The more critical side of anime fandom has been expanding lately. It’s always had a presence on WordPress and other blogging platforms, but viewership there has hardly been outstanding. However, with the transformation of YouTube into a mainstream internet platform we’ve seen a growth in critical anime content. Analysis has been spreading into the video medium for some time now, and it’s not at all controversial to say that it gets way more attention there than here. At the same time, there are many more quality bloggers than quality YouTubers, many of whom have unique perspectives to add to the community.
I believe that we should attempt to foster further communication between YouTubers and bloggers. We need to create an atmosphere where discussion between the two is more common, where those in the two spheres are willing to cite each other and mention each others’ works. If our goal is to provide knowledge and new perspectives to the anime community — and that’s certainly my goal — then we need to be consuming all the material we can while discussing as much as possible, and that’s only feasible with inter-platform interaction.
All too often I hear anime bloggers say that they don’t watch YouTube videos. I can understand why someone would prefer to get their information by reading rather than listening, but it’s disappointing to hear it so widely. I personally make a point of both watching and reading anime content and I think that doing so has definitely helped me out both as an anime writer and as a fan of anime in general. I hear similar sentiments from the YouTube side of things, and it’s no better when I hear it from them.
There are some people who do try and cross these gaps. Canipa makes YouTube videos but is clearly active in the blogging circles of AniTwitter as are others like Pause and Select and Pedantic Romantic. But that’s not enough. We need more serious interaction between the two spheres. I want serious debates held on peoples’ main platforms rather than on Twitter. I want people to watch the videos and read the essays about a topic before they speak on it. I want to see YouTube and blogging treated not as totally different things, but merely as two separate ways to convey info within the same sphere.
Being honest, blogs are never going to get the same kind of views as YouTube. YouTube only requires passive participation, while reading requires active participation, something that hurts its appeal. But anime YouTubers aren’t just random people willing to throw an anime video in the background for 20 minutes. These people already read content all the time in order to make their videos. It wouldn’t exactly be hard for them to read more blogs and mention or cite them when appropriate. Nor would it be hard for bloggers to check out videos on a topic they’re writing about before they mention it, like I did with my iyashikei essay. We already see YouTubers respond to other YouTubers and bloggers respond to other bloggers. That kind of cross-community interaction is necessary.
But it just isn’t happening to the extent I want. I mean seriously, Digibro himself started as a blogger, so it’s not like it would be hard for him to get more acquainted with modern anime blogging. Sure, he’ll occasionally cite Ghostlightning or a translated interview, but you almost never see him cite criticism or analysis from other blogs.
It’s really just a massive shame. Things are getting better though. Some of the newer anime YouTubers seem to mingle more with bloggers on Twitter, and as people realize how lucrative YouTube can be we’re seeing more people setting up channels while maintaining their blogs, like LitaKino. It’s something I plan to do myself at some point, and I have no intention of leaving behind the blogging sphere when I do so. We’re also seeing more anime podcasts, which are probably the best realm for discussion between YouTube and blogs. But for someone like me who wants to know as much as possible about anime as a culture, it’s just not enough. I really think more interaction would help both communities. Hopefully we get there at some point.