Baka Laureate

Bridging the gap between fan and fiction

Baka Laureate: a 3×3 Farewell

Goodbye.

When I told a loved one over skype that I was going to take my leave from the anime blogosphere on twitter, she immediately suggested that I say goodbye in some capacity, perhaps through a farewell post on what looks to be the remains of a blog that talks about anime.

When it comes to anime, there’s the good old standby of the 3×3, the penultimate graphic in which its creator puts their entire personality and character into a single array of shows that reflect what means the most to them. Despite the guttural immediacy of twitter as a social medium, and its intense white noise of haphazardly collected and processed anime opinions, ranging from character designs to best girl to by-the-book jabs at Yamakan (it’s been two years, get over yourselves!), even those who dwell even in the deepest echo chambers of the communities are not as soulless as their often dismissive words appear. Anime, like all fiction, moves people, resonates with them on an emotional level (processed and communicated memetically as feels), and offer marked experiences in one’s life. It is those marks left that are the basis of our identities as fans of the medium.

Here, at Baka Laureate, I remain a fan of the medium, an eternally grateful one. I’ve made my share of friends, enemies, lovers, well-wishers, and even my own little readership fandom. I’ve been blogging for a few years here, on top of all the years prior about World of Warcraft and writing. In my life, it feels like I’ve only known writing. I will never truly know anime. I may not even truly know writing either, but the difference between both is that writing is something that’s proved its persistence time and again. No matter what I may be interested in during any period of my life, I will always be writing about it.

I’ve since moved on to blogging about PreCure. It’s a wonderful little franchise, and I have a wonderful little blog that I’ve made for myself. I’ve even made a tumblr account just for the sake of reaching out to other PreCure fans with my writing, because that’s the whole point of what I do. I’m a fan, first and foremost. I’m not a scholar or authority for criticism, nor am I a cynic. I’m not competing to be the voice of a highly insular community. I’m not building a brand. I’m a fan. I’m a writer. I write about things of which I am a fan. And I do it constantly and without regret. It’s something that will always be a part of my personality no matter what. PreCure will still be around, and so will be my blogging about it. I’ll still be a part of the fandom.

The same cannot be said about anime as a whole, however. Anime in general has been a part of me for most of my life, and will probably remain for the rest of it. I will no longer be writing about it, since there is no longer any incentive for me to write about this general thing I love. The difference between now and when I left the World of Warcraft blogosphere, is that when I left WoW, I was still looking for something. As I leave the anime blogosphere, I feel as if I’ve found it. I’ve found something that I simply love more than anime, and something that I can’t really just write about and share with people, at least, not in the same way that I have through this blog.

In order to be able to have what I truly want, I’ll have to go on a bit of an adventure. It’s an adventure that requires me to leave this particular segment of the Internet, and to leave you who reads this. I assure you, dear reader, that you are not forgotten, nor will you ever be forgotten. The connection that we’ve made over the years through words exchanged remain, and even though I will be no longer around in that uncomfortable place, I will always be available for approach. It just requires a short trek outside of the anime blogosphere. If you wish to find me, you will find me. I’ll still be somewhere, trying hard to reach that future that I want.

I’ve always loved book endings, and I feel I’ve successfully closed the book on this wonderful run with a fascinating community. So here it is, the end of what I feel was something quite special.  Something that’s been a part of me for a long while, combined with a fondness for writing words, and simply leaving those words where anyone can see.  It’s the beginning of yet another adventure, and I thank you for having been along for the ride.

Secret Santa Review: GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class

Source: pixiv

Source: pixiv

Having spent the majority of my anime fandom fully absorbed into the “moe slice of life” show, I’ve actually found it quite difficult to find some sort of framework in which to judge its merits. I mean, there is certainly a formula at work when it comes to being able to, as an industry, package and repackage the same repeated elements and expect it to sell to a hungry audience that craves its periodic dosage of cute girls doing cute things. That may be the overlying philosophy behind development and design of a SoL series, which may be tiresome to those who either try to find meaning in a purportedly meaningless genre or those who have simply watched way too much of it, but sometimes it’s through an off-beaten path and approach that makes a show tick. Of course, such things may come off as gimmicks, but what GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class brings to the table of this highly saturated (yet still disturbingly profitable) market is something completely fresh, despite having the same overall premise as other “art school sketch shows.” Thanks to the Reverse Thieves “Secret Santa” review event, I’ve had the pleasure of watching this particular show, and despite having only finished the series a few minutes ago (hooray for procrastination!), I am quite thrilled to talk about it. So let’s talk a little bit about the show, and why I just loved it so much. Unfortunately, there are only so many words that I can afford to give such praise!

Hardly anyone I know on twitter talk about this show anymore, and it’s kind of a shame. It’s about a group of freshman high school students who attend a highly specialized art program, and the show essentially follows their day-to-day lives in school. That premise by itself is probably something to scoff at, but underneath its familiar exterior is actually a lively discourse about the mediums through which they work. On top of that, the personalities of the main characters, despite being noticeably cookie-cutter to your typical cast of moeblob characters, interestingly serve as different lenses through which art is viewed and discussed. Take Noda, the overly energetic fashionista of the group. She’s very knowledgeable about certain areas of art (especially fashion design), but often finds herself lacking in talent, and through this, she tends to point out informative aspects of a subject, even though she can’t really follow-up on that particular amount of knowledge that she has. Unlike her, the main character, the shy glasses-girl Kisaragi, acts like an audience surrogate, taking in information, and building upon ideas based on talent and curiosity alone.

Having a primary cast of characters that is decidedly balanced in their discussion about art allows for some really interesting opportunities to approach different subjects. In one particular episode, they discuss surrealism in art, and the entire bit is depicted through a series of dreams. The viewpoint character Kisaragi, falls asleep in the middle of said discussion, and has a bunch of very seemingly random dreams, but the imagery was calculatedly surrealistic. One would think that this connection was enough to establish the approach in which the discussion would develop, but instead, the dreams just simply continue in a “always waking up into a dream” sort of feedback loop, with each layer more evocative in its imagery than the last, almost like Inception, but replacing philosophical undertones with that of art criticism. That said, no particular discussion of surrealism actually occurs throughout the dream sequences other than the repeated initial lines that introduce the topic when Kisaragi “wakes up” from her dream. She finally wakes up from her subconscious travels, and when posed with the question of surrealism, she simply explains, “Well, I suppose, it might be something like painting the world of your dreams.” Undoubtedly, this sequence was my favourite part of the show, and serves as the best example of GA is about.

Having for the most part marathoned the entirety of this series within a 24 hour time span, perhaps my impression of the show would be different from those who took their time in savoring the moments that this show provided. I kinda fell as if this sort of show would be best taken in small, regular doses, to coincide with a type of pacing that allows the audience to take in the particular “lesson of the day.” This would result in a more complete, meaningful experience of taking in this series in comparison to others in the genre. One benefit from it in the same way that one would watch, say, an Aria, at a much, much slower pace than usual. There probably lies a particular spectrum of pacing for different shows in the genre, with a high-energy show like Yuru yuri at one end, and a very airy, iyashikei-like show like Aria at the opposite. Somewhere, in the middle lies GA, whose unique approach and lively characters make the the show very easy and enjoyableto watch, but contains a lot of substance that requires some amount of reflection to fully appreciate. Ultimately, this show is definitely a keeper, eight charcoal pencils out of ten.

Thanks for the recommendation, Naz!

AniNaNo 2012, Day 1: My Title Can’t Possibly Be This Bad!

Ah, it has started, NaNoWriMo 2012. We’re on the first day of November, and the adrenaline of those first few days have unsurprisingly started kicking in. By joining NaNoWriMo, you’ve convinced yourself that writing every day was a challenge that’s worth taking and bragging about. As such, you’ve taken on this journey of fifty thousand words (which begins with an innocent 1,667 on the first day), and if you’ve literally started from scratch like I have this year (that is, no prior planning, nothing), it starts with a title and first sentence.

Don’t think too hard about this step. It’s not that important in the context of the entire body of work. In fact, make it as awkward as you can. Let yourself go. Let go of that nagging part of your brain that tells you that your writing needs to be fixed in certain (if not all) parts of your story. The tool that you’ve used to critically break down fiction and anime in particular, is now a weapon that will hold you hostage from finishing the story that you want to tell. That voice in the back of your mind can help you later, but for now, you need to keep it locked up somewhere, keep it distracted. Do it by taking a tongue and cheek approach to the very beginning of your novel, knowing very well that you’ll fix it later. Reach into your bag of rejected light novel titles and use one of them. Take a page from one Chuunibyou’s titular localization attempts:

Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

That just sounds attrocious. It’s perfect. 11 words down, 1,656 to go for today’s quota. Let’s do it! FIGHT-OH

AniNaNo 2012: Let the Madness Begin!

In some parts of the world, NaNoWriMo has already begun, but in North America, the 30-day writing marathon starts in a few hours. In previous years, I’ve always made a point of not posting on this blog much during the month of November, simply due to the chaos of writing a 50,000 word novel in a month, but after three consecutive years of success, I want to share my writing process this year with my readers in the aniblogosphere, as a number of them are also planning on doing NaNoWriMo as well.

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Guest Post: Anime and Sales Analysis, by Yuyucow

I am pleased to share a post by Yuyucow on an aspect of the anime industry that I am admittedly not well-versed in. You can follow Yuyucow on twitter. Read the rest of this entry »

A Presidential Debate About the State of Anime in 2012

With the second of three presidential debates already in books, Americans everywhere are one step closer towards the end of a wild campaign leading up to the upcoming election. Tuesday’s event was a riveting back and forth between two candidates, and not a single punch was held back.

What wasn’t televised afterwards, however, was an equally-important debate regarding the state of anime in the 2012 season between the same two presidential candidates. Here is a transcript of the dialogue that ensued.

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Kick-Heart and the Kickstarter Approach to Writing Fiction

I recently backed Maasaki Yuasa’s Kickstarter for a 10-minute animated short called Kick-Heart. In short, Kickstarter is a fundraising platform in which creative projects are realized through the financial support of people who want to see interesting ideas come to fruition. In Maasaki Yuasa’s case, his idea is a story of two pro-wrestlers, one a sadistic nun and the other a closeted masochist, in an almost-literal Romeo and Juliet style of romance. Combined with Production I.G., Yuasa seeks to bring the work to life in uniquely animated, vividly stylistic world.

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Chrono-logical: The Art of Order

I met a girl named Erika at a club one night. She had curly cherry hair, and wore a pair of leather thigh-high boots that rode her legs in a way that I couldn’t help but notice as we stood next each other as we ordered drinks for each other. It was something that I had told her over breakfast the morning after she had spent the night. I didn’t bother mentioning it when I asked her back to my apartment, but she knew what she was getting into and how she managed to do it.

Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. In the most elementary sense, this particular advice given to writers is meant for the purpose of providing structure, teaching them how to keep track of their creations as they are being created, maintaining a sense of pacing and awareness of the important events that further drive the created story. Traditionally, this entails that the story is most easily written and/or presented in chronological order. While this may be true in most cases, there is a point to be made for presenting things out of order.

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Make Saimoe 2012 More Interesting With a Fantasy Saimoe League!

Earlier this year, I posted a series of posts relating International Saimoe to March Madness, a national college basketball tournament. I replaced teams in the bracket with moe characters and predicted the outcome of the tournament by comparing the relative level of moe of each girl representing the teams in the tournament. It was pretty well-received by the intersecting sports/anime fandom, to the point where I wanted to revisit this style of character analysis.

Alas, Japan’s own Saimoe is in the midst of its own March Madness-style single elimination tournament of moe characters, and has wrapped up its first round of eliminations. A whopping 97 characters still remain in the tournament and there’s still plenty of time to make predictions as to which character will win their group and make it to the quarterfinals. There are so many girls in this competition that picking a winner out of the entire field is pretty difficult, probably moreso than picking a basketball team from a field of only 64.

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Administrative Stuff: The End of Endless Summer

What a wild ride that was! For 10 days, starting on August 24 and ending on September 2, I watched the entirety of the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise, including both anime series, two web series, and the movie. After participating this event for two years running (this year being the year I took up the mantle of organizing), I can vouch that marathoning this show is easily the most satisfying way of capping off one’s summer, regardless of what happened during that time.

It’s been a weird summer for me, filled with change and a lot of crazy new experiences. I moved out for the first time (though not necessarily for good), I went on my first trip to Otakon, and I made some headway into some initiatives both in my blogging career, at work, and in my personal life. I’m still trying to catch up on a lot of things, and most of it will carry over into Fall, but the beast that was Haruhi was a great way to punctuate and give me pause to move forward and catching up on a number of matters, which I feel need addressing going forward.

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