12 June 2015 | 6 comments
I owe you an apology, readers.
“Where the heck is Lauren?” the three of you have been asking one another. “She said she’d be blogging regularly again, and then she takes a week off?”
A week off from Otaku Journalist, maybe. But there have been a lot of big changes going on elsewhere in my career. And now I can fiiiiiinally clue you in:
1) I quit my job at ReadWrite, where I covered technology. It was amicable, if you’re wondering. I worked there for over two years, and I was ready for something new.
2) I started a new job at Forbes. I’m covering the business of fandom. This might ring a bell for anyone who’s been around here long enough to remember How I ended up writing about cat ears, maids, and furries for Forbes. Winning Susannah Breslin’s contest for young journalists was my big break, and now my career has gone full circle.
You can read my first column, Why Adults Fall In Love With And Spend Big Money On Anime Characters, today. It might seem a little simplistic for experienced otaku, because I’m once again writing about our fandom in a way a general audience can understand. It’s a challenge, sure, but honestly it’s my favorite way to write. Too often we’re written about from an outside perspective and I want to bring some humanity to the culture.
Next step: to interview professional anime and manga translators. If you know one or are one, leave a comment or send me a note.
3) I’m going on a hiatus while I overhaul Otaku Journalist. It’s been over two years since I did a redesign, and you have probably noticed the site is not mobile-friendly. I am not just changing the web design, but also working with designer Ben Huber to establish a logo and some branding. I expect to have the whole thing done by July 12.
I also foresee a content shift here on Otaku Journalist as my fandom writings expand to other outlets around the web. Already, I do several anime reviews a week at Anime News Network, and now I’ll be shifting my fandom reporting to mainly Forbes. As that happens, I want to make Otaku Journalist more of a home for tutorials and resources on writing about and reviewing fandom topics. If there’s anything in particular you’d find helpful, let me know.
4) Thanks to all of you who have been reading through the years, the self-reinventions, the good times and bad. I wouldn’t do any of this without you.
5) It’s Friday, so stay tuned for some Otaku Links!
1 June 2015 | 5 comments
In March, I started watching Baby Steps, the story of a high school student who abruptly decides to take up tennis. This weekend, I bought my first tennis racket.
I have never played tennis in my life. I didn’t even know how to hold the racket. But I have watched a lot of sports anime, so that should count for something, right?
Of course not. I could barely hit the ball. I spent more than three hours practicing tennis this weekend, and all I have to show for it is a nasty blister on my thumb. Even so, I’ll be back at it tomorrow. I owe Baby Steps for that.
I think that sometimes, in the interest of entertainment, sports anime sometimes gives us the wrong message about sports. Onoda is a nerd who’s never considered road racing—until he becomes a major challenger in Yowamushi Pedal. On Haikyuu, Kageyama is a volleyball genius. The boys of Kuroko’s Basketball each were born with innate supernatural abilities. I’ve now watched 110 episodes of the Prince of Tennis, and Ryoma has lost just once—and very recently at that. For me this says, if you’re not immediately good at something, you probably just weren’t meant to do it. It’s a comfortable mindset, and one that kept me dreading gym class for my entire school career. I only engage in my one physical activity, running, because even I can move one foot in front of the other without worrying about being bad at it.
Baby Steps is unique among sports anime because it doesn’t star a prodigy. Ei-chan has never played tennis before high school, and it shows. He loses all the time! At one point in the first season, he lost in the very first round of an important tournament, going against the standard narrative for sports anime. Ei-chan doesn’t get better overnight, either. We get tired and stressed and frustrated right along with him. Usually, the protagonist doesn’t have to practice so hard and for so long to get results. But in real life, that’s exactly what athletes have to do in order to get to the top—even if they were born with physical advantages.
One of the things I like best about sports anime is watching people who are really good at what they do show off their skills. But until Baby Steps, there wasn’t a sports anime that truly conveyed how they got to that point. I’m awful at tennis, but all I can think about is how fun it is, and how much I want to keep trying to improve.
I always figured that by the time I was pushing thirty, I’d spend my time doing things I was actually good at. Instead, here I am, stumbling through Japanese and now tennis (coincidentally both hobbies I took up thanks to anime). Baby Steps contains the not-so-subtle message “believe in yourself,” repeated every opening sequence. I guess it’s rubbing off.
On Twitter and Instagram, I am noting my forays into athleticism with the hashtag #irlsportsanime. If you’re also an anime fan with fitness goals, it’d be awesome if you used it, too.