The Infinite Zenith

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

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An end of summer reflection: On pleasant weather and the dog days of summer in Yuyushiki

“August has passed, and yet summer continues by force to grow days. They sprout secretly between the chapters of the year, covertly included between its pages.” —Jonathan Safran Foer

While Yuyushiki is primarily about Yuzuko, Yui and Yukari’s time in their high school’s data processing club, one of the aspects that is often passed over during discussions of Yuyushiki is its depictions of the summer season. Throughout Yuyushiki, the lighting and colours are typically of a moderate intensity and saturation to convey a gentle mood throughout the anime as Yui and the others go about their everyday lives in the data processing club, looking up uncommon topics and having enjoyable discussions about the things they learn during their time in the club. However, when the hottest days of the year arrive and classes are no longer in session, the atmosphere in Yuyushiki takes on a different tone. Summer skies are of a a dazzling blue hue, with the landscapes fading away closer to the ground, where moving air creates a sense of heat. The brightness of the landscape reinforces the sun’s intensity to accentuate the hot days of summer, and to complete the presentation, the sound of cicadas are openly heard. In spite of the simpler artwork of Yuyushiki, it’s quite evident that summer is in the air. There’s a palatable sense of excitement at the unlimited possibilities conferred in a season characterised by long days and pleasant weather; all of these feelings are captured in Yuyushiki to give the sense that this is really an anime to be watched during the summer, and from a personal perspective, the summers of Yuyushiki remain the most vivid in my memories of this anime, despite the fact that only two of Yuyushiki‘s original twelve episodes were actually set during the summer itself.

  • One of the things about Yuyushiki that took some getting used to were the unusual facial expressions. They’re very much a part of Yuyushiki now and are a fantastic visual indicator that a character is feeling exasperated, mischievous or confused. Close inspection of this image finds Yui rendered in rather higher detail in some parts than others, while background characters remain quite two dimensional.

  • I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this, but Yui is my favourite of the main characters. I’ve not actually been to a pool in the summer for quite some time now; while I have basic knowledge of swimming and could probably survive in water, but I’m generally not fond of pools, owing to the smell of chlorine, which lingers for a while after leaving the pool. Even the unseasonably high temperatures of this summer have not been sufficient to motivate me to visit the local pool: the most I’ve done this summer to cool off on a hot day was to buy a Pepsi-flavoured slush by evening.

  • The hot summer weather of this image evokes memories of a quiet neighbourhood following the aftermath of the Great Flood of 2013: on Canada Day, the weather had been most beautiful, and I spent the day at home in the cool, playing Tribes Ascend and Vindictus after stepping out to a nearby Dairy Queen for a burger. Quiet summer days of this sort can induce a melancholy if one’s schedule is not filled, but in the time that’s passed, I have come to appreciate a quiet summer afternoon to myself, if only for the fact that I now only experience thus on weekends.

  • Most of my summer activities this year involve hiking in the mountains: during the course of the summer, I made three trips out to the National Parks, compliments of the free Park Pass. The first trip of the summer was out to Yoho National Park, then I visited the Vermillion Lakes and had dinner at Melissa’s Missteak in Banff, and more recently, hiked to Lake Agnes and the Big Beehive. It’s been fantastic, and into the autumn, there are plans to visit the mountains again provided the weather is favourable.

  • Besides going into the mountains, I’ve also enjoyed our equivalent of a summer festival in the Calgary Stampede, attended the GlobalFest 2017 fireworks finale show and watched Dunkirk. The weather this summer has also been quite conducive to eating watermelon and corn on the cob: we’ve had one watermelon a week since July and nothing defeats the summer heat quite like a chilled cut of watermelon. Other notable summer activities include enjoying a vast BBQ dinner at Big T’s.

  • The only real downside about this summer was the fact that, the beautiful weather that has given so much opportunity to spend time outside and the associated heat also means that conditions were ideal for wildfires. To our neighbour in the West, vast fires having been burning since July, and at least twenty days have seen smokey skies. According to old weather records, the last time my city was covered by this much smoke, it was 1969. The smoke’s wrecked havoc on my lungs, and just last night, I awoken to a face full of smoke.

  • It’s actually somewhat surprising to note that as I’ve enjoyed this summer to quite an extent considering my busy schedule: work’s been an uphill climb since I returned from Japan, and I fully appreciate weekends now that I’ve finished university for good. Back in Yuyushiki, Yuzuko, Yui and Yukari make for the beach. There are precisely two episodes set during the summer: the first has the girls going to a pool and spending time at Yui’s house under the air conditioning, while the second is the finale, which sees Yui and the others visiting the beach.

  • In these moments, Yuyushiki conveys the sort of carefreeness associated with summer; even I feel the effects of pleasant weather on Fridays leading into a weekend, and productivity typically declines by a small margin when the day grows late. The images above illustrate the sort of skies in Yuyushiki that so effectually capture the summer feeling despite the minimalist art in Yuyushiki – other anime, including The Garden of Words, CLANNAD, Non Non Biyori and Ano Natsu de Matteru, are rather more detailed with respect to foliage and environment details to convey a sense of warmth and brightness.

  • Unless I’m mistaken, Yuyushiki‘s manga is still running: it’s been four years since the anime’s original run, and there’s likely quite a bit of material that could be adapted into anime form. Having said this, Yuyushiki‘s premise is remarkably basic, even for a Kirara-kei anime; while I’d likely watch a continuation, there’s no guarantee that there is a market for more Yuyushiki.

  • It feels appropriate to conclude this post with an image of Yuzuko, Yui and Yukari walking home after their day at the beach under a sunset. As summer turns to autumn, days begin shortening, and winter will be upon us once again. No longer do I mind the end of a season so greatly loved, knowing that it light return once again.

It’s been some four years since I’ve watched Yuyushiki, and the fact that the summer episodes remain quite memorable is a powerful testament to the effectiveness that the use of visual and aural elements can have in shaping the viewer’s recollections of an anime, and in retrospect, some of Yuyushiki‘s best moments are set during the long days of summer, when Yui, Yuzuko and Yukari capitalise on the weather to create their own memories. The fantastically agreeable weather also brings to mind the events of my own summer. While I’m no longer a student and therefore have no summer vacations, this has not diminished my enjoyment of the season. Owing to a high pressure system in the area, the whole of this summer has been sunny and hot: from the various hikes I’ve taken, to the quiet days spent at the local library or bookstore, from the journeys out into the mountains to watching a partial eclipse happen, this summer certainly has been enjoyable. Today is the last day of August, and with it, we march into a season where students begin returning to classes. For me, this means the gradual cooling of things, the transition of the landscape from verdant to gold, and traffic jams. In my Tamayura: More Aggressive review four years ago, I reviled this, saying that it was a return to “that most hated of seasons”; looking back on my old words, it’s a bit of a surprise to learn that my outlooks on things have changed considerably since then. Autumn is a beautiful season, with its own merits that make it worthwhile, and I imagine that this shift of heart perhaps is a sign that I’m growing older. Furthermore, contrary to my assertions four years earlier, I’ve not completely forgotten Yuyushiki, and that in itself is an indicator that the anime was worthwhile to watch.

Five years since the MCAT: A Personal Reflection

“You’ll do really good you know, I’ll pray for your success! But you got it. Tell me how it goes after, and go buy something sweet afterwards! You should reward yourself with something yummyy~” —Ab imo pectore

As the title states, five years have now elapsed since I took the MCAT, and in the time that has passed, quite a bit has changed. For one, the AAMC has revised their exam such that there are now five sections, taking a total of seven-and-a-half hours to complete, compared to the 1994-2014 version of the exam: the computerised variant in 2007 could be finished in around five hours. In this time, my old MCAT expired, meaning that if I were to still retain any aspirations for a Medical Doctor degree, I would need to face down the new MCAT. This is something I’m unlikely to do, but at this five-year mark, the impact of taking an MCAT and the associated preparation for the exam remains a very profound one for me. There are bits and pieces of these recollections in the blog, especially in the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare posts, and the short of it is that I spent three months of my summer in 2012 preparing for the exam, spending many a summer day poring over textbooks and review material, occasionally stopping by the medical campus to review with friends who had previously taken the exam and were gracious enough to offer assistance, or else whiled away short breaks in the library, watching anime on an iPad during mornings before my MCAT preparation courses. Through the combination of sheer willpower, unending support from my friends and a bit of luck, I left my exam feeling as though a large weight were lifted from me: under the golden light of an evening sun, I stepped out for dinner at a Chinese-style bistro and greatly enjoyed this despite it not being something sweet as one of my friends recommended. I then proceeded to sleep the best sleep I’d slept all summer. Now, the summer lay ahead, and I spent the remainder on it working on my first-ever publication, as well as shoring up my old renal model in preparation for my final year in the Bachelor of Health Sciences programme.

  • Besides long days spent studying for exams, one of the most vivid memories I have of 2012 was the fact that, owing to a frayed cable coming into the house, my broadband internet connection intermittently disconnected that summer, making doing full-length practise exams at home impossible. I recall a memorable July morning that I spent doing a practise exam and finished, scoring a 30T on it, right before the internet cut out. After lunch, I watched Survivorman and took the day easy. The connection eventually became so problemmatic that I did my final full-length exam on campus, using my lab’s Mac Pro, during one afternoon, before heading out to dinner at Bobby Chao’s with family. Here, I scored the 33T, and entering the exam, I was feeling much more confident.

  • This is a screenshot of my exam results. With encouragement from a friend, I walked into the exam a little nervous, but striving to do my best. Said friend’s constant, upbeat encouragement and support gave me a huge sense of comfort, and when my exam results came out, I was pleasantly surprised. However, as my undergraduate thesis wore on, I wondered if medicine would really be the best career path for me, and so, I took another year to figure that out while my friend took an exchange program in Japan. Our paths diverged here – they were broadening their horizons and chasing their dreams in Japan while I busied myself with learning more about software and learning to appreciate my home town more.

  • While we have gone our separate ways, it is appropriate to thank this individual once more: looking back, these experiences have also been integral in shaping who I am. Perhaps in the future, there’ll be a chance to do things over again properly. For now, this brings my reminiscences very nearly to a close: I do not think I will mention the MCAT again as it fades into memories past. I assure readers that future posts will return to the realm of the subjects I am wont to dealing with; this unusual segue is the consequence of the five-year mark passing on my MCAT, the point where scores usually expire.

A month later, my results arrived; I have previously not mentioned my scores at this blog, but with my scores expired, there is no harm in revealing them now. On my MCAT, I scored a 35T (the true score is likely between 33 and 37, inclusive), having managed to squeak by in verbal reasoning with a 10. The AAMC conversion estimates that of the people taking the exam, only four percent scored above me, and in today’s standards, a 35T approximates to a 517. Five years after the MCAT, my score has largely become a number now, with limited applicability except perhaps acting as a conversation topic for dinner parties. While the exam score itself may not hold a particularly great deal of importance, the experiences leading up to the MCAT and the attendant learnings would forever change the way I approach challenges. The summer also led to a first for me: I liken it to a variant of Tsuki ga Kirei where things don’t work quite so nicely, but as that story’s already been recounted in full previously, I won’t detail it too much further. While undoubtedly painful, I do not regret that things happened; it was reassuring to have someone provide support and encouragement during the MCAT, and although our paths have separated, I’ve not forgotten what they’ve done to help me. While the MCAT may initially appear to have been quite unnecessary, considering my eventual directions and the costs associated with preparing for the exam, in retrospect, this was an exam where the experiences conferred were those that proved to be quite helpful, whether it be learning how to read and problem-solve efficiently or how to handle stress. These learnings would subsequently allow me to wrap up my undergraduate and graduate programmes on a high note, contributing to how I approach problem-solving even today.

Reflections on the 2017 Summer Solstice

“I am a summer person.” —Elin Hilderbrand

The longest day of the year visits the world today: it’s the first day of summer, and while the light is welcomed, today is forecast to be a little cooler, with a projected high of 18°C. We thus enter the most favourable time of year, when the skies are pleasant and the air comfortable, conducive for hiking along the river in the mountains or unwinding with a novel and cold beverage in hand. A year ago today, I was gearing up for my graduate thesis defense, and while I was feeling quite confident that things would go well, there was also a healthy bit of nervousness. When the defense ended, I was most relieved, having passed, and with that, a new chapter on life began for me. I was set to begin work, but before that, I attended the ALIFE XV Conference in Cancún. Since then, I’ve been working: time has passed in the blink of an eye, and we’re stepping into another summer. While the days of summer research have long passed, and I’m busy all weekdays, this has done little to diminish my plans for the summer. I’ve yet to capitalise on the complementary parks pass that I received as a part of the celebrations for Canada’s 150th Anniversary; on my list of places in the nearby National Parks to explore include Takakkaw Falls and Peyto Lake of the Canadian Rockies. Closer to home, walking around parks in the neighbourhood and ending with shaved ice is also a simple but pleasant way to enjoy the summer. Finally, the long days of summer also afford me time to return to my old hobbies of sketching and reading. It’s a far cry from last year, when I spent all of my walking moments preparing for the thesis: without this occupying my every thought, free time is finally, for the lack of a better word, free. Of course, today is a Wednesday, so I will be heading off for work once this post is done: the weather may be warm, but iOS apps won’t implement or test themselves.

  • The vast blue skies and long, warm days of summer are a blessing, a far fry from winter days where it is forty below. It is a time of adventure, both large and small, and for appreciating the small things. While it’s my favourite time of year, summer melancholy is very much a real thing — it is caused by a longing for something (or someone) and a regret that opportunity gives way to routine. It’s an unpleasant experience, but one that can be surmounted by a willingness to appreciate the small things, whether it be a particularly beautiful sunset or a chance to enjoy a cold drink under sunny skies following a walk. Of course, there’s also the Steam Summer Sale to look forwards to: I’m eyeing Ori and the Blind Forest, Poker Night at the Inventory 2 and the legendary Stay! Stay! Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

  • Because I travelled in May, a time where temperatures remain comfortable in both Japan and Hong Kong, I have the whole summer free to enjoy the pleasant air in and around my city, as opposed to burning alive in the heat of a Tokyo or Hong Kong summer. I used to wonder what it would be like to live in the inaka, but ever since my travels, I’ve realised that the quiet suburban parks of Canada are about as peaceful as the rural parts of Japan. A day well spent is one that need not necessarily involve my overly-large Steam library — one spent out in the sunshine of a nearby park is surprisingly similar to walking in the inaka and is remarkably cathartic.

In my summer solstice post for last year, I mentioned that Your Name was something on my radar. Originally, I had been anticipating a release pattern similar to that of The Garden of Words, but this was plainly not the case. As such, my review and discussion for it will come out in late July. With Your Name in mind, the future of this blog finally enters the discussion: because this blog has proved surprisingly resilient against matters of scheduling, the only thing I can say with any confidence is that blog posts will be written as I find the time to do so. Sometimes, there will be more time, and other times, there will not be any time. However, I am not packing it in any time soon: besides Your Name, Koe no Katachi, Kono Sekai no Ktasumi ni, Kantai Collection: The Movie, Gundam Origin and Girls und Panzer: Final Chapter remain on my stack of anime to write about. In addition, Battlefield 1 has proven to be one incredible adventure, and I will be looking to continue telling my stories as walk the path to rank 110 (hitting the level cap has been something I’d never done before), and finally, with several new games on the horizon, there will be material to write about, as well. This blog’s continued existence is also largely thanks to you, the readers: knowing that folks are enjoying the discussion and content here is more than sufficient a motivation to write. Having said this, two more posts will be coming out later today: I will be looking at Metro: Exodus and revisit The Garden of Words with a renewed perspective.

ISAL’s ALIFE XV Conference: A Personal Reflection

“I was in Cancún, Mexico, sitting in a disappearing-edge swimming pool, on a bar stool that was actually under the water, watching palm trees sway in a sultry breeze against the unmistakable aqua splendour of the Caribbean Sea; drinking coconut, lime, and tequila from a scooped-out pineapple, with salt spray of breaking surf and sun kissing my skin. Translation: I’d died and gone to heaven.” ―Karen Marie Moning

I’ve returned from the ALIFE XV Conference now: held in Cancún, Mexico, for the first time, this conference deals with artificial life. This is a field where life and natural processes is studied by means of simulations, robotics, engineering and biochemistry; my research is related on the software side of things, since I primarily work on building agent-based models to illustrate biochemical reactions at the molecular level. The emphasis is on illustrate, since my models largely lack a solid implementation of protein-protein and protein-substrate interactions to act as a predictive model. So, back in February, my supervisor and I submitted a paper to the ALIFE Conference about my research, which was being held in Mexico for the first time. Another paper about a project a colleague had worked on was also submitted, and in both cases, our papers were accepted. Owing to logistics, I attended this conference alone, flying out to Houston last week. Unlike Laval, the flights proceeded very smoothly, although when I had arrived at Houston, I realised I had forgotten to arrange for transportation from Cancún International Aiport to the Zona Hotelera. Fortunately, some quick thinking rectified that, and by the time I boarded my flight to Cancún, my transportation was confirmed. So, I was able to reach the Zona Hotelera without difficulty and set about preparing for the pair of presentations I would give.

The first day of the conference was uneventful, and I attended several of the different workshops and keynotes. On the second day, I presented my paper and sipped a lemon daiquiri with my evening meal (chicken au tequila). The third day saw the trickier of the two presentations: my colleagues were unavailable, and I was to give a presentation on their behalf. Although I was quite nervous, that presentation went quite well. The remainder of the conference was dedicated to speaking with the other attendees (some know my supervisor and others were my instructors during my undergraduate), attending different keynotes and learning about the exciting research being done in the field of artificial life. As it turns out, NetLogo is gaining the capacity for multi-scale ABM, and I also heard a keynote about how tumour cells propagate (in addition to how blood vessel formation is disrupted severely during tumour development). There were other keynotes on how infants’ attentions gradually move from face to hands as they mature, and how networks might be useful in relating the different scales of a model together so that an individual’s behaviour can in fact, be used to predict what might happen throughout the system. ALIFE XV was a spectacular conference, and not all of the exciting elements lay in the conference itself. The food and locale were both amazing. During the mornings before the first keynote presentation was set to begin, I took strolls along the white sands beach near the conference venue. The weather was remarkably pleasant: there was no rain or even cloud cover during duration of my stay in Cancún. So, I was able to take to the beaches in the mornings and relax under the morning sun, marvelling at how warm the water was and walking along relatively quiet beaches. From the food side of things, the conference provided dinners on a few of the evenings (there was one excursion to Porfirio’s Cancún, where dinner included crab tacos, Mexican-style steak and Churros, and the farewell dinner was a surf-and-turf, featuring steak on a bed of mashed potatoes, prawns and vegetables). On other evenings, I stepped out and sat down to dinner at Casa Tequila, a restaurant serving Mexican and Mayan dishes that also has some of the best atmosphere I’ve seen anywhere: I dined under a sidewalk patio with Mexican music playing all around.

  • Nothing beats walking down the quiet beaches of Cancún at eight in the morning: this is before other beach-goers begin showing up, so for all intents and purposes, I had most of the beach to myself to stroll along and explore. Even at this hour, though, it was still around 29°C, so it was plenty hot.

  • A short ways down the beach from the entrance near Plaza Forum By The Sea, there’s a small rock face that juts out from the beach. The first morning I walked this, I brought my full shoes and tread carefully so I wouldn’t get sand in my shoes; during later excursions, I wore my swimsuit and brought sandals, walking bare-foot along the beach. To prevent myself from burning, I liberally applied SPF 60 sunscreen, and for the most part, it was effective.

  • Before anyone poses the question, these morning walks did not negatively impact my conference performances. I woke up at six in the morning, had breakfast by seven, spent around an hour on the beaches and returned to the conference venue (a mere 120 meters away) just in time to take in the first keynote of the day. The conference ran from nine in the morning to six-thirty in the evening, and I attended most of the sessions.

  • On my second morning, there were no clouds in the southeastern skies, so the photographs I took turned out amazingly well. Armed with my sunscreen, I stood on the water’s edge and allowed the waves to wash over me: unlike the icy waters of the Pacific near Vancouver or those of Lake Okanagan in Kelowna, the waters in Cancún are a comfortable 29°C. Aside from the clusters of kelp, they’re pleasantly clear.

  • Besides the more obvious modifications I’ve made to each of the images, the colour balance, saturation and hue in each of my images have not been altered. The vivid turquoise colours of the water and white of the sand are exactly as I saw them on the beaches. Every image in this post was taken with an iPhone 6 and then subsequently resized to fit the 16:9 aspect ratio. The water colours arise from the shallow water that allows light to reflect off the sand or reefs at the bottom, preventing the longer wavelength colours from being absorbed and results in this distinct colour.

  • For the presentation I delivered, I used the original variant of my thesis defense presentation. I had enough content to last around 25 minutes, but the thesis presentation only allowed a maximum of 15 minutes, so I trimmed out quite a bit of content to ensure that I could succinctly describe my project. Armed with more time, I could elaborate further, and similar to Laval, one of the questions I got was concerning my background, given that my research involved molecular biology and simulations to a substantial extent. Thankfully, the questions I got were rather easier to answer than those of my thesis.

  • For my colleague’s presentation, I was mostly familiar with the project’s concepts, but less so for the implementation. I practised this one extensively and read enough of the background to give a reasonably solid talk. After the presentation ended, the audience seemed impressed with the project. With both presentations done, I took a few more liberties with my time and went souvenir shopping.

  • I realise that Cancún is probably too nice of a place for an academic conference, so I clearly must be bullshitting readers if I said I went to Cancún for a conference. To convince readers that ALIFE XV did indeed happen in Cancún , here are the conference proceedings published to the MIT Press. The entire thing, with all of the papers, is around 26.3 MB in size and consists of 753 pages of content.

  • During the second evening, after I delivered my presentation, I was feeling quite pleased and decided to have an alcoholic beverage of some kind. I eventually settled on a lemon daiquiri, sipping it under the warm evening sun at Casa Tequila after dinner. I got a minor headache of sorts and decided to close my eyes for a bit on the hotel’s roof: when I woke up half an hour later, the sunset was underway and gave rise to beautiful cloud patterns visible in this image.

  • All of the images in this post have been vacation-like in nature, so to thoroughly convince the reader that I was in fact at a conference, here is a poster bearing the ALIFE conference’s name. With this post over, it means I’m formally back, and while I will note later that I’m going to write about Amanchu! and Planetarian to some capacity in the near future, the two posts that are immediately upcoming (i.e. to be finished before July is over) will be When Marnie Was There and Pure Pwnage T3h Movie, both of which I watched while flying to and from Cancún, and both of which occupy opposite ends of the spectrum. The former made me cry my eyes out, and the latter, I could not stop laughing.

Thus, yesterday morning, I was a little saddened that the conference was ending whilst preparing for the journey back home. I flew back amidst thunderstorms and several delays, and are back now from my second conference. Like Laval Virtual, I learnt quite a bit about the diversity of research occurring in the field of artificial life, and some of these experiences will be useful even as I wrap up my thesis paper and gear up for application of my experiences in the industrial setting. The ALIFE XV Conference marks the first time where I travelled alone (in Laval, I was accompanying one of my colleagues); this definitely was an eye-opening experience. Lacking a travel buddy of sorts, there was no second person to converse with or bounce ideas off of with respect to itinerary. As well, I needed to observe double-vigilance to look after my belongings. However, I did experience all of the freedoms associated with travelling alone, and since I was travelling light (this is the first time I’ve given presentations off the iPad Air 2), moving about at the airport and in the city was quite straightforward. I further learnt that I have no problems with dining alone at all: while some folks are embarrassed to do so (solomangarephobia is quite real), I feel like it’s a scene straight from a Tom Clancy novel or similar when I eat alone in a restaurant. Given my experiences in Cancún, I would definitely like to make another return trip: perhaps on my next trip, if I’ve got a week, I will book visits to the Mayan ruins and explore those in greater detail, as well as enjoy the beaches once more. For now, it’s time to get my mind back in routine and start work. Returning to the blog side of things, I’ll be writing about Amanchu! and Planetarian for the summer season, at intervals that work best with my schedule: we’re in the depths of summer now, the perfect time to explore and enjoy the long days that summer has to offer.

Another first day of Summer: The eve of a graduate defense and a personal reflection

“Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy. To do nothing and have it count for something. To lie in the grass and count the stars. To sit on a branch and study the clouds.” —Regina Brett

Today marks the first day of summer in 2016; this year, the summer solstice coincides with a full moon, the first time this has aligned over the past fourty-nine years, and the next time there will be such an event, it will be 2062. The weather today was quite pleasant, reaching a high of 24°C, and apart from a short bit of cloud cover during the afternoon, the weather remained sunny the entire day. Summer is my absolute favourite time of year, when days are long and the sun rises before even I do. It’s a time for taking in the warm air, and for sipping a cool beverage after mowing the grass. In any previous summer, solstice is merely another day on the calendar, but this year, there’s but a single week left before I’m set to defend. I’ve been rehearsing every day for the last two weeks, and I cannot help but be nervous, despite knowing that this is a project I have been working on for the past two-and-a-half years (and as such, should know the inner machinations of quite intimately). However, at the same time, I’m feeling reasonably ready for the defense presentation and following question period/discussion. I’ve not felt this nervous about an exam since my MCAT of summer 2012, but this time, it’s somewhat reassuring to know that unlike last time, I’ve got home field advantage. All that’s left to do now is to deliver a good rehearsal presentation and be confident in giving a good fifteen minute talk during the defense itself.

  • With all of the things happening in the near future, with the thesis defense and conference in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, the next few weeks will be remarkably busy. After I return in July, I’ll begin working full time, but I’ll still try to make the most of the excellent summer weather and be outside more often on weekends, now that I’ve no longer papers to write or assignments to grade. I also resolve to continue on the Adam Richman food challenges (i.e. exploring my city to try interesting food places).

  • The images for this post were chosen for capturing what summer feels like: timeless and beautiful. It’s been quite some time since I’ve done a double-feature in one day: this was rather more common during 2012 and 2013 when posts were shorter and easier to write. With that being said, I’ve gradually moved towards longer posts because they provide more opportunity to interact with the readers and have good discussion. I’ll take this opportunity to thank all of you, whether you’ve reached this site from Google, Reddit, Facebook, WordPress: your support have given me the inspiration to continue writing.

As I am wont to do in these personal reflection posts, I will also outline the future of this blog rather briefly. I’ve stated on numerous occasions that my blogging frequency would decline as graduate school progressed, and inexplicably, I’ve somehow managed to continue writing about the anime and games I’ve experienced thus far. There’s a definitive pull about blogging that’s resulted in my returning to showcase these experiences even in the face of conference paper and deliverable deadlines; this is probably what’s kept the blog going even as things change on my end. So, looking ahead into a post-Master’s world, while I cannot guarantee that I’ll continue to blog to quite the same extent that I have up until now, I will continue to keep this blog so as long as there are things to write about. In the immediate future, after Hai-Furi is done, I will also push out talks for Flying Witch and Kuromukuro. The final Tamayura: Graduation Photo movie review will also come out before the month is out, while the review for the final Aria The Avvenire OVA will be written somewhere in July. Finally, the Makoto Shinkai film, Kimi no na wa, is also on my radar. Beyond this, I’ll take things one step at a time.