[The AXCEL Side] Doubts about AXCEL STYLE

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Yesterday (8/15/19 U.S. PDT), I posted my second attempt at an Instagram Story Q&A box on the AXCEL STYLE Instagram account. I’ve done this before earlier this year or sometime late of last year, but unfortunately, no one really dropped a question that I can answer and post it on the IG story. Just out of the blue, because of a recent increase in global Axcels, I decided to try it again. This time, I’ve succeeded and got a few questions from fellow global Axcels who have been following the IG account.

To everyone who sent in questions, I thank you. I’ll post up another one soon when I can.

Even though some of the questions were similar to the others before them, I still answered them without being repetitive (as in the same answers). The last question actually intrigued me and it also gave me an idea on what to write about in this latest The AXCEL Side post, so I decided to write about this question instead. The said question is here below:

IG Q&A

Dedicated Axcel that I am, I may have easily answered the question with a no, but that would just be me denying myself as a web developer and maintainer of a fully-blown expanded fansite and blog such as this. As a web dev for a living, I’ve always had doubts about everything that I do as I start typing on my text editor whatever code that I needed to write about. There are several questions that I would ask and write them down on my notebook as a side reminder of what may come as I write down every single line of code needed as a way for me to not think of these doubts up until I’ve completed the project.

So, the answer to that question above is yes, I do have doubts. I still have doubts today, even though the site is pretty much completed. It’s not because of how this was made, but it’s more because of how the content and everything I displayed in public here may impact the Axcel Fam community and even gain potential new fans. In addition to that, I also question how this English language fansite may even affect MADKID themselves as a budding dance and vocal group slowly gaining popularity among global fans.

Therefore, this entry is all about these doubts, and I’ll write every single one of them.

#1 – Is it okay to put details about the group and its members when it’s not really mentioned on their official site profiles or even on their social media?

Plenty of the personal details mentioned in the SLYKY section of the site are all stemmed from the livestreams of each member. 1 As a curious fan, I have the tendency to keep an eye out their mannerisms, the way they situate themselves in front of their smartphones/tablets doing their livestreams while talking to fans leaving comments. Of course, I also had a realization that they’re baring out all their personal quirks and mannerisms you don’t normally see during live events and on stage right at your screen, which means they’re not hiding them, nor they’d feel embarrassed when someone informs other fans of this.

With the latter in mind, I felt confident. Plus, some long-time Axcels think it would also bring in more new Axcels because they will become a lot curious as to why they do these little things the way they do them. This also gave me a realization that the members love attention from the masses as well, so I broke this doubt and went for this idea.

#2 – This is an English language fansite with very little or no Japanese text and it’s aiming for global (non-Japan) fans. That’s it… right?

Originally, this was my initial thought before drafting the UI 2 of the site. Because MADKID’s global fanbase is very small compared to many of other notable J-Pop male dance and vocal groups, this was my true aim for this site. This would mean that I won’t have to bother the Japanese Axcels to promote this site to them. This also meant that I won’t have to let the members know that this English fansite about them now exist because I don’t think anyone of them would even stop by to look at it anyway.

Then one day, about a week after the first edition of AXCEL STYLE was completed, a Japanese Shin-biased fan informed SHIN on one of his livestreams that I just put up a MADKID fansite in English. I was surprised at first because I really didn’t intend to let the members and the Japanese fans know about the site because most of them would not understand English at all. Then I just remembered that a few of the Shin-biased Axcels started following me (my personal account) on Twitter when I started joining in Shin’s livestreams when he was still using the Pococha livestream app.

With that comment in his livestream, not only Shin knew about the site, but also every single Shin-biased fans present knows about it too. At that time, I didn’t know Shin that well yet and thought that he’d just thank me for starting one and move on to the next comment. When he read that person’s comment about my site, not only that he thanked me, but he also prodded me a little bit regarding the site by giving him the URL to the site, what the contents of the site was, my intent, etc. On the next livestream session, Shin didn’t forget about AXCEL STYLE and informed me that he did check out the site and how happy and excited he was for the site and he also imagined how much I’ve worked hard on it and the struggles I’ve gone through while I was constructing the site. I even recalled how he said that both of us should continue working hard for our goals: him and his performances and me with both my job as a web dev and on the side, seeing AXCEL STYLE grow.

On those days, Shin gave me the motivation and drive to build the site up, even when there were very little to no visitors who would take the time to stop by and check out what content I have at that time. I know this because there are site stats that read the number of visitors coming and going here. I thanked Shin for this encouragement and I breathed a sigh of relief.

#3 – One of the five members now know about AXCEL STYLE. What happens when the rest of the members start to know about its existence too?

It didn’t take long for the word about AXCEL STYLE to spread through the rest of the Axcel Fam including the rest of the members. I even thought how often the members would talk about certain fans they’ve met during handshake events or even through their personal livestreams. Then I learned from Karu-chan and a few that these guys love gossiping about certain fans to each other. It didn’t take long to even notice or even learn that I happen to be one of those “certain fans” they’d talk about to each other.

YUKI

After Shin knowing about the site, YUKI was the second person to learn about it. When he came on 17 at that time, I stopped by to say hi. The first thing he said to me was thank you and congrats on AXCEL STYLE. I commented that he must have seen one of my tweets promoting it during its first launch. Then he said, “Oh no, Shin-chan told me about it. Really great job!”

I felt a bit nervous hearing about this from him. Like what on earth just happened, I thought. With two members knowing about this site, all the more that I started to put up some boundaries on what I should not do with this site for the sake of the group and its dedicated fans. I have to be careful with what I put on this site that may end up affecting the members or even the fans altogether.

LIN

Besides MADKID, LIN does his side-project with his friend and fellow trackmaster Hylen, and released three original singles at that time: IncurabilityI Need You, and Struggle. 3 Because I’m essentially an R&B/Hip-hop fan, I decided to check out his new project and dug all of his tracks. Since I needed some fresh content on the blog part of the site, I decided to write a somewhat thorough review of all three of his songs with Hylen.

About a few days later after the new post was tweeted out to the public, LIN also tweeted about my blog review of his and Hylen’s singles. It wasn’t even an RT from my original tweet. It was a fresh tweet coming from his account. Hylen did the same thing, also a fresh tweet, but also credited me (using my personal Twitter) as the writer/reviewer of the songs. I was shocked because we’re talking about LIN here, being the “behind-the-scenes lurking in the shadows” mastermind of MADKID. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words, and what he did for my review wasn’t so he can show off to everyone that someone who isn’t Japanese wrote something about his work. I also like to think that he too low-key gave me his support for my work with AXCEL STYLE. From that day on, I decided to write more reviews about their individual projects and not just MADKID-related.

KAZUKI

At that time, I assumed that KAZUKI also knew about the site so I decided not to bother him with it. Of course, I now want all the members to know about AXCEL STYLE, just to show them how much I love, appreciate, and support them with who they are and everything that they do, but I’m not an aggressive promoter, so to speak. It’s not really in my character to do aggressive promotions at all.

I don’t remember how I decided to ask him about AXCEL STYLE sometime late of last year, but whatever the reason was, I just simply asked him about it. It was another shocking moment when I learned that he actually didn’t know about AXCEL STYLE. I started to think of the other members didn’t mention to him about it or if he may have forgotten about it, but either way, he was finally aware of its existence. He did ask me for the URL also, and even though I warned him that it’s in English, it didn’t matter to him. He wanted to see that it actually existed and that there’s plenty of content enough to satisfy the curious fan. He also thanked me and also gave me a huge thumbs up and a ganbatte ne to me and to AXCEL STYLE.

YOU-TA…?

I can’t say that he knows about AXCEL STYLE’s existence. To be honest, among the five members, the president is the one whom I seem to have trouble communicating, even when he goes to his occasional livestreams or game on his PS4 live on his Twitch channel. 4 When he does go to livestreams, it’s very rare that he reads comments. He isn’t like Shin who takes the time to read everyone’s comments or Kazuki who would read comments directed at him, even if they were in English or Yuki would read as many comments as he can off the bat.

But, four out of five members knowing about AXCEL STYLE. I think that’s more than enough.

#4 – Even though MADKID and the Japanese Axcels know its existence, the site’s intent isn’t towards them, but towards international fans and would-be fans…

We now live in the era of social media, but back in the last decade, fansites dedicated to their favorite subjects of any kind were a huge thing. AXCEL STYLE wasn’t the first fansite that I built. Last decade, I had RISING STORM, a comprehensive ARASHI fansite under the domain name amnos.net. I remembered how obsessed I was with Arashi and changed the layouts once a month. The site ran from 2003 until 2007 when I started to fade away from the fandom and fell at another interest that had nothing to do with J-Pop at all.

AXCEL STYLE is my second J-Pop-related project dedicated to yet another male dance and vocal group. The only difference between this site and RISING STORM was that I no longer have to rely on other fans or even make friends with fellow Japanese fans to provide me translations or even news links to anything about Arashi. With MADKID, they’re pretty much “in my face” and they’re easily accessible on social media, their official website, and eventually, the MADKID FC site.

It’s really wonderful to be acknowledged by the guys and the Japanese Axcels just for putting up this site alone. However, my intended target audience isn’t them, but the global fans. This would be the most difficult challenge that I have and still is today. Sometimes I get obsessive with checking out the site stats almost every single day then, wondering if I got any unique visitors visiting that isn’t coming from Japan or how many hits I get from being searched through Google or other search engines. That was during the early months. Today, I just didn’t have time to do that but from time to time, I do check the stats.

Mainly, it’s the stats that also cause me to have more doubts about AXCEL STYLE. The highest number of unique visitors that I had was sometime in late June or early July, with only 400. In some ways, it’s also a good thing, as I don’t have to deal with the high traffic and the slowdown of the entire site loading. Still, those are only numbers.

The quality of the content that I post here can also give me doubts. I made sure I double-check all of my sources and the statements that I put in every blog post and even every section of the site before I have them published. A misinformed or a passage with incorrect information does not suit me, not just as a web dev, but as a blogger too. I also made sure that I give credit to the proper parties if they were not commonly seen by the public. 5

But the question is, will global Axcels and curious global fans would come and take the time to visit the site? Will my content even convince them how much MADKID is such an awesome group who deserve all the love and attention as much as any other dance and vocal group around? I felt that I’ve written (almost) everything that is more than enough to get to know MADKID which also includes how to interact with them online if they can’t see them in real life.

I made this site so that I don’t have to “spoon-feed” any curious people who want to get to know more about MADKID. I simply just give them the URL and they can take all the time they need to know more about MADKID. I thought it would be as simple as that. Turns out that it isn’t. I made the UI design as easy and as user-friendly as possible, even there is a small search icon where users can just search throughout the site any info about MADKID or any of its members. However, because of the numbers and even with interactions with some new people I’ve met throughout, I even concluded that I’ve simply wasted my time.

The times that I wanted to quit AXCEL STYLE

There were plenty of times that I was almost close to giving up on AXCEL STYLE and just be a casual Axcel, just hanging out on social media and livestreams, say hello, etc.

  • When I tried to engage global fans to contribute something to AXCEL STYLE (because I can’t always be blogging all the time) about any subject about MADKID late Dec 2018 – Jan 2019. No one replied, no one even said anything, no one at all.
  • When there wasn’t anything to write about to the point that I was tempted to write fanfics about MADKID. 6
  • When technical problems arise and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it and my server tech support has been taking too long to look into the problem.
  • When I made the side project GASP Projects Newsletter and no one’s really pitching in ideas through the mailing list. It’s still inactive till today.
  • Personal offline issues that I had to go through 7 and I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone or even have anything to do with MADKID. Part of me somehow felt ashamed that I felt like I had no right to bother the members (especially Shin) on Twitter or IG, just to say hi.
  • When my site stats had absolutely no numbers, all flat-lined to zero, for the past two weeks.
  • Some other rising doubts that hasn’t happened yet, but it might happen in the future. 8
  • When I felt like I had no friends, simply because some are busy or some started getting into other fandoms that I felt they’ve abandoned MADKID and the Axcel Fam too and felt impossible to make new Axcel friends, then I’d end up like an attention-seeking whore.
  • When I blank out when it comes to the Japanese language. I’m not fluent, but even with the most basic ones that I blank out, I would feel like a complete fraud.
  • When things were just becoming too difficult for me to handle. Juggling work, code studies, family, and my personal goals are taking me away from the things I love now: this site, the Axcel Fam, and MADKID. I don’t know anyone else within the global Axcel Fam 9 who would be dedicated enough to help me maintain AXCEL STYLE when I’m on and off hiatus.
  • The anime Rising of the Shield Hero really helped MADKID boost their recognition among fans outside Japan… but will these same global fans remain Axcels when MADKID releases new material that has nothing to do with Shield Hero or anime in general? 11 or anything similar. I’m sure they don’t want to be stuck just making anisongs just to make a name for themselves.[/note]

But I do know that I can’t just give up like that…

  • MADKID (especially SHIN), who would often remind to all Axcels how much they think of them, even if they’re away, not doing any live events or even active on social media and livestreams.
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero anime series also prevented me not to give up on AXCEL STYLE. If the anime is a hit, and it was a hit, that meant more new potential Axcels. This meant that they need to find more information about MADKID. That meant AXCEL STYLE becomes a major player in the game.
  • MADKID is coming to San Jose (California) very soon, two weeks as of this writing. This can possibly mean more new fans from the local area. This can also be the opportunity that a lone MADKID fansite and blog has been built and maintained by a local and is still ongoing.
  • The members (mainly SHIN, KAZUKI, and YUKI… probably LIN too…) know who I am, first-name basis and everything. I don’t want to disappoint them at all.

Maybe back in the days with my Arashi RISING STORM site, it was easy to quit because I didn’t have that much encouragement to continue from the Arashi fan community, plus a lot of these fans, even newer fans, are doing their own web projects (translations blog, etc.) that can definitely outshine mine. Plus, I wasn’t interested anymore, so I quit.

But in the case of MADKID, I’m stuck in the Axcel Universe. Next thing you know, the MADKID staff may find out about me and this site too…

Conclusion

Let’s just say that I sort of have the same mindset as LIN when it comes to our hard work and the projects we’ve created. I didn’t build this site or write this blog entry just so I can gain attention or fame personally. The only thing I care about is MADKID gaining their well-deserved recognition and this site that I made that would hopefully bring the curious potential fan closer to MADKID. If I’m able to accomplish that and that MADKID gains a lot more global Axcels, then my purpose for this site and even as an ongoing Axcel will be fulfilled.

Eventually, some of these doubts will go away. But sometimes, when one goes away, another one pops out. Just reading throughout what I’ve written so far, I started to wonder if I’ve invested way too much into this. On the other hand, this isn’t just a hobby side project. It’s also good practice as a web dev. Sure, it may not be completely work-related, but it is both educational and sometimes therapeutic because side projects such as this shouldn’t even have a deadline date.

As I build AXCEL STYLE little by little, I feel like I’m improving as a web dev:

  • Learning proper UI/UX techniques, even if I’m not a UI/UX designer.
  • Language writing skills. Maybe I’ll work in Japanese next time.
  • Learning how to appreciate WordPress’s core templating system, but I’m still far off from actually building a completely clean, streamlined theme.
  • Learning how to use plugins wisely – this is very important!
  • How caching in WordPress sites work and how to deal with them – it still is an issue from my end as a dev
  • Fellow web devs from the industry love following side projects, even if they’re not fans of that particular subject. It simply shows that we can be whoever we want to be outside work but we’re still devs. I know some devs are into gaming, some devs are total otaku/weebs, some devs are into fashion and beauty, etc. etc. We’re all human.

Now, I wonder if the devs of the MADKID FC site would even give attention to their own Axcels who also happens to be devs just like them….? 🧐

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