The Infinite Zenith

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

Category Archives: Administrative

A Milestone at the Six Year Anniversary

“Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.” –William Barclay

Today marks the six year anniversary to the chilly October evening when I opened discussions with my Hello World! post. To put things in perspective, World War Two lasted six years from the moment Nazi Germany invaded Poland to Imperial Japan signing the surrender documents on board the USS Missouri, and it took six years to build Surrey’s Port Mann Bridge, which is the world’s second widest bridge and was fully finished in 2015 (although it opened to traffic in 2012). Six years is also the lower limit for the average student to complete their undergraduate program and conclude a Master’s degree in Canada; a great deal can happen over six years, and therefore, it is something of a milestone that Infinite Mirai has reached this year. The site’ continued endurance over time is largely in part thanks to an immensely loyal and well-read reader base such as yourselves. I cannot emphasise how large of a role you’ve played in motivating and inspiring me to continue writing content for this blog – thank you for continuing to stick around. This blog has lasted well beyond its projected lifespan in part because of all the interesting discussions that continue to be provided courtesy of our readers. While some blogs have been around for a much longer period, they also have had the advantage of several authors: Infinite Mirai is a solo act, and I write only as time allows. As I continue to move forwards in life, I foresee my time becoming directed towards other pursuits, but for the present, I’m still going to stick around, presumably, to the displeasure of folks where the name “Infinite Zenith” is synonymous with “disturber of the peace”.

  • There’s something about this particular wallpaper that makes it particularly appealing; the composition of the sky and the girl’s expression gives off an indescribably serene quality. I don’t often run with anime wallpapers for my desktop or mobile devices, but this one’s the exception. At this year’s anniversary mark, I’ve opted to do things a little differently, so the endless stats about my site for 2017 so far are not so endless. So far, 120 posts were written this year (including this one), and the largest post we’ve got now is the Kimi no na wa review, which has a total of 14401 words and 100 screenshots. Site traffic is also down 30 percent from last year, and the top post is the location hunt post for Garden of Words.

  • Now is a good as a time as any to note that for the remainder of 2017, blogging will proceed as usual. In 2018, I’m planning on easing back on the throttle: I’ll be returning to the twenty screenshot, “after three and whole series” format for any new shows that I follow. I’m also thinking that, once I finish with Girls und Panzer: Das Finale‘s discussions, it’s likely time for me to ride off into the sunset and pursue my other interests. With this being said, Girls und Panzer: Das Finale is likely to last quite a while, so I’m not going anywhere yet.

For this anniversary post, I am deviating from my usual modus operandi and will take the remainder of this post to address my particular approach towards writing about anime. While I’ve long counted myself to be someone who watches anime purely for entertainment, I find additional enjoyment when an anime aligns with challenges facing the real world – this allows me to compare and contrast real-world issues with their portrayal in anime, and the value comes from watching how people address these concerns. As a fictional medium, there is a great deal of freedom in portraying the journey that characters undertake. Their learnings, in forming the theme for an anime, can provide some insights as to how the authors see the world and ultimately, mirror how they might go about seeking out solutions for problems, in turn enriching perspectives. This is the main reason why I place such an emphasis on the big picture in my discussions: I am not particularly worried about minor details if they have little relevance on the overall outcomes of a narrative. If the entire story follows logically from the presented sequence of events and yields a message that is consistent with what has occurred, then I will view an anime favourably even if a few details are amiss. The recent trend on fixating in minor details and inaccuracies is incongruous with what might be considered good anime discussion, and this is why I have taken the approach that I do towards discussing anime. It ends up being much more fun this way, and moving into the future, I do hope that you, the readers, will continue to find the contents here both enjoyable and informative even as my posting patterns continue to shift.

Reflections on 2016, Welcoming 2017 with the Girls und Panzer 2017 Calendar

“New Beginnings are in order, and you are bound to feel some level of excitement as new chances come your way.” – Auliq Ice

While news outlets, tabloids and popular media has painted 2016 as a particularly poor year for a variety of reasons, 2016 ultimately turned out quite remarkable despite a slow beginning marked with uncertainty was to what I would do during the transition from being a student to full-fledged member of society. On all counts, things went very smoothly: I finished my thesis defense and paper shortly after being offered a software position, and convicted back in November to close off my academic career. En route to the finish line, I travelled on several occasions — once to lend a hand to the Giant Walkthrough Brain in Kelowna, and twice to international conferences. With this in mind, I’ve completed not only my resolutions from last January, but I also managed to fulfil a dream I’ve had since 2014; travelling with a clearly-defined goal proved to be wonderful experiences, and after yesterday, where I had the opportunity to watch the Calgary Flames defeat the Phoenix Coyotes in a 4-2 victory in regulation time, 2016 draws to a solid close. 2017 opened with shrimp cocktail and champagne; following a short sleep, it’s time to read through my post from last year, note that 2016 was pretty damn amazing in spite of popular belief, and consider my resolutions for 2017.

From a life perspective, my main resolution for 2017 is to put forth my fullest efforts for my work as a software developer, learning all of the necessary skills to be effective at what I do. Beyond this, I will take a leaf from Calvin and Hobbes: It’s a Magical World and Pure Pwnage: Teh Movie — I’m just going to let stuff happen, take it in stride and make the most of whatever circumstances and situations I encounter. This will apply to health, career, finances and even relationships. Besides the more serious goals, I will also aim to diversify my activities in 2017: on top of resolutions carrying over from last year (finish reading my unread books and the games I’ve not yet finished), I will also see to volunteering for different events, bring back my old hobby of pencil sketching and, in the spirit of letting stuff happen, maintain an open mind to what I can be doing with my newfound time now that I’m no longer required to write conference papers or plan tutorial sessions. This brings my New Year’s post to its conclusion: I’d like to bid all of my readers a Happy New Year 2017, and thank everyone again for having stuck with this blog for so long. Without your readership, I probably would not be able to summon the motivation to put posts out, so here’s to everyone for making this blog a reality, and I look forwards to seeing what this New Year has in store.

A Milestone at the Five Year Anniversary

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” —John Quincy Adams

I’ve been sitting here, staring at WordPress’ “edit post” screen for the past thirty minutes, trying to think of something to say for this blog’s five year anniversary. It makes sense to begin by thanking all of my readers; without your support and feedback, it is unlikely that I would have continued to find the motivation to continue writing for this period: five years is quite a bit of time, and looking through some of the older posts in this blog, it’s quite astonishing as to how much has happened in the past five years: I’ve finished two degrees, flown around the world to present my research and have begun working now as a member of society. I’ve stared down and defeated the MCAT, had my heart broken twice, went from a probationary to fully qualified driver, and wrote more journal and conference papers than I’ve cared to count. I’ve also become bit of a poutine connoisseur and have driven out to the towns over just to try a small restaurant’s poutine. Concurrently, this blog has grown from its humble origin as a backup website for me to write short articles: I’ve now retired my old website (itself approaching its ninth birthday) in favour of the infrastructure that WordPress provides. In reading some of my previous articles, I wondered whether or not I would be able to continue blogging, and it seems that, for better or worse, I’m sticking around in the foreseeable future — even the increased workload of being a graduate student (and time spent in pubs) appears to have done little to alter this blog’s pacing. With this in mind, if I do decide to lower posting frequency, I’ll simply let the readers know.

  • Five years is a lot of time, although it’s also blazed by in the blink of an eye. While I sometimes do find myself wondering what things will be like five, or even ten years down the line, one of the bigger things I’ve learned is to enjoy the present, as well. This lesson is something that I’m ever-mindful of, and it is in part a consequence of watching so many Iyashikei that I’ve begun slowing myself down to take in a moment more completely.

0761686b7810b1ee2b6430bf337d5e7b

  • If and when I’m asked, as to how I manage to find time to blog in conjunction with everything else I do (work, cook, clean, lift, read and game), I do not think I can offer a concrete answer in that I’m not too sure, myself. However, I imagine that good time management comes from having a seemingly contradictory combination of both being able to plan well in advance for something and adapt to roll with a moment whenever things change. In this manner, one can make the most of every moment, whether it’s writing code, doing a kata or kicking back and breathing in the autumn air at the top of a hill, without overwhelming themselves.

So, five years after I kicked off the Infinite Mirai with the obligatory Hello World! post and followed up with my first post (a five-minute discussion of the K-On! Movie trailer), this blog now rocks some seven hundred and thirty posts. There’s more than a thousand comments (something I never thought would happen), and the built-in anti-spam system has defeated over 33000 spam comments. The average post takes around two hours to write from start to finish, and the largest post to date is my Girls und Panzer: Der Film discussion, with ninety-five images and some eleven thousand words. The most popular post, based on view count, is a location hunt talk on The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. Said post was made after a request from a reader who wanted a comparison of real-world locations against those seen in The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi and but lacked the means to view sites in the Shift JIS format, so I rebuilt the page in a more user-friendly manner and soon, got more requests to do location posts. These are just some of the numbers surrounding this blog, and moving forwards, this time, I’m not too sure what the future’s going to look like. I am certain that I will continue writing for the near future: I’ve to finish Brave Witches and Kimi no Na Wa, as well as Gundam Origin‘s finale episode. Again, I’d like to thank everyone for their support and feedback — you readers and fellow bloggers mean the world to me, and with that being said, let’s get it!

Strike Witches Rage: Pantsu-only challenge and the 666th post milestone

“Like I said, I was rage quitting left and right, and I wasn’t going to put myself through that much pain and frustration; it’s not healthy to go in to play a video game and leave in such a state, so I didn’t want to put myself through that to try to get any more gameplay.” —Matimi0

The Strike Witches Movie premièred on March 17, 2012: at this point, we’re just shy of the four year anniversary since the movie was released. A few days ago, I was reading through the site’s archives and came across the old Strike Witches Movie post, published some seven months after the première date. It’s a little surprising as to how time flies, and how much can change over the space of four years: for one, the old Strike Witches Movie review does not seem to be written to the same standard as the posts that were published over the past two years. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as I did not make the transition from my old site to here until 2013. With that being said, the time is ripe to revisit the Strike Witches Movie and cover elements from the movie that were not discussed during my first review. This post comes a week before the four year anniversary, and the format is motivated by Matimi0’s Terrible Weapon Challenges, where he would use unconventional means or poor setups to slay his opponents. In a similar spirit, I will do a pantsu-only challenge as the prelude to my review proper. The setup of this challenge is quite simple: all of the screenshots will feature the infamous anatomy shots that Strike Witches is so famous for and I will attempt to do a discussion on both the pantsu and the blog’s 666 post milestone without being distracted. Moreover, in the spirit of good sportsmanship, each and every of the eighteen images are available for closer “inspection” in 1080p.

  • The most difficult element about writing this post was double checking my six every five seconds to make sure I was afforded a degree of privacy while writing said post: Strike Witches is (as far as I’m concerned) an entertaining anime with its own merits extending well beyond the camera angles, but the contents are most certainly not the “wholesome family entertainment” that some have claimed the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs to have said (in fact, a search in either language doesn’t find anything).

  • While the true Strike Witches fan is able to identify the character based on the so-called anatomy shots alone, the animators have ensured that not more than 10 frames are a face-full of Witch backside at a time, so it becomes much easier to differentiate between who were looking at in my screenshots. Whereas games usually have variable framerates on account of different hardware configuration and other variables, anime runs along at a constant 24 FPS (which corresponds to around 41.67 milliseconds per frame).

  • This means that the cameras are not focused on the Witches back end for more than around 1/25ths of a second at a time. When one sums up the number of pantsu-shots seen in the movie against the movie’s total running time of 97 minutes (5820 seconds), they’re honestly not frequent enough to act as a serious distraction from the movie’s main events. With that being said, if one were to play a drinking game based on the number of these camera angles they see, even the most resilient individuals would be dead before the film’s first fight ends.

  • Because this post will consist entirely of such screenshots, I cannot imagine it will be an easy talk: under normal conditions, I will have a variety of screenshots that are significantly more conducive towards discussion. If and when I’m asked, Lynette’s assets are the easiest on mine eye, with Gertrud and Minna tying for second place.

  • I honestly wonder if writing about posts such as these will get this blog reported and blacklisted from search engines, although given that it’s a one-time thing, it should not be too bad (unless there’s somehow a demand for this sort of thing later down the line, and for now, there thankfully isn’t). This post will showcase some of the movie’s camera angles, although it is by no means an exhaustive representation of every moment in the film.

  • Eighteen stills were pulled from the movie and posted: as will be noted later, this is my 666th post, and in the spirit of things, I decided to do something a little out-of-the-ordinary. Because 666 mod 18 = 0, 666 / 37 = 18 and 18 = 6 + 6 + 6, the numbers aligned well enough so that there would be enough screenshots for the post to be a little more substantial than the usual milestone post.

  • I think the last milestone post I did was back during November 2014. So, it took me a year and four months to write 166 posts to reach 666; and I average around 153 posts a year, so it seems that the past year’s posting patterns were par the course for the average seen so far. On a note more related to the screenshots themselves, in trying to capture the pantsu shots, I noticed some minor bugs in the animation.

  • Because it appears that I continue to find time to write the occasional blog post even when under a deluge of work, I think it’s safe to say that this blog won’t really die out or see the fate of countless blogs out there, when their authors decide that maintaining a blog is not the best use of their time and move on to new pastures.

  • I personally think that the authors who realise that blogging is not for them and subsequently stop are making a reasonable decision: it takes an incredible commitment to continue blogging, and I vaguely recall mentioning in the 500 posts milestone that the average review/discussion post will take anywhere from an hour to two hours to write, from the first draft and screenshot acquisition to mashing the “publish” button.

  • This is mainly why blogs with multiple authors tend to have greater longevity: Random Curiosity is one such example, and despite having had a turnover in authors, they are able to find new authors to continue delivering high-quality content. As a mark of the solid job they do, I may not always agree with their opinions, but nonetheless respect them for generally taking the time to explain their positions.

  • A few years back, I was wondering if I would be able to recruit one or two extra authors to help out with anime reviews here, although that endeavour was not too successful. As to why I have not apply for a position on Random Curiosity, the main constraint is commitment: they are an episodic blog, and authors typically follow several shows per season to write about them. I found out while blogging about Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?? that episodic blogging is immensely rewarding but also quite exhausting, and the prospect of doing that for three shows a season is admittedly a daunting one.

  • I outline in an earlier post that Gertrud reminds me greatly of Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?‘s Rize Tedeza, and a brief search finds that perhaps I am unique in sharing this particular outlook. A quick comparison of their appearance (sharply-angled eyes, twin-tails and facial structure) finds that a few colour changes to their eye and hair length allows one to become the other without too much difficulty.

  • Because the camera angles go by so quickly, it takes mad reflexes to actually find the right frame: sometimes, releasing and pausing the scene will result in the Witches flying just out of range, while before, they were so close to the camera all one sees is Witch backside. In a way, gathering the inappropriate screenshots for the post was quite a challenge: on top of making sure there were no observers, I also had to be spot on to catch the moments.

  • Looking back, the Operation Victory Arrow OVAs appear to structured in the same way as Strike Witches Movie in that it predominantly follows the adventures of individual groups of Witches, whereas the first and second seasons were about the entire unit working together to become more effective and overcoming their grievances with one another to defeat the Neuroi threat.

  • In spite of the complaints leveled against Strike Witches, the franchise has remained quite popular because of its unusual combination of world-building (for a series so adamant about shoving the Witches’ assets in the viewer’s faces) and character dynamics that extend well beyond the yuri elements: one of the more serious elements in Strike Witches includes the psychological impact of losing one’s magic, the impact of the Human-Neuroi war on society and how the Witches cope with the different challenges they encounter.

  • In comparison with Girls und Panzer Der Film, after it was screened in Japan on March 17, 2012, the only known bit of information from the Strike Witches Movie was that it ended with the note “To be continued”, and so, discussions were nonexistent. Spoilers for Girls und Panzer Der Film were immediately posted to social media following the movie’s release, and this led to much discussion based on the reaction of the Japanese movie-goers.

  • It was not until three months later in June that the film’s home release date was announced, set seven months after the original screening, and after the movie became available, discussions present the image that aside from events in the movie’s ending, things were quite enjoyable.

  • That’s it for this post. The title was inspired by Matimi0’s “Buckshot rage”, which encompassed running around in Battlefield 3 using only the M320 and buckshot ammunition. He quickly discovered that the the weapon was difficult to use and the endeavour became a nightmare. On my end, writing the post turned out to be easy enough, but capturing the screenshots was a bloody nightmare: I was doing the capture on a Mac and things weren’t very responsive (hence the rage component). I managed to get twenty nine screenshots in the end before calling it quits, so I worked in the 18 screenshots (the next multiple is 37).

The post title also indicates that this is my six hundredth and sixty-sixth post here: the number 666 is so firmly entrenched as the Number of the Beast, that there is a phobia of the number. Known as hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia, fear of 666 has been utilised as a plot device in horror films and some folks will do their utmost to avoid the number. So, in the spirit of 666 symbolising the Beast, I decided that for this milestone, rather than merely talk about where this blog will head in the near future, I could do things slightly differently just for laughs. There are eighteen screenshots, rather than the usual twenty because 666 is divisible by 18, and 18 = 6 + 6 + 6. Readers may then wonder, could I have not saved this sort of post for April Fool’s Day? A valid remark, but consider that every blog only hits the 666 posts milestone once, and April Fool’s, by comparison, happens once a year.  Regular programming resumes next time: my 667th post will deal with the third Tamayura: ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ movie. Until next time, have a good one, and take it easy!

A Hibike! Euphonium 2016 Calendar, Some Reflections on 2015 and Looking Ahead to 2016

“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” —Helen Keller

For the past two years, I’ve been welcoming the New Year with Girls und Panzer Calendars, but this year, I’m going to do something different: I’ll present the Hibike! Euphonium 2016 calendar for its excellent artwork (I’ve become quite a fan of Kumiko), and because there’s a Girls und Panzer post coming up in just a bit. Before I delve into a 2015 reflection and outline some resolutions for 2016, I’d like to take this time to thank all of the readers who’ve motivated me to continue writing: 2015 was a phenomenal year for The Infinite Mirai, featuring some 135 new posts, a fair bit of good discussion with the readers, among them Jusuchin (Military Otaku), cloudst12, Edward and Neomo, and a four blogging awards (two of which are freshly-published: the Creative Blogger Award and the Free Spirit Award: all awards can be viewed by hovering your mouse over “About Infinite Zenith” in the menu up top). The folks coming from Facebook, Twitter and Reddit also earn a heartfelt thank you; my site metrics show that this blog and social media appears to play quite nicely together. Without fellow bloggers and readers to keep things going, I’m not sure if I would have had quite the same level of motivation to keep The Infinite Mirai as active as it presently is. So, looking back on 2015, a hell of a lot of things happened; that much is apparent from the blog posts, which paint 2015 as a year of adventure despite a shakier start, and looking back, I think I’ve fulfilled my resolutions.

Cover

P01- January, February

P02- March, April

P03- May, June

P04- July, August

P05- September, October

P06- November, December

Now, for 2016, my resolutions are quite simple: I will strive to finish my graduate studies to the best of my ability, and make a concerted, serious effort to make the transition between academics and industry one that is as smooth as can be reasonably expected. I also resolve to not concern myself with matters of the heart and wield my freedom to continue exploring the world around me; in these crucial times, career, finance and health are my absolute top priorities, and a relationship might not be what I need at this point in time. My simpler resolutions remain unchanged from last year: I aim to read all the unread books on my bookshelf, and finish the games that I’ve still not beaten since last year. These ones seem far easier than the other resolutions, which will be a challenge, as those entail my future, but I live for a good challenge. In closing, Happy New Year 2016, everyone, and thanks for taking the time to read this blog! May your 2016 be productive, meaningful and fulfilling!