The Infinite Zenith

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

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

“Where do you see yourself in ten years?”

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

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

Infinite Mirai: Top Ten Moments Countdown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Milestone at the Eight Year Anniversary, and Defining An Analytical and Critical Approach on Positivity

“When you are joyful, when you say yes to life and have fun and project positivity all around you, you become a sun in the centre of every constellation, and people want to be near you.” –Shannon L. Alder

This blog began its life on a cold, grey October evening eight years ago – while feeling like yesterday, eight years is a nontrivial amount of time. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with and learn from other members of the anime blogging community as I built up this blog further. In the process, I’ve made many discoveries surrounding blogging styles, and even with respect to the medium itself. Without a community to offer feedback and suggestions for me, to augment my own understanding of different series and their underlying mechanics, it is doubtful that I would have continued to blog as I have. You, the readers, deserve a sincere thank you for having stuck around for this long. Anime blogging is a rather time-consuming and mentally taxing hobby: in addition to watching a series, one must then work out what they have to say about it and then craft this into something that conveys a certain idea to their intended audiences. The process is further compounded by a conjunction of anime fatigue, in which anime appears to become more derivative and unexciting with time as one becomes familiar with the themes and design choices anime share, as well as the oftentimes overwhelming feeling of negativity amongst the community as a consequence of fatigue. The anime community therefore can feel like a spiteful, vitriol-filled place where people content themselves with tearing down anime and treating the number of anime dropped as a medal to display proudly on one’s chest. To be an anime blogger in such a setting is understandably exhausting, and so, on this blog’s eighth anniversary, I would like to share with my readers the technique I have employed, that has allowed me to find enjoyment in the things that I end up watching and writing about. I am an ardent proponent of optimism and positivity. My priority, whenever I deal with something that was intended to be fun, is to figure out how to have the most fun when I go about doing it – until the day that the secrets behind immortality are unlocked and accessible, my contention that life is far too short to spend on tearing down things and pessimism, is something that is indubitably and unequivocally true.

The key to finding enjoyment in something begins with making an honest and genuine effort towards understanding what that something was intended to accomplish. If it sounds like what I’m doing entails critical thinking and literary analysis, it’s because this is precisely what I am doing. However, there are key distinctions: critical thinking simply means “applying one’s own judgement towards making an assessment” and certainly does not entail making criticisms of everything. Similarly, an analysis simply is a logical examination of something, and one need not mention of Freud or Jung to be conducting analysis. In my approach towards anime, this takes the form of appreciating what characters learn throughout the course of a story, any corresponding changes to their outlooks as they experience different things, and how their world shapes these changes. Determining the witherto’s and whyfor’s in a work, at a systems level, helps one empathise with the characters and understand why they take the actions that they do: certain choices and actions make sense in retrospect, and so, looking at something as a sum of its part is much more meaningful than attempting to look at the parts in a vacuum. For instance, one of the most common reasons to tear down a work is because the story appeared incoherent, or the characters’ actions did not make sense. However, when the wider context is established, things make a lot more sense, and one is more inclined to empathise with why an individual may act the way they did at a given time. Empathising with the characters is a luxury afforded by being able to see the bigger picture, and for me, it helps me to determine what lesson I am supposed to walk away from a work with, and for me, if a series can succeed in giving me a particular message, then it has succeeded as a work of fiction. Rather than entering a series to with the intent of seeing if I will enjoy it or not, I tend to enter a series with the goal of figuring out what makes it tick, and this is why I tend to write favourably about almost everything I watch: I come in with an open mind and the intent to learn, rather than criticise and judge. The mindset that every series has the potential to be new and refreshing, even if it is treading on familiar ground, is precisely how I’ve continued to run this blog for eight years. The elevator version to the question of how I get by in a world dominated by negativity, criticism and hatred is that I actively look for reasons to enjoy something. I’d say that this approach has been moderately effective, considering that I’ve been watching anime for over a decade and writing here for eight years.

Five ways to find positivity in (almost) anything

  • The biggest key to enjoying something is to enter it with an open mind and approaching things from a big-picture perspective. Rather than forming a conclusion about a work within a few episodes or individual moments, enjoyment comes from taking everything into consideration in drawing a conclusion. Taken out of context, a particular scene may appear irrational or irrelevant, but when considered as a part of a sum, its presence may augment or strengthen a particular idea. Seeing the bigger picture is a fun experience for me, and this is why I almost never look at moments without the context.

  • Making an honest effort to understand the characters and their backgrounds helps one determine why their actions are what they are. Often, folks are quick to mark a character’s actions as being irrational or illogical because said actions are judged from their perspective (resulting in endless griping on forums about how characters’ actions don’t make sense). However, when one looks at the character’s background, personality and whatever external factors there might be, their actions are considered in the greater context, and any mistakes an individual might make may actually end up strengthening their growth in the long run. It is especially rewarding to see characters mature and learn from their experiences.

  • Immersion is another factor I look to for enjoyment: if I can feel like I’m part of a world, I’m more likely to be engaged and immersed with a work. In anime, a vividly-presented world with rich artwork, or a unique setting that feels authentic contributes greatly to the fun factor. In a game, I am immersed when the world is so well-designed and constructed that it feels convincing. A part of partaking in fiction is exploring another reality, and so, if a world can captivate me, I am almost certain to be having fun.

  • The next item on my list of ways to have fun is to ignore attempts to bring the so-called intellectual discussion into a series. While fiction may bring philosophical, social, political or technical elements to enhance immersion and drive the theme, focusing singularly on these elements results in a discussion that is dry at best (if the individuals are qualified to converse on such topics) or misleading at worst (if the individuals have no experience with the topic at hand beyond a five-minute Wikipedia session). Excessive focus on these intellectual elements may also give rise to the feeling that one is missing something “obvious” when the reality is that they simply saw something different in a work, and it is only in moderation that such discussions may be fruitful.

  • The final, and most important part about having fun with entertainment is to always make one’s own decisions. The hottest anime or games may not be up one’s alley, and there is no sense in forcing oneself to pick up a series that may be considered excellent if it is not to one’s interest. Time is limited, and I’d rather spend it doing something for myself, rather than counting the enduring of a series I may not like and then negatively critiquing it as a “service” to others. However, if and when I am involved in stepping out of my comfort zone, I still have four points to look for, and it is extremely rare that something will fail completely on all fronts as to produce something disappointing. This is the joy of having a positive outlook on things – there are almost always ways to have a good time.

While I’ve made an effort to exude optimism and positivity through my blog, what I end up doing is putting words onto a screen. I therefore hope that these feeling are conveyed to the readers, as well. With the sheer volume of negativity out there on social media, I strive to provide opinion and commentary that encourages excitement and enjoyment of a given work. It is my hope that I am able to offer a modicum of joy for readers who want to simply learn about what something entails and decide for themselves what they will or won’t pick up, and if this blog succeeds in helping even a single reader discover a work that they come to enjoy, then this blog has been successful in its objectives. I constantly want readers to walk away from my posts with a better understanding of what happened, whether the work is suitable for them, and/or even learn something that might be completely trivial (but fun) in the process. I hope that I will be able to continue maintaining and raising this standard for my blog for as long as I remain active. Long have I considered retiring this blog, and while I cannot claim to foresee the future of the blog with any certainty, I am certain that I will keep writing so as long as it remains fun for me. I would therefore hope that you, the readers, would continue to accompany me on this journey, sharing in whatever adventures and discoveries that follow – thank you for having come this far and making eight years of blogging possible!

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.

An Introspection At A Million Views: Reaching A New Milestone

“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.” –Brian Clark

The Infinite Mirai is roughly six-and-a-half years old now, and it is at this point where I’ve crossed the million-view threshold. Seeing this number on the all-time views metric leads me to reflect on what this means: a million of anything can be either a lot or a little depending on one’s perspective. A million milliliters of water would weigh a million grams (a thousand kilograms). A computer display with the resolution 1280 by 800 would have 1024000 pixels, and a million one-dollar USD bills would weigh a thousand kilograms (USD bills weigh one gram). It would take 11.57 days to count to a million if one incremented once every second. This is where the Infinite Mirai currently stands, and this milestone is the culmination of the readers’ continued interest – it is no exaggeration to say that readers are the singular reason why the Infinite Mirai has a million views, and consequently, it makes sense to give my thanks to all of you for having helped this blog reach such a milestone. Taking a leaf from TheRadBrad’s page, you’re the best readers ever, so thank you – I know you’ll probably get sick of me saying it, but thank you for giving me the inspiration to watch and write about things for you guys. It means a great deal to me, and without you, this blog would probably not be what it is now. There’s quite a bit of road that was covered to reaching a million views, and this post represents a break in tradition from what I usually do.

  • Every time I did a milestone post, I said that I might quit. Six-and-a-half years in, I think that it’s safe to say that this blog is likely to stick around in its current incarnation, using the methods that I’ve found that work well enough for me. Over the past year, I find that I’ve been a lot closer to parts of the WordPress anime blogging community, and it’s been a fun experience to interact with other WordPress bloggers, all of whom have their own strong points, struggles and experiences with both life and anime.

Up until now, I have not particularly been keen on sharing my site metrics, nor have I given any suggestions and learnings I’ve accumulated to other bloggers. The reason for the former is simply because my traffic does not and should not impact what I do: while professionals bloggers need to be mindful of their visitor count for good reason, I blog as a hobby, and as such, it matters little if my posts reach ten people or ten thousand people. As for advice, I’ve long felt that in the population of casual bloggers, the number of ways to run an operation equals the number of members in that population. In other words, speak to ten bloggers and you’ll likely get eleven different approaches, all of which are functional. However, with this million views milestone, I’m breaking the tradition: first, all readers now know that a million pages have been viewed in some capacity, and basic arithmetic means that I get around 416 visitors a day. There are a total of 943 posts excluding this one, so each post averages 1060 views. Of course, these numbers are quite skewed – my earliest posts are not visible on search engines, and since I started my blog in October 2011, the years 2011 and 2012 are characterised by a very low visitor count, corresponding to my not using this blog to its full capacity until 2013. Looking through the archives will show just how different my style is now, compared to what it was when I first started. As an aside, I was secretly hoping that I would reach the thousand-post milestone close to when I reached a million page views, but as I’m still some sixty six posts out, that certainly won’t happen now. Having now dealt with the hard numbers about the Infinite Mirai, I move to the next topic which has hitherto not been covered here: any learnings that I’ve accrued over the past six-and-a-half years.

  • This is what things look like from my dashboard. Rudimentary statistics from my site are shown here, and I share a few interesting points: compared with the remainder of the community, my site has a much smaller number of followers, fewer comments and fewer likes. While I cannot say anything definitive about traffic for other blogs that I enjoy reading, the Infinite Mirai enjoys relatively consistent viewership coming from social media, Reddit and other platforms, as well as a high search engine visibility (try doing a search on Google for “Kantai Collection” and “Frostbite Engine”).

The list of things I’ve seen both professional bloggers and fellow anime bloggers present is a large one: suggestions have included tips for extending one’s presence and promotion, how to maintain consistency in one’s content, what sorts of topics to cover in anime reviews, and even how to pick a suitable layout for one’s blog. I’m going to say this openly: none of this matters unless one is writing for a professional blog, where search engine optimisation and inbound traffic corresponds with advertisement revenue, which keeps the lights on. For non-professional blogs, I have a very simple credos: be yourself. Traffic is not the end-all for us, and the joys of blogging are community building; it is a joy to be able to talk with other individuals sharing similar interests, and the close-knit nature of anime blogging in this age means that differing perspectives are eye-openers, instructive, rather than fuel for flame wars. With this in mind, one might then ask, if I’ve not followed any particular approach that both professional and casual bloggers advocate, then why is the Infinite Mirai as visible as it is? After all, searches for certain keywords will find the Infinite Mirai at or near the top of Google searches. Some folks have even remarked that my blog appears almost everywhere in searches related to slice-of-life and military-moé. The answer to this is that I’ve been unknowingly doing a form of search engine optimisation: I take a very unusual approach to my anime and gaming discussions, comparing things that seemingly cannot (or should not) be compared (e.g. comparing Les Stroud’s survival tips with what is seen in Yuru Camp△). I also dabble in conversion of Japanese information into English articles, write about games and reference various shows that I watch, and in general, approach things differently enough so that search engines can find the content, and that people end up finding what they sought when encountering my content. This is how I roll, but it wasn’t how I always rolled: it takes time for bloggers to find their structure and workflow, so when I say “be yourself”, I refer to finding a workflow that one should enjoy using, and then applying their own take on things. This is what keeps blogging enjoyable for me, and the reason why I’ve stuck around for a non-trivial period of time.

  • So, on a quiet April evening, where the winter weather has finally given way to the warmth of spring, I pass a milestone that, like my all-exotic loadout from The Division, I never really expected to reach. From what I’ve heard, this blog’s contents have been somewhat useful and mostly enjoyable for readers, so I’m very happy to have been able to positively impact a number of individuals out there. It is my belief that positivity is a choice, and in a world where negativity can be overwhelming, I aim to bring a piece of happiness into whatever it is that I do. Blogging is no different, and as such, I find that the best way to enjoy entertainment is to be open-minded; while some folks prefer the challenge of assessing what they don’t like, for me, life is too short to be doing this unless one is doing so in a professional capacity, so I stick with reflecting on what I like. Having said this, what would you, the readers, like to see from me in the future?

The lingering question for readers then becomes what will the future have in store for the Infinite Mirai. I’m not sure whether or not the Infinite Mirai will be around long enough to hit the two or ten million view mark, and on that note, I’m similarly uncertain as to whether or not I will reach the two or five thousand post mark. With that being said, there are some things that are a bit more certain. This blog has proven to be unexpectedly resilient, and I’ve said this previously – I will keep the party going here until there’s a suitable endpoint for this blog. In the meantime, readers can expect more of the same from me: unusual, unorthodox and unconventional approaches to talking about anime. I will continue approaching shows from a high level and exploring who a given show is for, as well as what aspects about people the show is trying to present. I will continue referencing the obscure or unusual, and I will continue to have a good ol’e time with those who participate in discussions. As for fellow bloggers who have begun their journey, I will note that the million views milestone is merely a part of the journey, and would encourage them to stick around; by the time one’s blog reaches a million views, they will have encountered a host of interesting individuals and ideas, and have created content that’s likely helped someone, somewhere with their own endeavours. In the meantime, I would like to thank all of the visitors and fellow bloggers alike for having done so much to inspire and motivate me to continue writing, to the point where a milestone I once thought unreachable is now something that is very much a reality. ありがとう!