About XerBlade.com

No Comments

Welcome to XerBlade.com — my staging platform from which I attempt to push my fandom into the mainstream.

I have had an active online presence since the early 90s, and have been using the name XerBlade since 2000 (the Xer part since 1998 when my best friend gave me that nickname), but this website can trace its origins to 2007. That is when I started building my YouTube channel with a bunch of niche videos about Fate/stay night. I had but one goal: to share something I was interested in with western audiences that had not caught on in the west.

You see, long before Fate became the behemoth it is today, it was popular in Japan, but most westerners had never heard of it. And that was no wonder, after all no games in the franchise ever got western releases. Publishers aren't going to spend valuable resources on localizing a game for western release when they don't think it has an audience. But it's never going to find an audience if they don't let it. It's this cyclical nature which caused it, as it has so many other things, to just keep spinning in place without ever getting anywhere. So, what I needed to do was push it out of the rut it was stuck in.

What needed to happen to solve this problem was two-fold. The size of the western fanbase needed to be increased, and publishers needed to see that an audience was there that will buy these products, two things which normally depend on one another to happen. What I did was work at bringing new fans in by any means necessary. And once those fans were in the fold, convince them that they should spend their hard-earned cash. If a Fate game gets a western release, buy it, and show the publishers that doing so was a worthwhile investment and that continuing to release more will continue to be so. If a movie gets a theatrical release, don't just watch it online, buy those tickets and go see it. Do not assume that someone else will pick up your slack, because in the world of niche media, they won't. Fast forward to today, and it seems to be working. Things aren't perfect by any means, considering the original visual novel has still never gotten any sort of token release, but the fanbase is there, and the releases are there, so it's only a matter of time until things reach my original vision. I still do my part without letting myself get too complacent, but things are looking up.

Once something is no longer a niche, but has begun to truly penetrate the mainstream, things will continue to snowball pretty much on their own.

Which brings us to XerBlade.com. This website got its start in 2010 as a simple, free blog meant as a supplement to my YouTube channel, an overflow of the juices that YouTube couldn't contain. I gradually began to realize that there were things I wanted to do that just didn't fit inside the medium of YouTube gaming videos. And in 2013, it found its true purpose, even if it wasn't fully aware of it at the time.

Detective Conan is an intriguing beast. It is easily one of the most popular anime of all time in its home country, yet it has never managed to truly find a western audience. Analysts could debate over the reason all day, but I have my own hypothesis. It essentially boils down to this: its timing was unlucky.

Ultra-long form anime like One Piece, Naruto, or, you know, Detective Conan essentially depend on two things to survive. They need to find a sizable audience early on, and then that audience needs the strength to be able to convince more people to join in as it gradually and inevitably becomes more and more difficult to do so. Conan's misstep was in that first part, but by no fault of its own.

Back in the day, anime was an incredibly niche form of entertainment in the west. It had a strong enough following, but most classic western anime fans were essentially one type of person. Those were the days when you could throw out a "Top 10 Must-Watch Anime Before You Can Call Yourself an Anime Fan" without anyone batting an eye, and anyone else who did it would come out with a list that looked basically the same. Long, serialized, simple shounen battle anime like One Piece easily spoke to the manchildren that were the face of the anime fandom of the day. But a slow-paced mystery with very little visible action or melodrama? Sure, it could reach a few outliers, but the typical classic western anime fan just wouldn't care. It also probably doesn't help matters that Adult Swim tried airing it in the US at some ungodly hour like 3 AM, but that was likely in no small part due to them realizing that very thing themselves.

Today, however, the landscape has completely changed. Anime has broken into the mainstream. There is now a huge diversity in the western fan community. Now to make it in the west, an anime doesn't need to cater to a specific psychographic, it just needs to be good (or at least entertaining). All the while, Detective Conan is still stuck at the pier. It already missed the boat. No normal, sane person is going to dive into a hundreds-of-episodes-long anime "just because." There needs to be a set of existing fans telling them they should, pressuring them into taking the plunge. There needs to be a bandwagon to jump on. And this isn't a problem that will get easier to overcome with time. It can only get worse. The larger the barrier of entry becomes, the larger the fan community needs to be to keep itself growing.

With those assumptions in place, there is only one thing to do. The barrier of entry needs to be lowered. If the community cannot grow strong enough to pull newcomers over the wall, the wall needs to be cut down to a more manageable size. And it needs to be done in a place where the gatekeepers, always the bane of any fandom, the old guard that seem to do everything in their power to make new fans feel terrible for ever being new at something, are sedated. Newcomers need to be reassured that the mountain isn't as insurmountable as it seems, and that they don't have to feel bad for feeling that way.

And that, for those of you who have stuck around to this point, is my mission here. I do my part to make it easier to enter the fandom. I encourage. I advertise. I try to convince the larger media outlets that they should write articles about this, too, occasionally, even if it won't get nearly as many clicks as another article about whatever series the Kardashians happen to be into today. Because if you want something to reach the mainstream, you first need to show it to the mainstream. And if we can ever reach that point where it becomes a true part of the mainstream, the mainstream will take care of the rest, and accelerate things beyond anything we previously imagined.

What I do is try to give it that push it needs to start rolling, hoping that once it builds momentum, it will keep rolling.

I hope XerBlade.com will let me give that push more power. Thank you for reading!

If you want to know what's up with me personally, you have a few options.

P.S. I am a software engineer with web design as one of my specialties. A secondary purpose for this site is as a personal testbed. I use it to practice new techniques. I try to make sure I never break anything (if I do break something obvious, I make sure I undo that within seconds). But if any sort of serious issue ever comes up, don't hesitate to let me know. If you can't do so in the comments on the pages of this site for any reason, know that contacting me through any of the social media accounts listed on that Follow page will get my attention at least as fast.

2018-07-20T11:29:00-05:00