Thursday’s Lab Report #12: Interview With We Remember Love’s Ghostlightning

 

There are times where I have a lot of fun. Doing Thursday Lab Reports are a lot of fun. I get to learn a lot from people who have voiced their opinions for a while, who are very outspoken, and can give some great advice. So for today’s 12th guest, it was again only a matter of time before I would ask one of the more well known anime bloggers in Ghostlightning and see if he would be willing to participate–he agreed to do so!

So I believe we know what Ghostlightning has done so far in the last three years online: He’s been writing with Co-blogger and friend Mechafetish at We Remember Love, writing for T.H.A.T Anime Blog, and has written for sites such as When Anime Past Meets Anime Present and Superfani. That’s why I was glad to know he is probably feeling just as sad about the NBA Lockout, just like me!

Justin: So I think everyone knows who you are, but what else don’t we know about you? And how long do you work–in general (blog, job, etc)? Because I see those tweets on Twitter–

Ghostlightning: I think a certain sub-section in the english-speaking anime fandom is aware that I exist in some form, but I highly doubt it is like how you put it. Don’t get me wrong, I like where I am right now. What a lot of people don’t know about me is that I enjoy watching a lot of sports, and have followed/am following more sports blogs (not a lot of interesting reading thanks to the NBA lockout though) than I do anime blogs:

NBA (American Basketball)

Tennis

MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)

I’ve been following these sports for over a decade, although I only play Tennis in the past 3 years. The last pickup basketball game I did I was horrible, so I don’t think I can keep up at my age (34), and I haven’t practiced any martial art since 2000 (n00b Jiujitsu; most of my experience is in Aikido 1994-1996, and Karate 1989-1990).

I work anywhere from 9-13 hours a day in Human Resources for a trans-national corporation, and about 5 hours a week doing social media public relations for a Japanese Sake Bar & Dance Club, and 4 hours or so a week doing ad hoc work for the different business ventures I and Mechafetish are into.

I watch anime whenever I’m not doing anything (not working or playing with my baby daughter), and I generally get to write posts on Sundays. Especially this season. I just try to write 2-4 posts on Sunday and hopefully build a buffer so that WRL doesn’t stop publishing 2-3 posts a week.

Justin: Exactly how did We Remember Love come about?

GL: I started reading blogs when I was just randomly looking for anime reviews back in the Spring of 2008 and I discovered Cruel Angel Thesis, where Owen wrote about super and real robots, and a few posts about TTGL. I was like, “wow, people write articles like this about anime!?” then from his links I discovered The Animanachronism who became my blogging idol — Mechafetish and I read all of his archives in a day. But this was Spring of 2008 and this meant Macross Frontier! This is how I got hooked on reading episodic blogs: I read a LOT, but ended up sticking with Crusader from THAT.

Very early on I realized that reading dispassionate, non-fan reviews sucked ass. Bloggers acting tough without knowing anything about the show they’re writing about (no context, no history, no understanding why the material is beloved). Really, these things are ugh. For episodic posts, I’d rather read someone who’s totally having a ball with the thing he’s watching. Case in point, when Crusader writes about Gundam shows he doesn’t like I’d rather have a lobotomy.

By Fall of 2008 I’ve been a lurker and sometime commenter in a number of blogs. One day, I commented on LBrevis‘ intro post in the now-defunct Oi, Hayaku! blog requesting that she write about this episode of Cowboy Bebop I really liked. She responded with “go write it yourself,” and well, I did. The name We Remember Love was coined by Mechafetish, when we were thinking of joining a 4chan activity wherein we get to re-make Macross Frontier, who we had several (especially him) problems with. We’d call our fanfic We Remember Love. We never got around to making it, so I used the name for the blog instead.

Justin: What has changed since WRL’s start? Has anything changed in your writing?

GL: I used to be obsessed with linking to every other related post, thinking it’ll be a great way to get readers. Now I don’t, because I read so few blog posts now, mostly because many of my favorite bloggers have retired or are inactive. Also, not a whole lot of people are writing about Gundam and Macross, and I wouldn’t link to posts written by non-fans who are acting tough and all disgusted by what they’re watching.

Not so much as a change, but rather a misconception about WRL is this: WRL is an “academic” blog. No, it isn’t. It is true that I occasionally write essays that evoke scholarly papers (faintly as the case may be), but most other writing in WRL is pretty much burning fireworks of fan love. The posts are less of editorials, but more of entertainment features (If you want to know whose writing style I admire the most, it’s Otou-san from SOS). All of which are presented to invite discussion, which is what I love most about this hobby.

Justin: You made a post about your three years of blogging. So, using that a bit, what has been the best thing that has happened to you during this time? But also, the worst thing that has happened as well!

GL: I found out about my wife being pregnant one morning in 2009, and by that time I was fully in the swing of blogging anime, and I was already engaged with the twitter community by then. I had, rightly or wrongly, shared my jubilation over my growing family in a few posts, like this one, and this one.

The worst thing that happened was how my career underwent a tremendous setback in 2010, just months after my daughter was born. What was I thought a near-perfect play resulted in: termination form Government work (an inability to get other work in Government), my businesses going under, and a long hard challenge getting back into corporate. The nightmare just ended a month ago. You’d never feel it because I am the happiest guy in the world in under almost any circumstance, but yeah, 2010-11 was a nightmare.

Justin: You listed in your three years of blogging that you listed fansubs and scans as thanks. So it made me wonder, “Hey, how did this guy get interested in Anime?” So, I want to know–how did you get interested in anime?

GL: I was maybe less than 3 years old, when I was introduced to television (in black and white) back in 1979. Of course cartoons were included, and in our case it was (Philippines) Voltes V, Daimos, Mazinger Z, Star Blazers (Yamato), G Force (Scientific Ninja Team Gatchaman), Mechander Robot, Danguard Ace, etc etc. I would watch these along with the Disney stuff, the Looney Tunes stuff. Of course I wouldn’t be able to distinguish “anime” back then, but I could tell by age 4 that I liked the violent stuff A LOT.

Due to the violence, Ferdinand Marcos the dictator banned all Japanese cartoons. MIRACULOUSLY though, Super Space Fortress Macross was from America being a Harmony Gold pre-Robotech production. But I knew even then that this was a Japanese work, by the character designs and the violence (I had G. I. Joe to compare it with by then) I was maybe 7 or 8 at this time, and I fell in love with Macross and Minmay forever.

Before I discovered fansubs via torrent in 2008, I had either bought bootleg DVDs, or copied files from Mechafetish, apart from the short burst of anime watching when AXN started showing Slam Dunk, Gatekeepers, Sakura Taisen, Cooking Master Boy, Kenshin, Van Dread, You’re Under Arrest, etc. in the early 2000s.

Justin: What animes in the past few years did you like/wondered why people liked it?

GL: From the things I’ve seen the past 3 years I suppose it’s K-On!! that really surprised me. I liked the first season sure, but I was unprepared for how much I loved the second. As for wondering why people like a certain show, I don’t really wonder that much. There are people who like stuff I don’t like nor understand. I don’t really waste my time talking about things I don’t like… unless I hate them within the broader context of my love for them (e.g. shitty Gundam shows).

Justin: What Fall Animes have surprised you? But vice versa, disappointed you?

GL: Fate/Zero surprised me with its production values. The effect of all this is a story with gravity and a feeling of greatness about it. This is a good thing for such a story that seems to take itself rather seriously despite its roots in a masturbation game. I purposely avoided the Fate/stay Night anime, though I’ve played the Fate route and at least 2/3 of Unlimited Blade Works. I found the whole thing quite interesting in its juvenile way (and how it takes itself quite seriously), but not enough for me to finish playing (which is incredibly time-consuming). The silliness about the mechanics of the “war” resembling an RPG structure, as well as the shoehorning of mythologies not withstanding, I’ve been hooked.

As for disappointments, I didn’t expect much of anything really so it’s difficult to be disappointed. But if I had to name one, it’d be Guilty Crown, which on the surface is filled to the brim of things that interest me (including and especially robots), but has otherwise turned into something a lot like Fractale, which probably is the most disappointing show of the year.

Justin: Finally, if there is one piece of advice you could give to anyone who might be interested in starting a aniblog, what would you tell them?

GL: I generally write some advice during every anniversary of We Remember Love, but let me say something here for someone who’s thinking about it and hasn’t really started yet:

Be awesome and don’t take any shortcuts.

Content is very important, whether you favor writing about weekly airing shows (as I do with Gundam AGE), or on topical issues in editorial form (as I do from time to time), or sharing your love for your favorite shows (the foundation of what I do), always put together the kind of effort you will be satisfied with. The kind that when the criticism comes, you don’t sweat it because YOU know the kind of work you put into your posts isn’t something just anyone who likes anime can just do whenever they feel like it.

Early on I’d be more encouraging and tell people to just keep on writing. But at this point this would be inauthentic because if you do just that there’s no way I’d make the time to read your blog. I’m way too busy working to put my family ahead in the world. If you’re new and you want me to read you, come at me (email me, contact me on twitter or Google+) then blow me away. Don’t try to bait me with your tough-sounding opinions saying this and that is shit, and some obscure or unpopular show is awesome. These are tired, tired ploys. N00bs still fall for them though, so if you want to write for impressionable n00bs then you’ll find a large but fickle audience. Good luck retaining your readership.

No, I can’t really tell you to just write and find yourself along the way and everything will be fine. Why? If you don’t have the determination to be awesome, your posts that are just opinion dumps on whatever plus screen caps will just litter the internet, wasting people’s time they could be spending watching anime, doing things they really enjoy, etc. You won’t be awesome immediately, which is why you need the thick skin of a buffalo, and the persistence of a hyena. Blow me away, and I will be your blog’s champion. Fair deal?

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Justin

Justin is the founder of Organization Anti-Social Geniuses. Anime & manga fan that likes to blog about anime and manga, is addicted to sports, and weak to crossovers. You can follow Justin on Twitter @Kami_nomi.

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