The Infinite Zenith

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

Category Archives: Infinite Mirai’s Mail Sack

The Infinite Mirai’s Mail Sack: August 30, 2014

Today’s Mail Sack comes a little later into the day, where trends continue, and I busied myself with purchasing some fall attire for the new academic term (especially since the upcoming winter is projected to be long, dark and cold) and enjoyed Bourbon chicken on noodles for lunch. When I got home, I was already quite tired; motivating myself to blog today was quite challenging, but after taking a short break, I’m in fine spirits to finish a few blog posts (having some fried chicken in me helps substantially, too). As the last of the weekly Mail Sack posts, today, I will answer two questions, one each from Vimitsu and Ninetybeats.

Question One

What do you think would be different about your life if you had never watched anime? —Vimitsu

Watching anime, re-watching series, episodes, movies and OVAs I thoroughly enjoyed, writing about it and talking to friends about it, has impacted my worldview to a non-trivial extent and ultimately, shaped me into a more open-minded individual than I otherwise might have been. By nature, I am quite comfortable with routine, doing things according to a schedule and usually, in a certain way. For instance, I always arise early to lift weights, then go to the research lab or class, and come home after classes are done. Deviations to my schedule were quite rare until I began watching anime (especially slice-of-life), which encouraged me to explore new horizons and try new things beyond what I’m comfortable with. Through watching the characters in anime broaden their perspectives and persue new experiences, I felt that this was an admirable way of thinking and wondered how it could apply to my life. I only began watching slice-of-life en masse after I reached my second undergraduate year, and my program had been one that was very close-knit. As a consequence, I gradually became more sociable and attended more events, whether it be open house events, presentations, parties, pub nights, karaoke, ad infinitum.

  • If I didn’t watch anime, I probably wouldn’t have been as sociable as I am now, although still reasonably sociable; my undergraduate degree led me to give numerous presentations at open-houses, research symposiums and even a thesis defense, so I became quite comfortable with speaking and answering questions. I probably would not appreciate cuisine as much had I not watched anime, as well.

Besides the bigger-picture impact that anime has had on my worldview and corresponding lifestyle choices, watching anime also inspired me to try different foods and drink by raising my awareness of them. For instance, I tried Blue Mountain coffee after hearing about it in GochiUsa (it’s got a earthy flavour), and similarly, enjoyed a cup of Darjeeling tea (Girls und Panzer) at a friend’s place after a pub night. Similarly, Tamayura sparked my desire to try Okonomiyaki, and last week’s Japanese Omatsuri provided a prime opportunity to do that: it is very savoury and delicious. A few months ago, I tried takoyaki, which is oft-mentioned as a popular food item at summer festivals. Through trying Japanese cuisines and enjoying them greatly, I’ve also grown to doubly appreciate cuisine from my own culture (Cantonese food) and homeland (Canada), recognising the differences in preparation methods and the unique flair in the end products. Suffice to say, were it not for anime, I probably would’ve missed out on trying new foods.

Question Two

What is your favorite YouTube channel? —Ninetybeats

The position for favourite YouTube channel is actually a three-way tie between TheRadBrad, Cr1t1kal and Ross Scott’s Accursed Farm. Each channel has their unique points, and are channels I’ve subscribed to because I find their content to be unique and worthwhile. Consider that I’ve only subscribed to twelve channels at the time of writing: each channel I follow is something I am genuinely interested in, and from that collection, the three aforementioned channels are the cream of the crop, so to speak. For TheRadBrad, I found his channel two and a half years ago, while I was looking for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 videos to see if the game was something I was interested in. His casual commentary in his walkthroughs are both amusing, as he reacts to what’s happening within the game, and also provide his thoughts into a game. With the way he plays through and presents a game, TheRadBrad has a knack of conveying his enjoyment for the game through his commentary, turning even what might be a below-average game into something that looks fun and worth playing. In one of his Halo 4 videos, he mentions how he finished a college degree and was set to join the workforce, but found that he was happier with doing video game playthroughs. This is a fine example of someone who does YouTube playthroughs because it’s something they thoroughly enjoy doing, rather than something they do purely for profit, and although such a topic is hotly-contested, I find that TheRadBrad’s approach ends up being admirable and respectable.

  • I choose my favourite YouTube channels for their content; just from watching them, I can tell that TheRadBrad, Cr1t1kal and Ross Scott put in their fullest and best efforts into making their videos fun to watch. While not mentioned here, I also like LevelCapGaming and Marble Hornets.

Cr1t1kal takes a different approach towards gaming, playing everything from well-known triple-A titles to obscure games that are ill-conceived and manages to produce a brilliant, deadpan delivery of his experiences. Despite being filled with explictives and obscenities, his videos are downright hilarious and reflect on his talent for being able to improvise humourous dialogue in response to things happening within the game (memorable examples include the Chemical Spillage Simulator, Burger-making simulator, Schippers van de Kameleon). As for Ross Scott, his channel hosts his creations, Freeman’s Mind and Civil Protection. I’ve been following these since I began my undergraduate program many years ago, and his videos are both smart and funny, for lack of a better descriptor. Like TheRadBrad, I greatly respect Cr1t1kal and Ross Scott; they are creative, honest and genuinely interested in what they produce.

Closing Remarks

With this, the weekly Mail Sack segments come to an end, leaving me a little melancholic now that August is over. The Mail Sack was intended to encourage a bit more personal interaction, and proved to be quite interesting; some of the questions led me to think about anime in new ways I never really thought of before. I offer my sincere thanks to Vimitsu and Ninetybeats for stepping up and providing thought-provoking questions pertaining to anime. Receiving questions by email and the comments section, I looked forward to seeing what readers had to ask. With this said, I was hoping that the silent readers who visit would also have questions, but this turned out not to be the case. However, even if the readers aren’t interacting frequently, I know that there are some occasions where the contents here have been helpful to other readers, and that alone is more than enough to make blogging a meaningful pursuit. For the future, the Mail Sack will be reregulated to being a monthly section that I will write on the last Saturday of every month, if questions are submitted during that month (if there are no questions, there’s no mail to answer). Over the next week, I will finish my talks on the Battlefield 4 campaign and move on to do a discussion of the multiplayer. In addition, I will do a pilot post whose contents will be revealed when I publish the post, recount my experiences in Titanfall (which was remarkable), and do two talks on Tari Tari by mid-September. As September draws to a close, I’ll write out final reflections for all of the series I’ve followed during the summer.

The Infinite Mirai’s Mail Sack: August 16, 2014

I spent the day reading Tom Clancy’s Command Authority, squeezing out the final hours of my Battlefield 4 Game Time trial and watching Guardians of the Galaxy with several friends. After the movie ended, my friends decided to do dinner (there’s an Applebee’s a short walk from the theatre, where I decided to try their new “Nacho burger” and was treated to a Man v. Food-level taste experience) and Karaoke. Partly because of how late that dragged out, and in part because this is a solid question that can lead to all sorts of good discussion, today, I will be answering a single question from Vimitsu, rather than my usual two to four questions. Thinking of a good answer was a fun challenge, a test of my ability to be fair and honest. I’ve never really given the question much though before, but this offered me a chance to look back, and in doing so, I’ve found my own answer.

What do you feel about those who rant about how “terrible” certain anime are? Are they justified in openly sharing their views? —Vimitsu

It should go without saying that all people are entitled to their own opinions, and anime is no different. By the freedom of expression, people are allowed to share their opinions, too, and that encompasses the individuals who write rants about how some anime are “terrible”. From a personal perspective, I am more bothered by individuals who blindly agree with an author’s content on the virtue that the writer has a propensity towards sesquipedalianism or a large online presence. My main desire here would be for readers to pass their own judgement about things, and assess things fairly before coming to a conclusion, rather than leaving “I agree” or similar in the comment field. As I typically do not watch shows that lead me to rant (or else drop them quietly before that happens), I realise that rants are motivated by a variety of reasons: it is quite possible that a particular genre or series simply did not meet the viewer’s expectations when they had began it, thinking it to be something they were interested in, but ultimately winding up disappointing them instead. Some rants are written as a reaction, intended to blow off some steam at having wasted their time in watching it. I come across these every now and then: if I agree with the rant, I probably won’t watch the show, but otherwise, I’ll go and give the show a fair shot before making my own assessment. Rants that I find useful are decidedly rare, and for the most part, I tend to regard them as alternate positions. There are bound to be shows that disappoint or infuriate even the most tolerant of anime viewers, and reacting to it is quite a natural reaction. The mature thing to do is simply to not watch the sort of shows that lead to such a response.

  • I ignore rants that I disagree with, and while I won’t begrudge those who write rants, it does bother me when people agree with the rants without a second question. Several examples crossed my mind while I was drafting this, but for courtesy’s sake, I won’t name anyone in this post. However, I can say confidently that it’s not anyone I follow 🙂

However, there are some individuals or bloggers who go well beyond what might be considered normal ranting, and invest considerable time towards criticising a series. Compared to normal rants, these individuals persistently remind others, whether through forum or blog posts, that a particular series is lacking (usually, for being “bland” and not “intellectually stimulating”, for “pandering” to a demographic, for having “banal” jokes, etc). Well beyond simply sharing their opinions with others, said individuals do not miss opportunities to interject their stance on certain anime into discussion. Some of these individuals may even have numerous blog posts (written in varying quality) to remind their readers that such anime are “terrible”, and in a few cases, employ passive-aggressiveness, implying the readers should feel “terrible” in equal measure for enjoying those anime. People are permitted to believe whatever they see fit, provided that they do not impose their beliefs upon others, and the same holds true for anime rants. Since readers are free to interpret and agree/disagree with rants as they will, it follows that people are free to rant as they will, even if their aim is not to share, but to persuade (or even intimidate) others into accepting that their perspective is objectively correct. Rants and hated leveled against anime are only going to continue, so it’s up to readers to make their own decisions as to whether or not rants are something that deserve consideration.

  • The phenomenon of hating on what’s currently playing is a double-edged sword, and the plus side to all of this is that once a series finishes airing, interest in it wanes, and people stop talking about it in favour of new things. For instance, now that K-On! is done, people are quite free to enjoy it without seeing frequent, new blog/forum posts on how the series is deficient.

With that said, writers who rant with the intention of presenting their opinion as an objective one should expect some of their self-aware readers to disagree with them, as they have no business in telling people how they ought to watch their anime. Conversely, a fair criticism of an anime would be one that discusses any merits they found in a series in addition to the limitations, and mentioning which audience they feel would enjoy it. One of the more recent examples includes all of the ranting there was about SoniAni back when it was airing (including one at MyAnimeList that was so fixated on the lack of “intellectually stimulating” content that it was later removed by the moderators). Another example that comes to mind is how much spite K-On! received from people who were, to use a phrase, “missing the point” of the anime and proceeded to complain about how music was not at center stage, how the jokes were poor, ad infinitum. While people should be allowed to rant (this is not Orwell’s 1984), I do find it surprising and disappointing that some people will be willing to invest such a significant amount of time towards gathering intel needed to justifiably hate on a show. These are the individuals who watch shows “so you don’t have to”, and will sit through a season with an eye out for things to criticise and mock, meticulously detailing every aspect of the show that was “wrong” and continuously remind their readers that this is a show not worth watching. Granted, it is their time that’s being lost here, but life is too short to be living for hatred and anger. Moreover, as anime fans, no one can be said to have a necessary duty of watching every anime that airs to provide “objective” opinions for everyone’s sake, and individuals who do see themselves as occupying this position are fulfilling an unneeded niche. People are more than capable of deciding for themselves what they like and do not like to watch. Quite personally, I cannot imagine pushing myself through an anime for the sole purpose of explaining why it is poor to “spare others the trouble of watching it”, and I’d much rather be doing other things with my time.

Closing Remarks

Long story short, I don’t mind rants nearly as much as I mind people blindly agreeing with them. It is my desire for people to be critical-thinkers, and decide for themselves what’s best. If one does agree with a rant, they’d better have an iron-clad (or at least, well-rationalised) reason for why they agree. This week’s Mail Sack thus draws to a close, and I’m left thinking…wouldn’t it be nice if I got more questions from the readers like these? In the meantime, there are still two more weeks to August, and so, two more Mail Sack posts will be made. In the meantime, I’ve finally beaten the Battlefield 4 campaign and got to level four in the multiplayer, so I’ll have a few thoughts on that for the future. I’ve also beaten Deus Ex: Human Revolutions; I picked the Sarif ending, for anyone wondering, and I should have a final reflection for the game out before August is over.

The Infinite Mirai’s Mail Sack: August 2, 2014

Today, I will be kicking off Infinite Zenith’s Mail Sack, which I was originally going to call the Query Cave, but “Mail Sack” seems to sound cooler. Today’s questions were kindly supplied by Ninety Beats and Vimitsu; the former had motivated me to kick off the mail sack. Ordinarily, I would do a talk on portions of or entire series, which serve to provide my reasons for why I liked it, but those are typically very structured, and sometimes are not the most conducive to further discussion, depending on the topic. On the other hand, the Mail Sack will hopefully allow for more varied discussion; they’ll be shorter than ordinary posts, but the format will also allow me to address things on a case-by-case basis. The formatting is as follows: the question comes first, followed by an image somewhere with a super-concise answer, followed by a proper answer. Longer answers will have the image in between paragraphs. So, without further distractions, let us open the Mail Sack for the first time and take a look at the first three questions…

Question One

Out of curiosity, I see that you refer to your blog as the “Infinite Mirai”, which is also the blog URL. But elsewhere on your blog it seems to be referred to as “Infinite Zenith”. What is the actual name of your blog (if there is a single one)? —Vimitsu

  • The difference can be chalked up to me being a n00b.

From a semantics perspective, “Infinite Zenith” refers to the guy writing here, and “Infinite Mirai” is the blog itself. However, I consider Infinite Zenith and Infinite Mirai to be interchangeable because, I used to forget that this was the Infinite Mirai, and it’s since stuck as a force of habit. The “Infinite Mirai” came out of a naming collision that precluded me from using infinitezenith.wordpress.com back when I first registered for a blog. I would’ve used my original name, but the name was already taken, leading the name to where it is today.

Question Two

Did Anime make you more tolerant as a person? —Ninetybeats

Surprisingly enough, it would seem that anime has indeed had that effect. This is, not coincidentally, the perfect time to indulge in a story of sorts; prior to entering the world of anime, I had largely been neutral towards anime and regarded it as animation with a unique art style, and even though I was reasonably open-minded before picking up anime, I was somewhat more close-minded about things that were outside of my scope of interest. Following my acquisition of anime as a hobby, I’ve been much more open to trying new things and more accepting of some things I used to dislike in the past. I would imagine that this is probably because of the incredible diversity anime offers; since every anime I was initially recommend had strong points that I found thoroughly moving or enjoyable, I learnt that this could hold true to a great many things provided that I give it a fair chance; even if some things have a few detracting points, they might also have positives going for them that outweigh the negatives.

  • It did, and for that reason, I’m glad to have picked up anime.

From an anime perspective, this outlook is precisely why when I post about shows, I focus on the big picture and rarely make mention of animation studios and voice actors: good anime does not depend on the constituent elements like plot, setting, characters, animation, artwork or music alone, but rather, how all of these aspects come together. Being more tolerant, or even accepting of some limitations, allows me to enjoy something more completely than I might have otherwise, and this approach has permeated how I conduct myself elsewhere: compared to when I first began watching anime. Naturally, I still exercise caution when treading new waters, and some shows will never work out for me for well-rationalised reasons, but I am far less likely to decline something on the grounds that it was outside my scope of interest or contains too much fan service, which segues to the next query. As for anime’s impact on real-world interactions, the impact is probably subtle, but I do feel that I am more open-minded and willing to hear other perspectives before drawing my own conclusions now.

Question Three

What do you think of certain fetishism that are very present in anime (pantsu and the like)? —Ninetybeats

  • I would watch K-On! just for Mio. How’s that for an answer?

In most cases, I find that having boobs and pantsu shoved in my face is effective for comedy, and as such, I don’t mind it too much, as it lends itself to a few good laughs out of the moment’s sheer absurdity. Anime that do this sort of thing tend to follow a generic pattern (usually involving a male character face plant into the most inconvenient of spots whenever falling), but taken in context, the character’s reactions often speak volumes about their personalities and might even aid character exposition. The key here is moderation: sparingly used, it adds bit of charm to the series and makes particular moments more entertaining, but when such fan service is present in excess (especially in the inappropriate genres), it may either detract from time otherwise spent on more relevant materials, or even become disturbing to viewers. For the most part, though, I don’t typically watch anime that pair fetishism side-by-side with graphic violence or disturbing imagery; in the anime that I do watch, things like pantsu and accidental groping winds up being comedic in nature. While I don’t mind most fanservice of that sort, artistic and cultural differences means that there is a greater level of detail and, in some cases, intimacy in a particular scene. While may amplify a scene’s visual impact, it also makes it a little more difficult to explain to observers who happen to be passing by when such things happen on-screen.

Closing Remarks

That’s it for this time: three questions, and three answers. This is roughly what the Mail Sack will look like in the future, and every Saturday of this month, I will be answering anywhere from two to four questions. More recently, I realised that I tend to answer queries in the comments rather quickly, even if some of them might be intended for the Mail Sack. If I may add a small request: please designate questions destined for the Mail Sack as such. Almost any indicator will do as long as it’s clear that it’s a question going to the Mail Sack, but #MailSack could work rather nicely. Also, last but not least, I am accepting questions via Facebook, too.