparing for the day, it only took an instant for our fates to enter your hands. We vowed to make you our core consumers over advertisers, and swore to do our utmost to bring you the finest in anime news, reviews, and commentary.
With this in mind, we adopted the mantle of “you deserve better,” as we began did our utmost to live up to that ideal.
One by one, as contracts expired, you saw our ad space become vacant, and we have been ad-free since March. We vowed to remain this way, so long as we could keep the lights on. We promised our Patrons new and original content, and special bonuses, like shout-outs in our AniWeekly column. At the same time, we vowed to broaden our content, and really dive deeper into what makes anime “tick” as a medium.
For the most part, I’m happy to report that we have succeeded. Much like righting a ship, changes of this magnitude needed to take some time, as we settle into our new crowdfunded world. Though we had a shaky first few months, we began to find our footing at the mid-year mark.
Still, that isn’t to say that we haven’t seen a few growing pains over the course of the year.
What We Did
Our first month saw what has to be our biggest piece to that point , as we published a major investigative article on a legal battle between fashion vlogger Tyler (ScarfingScarves) and Anime Matsuri showrunner John Leigh.
It wasn’t long after this that we announced a landmark content-sharing agreement with our friends at Anime Feminist. To this day, they remain fast friends of the Herald, and we are proud of the spirit of cooperation that’s been fostered between our outlets.
This was followed up in June, with a massive article that dove deep, into the impact that Steam’s rapid and capricious content policy changes had on niche game developers.
It was about this point that we rolled out our newest site redesign, our first in nearly five years. With a new framework and a more modern branding, we were ready to define our newest direction in regards to how we’d treat content.
There was little time to rest, though. A month later, we were off to Anime Expo, where we published more than twenty articles over the course of the con, including a full travelogue feature detailing my first-ever trip to the biggest anime con in America.
At the same time, we busily tracked the events of a burgeoning white supremacist rally that threatened to encroach upon Otakon, adding more than thirteen updates, and fourteen sources over the course of two weeks.
In August, we saw our first foray into actual activism. The current presidential administration began to bear down upon journalists once more. Harsh rhetoric became a day of sadness, as five members of the Capital Gazette lost their lives in a mass shooting. This prompted an open letter – our very first – that stated where we stand: we are journalists; we are your neighbors, family, and friends… and we’re not your enemies.
In September, we welcomed Ashley as a guest contributor with her quirky, touching, and thoroughly entertaining “Anime Made Me Gay! Let’s Go With Hot-Blooded Yaoi,” as we blew the lid off of a scandal involving subscription box provider Anime Bento.
In October, we raised the alarm on another issue that began to circulate in the world outside of anime. It was at this point that the New York Times unearthed a letter from the office of Health and Human Services, which would legally define “transgender” out of existence. As I am transgender, I spoke out on the matter, in a plea for solidarity and alliance at a time when we need it most. A few months later, this would echoed once more, as a prominent foe to the trans community began to accuse anime of causing people to become transgender.
In November, Lydia poured her heart out with Sincerely, Orange, a touching piece that examined suicide, the aftermath, and survivor’s guilt through the lens of popular anime Orange.
In December, we launched our first deep look at the Fall 2018 anime season’s treatment of trans characters, and L.B. explained why you should be watching Chihayafuru before its grand return to Japanese TV in April.
What We Did Right
On the Herald:
On Anime Herald proper, we finally began to branch out, as we explored new topics and frontiers that had been somewhat off-the-books previously. Pieces like the ScarfingScarves/John Leigh piece, the Steam document, and our Anime Bento coverage really allowed us to show what we could do when we bore down with a real investigation.
Meanwhile, personal articles like Sincerely, Orange and Anime Made Me Gay! Allowed us to really start elevating voices that normally don’t appear within the anime fan community.
All the while, our news desk hummed along at a feverish pace. Of the more than two thousand articles posted in 2018, the vast majority came from the trenches on the front lines.
Anime Herald’s Patreon opened with the promise of exclusive content. And, for the most part, we did our very best to deliver! We published more than one hundred posts to the Patreon over the course of 2018, which offered a mix of behind-the-scenes articles, remixed classics from Anime Dream, and more.
The very impact of our Patrons’ contributions really began to be felt in December, though. It was at this point that I began to embark on what will be my most ambitious (dare I say crazy) project in the history of my own career, with That 2007 Feeling: A Chronicle of the Western Anime Bubble, a book that will examine the events leading up to, and throughout the great anime industry bubble, as well as the immediate aftermath that followed. The first chapter went live on December 21, with the second chapter expected to launch before February.
What We Could Have Done Better
On the Herald:
This is never particularly easy to discuss, to be honest. But, by April, I was basically running on fumes at the news desk. We were at peak output, publishing between six and twelve articles per day, with March 2018 having an average of a dozen pieces daily.
By June, I had pretty much worked myself to a breakdown, and vowed to scale things back. That said, saying to do something is one thing: actually making it happen is not so easy. It’s a hard habit to kick.
I fell back into the old routine by mid-August, chasing the highs that come from the massive Anime Expo reveals. This led content to suffer quite a bit. Editorials were backlogged, and editing work was put to the back burner as the news feed effectively consumed everything else. This includes the AniWeekly columns, which became too much to manage along with the never-ending churn.
Moreover, due to an injury sustained in my transition, the Nerdy Talk podcast was mothballed again – we’ll be back with this in 2019.
This was an odd case. When I stated that I wanted to tell behind-the-scenes stories, I figured that I’d have enough to last for two years or more.
It turns out that I was wrong, there. By mid-year, I found myself running out of stories to tell! I told the most interesting, entertaining, and generally thought-provoking pieces, from convention shenanigans to interviews gone awry.
At the same time, we hit a wall with our Anime Dream legacy content. Matt and I made up but a small part of the site, and many of the articles that we published were, to be kind, pretty rough at points.
I’m not too sure, here, but I don’t think I’d be doing any of you a service by making you read a 16-year-old review of Geneshaft or Magical Meow Meow Taruto at this point.
Because of this, we saw a slowing and stoppage of content, as we ran into somewhat of a loss on what to publish.
What Comes Next
At this point, we’re looking to continue Anime Herald’s transformation as we head into 2019. We’ve renewed our commitment to the long-form articles and editorial pieces, and want to become Your Anime Newspaper going forward.
In the next few days, we’ll be rewriting our Patreon page, to make things a bit more clear, and to bring everything up-to-date. And, well… we’ll be working tirelessly to spread the word of the Herald far and wide, as we bring out our greatest content yet.
It is my sincere hope that we’ll be able to come back to you next year, standing proud and ale to say that we’re proud of everything we’ve done. Until then, though, have a wonderful night and a Happy New Year.
All the best,
editor-in-chief, Anime Herald
Header Image Credit: CrowzPerch
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