The Infinite Zenith

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

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Infinite Mirai and The Special Milestone: A Ten Year Anniversary, Reflections on Positivity, Resilience and Community

“Where do you see yourself in ten years?”

A decade is a nontrivial amount of time, and in response to this classic question, my response is always the same: I see myself becoming sufficiently versed in the systems I work with such that I have the confidence and expertise to determine how to manage teams using the same systems and deliver a product of unparalleled quality. Outside of the occupation setting, ten years is enough time for someone to finish their undergraduate education, go for graduate studies and still have enough time left over to find satisfaction in their career, reach financial stability and be at peace with who they are. When this blog began its journey on a cold October evening ten years ago, I was an undergraduate student: I’d just survived the worst year of my university career and had been on track to getting things back in order. I originally intended this blog to be for short blurbs about various bits of anime related news, to supplement my old website, but over time, it became apparent that WordPress provided features and capabilities far surpassing my old web host. During this past decade, Infinite Mirai has a total of 1377 posts and 3.5 million words (excluding this one). There’s now some 1.7 million page views, and 1.1 million unique visitors. The blog has proven resilient beyond my initial expectations: for the past five years, I’d always noted that there might come a point where I’d stop writing for this blog. Each and every time, I’ve been proven wrong. The reason for this is two-fold: firstly, writing is a form of catharsis for me. I am afforded a place to gather my thoughts, to reflect on both what I am sharing and where my life is. However, the second is by far the larger contributor to this blog remaining active even now; this is a consequence of my becoming a part of a larger community, one that encourages discussion, creative thinking and contrary opinions. Whether it be friendly commenters, the subset of amicable and civilised Twitter users or the Jon Spencer Reviews community, having a chance to speak with others and learn of their perspectives has been most insightful: it is worth writing just to kick-start discussions with people and learn of how their experiences shape how they approach something. In this way, knowing there are interested readers with a plethora of unique thoughts of their own is a powerful incentive to write, and similarly, knowing that there is even a single reader curious about what I made of something makes it worthwhile to continue running this blog. Without you, the reader, none of this would’ve been possible, so before continuing, I would like to give my heartfelt thank you to all readers who’ve stopped by, whether you’ve been around since the days I was still finding my style, or if you’ve started reading more recently. Thank you for all of your support!

At this decade anniversary to Infinite Mirai, I’ll share ten of my favourite moments for this blog below (in no particular order). Before I get to that, it is worth taking a look at the sorts of things that I do to find the motivation, and inspiration, to write: a lot of bloggers start their party, but over time, whether it be a shift in circumstance or waning interest, the blog dies out. Others continue to thrive, on virtue of having new writers replacing old ones, or similarly to myself, their main author continues to keep the blog going. Over the years, I’ve found that there are two secrets to keeping a blog running for a long time if one is the only author. The first is simply to write at one’s own pace. Many bloggers adhere to a schedule and push themselves to publish consistently, and while this is especially important for content creators, casual bloggers like myself are not bound to a schedule. As such, rather than writing a certain amount every week, I tend to just stick to my own schedule. When the material is there, I write more often. When life is busy, or there is little inspiration, I simply write less. This approach is essential to preventing burn-out, which I’ve found to be a leading reason for why authors become inactive: when there’s nothing to write about, bloggers might become antsy about putting something out and write something not to their liking. Eventually, maintaining a blog becomes more of a chore than a hobby, and the positive feedback loop can sap one of their motivation. Conversely, by writing at one’s own pace and of one’s own volition, one has the choice to write when the best ideas or arguments come to mind. The resulting post ends up becoming something to be proud of, and one can even engage the community with their best. The second secret is to be fair to both the works one writes about, and one’s readers. This fairness entails listening to what feedback one is given, and making an honest effort to understand why other people might have a different opinion of things. The resulting discussions then become amicable, measured and rooted in understanding, rather than conflict. I’ve similarly seen blogs go under because they wrote in a confrontational, hostile tone, and when the comments or feedback elsewhere were correspondingly unfriendly, these individuals would feel blogging was too challenging to continue with. Raising controversy and picking fights might be good for traffic, but it also attracts individuals who are looking for a fight, and constantly fighting internet wars grows tiresome. As surprising as it sounds, these two things (“write when you want“, and “be nice to readers“) are the secret to maintaining any blog for long periods of time without burning out.

Infinite Mirai: Top Ten Moments Countdown

  • Writing the post that put me on the map: I’d only used this blog as a place for blurbs and anime news for the first two years of its life, and consequently, traffic around these parts had been quite low. This changed one January afternoon: it’d been the start of a new term, and after spotting a 2chan post about the Ooarai School Ship’s dimensions compared to other vessels, I realised it would be fun to both render the comparison in English, as well as compare Ooarai’s School Ship to the most-talked about ship of the time: the UNSC Infinity. That particular post exploded, and the number of visitors allowed my blog to begin climbing in search engines. Over the years, the chart I’d hastily made became the de facto source for the carrier’s length, and the YouTube Channel, Metal Ball Studios, even linked to me as the source for their Watercrafts Comparison video.

  • Writing my first-ever large postGundam Unicorn was a series of personal significance because it coincided with the length of my undergraduate career, and when the sixth episode became available, I was just getting ready to complete my Honours Thesis oral defense. A year later, the finale aired, and left me with a definitive, satisfying close to the Gundam series that had accompanied me throughout university. There was a lot to cover, and the resulting post marked the first time I’d written something of that length. Unlike my old web host, which had numerous constraints, WordPress had no such limitation, and even for a post of that length, I had no trouble keeping track of things. The post for the Gundam Unicorn finale demonstrated decisively that WordPress would be my tool of choice for writing, and the resulting discussions generated also began to encourage me to engage with the community more.

  • Putting together the Sora no Woto charts: A few summers after I finished watching Sora no Woto, I embarked on a journey to remake the speculation charts with the intent of replacing the ones Tango-Victor-Tango linked to. This project allowed me to see a side of Sora no Woto that I hadn’t previously, and to my surprise, the charts were welcomed by the Sora no Woto community. It turns out that the new charts had made their way to the Sora no Woto Wikia, and their admin stated that there had been plans to replace the 4chan charts because of factual errors, but no one had the time to do so. The community ended up with cleaner and more informative charts as a result.

  • Figuring out how to use photogrammetry, Google Maps and the Oculus Quest to drive location hunts: With the current global health crisis still affecting the world, travel is off the table, and this made location hunting a difficult endeavour. However, virtual travel remains viable, a consequence of reliable and stable technology, as well as the know-how to use them. I first used photogrammetry techniques to locate Taki’s apartment for Your Name, and since then, those learnings have allowed me to have a phenomenal time of sifting through Google Maps’ Street View imagery to find spots that have appeared in anime. These exercises show just how sophisticated technology has become: when I started this blog, things like the Oculus Quest-powered location hunts wouldn’t have been possible.

  • Learning that a Japanese English studies guide used content from my GochiUsa location hunt post as an example exercise: I was browsing through the books at a local bookstore a few years ago, when my phone suddenly began lighting up with notifications. It turned out that some folks from Japan had noticed my location hunt talk on Colmar and utilised the text in that post for a Japanese English study guide. People were wondering if I’d consented to my text being used in this way, and my response was simple: I certainly had no objection and was happy that people of all kinds found my content helpful in some way. It is a little strange to see my blog’s words on a printed page, though.

  • Reaching a thousand posts and a million views in the same year: By 2018, my blog had hit two milestones that, when I started writing, never crossed my mind. In April, I saw the millionth visitor open a page, and then later that year, I published my thousandth post. Neither milestones would be impressive for a professional blog, but for me, this is a side-project, something I work on in my spare time, and seeing these numbers were more of a reminder of how long I’d been in the game for. With this being said, I have previously stated that even if I only had one reader who found my content worthwhile, I would’ve done my job as a blogger: for me, the most fun I have in blogging isn’t watching the follower count or views increase, but rather, hearing from readers who may have different things to share.

  • Reading comments from folks who found my writing useful, and learning from them when they share their own experiences and knowledge: Some of my favourite blogging moments come from reading the different comments that readers have left here over the years. I’ve had everyone from US Navy veterans to published authors, and even folks from Japan swing by, each adding their insights to the discussion. What I write is from the one perspective of the world I know (i.e. my own), so being able to see what others bring to the table is always invaluable. I always welcome a good dialogue, and that means people are free to completely disagree with what I write.

  • Publishing my first-ever collaborative post with Dewbond on Yosuga no Sora: Until last year, Infinite Mirai was a one-man show, and while I’d entertained the idea of guest-blogging at other places or inviting people over to write guest posts, this never really materialised. However, this changed when I spoke with Dewbond of Shallow Dives in Anime about Yosuga no Sora. I first watched this anime some seven years ago, and while I really enjoyed it, the anime covered topics that were difficult to discuss with people. Dewbond has no reservations and shows how things like love and jealousy can be covered in a mature and analytical manner. This collaborative post ended up being very enjoyable, and I’ve rather enjoyed bringing new voices over here. Folks looking to collab (or if they wish to get in touch for me to write a guest post) are always welcome to do so.

  • Becoming a part of the Jon Spencer Reviews community, participating in things like Jon’s Creator Showcase and AniTwit Watches: On the topic of collaboration and community, one of the biggest wins I’ve had with this blog was becoming a part of a community. In the last five years, user engagement has gone up, but it was only really a few years ago where I started participating in the community to a larger extent. Whether it’s hosting blog highlights to showcase the fact that the anime blogging community is thriving, or making wisecracks when I find the time to join the crew on their latest group watch, it’s fun to kick back and enjoy anime with others. This community also challenges me on the way I approach things, and encourage me to be a better blogger. For this, I am thankful.

  • Looking back through the blog and seeing how many memories I’ve made over the years: Ten years is a lot of time, and this blog accompanied me through most of my undergrad, all of my graduate studies, right through to the present. Many summers ago, I lamented that I never did anything fun, but strictly speaking, this isn’t true: I’ve travelled, tried a plethora of fun foods and done the sorts of things that I’m happiest doing. Reading through my old posts makes me count my blessings, and provides me the encouragement to always strive for a better tomorrow.

Having now shared some of my favourite Infinite Mirai moments, I’ll wrap up by thanking readers again: your support means the world to me, and has been the key contributor to keeping the lights on here. This time around, I won’t be so bold as to suggest that I intend to close off my blog at any point in the future (which, I’m sure, frustrates the living daylights out of those who do have a quarrel with my blog). However, there are certain realities that I must also address: I’m no longer a student, and there are things in my life that require my attention. For instance, I am moving house in the next little while, and therefore, will need to tend to things associated with a move. As such, I will note that with respect to the future, I still plan on blogging where I can, and readers can reasonably expect me to still swing by and write. Similarly, I will also do my best to continue engaging with the community. All of this will simply be with a reduced frequency compared to how I’ve been writing and interacting over the past few years. Sitting here now on ten years of Infinite Mirai, it suddenly strikes me as to just how much has happened in the past decade. There’s been ten different iterations of iOS, and for better or worse, social media now controls almost all discourse on most everything. Precision medicine is becoming more powerful thanks to improvements in gene sequencing, and electric vehicles are now more viable. AI is now an everyday part of our lives, from managing voice-based digital assistants to helping us hunt down similar restaurants in our area. Internet connectivity and computer storage have seen explosive growth, and smart phones went from being novel gadgets to essentials. Consequently, it would be quite exciting to keep up with this journey and see what the next decade brings with readers. I may not be the most well-known blog out there, I certainly don’t get the most comments, like or follows, and I certainly am not the most controversial, but there is one thing I am singularly proud of: I’m part of the best community, with the best fellow writers and readers. Now you know how I feel: I will be more than happy to write for all of you wonderful readers about anything, any time and anywhere.

Reflections on 2020, Welcoming 2021 with the Girls und Panzer 2021 Calendar

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” –Winston Churchill

That 2020 was a bit of a rougher one is probably an understatement. In a year where the world was ravaged by pestilence, unrest, uncertainty and misinformation, it seemed a challenge to find any positivity to define the first year of a new decade. Amidst provisions to keep distant from unknown contacts to slow the ongoing pandemic, the closure of businesses and services, and a segment of the population’s adamant refusal to adhere to these provisions, 2020 saw the world tried by challenging times, and while adversity has often brought out the worst in people, 2020 demonstrated that it could also bring out the best. For every individual who claimed the provisions were an infringement of their rights, two more individuals did their part in keeping society safe, understanding that rights only exist because of the attendant responsibility. Doctors, nurses, front-line responders and healthcare staff worked tirelessly to look after those who contracted the virus, while countless more individuals in science, engineering, technology, services and trades continued doing their utmost to keep society going. 2020 thus demonstrated that, while the selfish are vocal, the selfless remain the majority; humanity is still resilient, and still optimistic that hard work will allow us to overcome the challenges that we face. It is with this hope that we thus enter 2021: 2020 has affected all individuals on the planet, and for me, exiting 2020, the biggest take-away I got was to count my blessings. 2020 illustrated how the things we often take for granted, but cherish, can be taken away in an instant, and for me, I exit 2020 relatively intact. In terms of personal growth and career, I continued to operate as normally as I could. Working remotely for much of the year, I strove to deliver functional, clean software, and in the process, contributed to my workplace’s ability to weather out these tough times. Keeping distant from friends and society alike has meant that one of my own aspirations, to reach a point where a kokuhaku was possible, ended in inevitable failure. 2020 was about resilience and survival: I count myself lucky that my career outlived 2020, and on matters of the heart, I’ll pursue that path once the time is appropriate. However, even in a year like 2020, some things also thrived, with this blog among them. 2020 was a record-breaking year for Infinite Mirai: I ended 2020 with a total of 263 868 page views and 184 099 unique visitors. 739 likes and 428 comments were accumulated over 144 posts, which averaged around 4269 words each. Over the course of 2020, I ended up writing 614 790 words, became more engaged with the anime blogging community and hosted three separate collaborative events. 2020 wasn’t all bad, and now, here on the first day of 2021, the hope is for the new year to be successful, as people find their stride and put in their best effort to bring the globe back on its feet.

Every year, I make a variety of resolutions for the New Year that are big-picture oriented. 2021 is no different: from a professional standpoint, my goal for 2021 is to keep an eye open for opportunity and discovery. Having personally overseen no fewer than iOS five apps completely through from design to release on the App Store over the past four years, I finally feel comfortable implementing any iOS app from scratch myself, from the UI to the business logic, from wireframe and unit testing, to preparing certificates, provisioning and navigating the App Store submission process. Of course, there is much to learn, and 2020 demonstrated that when it comes to Core Animation and method swizzling, I remain a greenhorn. As such, my goal this year will be to continue my journey with Swift and CocoaTouch, all the while being open to whatever opportunities arise that require my skills. From a personal perspective, I strive to maintain strong relationships with those who matter to me, such as keeping in touch with old friends. In addition, I will aim to do what I can to improve my fitness: I haven’t done a proper bench press or squat for over nine months, and I’m sure I’ll be as weak as Kirito by the time fitness centres open up. Discipline and effort will be needed so I can build myself back up to where I had been entering 2020. I have no specific fitness goal in mind, but I will count it a win if I can return to a regimented, regular lifting schedule. For games, I’ve already alluded to this in an earlier post: instead of expending money on studios and publishers who waste their resources on battle royale, I resolve to make a dent in my backlog and appreciate the games I still have yet to properly give attention to. Finally, for this blog, I aim to continue providing useful and relevant articles for readers. With this, I leave with all readers, and the folks part of the anime blogging community, a Happy New Year 2021!

A Milestone at the Nine Year Anniversary, On the Merits of Anime Blogging as the Premier Means of Reflection

“Blog beats forum! Blog beats SNS! Blog beats everything! I could do this all day!” –Unnamed UNSC Marine, Halo 3

In 2011, the iPhone 4S was released, and NVIDIA had launched the GTX 560 Ti. Portal 2, Battlefield 3, Elder Schools V: Skyrim, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Deus Ex: Human Revolutions launched to critical acclaim, and I had been an undergraduate student back then. The biggest anime that ran during the fall 2011 season would have been Haganai, Tamayura: Hitotose and Shinryaku?! Ika Musume. It was here that this blog began its life, originally as a secondary outlet for me to write about anime and games in a much shorter, quicker format than I had at my old website. Over the course of nine years, as I explored WordPress and its capabilities more fully, this blog would come to displace my old website as the preferred venue for housing my various reflections of the series and games I’ve experienced. Along the way, I began hearing back from readers who were excited to offer their own perspective on things or otherwise had stories to share. Over time, I became closer to a group of peers who shared a common love for anime and writing. With encouragement, support and feedback from my peers and readers, I found the inspiration and motivation to continue writing – it is no exaggeration when I say that credit lies with you, the reader, for having helped this blog to endure for nine years. This ninth anniversary belongs to everyone, and you have my heartfelt thanks for your continued support. Anime blogging, especially in recent years, has been one of the most positive and inclusive forms of expression available on the internet. Starting and maintaining a blog can be tricky: the biggest hurdle new bloggers face is building up their audience and finding their place in the community. When a blog begins its journey, it is oftentimes discouraging to see one’s hard work yield nothing as site metrics indicate low readership, and well-written, well-researched and well-presented posts receive no comments or likes from readers. The fact is that building up this readership and community takes time, which may not be worthwhile to individuals who simply want to get their ideas out there. It is for this reason that forums and social media have proven to be popular alternatives to blogging: one is immediately assured an audience, and building a following for an account where feedback as as simple as an up-vote or re-tweet can be very tempting. For their ease-of-use, however, forums and social media remain the inferior option for folks who really wish to express their appreciation and enjoyment of their interests to others.

  • There are four simple virtues that I aim to adhere to when it comes to blogging. The first is to be fair to my readers. This is a very broad virtue, since being fair to readers means to treat everyone justly and impartially. To this end, I am very open about what comments are allowed here. Anyone is welcome to comment, provided their intent is to have a conversation. Further to this, I will never write about something that is inaccessible to the reader (hence my unwillingness to write about pre-airs and disdain for folks who do things like travel to Japan to write about an anime movie): this is so I can have a discussion with readers on an even footing, and opens conversations up to perspectives from all sides of the spectrum. If readers coming in have the same opportunity to engage with something as I did, then I can listen to what they have to say, rather than holding the only complete picture.

  • Next, I aim to be thorough: while brevity is valued now owing to how quickly conversations can move, I find that the best way to understand different perspectives is to be as complete as possible in my discussions. This way, the reader comes in knowing precisely where my opinion comes from, and therefore, can understand how I reached the conclusions that I did. While there is a balance to be maintained, (i.e. being thorough does not correspond to being long-winded), this sentiment is not always shared in the community:

You also seem to be under the impression that “effort” (which seems to mean “word count of the post”) makes an argument more valid. It doesn’t. If I said 1 + 1 = 2, and you spend twelve pages explaining why 1 + 1 actually = 3, you’re still wrong even though you put more “effort” into it. (Which isn’t to say that this sort of criticism is objective and universal like math is, but still. “You didn’t use enough words” is not a valid criticism of an argument.)

This particular bit of criticism had been levelled at my blog some time ago, and was made in bad faith: the individual in question believed that they were entitled to dismissing other opinions with sentence-long posts on the virtue of reputation alone, and to this end, I should have paid deference to their opinions instead. This is a flawed way of thinking: in general, someone who is thorough may require more words to fully explain themselves, but those who take this route are more effective in convincing me of why they felt a particular way about something. A few words or meme reaction cannot convey an idea as effectively as a properly fleshed-out reply, and as it stands, Tweet-sized responses are a sign of disrespect, that someone is not worth time or effort.

  • Third up is to be truthful: while I largely write for my own enjoyment, I strive to ensure that posts published here contain what users seek. From location hunts with links to corresponding spots in Google Maps, to details surrounding how a particular technology or piece of equipment works, I wish to make certain that what I am saying is correct. It does readers no favours if I argue something on the basis of emotion alone, and so, featuring hard facts to back something up whatever I say serves both to improve the clarity of what I intend, as well as leaving readers with something interesting that they can take away from the post, regardless of whether or not they agree with my conclusions.

  • Finally, the last virtue of being a blogger is positivity. I’m in the blogging game to discover and connect, not to give myself unnecessary stress and worry. To this end, I do not particularly enjoy expending time on works and experiences I do not enjoy for the sake of tearing it down later, and would much rather focus on doing the things that I love, such that I may share them with readers. Being able to find the bright side and remain optimistic is the biggest reason why this blog has lasted so long, even amidst the occasional bit of controversy I find myself entangled in: for instance, more recently, my very existence drew the ire of one of MyAnimeList’s biggest and most renowned reviewers, who thought it prudent to block me on social media for a slight I do not recall committing. However, rather than worry about this, I’ve been directing my time towards more productive, positive activities instead – now that this post is done, it’s time to catch some sleep and then return for today’s feature presentation on GochiUsa: BLOOM.

For sharing experiences and enjoyment properly, the blog remains superior to both forums and social media. A blogger has near-total control of their content, and provided they remain within the terms of service (e.g. not writing about topics prohibited by law or encouraging illegal activities), one can express any opinion or thought in any manner of their choosing. A blogger is not stymied by the limitations of a platform and do not need to forcibly constrain their thoughts to fit with formatting or social constraints associated with forums and social media. Posts can be as long or short as one wishes, written at one’s own convenience. There is no need to constantly push new content and farm for retweets or upvotes to stay relevant. By being able to write posts just the way one likes, blogs offer the maximal amount of freedom for users, and in this way, one can express themselves in their own manner of choosing. This is why, in an age where instant gratification is prevalent and mirrored in use of things like social media, blogging has endured. When I blog, I have no concern about the over-zealous forum moderator or conceited senior member who believes their one-sentence response holds more weight than my one hundred words. I am not limited by a 240-character count, and I won’t be shadow-banned or downvoted into oblivion if a handful of my works falls below my usual standard. Blogging frees the individual, allowing them to immerse themselves wholly into enjoying their media, and this alone makes maintaining a blog worth it. Through consistent effort, and a drive to make the most of things and have fun, blogging is the ultimate means of expression: it may be difficult in starting out, when the traffic and comments are slower, but once the blogger finds their community, the tightly-knit group and the meaningful interactions make it all worthwhile. For me, that means you, the reader. Without your feedback and readership, this blog would have likely folded long ago. It is with your continued support that I have managed to keep this party going, and this deserves a warm thank you!

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!

Reflections on 2018, Welcoming 2019 with the Girls und Panzer 2019 Calendar

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” –Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Depending on one’s perspective, the rapid passage of time is either a blessing or a curse – for better or worse, 2018 is in the books now, being a very eventful year that saw the 2018 Winter Games, a partial thawing of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and the launch of the Parker Solar Probe, amongst others. Back home, Cannabis became legalised, and the nation remained quite divided over the future of energy. Looking closer still, it was a busy year for me personally, as well, culminating in a job change. Life continues to throw unexpected surprises as it always has, and with the past year’s experiences, I can reaffirm that the only real absolute in life is that there are no absolutes. 2018 was a similarly difficult year as 2017 was, but a persistence and determination to make things happen, in conjunction with friends and family, allowed me to endure and build out a solution. As such, 2018 was a vivid reminder that no man is an island: with support, I knew that with an honest effort and grit, there would be a dawn to look forwards to. Life is full of surprises, and things can change in a heartbeat after long periods of effort and little to show for it. The Calgary Flames have certainly shown this to be true: during a match against the Philadelphia Flyers on December 12, the Flames were down 5-3 in the third period. In the last two minutes, Andersson and Monahan managed to score, bringing the game to a tie and forcing overtime. Gaudreau would score 35 seconds into overtime, giving the Flames another comeback win. The lesson here is that until it is truly over, the worth of each drop of sweat cannot be understated, and that one really must keep the pressure on until the end. The Flames certainly did, and were rewarded with their seventh comeback win of the season. This sort of mindset has been helpful for me in the final months of 2018, and entering 2019, I am considerably more optimistic about where things are headed.

I’m going to keep doing everything I did last year, but better. I will continue to make the most of whatever happens, and further to this, I will take responsibility for what happens.

This was the resolution that I made entering 2018, and in retrospect, I fulfilled this. I needed a change of scenery and then took the initiative to realise this wish. During my business trips with my previous company, I put in my best effort to deliver precisely what was asked of me, and for my troubles, got an opportunity to travel a little, as well. With this in mind, for 2019, I aim to approach everything I do with a full and complete effort, putting my best foot forwards each and every time. Time passes by very quickly, and I firmly believe that life is very short, to the point of where positivism and effort is the most enjoyable (and for me, proper) way to make the most of things. Finally, for The Infinite Mirai, a blog that now has seven years of history, my goal will be to continue running this programme even as things get busier and even if I post with a reduced frequency; being able to write and reach others is something I enjoy doing, as it gives an opportunity for the community to really connect and share. I am very happy to be a part of the positive, insightful and energetic community of WordPress Anime Bloggers. Having said this, whether you, the reader, are a part of that wonderful community, or a passerby, I would like to wish you all the best and a Happy New Year 2019. It’s a blank slate again – let’s go exploring!