An update (sort of)

Hey! Long time no see. Who are you, you may ask? Well, yeah, it really has been a long time, unfortunately. So yeah, I’m just a dude, struggling to find enough the most precious resource in the world – time.

So yeah, what has been going on? What am I up to? I always thought that I’ll be able to find time for anime no matter what. It’s sad that it turned out not to be true for a number of reasons. I guess now a bit of personal circumstances are incoming, though I generally try not to talk about that too much. Anyway, it’s already written in my About page that I associate my future with Life Sciences. I hadn’t actually given that much thought about what exactly that meant in the future beyond two or three years, but life never stops to let you carefully prepare and plan for everything, doesn’t it? So it happened that I was offered by my Uni to take care of some laboratory works. I feel very fortunate and grateful for that as such a position ensures steady income for quite some time provided everything goes well. The only problem was that a person who did the job before me retired sooner than expected due to some personal reasons. To make it short, those reasons prevented them from being able to introduce and teach me all the odds and ends. So basically I was given some manuals (that needed updating), some closets of various chemicals, things and stuff that I’ve no idea how to use (for example a carefully placed branch of a tree. Seriously?..). And an offer – either make it work or the offer goes to someone else. As you can guess, I agreed. And, well, it isn’t bad, it’s just weird and needs lots of work. As with everything – a thing that is written on paper with a stamp “It works every time!” usually doesn’t, and then it’s my job to make everything work so students can have their laboratory exercises. One way or another, it’s usually possible to make everything work, but that comes with a price of time. I know that the first year is the hardest and next spring I’ll have a far less stressful time, but now it isn’t that odd to have a 10 or 12 hour workday, especially since I have some other stuff to take care of. It may sound like I was forced to do this job and I’m against it. Well, that’s not true, really. What I’m against is rashness and unplanned decisions. If I could’ve gotten some tutoring, something like a transitional year, I would’ve accepted the offer without any thoughts. Now however it just requires more effort.

Actually my lack of posts doesn’t mean that I have been completely dissociated from anime. From the beginning of the year I decided to spend more time returning to the basics, which is always a good idea. And not just basics, but the fundamentals themselves. And for a Western anime fan there’s probably no better option than Cowboy Bebop. Initially I was quite afraid because several years and several hundreds of anime entries completed may have entirely changed my outlook on the first anime I’ve ever watched, and not for the better. First few episodes rolled rather slow, but the pace picked up and I ended up enamored just as I was the first time. It was just as good, if not better. Knowing (roughly) what was going to happen let me pay more attention to the soundtrack, and Yoko Kanno is nothing but amazing. It’s funny that the first time I was more preoccupied with trying to get accustomed of the sharpness of the noses of the characters. It’s good that my first anime wasn’t Shiki. Anyway. I was a bit surprised how cheesy and simplistic some of the scenes were but in the end everything just worked and I had a great time. After that I tried rewatching Black Lagoon, another long-time favorite of mine, and even if I stopped by the twin vampire arc (yeah yeah, again something unfinished), the over the top action was just as great as I had wished for. About other stuff, I hasn’t been as fortunate – while Blame movie was quite good (mainly from the technical point of view), Uchiage Hanabi felt extremely empty – a husk of a film that had nothing apart from inevitable Shaft-isms.

Speaking about writing, I hadn’t been completely idle in that department, either. Though the majority of it will likely never see the light of day. One such thing is some scraps about a video game Life is Strange that affected me quite a lot. Those scraps with a bit of work could be made into a post but I’m not sure if this blog is the right place for something completely unrelated to anime. Another thing was quite unexpected for myself – one (quite eventful) day I came home and basically sat down and wrote for like 6 hours straight. Not sure why. What came out was ~20 pages of pseudo-diary thing with some parts that were not true. It’s not in English in the first place, and probably too personal, but I can just say that writing is a powerful tool to better understand, well, everything. I definitely can’t say I felt an enlightenment or anything like that but putting words to paper let me better understand my own emotions, relationships with particular people, outlook on some issues, what I think my flaws are and what I should work on (character-wise) to improve. Well, it sounds rather esoteric, but believe me – sitting down and writing about anything – be it a trip to a supermarket or something less ordinary – can work wonders as a self-improvement exercise. I shouldn’t forget that myself.

So yeah, with everything going on, I’m back where I started this post – time issues. Needless to say, time that gets stolen from me could easily be used for anime. I definitely feel uncomfortable for having stopped posting mid-season. All those unexpected episodes of Boogiepop, lots of Dororo to catch on and other stuff do weight on my mind. I hope to catch up some time, but I guess at this point I’m grateful to have time to write this post and to think about possibly starting one or two shows of the new season. What’s on my mind? Well, the season itself seems to be more of a low-key one. I’m not interested in many shows to begin with, and due to, again, time issues my interests lie mainly in Attack on Titan (obviously) and that that Shinichiro Watanabe show.

Speaking about others, the hype around One Punch Man seems to have all but dissipated once it was announced that J.C.Staff would take the reins from Madhouse. I’ve nothing against that studio, I just don’t see anyone else but Shingo Natsume being able to top the Book of Friends that Natsume has. I watched One Punch Man (on ever lagging Daisuki, by the way) mainly for the quality of the animation, as the story, while initially looking pretty amusing, soon got incredibly repetitive. There’s just so much you can do with one anti-joke. And obviously not the best part is giving a man who can win every fight with one punch an opponent who needs several punches to be defeated – that’s going back to the same shounen gimmick that the show initially attempted to ridicule. And I don’t really see anything new happening in the second season. Unless someone manages to convince me that the opposite is truth.

Going on, ufotable is trying something again, and once more I can state that I’m not the biggest fan of their excessive use of CG. It’s just that their CG (as good as it is, and sometimes it’s really good) doesn’t work well with 2D – a very typical problem for any studio. I’ve had enough of Tales of Zestiria kind of stuff, and if there isn’t a compelling story attached to ufotable visuals, unfortunately it’s hardly going to be to my liking. And a more or less typical shounen story isn’t something I care about much. I do have a very strong emotional attachment to ufotable due to them making my absolute favorite anime – Kara no Kyoukai movies – but I’ve seen enough to finally get that past doesn’t really matter when new shows come out.

I’ve read Fruits Basket manga some time ago and I’m quite content about it so I don’t really think an anime would (and could) improve much the feeling I’ve got from the manga. And, knowing my completionist-like tendencies, I probably should watch the old Fruits Basket anime in the first place. I’m also not that interested in that Kunihiko Ikuhara show. I definitely respect the dude but it’s probably not the right time for me to try to decipher his complicated messages.

So yeah, it’s quite weird to be back, not really knowing who of my old acquaintances are still active and how does the ani-blog-o-sphere look like now. But let’s just be hopeful!

How are you doing everyone? Did I miss anything important? Are there any other new shows I failed to take notice of?

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Stuff (and Christmas)

     Stuff? Yeah, stuff. All kinds of it. It might as well be called a status update or something.

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And, unexpectedly, an AMV

     I rarely do anything unplanned, but such stuff sometimes does happen. Most times than not unplanned things find me not because I actively seek them. Yet, to any rule there is an exception. Recently I’ve been reading as much Osamu Dazai as I could find, and this marathon became ignited by rewatching the first 4 episodes of Aoi Bungaku (which itself happened because I wanted something with similar character designs that Shigurui had). Both the written version of Ningen Shikkaku (or No Longer Human, as Dazai’s masterpiece is called) and the anime adaptation of it affected me quite a bit but I was surprised myself once I realized that I want to make an AMV of it.

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Blogger Appreciation Award: Saying 1 Positive Thing About Myself

     Thanks to Spooky Red Head (please do check out her blog!), here’s another award post. Usually award posts tend to be Q&A sessions and this one turned out to be a bit different. Well, by its nature, asking to write something positive about yourself is also a question, but a comparatively open one, so all the better.

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Scattered Thoughts – throat singing (and a bit of Shigurui)

     Did you know that a single person can sing 2 different melodies at the same time? Sounds a bit insane, doesn’t it? How on earth a single person could possess two throats or something? In fact you don’t need to visit Chernobyl (sorry for the bad joke) to be able to perform throat singing, otherwise known as overtone singing. I’ve known about this amusing technique for some time but what did surprise me, was to find it used in the soundtrack of Shigurui, anime I reviewed several weeks ago. As far as I know, no other anime soundtrack uses the technique so it is pretty obscure to say the least. Well, going into details about it doesn’t really concern neither anime, nor manga, nor Japanese culture (for the most part) but I think the more people will hear about some obscure trivia (that to me is quite interesting), the better. Don’t fear some basic physics stuff ahead, I hope I’ll make it comprehensible enough.

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Scattered Thoughts – what do I listen to?

     There probably isn’t a person who would say with absolute confidence that music has no part in their life. Music naturally is also a part of anime community, although not many people try to analyse it apart from stating that for example “Kajiura, Kanno and Sawano are cool” (love them all by the way, in that order). Listening to anime OSTs isn’t what I’d consider my hobby but I try to pay as much attention to it as I can. If an artist proves to be entertaining, obviously I try to dig deeper. As working in anime industry isn’t always what musicians only do, over time one band or another comes under my radar, so that’s what I’m going to talk about today – 5 Japanese artists/bands (that not necessarily have strong ties with anime industry) that I came to love.

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Neat Blogger Award

     Neat Blogger. Nice. I certainly hope that doesn’t imply any association with being a NEET. Not that I qualify for that.

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My Reasons Why Award

Hello, everyone!

     On this quite ordinary day let’s talk about ordinary things and an award that isn’t like others. Usually blog awards end up in one way or another simply meaning “I like your blog”. It’s not the case with this one as it concerns more fundamental things and deeper issues than viewer count.

     It’s not that apparent in AniBlogging community but take a look for example at reddit, more precisely a subreddit where people share screenshots of manga and anime that remind them of their own life. Especially a month (or something like that) ago you couldn’t browse it simply because about 2 out of 5 pictures were extremely negative: “I’m trash”, “Why is life so unfair?”, “I like suicide” and similar ones. Well, I’m not against dark humor and picking fun at stuff characters say as it might be as good entertainment as any but when it becomes an ocean of despair, I’m getting more and more worried.

How about no?

     Sure, life isn’t always fair and you can’t win every time. I get that there’s some satisfaction in posting a picture where a character says “I’m hopeless” and seeing it upvoted because many people feel that way. Feeling miserable is a completely natural thing, the problem begins when such people see that there’re many despairing individuals like them so that becomes the norm. “I’m feeling down? No problem, everybody’s feeling down, too”. Well, it is a problem, and while getting a few laughs is the best it can do, it can do far worse.

     This problem of course isn’t necessarily peculiar to anime community alone. It’s an issue of the whole humanity. A bold statement, sure, but, always residing in negativity may bring the worst outcome.

     Sure, I’m no psychiatrist who could get into a person’s head, understand his issues completely and tailor a perfect solution. I’m just a guy living in a country whose suicide rate is in top 10 in the whole world. Yeah. Of course that doesn’t mean that my words are especially valid. It’s just a sad fact that I can’t ignore, even living a happy life.

     And that’s where the Award comes in. A fellow blogger kimchisama created it after some very unfortunate and saddening experiences. It’s probably the best to give the scene to her:

      This award is going to be about making your reasons. Your reasons why to keep living – to keep going. Maybe at this point you don’t have an issue with depression and that is okay. Sometimes it is still good to think of all the good things in your life. Maybe you think that you have nothing and you can’t make a list of reasons. I’m going to tell you now that THERE IS NO SMALL REASON. Dig deep. Deeper if you must. There is always a reason for you to keep going and living and breathing. Maybe one of your reasons to live is that so in the morning you can eat bacon. That you will stay alive just to eat bacon again. To me this isn’t a small or silly reason. It is true to yourself and if you are every going through a rough time maybe the smallest reason will reach your heart.

As with all the awards, there’re some rules:

1. Mention the person who nominated you (thanks for that!)

2. List 13 reasons why you keep going/living.

3. Nominate 10 or more people to give their reasons why.

4. Use the picture that kimchisama created.

Not a very amazing list, but here are my reasons to keep going:

  1. Friends and family. Well, it would be hypocritical not to start with this one since I’m surrounded by terrific people.
  2. Family history. I’d love to dig deeper and learn about my ancestors. That’s a very long-term objective since I’d have to sit through lots of boring papers written in terrible handwriting in languages I don’t really know but it’s fascinating to know your roots. Knowing the names of only one pair of my great-great-grandparents and their professions (a roadman and a housekeeper by the way) isn’t satisfying enough.
  3. Summer house. A place where I’ve spent all my summers since being born (except one, as cliche as it sounds). It might be only a habit but I probably wouldn’t be able to survive without completely turning my brain off for two months and doing manual labor there. It sometimes may be a pain in the ass but at the same time gratifying to have a quite place in the middle of nowhere with a little lake nearby and several apple trees (among others) whose fruits are of such heavenly taste that you can’t find in supermarkets no matter how hard you search. Yeah, you can say that my spiritual animal is Holo.
  4. Lilacs and lupines. I’m not the biggest fan of flowering plants in general though I do appreciate greenery. Still, there’s something about that violet (or especially white) color (and the scent in the case of lilacs) that fills all the space and reminds you that summer is just around the corner.
  5. Anime and stuff. Yeah, what else did you expect? My watchlist isn’t getting any shorter and the same can be said about the list of manga and LNs. There seems to be an uncountable amount of stuff worth experiencing – great stories, great characters and stupendous animation.
  6. AniBlogging. Yes, what did you expect? watching anime is one thing but being able to share opinions and enter meaningful discussions is another. I’m very happy that this community is so mature and respecting, and that’s only a couple of reasons why I love being a part of it.
  7. Reading. At this point I’m not the most avid of readers but in the back of my mind there always stirs a notion that the ocean of great literature is endless and  I should take a good swim in it. And I’m still eagerly waiting for Winds of Winter to be published. Stay healthy, GRRM.
  8. My piano. I had some experience learning to play it and even if my technical skills aren’t nowhere near as good as I’d like them to be, it’s fun to be able to play something you enjoy listening to. Even if I may butcher the original intentions of a composer, it’s always a joy to sit down, turn off your brain and let the fingers do their job.
  9. Traveling. Another long-term goal. Probably very long-term because at this point I’d rather stay where I am. The problem is that I easily get car-sick or bus-sick after traveling for about 1,5 hour and that’s neither a period of time to get anywhere nor an encouragement to to. I hope that psychology might be one of the reasons why and I may be able to overcome that eventually. I know that there’re so many great places to visit everywhere. But sadly not now.
  10. Studying. To be frank, among my classmates at Uni continuous lack of motivation has become sort of a running joke and I’m a bit confused that I’m more or less satisfied about everything. I’m probably lucky enough to have found a field and place where I’m comfortable enough and eager to keep learning.
  11. General interest. Well, I just think that these times are interesting to live in. Science progresses by second, many innovations are introduced into daily lives. Sure, people with power sometimes behave like kids that are unable to share a playing ground but I have faith in humanity, its brain power and compassion rather than in its selfishness.
  12. Inertia. It might sound weird, but one of my reasons to keep living is because that’s what I do already. I’m sort of a person who doesn’t like to change things too much and at least to me it’s easier to concentrate on what I must do now and simply do it without overthinking it too much. I don’t consider not living an option. When that inevitably comes, I’ll probably stay dead for more than enough time, and while alive, I still have stuff to do. As one of my colleagues at Uni sometimes says, don’t rack your lungs (yeah, not brain) and do what you can.
  13. I’m feeling lucky. No, it’s not related to Google. It’s simply the fact that when I think of it, there’re countless people in the world that are far less fortunate than I am. Just look at this list – countless things I have that are completely meaningless knowing that hundreds and thousands of people this very second are dying for ridiculously easily avoidable reasons like thirst, hunger or war. I have done nothing to deserve everything I have, it’s just a pure coincidence that I’m able to type this and not lie  dying because of, say, malaria or AIDS. What can I do about it? I think at least be conscious about the situation and make my life as fulfilling as I can.

Nominees:

Derek

Fueled by Smiling

Keiko

king dylbag

Kyra

Olga

Scott

Prattle

Shokamoka

Yahari Bento

     I hope each and every one of you (tagged or not, sorry about that then) will think of many more reasons to keep going and appreciating life as it is. And as I said, I’m no psychiatrist but if you ever need a spare ear to talk to, I can offer my both.

100 followers + Anniversary + Anime 3×3

     Hey, everyone!

     I’m pretty excited since a few days ago I passed a very round milestone. One hundred (and now a little bit more) followers is a thing, and a big one.

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My name in TBW Tag

     It’s been quite some time but I haven’t forgotten it and I’m very thankful for kimchisama for tagging me. I think various tags and awards are not only fun but also very healthy, as at least for me it provokes to get out of the comfort zone and think and write about things that I would probably never write about otherwise. Of course, a few lines of different content isn’t much but it’s better than always writing the same thing over and over again.

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