Earlier this year I was nominated for the “Blogger Recognition Award”, but didn’t get around to it on the count of work and not really knowing what to write or how to respond to it. But since I’ve been nominated again for another blogger award (The Versatile Blogger Award), I thought making two posts would be a bit overzealous and figured the ol’ two birds with one stone approach would be the best way of going about things. So this will be a response to both awards, as well as the two bloggers who nominated me.
A big thank you to yaharibento and Kapodaco for the nominations. They both write about anime and one is head over heels for Toradora! (Kapodaco), so be sure to check them (him) out if you like analysis and reviews about anime and such.
Rules (for Blogger Recognition Award):
- Display award
- Thank the person who gave you this award (with a link to their blog)
- Give a brief story of how your blog started
- Give two pieces of advice for new bloggers
- Nominate 15 bloggers
Rules (for Versatile Blogger Award):
- Display award
- Thank the person who gave you this award (and include a link to their blog)
- Share seven things about yourself! (Anime Edition?)
- Nominate ten bloggers
I’ve Been Watching Anime Most of My Life
At some stage, I’ll probably do a separate post (or two) on my history with anime; how I got into it when I discovered the term “anime”, for instance. But long before I heard the word “anime”, I had already watched Yu-Gi-Oh!, Digimon, Pokémon, Astro Boy, Beyblade, and a couple of Studio Ghibli movies. I can remember watching some of these as far back as five years old. Among a plethora of shows (including virtually every cartoon at the time), I was most engaged with anime more than anything else. Though, I probably didn’t understand or care to know why at the time, I had a feeling anime was offering me something that western (and european) shows couldn’t.
Of course my tastes, knowledge, and comprehension of anime has changed and become more in-depth since then, but it’s still fascinating to think back on how powerful anime felt when I knew next to nothing about it, its roots, or anything beyond the surface-level aspects and “cool moments” my younger mind saw.
How I Was Introduced to Anime
Still at the time before adolescence (about eight or nine years old), I’m unaware of what “anime” is. Then one day, a friend of mine invited me over to his house and I notice a lot of stuff in the living room totally foreign to me. I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. There were dvds and other paraphernalia of anime on shelves, on the floor, around the room, and the opening to Lucky Star was playing on the TV.
It wasn’t long during this visit my friend introduced me to Naruto, as well as the term “anime”. I don’t recall how much he divulged to me, but I’m fairly certain it mostly involved him showing me anime and anime-related things. And upon my return home (or some time that week) I began my start into my first anime, knowing what anime was now, “Naruto”.
I won’t forget the importance of Naruto in my anime history. It stands as the turning-point between me not knowing what anime was to being more familiar with anime than most things now. There was a sense of awe I had back then, that I sort of feel reminded of upon re-watching the original series. It’s nowhere near as powerful of a feeling as I had when I was much younger, but it’s remarkable how that feeling still lingers with the original series, in spite of having finally dropped Naruto Shippuden earlier this year after tolerating its painfully unnecessarily extended and baffling pacing (among other things).
I Had An On-and-Off Thing With Anime
While my childhood was filled with an abundance of distractions to keep me from doing anything productive, and the anime I watched mostly consisted of switching between the same six or seven shows, my adolescence became more video game focused and apart from watching Naruto episodes with my brother every so often, I fell off anime for a while.
Fast forward a couple years to when I’m about sixteen or seventeen, around the time I’m watching Gigguk’s video “AZ: Top 20 Epically Cool Anime Characters”, and my world is being open up to all sorts of new and cool-looking anime. That video was my introduction to shows like Black Lagoon, Cowboy Bebop, Darker Than Black, Trigun, and so on. Thus, restarted my anime journey and reigniting my anime love.
Anime That Evoked in Me “The Void” (aka Post Anime Depression)
There haven’t been many anime that I watched from beginning to end that gave me a strong emotional tug at the heart, but there have been a few that I simultaneously wished weren’t over, but also didn’t want more to ruin an otherwise “perfect ending”. Not to say all of these have the best endings, but that the journeys themselves tie-in so well thematically and emotionally, that it’s hard for even a monster like me not to feel something.
The investment into the characters and their lives was so powerful, how could I not feel like I had lost something when all was said and done and there was no more to watch? It’s a feeling of satisfaction, but also one of emptiness, as though you’re heart was a meter (like in video games) filled with so much emotional potency that its surge turned depleted at the final credit roll.
In no particular order here is the list of anime that left me with a sense of “now what?” after their final notes:
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
Ouran High School Host Club
The World God Only Knows
A lot of these are from the last two to three years, so I imagine it won’t be the last time I feel “The Void”. I’d love to go more in-depth on how each show affected me and what made them so special to put me into a state of “I don’t know what to do with my life” for as long as days or even weeks, but I feel it’d be best to save my thoughts on them for separate posts in the future.
I Used To Be More Selective About HOW (And What) I Watched Anime
Apart from the Naruto and Iria: Zeiram the Animation (and possibly a few others I might be forgetting) I primarily watched anime dubbed. Part of this was because I used to watch anime with others, and they had a distaste for subtitles. Part of it was also my young mind believing certain settings and contexts would only work if it was English dubbed, and not in Japanese (i.e. if the anime was set outside of Japan or using characters that didn’t seem Japanese).
Soul Eater is the one that sticks out in my head as one of the first times I felt conflicted while watching it. Because, while I did enjoy watching a cool show with entertaining characters and a neat story with my cousin, the voices felt off. Especially Blackstar’s, who grated on me for at least the first dozen or so episodes. Eventually, I adjusted to it and loved it regardless, but now I can’t help but feel that unease watching most anime dubbed. It breaks the immersion for me, and makes watching something that could otherwise be a great show, less so for both my eyes and ears.
Now, there are probably about ten shows I recommend the dubbed version over the original sub. While some are subject to change, these are among the few anime I still recommend the dub over the sub (if you’re curious):
Dragon Ball Z
Garzey’s Wing (Y
Highschool of the Dead
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Yu Yu Hakusho
What I Liked About Anime Then vs. Now
Something that became sort of a hobby for me in the last three years of my “high school days”, was finding, saving, and organizing quotes from anime. The reason for this stemmed from my total and utter fascination with the philosophies of anime and anime characters. Code Geass is most likely guilty of this, what with making me so infatuated with Lelouch’s character, his viewpoint of the world, and his many phrases of wisdom.
I still maintain the philosophical appeal of anime, just in a different, more understood way. At first it was me being impressed by all the “deep speeches” by anime characters (even from shows I had never seen). Now, it’s more appealing to me on a conceptual level – I’m now able to differentiate between something that sounds deep vs. something that has substance, truth or wisdom, and tact behind it.
Please don’t mistake the attraction to the philosophy of anime as being the only aspect or determinant required in getting me to like anime. There’s more to it than that. It’s just an interesting appeal that has shaped and changed itself for me through watching more and more anime over the years.
What I like now has to do with having strong themes, great writing and direction, interesting, entertaining, and relatable (or inspirational) characters, charming aesthetic (incl. Great character designs), refreshing subversions or perspectives on stories already told, good world-building, a lot of care and attention to detail, amazing music (and OPs), and impactful emotional moments.
This isn’t the be-all and end-all of what I like / want from anime, nor is it a strict standard in the sense that “An anime needs to have all of these aspects done perfectly” in order for me to like it. No, it’s more that if an anime has done all of that amazingly well, then of course I’m going to love it. Even if it only does one or two aspects superbly, I can appreciate and commend it for that.
My Recent Anime Resurgence
Over the last year or so, I’ve changed how I go about viewing anime, as well as watching a lot more anime in general, in the last two years alone. I used to be adamant about finishing shows, even if I didn’t like them, or downright hated them. I persevered through it all because of my completionist mindset (stemming from being obsessed with collecting video game achievements). There was a sense of guilt or failure if I didn’t finish what I started, but I’ve come to realize that it is too time-consuming and detrimental a way of going about engaging with things in general – extending not only to anime, but also games, books, etc.
This revelation has been a huge relief in my life, since I now know I have no reason to be beholden to anything no matter what anyone says. There’s nothing I have to watch / read / play. It’s all up to me, and I’d rather watch / read / play something I can get into, then having to struggle through a slog of something until it maybe gets good (at that point it’s not even worth it to me). So, now I drop shows I can tell are going nowhere or reek of generic (have an aesthetic I can’t stand, bad writing, bad cuts/angles, etc.).
This new methodology of engaging with things has also helped me in learning more about the different mediums I’m interested in (pretty much all of them), in understanding them better (incl. Studios, creators, behind the scenes work, history, etc.), and in writing about them (analyzing anime (and more), and continually developing a precise understanding of what I like / dislike, and why) as well as writing about my experiences with them, and by extension myself in general.
Advice, huh? Well, I haven’t been blogging that long (unless you count my past two attempts when I was eleven and nineteen). So, I’m not sure if I’m cut out for giving any advice on that. But perhaps I can give some brief pointers on writing.
1) Know why you’re writing – is it a hobby? A pursuit of a career? A skill you wish to hone? A way of relieving stress / building confidence / feeling productive?
2) Write from both the head and the heart when the topic is on something you’re passionate about or means a lot to you; understanding the feelings you have about something and what caused them to be are steps toward appreciating a work more, and thus steps toward being able to write about it better.
If you’re still looking for advice on blogging, specifically, then I don’t have much in the way of what to tell you there, aside from:
Write and publish for yourself; stuff you would like to read and see more of. Decide if you’re comfortable with how much you’re willing to communicate about yourself. There’s the advice of writing what you know, and writing what you like – which are both good pieces of advice – but I would also suggest to write what you want others to know – is there something you know (i.e. a clarity on a misconception) that you want others to know?
Thanks again to yaharibento and Kapadcao for the nominations, and a special thanks to all the bloggers listed above for providing great content!
See you, Space Cowboys.