YEARLY DIGEST REDUX

At the end of ’12 Days of Anime’ last year I made a post with a title near identical to this one, crowning off the event with a monolithic recollection of my year both on and off the blog. It was a demanding piece of work, emotionally and physically, and one that I’ve ever since remained proud of. Unfortunately, for numerous reasons, I have been unable or perhaps simply just unwilling to participate in ’12 Days’ this year. It’s a shame that something I’m so invested in as a tradition has become an obligation too tough to bear this year, but because of this reality, skipping out hasn’t pained me as much as I anticipated.

Regardless of potential regrets and sentimental longings, I have still decided to revisit the yearly digest as a token of good will as well as a much needed catharsis. I don’t feel that the drive to write requires anything more than that, and since you already know why I’m here, why not just dive straight in?


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THIS YEAR

~ The section where I ramble about the articles I published in 2018 ~

FORMULATING ALL HAIL HARUHI SEASON 3

I wrote this post while still riding the energy and passion that last years 12 Days series had given me. On the surface it was simply a conceptual content plan for the blog, of which many of the ideas had already been proposed or brought to life in previous posts I had made. However, if I can be so bold as to step into the mind of past me, I’d like to say it was my attempt at holding myself accountable.

I mentioned in the previous digest that publicly telling people what you’re going to do is a (possibly) effective way of encouraging you to follow through on your own words. Rather than being stray thoughts that you can bury and avoid for as long as they remain in your head, spoken statements, while not exactly enforceable, actually expose those ideas to more than just yourself, and in turn make them much harder to erase by inaction or blissful ignorance.

Of the six series proposed in the post, 4 of them came to fruition. I don’t actually know whether this post deserves the credit for that but I can say that the end result was a happy one all the same.

LET’S TALK MONETIZATION

This is more of a pin-it note than a article in its own right. With that said, I do mention having no reason not to accept money for my work, and since then I can confirm that I profited from my articles this year, however small the sum. It was a low-risk experiment and it paid off (literally), so if I was to talk to anyone on the fence about monetizing their content, I’d say – go for it!

DEVILMAN CRYBABY AND WHY AKIRA RUNS

Before diving into the meat of this short essay it is necessary for me to mention that it was actually meant to be part of the “Series follow along” described in the “Formulating…” article. Therefore I had originally intended to write a post related to each episode of the series until it’s conclusion. Ultimately I only ended up making the one, and the remains of my plans for the series can still be seen in the afterword for it. I saw this today and considered editing that part out since it was no longer relevant or even true, but decided against it. If making my thoughts public was in service of accountability, then deleting the evidence of my failure would go against the very spirit of it.

Fortunately for both me and the readers, the post does function perfectly well as a standalone piece. Whether that’s a good piece or not is up for debate. Rereading this article so many months later without the recency of the context, I’m legitimately struggling to read between the lines of what I wrote. It’s not impossible to understand, mind you, but I switch between literal and theoretical ideas from paragraph to paragraph, and my vague language doesn’t make it as readable as the me of today would prefer. Even then, I still find myself feeling fond of this post, because it’s true worth lies in being the now achieved evidence of my growing pains as a writer.

I still haven’t finished watching Devilman: Crybaby.

FASHION FEATURE: PRINCE NAREK

A fashion feature from a fashionista! (Let me have that one…)

Officially the first post fulfilling a promise [air quotes] from the aforementioned article formulating new blog series. Unlike the series follow along, this idea had already been trialed during 12 Days itself. And I’m gonna go ahead and say it, I’m so happy I wrote this. Not only does being reminded of Prince Narek drown me in a twisted, narcissistic joy, I still have so much love for that damn boa I dedicated multiple paragraphs towards.

Though dispensing with the humour for a moment, I do want to say how proud I am of the sheer detail and expression I evoke in this post. I have a lot of insecurity surrounding my possible inadequacy when talking about fashion. I’ve always been afraid of this notion that maybe I’m just not knowledgeable or stylish enough to legitimize my thoughts on the topic. Yet when I see the case I make for Narek, I can allow myself to believe I am worthy enough, and that’s an awesome feeling.

ANIFEMTALK-TALK: HOW CAN WE ENCOURAGE NEW ANIME AND MANGA FANS?

If only to keep the ball rolling, we hit a second strike on ‘planned posts coming to fruition’. I’m happy I found the opportunity to explore this particular concept, but I’m not sure I love the execution. I think there is a lot of value in having longer in-depth responses to the questions AniFem prompts, but in my drive to see this happen, I feel I rushed out a messy prototype. While I do answer the question in this post, and in line with the ideals of the site, try to provide inclusive avenues to explore, there are certainly parts that just don’t fit well.

For example I don’t believe that a remark about callout culture and related twitter drama belonged in this response. For starters, the question is specifically talking about new fans – who wouldn’t be stopping at social media cliques for their first forays into anime and manga. Secondly, it doesn’t really give solutions to the problem beyond “stop doing bad things, bad people!” which isn’t a constructive answer to an otherwise constructively posed question.

I definitely wouldn’t mind going for a round two on this blog series in the future.

FINDING MEANING IN ‘A GIRL ON THE SHORE’

And if two in a row wasn’t enough, here comes the third! The first and thankfully not the last Manga Monitor post. Talk about Manga is something I always wanted to encourage on this blog, and having actually succeeded in that goal, I’ve found it to be an incredibly enriching experience.

A lot of the time when I’m writing about anime, I find the dialogues I create come from positions distanced from or adjacent to that actual subject matter. Like how my Fate post was less about Fate itself, and more about the mechanics of fights as translatable into many animated features. Or how my Gurren Lagann analysis explores a framework that can be extended to the entire medium, far beyond the confines of any one character or show. I want to highlight this trend in my writing because of how sharply it contrasts with this manga monitor post.

Sympathetic to the individuals yet conscious of the constructs that make them, I relish in the fact that I never truly let myself drift away from Sato & Isobe, whose conflict is the emotional core of the story. A Girl on the Shore has a lot to say if you leave time to reflect on it, but in my opinion the growth and pain of the people it follows should never be buried under abstract theory. Writing this post in a way that lets their experiences speak for themselves is something I appreciate deeply now that so much time has passed.

TOP FIVE CHARACTERS YOU’D REGRET HAVING CASUAL SEX WITH WHEN YOU WAKE UP THE NEXT MORNING

Ah, the April Fool’s post. I made a promise after the previous years iteration that this idea would come to life and here it is in all its glory. Once again, the characters in the header picture do not feature in the article, either because I toy with my readers or I believe there’d be no regrets with it. You decide.

I’m already eager to write the next one when the appointed time comes. Making 1st of April jokes that aren’t malicious or especially manipulative is my favourite way to celebrate – and I hope with how I make these posts that you come to agree with me!

THE CHALLENGES OF “BE CRITICAL”

This article serves as a somewhat lengthy tirade on the penchant among self-proclaimed critics to encourage critical thought, not through discussions of media or theory, but by sanctifying the vague and unformed notion of critical-ness. It’s a noble idea I suppose, but one with critical (heh) flaws that I detail in the post itself.

The essay itself is an expansion on some of the ideas I laid the foundation for in my ‘defining art’ dialogue, and this time around it actually sparked some interest among people who don’t normally visit my blog. I personally would have loved to see how people this article contradicts reacted to it, since most of the comments (perhaps for the best) endorsed what I said.

I don’t believe there is anything particularly wrong with this post, but at the same time I don’t find myself thinking fondly of it like I do with many others. It’s a style of writing that I’m reasonably good at, but doesn’t take advantage of my personality, nor does it explore the kinds of subjects I have the most investment in. I’m happy to host it on the site and it represents my opinions but I somehow wish it was more than that.

BLACK CLOVER 29, 30. 31

These three leaved Black Clover posts represent my short lived attempt at making a ‘series following along’, what the Devilman one was originally designed to be, and what I had previously detailed publicly in the plans for the blog.

It’s difficult to talk about the content of these articles retroactively. Not only is the discussions in them now dated, they were fundamentally designed to have a transitory popcorn-like level of substance. You come for gushing about Black Clover and that is what you get. I can however talk about them as an experimental series, and as a type of writing (episodic reactions) that I didn’t have as much practice in.

To be upfront, I really enjoyed rereading these posts. They turned out exactly how I hoped they would. Not too serious, not too analytical and verbose, but still having substance and a clear focus from episode to episode. Truthfully I miss writing these posts, I miss following the show, and I want to make it clear that the only reason I stopped was because I needed a break from anime and social media altogether. I would definitely like to return to this concept in the future should I ever find the incentive.

A TALE OF TWO RITA’S

Manga is just so fun to talk about! All You Need Is Kill was a great opportunity to then poke around the differences between the format of manga and that of film and by extension television. If I could make future manga monitor posts talk about the subject matter as well as broader ideas (like this one!) then that would be fantastic, but it’s certainly not a requirement.

I originally faced a challenge when it came to writing a comparison between the two entries, because I didn’t quite know how to bounce between each of them while maintaining the critical thread flowing through it. In the end I decided to literally do a case by case comparison, listing everything out and tackling them one at a time. I was previously opposed to this because of how jarring it is when compared to my usual paragraph by paragraph through line, however I realized I was trying much too hard to reinvent and wheel, and that a comparison didn’t really need to be anything more than that.

I don’t think I want to use this approach again but I’m fine with how my first shot at it turned out.

Overall

May 14th is when the last post was published, which should hopefully explain why I have markedly less work to talk about this year than last. Having completely stopped writing not even half way through 2018 I do wish that I had worked more on the blog. The relatively high quality of these listed articles and the satisfaction I feel towards them does keep me from being too remorseful, however it also leaves a big question mark over what the rest of the year could have looked like.

In last years digest I discussed the ways in which my writing had improved and the diversity of the subjects I broached. While these topics could easily be renewed this year, I’m oddly ambivalent to the idea of doing that this time. It just doesn’t feel like it would be appropriate direction to take against the sheer absence of content in 2018.

So. Let’s call that my summary.


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REVISITING GOALS

~ The section in which I discuss the goals I made for this year and if I met them ~

Write at least one article every month – Now we can address the lingering question from the previous section. I obviously failed to meet the expectation of this goal, posting in only 5 of 12 months. Last time I managed 8 of 12, and credited a hiatus for the missing months, the reasoning having more to do with burnout than external causes. While my abrupt stop in 2018 was initially no different, this departure has since revealed itself to be more about mental health than disinterest or exhaustion. However that’s a topic for another time, for now, there is little else to say other than 5 ain’t 12.

Stay up to date with fellow bloggers (and twitter friends) – I made this promise because I’m an inherently social person. I feel most alive in extroverted environments (that happen to feel safe or accepting!) and I do not disparage against online friendships. It’s also for this reason that I found a goal such as this so easy to follow through on. Not only have I kept many of the bonds I formed through the blog-o-sphere, I now count some of those people amongst my closest friends.

Following that, I’ve also had opportunities (that I’ve taken up) to reconnect with people I unfortunately lost touch with. I stayed true to my words by sending messy DMs and obsessively liking their social feeds. If that isn’t the most glorious success story you’ve heard then I don’t know what is.

Make it to 2019 in one piece (not the pirate kind) – Well I’m here, and I am not missing any limbs that I know of. I guess we can call this one fulfilled, unless we want to take ‘one piece’ to mean my outlook and energy too. In which case…um…I’m a work in progress. Nothing has really changed too much about me since a year ago, but drastic changes (good or bad) never seem far away.

Meet another anime friend in real life – While chances came and go to accomplish this, it happened to always be -just- outside my grasp. A combination of the fact that many of my friends would have to fly to see me, coupled with the long and not instantaneous discussion of actually meeting, and then the scheduling and arrangements – on top of working full time – means that missing the chance was not at all shocking. No tears have been shed yet it would have been nice. Really nice.

Try something new, inspired by fellow writers – This was a promise I made prior to conceptualizing the “Mimic Mastery” series that was detailed in the “formulating…” post. Unfortunately it never quite saw the light of day. While I can’t pretend there was some grand reason that prevented me from doing it, I believe it would have been likely had I not stopped writing all together. You can clearly tell from this years content that I was working my way down the list of new ideas, and I’d like to think I would have reached the outcasts eventually.

Make a new friend – Did I make any new friends? Well, yes and no. It’s transparent that I wrote this on the basis that the new friend would come from the anime community or blogging scene. That never happened. I have made new friends off the platform however, connecting with people on MMOs while strengthening the bonds I had already made with a few others. Did I technically do this? No. In spirit? Major Success!

Develop a new skill or hobby – Unless the recently touched upon MMO playing counts as developing a skill or hobby, then yeah, can’t say I went anywhere with this one. I did specify it should be something lasting, and playing a game for a few months can’t really be characterized that way. In hindsight, setting a goal like this without having anything in mind made it really tough to accomplish, and it’s a weird ask for someone with a lot on their plate! Shrug and move on…

Kickstart change – I put this one forward solely out of personal frustration that my voice had always existed on the fringe of the community. When I had strong opinions, they would likely stay private. If I did write about an important topic, it was likely not current or of too much relevance to my readers. So being a force for change had to satisfy both boxes; important to me and important to others.

I can actually stand up here and say that I managed this. My posts on Etoile & Girl on the Shore reached readers far outside of my blog, and they both ended up being very important to me. Likewise my AniFem talk post got me engaging with both the site and their audience, lending my own voice while encouraging it from others. It’s true to say that I’m only a drop in the ocean, but at least there’s little ripples to go with that!


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NEW GOALS

~ The section where in which I set myself possibly unattainable objectives ~

Post at least once during 2019 – This post not included. Over the years I’ve become progressively more lenient on how much work I expect myself to produce in a single 12 month period, and now I’m finally at the point where I can just say “yeah, even one is acceptable”. I wouldn’t say I’ve given up, I just accept the reality of my situation, and that both the desire and opportunity to write often cannot sustain itself for such a long amount of time.

Do that thing I’ve always wanted to do – This is a very vaguely worded goal and with good reason. I’m not prepared to reveal what exactly I’m referring to because it pertains to something very personal. Though if I accomplish it you might very well hear it about it. Cryptic, I know, but this is a goal I need to put down for my own sake.

Do more recurring posts! – In 2018 some of my best posts (and the ones I had a lot of fun writing) were made using the series templates I had brainstormed. If I do write more this year, then this goal can build off the inspiration that has always been there. Besides, who doesn’t like fashion and manga talk?


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UNTIL NEXT TIME!

~ The part where I wrap this show up ~

Originally I was going to commit an entire section to a “here’s whats been going on in my life!” message, much like I did in the first year in review. This was eventually scrapped because I found myself unable to get specific about the details, and because the process of writing it down didn’t turn out to be as cathartic as I had hoped. Deliberating over how to approach it is why this post is coming out nearly a month later than it was supposed to.

I apologize for the delay and also that I don’t share what my 2018 was like. I could say it was challenging, but really it’s 2019, everyone’s life is challenging! Of course the issue is more complex than a few words can encapsulate, but I think I’m past the point where shouting out loud can even help me. Right now, close friends who I can trust and have lengthy venting sessions with is what works best for me. I hope you guys understand!

Moving on…

This blog is obviously very important to me and I often reread old posts with a deep sense of pride. It may only be an inconsistent hobby of mine, but it reminds me of the complexity of my thoughts and the skill I have to bring that to life. While I’m certainly not the best at my craft, nor the most important or dedicated, after almost 5 years of writing I have a notebook’s worth of happy memories to look back on.

For those that have stuck around, I thank you, truly. Without readers this blog would be little more than my thought splurges in written form. Instead, I get to consider the possibility that my words made someone’s day better, or influenced something they created, and that’s one of the best feelings someone like me can have in life.

I less than three you all, and until next time…

…thanks for reading!

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5 thoughts on “YEARLY DIGEST REDUX

  1. “Of the six series proposed in the post, 4 of them came to fruition.”

    I must say, I was looking forward to the Mimic Mastery series… I hope that one day you can find the time/energy/motivation to tackle it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, I’ve been really hoping to see this pop up on my feed, but now that it has, it’s hard for me to figure out what to say, haha
    Saying that 2018 was a long year is probably a vast understatement for a lot of us so I’m glad that you made it out in one piece. And with whatever 2019 ends up becoming, I’ll just be happy to know that you’ll still be around.
    Whatever it is that you want to accomplish this year, I really do hope that it comes true. It may not amount to much in the grand scheme of things but as a person who’s been given a lot by you, the least I can do is pray for success to come your way in some way or another.
    I wish you the best of luck, Haruhi! Let’s hope that 2019’s a good one 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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