The discordant screech of steel on steel punctuated our discourse. The wind whipped small grains of dust into our faces as we hustled past stone edifices, and harsh, unnatural lighting showed us men working feverishly in the dead of night. Was this Hell? No, it was New York City.
Walking at a fairly animated clip, and shuffling from subject to subject at an equally brisk pace, wildarmsheero was talking. We were crossing town to eat at Halel’s after rejecting an array of alternatives. At first the topics stayed fairly narrow. Shinbo, SHAFT, and shounen anime formed a conversational Bermuda triangle from which I despaired of escaping. Eventually, though, things relaxed a little, and I learned a bit about the man who dared to take arms against a sea of bloggers.
As one might expect, wah was not shy. What may come as a surprise, however, is that he was neither overbearing nor curmudgeonly. In person, he is not simply a crank, naysayer, or snob, as he has been variously accused over the internet. He comes across primarily as a man who knows what he likes and laments the fact that certain factors make it impossible for him to get it.
Perhaps foremost in the online reviewing community is wah’s infamous dismissal of all anime blogging. It came across as a thrown gauntlet, or to the more cynical, merely a bid for controversy and thus traffic. Reams of comments were written about wah’s percieved hypocritical nature (given that he personally has an anime blog), and he was painted as ungrateful for criticizing reviewers who give their time to the otaku community for free. In person, I asked him to revisit the state of mind he was in when he made that post. Without pause, he ticked off several blogs he used to like reading. All of them were either funny or clever, a rare few both. None are currently updating. One, he says, he later realized sucked.
“What happened?” I asked.
“So your standards changed?” He nodded curtly.
In fact wah never denied his own flaws or placed himself above others; in the very blog where he lamented anime blogging, he freely admitted that he was guilty of doing some of the things he disliked in general as well. But he wanted to inhabit a sphere where a higher caliber of writing was the norm. He wanted, in short, a finer world.