The Infinite Zenith

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

A Brief Interview with NinetyBeats

In the last days of September, I was invited by NinetyBeats to an interview of sorts surrounding this blog, as well as the origins of my anime and gaming interests. I had never really given much attention to the origins of my anime interests, but the interview did give me an opportunity to reflect on how I had gone from being largely neutral to anime to someone who greatly enjoys it. Presented below is a carbon copy of the interview: the original may be accessed here. I’ve included here, in italics, some of my own thoughts on my responses since the interview was completed.

Could you tell the readers a bit about your blog? What can we find on your blog?

The Infinite Mirai is predominantly an anime review website, although I prefer to think of it as an anime discussion/reflection blog, where I offer my own, often non sequitor, insights into what elements in an anime make it fun (or agonising) to watch. Readers can expect my posts to summarise the anime series or episode, alongside some of my opinions. However, the main distinction about my blog is the large number of images accompanying the posts, and the figure captions that each of the images have. Most blogs simply have a few images (or lots of uncaptioned images) and longer passages, whereas I add figure captions to specifically describe a particular scene and some of my thoughts on the aforementioned scene. There’s a picture, and below it, a remark that varies from my insights to a particularly bad joke I am reminded of when I see that moment. Aside from my anime reflections, anime news and gaming posts, I occasionally write about topics as diverse as fancy gadgets and food.

Addendum: I may translate anime news related to series I follow on occasion to provide readers with an English translation of a particular detail. Fans shouldn’t lack the knowledge of when the soundtrack or next installment of a show is released.

What made you decide to start your own blog?

The Infinite Mirai came about as an extension to my original website, which had been called the Infinite Zenith. Named after the astronomical point directly above us, I used my old website to reflect on some of the things I experienced in anime series and games, simply for myself. I had started my website as a sanctuary to write about how I felt about shows, and also hosted a few flash games, where I would play them without others populating the high score tables. The original website is hosted by Webs.com and was constrained by bandwidth limitations, so I decided to supplement the website with the blog. Dubbed Infinite Mirai (literally “Infinite Future”), I aimed to use my blog as a platform for hosting more diverse discussions, such as episode talks and anime news that would be out of place on my website. However, I still primarily intended for my blog to act as somewhat of an archive for my thoughts, such that I would peruse them and be reminded of things when I had first encountered that anime or game. As time wore on, I realised that with my extensive background in Kanji and limited experience in Japanese, I could provide other viewers with news and information that would otherwise be inaccessible. Since then, I’ve written my blog posts for a much more diverse audience, seeking to write posts for my own enjoyment, as well as the occasional post for providing information to inquisitive readers.

Addendum: Why are there no scathing negative reviews here? I don’t believe in spending time complaining about something I didn’t like. Usually, if there’s an anime I dislike, I’ll drop it. If I really dislike it, I’ll drop it, then spend an hour inside a first person shooter to cool off. If I have a series here that has more negative elements than usual, it means I still liked enough of the anime to recommend it (i.e. there are more good things than bad things).

How did you get in touch with anime and other Japanese media?

I didn’t always like anime. I was largely neutral towards it when I was younger, until I watched a particularly disturbing scene in The AniMatrix, which led me to believe (incorrectly) that all anime was violent. I do not handle graphic violence well, but eventually, several of my friends convinced me to join my high school’s anime club. Exposure to Hayao Miyazaki’s films (Totoro and Laputa), as well as the Ah! My Goddess Movie, changed my mind thoroughly. The evening I had finished watching the Ah! MY Goddess Movie, my curiosity led to me finding the albums to the TV series, and one of my friends eventually showed me the first few episodes on his Pocket PC. I subsequently got into Ah! My Goddess, but my anime interests did not pick up until another friend introduced me to Gundam 00 in 2007. At around this time, I began my website to talk about my thoughts on Gundam 00, diversifying into a few other series, such as Azumanga Daioh by 2009. By 2010, I had begun watching Real Drive and Rideback, although it wasn’t until 2011, when I began watching works from KyoAni (K-On!, Lucky Star, Haruhi), that I really got into anime.

Addendum: I’ve seen roughly 40 series at the time of writing. I’m actually quite picky about my anime, and will only watch series I think I’ll like. I only reflect and recommend on the anime that I did end up enjoying.

What is the element that you like most in anime?

Aside from the anime girls, who are surprisingly pleasing to the eye (think Mio Akiyama and Nagisa Furukawa), I find anime to be an immensely enjoyable medium because the characters are more expressive of their emotions and feelings, whether it be through their words, body language, subtle visual cues (blushing in response to a love confession) or even exaggerated cartoon effects, such as the streams of tears characters cry in more comedic series. Even the state of their eyes, already highly-detailed, may be indicative of their emotions: for instance, the eyes of some characters develop duller shading when jealous or saddened. By comparison, the characters in western animation are typically simplified and depend entirely on words or exaggerated body language and facial expressions to convey their emotions. Anime characters are able to convey similar reactions via more subtle means, although in some cases, their reactions might be exaggerated, as well. The distinctions allow writers to have better control over the atmosphere in anime, allowing a particular emotion to be represented in a manner befitting of the series’ genre.

Addendum: Recent anime, starting from 2007 when Gundam 00 kicked off the whole HD-quality animation, and works from individuals like Makoto Shinkai have incredible details. The beautiful artwork in some anime also draw my attention. 

Do you have a specific genre you love to watch?

I most enjoy science fiction series and slice-of-life series. The two initially appear to be as distant genres with very little in common, although this is the point: some days, I prefer delving into a foreign world, where high technology and politics come together to shape events within a story and raising speculation about how individuals may react to such a setting. Other days, I may wish to see a group of friends relax and explore their home town or work towards a goal in their lives These two anime are at the opposite ends of the spectrum, allowing them to complement one another depending on my dispositions that day.

Addendum: Fantastical worlds, and beautiful depiction of the subtle things in life add to these series’ appeal. With that said, I’m reasonably open-minded, but my schedule means I have to be a little more selective about the series that I do follow. Sometimes, I may not watch a series while it’s airing, then return to it later and find that I would have enjoyed the show greatly.

What is your favorite series? Can you tell us what made it so special?

My favourite series is CLANNAD and its sequel, CLANNAD ~After Story~. Its depiction of friendships and family is unmatched, holding a candle even to some of the best works offered in the west, simply because the series presents human bonds in a simple, honest manner. With a memorable cast and a poignant story, I found that the CLANNAD series represents a masterful balance between comedy and drama; as the story progressed, I found myself laughing with the characters when they were laughing, and cried with the characters when they were crying. In my books, it isn’t sufficient for an anime to have a thought-provoking or intellectually stimulating storyline. The best anime are those where one can relate to the characters, feeling the same emotions as the characters do as one watches the series progress, giving the viewer a sense of immersion into the story.

Addendum: Girls und Panzer vies for a close second-place. Unique, entertaining and detailed, the anime exemplifies how anime writers can put together some of the more unusual combinations with respect to premises and still get an excellent story out without depending on the wrong kind of elements. In other words, Girls und Panzer represents what anime can potentially be: fun but also detailed enough to keep my inner scientist/historian happy.

What do you dislike in anime?

While I find anime immensely enjoyable, there is one element which will cause me to decline all invitation to see a series. As noted earlier, I abhor graphic violence in anime: the willful destruction and desecration of a human body is frightening to me because it represents the degradation of all rational and human thinking. I can stomach blood and have no trouble with seeing organs in medicine, but that is because we are using our knowledge to help individuals, not harm them. In anime, the high attention to detail and artwork, while a strong point, ends up giving violent scenes the same level of detail, making it as if I am witnessing the act firsthand. Thus, it is not so much the violence itself, but rather, the mindset and insanity of the individuals, that I consider frightening. As a result, I tend to avoid anime with wanton violence.

You post a lot about gaming. What makes gaming so special for you?

Gaming is essentially a virtual adventure, whether it be through an entire world with its own folklore, or seeing a story through an individual’s eyes as it unfolds and interacting with individuals relevant to the events depicted. In other words, I enjoy gaming because it is more or less the same as reading a book, although in games, I may have more influence towards the story’s direction. While I game, I become immersed in the world, much as I am when I have a good book in hand or watching a good movie. There are some days where this immersion is welcomed, providing a short break from the real world, allowing me to clear my mind and approach a task with a renewed vigour. This in turn leads to me associating a particular game with a particular event, allowing me to write about a game in a manner as to offer tips on how to complete a level, while simultaneously reminiscing about something I did when I first played through a level.

What is your favorite game of all time?

This honour belongs to Halo 2 for PC. Contrary to complaints that the game lacked innovation and had steep hardware requirements, I had an incredible time playing through this game. The campaign was acceptable and reasonably entertaining, but the multiplayer was a completely different story: I’ve spent hours playing against other players, wiping out entire teams on my own and generally changing the tide of battle merely by being on a server. The reason Halo 2 multiplayer is so entertaining is because it is purely driven by skills, reflexes and experience; multiplayer games of this age emphasise ranks and equipment for performance, but in Halo 2, victory is determined solely by how well one could shoot and utilise aspects of a map. Presently, with most of the Halo 2 servers shut down, I’ve actually been looking for a similar game to fill the void. No other game has come close in providing entertainment on the PC as has Halo 2.

Addendum: If you’re looking to play co-op or verse me in multiplayer, you can add my Steam name: teh_nubkilr. I’m on “frequently” in that I’m usually signed in, but I may or may not be in-game.

Which games are you looking forward to? Can you name one or two?

Battlefield 4 is the game I anticipate the most in the upcoming future. It may prima facie be yet another modern military shooter, but Battlefield 4 is set in China and is said to feature innovative gameplay elements that add to the game’s immersion. Of course, the spectacular graphics have also captivated me, and I greatly anticipate the game’s release, if only so I could enjoy a virtual world that is perhaps even more detailed than our own.

Addendum: Titanfall is also on my radar, although I’m not sure if it’ll be available for PC. 

To make the post more personal, can you give a random fact about yourself?

I absolutely love music: a long time ago, I was a clarinet and trumpet player for my secondary school’s concert and jazz bands. Even though I lack formal understanding of musical theory, I nonetheless believe that music is the strongest means of conveying emotions and thoughts, transcending cultural and linguistic barriers to do so. Emotional, well-composed music will capture my heart; for instance, I feel a great deal of yearning and melancholy whenever I hear Lia’s “Summer Shadow”.

Addendum: If you must know, my favourite dish is broiled lobster tail. However, I’ve been asked to provide my favourite “commoner” food, since lobster is rather expensive where I live. In response to that, I love a good plate of poutine.

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