For a while now, I have noticed a downward trend in the blogosphere since 2012 as episodic blogging is coming out of favor with bloggers either giving blogging or forego other types of content such as essays, analysis and reviews. With Hanner’s Anime Blog throwing in the towel just a few months ago, I wonder if episodic blogging has outlived its usefulness in an age where legal streaming is widespread. Furthermore, I think there are better ways to present an analysis rather than share than in 12 separate posts.
Back in the early 2000s, summaries and later episodic posts were common since it was difficult to obtain access to new Anime that was airing in Japan and many people used dialup to get on the Internet. While fansubs became widespread with broadband Internet and bit torrent, it’s not as simple to an average fan as he/she has to mess with various codecs and configure a router to make Bittorrent work. Moreover, fansubs didn’t come out instantly, which is the main reason episodic blogging became popular. There were some fans that can understand Japanese, thus they watched the raws and then shared a synopsis of the episode along with his/her thoughts in a blog post. Because episodic posts are easy to write, many fans during the late 2000s jumped on the bandwagon and made these types of blogs, thus causing the blogosphere to become saturated with mediocre ones.
Nowadays, one of the reasons why many bloggers are focusing less on episodic blogging or just resort to weekly summary posts is simple: streaming sites like Crunchyroll where you can watch Anime legally. Although I initially have some doubts that it would kill off DVD releases back in 2009, it was quite the opposite. In the past few years, Crunchyroll has improved their selection (most of them being simulcasted) and sub quality despite some limitations such as geographical restrictions and data caps. In addition, there is a wider selection of legal streaming sites besides Crunchyroll where you can also watch Anime (Justin at Organization Anti-Social Geniuses compiled an extensive list of sites where you can legally stream Anime).
Regardless of the site, I think streaming is a more convenient way to watch Anime compared to messing with torrents and codecs. While I don’t subscribe to any of the legal streaming sites, I do have a Netflix subscription to mess around since I helped my parents do trim the cord and built Home Theater PCs (basically a computer that is hooked up to a TV used for playing media) to save money on Cable TV. To me, the experience was better: you just choose what you want to watch and let it play. Plus, many of these services allow you to stream Anime on game consoles, streaming boxes, smartphones and tablets. If it’s simple and convenient for fans to stream the latest episodes, they will no longer feel the need to read episodic posts for the synopsis since he/she already watched it. This pretty much leaves episodic posts with one purpose left: sharing one’s impressions and analysis. Even so, I don’t think these types of posts do a good job at that either.
A few years back, I shared my thoughts on episodic vs. editorial blogs and there were a few things I haven’t touched upon besides the impact of legal streaming. Early this year, a now retired blogger named Nil wrote a good piece on the strengths and weaknesses of episodic blogging. I started to realize some of the points the author made after I changed to more of a variety format for my blog (weekly impressions posts, Anime/Japanese Video Game reviews and editorials) during graduate school years in preparation when I start working. One of the problems I did not find out until now is that episodic posts tend to be overly redundant and don’t age particularly well since they are designed to generate discussion. For example, I shared my analysis of how the games are being played in No Game No Life while it was airing. After writing an editorial sharing my thoughts about the show’s themes in regards to gaming, I knew that it was better to share my analysis in one post opposed to 12 separate posts. Because of this, I feel that editorials or essays are better suited for analysis of an Anime since one can organize one’s thoughts to come up with a stronger argument without the redundancy. Plus, these posts would stand the test of time better since it will fill complete since the author would spend the time organizing his/her thoughts opposed to sharing them on a whim.
As a whole, is episodic blogging as a whole becoming irrelevant? With availability and acceptance of legal streaming sites, it’s safe to say that it’s declining. Even so episodic blogging will continue to exist just like Anime forums, to drive discussion. Regardless, I think more people are eventually going to either quit or spend more time diversifying their content (editorials, essay, reviews, etc.) in their blog and possibly leave the impressions in a form of a weekly digest.
In short, this pretty covers everything else I have to say about episodic blogs. With that, what are your thoughts on the decline? Do you still think that episodic blogging are relevant in the age where legal streaming and simulcasting exists or its better to focus the effort on other types of content?