Anyone who’s had a hand in editorial blogging before recognizes the difficulty of coming up with something interesting to say on a regular basis. In fact, here in my weekly struggle contemplating what the heck I should write about, I gave up and figured, “well, why not write about other people trying to write?”. Shitty introduction aside, here are my personal thoughts for what I believe are the strengths and common problems with episodic blogs.
+: They have an immediate audience.
It is no surprise why episodic blogs form the largest subset of the blogosphere. Say you watch an episode of Space Dandy, and you liked a particular scene enough that you’re curious how others received it as well or as little as you did. Or maybe after seeing an episode of Shingeki no Kyojin, the next thing on your mind is to discuss with others what might possibly happen next. The excitement after roughly 24 minutes hasn’t exactly worn off, and without another episode to continue on with the work, anime fans need to vent what’s currently on their mind in a live discussion.
The high amount of activity is of course because new anime hold the largest proportion of viewers watching a show simultaneously. This means it has the greatest potential for current, insightful opinions about a work. These are after all the most readily discussed subjects at the time, compared to attempting to bring up a show from, say, the 60’s, which few are willing to discuss with you in comparison.
-: They age poorly.
Scene discussion is rapid and fleeting. Episode impressions are temporal relief with poor long term results: it is accessible to a collective audience only at the time the episode is released, and never to be read upon again. Few readers are willing to read thoughts about a particular episode unless they watched it recently as well.
Only a blog’s most ardent followers would watch an older series and read that blog’s compilation episode by episode. Viewers in general prefer reading an opinion about the overall show and how each episode worked in tandem with one another if available, not reading conjectures that could easily be verified by continuing on with the next episode. Episode posts simply do not preserve well unless under exceptional circumstances.
+: They’re easy to produce.
Episodic blogs are the most punctual of all aniblogging formats. This is because the content to be written about is always readily available in the form of a single video. There is no need for cross-referencing, coming up with novel ideas, or watching multiple episodes at a time. Because the analysis is localized to those 24 or so minutes, it is easy to jot down a few notes as you follow along, and then expand upon your opinion about what the episode does well or doesn’t do well.
-: They’re, uhh, too easy to produce.
It is precisely because episode impressions are easy to produce that writers don’t feel obligated to take any steps further in order to venture into branched paths (if they had desired to do so, at least). By relying on this format, the writer tunnel visions himself and forgets about other—potentially more effective—methods of examining a work. Most of all, the format bars any method that glomps more than one work or episode at a time, and it removes potential thought relating to more generic concepts present in anime altogether.
This is even assuming the episodic blog actually aims to have an opinion in the first place. There is already a significant majority who dilute over two-thirds of their posts with needless paraphrases (something a robot could do), and then restrict their own opinion into a paltry 3-4 lines. Short of flat-out finger pointing, several of the most popular episodic blogs don’t even have any opinions, and are nothing but glorified platforms for their followers to slap down opinions and pat each other on the back. Others just crack jokes along the way, having little to do with the episode except for pointing out memes or catchphrases.
+: They are the perfect exercise for improving analysis.
Because the writer/viewer is only examining one episode at a time, it is a good sanity check to verify that one’s opinions are well-founded. If you believe for example that Kill la Kill takes more part in offering fanservice than forming a satire of it, episodic articles allow you to take a particular scene and dissect it in order to explain precisely why this is true. A vague assertion now becomes almost irrefutable via a strongly argued perspective.
It is also too often the case that when people argue over works, they lack proper evidence to support their claims. Using a particular scene puts both persons on equal footing, and it is much more difficult to allow room for that “well, it’s just your opinion man!” claim when it’s down to the basics and an argument about the effectiveness of a short 30-second scene.
-: They repeat things… over and over again.
Let’s face it. Few anime are worth dissecting episode by episode to the point of writing 500-1000 words a week. Also, the majority of anime (or granted, any medium) cannot be analyzed this way without frequently coming back to the same ideas. If a work begins to suffer from melodrama one episode, it is highly likely that it will do so again. Some deviation in analysis can occur by examining how the drama has changed and what separate scenarios have caused them, for example, but it is more often the case that the effect of that action on the work will be extremely similar.
Also, because episodic posts separate a work by plot progression, this confounds most natural forms of criticism which breaks down a work by its core themes, strengths, and/or weaknesses. Want to write about the effectiveness of Chuunibyou‘s comedy? Well, shit, it’s better to have that as one article which shares examples from all parts of the work, rather than to arbitrarily split the analysis into all thirteen episodic posts.
This is not to say however that episodic blogs are flawed. These are just a few of the difficulties that bloggers of this nature face, and such articles suit a particular crowd of people. Episodic blogs are great precisely because of their ability to interface directly with the community and provide food for thought when next week’s episode is so very far away. I do personally believe that there is a lot of improvement to be made in many of these blogs, and one should keep in mind not to veer off from the blog’s primary purpose, lest it share the same fate as that growing ungodly majority of summary/Wiki-esque articles.