As we enter this new year, I have grown accustomed to taking a look back at the past year to give you an idea of fullfrontal.moe’s situation, what we were able to achieve together with your support and fidelity, and share our prospects for 2024.
But before getting into it, let me share our best wishes for this new year on behalf of the whole fullfrontal.moe team. You, our readers, are the reason why we keep this site running. Its sole purpose is to share our love and passion for anime, manga, and otaku culture, make resources available to navigate those spaces and create a bridge between fan communities in and outside Japan. These purposes only make sense through you, our readers. Thank you for your continued support. We will do everything to keep bringing you the content you have come to expect from us.
Without further ado, let’s look back on everything that happened in 2023!
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2023, a year of records for fullfrontal.moe
It’s already been 5 years since fullfrontal.moe was first created, which is quite a milestone! Even though I feel like things started to get serious only since 2022, and 2023 confirmed the trend, be it in terms of the quality of our content, but also how it has been received. We published 63 articles. This staggering number represents over a third of all the content on our website, a monumental leap from the previous years.
Among these, we had 18 blog posts, ranging from event reports and various columns looking at the anime industry, such as Matteo’s Anime Numbers series. We managed to publish 30 interviews last year, greatly surpassing our goal of one per month, which we were unable to achieve in 2022. What’s more, 14 of these were made available in both English and Japanese in our effort to create a bridge between communities.
All this content brought a lot of new visitors to the website, as we welcomed 121,692 visitors throughout the year, a striking increase from 28,664 in 2022. This surge indicates that our content has started resonating with a broader audience, which is all we could wish for.
However, an interesting dimension of this growth was the distribution of our audience. A substantial portion, amounting to over 50% of our visitors, hailed from Japan, whereas it used to be less than 15% in the past. Of course, this was helped by the section of the website we added dedicated to Japanese content, yet it doesn’t explain the difference in reception between the two. One would think that, because of the abundance of qualitative resources available, interviews in Japanese wouldn’t necessarily be that well, or better. Yet, the performance disparity between our English and Japanese interviews is striking. Except for one, all Japanese interviews outperformed their English counterparts, often by at least twice as much and up to tenfold. The 3 most popular interviews of the year are all in Japanese and gathered over half of the total 340,000 page views of the year.
This poses a challenge and a question for us: How can we ensure that our English content achieves similar reach and impact? It’s a concern that weighs on us, as the resources and efforts to produce the English versions of the interviews are substantial. As we ponder these questions, we can’t help but feel a mix of pride and concern. Pride, because our work is making waves and reaching hearts in Japan; concern, because we want to ensure that our content, regardless of language, finds its audience. While we are thrilled with the success of our Japanese content, we are also introspective about finding ways to make our English content more accessible and appealing to a broader audience or about how to make that content more sustainable. The first step to support us in this endeavor is, of course, encouraging you to share our content and help it reach those who will appreciate it the most.
It takes more pilots than Voltes V
Of course, all these achievements would not have been possible without the collective effort and passion of our dedicated team, each member bringing their unique strengths to the forefront. There were a lot of new faces joining us last year, as well as some old players coming back.
Florian, who initially joined our team to manage social media, has made remarkable progress in his Japanese studies. He’s now branching out into translating event reports alongside his senpai, Loïc Andre, a new and invaluable addition to our team this year who are also training hard to conduct their first interviews.
Nathan took over the reins of our social media and brought some much-needed Zoomer energy into the team. His efforts, particularly in creating engaging Twitter threads, have played a crucial role in expanding our reach and connecting with more readers.
We were also thrilled to welcome back Antoine, our former special reporter in Japan in 2020. After a three-year hiatus, during which he explored the world of haute cuisine working in the kitchen, he realised that, maybe, kanjis aren’t that bad after all. His experience and skills, especially in translating interviews, have been of great help to us once again.
A standout addition to our team this year has been Lilo, who just completed his third year in Japanese studies. Lilo’s passion for anime and manga, combined with his background studying the Japanese language in one of France’s top universities, has made him an ideal fit for fullfrontal.moe. His contributions to multiple translations have been nothing short of stellar, demonstrating a commitment and enthusiasm that align perfectly with our goals.
Rounding out our team is Isuzumi, a Japanese sakuga otaku with a background in similar work for a prestigious anime publication in Japan. Isuzumi’s expertise in transcribing interviews has been a boon, not only enhancing our Japanese content but also supporting our translators in their work. We’re incredibly fortunate to have Isuzumi’s support, which has been crucial in maintaining the high quality and authenticity of our content.
Alongside our new members, the continuous contributions of existing team members were instrumental. Matteo and Ludo, in particular, showcased remarkable teamwork. Their collaborative efforts in bringing forward insightful interviews with prominent figures in the anime industry were nothing short of impressive. Together, they collaborated, not without disagreements, to bring you insightful and maniacally detailed interviews. Matteo’s fast growth in skill and confidence has left me speechless. Now, they have entered a competition of who will make the best interview – well, at least Ludo has.
And, while their work gets most of the spotlight, it wouldn’t be possible without everyone else’s support and contribution, and the help of other members such as Arnaud, Emilia, Gabriel, and Karin has been pivotal to publishing all of these words on the blog.
Everyone’s efforts have been a gift to our readers, and I cannot express enough gratitude for their contributions. I am lucky to be surrounded by reliable and formidable people who share the same passion and ambitions, which is how we are able to make our content.
Never heard of these guys
I can be quite demanding when it comes to content, as I want fullfrontal.moe to showcase the kind of articles I look forward to reading. That’s one of the reasons we tend to favor interviews above other types of writing: I think the voices of the people involved in creating anime are particularly worth listening to when talking about anime. There are, of course, a lot of people who share very interesting opinions and analyses, who are able to leverage acquired knowledge to write thought-provoking pieces, be it here on the website or elsewhere, but someone needs to gather creators’ testimony, and this is at the core of fullfrontal.moe’s preoccupations.
I have to say that even I am impressed by the kinds of testimony we have been able to gather this year. One key factor that allowed us to do so was, without a doubt, Matteo’s presence in Japan, supported throughout the year by Ludo’s presence in March and April, and mine in the summer. Being on-site creates, no doubt, more opportunities, as over half the interviews done last year, and some of those coming in the next weeks, were done this way. It will be a real challenge to reproduce this kind of dynamic, although we will try our best to do so, as we will discuss later in the article, and we hope we will be able to bring forth more interviews with big shots from the industry, but also up and coming ones.
A standout moment in 2023 was, without a doubt, our interview with Mamoru Oshii, the esteemed director known for his work on Ghost in the Shell and Patlabor. Never in a million years would I have thought we would get the opportunity to interview the director who has profoundly influenced the anime industry and revolutionised the layout system. Despite our personal reservations about how the interview turned out, feeling we could have reached a better result, it was exceptionally well-received both in English and Japanese. Despite little attention at first on the Japanese side, it suddenly spread when Kouta Hirano, the author of Hellsing and Drifters and a huge science fiction nerd, shared it months after publication.
Our affection for Mitsuo Iso’s series The Orbital Children led us to expand our coverage of the series production. We initially released an interview with the show’s main animator, Toshiyuki Inoue, when the series was released on Netflix, the interview that started our interview frenzy of the past two years. Through interviews with key figures like character designer Yoshida Ken’ichi, producer Fuminori Honda, and Ilya Kuvshinov, we were able to get an even more in-depth look into the show’s creation this year.
But surely, the pinnacle of our achievements in 2023 was our comprehensive coverage of Hayao Miyazaki’s latest movie, The Boy and the Heron. Our early review in English, released on the day of the Japanese release, became our most popular English content of the year. But it was our series of interviews with legends who worked on the movie, such as Takeshi Honda, Akihiko Yamashita, and Toshiyuki Inoue, that truly defined our success. These interviews offered a lot of context to the creation of the master’s latest movie.
The response to these interviews was particularly edifying. They garnered immense attention in Japan, surpassing our expectations given the wealth of Japanese content about the movie. The key seemed to be the accessibility of our content – available for free, a rarity in a landscape where such in-depth material is often behind paywalls or paper publications. This contrasted with the reception from our English-speaking audience, who weren’t nearly as receptive, probably due to the deferred release date of the movie. In general, English-speaking audiences appeared to favor shorter interviews and content about current trends rather than long interviews. This is a shame, as it literally costs us twice as much to publish the interviews in English for less than half the readership. It’s not so much the feeling of wasting resources that bothers us as much as knowing that there are definitely more people interested in what we publish who have never heard of it. As such, we know for sure that we will need to branch out our ways of promoting, and maybe also distributing, our content and try out stuff to see where it lands.
The worst resource management in history
But since we have started talking about resources, let’s have a word about the website’s financial situation.
In 2023, we received a heartwarming amount of $2,543 in donations, a 500% increase from the previous year, and it is roughly the amount of expenses we had in 2022.
This generosity from you, our readers, is incredibly humbling and fuels our determination to keep delivering high-quality content. Each donation, no matter the size, is a significant contribution to our mission. We are profoundly grateful for this support, and it gives us immense hope and courage to continue our work. Although I have always said that the reward for supporting us is the content itself, Nathan and I are looking into what little extras we could gift supporters without leaving out key content for users. One idea would be to give you a peak behind the scenes by sharing exclusive event reports and photos, and sharing the extra photos that weren’t use as covers for interviews. Let us know if that is something you could be interested in!
However, as our content and ambitions grew, so did our expenses, and with your support as our cornerstone, we must also confront the hard truths of our financial situation. The cost of translations and transcriptions alone amounted to a staggering $8,682. While it is a considerable expense to the small group of fans we are, it still doesn’t feel nearly enough to recompense the hard work of the awesome people helping to transcribe and translate those interviews.
Expenses related to travel and accommodation destined for the website amounted to about $4000, mainly due to our trips to Japan. I purposefully underestimate the amounts that cost and basically only consider the plane ticket, as I don’t want to give the impression we are asking to pay for our holidays, which first of all, we are not, and secondly, they aren’t holidays at all since every day is practically overbooked.
Finally, there are some expenses related to the website and its management, such as hosting and a few plugins and services we use, that come up to $472, which brings our total annual expenses to over $13000, a 500% increase. Everything gets paid out of our pockets, mostly Matteo, Arnaud, and mine, and we sacrifice a lot to bring you the best content possible on fullfrontal.moe. Our passion and dedication are unwavering, but they need to be fueled. We are always looking for ways that can help fund our ambitions without putting the strain on you, but the simple truth is, without your continued support, the future of fullfrontal.moe always has been and always will be uncertain. We are at a critical juncture where your contributions and your belief in our mission are more vital than ever.
Every donation, every share of our content, and every word of encouragement means the world to us. It’s your support that makes us reach further and keep delivering the content that we all love. Of course, we have always understood that a financial contribution isn’t possible for some – your engagement and sharing of our work are equally powerful gestures of support, if not even more so. As I always say, our first and foremost objective is for our work to be read, and the second one is for our work to be used as a resource for discussion.
We can’t hit the breaks, there aren’t any!
Now, let’s discuss our plans for the current year. You might probably have seen our announcement on Twitter, but we are venturing into a new territory. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Space Dandy, one of the most groundbreaking anime TV series cherished by all members of the team, we are working on releasing a commemorative doujinshi this summer. This fanbook will contain Space Dandy-centered interviews with many of the staff involved in the show, be it the directors, producers, animators, and even voice actors. We will be posting the project’s advancement on our social media.
One of my great disappointments of last year has been our inability to pick up lives again. Both Matteo and I find it great to be able to interact with audiences in a direct manner, and it gave us a platform to develop topics that we covered in our weekly publications. I am still looking for a way to make it happen, and I hope that we can find a solution to it soon.
Also on last year’s bucket list was to delve more into video, which is something we are very slowly working on. I hope that we are able to deliver some of our first productions in the first half of the year.
And, of course, we want to ride the momentum we set up last year and keep providing the best content possible, ideally on a weekly basis. We always have a ton of ideas that we hope you will find interesting, and we are always looking for your feedback. What do you want us to talk about? Who do you want to hear from? Please let us know, either here on the website or on social media.
We will do our best to keep publishing interesting and insightful interviews, being with household names, or giving a platform to lesser-known creators.
We’re looking forward to writing for your sake. As always, thank you for your continuous support.
Dimitri Seraki, co-founder and chief editor at fullfrontal.moe, on behalf of the whole fullfrontal.moe team.
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