The Anime Sickos Year in Review
This time, there's data analysis
Happy New Years Eve, friends. As you know, 2020 saw the machine demand more blood than ever. Well, that’s not exactly true. The machine doesn’t care if it gets blood. Rather, the stewards of the machine all got insanely horny and decided they needed to triple their quotas for no reason. 2021 will not be better because the blood stewards did not get punished for doing this and now they’re vibrating faster than the speed of light at the thought of what they’ll get away with next.
But it’s false to think nothing good happened to us this year. The Anime Sickos podcast has caught on with a dedicated and ravenous audience that recognizes it for what it is (the podcast for geniuses). In the past I always tried to keep myself from feeling down when my creative projects couldn’t find an audience by remembering the old quote from Joel Hodgson of Mystery Science Theater 3000, in which he justified including absurdly esoteric jokes in his show by saying that even if most people won’t get it, “the right people will get it.” As you’ll soon see, Anime Sickos’ numbies are small, but you heroes out there ticking up those numbies are the fabled “right people.” You get it—you really get it! And it feels so good to know that there are people out there who understand what we’re doing and are hungry for it. It is no fun to toil at something that you know in your heart is special and wonderful and for it to land with a big thud. It’s happened to me many times. I thank you for making this show an artistic success.
Anyway, on to the 2020 numbies.
Above you’ll see our stats for 2020. Note that in this screenshot I have toggled IAB downloads, meaning (in short) that Libsyn is more stringent about what exactly counts as a “download”—someone listening multiple times to the same episode would still count as 1DL, someone only listening to a minute or so won’t count at all, etc. I have done this as a type of deranged self-flagellation because I have been conditioned by society to feel like a wiggly worm who doesn’t deserve to press the “numby be higher” button and instead must press the “numby get smaller” button.
As you can see, our total number of overall downloads in 2020 was 15,362. If you look at this in the larger podcast ecosystem, this is not particularly impressive. This should not be shocking considering our public Twitter numbies, where we have something like 350 followers compared to the thousands other podcasts have.
With 59 episodes released, this means that our average DLs per episode is roughly 260. Some fuckin podcast blogs I found claim the “average” podcast episode gets around 150 downloads so we can be proud that we are strongly above average in that respect.
Our top ten most downloaded episodes of 2020 are as follows:
Anime X Sickos, our Hunter x Hunter episode, was one of the test episodes we released only to patrons of Shuffle Quest before we understood what Anime Sickos was actually supposed to be. Joe said it was too meandering and unfunny to release. I said no, there are enough good jokes in there to be worth it. I was right.
This top ten is good as hell. Obviously episode 1 will always be among the most listened-to episodes. Guestos KC Green, Devon Price, and Kevin Johnson rightfully propelled their episodes to the top tier. Sicko all-timers Comedy Sucks Now, Posting 101, and Poster’s Ear should basically be required reading in schools and are critical for equipping you to survive in the modern world. The Sickos Read Depressing Manga got hundreds of new folks into the work of Tatsuki Fujimoto, which is now an even better idea since Chainsaw Man ended extremely well and is about to get an anime adaptation. The odd one out is the Tower of God Episode. As far as I can tell the Tower of God anime was a flop with the anime community, but hey, I’m not complaining if you just listen to us about it.
Our top countries are, unsurprisingly, the US, Canada, and the UK, in that order. But as I mentioned on an episode once, I fucking love looking at this view and seeing the Sicko plague ooze out over the world. Still we have zero downloads from Joe’s motherland of Croatia, but even more distressingly…
While our listenership was small overall, it is trending very pleasingly upward. We’ve consistently seen more and more success as the year goes on, culminating in 2000+ downloads in December, our best month ever. You can better visualize this by looking at our downloads in “Monthly” view.
Just noticed we got two downloads between my taking the last screenshot and this one. Ha.
Overall, I am proud of what the show accomplished this year. We released 43 episodes in 2020. We featured 15 absolute geniuses as guesto-mode goers, comprising what I consider without hyperbole to be one of the best slates of podcast guests ever assembled. We talked about anime in six episodes, meaning our title was a fucking lie 84% of the time.
What is the point of sharing all these numbies with you? I think that this is the podcast version of telling your coworkers your salary. So many podcasts are super tight-lipped about this sort of thing and all it does is heighten tension and confusion as no one knows what “success” means and everyone is trying to compare themselves to what they imagine other shows are doing. Fuck that! I want to be honest with you and let you know the score. No one wins by keeping this stuff secret.
We look forward to our numbies going up in 2021. I wish we knew a way to drastically grow our audience that didn’t involve becoming an odious business worm. But maybe that’s just it—we may be small, but that’s the price we have to pay to have a fanbase of such uniformly high quality. It’s no exaggeration to say that your kindness and enthusiasm for our stuff has kept this show going at such a high standard. Thank you.
Anyway, that’s it. Happy New Year homies.
Joe’s Roguelike Update
I know I'm supposed to be the roguelike guy or whatever but I was having trouble understanding cause and effect in Risk of Rain 2. Every run goes south and I eat shit in a split second.
Turns out there's a secret difficulty setting for Dumb Baby Bitches but it's sorta hidden. Here's how you access it: you play the Engineer and you pick up some ol' Bustling Fungus.
Like engineers in all video games, the RoR2 Engineer puts down turrets. The turrets share your item effects, so any cool powerups apply to your autonomous gun friends. Bustling Fungus makes it so an AOE healing aura appears when you (or your turrets) stand still.
Buddy, turrets don't move. If you put both turrets next to each other, their healing auras overlap and shit. They just swap healing spit back and forth as you cheer them on like a sex pervert.
The main problem with this strategy is that it relies on Bustling Fungus, which is too close to “Bustin' Fungus,” a.k.a. Satan's Shroom. Video games are fucking stupid.
TOM’S PICKO: When guys are just like that.
In genre fiction, and anime/manga in particular, there is an impulse to fill every crevice and curve of a world with lore. Obviously this kicks ass because a detailed tapestry of lore provides a lot of background context for tournaments.
However, this impulse can and often does backfire, as the obsessive need to explain and catalogue robs the work of any kind of mystery or dynamism. Eventually all that was once exciting, surprising, amazing, etc is made mundane by lore explanations that render the world sterile. The awful endpoint of this is the hateful nerd habit of quantifying characters’ power levels and becoming pre-convinced of the outcome of any given fight simply because The Numbers Do Not Lie. This is why Togashi was a genius by including the Specialist class of Nen user—an exhaustively explained power system needs folks who simply go Goofo Mode in unexplainable ways to prevent stagnation. (Of course there are exceptions where obsessive lore does not do this—see the Fate wiki, which for all its encyclopedic scrivening leaves a reader as mystified as they began).
Very often guys with cool powers instantly deflate into boring lumps when it turns out that the thing so cool about them was pre-determined by some fucking lore. In Black Clover, one of the main two wizard kids is a supreme badass even though he’s a commoner and only nobles are supposed to be able to do magic at that high a level. Cool! Anyway it later turns out he is secretly a noble. Great. This dumb move is one thousand times less desirable than its opposite, and my picko: saying that he’s just like that.
The main guy in Black Clover is able to use anti-magic without dying instantly because he is so shitty at magic that he’s already always at zero mana. I sure fucking hope they don’t pull a reveal where it turns out he was fated to be like this because it’s so much more fun in a meticulously detailed world to have some wrecking ball fucking up the status quo because he’s just like that.
The ur-example of this trope is Saitama from One Punch Man. OPM has an absurdly stratified world of superheroes who all have to report to a big superhero agency and take tests to quantify their abilities to ensure they are deployed to counteract appropriately dangerous threats. Every hero’s powers are explained via a classic hero origin story like any superhero. Then Saitama, our main guy, rolls up and is literally stronger than God. Why? He just is, he’s just like that. Even when he is asked how he got so strong, his explanation (“I did 100 push ups, 100 sit ups, 100 squats, and ran 10km a day for a year”) just makes everyone MORE confused.
My very favorite, though, is my beloved One Piece. Any manga that makes it to 1000 chapters without losing popularity is going to have a ton of fucking lore, and one of Oda’s singular talents is his own unflagging knowledge of his own world. Everything in One Piece is explained, everything links to everything else, nothing gets forgotten, everything is important. This rules because this dense, rich web of lore built over two decades allows Oda to say “in 2021, Shanks will do something” and have the entire fanbase (rightly!) lose their minds in hooting excitement (I cannot emphasize enough how important of a character Shanks is and, also, how much Shanks has never done literally anything). Oda’s other singular talent, and the talent that allows his lore to shine without weighing the story down, is his courage to allow the series to frequently go full-on Looney Tunes mode.
Case in point: in One Piece, guys can be 20 feet tall. No reason! They just are! Plenty of manga draw villains as much bigger than the heroes but One Piece is one of the few to just lean into that and be like yeah that’s not artistic license, he’s just like that!
One of the strongest antagonists in One Piece is Charlotte Linlin, aka Big Mom, an Emperor of the Sea who is 28 feet tall and cannot be harmed by any means. If you are wondering if Big Mom has a huge amount of backstory and lore explaining this, well, yes and no. She has a ton of backstory and lore that explains her Devil Fruit, her past, her psychology, her desires, her personality, her pirate career, her kingdom, etc etc, but the reason she is 28 feet tall and the strongest person in the world is just because she’s like that. Don’t worry about why! Sometimes folks are just huge and can’t take damage. That’s life baby.
The point of these stories, after all, is to be fun. Lore is nice, but more and more I am appreciating creators confident enough to just do shit because it’d be fun. Coming to understand this has been a huge help to my own creative life as well. You know all this shit’s made up right? You can put in a part that owns just because!