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: 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.

Continue reading AniNaNo 2012: Let the Madness Begin!

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.

Continue reading Administrative Stuff: The End of Endless Summer

Aniblog Interrobang!?!?

There’s a bit of a blogging meme/game/carnival/Olympics/circlejerk floating around involving an Interrogation-style game. It started with Iso from Nabe!!, who spread the game to a number of bloggers, and in a neat pay-it-forward type of scheme, the concept finally reached me, 3 bloggers removed. I was tagged by Starburst from Daifuuku (and subsequently, kevo from Desu ex Machina). I’m quite grateful to be mentioned reasonably early on in the meme, and I can’t help but oblige in participating.

Before I begin, here are the rules, ripped straight from the source itself:

Rules

1) Each person is supposed to follow the rule of fives. You are allowed to ask 5 questions, after which you can tag up to 5 bloggers by hyper-linking to their blog; 5 questions because it’s not too many to flood another blogger and occupy too much of his/her time, but yet a large enough number to ask your most important questions, and 5 bloggers to avoid spamming. Hence, prioritize your questions, and who you wish to ask!

2) Those tagged are obliged to answer the questions in a blog post, and after which, they are entitled to create their own 5 questions and tag 5 other bloggers, so on and so fourth. You should answer your own 5 questions as well. You are allowed to tag the person that tagged you in the first place. Also, copy and paste this section on your blog so others can understand how the game goes.

In the case where a blogger strongly refuses to answer a question, he/she must instead post a nice anime image, wallpaper or cosplay picture, et cetera in response to that question.

3) To make things interesting, a blogger can include wildcards in his/her 5 questions by placing an asterisk, (*), after which those tagged are obliged to reveal something interesting about themselves that others did not previously know. There is no limit to the number of asterisks one can place (which means there can be up to 5 wildcard questions).

4) Anyone can feel free to start the game; you don’t necessarily need someone to tag you. Just create your 5 questions and tag your 5 people of choice. However, the catch is that you must answer your own 5 questions as well.

5) To potentially prevent an endless game, this round of games will end on the 8th September 2012, 12pm JST (GMT +9). After which, no more bloggers can tag others to answer their questions.

Sounds quite reasonable enough, but knowing how ranty I can get when talking about myself, this opportunity seems like a challenge to write a fairly long post which will probably end up getting ignored due to the sheer length of it; to hell with anime-related images! I’m up to task!

Continue reading Aniblog Interrobang!?!?

Slam the Vote! Support Baka Laureate in the Aniblog Tourney!

Wouldn’t you believe it? I’m in the top 16 of the Aniblog Tourney! I’m amongst some really esteemed company, including Sea Slugs, Metanorn, Listless Ink, and even my opponent for this round, the defending champion, psgels. My goodness, looking at this list, you just know that the other people left standing are very well-deserving blogs who’ve made their mark with hard work and a lot of support from their readership. I bested Reverse Thieves last round, a blog that’s done a whole lot for the community, and I’m sad to see them go. But alas, I’m still here, still strong, still writing.

While I’ve been rather blasé about the tourney for a while, particularly considering my preference for good content over actual presentation of said content, I’m still of the opinion that the top-16 level of this tournament is one where the quality blogs truly start to show their strengths. I’m not as well-established of a blog as psgels, nor am I as prolific in my writing schedule and post frequency. But I do have one advantage over this particular star-crossed matchup: The Slamming Spirit.

As promised in my appeal for votes in my matchup against Reverse Thieves, I’ve Space Jam remixed the ending theme to Heartcatch PreCure.

I’m a man of my word, especially when it comes to Slamming songs. So here’s what I’m going to do. I don’t really think I can match up to psgels at all, but I will do something nice for my readers. For every 20 votes I get in this particular match, I will slam an anime song of your choice. Leave a suggestion in the comments, and when the polls close on Wednesday, I will grab the best suited submissions and slam the living bejeezus out of them. All in the name of science and anime.

Here are a number of slams I’ve already done:

Mawaru Penguinjam

Star Dunker – Slamochrome

If you want some more slammilicious sounds, you’ll have to vote. Repeatedly. Get your brother to vote. Get your cat to vote. Go to every fucking starbucks in your area and vote. Understood? Great. As if you needed another reason to vote for the Baka.

Seriously, though, I really do appreciate your support in the slamiblog tourney so far, so let’s keep it up! Baka and out.

The Big Hundred!

This is the 100th post written here on Baka Laureate. Considering that I’ve been blogging about anime since November 2010, it’s taken quite a bit of time to make it to the triple digit mark in posts. A lot of it was due to some periods of inactivity, particularly during NaNoWriMo the past two years. Other than that, I usually don’t post more than twice a week, which all adds up to such a delayed 100th post.

Regardless, a milestone is a milestone, and I figured I’d celebrate this occasion by looking back on a number of my favourite posts. I’ve selected 10 of my favourites, and while some of them actually count for multiple (as they are either the first or last post in a series), they still count as a single subject about which I am writing. This exercise also serves as a neat little cross-section of what Baka Laureate is all about.

Tsundere and the Beast: a Classic Character with a Classic Archetype

As Yi pointed out in the comments, everyone loves a good tsundere. It struck me as odd that a Disney character would show all of the signs of the classic definition of tsundere, and I remind myself in this post that even the stalest of character archetypes can be written remarkably well. It is probably close to being my favourite blog post.

But You Don’t Look Sick: Spoon Theory and Why I Love Katawa Shoujo So Much

This was my second post on Katawa Shoujo, and even though the game’s hype has long since waned, I still love the personal connection that was established between myself and the game. There was a lot of love put into the development of that game, and there was certainly a lot of love put into this post. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was gushing the entire time I was writing it.

If Famous Anime Directors Adapted Twilight

It’s not exactly my most original post, since I put an anime spin on an already popular article published outside the anime blogosphere. Either way, it was an exercise in creativity and I really enjoyed how it turned out. The post is exactly what it says on the tin, and I couldn’t be more satisfied with how easy it was to write.

Mawaru Penguindrum: Ringo (Apple) Curry Recipe!

Out of all the posts mentioned today, my Apple Curry post from Mawaru Penguindrum has received the most hits. I can thank Google for that, as well as an incoming link from a Livedoor translation of a 4chan /a/ thread. Not only did traffic come in from /a/ that day, but also from a very popular japanese website. It’s certainly warranted, though, I’ve eaten Apple Curry numerous times since the post went up, and I’ve always been satiated in each of my attempts to cook said dish.

Fanfiction: The Wish of Haruhi Suzumiya

Endless Summer was a series of posts all written approximately within the same 2-week period in August in which Haruhi Suzumiya’s Endless Eight took place. It dealt mostly with the planning process for fanfiction writing, and although it can be applicable to original fiction writing as well, I made it fanfic-centric, as the exercise led me to write the fanfiction piece that is referenced in this post. Clocking under 7,000 words, it is easily the longest one-shot fanfic that I’ve ever written, and probably my favourite one.

It’s the Greatest Show Time! Krizzlybear’s 10 Favourite Anime Films of All Time

While the concept of a top ten list is rather unoriginal, it’s the execution and list selection that draws the reader in. While there is a minuscule chance that someone else out there has the exact same 10 favourites, their reasoning is surely to be different. In this two-part post, I wax poetic about an unassuming list of films that includes the like of Millennium Actress, Redline, and even Pokemon: the Movie 2000. The list gets a bit personal, especially at the end, which is what I loved the most about this piece.

12 Days of Anime #11: The Wooden Cube

The 12 Days of Anime is an interesting event in the anime blogosphere. The forced requirement to do 12 consecutive posts is quite taxing, especially within the context of a busy Christmas season. The entry for Day 11 was an interesting one, since it barely contained any words; however, I had spent the most time recording what would be my darnedest attempt at an english dub of Norio Wakamoto’s voice. I don’t know what I was drinking that day either, but it certainly was received well.

An Open Valentine’s Day Letter to Yuki Nagato

From Christmas to Valentine’s day, this post is not a self-pitying whining spree that one would see on some lonely otaku’s livejournal account. This post was more of a letter to myself, and associating my life with anime through the concept of a waifu. In the strictest terms, one might argue that Yuki Nagato isn’t really my waifu, as I don’t go all-in on the experience of having a waifu, dakimakura and all. Either way, it’s one of my most personal post to date.

Imaginary Dates with the iDOLM@STER Girls

While posts like Valentine’s day and my top 10 are highly personal, this quirky little 2-part post opens up some incredible details about myself as a person without going into any significant particulars about my life. This is because I injected some creative thinking and writing exercises in the form of imaginary dates with iM@S girls. I learned a lot about myself by writing that, and those who have read the posts most likely learned a great deal about me as well.

The Anime Everyone is Talking About, the Latest Episode

This sentence is the first indication that the writing style in this post description has clearly changed from the previous entry. I expand on the idea presented from the previous sentence by using the same writing technique that was employed in the post in question. As a result, the third sentence in this description has absolutely wrecked my brain just by how ridiculous the post became as a result of intense meta-writing. Just read it. You’ll understand why it got the comment responses that it got.

And Then The Rest

By listing 10 example posts for my 100th post celebration, I’ve essentially mentioned the top ten percentile of posts from Baka Laureate that I enjoyed the most. By nature of Sturgeon’s Law, the rest of the blog is probably shit. But I won’t readily admit that just yet. For the most part, the slow pace of posting once to twice a week has given me the breathing room to not rush my posts, so they’re not bad at all. Here’s looking to another 100; hopefully this one doesn’t take yet another 2 years to accomplish.

Baka Laureate, as Affected by SOPA and PIPA

Yes, I am fully aware of my decision to use comic sans as a font for this image.

Actually, if SOPA and PIPA pass, that would be pretty much the end of Baka Laureate and anime blogging in general. I’d encourage my readers to voice their complaints to their MPs/senators/etc., but at this point I’m just preaching to the choir, and mostly trying to find an excuse to post Fractale porn, which to my dismay, is a fairly common search term for my blog. Seriously, what the fuck?