Thinking about denpa while watching Boogiepop Phantom

Working through Boogiepop Phantom was not my favorite anime viewing experience, but possibly one of the most unusual due to the overall aesthetic presentation of the show. The story was obtuse, especially so for those like me who were not familiar with the source material prior to watching the anime which acted as a sequel to the novel. Despite this, I could not help but be drawn in the intense style emanating from this anime that reminded me of a particular themes I discovered one day browsing 4chan.


I used to be a frequent visitor of the board /jp/ mainly for the Comiket music threads and Train threads, mostly lurking and occasionally looking into the threads other users would create that would often inform me of something I was not aware of at the time. One day I stumbled across a “Denpa Music Thread” which intrigued me because I like to listen to all kinds of obscure Japanese music so I started looking into this style which I was not familiar with. However, besides the somewhat hypnotic trance that one would slip into when listening to denpa music, I was surprised to learn of Denpa-kei, or the denpa style which extended beyond music. I learned more about this in a now deleted video by the Youtuber “KenjiTheEnji” who made an information video about Denpa-kei. Because of this one video and the introduction to a fascinating Japanese subculture, the aesthetic influences of a show like Boogiepop Phantom became more apparent and much more interesting with it in the back of my mind.

“Denpa (電波) literally means Radio waves (or any other kind of radiation coming from electronic devices). Therefore (as a slang) a “Denpa” (or Denpa-kei 電波系) person is someone who looks like he’s constantly receiving and transmitting radio waves; usually weird and delusional individuals who don’t try to connect with people around them and act in erratic and incomprehensible ways. They could be seen as incoherent, creepy, or insane people.” ( With this in mind, I could not help but continuously remind myself of the denpa-kei influences in the character writing of Boogiepop Phantom. I believe one of the prime examples for characters in the series who exemplify this style is Tomo and Suganuma.


Right off the bat, episode one displays an unexplained energy beam going off into the night sky that causes electronics to go haywire. This is later implied to be some sort of catalyst to the series of events that follow and some explanation as to why weird events are occurring in the city. Meanwhile, this episode focuses on a girl named Tomo to paranoia and essentially succumbing dissociating with reality. It appeared as if she had become increasingly distant with one of her best friends due to the other girl maturing at a quicker rate while Tomo was left behind. So Tomo felt left behind after what appeared to be her only friend leaving her behind so she started to lose her connection with her peers and eventually society around her. She grows more detached, drifting between events and starts to grow incredibly paranoid. We can see her wiping her hands obsessively to the point of skin irritation, and disinfecting door handles before touching them. I’d imagine this is a result of her extreme mental state wanting to keep herself away from the society she feels so distant from. Nonetheless, I found this strikingly similar to the denpa-kei style I read about prior. Tomo is losing touch with reality and the people around her and this is only exemplified with the visual cues of her literally chasing a spark of electricity along the cables in the city which would be a visual motif referenced often in the show.


However, what really sell the denpa-kei influences is the aesthetic style and sound design, which I will discuss a bit later after touching on the other character I found most interesting.

Episode four made for a genuinely uncomfortable experience. This was most thematically similar to a movie like Perfect Blue, except from the perspective of the disillusioned stalker and not the prey. Suganuma is the main guy focused on in this episode, he is a generally average high school student but a bit of a loner. However he is under constant pressure from his father to receive good grades so he could get into a good university. Despite this, the pressure he internalized is largely artificially inflated from what his father actually expects. His father states a few times how he expressed that his son didn’t need to go to a top school, but at least a state university and most likely just wants the best for his son. Suganuma instead feels overwhelmed with the expectation to be successful and doubts his ability to succeed so he starts to seek refuge in the world of galge, not uncommon to many other youth in Japan. These circumstances are some of the reason why young Japanese men turn to the lifestyle of a hikikomori, because of the societal and familial pressure to not fail that they just crack under the weight of expectations. As is the case with Suganuma, who starts to spend most of his time either at work or playing a galge (lit. “Girl Game”, often referred to as a Bishoujo Game, a type of visual novel targeting a male audience). Because of his desire to completely forget about his life’s problems, he starts to become obsessed with the heroine of one of his games and then stuff starts to get weird. Reality starts to grow indistinguishable from reality as he starts to project the image of the games heroine on his younger coworker, and this is when I started to feel extremely uncomfortable. The depiction of Suganuma’s extremely delusional worldview and extreme infatuation with this girl in reality (or the game?) grow to unhealthy levels and he starts tripping out.


He mentions the “My Fair Lady” story where he explains it as a story of a professor making a regular girl into a beautiful maiden, so essentially here he is taking over this girl’s personal will just to push his desires onto his coworker. It becomes more extreme, escalating from simple favors to gain the girl’s trust to sexual harassment and forcing himself on her. There is a quote where Suganuma remarks that “You’ll always be right in the palm of my hand” which reminds me of that one shot in Perfect Blue where the presumed stalker pretends to hold Mima in his hand by way of perspective.


This idolization of people is quite unhealthy all things considered, because there will reach a point where the person existing in your head that you’ve infatuated yourself with is not actually the one that exists in reality. And this is what happens to Suganuma, he goes so far down the path of insanity that he loses touch with the fact that his coworker is an individual, a human being with her own free-will and his actions were completely unhealthy. Not to mention he was under the influence of some weird drug the entire time which most likely perpetuated his delusions and served as a crutch, since he was shown to have become incredibly dependent on them when he ran out.

Boogiepop Phantom really excels in it’s style if nothing else. The music is mainly composed of usual electronic sounds that don’t quite sound right. As if they are sampling a collection of various sounds emitted from electronics and formed into a melody. This adds a striking denpa style, as if the sounds we hear are the chaos of real life forming a coherent melody. It feels like the sound director wanted to capture a feeling of getting into the mind of one of these disconnected characters and make the music and effects feel electronic, but not overly produced, as if to make it seem like they would be sounds that would be emitted through various radio waves and were being received by a denpa-kei person in their delusions to sound like music. The results are fascinating if nothing else, experiment with crushed and noise influenced sound effects to make the sounds design feel like you were on a hallucinatory trip, and imagining the noises around you were parts of an avant-garde symphony.

The directing is quite interesting as well. There was a distinct style that the show will capture that makes it feel like we are disconnected with the events on-screen, as if we were not in the room with the characters but were spying on them in a sense. I distinctly remember a shot in the first episode where Tomo is being cornered in the Infirmary and the camera is positioned in such a way that it is viewing the scene from an open window outside the building. Mixed with the short cuts mashed together to make this feel less coherent and more akin to loosely strung together related events. To me these loosely connected scenes reminded me of watching something like a slideshow of family video, with a minor overarching theme to barely string it all together.

There is also a distinctive feeling of oppressive darkness, grainy picture quality and the washed out colors of this anime that give and overwhelming feeling of a dream that we are only observing, but for the characters, it’s a nightmare. I found the stylistic color palette to be one of the strengths of the show’s aesthetic because it felt like an amateur produced found-footage film. The overwhelming dark scenes felt more mysterious in atmosphere because the shadows were like a void of darkness, and we had such a limited view of what actually was happening.


It was minimalistic, only showing what needed to and maintained a dreamlike feeling in the air. I was actually reminded of a video I watched in a psychology lecture about being in the mind of someone with schizophrenia in how the disconnected nature of the show felt. I’m not quite sure if this was the intent, but I as a viewer felt isolated from the presentation on-screen, giving off an uncanny visual verisimilitude in which I processed the events on screen as real, but not quite connecting them to the usual “reality” of anime. Again, there was this dreamlike or hallucinogenic state the style emitted making this anime let us get into the world of Boogiepop and reflect the feeling of denpa-kei. This overall feeling really got me into the mindset of Denpa because nothing felt real, and that was the point. These character were losing touch with reality.


So Boogiepop Phantom was a weird show man. It used denpa-kei to exemplify the delusions of the characters and add a distinctive aesthetic feeling that not many anime I’ve seen attempt, in the same vein of something like Serial Experiments Lain I’d say if I were to compare the styles. However, despite the fascinating aesthetic strengths of the show and directing style, I could not help but feel like the reliance of prior knowledge from the novels took away from most of the enjoyment I could have gotten out of this anime. As a standalone work, this show was a unique exploration of the human psyche and was a critique of modern society in some ways all presented with an incredibly satisfying oppressive atmosphere. But on the other hand there were too many scenes where I was left lost trying to keep up with the extreme lack of explanations towards many of the backstory. This made the story feel more confusing that it should have been that left me craving for more of the visual spectacle rather than the dialogue that would most like not mean much to me as it might to a novel reader. Overall, I felt as if the denpa stylistic influences that I observed in this show were worth mentioning since it’s a unique movement in Japanese art that isn’t well-known outside of small circles in the community. I highly recommend looking more into this if it interests you.

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Further Reading:

Denpa introduction:

Interview with novel author:

Read before watching Boogiepop:

Thematic Analysis of Boogiepop:

Toru Honda, the leading thinker for fellow otaku:

Analytical Essay Regarding Denpa:

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A Stain Which Cannot Be Erased

So I just finished watching the 2018 adaptation of Ready Player One, directed by Steven Spielberg and I have a storm raging inside me. I will be recounting a bit of my past with the original book and then go on to explain how I feel about the movie adaptation. Also, this post is unpolished since I feel a revision will take away from the raw emotions I felt upon completing the movie.

I was twelve or thirteen when I came across a book in the public library, it was called Ready Player One and I had no idea what was in store for me. Late nights illuminated by a single desk lamp, hours spent pouring over the words written on the pages that opened a world that I had not acknowledged before- video games. Chalked full of references to movies and games my dad deemed as classics, it was an incredible experience to discover this world I had not known of before. Not only introducing me to fascinating 80’s pop culture, this book led me down a path to discover video games and become the person I am today. Needless to say, and quite cliché to say, this book changed my life. I kept a notebook of all the references made in the book and went back to study them when I wasn’t reading, it found video games, and I fell in love with the perfect book for me. Despite the faults that I have found rereading it a half dozen times, I unconditionally love this book for what it is and how it has molded my life. Hell, my username “Parz” and “Parzival” are a direct reference to Ready Player One. The only thing I felt that was missing was one of two things; a game just like the Oasis so I could lose myself, or movie adaptation of the book. Be careful what you wish for.


I initially was somewhat hopeful for this movie adaptation because I wanted to be, I wanted my dream of seeing my favorite book on the big screen but at the same time I didn’t want to be severely disappointed. So going into the trailer I was not expecting much but at the same time I was optimistic that I could be surprised. I hated the trailer. It was just a teaser showing off a car chase but I knew that it was not canonical. With that I decided to skip wasting money to go to the theaters and wait for the home digital release. It was a good thing too, because what I saw should not exist.


The movie opens pretty much how I expected it to, with a paraphrased and shortened version of Wade’s introduction speech, but then we hit the unrelenting problems. James Haliday purposely made the Egg Hunt mysterious, yet not overly serious and the video captured that, however I felt it was too straightforward in the movie. It was like reading the quest information in an MMO, that told you exactly what to do. And it did not contain any of the numerous pop culture references from the book. These references aren’t just an excuse to hit at the audiences nostalgia, this is supposed to be out first time meeting Haliday and seeing these eccentricities and him surrounded by his favorite media is supposed to characterize him.


Now my problem with Wade’s character in the movie. In the book he was introduced as a slightly overweight guy with bad acne, dressed pretty bad and was a high school student. He was a student on Ludus, the planet where all high schools were located and was the only planet he had access to for the longest time. He was a kid with dreams, the underdog that we all wanted to imagine ourselves as. Yet he was poor and had no cash to buy any gear let alone vehicles. However we see him in the movie trying to reach the first key in a Delorean, which he technically doesn’t get until much later on in the story. To add to this, Wade should not have an omni-directional treadmill in his van hideout and he should have spoken his pass phrase to unlock his Oasis account, but that was not included in the movie but are rather small complains. Back in reality he seems like a regular dude who just happens to live in a shitty environment, not the loser he is made out to be. And The Stacks were not at all what I pictured in mind from reading the book. The Stacks in my head were more barren, lifeless and nobody around. In Wade’s game he coded for the Atari 2600 (A Gunter rite of passage as he describes), he described how you were supposed to collect meal credits and avoid meth addicts- implying it was a shitty place to live and was dangerous. Not a place where people hung out like it seemed to be in the movie. This is why he wants to get the hell out of dodge, and he is vocal about it in the book and is also a major motivator for him escaping to the Oasis every day. In the movie Wade says his dream is to get a mansion and fill it with cool shit, but in the book he says he wants to get a spaceship with cool stuff and food and leave earth behind because he doesn’t want to stick around since there is high crime, exhausted natural resources, and frankly nothing left for him there. This is why in the book he spent his prize money purchasing a small apartment in the city, because as I explained earlier was one of his goals since he hated The Stacks. Yet he remains in the same place in the movie. This sets up Wade not as the underdog with motivation, rather a hero from the start who we all expect to win.


What about the rest of the High Five, which the movie seems to never explain the origin of the group’s nickname. Aech is pretty similar to the book, but I didn’t like the limited importance of his hideout in the game called “The Basement” which was an important meeting place and safe haven for the other members when shit hit the fan. This was also where Aech and Parzival hung out and deepen their relationship over video games like any good friendship should. The Basement was also where Ir0k was present since he was a scumbag Aech hated, but kept around to be the butt of most jokes when it was convenient. However Ir0k was presented as just a scumbag who didn’t personally know Parzival or Aech from The Basement, rather just an incredibly useful dog that was used by Sorrento to move the plot forward. Daito and Shoto, yes, Shoto, not Sho. Daito and Shoto are the names of traditional Japanese short and longsword where both characters got their usernames but was overlooked as minor importance in the movie. Not only this, but also they downplayed that Daito and Shoto should have been living in Japan, were recovering hikikomori and were not publicly known as friends. They called themselves brothers but were actually friends from a hikikomori recovery program they both attended. Furthermore, Daito actually dies in the book, thrown out of his apartment window by Sixers, and Shoto goes on to avenge his death in the final battle. Of course the movie didn’t even mention this. Art3mis is a similar story or brushing over important details and changing her character. What bothered me most was how her relationship with Parzival was never fully explained, which was a whole arc in the book in which both become infatuated with one another but ultimately leads Art3mis to cut connections to Parzival since she realized their relationship was making them lose sight of the goal to find the Egg. They also should not even have met in person until after the contest at the Morrow mansion, but of course this needed to be added so early on, which angered me immensely. They ruined an emotionally impactful scene and the set-up to the delivery of the main theme of the story for no good reason. Also, she just happened to have a huge base of operations running a resistance movement in the same area as Wade- ok. Furthermore, all High Five members coincidentally happened to live in the same city? Of course that wasn’t the case in the book since Aech was traveling the country, Daito and Shoto lived in Japan, and Art3mis was somewhere in Canada. No excuse for that.


Now about the first key. It came out of nowhere that there was a road race and somehow everyone knew about it. Canonically the book had the first key on planet Ludus and you had to defeat a Lich King in a game of Joust before obtaining the Copper Key. Here it’s completely different for simplicity’s sake, which is expected but did not have to change so drastically from the original. Looking past that major flaw, we find out that the challenge isn’t straightforward so Wade’s avatar, Parzival, goes to the Haliday archives. This is one of my biggest problems with the movie and it’s poor handling of characterization. Originally in the book, Haliday creates a digital version of his personal diary dubbed “Anorak’s Almanac” after his avatar’s username, which contains a comprehensive guide to his life. This meant all Egg Hunters (Gunters) would have to acquire this on their own and research the pop culture references themselves in order to piece together an image of the man who ran the Oasis. Wade in particular called his version of the Almanac his “Grail Diary” in which he meticulously took note of everything he believed to be important for the hunt. He describes having spent days playing all of Haliday’s favorite games, watching every movie and TV show, listening to all the albums and reading every book to gain a greater understanding of who this individual was. Haliday was an idol to Wade, not just a guy who created a contest for him to win and I feel the movie does an awful job at presenting that.


So after figuring out how to beat the Copper Key’s challenge, Parzival received the key and… that’s it. He gets the next riddle and is ready to look for the Jade Key. No Dungeon of Daggorath? Not even the Wargames simulation? The movie did away with the second crucial part of the Egg Hunt- Gates. After beating the challenge to find the key, players are supposed to use the riddle located on or around the key to find a “Gate” which would lead them to a new challenge that is required to find the riddle for the next key. Logically speaking, this was a calculated decision to save time to fit the content of the movie into a reasonable runtime, but did so by cutting some great content like the Blade Runner scene, beating Black Tiger, simulating the amazing Monty Python and the Holy Grail and beating Haliday’s high score in Tempest. But I digress. At least they added a simulation of a movie (Flicksync) in the movie, right? Well yes but it was The Shining which, according to my own notes and the official wiki, did not even appear in the book. I guess it’s a good time to discuss this part, but Kira, Haliday and Ogden Morrow go way back. They met during a D&D session in their high school, Kira being an exchange student, and allowed the three of them to get to know each other. Kira was also the one who gave Haliday the nickname “Anorak” which was a slang term for a geek, which he displayed proudly and carried it with him for the rest of his life. He also had a huge crush on her but never acted on it, unlike in the movie which he got close to. Og himself was also a weird character in the movie since he only really appeared for convenience sake and never given character. In the book he hosts a party on the Distracted Globe where his is given characterization through his nerdy appearance, music choices and sense of style when it comes to a good party. This is actually the real reason Parzival and Art3mis even go to the Globe in the first place, not because it was a place to Egg Hunt.


Very similar stories with the Jade Key and Crystal Key, all of which felt incredibly rushed and lost the sense of mystery and puzzle solving captured in the book. With the Jade Key for example, Daito and Shoto happen to find the key off screen? Of course none of the iconic book scenes appear like the Rush’s 2112 puzzle, which I found ironic since Aech wore a t-shirt with the album cover to 2112 and there was a poster of the album cover in young Haliday’s room in the movie. However, I do like that they at least added the iconic Adventure easter egg, but that’s common knowledge at this point to it was mostly expected to see it’s inclusion in the movie.


To take a step back here, there’s a whole section of the story in which Wade infiltrates IOI to bring down the impenetrable shield around Castle Anorak that was completely changed. He was supposed to change his identity, go undercover as an indentured servant and hack IOI from the inside. However the movie decided to make Samantha the girl with a plan, for reasons I cannot justify. Wade is the hero at this point, so why not let him carry out this plan? This happened to be one of my favorite arcs in the book since there was a shift to an espionage feel, Wade was more daring after “breaking up” with Art3mis in the Oasis and felt like he had to take a risk. He felt no danger and was willing to take drastic measures for the sake of the Oasis, which has since become his escape from reality and his feelings once again. But the movie make this almost into a rescue mission and Samantha the person to break into IOI almost unintentionally. What really bothered me though is that Samantha kept her Art3mis avatar despite being logged into an IOI account, and had access to all her equipment despite that.

Ready Player One[2018].mp4 01:40:45

Now for the last battle, the battle at Castle Anorak on Planet Doom… wait, wrong planet. I meant Planet Chthonia. (That was changed as well). I desperately missed the spectacle it would have been to see Ultraman versus Mechagodzilla, but that wasn’t there for whatever reason. There was an RX-78-2 suit and the Iron Giant which was welcome but I was starved for the army of mecha’s that battled in the book. As for the Catalyst explosion, it must be mentioned that in the book Parzival gets the extra life quarter from getting a perfect score of Pacman on planet Archaide, which felt left out since Pacman is such an iconic game from the era. Instead he gets it from the curator at the archive building for free really, which didn’t feel as deserved like in the book. This extra life was something never heard of in the Oasis, so getting it had to be nearly impossible and Parzival did it, meaning his troubles were worth it in the end.


Now, the presentation of the ultimate theme of Ready Player One; “Reality can be tough, but it’s the only place you can get a decent meal” which happened to be a quote from the Almanac, presented in the book. Haliday meant that even though he hated reality for the longest time, it offered some things that could not be supplemented by escaping into the Oasis. This was the final lesson Wade had to learn, but was left without much impact in the movie since he had already learned that before arriving to The End. He already met his love interest and his best friends IRL so he already knew what reality was important. I found it amusing that despite changing the entire flow of the story up until this point, the writers had the nerve to try and deliver an important critique of modern technology in our lives, in which the book succeeded in. Yes, this is a story of a guy becoming the best there ever was, defeating the bad guy, getting the girl and becoming a literal god of the (virtual) world, but it was also a social critique. Ernest Cline didn’t want a story about glorifying escapism without consequences, he wanted to show how games can be great, but not to lose touch with the real world. Because after all, Hot Pockets taste best there


I knew the writer(s) were going to change stuff based on the trailer, but this was a defacement of the original work. Something that should not exist under the same name as the original book, a disgrace to the name of the staff working on it. I despised every minute of this movie because I knew how much the original meant to me, this was not just ruining a nerdy book, it was ruining the most important piece of fiction I have come in contact with. This was person, and I will never get past this adaptation. Much like how Berserk fans hate the 2016 adaptation, I am disappointed this sad excuse for an adaptation exists. It felt so soulless, without passion for the 80’s pop culture from the book, and like the writer(s) of this script only skimmed over the book’s summary, and that’s giving them too much credit. It’s one thing if you “adapt” a book to the screen why modifying the presentation of story and possibly interpreting in a different way, but this was too much change for less quality. Full of cheap and awkward lines, major plot holes for movie-only viewers, and too many modern references that screamed “Advertising!” (Minecraft, Halo, Deadpool, Overwatch etc.) this was not just a personal grudge against a movie, this is just a poorly created movie.


Nerd rage aside, this really movie hurt me. It’s not just disappointing, I dare say this left a mark on my life that cannot be erased. For such an important piece of fiction I declare as “life changing” to be ruined so badly in a movie adaptation years in the making… I will never get those years of wait back, not the two hours and change I spent watching it. At least the original source material exists, but this movie will always exist as something that will never forgive so long as it exists in the same reality as me.


Ready Player One[2018].mp4 01:50:52.jpg


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The Weight of Time

Life is not a video game where we can reload from a previous save for a chance to retry an event. That is the harsh reality of it, once a decision is made we must live with the consequences. However, fiction allows thinkers to explore the possible implications of allowing people to bend time at their will, looping the same period of time over and over until they succeed or figure out how to end it. In a reality where time is non-continuous and a person has seemingly infinite chances at trying something, what happens and what are the consequences. Can people really change the true fate of the universe, and how does knowing this fate influence the psychological state of the person in the loop? Today I will be exploring four series, ranging from anime series to light novels, that attempt to explore time loops and changing fate.

Time travel and time loops in anime cannot be discussed without acknowledging the modern classic of Steins;Gate. During a certain arc of the series, Okabe Rintarou is faced with the truth of knowing that his childhood friend Mayuri will die. However, he has the power to go back in time in an attempt to save the life of his dear friend. But of course if it was that easy there would be no emotional weight to the situation, because now he must avoid the repercussions of the Butterfly Effect and challenge fate. To address the Butterfly Effect first, this is defined as “the phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere.” Simply that each choice made will have effects elsewhere because all choices are connected. Similar to the wings of a butterfly, flapping them will no directly have any noticeable changes to the world, but that wing might indirectly result in a storm elsewhere. So in Steins;Gate, Okabe begins to realize that regardless of what choice he makes or how he tries to prevent the death of his friend, it will end the same way unless he does something drastic. This means jumping to a new world line by diverging from the current one by more than 1%, essentially moving to a new timeline so different from the current that Mayuri will no die.

divergence meter

Ignorance is bliss, right? When stuck in a time loop the character in question must deal with the burden of knowing the truth, and sometimes the truth of fate can be worse than not knowing. It’s can be expressed with the question; “Would you rather know the day you die or how you die.” Either being equally destructive because they will result in paranoia. The person choosing to know the day they die will live with a deadline on their life knowing when time is up, and the person choosing to know how they die will live in constant fear of whatever they will eventually be killed by. Ignorance is possibly the worst best option in this case, the truth of knowing your demise will lessen the amount of hope for your future, and in a time loop, the ultimate fate which cannot be changed may have results worse than death.

Time loops can be infinite, and the emotional strain is beyond comprehension. The first volume of the light novel series The Empty Box and the Zeroth Maria explores how people might react if they were aware of a never ending time loop. Protagonist Hoshino Kazuki gets trapped in the Rejecting Classroom, and him alone is aware of the loop until he meets Maria Otonashi. During this time we get to see the intense mental deterioration of Kazuki as he experiences the same day for tens of thousands of days. We often complain about the mundane everyday life and how boring it can be, but imagine the same day for hundreds of years? The loop will take a psychological toll on the people aware of it existing, and once you notice the loop you can’t convince yourself it isn’t the case because those moments of deja vu will overtake you.

Of course there aren’t any real scientific findings proving the psychological strain of time loops out there, but that allows writers to explore the extent at which this may affect the characters in their stories. Let’s look at the series Re:Zero, infamous for subjecting the main character Subaru to countless time loops of suffering, but it wasn’t always like that. From the beginning everything seems great, a new lease on life, a completely fresh start in a new world with the inability to die? Sounds like the best escape from the past a person like Subaru could hope for. But of course that was too good to be true. Tappei Nagatsuki decided to explore the psychological strain one might experience when stuck in a situation where they might have to die countless times just to proceed. Realistically speaking, nobody can confirm the pain of death so we can only speculate, but it obviously doesn’t feel good. Such is the case with Subaru in which sometimes he himself has to die, and other times he must witness the death of his closest friends countless times which takes a toll on him throughout the series. Dying yourself will cause mental pain, but witnessing the death of your closest friends over and over will cause emotional scarring. Similar to Okabe in Steins;Gate, there is no way seeing your friend die gets easier since they mean just as much to you on the first loop as on the hundredth, sometimes they mean more then. Hence the suffering.

subaru carrying the weight of the world

Finally I want to talk about the time loop in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, particularly concerning the character of Homura Akemi. With Subaru’s time loops we see a deteriorating mental state, and while not exactly to the same extent with Homura we definitely do see a change of character. Okabe in Steins;Gate felt this as well, the sense of urgency. Knowing you messed up and you need to try again and again, as many times at it takes.


The urgency of knowing you must change fate, you have the opportunity and not achieving this results in that sense of urgency I mentioned. The loop can end, the powers can fade or your will will collapse from countless failures. This isn’t a game anymore, this is a matter of saving the universe for Homura, so failure is not an option. During the episode where the loop is finally revealed, we get to see the drastic shift of persona’s Homura undertakes in order to succeed. Going from a naive and weak-willed girl to a standoffish and aloof just for the sake of success. She wants to prevent Madoka from making the contract at any means even if means alienating herself from the girl she was trying to protect in the first case, this is to what extremes she goes. Whether or not fate can change or the repercussions of that matter are second for her, idealistic but shows how much she cares for her friend.

“The universe has a beginning, but no end. – Infinity. Stars, too, have their own beginnings, but their own power results in their destruction. – Finite. It is those who possess wisdom who are the greatest fools. History has shown us this. You could say that this is the final warning from God to those who resist.” Okabe Rintarou (Steins;Gate)

Sometimes it is better of to not know because fate is a cruel thing. It is a brilliant force that brings us happiness, but cruel when it brings despair. For those that believe in it, the power of it can drive them mad and if they have the chance to convince themselves that fate can be changed. Meddling with time should not be undertaken by those with the faint of heart, consequences are real and putting your sanity on the line to help others is the ultimate sacrifice. In the end I deeply enjoy these psychological explorations of how time can affect people who go against fate. The ability to redo a moment in their life to make things turn out the best for them seems like a blessing, but there will be consequences for changing the past. It’s a pointless warning I’m giving here, not to meddle with time that is, but I guess it might serve as a warning to the future of humanity if time travel becomes possible. Wisdom is a scary thing, but living in the darkness is often worse. Choose your poison.


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Recontextualizing “Edgy”

“Akame ga Kill! is a very edgy show with that knows no bounds when it comes to displaying the appalling crimes and cruelty that exists within the series” (MAL Review Link)


If a person dislikes a particular “dark” anime, the biggest criticism towards it most likely is going to accuse the show of being “too edgy” and not taking itself seriously/too seriously. “Something or someone trying too hard to be cool, almost to a point where it’s cringe worthy.” is the top definition given to describe the word “edgy” on Urban Dictionary. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary tells a different story however, the most relevant defines “edgy” as “having a bold, provocative, or unconventional quality” and using an edgy film to express it’s usage in a sentence. The modern use of edgy seems to have appeared only recently around 2005 and really used commonly around 2010 to describe entertainment. Now that this buzzword has been created and is a part of all our vocabulary, I want to look a bit further into the usage of the word as well as the validity of using edge factor to criticize a show.

Before looking up a definition for the word “edgy” my personal usage of the word mostly related to describing the use of fringe opinions of actions. What I mean by that is things that are “edgy” are generally working against the popular opinion, whether intentional or not, and will not be agreed upon by the majority of the population. It is important to make the distinction of what the person’s intentions are because in an age of ironic humor you can’t really be sure whether the person genuinely feels that way or is just trying to trigger the most people. For people with genuine opinions or thoughts that diverge from the norm yet get their voice denounce for being “edgy” just seems backwards and rejects individualism in favor of “morally/politically correct” ideas.

Now how does this apply to anime? The first though that comes to mind when thinking about a “edgy anime” is Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru, in particular the main character Hikigaya Hachiman. Not the conventional choice but I consider Hachiman one of the biggest “edgelords” in anime, just take a look at his “I hate nice girls” speech. Now let me elaborate more about what I mean by calling Hachiman a certified “edgelord” for the sake of proving that this label is not a form of criticism, rather a descriptor. As I touched on in previous blogs, perception is reality so what we see and how we see it shapes our worldview and nobody sees the world the same way. For the character of Hachiman, he isn’t trying to say the most controversial thoughts all the time, he is simply observing the world the way he has grown to understand it. Years of prolonged loneliness from being an outsider and failed relationships pushed him further away from the average person so now he reached a point of wanting to dissociate from them. This can either be a defense mechanism along the lines “I don’t want to be a part of your guy’s group anyways! Baka!” or just him being extremely jaded. Hachiman is not trying to capture of facade of a pseudo-philosophical teenager with a lack of social skills, he is a product of what he observes the world to really be after a set of certain circumstances pushed him in that direction. Hachiman is “edgy” but for some fans what he says is completely relatable, so the “edginess” of something is completely relative.

Screenshot from 2016-12-02 21-03-36

If you try to defend a “dark” show you’re bound to come across a contrarian who’s opinions about that show lie express how a particular show was bad simply because it felt edgy. As expressed in my previous point regarding Hikigaya Hachiman, the edginess factor a show has is completely relative and can be only judged based on a person’s belief system and amount for which they liked the show. For example, if you were completely invested in the plot of Tokyo Ghoul then the ending to the anime was an emotional payoff you wanted to see and though it was awesome. Personally I’m reading the Akame ga Kill manga and find it a fun read for the incredible artwork and crazy fights.The idea of edginess only appears when someone finds something happening in the entertainment piece to be unbelievable or “trying too hard.” Yet another phrase that is thrown around often along with the “forced <insert genre here>”  meme. There is no such thing as events happening naturally in a story since they were all planned and forced into the plot by the author, it’s more valid to say that the buildup and pacing surrounding the event in question was poor rather than criticizing the that the show was “trying too hard.” Yes, anime can often go overboard and try to increase shock factor as high as possible but if it is given proper setup there is nothing wrong with that. That is more of an issue with the author attempting to overstep their bounds to try to evoke an emotional response and can be jarring. Complaining about something being taken too serious is considered edgy, alright. But then claiming that the dark situation is not handled serious enough is edgy too? There must be a distinction of whether or not the scene at hand is handled tastefully rather than edgy or not.

I find nothing wrong with the practice of being genuinely edgy because everyone deserves to express their emotions the way they can, it’s another issue if whether or not that makes everyone happy. There will never be actions that satisfy everyone so if you see something and think it is stupid, remember to refrain from using the word “edgy” to describe is. Edgy media is somewhat of a guilty pleasure for me, and no matter how seriously a show takes itself or hard it tries to be violent I will probably still think it is cool if it makes sense in context.

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Music as a Tool

Note: I’m not an expert on music theory of terminology

These days, I doubt many people leave their house without their phone and a set of earbuds. This is an essential part of our routine alongside tying our shows and putting on a jacket in the winter. Walk down the street and you’d be hard-pressed to go a few blocks not seeing someone with earbuds in their ears jamming out to their favorite song. The modern convenience of taking music with us has been around since the Walkman in the 80’s and 90’s and possibly even earlier, my dad always tells me that he loved that device because the fact that you could bring your cassettes with you on the go was an innovation that would shape the world. Unlike radio’s, these portable music players let you listen to what you wanted where you wanted and not have to worry about the inevitable comment from your friend saying “bro, can you change the station I hate that song” or walk down the street blasting Super Driver and getting weird looks.

In the midst of the portable music phase, we often gravitate towards listening to music that sucks us in the intricate instrumentals, lyrical genius or a catchy pop tune that we can easily consume. However, this kind of music is quite different that what is used in cinema and anime scores since those tunes are not usually designed for the average listener to jam to on the way to the train station. These are the heavily atmospheric and background pieces found in the Original Soundtracks (OST) for their respective series.

(Please note the difference between a soundtrack and a score; a score contains tracks composed uniquely for the show or movie while a soundtrack might contain preexisting songs in pop culture or from another artist.)

Heavily atmospheric tracks and background music is the key to mapping a scene in motion picture and animation, as is silence. Sound in entertainment is one of the most important aspects of the experience and can sway the emotions of the audience if applied correctly. The common example for this point is the 1979 Ridley Scott film, Alien. In terms of sound design, it does an amazing job at heightening the tension with the harsh and repetitive sounds which makes the audience scoot to the edge of their seats. Music and sound design is the key to grabbing the audience’s attention and emphasize the emotions the director wants them to feel. What I will be focusing on in this discussion is the importance of music in anime as well as the way music can be used as a crucial tool in the experience of the show.

One of my recent favorite animated movies of all time in Koe no Katachi, the new directorial work from Naoko Yamada working at Kyoto Animation. This movie has received immense praise, and rightfully so considering the touching story, excellent direction and stunning animation. I will talk about this movie another time but for now, I want to focus on one of my favorite aspects of the production- the OST. This score has been given much praise for the wonderful use of atmosphere and sound design, but I want to discuss how it is important for the overall narrative. The tracks are simple in their own right, short and subtle and that’s what is important here. Koe no Katachi is a movie about those who communicate, and this OST communicates a lot in unconventional ways. Large stretches of animation contain no dialogue, with a heavier focus on the character’s body language and expression. These tracks are added in to amplify the emotions of the characters, often structured with a soft intro and a climax towards the end of the track that is aligned with the emotional climax of the scene. One of the ironic tracks is “lit” which is used a few times during the run time but most notably at the most emotional scene at the end of the movie. The way the steady buildup of the track is structured is then timed with the actions on-screen creating a huge rush of emotions that the audience feels as a result of that track being used. Without it, the scene would have not have had nearly as big of an impact on us as when it has the song. I’m sure all who have scene knows exactly what I’m talking about, and we all shed a manly tear.

Now I want to switch gears a bit and discuss a different approach to sound design in anime with a focus on the OST of Made in Abyss. Every anime fan that was conscious during 2017 most likely heard everyone talking about the brilliance of this show with beautiful animation, background art and music. The latter is what my primary focus will be considering how wonderful the OST is by itself, but can it add more depth to the overall production?

One of the strengths Made in Abyss has that allows it to stand above the rest in it’s genre is the amazing world building. Over the course of one episode we find out the basic premise of the Abyss and we’re filled with the same wonder the characters have, to find out the truths of the Abyss. With the introducing of the premise and seeing the map in the ED made me excited to find out the mysteries that lurked miles below the surface in the Abyss.

A major contributor to how the atmosphere was mapped in Made in Abyss is the music itself, composed by Australian composer Kevin Penkin. The beautiful melodies that meshed so well with the soft colored backgrounds and overall mysterious vibe created a sense of discovery and curiosity. The more upbeat songs played with the idea of the overall optimism of the young explorers while the downcast ones created the sense of dread they had as they proceeded further down into the Abyss. These string and percussion tracks contained within the OST creates a somewhat adventurous feeling lined with curiosity and awe at what lies ahead but still manages to maintain the darker elements that can be applied to those types of scenes that required it. One of my favorite songs from this show is Hanezeve Caradhina, one of the most iconic songs that really captures the essence of atmosphere created in this wonderful show and is a reoccurring insert song first introduced in episode 1.

After completing the series, I tracked down the OST to listen to on the high seas, but found that it was available legally on Spotify, same goes from the Koe no Katachi OST so I highly recommend to listen to those scores on the legal platform since they’re so readily available.

All in all, don’t take the music for granted when watching an anime or live action movie, the composer worked with the director to create a piece that would compliment the emotions they were trying to make the audience feel. Consider the importance of including that particular song there, and appreciate it when a scene comes together in a beautiful symphony of animation and emotions that makes you remember “damn, I love anime.”

Thanks for reading, have a great day!


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Little Witch Academia: Aspirations and Dreams

[Animekaizoku] -Little Witch Academia (TV) Episode 11_encoded.mkv_snapshot_18.22_[2017.10.01_19.52.31].jpg

“I want to be the very best” is a phrase that is occasionally seen in your run-of-the-mill shounen or action series that provides a very generalized and dynamic goal for the character to be working towards. While I wouldn’t attribute this to lazy writing, it does not offer much substance to get a firm understanding of who this character beside the obvious strong willpower and persistence.

Characters are fleshed out when their dreams or future goals are given more emotional weight or motivations that allow for the audience to get a greater understanding of what kind of person that character really is. Personalized motivations for wanting to reach a certain goal is something that deepens characterization.

In Hunter x Hunter, Gon wants to be the strongest hunter, not for glory or the ability to claim to be the strongest in all the land, but because his journey to the top will lead him down the path and potentially help him find his father who left many years prior. Gon encounters many obstacles along the way but was able to persist because he had a clear goal in mind. Now enter Little Witch Academia, a show about girls training to better their skills of witchcraft at a boarding school. Akko, the protagonist, aspires to be a witch with a distinct passion and style like Shiny Chariot. While in many ways different, the goals of the characters of Akko and Gon share many parallels and can be used to understand the importance of a personalized dream for a character in anime.

It is established in Little Witch Academia that Akko, our female lead, aspires to be like her idol Shiny Chariot. However, much like in Hunter x Hunter, the idol the protagonist is working to catch has left but a legacy for them to view. Akko has a firm resolve, and well, she is very stubborn in her dream that leads her to become frustrated when she isn’t progressing as quickly as she would like in her craft. Her dream to become just like her idol is something that children often strive towards. Akko, much like a young child, looks up to this person and wants to be just like them. However, her magic skills are lacking severely and leads to constant frustration with herself. This makes her feel inadequate when compared to the perceived greatness that her idol Shiny Chariot can accomplish. This is obviously a poor comparison because Akko is a novice in every sense of the word while Chariot is a veteran, but she cannot comprehend this at that time.


[Animekaizoku] -Little Witch Academia (TV) Episode 11_encoded.mkv_snapshot_18.44_[2017.10.01_19.52.53].jpg


In episode’s 11 and 12, Akko is faced with the question of what is more important: her future or past. In a cave a being asks her if she is willing to sacrifice her memories for the guarantee that she will have everything she wanted in the future. She realizes that “The tears and frustration and laughter, they’re all part of me!”


[Animekaizoku] -Little Witch Academia (TV) Episode 11_encoded.mkv_snapshot_19.49_[2017.10.01_19.53.11].jpg


She would have no dream without a past, and not past without a dream. Both equally important and she must fulfill her aspirations through her own means because her life “doesn’t belong to anyone else!” It was here when Akko grows to understand that while her dream may be important to her, she doesn’t have to strive to be her idol, rather she needs to find a purpose for greatness. Professor Ursula warns Akko: “Don’t compare yourself to others. Do what only you can do.”


[Animekaizoku] -Little Witch Academia (TV) Episode 12_encoded.mkv_snapshot_19.34_[2017.10.01_19.55.10]


So, what is important about dreams and personalizing a dream to fit a character. Little Witch Academia explains how dreams and goals should be loft, yet within one’s own abilities. You should strive to be the best that you can be, not compare yourselves to other or else you will fall into a series of dissatisfaction or superiority. The message of these two episodes was quite cliché but the presentation was what made it more impactful. Akko’s growth in these episodes leads her to find motivation to push herself and find success as seen in episode 13’s festival. What’s important is a pure passion and motivation to push forward.

Audio-Video Format

[Animekaizoku] -Little Witch Academia (TV) Episode 13_encoded.mkv_snapshot_19.36_[2017.10.01_19.48.25].jpg

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I’m Curious About Hyouka


I went into Hyouka not really expecting much else besides a slice-of-life school anime with a casual focus on mystery, and I suppose I got just that. There’s nothing particularly standout from the show, it’s a slow paced slice of life anime that follows the Classics club (Koten-bu) and their daily lives solving relatively small mysteries that they encounter along the way. I wouldn’t even call them mysteries, they are more of simple problems that arise during their lives as high school students.

Oreki Houtarou is an interesting character, he’s a poor-man’s Hachiman (Oregairu) and shares his knack at snarly comments with Kyon (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya). The opening line of the show is stated by him stating something along the lines of “When you thing ‘high school life’, the word ‘rose colored’ comes to mind. It’s natural to think that way since society expects high school life to be rose colored.” He goes on the explain how he’d rather live a “gray” life rather than a rose colored one because he is not interested in the pursuit of romance, athletic skills or the typical experiences of life in an anime high school. But like Watashi taught us in The Tatami Galaxy, there is no such thing as a rose-colored campus life, all experiences are various shades of color. Seeking out a rose colored existence is futile since it doesn’t exist, so live life to the fullest the way it is now because without it there would be no color at all.

Right off the bat we have formed an opinion of him that most likely will split the audience in half. There are those who either like the cynical and unreliable narrator and those who dislike hearing the constant pessimism and general angst of Oreki. I am part of the former so Hyouka started off on a good foot for me.


Then we arrive at Oreki’s foil and the heart of this series- Chitanda Eru. Chitanda is the “good girl” with perfect grades, optimistic about her life and from a wealthy and influential family in the town. She is generally a upbeat character which balances Oreki’s downer attitude and the general presence of her character seems to uplift the group. She’s also really cute.


It was Chitanda’s character that made me realize the importance of each character in the main group of the Classics Club, because without her, there would be no progression and Oreki would not have developed. Unlike Oreki, Chitanda was more excited about life’s literal mysteries, directly expressed through her exclamations of “I’m curious!” and would want to seek out answers with the help of the rest of the gang. Oreki was the brains of the operation that allowed them to solve the actual mysteries.

Satoshi and Mayaka were a great duo when they were both together on-screen, but each possessed qualities that helped the group. For example, Satoshi was important not only for his “database” ability, which is essentially a glorified term that is used to describe his wide-range of useless knowledge. He says that “it is not the job of the database to reach conclusions”, and that is why Oreki is critical because he is the person who is able to piece together the information provided Satoshi to reach an answer. He was also shown to be a close friend to Oreki despite their somewhat strange relationship. Mayaka on the other hand, is more of a voice of reason and she has a strong sense of responsibility.


Now to the mysteries. These were more often simple and overlooked questions that had been left unanswered in the history of the school or town, which some critics claim to be lackluster, but that is more or less the point. While Hyouka does have the elements of a mystery series, it is foremost a character driven piece like many anime that Kyoto Animation has been producing. The mysteries are not supposed to be the selling point to the series, it is more about Oreki opening up and changing as character. He sought a gray life in the beginning but ended up being dragged along to discover the intricacies of life that made experiencing it much more interesting. The mysteries allowed him to grow a further understanding of what he would be missing if he would have stayed a wallflower during his time at high school. This development was aided by the rest of the group which all grew together. This was what I liked the most, the absence of static characters because everyone was able to develop just like people do in high school.

As for the superficial aspects of the series, the art and animation is absolutely stunning even by Kyoto Animation standards. I ended up with a screenshot folder with some of my favorite caps during my viewing, and they are being used in this post. The color pallet of soft-earthy colors like browns and greens were able to enhance my viewing pleasure since there was and established “comfiness” to the entire atmosphere. Even the setting of the town was important to that story, and the high school was one of the best I’ve seen in anime thus far. The background art really helped enhance the setting as well.


Over the course of the series I was able to get an understanding of the layout of the school and really make it feel familiar to me, so when the gang retreated to the club room on the 4th floor, it felt like it was such a natural place for them to be. There is also a visible passage of time which is apparent with the changing of the seasons and the change of the school uniforms that the characters wear.

For me, it wasn’t a singular thing about Hyouka that really made me like the show. Like I mentioned before, Hyouka may not be trying to do anything different or standout, but it was a brilliant character driven slice of life elements that created a great anime that found it’s way in my top ten. It was everything I was looking for at the time when I watched this, and it was satisfying viewing it.


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The Optimism Of Evangelion

Note: This will be focused on the manga for Neon Genesis Evangelion rather than the anime. Also, some lines quoted may not exactly correlate with ones that you read, this is because I’m using quotes taken for the Viz Media release as well as various scanlation groups.


Neon Genesis Evangelion is a title that is frequently thrown around in niche circles and is often regarded as one of the most important anime to grace the industry ever. While the validity of this praise could be debatable, I will be focusing on the manga for this series, which seems to be not as popular and not discussed as often which seems odd based off the popularity of the anime adaptation.

The manga for Neon Genesis Evangelion was serialized from February 1995 through June 2013 while the anime was released in the Fall of 1995. Both followed a similar storyline but had noticeable differences towards the end of the manga. I will not dwell upon the differences and will treat the manga as a separate entity in this analysis just to avoid overlap with my hazy memories of the anime, which I have not revisited in nearly two years.

One common “counter argument” I often see as a reason to dislike Neon Genesis Evangelion is largely focused towards Shinji’s character. Those critical of his actions claim that he acts weak, unmotivated and like a “little bitch.” Those are completely valid points because that’s how Shinji was written, but they are missing the point. I read “Your enjoyability of Eva is inversely proportional to how much you hate yourself when you watch it” or something like that. Here, the key to understanding Shinji is to understand yourself. If you have ever felt like life was pointless or the overwhelming feelings of sadness you most likely can understand Shinji, but those who only see him as a “whiny bitch” are those who fail to understand the difficulties of being a human.

First we must understand the significance of the Human Instrumentality Project. Seele’s goal was to fix the impurities of the human race to evolve towards a new being devoid of pain and suffering. The goal was to reunite everyone in a sea of LCL to create a single entity that would share their feelings with everyone- no more A.T fields.


A.T Fields (Absolute Terror Fields) were a way to block off the heart that everyone has. Other humans cannot share your problems so you only ended up letting the burden of your problems pile upon you. (You’re Going To Carry That Weight) However, the A.T Fields allowed humans to remain in their physical forms and live their own life individually. The importance here is that while these barriers trap your troubles in with you, they also allow you to be an individual, something Shinji learns at the end.

Before sending him off, Misato gives advice to Shinji which is the key to his understanding that maybe the suffering and pain is what makes us human. During this encounter she explains how Shinji needs to pick his own path and do things for himself, because he’s “not a kid anymore.” I interpreted this scene as Shinji’s “graduation” from childhood and his passage into adulthood. Misato encourages him to take the next step of life on his own, not to be pushed around by adults because he is now one of them- to become an individual. She seals this with an “adult kiss.” While studied in depth as a source of Misato’s sexuality, I see this signifying Shinji’s passage into adulthood. Earlier in the story he Attempts to kiss Asuka because neither of them have had their first kiss. This ends up being interrupted by Kaji and Misato making-out in the elevator. (quite possibly the same elevator that Shinji takes later on) Regardless of what happened, this was a childish act. It isn’t until Shinji kisses Misato that he is transformed into an adult, while the kiss he was going to receive from Asuka would not have been.

During the attempt to initiate the Human Instrumentality Project, in the void, Shinji conversed with Rei (or Lilith, or Yui?) about his decision of whether to move forward with instrumentally. It is here when Shinji, now as an individual, realizes the truth of being a human. Suffering and pain are gone in the sea of LCL, but so is happiness, “it’s just like being dead.” Emotions are what make us human, removing them take away what is essential to being an individual. Similarly, there there was no comfort of being with another human. Before this, Shinji did not understand the importance of interacting with others and saw them as a hollow act but he has now grown to understand that we cannot live alone, we’re imperfect creatures. Humans cannot grow alone, though we cannot grow too close to one another. Despite this, he realized that it’s better to not be alone. Even if it was impossible to fully understand another person and even if his hands caused suffering for other, his hands could also bring joy and warmth to others which is something he wants to learn for himself. With this, he holds the hand of Rei and she disintegrates returning the humans to the world, reversing the instrumentality project.


After this, we see Shinji on a train heading to take an exam in Tokyo. He recites the same lines he stated at the beginning “I don’t aspire to any future profession of career. I’ve never had any cherished dreams of ambitions. I’ve always just drifted along, and I thought it would always be that way… I’ve never really cared whether I got into an accident or something and died. But… these days I think… the reason I don’t see any hope… is because I’m not looking for it.” Over the course of the events that took place, Shinji was able to learn that life is worth living, he just never understood that he just needed to find hope to help him on his journey.

Screenshot from 2017-06-15 15-38-41.png

Neon Genesis Evangelion deals with heavy themes that are often difficult to grasp which may leave you feeling depressed or empty after finishing the series. However, it is important to understand the optimism of the ending. This was the story of a wandering soul learning what it means to be a human, becoming an adults, and individual, and finding a reason to move forward. Finding that hope in life is the key to find a life worth living, regardless of what it is. Eva never tells you what that hope is specifically, but that’s what’s so great. The ending leaves you to think on your own, as an individual, to understand what that hope may be for you instead of holding your hand like a child and steering you towards a specific answer.

Screenshot from 2017-06-15 15-39-06.png

Afterword: While Eva is analyzed to death, there is still room for everyone’s own interpretation. That’s how art works, everyone sees the same thing on the surface, but what’s important is how the artist made you feel and how that changed your understanding of the world or yourself. This is applicable for Eva since the lesson here, or at least the one I was able to get out of it, resonated deeply with me. This is why I want to express my understanding of this work to not only help others who feel the same, but to share a piece of myself to the world.



“Pick your own path”

“Do it for yourself”

“You’re not a kid anymore- being pushed around by adults”

“You graduated”

“So take the next step out of your own free will”

“Look for those answers without anyone’s help”

-Misato Katsuragi

Screenshot from 2017-06-15 15-41-16.png

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Strolling Around Anime Central


Near The Industry Booths

Anime Central (ACEN) celebrated its 20th anniversary this past weekend and I was luckily enough to be able to attend this year. I had my last day of classes on Friday so I had to miss the first day, but that only gave me more incentive to spend every moment at the convention the second and third days. This was my first convention experience, and in many ways it met my expectations, but it also surpassed them. I’m going to briefly run through my experience, talk about the panels I visited and show off some of cool stuff I got my hands on.

Initial Impressions:
I walk into the convention center on Saturday morning and am immediately greeted by the sight of dozens of cosplayers in the main lobby. It was quite impressive to see so many people dressed as their favorite characters, since prior to this I had only seen pictures of cosplay online and not in person. After moving past the lobby, I went to the registration table and there was luckily no line so I was able to pick up my lanyard and event book fairly quickly. I turned around and looked into the entrance and saw a massive room full of anime fans. I went into the vendors area and was greeted by the industry booths and large anime posters. I casually strolled around the first few rows before remembering that I had a panel to go to, and I was meeting my friend there. This is when I encountered my first problem- I had no idea where the panels were being held. My friend had texted me earlier that it was panel room 6 on the second floor, so I began looking for stairs and found some in the lobby area. I followed the flow of people up the escalators and through a hallway until I finally found a sign indicating that the panel rooms were ahead. I later found out that I had taken the longest possible route to the panel room.

Prior to even going to ACEN, I had downloaded the official app to help plan my schedule and add panels to my list of to-do. I did not hold back and added a dozen panels to my list that I wanted to attend. I later found out that I wanted to spend more time in the vendors area and artist alley than I initially expected, so I ended up only making two panels out of the dozen I had planned.

I quickly find panel room 6, locate my friend and sit down to listen to the presenters. My first panel was about the history of Type-Moon and their humble beginnings as a small game company. The presenters seemed to be very knowledgeable about their topic and had a nice Powerpoint with various video clips and relevant pictures to help. Overall, this was a informative panel and was what I had in mind- a presentation by anime fans for anime fans.

The second day I attended a panel about mythology hosted by Crispin Freeman, one of my personal favorite English voice actors. It was a intriguing insight to looking at the differences between western and eastern influences and how they directly affect their respective entertainment styles. He explained the differences between manga and comics, the influences and compared and contrasted Disney princesses and magical girls. In the later half, Crispin analyzed the Revolutionary Girl Utena film as a way to further explain his points, and delved a bit into mysticism as a means to wrap everything up. I was very surprised how knowledgeable Crispin was about mythology and mysticism, and I was able to take a lot of information about this panel.

Vendor’s Room:
I have never seen so much anime merchandise all in one place, it was almost overwhelming. Me and my friend snaked through all the vendor’s displays to try to scope out the all various figures, DVD’s, shirts and plushies before breaking out wallets. We spent a good hour just walking between booths and looking at all the wonderful anime goodies for sale. I quickly found out that there was multiple booths selling the same figures for different prices, so I was a good thing we scoped out all the booths first before making an uninformed purchase. There was also an impressive display of anime DVD’s at one booth, and I could not help but look though all of them with the hopes of finding something rare, and ended up succeeding in that aspect. At one vendor, I managed to find a copy of Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue for only $35, and that was a steal considering it’s difficult to even find a copy online for under $80. I also ended up impulsively buying The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya because I’ve been meaning to add that to my collection since I watched it two years ago.

Prior to heading to the con, I had been in “idol hell” after getting into Idolm@ster, then Love Live. Because of this I was planning on looking for idol figures and possibly other idol merchandise. Luckily, there was no shortage of that. By far my favorite stand was the idol merchandise booth. It was towards the middle of the vendor’s area, and  was immediately overwhelmed with Love Live posters. As I walked around the booth, I saw dozens of figures, Figma, art books, CD’s, imported games, posters and random collectibles that were all so tempting to buy!

Playing it smart, my friend suggested that we scope out the entire vendor’s area before making an impulsive purchase and end up paying more than another vendor was asking. This almost worked, because we ended up finding a guy selling figures that gave a discount if you bought two at a time. He bought a Ranko Kaznaki figure (which I kinda wanted too) and I got my Chihaya figure, both characters being from Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls and Idolm@ster respectively. We later found out that that purchase was fairly priced and the Ranko figure was the only one we were able to find, so it ended up not being a poor decision.

Strolling around, being completely immersed in all the anime goodness was a completely different experience from browsing the manga section at your local bookstore. I’m always awestruck when I see items for sale that I could previously only see through a computer screen. Countless of posters, hundreds of anime DVD’s for sale, countless figures, anime apparel and plushies galore. The experience was quite overwhelming in a sense, I had to really prioritize what I bought or else I would have ended up wasting all my budget before seeing everything. That being said, being overwhelmed with anime merchandise was not a bad thing, it was more of an eye-opening experience for me. I was able to finally see the sheer scale of anime fans in my area who all shared my passion for Japanese animations who were all interested in buying anime related goodness.


One of the many figure vendors

Artist Alley:
Me and my buddy spent a ton of time in this area, and it was one of the best parts about my convention experience. The atmosphere itself made me feel at ease despite the overcrowding and lack of personal space. Walking from booth to booth gave off the feeling of a bazaar with slightly less chaos. A multitude of tables, each displaying wonderful artwork and friendly artists who were happy to talk with you. We met one guy who wrote, drew and published his own graphic novel series. He was really passionate about his project and I enjoyed talking with him for that reason. We made sure to take business cards from artists we could not afford, and made sure to look at everything. I was also very impressed by a few artists who were working on commissions or just doodling at their respective booth. Personally, I’ve been working towards improving my own art, so watching these incredibly talented men and women draw with such ease on the spot was awe inspiring.

I ended up spending a larger amount of my budget than I was expecting, but I do not regret any of the purchases I made here. There were great deals, bundles and nice people so I  was happy to support the artists in their creative endeavors.

Final Thoughts:
I’m so glad I was able to have such a big anime convention in my area. Going to ACEN really opened my eyes to the more social aspects of the anime community (not online) and the sheer amount of like minded fans from the same subculture. I love the merchandise I bought and being able to see everything the community had to offer all in one place was a very special experience. You also have the opportunity to experience a sense of comradery amongst the other anime fans which is something I have never felt before in any other gathering of a particular interest.I highly recommend to go to at least one convention, bring plenty of cash and maybe a friend or two. Bringing a large group will only complicate moving through crowded areas and will likely separate you from them. Good walking shoes are also a must since I was sore from all the walking.

Merchandise Bought:


Day One


Day Two

Perfect Blue and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya DVD
Yazawa Nico and Chihaya figures
Rem and Umi small figures.
Rem and Ram Re:Zero shirt
“Haruka Haruharu vs The World” shirt
Idolm@ster CD


Artist Alley Haul:


Thanks for reading everyone, have a nice rest of your day.


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Spring 2017 Anime Thoughts: Part 2


Beautiful shot from “SukaSuka”

Better late then never I suppose. This is a follow-up blog to me spring anime predictions post. This is mainly going to briefly go over the shows I’m watching, some I picked up and other that I’ve dropped or decided not to watch.

First thing’s first, my dropped anime or anime I decided not to watch due to lack of interest. These shows had extremely lackluster first episodes that made me unmotivated to continue watching it the next week. There are also a few shows listed that I didn’t even bother starting due to time constrains or my lack of interest after reading discussion threads online. Many things went into the decision to drop these shows, but most often was pacing, animation, and character design.

Gin no Guardian

Clockwork Planet

Sakurada Reset

Tsuki ga Kirei

Fukumenkei Noise

Sword Oratoria

Zero Kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho



Sagiri-chan form “Eromanga-sensei”


Now to the important stuff, the anime series I will actually be keeping up with on a weekly basis, which is something I haven’t been able to so regularly. However, this season provides me with plenty of entertainment to keep me coming back every week. That being said, I want to give a shout out to Saturday’s for reigniting my childhood memories of exciting Saturday mornings spent watching cartoons. As a child, I had Speed Racer reruns, now I have new episodes of Attack On Titan, Boku no Hero Academia and Re:Creators. I also want to mention my biggest surprise of the season: SukaSuka (Condensed title of Shūmatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii Desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii Desu ka?”). I only became aware of this show after looking over discussion posts on an anime forum and liking the main heroine’s character design. When going over the charts in the beginning of the season, I thought this was going to be another “typical light novel adaptation” but I was wrong. There seems to be darker undertones that lead me to believe there’s going to be a big twist in the future. What hooked me on this was the opening minutes of the first episode. I had to go back and rewatch it to fully appreciate the music and foreshadowing. Possible anime of the season depending on how the latter half goes. Anyways, here’s my list of shows I’m watching, they are ranked from most enjoyable to least enjoyable, the top being the most enjoyable and the bottom being the least.

Attack On Titan Season 2


Sakura Quest

Boku no Hero Academia Season 2



As for the films and OVA’s, I’ll be looking into them as they are made available and will discuss them in depth in a blog if I find something worthwhile in them.

There will be separate blogs covering the entirety of the shows I finished at the end of the season. I’ll be going into depth discussing the overall enjoyability, nitpicks and overall feeling after watching. Those blogs will ideally be out soon after the particular series ends airing, but will realistically be out before the summer season begins. Anyways, thanks for reading and have a nice rest of your day/night!


Screenshot from 2017-04-22 20-39-06.png

From the Opening of “Sakura Quest”

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