The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

A Milestone at the Eight Year Anniversary, and Defining An Analytical and Critical Approach on Positivity

“When you are joyful, when you say yes to life and have fun and project positivity all around you, you become a sun in the centre of every constellation, and people want to be near you.” –Shannon L. Alder

This blog began its life on a cold, grey October evening eight years ago – while feeling like yesterday, eight years is a nontrivial amount of time. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with and learn from other members of the anime blogging community as I built up this blog further. In the process, I’ve made many discoveries surrounding blogging styles, and even with respect to the medium itself. Without a community to offer feedback and suggestions for me, to augment my own understanding of different series and their underlying mechanics, it is doubtful that I would have continued to blog as I have. You, the readers, deserve a sincere thank you for having stuck around for this long. Anime blogging is a rather time-consuming and mentally taxing hobby: in addition to watching a series, one must then work out what they have to say about it and then craft this into something that conveys a certain idea to their intended audiences. The process is further compounded by a conjunction of anime fatigue, in which anime appears to become more derivative and unexciting with time as one becomes familiar with the themes and design choices anime share, as well as the oftentimes overwhelming feeling of negativity amongst the community as a consequence of fatigue. The anime community therefore can feel like a spiteful, vitriol-filled place where people content themselves with tearing down anime and treating the number of anime dropped as a medal to display proudly on one’s chest. To be an anime blogger in such a setting is understandably exhausting, and so, on this blog’s eighth anniversary, I would like to share with my readers the technique I have employed, that has allowed me to find enjoyment in the things that I end up watching and writing about. I am an ardent proponent of optimism and positivity. My priority, whenever I deal with something that was intended to be fun, is to figure out how to have the most fun when I go about doing it – until the day that the secrets behind immortality are unlocked and accessible, my contention that life is far too short to spend on tearing down things and pessimism, is something that is indubitably and unequivocally true.

The key to finding enjoyment in something begins with making an honest and genuine effort towards understanding what that something was intended to accomplish. If it sounds like what I’m doing entails critical thinking and literary analysis, it’s because this is precisely what I am doing. However, there are key distinctions: critical thinking simply means “applying one’s own judgement towards making an assessment” and certainly does not entail making criticisms of everything. Similarly, an analysis simply is a logical examination of something, and one need not mention of Freud or Jung to be conducting analysis. In my approach towards anime, this takes the form of appreciating what characters learn throughout the course of a story, any corresponding changes to their outlooks as they experience different things, and how their world shapes these changes. Determining the witherto’s and whyfor’s in a work, at a systems level, helps one empathise with the characters and understand why they take the actions that they do: certain choices and actions make sense in retrospect, and so, looking at something as a sum of its part is much more meaningful than attempting to look at the parts in a vacuum. For instance, one of the most common reasons to tear down a work is because the story appeared incoherent, or the characters’ actions did not make sense. However, when the wider context is established, things make a lot more sense, and one is more inclined to empathise with why an individual may act the way they did at a given time. Empathising with the characters is a luxury afforded by being able to see the bigger picture, and for me, it helps me to determine what lesson I am supposed to walk away from a work with, and for me, if a series can succeed in giving me a particular message, then it has succeeded as a work of fiction. Rather than entering a series to with the intent of seeing if I will enjoy it or not, I tend to enter a series with the goal of figuring out what makes it tick, and this is why I tend to write favourably about almost everything I watch: I come in with an open mind and the intent to learn, rather than criticise and judge. The mindset that every series has the potential to be new and refreshing, even if it is treading on familiar ground, is precisely how I’ve continued to run this blog for eight years. The elevator version to the question of how I get by in a world dominated by negativity, criticism and hatred is that I actively look for reasons to enjoy something. I’d say that this approach has been moderately effective, considering that I’ve been watching anime for over a decade and writing here for eight years.

Five ways to find positivity in (almost) anything

  • The biggest key to enjoying something is to enter it with an open mind and approaching things from a big-picture perspective. Rather than forming a conclusion about a work within a few episodes or individual moments, enjoyment comes from taking everything into consideration in drawing a conclusion. Taken out of context, a particular scene may appear irrational or irrelevant, but when considered as a part of a sum, its presence may augment or strengthen a particular idea. Seeing the bigger picture is a fun experience for me, and this is why I almost never look at moments without the context.

  • Making an honest effort to understand the characters and their backgrounds helps one determine why their actions are what they are. Often, folks are quick to mark a character’s actions as being irrational or illogical because said actions are judged from their perspective (resulting in endless griping on forums about how characters’ actions don’t make sense). However, when one looks at the character’s background, personality and whatever external factors there might be, their actions are considered in the greater context, and any mistakes an individual might make may actually end up strengthening their growth in the long run. It is especially rewarding to see characters mature and learn from their experiences.

  • Immersion is another factor I look to for enjoyment: if I can feel like I’m part of a world, I’m more likely to be engaged and immersed with a work. In anime, a vividly-presented world with rich artwork, or a unique setting that feels authentic contributes greatly to the fun factor. In a game, I am immersed when the world is so well-designed and constructed that it feels convincing. A part of partaking in fiction is exploring another reality, and so, if a world can captivate me, I am almost certain to be having fun.

  • The next item on my list of ways to have fun is to ignore attempts to bring the so-called intellectual discussion into a series. While fiction may bring philosophical, social, political or technical elements to enhance immersion and drive the theme, focusing singularly on these elements results in a discussion that is dry at best (if the individuals are qualified to converse on such topics) or misleading at worst (if the individuals have no experience with the topic at hand beyond a five-minute Wikipedia session). Excessive focus on these intellectual elements may also give rise to the feeling that one is missing something “obvious” when the reality is that they simply saw something different in a work, and it is only in moderation that such discussions may be fruitful.

  • The final, and most important part about having fun with entertainment is to always make one’s own decisions. The hottest anime or games may not be up one’s alley, and there is no sense in forcing oneself to pick up a series that may be considered excellent if it is not to one’s interest. Time is limited, and I’d rather spend it doing something for myself, rather than counting the enduring of a series I may not like and then negatively critiquing it as a “service” to others. However, if and when I am involved in stepping out of my comfort zone, I still have four points to look for, and it is extremely rare that something will fail completely on all fronts as to produce something disappointing. This is the joy of having a positive outlook on things – there are almost always ways to have a good time.

While I’ve made an effort to exude optimism and positivity through my blog, what I end up doing is putting words onto a screen. I therefore hope that these feeling are conveyed to the readers, as well. With the sheer volume of negativity out there on social media, I strive to provide opinion and commentary that encourages excitement and enjoyment of a given work. It is my hope that I am able to offer a modicum of joy for readers who want to simply learn about what something entails and decide for themselves what they will or won’t pick up, and if this blog succeeds in helping even a single reader discover a work that they come to enjoy, then this blog has been successful in its objectives. I constantly want readers to walk away from my posts with a better understanding of what happened, whether the work is suitable for them, and/or even learn something that might be completely trivial (but fun) in the process. I hope that I will be able to continue maintaining and raising this standard for my blog for as long as I remain active. Long have I considered retiring this blog, and while I cannot claim to foresee the future of the blog with any certainty, I am certain that I will keep writing so as long as it remains fun for me. I would therefore hope that you, the readers, would continue to accompany me on this journey, sharing in whatever adventures and discoveries that follow – thank you for having come this far and making eight years of blogging possible!

16 responses to “A Milestone at the Eight Year Anniversary, and Defining An Analytical and Critical Approach on Positivity

  1. Lynn October 17, 2019 at 21:40

    Congratulations, that is a considerable chunk of time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jon Spencer October 17, 2019 at 21:46

    Congrats man! That’s seriously impressive that you’ve been at it for so long 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ManInBlack October 18, 2019 at 02:04

    Congrats! Your blog is six months older than mine! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tpaul Homdrom October 18, 2019 at 10:28

    Keep up the positivity! I had no idea you’d been at it for this long, I only found your blog earlier this year. I think I was looking for reviews of the Girls und Panzer film, and stumbled across yours, and found a wealth of Girls und Panzer reviews that were so positive, so clearly loving the series and characters, that I was really excited to check out everything else you write and follow what comes next. I only just discovered Girls und Panzer itself last year, but since then I’ve rewatched the series and film (and sequel film OVA, and the first part of das Finale) almost a dozen times, it’s kind of scary how endlessly rewatchable it all is and how much such a short amount of time relative to a lot of other anime franchises has done to engrave these girls and their adventure into my heart.

    For myself, I think a desire for positivity is what keeps me from really spending any time in anime community forums, other fandom forums or message boards, or even remotely engaging with anyone who spews negativity on social media. Negativity is so common in those places, so somewhere like your blog, or the people on social media and in other places who have a positive focus, are peaceful havens in the all-too-easy to get caught up in storm of negativity. Thanks for your writing, and I look forward to what comes next!

    Liked by 1 person

    • infinitezenith October 18, 2019 at 22:46

      I’m glad you were able to come across this admittedly remote corner of the internet. Girls und Panzer is one of those series that just gets everything done, and done well. Looking back, I actually feel that I didn’t cover the series to the same level as I should have, and I am considering revisiting the TV series that started the entire party if there ever is a quieter season. I’m glad you were able to check out the whole of this one in full: each is an integral part to the experience, and I think what made Girls und Panzer so memorable is the unique combination of a relatable protagonist whose journey is of self-discovery, an incredibly rich cast of characters, a well thought-out world and an attention to realism.

      With regards to this blog, my positivity-driven style is in part motivated by the fact that there are those who would abuse analytical methods and critical thinking for the sake of attention. There are YouTubers and some blogs that come to mind: perusing these make it clear that their owners probably haven’t even taken the effort to read a primer on what analysis and critical thinking is, and yet, they manage to influence people in droves. By having a blog driven by a more happy mind-set, my goal is to leave readers with the impression that everything has merits, and that it is ultimately their opinions, rather than some blogger or YouTuber, that matters the most. I hope that you will continue swinging by, and that my future articles will at least be of the same standard as the posts you’ve found!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. terranceacrow October 18, 2019 at 19:03

    Positivity is a choice that I respect. It’s a lot easier to tear things apart. Heck, even the feedback mechanisms (short term viewership, for example) favor it!

    But your choice has more longevity. And, in the final analysis, it leaves a more last impression.

    Here’s to hoping for 8 more years! Or whatever timeframe you like!

    Liked by 1 person

    • infinitezenith October 18, 2019 at 22:51

      Negativity is an inherently unstable thing, rather like how being unfriendly to others is inherently unstable. Whereas nice people only need to focus on how to be nice to people, unfriendly people must consider how to gain the upper hand over others while simultaneously avoiding someone gaining the upper hand over them. A blogger or YouTuber who exists to criticise (not critique) something always writes with the fear that someone could go in and melt their arguments on top of finding new arguments to put down something, while someone who shares with the aim of simply sharing enjoyment only needs to find creative ways to make others happy. In other words, being negative is twice the effort, and quite frankly, that means time not spent doing other things.

      With this in mind, I can see why some folks gravitate towards it, since spectacle does beget attention. However, as you’ve said, it’s not a particularly sustainable way to do things, and ultimately, I’m much happier saying “this is why you should check this out” over “this is why you shouldn’t check this out”. I’m hoping to continue this party for as long as I can and appreciate your readership: readers like you make blogging well worth it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Krystallina October 18, 2019 at 20:17

    Amazing — congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Weekly round-up – littleanimeblog.com

  8. Aumi October 29, 2019 at 15:50

    Happy 8th anniversary!

    Liked by 1 person

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