Happy Anniversary Kazamatsuri.org! It’s somehow been an entire year since our website first went live with a closed-beta forum on the 14th of February 2014. We happen to share our birthday with valentine’s day, and I don’t have a single problem with that; it’s an easy date to remember! I’m sure a lot of our forum members are going to be celebrating all day on the Skype chat, so if you have achieved the ‘member’ rank on the forum, then come over and join us in celebration! Keep in mind that it’s an off-topic environment for our members to relax, so it’s not as heavily moderated, and things might be a bit sillier than on the forums! As long as you don’t mind that, then you’re more than welcome.
So, I guess I should say a few words as founder of this website and community. Hope you don’t mind me rambling for a bit, I tend to get carry away with these things! It’s been an amazing year. I still vividly remember the years leading up to the creation of this website; how I always wondered why there had never been a dedicated Key community outside of Facebook groups. As I’ve said before, I was aware of the existence of Facebook groups and pages, but I wanted something more. I looked at websites like the Vietnam Key Fanclub and wondered why there wasn’t any equivalent of that for English speakers. It seemed very odd! I had no idea why no such website existed, and after years of searching and wishing, I decided to take matters into my own hands and create my own Key fansite. A home for Key fans who love to engage in intelligent discussion of Key’s stories. I’d always been active in the community, but nothing I’d done before came close to a project of this scale. A lot of my friends were encouraging me to fill the gap, but I had no idea where to start. Thankfully, I got in contact with an old friend I’d known through the community, @uppfinnarn, notable for her work on the Little Busters! word wrap patch among other things. She must’ve seen some promise in my idea, and somehow she was able to turn all of my whimsical ideas into reality. She’s pretty much a wizard in front of the keyboard, and I owe her so much for putting up with all of my crazy demands and occasional incompetence. After throwing a little bit of my money around, Kazamatsuri.org was finally born.
It started off as a standalone forum closed off from public access for the first month. I invited all of my trusted acquaintences from the Key fandom to join me, and together we somehow generated a really engaging forum by the time we opened to public access, launching alongside the blog. One of those people in the original group was @Bizkitdoh, who has risen through the ranks to become my right hand on the forum and elsewhere, even taking time to cover news while I’m away. He’s proven himself as an exemplary member of the community, and has been exceptional in keeping everyone happy and maintaining order on the forum and off. And he has brought some amazing discussion to the table too. Since we opened in March, we’ve seen a steady increase of members, and we’ve slowly gained the attention of some key (heheh) players in the industry. One such player I’d like to take a moment to mention are Sekai Project, responsible for the localisation of planetarian, and soon CLANNAD. Back when this site was created, Sekai Project were still new on the scene, and nobody even imagined it was possible that a Key game would be officially localised outside of planetarian. Similarly, many doubted whether it was practical to maintain a news blog and community over Key alone, especially since there wasn’t a lot of new content in sight. But since we’ve launched, I’ve managed to continue producing news posts on a regular basis, and the number of them has only kept increasing since so much has happened with Key in the last 12 months. With Sekai Project jumping in to localise planetarian on Steam, and soon after announcing their acquistion of CLANNAD, this year has been the biggest year for English-speaking Key fans in history. And I’ve been delighted to be a part of it! While I wish Kazamatsuri.org existed many years ago, the timing of it’s creation was pretty much perfect. Together, we all put our money toward the CLANNAD Kickstarter, and were able to witness an unprecedented event for not just Key, but visual novels in general. The market is opening up, and we’re more than ready for it. On behalf of everyone at Kazamatsuri.org, thank you to Sekai Project for helping bring Key’s titles to the west, and thank to Key and VisualArt’s for deciding to take the risk after all these years. If CLANNAD does become a huge success in the west, then we’ll be here to guide the fans right here for all the latest news and all the in-depth discussion they could hope for. And it’s not only the localisations that have taken the spotlight over this year. We’ve also seen the hype of the Angel Beats! visual novel soar with all the new details (whom we have to thank Biz as conductor of the hype train) and not one or two but THREE new Key franchises popping out of nowhere: HOLY BREAKER!, Charlotte and Harmonia, the latter two of which will be debuting this year, with a sequel for HOLY BREAKER! planned as well. We’ve been right here to cover all the announcements as they break, and we’ll continue to be here to cover their releases, and you can bet there will be plenty of discussion!
Allow me to shift the focus back to you guys, the community. From the early days the focus of our community has been on promoting two things: quality discussion of Key’s stories, and fostering a sense of family among fans of Key’s works. Kazamatsuri.org advertises itself as a home for Key fans because that’s exactly what we aim to be, and we won’t stop until we’re the biggest and best Key kazoku in the world! Well, at the very least, I hope we can become one of the best. From what I’ve been hearing from many of you, you really are beginning to feel at home among us. Everytime I see a new post in the ‘Introduce Yourself’ topic, and I see how much Key means to each person, it brings a huge smile to my face, and I know I’m doing this for a good reason. When I see people talk about how they see themselves in Tomoya’s struggles, and how they are inspired by Kyousuke’s passion and Riki’s determination, I feel an immediate rapport. While everyone is different, and we all approach things in different ways, I really feel that we’re able to connect on a deep level through our mutual love of Key’s stories. In the short time that I’ve come to know you all, I already think of many of you as my family, and I want to make sure everybody is enjoying themselves even as our family continues to grow ever larger. The forum was a bit quiet for the first few months, and to be honest I was a little concerned about our future in the beginning, but writing today I look at the forum and see 50 new posts a day; I’m having difficulty keeping up with all the activity as moderator! And I know it’s only going to bigger from here on. Soon I’ll have to start hiring more staff, so if you’re interested in joining the crew, leave a good impression on me and I’ll surely take you into consideration!
But really, we truly do feel like a family to me. We have our hiccups every now and again, but for the most part we all still love each other in the end. Kanon is a bit of a goofball, but he can really pull through with quality discussion unlike anyone else when he feels like it. Takafumi sometimes rustles some feathers with his unpopular opinions, but he’s arguably contributed to the Kazamatsuri.org community more than anybody, and continues to support it through his efforts. Naoki_saten may be a bit over-serious sometimes which can cause conflict with the more silly members, but his analysis of Key’s stories has always been some of the most interesting to read on the forum. Bonecuss is a little shy sometimes, but he’s always been a prominent figure in the community, aspiring to read every single new post on the forum and just generally a really cool person to hang around with on Skype. LinkThinks is always hilarious to chat with, but is also great at keeping things real when it comes to discussing things. Yerian is always on top of awesome discussion on the forum, Zak and JimRaynor always somehow manage to find exciting Key news before anyone else, Pepe has been a massive help as my proxy and is generally a very chill and welcoming guy to talk to, AngelofDeath has been instrumental in getting the community to play games together, Karifean is based, Ika is a loser but I love him like a little brother, Purple is a loser but he contributes quite a lot so I can never hate him, Rabla is a casual but we’ve been friends since the beginning, Kluck doesn’t post but he’s the king I guess, Tel is the ultimate lurker, Nin needs to post more, rune is my lovely bro from another fandom, and… I should probably stop rattling off names before I can’t excuse myself for forgetting a few! You’ve all left an impression on me, and our family’s only going to continue to grow. I can’t help but be excited by all the new faces that I’m beginning to get to know, and those that I’m yet to meet! To be able to meet and get to know all of you is nothing short of a miracle.
You guys are just awesome for sticking with me and supporting my dream through this year. Through every route and character discussion topic, every news post and every off-topic chatter, you guys have been there to support me and turn my dream into a reality. In the past I’d never have imagined I’d be sitting where I am today, and I couldn’t have done it without the passion and dedication of all of our community members. For that, I am truly thankful. It’s been an amazing ride over the last year, and I don’t regret a second of it. But this is only the beginning. Let’s not stop here - let’s aim as high as we can. Let’s surpass all those facebook groups and pages, let’s show everybody on the internet what a Key family is really like. Let’s watch as CLANNAD gains worldwide acclaim, and ride that comet into space, opening our arms to all the new faces who would call themselves Key fans and wish to spend time exploring Key’s worlds and their characters through others who understand their love. There’s great things in store for us, so I hope you’ll continue to stand by me as we venture into the unknown together, and make many more new friends as Key becomes stronger and stronger. Thank you so much, you wonderful people! Together, we have made many good memories, and I trust we will continue to make many more!
-Aspirety, founder and admin of Kazamatsuri.org.