I was born in late November, 1981. I�ve enjoyed animation for as long as I can remember and also harbored a fascination with Japanese culture for almost as long, so it was only a matter of time before I discovered and fell in love with Japan�s own brand of animation. While I�m relatively certain that I saw anime on television without really realizing it, what really helped develop my fandom awareness was the Sci-Fi channel�s �Saturday Anime� programming block which aired Saturday mornings during the 1990�s. It was there that I was introduced to iconic anime like Akira, Project A-ko and Robot Carnival, and while this helped to fulfill a need, it wasn�t until much later that my fandom really kicked into high gear.
Though we had cable TV throughout my childhood, our local carrier lacked Cartoon Network (something which is unheard of nowadays), so I missed out on many of the series that are considered fandom basics for my generation (including Trigun, Cowboy Bebop and Gundam Wing, amongst others). It wasn�t until college that I really got a taste of what the wider world of anime had to offer me as a fan. I started attending my University�s anime club (the University of Minnesota Manga Anime Society, which is still up-and-running and in which I still participate in some capacity) in 2001 at a very interesting time; though VHS fansubs had been common to that point, digital fansubs were just starting to become extremely prevalent and the bittorrent protocol was in the process of becoming commonly-used. We watched Azumanga Daioh as it was being released; I loved it so much at the time that I would download the new episodes and watch them before that week�s club meeting. As much as digisubs might be vilified nowadays for helping to deflate the anime industry�s bubble, at that point it was the window to so many series that I had never seen nor even heard of. They�re what helped me become the passionate fan of the medium that I am today.
I have a B.A. in Asian Languages and Literatures (with a focus on Japan, naturally), and while the particulars of my education don�t get used much at my current place of employment, it�s proven helpful in adding another dimension to my understanding of the cultural and linguistic aspects of anime.
As a fan of anime, I tend to gravitate towards more dramatic, darker series and series which attempt to convey strong ideas and themes. I seem to enjoy some series which others deem dull, depressing or boring; I�ve noticed that I tend to have more patience with series that don�t lay all their cards on the table at the outset, which aren�t particularly action-packed or which focus on the less savory aspects of the life we live. That doesn�t mean I avoid light-hearted shows, just that I don�t avoid the darker ones. My favorite anime series is Dennou Coil; I found it to be a near-perfect combination of concept, plot, direction and, most importantly, theme. Its ideas about the way in which we connect with things that aren�t �real� in the physical sense truly moved me in a way that�s difficult to describe. It�s one of those series where I discover something new every time I watch it.
About the Website
Season 1 Episode 1 began as a personal project during the Spring anime season of 2007. I�d been going through an anime slump (as so many of us tend to do from time-to-time) and wanted to convince myself and my friends and peers that there were plenty of worthwhile anime available to watch, so I took it upon myself to check out opening episodes of every series I could find and write a few comments about each of them (at this point I was simply writing my thoughts down and presenting them via Live Journal � check that out for some early examples of my [bad] writing). A friend of mine with some experience in web design offered to help me build a website with which to present my humble reviews to a wider audience, and by Fall 2007/Winter 2008 the first incarnation of s1e1.com (a moniker that he provided) had arrived, coded entirely by his hand.
By late 2009, updates to the site had become inconsistent simply due to my friend�s college course load and other personal issues, so my husband and I purchased the domain name and re-launched the site as the blog-style anime review hub it is today. The current format affords me more personal control of the content scheduling (translation: any bout of infrequent posting is probably my fault), and is, in my opinion, easier for readers to follow.
Some Notes About my Reviewing Criteria and Writing Format
Some readers might question my decision to spend so much time and energy on first episodes. Most review outlets spend very little time covering first episode releases - ANN�s seasonal preview guides last just a couple of weeks, and the majority of other anime blogs I�ve seen either tend to blog weekly episodes of a few series or spend more energy on posts with broader commentary or thoughts on thematic or technical content of various series. I appreciate these other approaches, and follow other blogs that fall into these categories. When I can, I try to offer a few posts that go beyond simply reviewing an episode which delve further into textual analysis or full-series reviews (because I really do watch and finish a lot of anime, even if I don�t always do a good job of talking about that here). My purpose, though, is to speak from the point-of-view of busy adults like myself who hold full-time jobs or are otherwise busy, and who don�t have time to devote to series which are highly flawed, in poor taste or otherwise may seem like a waste of time.
My opinion, which has been challenged many times but never altered, is that a wealth of information can be obtained by watching the introductory episode of a series, as well as by familiarizing oneself with the skills and output of various anime directors and animation studios. A show�s plot may not hit full-stride until halfway through its broadcast, but the likeability of its characters, uniqueness of its setting and the quality of its animation and its staff�s reputation may very well tell enough of a story to suggest how compelling the entire package will be later on. It�s not a perfect method by any means, but it�s more thorough that looking at each season�s chart and deciding whether or not to watch something based on a short plot synopsis and a low-resolution piece of artwork. I�ve been pleasantly surprised quite a few times, and I always have plenty to watch. In essence, I�m training myself to read potential; it�s an extremely subjective process (as is all reviewing), but it�s worked well for me.
I also tend to watch 1 or 2 series each season that I don�t like. This may seem like wasted time to some folks, but to me this is really one of the requirements for being a good reviewer. I worked a brief stint as a freelance reviewer at the now-defunct Advanced Media Network: Anime website, and while it was an interesting experience, one of the downsides was that the reviewers (for the most part) got to pick the anime series and manga that they wanted to review, resulting in a slew of generally positive reviews that really did nothing to help establish reviewers� personal tastes and opinions to the audience. To really be able to describe what I like about a show, it�s my opinion that I should be able to adequately describe what I don�t like about a show and to competently outline where I think a series has failed. I tend to draw the line at watching series I find personally offensive (though I�ve watched those as well), but I�ve watched a number of series that I�d describe as mediocre and not felt that the experience was wasted.
While I wouldn�t necessarily call this a feminist blog, I do take those ideas and philosophies into account when I�m watching any particular series. There�s nothing wrong in my mind with attempting to reach a specific audience (though let�s be honest, there are far more anime series aimed specifically at men than at women, though that means a bit less here in the West, in my opinion), but to court one audience and in the process insult another is inappropriate and is one of the main factors that leads me to dislike most series billed as harem, reverse-harem, ecchi and moe. This viewpoint has also soured me on some more popular, �mainstream� anime, like Macross Frontier and Welcome to the NHK, which are entertaining on the surface but problematic when it comes to the realities of living with mental illness or the portrayal of gender and sexuality. I�ve learned to live with occasional disagreement with anime fandom at large (as well as with other reviewers who I otherwise respect), but hope that these instances can, in the future, be used as a platform to reach an understanding with others about issues with which I and many others deal with on a daily basis, both within fandom and elsewhere.
In any case, I hope that people find this to be a place of value and that they enjoy reading what I have to say, whether they agree with it or not.
TrackBack URL: http://s1e1.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/2215