The Infinite Zenith

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

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A Milestone at the Seven Year Anniversary and An Introspection At A Thousand Posts

“Not only are bloggers suckers for the remarkable, so are the people who read blogs.” —Seth Godin

Unlike earlier anniversary posts, today, the shortage of things to say this time around is not an issue. On a cold, grey October evening seven years previously, I published the first post to Infinite Mirai. At this time, this blog was intended to supplement a much older website that I had written to previously, but with my increasing familiarity with WordPress and its features, I began using WordPress in a much greater capacity, finally retiring my old website and transitioning here full-time. Seven years since then, this blog has certainly lasted much longer than was initially anticipated, and exactly six months ago, reached the one million views milestone. Today, at the seven year mark, Infinite Mirai reaches another milestone: I have now written and published a thousand posts, as well. A thousand of anything is a nontrivial number: with a thousand dollars, one could have 235 coffees at Starbucks, buy 33 hard cover novels, 12 triple-A games or go out for a nice steak dinner every day of the week for three consecutive weeks. 1000 square kilometers is enough to comfortably fit the entirety of my home town, and 1000 kilometers is roughly the distance between Calgary and Vancouver. For bloggers, a thousand posts represents a serious commitment to their topic of choice and a profound love for writing: on the journey to a thousand posts, there are no shortages of learnings. The first learning is that any post takes some time to conceptualise and write out: on average, my posts now average around 3500 words, up from 1120 when I began utilising WordPress more frequently. Each post takes two to three hours to write, and with the site metrics, I roughly average 1000 views per post. I do not write with a predefined frequency or schedule, and I almost never use the WordPress editor directly because there’s always a risk that my browser crashes, I accidentally hit the back button or unintentionally refresh the page. A thousand posts later, I can reasonably say I’ve learned a thousand things, as well, ten of which I will share here as the summary of something called 日积月累 (jyutping jat6 zik1 jyut6 leoi6), which means “to accumulate gradually” in my tongue.

The biggest learning, however, is that the readers deserve full credit for allowing this blog to reach such a milestone. It is a joy to writing for people who will read the content and come away from it with a positive experience. The current WordPress anime community is simply put, a very positive, inviting one and I am very grateful to be a part of it. Every blogger takes their own unique approach towards writing: from my lengthy discussions to the more concise, focused talks other bloggers publish, there is no shortage of insight, friendly discussion and appreciation for different perspectives among the community. Looking back, the main reason why this blog has endured seven years is because for me, writing about anime and games, then injecting small remarks about my life (and my attendant thoughts) is no different than maintaining a journal for mental health. When I was much younger, I kept journals for school assignments and also to improve my English (contrary to expectation, English is not my native language); this practise fell away by the time I reached secondary school, but with the advent of my anime hobby and increasing stresses associated with life, I’ve found blogging to be an immensely cathartic experience, helping me keep things in perspective and also keep my blessings in mind. Thus, at the seven year mark, rather than say that I’m not sure as to whether or not I will continue blogging, wisdom would suggest that I will continue to blog as long as I find it useful and enjoyable, even if things are now sufficiently uncertain so that I can say with certainty that my frequency will be reduced in the foreseeable future. For taking the time to read this blog, and doubly so for putting up with the very unusual way that I run things here, I offer a big thank you to all of my readers for keeping things exciting and fresh.

Ten Lessons After Seven Years and One Thousand Posts

  • The biggest challenge all bloggers will face is getting the views when they are starting out. A new blog is not indexed in Google, will have no followers initially and must exist in the shadow of other blogs writing about similar topics. However, this should not be an impediment for bloggers: don’t worry about traffic and focus on getting content, as well as developing your voice and style. When I opened my blog seven years ago, I averaged 9 views a day and rounded out 2011 with 828 views. The year after, I saw a gradual increase in traffic, from 19 views a day to 188 views a day. However, when I really began focusing on writing here, traffic increased to around 300 views per day. Time and exposure will increase visibility.

  • Finding interesting subjects to write about is another impediment bloggers of all experience levels and disciplines face. With the relative ease of posting one’s thoughts, being original can be very tricky, as someone might have already expressed your thoughts precisely as you envisioned them. In the realm of anime, for instance, reacting to events in episodes and writing about one’s feelings is an admittedly dull and tired way of writing. I tend to focus on big picture elements and their relevance to reality, especially in relation to my own experiences and beliefs. Because of this personal element, my voice becomes different enough to be noticeable.

  • Blogging regularly and consistently is essential to keep readers returning for more, but so is good quality content. Similarly, mixing things up also can draw in readers: I typically do series reviews and discussions in a standardised paragraph and commentary format, but occasionally, there are some topics that allow me to break the mold. These special posts have done very well because they are distinct and offer unique content that occasionally draws attention from folks on Reddit, Quora or even Wikipedia, who link here and bring traffic with them. My favourite examples of exotic posts include one where I do a discussion on the size of the school ships in Girls und Panzer, as well as my location hunt posts.

  • It takes good planning to blog well. A lot of folks tend to follow a schedule and promise to blog on certain days of the week, but during slower times, don’t have anything they feel that they can share. I operate in a different space, writing only when I have things to talk about: when an idea comes to mind, I usually run through it in my head for a few days, then draft out a concept. If I can return to the draft later and still see where I was going, then the topic was worth writing about and will be turned into a full scale post. This applies to a majority of my posts, although there are cases that for topics fresh on my mind, or those that I am particularly connected with, I will be able to write those much more quickly.

  • Another discovery I’ve made is that the anime blogging community in its current form is very supportive and approachable. When I began, the likes of Behind the Nihon Review, Anime History and Dark Mirage dominated the anime blogging community, flooding it with purple prose-filled posts about the shortcomings of every show under the sun and putting down all who disagreed with them. These days, largely thanks to the tools available, more people have joined the realm of anime blogging and with it, positive attitudes have prevailed. As such, don’t be afraid to reach out to other bloggers and ask them for feedback on your content, or to discuss with them ideas you may not agree with. We are a friendly group open to different ideas, a far cry from the juggernauts of old.

  • Understand why you wish to maintain a blog: blogging can be a professional occupation, and even in its hobby form, can still be very time-consuming and demanding. If there’s a good reason that you are writing for, whether it is to simply share your thoughts, or because you are writing for folks important to you, or like myself, it’s a release from the challenges of life, then your inclination will be to continue using the blog to communicate with and share with others.

  • Don’t do controversy: fighting flame wars is stressful and counterproductive, even if it brings in traffic. I typically do not stray into the realm of controversy, and where I have opinions on things where I align with one side, I tend to be subtle about it (such as on the infamous journalism ethics in video games culture war some years back), or else I will address both sides of the argument (such as in things like Sword Art Online). Stressful blogging is a deterrent for putting out more content, and so, I personally prefer maintaining positivity where I can to ensure that I am always happy to come back to writing for this blog.

  • I’ve mentioned on several occasions that I blog when I feel it appropriate, rather than according to a set schedule. Writing when I have something to say always progresses more easily than if I struggle with a topic, and on days where I have no inclination to write, I am not likely to put out anything useful for the readers. It is similarly okay to take breaks from blogging without guilt.

  • In an age where common courtesy and civility is rare, I nonetheless strive to be polite to all of my readers, encouraging folks to disagree with me and also to think for themselves. Being polite to readers will encourage readers to return: the point of a blog is not to lay down one’s views as the only views, but to present one’s views as one of many. Having good discussions with other readers is always a big plus and may even lead to ideas for more posts. I admit that I am not always adhering to this, occasionally drawing on outrageous perspectives as topics for my posts to shoot down (e.g. Mythbusting in Your Name) and calling out random folks from across the ‘net for their perspectives on a series.

  • My ultimate learning is to be yourself, which I previously mentioned in my Million Views milestone. A lot of bloggers wonder what approach they must take to run a successful blog, and I’ve noticed that a successful blogger is someone who is concise, focused, polite and above all else, true to themselves. They write with their own voice, choice of words, on the topics they enjoy writing about, in the manner of their choosing. While it is important to consider one’s target audience, ultimately, readers will stick with the blogs that stand out. For me, this means making random wisecracks about the Marvel Cinematic Universe in posts about beach volleyball, compare history’s greatest survivalists to a group of high school girls who love camping and finding similarities between my favourite NHL team and a series about girls who ride tanks as a sport. It means occasionally thinking about food when I’m supposed to be writing about anime, and disappointing viewers when I write about how to have a good time in The Division or Battlefield when viewers would much rather read about pantsu in Strike Witches. Sorry, folks, but one does not keep a blog for seven years by being inconsistent: having a well-established style means it is easier to write things down, and perhaps I might reach the two thousand post mark at some point with my current approaches.

At the seven year mark and one thousand posts, I now have 1.1 million views and some 1750 comments. Akismet has blocked nearly 40000 spam comments, and I’ve got around 1.9 million words in total across the thousand posts. With these numbers in mind, “where is Infinite Mirai headed in the future?” is the questions readers invariably ask. To this, I have no definite answer: life is mutating, unpredictable and ever-changing, and circumstances always arise to both accommodate and reduce blogging. Having said this, because of the beneficial aspects of writing for me (for one, it keeps my mind focused and also helps me hone my writing), I am going to be sticking around even if I write with reduced and more erratic frequency. My focus predominantly deals with slice-of-life series, anything telling a particularly noteworthy story about life lessons and the oft-maligned military moé genre, as well as various video games I’ve experienced, and this will not be changing in the future. I still have plans to write about Girls und Panzer Das Finale, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?’s third season, Strike Witches‘ Road to Berlin and the Hai-Furi movie, for instance. Battlefield V, Metro: Exodus and DOOM Eternal also look to offer some interesting points of discussion. With the community’s support and encouragement, I will be continuing my journeys and see where things take me. I’d like to thank everyone again — you readers and fellow bloggers mean the world to me, and whether you’re a regular who shows up whenever new content is published, or if you’re here by chance because my idiosyncrasies tend to mess up search engines, your readership is precisely what keeps things going here.

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.

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.

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  • 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!

Four-year Anniversary!

“I’ve learned time management, organization and I have priorities.” —Tory Burch

If I thought last year was bad, this year is no better with respect to recalling this blog’s fourth anniversary now; we recall that October 17 is when I kicked things off here for the first time with the obligatory “Hello World” post, so if I had intended to publish an anniversary post on time, it would’ve been Saturday. Of course, I had been busy on Saturday, as I came into the lab to work on my simulation further. After I reached a reasonable stopping point, I published the talk about Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka??, and proceeded to forget about the blog’s anniversary. However, I’ve not forgotten entirely, and that counts for something: between the October of last year and the October of this year, things here have not deviated too greatly. Posts about anime and games have been published semi-regularly, and my conversations with some of the readers have been quite meaningful. There’s definitely a joy in blogging, but as of late, I sometimes feel that putting out the next post is becoming something of a drag. For the most part, though, blogging is still fun, allowing me to bring a unique combination of analysis, discussion and wit to the table as I articulate my impressions about an anime or game, although I’ve striving to maintain better time management and consequently, began to write about fewer shows as the seasons wore on. So, I’d like to take this time to outline what the game-plan for this blog is in the upcoming year, such that you, the reader, will have an approximation of what’s going on for the foreseeable future.

  • I’m already three episodes behind to each of the four anime I am watching on the side this season, and have yet to finish several games I picked up last year. On the plus side, my thesis work is going fine, I’m on top of my grading and should be on schedule to wrap up the implementation by late December to begin writing the methods, results and discussion section to my thesis. てへぺろ, I suppose: other anime fans will chastise me, but I’d rather be six months behind in anime and games than six months behind in my work (#^.^#) ハズカシー.

I’m more than halfway through my graduate studies at present, and are striving to graduate before this blog reaches its five-year milestone. During this time, I will need to polish up my project and begin drafting out some publications, as well as the thesis paper itself. The sheer number of upcoming tasks is non-trivial and will demand my full attention. With that being said, I will still drop by on occasion to write about things: I’ve said previously that blogging frequency may decline, but curiously enough, I’ve always found time to get my work done, keep up with a set of anime in a season, make progress in the games I’ve got and on top of that, post the occasional blog entry. So, my posting frequency will continue as it has for the past year. I’ll likely continue to blog about a single anime in the “once-every-three-episodes” format (as I have with Kantai CollectionNon Non Biyori and Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka??), or else blog about a maximum of two shows per season (depending on the season), and focus any remaining posts for editorial-type contents. In the interests of efficiency, I will no longer be accepting recommendations from readers for post contents in the present as I have previously.  With that being said, I hope that you, the reader, will continue to find useful the content that I’ve published here. To keep things going, I’ll be doing a talk on Tamayura: Sotsugyou Shashin‘s second volume, “Echoes”, in the very near future, following up with a talk on Call of Duty: Black Ops and the Yuru Yuri summer OVAs.

Three Year Anniversary!

“If you had started doing anything two weeks ago, by today you would have been two weeks better at it.” —John Mayer

Perhaps it bears testament to just how insane my schedule is when I was not able to even write a short post about how it’s been three years since I started this blog. The official anniversary of this blog is October 17, 2011, but as I spent that time grading Python exercises and working on various assignments, the blog’s anniversary somehow fell from my mind. Curiously enough, today provided a respite from all of that, and as I look back on this blog’s past year, the statistics tell a story of a blog that’s grown. I’m now nearing my 500th post (I think I’ll be seven away with this one), and the traffic here now is around 25 times what it was when I first started three years ago, when I was still an undergraduate student. Posts recall stories of my academic year, some of the projects and challenges I’ve faced, the different things each summer has seen. Even though my schedule is busier than it’s ever been, I’ve managed to find enough time to write here and there. The Infinite Zenith is but one of the countless blogs out there about anime and gaming, intended to provide my insights on anime and games for the readers as much as it is a diary of sorts for myself: when I read through older entries, I recall vividly what was happening when I wrote those posts.

  • In my previous two anniversary posts, I showcased images of well-drawn anime girls in beach attire, but this post is a little more reflective, so I’ve opted to go with slightly different images. When I read through different posts in the archive, I’m reminded of things I did long ago; it’s equivalent to reading a diary, albeit one that I don’t mind showing to the world because it doesn’t hold all of my secrets and talks about things ranging from themes in anime to random tips for pwning shooters.

  • I suppose the images were chosen to represent the scope and scale that the future holds: adventure into the future is simultaneously exciting and frightening, filled with unknown possibility. For the present, though, I return my mind to the present and will hopefully finish my simulation’s prototype before the month is over, then turn my attention to either learning Maya or adding further functionality, depending on my supervisor’s recommendations.

It’s hardly a surprise that blogging is a substantial time commitment, and in spite of my schedule (even now), I’ve managed to continue writing posts. I sometimes wonder if the blog should have another author, but recalling that I write here for my own posterity as much as I do with the intent of exploring anime and games, I think Infinite Zenith will remain a one-man army for the present. While the specifics behind the blog’s future is uncertain, I can say for certain that I will stick around long enough to talk about the upcoming Girls und Panzer Movie (whose release date is still unknown), as well as the Tamayura movies, and Strike Witches OVAs. This past year was an incredible ride for the blog, and although I doubt I’ll be able to blog with the same commitment for the upcoming year, I’ll definitely continue blogging, and inform readers of what the blog’s fate is as it happens. The upcoming year is definitely going to be big, as I (will strive to) get further into my graduate thesis, learning any tool I may need with my fullest effort and, hopefully, turn out another journal publication or conference paper.