My Struggles As An Edgy Teen

Everyone has their own problems. Sometimes external, sometimes external. From my own experience, most things I would classify as a “problem” involve both. There is some reality, and it is exacerbated by a bad internal reaction or view. Over the years, I’ve had to acknowledge how my own mindset is affected by the outside world. Just recently, I’ve realized how my own body affects my personality.
Now, that might sound dramatic, but it’s really just this-
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I really don’t like when my hair starts to drop down and touch my forehead. It gives me a headache, and makes me visibly bitchy!
Small and petty, right? A headache makes me irritable- isn’t that true for most people? Well, simple as it is, it makes me have sympathy for people with more serious problems. While I can control and prevent my hair from irritating me, I get lazy sometimes. And then I end up being nasty to someone who really doesn’t deserve to hear my shit that day. And some part of me used to wonder, isn’t this attitude a part of me?
And the answer is obviously yes. But that doesn’t mean it’s always a part of me. It’s clearly caused by some external factor. People are shaped in ways that we don’t always understand by all sorts of things. I am in many ways a wholly different person than I was five years ago, that much is clear. But am I in some small way a different person when I am weighed down by sickness and digging my nails into my hand until they leave marks? Continuing that line of thought, am I a different person depending on whether I hang out with my MAGA philosopher friend or my little brother?
I feel like some people would be proud to say that they are always the same person. That they are just donning some “mask” or performing a social “role”, or even just showing a “side” of their personality. I believe most everyone is capable of doing that. But is there always such a clear division between the internal “self” and that “mask”? Even in the moments that you are not consciously projecting that persona? Can you still really say that the social process is not formative in any way?
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Of course not. That is ridiculous.
There is some element of socialization that is formative. We understand that. The question is how much? Now you could obviously derail this into a nature vs nurture debate, but I’m not talking about such a grand scale. What I’m asking about is how much minute factors can completely change the way that you interact with life in an everyday scenario.
For me, it’s not much. Because I don’t especially open myself up to the world. I don’t especially interact with other people. As I’ve said repeatedly, I’m a super empathetic person. I get attached and influenced by people very easily. Couple that with my intense feelings of inward pointed feelings of distrust, then you can see why I want to avoid being influenced by other people. Other people can make a mistake and go, “Oops. It was someone else’s fault, wasn’t it?”

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Kimi no sei~

But I end up going, “Ah. I really am a shit enough person to believe that I am capable of interacting with other people without someone getting hurt? I should know better than this. I should be better than this.”
While there’s nothing wrong with the desire for self-improvement, I don’t really wish the feeling that accompanies it on anyone. It’s like, ever since I entered middle school my emotions have been totally different. Muted, dull and heavy. When I get to feeling a certain kind of way, I feel all sorts of hollow, and I question basically everything about myself. To justify my self-improvement, I retroactively deny my past. In some ways I rewrite it, so that it suits my narrative of progress.
“I was the worst kind of guy, so now I can try to be better.”
– I always tell myself. I sometimes get so cynical that I think back to elementary school and start judging that kid who was the king of the playground. I try to reconcile him with the person who just made the mistake. I try to reconcile my past with who I am now. I try to connect the dots. But honestly, it’s a futile, self-destroying effort.
I am too remote from my past to create a consistent, all-encompassing canon between now and then. I’ve made too many mistakes, cared about too many things. I’ve learned the same lesson over and over again…
And y’know, that ain’t such a bad thing after all. My mistakes don’t have to make sense to me. I don’t have to be able to draw a clear line and point out each influence. I don’t have to hate myself to want to be better. I don’t have to scorn myself for my past mistakes, and I don’t have to treat those times as if they were completely devoid of love or joy, just because I want to hate myself.

Look, that may sound obvious to you, or it might not.
I wrote this because I came back from my last day of college classes before my finals, and I just threw up my hands. I looked up at the gray ceiling of my dorm room and I groaned “Just kill me already!”
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In that moment, I was reminded of a time before I was in middle school when I cried those same words into my pillow. All I felt then was regret, hate and disappointment. And that’s all I felt for a few years. Honestly, everything I did felt like a mistake. Every choice I made felt wrong. Even my decision to live.
After that, my hate became another mistake- just another reason to hate myself.
But here I was, not two days ago, repeating the same words that once ‘cursed’ me. Only, the meaning was totally different. Rather than wishing for myself to die from disappointment or self-hate, I was just genuinely exhausted! I had worked myself through classes that I was obviously too dumb to get through, without the help of anyone else. The exhaustion had given way to a feeling that I very rarely feel-
Satisfaction.
And you know, I’ve written how I’m scared about how satisfaction will turn me into a complacent potato. How my recognition of my own ‘potato-ness’ would obviously give way to even more self-hate…
But it really isn’t such a bad thing to feel some positive emotion every now and then! Even if I haven’t done everything I could, even if I recognize that there were places I could have done things better with hindsight- there’s no reason to worry about what-ifs. There’s a point where self-reflection can become a form of self-harm…
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And that’s a biological fact (probably, but I’m no Bio-major)! Memory can change with repeated use! If primed by some external event or bias, your memory can risk being overwritten to suit your narrative! If you hate yourself for long enough, you might find reasons in your past to do so! Or you might create those reasons, and have no one to tell you otherwise! Judging ill intent, sadism, or psychopathy where there was none motivating your past actions benefits no one!
So yeah! Instead of changing out of self-hatred, I think it’s best to live in a way that I can look back and say, “I’m glad I was alive then, and I’m grateful for the person I was, if just for the fact that I got to experience the things I did that made me who I am now.”
You don’t have to align yourself with your past in the same way you don’t have to align yourself with your family or culture. They can be nice to have on your side, but you don’t need them to enjoy life. I just have never understood ideas about ‘being yourself’ or ‘duty’. I have values that I follow. Goals I want to fulfill.
I feel like culture insisting on some essential, unchanging and abstract ‘you’ doesn’t really lead to anything good. Same thing about innate or ‘natural’ morality or purpose. At best, those things are unnecessary. Often times, it just gives people a sense of inferiority and stops them from owning their virtues. Each personal failing isn’t just failing themselves, but also their ‘true self’ or their ‘duty’. Dealing with those feelings ain’t easy!
So uh…
Maybe my edgy perspective is a little clearer now! Explaining my personal feelings is always a little bit difficult, considering my self-hating, yet self-righteous and judgmental attitude. I never really meet anyone who confesses to have a remotely similar attitude, so I’ve struggled with not being quite sure how to say it.
Honestly, I’m not sure this was the best way to go about it either…

And while I’m being 100% honest, this song is really the only reason I was able to convince myself to post. It’s just so chill!
… Well, I guess it kinda ties in to my message of gratitude towards a past I don’t especially like. Imouto Sae Ireba Ii or A Sister‘s All You Need is a show that will stick with me for a long while despite its mediocrity. It was my first anime review on this blog! As much as I don’t like the show, it had a really great song!
Thanks past me! Putting up with this show was definitely worth it, if only for the fact that the opening melody stuck with me 11.5 months later!
Another smaller reason was a desire to ‘refine’ some ideas I tried to explain in an older post-

Talking about personality, Jung, and people

I also figured that this would be a good way to wrap up my blog before finals. My blog is nearing its first anniversary. Neither of my planned blog projects can be completed before that anniversary, so I’ll probably finish the year with some seasonal stuff. Bloom Into You, more Planet With, and maybe some SSSS.Gridman?
… Maybe scratch writing about Gridman, because it’s pretty obvious from this post how I feel about its themes. Might not be worth a post to say that it’s a dumb popcorn show with my favorite character design of the year.
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Who told Trigger that I love hoodies!?
Curses. My one weakness!

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The Best Anime That I Am Still Waiting On

There’s a certain core set of anime that pretty much everyone active in the anime just has to know about. Neon Genesis EvangelionDeath NoteCowboy Bebop and Sword Art Online – add to that whatever seasonal long running shounen has the largest audience, and you’re set! But to be honest, you don’t have to watch these shows to get along! You just have to know about their existence.
Evangelion is preceded by its cultural significance, Sword Art Online is baby’s first “I’m so cultured to hate this mainstream thing” anime, Death Note is just an easy ice breaker, and Cowboy Bebop is a spectacular example of audiovisual presentation in a realist anime. While these few series could quickly help integrate a new fan with the community, they aren’t monolithic. Neither are they the only ones that are useful in understanding anime and its community on a deeper level. It just gets harder to pinpoint the intended effect of an anime.

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Opening > the entire second season

For example, Re Zero demonstrated to me that the anime community is totally willing to overlook a story just because a large group of people flooded the community with waifu fanart and other creations. Rosario+Vampire was the stereotypical harem anime for me. Soul Eater showed me the horrors of anime original endings, though I’m sure many more would point to Fullmetal Alchemist (2003). Because of all these experiences, I don’t feel out of my depth on any discussions that aren’t hard mecha, 4-koma, mahou shoujo, yaoi, or idol…
And I don’t especially care about any of those! I’m not especially opposed to watching any of them besides 4-koma, but the more technical and formulaic anime attract the same type of fans as sci-fi. So, considering this, I don’t have much reason to rush to watch ‘classic’ anime. The first one that comes to mind when I think about this is-
1. Cowboy Bebop
Yep. I’ll get to it one of these days.
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The animation cuts look sick. Yutaka Nakamura is one of the few animators people talk about that I actually remember. By that virtue I guess he’s my favorite individual animator…
The first episode I saw totally failed to grab my attention, but I’m sure it probably gets better. I’d rather watch this one with some popcorn and friends, just like I watched the somewhat similar Trigun.
2. Revolutionary Girl Utena
Ah, the classic feminist anime…
Image result for nagisa shiota motherI’ve always been interested in the logic of people who define themselves by their struggles against oppression, because I’ve lived my entire life despite being told exactly what to do. I never listened to anyone’s commands. I am a person, not a robot. I may have a micro-managing control freak as a parent who wants to vicariously live life through me, but I try my best, and no one knows the grossness I have to deal with. Always telling me I have to act a certain way, talk a certain way, feel a certain way…
I just haven’t really understood rebellion, because that is the default mode of life. Conflict and struggle is an essential characteristic of life! Insisting otherwise is unbelievably counter-intuitive! How blind do you have to be to think that the world in any way cares about you? That your life is set out for you? That anything good can happen to you that you don’t bring about with your own two hands? That other people matter enough to tell you anything?
Really amazing.
I’m kind of thinking that feminist anime like Utena can help me figure out why people assume morality is somehow innate or natural. That’s really the question that drives me crazy! Social conditioning is the easiest answer, but why do people believe social conditioning despite other people being the most obvious danger to your individuality? Isn’t this a natural assumption that every baby has?
“I have to lie to my parent to get this cookie, so I’ll cry, even though I’m not that hungry.”
– Are you telling me that babies totally forget about instincts like this that put them in conflict with other people? To get anything you want in life, conflict is required- thus why trust people? Why would any child trust their parents?
Look, I love both my parents dearly. I just understand that they are individuals whose self-interest often opposes my development as an individual. The same is obviously true of my environment. How people grow up not understanding this as the base truth of all social interaction is beyond my meager understanding. Real love doesn’t hesitate to be critical or honest, and it doesn’t treat feelings in themselves as a goal. The most important part in any relationship is that it’s you and another. If you mistake the distinct two for one, then no wonder you’re in deep shit!

Regardless of whether my hypothesis is correct, that the same creative people who vow feminism believe in this natural morality thing, I’m still excited for UtenaYuri Kuma Arashi was pretty entertaining, which many say is one of Kunihiko Ikuhara’s worst works! So yeah, lots to look forward to!
3. Gundam
Mecha isn’t entertaining. Using robots controlled by people rather than AI makes absolutely zero sense to me.
I’m a character guy, and one of my favorite things in stories is to have characters that I can imagine the life of. I can suspend my disbelief for a lot of stuff, but mecha is already pushing me. A lot of societies in media make zero sense to me. That’s par for the course, but having human-piloted robots as military weapons just makes me want to laugh my ass off!

Still, I’m sure that out of the fifty billion Gundam out there, there’s probably at least one that doesn’t totally suck!
4. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
I don’t really like theater either.
I’ve heard this one is a good drama though. Hopefully it’s not a Your Lie in April situation!
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Not much more to say about this one!
5. Made in Abyss
I heard this was a dark fantasy thingy?
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Yeah, that’s kinda cool. Hopefully it’s more creative than Goblin Slayer.

Well, that’s a really low bar to clear!
*time to roll your d-20 intensifies*
It’s made by the same studio who did Kageki Revue Starlight, so I guess the least I can hope for are some slightly above average visuals? Maybe some good sound design?
6. Gintama
The never ending comedy…
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Yep. Haven’t watched it.
Plan to, I really do, but not anytime soon.
Moving on!
7. Monster
Eh.
The manga was okay. Definitely a lot less interesting than 20th Century Boys. Made a lot more sense than that one though…
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Still, I hear a lot of people like it, so I might sit through it- despite wondering why the hell it’s an anime.
Real talk real quick: Why do people do hard realism like Naoki Urasawa’s stuff as anime? I can understand Death Note, because of its inherent campiness, but Monster? Really? It just doesn’t benefit from the medium of animation at all.
8. Mushishi
For some reason, I couldn’t find the first season of this show when I first looked for it. Since then, my interest in it has died down.
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I’m guessing it’s a serious tonal affair involving supernatural stuff. If it resembles anything like Violet Evergarden, you know I’m not having a good time. Still, a lot of people like both those shows.
Maybe there’s something worth seeing here…
And that’s the list!
Well, my to-watch list is slightly longer than just 8 anime…
But these are the ones that are received well enough that I’m waiting them out. If I were to have a season where I’m not drowning in schoolwork, avoiding the seasonal fair, and have finished all my planned projects, then these are the shows I’m going to be watching!
Thing is, I have a two difficult projects planned for this blog so…
Yeah! I might end up watching about two of these in the next year! I’m an industrious person by habit.
The projects are kind of niche, and kind of won’t help my blog grow in any way…
But I’m doing them anyway!

Revue Starlight – It’s Worse Than I Thought!

In my last post, I began to celebrate Planet With as the best anime of 2018. However, I realize that the breadth of my knowledge of this year’s crop of anime is much less than it was for 2017. I have probably only glanced at around 50-60 new anime this time around, so I was rather unsure. I felt that with the abundance of discussion around anime I hardly recognized, I was surely missing out on some great yearly anime- anime that might compete with Planet With as my favorite anime of the year.
So- one anime that seemed critically loved was last season’s Revue Starlight, which drew me in with comparisons to Utena. Despite Utena‘s honor of being a show I am deliberately holding off on watching, I have seen a single episode of it. Frankly, I feel that comparing the two is insulting… And as pretentious as that sounds, I actually feel disappointed that someone saw girls in uniforms with decorated swords fighting and thought, “It’s just like Utena!
I feel excited to watch Utena
Watching Revue Starlight
Well, it makes me wish I could turn my brain off. I feel like if I could stop thinking about the themes and plot structure, I would actually enjoy this series more. And that’s a disgusting feeling to have. I hate watching series that feel like nothing more than a shallow facade. And there’s no type of series that grates me quite like the-
“I have to beat everyone more talented and dedicated than me to be the best and win the girl of my dreams!”

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Why is the camera the only one allowed to do sexy stuff with the girls? The definition of bait!

I’m pretty sure I’ve been pretty clear I hate this type of stuff since my very first anime review on this blog about A Sister’s All You Need. If people are competing for the sake of love, then that love is clearly not equal. And though I realize some people don’t want that, it’s impossible for me to get into the main cast because of that.
Considering that this is a tournament style series, this wouldn’t normally spell the doom of a series. There are plenty of series I’ve liked despite unengaging leads. The battle format this series is going for is clearly designed to encourage the audience to feel for the other girls. Unfortunately, as of the four episodes I’ve watched, I have not rooted or felt for a single one of the characters.
No emotion. Not one.
That’s already reason enough for this to be taken out of the running for my personal anime of the year. Sadly it’s not just the unengaging characters that get to me, but the whimsy which contrasts the melodrama.
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Look, I love tonal disasters. I love surreal trips that abuse tonal dissonance for a thematic point, like Yuri Kuma Arashi, even more! Still, I can’t excuse the series trying to use empty fights to make up for the weightless slice of life that makes up 80% of its runtime. They have these sad insert songs and creative imagery that speaks to a character struggle…
And whoever’s fighting is acting as if they’re going through some emotionally provocative character crisis- but it just doesn’t feel earned! You have to lead up to these moments better. The second episode was at least competent about demonstrating the character struggle of the protagonist’s opponent. Unfortunately, it was only competent, and it was hardly an interesting struggle.
Even worse than that, the battle system makes no sense to the audience. Four episodes in, the main character’s victories and losses go completely unexplained. It feels unearned, emotionally manipulative, and just fails to grab me. If it weren’t for the occasionally beautiful visuals and sound design, then I don’t think anyone would watch this show.
Quite literally the opposite of the situation with Planet With!
And another thing that really grates me is the presence of yuri bait…
Ugh. Even mentioning this in conjunction with Yurikuma Arashi is infuriating! This is the most class-s shit I’ve seen in awhile! Having platonic, obviously gay relationships that are just subtext that can be ignored is the exact same mentality that makes people go – “Oh, I’m not homophobic. People can be gay, if they just do it away from me. Miss me with that gay shit!”
Having love without any physicality is honestly weak. Unless done with tact, it feels preachy. Series that take platonic love as a default lead to slut shaming and can even cause sensitive people to feel ashamed of simple sexual desire!

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Yes, even though I’m not unconscious, and my dreams were just crushed by this girl, let me fall back like a princess swept off her feet! Even in my defeat, I exist for the sake of the audience!

… but ya know, we can’t possibly disenfranchise our audience who just came here to watch well-animated caricatures of the feminine form by showing characters capable of selfish desires of fulfillment that don’t require singing, dancing, sex, or violence. We can’t trust the anime audience to support creative and daring shows, so let’s just make a technical spectacle! But not a spectacle that’s too demanding, so let’s only make the first episode well-paced and directed, and let the following episodes be audiovisual filler lacking identity between the fight scenes!

Yep. Definitely not anime of the year! Far worse than expected. I think next on my list of AOTY candidates will be Bloom Into You? I skimmed the first episode a while back, and wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Judging by my WordPress feed, it has managed to maintain a fairly high level of viewer engagement- despite competing as a romance series with this season’s Buta Yarou! That’s not something I take lightly!
So yeah, next week’s competitor for AOTY is Bloom Into You! Look forward to it!

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Two yuri in a row? Anyone reading is more than welcome to recommend a different candidate!

AOTY – Planet With’s Intro (pt. 1)

I have recently been making an effort towards thinking about the ways in which an anime can be good. It’s always easy to spot flaws in a series, but it’s been much harder for me to understand all the ways in which a show is great! Maybe it’s precisely because of how difficult it is to quantify a “good” anime that it’s worth doing…
So I decided to start a series of posts explaining why Planet With is the anime of the year! I was thinking that the easiest place to start would be the premise…
But one of the author’s – Satoshi Mizukami’s – talents is developing a sci-fi premise expertly over the run of a series. Just explaining the premise does not do its execution justice. So, I will try to explain the goal of each major scene and how it contributes to building a narrative resembling a classic “tokusatsu” show, before deconstructing the viewer’s expectations.
I suggest you watch the first episode before reading this, but this post’s goal is to get people to stop overlooking this fantastic show. If you aren’t convinced by my hype alone, read on anyway and see if this could be your thing. It’s just 12 episodes, and it’s definitely worth the day and a half I spent binging it! (Available on Crunchyroll btw)
So, the first scene we open with is-
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A dream sequence with a big clearly dangerous dragon! A guy turns into sparkles, and anyone with genre knowledge can assume that the other sparkles are similar people going to fight the dragon. Therefore, this is probably a scene of aliens trying to protect their planet from this impossibly massive dragon thing…
But our MC, a boy named Souya, does not take the dream literally. In a subtle character moment, he uses the dream to check his fortune- finding that a dragon in a dream means good luck! Then he’s interrupted by the intrusion of the green-haired maid, Ginko. Funnily enough, he tries to hide the fortune telling book, as if he is shy about his interest in spiritualism and the unusual. From this scene alone, I was reassured to find out he had more personality than most generic anime leads. A cute little interest in something as lame as fortune telling quickly informed me that he wasn’t a trash self-insert character.
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The next scene shows breakfast at the Kuroi house, with an interesting focus on the food they’re eating. Then it shows the unusual assortment of characters- a cat, a maid with cat-like expressions, and the boy with lightning hair. It’s pretty easy to tell from this information alone that the boy is the odd one out from this pair, despite the person-sized cat. It’s an off-putting scene, especially considering that the main character is only concerned with the amount of vegetables on his plate.
On his way to school, he runs into the bespectacled class president Takamagahara, who definitely does not superficially remind me of Hanekawa from the Kizmonogatari movies!
… I am not being sarcastic either! On a character level, Takamagahara is the opposite of Tsubasa Hanekawa. While both characters use kindness to try to integrate the desocialized main character into class, their reasons couldn’t be more different! While Hanekawa intends to use the reclusive main character as a way to escape her shitty home situation, Takamagahara is a much more honest girl!

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She confesses that like Souya, she was once a transfer student. She had such trouble making friends, so she wants to be a good person and help Souya integrate better than she did. She does it for the sake of empathy, not out of pre-series romantic feelings. It’s a cute exchange, and their following discussion demonstrates her natural curiosity.
It’s her good-natured curiosity that causes Souya to admit that he has no memories of being in a previous school. In fact, he admits he has no memories of what his life was like before adoption by “some weirdos.”
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Apparently his family died in the accident that robbed him of his memories…
And in the mind of the genre-savvy viewer, this is already ringing alarm bells! It isn’t a stretch of the viewer’s imagination to come up with a narrative where the hero’s world has been destroyed. It’s such a common story, it shows up in classic Western media like Superman. Given the dream, along with the “weirdos” atypical appearances, it’s not hard to imagine that they are also aliens- but evil ones!
Evil aliens who have kidnapped the main character as the last survivor, and erased his memories. A viewer with an overactive imagination like myself might even start guessing at the hypothetical reasons behind the alien’s abducting him. Given the first scene, maybe he’s a chosen warrior who the planet gave their life to protect? Maybe he has some special power that the aliens plan to use in their invasion of Earth! (for example)
– Now, keep that alternative narrative in mind. This show doesn’t treat its audience like they’re braindead, so you have to keep thinking if you want to get as much out of this show as I did.
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So, an alien appears while Souya is in class. It’s real weird looking, to be honest. It instantly screams alien sensibilities…
But written on it is something that the translators at Crunchyroll translated to “peas”, a clear misspelling of the word peace. The giant, disturbing alien thing clearly has misspelled peace in Japanese on it! That’s weird! Couple that with the not-exactly threatening appearance- and all you can say is that its creepy!
To be honest, I feel like that’s what aliens are missing these days. Stuff like Independence Day: Resurgence feels hollow, in part, because the aliens just aren’t creative anymore. An alien threat should be alien! If it’s just another big insectoid, then you’re missing out on the most visceral element of the premise! So yeah, props to the creators for the really alien feeling aliens!
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Moving on, Souya further demonstrates the innate pull towards the unusual that was hinted at from his awakening scene. When the school begins moving to safety, he tries to stay in his high classroom to see the UFO approaching. Takamagahara instantly demonstrates her worth as a side character, actually using her superior knowledge to convince Souya to move to safety. A UFO could apparently be a missile, or other foreign military weapon, she asserts with her knowledge as a member of the occult club. (which, again, lines up with her character’s curiosity from before)
A following scene shows very obviously that the human size cat and Ginko both know about the alien invasion, and have been waiting for it.
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Then the air-force tries a futile attack on the alien object through conventional means…
And their missiles turn into fluff!
After emitting some sort of flash, a fighter pilot is shown a peaceful dream about his family. For some reason, this causes the fighter pilot to turn around- demonstrating that the weapons default mode of attack is mental and nonlethal. Weird, right?
Then the children use smartphones to watch the news, which serves as a transition to a shot of the defenders of Earth-

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The presence of news vehicles doesn’t magically disappear in the following scenes either. Chekhov would be proud.

Soon after, these seven use their psychic powers to fly into the air and turn into flying mecha things! From the way they pose, the attention paid to their expressions, it’s obvious that these are the tropic heroes.
As our main character watches these heroes from the safety of the gym, he is called by Ginko. She orders him to leave the gym, cryptically saying that it is “his time has come”, and that he will be the one to defeat the seven superheroes.
He weakly complies, and soon the scene shifts back to the perspective of the seven heroes and their leader as they face the alien foe. Planet With Episode 1 - Watch on Crunchyroll - Google Chrome 12_2_2018 10_52_20 AM.png
After probing for a weakness, the obvious leader finds a weakness in the field protecting the weapon. Torai is instructed by a woman’s voice to enter the weapon, and soon ends up in a trance-like state.
It is similar to the dream the fighter pilot saw, however Torai must first save his mother from a fire before being greeted by the satisfying sight. This is obviously the underlying motivation behind Torai defending the Earth, and he faces his past. He gets to say what he always wanted to say to his mother…
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But it is an illusion. A psychological attack.
He soon destroys the core and alien weapon, emerging with his robot-like exterior damaged. He is still crying, visibly shaken by the experience. But the enemy is defeated. The heroes have won.
So they split up, but on Torai’s way home-
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He is ambushed by Souya. With a mask that totally hides his identity. Classic…
This all but confirms the previous theory. This kid is totally being used by the aliens to fight Earth’s defenders. They have no honor, not even waiting for the psychic to recuperate from his fight- And an imaginative viewer might go so far as to guess that the “weirdos” are the real invaders, with the flying “peas” thing being a distraction to soften the defenders.
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Anyway, the mecha fight starts after Souya asks for the man’s power source. Souya’s tone of voice is unsure and awkward in this shot, so it’s obvious that he doesn’t know exactly what he’s fighting for.
Speaking of the fights, they are not visually impressive. They have a ton of emotional weight, and some of them are kinda decent, but I feel like there were maybe two more fights than there should have been. This show has enough expressions that I’m fine with how it looks outside of the fights, and the CGI designs are creative enough that a rare fight wouldn’t have felt too bad. Still, the biggest flaw of the series is the frequency of these fights. So uh… don’t watch this show for action.
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After shattering the man’s psychokinetic armor whatchamacallit, Ginko snatches the source of his power. Throwing it to Souya, it looks like an unassuming pile of dust.
After he catches it, the boy has a moment of clarity. The adrenaline of the situation fades and he considers his situation. He decides that he has to escape the weirdos, so that he doesn’t get wrapped up in any more crazy battles- after he eats that meat he wanted!

Or that was his plan.
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After seeing the contents of the vial, the boy flashes back to that dream. Without any explanation he goes into a rage. The aforementioned adrenaline returns, and this time it isn’t provoked by someone else.
Instead of being controlled, the boy, with his eyes shining beneath the mask to convey his fury, challenges all of the seven heroes, shouting about how-
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And that’s how the first episode concludes.
Fantastic.
Even though it was so dense with information, the viewer is left with many unanswered questions. Are the humans the bad guys? What is the relation between “Sensei”, Ginko and the aliens sending the floating weapon things? What’s up with that sparkly dust stuff? Is Souya’s rage justified? Will he win the love of megane-sama?
This is one way to introduce a story. As surprising as this may sound, the series doesn’t get any less dense as it progresses. It continues to integrate its characters into the narrative flawlessly as their struggles become known to the audience. They’re a really lovable bunch…
And that’s most of what Planet With has to offer you. An intriguing premise, a surprising subversion of expectations, engaging side characters and lovably well-written leads. There is also the thematic development that takes off at about the third episode mark, but besides that, that’s pretty much all I think Planet With has to offer.

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Look at that shelf… I’m so jealous! 


Well, I guess one more thing I love about the series is that it’s written by the mangaka Satoshi Mizukami, who also wrote Hoshi no Samidare and Spirit Circle. Since I’ve recently read both of those, I really can’t help wish that they were anime. Like, Spirit Circle is basically a globe-trotting anthology that just begs for some clever mind bending direction. And Hoshi no Samidare easily has my favorite sense of character progression and growth in any battle anime that focuses on more than two characters. (Still beat by my love for the non-growth of Shichika from Katanagatari)
So, Planet With is available free for streaming on Crunchyroll, and I can’t help but hope that a lot of people will help contribute so that one day we get those other Mizukami manga adapted. Maybe if that happens, there will finally be a mainstream tear-jerker anime that is well-paced and enjoyable for me!

 

Quick side note: Does Madoka Magica Rebellion count as a tear jerker? I mean, I sure felt all sorts of sad for Homura, but I’m pretty sure that my pity was a minority opinion.

Anyway- I hope that this serves as a good introduction to the reasons why I think that Planet With is the best anime of 2018. I’m a bit of a curious person, so my next post will probably be me reviewing Revue Starlight. A handful of vocal people really seem to like it, so I think I’ll give it at least 3 episodes- despite hating theater.
My hypothesis is that it only appeals to band geeks, and people with costume fetishes, but I would love to be proven wrong. This year of anime has been much weaker than the last! Here’s to hoping that Revue Starlight has more to it than ogling girls! The first episode doesn’t give me much hope, but eh. Some people loved it.

Just Found My New Favorite Mangaka!

I have a bit of a Nisioisin fetish.
While I have worn down the topic pretty heavily, it doesn’t change the fact that I have a terribly hard time finding content creators who consistently make good stuff- especially with anime and manga. I value the Nisioisins of the world because flukes happen with storytelling. I can count on my fingers the creators which made more than one series I like from Japan-

  1. Nisioisin
  2. Ryukishi07 – made Higurashi and Umineko no Naku Koro ni
  3. Kinoko Nasu – Fate/ franchise and Kara no Kyoukai
  4. Ryohgo Narita – BaccanoDurarara
  5. ONE – One Punch ManMob Psycho 100


I’m sure I’m forgetting at least one, but at most two. Still, that number is depressing. Terribly so, considering my hundreds of completed anime. And as an empathetic guy, I have a super strong tendency to get invested in a creator. Creating head-canons and narratives of personal growth really elevate my personal enjoyment of a series. I want the people who make me happy to be happy, you know?
So, here I am to preach the newest addition to my favorite creators list-

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Not enough swordfish in this pic.

Satoshi Mizukami is probably a name that you’re not familiar with. If you are the type of person to only watches and consumes content related to anime, then there’s really only one chance that you would’ve had to hear it. Ever since finding out about this author about 3 days ago, I’ve finished two of his most popular manga…
And well, they’re both fantastic. Both of them had me wanting to cheer and cry repeatedly.
Image result for spirit circleSo, I just finished Spirit Circle, which has a cozy 8.59/10 rating on MAL. The premise was rather simple, a fated struggle between a boy and a girl playing out across seven incarnations throughout space and time. While the boy initially explores his past to understand the girl’s intent to murder him, Fuuta Okeya becomes increasingly drawn to his past lives. As the story progresses, the heavy lives of his predecessor’s weigh heavier on the boy’s conscience, as he begins to take their sins as his own.
Each of the previous incarnations tells an engaging individual story, but each takes on a deeper level of meaning as a consistent character arc plays out between them. A hatred from a past life follows the pair into their next life and shapes their next meeting- but what if they were not prone to hate each other from the instant their eyes met? Could they avoid tragedy and finally settle their past resentment?
These are the questions that Spirit Circle takes on, and I’d say it does an amazing job at that. The way it shifts from the tale of a bum knight, to that of a swordsmith, and even later transitioning into a sci-fi dystopia… well, it’s a unique and creative work. One I’ll surely write about later, and recommend heartily despite its often lackluster artwork. (the direction in the paneling is nice tho)
And as good as Spirit Circle was, to reach the emotional highs it did in the short space of 45 chapters- it falters before its far superior predecessor.
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Hoshi no Samidare or Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer was an unbelievable ride. It tells the story of 12 ‘knights’, each bestowed psychic powers and an animal sidekick, and a ‘princess’ in their journey to save the Earth. It has a relatively simple plot structure, with 12 sequential golems sent by the evil ‘mage’ serving as the main external threat to the cast. Only after the princess’s death may the mage drop the Earth shattering BISCUIT HAMMER!
Obviously, the golems must be defeated as they appear, through the unification of the twelve knights as a fighting force. A lesser story would have focused on simply finding the twelve knights…
But no. Mizukami’s strength as a writer is multi-faceted, but I especially enjoy his ability to write engaging third party forces. I’m sure he could have easily told a story about 12 knights defending a helpless princess from a clearly evil enemy. Surprisingly enough, he opted to have the ‘princess’ be the powerhouse of the series – The titular Lucifer who seeks to destroy the Biscuit Hammer. But not for the sake of simply saving the Earth-
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With only the angsty Lizard Knight at her side, Lucifer plots to betray the other 11 knights and destroy the Earth with her own two hands.
Now, I’ve seen plots similar to this before. I have.
But the execution of Hoshi no Samidare is breathtaking. The power escalation of the shounen fight component is cathartic and well-paced. The art is clearly superior to Spirit Circle. While the former clearly relied on the core character duo and their incarnation to carry the emotional weight, Hoshi no Samidare has amazing development for each and every one of the knights and supporting cast. Watching characters like the Lizard Knight and the Owl Knight learn to love life is a truly rewarding experience I just can’t wait to have again!
To me, Hoshi no Samidare is a masterpiece. The emotions of this one hit me almost every chapter following the halfway mark of the second arc- making me almost cry for the sake of a shark-toothed battle maniac!
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How does a battle shounen have that good of character development!? I thought it was impossible- but no, that’s the power of Satoshi Mizukami’s writing! That’s why he is now up there with my favorite writers, after tearing through three of his works.

So, I’m sure that you close-readers are wondering how I found out about such a talented writer. You might think that I am the type to frequent manga sites, just happening across this author randomly. Considering the three day timespan I used to read through both of these series, I wouldn’t blame you for making that assumption.
But it’s hard for me to find good manga! I’ve may have only read about 50 to completion, but only about 10 of those were worth even remembering. For that reason, while I’m not averse to the medium in theory, I tend to avoid it unless given reason. So, the only way I found Mizukami’s work was through the single way that a consumer of anime could possibly find it-
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Just about a week and a half ago I watched Planet With, an original anime production by J.C. Staff, written by Satoshi Mizukami. After watching it, I only had a weird reaction-
“This is the best anime of the year, isn’t it?”
I thought that with a great amount of disbelief. Despite it being a mecha/tokosatsu anime with occasionally ugly CG, a boring opening animation sequence, and only 12 episodes- I absolutely loved the anime. The themes were actually great! The characters were even better.
“But it was definitely a fluke!”
So, to prove that no one could make a smart tokosatsu anime through their own talents, I decided to research reddit. It was there that I found out about Planet With‘s creator, along with a few of his manga. Surprise, surprise-
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Mizukami made a manga that was clearly even better than the ANIME OF THE YEARNot too shabby!
I now have the obviously misplaced hope that one day either Spirit Circle or Hoshi no Samidare will get animated. I also now have a new favorite mangaka! Overall not a bad week for me…
So yeah, you might wanna check out these series if you don’t want to be totally lost when I write about them later.
Again, people are totally sleeping on Planet With. It is the anime of the year! <- (Says the character guy)
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It’s Buta Yarou- Not Bunny Girl Senpai! Why This Show Won’t Last

The way I see it, Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai has a massive flaw that will stop it from ever becoming a mainstay in the anime community.
In short: It’s that the show is about Sakuta Azusagawa.

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Unless you’re a feminist, you’re probably part of the majority who thinks that Azusagawa is one of the show’s leading assets. You probably feel that he’s refreshing, and that his relationship with Mai is really charming. And I totally feel you about that pairing… but it all comes with a serious tradeoff.
Let me explain-
Perspective is the single most underrated aspect of a story. There are few creative decisions more important than choosing your protagonist. How a protagonist interacts with the world shapes the way viewers understand the story, characters, and the fictional world.
So, how does a story use perspective to make character drama cathartic? The simple answer is to have a character with clearly communicated character flaws and resolve them. The more difficult, and often better, answer is to make the viewer and protagonist’s views align. After the two are synchronized, then expose the underlying flaws in the shared sentiment. If successful, the viewer might end up questioning their underlying assumptions that led them to the same conclusion.
“What if I’m just as wrong as the protagonist?”
– And that’s a connection that gives all the laughs and thrills of a series a real emotional weight. A feeling of connection that lasts. That’s what a good protagonist offers. Empathetic series that really make me feel the same emotions alongside distinct characters are really my thing!

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Seven Deadly Sins tries, but often misses.

And you know what’s better than feeling that way for a single character?
Just imagine if you could somehow tell a story from multiple perspectives and make the audience consistently empathize with the POV character! Tricky as it may be, don’t you think that a new type of bond could emerge from such a story? A series of bonds might very well lead you to caring for a whole cast of characters on an intimate level!

– Quick Monogatari Tangent –

And this is why Nisioisin is my favorite author. He is the only creator to consistently create entire casts of characters that could and occasionally do become engaging empathetic lead characters. The quintessence of this is Monogatari, which is a multi-perspective deconstruction of adolescence with a keen eye towards how the characters act in response to their view of themselves. The first ‘season’ of Monogatari is exclusively from the perspective of Koyomi Araragi as he ‘saves’ girls from supernatural afflictions that reflect their emotional struggles- building a sort of harem.
The revolutionary bit is when the second ‘season’ shifts to the perspective of a select number of the side cast as their supernatural afflictions return independently of one another. This time, Araragi is unable to help them, and they are all forced to save themselves. The viewer ‘feels’ their problems, from self-worth, to an all-consuming facade, to genuine misanthropy.
Nisioisin later uses the perspective shaped during the second season to create the most empathetic story of someone who fundamentally thinks he needs to be changed in the third ‘season’… rounding out the cast by saving the boy who only thought to save others. Since every character needs saving, especially the protagonist, Monogatari feels simultaneously personal and universal. It may be Araragi’s coming of age story, but like most people, Araragi does not grow up alone. And that’s such a heartwarming message…Image result for araragi and sodachi

That we don’t have to grow up alone. That even if we have to fight our own afflictions, everyone else does too. Everyone who is a proper adult has done the same. Monogatari is the only series that has ever inspired the same sense of community and hope that I felt as a child watching It’s A Wonderful Life, yet it reached even deeper to an infinitely more cynical and edgy teenager!

– Monogatari Tangent Over-

While Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai, or Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai, has a superficially similar structure to the first season of Monogatari- it has quite the opposite effect. The basic structure of Buta Yarou so far is that a girl has a supernatural problem, the protagonist Azusagawa is made aware of the problem, then he finds the source of the problem, and then plays psychoanalyst. After psychoanalyzing the girls, he is able to broach a happy resolution to their supernatural affliction, either directly or through correct counseling.

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… And pseudo-science to appear as pretentious as possible!

Adolescence Syndrome in Buta Yarou is not quite identical to the apparitions of Monogatari, because Adolescence Syndrome is strictly related to feelings resulting from the intersection of personal identity and social roles (like in Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development). Monogatari apparitions are slightly broader, and could most broadly be described as the result of the intersection of reality and personal narratives. Despite these somewhat trivial differences, the first seasons’ structures are somewhat similar…
Besides the fact that Azusagawa is actually vindicated by the series and able to help the girls resolve their problems. If Monogatari is about the struggles of a bunch of teens becoming better integrated adults, then Buta Yarou is the story of a well-centered boy assisting girls becoming socially adapted teenagers. The difference may seem to be trivial to some…
But you realize that there’s a difference between sympathy and empathy, right? I may care about people, but I am a fundamentally distrustful person. I treat no one I meet as more than the facade they present. Whenever I hear about their concerns, I inevitably end up going, “Well, how do I solve this problem?”
– As if their problem was something that could be solved by my involvement.
Azusagawa is a pretty relatable guy to me. He’s totally how I saw myself at age 10, before I wanted to kill myself. At that age, I had a report filed on me because I made fun of a girl for being shallow. I championed gender equality, and I would totally laugh at Azusagawa showing his dominance over shallow high-school kids. Even more than that, I wanted to be the tropic guy who helps the unfortunate girl.Constipation

… And also the one who punishes the bullies and scolds the thots.
I would have loved this show.
But I am not that guy anymore. I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t want to feel smug about myself. I don’t want to be validated for being different. I don’t want to look down on everyone, and I don’t want to call them shallow. I don’t want to think that everyone’s problems can or should be reduced to the point of being fixable with outside help. Depression certainly isn’t that easy. Most things aren’t. Especially social things.
Yet, in a show about people growing and becoming better adapted to their social situations, the main character is gifted with the ability to read social cues and ignore them. He feels well-adapted to his social situation despite his distaste of his school’s atmosphere. He is an exception and every likable character treats him as such. By having him as the perspective character, the audience is kept removed emotionally from the cast undergoing development.
Now look- I totally believe that you can care about these characters. I just don’t believe that Buta Yarou sets up its cast in a way to properly explore those feelings. From my perspective, Buta Yarou sacrificed empathy for accessibility. You may understand how a character perceives themselves and their social situation logically, but you never agreed with it to begin with. In theory, it shouldn’t deeply hurt you to see Tomoe Koga risk her social butterfly lifestyle at the end of her arc, because the main character’s lifestyle is shown to be flawed before its benefits. You can sympathize with it, and understand it, but you don’t feel the same fear-
And, to some degree, that’s because the protagonist of Buta Yarou is Azusagawa. The Rascal.

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What a Buta Yarou.

And that’s the biggest thing that holds back Buta Yarou from greatness, more than the pace killing sci-fi exposition, and more than its boring visual style. I don’t doubt that many people will feel attached and even empathetic towards the characters of Buta Yarou, but I don’t doubt many people will move on by the next season. It will probably end up in the same state as stuff like The World God Only Knows.
Of course, this is just a matter of my perspective too. I can’t predict how the market will really play out, especially considering that Goblin Slayer is the most watched anime of the season. Besides, having a hype community doesn’t directly interfere with your personal ability to enjoy the show. If you like it, then own it!
To me, it’s just another 7.5-8.0 kinda show that I’ll be sad to see go.

On a completely unrelated note, Zoku Owarimonogatari! After-End Story hype!

Think anyone would know what I was talking about if I just called it “Epilogue”?

Edgy Reflection 2.0

It was about a month and a half ago that I first started to seriously plot out my week-long marathon of posting. Considering the results, how it took me two weeks to finalize the posts, it didn’t go as well as I hoped it would. Quite honestly, I wanted the concentrated posting to become a habit. But I can’t realistically make a post a month in this school environment. Let me explain why-
I am 11 weeks into the first semester of college. I ended up as an Honors student, meaning that to keep all the Honors privileges and stuff, I have mandatory community service hours and events to attend. I’m also trying to be a Computer Science major, and the first semester class has a fail rate of over 60%
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I won’t lie that I’m the idiot who used AP credit to move right up the ladder into the second semester Computer Science class. I’m currently sitting a high B+ average, so I guess I’m not total crap. I think I could probably do better, but there’s no one I can really talk to in the class. It’s an 8 AM class, and almost everyone is a sophomore or even junior. No one wants to be pestered by someone younger than them when they’re barely awake.
Math is also a struggle for me. Not like I’m failing, but between Calculus I and Honors Discrete Structures… I can’t remember the trig values when I’m busy trying to wrap my head around explicit formulas. I have no idea how to iteratively add 5^n without using sigma notation… And don’t tell me to use sequences or Calculus II stuff! I’m not good at math!
Well, if I suck so bad at everything, why am I in the Honors program? I think my 93% in Japanese I and 98% in Honors College Comp can attest that I haven’t been struggling in vain. College is apparently just a three and a half month long sprint. Trying my best just isn’t enough to get A’s in all of my classes. I won’t even talk about my sleep schedule…
But I will mention how my engineer roommate is a total elitist who rubs me all the wrong ways. He always bitches about his classes, but then he brags about how smart he is taking easy classes he’s overqualified for. This is literally everything the Honors College is supposed to be against… Which is why his Calc professor is going to write him a recommendation. Because, good on him taking classes that he already aced in high school! Really pushing himself! Much wows! Much difficulty!
I expected everyone in the Honors College to be like that, but most everyone else is pretty chill! I’m trying to support my comrade through that first semester Comp Sci class… I mean, he has a Shelter screensaver! (60% fail rate ain’t a joke, even to an Honors student)

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that I have a lot of stuff going on. Probably too much. And no one’s at fault for that besides me- just the way I like it. And I especially appreciate my family and stuff for giving me the opportunity to totally risk a crap ton of money on a crazy whim. Like my friends, they kinda just give me this pitying stare when I tell them about the stuff I’m doing- but at least they’re nice enough to let me take the risk on my own terms.
In the end, I think that’s what led me to the theme of my (supposedly) week long series of posts. It was all kind of supposed to be about appreciating stuff that I felt people overlooked. The first topic was Goblin Slayer‘s, and other edgy anime like it, utility as a tool for self-exploration. Then I did a bit of exploring myself, and why I have trouble taking other people seriously. Next up was a seasonal round-up where I talked about how I think people are sleeping on Boarding School Juliet

Especially this OP! I mean, this is the same season as Seishun Buta Yarou‘s trash OP animation! The song may be kinda fine, but holy crap this OP almost stopped me from watching this kinda fantastic show! CG crowds and bad running cycles make me want to rip my eyes out! Buta Yarou‘s animation fails to elevate the story in the way that it should, and that’s a real shame.

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I wish they would go off-model and emote more!

Tangent aside: Next up was Fate/Zero and exploring Kotomine Kirei’s underrated character. Originally I was supposed to have another post slotted in here, but it just wasn’t coming together thematically. (Unfortunate I spent a few precious hours on that)
In the end, the one show I really wanted to write about was Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai. It’s a pretty horrible anime. It’s not without a handful of redeeming qualities, but the tragedy is that its failures overshadowed any of those successes. And I think it’s way more useful to acknowledge it as a failure rather than a mediocrity, because that acknowledgement implies that Antimagic Academy had potential!
And that’s why despite the theme being appreciation, the post had to be more negative than I otherwise would have liked. See, I really like the light novel version of Antimagic Academy. It may be cheesy, it may be pretentious, but I love the message and the characters. It may not be cerebral or have a genius structure like Tatami Galaxy or Monogatari, but it has moments of creativity that made my jaw drop- and I respect that. I appreciate that.
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And that’s why I just had to take the time to write about it.
But now what?

What do I do now that I’ve finished up the week of blog posts?
Do I make a second themed week of posts? If so, I have two ideas I could go with. One would be a week of me analyzing anime by Silver Link studio– and while that may seem hyper-specific and weird to you, I promise that there’s reasons! The second would be all about anime video games…
Some visual novels, some action, some bad adventure, a bit of variety, et cetera. Probably going to do something about the original Fate/Stay Night… which I coincidentally managed to track down after some encouragement from WhoAmI. I haven’t really had time to play it, but everything seems to have downloaded A-OK!
I could go with either one of those as a week-long series of posts…
Or I could just not.
Seasonal anime is clearly the way to go for views. And if no one views my stuff, then what’s the point in posting it online instead of just writing for myself? The themed posts kinda take more work for me than most of the stuff I do outside of Monogatari analysis. They’re more rewarding, but eh…
Why not just rake in views by writing about Reincarnated as a Slime or Buta Yarou? Because I refuse to shorten Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai to Bunny Girl Senpai on my own blog? Eh, it’s a possibility. I like both shows, and I have stuff I could talk about for either of them, but I guess the timing just doesn’t feel right to me.
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I don’t really want to write about them right now. But right now is the best time to be writing about them.
Gr… it just makes me feel so conflicted! Next semester’s workload should be a degree easier, which means I’ll have at least a little time to write. My indecision is short-term, and I expect my time constraints to be resolved by January.
So- why am I still trying to push to keep this blog going despite it probably being the hardest time for me to do so? Well, because optimistically I want to end my first year of blogging strong.
That’s why I’m just kind of interested on what my readers would be most interested in. Do you fine people want me to thoroughly debunk Buta Yarou‘s comparisons to Monogatari and Oregairu? Do you want me to analyze Reincarnated as a Slime, showing how it really hones in on what I feel is the fundamental appeal of isekai fantasies? Do you want me to discuss a few random games? Or do you just want to trust me to lean entirely on my own interests?
I can’t say I’ll entirely base my choice off of your responses, but I’d like to at least consider them!