NOTE: This is a freely written article on thoughts floating about in my head. As such, there is no structure or order with this post. I’m shooting from the hip.
Admit it: You love controversy. It’s okay, nobody (except me), will judge you. In fact, you, the world, and I all love controversy. It doesn’t matter if the controversy is caused by a football playing taking a knee during the National Anthem against racism/police brutality, a disgraced rapper tap-dancing, coonin’ it up, and running a Minstrel Show for his massas at the White House, or an edgelord “Babby’s first fucked up anime” featuring a disturbing rape scene in the first episode. We love it. Love it so much that we waste time talking about whatever made us feel some type of way on social media, to our co-workers, friends, whoever may listen to us rant.
Even if we hate the thing that caused the controversy, we can’t help but talk about it.
Let’s take the newest Fall anime Goblin Slayer for example. Anime fan circles online are at abuzz at towards the new show. Not because it’s a great show or anything like that. But because (as previously mention), it’s an edgelord, shit-tier anime that featured the brutal gang rape of a female character and a young girl being stabbed to death. In fact, Goblin Slayer (the manga) heavily features violence against women (meat shield lmfao). And you already know that Left-Wing liberal college brats with useless college degrees and confusing genders are all up in their feelings about the first episode and the manga series as a whole.
They have gone to their tumblrs and their twitters to rant about how Goblin Slayer is a male-power/ rape fantasy series and believes that it trains males to disrespect and assault women. Others stated that if you like the show, you’re probably an edgy little brat who thinks violence in anime makes it mature.
They’re just giving the show free promotion at this point.
It’s funny: You’d think people would have the sense to not speak about the things they hate in order to not get it noticed. As we all know, that method never works. The more you talk about something you don’t like, the more awareness you bring to it. The more awareness it gains, the more it’ll grow. Example: Idiotic Right Wing conservatives (racially charged) rampage against former NFL player Colin Kaepernick and his deal with Nike. Kaepernick got a nice paycheck with his “Just Do It” advisement using his stance, activism, and platform.
Old, white men and women didn’t like that and decided to destroy their already-paid $50 Nikes that their poor, broke ass brought from Shoe Carnival or Ross’s (nobody isn’t stupid enough to destroy $150+ Air Force Ones, Jordan’s, or exclusives Nike shoes). Their anger simply only helped out the Nike brand and caused Nike to see an increase in sales – all because they couldn’t stop talking about their hatred Kaepernick and Nike’s supporting him.
And then Nike played everyone and use the funds to support Right Wing politicians.
As a child of the 90s, I am not a stranger to dealing with controversial against the things I love. The Simpsons (back when it was a great series) got a lot of heat for showing how truly fucked up the American family can be. Violent video games such as Mortal Kombat, Grand Theft Auto, and Postal ¸ where under attack by family groups. Wrestling – especially The WWF, was considered too immoral for TV. Yet, despite the controversy and protests by parent groups, the government, and other entities, these things strived and generated sales and popularity from the backlash. Why? Because people are naturally curious about terrible things. They check it out and see that whatever shit is causing the uproar isn’t all that bad.
I think people just feel good talking about the things they hate (or love)
With that said, If you are going to ask me how I am going to deal with the controversy behind Goblin Slayer as an anime fan here’s my answer:
(Speaking of controversy, you should totally check out one of my favorite yet controversial blog post: Pirating Does NOT Hurt the Anime Industry and share it on social media so I can make people mad at me and have them talk about the article and my blog. I wanna make high-horse moral weebs in their feelings.)
FOLLOW ME ON THESE VARIOUS SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS:
An Slow Idiot and Why Should Have Been Hard on Myself
Planning for Anime Weekend Atlanta went smoothly; despite it being a last minute con for me. As smoothly as somebody falling down a rugged mountain with jagged rocks and tearing their flesh apart. Originally, I wasn’t even planning on going to AWA. I was focused on putting my resources towards attending Anime Expo (which was a highly successful trip for me), and then Michigan for my friend’s wedding (which was canceled due to his girlfriend’s father having to do military-duty shit). With my friend’s wedding being canceled, I took any funds that I saved up for the wedding trip towards AWA. And weed. And liquor. And clothes.
So I’m kinda bad on saving and spending my money on stupid shit.
In any case, I had to remind myself that I had to be strict with my money management skills as I was the only one on my team who was going to AWA – initially. For once, I was going to a con solo without any outside help (I had gone to Collosalcon 2015 by myself but I roomed with strangers, so that doesn’t count). I had the funds saved to book myself a flight, buy a badge, and provide other needs for myself. My sights were focused on being an independent weeaboo who didn’t need anyone to help him on his weeaboo festival trips. It was going to be uncomfortable but in order to grow and improve you need that uncomforted.
Then – against all my best judgment and my gut feeling – I got back into my comfort zone.
My friend, “Sub-Zero” (A Sub-Zero cosplayer) hit me up and asked if I had a room for AWA. I was going to shoot him down, but I figured having extra funds with two people splitting the room would help me. Plus, extra funds meant I could stay in Atlanta for one more day and explore the Downtown area. I let him join me. Plus, he too wanted to stay in ATL a day extra so it worked out (or it would…).
A few days later, my friend “Noctis” (A Notctis cosplayer) hit me up asking if I had room for him. I wanted to say no, but he was having a bad time mentality and wanted to go to the con. Plus, he wanted to help me build our brand and get us noticed in the Southeast. So, of course, I had to let my boy join in on the fun. He has skills that I lacked in terms of brand building and a natural leader of sorts. Plus, more money in my pocket for that Sunday ATL adventure.
An adventure that never came to be among other things thanks to a bummy ass nigga.
A week later, my “friend” “Bummy Ass Nigga Who Thinks He’s The MC of a Harem Anime” asked if we had room in our hotel. I immediately lied and said “no”; being all-so-aware of the drama he caused my crew at AWA 2017 (I was chilling with another friend for the weekend, so I avoided 99.9% of their drama). Sadly, the bum ass nigga revealed that Nactus had told him Sub-Zero and I was seeking people to help room with us. The lie didn’t work. Fuck. I (reluctantly) let him join us – causing things to go downhill quick in planning.
Here’s where I should have been hard on myself.
Despite if “Bummy Ass Nigga Who Thinks He’s The MC of a Harem Anime” would have gotten in his feelings (as he often does when things don’t go his way), I should have fuckin’ lied to him and told him we weren’t looking for anyone. I would rather look like a liar in his eyes and never speak to him again based on that lie than to deal with con drama (that drained everyone mentality). We had more than enough funds set aside to cover the hotel. My greed, and being a cheap ass, got the better of me. What’s worse is that a day before he asked to room with us, my co-worker got fired; therefore, I picked up all his hours (which gave me more than enough extra funds for the trip). But nah. I wanted to be a “good friend” – against all judgment and logic.
The first of our problems came about when “Bummy Ass Nigga Who Thinks He’s The MC of a Harem Anime”, Noctus, and I had all meet up for them to pay me their share of the room. “Bummy Ass Nigga Who Thinks He’s The MC of a Harem Anime” suggested earlier that we should rent a car to drive down to ATL because his car couldn’t make the trip (and he was fearful that his car would get damaged by a deer like last year during their trip). Despite my gut. telling me to say no and book a flight instead, I went ahead and agreed with the rental idea. He needed about $70 from each person for the car. I told him that it would make logical sense for him to keep $70 of the money he owed me for his share of the hotel. He protested against the idea; telling me to keep his part of the money.
Should have pressed the issue.
Fuck me and my stupidity.
The next day, he went to the car rental place (he claimed). Apparently, he needed a $200 deposit to rent the car…despite him showing us a screenshot online of the rental details (unless he purposely hid that info in the screenshot which I heavily suspect). Fucking idiot. He suggested that we should meet up at our friend’s house again to resolve the issue. An issue he should had researched weeks beforehand by asking me for the money he told me to keep. Even though I told him multiple times that it would have been beneficially for the crew if he would have kept it from the get-go. I’m pissed. I just did a 10-hour shift at the gig running on only 5 hours of sleep. I just wanted to go home, smoke weed, and sleep. But those things never happened. Like an actual harem MC (Makoto from School Days) he truly lacked common sense and reasoning.
We had to suffer for it.
The day before the con brought a surprise that everyone was expecting: He didn’t get the rental. He gave us this long-winded, sob story how he was a shitty friend and that he was going to make it all up for us and get things right. He was on that abuser type shit trying to make amends for his shitty behavior to his battered victims (who he would blame/gaslight us for their abuse). Oh. He made things up alright. By using our money that was supposed to be for the rental and put it towards repairs on his car – that would benefit him in the long-run – not us. The repairs cost “$270” for a tune-up and oil change. Which, to be honest, doesn’t seem like it would run anyone $270. But what do I nor Noctus know who suspected he was trying to scam us for money?
The next day, We arrived at our hotel after a surprisingly smooth seven-hour ride from St. Louis to Atlanta. We got to the hotel and I decide to take a few “we made it” shots and got myself drunk. Sub-Zero went to get his badge leaving me and “Bummy Ass Nigga Who Thinks He’s The MC of a Harem Anime” alone in the room. He revealed something that would have made me murder him if I had absolutely nothing to lose.
The repair costs that he claimed were $270?
It was actually $450+. And he was actually “broke”.
So “broke” that he could only afford a badge and food.
Oh and he owed Sub-Zero $100+. Money that was supposed to cover the room and allowed me to keep an extra $100 in my own pockets.
I arrived at my hotel. I went over to my table where my crew’s bottles of liquor and mixer were. I took two shots of my friend’s E&J (sorry Rath!). After that, I grabbed a glass and specific bottles and mixers: Vodka, Captain Morgan Apple Smash, Midori, Pineapple Juice, and Sprite. One-by-one, I pour the liquids in the glass. Thanks to the efforts of the Apple Smash and Midori, the drink gave off a lovely green color. Perfect.
Just Monika I said to myself.
Just Monika is a cocktail I created for a party that I was going to throw at another hotel I had reversed (which was canceled due to unforeseen events). Initially, I was going to debut it at the party to celebrate DDLC’s first anniversary, but shit happened and I decided to do it for a friend’s party I was bartending for. I started sipping on it, letting the alcohol enhance my dark side and get me further in my zone (more on the dark side and “the zone” at the end of the chapter)
I hopped in the cold shower (cold showers help me stay awake when I’m tired) and kept Saiyan Pride on repeat. All my focus was on being the best genderswap Monika I could be (and in the world). I want people to recognize me. I want racist DDLC cosplayers to be mad at me for being a black man cosplayer a white/Asian character. I wanted to install fear in any other males doing a genderswap DDLC cosplay at the con. My aim isn’t to compete with other Monika cosplayers: Most are either women or dudes wearing skirts. I want(ed) to stand out (which I will explain in about five paragraphs below)
(Also, not gonna lie: There was a Monika cosplayer – who knew she had an ass and wasn’t shy about showing it off in a very short skirt who walked past me as I was returning to my hotel. I lowkey was thinking of shooting my shot with her in my cosplay if I saw her again.
Thank God for Atlanta.
Thank God for thick women.)
I got out of the shower, put on my Monika cosplay, and hit the con floor. And of fucking course, my legendary bad luck in cosplay had to hit me hard. I was the only Monika on the con floor. Awesome! But there weren’t any other DDLC cosplayers about. This always happen to me: Whenever I decide to put on a cosplay from a fandom, nobody is around. But when I am in not in cosplay it’s like everyone wants to wear their shit (hell, back in 2016 at Anime St. Louis, there was about 3-5 Umineko: When They Cry cosplayers in a group; a year where I decided to not wear my Goat Butler cosplayer, but I digress).
Maybe I should do my cosplays in the morning instead of in the late afternoon/night.
Not only that, nobody knew who I was cosplaying as or from. I had this problem at Anime Expo when I first did my Monika cosplay and I was doing it solo. I figured that the reason why I wasn’t being noticed was that I didn’t have her ribbon. To fix that mistake I went ahead and ordered one on Amazon for AWA…expect it was small as hell and wasn’t the size of Monika’s gigantic bow. Now that I think about it, I think I might just forego the hair ribbon and get a white headband without a bow and wrap it around the ponytail of my wig (imagine Ryu’s white headband from the Street Fighter Alpha/Zero series). Plus, I refused to wear a skirt for reasons.
The thing about these types of cosplay as a male is that every male fucking wears a skirt. If I was to wear one, I would be no different. Sure, I have my race as an advantage, but that is something I was born with that I can’t control: easy mode. I rather work smarter and harder to be different. I much rather have a blazer tailored made to fit my body type than to get a generic DDLC school blazer off some cosplay site.
I also am not a fan of competition. There are more female Monika cosplayers than male. I can’t compete against them: they’ll win. The average male Monika cosplayer wears a skirt as previously mentioned. Again, won’t compete against that. I rather dominate by taking a different route; making you Monika cosplayers study my style once I master that cosplay and get in known on a global scale.
You male Monika cosplayers can wear a skirt and be like every other males.
You guys can get your Monika cosplay outfits off ebay and Amazon.
I’m going to stand out – like Monika herself.
(My version of Monika is inspired by the Business Casual fashion look, so that’s why I wear jeans instead of a skirt. The example pictured below):
After being disappointed that nobody knew who I was cosplaying as, I headed back to my room out of discouragement (plus, a friend of mines told me he could smell the alcohol on my breath [I had taken more shots with a friend in his room prior] and advise me to get rid of it, rest up, and sober up. Thank you, John, for being real), a Froppy-Chan (My Hero Academia) cosplayer along with two of her male friends spotted me. “Are you Monika?” she said with a smile. I took off my sunglasses to make eye contact with her, replied with a smile, and said “yes”. We started talking about the game, the themes of it, and our favorite characters – although short because I was drunk as hell.
Man, she was cute. Maybe if I wasn’t drunk I could have more of a deeper conversation with her about the game’s themes. Maybe shoot my shot with her and make her male friends jealous at and hate on me.
Is it horrible for me to be inspired to sober up in order to either take somebody’s else woman or make her male friends mad at me cuz we were vibing a little bit? Yes. But it did awaken something deep inside me: What if I just not use a strong substance like liquor and have fun cosplaying as Monika and talk to women naturally who know the character? Even if I don’t get “physical activities” at the end, I still had done these things:
1. I made somebody happy that I was cosplaying as their favorite character and that would have brightened their day.
2. I could have made a female friend that was based on mutual, platonic interests and learn what makes women click and get advice on women by women.
3. It’ll be on some self-improvement shit. One Percent Better.
Maintaining my smile, I held my head up high and marched back to my room to recover and freshen up for the night. Even if one stranger knew who I was cosplaying as; that was it for me. Well, not really. I wanted more people to know me for my cosplay. It was motivation for me to keep doing it. Keep improving. Find flaws and errors in my cosplay and work on them. Always seeking to better myself.
This time around, I was going to do and act better. Don’t you fucking dare drink any liquor tonight, Benjamin. You don’t need that shit to talk to women or anyone else. Be you even if you’re cosplaying tonight.
Let me tell you guys something: This worked in my favor. More on that in a later chapter.
Way later in the night, I was walking around in my Monika cosplay, scanning the scene after the late night parties ended and the “secret panel” proved to be a bit boring for me without my friends around (who had retired to the hotel after a few conflicts and bullshit among us). I am about to leave when I hear a girl with a few male friends say “Hey Monika, come over here!” I walked over to her direction and she was all smiles and giddily about seeing a Monika cosplayer.
We started talking about DDLC and about our favorite characters. I remember her saying like how she likes Monika because of how it looks like she sticks her ass out when she talks to you (in her sprite) and how she wanted to select Monika but she didn’t have a route. I wanted to chop up some game with and spit but I didn’t proceed for a few reasons:
1. She looked underage. Which, now that I think about it at the time of this writing, she probably wasn’t; Given her and her crew were sitting outside the 18+ secret panel room (and the area the blocked off for anyone under 18) and they had beers. I blame myself for being an idiot who didn’t take a power nap to regain my mental focus after being up for 17+ hours with only 5-6 hours of sleep the night prior.
She had about three guys with her. It’s not that I’m scared of any dudes around their female friend(s), but given my mental fatigue, there was no way I could have an advantage for myself to spit game with her and beat out the competition (this is going to sound pretty fucked up but trust me; usually if a woman has a few dudes around her, they’re trying to get in her pants. This isn’t always true, however).
Oh well. A lesson that I had to learn to apply in the future (but at least I’ve gotten over my fears of talking to women and I accepted the fact I don’t need liquor to talk to them and be the best version of myself when I’m interacting with them)
Going back to the visual novel panel, I remember Chris saying how the Fate series completely dominated the visual novel anime genre (as it is the most popular VN anime of all time with how strong it’s going). Which is funny, because last year, I was attending a panel ran by Kana Ueda – the voice actress for Rin Tohsaka from the fate series. She talked about how for her, attending Anime Weekend Atlanta with her fellow voice actors and reuniting with a veteran Japanese voice who was once her mentor was “fate” (for them meeting there). Hearing Chris words on the VN scene, seeing people who still have a passion for it, and cosplaying as Monika, I couldn’t help but reflect on Ueda’s statement on fate.
Perhaps it was fate for me to go to that visual novel panel, network with him (being unaware that of his work Anime News Network), talking to people about how visual novels made them happy and being upset that the genre is on the decline. Was it fate that I saw that Hanyuu cosplayer after having two When They Cry related dreams? I guess. Did fate lead me to that Floppy-chan and that girl who was happy that I was cosplaying as Monika and made me want to do better with it and inspired me to not throw in the towel? Who knows?
As I am finishing this chapter out, I am reminded of a Facebook post I made about how I remember when the fate series was a bit of an obscure VN series that was popular in Japan, but didn’t get much traction in the Western otaku market beyond your hardcore VN fans. This wasn’t on some hipster, “I knew about the series before it was popular” shit: It was me being in awe that a game made by people of humble background reached heights that nobody could imagine for the genre or in anime fandom in general.
Some dumbass accused me of being a hipster and stated that “nobody gives a fuck about shitty visual novels”. I laughed. A week later, I was in Los Angeles for Anime Expo. I was walking around the Downtown area where my eyes met this massive Fate/Grand Order poster hanging over a bank. I was with my friend (whom I told him about the dumbass saying that bullshit) and we laughed. I wanted to post a picture I took of the poster and replied to his comment saying If nobody gave a fuck about shitty visual novels why they got this poster out here? on some petty shit.
To the dumbass who said that here’s something for you:
My unforgiving pettiness aside, I really do hope the visual novel genre does make a comeback. I’ll do more cosplays from it. Hell, even if it doesn’t, I’ll keep doing it – no matter what.
Continued in Chapter 3.
In the book Relentless by Tim Grover, Tim speaks on two accepts of the human’s psyche: “The Zone” and “The Dark Side”. The Zone is the dark, quiet lonely place within your mind. You shut everything in the world out to be in your own. It’s a calm, relaxing, and focused place.
The Dark Side is that: The darkness part of your mind where only you know your deepest, true desires – your true self (Persona lol). Rather than let your dark side control and ultimately – destroy you – you control it. You use the darkest parts of your personality to push yourself towards you end goal(s).
JUST MONIKA COCKTAIL:
1oz Light Rum
1oz Captain Morgan Apple Smash
4oz pineapple juice
Top with Sprite
Combine Ingredients sans Sprite in a shaker. Shake vigorously. Pour mixture in a Collins glass. Top with sprite. You can also rock the ingredinets with sprite and then pour the mixture into a Collins glass.
(The only reason why I used vodka in this story because my dumbass left my light rum in a homeboy’s hotel room the night before)
Anime Weekend Atlanta (AWA) left me starving. Starving for more. More networking opportunity. More ways to get my name out there. More ways to improve myself. On the final day of the convention, my crew and I went to smoke a blunt on our hotel’s garage parking rooftop before leaving our city for an eight-hour trip back home to St. Louis. As we smoked, we spoke about our successes and “failures”. Wins and losses. Triumphs and disappointments. Out of my team, I had the most wins; since I set my sights to hit the majority of my goals (such as making money bartending at a friend’s room party, networking with people within the industry, etc.).
They congratulated me for success and were happy for me.
But I wasn’t.
Sure, I hit a few goals. I went out and did what I was supposed to do build my brand. You’re not supposed to be praised for doing your job like everyone else. I wasn’t happy that I didn’t do more. I was disappointed at myself for allowing myself to get sidetracked and play myself. However, these disappointments, combined with my success started to fire me up. Disappointment turned into desire. Desire turned into drive. Drive turned into action and planning.
For once in my life, I was excited to go back home after a vacation. I needed to go back so I could plan out the next year con season, write about my adventures. And of course, work my ass off for the next con season and come back completely dominating it.
Anime Weekend Atlanta left me starving.
On Friday, I went to a panel that caught my attention weeks prior: “Whatever Happened to Visual Novel Anime?”. I have a slight interest in the genre and was wondering why visual novels and anime based on the niche have been on the decline for the past 3-7 years. I went; seeking knowledge from somebody who was much wiser than myself.
The panel started. The host introduced himself, spoke about his passion for visual novels ,and revealed an amazing fact about himself: The panelist – Chris Adamson – is a writer for Anime News Network.
I had to network with him; no matter what.
I was in awe by the deep knowledge Chris dropped on us about the history of visual novels anime and why they were not as popular as they were back in the 2000s. The answers were “simple”, yet layered with complex facts. The facts included the following: the lack of effort and innovation from VN creators. Long-time fans losing interest. Animators struggling to add every minor detail form the visual novels into the anime version. There were also the lack of sales of products relating to the anime and visual novels.
Chris broke down every little detail with graphs, pictures, videos, audio, cited sources, sales figures, you name it. He was armed and prepared to attack us with knowledge and education. Clearly, he studied this genre with depth. Clearly, he was passionate about visual novels and wants it to see it recover from its slump.
At the end of the panel, he left the floor open for questions. I shoot my hand up high in the air before anyone else (if you’re ain’t first your last) and asked him this question:
Do you think there will a renaissance of visual novels and anime based on anime, and if they the VN industry does crash, do you see it rising from its ashes?
I’ve since forgotten most of Chris’s reply (thanks to smoking weed all weekend and being an idiot for not recording the panel), but he brought up an interesting point: He does believe that visual novels could come back, thanks to the success of the American visual novel Doki Doki Literature Club (DDLC) with its innovating meta-narrative (he even suggests that a DDLC anime could work through streaming services with Monika going through your watch history, fucking with the audio/video, etc.). Chris also mentioned that with more Americans entering the VN fray that could lead to the niche revival from a Western’s standpoint.
After the panel, I was completely floored and astonished by his wisdom. I had to network with him. Deep down in me, there was a fire building up. The fire of craving more knowledge. There were other guys with me who also had that fire in them. Out of the 20-30 people in attendance, only five of us stay after the panel (to speak with Chris). Two were working on their own visual novels, two were fans of the genre and also hungry for more knowledge, and of course, me; who was moved by this.
As we were finishing talking, a Yuri and Natsuki (DDLC) cosplayers walked past us. We all smiled as we were just talking about DDLC earlier. I smiled even harder; as it got me excited to rock my Monika genderswap cosplay the next morning on Day 3.
And by the next morning, I mean I decided to have shots of rum for breakfast and plotted to wear my “No Coonin’!” shirt to The People of Color (I fucking hate how black people us that term as a black man) Photoshoot in hopes of offending any self-hating Uncle Toms/Coons/Nergo Bed Wench nigga nerds with it at the shoot instead of cosplaying as Monika at the shoot.
Which, said plot was used against me.
I arrived at the shoot. Since it was a multi-media shoot, the host had people take group photos by genre (movies, anime, comics, etc.). Of course, you had cosplayers from comics, video games, and anime. Mainstream shit. However, nobody was cosplaying from any visual novels series (a testament of the decline of interest towards visual novels). I was sad and angry. Sad because there aren’t many Black nerds who are into visual novels. Angry at myself for deciding to (unsuccessfully) troll people with my shirt and not going to the shoot with wearing my Monika cosplay.
This is me being utterly arrogant, but I don’t give a shit: If I would have gone with that Monika cosplay, I would have been the only Black cosplayer in that group doing a visual novel character cosplay. Is Doki Doki Literature Club a normie tier meme visual novel? Yes. But it’s still a visual novel. And I would have earned that honor and respect of doing something out of the norm. A black man. Doing a gendswap cosplay. Of a visual novel character. A piece of media which black people don’t really fuck with.
I could have spoken good game about the visual novel niche and get my fellow Black nerds hip on it. I could have introduced people who never played a VN before into a new world; which in turn could have gotten people into playing them.
But I’m a fucking idiot.
(By the way, there’s going to be more of my arrogance later. Please leave if you’re offended by people having pride in themselves and their passion).
From The POC Cosplayer Shoot
From The POC Cosplayer Shoot
From The POC Cosplayer Shoot
From The POC Cosplayer Shoot
From The POC Cosplayer Shoot
From The POC Cosplayer Shoot
From The POC Cosplayer Shoot
I left the POC shoot and decided to take a few pics inside the convention center. As I’m wandering around I spot a black woman wearing a shrine maiden outfit. Red pants, disconnected sleeves, white top, and purple hair. For a split second, I thought she was cosplaying as the PC98 era Reimu from Touhou (Highly Responsive to Prayers, Lotus Land Story, etc.) and I was smiling from ear-to-ear at the “fact” that there was a black woman cosplaying as the old-school version of Red Sanae.
Upon further inspection, she wasn’t wearing Reimu’s trademark red bow, but rather black horns with cracks in them.
Wait, is she cosplaying as Hanyuu from Higurashi I asked myself.
I poked her on her shoulder and asked. She smiled and I started to geeked out. Somebody still has love for Higurashi and is cosplaying at the con; (to my knowledge) she was the only Higurashi cosplayer at the con. Either way, I was just fucking happy to see somebody cosplay as a character from one of my favorite visual novel anime series.
I took her picture of course and told her that her cosplay was lovely. My only regret is that I didn’t tell her I appreciate her for cosplay as a Higurashi character and that it made me want to do a When They Cry cosplay again (I used to cosplay as Goat Butler from Umineko for a while). I should had left my friends behind and let them go back to the hotel while I chopped up some game with the woman.
It’s funny because days prior to AWA, I had two When They Cry related dreams. The first dream was of me at Anime Weekend Atlanta. I was cosplaying as a genderswap Bernkastel, but I got kicked out from the con for being too drunk (Bernkastel drinks wine and gets drunk so I had to play the role you know even in my dreams), not wearing my badge, and telling con staff that I don’t give a fuck about having a badge.
The second one was of me at Anime Expo. I was wearing a way better version of my Goat Bulter cosplay. As I was walking out and about there was a group of Umineko cosplayers. A Bernkastel cosplayer spotted me and asked if I wanted to join them for a few photos, which I agreed to.
And then I woked up.
Back to reality. I marched back to my hotel. I started listening to an interview with Tim Grover (author of Relentless, the trainer of Basketball icons such as Kobe Byrant, Dwayne Wade, and Micheal Jordan). I was trying to think of a plan as I prep for my Monika cosplay. I was overanalyzing and overthinking. I remember in the first chapter of Relentless Grover stated the best don’t think,
They act. On instinct. And let their instincts do the work.
From that thought, I turned off the interview and started to listen to Saiyan Pride from Dragon Ball Super on repeat. The echoing piano notes. The percussion building up to the arrival the horns, strings, and bells. I was entering my Zone. I was inviting my Dark Side to do the work. Tunnel vision and laser focus.
I wasn’t going to allow myself to fuck up further.
I’ll be honest with you: I’d be happy if Hi-Score Girl ended with Akira moving to America and never returning to Japan (not saying there should have been only three episodes, of course). Harou would have to move on, deal with his feelings, and handle his first heartbreak as the series finale or something. A realistic, relatable ending to viewers who experienced such pain in their youth.
They had feelings for somebody they cared about, spent endless hours with them, realized that person touched their heart and wanted to be with them until they were separated by uncontrollable forces.
That’s probably why I enjoy the third episode of Hi-Score Girl: because it hits close to home.
Years ago, there was a girl I had a crush on. We were in the same class and hung out with each other often. I don’t remember much about her besides that her family was poor. So poor that she only brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.
I couldn’t care if she was poor or anything, she was a good friend and somebody I had feelings for. One day, she told me that her dad got a better paying job. As a result, her family was moving out of the city (for the job). I was happy that her family finally got money, but I was sad that she was moving away and that I would never see her again.
(My first childhood crush is probably hooked on heroin now because it’s the Midwest)
Even if the series didn’t end with Akira moving, it would have been impactful if Akira never returned, Harou moved on with his life and got in another relationship with a girl (which he does). In episode 4, we’re introduced to the new female protagonist, Koharu. She’s a bit of an introvert and goody-two-shoe who’s a little curious about video games (thanks to her dad running a small arcade outside their house).
Koharu, despite being a normie girl, has uncanny natural skills in fighting games, which catches Harou’s attention. Later, the two start to hang out after school. Harou gets her into gaming and helps her hones her gaming skills; therefore triggering the start of their relationship.
I’d be fine with Koharu replacing Akira as the female lead. Her character devolvement from a quiet normie girl who cares about nothing than to study to a sadistic, jealous, straight-forward gamer girl is the best in the series. However, this is a bit overshadowed by Akira’s return.
Not to knock on it, but it cheapened the emotion events of episode 3 (and could have ruined it if there weren’t other factors that will save it later down the road). Granted, it was foreshadowed that she was going to return to Japan (with Guile telling Harou that his fight with her isn’t over yet), but I do feel some type of way by it.
It’s a shame because like Akira’s relationship with Harou previously, Koharu interest and relationship with Harou is rooted in realism.
As stated earlier, Koharu is curious about arcades, video games, and why Harou likes them. Despite being the model student, Koharu hates studying. She wants to know what it is like to have fun and freedom; which is why she’s drawn to Harou (since he has those two things). After school, Koharu is caught in a snowstorm while attempting to return home. Harou spots her and gets her to come inside a candy shop until the snowstorm dies. Harou convinces Koharu to play Street Fighter II (as she explained to him she never played a game before).
Despite being new to games, she was able to pull off advanced moves such as anti-air attacks, punishing on blocking the opponents, and 360-degree joystick motion special moves with ease. Mind you, this is with Zangief: a character who is not at all newbie-friendly.
They continue to hang out with each other, strengthen their bond and Koharu’s interest in gaming. This would lead to Koharu’s strong crush on Harou, which in turn lead her to convince her parents to buy her a Super Famicom (Super Nintendo) to not only get into gaming on a hardcore level but to make Harou jealous of her.
On the topic of jealousy, Koharu and Akira are jealous of each other, and they are not shy to showcase their mutual dislike. After a session in the arcade, Akira spots Harou and Koharu hanging out with each other. She gives them a death glance (from the safety of her car). The next day, Harou tries to speak with Akira (after finding out she was at the arcade), who simply ignores him. She refuses to speak with him until he comes clean with his relationship with Kaharu (which he states the two are only friends and he has no romantic feeling for the blonde girl).
When it comes to Koharu’s jealousy, it’s more severe than Akira’s. When she hears about Akira initially, she’s not concerned; as she was happy that Akira’s a fellow gamer girl with supreme skills (and even admires her for it). That changes when she finds out that Harou and Akira had a relationship in the past, which sparks her envy. This envy drives her to get better at fighting games: Darkstalkers mainly.
This drive isn’t out just mere self-improvement, but to beat Akira in order to win Harou’s love.
In Chapter 24 of the manga (after the second time skip), Koharu confronts Akira; bluntly asking her rival if she and Harou once had a thing. Akira is silent, making Koharu push the question further. Upon not getting a response from her rival Kaharu flat out tells Akira that if she doesn’t make a move on Harou, she will. On the surface, Akira doesn’t seem bothered by Koharu’s plans but later on in the chapter, we see that she’s afraid that Koharu will deliver on her promise (but more on that in a future post).
At the end of Chapter 26, Koharu challenges Harou in a best of three wagers with a selfish ultimatum: If she wins, Harou will have to end his relationship with Akira and date Koharu instead. If she loses, she’ll let him be. To say that she might be a sucker for love is an understatement but its young love.
Young love that is fueled by jealousy, but young love regardless.
I do not know the mindset of women when they’re in love, but I’m sure jealously and the fear of being replaced by somebody else plays a huge role in crushes. Koharu was in fear that Akira’s skills and friendship would cause her to be replaced. On the other hand, Akira feared that Harou replaced her after she had moved.
I can’t blame Harou for being close with Koharu (even if it was on friendly terms). He assumed that Akira would never return and moved on. Of course, she was on his mind for the two and a half years that she was away (as we saw with Harou admitting to Akira that he was longing to see her again) His sole purpose was to improve himself so if Akira did return, he’ll be ready for her.
It’s funny how Akira was the centerpiece for both Harou and Koharou’s quests for self-improvement although while one reasoning is innocent, the other is in malicious intent. Harou wants to get better for his rival. Koharo wants to separate Akira from Harou and keep him to herself.
It’s a bizarre love triangle: two girls fighting over a guy because of video games.
Continued in Part 4
Me personally, if I was Harou, I would do some playa shit between the two girls and date both of them behind their backs)
Scenario: Let’s say you and another person are deeply in love with each other. You both have unprecedented chemistry. Every little thing that person does never fail to charm you. You can’t help but feel warm and fuzzy around each other.
You guys are inseparable.
One day, however, you’re forced to leave that person – forever. Your family is moving far away. You got a new job in a new state. That college you wanted to get into accepted you. You murdered somebody and now you have to leave your country for another one where your homeland can’t legally remove you from that new country before the police catch you. How would you tell that person and would you do anything within your power to stay with them – just for one more day?
This is the situation for Akira in episode 3 of Hi Score Girl.
Episode 3 starts with Akira losing to an A.I. controlled M. Bison (Vega in Japan and Dictator in the competitive Street Fighter scene). Normally, the gaming genius Akira shouldn’t have any problems fighting against M. Bison (as he took him out with only two buttons from a damaged arcade cabinet), but she’s losing her edge. Even if she’s only commutates through body language, Akira is being eerily quiet.
Harou sees this and assumes that she’s upset because summer break is ending; therefore she won’t have time to spend at the arcades. However, he’s ignorant of the fact that her situation is far worse than a mere end to summer vacation.
In a few days, Akira’s family is moving to Los Angeles, California.
The next day, the duo is invited to hang out with their classmates at a local theme park, which both of them take up on the offer. As the day progress, Akira and Harou decide to ditch them and hang out with each other in the arcade instead. Akira is more than happy to do so, as she wants to spend time with Harou alone.
There’s a part during the arcade scene where Akira spots the light-gun game Space Gun. Harou takes it that she wants to play with her simply nodding yes. He starts to tease her; telling her that she might piss herself because it’s a scary game (given she hates horror-driven media) but she goes with it regardless.
As they play, Harou tries to get Akira to advance the game by having her move her foot off the pedal (as holding down the pedal makes the characters retreat from the enemies). She refuses. Her leg starts to shake. If she moves her feet off the pedal it’ll only lead her closer to their unavoidable separation.
Akira is desperate for time. Harou doesn’t know it, but Akira has feelings for him. Remember: Akira spent her young life as the heir to a rich but brutally strict family. Akira was never allowed to enjoy life as opposed to the average girl who could go out and play with friends. It was only recently when Akira decides to defy her family’s wishes and escape to the arcades to get away from her miserable home life.
Flashing, colorful lights blinding the eyes. Furious adults screaming vicious profane words at each other after defeat. Chocking tobacco smoke poisoning the air. Such a vile place wouldn’t seem right as a safe haven for Akira. But she needed a safe haven to escape the unwanted responsibilities place upon her.
The safe haven where she met Harou: the boy that brought joy to her life.
Akira and Harou continue their journey through the park; traveling through a magic mirror house, riding a roller coaster and a scary ride. At one point, Harou asks Akira if her parents ever took her to a theme park, to which she shook her head no in response.
To say that Akira is a sheltered child is an understatement. To Harou, the trip to the theme park was normal. Every (normal) child has gone to a theme park at least once in their life. But, to Akira, a girl who never experienced the joy of having a normal childhood; this was a new, life-changing event for her.
I’m sure some of you out there may have been sheltered by your parents and can relate to Akira. They forbid you to play outside after a certain time. They didn’t allow peculiar forms of media in the house like anime or rap music. Anime was a tool of Satan so they banned it from your house. Maybe one day, you had enough of their bullshit and decided to go out into the world and do your own thing, just like Akira.
(Akira’s gonna wind up doing hard drugs and drink straight from vodka bottles later in life. That what usually happens to sheltered kids once they get out in the world.)
The more time she gets to spend with Harou means the more time she can live normally. She doesn’t have to worry about her high status, school work and the pain those things brought her. The pain she never asked for. Pain that was mended by Harou’s company, understanding, friendliness. They spent the reminding hours of the day playing until sunset, eventually heading home on a bus with Akira falling asleep and resting her head on Harou’s shoulder.
The sunsets on their summer vacation – and their relationship.
The next day brings in the new school year – and the horrible news. Harou hears about Akira’s family moving away. He’s shocked. It hits him – hard. Rumors start to fly such as “her parents got a divorce” or “they got a new job in America.” Harou refuses to believe he’s hurt about Akira’s sudden move. He tries to play it off by acting happy that his rival is gone. Finally! He can rule his castle (the arcade) in peace; he shouldn’t fear Akira invading it. She’s gone forever!
Deep down, he knows he’s full of shit.
Akira wasn’t any girl that played video games casually. She was a gifted monster who dominated them. Any game she touched she mastered it. Only he was able to come “close” to her skill level – but it simply wasn’t enough. Akira forced yet inspired Harou to improve in Street Fighter II. She never judged him for his gaming passion but encouraged him to get better at it.
They started out as rivals. He was disgusted at the fact that Akira bested him time and time again. He couldn’t stand the fact she was around. However, as time went on, they grew as friends. He respected her. Harou was happy that she was her equal. In his time of reflection (and holding back tears) he became honest with himself:
Harou had feelings for Akira. She touched his heart.
With newfound determination, he runs after her; rushing to the airport to see her one more time. He arrives in time and tries to convince her to stay (as she’ll miss all these new games coming out such as Fatal Fury by SNK). Then, he gives her a good-bye present: The toy ring from the first day they hung out together as friends – not rivals. She rushes to him, breaking down crying. She’ll never see her first friend again.
Her first love.
Continued in Part 3 (because fuck SEO suggestions I’m not making this a 1600 word post also my bad for making this a summary than a reason why this series work)
This is The Yuki Half-Time Report, sponsored by Crunchyroll!* We’re halfway through Cells At Work with only seven episodes reminding. How does Cells At Work! stand right now?
Cells at Work is still going strong despite some minor issues I have with its progression. While I do like the show, it’s clear that the show is following a formulated plot guideline: Introduce the monster-of-the-week (bacteria, infection, virus, etc.), break down how they attack the body, let them do their business, good guys defeat them. Done. Next.
I am not a fan of this: it’s boring and a bit played out in my eyes. With episode 6 being set up as a two-parter or story arc where our heroes are facing off against a cancerous cell it seems that the formula is taking a break (for now).
I’m disappointed that the Type A Influenza enemy problem from episode 3 wasn’t resolved in episode 4. This left me wondering what happened and why this was skipped. The writers went to another storyline and I’m not too happy with that – especially since it was set up as if it was going to be a two-parter episode. If you’re going to set something up, resolve it, It looks goofy when you don’t and you got people wondering what happened.
.Cells At Work retains its cute charm which continues to work in synergy with the educational and action sides of the show The art and animation remain consistent (although I admit that I’m not trained in spotting animation errors) and there haven’t been any major changes to the art.
Storywise, there hasn’t been any changes to its simple manner. Again, bad guys show up, good guys win. There are some slice-of-life scenes here and there but nothing to write home about. Episode 6 featured a flashback story for the first half with how Red Blood Cell-Chan came to life, got assigned to her job, and meeting White Blood Cell-Kun. She was a clumsy, goofy, and cheerful in her childhood as she is now as an adult.
With the cancerous cell making its appearance in episode 6 going into episode 7 it appears that the show will be taking a serious, drama-driven approach. My predictions going into the future of the show? There will be a few character deaths on and off screens from the cancer cells. Things will be dark and painful but I can’t wait for it.
With that said I hope you enjoy this halftime report. I’ll catch you guys in the next one.
*Legal disclaimer: I am not sponsored by Crunchyroll lmfao I pirate most of their shows. (And there goes any chances of me being sponsored by them ever)
I hate romantic comedy in any form of media – especially in anime; as most romcom anime are unrealistic and littered with cheap, perverted jokes. From my reviews on My Girlfriend is a Shobitch and Hajimate no Gal, it’s clear I detest this genre. These shows were clearly written by otaku virgins who never had a relationship with the opposite sex and are living out their weird, lonely otaku fantasies through anime. So, when I discovered that J.C. Staff’s latest project, Hi Score Girl, was not only a (loose) history piece of the second arcade boom in Japan, but a romantic comedy as well, I was I amazed by how they show a realistic portray of a relationship blooming and evolving over time.
May I dare say that this romcom anime has even charmed me by how pure the relationship between main characters Akira and Harou is? You take two characters who’re seemly “opposite” of each other but somehow, they click. Akira’s the popular, high-class rich girl who excels in every subject – performance arts included. She’s the type of girl that every boy in school wants to date and every girl wish to be. Harou, however, is “hopeless”. His scholarly performance is a joke. Artistic skills? None. He gets teased often by his peers for his bad grades. He rather wastes his day ruling over at his castle: the local arcade, installing fear in peasants with his mastery in Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (SF2).
Harou believes that Akira is out of his league. Can’t blame him for his wrong line of thinking.
Akira, despite her academic achievements and financial background, loves playing video games. In reality, she’s socially awkward, can’t make friends, doesn’t express herself verbally, and hates that her family controls her life. She visits the arcades often to escape her rigid lifestyle, blow off steam, and be her true self. Funny enough, like Harou, Akira is an SF2 player – except she’s the top player in their scene – as Harou will learn the hard way.
After witnessing Akira’s 30 win-streak performance against other players in SF2 Harou challenges her. He loses to her Zangief – badly. To save his pride, Harou defeats Akira by using Guile’s defensive “Turtle” style and “cheap” throws tactics. Akira gets pissed and starts attacking him; it’s the start of their rivalry that will bloom into friendship and eventually, the two having feelings for one another. During their summer vacation, the two hang out at various arcades, testing their skills against each other and thus deepening their bond.
For Harou, he’s happy he has an equal. For Akira, she’s happy that she finally made a friend.
Right from the start, Hi Score Girl destroys the bullshit idea that opposite attracts we see in romance-based media by having our main characters falling for each other over a mutual interest: competitive video gaming. Let me ask you people who have a mate a question: How did you guys fall for each other? Surely it wasn’t the fact you guys were opposite of each other. It was because you and your mate had things that click with each other and that turned you on towards them. Sure, there are some differences, but overall, you were drawn to them through your similarities (and other factors of course).
Social and scholar level wise, Harou and Akira can’t even compare. Akira shouldn’t be hanging around with a “stupid” kid like Harou. Harou shouldn’t have the chance to be with Akira. Still, they were able to overcome those minor differences. They grew close through their powerful love for competitive gaming, relentless desire to win, and mending their after-school loneliness. Who cares for social status differences when you and your friend vibe over a powerful passion? What’s good are having excellent grades, popularity, and cash flow when you’re lonely and your parents dictate your life?
Those superficial ideas don’t matter when they’re outweighed by shared attractiveness on a deeper level beyond mere opposites.
Continuing from where I left off, I was able to obtain the CGs for Sayori’s route in order to unlock the true ending. Re-playing her route gave me a new insight into her accurate portrayal of people suffering from depression (such as feeling numb, hopelessness, lack of desire, etc.) made me appreciate her character. I want to see more educated takes of characters struggling with mental health in fiction –because done right, it can hit hard.
Since I’ve “completed ” Sayori’s route, I’m going after Natsuki’s next. I haven’t done her route since my first run through, which is perfect given I need to go through her route before replaying Yuri’s. Going through Yuri’s route in Act 1 requires me to witness Sayori’s death scene; therefore ruining my plans to get the game’s true ending.
For cut down on time, any previous read dialogues are being skipped unless I find something interesting and worthy of being talked about.
I like Natsuki. She’s slowly becoming a favorite character of mines. I’ve said this many times, but I hate the tsundere trope in anime – unless a writer puts realism to the trope (as we see with Natsuki). She’s a “tsundere” but her aggressive, angry nature is a resulted of her being physically and emotionally abused by her father. It’s common for victims of child abuse to struggle with anger issues and develop an inferiority complex. Obviously, Natsuki hides her insecure nature (from the abuse) by acting tough and hard-hearted (but of course, she secretly cares about other people and don’t wanna see them down or hurt).
Playing Act 1 again, I couldn’t help but laugh at MC’s awareness of overused anime archetypes as Natsuki did her little “tsundere” bullshit such as “It’s isn’t like I did this for you” and hiding her love for cute things through acting hard and tough. It almost made me forget that DDLC was a psychological horror VN. Almost. With that said, I can’t help but find some parts of my personality in her (as weird as it might sound). There are some things I do enjoy that I’m kinda shy to admit (some moe’ blob anime like Lucky Star, classical music, reading about heart-warming stories , and shedding a tear or two at emotional scenes in anime to name a few).
…that’s as far as my softer side y’all gonna get from me.
The first night of the poem homework for Natsuki went smoothly. And by smoothly, I cheated and save scummed because I accidentally got a few reactons from Yuri and Sayori that completely override my goal to have MC romance Natsuki. Eh. I dunno what cute shit fictional girls like. Or real ones at that. I suck at the romance thing.
After starting over I got MC to interact with Natsuki,. There’s a hint for shadowing/mockery here as Natsuki talks about her favorite manga,“Parfait Girl” MC makes fun of the cover, which offends Natsuki telling him the old adage of never judging a book by its cover and how things may have more layers than it appears. A subtle jab at the true nature of the game.
I can’t help to think how Natsuki’s character mirrors that of the otaku. Otakus are quick to defend their passions – may they be anime, manga, gaming, etc.. Sometimes, they find inspiration in them (such as with Natsuki becoming a baker and a cook from reading her manga) and opening up to those who also share their passion. Natsuki struggles to share her love of manga with her friends. Every attempt has been met with ridicule by them (since they believe she’s still childish for not growing out of her manga phase).
I’m sure you guys had to deal with this in the past (maybe even today as adults for the older people reading this). With nerd culture growing ever popular by the day the stereotype of nerds and anime fans being childish and immature is dying. The stigma is still there, but it wasn’t as bad as it was decades ago.
I was able to have MC make Natsuki fluttered with the poem with him writing something that matches her style. Guess she’s not used to people appreciating and sharing her passion. I know that feeling. Doesn’t excuse her from acting goofy about it but I get it. As Natsuki share her poem with Monika Monika tells MC how Natsuki’s writing style is similar to late author Shel Silverstein: “childish”, but with adult themes and straight to the point by using fewer words than necessary. I like that lowkey. I believe that you can say more by saying less and the more you talk and ramble, the less interesting you are to people.
Make people think about what you say and keep them in wonder by saying less.
Everything goes per normal so let’s skip ahead to Natsuki and Yuri’s fight. Stated in an earlier post (I think, it’s been a while and I don’t feel like searching for it), I went to Yuri because she’s my favorite character and I like her character archetype, but for this one, I went for Natsuki. She gets happy, proud that somebody like her childish, but blunt writing style. Real shit, I get her. It gets annoying when people talk down about your style (without any advice to improve it, mind you). When somebody sees the beauty of your style, it reminds you that it is not bad.
You do get a little egotistical, however.
Following the second poem writing, there’s a funny scene where Natsuki is struggling to get her manga collection from the top shelf of the clubroom’s closet. Natsuki, dealing with her short complex, tries to reach for them but fails. MC tries to help out, but couldn’t, as he was put in an awkward situation – either hold the step ladder that Natsuki had (while innocently looking up her skirt), or let her fall in which she hits head hard against something, crack it open, bleed out and die; thus ending her route and the game . The two fall down and shit scatters, with one of her manga being damaged.
(…okay so she didn’t fall to her death.)
Natsuki gets upset, snaps off on MC, but then starts to cry, saying things like “I’m just having bad day” and “every day, it just gets harder”. Subtle hints to Natsuki’s homelife and being abused by her dad. Of course, you won’t catch it on your first run (unless you read the spoilers). You assume that Natsuki acting childish or overreacting, not knowing that her acting out is a result of her stressful home life. Over time, it’s going to take a toll on any child dealing with abuse.
There was an interesting theory I came across on a DDLC Facebook group months back that not only Natsuki’s dad belittles her for reading manga, it’s possible that he may have destroyed a few from her collections. It’s not uncommon for abusive parents to destroy their children’s personal items. I have friends who during childhood, their parents would break their things as a form of “punishment”.
Natsuki could be hiding her manga at the clubroom to avoid any further damage from her dad. Monika fucking with her collection adding to how horrible her home life is only fueled by Natsuki’s paranoia that she may lose her manga – her way out of reality for a little bit. Really wish Dan did more with Natsuki character. There are layers about her that need to be explored.
Continued in Round 2 Part 2.
(before I go I gotta say some of you Natsuki fans need Jesus)
You’re a science teacher in Japan. You’re passionate about teaching children about cells and how they work. Yet, your students don’t give a damn about that shit. They’re some stupid ass, Bebe Kids ass, hopeless ass children who don’t wanna learn anything in life. No matter how hard you try to make learning interesting, they refuse (to learn).
You decide to fail them all – you have no hope for their future.
You head home after a stressful day of dealing with those dumb ass kids. You kick back with a can of beer in one hand while having a blunt in another as you watch TV. Bill Nye The Science Guy – an American educational classic showing kids how much science rules – comes on. A smile appears on your drunken, stoned face as you remember how much Bill Nye inspired you to become a science teacher with his down-to-earth, caring, and loving approach to science education.
Bill Nye ends and it’s followed by a classic cult movie: Osmosis Jones – a comedy movie about Ozzy, a disgraced white blood cell cop who, with the help of his partner Drix, defends the sickly body of some depressed zookeeper with unhealthy grief coping skills. After watching both the movie and Bill Nye you get inspired to come up with your own manga series to entertain children while also valuing their education by teaching them about cells and the human body. You down another beer, roll up another blunt, and relentlessly get to work on this new project for the next few months.
You retain the White Blood Cell character from Osmosis Jones; making him a stoic killer of germs instead of a street-smart cop. Drix? You replaced him with a cute yet clumsy girl, giving her the role of a red blood cell. As you brainstorm ideas for different cells, you come up with cool designs that will appeal to both children and adults. The children of Japan need this. It may be too late for your slow ass students to learn anything but future children will appreciate your efforts. Once you finish the first draft you pitch it to Kodansha.
They love it.
Over time, this manga becomes a sleeper hit – mostly because you made the Red Blood Cell a waifu character that everyone will look up ero doujins of her getting a train ran on her by the Killer T cells troops along with Macrophage-Chan – but because of how innovating your manga was in terms of teaching people about how cells work. And that’s how Cells At Work became to be.
Trust me: My father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate used to be drinking buddies with Akane Shimzu and he told me this on the phone last night.
Bullshit aside, I’m impressed by Cells At Work. It’s secretly adorable and I admire how the creative forces behind it use Shounen style action to sell its educational value to fans. Furthermore, the roles of the cells and how they interact with each other are explained in a down-to-earth manner. If you’re a complete idiot like when it comes to science, you won’t be lost, confused, or feeling even dumber than you already are.
(And trust me: You’re probably just as dumb as I am thanks to the American education system.)
Cells At Work is a simple anime (which is good because it doesn’t need to be complex or deep for the show to share its message). Each episode, there’s a situation with the human’s body is attacked by a variety of ailments such as basic germs attacking the city in episode one, an invading army of infections in episode two, and the world battling against invasive bacteria in episode 3. They win of course, but in that classic rule of three (episodes) style, they get fucked up and ROFLstomp by the series’ first major enemy. In this case, it’s Type A Influenza.
Granted, the heroes will win through some asspull bullshit by episode four.
Main character Red Blood Cell-chan (RBC-Chan) is a clumsy girl trying her best on her first day at her new delivery job. During a delivery run, she (along with the citizens of the “world” of the human body) are attacked by monsters – germs attacking the body. They’re about to be killed when supporting hero White Blood Cell comes to save them by mercilessly butchering and slaughtering the germs with combat knives.
As with any Shounen series, Cells At Work uses violent action to keep fans engaged. We are first hinted at this fact during the OP; which features a squad of White Blood Cells, armed with knives, hunting down a germ. This is followed up by an elegant maid walking around gracefully in a flower field…and she’s carrying a giant ax while her hands and face are covered in blood.
What makes Cells At Work works (besides the violence) is the usage of implanting classic anime tropes and personality with each cell. The Killer T Cells are personified as merciless, battle harden combat vets, the Helper T cell becomes a military commander, Macrophage cells are portrayed as elegant, classy maids who like to chop up their victims with their giant axes and blades.
Do you remember those educational “entertaining” science films back in school? You know what I mean – they’re cheesy, boring, trying too hard to have style but it’s so dry. Cells At Work throws that shit away while still retaining the knowledge. Knowledge at a simple level but still knowledge regardless. That’s why famous personalities – may they be fictional or not, such as Bill Nye, Carl Sagen, Miss Frizzle, and Ozzy (Ozzy and Drix) are beloved. They taught us the knowledge of science through their unique personalities. Of course, I’m not saying you’re going to get layered, in-depth personalities for each character compared to story-driven anime series such as Durarara or Monogatari but when you’re selling an anime centered around science and the human body you better make it entertaining.
As of this writing, I’m caught up to episode four (somehow that Influenza enemy thing didn’t get resolved) of the anime and from my positive reaction, I’m going to stick around with the anime until either the series end or something utter bullshit makes me turn away from it. While I do believe it’s going to be one of the best shows of the seasons, I can’t confidently say it’s anime of the year material but we will see once the series end.
If you’re looking for a different anime series that still share the familiar style of your shounen shows while also learning why you should take care of your body and the cells in it, then Cells At Work is right for you. If not, you’re the reason why the education system is such a failure today.
(Before I go, Let me go on record that Red Blod Cell-Chan and White Blood Cell are those two co-workers that you know have a thing for each other and they’re gonna get caught fucking in the employee bathroom by the janitor when they thought everyone left the office building that night)
At the beginning of the Dragon Ball Super Movie: Brolytrailer, Whis asks Goku why he seeks further power (than he already has). Goku replies that battling in the Tournament of Power has opened his eyes; understanding that there’s no way he can remind at his current level. This is typical of Goku. Every time he encounters powerful warriors on his journey, he gets inspired to better himself. Despite having marvelous power, Goku realizes that it’s not enough.
He must always seek to improve himself.
I’m not a Goku fan. He’s a bland, average Shounen battle anime/manga main character. Yet, I can’t help but admire his drive to better himself. He loves to fight against those who are stronger than him. He’s willing to learn from those who may not have much strength, but are masters at techniques he’s curious about (the Kaioken from King Kai, The Mafuba from Master Roshi, and Instant Transmission from the Yardrats). Goku is always learning. Always improving.
Listening to Goku’s response, I couldn’t help but feel a relation to his words. ‘No way I can’t stay at the same level I am now.’. I’m all for self-improvement and bettering yourself (beyond your current talents and levels). You should always work your ass off to reach new heights no matter what. Life isn’t fun if you remain where you at. If you want the best things for yourself, you have to level up no matter what; may it be learning a new skill, working on your purpose/passion, or traveling to a new city you have yet to explore.
In early July of 2018, I was in Los Angeles for Anime Expo (AX) and to see what the city has to offer to travelers wishing to explore it. As I scoured the city soaking in the culture, I fell in love instantly. The blend of multi-cultural natives and travelers speaking in their native tongue. Fashion heads donning their outlandish appeals without fear of (too much) judgment. Massive, striving businesses bringing income for the city. The ocean breeze cooling down the warm city. People minding their own business and not mean mugging (like in my hometown). Entertainment surrounding the area at each turn. World level cosplayers showcasing their talents. The crowded convention venue filled up by passionate otakus. Witnessing all of inspired me to do better in life. I want more from it.
There’s no way I can stay at the same level I’m at now.
My visit to Los Angeles changed my life. Extreme? Yep. But, you something extreme to happen to you if you want to change. I spoke about this in a previous post, but seeing that gigantic Fate/Grand Order poster towering over the Wells Fargo bank in Downtown L.A. sparked an inspiration fire within me. It brought a huge smile to my face. Not because I’m a Fate fan, but because it served a reminder to me that even the most popular, beloved series had to start from the bottom( to reach the top).
The Fate series started out as a bit of a niche yet popular visual novel in Japan. While beloved in Japan, it took years for the love to reach Western fanbases (sans the small circle of Western fans who love the visual novel) to the heights we are seeing today. Type-Moon (the creative force behind the fate series) had to put in the years of hard and smart work to reach their current levels in the otaku world. And it paid off.
If they can put in that hard work to reach the top, so can I.
Since I’m on the topic of visual novels, I was at a Doki Doki Literature Club (DDLC) cosplay meet up during AX (cosplaying as a last minute genderswap version of Monika) on Days 2 and 4. As the meetups were wrapping up, Dan Salvato (creator of DDLC), came through and chat it up with the fans. The fans (including myself) show nothing but love and support for the dude.
I was able to talk to him about how the character Yuri have impacted me the most out of the four characters (as I used to shut myself out from others and not talk about my love due to being teased and bullied for them like Yuri herself). He brought up how Yuri (as well as Natsuki) was based off his childhood experiences which made me appreciate both characters more (since I got a little deeper understanding on how they came to life).
Again, I was inspired by the love he was receiving and how he showed the love back. Like with the Fate/Grad Order poster, that experience showed me why I must get on my grind to produce content that people will love. If I can create something that can inspire others and want to better their lives, then I have finally done my job for the world.
Hard work pays off.
Outside the convention, my friend and I were invited to an Anime Expo Discord chat meetup at an outdoor bar (forgot the name of it). As we drank and chop it up with everyone, one of the guys brought up how it’s goofy that some weeaboos will spend thousands and thousands of dollars to fly out to L.A., buy a convention badge, and hotel costs just to go to the convention and not explore the city to see what it has to offer. Our (my friend and I) faces lit up and nodded in agreement, as we had a talk about this while we were smoking hours earlier. While the main goal was to attend Anime Expo, we were more excited to explore the city. If you’re going to a city for an anime conventions and nothing else, you’re an idiot.
After the meetup, my friend and I went to be some little degenerates and smoke some legal weed. As we smoke, we reflect on our new friend’s words and how we’re truly making it; as we met like-minded people who understand why we can’t be around those who put limits on themselves.
A sign of progress.
(Below: Spoils from Little Tokyo)
Spoils from Little Tokyo
Spoils from Little Tokyo
Spoils from Little Tokyo
Exploring L.A. outside the con gave me the chance to talk to people from not only L.A. but from all over the world. One gentleman whom I spoke with was a dude born in China who moved to the New Jersey area in his youth and then to L.A. when he got older. We spoke about our home cities and compared it to L.A. He didn’t like living out there as, in his words “people in L.A. are rude assholes and there’s always some nonsense going on compared to New Jersey.”. I told him St. Louis was the same but couldn’t see how L.A. was that bad (granted I was only a visitor and not somebody who was living in the city,).
A day before I left L.A., I spoke with a rather liberal Middle Eastern women for a bit. She was an L.A. native who guessed that my friend and I weren’t locals due to our mannerism. Apparently, those who are native to the L.A. area tend to be assholes, but (depending on where they from), travelers and tourists are kind and aren’t on any bullshit. I had to agree with her on that. It felt that those who weren’t locals or born in L.A. seem chill and laid back while the rest were niggas who clearly didn’t get whoop by somebody when they got out of line.
During a weed run, my boy and I ran into a street rapper, Chase, who wanted us to give him a topic to freestyle about. After his freestyle, we started talking about where we from. Come to find out, Chase was a fellow Mid-Western from Chicago who visited St. Louis from time to time. He came to Califorina to connect with other rappers to network with other rappers and build his brand. I am not that much of a spiritual person, but I can’t help to think that meeting was the universe telling me something about even if I try to leave home for a while, home will find me. But this was a positive experience. Three Midwestern’s finding each other on the West Coast and speaking about our journeys and what we want out of it.
As time passed on and I traveled, I wanted more out of not only L.A. itself, but for me as a person. There’s something magical about that city. I can’t put my finger on it, but it brought out something in me that I knew was there – I just needed something to draw it out. Maybe it was that Fate/Grand Order that was the trigger. Perhaps talking to a creator and seeing the love he got brought it out. Could it be that me getting out of my hometown caused all of this? I dunno.
What I do know is that if I want this again, then I can’t stay at the same level I am now.
I love my trip to Los Angeles and attending Anime Expo. It was a life-changing experience of consuming and getting involved in local and global cultures that I’ll never experience in my hometown. While I foolhardy limited my travels to Downtown L.A. and Little Tokyo, the drive to go back to the West Coast is eating me up (in fact, limiting myself is the reason why I must go back because there’s more of L.A. I want to see). The trip sparked a fire within me to better myself finically (through having multiple sources of incomes) and improve my creative talents so I can justify visiting L.A. in order to growth (or better yet – if I decide to live in L.A. for a few years)
While wandering around the Downtown area searching for a CVS, I encounter a massive fate/grand order towering above the Wells Frago bank in the area. A huge smile came across my face for two reasons. One, because I am a bit of a casual fan of the series and that I’m happy on how the series has come this far. Two, it served as a reminder (to me) that even the titans of the industry I am a consumer of had to start at the bottom to reach the top. The creators behind the fate series were just people like you and me who had the vision to breathe life into something they felt could change their industry, the world, and their lives.
As my eyes focused and analyzed the mighty fate poster, I started reflecting on my own goals and dreams in life (and how I want to create something that will be loved by many). My mind brought up the struggles it took me to get to not only Los Angeles and Anime Expo, but my current level of life and how I persevere to push forward with my goals despite the pitfalls, doubters, haters, etc..
‘I wonder what sacrifices these fate dudes had to make to get to where they at today? How hard and smart did they work in order to become icons in the otaku niche.’ I asked myself. The poster spawned endless questions in my mind. Questions of hard work, sacrifice, brand building. I became a curious child who was given a brand new toy and was obsessed with what the toy can do. At that moment, I started planning on what should I do with my own goals and desires and how in order to bring them to life.
The people who created the fate series were given the same two hands, two eyes, two feet, two legs, and a similar creative brain like me at birth. The difference between those guys and me is that they got off their asses and bust them to bring their vision to the world. Yeah, they were met with problems, haters, doubters, and people telling them to give up on their dreams. Yet they push through the noise. That’s the struggle every creative person will face. I am no exception to this law.
If we wanna reach the real shit, we must go through the bullshit. That’s the only way our dreams can come true.
As per my April 2018 article, I don’t get post-con blues. I never got the idea behind it. If you get depressed after attending a weeaboo festival (and aren’t willing to do anything about it), you’re a loser. There are conventions held almost every weekend in major cities in America and across the globe that offers the same shit (for the most part). As a result, conventions get boring after a while. The passion behind them get lost and you’re (well, I) are left wondering “well, what’s next for this little otaku hobby of mines?”. After attending Anime Expo in Los Angles however, I must admit I’m feeling the blues.
Am I’m upset that Anime Expo has come and go? Nah. Too many rude, smelly ass weeaboos I had to deal with that won’t make me miss the con (still going back though). I had to stop myself from losing my temper and beating the shit out of a disrespectful, shut-in nerd who almost bumped me into a wall; all because he wanted a picture of some Ichigo and 02 cosplayers from Darling in the Franxx that he’ll never get to fuck in his lifetime. Having to walk twenty minutes to Kenta Hall when it normally would have taken me five minutes wasn’t that fun – especially since it the crowds created a fire hazard (risk our safety for the all mighty dollar, huh). Trying to find a panel room for twenty minutes only to find out I needed a wristband to prove I was over the age of 18 ain’t fun. I’m not blue over those factors. What I’m feeling blue about is the fact I am not in Los Angles anymore.
I have Post Cali Blues.
I miss California. For the short week I was there, I felt at peace. I felt that I could be myself despite not being within my comfort zone. The fantastic, 80-degree weather that felt like it was 60 degrees thanks to the ocean breeze. The luscious women from all over the world. Bruh, they were bad! People who mind their own business and who didn’t mean mug you. The welcoming and acceptance of those from different cultures. Being surrounded by striving businesses at every corner. This what sold me on California…expect for the high taxes and cost of living you guys can miss me with that bullshit.
I gotta go back to Cali again.
If you guys don’t know, I’m from St. Louis, Misery (or Missouri) – a small Midwestern city that hasn’t seen progress in nearly 60 years. St. Louis isn’t shit when it comes to wanting to better oneself in growth, business, career, etc. The hopeless, passionless idiots who never left this city think it’s great and there’s nothing absolutely wrong with it (despite the high murder rates, extreme poverty, racism, right-wing politics, etc.). These people love to bring down anyone with a dream or desire to expand their lives beyond St. Louis.
As a result, there are many haters and jealous niggas in the ‘Lou. California has its shares of crimes, haters, and hopeless idiots, sure. but I rather be stuck in a state that has legal weed, a chance for me to grow as a person, and network with those within my industry as opposed to continuing living in a city where I feel that I have no chance to do anything with my passion. What did that little dude say in FLCL? “Nothing amazing ever happens here”. Yep. That’s St. Louis.
St. Louis sucks.
During downtime at Anime Expo, I went decided to explore L.A. for a bit. It felt magical. Every turn, my eyes here treated to blooming, striving business helping bring L.A. income. Downtown St. Louis? Every other business building is abandoned. Downtown L.A. featured a fashion district. Not a fashion store, mall, or outlet. A fashion fucking district. Did I mention legal, safe weed? Kush mind you, not no reggie or unknown kush with bug spray on it.
Legal. Fucking. Weed.
Besides my degenerate lust towards weed, I’m a man of culture. Given that L.A. is a large city with over 3.7 million living in it, you’re going to get people from many cultural backgrounds telling them your experience. As one Lyft driver told me, L.A. is made up of people from all over the world – not just native people. With that, you get to talk to people from Asia, The Middle East, Africa, Europe, etc. and learn why they came ot America and how are they dealing with things here as their cultural experience clashes with the ones in America (as that adage goes; you can take the man out of the hood but you can’t take the hood out of the man). St. Louis is cultural as well (we have strong Middle Eastern, Chinesse Mexican, and Bosnian, communites) don’t get me wrong, but there aren’t as many international people here compared to the West Coast. I personally that shit is cool.
To conclude, the post Cali blues is hitting hard for me right now. To be honest, I am a little disappoint that I didn’t explore much of L.A. beyond Little Tokyo and Downtown. If ther ewasnt’ a convention in between my exploration, I feel like I could had gotten much more done in a week. I’m kicking myself for not hitting up Hollywodo (Despite the latter being a tourist trap). Venice Beach and Santa Monica are beautiful beach spots. I low-key wanna explore Compton and study one ofhte major parts of hip-hop history before it gets completely gentriflied by the liberals. I am going back to L.A. for my homeboy’s birthday and Anime’ L.A., so that will grant me a second chance to do the thigns I couldn’t do on my first trip.
I’m going back to Cali.
DRUNK AFTERWORD: To those on my Facebook friend’s list who were mad about my post-con blues post: the fuck ya were gonna do besides be mad and not fuck with me anymore cuz I spoke that shit about post-con depression?
FLCL: Progressive is weird. I don’t mean that it matches the original FLCL weirdness that fans celebrate and praise it for. It’s awkwardly weird. It doesn’t have the fluid, bold experimental animation, the zany characters, and the upbeat music as its predecessor. The story’s a bit of a rehash (with the main character not seeing anything exciting about life until Haruko comes along) but with new elements. There are only two episodes left of Progressive and it’s unfair to judge and compare, but it’s hard to wait – especially with the internet buzzing on how Progressive isn’t as glamorous as the first series.
Why is this? Surely Production I.G. and Studio TRIGGER could have delivered the same excitement from the classic with Progressive (as the original team members are all on board). The thing is, FLCL classic was an experiment for Gainax to test new animation software at the time. The team was allowed to go off the rails with the software, art, and story writing to push the limits of their new toy and their artistic talents. That’s it.
That’s why FLCL classic was charming…well that’s my theory.
With FLCL: Progressive, the production team isn’t using new technology (to my knowledge). They already proved themselves to the industry (serval times mind you). There’s no need to reproduce the charm from FLCL Classic with fancy new software. From the four episodes I’ve watched, I’m assuming that Production I.G. and Studio TRIGGER are focused on delivering a solid story than just being silly with animation software. There’s FLCL: Alternate coming out in later this year. Perhaps it’ll recapture the outlandish feeling that the original gave us so we can only wait and see.
What’s a name? Obviously, it’s a set word(s) to identify a person, place, or thing. Some names are linked to a famous brand (Nike, Nordstrom, or Nintendo for example). Others are associated with a person in your life ( brother, sister, cousin, etc.) There are names famous throughout the world — regardless of culture, race, etc (Micheal Jackson, Bill Gates, Shigeru Miyamoto). Depending on the person, whenever we hear their name, we either react with disgust or with love. Names are important as they are the basis of who we are as a person. Some fight to preserve their name in history — even after death.
In episode 2 of the Spring 2018 boxing anime Megalo Box the Junk Dog Gearless Joe squares off with Megalo Boxing champion Yuri. Before their fight, Yuri requests Joe’s real name, as he states that “I can’t imagine you want a ring name on your tombstone” in which Joe replies “They don’t make tombstones for stray dogs.”
Regardless if Joe wants to use his real or ring name, he wants his legecy to be known. He refuses to die without anyone knowing who he was in life. The line is simple, yet powerful. Joe is right: they do not make tombstones for no names.
Question: Do we recognize people who never done anything in history?
No, we don’t. Those who achieved greatness have their names embedded in history. The ones who don’t are forgotten. The story of the Gearless Joe is one of the classic underdog story. Joe is a young man of lower class status yearning to escape the strife and trap of poverty through boxing. With his boxing skills, he believes that if he becomes the Megalo Boxing champion, his name will live forever. Joe refuses to die as a nobody. That’s not his fate in this world. There’s no glory in being another unknown background character in a world of billions and billions of people.
Nobody gives a shit about a stray dog.
People fight until their final breaths to keep their name and brand relevant. We may not understand why, but there are many in this world who do not want to die as a nobody. Utliziing their skillsets and talents, they put themselves out there in hopes that one day, their legacy will be celebrated. Deep inside them, there’s that drive for certain humans to make their mark on this world by any means. If they don’t, they will die with the regret of not becoming the icon in their niche or even the world. That’s why they fight.
What’s the best way to generate an increase in sales and downloads for your product? It’s simple: controversy. This effective yet infamous trick has worked well for the video game industry for 30+ years. Mortal Kombat came under fire by the U.S. Government for its high level of gore and violence (at the time). Middle-Class suburban parent groups demanded that the game should be removed from arcades and stores; as they believed children would become influenced by the game’s brutally Their anger and protests only generated more support and sales for Mortal Kombat.
Rockstar used this trick as well with the Grand Theft Auto series. As with Mortal Kombat before it, parents and government groups were horrified by the pixeled violence and sexual acts displayed in Rockstar’s landmark series. They demanded the video game company to cease production. Guess what? Their crusade against it only helped increase sales, support, and popularity for the series. Rockstar knew the controversy would work in their favor.
On June 25th, 2018, the Manchester Coroner’s office issued a warning to school officials in the United Kingdom after the suicide of 15-year-old child back in February 2018. Prior to the suicide, the child was playing the popular free-to-play visual novel Doki Doki Literature Club (DDLC). The coroner and the child’s father suspected that the mental health themes of DDLC played a part in the death.
I gotta say: history is repeating itself.
It’s unfortunate that the child killed himself. He needed therapy. However, it’s funny to blame DDLC (for triggering the child’s death). Are we really going to do that again (blamming video games)? Shit’s played out. Then again, it’s easy to play the blame game as opposed to be more open to the struggles of mental health illnesses and finding support for those suffering from. We are quick to shun anyone with it. We are quick to shun video games. But we aren’t quick to help people. We only use people with mental health issues for selfish gains.
Take that as you will.
DDLC being linked to this latest video game controversy will only generate more popularity, support, and downloads. People love negativity. Humans are a curious lot. That warning will make can children curcious about the game, share it with their peers, and of course, produce an expansion of its populairty and downloads. History is repeating itself.
To the Manchester Coroner’s office: Congrulations on helping Team Salvato net furhter attention and support. Ya did well.