Why Is The Number of Light Novel Adaptations A Problem?

Light Novel Rage

It’s becoming a fairly standard cry each and every season. “There’s another light novel adaption with all its tropes and cliches.” And then fans of the source get defensive, those who dislike light novel adaptations start throwing out every poor adaptation ever as evidence that the entire idea of adapting a light novel is fraught with peril, and then there’s everyone else who is sitting on the fence and wondering if this light novel adaptation is going to be interesting, a train wreck, or an interesting train wreck.

So is there a problem with the number of light novels getting an anime adaptation?

I will admit, there’s a lot of generalisations about light novels and anime adaptations out there. Just watching season after season it is easy to buy into the idea that the anime industry is actually being taken over by light novel adaptations or that somehow they’ve become almost the staple source of adaptations. I certainly believed there were a lot more than it turns out there actually are.

So I decided to look into this a little bit. Just doing my own quick count on MAL for the anime that aired in 2018 (not continuing series) I found that unsurprisingly Manga remains the main source of anime adaptations. In fact, when you include web manga and 4-koma manga in the mix it accounts for nearly 50% of all source material for anime airing in 2018 that MAL includes in its seasonal pages (I’m totally open to the fact that this is not the be all and end all definitive source of information regarding this but it probably is a reasonable enough representation for this discussion).

What I was surprised to discover was that original anime accounted for 21% of anime in 2018. While I knew Zombieland Saga and one or two other titles were anime originals, I was unaware of just how many other original anime came out.

Zombieland Saga Episode 2

Then we have games, light novels and other (which accounts for ‘other’ as listed on MAL and novel and visual novel adaptations) which all come in at close to 10%.

Huh.

I genuinely did not see that coming when I first decided to see if Light Novel adaptations were in fact becoming too prolific. While I knew manga adaptations would still be the highest, I kind of thought light novels would be second or third, or at least close to a large chunk of the releases, but it is actually only sitting at 9.1%.

Then when you look at the highest scored title on MAL for each season, you see that in every case it was an anime based on a manga. The only light novel adaptation that came close was actually Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai in the Autumn season.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 6 - Sakuta

So why do people think there are too many light novel adaptations or that light novel adaptations are ruining anime, or that they get too much attention?

One of the reasons might be how widely discussed these anime are, even if they aren’t scoring the highest for technical proficiency or story-telling. When looking at the number of members each title has in each season we start to see light novels rising significantly higher in popularity than their score rating would indicate. Winter 2018 see’s Violet Evergarden in the top spot with the Overlord sequel in third. Spring was dominated by manga adaptations so the only light novel adaptation that made it into the top 5 was the Sword Art Online spin-off series. Summer saw Overlord 3 and How Not To Summon a Demon Lord in the second and third spots respectively. Finally in Autumn all three top spots were taken by light novel adaptations including Goblin Slayer in the top spot, followed by Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai and Sword Art Online Alicization.

Following along on Twitter or just what gets reviewed on blogs, there is no denying that light novel adaptations are well watched each season. While they may not all rise to high critical acclaim they do generally entertain a wide audience and by and large they provide a bit of fun even if they don’t necessarily have depth. Then again, I was pretty stunned to find Violet Evergarden’s source listed as a light novel and I wouldn’t call Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai particularly shallow in terms of the emotional scope it tried to encompass.

And I can already hear some people arguing that those aren’t the light novel adaptations that are complained about. It is the other ones. You know the ones. The ones with self-insert protagonists that get transported to another world and live out some harem or power fantasy (or both).

Sure, we could look at The Master of Ragnarok and shake our heads in dismay at the state of the entire anime industry being reduced to that kind of light novel adaptation. Then again, we could see that as The Master of Ragnarok just not being very well written or produced as an anime and even by isekai/harem standards it ended up pretty woeful (personal opinion).

I kind of feel most people constructing an argument around whether there are too many light novel adaptations, or that light novel anime adaptations are somehow subpar, or who are arguing for light novel adaptations, all suffer from cherry picking the titles that support their argument. For every Master of Ragnarok there’s a Bunny Girl Senpai. And while isekai power fantasies may not be your personal thing, clearly they sell well so there’s definitely an audience out there for them. Declaring the entire genre trash or that every single story is the same is a little closed minded.

Admittedly, I’m not jumping up and down and saying that everyone should watch How Not To Summon a Demonlord anytime soon. There’s an audience for it though, and that audience greatly enjoyed it. Even some people who normally aren’t up for an isekai story full of fan-service and the like ended up enjoying Demonlord as it went about writing a story with fairly good pacing and combining its base elements to most entertaining effects.

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord Episode 7

So why is the number of light novel adaptations a problem?

I don’t believe it is. It is another source of stories same as other novels, games, manga, etc and when adapted well can lead to some truly interesting anime. While it might feel like there’s too many similar light novels being adapted we need to consider the fact that clearly there’s a market for that story if it keeps selling, some of the adaptations are actually pretty good (while some are fairly objectively terrible) and that maybe it just isn’t your genre. Someone who doesn’t like shoujo love stories would declare those all the same as well and yet a die-hard romance fan would argue that every single one is different because of how the characters are constructed and the combination of elements around them.

It’s only been since starting the blog that I ever began reading light novels, and what I’ve found from reading them is that there’s a huge range in the quality of writing and the stories being told in them. However, I started reading light novels because there were some anime adaptations that were based on light novels that I fell in love with and I wanted more of the story. Which kind of means the anime did its job at promoting the source and was entertaining enough in its own right (or else I wouldn’t have bothered). So while I get that some people don’t like light novel adaptations, and some people hate isekai, I don’t think it is ‘taking over’ anime or that it is too highly represented, or even that adapting light novels is a problem. Like with everything it is about looking at each work on its own merits, or lack of them, and the personal opinions of the viewer. So while some people will continue to avoid these titles, others will eagerly await the next announced title.

Not from 2018 but still an awesome light novel adaptation.

That said, I’d love to know your thoughts so leave me a comment below and you can also check out my pretty terrible infographic with my findings from spending an afternoon reading MAL below.

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Karandi James
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Infographic - Anime By Source in 2018
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The Best Way To Beat A Dungeon

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 14 Eugeo strikes

We’ve seen the set up a million times (usually in fantasy). The protagonist has fought their way to the bad guy’s lair only to find an elaborate dungeon, maze, puzzle, or tower between them and the bad guy (who is conveniently just sitting in one spot waiting for the hero to arrive). However, it turns out even writers can get sick of this set-up and so then go about finding ways to break their own device by giving the team a bypass or a way to simply not play the established game. The question is, does this actually make for an enjoyable story to watch?

I first really encountered this set-up from a children’s story I read with my mother when I was really young (no idea when I heard it the first time because it was one of those kids books with a cassette that you could read along to). Anyway, the story was based around the myth of the Minotaur in a Labyrinth in Crete where Theseus had to kill it but then he wouldn’t be able to get out of the maze (clearly he’d never learned just to keep left). Anyway, some girl fell in love with him for reasons that weren’t ever made clear and she gave him some string (what an incredibly innovative idea) and so he left a path to follow to escape.

Bell fights the Minotaur.
Okay, this one is Bell fighting a Minotaur in DanMachi, but still, cool.

Even as a kid I kind of wondered why there was a maze, who stuck the Minotaur in it and why didn’t it just sit at the doorway and eat everyone who entered, and why they didn’t just collapse the roof on its head to defeat it. Okay, even as a kid I was really cynical and liked things to make sense and there was just too much about the story that didn’t. Admittedly, I never questioned whether or not a Minotaur could exist as that was just part and parcel of a story having fantastic creatures in it. I still haven’t given up on my dream of owning a miniature dragon so if you ever come across one, let me know.

A little bit after this I came into contact with the movie Labyrinth and there’s a particular scene with Sarah that drove me absolutely crazy even as a child. She’s frustrated because she can’t find any corners or openings in the labyrinth, has a bit of a hissy fit and slides down a wall, where a worm talks to her and points out there’s an opening just across from her. At first she denies this then she attempts to walk through it. The worm directs her not to go the direction she is going and she just says ‘okay’ and walks the other way. Now, immediately after that the worm points out if she’d kept going the way she had been she’d have gone straight to the castle, which is where she wanted to go. Why she didn’t ask why she shouldn’t go that direction is a question that will never be answered.

Sarah talks with the Worm

Except, maybe it was.

Early last year I watched the anime Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody and the main character finds himself facing a tower with dangers all the way as he goes to rescue a kidnapped companion. After a limited amount of time dealing with the levels he finds a passageway that leads to a dryad who, in exchange for a kiss, more or less jumps him half-way up the tower.

Death March To The Parallel World Rhapsody Episode 8 Dryad

Which is more or less what would have happened with Sarah if she’d just gone the first path.

However, then what is left to do?

Satou in Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody more or less just walks through the tower with little challenge, has a few fights at the top and saves the day. And that is kind of exemplary of every quest Satou ends up on. He’s either too over powered for there to be a challenge, or he goes around the challenge in the first place. While it might seem like a clever idea what it made for was a fairly boring viewing experience.

Almost like replaying a game where you can use your character after they’ve already beaten the game. They are now so over powered early levels seem ridiculously easy and without challenge. Worse when you use a glitch in the game. Baldur’s Gate 2 had one particularly glitch you could take real advantage of. If you saved your character at the end with all their cool equipment and levels and spells, and then started a new game with that character, but paused the game before the first screen came up, went into your inventory, you could drop all your existing equipment, and start the game. Once the intro sequence was over you could just pick it all up and play on. Trust me when I point out it was pretty boring and about the only thing it was good for was a speed run because why would you bother opening a single box or crate in the first level?

And I’m pretty sure that glitch doesn’t work on the Steam version and I know my old CD versions of the game are no longer compatible with my system so I guess that one is done.

So, does that mean the best way to beat a dungeon is to actually beat the dungeon?

Sword Art Online - Aincrad

Yes and no. It really depends on the variety of things for the characters to face in the dungeon and whether they grow or learn from the experience. Will crossing through the dungeon cost them anything or will anyone get hurt? Will relationships be tested? Will equipment be lost or found? There’s a lot of good narrative reasons to make your characters fight their way through the dungeon.

And if you aren’t going to use any of them, then the question would be, why bother writing a dungeon, maze or tower into your story in the first place? Just have your villain meet the hero and call it a day.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 13

But the reason this came up at this point in time is because of Sword Art Online Alicization. Now we know they like their towers in SAO. The Aincrad Arc is essentially a tower climb that gets interrupted early because the villain is exposed before they reach the top. However, episode 13 sets up a story where Kirito and Eugeo are going to have to get to the Administrator’s room and wouldn’t you know it, it’s at the top of the tower which is probably 100 floors up. I’m hoping they either bypass the levels or they find something worth fighting on their way up otherwise this is an incredibly pointless plot conceit. And why couldn’t the tower be fifty levels instead of 100?

Anyway, I’ll turn this over to you. What anime or story do you think used a dungeon-tower-maze the best? Who had the best way getting through a dungeon?

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Karandi James
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Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu. Pouch
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And With This Monologue I do Progress the Plot

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During the Autumn 2018 anime season, it occurred to me that there are some narrative devices I just don’t take seriously anymore. They may have at one point served a valuable narrative purpose or been written with thought and care, but now it seems as though every example I run across is either tongue-in-cheek satirising itself or is just an example of lazy writing. That isn’t to say there aren’t good examples of them, but the problem is that when a narrative device is used well it almost seamlessly fits into the story in such a way that you barely notice its existence.

Some spoilers below.

However the villain’s monologue is a device that you just have to wonder if it has outlived its usefulness. Or perhaps it is more the case where you have to wonder if writers even try anymore. It is almost as though we get to that almost climatic moment and in order to just get to the smack down as fast as possible they have a character just narrate and vomit exposition at the other characters to tie everything together.

It almost reminds you of that moment in Space Balls where the characters after explaining something to one another turn to the camera and ask the audience if ‘everybody got that’.

Spaceballs (movie) - Everybody got that.

Though, I will make one correction to what I said earlier. It wasn’t actually a villain who decided to monologue and exposition dump that really got my attention last season (mostly because I stopped watching Index and to be fair every character in that show is prone to lengthy exposition). No, it was Mei from Release the Spyce.

Yes, Mei had revealed herself to be a traitor to the rest of her posse of adolescent female spies and gone to the enemy. And then – here’s the big reveal – it turns out it was all part of a plan to double-double cross and actually bring down the bad guys (like we didn’t all see that one coming given the strong themes about the power of friendship and the like).

Release the Spyce Episode 12

However, despite this being revealed in about two lines of dialogue, Mei then proceeds to explain how it came about and was planned and executed, eating up valuable screen time, giving the villain time to prepare her next move, and more or less killing any pacing the episode may have had (so the theory that a monologue gets you to the fight faster doesn’t hold weight in this example). It was a disappointing choice in a series that had great potential early on but never could figure out its tone or characters and then didn’t manage to deliver a climax memorable for anything other than this particularly poorly delivered monologue and a villain whose kimono like outfit was strategically slashed mid-battle.

Now why this particular monologue isn’t necessary comes down to a few points. Firstly, Mei’s motives and actions aren’t that complicated. There’s nothing revealed that is actually necessary to understanding the plot or gives more insight into the character. Sure we get some particulars about when the plan started but that’s largely unnecessary noise and could have easily been left out or revealed later. Secondly, these characters all the way along were about not making stupid choices in battles. And gloating to the villain rather than actually doing something is a stupid choice. It just doesn’t make any practical sense.

Now, if we were to compare that to something like Death Note where both Light and L get numerous monologues (both internal and external) we can see why the ones in Death Note work better. Firstly, it is a consistent narrative device throughout the whole series. Secondly, the information revealed and the insight it gives to the characters is usually not something the audience could determine otherwise. I mean, realistically L doesn’t give a lot away with his actions or facial expressions. His expository moments are highly necessary to provide some context.

And finally, Death Note uses the monologues and exposition to really push the tension and drama of a scene. It isn’t a delaying tactic nor does it break the mood of the piece. It sets the tone and drives the scene rather than hindering its progress.

The Incredibles (movie) - "You Sly dog! You had me monologuing!

Basically, monologues get mocked, a lot, in stories. And a lot of the time they should be. They are intrusive, poorly conceived and barely useful. Ready Player One is jumping to mind right now given the sheer amount of internal monologues we are subjected to as the world is explained to us as if we couldn’t just see it on the screen – fully understand why they were needed in the book but they certainly weren’t once the story was moved to a visual medium.

However, it is important to remember that occasionally when a character starts a monologue, there’s a real reason behind it and there might be a solid narrative purpose. Just because we see this device misused so often doesn’t mean we should throw it out altogether. It just means we need to think about how it’s being employed and whether or not it is doing its job.

And let’s remember: if it’s in an anime, the main job is to entertain us. So I ask, are you entertained? What anime monologues have stuck with you? Were they good, bad, or somewhere in-between? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Karandi James
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ONIMUSHA: WARLORDS
ONIMUSHA: WARLORDS

Three Big Lies We Tell Ourselves in the Face of Love

Bloom Into You is full of characters who tell themselves lies – but are these lies we tell ourselves?

Watching Bloom Into You, despite finding Yuu’s struggle to reconcile her rational mind and her feelings fascinating and beautifully nuanced in the way it is presented, really makes me frustrated. I’m watching a character who is clearly genuinely in love with another, who has opportunity after opportunity to act on her emotions with few genuine obstacles, and yet time and time again, she creates a barrier between herself and the object of her affection.

Bloom Into You Episode 5

It almost makes me wonder how they’ll play it at the end. If the end up together, Nanami probably deserved better than being strung along by Yuu for so long before Yuu finally accepted what was true from nearly the beginning. If they don’t end up together, than Nanami will be Yuu’s one-who-got-away and she’ll have nobody to blame but herself and her own self-deception and indecision. Either way, while it might seem sweet and it certainly keeps the story moving, the reality is that if this romance were not a fictional construct, this would be a really bad place for the characters to be in.

While it might seem fine to see it as only a work of fiction and to dismiss these characters as exaggerated for affect, these characters, like many others in anime, really do seem to echo their creators and when it comes to love, you have to admit, people do some pretty silly things.

Bloom Into You Episode 3

So Yuu represents the first big lie that people tell themselves. It isn’t love. Yuu is hardly the first anime character to convince herself that what she is feeling isn’t love. She joins a long list of anime characters who insist that they just like the other person, or worse, that they are just playing around. For Yuu, she’s convinced herself that she admires Nanami for all of her outstanding qualities, but that is normal. It isn’t love.

We see a more extreme case of this in Ririchiyo Shirakin who not only doesn’t really she is feeling love (or at least strong like) but manages to self diagnose herself with potential arrhythmia. Now, I’ll admit that most people are at least aware enough of their own emotions to understand that they aren’t genuinely feeling ill when they get that tightness in their chest or their heart goes doki-doki, but Ririchiyo is a fairly special case in terms of being unaware of how to deal with emotions.

And when we ask why do characters do this and make statements about how dumb it is and why can’t they just be honest… You start to think why don’t people in real life. Why aren’t people honest about how they feel?

Which actually brings us to the second great lie that people tell themselves. I’m fine the way things are. This one is illustrated through Sayaka in Bloom Into You. As Nanami’s friend she wants more but for various reasons has decided that she’s fine with things the way they are. She isn’t honest at all about what she wants from Nanami but still feels jealous when she sees how close Nanami is getting to Yuu.

Bloom Into You Episode 6 Sayaka

So why wasn’t Sayaka just honest about how she felt? 

Because, like most sensible people, she was afraid of losing what she had. It wasn’t so much that she was fine with things, but more the loss of what she had was more than she was willing to gamble. If she’d thought she’d had a sure chance, she might have made a move, but there’s no certainty in love. And with Sayaka’s background, can you blame her? Dumped by her former senpai who then made her feel twisted and wrong about her sexual preferences, Sayaka isn’t exactly wanting to dive head first into another relationship. She’s got plenty of reason to doubt and more than enough reason to try to hold onto what she has.

But, Sayaka isn’t alone in this. In fact, she shares this trait not only with many anime characters and people, but she also shares this trait with another Sayaka. Sayaka Miki from Madoka Magica who uses her one wish to save the one she loves and allow him to play his violin again but in all the time he was hospitalised, despite visiting him, talking with him, being with him, Sayaka never once confesses how she feels. And then her friend announces that she’s going to confess and Sayaka is left in an absolute state of turmoil which more or less leads to her downfall. 

So could Sayaka Miki have confessed? Was she fine the way things were? It is kind of too late to know but these characters represent the very real fear people feel about being open and honest with their feelings and the very real potential downside of holding off too long.

Bloom Into You Episode 1

Finally, Nanami gives us the third type of lie people tell themselves in the face of love. Even if you don’t love me back, I’m fine just loving you. One sided, unrequited love makes for excellent story fodder but the reality of it is pretty crushing over time. No matter how generous a person is, pouring love and affection toward another and receiving nothing back is exhausting and for most not something that can be sustained (most, not all). Nanami tells Yuu it is fine if she doesn’t fall in love. Later she tells Yuu not to fall in love with her. Yet despite that, Nanami keeps pushing the relationship forward wanting more and more from Yuu.

No matter what Nanami says her actions speak louder than her words. Her request of Yuu at the sports carnival, that Yuu initiate a kiss, speaks volumes. Nanami wants Yuu to reciprocate. She doesn’t want to be holding up a one sided affection. While she rationalises and says that she’s fine just being in love, ultimately what she wants is more than that.

Looking at another anime character, Linda from Golden Time tries very hard to wish Banri the best. She loved him but because of his accident he forgot her and she left to let him move on with his life. Reunited, she tells herself that she honestly wants Banri to have the life he chooses but deep inside it is killing her to see the boy she loved not know who she is and with Koko. Admittedly, the amnesia aspect of that makes it somewhat less relatable to the average viewer, but it is still an interesting love story.

Bloom Into You is a beautiful anime. The direction, the music, the characters are all beautifully put together. But where it gets a lift beyond just being another pretty anime about high school love is in its exploration of people in love and the lies they tell themselves. This is what makes this story and the characters compelling and brings us back week after week. That and it is just really pretty.

Bloom Into You Episode 6 Nanami and Yuu

Well, if you made it to the end of this ramble, I’d love to know your thoughts on love in Bloom Into You or in anime in general.

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Karandi James
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IS IT WRONG TO TRY TO PICK UP GIRLS IN A DUNGEON? – HESTIA FULL GRAPHIC T-SHIRT WHITE (L SIZE)
IS IT WRONG TO TRY TO PICK UP GIRLS IN A DUNGEON? - HESTIA FULL GRAPHIC T-SHIRT WHITE (L SIZE)

Being Fearless And Taking on a Colossal Challenge

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Ignoring the hyperbole in the title, blogging is a hard gig with a million things to do and any change becomes a massive challenge. With WordPress trialling their new editor, a new mountain has appeared. And while at the moment you have the option to just ignore it, looming ominously in the distance, ultimately the only way to know whether it is actually going to be that much of a problem is to actually get in there and give it a go. So that’s what I’ve done for nearly two weeks and while I know they are still working on features and things, these are my current thoughts on it. With the thoughts of others scattered throughout via Twitter – thanks to those who shared their experiences.

Now, this post isn’t actually about tearing apart WordPress or the idea behind the new editor. Basically because, the idea is kind of cool in giving bloggers more control over layout and how the post looks and being able to integrate different kinds of media within the post. That is, as I said, kind of cool. The execution however is a leaving a little bit to be desired, however with one or two exceptions, at this point I’ve managed to work around most of my major issues and the more I use the new editor the faster it gets to put posts together. 

Dakaichi Episode 7 Takato and Junta
Me hoping to get on the good side of whoever is in control of the fate of post editing.

That said, I must admit, I’m in the minority of bloggers I know in that the majority of my posts are drafted and edited pretty much entirely in the editor. I do copy content out and save it as a word file after the fact, but essentially all my drafts begin their life inside WordPress (unless it is a collaboration in which case the start over on Google docs for the most part. And that leads me to the number one issue I have with this new editor.

Hitting enter when writing text automatically starts a new block.

And you might think, so what? Start a new block. See the problem with that comes when you want to format or edit your text before going back and adding images and the like. Because you can currently only format one block at a time. So the more blocks it adds, the more you need to individually format.

Then again, you also can save blocks as reusable, and once you’ve formatted it once you can instantly insert that block into a new post saving a huge amount of time.  So, for something like my signature, that I apply at the end of almost every post, spending the time playing around with it, and editing it in html to actually insert line breaks rather than having multiple different blocks and being able to insert images into it, is actually worth the time because I only needed to do it once and then give the block a sensible name in my reusable block list and now it is a simple matter of ‘add block’, search for name, insert and it is done. 

2 Block editing is a no go right now.

Just so you know, being fairly average at computers (I can use them but I’m not into coding or the like) my previous method of having a consistent signature across posts was to edit in html view after I created a signature, copy the code from that into a word document and then paste in the html view every time I started a new post. That kind of required me to have the word doc where I’d saved the signature open and accessible while in the wordpress editor and to be honest while that worked well enough, it wasn’t exactly a neat solution. 

I personally see the saving reusable block thing as a huge advantage, though that comes with a couple of minor points:

  • Editing the block and saving will apparently update the block everywhere it is used. Now, on paper that sounds great. If I want to add a link into my signature, it would now automatically update across multiple posts rather than having to go and change them manually, or shrug and just assume that any post before such a date will have the old signature. Or my episode links will now  automatically add to all the posts that I’ve added that block to so, again theoretically, if I added the block at the start of the season and to every post after, editing the block by adding the latest link, all episode reviews would have a link to all other episode reviews. Which is kind of cool… provided it works and I don’t accidentally do something to destroy the block across every post.

  • However, if I’ve saved a block purely for the formatting, I need to remember to convert back to a regular block before I start editing and not to save it as a reusable block after I’ve edited. So for the headings I’m currently trialling at the top of episode reviews, because adding colour to a heading was pain in the neck, I saved one as a reusable block, insert it at the top of a new post, convert it, and then change the series name to whatever I’m reviewing. It saves me formatting time but I keep freaking out that I’m potentially altering other posts in the process and then have to check to make sure they are still as they were.

  • Also, it isn’t clear yet how many reusable blocks can be saved or whether I’ll actually remember what name I’ve given half of them so some might never get used again and just be sitting in some kind of data storage limbo.

Moving away from reusable blocks, the single content type allowed in most blocks is really quite frustrating. So before I added a list in but there was a bit of a lead in to the list. The sentence introducing the list is in one block and the list is in another. Incidentally, because the introduction is a paragraph, I can change the text colour and add background colour to that block if I like, but I can’t in the list post (unless I manage to edit the code just right and don’t get an error message which is a fairly common occurrence because not all html code is acceptable in wordpress so sometimes even knowing the code isn’t enough to edit the block without encountering an error).

Skull Face Bookseller Honda San Episode 7
You do your research, find out how to code something, enter the code beautifully and then get told that your editor doesn’t accept half of it. At least I’m learning something.

There is a media and text block that allows you to have media on either the left or right side and then text beside it which I have found useful for my weekly summary posts but even then there isn’t much flexibility in layout. You can’t wrap the text around the image or video, merely place it in two columns side by side.

While I’m at it, I’ll throw in the part where I can’t centre justify my text anymore. Left, right or centre but no more centre justify and that seems like a fairly elementary thing to fix.

Run With The Wind Episode 7 Kakeru
Yes,  there’s no getting around it, the new scheduler makes me want to punch something.

Let’s get a few more negatives out of the way. The scheduler. I hate the new scheduler so much right now. I’m learning to get on with it, but the basic loss of being able to see when my other posts are scheduled while scheduling a new post is really horrendous. That and we are back to scheduling posts in whatever time zone WordPress has set rather than local. This was what it used to be like even using the old editor, but then they changed it to local time.

However, it meant that during my first week at least, posts that had been scheduled using the old editor were still scheduled in local time and in the new editor I had to do time conversion to schedule them appropriately (4 am my time Saturday morning is  6pm Friday in WordPress schedule time incidentally) and for awhile it was really making me want to scream in frustration because I’d be scrolling through the scheduled posts and checking my written schedule (yes, I’m old school and still record in an actual notebook) and my posts wouldn’t be in the right order. Such an unnecessary frustration.

What will annoy me more is when they just randomly change it back to local time as they have done once before but they don’t bother to send out a notification of such a significant change that will have a huge impact on those who schedule posts.

Voice of Fox Episode 5
Clear communication would sort so many of these kinds of issues.

And then one more minor gripe, the gallery. I can no longer make a slide show with images or preview what the gallery will look like or decide to have my images appear in random order and just a lot of functionality of posting multiple images is gone. I’m kind of hoping these features are coming but again, it seems like something simple to include so not sure why these features have gone AWOL.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 6
Taking the good with the bad.

That said, I’m kind of feeling there’s a lot of positives. Inserting tweets, video embeds, the survey short code, has never been easier. Once I decide how I want my standard posts to look and set the reusable blocks I need, creating a post should actually be a fairly quick process. The media library is much better than it was and adding alt text and descriptions to images has never been easier. I haven’t reverted to the classic editor because I really haven’t felt a need to do so and  I do believe that once I get my head around this new one, there are many things that will be faster and even in just a week (scheduling multiple posts a day), I know that some things have gotten faster.

Still, it is one thing to know that something has potential to be good and another to see that a post of yours has just gone out with all your words mangled because it was one you copied and pasted from an outside source into the editor and then foolishly assumed that the way it previewed would be the way it would post (silly writer).

Tsurune Episode 5 Minato and Onogi
Yep, guess where you’re about to end up.

And when struggling to find the block type you need because you aren’t sure what it is called, wanting to move an image and being unable to, just wanting to be able to apply a change to the font or format of multiple text boxes simultaneously and realising you absolutely cannot… new things are hard. They are frustrating. And particularly when they have a massive impact on the time it is taking to prepare a post (already a fairly onerous task), and sometimes you don’t end up with the result you want, the challenge can seem insurmountable.

The good thing is, that when the challenge is too hard at the moment you can switch back to the classic editor if you have to. And if you are copying and pasting text from other sources the majority of the time, I’d actually recommend it – that text blending thing where it removes spaces randomly is really irritating. The other thing is that there is a huge community out there and so far asking questions on twitter about the editor has brought many to the surface willing to offer advice, or at least relate to the same issue and how they worked around it. I also managed to have a fairly decent help chat through WordPress when trying to help someone else who was having an issue.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 7
Let others help you.

On that note, I did turn the question of what is good and bad about the new editor over to twitter and I’ve tried to share some of the responses throughout the post if you want to check out the issues others have encountered. But, if you’ve tried the new editor, leave a comment of your experiences below and help others learn from what has worked for you and what hasn’t. 

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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MY HERO ACADEMIA – 2018 ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
MY HERO ACADEMIA - 2018 ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

Why Does Teamwork Serve as an Excellent Story Cornerstone?

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We’ve all heard the groans, and probably groaned ourselves when an anime pulls out the power or friendship/teamwork finale and characters overcome all obstacles just by working together and recognising each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It is a little twee and a lot overdone and when done poorly, groaning is the appropriate response to a trite conclusion. 

However, and this is a big however, many fantastic and emotionally moving stories continue to embed teamwork as the central concept around which the characters and narrative develop. These are stories that move the audience and inspire. They offer little new in an already saturated field and yet they take the idea of teamwork and manage to fill the audience with a sense that what they are watching is worth it and rewarding.

So how does this work?

Haikyuu Kurusu Team

Firstly, through having a team, the anime instantly creates a cast of usually diverse characters to focus on within a confined context. If it is a sport anime like Haikyuu or the more recent Tsurune, we have a set number of participants with their own strengths and weaknesses, different levels of experience, and different attitudes. This inherently means the story gets to work on bringing these characters together to better understand one another, and conveniently help the audience get to know them as well, and it also comes with built in conflicts that make sense within the context before any external threat or problem is introduced allowing the story to feel like progress is being made even when not very much is going on in the wider narrative.

For some, this won’t appeal. They’ll feel they’ve seen these basic relationships play out before and they’ll be right. But what it does mean is that if a particular group or team happens to contain personalities and character types that appeal to the individual, the anime as a whole is instantly going to seem a whole lot more attractive.

Tsurune Episode 4 - Onogi

This is where Tsurune is edging out Run With the Wind as far as I am concerned (and it is a personal opinion). While Onogi in Tsurune is a bit of a downer, I kind of see where he’s coming from and he isn’t so over the top in his spitefulness or annoyance with the other characters that he’s irredeemable. It is quite clear that in not so many episodes the boys on the team will come together even if they’ll later have a falling out. And each of the other boys in the team I quite enjoy. They aren’t larger than life characters so for some viewers they might find them too subdued or dull, but I am enjoying the calm they bring even while they each have enough individual personality and drama to bring something to the table.

Run With The Wind Episode 3

Run With The Wind on the other hand has at its centre Haiji and Kakeru who are both problematic characters in their own way and while I’m pretty sure they’ll both mellow out before we get to the end, they are fairly hard to take (or at least I find them quite grating – particularly Haiji who I’ve previously called a ‘master manipulator’ among other things, and that wasn’t meant as a compliment – though having watched episode 8 I’m now very much hating Kakeru a lot). However, due to the large cast in Run With The Wind, ten members of the team as opposed to the five in Tsurune, despite finding the central two characters a little hard to swallow, other supporting characters are fantastic and are certainly keeping me entertained and wanting more. 

Run With The Wind Episode 5

Prince for best character of the season, please?

However, neither of these shows can really stand up when compared to previous sporting anime just in terms of the team dynamic. I’ll admit, I don’t watch a lot of sports anime, but when I finally gave in and watched Haikyuu I was blown away. They managed to bring in fairly flawed characters who individually would have been quite painful to endure and yet balanced the dynamic between the different cast members fairly beautifully to create a team that really made you want to get behind them.

Haikyuu

That isn’t to say that Tsurune and Run With The Wind won’t get there, nor is it saying that they aren’t good to watch given both are in the top half of my picks for the season so far. However it does explain why some team anime get more traction than others just on the cast of characters alone and how the narrative deals with those characters.

Secondly, where there is a team there is some common purpose, goal, direction. There’s something driving these people to come together and even if they don’t seem that driven in the beginning it is easy to give them an obstacle to work together to overcome. It might be simple story telling, but it works. In sports anime the goal is usually make it to some final or win some competition. Endlessly we get the ‘this is our last year’ routine, which somehow Run With The Wind managed to shove in their even though the characters are all different ages at university (thanks for that Haiji, we just needed time pressure). But outside of sports anime, we are seeing this a lot in some of our cute girls doing spy things offerings.

Izetta

I say that like it is a common genre, and it isn’t… yet. Watch this space, once anime realises it is on to a good thing we’ll see the plethora of shows following along and while that isn’t a problem, it does mean the quality of said anime will vary wildly and if the isekai genre is anything to go by, it means that those that dismiss anything that is popular or common as trash by default will definitely steer clear. Still, with Princess Principal and now Release the Spyce, cute girls doing spy things is a genre with a lot of potential and we could even throw something like Izetta into the mix, though technically they weren’t really doing spy things.

Now I would be the first to admit I am not the biggest fan of cute girls doing cute things. But cute girls doing spy things is a different story and Princess Principal showed us beyond any doubt that the idea can work. Outside of the context, the group of girls could have been any group from any high school anime ever, and yet with the context they were given, it allowed for the plot to have some drive and a sense of urgency even as the girls went about their ‘daily’ lives (you know, infiltrating, gathering evidence, running for their lives). And while that might miss the more relaxed motifs of the general cute girls genre, for those of us who don’t actually mind the relationship dynamics but kind of feel sleepy while watching something without a clear plot, it is an excellent path to take.

Princess Principal Episode 10

Once again, the core of this is the team. Cute girl stories live or die by how the personalities bounce off one another and how relationships are formed and maintained throughout the series. While Princess Principal had the overall narrative with the Princess and the wall and lots to pay attention to, each episode was ultimately driven by the girls themselves and individually, while interesting enough, they couldn’t have carried the story. But together they were fantastic and together they could overcome obstacles in the plot that individually were insurmountable.

Release the Spyce Episode 4 Mei and Fu

Release the Spyce is more problematic because the overall plot is a lot weaker and the team dynamic is less interesting or engaging (at least that’s how I’m finding it) so while all the elements are there the execution has been a little lacking. Shame, because this bright pink spy story could have been really fun and instead I’m just kind of hoping they would focus on one aspect or another because at the moment they are juggling too many things and not really succeeding.

Lastly though, I’ll bring teamwork back to relatability. Even though many of us aren’t exactly team players by choice, in life we have to deal with others and work with them at times. We’ll butt heads, have misunderstandings, dislike someone on first meeting for some arbitrary reason, feel like someone is holding us back, or even just be the person who is holding people back just because. However, teamwork is a vital skill and it is a situation we’ve been in over and over again throughout our lives. So seeing characters forced into a situation where they need to get on with someone or work together or just play their part, all of that is something that on some level we can understand and empathise with.

Tsurune Episode 5 Minato and Onogi

So while I’ll probably not stop rolling my eyes at power of friendship/teamwork conclusions that feel unearned, I did feel it was time for me to express why teamwork isn’t a concept that should be dismissed out of hand. When used appropriately it can form the cornerstone of something well worth watching and something that can have a real impact on the viewer.

However, I’d love to know your thoughts on teamwork in anime and who some of your favourite anime teams are and why so please leave me a comment below.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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AZUR LANE FIRST ANNIVERSARY ART COLLECTION BOOK
AZUR LANE FIRST ANNIVERSARY ART COLLECTION BOOK

A Special Friday’s Feature: Adventures at Supanova – Brisbane 2018

Supanova Brisbane - Cyberman from Dr Who

Hi all and welcome to a very special edition of Friday’s Feature as I share a bit about my weekend when I travelled to Brisbane for Supanova. For those who don’t know, Supanova kind of covers a bit of everything. Comics and gaming seem to be a large part of the focus, but there’s a lot of sci-fi, a bit of horror and quite a bit of anime thrown in just for fun. Previously I’d been lucky enough to travel to Melbourne for the event but that was a number of years ago and so I was super-excited when I managed to save up some cash, organise some time off work, and get to the convention this year.

CIMG3846
Despite how it looks at opening, there was plenty of room and the lines were never too long.

Now, it does start on the Friday afternoon, but with travel I was only able to go on Saturday and Sunday, but I still found heaps to do and way too many things I wanted to buy. However let’s start at the beginning. Over four days (counting the Monday and the Friday travel time), I drove over 19 hours, spent nearly 5 hours on trains, and walked over 30,000 steps.

And I wonder why I was tired this week.

Supanova Brisbane 2018 - Dean Cain

I also met some incredibly cool people, picked up some amazing merchandise, got to hear Dean Cain answer questions about whether or not there were ever any accidents involving his Superman suit and Bonnie Wright talk about what it was like to kiss Harry Potter so I’m feeling pretty happy with my weekend. I am a little bit disappointed that the panel with Julie Benz didn’t go ahead, but it did mean I had plenty of time to listen to the guys who rent out Darlek’s and a Tardis for charity and have operated a Darlek on the set of Dr Who, so again, not a lot to be disappointed about when so many things were so much fun.

And yes, I did dress up for the occasion (at least on the Saturday). I went as a gender-bent version of my very favourite anime ice-skater, Yuri Katsuki. For patrons, there’s a little surprise over on Patreon to check out.

Andrew Law - Figment and Flame Artbook

Now, I spent a huge amount of time in the artists alley because some of the art work there was amazing (as were some of the key chains, dog collars, self-published books, and insect themed jewellery). Still, my favourite stand ended up belonging to an artist by the name of Andrew Law (and here is his website which links to pretty much everything else). I absolutely loved his art work. Lots of fairies and dragons and fantasy based work. Some was coloured, a lot just ink, and I’m going to be honest, it was beautiful. I ended up buying his art book and I will admit I couldn’t really stop looking at it on my way home. I really just enjoyed talking with him and looking at his work. A lot of the other stalls were more interested in just giving you their spiel or pitch or would more or less ignore you until you directly asked them a question, but he was really nice. If you get the chance, check out some of his work because some of it is absolutely stunning.

Outside of that, I did buy quite a few fan arts of Nyanko Sensei, the characters from Land of the Lustrous, and a poster from Yuri on Ice. The Sword Art Online posters came as part of a show-bag I picked up because, Sword Art Online (couldn’t help it).

If you follow me on Twitter you’ve already seen my gorgeous new Nyanko Sensei plush (oh my goodness I love it so much).

And finally, my prize from the convention, I splurged a tiny little bit and bought myself a petite character box of the Black Moon Clan from Sailor Moon including Wicked Lady. I have tons of Sailor Moon themed merchandise, but almost nothing from the villains side and I absolutely love the villains from season 2, so this was a really fantastic pick up and one I’m glad I found.

So yes, an awesome weekend and I would absolutely love to do it again, though I’m not sure when that will happen. I’d love to say I’ll go next year but it was quite hard to fit it in this year so it may have to wait another year or so before I manage to work it in again.

On a final note, I got a few odds and ends (mostly fan posters and the like) that I’m going to save up and put together for a bit of a give-away next year when my blog turns three (I’ll hopefully add to the small collection I have now to put together a couple of decent prizes).


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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DOCTOR WHO: THE COMPLETE SPECIALS