So I stumbled across activeanime‘s bastardization of AnimeFringe’s feature. I was almost appalled at the level of self-serving and 1990-era links. Seriously? The Haisho is on this list but not AnimeSuki?
My biggest problems with these kind of lists are that they are just the whims of the person who writes them. When I write them, it’s really no different. Now, taking a look at activeanime, I can see why it chose the sites that it chose. The site is definitely a lap dog of the DVD industry. But is anime just DVDs or is anime out there irregardless of DVDs? I’d like to think that. The online anime ecosystem is complex, and it doesn’t just mean DVDs. While DVDs are the commercial face of anime, there’s a lot more to anime than just shiny collectible boxsets. So in that spirit of making a “must visit” anime website list, I’ll keep that in mind. And, of course, when in doubt, Potemayo and spiral energy leads the way.
A few points before I begin:
1. One thing that bothered me about activeanime’s list was all the commercial site links. I’m not sure if they’re gunning for referral credits or just plain think that way, but if I’m visiting a website, I’m doing so either for entertainment or for information. While commercial websites are fine, I visit them for prices and buying stuff– hardly must visit. I don’t consider a sale or shipping FAQ to be must visits. If that’s the case, why wouldn’t Amazon or eBay be on the list? They sell shitloads of anime and manga, and eBay is one of the few places to find rare collectibles, such as my Powered Natsumi figure (new, in box still). So I forgo shopping sites.
2. I thought about what “must visit” means. Does it mean “must visit” because it’s popular? Because it’s hip and cool? Because it’s wacky and unknown? I’ll just take it to mean the “Swiss Army Knife of Anime Websites.” But, for leisure and hobby… as anime is my hobby. So in that vein, I generally included more popular sites and sites that are in my bookmarks or my RSS reader. There are very few “Hey, this is cool” anime websites because I think most are copied pretty quickly.
3. Individual DVD companies and fansub groups… I wouldn’t say any of them are “must visits.” Like if I thinking of going to Washington DC, a “must visit” might be the Jefferson Memorial. A DVD company or a fansub group is more like a Macy’s in terms of their utility. Studios… a bit different.
4. The politics that might go into a list like this in incredible. Thankfully, I’m not a lap dog of any company, any organization (except The Church of Melonpan), or any else. Derailed’s an independent site, and I’m proud of that fact.
5. A lot of my picks are really “category” picks. Like I gave a spot to Mirror Moon, which I’d be hard pressed to answer if it is more of a “must visit” than Baka Tsuki, RenPy, or NNL. But what these category picks do show is that it’s a vibrant part of anime fandom, just no one really separated themselves from the field.
5a. In categories with a lot of popular websites, I tended to just go with the most well-known or granddaddy of them all. For instance, even though there’s a BCS, the Rose Bowl is still special. Much like 4chan, only if the Rose Bowl were full of meme, anonymous, and Suigintou.
6. Two of my favorites mentions in activeanime’s list were the specialized series sites Rumic World and Nausicaa.net. I honestly love Nausicaa.net. It’s well-done and informative. Is it a “must visit” over a site that handles many different series? What if you don’t give a rat’s ass about Ghibli and only care about One Piece? At least with Wikipedia and 4chan, those sites encompass a lot of series and aren’t specialized. Maybe if I were tossing together “top 25 anime series websites” I might include Nausicaa.net and Rumic World, but for a general list? Not so much. And, again, it depends a lot on individual taste. Like I feel Gunota Headlines trumps them both in terms of specialization and news worthiness. So I also considered the scope of a site. Will it appeal to hardcore fans or casual fans or just fans of Ghibli?
7. Despite the fact that I am a blogger, I can’t really say that there are “must visit” bloggers. They’re all too similar, and too many of them either just toss up summaries or just try to be smart alexes (to varying degrees of success). I think for bloggers, it’s just akin to your tastes. I really should have just done something snarky and just post NetNewsWire, since a good RSS reader is all one really needs to cover all the blogs, and a good RSS reader trumps all the aggregators out there (something I quickly realized when I ran blogsuki).
So, finally, in the spirit of AnimeFringe’s Top 25 Must Visit Anime Websites, this is the real list.
The AnimeFringe Memorial Top 25 Must Visit Anime Websites
Hop Step Jump
The biggest failure of activeanime’s list (amongst many) is that it doesn’t include any anime blogger on the list, let alone any relevant anime blogger. I’ve always liked Jeff’s blog, mainly because he’s more FDR, and I’m more Teddy. Doesn’t mean I can’t still rag him for his questionable taste.
(This is really the “plug in any anime blog you like in this spot” choice, except for RC, which we’ll eventually get to. I picked Jeff because I was feeling sorry for his Valentine’s Day post and felt he could use some traffic.)
By far, the largest and most influential anime convention. Only I don’t go to cons, except Nekomimi Meido Kyou Con, but that’s just in my head.
(Really an “insert your favorite con” choice. I’m easy that way.)
Great site for anime song lyrics. They’ve since added YouTube linkage, which only makes it better. They mean business / No time for sissy pig.
Egads, another category type pick. I think the anime studios who create the anime are more interesting than the stores that sell that anime. I always enjoyed visiting Gainax’s website from time to time just because they cycle nifty images. And also for tidbits like “hiring for new secret series.”
Great Japanese directory of artists. You could easily waste an afternoon here, even if you can’t read Japanese very well.
I’d like to think so. ;) There’s a lot of strong parallels between anime and Ben Wallace. Or so I think.
(Joke pick for probably every other anime blogger other than myself. For myself, dead serious.)
Real time data on when anime is going to air as well as other important information (like studio and episode numbers). I find it useful, and it answers nicely the, “Wait, did my favorite series just get pre-empted for baseball?” question. Oddly enough, ESPN doesn’t tell me that.
The granddaddy of grandddaddy imageboards. The anime subculture before and after imageboards is much like the NBA before and after slam dunking became popular. For people who don’t understand Japanese, there’s a helpful English translation of all the menus.
The AnimeSuki of manga. I picked them over Manganews for this slot just because they don’t wipe an entry out of their database if the series has been licensed. Definitely a category pick.
Tokyopop is not on this list because they have done more for manga and graphic novels in the US than any other company. While debatable, their decision to flood the market with cheap, non-flipped manga volumes did a great deal to spread manga’s popularity in this country. They are on this list because they are one of the few resources for English language people to break in the business. While Japan does have a plethora of creative people, I know that the US has a few too. But don’t confuse “must visit” with “best” because I still do not forgive them for the blasphemy that was Initial D.
(Pekopon… Pokepon… WTF?)
Once a premier anime website, time is passing it by. Reading DVD reviews without screenshots feel so… so… 1990-ish. In the 21st century, we have bloggers and review sites who actually– egads– post screenshots, and as anime is a visual medium, I always have felt that this is important. The community for AoD is its real strongpoint, but it shares a lot of members with AnimeSuki’s and other sites.
The Fansub Wiki
Definitely best place for spoilers. I don’t think of RC anymore as an anime blog. It’s really become AnimeSuki Lite. Like when I read the comments left for Omni, very few of the comments are about what he wrote. Most are about the episode… a lot like a forum with each “series episode #” post being a forum header. This is not a bad thing as people who like to discuss about episodes irregardless of spoilers seem to congregate there.
(But I wouldn’t trade any of my YTAMR for all the spoilers in the world.)
Really another category pick. I feel like visual novel translations are the next frontier, much like landing men on Mars, cheap renewable energy, and hardcore gay sex on Fox.
I decided against including any individual DVD companies on this list, so the same logic goes for fansubbing groups (fansubbing groups also come and go much faster). But a.scarywater.net has provided a consistent and great tracker since the early days of bittorrent. I’m not sure how interesting a tracker is for “must visit,” but a great deal of links from TT come to this one, and it’s always fun to browse their site if only for the dead anime fansub groups. Oh, look, ANBU. Weren’t they like huge like in 2004? And groups I’ve long since forgotten… Onigiri?
Love their meticulous organization of anime, and I love the reader rankings and comments. Best archival site of “who subbed what?”
Pretty much the granddaddy of all tournaments. Just from running march madness one year, I know the time and effort it takes… and I loathe to do it again. Since Saimoe is the original one that really gained a large following across the world, it gets the #9 spot.
Greatest. Image library. Ever. Have a sample:
Moonphase is a Japanese site, but it’s pretty much the worldwide source of anime news, links, and rumors. Maybe it’s not something the average English speaking anime fan has in their RSS reader, but it’s a good visit from time to time, especially when you make out a broken katakana headline like “グレンラガン 2nd シーズン!”
(You can also argue for a Moonphase / Heisei combo as Shingo points out some of the more interesting Moon Phase items.)
(Though I just visited Moonphase for this post, and I noticed that Ikkitousen is getting another season. I’m definitely making a “Why… why… WHY!?” face right now.)
Anime News Network
Last great relevant English language anime news site now with Anime News Service being inactive. I like their database, which is top notch, their new stories, and their community. What I don’t like: the ads, their podcast, and Answerman.
Strong community (one of the most knowledgeable) + Quasi-legal selection of torrents = #5 on my list.
ZOMG SAUCE! The masses and the collective knowledge of the masses is what makes 4chan… uh…. 4chan. A CAT IS FINE TOO! Considering that 4chan is one of the top 500 or so websites in the world, it’s pretty much the 9,000,000 pound gorilla of English anime subculture. ITT: LUCKY STAR! Err, nevermind.
The first place to go for information about a series. The masses and the collective knowledge of the masses is what makes Wikipedia great. And that’s probably why anime makes up about a quarter of all Wikipedia queries. Now if we can only get a single template going for seiyuu pages.
I think mirc-x and Tokyo Toshokan have done more to popularize anime around the world than any other website. It’s that kind of popularity that leads to dumb mistakes like companies licensing Avengers, Coyote Ragtime Show, and other dreck. But for modern anime fans, this is a must for their RSS readers.
Tissue Princess? Gurren Lagann Konami? Parodies, music videos, clips, full episodes, whatever the fuck people can come up with… what really makes pushes YouTube to the top spot is that it does everything, and it houses a gigantic warehouse of user-created content that still mystifies me in both “How do they come up with this stuff?” and “Where do they get the time?”.
Post Game Wrap-Up
Honestly, two of the most popular and visited websites in the world, Wikipedia and YouTube, also doubles as great anime websites. They probably get more visitors looking for anime news or entertainment than AnimeOnDVD, ANN, and all the specialized anime sites put together. That counts for something, right? I would also toss Google in, but Google’s more of a tool nowadays than a website. I don’t think any anime website with the exception of TT and 4chan can come close to the impact that Wikipedia and YouTube has on the community.
Most of the top ten sites I list rely on anonymous fan contributions, which show that the fan community in general is much stronger, much more interesting, and much more knowledgeable than a single person. After writing this blog for years, I think that’s more than just the case. There’s a lot of great fans out there. Even if some of them might have, uh, looked up the Mako-cakes image with great interest.
Also, there’s only three sites that my list has in common with activeanime’s: ANN, AoD, and ADB. Plus I generally rank them lower. Anime is not just commercial interests, and I think one should give props out to the people who really care and really enjoy anime. I mean, I think that most anime bloggers out there are better marketers and salespeople than those who run the huge commercial sites. And then there’s the power of anonymous.
I am a bit disappointed that I don’t consider any online comic or online artist for the English speaking anime world a “must visit.” There’s a lot of decent to good to “I shouldn’t link because I’ll be accused of playing favorites,” but nothing like the Japanese community (like Tony Taka and others). Though it’s only a matter of time before someone breaks through.
Also disappointed that there’s really no “must visit” podcast. I complained about anime podcasts before, and it still stands. Most are too long and have too much filler and don’t focus in on anime enough. I think if someone can come up with something like NPR’s “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” or Bill Simmon’s “Are You Worried Yet, Johnny?” that’s all I can ask for. I think my ideal anime podcast would involve Shannon Sharpe reading my twittered posts. Yes, self-grandizing… but Shannon Sharpe reading lines like “Kyou in gym shorts and thigh high socks never gets old. Never. Toss in the ponytail she has in this episode… and… whoosh! Utter derailment. And Dictator Kyou is pretty impressive… on par with Haruhi on that front.” But only with the Shannon Sharpe dialect that only Shannon Sharpe can do. Like you wouldn’t want that.
Looking at AnimeFringe’s original list, most of those sites are no longer active or even relevant… like the Save Our Sailor Scouts! and Planet Namek. Feels really like 2001 when I read it, and, oddly enough, it makes for a great time capsule of the day. Back in 2001, some of the trends in anime were the birth of online communities such as SOS and the start of the DVD revolution. Looking back on this 2008 list in 2015, what would it tell? I’d hope it’ll convey a sense of not a digital revolution but a digital ecosystem. Anime, for most fans, has moved on beyond just DVDs and fansubs. It’s imageboards, YouTube, and anonymous contributions and sharing. Specialized anime sites, DVD sites, and personal fan sites are in the decline with blogs, databases, and straight from Japan news taking their places. I wonder in 2015, if what we do now will be considered just as archaic. But, in the meantime, sage.