[Crunchyroll Article] “When War Comes Home: The Loss of Innocence in Invisible Victory”

Non-management: My latest article for Crunchyroll is on Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory.

I’d like to give a big thanks to Crunchyroll for commissioning my article. Below is the (summary) short to the article. If you’re interested in reading it, click the link embedded in the title or at the end of the short:

When War Comes Home: The Loss of Innocence in Invisible Victory

Full Metal Panic! returns with a new story that ventures into darker territory

The skies are clouded as Sousuke overhears form the cockpit of his camouflaged mech that his enemies are going to get serious in their fight against Mithril. The sun sets over the Student Council room as the soon to be departing Student Council President informs Sousuke that he can no longer cover for him. Innocent Japanese bystanders are seriously wounded, and Sousuke and Chidori’s mutual friend is nearly killed. Amalgam infiltrates a once peaceful Japan, threatening Sousuke’s once off-limits school and friends, and demands that Chidori surrender herself to avoid any further violence – and that Sousuke let her surrender… READ MORE HERE

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Why I Can’t Stop Myself from Shipping

Management: Originally an idea for a Crunchyroll post, I ended up translating it into a piece for my personal blog.

A part of me has always struggled with the idea of shipping characters, especially if that shipping involves a non-canon pairing. There’s this half part of me that wants to refrain from projecting myself onto a story, especially if it’s by a creator I respect. The other half of me can’t help mentally picturing characters as perfect together, even when I refrain from stating those hopes aloud. I usually end up rationalizing that tendency by shipping characters whose relationships seem all but certain to form based on narrative trajectory: Hikigaya Hachiman and Yukino Yukinoshita from My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, Aki Tomoya and Megumi Kato from Saekano, Ryuuji Takasu and Taiga Aisaka from Toradora!, and many more.

But then there are those stories in anime where one potential couple is all but initially certain, another is expressly spurned at a pivotal moment, and one where the romantic match is something that will never be officially recognized: Naruto Uzumaki and Hinata Hyuuga in Naruto, Subaru Natsuki and Rem in Re:Zero, and Nanoha Takamichi and Fate Testarossa from the Nanoha franchise.

To an extent, I think fan shipping and fan fiction writing share a lot of things in common, and as someone who has caught the shipping bug and has written fan fiction in the past, I have one theory to explain why some people ship non-canon relationships. To put it simply, sometimes we as fans aren’t completely satisfied with everything the canon story gives us. We might find holes or loose ends in the stories that we otherwise enjoy. Writing fanfiction or shipping characters is a way for us to address the issues we have with stories, adding in our own own ideas of how things maybe should be.

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[Crunchyroll Article] “Freedom: The Draw of One Piece’s Central Message”

Non-management: My latest article for Crunchyroll is on One Piece.

I’d like to give a big thanks to Crunchyroll for commissioning my article. Below is the (summary) short to the article. If you’re interested in reading it, click the link embedded in the title or at the end of the short:

Freedom: The Draw of One Piece’s Central Message

For Luffy, being the Pirate King is being the freest person on the seas.

I don’t think that the pirates of history would make good role models for children, let alone anybody. Yet we have kid-targeted shows with pirates as their main gimmick and examples of school kids declaring they want to become pirates when they grow up. We have grown adults trudging back from work to the bookstore to read the latest pages of One Piece, that best-selling pirate-themed manga by Eiichiro Oda. One Piece is, by far, the best selling manga franchise in Japan, and it’s a story that arguably overlooks over many of the controversial aspects of historical piracy – focusing on a protagonist that cares little for looting and burning… READ MORE HERE

[Crunchyroll Article] “From Naruto to Boruto: How Loss and Vision Brought Peace to the Ninja World”

Non-management: My latest article for Crunchyroll is on Boruto.

I’d like to give a big thanks to Crunchyroll for commissioning my article. Below is the (summary) short to the article. If you’re interested in reading it, click the link embedded in the title or at the end of the short:

From Naruto to Boruto: How Loss and Vision Brought Peace to the Ninja World

Skyscrapers and ninja coexist together in Boruto because of the peace that was fought for in Naruto’s time and before.

Before there were Hidden Ninja Villages, there were just warring ninja clans. In a period reminiscent of Japan’s Warring States era, ninja clans clashed with other ninja clans. These clans fought each other because of resources, ambition, feuding, and fear. The spiraling conflicts that resulted bred violent hate and decimated new generations. In the bloody and turbulent era, two of the most powerful ninja clans, the Senju and the Uchiha, settled their differences and formed an alliance. Inviting other nearby ninja clans to join their enterprise, the Senju and Uchiha founded the Hidden Leaf Village as model of peace through inter-clan cooperation instead of competition… READ MORE HERE

[Anime News Network Article] “The True History Behind Golden Kamuy”

Non-management: The history buff/nut that I am, I was excited about the Golden Kamuy anime adaptation. The story of Golden Kamuy takes place during a time period that I studied about fairly intensively in my history classes. It’s a period of time that’s quite important in Japanese history. At the same time though, it’s a period that’s rarely referenced in anime that use Japanese history in their narratives. Anime in the Meiji Era might not be entirely unprecedented, but when was the last time an anime talked about the Russo-Japanese War? About the colonization of Hokkaido? About the Ainu? I thought that it would be an interesting project of mine to write about the era while Golden Kamuy was airing. It might enhance the reader’s appreciation for the anime, and it would teach the reader about a more obscure part of Japanese history. To that end, I pitched the article idea on a widely-read platform in the anime community, and it fortunately got accepted as a Featured Article on Anime News Network.

I’d like to give a big thanks to ANN’s Zac Bertschy for commissioning my article, and Jacob Chapman for editing it. Below is the (summary) short to the article. If you’re interested in reading it, click the link embedded in the title or at the end of the article sample:

Golden Kamuy is a story more heavily informed by its historical context than most. Sure, it has its gratuitous violence and gore, peculiarly dumb reaction faces, lengthy hunting and cooking sequences, and body shapes inspired by JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. However, the glue that binds everything together into a compelling tale is Golden Kamuy‘s well-written characters, whose drama is informed by their pasts. These characters are products of the eras that they lived in and fought through.

While the audience isn’t required to have an advanced knowledge of modern history to appreciate Golden Kamuy, acquiring some understanding of Japan just around the turn of the 20th century may illuminates these characters’ motivations further. Here’s my breakdown of some relevant aspects of Japanese history that may help you understand Sugimoto and Asirpa’s world… READ MORE HERE

Violet Evergarden: The Beautiful Fighting Girl and the Romanticization of War

Management: This essay is meant to be less of a review and more of analysis of the show being examined. It contains plot spoilers for Violet Evergarden anime.

So there’s this one movie quote from this one movie critic about how there’s no such thing as an anti-war movie. However critical a war film’s themes happen to be about conflict of war, if the anti-war movie in question features some violent spectacle, the anti-war messaging is undermined out-of-hand. If only for those moments of cinematic violence, there will those audience members that will instinctually enjoy them because the violence itself is enthralling to watch. The anti-war film that includes warfare becomes a thematic paradox at best and cinema-narrative dissonance at worst. I would like to believe that I’m self-aware enough to appreciate the messages in an anti-war media while taking in exciting moments of warfare. However, I also think it’s a legitimate complaint to accuse certain shows that highlight the tragedy of war that they are betraying their own themes of how awful war is by including scenes that celebrate fighting of any kind and for any side. In Code Geass, for example, massacring unarmed civilians is bad, and yet fighting in giant robots is awesome. In Hellsing: Ultimate, on the other hand, the show makes no bones about its characters loving war holistically, characters basking in both the spectacle of civilians dying in droves and their own men being torn to shreds.

While there are few, if any, anti-war media that would get around the near-impossible encirclement set by this quote, Violet Evergarden is a decent attempt at breaking out.  The show mainly focuses on the lives of characters affected by the war, after the war. The few times that the show illustrates past war moments are mostly spent on soldiers being contemplative, frightened, or desperate… hardly empowering stuff. The notable and understandable exception to this trend of omitting violent spectacle is Violet herself, the blood-streaked, barely-teen soldier maiden of the battlefield. Similarly,  while Violet Evergarden doesn’t fully overcome the well-worn and somewhat exploitative anime trope of the beautiful fighting girl, the Kyoto Animation adaptation does make a decision in regards to its female heroine that admirably tries to circumvent the worst of that stereotype. In their original conceptions, the beautiful fighting girls (also known as the bishoujo fighting girls) were those female characters who were both badasses in combat and unambiguously feminine. Violet, our female character here, is depicted during her tour of “duty” less as a cutesy warrior and as more a feral animal.

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Love Live ~ A Rant About Criticizing Idols and Arguments

Non-management: So my article on Love Lives, male audiences, and idol culture is out on the Anime Feminist blog (AniFem for short). It’s been likely read by over a hundred folks, and it’s received both praise and criticism. A lot of the more vehement criticism seems to have been routed directly at AniFem’s editors, or been subtweeted about by folks to folks that don’t know me. The drama that was generated from the article’s publication has been especially frustrating for me because barely anyone who has been especially and vocally furious about the article’s existence on AniFem has bothered to actually reach out to me at all. I didn’t know that I was that unapproachable a person. I do have a Twitter account, and it’s definitely not locked.

I have sought out criticism that isn’t accessible for me to read, diving into article quote threads and various subtweet threads, to get a better idea of how people were reacting to it and how I could better improve as a writer. Some criticism pointed out how I over-generalized the idol industry. I could definitely have made it more clear that I wasn’t trying characterize how all idol groups function, just as thoroughly as I attempted to clarify that I liked the Love Live anime overall and am intrigued by some aspects of idol culture. I definitely don’t think that I am the end-all be-all voice on Love Live or idol culture. The specific criticism that I mentioned engaged with the actual argument of the article, and was framed in such a manner as to be conducive to inviting discussion instead of provoking callouts. It’s the kind of criticism that I welcome and find constructive.

Unfortunately, I have found other criticisms to be less constructive. Some don’t actually engage with the article’s argument itself, or some only reference the argument vaguely. Some complaints seem more determined with demonizing the author’s disposition instead of criticizing the author’s words.

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