Making SeventhStyle: Part 1

For as far back as I can remember, I’ve been using a computer. I’ve been on the internet, doing one thing or another. It was what I spent all day with, everyday, every year of my living memory – from Neopets, to Google of ancient times, and the pre-historic equivalents of Tumblr and other blog platforms that are Tripod and GeoCities and such.

There was something fascinating about the internet, always something new available…

Eventually, one day while slacking around work, my boss suggested to me I try making a website for the business since I had nothing better to do. That was something I’d always thought would be worth trying, and so I tried it, and the outcome was horrible.

But I tried again, and again, and many times further after that. I had actually finished the website for the business, but I wanted to make my own website, which reflected my own aesthetic visions.

After months of creating websites, destroying them, and creating websites anew in their place on my old Compaq PC running Ubuntu 9.10 that has been running a LAMP stack, a very typical combination of software to get a web server running, and also set-up to be accessed by the outside world through my mediocre 5MB residential connection with AT&T, I thought it was time to try something more ambitious.

——-around the same time———–

During winter of a certain year, I had little to do during a night at work. I don’t recall why, yet I decided to continue a series I never finished. Many years earlier I had watched Initial D’s first season in its entirety and loved it – naturally, I continued along with the second season. This was during a time when anime was difficult to download online. The concept of downloading videos seemed like an urban legend – if you told someone you downloaded a video, they would laugh at you, want to see it, or wouldn’t believe you.

And I pretty much savored every episode – yet for whatever reason, as I reached the final episode of the second season of Initial D, I simply did not watch it.

I’m not sure why I decided not to watch it – if you’re familiar with Initial D, you should know how the story works, and quite frankly, I believe I already had the outcome in mind. In any case, that was it for Initial D. Later on a few years afterwards, I did watch but a single new series – everything of Full Metal Panic.

A friend of mine had given me a random manga volume of the original series, and I was hooked. As I made it to Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu?, I rewatched that grand series several hundreds of times over (literally) on YouTube. Having enjoyed it so much, I even purchased the DVD set and continued to watch it several hundreds of times over (literally), falling asleep and waking up to the A-team replica theme playing in the DVD menu screen.

Then what followed was but another gap in my enjoyment of anime, after Fumoffu, I did rewatch some really old series I admired from television such as FLCL, yet I never really cared for anime in general or thought of it. I merely enjoyed a good show.

Returning back to this frigid winter night, I just decided from nowhere to finally watch the last episode of Initial D’s second season which I’ve avoided for all these years. Sure enough, I watched it – and from there, I watched the remaining two new seasons. After that, I rewatched season one and two – both of which I found enjoyable.

I still was not fascinated by anime at this point, yet I was gradually finding a great realm. Some days after my completion of Initial D, I scoured YouTube for some unrelated videos of humor – simply seeking a method to pass the time. Eventually, I came across “Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged”, a hilarious fandubbed version of a series I had seen the original of many years in the past.

After that affair, I returned to the vast world of YouTube once again, which was also in its infancy by the way – and in my conquest for comical anime videos, I had become acquainted with a series above all when it comes to comedy, Azumanga Daioh. Needless to say, the experience was full of laughter and reminiscent of good times watching Fumoffu – I further ventured for videos of Azumanga clips, and then came across a masterpiece I would have dearly regretted missing, Lucky Star.

Lucky Star basically initiated my interest in anime as an art, at the time, and even to today, I’m heavily interested in all aspects of art, and would consider myself an expert in the field. Lucky Star was an unmatched tale I’ve never experienced before, yet I also fell in deep love with the colorful characters, vivacious environment, and the straightforward silliness. The recreation of life in an animation was, or rather, still is marvelous.

As ridiculous as some things in Lucky Star seemed to be, I’ve encountered a few of them myself, and as I read through YouTube comments, I saw other people did as well – and not only that, I myself would see other people in reality come into such awkward and amazing situations it played out. This was life turned into an artwork – it captured the dynamic ups and downs, the embarrassing things we don’t want to admit, the serious sides, and above all, presented it beautifully.

From there, I returned for a final time to the thicket of pirated and viral videos known as YouTube in search not of a random comedy clip, but in search of anime, I came across a video of Higurashi’s Rika saying “Nipah~” for minutes on end, and it went from there.

Over the following years, I kept watching anime, rewatched some really old stuff I recalled – and slowly became engaged in the newer clips. As I got more interested in anime, it’s to be expected I became more engaged in its online communities – however, I never joined any but one.

——————

I wanted to make a complete website, not simply a hollow shell of lorem ipsum text and empty designs that would be destroyed the following day to make way for me creating everything all over again out of inquisitive boredom. In all of my messing around, I managed to learn a few things – notably, WordPress would make a great foundation for the site, and I just so happened to find one theme that I really liked out of the many thousands I had tried.

Of course I wasn’t going to use the theme as-is, I wanted something unique and distinct, not a template. I’m an artist, so I understood the importance of identity in design – but this was the theme that struck me with a sensation of inspiration, a blueprint for what can come next. By default, it didn’t look anything like I wanted it to, but the structure and the features hit me, and I could already see the possibilities.

At the time, I was one of the administrators of Natsuyume. There were three of us, but originally, two. One who paid for everything (I can’t remember your name, sorry), and a fellow who had a lot of aspirations and great ideas, with an outgoing personality to make him popular among users, but not the technical know-how to get done what he wanted to get done. That’s how I became the third, because when I found the site, small yet with evident potential, it just so happened they were searching for someone capable of the technical details to join them. I had no money, and I hated talking to people, but I had some technical knowledge.

Not long thereafter, the website was enjoying fantastic prosperity, running a new forum system, boasting a new look, over 10,000 registered members, and rapidly becoming one of the most prominent RAW manga and anime forums online. It was a good community, sharing a vast collection of incredibly rare manga that you can no longer find online, because Natsuyume was the only place that had it, and it no longer exists unfortunately – but that’s another story…

I had come to quite like anime, and I had come to be fairly well-versed in the way of websites. In the process of getting Natusyume transitioned to Discuz!, a forum platform incredibly popular among Asian countries, I had even become a moderator for the official English support forum of the software.

And so I enjoyed both anime and meddling with websites enough that my goal of making a website eventually led me to start moving in that direction. I had declared my intention to Ryuwolf, the sociable admin of Natsuyume who I conversed with regularly at the time, to make a sort-of online anime magazine. Even though I told him, it all seemed like a faint dream at the time. I never really thought I’d end up making the website, but after a lot of work on the theme I had found, summer turning to winter, and then winter to spring, I had something I was surprisingly pleased with.

I even came up with a name while meddling with logo ideas in Photoshop. “SeinenStyle” I thought… “Seinen” would indicate the subject matter, and “Style” suggests a dedicated focus on said subject. Since I liked the seinen genre of anime more than any other at the time, but I figured I couldn’t realistically make a website wholly dedicated to that one genre. After giving it another week or two of contemplation, it came to me… “SeventhStyle”.

SeventhStyle doesn’t mean anything in the same sense as the meaning of the word “big”, a word which has a meaning obvious and apparent, as it’s not an adjective, it’s an ideology. It’s a distinct word, nothing like it comes up in Google, it has distinction and individuality, and no suggestion of a relation to anime whatsoever. Why was that important to me? Because to really appreciate anime, you have to look beyond the fact that it’s anime, it’s not just “hurr durr anime”, it’s someone’s work. There were already plenty of websites called “narutosite.info”, “bestanimeblog.com”, “animekickassmoepantsuextravaganza.biz”, and I didn’t want to have another generic forgettable name, another generic forgettable website of which the depth of examining animation is that it was made in Japan, so it’s good.

Written by Deraxia K.

Deraxia K. is the fake name of a guy who does things on the internet, such as create websites like SeventhStyle. He also occasionally does things in real life, some of which he writes about here.