Mage in a Barrel Says “Goodbye,” and To Each Their Own Story

This is a retirement post. Sort of. Not really. Okay, it’s complicated. The quotes in the title don’t indicate dialogue.

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Since June of 2013, I’ve posted at least twice every single month on this blog. It’s a streak I’m rather proud of and, for the longest time, didn’t want to break – but nowadays I feel leaving Mage in a Barrel is something I could finally do without regret. This isn’t because I’ve stopped loving anime or even that I no longer have the passion for writing about it. My recent Conrevo post showed me that much. Instead, it’s because I finally feel I’ve come to a point where I’m ready to allow myself to enjoy this hobby differently. And so, this post marks the end of regular content on Mage in a Barrel.

I’ve said this before, but it’s true so it bears repeating, especially now. As a personal project, Mage in a Barrel and what it represents in my life means a whole heck of a lot to me. I haven’t been on their earth all that long, but writing on this blog has been a part of my life for a really substantial portion of it. In quantitative terms, it’s the most popular and well-regarded thing I have ever created in my life (thanks, WordPress Stats). In qualitative terms, it’s a place where I formed an identity for myself, found my voice as a writer and as a person, and discovered a lot about what’s important to me. Thinking about anime, thinking about anime in relationship to myself… all of that has played a huge role in the “me” of now.

Wow, you know? That’s kind of incredible.

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I’m glad I recently did a post compiling my favorite posts throughout the years, because I feel like having to do that at this point would ultimately be an exercise in overblown sentimentality. But, still, those posts are the fruits of my labors. And, even if some of them are riddled with typos, or have ideas that are half-baked, or are just not all that good, I’m proud of all of it. If you’d like, you can read that post here:

4 Years of Mage in a Barrel

One of the the most difficult things to come to terms with about this blog has been the realization that it will always be an incomplete project. As I look through my blog drafts, there are dozens of article ideas that I wish I could still pursue. A post on Kyousougiga, in-depth analyses of different commonalities across the Macross franchise, a defense of The Idolm@ster‘s Miki Hoshii, and ode to tsunderes, the post I promised Thaliarchus on the Heartcatch! Precure film, and, most damningly, my unfinished epic of a post on my favorite anime of all time, Blast of Tempest. But when I consider those, along with all the posts I will surely want to write in the future as I continue to watch anime, I can understand – I’ll never be able to write everything I want to about the many anime I love. And somehow having that realization makes me feel like that’s fine.

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As much as I’d love to continue to be an apostle for the things I love (after all, no one has as good of taste as I do) in this form I believe so deeply in, as I’ve always tried to be here, I must resign myself to entrusting that role to others. I must believe anime blogs will never completely die, must hope that someday anime YouTube will rise above the clickbaity, views-driven, personality-heavy state it inhabits now and will find a way to become more personal, thoughtful, and touching.

And with that, I’d like to offer some thanks to some of the people who made this journey to immensely valuable. I always tried to write for myself first of all on here, but it just makes a difference when you have people with you.

  • First, I want to thank all the people who were regular commenters here over the years: whemleh, DerekL, Dawnstorm, and WingKing. A lot of people have commented here in the past four years, but you all are folks whose names I remember because you were there (at least for a time) with almost every post – I’m deeply grateful for that and for the friendships that evolved here.
  • Second, I want to thank some of my fellow bloggers: Frog-kun, ZeroReq011, Guy Shalev, Bobduh, illegenes and wendeego, AJtheFourth, Draggle-kun, Dee, ghostlightning (even from beyond the aniblogger grave), and the many other retired bloggers or people whose stuff I read. These folks in particular, I consider special colleagues with me as bloggers. I believe deeply in aniblogging as a particularly rich form of fan creation, and a lot of that is thanks to them.
  • Third, thanks to the many, many people who I had the chance to meet on Reddit and Twitter, whose thoughts and opinions and blog posts have had a profound impact on the work that I did here. Whether it was because you said something that changed my mind, made me mad enough to go write, or just provided a new perspective, I’m grateful.
  • Fourth, thanks to Nate Ming and Miles Thomas at Crunchyroll, who trusted me enough to be a part of building what’s now (imo) the best anime-writing features team on the whole damn internet. That chance began here, and I’m grateful to them both for giving me the opportunity. I’ll be continuing my work as an editor with the Features Team, and will likely continue to write articles there as well.

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So, where do I go from here? Well, although this post marks the end of regular content on Mage in a Barrel, I’m certain that I’ll continue to do things here on the blog now and then. Whether it’s one-off post on a show or a year-end round-up, I simply don’t think I’ll ever fully be able to resist the impulse to channel my love for anime into writing. It’s a habit that will take a long time to break. And, you know, after four years, I think even my stuff that isn’t very good is pretty alright.

Even so, it was important to me that I say this officially, if only to give myself permission to move on, to watch anime without thinking, “Okay, how am I going to blog about this? How will I make permanent the record that I was here and that I had this experience at this time?” It’s okay for me to just watch anime to watch anime. If a time comes when I never make another post here, I’m okay with that. Or if I someday do end up writing up those posts I regret not doing, I’m fine with that as well. If I make an anime YouTube video, call me a hypocrite (unless it’s good, which it will be).

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I guess, as a closing, I should mention something about why I think it came about that I feel okay about making this decision. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to create worlds and tell stories. That’s not unique. Many people do that. But it wasn’t until I began to try to learn to draw that, at last (having tried song, dance, writing), I felt I finally had discovered the way I could express that desire the way I wanted to express it. Part of the reason for retiring here is so I can spend more time pursuing that goal. I want to give it a shot for real. As Harada-sensei says to Taichi in Chihayafuru of giving up, “Say it after you have actually spent your entire youth on it.” If you’d like to follow me along that journey, you can follow my art Tumblr and/or my Pixiv account:

I’ll continue to be active on Twitter as well, posting art and thoughts about the anime I’m watching, so you’re always welcome to reach out to me there. And, of course, the aniblogger podcast I mentioned a while ago is still moving along, so you’ll be able to get some more in-depth thoughts on stuff from me there. So, if anything, I guess this isn’t so much a retirement post as it is a farewell to one phase of being an anime fan and the hello to a new beginning. But I’m bad at making full stops—which is why this is the most half-hearted retirement ever. At least I did it, though. Good job, me.

And with that we come to the end of this farce of an “ending.” Thanks you so much for all your support and friendship over these last few years. I have loved being Mage in a Barrel and I am so incredibly grateful to all of you who were a part of this journey to be a person who shares about the anime I love. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. In the words of my favorite anime…

The beginning is the end, and the end is the beginning. Well then, let us begin again. And to each their own tale.

始まりは終わり。終わりは始まり。では、改めて始めましょう。それぞれがは作る、それぞれの物語を。

Blast of TempestBlast of Tempest

23 thoughts on “Mage in a Barrel Says “Goodbye,” and To Each Their Own Story

  1. It doesn’t seem like you’ve made the tweet yet, so I guess I’ll have to comment here sigh. Thanks, bless, for all of your posts over the years that have made me think of anime in ways I hadn’t before, and for enriching my experience as an anime fan. I’m looking forward to continuing to follow your journey through drawing and any new blog posts you might make, as well as just hanging out on twitter 🙂 よろしく~

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heh, heh, finally got you to leave an actual blog comment.

      Thank you for reading and for being such a good friend. I’m genuinely very glad that my writing added something to your anime fan life. Here’s to much more fun ahead!

      Like

  2. This made me tear up a little ;_;

    You were one of the first anibloggers who I not only found, but who also reached out a friendly, welcoming hand in return, making me feel like I could be a part of the magical weirdness that is anitwitter. I really appreciated that. I’ve enjoyed your posts a lot and your company more, so I’m glad to know you’ll still be hanging around and chatting with us nerds on Twitter.

    I’ll miss your regular writing, but I totally respect your decision. Best of luck with your art! I’ll be keeping an eye on that new Tumblr for sure. ^_^

    Liked by 3 people

    • There were sure a few times during the writing of it that I teared up myself! I’m a little sad to be leaving (well, as much of a departure as this is), but knowing that people like you are still around to carry the aniblogger flag makes me feel better about it.

      Maybe someday I’ll move on from Twitter as well, but today is not yet that day. Knowing people are going to be watching my art now inspires me not to give up on it too easily. ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Aww… I’m touched to be remembered by senpai. But, rest assured that even when I haven’t been commenting I’ve been at least deep skimming to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. (That kind of thing always sounds hollow doesn’t it? Even though it’s true.)

    I owe you thanks too. Even though I’m still struggling to find my voice, my own blog wouldn’t exist without your ~~encouragement~~ tolerance of my sometimes novel length comments on your weekly reviews. I count the first of those among the important anniversaries of the Lounge.

    ありがとうございました

    And dangit, now I want to read that article on Miki. I didn’t much care for her the first time I watched… but with subsequent rewatches, I’m come to appreciate (if not like) her. She’s as ambitious as any of the other girls, but there’s something more there. A deeper drive. A neediness? A desire for approval and to be liked? We never really get her full backstory though.

    Liked by 2 people

    • How could I not remember you! It’s hard to describe how much it means to a blogger to have people who regularly, consistently, faithfully show up in the comments. I’ll always remember and be grateful for that—including your length comments. I’m glad my words were enough to inspire, and I of course continue to wish you luck on your own blog endeavor. I’ll be by as I’m able.

      And who knows? The Miki article may someday exist! After all, as far as goodbyes go, this is a rather uncommitted one.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I wouldn’t spend my time replying to posts I didn’t find interesting to read. Thanks for a good run.

    As an atheist, I’ve often worried, this time I’ve gone too far. Our world views are quite different, but I feel we’re on a page when it comes to how people should be treated – with kindness and curiosity.

    Maybe it’s time for me to try out twitter? … Nah, not my venue. I’ll be reading your next post, if and when it shows up.

    Like

    • Yes, it seems that similarity in philosophies on how to treat people can hold relationships strong even when specific religious beliefs differ. I always appreciated the different perspective you brought in response to my stuff; it’s nice to not always have people saying “I agree, you’re great” to every post. ^_^

      I’ll look forward to seeing you again when I write in the future.

      Like

  5. Welp. I suppose now I have to pick up the mantle and dust off the ol’ blog to fill the void…

    Seriously though, congrats on sticking with it for so long. Enjoy your retirement!

    You gonna start doing more freelance stuff for CR and whatnot, or are you just gonna focus on art now?

    Like

    • Maybe you should…

      And thanks! I’m not planning on doing more stuff for CR, probably just maintain what I have been doing for the last few months (mostly editing, and occasionally writing something if an idea strikes me for something I think that audience would enjoy). As much as I can, I’m hoping to make art my main focus so I can really give it a good go.

      Like

  6. Well, that’s not what I wanted to log in and read today. At the same time, I can’t pretend to be shocked, since I think it’s been apparent for a while that you were evolving towards other things. I will miss this place as a community, though. The value for me wasn’t just in your excellent and thoughtful articles, but also the conversations that they often sparked with Derek, Artemis, Dawnstorm, and the other regulars, and sharing the back-and-forth of our different thoughts and perspectives. I also always appreciated the way you took the time to respond to our comments too, which made me feel like I wasn’t just replying into a void. Sometimes I looked forward to your replies almost as much as your new posts.

    BTW, I was just listening to the ANNCast podcast before this, and your name came up. Zac and Jacob were talking about the Crunchyroll Expo and one of the panels you hosted and Zac called you “a good dude.” Whatever the future holds for you, it seems like you’re building a nice network of friends in the industry! I didn’t know you were going to be at that show, but if you go back again next year, shoot me an e-mail. I grew up about 15 minutes from Santa Clara and go back there for the California Extreme classic arcade convention every year (at the same convention center, actually), so I know that whole area inside and out – I can point you to some good nearby restaurants, and a few other local interest places to check out if you have time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, this is been something I’ve been thinking on and off about for quite a while. I just had to get to a point where I felt I could allow myself to do it.

      The community we had here was definitely something cool. Believe me, I was also always looking forward to your guys’ comments, and replying to them was always a pleasure. ^_^

      (Also thanks for that head’s up, I of course went and listened to the podcast to hear it myself heehee. I’m definitely planning on going back to CRX next year, so keep an eye out for whenever they announce the details for it!)

      Like

      • Will do. It would be nice if they had both conventions on consecutive weekends, so that I could come for one and stay for the other, but that’s probably asking for too much. Cal Extreme is usually close to the same time as Anime Expo anyway, early to mid-July, and Crunchyroll probably doesn’t want to have AX and CRX too close together.

        Out of curiosity, are you still going to maintain your watchlist and rankings list here?

        Like

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