Inquiring Minds Want To Know #29 – What anime/manga do you feel receives more criticism/hate than it actually deserves?

Okay, I’ve changed where I’m running the survey momentarily just to try a different service and see which one is more manageable. For now, if you want to ask me a question there’s a link in the sidebar or you go straight to the survey. The old link will still work and I’ll still check there for questions. I’m just trying something a bit different because some people were having trouble with the other survey.

Question: What anime/manga do you feel receives more criticism/hate than it actually deserves? From anon.

Sword Art Online Episode 1

I’ve never made any attempt to hide the fact that I am an SAO fan. I’ve seriously been considering a rewatch and reviewing it episode by episode (much as I have started with Yuri on Ice, but for this one I didn’t have the blog or streaming services when it first came out). While I will happily admit to many flaws in Sword Art Online, and the increasingly diminishing returns of further arcs, the Aincrad Arc remains one of my very favourite narratives to watch.

Clear purpose, evolving characters (go on, tell me Kirito doesn’t develop as a character in this first arc, I can already hear the screams), fantastic action, skipping over the grinding and just cutting to the points that make a pivotal difference to either the characters or the quest… A real sense of danger as their actions and choices matter and one mistake could be their last… The soundtrack… Okay, fan-girling big time.

What I like most about the first arc of SAO is it is accessible. I have many friends who aren’t super into anime but they don’t mind games or action so Sword Art Online is an easy sell to get them to try an anime. I’ve only had one person out of perhaps ten who have watched it with me end up not enjoying it. Most of the others have not only binged watched the whole arc but have then asked me what other anime I would recommend.

Why does it get so much hate? Well apparently it is popular to hate on SAO. Apparently it gives you credit as a ‘real’ fan or someone who watches ‘real anime’. Again, I’m not going to proclaim it a perfect work of art and I’m pretty critical of every arc after the first myself. But statements like it is the ‘worst anime ever’, a ‘steaming pile of…’, or that Kirito is a ‘Gary Stu’ who never changes just make me wonder if the person watched the show in the first place or just someone else’s review of it and whether they’ve watched all that much anime.

It isn’t that I don’t think people should criticise Sword Art Online. I just wish the criticisms were grounded on actual observation rather than just going with the flow of hyperbole that anything connected to Sword Art Online must be some fanboy’s delusions of grandeur on crack. I do not understand how people can say Kirito doesn’t change. Watch episode 1 again. Skip forward to episode 10. Do you see the difference? If not, try again, and this time actually pay attention to his attitude to himself and others. That development occurs, incrementally over the first arc.

Admittedly, that’s where it plateaus and part of the trouble with Sword Art Online is the concept is really a one arc story. Everything that came after that is just forcing more problems on characters who’ve already had their drama play out and the characters aren’t really getting anywhere after that point nor is the sense of danger or excitement still present.

So yes, easy question to answer though I suspect I might get some more interesting comments than normal on this one.

That said, it isn’t though Sword Art Online is alone in being the flavour of the month to hate on. Diabolik Lovers finds itself targeted quite regularly, and I’ll be honest and admit I’ll happily tear that to pieces any day of the week. Fans of it probably aren’t thrilled by the negativity, though I think vampire sexual and emotional abuse is probably a little harder to justify than what might be classified a slightly bland power fantasy. Just my opinion.

Sword Art Online - Episode 4

Alright, over to you. Do you think Sword Art Online gets more criticism than it deserves? Is there another series that you feel is needlessly bashed around by critics just because it is cool to do so? Just remember, play nice.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Inquiring Minds Want To Know #28 – How do you find a balance?

If you have a question be sure to ask it here. Previous questions that have been answered can be found here.

Question: How do you balance your job and hobbies? What’s your routine? From Lita Kino.

maid

Let’s be real, there is no such thing as work/life balance in the modern world. Work hours are insane for those who are lucky enough to have secure employment, meanwhile others are unable to get a foothold in the market. And yet, instead of reducing stress and workloads by actually hiring more workers and sharing the load, employers keep tightening their numbers and push more and more work onto people not secure enough in their job to actually say ‘no’.

I actually really love my job but in 2017 was hitting 55 – 65 hours a week at work regularly and a firm life resolution in 2018 was cutting that back regardless of what it cost or how guilty I felt leaving at the end of the day. While I still tend to do an average 50 – 55 hours a week I haven’t hit 65 yet this year and so am feeling a bit better about things (though my job list at work is looking pretty tragic and there are some things I’ve just openly dropped off my list and decided it isn’t worth the effort of following through).

So finding a balance is more or less impossible given the hours work eats up. That said, I firmly believe that you will make the time for things that are important to you. You can’t find time. There are 24 hours in a day, divide them as you will. While most of us have limited control over working hours, how we use the rest of our day is entirely in our hands. And for me, I’d rather spend my time on anime and writing my blog then sitting on the side of a football field, going to the pub or the club, or many of the other ‘entertainments’ available in my very small town.

Essentially that means if I’m not at work, asleep, or doing housework, I’m probably going to be doing something related to anime, movies, games, or reading. Because that’s what I love to do. For sure there are other social interactions that do occur, but if I get to choose, I’ll probably be typing away at my computer or watching something on TV.

As to a routine, it should be fairly well known that I don’t really sleep much (an ongoing habit of mine). Again, 2017 was a terrible year with my average sleep dropping to barely four hours most nights, but I’ve clawed back to five hours for now. However, that means I wake up really early and so I usually spend an hour or two on the computer before work reading blog posts and replying to comments. I don’t tend to watch much anime in the morning, saving that for evenings, but I try to touch base with new posts from followers and follow up on any emails or messages. Then my actual alarm goes off and I have to get ready and go to work (one of these days I’ll sleep long enough to hear my alarm from my bed and wonder why I left it next to my computer).

After work I try to do another quick visit of blog posts, though I tend to comment less and like more on posts I read after work due to usually being brain tired, and then I catch up on the anime of the day and draft reviews.

Weekends, outside of exercise and cleaning, tend to involve a lot of watching and writing and reading though I have no real set routine on weekends. I just kind of do what I feel like doing and then wonder where my day went. That’s of course when I haven’t brought work home with me, then I usually promise myself that when I finish task A, I can watch an episode of this show or this one, and that usually keeps me working.

maid5

This one is probably a great question for readers. How do you balance your job and your hobbies?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Inquiring Minds Want To Know #27 – What would your anime series be about?

If you have a question be sure to ask it here. Previous questions that have been answered can be found here.

Question: If you had to chance to create your own anime series, what would it be about? From Scott

Hero52c

I kind of touched on this when I answered Curiously Dead Cat’s question about what anime I would like to see made, though this is different in that this isn’t something I would hope other people would make but something I’d like to make myself. It might seem like a minor difference and yet it is a massive one. Amazingly, the things I enjoy reading and watching aren’t all that similar to the things I enjoy creating and so I think if I had the chance to create my own series (and any ability at all to do so) my answer to this question would end up being considerably different.

Firstly, I’d have a really small cast. Like two or three characters of any note and while there might be other characters involved they likely wouldn’t ever be named or of any interest. They’d exist simply to move the plot along and for some sort of credibility. And the reason for having such a small cast would be because I’d really like to focus just on these characters and their interactions, reactions and motivations without feeling cluttered or that they needed to conform to some type in order not to step on another character’s toes. De-cluttering would be a fairly big part of my decision making and while for some viewers that might make the story end up feeling empty, for me that is about the only way to get to any depth with what remains.

But what would the story be about?

I think the female protagonist would be lost (both literally and metaphorically) and the over-arching theme would be finding a path and overcoming obstacles (again, literal and metaphoric). While there would be a male deuteragonist, they wouldn’t necessarily be a love interest and more just someone to balance the story and offer an alternative point of view or solution. As to a villain, I think the tedium of the everyday and just dealing with life would be sufficient obstacles for the main character to overcome without actually having anyone actively standing in their path.

Honestly though, I kind of doubt such a story would be overly popular but right now it is kind of what I’m in the mood to write and I was hoping to get back into fiction writing this year. It’s been awhile since I’ve really written anything and now that I’ve responded to this question I’d kind of like to maybe try my hand at a story or two. Though, writing a story and thinking about how it would play as an anime are two fairly different things.

Thanks for such a great question.

Cells2a

Definitely interested to hear what the readers have to say about this one. What would your anime series be about?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Inquiring Minds Want To Know #26 – How Do You Come Up With Content?

If you have a question be sure to ask it here. Previous questions that have been answered can be found here.

Question: How do you come up with content to post to your blog? I’m always stumped and have no creativity. From Rebel

Sailor2

To be honest, I’m not a very creative person. While there are some writers and content creators that can go with the flow and just wait until inspiration strikes them and get going, that approach doesn’t work for me at all. I’m very much about having a plan and a clear focus as to what I am going to do. When inspiration does strike, I’m not above reworking the plan to fit in an impromptu post, but for the most part everything is worked out well in advance.

With the majority of my weekly posts being episode reviews, the only weeks where there isn’t a clear guide are the first two or three weeks of the season where I’m still trying shows and working out a schedule. However, once week three comes around, I’ll have a note book page with the list of shows I’m following and when their review should be scheduled. This works around the already established posts such as my weekly round up posts, series reviews, and other posts that I do each week.

About the only two posts I actually need to get creative with are the Top 5 posts and the Feature of the week. And I will admit, I sometimes really struggle with these but I’m usually a few weeks ahead in terms of scheduling (though not at the moment because right now I’ve used up my supply of scheduled posts to get me through the last few months when I haven’t been feeling so well). I do have quite a list of potential feature ideas and top 5 ideas that I add to whenever something catches my eye or grabs my attention and when I’m really stumped I go back to these lists, cross out ideas I’ve used, modify something if it doesn’t seem right, and eventually pick something from the list to write, but that’s more a last resort when I’m done staring at the white screen of death without an idea.

I think for me having a schedule and a regular cycle of posts is kind of essential. If I just opened the blog today and tried to think of a post idea, I’d probably not end up producing anything. But because I know that on Sunday I have to have a weekly round up post and at least two episode reviews, and by week three of the season I’ll know what those reviews are going to be on, it makes writing much easier because I have something clear to produce.

I get that this system won’t work for everyone and some people hate schedules as they go to write what they’ve planned and then realise they don’t want to, but for me it is what enables me to post regularly and always having something to write about.

sailor_moon_s_episode_125_sailor_saturn_and_sailor_moon

What about the readers? How do you come up with content ideas?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Inquiring Minds Want To Know #25

A reminder, that if you would like to be involved, just answer the very simple survey here and I’ll consider your question for inclusion in this series of posts. You don’t have to answer the second question but if you leave your name and link I will link to your blog when I respond.

Question: How long does it take you to write reviews? Do you plan the content and/or structure ahead, or do you just “let it flow”?  From TSOG

light-yagami-kira-god-of-the-new-world-30314021-701-386

This question I need to split into two parts because episode reviews and whole series reviews are two different things.

Episode Reviews:

My episode reviews are incredibly reactionary. They are relatively short and mostly end up being drafted within twenty minutes of my first watch through the episode. However, as I do not post the same day – usually, the current My Hero Academia series is my shortest turn around yet – I have given myself time.

And in that time I rewrite, rephrase, remove rants, remove unnecessary details, sometimes go and rewatch the episode, and basically make sure the review says what I want it to say.

However, the let it flow approach is probably the most apt. Despite all the editing and rewrites, I tend to stay relatively true to the initial reactionary writings unless it is actually completely incomprehensible. But I find that is the best way to capture the true mood or spirit of the episode.

Series Reviews:

This is a whole other ball game and again split into two parts. Series reviews that I am writing immediately after a season has ended are much easier as I have all my notes and episode reviews to rely on as well as a myriad of screen caps to look back through. I usually write these reviews about a week after the final episode airs and then schedule it out whenever my next blank space in my review line up is (so could be several weeks later). These reviews are pretty straight forward and mostly I just let them flow.

There are times when I get stuck. Yuri on Ice was such a time and then I fell back on a plus/minus format because I couldn’t write a review. It just kept becoming this gushy love letter and a fan-girl squeal fest.

Still, these reviews are simply approached by noting the main points I came back to time and again while episode reviewing, figuring out what my main point is and whether I enjoyed watching the show or not, and ensuring that I’m being fair to the show because sometimes I don’t like things just because I don’t like them and there’s actually nothing wrong with the show itself (Tsuki ga Kirei). Same for sometimes when I like something just because I do and there’s nothing particularly good about the show (King’s Game).

Being fair doesn’t mean I don’t express my opinion, I just try to balance it with evidence and I do look for positives that other people might find in the anime even if I didn’t enjoy it as well as looking at the obvious flaws of something I quite enjoyed.

Reviews of older anime are usually even more planned out. I’m usually not in a position to fully rewatch these, though sometimes I plan a rewatch so I can review a particular title. These reviews are usually very planned out and I spend time reading through the episode synopses, reminding myself of key scenes, considering the character points I want to raise, and trying to figure out how much I can say before I just cross into blatant spoiler territory.

As to how long it takes to write a review… that entirely depends. Initial drafting of a 500 word review (give or take) usually only takes about ten minutes as long as I have a plan and have thought about what I’m going to say, no comment about how long that process might take sometimes. But then there are a lot of rewrites with full series reviews. Generally speaking, I’ll rewrite it two or three times in its entirety and certain sections may end up with up to five rewrites before I feel it is reasonable.

I’m just going to be thankful that I type fast so as long as I have a solid idea in mind, writing it out doesn’t take too long. It is getting the ideas together and then making sure I’m happy with how I’ve expressed it that takes all the time.

252258-1442635_light_animestocks_com__22

I’d love to know from the rest of the community – what is your approach to reviews?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Inquiring Minds Want To Know #24

A reminder, that if you would like to be involved, just answer the very simple survey here and I’ll consider your question for inclusion in this series of posts. You don’t have to answer the second question but if you leave your name and link I will link to your blog when I respond.

Question: How can you improve your writing and creative skills aside from reading and practising writing?  From DarkdaemonPK2

levy reading

Um…

Do I have to say that you kind of have to read and practise writing to get better at it?

Realistically exposure to different styles of writing and practising different ways of phrasing and putting words together is about the only way to improve it. I’d say it is more or less the same for creativity. The more references you have to draw upon and the more combinations of ideas you’ve been exposed to, the more flexible you are at putting ideas together and generating something original.

If there’s anyway to get better at either without reading or practise, I don’t know about it.

levy reading 2

Anyone with a suggestion on this one?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Inquiring Minds Want To Know #23

A reminder, that if you would like to be involved, just answer the very simple survey here and I’ll consider your question for inclusion in this series of posts. You don’t have to answer the second question but if you leave your name and link I will link to your blog when I respond.

Question: What are some anime/book tropes that you wish would end? From Fuelled by Smiling

Smartphone4b

This is kind of a tricky question because while there are annoying tropes, there’s always the occasion where it is used well and for a purpose and it fits just perfectly. In that case, I have no issue with more or less any trope. I’m sure even the fall and boob grab might work in some context even if I can’t immediately figure out where.

That said, there are certainly tropes I find more annoying than others and while this isn’t a definitive list, the ones that immediately spring to mind include:

  • Little sisters
  • Harems set-ups for no purpose
  • The fall and boob grab
  • Pretty much anything anime girls do to one another when sharing a bath
  • Bad guys who speak instead of fighting
  • The insta-power up just because
  • Absent parents just because
  • Love triangles
  • The complete genius character

Now, for most of those, I have almost definitely watched and enjoyed anime that include them. As I said, it is always about the context in which it is used. Yet, these are the ones that seem to be used lazily more often than not by sub-par anime. It kind of gives the trope a bad name when really the issue is the execution.

Smartphone12b

Okay readers, what tropes do you want to see end?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Inquiring Minds Want To Know #22

A reminder, that if you would like to be involved, just answer the very simple survey here and I’ll consider your question for inclusion in this series of posts. You don’t have to answer the second question but if you leave your name and link I will link to your blog when I respond.

Question: Do you always follow back your followers? From Anon.

Grancrest11d

This one is a nice simple question with a fairly simple answer; no.

Given some of the people who follow this blog are not running a blog at all, or are running a blog that is discussing religion, or tiles, or in one case sex-toys, it really doesn’t seem like I’d be much interested in seeing their posts pop up in my reader.

That said, I do follow back anyone who follows me and leaves a comment that is running a blog that relates to anime, games, movies, books or similar. While I may not always read their posts if they are writing about something a bit far removed from my content, I don’t mind keeping an eye on their posts in the reader for the ones that do catch my attention.

I think it is nice to want to follow people and add to the community and all of that, but realistically I couldn’t follow back all 2000 people who follow my blog, at least not in any meaningful way.

Hakata11c

What about you? Do you follow everyone back?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Inquiring Minds Want To Know #21

A reminder, that if you would like to be involved, just answer the very simple survey here and I’ll consider your question for inclusion in this series of posts. You don’t have to answer the second question but if you leave your name and link I will link to your blog when I respond.

Question: If you were to describe yourself as an anime character what type would you be? Or which anime character would be most similar to you? From Chizu

inu-x-boku-sakura

I think I’ve mentioned this before in a post, though I can’t for the life of me remember where. Ririchiyo from from Inu x Boku SS is probably the anime character I can see as being most similar to me. Other than housing an ayakashi and having supernatural powers of course.

She’s shy and uncertain and covers that up by being pretty harsh with her words which then leads to profound guilt that makes her feel even more shy and uncertain. Ultimately she just kind of gives up and shuts herself away within herself until of course the magical healing of an impromptu family in the apartment building fixes things.

While I somehow don’t think I was ever as socially inept as Ririchiyo, I am very familiar with the feeling of rehearsing a conversation or an interaction and then later internally berating myself because it didn’t go according to script.

Of course, the other character I really saw a lot of myself in was Maka from Soul Eater. Mostly the study obsession but even some of her awkwardness and her frustration when she couldn’t succeed at something despite her best efforts.

So they are probably the two characters I think I’m similar to in some ways.

soul01_05

And now I’m asking my readers, which character or character type are you most similar to?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Inquiring Minds Want To Know #20

A reminder, that if you would like to be involved, just answer the very simple survey here and I’ll consider your question for inclusion in this series of posts. You don’t have to answer the second question but if you leave your name and link I will link to your blog when I respond.

Question: What series would you give a second season ? From Joseph

snow_white_red_hair_cast_characters_summer_2015_anime_bentobyte

Right, I know Snow White With The Red Hair has a second season, but where is season 3? There’s still so much I want to see these characters get up to and I just want more from them. And while we’re on giving things a third season, Noragami? Seriously. Why does this not have a third season yet?

But to take this question a little more seriously, I really wanted to see DanMachi get a second season, and that’s been announced, so I’m really happy about that. Again, it is a case where I fell in love with the characters and I just want to spend more time with them. That’s what all of these shows have in common. I want to spend more time with the characters. The stories are good, don’t get me wrong, but there are other shows with stories just as good. What makes me want these shows to continue is that watching them feels like visiting old friends and it is just pure joy.

So what else?

I could probably go on but the list might get a little silly after awhile. It doesn’t surprise me that the majority of these shows are character driven over plot driven (Gangsta might be an exception but the thing ended mid-story). Basically, with plot driven stories I like them to tell their story and come to an end. I enjoy the completeness of that process and that the story brings itself to a reasonable and timely close.

Character driven stories I like to see the small changes in the characters and their relationships over time and I quite enjoy the show taking its time, so multiple seasons are kind of appreciated.

Thanks for the great question and letting me think through some really great anime that I would love to see continue.

Noragami2c

Over to the readers and I’m wondering what you would like to see get a second season?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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