You Can (Not) Redo: Back to Blogging

In the words of my previous “We’re alive!” post,

It’s been quite a while since the last time I posted on here.

And with that, I now get to usher in the second resurrection of this blog. Except this time IT’S FOR REAL.

Welp.

Welp.

Now, you might be wondering,

“But Josh, you sounded so ready to get back to blogging last time! What happened?! And why can we trust you this time around?”

CALM DOWN IMAGINARY AUDIENCE — ONE SET OF COMPLETELY SCRIPTED QUESTIONS AT A TIME. PLUS ONLY IF THEY’RE BOLDED AND PUT IN A HEADER FORMAT TO DEMARCATE SECTIONS. SAVE THE REAL QUESTIONS FOR THE COMMENTS. SHEESH.

Why the second hiatus?

I mean, it really comes down to one simple fact: college theses tend to be all-consuming affairs. It’s ironic, really — everyone always tells you stories about how their thesis consumed their life, regardless whether they’re talking about their bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees. In fact, I don’t think I’ve talked to a single person who hasn’t told me that working on a thesis at some point becomes an all-consuming affair.

As you might imagine, being a research nut (but seriously – I’ve pretty much done astronomy research continuously since the end of high school) and an academic, I was pretty excited to do a senior research thesis. And, up until around March or so, it had been a fun experience that involved a lot of work but still left me time to do other things. But soon after I talked about getting back into blogging, work on my thesis ratcheted up, and I spent pretty much the entirety of March and April working on nothing but my thesis. While I never wrapped everything up I wanted to get done, I did finish a thesis, so if anyone’s interested in seeing more of that kind of stuff, you can grab a copy here.

Sometimes I feel giant railguns are the closest anime gets to astronomy.

Sometimes I feel giant railguns are the closest anime gets to astronomy.

“But that only explains two months! What happened to blogging and getting back into anime when you were done?”

JEEZ YOU GUYS ARE SO DEMANDING PLZ STAHP GIVING ME AN OPPORTUNITY TO TALK ABOUT MY BORING PERSONAL LIFE TO MAKE ME FEEL LIKE I’M VALUED BY SOME NEBULOUS SEMI-ANONYMOUS COMMUNITY.

The rest of the story is pretty simple. I spent the latter part of April and early May dealing with fallout from my thesis — catching up with all the work I had dropped in my other classes, last-minute college stuff, etc. Then I got really sick for about a week (like almost bedridden level of sick), played ~100 hours of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, graduated from college, moved out, moved into a new apartment with Rebecca for the summer, and began my new job working as a researcher!

There goes my amazingly melodramatic college experiences!

There goes my amazingly melodramatic college experiences!

And that pretty much brings us to today.

“Wow, do you always make excuses that are this long-winded? Everybody who’s serious about something knows that you make time for the things you love.”

FINE YOU WIN IT’S TRUE IT’S ALL TRUE I WAS BUSY BUT DURING MY SCATTERED FREE TIME I DIDN’T WATCH ANIME READ ANY BLOG POSTS OR TRY AND WRITE ANYTHING AND INSTEAD PLAYED COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF VIDEO GAMES OR DID MORE RESEARCH I’M A HORRIBLE PERSON DON’T JUDGE ME I’M NOT BEHOLDEN TO YOU OR ANY OTHER AUDIENCE EVEN THOUGH I PUT UP THIS BLOG AS PUBLIC CONTENT AND FEEL AN OBLIGATION TO MY READERS AND ENJOY WRITING STUFF AND HAVE IDEAS I WANT TO SHARE BECAUSE I’M EGOTISTICAL AND A WORKAHOLIC BUT I’M TRYING TO GET BETTER BECAUSE MY DAD WORKED ALL THE TIME AND MY GREATEST FEAR IN LIFE IS THAT I BECOME HIM AND REBECCA’S BEEN NICE ABOUT IT BUT I’M TRYING TO GET BETTER GOD I SOUND LIKE AN ALCOHOLIC BUT NOW THAT I’M OUT OF SCHOOL AND AM NOT SUBJECTED TO DOING RESEARCH ON A REALLY SHORT CLOCK I FEEL LESS PRESSURE ABOUT TAKING TIME TO DO THIS AND ACHIEVING BETTER WORK-LIFE BALANCE BUZZWORD SO THAT’S THE REAL REASON WHY NOT THEN BUT NOW OKAY?!?!?!

Why should we trust that you’ll actually be blogging for real this time?

Well, as my half-crazed, likely disconcertingly emotionally vulnerable all caps answer above indicates, I’m getting pretty serious about blogging, especially now that I’m out of school. It’s starting to become that time of my life to decide where my priorities are, and when it came down to it, I really feel like anime — and participating in the anime community — were important to me and something I wanted to continue doing for the foreseeable future.

That said, there’s also another reason:

REBECCA AND I ARE GOING TO BE LIVING IN JAPAN NEXT YEAR!

THE WEEB IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE

THE WEEB IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE

Yes! It’s true! I’ll finally join the likes of Artemis and journey to the birthplace of anime! It should be a lot of fun — I’ll be doing (you probably guess it) astronomy research at the same institute I was at during my summer in Japan 2 years ago before returning to the US for grad school, while Rebecca will be teaching English full-time. She’s never been to Asia before, so it hopefully it’ll be a pretty exciting experience for her too.

Anyways, it’d be remiss if I didn’t blog about anime and such while I’m partying it up in Japan (maybe I’ll even participate in some anime pilgrimages!), so consider that good insurance that I’ll be around for a while.

Why the strange title?

“But Josh, I never asked about the title since you always pick ones that you think are DEEP AND MEANINGFUL but usually just sound stupid.”

HOW COULD YOU SAY SUCH A THING TO ME IMAGINARY AUDIENCE — I TRUSTED YOU AND NOW YOU’VE BETRAYED OUR VERY DEEP CONNECTION SO WHY DON’T YOU JUST GO PULL AN AKU NO HANA OR SOMETHING

I know — what a comeback.

Leading questions aside, the title actually does mean something. I intend to take this opportunity to officially drop all of my unfinished projects and start fresh on the blog.

Now this doesn’t mean I will necessarily ignore everything I’ve either explicitly promised or hinted that I would like to write about — many of the topics I’m interested in are related, so there’s a high chance I’ll return to them at some point in the future. But for now at least I’m dropping all of them so I can focus on putting out some new stuff I’ve been working over for quite a while and am pretty excited about.

I have quite the collection of unfinished posts, so as a small consolation to you guys (BUT MOSTLY MYSELF SINCE MY IDEAS ARE SO IMPORTANT AND YOU GUYS ARE UNBELIEVABLY PRIVILEGED TO HEAR THEM) I’m just going to summarize their general gist below:

  • Fandom of Japan through the Ages: Driving Forces and the Elite (Anime)
    • Never got around to writing this the second part of this post up, so I’m just going to link the original essay (not amazing, but my first attempt at more academic analysis), which should be enough to stimulate some thinking (if not really convince anyone).
  • Pure Love: Hyouka, Sakurasou, and Anime that Changed My Life
    • I could never really do these justice in a post, so after several failed attempts I’ll just say that I love both of these shows to death AND NO ONE CAN TELL ME OTHERWISE.
  • Otaku: Fandom Demographics
    • I wanted to actually try and partner up with MyAnimeList (or, alternately, scrape data from the site) to get metadata on a host of anime fans and apply a number of quantitative data analysis methods common in computer science and informatics to see how fans actually look like. This was inspired by a post on The Cart Driver a long while back, but I never ended up taking up this (very ambitious) project.
  • Anime and Introversion
    • I wanted to talk about this article which showed that the use of anime and emojis was highly correlated with introversion (not super common though), and discuss what that might mean for the fandom in lieu of some of the discussions on escapist tendencies going on at the time.
  • History of Otaku-dom in America
    • Turns out it’s already been done by many other people much more qualified than me. This is the best source I’ve found, although I’m sure others exist.
  • Postmodernism
    • I’ve wanted to do this post for forever, but couldn’t really find a good way to go about it in a way that left me satisfied. In brief, I wanted to go about it in a “postmodern” way by setting up several different narratives that gave similar end-goals:
    • 1) The dichotomy during the enlightenment/romantic periods with the focus on the absolute vs. subjective, how led to an obsession with irony (you are always unsure; both subjective and objective), the similar situation we are in now in the modern/postmodern eras with our focus on authenticity (or lack thereof), and how these will probably naturally lead to an escape with performativity (ephemeral) and meta-ness (the authentic from the inauthentic).
    • 2) As a deconstruction of society caused by increased consumption and reproduction (a la Jameson), or by a deconstruction of the “aura” of personhood caused by modern life (a la Benjamin).
    • 3) A reflexive, deconstructionist impulse (a la critical theory) to emancipate us from the structures that bind and surround us spurred by profound disillusionment in political and social projects in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
    • 4) The changing symbols of the eras: the scope and ship (enlightenment), the play and philosopher (romantic), the institution and government (modern), and the machine and computer (postmodern). Each of these symbols is associated with concepts and propagates certain types of structures.
    • 5) The evolution of characters in literature from characters (fixed entities; “The Great Gatsby“) to “kyara” (flexible, amorphous pseudo-character blobs; Hatsune Miku, for instance).
    • Finally would’ve been followed by a call to research postmodernism in an eclectic (maybe POSTMODERNIST?!) way through a variety of sources to see how it is treated by people and discussed by academics.
  • Thematic Analysis
    • Why do stories have to have themes? Realized soon after that many books have been dedicated to this exact concept, so no use adding analysis where it doesn’t really contribute much.
  • Impact of Learning Japan(ese)
    • Pointing out some of the little in-jokes you start to get the more you learn about Japanese culture and the language.
  • Deconstructing Anime: Ping Pong vs. Bakemonogatari
    • To put it bluntly, both directors (for both shows) put in reams of effort to actually deconstruct anime as a visual medium, and both don’t really get much appreciation for it. Might come back to this when I start posting about Ikuhara and what amazing things he did with Penguindrum.
  • Anime OPs and EDs Matter!
    • People don’t take these seriously enough, and many times they are chock full of purposeful symbolic usage and good directing that sets the tone for shows.
  • Daimidaler is Good
    • I mean, I stand by that statement. I think the show got a bad rap when it was significantly more clever than people gave it credit for. It pulled some of the most incredible plot twists I’ve seen, had some of the most purposefully obnoxious characters, and incorporated a lot of some of the most juvenile humor I’ve seen in any medium, all of which was in service of the simple thesis (stated in the final episode, as always) that “censorship is bad and sex and EROS is a part of life!!!”. I found the ridiculous contrast between the different parts of the show to be endearing, and think it was much more self-aware (and socially aware!) than many people gave it credit for. But…*shrug*.

Anyways, that’s that. Maybe I’ll turn this type of thing into a recurring event so I can air out ideas instead of letting them accumulate.

So is that finally the end? That was a really long post for such a simple announcement you know

Yuuta - representing closet otaku since 8th grade.

Yuuta – representing closet otaku since 8th grade.

I LIKE TO HEAR THE SOUND OF MY OWN VOICE OKAY CAN YOU AT LEAST GIVE ME THAT

NOW SHOWER ME WITH LOVE AND AFFECTION <3

Blog pages have also been updated minus the blogroll k thx bai

 

*Addendum: Hey guys, Rebecca here to share my excuse…yea I have no excuse I’m pretty much just a bump on a log. Now wasn’t that nice and succinct ;)?

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16 responses to “You Can (Not) Redo: Back to Blogging

  1. I see what you did there with that title.. :)

    Your backlog of unfinished and pending projects has left me salivating, especially your post ideas under Postmodernism…would be interested in what you had to say about the dichotomy of romanticism and postmodernism. And your thoughts on Benjamin’s thoughts on art in his Age of Mechanical Reproduction essay.

    • Unfortunately, as of now I don’t think I’ll get around to ever trying to go back to that — postmodernism is just such a beast I don’t think I would be satisfied with what I put out, especially since the discussion so quickly becomes really, really academic. That said, the basic idea behind postmodernism as some extension of deconstructionism and how it relates to fandom I will at least try and tackle in a future post, since that’s a more tractable topic.

      Alternately, how does this look?
      Enlightenment: WE’VE DISCOVERED THE TRUE NATURE OF REALITY FUCK YEA
      Romantic: FUCK THAT SHIT YOU CAN’T CONTROL HOW I FEEL
      Modern: WELL FUCK ALL OF THAT WE’RE TOTALLY DIFFERENT NOW AND CAN DO EVERYTHING
      Postmodern: FUCK EVERYTHING
      Metamodern: WUT

      • Surprisingly accurate. I would be down to do something similar with all the “isms” and schools of thougth that crop up in literary theory.

  2. No excuses. Writing a PhD thesis didn’t stop me from accomplishing what’s truly important in life. I stayed up late the night before my defense writing Sword Art Online fanfiction.

    Also, where in Japan are you going? I’ll probably be visiting Tokyo this fall.

    • O_O
      What a beast.

      We’ll be living just outside of Tokyo (I’ll be moving at the end of July), so if you’re around and have some time we should definitely try and meet up!

  3. “played ~100 hours of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, graduated from college, moved out, moved into a new apartment with Rebecca for the summer, and began my new job working as a researcher!”
    Living quite the life aren’t we?

    Anyway glad to see you back and I’ll go back to actively stalking your blog :3

  4. I don’t know about anyone else, but 99% of my non-university time goes to struggling not to go insane by turning to fictional media, so I completely understand the situation you’ve been in XD Granted that writing a thesis is probably much more stressful than my lot.

    Still, very keen to see some of those posts, especially the one about learning Japanese since i’m still taking two steps backward for every forward one. Good luck with post uni life, moving to Japan and blogging!

    • Yea, most of my free time pretty much gets spent on the same thing lol. And I’ll definitely be happy to talk about how learning Japanese helps you appreciate some of the nuances and jokes in anime more once I get better at it myself! I’ve unfortunately been slacking recently… XD

      • It’s tough to keep motivated! Whenever I think about learning more I see this massive wall I have to get over before I can make any more progress. I keep up with maintaining my vocab though; the reminders at Memrise help with that. Have you found any good resources for learning grammar? I’m aware of Tae Kim’s and Ixrec’s, and Human Japanese was fantastic up until the intermediate level.

  5. There are much worse reason for lazing your duty, like…

    Just forget it. I couldn’t make up one without the sexual innuendo.

    If only someone could make a post about outsourcing and anime industry. It’s both an great way for fan to make a living of their hobby and talent, while companies could reduce their expenses, However, I do wonder about how the works still carry a somewhat ‘Japanese’ air to them – Of course, a lot of the worker are Otaku, but then…

    Let’s just say that not all people are research nut like you, and we have a bad habit of picking the first result on Google as ‘truth’.

  6. Wooo, you’re alive! Congrats on getting the thesis done too (I managed to understand the first 5 words of the abstract, yesssss). Looking forward to more blog posts, and hope the Japan move goes well :-)

  7. I stumbled upon one of your comments elucidating your take on Bakemonogatari, stalked you, and made my way here in search of (possible) profound-ness on more matters of little to some importance, and have been overwhelmed by the resultant wealth of information and opinion. Looking forward to reading more of your posts, especially on Postmodernism, and the link, if any, between anime and introversion, i typed with a poised posture.

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