Ed Says Farewell to Reviewing

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.

30 Comments

  1. So long, and thanks. Good luck wherever you go.

  2. “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.”

    Umm, this might be a slap in your face since you’re leaving, or maybe not, I dunno, but this is really the only blog I read that reviews manga. What are these other blogs that are so fantastic?

  3. No real questions just a thanks to Ed for all he’s done I mean this guy got me to read Sundome, Sundome!! for crying outloud and while those last three volumes wer’nt great those first five where great.

    I also know back when Ed wrote his review of Lychee Light Club I said I wish I could write reviews like that I still meant what I said.

    So not much else to say just thanks if nothing else.

  4. Matt, Ed may have additional suggestions for you, but I find the various folks at MangaBookshelf.com very good.

  5. Ed, Thank You (as always) for your voice, your opinions, your unique viewpoint, and your sincerity.

    I found myself in a very similar place right about the time I launched my website [the 1st one] after having written mostly reviews up to that point. I asked myself, “what can I contribute that no one else is doing?”

    I’m still trying to answer that, but I like to think that at least one of my regular features is, in fact, the sort of thing that no one else is doing.

    After your well-deserved break, I hope you will just keep doing what you’ve been doing with Manga Out Loud, even if your written output drops. I think many of us consider this one of your many valuable contributions to the fan/reviewer/manga community, and if you stop recording, too, you will be even more dearly missed.

    [now that you've taken some of the pressure off, so to speak, in time you might just find you have an itch to write about manga again -- outside of the 'formal reviewing process' -- and I hope you will]

  6. BTW, I expect you can still hang out with the cool kids, Ed. :)

  7. matt, I agree with Johanna, Manga Bookshelf is a mighty manga mecha. I also am a big fan of Johanna’s review. You can also go to Mangablog.net for a run of manga reviews.

    Thad, Aaron, Matt Blind, & Jan, thanks for the kind works

  8. With this, manga reviewing has lost one of its best voices.

    Ed, you are intellectually honest to a degree that I think few reviewers match. Moreover – as this post shows – you are always humble. Perhaps it is that very quality that prevents you from seeing that you are indeed a rare specimen when it comes to reviewers.

  9. Moritheil, thanks.

  10. James Schee

    Sorry to see you go Ed, while I’m currently on a break from manga (when I realized I had 3 volumes of Nana my fav. Manga unread & didn’t feel like reading it I knew I needed a break) I enjoyed reading your coverage. You struck me as someone close to me in not being insider but someone really experiencing the stuff for first time.

    Sometimes it’s good to take a break and recharge the batteries though. I haven’t reviewed anything in a couple of years, and now am feeling a bit of an itch to do them again. (just deciding on where and how) Maybe you will feel that itch someday as well.

    Best wishes!

  11. Sorry to see you go, Ed. Thanks for the positive reviews and I hope you continue to follow my own comic.

  12. Jim Perreault

    I hope you’ll still do convention reviews. I’ve always found them interesting.

    Jim

  13. James, Thanks. Manga has a way of constantly surprising me. It’s one of the million things I like about it.
    Tom, I plan to. It’s a fun series.
    Jim, Thanks. We’ll see.

  14. Noooo! Having a break of your own volition is one thing—if you’re burnt out, then you’re burnt out—but please don’t think of your output as contributing to “the noise problem on the internet”!

    I’m glad to hear that Manga Out Loud will return. It can’t go away before I’ve had a chance to be on it! :)

  15. Michelle, thanks for the kind words. You’re on the list of people I need to get on the podcast. I haven’t forgotten you.

  16. I’m glad. :)

  17. [...] Sizemore of Manga Worth Reading and my favorite podcast Manga Out Loud is saying goodbye to reviewing manga to the same extent that he’s doing now. I understand his decision but am still sad and will [...]

  18. I saw what you did as the complete opposite of noise. I enjoyed it a lot. I do understand where you’re coming from in terms of stopping and “the noise” and “the cool kids.” I’ll miss what you do.

  19. Viva, thanks.

  20. If anything Ed, I think that your “noise” has what has made you such a big part of my involvement in the manga community. Being able to be on the Podcast with you and some really amazing people has been one of the best experiences I have had being a part of this community.

    Your reviews, also, are not just restating what others have said. You bring a very unique perspective to your writing that I feel is expressly NOT echoed throughout the blogosphere, and I will miss reading your reviews.

    All my best, Ed. Stay in touch.

  21. Alex, thanks. I definitely will

  22. Viga, my apologies on getting your name wrong. I really shouldn’t be typing on a cellphone.

  23. Ed, I don’t visit this often but I did enjoy your reviews.

  24. VEe!, Thanks.

  25. Ed:

    I’m sorry to hear you’re hanging up your hat, but I understand your reasons for doing so; burnout is an occupational hazard for critics! I’m sure Roger Ebert has looked over his reviews and thought, “Man, that’s what I said about Michael Bay’s last movie, too. It’s time to retire!”

    I hope you decide to take up your pen again in the future; sometimes a few months away from reviewing is all you need to rekindle your interest in writing criticism. You will be missed!

    Kate

  26. Kate, LOL on Ebert and thanks.

  27. [...] available in January — we’re taking a break for the holidays — and even though Ed retired from reviewing recently, the podcast will continue. Which thrills me to death, since it’s great fun, and I [...]

  28. [...] final discussion is influenced by the recent decision of Ed Sizemore to bid farewell to reviews. Scott and I discuss the reasons for why we write reviews, what drives us to keep blogging, and our [...]

  29. [...] course, the biggest change this year is contributor status. Ed Sizemore retired from the site after reviewing here for four years. This past year, he wrote 44 reviews — most manga, but [...]

  30. [...] the note of reviewing, my personal thanks goes to Ed Sizemore and his post that touches on some similar sentiments when he stepped down from manga reviewing over at Comics [...]

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