…the site’s been down for the past couple of days. I managed to put up a maintenance message for a good part of time, but for those who missed it, the server had a hardware issue that required some emergency maintenance. The short story is that the hard drive was failing. To make matters worse, the RAID-1 mirrored drive that’s supposed to have me covered in this situation actually failed back in July without my knowledge, which left the site running on a single faulty drive that needed to be backed up and swapped out immediately so that both drives could be replaced.
With the help of Mentar and his friend Fruit, I managed to get a full up-to-date backup of the site, so nothing was lost — not even a single comment — unlike the crash we had back in the day on Aniblogger. It took me longer than I would’ve liked to reconfigure the server with a new Debian (Squeeze) distro, but everything should be up and running now. I expect there to be some hiccups, so please let me know if you encounter any issues (performance or otherwise). Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Note: Expect a flurry of posts to be published, as the writers have been staying on top of things during the downtime.
First off, I would like to extend a big thank you to everyone who took the time to apply and expressed their interest in helping keep Random Curiosity running like it’s always been. The outpouring of support has been great and I really wish I had the time to thank each and every one of you individually.
Given the number of promising candidates, I actually increased my initial plan of 3-4 new writers to seven and have already contacted them. If you weren’t contacted, please don’t feel slighted in any way. There were so many great people to choose from that I could’ve easily brought on 10-15 new writers. I guess that’s to be expected of the best readership that I’ve had the pleasure of writing for over the years, but I had to draw the line somewhere and not make this sudden influx of new writers too overwhelming for longtime readers.
You can probably expect introductory posts to trickle out over the course of the week, as well as first posts by at least a couple of the new writers who will be finishing coverage of some of my remaining shows. I hope you’ll extend a warm welcome to them like you did for me when I first came on board.
I promised a status update at the end of the week, so here it is.
Thank you everyone for the kind words. I thought it was going to be more difficult to step away from the site, but your understanding is making it a lot easier to do so.
Updates: 03/10: I’ve gone through the 35 or so applications that I’ve received and have shortlisted them down to ~8 people, many of whom are female. There are a lot of candidates who show promise and fit RC’s perspective on anime, so I may even bring on board more than 4 writers. I apologize for taking a while with this review process and keeping everyone in suspense, but I want to make sure that I give everyone proper consideration.
The spin-off to CODE GEASS, “Akito the Exiled” (literally, “Akito of the Ruined Country”), is finally gaining some steam on the production side of things with a 90-second promo video — three and a half years after the second season finished airing. Along with it came the starring cast announcment: Irino Miyu as Hyuuga Akito and Sakamoto Maaya as Reira Markale (official English spelling pending).
The side story takes place in 2017, around the time Lelouch took on the alter-ego “Zero” and built up his “Black Knights” rebellion army (i.e. season one). The setting is Europe, where the Euro Universe (E.U.) allied nations are being invaded by the overwhelming force of the Britannia Empire. On the verge of defeat, the E.U. army forms a special division known as “W-0″, which a young pilot named Hyuuga Akito is a member of. Coming to the E.U.’s aid is a former Britannia aristocrat named Reira Markale, who commands the “Wyvern” Knightmare corps comprised of Japanese teenagers. They recklessly plunge into a battlefied where the survival rate is extremely low to fight for their freedom and have a country they can return to that feels like “home”. Thus begins their fight against the adult world.
Another seven months, another ten million visits. I’ve had the pleasure of writing three of these milestoneposts, which allow me to take a moment to thank you all for reading the site regularly and sharing your thoughts about anime. I said before that Random Curiosity wouldn’t be what it is today without its readers and I firmly believe that even now. I can’t speak for all the other writers, but I know I wouldn’t be devoting as much time and effort into the site if it wasn’t for its readership. While I’m passionate about anime and enjoy talking to those with a mutual interest, the motivation to continually push myself to churn out well-thought-out posts in a timely and consistent manner comes from all of you. I mentioned before that one side drives the other, and from my perspective, it’s the readers who shaped Random Curiosity into the anime blog you see today. The reason I spend so much time taking screen captures and writing up posts is because there are people who want to read them. Without you guys, there’s simply no compelling reason to cover shows on a weekly basis to the degree that RC does, let alone spend hundreds of hours putting together season previews to introduce them. I probably don’t say this enough, but I’m very grateful for all the support I’ve received in the comments and direct e-mails, and all the personal time the other writers have devoted to help meet reader demand.
Over the past month, anime has slipped quite a bit on my priority list. Work’s been hectic and I find that I don’t get home until seven or eight in the evening on some days, leaving very little time to watch anime let alone blog about it. Then there are other real-life priorities with family, a social life, and moments where I want to laze away and relax (maybe even play a game) — all of which have really taken precedence over the site as of late. I’ve managed to make do by squeezing as many waking hours out of a day as I can, hence why you see posts published in the early hours of the morning (i.e. 2-5 AM), but it’s become painfully obvious that I can’t — and shouldn’t — maintain such a grueling schedule for any prolonged period of time.
Addendum: Thanks for the vote of confidence everyone, but please don’t read too much into the post title. I simply used it to go with the image and the quotation marks around “survival” are intended to be sarcastic. This post is merely a formal way of letting everyone what’s going on and why certain shows and the RL post are being dropped. I can still manage a show a day so it’s not like the site’s in a dire state or anything.
While I’ve been lurking the site during my break and reading the odd comment here and there, I’ve been somewhat detached from the everyday happenings in the past month. I never would’ve imagined that I’d be able to take a break to begin with, so I’m curious as to what the sentiment is towards me doing so. I feel the other writers have done an admirable job filling in for me, but it’s hard to get a feel for what it’s like from a reader’s perspective when I’m in the “hot seat” so to speak. The poll I held about this initially was kind of split over the idea, where more than half of the voters were either a little concerned or flat-out didn’t like it, leaving me wondering if people still feel the same way.
If you’d like to leave more detailed feedback, you’re more than welcome to in the comments, but all I ask is that you word things in a constructive manner and don’t berate any of the writers for their efforts. There will be little to no tolerance for flaming, and I won’t even entertain the notion that it’s “funny”. Random Curiosity has built up a bit of a reputation with its timely posts (i.e. covering raws), insightful and objective content (arguably), and of course, plethora of high definition screen captures, so those are some areas that may be worth addressing to help this site continue to grow as (hopefully) one of your regular anime stops on the Internet.
As always, from one fan to another, thanks for reading.
Edit: Added the Retrospective Look poll for better visibility. Edit #2: This post will be kept at the top for the next bit, since the feedback is veering toward a direction of personal interest. Please be sure to scroll past it or refer to the Recent Entries in the sidebar for new posts.
The official site for the Fullmetal Alchemist movie, subtitled “The Sacred Star of Milos”, recently added a minute long trailer. The movie is intended to tie-in with Brotherhood (i.e. the manga’s story) but as a side story before the actual conclusion. It’s directed by Murata Kazuya (assistant director of CODE GEASS) and the script is by Shinpo Yuuichi (author of the novel Whiteout). L’arc~en~Ciel is performing the theme song, whereas BONES is back for the animation production and seems to going with a very subtle change in style.
* Warning: The official site is Flash-heavy and spasm-inducing with its loading pages.
… More after the break, including details on the story.
In just seven months, Random Curiosity has been graced by another 10 million visits, so I’d like to once again thank all our readers for continuing to make this site one of your regular stops on the Internet. It simply wouldn’t be what it is today without its readership, which motivates me to continue on to the best of my ability. The five-year history that was about to come to a close has officially become six, coinciding with the one-year anniversary of things under my tenure. Both Kiiragi and Prooof are approaching their first full year as writers as well, so I’d like to thank them for all they’ve contributed. The same goes for Takaii, who’s taken on a fair number of shows in the past six months and handled them very well.
This isn’t the same Random Curiosity that Omni left behind, but I hope the changes made in the past year are seen as positive ones. This includes the ever-so-popular season previews that I’ve tried to improve by making them more comprehensive than in years past. A goal of mine has always been to promote a more open-minded view on anime, so hopefully the fairly objective coverage on a diverse range of shows has achieved that to a certain degree too. For me, one of the most satisfying aspects about blogging anime is helping people discover new shows that they would have never considered and sharing in the discussion of them. After all, it’s about being a fan first and foremost, and our mutual interest in anime.
Since August, the site has seen 600 new posts, 32,000 new comments, 18 million new page views, and of course 10 million new visits. We’re quickly approaching the 5,000 post mark and have already past the 205,000 comment mark. Again, thank you all for helping Random Curiosity grow, not only as an anime blog but as a bit of a community as well. This one’s for you guys!
Japan clearly has much more pressing concerns in the wake of the horrific earthquake and tsunami that it suffered, but I just want to provide a quick overview on what’s happening with each of the shows broadcast-wise. As you can probably imagine, most shows are being postponed for a week, some of which go back to last Friday. For most stations, the tentative plan is to resume broadcasts the next week, but don’t be surprised if some are delayed longer. It’s very likely the April 1st start of the new season will get pushed out as a result (and understandably so).
* Information is care of syoboi and official websites.
The Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun published an interesting article (translated) just over a week ago on an interview with Ordet studio founder and director Yamamoto Yutata, whom most people are probably aware is behind the original series FRACTALE airing this season. In the interview, he talks about the declining state of the anime industry and how business practices have driven down wages and hampered creativity, which Wall Street Journal also looked into over a year ago. While outsourcing to China and South Korea is nothing new, Yamamoto makes an eye-opening point about how it’s not necessarily for cost reasons, but because they’re short-staffed in Japan due to lack of interest.
Given the dire working conditions and dismal pay of animators, I can’t say I’m surprised when I can easily picture young bright-eyed individuals with visions of a lucrative career in anime get disillusioned once they actually get into the industry. The benefits, even if it’s simply personal gratification in seeing one’s work come to life, can only take most people so far and hardly offset the corporate politics that surely go on. There’s no denying that the anime medium has fallen into the trap of recycling character stereotypes and rehashing similar premises in slightly different settings, which may retain most of its current audience but clearly doesn’t reach out to new ones. Recently, there’s also been a growing trend towards using the “moe” aspect, which Yamamoto admits being guilty of. However, as someone who’s seen a fair share of corporate politics and business practices that don’t encourage creativity, I get the feeling that the problem lies more in the people who get the final say in what goes into an anime, as they’re often afraid of breaking outside of their comfort zone and trying something new.
Director Yamamoto Yutaka posing with a FRACTALE poster. A Black Rock Shooter one can be seen behind.
Since taking over Random Curiosity, various generous individuals have e-mailed me asking if they could show some financial support for the site. While I had thanked them for their kind gesture at the time, I was intent on keeping the blog self-sustainable as a fan site, regardless of how much my double-edged personal standards made it feel like a second job. What’s more, it just wasn’t in my “style” to accept donations even in light of some trying times when I was forced to change web hosting earlier this month. However, I admit the thought of just dropping all the extra work that goes into maintaining the site and looking forward to days of an abundance of free-time did cross my mind at one point. I found myself working tirelessly for four days straight exploring options to configuring software to get things back up, and ran into one problem after another both in setting up the new server and in real life, and seriously started questioning why I’m working as hard as I am — almost always at the expense of sleep.
As I’m sure all our regular readers are aware of by now, the site’s been down since Wednesday afternoon. I’ve had a bunch of people contact me about it already by e-mail and on my MAL page and had no ETA on when I would get things back up. Well after working on the issue for the better part of the past three days, I’m happy to announce that Random Curiosity is back up and ready to go.
Long story short, my web host suddenly pulled the plug on me with no warning, forcing me to find an a new provider. With the help of Mentar from Eclipse, I was able to get things up and running much quicker than I was anticipating, so a big thank you goes out to him for helping RC out both past and present. If you’re seeing this post, it means the updated DNS records have already propagated to your machine and you’re already on the new server.
Migrating the site over and re-uploading all the content took the longest time, but I ran into a few hiccups with the server-side configuration and had to spend long hours sorting them out as well. Aside from the time lost blogging-wise and significantly more expensive cost, I think the downtime and money invested is worth it in the long-run. Gone are the days of sharing CPU and only having ~700MB RAM, as the site now resides on a dedicated server with an Intel i7 920 quad core, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, and dual 1TB drives in RAID-1. What that should translate to is a much faster loading site and possibly even a Random Curiosity forum in the future.
In terms of the blogging backlog, I asked the other writers to continue working on posts offline, so there has been some progress even while the site’s been down. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for myself since I’ve been working endlessly to get the server back up, so it’ll take me a while to get through my shows. Regardless, you can probably expect a huge influx of posts in the upcoming days. Personally, I’m a bit drained from working on all this server stuff, so I won’t be posting anything until tomorrow. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
It felt like a milestone of sorts, so I just want to stop and take a moment to thank all our readers for checking back regularly and making this site what it is today. Founded by Omni back in November 2004, Random Curiosity has grown tremendously over the years and now has over 4,140 posts, 173,000 comments, 60 million visits, and 120 million page views since its inception. Timely posts, regular updates, and fairly objective views make up the direction that took site to where it is now, but none of that would have mattered if you the readers didn’t keep coming back to hear what we have to say about the latest anime.
It wasn’t too long ago that Omni announced his retirement from blogging and I decided to pick things up where he left off under the new domain, randomc.net; however, our readership has grown significantly since then (~25%) so I’d like to thank all the new people who have either stumbled across the site or heard about it from a friend and made it one of their regular stops on the Internet. It might be a bit intimidating at first, but I encourage you all to join in on the discussions and share your own thoughts and impressions on anything and everything anime related. I promise I’ll do whatever is in my power to keep the trolls at bay. :) It’s my hope that this will become a more inviting place for anime fans old and new, where anyone can easily relate to the impressions written here. If you have friends who are into anime but haven’t heard of the site, please do tell them, because just like you and all our other readers, we’re fans of anime first and foremost and just want to talk about it with people who have similar interests.
Once again, thank you all for reading and getting accustomed to things under my wing. Hopefully the changeover from dedicated summaries to more in-depth impressions wasn’t too alienating at first. I’ve enjoyed blogging a lot more ever since I started focusing on talking about anime and their plot lines rather than simply summing it up, so that’s a change in writing style that I’d like to continue improving on in an attempt to make episodic blogging a more interesting and worthwhile read. I’ll still have lots of high definition screen captures of course, for those who just can’t get enough of them. I probably won’t have another milestone post until 70 million visitors, but we may just see that before the end of the year at this rate — just in time for the site’s sixth anniversary.
* Yuri and Otonashi are snacking on some Pizza Hut pizza for those wondering. The full-size image can be seen here.