Random Musings: Five Years of Experiments in Manga

As of today, Experiments in Manga is now five years old! In some ways it feels like I’ve been writing here forever, and in other ways it seems like I’ve just started. When I first began Experiments in Manga, I had no idea how long it was going to last (honestly, I still don’t know), but I am rather pleased that I’ve been able to keep it going for so many years. And I find it especially impressive when I stop to consider all of the other things going on in my life right now.

What are some of those other things, exactly? Well, I and my partners all managed to survive our first year of parenthood, for one. (As did the little one, whose first birthday was last week.) That has certainly been a huge change in my life. I’m incredibly busy at work of late, too, since my supervisor retired in December and I’m still filling in for that position on top of my regular one. Another significant development is that I am now part of the leadership team for a new taiko performance group and I’ve more or less become an alternate for another semi-pro ensemble. I’ve actually been doing some teaching and composing for taiko, too. It’s all been rather exciting. And extremely challenging. And a bit exhausting.

There really doesn’t seem to be such a thing as “free time” anymore for me, and since Experiments in Manga is something that I do in my free time… Well, this past year is the first year that I’ve posted fewer things than I did in the year immediately preceding. Although I have been able to maintain a regular schedule, overall I’m reading less, and I’m writing less, too. I miss both things terribly (the reading especially), but I might have to cut back even more in the coming year depending on how things continue to progress and for the sake of my own sanity.

For example, I’ve decided to quietly retire the Discovering Manga and Finding Manga features. I enjoyed writing them, but I’m just not posting them frequently or regularly enough. (Which I then end up feeling guilty about.) But although I may be saying goodbye to those particular features, last year I actually introduced a new one that seems to be rather popular: Adaptation Adventures. I’ve only posted two so far—Udon Entertainment’s Manga Classics (which incidentally was one of my top posts from the last year) and The Twelve Kingdoms—but I’m hoping and looking forward to writing more.

Speaking of top posts, my Spotlight on Masaichi Mukaide was very well received. In fact, it wasn’t just one of the top posts from last year, it’s one of Experiments in Manga’s most frequently visited pages ever. It probably helped that the spotlight made the rounds on general comics sites in addition to catching the attention of manga enthusiasts. That single post may very well be the most noteworthy thing that I’ve ever written. Likely, I’ll never be able to top it. I’dbe lying if I tried to say that I wasn’t at least a little proud of it.

The most popular (or at least most frequently viewed) manga reviews at Experiments in Manga from the last year included the anthology Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It, Aki’s The Angel of Elhamburg, Mentaiko Itto’s Priapus, Aya Kanno’s Requiem of the Rose King, Volume 1, and Yaya Sakuragi’s Hide and Seek, Volume 1. (On a personal note, I am rather pleased that all five of those manga to one degree or another have a queer bent to them.)

As for my top non-manga reviews from the past year there was The World of the Shining Prince: Court Life in Ancient Japan by Ivan Morris, Haikasoru’s anthology Phantasm Japan: Fantasies Light and Dark from and about Japan, Frederik L. Schodt’s Manga! Manga!: The World of Japanese Comics, Seven Seas’ edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll with illustrations by Kriss Sison, and Yu Godai’s Quantum Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner, Volume 1.

I’m actually pretty happy to see Avatar Tuner on that list; the novel was one of the books published in 2014 that left the greatest impression on me. As was Massive, for that matter. Last year was actually only the second time that I compiled a list of notable manga, comics, and prose, but I’ll likely compile another one for 2015 since I had so much fun putting together the first two. Plus, other people seem to enjoy them. That goes for my TCAF posts, too, which remain popular. As long as I attend TCAF, and as long as I’m still writing at Experiments in Manga, I plan on rounding up my experiences at the festival.

Another feature of sorts that I’ve continued to work on is my monthly manga review project—a recurring set of reviews that focuses on a specific series or genre. In November, I wrapped up my second project, “Year of Yuri”, a series of reviews featuring manga and comics with lesbian themes. For the following review project, I was feeling in the mood for some horror manga. But while I picked the genre, I let readers of Experiments in manga pick the series. It ended up being a tie between Setona Mizushiro’s After School Nightmare and Yuki Urushibara’s Mushishi, so I decided to review both series, alternating between them each month. At the moment, I’m about halfway through the project.

I still maintain that I write Experiments in Manga for myself, but it does give me great satisfaction and joy to know that other people read and appreciate it as well. Over the last year several readers have let me know that they’ve given a particular manga, comic, or novel a try simply because I wrote about it. I and Experiments in Manga have started to be referenced and cited in Wikipedia as well as other places online as well, including an Italian comics website. (Admittedly, while very cool, I also find this kind of terrifying.) As always, I would like to thank everyone out there who reads and supports my efforts here at Experiments in Manga. It’s truly appreciated. I hope that I can continue to improve and continue to provide content that is useful or at least occasionally interesting. Here’s to another year!


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Comments

  1. Congratulations! Looking forward to the next five years! :)

    • Ash Brown says:

      Five more years, now that would be impressive! I’ll see what I can do. ;)

      Thanks for the support, Sean, and keep up the great comics-writing work that you do, too!

  2. Katherine Dacey says:

    Ash:

    Just wanted to say how much I’ve enjoyed reading your blog over the last five years! I’m impressed at how consistently good your writing is; I know from personal experience how difficult it is to stay fresh, especially when you’re writing reviews. I also wanted to compliment you on your hosting skills; you’ve done a great job of creating a virtual community here at Experiments in Manga, as is evident in your readers’ warm and thoughtful comments. Here’s to another five great years!

    • Ash Brown says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Kate. You have been a tremendous inspiration and influence on me, especially when it comes to manga blogging, so they really do mean the world to me. I will continue to strive to do my best!

  3. badzphoto says:

    Congrats on 5-year blogging. I’ve always enjoyed reading your reviews and special features and look forward to more :)

  4. Congratulations! Also: do what works best for you, these things should be fun for the author, just like they are for the reader. And real life should come first, always!

  5. Congrats! I love reading your blog posts and it’s introduced me to several non-manga that I’ve really enjoyed! And of course, gotta love contests (which reminds me, Tokyo Demons arrived safe and sound! And then the cat spilled a full cup of water right next to it! WTF?! Do cats just hate that book? My cat hasn’t spilled water in ages and if it’s full, she never does, she’ll just drink out of it and be more likely spill it when it’s too low to drink out but she wants to anyway. The book is dried and is ok, a bit water damaged, but there’s a quote they could use: Tokyo Demons. Cats don’t like it. Not sure why.)

    • Ash Brown says:

      Thank you! I love having you as a reader, too! I really appreciate your comments and participation in giveaways. ^_^

      Also, glad to hear that Tokyo Demons at least arrived safely. There must be some sort of curse on it. XD

  6. Congratulations, Ash! It’s been a wonderful five years reading you. <3

    Also, this may sound silly, but–I really, really love how organized this blog is. It's so easy for a reviews blog to become a mess, especially if someone is reviewing a wide variety of material (in a wide variety of formats) like you do. But your run-down here, where you discuss the different features you've done and which ones you'll expand upon or retire, is further proof that you can keep this place neat, clear, and organized. Obviously the content of your reviews is the best part, but I love how easy you've made it to reach that content and browse around for more. I've stumbled upon your reviews of stuff I didn't know even existed, and it was such a pleasure!

    Five more years! Five more years!

    • Ash Brown says:

      Oh, no, that’s not silly at all! In fact, as a professional in the realm of the organization of information, it makes me very happy to hear that someone actually appreciates my efforts trying to keep things findable and navigable!

      And, as always, thank you so much for your continued support and encouragement. ^_^

  7. Congrats mate. I really enjoy your blog and don’t comment enough. One of the good things here is the wide range of different manga you review. Not all of it to my tastes but you have caused me to read and enjoy some ones I wouldn’t have otherwise done.

    • Ash Brown says:

      Thank you! If I have one thing going for me it’s that I have such a broad and eclectic taste when it comes to reading. I’m glad you found some manga to enjoy that you might not have tried otherwise!

  8. Congratulations, Ash! A few days late to this party, but I did want to chime in and agree with the other commenters. It’s always a pleasure reading your considered thoughts on different manga and books. I love seeing the range of things you read and maybe hearing about some stuff that normally isn’t on my radar. Here’s to five more years!

    • Ash Brown says:

      Ah, Jocelyne, thank you so much!! You are another person I greatly admire, so your kind words mean a lot to me. ^_^ And I really enjoy reading what you write, too! I definitely learn about things that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

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