Musings and Reflections – Winter 2021 Week 3

One Phrase impressions

Yuru Camp 2 (Ep. 3) – Ocean and eels
Hori-san to Miyamura-kun (Ep. 3) – Just loitering around

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Magic of evening snow

…Wouldn’t you say that evening lights on fresh snow look very mysterious? And that doesn’t mean that gloomy and uncertain mysteriousness of a dark old ruin. Bathed in light, fresh snow seems to shine itself like a river of light, and somehow every place becomes the cosiest in the world. Do you know why?..

River of light from Mushishi

Short story long, in the country where I live winters are moderately cold. My grandpa used to tell how the temperature once had reached even -50 degrees (Celsius, of course – metric system for the win), but now such tales seem to be on the verge of believability, global warming and stuff. Still, usually there’re two or three days in January with temperatures reaching -20 degrees, so several days when children don’t have to go to school because of the cold isn’t anything unheard of even now (unless we take into account the pandemic, with everybody staying at home regardless of the weather). Well, as I remember it, going to school during such colds used to be quite awesome – in place of 25 students in a class maybe 4 or 5 would come, teachers wouldn’t give difficult tasks, everything would seem way more chill (pun intended) and you’d feel like you own the whole building. Add some nostalgic memories of playing in the snow and my appreciation of winter needs no more justification.

Northern Lights by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo

For several recent years (maybe even a decade) we get milder and milder winters, so rainy Christmas isn’t anything new, unfortunately. And so, after several almost snow-less winters came this one. It was alright, I even managed to build a snowman with a friend, though it melted after two days (the snowman, not the friend). And then came this very week. I actually don’t remember an instance when it would snow for probably three days straight. It’s nowhere near a blizzard, sometimes the snowflakes are barely falling, but still, snow accumulated bit by bit and eventually it’s safe to say that the whole country was covered by at least 30 cm of snow, which is a bit unusual. Of course, problems have come with that – trees are bent and sometimes snap, people drive off-road easily (if they manage to drive at all, that is), there was a report of a tree falling on a person… But it’s still winter, just like my mind says a winter should be.

Yesterday, I remained in my work longer than usual because apart from other tasks I found a very interesting article to read (a long one) and wanted to finish it. When I left, it was already after 10 PM. The streets were mostly empty, only some grandma was walking her dog, or a couple slowly passed me by. It wasn’t cold, maybe -5 degrees or so, the snow, which had been falling quite intensely for the whole day, continued to do so, and I chose to go home by foot. It’s not a long walk – even with a slow pace I can easily complete the little journey in 30 min. The path leads through a small park first, and then a pedestrian and bike lanes run along a river for some time.

…I exited the building to see the world become magical. To tell you the truth, I haven’t felt so much moved for quite a while. There’s just something extremely appealing about walking among the snow, being enveloped by it, with streetlights bathing everything in a warm light. The snow drifts gather the rays and shine so much that you even need to ascertain that it’s really an evening, and not a day. But that’s not that hard, since these particular reflections, this warmness can only be encountered during a magical snowy evening. Only during such time the whole world seems untouched, pure, and you’re alone seeing its tranquil beauty, as if it was made solely for you, or, rather, you feel that this magical secret was revealed only to you. The time ceases to exist. It doesn’t stop, since you can clearly see the snowflakes dancing, but after one snowflake comes another, and then another one, so you find yourself in a loop that neither has time, nor hasn’t…

…I guess it’s almost a default strategy of the media to associate snow with romance or something like that, but that was not the case for me. It wasn’t romantic. It wasn’t sad. It wasn’t joyous either. It just was, and it was beautiful. Somehow putting on some random songs of Of Monsters and Men felt very appropriate – it was part cheerful, part calm, part relaxing…

Жил был Пёс (Once upon a time there lived a Dog), a beautiful Soviet short, 1982

…It’s really hard to think of any representations that may compare to this feeling, this sense of being in a moment, a very particular moment. I remembered an obscure Soviet animated short which apart from being a complete rollercoaster of emotions and having just as much nostalgic value as a snowy winter itself (my grandparents owned lots of VHS tapes with old Soviet animated shorts), has only a small scene set during winter…

Aoi Bungaku

…I remembered that a part of anime series Aoi Bungaku (part based on Osamu Dazai‘s Ningen Shikkaku) featured some very picturesque snowfields. Satoshi Kon‘s Millenium Actress was eternally searching through the snow, but that was not the right feeling. Snow can evoke many emotions, but there just wasn’t a case of that particular sense of encompassing one-ness with nature. Only nature?..

…Usually concepts of a city and nature may seem to occupy completely opposite ends of a spectrum, being areas where human activity and influence on surroundings is either overwhelming or pretty much non-existent. When snow covers a city, this opposition seems to vanish – all the hard concrete walls are smoothed by the white cover, instead of clearly defined pavements there are cosy paths, trees stand tall and noticeable, and you begin to feel wonder as if you were in the middle of a forest. Human activity is still visible – fields are littered with snow forts left from the afternoon effort by kids, the benches are occupied with snowmen (and snowwomen), but again, that’s not how a city usually looks like. It’s strange and unfamiliar, though not in a bad way at all, it’s just like both nature and a city have come together and have settled their difference only for the briefest of moments. And I’m alone to experience this transient unity…

…Then it dawned to me what I needed to remember – my favourite film series Kara no Kyoukai features exactly the scene I was experiencing. The first moments of the 2nd film show Mikiya walking through just the right sort of snowy evening, made warm by persistent but not too intrusive city lights. It‘s a moment that you feel at peace, a moment where you can meet somebody that for some reason feels incredibly familiar, probably because they share the same wonderful view of the grey city being purified, whitened, softened, engulfed in white transient tranquillity…

Kara no Kyoukai, 2nd film

…The next morning the magic was gone. Sure, the snow was still there, it was still beautiful, but it wasn’t the same. The light was gone. The streets were sprinkled with salt and the snow there turned into mud that cars happily splashed around. Machines have cleared broad ways where only narrow paths have been, and people walked to their jobs like it was just another day. It was just another day. The moment had passed…

Next morning

Musings and Reflections – Winter 2021 Week 1 and 2

One Phrase impressions

Yuru Camp 2 (Ep. 1) – An unexpected flashback (plus some usual stuff)
Hori-san to Miyamura-kun (Ep. 1) – Introductions and other standard stuff
Yuru Camp 2 (Ep. 2) – Rin’s comfy New Year
Hori-san to Miyamura-kun (Ep. 2) – Some forced drama and some fun

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New Year and new stuff?

A very very very long time no see, isn’t it? I don’t even know how many people I used to read are still active. Well, I might be back (a bit), or at least I would like to.

Seems like life had caught up with me and, well, I guess I’ve fully unlocked my workaholic side. There’s always much to do at my work (even if you sit at home during a global pandemic) and I just sort of do it much of my time. More time at work means less time for anything else, thus less anime and everything.

On the other hand, I can’t fault my lifestyle alone, as with the pandemic raging, there should be lots and lots of free time. I guess my wish to watch anime was getting weaker bit by bit, and no wonder – love can last only so much, and I eventually was finding fewer and fewer shows that I really liked (because I’ve already watched most of ones I know I should like). Also, I think that a few more gained years have made me less forgiving for various shounen tropes. And when various shounen anime are naturally getting the spotlight, it’s pretty hard to find more thoughtful shows if you are not looking hard enough. You can watch some guys ranting (instead of fighting) and teens blushing during their first dates only so much. Yep, it’s called a burnout, if not a complete change of interests.

And now I think I might be back for a bit. Just because, without much rhyme or reason except that I decided I miss anime.

Another point for this sort of returning was inadvertently made by one friend of mine. She also has some interests in manga and anime and once said something on the lines that it was a bit weird that she was still into shoujo and maybe that’s not alright since she isn’t a very young girl. I immediately told her that that’s completely alright, there’re lots and lots of great shoujo stories (Akatsuki no Yona) for example. A few minutes later I realized that her idea quite bothered me, and that was because I’m about 5 years older than her, so what should I think about myself if she is wondering whether anime and manga might be too childish? Well, I thought a bit more about it and came to a conclusion that even if I can’t love anime as much as I want to anymore, I really want to. Some random rewatches of old favourites did convince me that of course there’s still lots of good stuff.

Well, time did change me a bit nonetheless. Some of my time that once was dedicated to anime and manga nowadays is allocated to other media, notably Japanese. Japanese culture is really alluring, that’s a truth difficult to deny, especially for a person who was born and raised without much understanding that there might be something other than what you experience first-hand. And of course Japanese culture spans further than things drawn – I still love origami, matcha tea has become my favourite, and I found myself watching more and more Japanese live action films (Hirokazu Kore-eda might have become my favourite director). While Osamu Dazai remains a steady first among my picks for the favourite writer, there is a growing bunch of strong contenders and my reading list is definitely not getting shorter any time soon.

And that’s that. You might have noticed that I did tweak a visual side of the blog a bit. I have been thinking about that several years ago already, so now’s time as good as ever to make some little cosmetic changes. Speaking about visual things, it’s a bit weird when I think that anime and this blog have been very useful to me in some roundabout ways. There’s no obligation to use any visual tweaking tools (like I did for the new banner of the blog) in my job, but knowing how to do that has been extremely useful (and self-gratifying). Some time ago I also tested the waters of AMV-making, and while the result of that effort now makes me cringe (only a bit, but still), quite recently the basic skills of video editing have made my job much much more simple. The bottom line is that even random skills picked up while enjoying your hobby might become very useful. You never know when some virus may spread throughout the world and make normal life very difficult. Oh wait…

What about the content? Expect some usual ramblings about anime – I actually picked two shows this season (coming soon). Picking actually was pretty weird because among the most popular ones probably 80% or so were sequels. Much originality, such wow! I also started Legend of the Galactic Heroes (the old one, of course). That’s for a more relaxed watching (as relaxed as complex war strategy can be), and I think about occasionally posting my opinions as I watch it in batches of ~4 episodes or so. And there should be posts about other media – several films, probably a book or two. Sounds like a plan, though a plan without deadlines, because it should, need, has to, must be a hobby and not a job to talk about things you like at a pace you prefer.

So yeah. I get a DeJa’Vu that I might have written something similar some time ago – that I’m back and I’m going to stay and this blog will be alive. Well, I don’t think I can promise as much now. It’s not that I suddenly have more free time in my hands or anything suddenly changed, I just thought that oh well, I would like to write again, I would like to share or at least formulate my experiences consuming various sorts of media. I don’t even know if it’s a good idea to do it now. A few months ago I randomly started re-learning Latin (had a few years of it in high-school) just because I felt like it. So yeah, let’s just go with the flow. Might get somewhere interesting.

See you!