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