The Anime Community Ignites My Soul (12 Days of Anime 2016 Day 3)

So on the third day of the 12 days of anime, I’m jumping back to the early 2016 with this quick post. Around the beginning and into the early part of 2016, I wanted some podcasts to listen to at my work. And since I love anime I defaulted to Podtaku, which I hadn’t listened to in some time. Podtaku, if you don’t know, is a podcast that was started by four YouTube anime critics (Holden [HoldenReviews], Jeanne [AnimeAppraisal], Gigguk [TheAnimeZone], and Arkada [GlassReflection]) to talk about anime in a more loose format. It was the first anime podcast to prove that people wanted an anime podcast on YouTube, as it got insanely higher view counts than any other anime podcast available at the time.

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As 2016 began there was a horrific crash and burn of the podcast, which had since evolved into a much larger group of anime YouTubers than it had been before, and become the standard that everyone wanted to copy the success of by having their own anime podcasts.

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At this time I was also getting back into anime in a big way. I passively lamented the passing of Podtaku. I was never really the biggest fan of the podcast, but I want some weebs talking about anime in my ears while I work, alright?

Then, Ninouh, one of my favorite members of the expanded Podtaku, started doing YouTube live streams, mainly on Friday nights and Saturday nights, where he would just call up friends and other anime YouTubers on skype (including the very popular: Gigguk, Demolition D+, and Digibro).


Those live streams not only gave me something entertaining and sometimes educational to listen to at work, but also reignited my passion for writing about anime and introduced me to the world of detailed anime analysis, by the way of the guests on the live streams. Among the first of which were Digibro’s book-length video series on the Asterisk War and Demolition D’s three video, 45 minute in-total comparison of anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion and the Evangelion Rebuild films.
I loved learning about anime and people’s perspectives on the medium. It felt much more engaging than the typical review structure I was used to hearing\reading. And I wanted to write in that style. So I’ve been preparing to. I’ve since done much more reading of critical analysis, studying its structure and applying it to my own writing.

I now have a MASSIVE backlog of partially completed anime posts I’m working on and they are now starting to come out, that with my first 2 posts of the 12 days of anime out and my plans for posts next year. One of my future posts is actually now the longest thing I’ve written in my entire life. So what I’m really trying to say is that the anime community has set my soul on fire. Even though I still work 60+ hours a week at a soul-sucking job out of obligation, I now have something I truly want to work for on my own time.


VasA’s Twelve Days of Anime, Day Three: I Like Anime Analysis

This post is part of the The Twelve Days Of Anime, which is an event where over the 12 days leading to Christmas (the 14th to 25th of December), Bloggers and YouTubers share 12 impactful moments they had relating to anime during the year.

By the way, if you don’t know me, then hey I’m VasA and thanks for stopping by! See you next time.


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How Your Lie In April Began To Change Everything (12 Days of Anime 2016 Day 2)

I remember watching quite a few first episodes of shows at the onset of the Fall 2014 anime season, as I wanted to do a first impressions post on my anime blog about them all. And I notably remember dropping Shirobako, feeling I couldn’t relate at all to its characters. Now I realize that was because of the pain I felt watching others struggle towards their goals as I spun my wheels in the mud, unwilling to get out and push. My life had spiraled out of control and I had reached the nadir of my depression. The lowest point of my entire life. I was afraid of change, afraid of the past, apprehensive over my future. I was unconsciously searching for something to add color to my bleak world. So when I watched the first episode of Your Lie in April, I was immediately entranced. The images and sounds were burned into my mind as my eyes glued themselves to the screen. It was one of the most impactful experiences I have ever had with a work of art. It brought out so many painful emotions and deep seated anxieties, yet I felt something reaffirming in the subtext of the narrative. And I clung to it for dear life.


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Life in monotone…


Before I knew it, against the gray fall skies, under the black curtain of my shut eyes, Your Lie In April’s narrative took root in me and bloomed anew. Over. And over. And over again. And every time my heart remembered it, it was like all the walls around me began to crumble to dust and scatter on the wind.


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…turns to color.


I could connect with the characters almost immediately. Their introductions said so much about them. Kaori was setup as an inquisitive and impulsive heroine, chasing a cat all over on an apparent whim. Kosei was reserved with no regard for himself, with some emotions clearly locked away tightly inside him. Tsubaki was overly energetic, caring, and somewhat pushy, clearly harboring feelings for Kosei. And Watari was, well he was mainly just a play-boy in episode 1.


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Don’t be afraid to take a step forward.


The way that Kosei shrank within himself and didn’t go out of his way to communicate with other people was just like me. The way he had an inner monologue, making observations, but not able to get at the heart of what he wanted to say was something I had also felt. The whole atmosphere of the show was perfect for me. It took the shape of a brightly colored fantasy that still existed within the real world. Just enough to escape on with just enough to connect to. And just as Kaori gripped Kosei’s hand and pulled him along on the epic journey of self-discovery and growing up that was about to begin, the symphony of color and sound that was Your Lie In April seized my very soul, and plucked me up in a flurry of feathers.


And the HERO appears! [Ping Pong The Animation]

Well now that tears are threatening to fall into my coffee I think that is where I want to end this post. I know as part of the Twelve days of anime we are talking about impactful anime-related moments from this year and this seems more like a pure retrospective, but I decided to write it upon rewatching the first two episodes of Your Lie In April last week as I have been doing a lot of reflecting on what anime I love and why. I hope this post conveys least 1% of the emotion that the show left me with. If so then I’ve done what I set out to do. This post is almost entirely just my emotions, but I plan to do a long-form analysis of this series in the future (sometime in January if my plans work out) so stick around if you want to see that.


VasA’s Twelve Days of Anime, Day Two: Remembering Your Lie In April

This post is part of the The Twelve Days Of Anime, which is an event where over the 12 days leading to Christmas (the 14th to 25th of December), Bloggers and YouTubers share 12 impactful moments they had relating to anime during the year.

By the way, if you don’t know me, then hey I’m VasA and thanks for stopping by! See you next time.


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This Art Club is Embarassing(ly) Bland (12 Days of Anime 2016 Day 1)

Any seasoned anime fan has watched their fair share of middle school and high school romcoms. It’s a staple of the medium to the point where it’s evolved into a lame joke among anime fans: “And OF COURSE they are in high school because ‘anime’…” is a tired phrase about a tired topic and maybe that’s why I found myself using “This Art Club Has A Problem” A.K.A. “Konobi” as my go-to fall-asleep show the past couple of weeks.
But that’s unusual for me, as I typically find shows that revolve around a do-nothing school club to be somewhat irritating. The fact that they have a cast of standardized characters with an over-reliance on one-note personalities and ridiculous misunderstandings between those characters for comic fodder can be infuriating…and all of that is present here. So why didn’t I hate it? Why did I put on a perfectly predictable episode to fall asleep to?
Well, from the moment I started watching my expectations were tempered. The first episode is not narratively impressive. The episode’s introductory three minutes set the bar for the rest of the show.
Light piano music plays us in as slow panning shots establish the setting and time, a middle school art club room late in the afternoon. The flitting light beams of the sun and illuminated dust particles drifting in the hallways already set a calm, grounded tone. Then a young girl named Misaki begins a monologue describing herself and her friend Subaru. At 49 seconds in she trails off and the first comedic juxtaposition of the series occurs. We see that Subaru is drawing an anime girl which we can tell by her cat ears and huge moe-styled eyes, an art style in direct conflict with the more realistically rendered fruit drawing of our our straightforward female protagonist. It’s slightly unexpected and strange, which makes it mildly funny if you can buy into the idea that the show’s anime-styled characters and the in-universe artwork of Subaru are different, despite their obvious similarities. Then we transition to the opening, which shows off the main cast of characters with childlike imagery – twinkling stars and characters smiling as they running across the screen. There are also some otaku pandering shots thrown in, and it’s all backed by energetic poprock. If all this bare bones analysis feels patronizing then stay with me, I’m going somewhere with all this. At two minutes and 26 seconds we are back to the show, now with the most cut-and-paste  goofy flute and xylophone BGM to reinforce that this is a school life comedy. Subaru questions why Misaki is mad at him for drawing nothing but cute fantasy girls and she blushes. Ah yes, the first misunderstanding! Misaki thinks Subaru may be catching on to her romantic feelings for him. But that isn’t the case. It’s funny because she protests fervently and that’s cute and he’s clueless and that’s also cute! In addition she destroys his painting and that that adds lighthearted shock humor! Unless you’ve seen a hundred iterations of these jokes already. We are now just over three minutes into episode one, including the opening. And we can now move on with our lives and forget this show entirely, because nothing has been particularly special about these first few minutes, and nothing will be for the rest of this entire anime. The characters have been on model with a fairly generic anime aesthetic to them, the jokes have been boiled down to their most commonly practiced iterations, every facet from camera perspective to sound direction has has been perfectly middling.
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In the first episode, the main cast is established. The protagonist is an incredibly average middle school girl named Usami, who has very little interest in anything extra ordinary. There is an upperclassman who likes to sleep his days away on a couch in the Art Club room – nothing deep there, his name isn’t even important. And of course we have an otaku artist who is completely self-absorbed in drawing his fantasy waifus, and cares about nothing else. It’s all exceeding overused, yet somehow feels peaceful.
The main setting is also established: a Middle School Art Club room. Boring and peaceful.
And we already talked about how the main conflict is established: Usami is in love with her otaku friend Uchimaki, but he doesn’t realize this as he is absorbed in a single-minded quest to draw the perfect 2D waifu. I call this the main conflict and not the plot, because this is not a plot. This show doesn’t really have a concrete plot, I mean, each episode has it’s own episodic plot. But the whole story is just meandering through school life in a boring but peaceful manner as school and outside life events happen to the characters. And I think to some extent that is what life feels like when you are as young as these characters are – it’s as though things just happen to you instead of you making things happen.
Middle school is like autopilot compared to adult life. You just don’t have the same concerns. Impressing your crush and hanging out with your friends seem like the most important things in the world. You aren’t worried about how you are going to get a job, pay your rent, accomplish tangable life goals, or even shop for groceries. And I think this drives much of the slice-of-life school genre in anime. It’s about capturing the illusive feelings of youthful detachment from the constant worry that comes with adulthood. An ephemeral state of being that comes with having the set constants that living at home with your parents and attending school provide.
And to do a story about this stage of life in film, certain tropes and story beats are often utilized. Many of these typical slice-of-life school club genre trappings are present in Konobi: romantic misunderstandings, heavily quirk-reliant character writing, token senpais and kohais, an indulgence in blissful youth, occasional school events to create the illusion of forward momentum in the storyline – if you’ve seen more than 3 of this type of show then you get the idea.
And if you can buy into a teenage mindset then you can enjoy these shows. When you are relaxing and winding down to sleep like I was when I watched Konobi, it’s easier to accept the childish worries of 13 year olds as endearing if not all that legitimate.
But none of that is interesting in the context of a story with no plot. What I’m getting down to is that there’s no real reason to watch Konobi. Art is all about communicating a message. Exploring ideas and feelings. The reason we enjoy art is because we can connect with it. The way this show dances around issues and avoids any big ideas by being vague and generic is only useful to let me wind down so I can sleep. So I can avoid mental stimulation and recharge my brain for more important cognitive functions tomorrow. This is “turn your brain off” material at its finest. And that’s not a compliment. A better title for Konobi would have been “This Adolescent Art Club Has An Insignificant Problem That Will Never Be Addressed In The Anime, All While Avoiding Anything Else Thought-Provoking In The Slightest. What could be more affirming as to why these characters and the way they are presented is embarrassingly tired and stale than me literally falling asleep while watching? If I want an interesting show set in school that simultaneously celebrates and lampoons its setting I can just watch Kill la Kill. If I want a show set in school with more believable romantic misunderstandings and better hyjinx comedy I could put on an episode of Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun. There are countless other examples as well. Konobi has no merits I can’t find done better elsewhere in anime. This art club is not interesting. It’s embarrassingly bland. And you don’t need watch it.


VasA’s Twelve Days of Anime, Day One: I have a problem with This Art Club Has A Problem!

This post is part of the The Twelve Days Of Anime, which is an event where over the 12 days leading to Christmas (the 14th to 25th of December), Bloggers and YouTubers share 12 impactful moments they had relating to anime during the year.

By the way, if you don’t know me, then hey I’m VasA and thanks for stopping by! See you next time.


Registration Form to sign up (I believe this year’s registration is now closed):

Survival Pack:

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VasA’s Twelve Days Of Anime 2016 Intro

So in my random searches of the interwebs of late I came across The Twelve Days Of Anime, which is an event where over the 12 days leading to Christmas, Bloggers and YouTubers share 12 impactful moments they had with anime this year. And I decided to do it. And then I found out it is an actual thing you can sign up for (link is at the bottom of this page), so I am with this post. Of course you don’t really have to sign up to do it, but I think joining in the community is a big part of the fun. I’m joining so that people know I’m doing it, in addition to it being a good motivator to actually follow through on posting.

My first post will probably be on Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! [a.k.a. This Art Club Has a Problem!] because I indeed have a problem with this art club and I am in the process of finalizing my thoughts on it.


I also want to write about my absolute favorite anime ever- Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso [Your Lie In April], as well as the Kizumonogatari audiobook I’ve been listening to. Maybe I’ll throw in a couple vlogs now that I have an expensive DSLR camera I need to get proper use out of. So look forward to those projects in the days to come!


I encourage anyone who is interested to join, especially if (like me) you want to improve the speed of your writing and frequency of posting. You can post about whatever you want, whether it be how Kuma Miko scarred you for life, how watching One Punch Man for the first time made you go to the gym, or how you bought pocky sticks in order to feel like a true Japanophile.

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By the way, if you don’t know me, then hey I’m VasA and thanks for stopping by! See you next time.

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A Quick Perspective On The Pokemon Sun & Moon Anime So Far (Episodes 1 & 2)

Pokemon has been an integral part of the life over the past 18 years. And in that that time I’ve watched some 800-odd episodes of the franchise as well as dozens of movies and specials. But I’m 23 now and have the advantage of living in an internet age where I can watch anything, anytime I want. So naturally, Pokemon has lost it’s appeal to me over the years. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a good episode of Pokemon from time to time, being the Pokemon master and anime otaku that I am, but the plot device of Ash constantly resetting at the end of each series is something I’ve grown bored with. His strategical know-how, his Pokemon’s proven power levels, and to a degree his memories and relationships with friends all reset – all while the following season gives him a similar stable of Pokemon and human companions to go on redundant adventures with. But Sun & Moon doesn’t feel redundant. In the first 2 episodes Ash joins a school on a tropical island and meets a few characters who don’t seem to have direct counterparts in other Pokemon series (and some of them are even pretty cute). Everything feels different, even the animation.

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There’s been a lot of discussion in the community lately about whether the new Pokemon series looks better or worse than it has in the past, and for my money Sun & Moon has some of the most expressive frame-by-frame animation of the entire franchise.

I’ve never thought that Pokemon has looked bad overall, it’s just felt very restricted by the structure of it’s character designs and honestly generic overall aesthetic. Some two dimensional anime designs don’t move well within a three dimensional plane and Pokemon is one of the series that has this problem. XY and XYZ tried to partially fix this issue by introducing CG environments for its Pokemon battles so animators could focus more on the movement of the combatants and their Pokemon, but to me this often came off as nauseating to a certain degree. I didn’t like the constant wild zooms and character movement, . It also pulled the dramatic stakes down a notch when every trainer constantly flailed their arms and Pokemon were bouncing around the battlefield like Narusawa’s sloppy basketballs. That doesn’t help raise dramatic stakes when it happens in every battle.

Pokemon Sun & Moon is taking the franchise in a new direction – with an interesting batch of new characters seemingly unlike anything in the franchise before, totally new characters designs, a wildly different setting, and a combination of a variety of different animation techniques. At it’s core Pokemon has always been about the process of the adventure. Learning new things, discovering new places, meeting new people, evolving as a person. Ash might never become a Pokemon Master, but I know that, and deep down that isn’t what I want to see anymore when I put on an episode of the show. I want to see Ash go on an adventure. I watch to see him evolve. And I am happy with the exciting new direction that Studio OLM is taking the franchise in with Sun & Moon.

Thank you for reading.

I Dropped Shirobako Out of Cowardice

In late 2014 when Shirobako began airing, I was a thoroughly broken person. I didn’t consciously realize it at the time, but I was running away from responsibility. I was a 21 year old college dropout with no future to look forward to. I had just lost my minimum wage job at a local Subway restaurant located inside a Walmart. Maybe it was because I constantly showed up late for work, disheveled and reeking of marijuana; or maybe it was because I stole some of the food inventory, thinking I was clever. But I won’t ever know. After that I drifted – I stayed at a friend’s place, then at a few different lover’s apartments, and even lived on the streets for a while. And during none of this time was I trying to get out of the hole I was digging underneath my feet.

But I was still watching anime. I was still looking for the perfect series to watch, so when I started up the first episode of Shirobako and five promising young students swore to each other to work hard together to accomplish their dreams, I turned myself off to the concept of the show entirely. I was extremely disinterested in watching characters who knew what they wanted to do and were taking steps towards succeeding at their goals. The reason I dropped Shirobako was because I didn’t want to see what I was missing out on. Shirobako’s first episode touted the idea of life as a self-fulfilling prophecy, and I didn’t want to face the truth of that statement in the mindset that I was in.

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In contrast, a fall 2014 first episode that did catch my interest was that of Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso. I was immediately intrigued by the the mysterious, seemingly tortured nature of main character Kousei Arima. He was noticeably withdrawn and I related to his deep-seated emotional trauma on an all-too-personal level that I hadn’t encountered in media…maybe ever. I needed to know what would become of him, just like I needed to know what would become of me.


Today I have 1000 times the work ethic I did back in 2014 and I take pride in working 60 hours a week. From all the critical praise I have heard lauded upon Shirobako since its original airing, I am almost certain that I will thoroughly enjoy the series now when I find the time to watch it.

My own personal experiences and attitudes informed my initial reception of Shirobako, and my experiences since then will inform my reception of the show now in a very different way.

Thank you for reading and I hope you can get at least a fraction as much out of this hyper-personal post as I did.


Why I Set All My Old Posts To Private

Yes, I put all my 90-odd posts to rest. Over the last four years I have been writing about anime, and three years and seven months of that has been on this blog. In that time I have experienced massive shifts in terms of my personal life and that of my writing style and substance of that writing. In response to the current nature of my life and writing I want to start anew. I will likely even change the name of my blog.

I want to write more personally.

I want to analyze anime and talk about why I feel the way I do about it.

I want to restart my YouTube channel.

And most importantly I want blogging to be fun. Both for me and my readers.

It’s time for me to change everything I do.

This has been TrueVasA/VasA/HimJL/DreamDialMedia. I’ll see you soon.