Neregate, for those of you who don’t know, is the first place where the seasonal anime images come out. It is the birthplace of many ideas and also a great community for fans of anime, manga, Japanese arts as a whole and the base of a loli master… ‘Uncle’ Zana is the owner, creator and main responsible person for the existence and continued success of yet another great anime/manga website. For all the curiosities and charming answers on my questions see below!
The interview is the first one I made life, I admit it. Usually, I send out the questions and receive my answers, but my host Zana invited me to a chat conversation and I just couldn’t resist. A lovely little loli welcomed me to the Neregate chat. It was also the first time I was in that part of the site.
Here is everything you need to know when it comes to the person behind Neregate.
Hello, Zana! I am very pleased to be able to do this with you! First of all, I would love to know why do you address yourself as “Uncle Zana”? Where do the two come from (especially the “Uncle” part)?
It comes from an IRL habit. To be honest I don’t remember when or why I started addressing myself that way. I just started it on a whim, and it kinda became a habit for both me and people who know me both IRL and on the blog now.
What got you into anime? Do you recall the very first thing from that (anime) part of the world that caught your attention?
Let’s see.. When I was a kid, I was already watching anime (though at that time, I was too young to realize that these were what you’d call “anime”) like City Hunter, Dragon Ball and the like. I always preferred anime to real TV series or other cartoons, because anime really knows how to bring the “right mood” and stuff, while normal cartoons just never manage to (at least from those I’ve seen). Anime was never popular in my country, you’d only see a few, like Gundam or Cowboy Bebop. So I really started watching anime when I got my own place and internet.
Oh, that’s a strong attraction to anime – to have a will able to survive although the situation! I will mark that down By the way, which country is yours or you’d rather not share this information?
I don’t mind at all^^
Actually, I already shared a lot of stuff about me when Neregate had its first birthday. Oh, and to answer the question, I’m from France
There are a lot of people visiting Neregate on a daily basis, what do you think keeps their interest so vivid? Is it the daily images, the 18+ content or the community you all have created?
The main reason is the charts, which come as the first point of interest for Neregate’s visitors. Next in line are the Japanese Artists posts, which get some decent clicks whenever I publish one. Pictures of the day give normal traffic, though I know many come because they are curious about what picture will be published the next day. I myself am very fond of Japanese Art in general, so I understand their interest. 18+ section is not visible by default, so it doesn’t get that much of an attention. The category itself isn’t very developed so it’s understandable.
Japanese artists showroom, anime season image charts, loli images of the day, guess the anime game with scoreboard…I see that everything has a great success in the community and I am not wondering how you’re doing it, although I am certain it takes a lot of effort and time, but how did you get to do all these things in the very beginning?
The main reason I’m able to do that is because I got knowledge in coding for both web languages (with some points stronger than others), and I got several tools to save me time when processing tasks on a regular basis. For example, I have a tool to extract answer from the “Guess the Anime” submissions I receive, then I have another tool integrated to my admin area to add points to users in bulk, thus saving me a huge amount of time. Since I’m doing everything alone, I need to be as efficient as possible. I took a lot of time thinking about what I would do when I started my blog, and how I would do it. Hopefully I was able to follow most of the ideas I had, the way I wanted *both web languages and normal “software” languages
We all know that you’re doing a lot of work on this website and not only it. Baka.bz (another one of the Neregate websites, if you allow me to call it that) is a great database, still not as populated as I would personally like it, but you’re working hard and the results are incredible – the interface is great and the fact that you’ve made it all by yourself is also incredible! It’s obvious that you are very agile when it comes to web design and website stuff as a whole – you did the migration from one hosting to another, you fix up things in the layout and redirects… You did finish the site quite recently and I was wondering what made you do this and what are you hoping to achieve with it? You planning on becoming a concurrent of My Anime List and Anime News Network someday?
baka.bz is what I call a “redirection service”. As I said earlier, the main reason people visit my site is for the charts. I know that many visitors want as much information as possible from the charts. While it is understandable, you just can’t put a mountain of text for each anime, or this wouldn’t be pleasant and concise to read/look at. baka.bz solves the problem of being unable to put the URL of an anime’s official website in the chart (simply because the URL is usually very long, and since the chart is an image, you don’t want people to type the link in their adressbar everytime), by compiling and redirecting users based on a short URL. I know many people want as much information as possible in the charts, which is why I am preparing something else, that I hope on releasing soon, and that will change the way you look at anime charts forever^^
Yes… so, it’s actually like an unattached attachment to the charts?
Yea, you could say that. SO I don’t plan on making it something like ANN or MAL, though I’ll probably use it for other types of redirections in the future.
And about *that* thing with the charts…In the Birthday post you shared with your readerbase, you said that you have big plans for these charts we all love… And you’re still thinking about it. Care to share some more details?
I do have a “huge” plan, but it’ll take several heavy months of development. I’m not sure I’ll have the motivation to pull out something that big, but I hope I will. On the short term, however, I have an idea to make the charts a lot more interesting. I can’t say much about it yet, but it does involve a lot of coding, and will be web-based. I’m already done by about 50%, but it’s not easy to code and I’m having a lot of headaches trying to put things together^^. I do learn a lot each time, as I’m doing things I’ve never done before (and this is partially the case here).
I see.. so we’ll be having something web-based and I bet it will be great! I have always loved your charts, even before actually knowing they were as popular
Charts keep changing a lot too. I’m eternally unsatisfied with how I pull out the TV series, so it won’t be long before I change the design again. I do like how the OVA/OAD/etc. section’s info is displayed though: compact, with a summary. Doesn’t take much space either.
You’re doing a great job with the site, charts and everything else. But you also had some issues, didn’t you? In January, the site went down because of an attack and within a month, in February, it was sabotaged by the hosting company and you had to migrate. How did you manage on such a short notice with both issues and what can you tell to people who would want to make websites about their favourite topics, but are afraid of all the bureaucracy?
While I can’t really say anything about the origin of the first attack that deleted the main database, my guess was that it came from the webhost itself. I was consuming too many resources and paying too little, so I was a “bad” customer for them. They probably decided to delete the database to sink me down, hoping the site would die and that I’d cancel my hosting plan with them. (Un)fortunately, I’m also knowledgeable in database management so it wasn’t too hard to bring everything back. Afterwards, and just as you said, the website was suspended permanently, without any prior notice. It was a hard blow, but I kinda expected them to play a bad trick on me, sooner or later. Hopefully this webhost is much better, resources speaking.
What I’d recommend to people making their own website (self-hosted), is to never underestimate security: Get knowledge with htaccess files and, most of all, backup everything on a regular basis. Once you get some decent traffic, you will be targeted, either by humans or by bots that seek known vulnerabilities. It may sound like a pain to learn things that you may not want to bother learning, but I think it’s a required step to have some peace of mind, knowing that you still have solutions if a problem arises.
Oh I see… you think it was both because of the hosting and the big consummation on your side. I do understand this. I hope it’s not so, though, because if hosting companies do this on a regular basis many people would be sunk, because not everyone can code.
Well, website started with like… 2GB of bandwidth per month. Now, I’m over 1.2TB of monthly bandwidth. This speaks for itself^^
Do you watch the new anime series that come out each season?
Of course^^ I watch many shows per season. I’m not too dificult when it comes to “what should be on my watch list” for upcoming seasons. I just enjoy watching anime in general.
What is your favourite one from the last season (winter 11/12) and what is the one you await most passionately from the Spring season?
Winter had nothing “outstanding” imo. The one that didn’t disappoint me (note that I didn’t say “that I really liked”) is Another, which was quite decent, and whose open ending leaves speculation for a second season (or so I hope). For Spring, I guess I’ll take Accel World, although I’m also looking forward to Fate Zero S2 (like many), and Hyou-ka
What do you think of stage plays and live-action adaptations of anime/manga stories?
I never watch those (or rarely). I really like how Seiyuus manage to bring emotion into anime characters, but Japanese people’s acting is really terribad. i can’t feel any emotion when I see them acting. it looks too “reserved”, they just can’t express themselves freely on stage, nor bring the mood.
Do you watch any of the big shounen anime? (the now deceased) Bleach, One Piece, Naruto or Gintama?
Never watched Bleach, nor One Piece or Gintama (It’d be too long to catch up, I prefer watching shorter series). I stopped watching Naruto about a year ago. Fillers an fillers again, if you get what I mean. Better stick to the manga for this one, I guess.
And what is your favourtie genre?
I don’t have a favorite genre, really. I watch pretty much anything, though I tend to avoid anime about sports.
So, no Prince of Tennis for you then
Taka, Nilitsu, Tsujiki, Mochizuki Saku – artists that you present to your visitors. Landscapes, fantasy, even monochromatic lolis are some of the varieties… What is your personal favourite of them and why?
I do have a favourite artist, but I’ve never featured her yet. I’ll probably do that for neregate’s second birthday. I think I made one PotD about her, long ago
Do you have an opinion about scanlations and free distribution of manga online?
Hmmm, this is a difficult question. Obviously this is a bad thing to read if for free, as the author doesn’t get money because you didn’t buy the book (and being a mangaka is a really hard job), but since I’ve read several mangas online before, I’m in no position to talk, really. Same goes for anime, of course.
Animation costs so much money now. Anime becomes more like a battle to make sells rather than the content: Uncensored content, extra episodes for BD/DVD only, etc
Do you have something to say to your visitors?
That they’re free to disagree with anything I’ve said above (as this is my very own opinion), and that I won’t give my lolis to anyone
Would you like to share something else with my readers? Jokes, quotes, images, vendetta propaganda… all is allowed!
I think I’ll pass on pictures (I guess you know why ). But you have a nice website and a community that is expanding (with a variety of people, which is the best you can have). So I encourage them to stick with the Shinigami for the upcoming content^^
Thank you, Uncle Zana! I had a great time!
Now, for everyone who thinks that the awesome anime charts appear out of nowhere, I have to say that this interview took more than 2 hours and at least throughout the entire time Zana was working on the first version of the summer 2012 image. It came out later the next day. Also, the spring 2012 version was updated once after our conversation and it is now including a lot new shows and dates.
I am using the Neregate charts when doing previews most of the time – it is an easy and eye-catching way to have the upcoming shows systemised. Also, the artwork on Negerate’s main page is incredible and I am very happy that the site is sharing some of the less known artists as well as ones every fan should know.
I cannot wait for the new and improved works of Uncle Zana and how the website will be developing from now on. I am wishing them both success and a lot of new visitors, as well as to keep up the great job they’re doing.