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Its time for a change. A letter from RA:N & Azure Infinitum Founder

Hello there!
Its been a while. I haven't updated here in quite some time, and a lot has happened. I'd like to simply address this, and also the future of this site.
If you've followed me on social media through this year, such as on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, or if you're a member of our Azure Infinitum community, you might have noticed that 2022 was a difficult year for me. 

RA:N activity has been up and down for a while. There were great years where I covered conventions prior to the pandemic and posted galleries of my own or featured other's coverage, and times I kept you all up to date more often on my own activities, or opinions of news from around the wide world of visual culture. Then there were long moments of inactivity, times when things became hard. I've had private difficulties in my life that have caused my attention and energy to become needed elsewhere. Moments have come and gone when I wish I would have updated on these things a little bit more, or about when I needed a break and why.

The goal here on this site has been the same as my personal work in the industry. It has always been to keep an active site that continued to share event coverages, pop culture news, collectibles, and Japanese Culture- and a lot more that you can see around the site or get the idea by looking at our navigation bar. While this has been accomplished to various degrees, enough that I am proud of if I were to completely walk away from it all today- I feel that in my downtimes from this site, I have discovered a different approach to this site's future, and the future of what I produce in general.

Many things have happened since RA:N first came into being in 2008, following the previous blog's "Run Around:Kazu" which had begun in 2005. From being a volunteer high schooler who could write a lot and give advice & take lots of photos, to a press member and event programming liaison web developer & press skilled industry entrepreneur with an always developing portfolio- today things have taken another step. Things like our community evolving from an FFXI Online group of friends to an enormously successful FFXIV Online community that has slowly transcended the games we share to merge with the same or similar purposes of my personal and RA:N's followers. In that community known as Azure Infinitum, I have found from what began as an initially unintended journey, a many year saga that has lead me through years of leadership and a gauntlet of social interaction, learning, and self discovery.
Amidst hard times several years ago and the era of COVID-19 today, my career has been transitioning towards more online work than field press work. This isn't to say I wont be involved with live events at conventions or attending expos or doing exclusive interviews, it just means my focus going forward fits my life better in the natural direction I've taken to doing mostly private work and leading Azure Infinitum. More about future plans in a moment.

Another great transition for me is that this year, on January 18th, I came out as Transgender, finally finding the courage and learning enough in my own journey of self discovery, in comfort at a time that I felt was best, identifying as female using she/her pronouns, and expressing myself much more comfortably. I am thankful to have a lot of support and kind people around who love me, who have also supported me through this year's great challenges presented by a difficult emergency moving crisis as well, which finally ended this past summer. Since the difficult move settled, I've been rebuilding my home base and work-life balance.

Starting in 2023, RA:N will be carrying on under the name I have become most passionate about: Azure Infinitum. If you are new to Azure or have not heard of our community's name before, know that it represents an enormously positive growing inclusive community of people across the globe who've come together to play, chat, and enjoy hobbies together within our community. We have major online events & activities that have been taking place for many years now- some events equivalent to online conventions you could say. Azure recently celebrated its 8th anniversary, but it will also be a whole new frontier for many people to come. Azure's motto is "As Free As The Azure Sky!" and our philosophy is that together, we all fly as one, amid the seemingly infinite Azure sky, the possibilities and potential infinite as we fellowship together! Our community welcomes all, gamer, otaku, or not, and always works to uphold a no-drama policy and inclusivity for all people in it.

To move forward and return to active writing on my own platform, and to carry our great community with me and those joining me in creating content, and also- because I just feel right about this- RA:N will merge into the Azure community brand soon, and carry onward as a hub that celebrates visual and popular culture, but also our growing community as well. Our current Azure site will continue to be the de facto portal for community information & profiles where our members can make posts, share content, and collect Azure achievements as well. News items posted to that site will continue to be solely focused on the community, as where this current site will be our main station for posts about anime, video games, music, movies, and much much more- and where you can continue to follow myself and our coming editors too. 

As I return to writing here soon and take my communities and following into the next threshold, I want to thank everyone who's supported me since I began as a volunteer at local events in Sacramento, CA going back to 2004. Starting with our very own Sac Anime convention in its first ever year and form, through multiple online communities, trading card game clubs, and more- I am taking all of my life's experiences and skills and pouring my energy into all of this. Whether you've attended live RA:N events or big time conventions and expo's I've been lucky enough to have a part in, or have followed me anywhere online, or have been a member of Azure Infinitum, thank you for all the support. I plan to do everything I can to continue providing a fun, active, organized, and friendly community in Azure Infinitum, as well as informational, inspiring, and interesting content as well. One day I'd love to see our membership grow large enough to support lots of activities across many games, a stream of member-produced content & shares, and provide more perks & maybe even product discounts to our members as well.

There is no specific target on when the merger of RA:N into the Azure name will take place, but it'll mostly be visible from this current site from which you're reading this now. You will see the name change and some updated links. Following those changes you'll begin to see content posted here again as well!

I'll be as active as always on social media and across Azure Infinitum, but as for this site- see you soon!

- Kazushime Hikaru

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