I’ve been busy lately, so I haven’t had the time to play much of Tales of Xillia at all. I can’t write an update to the LP series tonight, so instead, I guess I’ll ramble. About what? I’m not quite sure. I guess I’ll just talk about where I come from — with regards to anime, of course — and what I expect for the future of this blog — if there is one. Plus, this post will answer a lot of the frequent questions I’ve been getting on Ask.fm. Questions like, “What was the first anime you ever watched?” and “What made you start up Moe Sucks?” I figure I may as well take the time to answer them in-depth.
I wouldn’t say I’ve had a long, rich history with anime. Certainly, I’ve watched a lot of anime over the past five years as a result of running this blog, but I never really grew up with it. If it’s cool to have watched anime continuously for the past decade or something, I guess I’m just not one of the cool kids. But seriously, having lived most of my life in the United States, my only exposure to anime as a young kid was stuff like… Speed Racer, Sailor Moon, and, of course, Dragon Ball Z. Used to watching cartoons like Rugrats, Scooby Doo, SWAT Kats (yeah, i watched that shit on Cartoon Network), I never really got the appeal of Speed Racer. But I can hardly remember anything about the show now other than that the characters talked funny.
Naturally, I didn’t watch Sailor Moon growing up. I think my mom would’ve looked at me funny, and hey, back then, that sort of thing mattered to me. My first real exposure to “anime” didn’t come until I found myself waking up at 7AM one random Saturday, and bored out of my mind, I turned on the TV to see Piccolo shoot a laser through Raditz as Goku was holding him in place. At the time, my parents devoured these TV series from Hong Kong about Chinese folk heroes. Y’know, guys like Wong Fei-Hung and Hung Hei-Kwun. Needless to say, I ended enjoying that pulpy nonsense too. So Dragon Ball Z for me was like animated martial arts… but on crack. Holy shit, that guy can destroy an entire planet with his finger tips! That’s crazy!
But if you grew up watching DBZ in the ‘States, then you must remember how the English-language release went… or, more appropriately, didn’t. There were constant re-runs as I waited and waited and waited for Funimation to dub new episodes. Eventually, new episodes just stopped appearing altogether, and in the middle of the Frieza arc, too. The only thing I could do was read spoilers on my AOL-powered internet. By the time Cartoon Network picked up the show, I had moved on. The show might be a nostalgia trip for a lot of fans these days, but I can’t watch that stuff anymore without getting bored out of my mind. That’s why I haven’t touched any of the Dragon Ball Kai stuff. Not only that, I never really got into a shounen series again. By the time I heard about Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, etc., they just didn’t appeal to me. I think I watched like the first episode of Naruto before writing it off completely.
Back then, video rental places were still a thing, so I used the opportunity to watch Akira. Of course, at the time, I didn’t know I was watching an anime classic. I just thought it was a really cool cartoon from Japan. Other than that, the anime drought continued until, I think, late middle school. I was big into video games back then, and I read video games-related publications too. One magazine, Gamefan, would always have a short feature on anime in the back, so I could read all the hype for shows like Neon Genesis Evangelion. Unfortunately, I didn’t have money for anime, nor did I even know where to begin getting my hands on them. They didn’t exactly sell anime DVDs at Target. It wasn’t until I started wandering aimlessly through Fry’s Electronics one day that I came across a huge selection of anime DVDs. After looking through a few of the covers, I settled upon the first volume of Serial Experiments Lain on a whim. It looked cool.
And it was cool. Cool enough that I still think about writing a post on Lain one of the days. The problem was, however, anime was incredibly expensive back then. Hell, I’d still say it’s way too expensive now, but I digress. Of course, I got an allowance as a kid, but it didn’t really matter. With my Asian parents, I still had to run any major purchase by them, and yes, an anime DVD was considered “major.” So even though I had personally saved up enough money to buy the entire Serial Experiments Lain DVD set, and eventually, the Haibane Renmei DVD set as well, it was hard to justify the costs to my parents. 30 dollars a DVD for a bunch of cartoons? Are you fucking mad, son? After Serial Experiments Lain and Haibane Renmei — and a single odd Boogiepop Phantom DVD that I didn’t really enjoy — I stopped watching anime again for a while. I heard that Cowboy Bebop was really cool, but hey, how could I watch it? Don’t worry, I ended up watching all of these hyped shows later.
I did have some friends who were in my high school’s anime club. I guess I could’ve joined the anime club myself, but… I didn’t see myself as an club person, much less an anime club person. But through them, I got to watch some bootlegs of stuff like Escaflowne and Blue Submarine No. 6. I think I ended up disliking Escaflowne after ten or so episodes primarily because of the love triangle between Hitomi, Van, and Allen. Even as a kid, I abhorred love triangle subplots. They’re just a drag to sit through. As for Blue Submarine No. 6… it was so short, I actually can’t remember a damn thing about it anymore. But that was it. The last thing on my mind during high school was seeking out anime to watch. One of my friends fantasized about becoming an animator and moving to Japan, but all he ever drew were ugly catgirls. I suppose I could’ve given him more encouragement, but I honestly just didn’t give anime another thought for a long time.
The next anime series I would actually watch from start to finish was… The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. Yeah… Blue Submarine No. 6 to Haruhi. That’s a long gap. And honestly — I’m not going to lie — I enjoyed Haruhi back then. Not because of the story or anything, which I thought was pretty lame. Not because of the humor either. I liked it, because, well, I was kinda into romances back then, and I had really hoped to see Kyon and Haruhi become an actual couple. Was I shipper? At the time, I didn’t even know what a shipper was. But y’know, it’s anime, so anime characters rarely ever get together. And even if they did, the series would immediately come to an end, which I thought was stupid.
As a result, I tried to scratch my itch by watching other anime series with romance in them, but I relied on the internet, which just pointed me towards shows like Shuffle!, Magikano, and Zero no Tsukaima. You have to understand, of course, I didn’t really get the whole shounen/shoujo/seinen/josei distinction for quite a while. Maybe if I had gotten better recommendations than a bunch of shitty harems, I would’ve enjoyed anime more. I did also watch stuff like Buso Renkin and Zegapain — and also some show where a guy’s right hand had a girl attached to it… — but they were middling shows at best. Eventually, I just grew exasperated with the medium, and my interest faded again. Sure, I enjoyed movies like Princess Mononoke, and I had fun marathoning Eureka Seven in a few days, but finding the good stuff was difficult. They felt more like the exception than the rule. I wanted to like anime, but it just seemed as though I didn’t.
Still, by now, the internet had changed. It was easier to try out new shows, since certain intrepid souls would upload new episodes onto Youtube. I didn’t have to plunk down 30 bucks a DVD just to try a new show out. So even though I still had stopped trying to watch anime on a regular basis, I kept my eye on it. I would hear big things about a certain show, watch it, then get bored with it after a while. Y’know, stuff like Death Note, Clannad, and Code Geass. No matter how many of these shows I tried to watch, they just never really hook me. And yes, I would finish these shows later — well, not Code Geass — but I still never really thought much of them. But what was fun… was watching anime with my girlfriend.
My girlfriend wasn’t really into anime herself either — and she still isn’t — but still, she liked cutesy stuff like Lucky Star or comedy series like Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu. So yeah, I sat through Lucky Star with her. The entirety of Lucky Star, too. Brrr… Yeah, I didn’t like the show, but it was a tolerable experience with my girlfriend. So later on, I was like, “Yo, Kyoto Animation made Lucky Star, and you liked it. Let’s watch this K-On! thing that’s about to come out!” Aaaaaaaaaand K-On! sucked. It really, really sucked, Luckily enough, another anime series that season managed to draw us both in: Eden of the East. Unfortunately, everywhere I went on the internet, people just kept gushing on and on and on about K-On! Maybe I just didn’t read the right blogs or whatever, but I just found it ridiculous that not a single anime blog out there expressed a viewpoint that I could identify with it. I’m not saying nobody else liked Eden of the East, but even when I did read posts about the show, they didn’t express what I really felt. After much hemming and hawing, I finally decided to start my own blog.
Throughout this entire post, you must notice that I keep saying, “Oh, I lost interest in anime… but then I came back!” Why did I keep coming back? Did I just want to love anime? Actually, yes. There just aren’t a lot of Asian-related media in the US unless I wanted to read another goddamn Amy Tan novel. So even though I struggled for a long time to get into anime, I wanted desperately to connect to something that had been produced by an East Asian culture. Maybe that sounds stupid to you guys, but that was my justification at the time. There wasn’t and still isn’t a whole lot of Asian representation in the West. We’re either nerds or kick-ass kung fu specialists like Jackie Chan. I just wanted to watch something where an Asian character did anything other than do homework or throw punches.
But as you can see, this stop-start, stop-start pattern continued even after I started Moe Sucks. Over the blog’s past five years of existence, I’ve gone on so many hiatuses that I’ve lost track of them. Not only that, I’ve left so many series of posts unfinished… posts on anime I honestly wouldn’t mind finishing one day if I had the motivation to do so. But like always, my interest in anime comes and goes. I don’t think I’ve ever blogged continuously for twelve consecutive months. In fact, my current period of activity is probably the longest I’ve ever stuck around. I think I started blogging again back in late December? And hey, it’s the start of August now! I’ve been at this for almost eight months! If you ask me, I think I’m overdue for another lengthy hiatus!
But what exactly do I even want to accomplish with Moe Sucks? I don’t know. I don’t think I ever had any concrete plans. When Moe Sucks first started, my intentions were a bit more… critical, I guess? I wanted to focus more on how much, well, moe and everything moe-related sucked. I had also spent some time studying modern Japanese culture in college, so a few of my older editorials were inspired by what I had read and learned. Over time, however, I guess I’ve used the blog more as a way to make anime seem more enjoyable to me. Remember how I said watching anime with my girlfriend was more fun than watching anime by myself? That’s why Moe Sucks is an episodic blog, I guess. Whatever that means.
Personally, I don’t try to get too hung up on the distinction between editorial vs episodic blogs. My primary goal is to just talk about anime. As soon as I watch an episode, I want to talk about it immediately. If that makes Moe Sucks an episodic blog, eh… so be it. This is also why I don’t consider Moe Sucks a blog that reviews anime. I don’t review anime. At least, not in my mind anyway. To me, a review goes through the pros and cons of a show, then tries to quantify it all with some sort of grade. I don’t really do that. When I write about an episode, I just imagine what I’d say about that episode to a friend. I mean, just look at my Mahouka and SAO posts. They aren’t reviews. I’m just shooting the shit as though I’m with a bunch of friends. So it’s always hilarious when people accuse me of being subjective in my reviews. “Shit, I didn’t know I had written a review!”
And this also ties into why I watch so many “bad” anime. Cookie-cutter genre shows. Harem shows. Gary Stu-dominated shows. Etc. Why do I waste my time watching them? Because if I can get a post out that some people can enjoy, I don’t really feel as though I’ve wasted my time. What else am I going to do? Write about some old anime series? I could do that, but I don’t know… I like staying in the moment, I guess. I like talking about things that are happening now, and that includes currently-airing shows. So what else can I do? Make up some bullshit about how continental philosophy relates to Mawaru Penguindrum? I mean, sure, I’ve come up with some outrageous theories of my own too, and it’s fun to draw all these connections. But Moe Sucks’ goals have changed since I first started blogging.
I’m not trying to educate anyone. I’m not trying to steer anime towards the promised land. I mean, why even bother? These bad shows aren’t going to go away. I’m sure they make plenty of money, so they’re here to stay whether I like it or not. And y’know what? I may as well enjoy them in my very own way. At the end of the day, I’m just shooting the shit. Even with a critically-acclaimed show like Terror in Resonance. I’m not trying to tell you what it truly means. I don’t know what it truly means, and I don’t think I’d ever know that. I’m just talking about it the same way I’d talk about it with a friend. I can only put on paper — or on blog, rather — what the show evokes from me. Is that subjective? Hell yeah. But I’m fine with subjectivity. It doesn’t bother me one bit.
Where does Moe Sucks go from here? Oh, I don’t know… if I continue to stick around, I guess I’ll just stay the course. I have no big plans for the blog. For the time being, I just want it to remain a little corner on the internet where I get to talk casually about anime. Ultimately, I just want to have one foot in a piece of East Asian culture while I continue to live my life in the West. I never even expected for the blog to ever get to a point where people would actually look forward to my posts. I’m not close to being a big name blogger or anything — I’m certainly not under any delusion of grandeur that Moe Sucks is even a blog anime fans recognize — but still, it’s strange to get any attention, positive or negative. In any case, I’m grateful for those who have stuck around for years and given the blog their support.