Goodness me, it *has* been a while, hasn’t it? Roughly two years and change since the Barrage episode of FEV, and the indefinite hiatus of the site and podcast. My time away has been a bit of a blessing, giving me time to work out my frustrations with online manga and anime communities, to start taking apart what was making the show so hard to work on, and to decide how I would want to approach it if I returned to it in the future.
Which is the interesting position I find myself in now. Ready to start again. But we can’t start anew without first looking at the disgusting, bloated corpse of the original Friendship! Effort! Victory!, harvesting the few good ideas while putting its worst aspects to bed in a fiery grave. So let’s look back one last time, before we move forward to FEV 2017.
Despite the kicking I’m about to give 2014 and earlier Maxy Bee, there’s still a lot of things the old FEV did right, and I want to make sure I remember them as I go forward. These are the things I want to remain true for the podcast, and the site in general, from this point on.
- The Name: Genuinely, the luckiest thing that happened to me across the two years FEV 1.0 ran was picking up a name as good as Friendship! Effort! Victory!. It’s snappy, *incredibly* relevant to the subject matter of the show, and avoids the horrible trappings that other shows fall into, of having too corny a name, or one that desperately wants to make its intent clear. In late 2016 I hit up several former listeners and friends as to whether I should rename the show, to clear the bad reputation its later hiatuses gave it (to say nothing of my own prickliness), and the support given for me to continue under the FEV banner was overwhelming to me. So yes, the name definitely worked, even if certain videogames have since translated the Weekly Shonen Jump motto as Friendship, Effort, and Triumph, which we can all agree isn’t nearly as good.
- The Research: This one might be a little harder to explain than just ‘the research’, actually. What I mean here is the lesser-known information, the unseen imagery, the debunking of rumours and the linking to existing material about the series. I probably did this best out the gate with my Dragon Ball episode (as unlistenable as I find that now), where I used the fantastic resource that is Kanzenshuu to better inform the content, rather than just spout what I thought was correct without quality backing. Too much of manga and anime discussion is based on hearsay and popular rumours, and to be able to say something confidently on these subjects is a rare thing indeed. Also little curios like the collaboration image of Belmondo le Visiteur and Dois Sol, two cancelled Jump titles published no small distance apart, make all the extra hunting worth it.
- The Music: The choices of [Into Planet] and [Loser!], from Ganbarion’s DS mega-game Jump Ultimate Stars, helped give the show an identity, and as time has gone on with no re-release or re-use of the material elsewhere, it’s almost the weirdest way of reminding people that the Smash Brothers-a-like even existed. Also they sound real good, and to this day hearing the [Loser!] music brings vivid memories of Don Patch’s loss animation in the game.
- Looking at what made a comic special: In discussing the various series here, I’ve always found a lot of worth in finding what good there is in a comic, or what makes it worth doing an episode about, more than any summary or review of the material. It’s comics positivity, an angle learned over many years working with We Have Issues (née MOMBcast), and can make even the worst possible comics sound worthy of praise on some level. This approach to each comic is going to be central to all future episodes, and will hopefully lead to stuff like, say, my ridiculous love of Yuki Tabata’s Black Clover rubbing off on all of you.
- The galleries: It’s kind of hard to explain the quality of a comic’s visuals in audio form, and whilst I was always spotty with providing galleries, and occasionally prone to using images from less than savoury sources, I want to expand on this stuff in the future, perhaps with a seperate image gallery akin to what X-Plain the X-Men do every episode. It could be time-intensive to find particular moments, but just providing *something* to go on is worthwhile.
- The written posts: The baseball comics write-up, and the Women of Jump posts in particular stand out as material I’m very proud of, and are the starting point for a future of doing written content between episodes, especially if a realistic release schedule ends up being too wide to reliably maintain interest.
What didn’t work:
Some stuff was stupid, dumb, misguided, or was informed by the worst impulses of a community that often stagnates in morally repugnant behaviour or mistreatment of others. Let’s throw all of that stuff into the sea, yes?
- The Summary Hole: Let’s all be honest here, if you have to spend roughly half of an episode explaining a significant amount of the story beats or set-up, you’re doing something woefully wrong. I don’t know if any of you have tried to passionately explain why you like something to someone in real life, but let me tell you, this isn’t accomplished by just saying what happened in the thing. That’s got the makings of a child’s book report, or worse, a review. This goes back to the whole ‘what made a comic special’ thing; it isn’t what actually happens, it’s how its done, and it’s only at those points that its worth explaining more of the context. I want to make a conversational podcast (even if its me, talking by myself, at the listener), and a big part of that is to make it sound like an actual interesting conversation, yeah? Summaries are boring, with rare exception for particularly charismatic recap podcasts. Moving on.
- Me, talking by myself, at the listener: Some of the earliest criticisms this show got, aside from my inability to pronounce anything, is how dry it gets having it just be me, talking by myself, at the listener. This, admittedly, doesn’t have an easy fix; I’m often talking about content that no other podcaster or podcast-willing human being has read, and having multiple people on can lead to getting too distracted from the points I’m wanting to make, which is to say I’m a control freak. At the moment the considered solution is to have sections or sub-episodes for further discussion with others, or to work this whole angle of me, talking by myself, at the listener into something more like me, talking at a friend, who then talks back and asks questions and chats. You know, like an interview, but instead of it being someone relevant it’s just some bloke off the internet who’s done at least one google. Things to try, and indeed things that will be tried and tested in the future episodes.
- Talking about a comic when it’s very early into its run: The Assassination Classroom episode feels like a massive misfire on my part, talking up the hot new series to grab people’s attention, rather than waiting till theres something more significant to say about it, especially for a show that aims to never have to revisit a series. Escaping the summary hole helps, but let’s actually give it a few months before talking about something, yeah?
- Refusing to talk about a comic until it’s finished: Beelzebub, Gintama, Bleach, Naruto and One Piece are strong examples for this; comics I had *so much* to say about as they were coming out, but held back because the Assassination Classroom debacle had made me fearful of jumping the gun. Without the summary hole this isn’t a fear for any significantly lengthy series, as the stuff that makes the comic worth talking about is ACTUALLY HAPPENING. RIGHT NOW. AND THAT IS EXCITING FOR ALL OF US.
- Exiling written posts off-site: I wish I’d consolidated everything I was writing about manga here on the site, rather than just referring people to a tumblr. It makes the process of reading the thing I actually want you to read that little bit more complicated, which makes it a bit of an imposition, even if it’s just an extra click. Efficiency in delivery is key.
- Terminology: Fujoshi is a b*llocks term, isn’t it. Even when self-ascribed it’s this self-deprecating cruelty to oneself, an admission of a negative trait, even when the actions required to be considered one is the perfectly healthy action of imagining relationships or creating fan-content. This aspect of the community continues to irk me, and a part of not supporting it is to not indulge in it. I hate that my Prince of Tennis episode (my most popular episode!) indulges in it so much, when I could have just said female readers or something less derogatory. I could have even used that episode as a soapbox. For shame, past me. I think. I’m pretty sure I didn’t condemn the term nearly enough. It’s hard to go back and listen.
- Weaseling around the subject of piracy: I avoid piracy wholesale, and consider the practice shitty, but I don’t really want anyone to step in line with me as much as just acknowledge its wrong and that they’re not entitled to something just because it’s not legally available in their language. This is probably healthy. Past Maxy has nudge-nudge wink-winked about this crap way too often, or included images from scans too much in galleries. The plan going forward then, is to be clear about my stance, to not advertise or endorse scans, but not hesitate to support the more acceptable avenues (legal releases, imports, written translations to aid with reading). Just an avoidance of actual ‘scanlated’ material, really. A full condemnation of online reader sites can’t hurt either, manipulative sites using that morally-iffy fan work to profit through hosting and obtrusive ads and malware. F**k those sites entirely. Promoting those actual fan-translators can’t hurt really, can it.
- Don’t be such a w*nk: People probably don’t need to keep hearing about your piracy stance. We’ll work out the balance here eventually.
Plans for the future:
Friendship! Effort! Victory! is back, both as a site and as a podcast. The latter of these two is still a short distance away, but is far enough into its production that I can confidently talk about it without it being another empty promise. As a site, FEV is now going to be home to more written posts, regular write-ups on varying topics, not tied down to any one gimmick or idea. One week’s posts might be about a sports genre’s history in Weekly Shonen Jump, the other might be an anecdote or personal experience, a profile on an author, a review of a sister publication, or any number of ideas spinning around my head. Whatever these end up being each week, they’ll be posted every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, as a guaranteed bit of self-discipline. Some of these might be revisits of older material, such as a look at the value and problems of fan-creations, but for the most part it’s just going to be whatever springs to mind as I go.
The podcast itself won’t have a schedule until the first two episodes are in the can and ready for release, both as a buffer and to get an idea of how long it actually takes me to work on the new show. The actual contents are set in stone for the first eight episodes, however, and those are easy enough to share and chat about right now, as a sort of tease for what I’m working on.
Episode 1: Weekly Shonen Jump
Isn’t it kind of funny how, in some 33 episodes of a podcast, I’ve never actually just done one properly explaining what Weekly Shonen Jump actually is? This is a sort of corrective, and an attempt at a mostly timeless look at the magazine, its history, and its systems. It’s also a chance to do a big old fart on top of mostly false concepts like the 8-week rule and editorial pushes, but that’s a bit inside baseball compared to the main chunk of topics I want to cover with this episode.
It’s also a place where I’m going to try to integrate some of this ‘not just talking by myself at the reader’ stuff, but I won’t say anything about that until I know what’s actually going to happen there.
Episodes 2-8: My Seven Favourite Jump Comics
Inspired by the popular twitter hashtags of trash-year-twenty-sixteen, these first few episodes are dedicated to talking about the comics I hold in the highest esteem. Part love-letter, part just-a-reason-to-talk-about-these-particular-comics, it’s a nice strong positivity push to start off this fresh version of FEV. They’re not all actually good, like proper good, but they’re all at least interesting enough that I love them from tip to toe. The order they’re going to come out isn’t set in stone, but it doesn’t hurt any to list them all right now:
- Shinmai Fukei Killco-san
- Slam Dunk
- Stop! Hibari-kun
- Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kōen-mae Hashutsujo
- Medaka Box
Now you might have noticed that three of these episodes are repeats, and two of them fairly recent (by whatever scale we consider these things ‘recent’, huh). Consider these do-overs, where I want to take my renewed approach to these comics, or just re-record material that hasn’t aged well due to technology or terminology issues, or even just because I have more to say. This *is* a proper relaunch, after all, and I don’t want any previously covered series to be off the cards. The ratio going past this first batch of episodes is probably going to be far, *far* smaller than this, though.
That’s it for now, then. Just an extensive bunch of info, self-love, and self-flagellation, before the real stuff happens. I hope it’s been at least a little interesting, or at the very least gives people a bit of an idea as to what I’m doing. Stay tuned for some plugs of what I’ve been doing elsewhere.
Also this site template and lack of proper URL is awful, isn’t it? I should fix this stuff.