In 2009, the CLANNAD -After Story- anime became the first piece of media to ever make me cry.
After that, I had to know what else these people had done. I ended up finding a visual novel called Little Busters!, with just a single route translated - and the translation group’s IRC channel, where I’d hang out daily over the next couple of years. As it turns out, if a bunch of people gather over their shared love of a story about friendship (and muscles), that’s what the place becomes filled with. But as these things are wont to go, when the last route was done and it hit us all like a bus, activity started to dwindle, and people scattered elsewhere.
In 2013, one of my friends from that channel, @Aspirety, approached me about doing something to try to bring back that feeling, to create another place to bond over our shared love of KEY, friendship, and the Muscle Sensation.
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t expect it to actually go anywhere - but hey, I’d be dammed if I didn’t at least try. So over my winter break, I rented a bottom-of-the-shelf cloud server, grabbed one of the early betas for this new forum software I’d seen mentioned on Twitter, and hacked something together. Some of you may remember the times when I had to take the site down for a bit, because the server didn’t have enough RAM to both run the forum and compile a new build.
In hindsight, listening to the person with the Kyousuke avatar coming out of nowhere and asking me to come play baseball was the best decision I’ve ever made.
I used to be a very quiet sort, struggled with a language barrier, and I related very strongly to Rin in Little Busters!. I was happy to just sit by the sidelines and watch, but Kaza gave even somebody like me a place to feel like I belonged. Today, I’m in a much better place, I’ve become somebody I never would have without you all, and I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime.
Kaza first opened its doors nearly six years ago. Back then, Little Busters! on Steam was a punchline, something that would never happen.
Since then, so many things have happened. We’ve done so much together. We’ve discussed our favourite stories together, argued over who’s best girl, debated the narrative value of H scenes until we all decided to just never mention it again (sorry!), built the entire Little Busters! school in Minecraft, cheered as the CLANNAD kickstarter hit stretch goal after stretch goal, shared deeply personal moments together, sung drunk karaoke together. I somehow own a copy of Little Busters! on Steam, and I’d like to think we had some part in making that happen.
And, one by one, many of us have moved on. I don’t see that as a failure. People change and so do our needs - I just hope that Kaza could be what you needed during your stay, and that it was something worth treasuring.
The natural end point of a community occurs when enough people have moved on, and activity tapers off. At that point, there are a couple of things you can do. You can change, try to be something new for other people, maybe bring back some of the people who moved on - but at that point, you’re no longer what they left behind. You can let it fall into obscurity, until nobody cares to keep the servers running anymore, and let it quietly fall off the face of the internet. Or, you can end it with a bang, throw a party, write emotional letters, then preserve it in amber - and let it live on in all of our hearts, forever.
Let’s go out with a bang. Let’s celebrate these six years, whether you’ve been around since the beginning, or you signed up yesterday.
Let’s keep sharing our love with the world.
Because Kazamatsuri is eternal.