I think it was in a Liebster Award post earlier this year that I announced one of my goals was to reach 100 followers by the end of the year. A fairly reasonable goal, and one that I thought was pretty doable all things considered. So I kept writing the content I wanted to write, kept an eye on the various conversations going on around popular things, and kept an eye on that follower count. I have to say, though, I don’t think I ever expected to hit it this early. Maybe I should have gone with a higher number, or perhaps I underestimated the immense support the WordPress anime community is able to give. I am humbled. Humbled by your love of my content that I’m never quite sure is good enough to post. I know for a fact my writing style isn’t as polished as I want it to be, but this blog is a passion project for me. It was something I started almost two years ago now as a way to pass the time between jobs. I don’t know if I ever expected it to become a major part of my life, but I’m glad that it did in some ways. Currently, Bloom Reviews rests at 109 followers, over 10,700 views, and 151 total posts. It’s been a long, fun ride and I’m so happy you all decided to spend your time with me.
So to show some appreciation and to celebrate this momentous occasion, I decided to give you all a peek into my brain a little bit. I’m delving deep for this one, so join me as I try and figure out the anime, manga, and comics that influenced my life the most. It’s a tough list for me to put together, not only because I have a terrible memory of my childhood, but also because I had to try and come up with a definition for “influenced” in this context. It’s not the same as a list of my favorite anime of all time, mostly because I can say there are anime that were important parts of my life then that I don’t have the same love for now. So I guess I’d have to say, in this context, “influenced” would have to mean any major change to my life that was brought on by consuming that media. There have been certain media that have ignited passions, have brought me closer to friends, or have helped me deal with something in my life. I’m sure you all have them as well, but here is my list of top anime, manga, and comics that have influenced my life the most.
Dragon Ball Z: My First Anime
I thought I would start with something simple, and asked myself the question: “What was my first anime?” I couldn’t have been more wrong able the simplicity of that question. Partly because I have a terrible memory of my earliest years of childhood, and partly because there were so many anime’s flying around back then that I can’t make a definitive statement of which one what truly “my first”. So, I altered the question a bit and came up with: “What was the first anime that got you passionate about anime?” And to answer that, I think I would have to pick Dragon Ball Z. The original show was a huge part of my life back in the beginning (almost 15 years ago now, yikes) when it started airing on Toonami and VHS’s were still a thing that people bought. I’m sure this is an answer so many other people have, and in a way I wish I could of said Cardcaptor Sakura instead. But I actually don’t have as many memories of watching that show as I do of DBZ.
Dragon Ball Z became my go-to anime to buy in VHS form. I can’t remember how many I bought, but I remember having up to the the time Gohan became “Gold Fighter”. I don’t love DBZ as much now as I did back then, but I can’t deny the impact it has had on my life. From introducing me to whole new form of media, to getting me passionate about consuming said media, and helping me connect with other people my age and form friendships. DBZ will always have a place in my heart because of the kind of impact it has had, but I can’t say that I’ll ever return to the series again. I’ve gravitated more towards the original Dragon Ball rather than DBZ now except when it comes to abridged series.
Pokemon: My Artistic Inspiration
Art — drawing, crafting — was and, in a sense, still is a huge part of my life. Over the years I’ve been drawn to a lot of different art styles, have been inspired by a lot of different media, but I think the one thing that has consistently inspired me to get back into art the most over the years has surprisingly been Pokemon. Video game or anime, I’m drawn each time to the designs of the pokemon and the kind of fan art community that has bloomed up around it. This love has most significantly led me to develop more of my artistic abilities, searching out new ways of creating fanart that eventually led me to starting an Etsy shop a while ago to sell that art. This was long before I thought about starting a blog, at a time when I thought maybe I could see if selling my art on Etsy could get me anywhere, could lead to more interesting things.
It certainly led to more connections with people and provided a sense of positivity in my life at a time when I was struggling just out of college. I pushed myself to look for new ways to create better and better pokemon art, started learning more about Photoshop and running a business, and started to dream about doing this for the long term. It didn’t work out that way though, I closed up my Etsy shop a few years ago, but you can still see some of my stuff on my Instagram. Blogging became my dream shortly after, but there are times where I think about picking up my art supplies again and making a few more cute pokemon. I still have some of them sitting around my apartment, and I feel like the next pokemon game that comes out might spark my interest again to get back into it.
Johnny Wander: My Foray into Comics
I struggled a lot with this one, trying to decide what might have been my first comic or the comic that got me passionate about reading comics. The journey probably began with webcomics, a medium that I read a lot back in college. From Sinfest to Questionable Content and many others, I consumed a lot of webcomics in those days. For a little while, I thought that maybe Diesel Sweeties could have been one of the main influences, but part of that had to do with the relationship I had with my cousin at the time, the creator of Diesel Sweeties. He inspired me in a lot of ways to follow my passion for drawing and writing, made me consider comics as a viable medium to somehow get into in the future. But, I think if I consider the impact the comic by itself had on me, Johnny Wander has stuck with me the hardest and the longest.
You may recognize the creators of Johnny Wander from one of my earlier graphic novel reviews, Lucky Penny. Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh have been among my creative inspirations for a while now. Ota’s art style is a fascinating mix of somewhat creepy but with a touch of manga and Scott Pilgrim influences. The comic itself is mainly autobiographical, dealing with their life as comic creators living in New York. But once and a while they’ll come out with something really interesting and different, like Lucky Penny, and more recently their new comic about a mage, called Barbarous, that has been steadily climbing into my top comic spot for awhile. Their creations made me passionate about reading comics, made me reach out and read new ones, connected me to new comic creators, and even influenced a bit of my own art style. Johnny Wander will always hold a special place in my life, even as my interest for other webcomics has faded over time.
Junjou Romantica: My First Yaoi
I was having trouble deciding what manga series was the first one that got me into reading more manga. It was a hard choice between Kare Kano and DN Angel to the point where I just gave up trying to make a decision. But, talking about my first yaoi series is much easier. It absolutely had to be Junjou Romantica, a series a lot of current BL and yaoi lovers can trace their progression through the fandom back to. It was, at least for me, fairly popular back in my high school days. My best friend at the time and I used to go to the local Barnes and Noble once and a while (as manga-loving teens were wont to back then) and traded off buying volumes that we would then share with each other.
I’ve grown out of love for the series now, but I know without its influence and the time I spent with friends reading and talking about the series I probably would not have grown to love yaoi as much as I do now. In a way, I think a lot of my love of a certain series had to do with how much it connected me to other people, other fans, with whom I could then talk about the series. When conventions came around, we would search out the next best yaoi volumes and share them with each other, and those moments have led me to following this genre more closely which, in turn, has led me to more of my favorite yaoi series. I don’t think I would have found one of my favorites, Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi, without the influence and connection Junjou Romantica provided. I don’t know if I’ll ever try rereading that series again, but now I have other — arguably better — yaoi stories to read.
Mars: The Inspiration for this Blog
In the few weeks leading up to the creation of this blog, I discovered Mars, a beautiful shoujo manga with an awesome art style and great story that it quickly rose to the top ranks to be one of my favorite mangas of all time. At the time, I was considering starting a blog. I had been reading and watching anime, comics, and manga for a long time. There was no doubt it was a passion of mine and I felt like I needed an outlet for that passion. When Mars came around, it felt like the push I needed, the extra bit of motivation to start this blog. The series was just too good not to want to talk about it. That motivation was also partly reinforced by my dislike for Sex Criminal, and those two reviews became the starting point for this blog.
Love and hatred go hand-in-hand when it comes to stoking passion for something. I’m not saying that without my discovery of Mars this blog would not have existed, but I think the kind of love and passion it evoked in me was the push I needed to really delve in and start writing. Looking back on those early reviews has helped me realize how far this blog has come and how much my love of the romance genre and these mediums has stayed the same. And because of that, I’m so glad that you’ve enjoyed my content too. Writing can often be a long process full of cycles or rereading, editing, and researching to the point where you’re confidence in what you’ve written begins to waver. It’s always a relief when I see people liking and interacting with my content.
I started this blog for myself, to give myself a way to syphon some of the stronger opinions I had about the genre and mediums. The process of growing this blog and watching or reading new content for it has helped expand the kind of content I search out now. It’s helped grow my writing abilities, given me an outlet for some of my longer looks at cultural aspects of Japan and comics, and has connected me to an awesome community. For that, I’m grateful. I hope you all will stick with me until we reach the next big milestone. Two years is coming up in July, and I’m setting my sights forward to 200 followers next.
Before I go, let me know in the comments below what was one anime, manga, or comic that influenced you the most? I’m excited to read your answers!
~~Thanks for Reading!~~
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