As we celebrate our tenth anniversary on Beneath the Tangles, we want to take some time each month to look into the past, not only to commemorate our ten years, but also to see where we were and how far we’ve come as a site and collectively as anime fans. For most months this year, we’ll do that by looking back at a particular year and at the month corresponding to that year. For instance, last month we started this off by looking at January 2010. Today we throw back to February 2011.
TOP OF THE CHARTS: FEBRUARY 27, 2011
We’ll dive into anime a bit, but I want to us to look at what else was happening at this time in 2011. Here are the most popular songs, movies, and series on this very day nine years ago:
Top Selling Album
NOW 37, Various artists [Amazon]
Number One Song
“Born this Way,” Lady Gaga [Amazon]
Most Watched TV Show
83rd Academy Awards
CURRENT EVENTS: JANUARY 2011
Here’s what was happening in the world nine years ago this month…
- There is significant unrest in countries around the world, continuing massive governmental shifts in the Middle East and North Africa, as Bahrain begins to experience instability and Libya moves closer to Civil War.
- President Obama determined that the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents federal recognition of same-sex marriage, is unconstitutional.
- The most powerful solar flare in four years erupted, disrupting communications in China.
- In the most-watched television show in history, the Green Bay Packers defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, 31-25.
- Inception, The Social Network, and The King’s Speech are the big winners at the 83rd Academy Awards, with the latter winning best motion picture. Colin Firth takes home best actor for the same film and Natalie Portman wins best actress for
Perfect BlueBlack Swan.
POPULAR ANIME in 2011
It’s hard to believe that Steins;gate is now nine years old. It burst onto the scene in April of 2011, gathering steam (and admirers) each week and eventually hurtling toward a celebrated conclusion. But it wasn’t the only would-be classic released in 2011. We also saw Puella Magi Madoka Magica come out that year, along with Nichijou and Fate/zero. It truly was the year of Gen Urobuchi, as he slayed our emotions as the writer of two of those works: PMMM and Fate/zero. Those franchises, of course, remain strongly integrated in the anime fandom, with Fate/Grand Order series coming out each season recently and Madoka getting a side story anime this year.
Other critical darlings of 2011 included Usagi Drop, Level E, Mawaru Penguindrum, and Hourou Musuko. We also joke about how long it took this show to get a third season (and unexpected delight for sure), but to give you a frame of reference, it was in 2011 that Chihayafuru originally premiered. A number of series that have retained popularity since then also made their debuts: Anohana, Blue Exorcist, Deadman Wonderland, No. 6, and the reboot of Hunter x Hunter.
Dozens of anime movies were released in Japanese theaters, including Shinkai’s most obviously Ghibli-influenced work, Children Who Chase Lost Voices, and Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos. And tons and tons of other anime series were released—see any favorites of yours among this smattering of shows?
- Hanasaku Iroha
- Infinite Stratos
- Kamisama Dolls
- Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Sing
- SKET DANCE
- Tiger & Bunny
WHAT WE WERE BLOGGING
2011 was probably singularly most important year for Beneath the Tangles. Up until around that time, I had always characterized myself as a “quitter.” When things got tough, I got going. I always just assumed it would be the same with blogging—that I even made it from the site’s launch in summer 2010 into the near year was a surprise, but that we were still going through 2011, the first full year of the blog, was astounding to me. It was truly the grace of God, him wanting to use this blog for something and to change me for his purposes. And as he accomplished his work, four key things fell into place in 2011:
- I was joined by our first staff writers. R86, who is still blogging away, was the first to join. His initial article as a staff writer wasn’t about his favorite baseball anime, Oofuri, but about another classic one: Major. He was joined later that year on staff by Goldy and then Lynna. It was a wonderful team, and one that expanded our reach and put out terrific content, helping me grow so much as a writer as they challenged me with their excellent thoughts on a variety of shows, as well as by their friendship.
- A number of foundational posts went up, those that consistently drew readers into our blog and continued to do so for years. Article like my review of Endo’s Silence, the Finding the Invisible God series, and my elementary (and now, I’ve concluded, wrong) analysis of Gilles de Rais boosted our readership, bringing in devoted subscribers and providing a source of encouragement.
- If my first few months of blogging was primarily about building relationships with other anibloggers, 2011 was about cultivating those new ties. I did this through conventional means, but also through the Aniblogger Testimony series, where I invited other anibloggers to talk about their own spiritual journeys. It was a vital component to our blog and a building block of our mission to create bridges in the otaku community. It all started with a survey I sent out to every aniblogger I could find, one that was helped along by Lauren Orsini, who was kind enough to create graphical representations for me. A lot of bloggers stood up and took notice of what we were doing as something unique and maybe helpful; a couple went the opposite direction and angrily denounced me (publicly). It was a wild time.
- We started doing what we do best for the first time. In 2011, I started covering currently airing series, particularly shows like Hourou Musuko, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Usagi Drop, and Mawaru Penguindrum. Now, most of our anime coverage is about what’s airing right now. We also started featuring article types that are now consistently part of our coverage: interviews (here’s one with singer Cait Plage and another with academic Jolyon Thomas), reviews, first impression posts, and our first Rez Week posts, where we focus on one topic all week long (the first was one Nicholas D. Wolfwood). I also started developing relationships with anime and manga production companies, and actually got in over my head, such as when I told one company I would do episodic posts for Angel Beats: I soon found my fervor for the series was completely gone and I couldn’t deliver as promised.
I was working it so hard, and so excited about the relationships I was building (most of which have, unfortunately, withered away) that I spent way too many of my work hours doing my hobby. My bosses noticed. But God works even (and especially) through our weaknesses, and I found better balance in future years and, strangely enough, work with some of those same managers today in different capacities, with some now serving under me!
I hope enjoyed this look into the recent past, both on a bigger, societal level and at Beneath the Tangles. We’ll keep up this throughout 2020. Come join us again next month, as we tackle March 2012.
Featured art by つーはん (reprinted w/permission)