Hello again friendos. If you’re new around here, this is the Spellbook and this is Aria, the blogger who maintains it. This OWLS prompt for May is kinda meta:
“Happiness is subjective. We all have different definitions of what happiness means to us and we also feel happiness in varying degrees. This month we will be exploring several questions describing our happiness in our fandoms, communities, and hobbies. Why do we find enjoyment watching anime or reading manga? Why did we decide to join the anime or pop culture communities? Why do we blog about our hobbies or cosplay as our favorite characters? This topic is all about the passions we have for our interests and why they are important to us.”
…Scratch that, it’s very meta in comparison to the usual.
(Oh wait, I almost forgot to introduce OWLS. OWLS stands for the Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-respect, who wish to promote diversity and acceptance through pop culture regardless of people’s ethnicity, disability, gender or sexuality.)
I’ve tackled why I like anime, why I read manga, my blogging beginning and my collection (I think the only things I haven’t covered at this point in some form or another are my Hetalia season 1 DVD, which I found at the charity store one time, and a Touken Ranbu anthology I picked up in Japan, which I haven’t read because it’s either real life or the reading that has to suffer)…and I think that’s basically all you can cover of this hobby while being meta and without becoming too irrelevant.
However, I don’t want to squander an opportunity for something this meta – to quote my Twitter bio, I “[dabble] in stuff and [excel] at none of it,” so I should probably discuss something I’ve had a strong relationship with over the years…and of course, since this is an anime/manga blog, it should stay relevant to that.
It used to be that when people asked me “What do you want to be in the future?”, I’d answer “something to do with books”. It didn’t matter whether I was an illustrator, editor or author, I just wanted to be on the creative side somehow. It just so happens that while I was seriously rethinking potential career choices for the first time, anime and manga came along again.
That was where fanfiction came in at the time – as a bridge between passion and future. It’s said “do a job you enjoy and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”, right? I always think like that, but never think about the realities behind it…and only now I feel the repercussions of it. That’s a story I haven’t seen the end of though, so maybe I’ll save it for another day.
Fanfiction.net was my site of choice – it was a place I’d heard about through word-of-mouth in late 2011. I’d heard about FF.Net through someone else’s (and eventually my) English teacher, who was using fanfic to teach creative writing. (Of course, that teacher was also a writer, as they tend to be.) As mentioned earlier, my reintroduction to anime/manga was around this time, so naturally my fics were mostly of my predominant fandom of the time Detective Conan/Magic Kaito. I’ve learnt over time I have really weird opinions, so I tried to make that count within this fandom by thinking of the most outrageous plots that I could make work within the span of the canon – it’s quite telling that my debut fic was a murder mystery set at a magical academy. It’s also telling a lot of the stories are fantasy, because that was the best way to pursue such ends in a canon that was defined by the mystery genre.
Sidebar: On an occasion or two when I write about magic with its own associated universe, people have pointed out to me that in places, the logic doesn’t seem to work. It’s probably just the result of poor planning, but I’ve always thought because magic was illogical, that’s what made it so cool.
Strangely, the only other fandom I can say I’ve written for as strongly as that one is the period in June-ish 2016 for Bungou Stray Dogs, where amateur translation duties for that fandom’s spinoff Wan! dovetailed neatly with my time with the Tumblr-based writing group bsdwrite. (It could even be argued that bsdwrite’s community was why I was so gung-ho about OWLS when I first heard about it – “trying to reclaim a sense of lost glory” or something like that.) In this case, the aim was to write “within the lines and by using the prompt” as much as possible, whether it be alternate universes or just a cool fight scene. I actually needed my writing skills for a big exam at the end of that year, which was why I joined bsdwrite, but I’ve come away with ties to a fandom which is only now being reignited with Tales of the Lost and the 3rd season of the anime (since the 3rd season will adapt the last I saw of the canon at the time – I tried “going legal” with my anime and manga after that).
I don’t think I’ve addressed this particular issue before, so…the reason I associate infamy with the name “MagicConan14” is because of all the dead fics I left in my wake in the pursuit of completing a story. Infamy is, of course, a perception-based thing, but I guess it’s because I see dead fanfiction as representative of the nastiest, most fickle part of me that I thought my infamy was a nasty thing in the first place. Anime and manga fanfiction is a niche in a niche, so arguably I am more popular running magicalgirlsandcerulean than I was when I was writing fanfic…(and considering magicalgirlsandcerulean is no longer in its heyday now that Boueibu‘s basically gone, that says something about how transient online popularity can be.)
You’ll notice I’ve been writing in past tense a lot. Aside from the obvious, that’s because I haven’t really had the desire to write a proper fic since 2017, because obviously in order to write a fic, you need a plot…it’s probably part of the conscious decision to focus on Adulting, rather than keep pursuing a dream that’s safely died two eras of “possible future careers” ago. Even if I’m not always writing or reading fics anymore, I know that I’ll definitely be welcomed back with open arms if I ever choose to go back.
Even still, it’s no coincidence that the fandoms I’ve written for are fandoms I’m highly likely to have spent money on and/or can exhibit the most knowledge of. Arguably, some of my happiest memories are chasing the newest and latest fan activities related to anime and manga, which is why I’ve persisted with them so long.
I fall out of love with games and books/comics a lot, music has either been a chore or something I felt I couldn’t become a part of a fandom of (due to having weak ties with said fandoms) and I’ve never been deeply into TV shows/movies outside a very small group of them, but fanfiction was one of the creative endeavours that taught me anime and manga was The Stuff For Me.
So, over to you – what do you think about fanfiction? Is it a hotbed for plagiarism, a way for people to discover the joys of writing or just a way for fangirls to vent
(which I know I’ve been guilty of in the past…let’s be real)?