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Friday, January 2, 2015

Review of the Reviews: My Favorite Posts of 2014

Oh, 2014. You were an interesting year but you have left us for good, never to darken our doors again. Bye now! Don't come back! Actually, 2014 was a very productive year for Nagareboshi Reviews: I managed to post 213 times last year, more than I managed to blog in 2013 - although, considering I was a full-time student in 2013 and an unemployed slacker in 2014 probably accounts for the difference in post count.

It seems appropriate to look back at Nagareboshi Reviews during 2014 and pick my favorite posts of the year! I'll split the list up into two sections: reviews and meta/commentary. Flashback Friday, anyone?

Favorite Posts of 2014: The Reviews

Voice Over! volume one by Maki Minami: This particular post is special because it is the first time I ever got a review copy of a manga from Viz this year. I don't expect it to happen ever again - this is a small blog and doesn't fit into the usual roster of blogs/websites that get boxes and boxes of review material from major companies - so it's nice that they gave me a chance on this newer title.

Also, it's a really fun series from the manga-ka of Special A, centered around a young girl who is training to be an anime voice actor - except that her voice is terrible, to say the least. She quickly becomes the heart of a group of ragtag seiyuu in training with their own unique flaws and somehow becomes one of the most sought after voices in school. It's weird and totally terrific.

Attack on Titan volume thirteen by Hajime Isayama: This review of Shingeki no Kyojin became one of my most popular manga reviews - and who am I to argue with my readers? It's a very good, perhaps controversial volume (a lot of people wondering where the Titans went to), which stands out in recent series history. It resonated with me a lot while reading it, especially concerning the moral truths of the Survey Corps and its surrounding environment, in a way its follow-up volume never could.

Knock Me Up by Kuon Michiyoshi: I reviewed a hentai manga! And while it's not my first time reviewing a H title, it's the first one I've reviewed with an actual storyline and isn't a collection of smutty one-shots. It managed to be a hentai title with humor and heart that entertained and still stayed raunchy, and for that, I give it two thumbs up. Note: review is NSFW.

Umineko omnibus 1 by Ryukishi07: Honorable mention goes to my Umineko manga review, since I've been waiting forever to read it, and once I did, I was super excited to blog about it. It's a violent, horror manga with a much maligned anime counterpart and hopefully having the manga in English will raise its visibility in fandom. Also: Beatrice-sama!

In terms of anime: I managed to review Pupa, Tsukihime Lunar Legend, Another, Space Dandy S2, Soul Eater, and the tail end of SAO S1. Of all of these, I actually enjoyed reviewing Tsukihime the most, because of how it served as a teaser for a larger mythos that deserves to be looked into further. Also, I think Ciel is best girl.

Favorite Posts of 2014: The Commentary

I Am A Woman Who Buys Anime: Remember when Anime Twitter realized the Ask John column on Anime Nation is terrible, terrible trash? I do! The terribleness reached a breaking point when John, for some misogynistic dumb reason unknown to normal people, decided the 90s/early 00s crash of the anime market was because of those darn women folk not buying anime (and not, you know, anime companies making terrible decisions, licensing terrible shows, and marketing shows terribly). I wrote about it in a post that quickly became one of the most popular posts that month.

PS - The Ask John column is still terrible. I'm convinced the questions are made up for 90% of these things.

Why I Am Unable To Enjoy Kotaku's Anime Journalism: Damn, 2014 was the year I openly answered other people's questionable opinions, apparently. Kotaku wrote about Space Dandy and it was awful. I called the Kotaku article arrogant, pretentious click bait and I still stand by that statement. And considering Kotaku has gone on to name RWBY as one of the best anime of 2014, I'm cool with thinking they need new writers who actually watch a broader variety of anime.

Also, I love the "you're gonna have a bad time" meme guy I made up for that post. It still applies!

Why Nanami Momozono Is My Queen: In which I gush on about the female protagonist of the shojo manga Kamisama Kiss. In an era where a disturbing amount of shojo heroines are spineless dolls who float along with the story and let other people tell them what to do, Nanami is the resident kami who stands above the fray. She grows into her kami abilities, never loses sight of who she is or where she comes from, is involved in several meaningful female friendships and manages to be strong and sharply hilarious in the face of distress. I ♥ Nanami and this post spells out why.

I also get to draw comparisons between Kamisama Kiss and Natsume's Book of Friends, another supernatural slice-of-life manga favorite. Both series should be read by more people.

Three Things William Zinsser Taught Me About Anime Blogging: Early in 2014, I read William Zinsser's book On Writing Well and walked away with lessons on writing - and anime blogging. Somehow, in this post, I linked together the gems gleamed from Zinsser's own career as a writer to some of the essentials of blogging about anime and manga, and it worked! I would definitely recommend his book to any blogger who is looking to level up their writing game, either on the blog or in the publishing world (or both!).

The Legend of Korra Finale Is Everything I Ever Wanted Because Korrasami: Yo, just look at the post title! Okay, it's a super recent post but it still ranks up there, because Korrasami kind of means the world to me right now. Actual bisexual ladies of color on my TV screen, holding hands and vacationing in the Spirit World and being girlfriends? Sign me the heck up, y'all. Hopefully, Korra just busted open the door for more US cartoons to bring developed LGBT characters out of the subtext and into the text.

Let's hope 2015 means more quality posting from across the anime and manga blogging world. I'm hoping to still be a part of it!