Around this time I believed other UY fans would rally to my side and help me construct a network of pages like the world had never seen. It would become a utopia of UY fandom. Everyone contributing to the greater cause. However such an expectation was unrealistic and admittedly an adolescent fantasy. It's not that people don't care, it's just that most people don't have the time or the motive to commit to building a site that they feel doesn't belong to them. I quickly lost the illusion that this would be a community effort. I realized that if I was going to do it right, I'd have to do it myself. It's one hell of an undertaking for one person.
But I haven't been totally without support. Over time I've had a few people make an impactful contribution to the site. In the early days, Jerry Wright helped me a great deal. He was someone who I could bounce ideas off of and who would actually help with research. We'd talk on the phone and often send each other anime goods. Jerry was one of the few internet acquaintances who I might call a friend. We eventually lost touch though as most internet friendships tend to do.
Another person who has helped make this site even greater would be J.M. Steadman (a.k.a. Sakurambo). He came to me out of the blue one day when I posted a request for someone to take over the fanfic section of the site. Out of the three people who volunteered, I chose him based on nothing more than a hunch. It worked out better than I had hoped. Initially a bit wet behind the ears, he soon became a most worthy collaborator. His summaries of the UY movies are written with such professional pride and his work on the fanfic page shows such dedication that I'm glad he was on my side. Most people will tell me what they like about the site, but no-one tells me what I'm doing wrong. Fortunately 'Sak' was one who's not afraid to put me in my place.
There have been many others who have helped along the way. Davey Jones, Norikazu Ikeno, Charles McCarter, Sean Worsham, Joe Rispoli, K.J. Karvonen, Matthew Webber, Aishath Nazir, Akira Hojo and Leo Sutic have all helped me in one way or another. I am very thankful for their insight and inspiration. Most recently I have to thank Harley Acres and Dylan Acres for without them, this site would no longer exist. I'll tell you what I mean later on.
Blood, sweat and beers.
By now I've revamped the site 7 different times and each of those times I was always revising. During the first 2 years I spent about 900 hours on Tomobiki-cho. The work I put into it tapered off in the following years, but that initial spurt took up a lot of my youth. I'm sure my time wasn't spent too efficiently since I would often watch TV or browse the web at the same time as working on the site, but still, that kind of investment of time is mind boggling. I could have been out making money. A lot of this time spent was nothing more than tinkering; rewriting a line of text here, replacing a picture there, then going back and tweaking it some more. It was a very messy process for the first year. It took me a long time to streamline my efforts.
This site was once painstakingly built with just a text editor and Photoshop 3 (before the advent of layers). After I started going professional, I began to use programs like Homesite, Dreamweaver and the latest versions of Photoshop. Not only that, but my methods became more organized and efficient. Now it takes me a couple of hours to accomplish what used to take me a week.
Evolving with the site
Thanks to cutting my teeth on this site in its early years, I eventually grew more and more proficient with the web to the point where I could code with the best of them. Not only that but my knack for graphic design gave me an additional advantage in being able to design sites that could contend with print quality design. I began to work as a freelance web designer. Eventually landed a full-time job with a design agency as a web developer where I became a full-fledged professional. There I created and designed web sites for many big money clients. I quit after a wonderful year and a half to go back to college and get my graphic design diploma (where I'm currently taking my 3rd year). It's very likely that none of this would have happened, if it weren't for the learning experience that came with creating Tomobiki-cho.
Since its creation in early 1996 this site the site has hit a couple of major snags. Looking back on them, if these crises had never happened, this site would have long since faded away. Here's a look at the two biggest turning points in the site's history.
in Tomobiki-cho part 1
The first crisis came in the summer of 1997 when I had started to grow weary of the site. AnimEigo had temporarily lost the rights to distribute Urusei Yatsura in America, Viz Comics decided to stop selling the manga and I felt like my site was the only thing keeping the spirit of Urusei Yatsura alive in the English-speaking world.
Being a candle in the darkness for so long, slowly but surely I began to lose interest. I wasn't putting the same passion into my work that I previously had. The old 'bijin' of the month page (R.I.P.) was on the end of it's run, all of my major pages were finally complete and I didn't have a single new idea for my site. I felt like I had reached a dead end so I just stopped caring. Just then my access to the internet was cut off.
As some old-timers may know, this site used to be on a server called ottawa.net. I had stuck with this company for a long time despite the fact that they had the worst service out of any provider I've ever known. One day I had returned from an anime convention to find that they removed my e-mail address for some clerical reason which was no fault of my own. They then restricted my access to my ftp site (again, their fault). As usual I spent 3 days on the phone trying to clear it up, but I figured that I would never get it back again. I was sick of going through a new ordeal every month with them. I decided it would let it end here and Tomobiki-cho would die off.
For two months, I used this opportunity to take a rest from the internet. This gave me a fresh perspective on Tomobiki-cho and soon with a ton of new ideas spilling out of my head, I was eager to get back to my beloved site. I had just graduated high school and wasn't going to college right away, so I had lots of free time to recreate the site into something truly special.
Around November of 1997 I was just about done and ready to launch on my father's company server. However just as I went to update the old site and post a link to the new place I found out that ottawa.net went out of business (good riddance!) and shut down their servers. So my old site was gone for good and I didn't have any way to tell my old regular visitors where I had gone. That's when I got the inspiration to register tomobiki.com as my new domain name. Not only that, but I moved the site to a faster, more professional web host. Now that the site had been reborn, it was a very different web site than it once was. It finally had become the site I always dreamed it would be: the most comprehensive Urusei Yatsura fan site in the world. continue to page 3