Apparently there’s more of this coming at a later time, but
for me, this is the final episode I’ll watch (I do reserve the right to change
my mind in a few months but for now I’m over it). The injured hand drama gets
stretched the duration of the entire first half until they all decide to play
anyway (half of them unknowing about the injury). We then get the crisis when
they realise Chika’s not playing the way he usually does before they all come
together and finish the song amazingly well.
No idea how they actually did or what happened next, or even
whether Chika actually went and got medical treatment given his hand turned
purple, but apparently that’s not as important as finding a sound that makes us
all feel like we belong so that we can leap into pink mist with a big smile on
Okay, apparently I wasn’t emotionally invested in the
contrived issues to really get pulled along with this one and ultimately I
found myself just waiting for it to end. I didn’t mind the performance as it
really was the first time we heard the whole group really performing together,
but trying to layer over the teacher’s back story and melodrama, which I wasn’t
interested in, while each of the characters were going through mental
acrobatics as the performance went on just didn’t draw me in.
Affiliate Link – Soundtrack
While for those who are a little more swept away by the story so far, this performance might seem like the perfect finale, for me it was much like the rest of Kono Oto Tomare; that is to say, it was a mixed bag to be sure.
It is rare that I feel Eren is being the realist of the
group, but this final episode of season three, part two of Attack on Titan
really shows how grounded he has become after repeated tragedies. No longer the
shouting optimist who believes he can impose his will on the world by screaming
it loud enough, he’s closer now to someone who has given up but is going
through the motions. Still, there’s hope yet and this episode gives us
something we so rarely see and that is the characters of Attack on Titan
So let’s back up to the beginning of the episode. With all
the new knowledge they’ve gained there was definitely the question of what they
would do with that information. Historia made the decision to tell the people
the truth, or at least Grisha’s account of it, and the information went out.
However, as I observed last episode, that doesn’t change much for the average
person just living day to day and the reactions of the public made sense. It
was kind of a shame that this part was not lingered on longer but there was a
lot to get through this episode so I kind of understand it.
The survivors of the Scouts all have mixed views on the last
campaign and the decision to save Armin. While they probably shouldn’t b airing
these publicly, the problem is that none of these characters are technically
wrong in their argument. The situation sucked and so many lives were lost that
no matter what they gained it is really impossible to believe this was a success.
Affiliate Link – Soundtrack
Yet a success is needed and medals are awarded. The ceremony
is suitably full of pomp and ceremony and they are clearly still connecting
Eren and Historia though I guess we’ll wait until next season to find out where
that is going, if anywhere.
Then we time skip and the scouts are finally heading out
into the big wide world and at last make it to the sea. Unlike every other
season of Attack on Titan, this felt like an amazing achievement and a great
stopping point for a season. A goal set up since early season one finally
achieved and while there are plenty of obstacles still to overcome, it really
feels like this is the journey we’ve waited on.
A really delightful ending to a series that has really come back strong this season.
There’s really only on gif to use for this occasion, isn’t there?
You know guys, when you’ve been around the blogosphere for a while, you start to recognize certain patterns. Signs if you will. When you pay attention, you can sort of tell when a blogger is no longer as excited by their blog as they use to be. Then again, some bloggers really manage to take us by surprise. One day everything is business as usual, next thing you know, they haven’t posted in a month and you have no clue why!
I’ve been reading a lot of “how to blog” posts from my esteemed colleagues(?)… fellow anibloggers, as of late and I noticed that quite a few recommend taking breaks to avoid burnout. On paper, this makes perfect sense. I cannot think of a single reason why this wouldn’t be great advice and in fact, it may be great advice.
In practice, however, every time I’ve seen a blogger announce a hiatus it’s usually followed by another, then another until they become indefinite, if the blogger comes back at all. As if once the momentum is broken, it becomes exponentially more difficult to get it back.
Since the anime blogging community is quite dear to me, this state of affairs makes me a little sad. And I do understand that blogging burnout is definitely a problem for us. As such it would be great to have a solution. But if taking a step back from your blog isn’t it, then what is it?
Again, I’m not saying a break isn’t a good idea, I just think there’s just a bit more to it.
I can’t and shouldn’t speak from personal experience here. I’ve always been a give it your all sort of person and never look back. If I stop blogging for any span of time, I’m much more likely to just pick up a new hobby than come back to this one. For people like me “break” might as well mean ending. And that gets exhausting.
I have found a few tricks that work for me. Instead of slowing down on posts I might pick up some collabs. I find collaborations very motivating and I have been lucky in that the bloggers I’ve worked with are a great source of inspiration. I’ll also take a step back from all the extra blogging stuff. I won’t get involved in debates and maybe ignore twitter for a bit. I’ll read posts but if I disagree, I’ll keep it to myself instead of trying to start a discussion because I know I’m not in the best headspace for it. Things like that. I’ll also write “just for me” posts. The posts I personally want to write because I find interesting, but I know will be ignored by everyone else. They don’t require much aftercare but make me happy and remind me what I like about blogging even when I feel like I’m just talking to myself.
However, these strategies aren’t going to work for everyone. In fact, they might not work for most people.
Whem thinking about it carefully, the taking a break from the blog approach does seem to work much better under certain circumstances. One of these is the “planned break”. I read Bliblionyan’s post on the subject (I had seen this advice before as well but sadly I couldn’t find the links again. Please feel free to let me know in the comments and I’ll gladly add the link), and I really liked this idea. Basically, instead of a loosely structured “break” until you feel like coming back to your blog, you can take blogging vacations. Like a week out of every month or a specific month off that you can announce ahead of time. I’m a strong believer in sharing my schedule with my readers, it makes me feel like we’re part of a team and holds me a little accountable. I have a reason to come back, people are waiting for me (even if it’s just in my head).
Another way I have seen that makes breaks more viable is to pepper them with regular check-ins. If you’re studying for exams or changing jobs and you simply no longer have time for your regular blog posts, you can replace those by short diary style posts. Like little emails to tell your readers what’s up. It’s a lot less time consuming and makes you feel like you’re still part of the community. Plus, it lets readers know what you’re up to. Like dropping a text to friends you don’t have time to see as much anymore.
I send my friends super cheesy pick-up lines like “Baby, if you were words on a page, you’d be fine print.” Out of the blue and without context or explanation. I have gotten a few in a bit of trouble that way… But I always like seeing one of those pop up a Tuesday at 3pm on my phone for no reason.
In a way, a blogging burnout isn’t always about the workload. Sure, you may just be too busy to actually post but if you still enjoy doing it, you’ll probably come back to it. Burning out can often come about because you’re just not having as much fun as you use to. Whether it’s because you feel like you’re not achieving the goals you set for yourself and are “wasting your time” or because the feedback you’re getting isn’t what you need right now. In those cases, just going away for a little while probably won’t change the core problem. It may make the experience less frustrating if you’re not putting as much effort into it, but it might also make it feel less rewarding.
So these are my general suggestions, take them with a huge grain of salt:
As I mentioned, plan vacations instead of spontaneously going on hiatus.
Keep in touch if you can¸.
If you start to feel burnt, try figuring out why:
o Not enough connection to the community? Maybe try doing a collaboration with a fellow blogger, starting your own tag, joining a blogging group or doing a community project;
o Not enough views? How about brushing up on SEO and divide your time between creating content and advertising your blog (as in create half the content then advertise it in the time you would have spent creating more), learn about different platforms;
o Not enough feedback? Make sure you interact with other bloggers, comment on their posts and talk to them in discord or twitter. People are much more likely to talk to you once they get to know you a bit. It’s always awkward to just leave a comment to someone you’ve never talked before out of the blue so forming a connection can really encourage others to interact;
And just remember that breaks don’t have to be all or nothing. You can add shorter sillier posts to your roster. Mix in picture posts if those are easier for you.
This is really all the advice I can think off. I hope some of it is useful. And please, if you have any other suggestions, leave them in the comments. I’m sure it will be a great help to your fellow bloggers.
Teen melodrama abounds in Kono Oto Tomare this week.
First we get a touching backstory for Hozuki and the raising
of the question, once again, as to why anime parents are so terrible. Seeing
the destruction of Hozuki’s relationship with her mother framed by the current
reality of Hozuki living on her own and fevered with Chika, in his own way,
looking out for her, is pretty heart-wrenching even as it is melodramatic and
However, I do have to give the episode points for having
Chika play an old recording of Hozuki performing because that was pretty
fantastic to listen to and perfectly complimented the raw emotion she was
trying to convey. Nice job with that.
Unfortunately, from the moment the fever is broken we turn
our full focus to utterly contrived drama with Hiro forcing a confrontation
between Hozuki and the other members of the club and then realising that she’s
failed. The club’s bonds aren’t going to break even if Hozuki explains the
truth and Hiro is the one forced to flee.
That brings me though to the other high light of the episode
which was Takezou stepping up as the leader of the club and confronting Hiro.
He got hit over the back of the head with a bag for his efforts but it was a
rare moment for him taking charge without hesitation and he even tried a second
time, though this anime seems determined to have his own efforts go to nothing
except to serve as the inspiration to others (poor Takezou).
Hozuki overhears Takezou’s attempt to talk with Hiro and so
confronts the girl herself and then everything just kind of works itself out.
I do wish they’d given Hiro a slightly better reason for her
actions but one group of friends ditching her one time seems like a really lame
motive, and while I’ll accept that some people might delight in the misery of
others, it really doesn’t make for an interesting character here, and certainly
not one that I care whether they get a redemption at the end or not.
So Kono Oto Tomare continues to be that anime that has a lot of good things going for it but overall in terms of its plot and how its dealing with characters is fast falling down my list when I think of anime I’m enjoying this season.
I have always been the weird foreign kid. When I was younger we moved around so much that I never got to know what it’s like not to be the outsider. I have no innate appreciation for feeling like I thoroughly belong somewhere and that somewhere truly belongs to me. My home is where the things and people I love are.
*****It should be noted that by foreign character here I’m sticking to non-Japanese characters that are presented in a Japanese setting and need to interact with Japanese culture and society. There are of course tons of anime set outside of Japan that feature entirely “foreign” casts****
This said I can tell through anime that there’s a certain cultural attachment between the Japanese people and their homeland. Markers of traditional Japanese culture and values are usually shown with respect and in a positive light. On the other hand depictions of foreigners are well, rare. To be fair they are getting more common and more diverse, probably to show the growing diversity of the general Japanese population. However, there are still some tropes or at least trends that persist when portraying non-Japanese characters in anime.
I think these trends are interesting to look at. They shouldn’t be taken to seriously though. Every nation has both positive and negative biases of those they consider outsiders and these get exaggerated for effect in our fiction. But occasionally these hold a kernel of truth about how we see others, or at least how we once saw them and can be a clue to how others see us. Like I said, I’m using a huge grain of salt here. Sometimes tropes are just a random trait an author thought would be cool that got copied over and over again because it was, in fact, cool, or funny or simply popular. Basically, sometimes tropes don’t actually come from anywhere meaningful at all.
With that out of the way, let’s take a quick look at foreigners in anime. One thing you may have noticed is that for a long time, main cast foreigners tended to be very often blonde and usually half Japanese.
Being an island (well a whole bunch of islands) Japan was more isolated than mainland countries to the influence and influx of other nations. As such, people from other lands, especially those that were visibly different, tended to be viewed as even more exotic and just plain alien than in most places. And like just about everyone else in the world, exotic things tend to be both fetishized as exciting and attractive and feared as dangerous. Did it seem like I hit my head and went on a tangent out of the blue? Don’t worry, this paragraph has a point, and my head doesn’t hurt that much anymore!
By making characters half Japanese you get the best of both worlds. You can make them look different and striking (blonde) while still maintaining some comforting familiar. Sure they may speak a different language but they also speak Japanese fluidly. No need to worry about scary language barriers. As a side note, I recently read an article that said that Japan was the least English literate nation in Asia. I found this incredibly surprising but it does explain why they would have discomfort with non-Japanese speakers. This isn’t a judgement call by any means. I’m certain that there are still way more English speaking Japanese than Japanese speaking North Americans.
By contrast though, whenever it is much more frequent that foreigners that serve as antagonists have no Japanese background at all. In this case, their “otherness” is what’s emphasized. Not that foreigners are vilified in general. It’s simply a way to make the difference between characters even more pronounced.
Another classic foreigner archetype is the lovable foot, used as comedic relief. These are not presented as openly stupid characters but there is an assumption that Japanese society and cultural norms are particularly difficult to assimilate for outsiders. As such you have a bevy of well-meaning but slightly clueless gaijin getting into all sorts of hijinks over simple misunderstandings. This hapless visitor trope is widely used in fiction around the world and by no means unique to anime. It was, however, one of the most common representations of non-Japanese until fairly recently.
One of the archetypes that I’ve personally come across less often in anime than in western works is the mystic or magical foreigner. One of the reasons may be That in western works the wise old mystic trope is very often used with Asin characters so it might not translate that well. Rather than secret knowledge or ancient traditions, foreigners in anime often come with notions of wealth or power. They are also commonly depicted as more carefree than the rest of the cast and bafflingly beautiful. I say bafflingly because I’m not sure this translates at all to real life biases. This is an interesting glimpse of the different perceptions we hold.
Slowly though, I can see how current trends starting to show up in shows. Foreigners may occasionally use expressions or words in their own language but we see characters that are otherwise perfectly at home working or studying alongside native Japanese. A blonde character has just as much chance of being a delinquent or Yankee as a European. In fact, we see their size (foreigners are still often considered tall and imposing, especially if they are men) rather than hair colour being used as a physical marker for people of different nationalities.
I’ve also noticed that the clueless visitor is slowly getting replaced by a very Japan-specific, foreign Otaku trope. You have characters speaking broken Japanese so thoroughly obsessed with the culture and history that they tend to be more insistent on tradition than their Japanese counterparts.
Even though it’s a bit of a caricature and a way to poke gentle fun at people who are basically…well, me, I really like this new trope. Anime as a medium is responding to and incorporating its own international fan base into the narrative. We get to be a part of the stories we love so much. It shows a willingness for anime to grow alongside its audience. And what I have found particularly nice is that the depictions of foreign Otaku in anime are pretty much the same as the ones of Japanese Otaku. We are united in our neediness. And it’s sweet.
Because both manga and anime are still overwhelmingly written by Japanese authors we still don’t have much foreign point of view characters. Either they are half Japanese as mentioned above or the story takes place in a different country and as such, they are not in fact foreigners. I’m sure this is going to change very soon though and I am looking forward to seeing that.
Have you noticed any trends in the way foreigners are portrayed in anime?
Well the boys are back in another episode of Tsurune. This one took me by surprise when it appeared out of the blue on the Crunchyroll line up, though I guess if I paid more attention to release announcements I’d have known it was coming. Still, an additional episode is fraught with potential to be trite, pandering, or just plain pointless and while there isn’t a lot of point here, one could arguably say that Tsurune has always been more about the journey than the destination.
One clear difference here is the sheer amount of focus on the rival team with the boys from both schools heavily interacting after an idol was supposed to be shot at Masaki’s temple. Still, where I originally groaned at the premise as I thought it would be a cheap excuse to have idols running around a show they have no real business being in, Tsurune once again proved that it knows how to stick with what it does best.
The outcome, the idol shooting at the temple, is more or less extraneous to the episode as the episode is about the interactions between the different boys from the two schools. Shu and Minato have both grown, but so have all the other characters, including the previously almost insufferable twins. The end result is a pleasant and calm viewing experience occasionally broken up by smaller comedic moments that have varying degrees of success. I did like the photo op of all the boys in servant shirts though.
As with most extra episodes, there’s not a lot of point if you haven’t watched the series. These interactions are only pleasurable if you have pre-existing knowledge of the group and where they’ve come from.
I will say though that episode 14 is nowhere near as pretty as previous episode. The shooting isn’t accompanied by wind or leaves, the direction, while function, is fairly ordinary, and the sound track isn’t exactly doing much. While I really loved the aesthetics of the season, and while this works, it is just nowhere near the same level.
Still, for those who watched and loved Tsurune this is an extra treat with an episode springing from nowhere to give us some more Kyudo fun.
Earlier in the week I celebrated my third anniversary for 100 Word Anime. For me, that was really exciting because each year I kind of feel like I’m learning more and figuring things out and I also feel like my posts are written a little better than they used to be. Okay, there’s still typos and the like, but I feel like my posts are a little clearer and more focused than they used to be (for the most part, there’s still the occasional ramble that gets through).
Today though I want to look at how the third year went on the blog and then set a few goals for the new year. If this is anything like previous years, other than the goal of ‘have a great time blogging’ I will probably fall short of most of these, but I’m still going to set them anyway. I love having something to work towards. Besides, I think as long as I keep kicking the goal of having fun I’m still coming out ahead.
2018 ended up being a very solid year for my blog. I wrote over 1000 posts and the number of comments and likes increased in general. of course, the length of my posts just keeps getting longer though I think I’ve kind of found the right length for my episode reviews so they don’t go on too long but also give enough information. Occasionally an episode needs more words and sometimes there just isn’t that much to say so I think it all kind of works out in the end.
April of 2019 is quite literally the only month since starting the blog that a post didn’t come out everyday. Even July last year where I took a mini-break still had one post a day scheduled for the week. And in terms of views, it is very clear that I wasn’t posting in April as it is one of the worst months I’ve had in the last two years. However, I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve managed to maintain daily posting for all but one month out of the last three years and I’m really happy with the growth my blog has had.
Still, over the last 12 months I’ve had 4 months where I hit the target, or exceeded it, of 10,000 views in the month, so that goal was well and truly smashed and I can not express how excited that made me. I know it is just a number but it just kind of made me feel like I really can build this blog into something more sustainable long term.
But now we need to set some goals.
Number One: Continue to have fun with the blog and anime.
This goal is pretty self-explanatory and is pretty much the same as every other year.
Number Two: I’m going to tentatively set a goal of 20,000 views in a month. It will probably be a couple of years before I hit that, but it still seems like a nice target.
While I get views aren’t everything, realistically, the more people who visit or follow my site, the more chance there is of generating revenue through either ads, affiliate links, donations, or people choosing to become patrons and supporting the site. I’m very grateful to those who have financially supported the blog over the last year and this financial year at least the blog is on track to have earned enough to cover all blog related expenses.
Number Three: Learn more about social media.
Over the last six months I’ve been reading a whole range of websites and guides about how to effectively use social media and while I just don’t have the time to put a lot of the advice into practice, I’ve been working on Twitter at least to build up the number of people who actually follow links back to my blog and that has worked fairly well (let’s not talk about April though). I’d like to continue to explore ways to use various social media sites to bring visitors to my blog and just learn more about what I could be doing.
Number Four: This one is a very tentative goal, but I think I’m at the point where I need to expand beyond being a solo-blogger and need to look at bringing in some other writers to the site.
Over the last six months I’ve really been thinking about what I can do to improve and increase content and broaden the range of content on offer to readers but the reality is I’m doing as much as I can already. In order to do any more I am going to need to look at having other contributors in one form or another. This one is tricky because clearly the blog isn’t earning enough to pay anyone decently for their contribution, yet, and also because I do not want to lose what makes my site what it is so I have no intention of just opening the doors or rushing to expand at the expense of what I love about my blog.
Still, the first baby steps toward this goal are already in motion so keep your eyes open.
And that’s it. That’s the current state of the blog after three years with some vague plans for the fourth year. I’d also like to throw in there that I’d also love to collaborate with other bloggers when I have the time for it as it is great fun reviewing a show with someone else and I also want to find more anime related blogs to read as I always enjoying finding more content. Hopefully everyone enjoys the next twelve months and as always, if you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to use the contact to send me a message or DM me on Twitter.
Reminder also there’s a couple of days left to enter the raffle for the giveaway if you haven’t already. Really looking forward to seeing who wins. The winner will be contacted shortly after the raffle closes and I’ll hopefully get the prizes in the mail soon after I get the mailing addresses.