by Ed Sizemore
Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been asking myself one question, “Should I keep reviewing manga?” When I look at the number of manga review sites and the quality of the reviews being published, I’m further forced to ask, “Am I really saying anything new that isn’t being said better?” I can’t hide from the answer, “No.”
The truth of the matter is that I feel other reviewers are covering more books and writing more insightful reviews than I am. Several people have a better understanding of the manga industry and can place the series they review in a proper context. I find I’m not capable of offering the in-depth analysis that both the books and those reading my reviews deserve. I’ve come to the conclusion that my reviews have become part of the noise problem on the internet.
I also feel like I’ve exhausted my thoughts on manga and its merits. I’m not saying I’ve said everything there is to say about manga. I can certainly praise individual works, but I’m just recycling the same phrases and sentiments I’ve used before in my reviews. My reviews feel very paint-by-the-numbers when compared to what I see others doing. I simply don’t have anything new to say at this time, so I will no longer be reviewing manga.
Honestly, I’ve only continued to review this long because of my fear of disappointing Johanna, and so I could continue to hang out with the cool kids. I’ve seen how hard Johanna works to maintain Manga Worth Reading, Comics Worth Reading, and DVDs Worth Watching, and I can’t help feeling I’ve let her down. This is by no means a rational thought, but emotions are funny like that.
There aren’t words to express how much I enjoy talking to other manga reviewers and bloggers. They are truly a wonderful group of people. Their friendship and support has meant and means a great deal to me. Simply spend some talking to any one of them, and you come to see how fascinating each one is. The thought of their reaction to this news scares me. I hate disappointing them, too. But guilt and fear are not good reasons to write reviews. Such motivations only produce mediocre thinking at best.
I’ve truly enjoyed my time as a reviewer and learned a lot about myself, as well as manga. I’ve discovered that I’ll forgive bad plotting if you either create great characters or a rich, engaging world. I’ve developed a better eye for art. I’ve learned the type of characters that will appeal to me and which ones fall flat. Having to articulate what you like or don’t like about a book is bound tell you as much about yourself as the book itself.
The Manga Out Loud podcast will be on hiatus for the rest of the year. There are still some people I would love to have on the podcast, and I think there are still ideas for me to explore. After the New Year, I will sit down and figure out my plans for Manga Out Loud. Also, Johanna has been kind enough to leave me an open invitation to write guest reviews if a particular book or series moves me to express myself. I can’t thank her enough for her kindness in all of this. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind doing an occasional review with my nephew, Christopher. I think he still has a lot to say.
I know this news will come as a shock to everyone, since I’ve kept my thoughts to myself in this matter. I suspect some of you are going to have questions. So to help everyone understand my rationale better, I’ll be doing an episode of Manga Out Loud to discuss my decision. If you have a question for me, please leave a comment below or ask me on Twitter (@edsizemore) or email me (mangaoutloud at gmail dot com).
My usual podcast signoff is my sincere wish for everyone, because it expresses what I love most about books: “May the books you read excite your mind and imagination.” Thank you from the bottom of my heart. God Bless.