It’s been quite a while since the last time I posted on here.
It’s quite a weird feeling to completely fall off the face of the Earth (i.e. anime community) for the better part of 6 months. Or maybe it’s 9 months. But in the tradition of this blog, that means wrapping up ongoing projects way past their initial due date. And rambling about stuff for a bit.
This blog is no stranger to unfinished projects. I never finished up one of my very first series comparing weeabo culture (i.e. fandom over Japan) between the Meiji and modern eras, which was one of my first forays into publishing academic content on this blog. I never wrote up that final review of Diabolik Lovers I promised I’d get around to. Or get around to watching Junjou Romantica (which has been sitting on my shelf for ~6 months now). Or even finish writing up my notes on Anime Expo 2014. Or continue my annual Year in Review posts. Goes to show that my academic “mouth” is bigger than my academic “stomach”.
Although that’s not to say that I just drop these things for good. I actually do spend a lot of time mulling these issues over and talking to Rebecca about them. It just happens that once I’m happy with where I’ve ended up, I never sit down to write out my thoughts into a good blog post. :(
“But Josh”, my imaginary audience might ask, “why the extended hiatus from blogging? Are you telling me you never sat down once since your last post to write something new?” Sadly, the answer to that question is yes — not once did I have enough motivation to write out even a single blog post. Or even read blog posts — my current “unread” email updates from blogs I follow is now almost 1.8k!
This apathy towards blogging by itself is nothing new – unlike most anime blogs I’ve seen that publish content pretty regularly, I’m much more sporadic, and tend to blog in big “bursts” so that during certain weeks/months I’ll write a whole slew of posts, and others I’ll barely write up anything. But this particular cycle was exacerbated by a couple changes in my life that led me to essentially stop watching anime.
If I was making excuses, I’d say it was something about “work-life balance” and a “shifting of priorities” or some other similar bullshit. “I was entering senior year and starting to think about career prospects (including applications for graduate school) as well as getting more serious about my research in astronomy.” etc. etc. While that was obviously part of it, to be honest the real explanation is much less glamorous: I got back into video games (much to Rebecca’s chagrin).
Since high school, I’ve mostly been a casual gamer — I played some League of Legends with friends back home (and later with Rebecca), Call of Duty et al. sometimes at parties, and a couple random video games over the course of the year (I remember pulling an all-nighter playing Mass Effect 3 my freshman year right before taking one of my exams lol). However, last summer I had no internet access at the dorms while I was working on my research project. And since I still stream(ed) most of my anime (ikr?) and didn’t want to bring my laptop to work all that often, I ended up looking for standalone activities to do to pass the time.
The first thing I did to compensate was working a lot. And I mean a lot. Over the course of the summer, I’d worked ~60-80 hours a week, including weekends. The only break I had was when Rebecca visited for a few weeks, although even then I was still working more than 50.
The next thing I did was look into my game history to see if there was anything I was interested in buying or re-playing. Next thing I knew, I’d extensively (re-)played through the first two Dragon Age games and the first five Assassin’s Creed games. At this point, I was experiencing my big video game “revival” since I hadn’t really revisited most of these titles in years. I was having all these cool thoughts about video game storytelling and non-linear structures (especially around branch points and the interaction between realism and in-game mechanics), relationships to Western media (think comic books, movie franchises), interactions with the fandom (“real life” historical precedence, meta-awareness, surrounding pop culture), and a bunch of related topics. I was particularly interested in thinking about how Assassin’s Creed navigates these dichotomies in its fake historical realism.
Anyways, I was kinda caught up in the “newness” of it all (the academic honeymoon phase), and really got hooked on video games. After starting school, I ended up playing through a bunch more RPGs, which pretty much ate up my entire free time for the semester that I had previously dedicated to anime and blogging, and even started cutting into my research productivity. The only show I ended up watching was Penguindrum, which in retrospect was a pretty awesome show to pick if you’re only going to watch a single anime over a 3 month period.
It’s kind of funny, but it’s only when I had completely dropped anime that I discovered how much effort/time I’d been putting into watching it. And how much it really meant to me. I mean, when you spend a lot of time doing something, whether as a hobby or something else, there’s always some sense in which it becomes some portion of your identity. I’d been known for almost 6 years (since the middle of high school!) as a combination of “that anime guy” and “that astronomy guy”, and it was very weird to completely pull away from the anime in one fell swoop and still sorta inhabit that role (at least within other people’s minds).
So…that’s that, really. I now spend much more time playing League and Hearthstone than watching anime, although that’s starting to change now that I’m getting back into it. I managed to get through the new Ghost in the Shell: Arise series the other day, and about a month ago ended up rewatching some of my favorite series Rosario + Vampire and Sora no Otoshimono (Heaven’s Lost Property), which are just as good as I remember (although in slightly different ways). And as I get back to blogging and slowly start trying to integrate back into the community, hopefully I’ll find even more reasons to get back out there and start watching some of the newer shows that have come out since last summer.
Also, to everyone who’s been waiting on those posts I said I’d write up, this is an official declaration that I’m now actually working on them and will have them out at some point in the not-too-distant future ;). I never thought I’d get any more than a handful of followers for a blog as weird as this one (although Rebecca’s posts have probably helped out quite a bit!), so it’s been really fantastic to have so much support and be part of such a great community. And special thanks to Froggy-kun and Appropriant for their recent Twitter exchanges that finally got the ball rolling for me. Sometimes the smallest of things can make a big difference.
It’s good to be back! I’ve been gone for quite a while, so feel free to comment about any cool updates in your lives (both on the anisphere or in RL) or ask questions in the comments!
EDIT: Rebecca also says hi. :)