I suppose I should explain my lengthy absence.

Originally, it was indeed that I had encountered what I assume was burnout: I felt that trying to find something to say about everything was starting to pall, and I started procrastinating on actually updating the blog. I still liked to watch and enjoy anime, but maintaining a blog about it was tedious and troublesome. I found myself wishing that I could just wish the words in my head to appear, correctly-spelled and grammatically coherent, on the screen, without having to go through the keyboard and finding a suitable picture and whatnot.

So burnout it was; no big deal, and I could always take a break and come back later. If I ended up not coming back, well, at least I had something of a good run.

Besides, I was trying to pick up a job. I set a goal for myself: when I got a job, I would start posting on this blog again. If I got my interest in blogging back earlier, well and good, but the best case scenario was that I would start blogging again when I became a productive member of society.

Things started looking up after a few months. I had a few blog posts worked out in concept, and an inadvertant break in anime-watching made me realize that I really did miss anime when I wasn't watching. I was on track to start blogging again, starting perhaps with a series of rambling posts on the whole Touhou thing. I was feeling kind of upbeat about this whole blogging deal, and if I started blogging early before actually getting a job (which I did get, in the end), well, so be it.

And then my father had a stroke.

He didn't make it.

It's been a few more months since then. I'm still kind of picking up the pieces here, in the sort of way when I don't actually feel like doing any picking-up of anything. I don't know when something will set me off, or when I'll be watching something and enjoying it and then a tiny little voice inside my head cuts through: "Glad to see you're enjoying yourself. By the way, your father's dead."

I don't know what that will mean for this blog. I keep thinking that I should try to update it anyway: life goes on, right? But the rational approach doesn't seem to help when I pop my head out of my room to ask my father about some clarification of a random tidbit of general knowledge, only to remember just a few moments too late. Sometimes, when commuting, I get great ideas for blog posts that I make notes about, intending to write them when I get home.

And then I come home and remember and I don't feel like writing anymore.

So, in all, I don't know what's going to happen. Maybe I'll post some stuff now and again; maybe not. I'm trying to tell myself that it's okay for me to start to enjoy things again, to have a normal life. It's not easy, but sometimes I can even forget that I can't have any more enthusiastic conversations with my father about blogging the latest Japanese restaurant that opened nearby, or the convenience of my smartphone, or the latest trends in computer hardware, or indeed about anything else. It's anime; it's meant to be entertainment. It's okay.

It's okay.

This post was written because several people have asked me why I haven't updated my anime blog. I never know what to say then; they ask me the question in a jovial tone, and I try to remember that every teasing remark or misunderstanding is not actually malicious. The honestly-curious or honestly-concerned questions are even worse, since I know they expect a simple answer like "well, just burnout" or something, and I don't want to bring the mood down even more by mentioning the real reason, leaving everyone just standing around looking awkwardly at each other.

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This entry is part 43 of 43 in the series Nanoha GamerS

Just a teaser image.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Azusa in stockings.

Since Santa presumably knows everything you've done like some kind of more efficient Wikileaks, it is comforting to imagine that turnabout is fair play.

I've been somewhat out of touch these past few weeks due to various circumstances, which will likely not resolve themselves anytime soon. There's generally that subtle but annoying difference between having enough free time snatched out of the spaces between Doing Other Stuff, and having enough free time in large enough blocks to seriously get down to working on what I should be working on.

In other words, don't expect any reliable updates until the end of the year. And possibly a bit beyond.

On another note, I've been inadvertantly increasing my presence on Danbooru, mainly through trying to find suitable images for various blog posts. I'd like to upgrade my account for increased flexibility in searching terms (the basic Two Search Terms Only is a little stifling), but there doesn't seem to be much on how to go about doing this. Do I just send an exploratory email to the address listed or something? Is there some kind of form that needs to be filled out? Or perhaps a form letter that hasn't been put up on the FAQ yet? Fushigi mystery.

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Attending the Singapore Toys, Games, and Comics Convention: one day.

Organizing my notes from the NUS talks: one day.

Researching based on my notes: two hours.

Getting distracted by other fascinating tangents to the research: two days.

Trying to find random pictures to break up the text: four days.

Actually sitting down seriously and writing the post: four hours.

You can read my ramblings on Watching Anime For The Story Vs Watching Anime For The Characters over at Animenauts, as usual.

Next time: yaoi.

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Fate Testarossa.

Friend: What did you think about the Nanoha movie?

Me: It's always interesting to see how a series can be compressed and distilled into a movie.

Friend: Don't bluff, you're watching it for the naked loli transformation scenes, right?

Me: Actually, I'm watching it for the loli in the commentary track asking the shota what he thought about the naked loli transformation scenes.

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Merchandise found at STGCC.

As anyone who might be following the Animenauts Twitter feed will definitely be aware of by now, considering how much I spam that feed, I just came back from the Singapore Toys, Games, and Comics Convention.

Most of the day was spent at the NUS talks held at the second-floor conference room, where papers on various aspects of anime were presented.

Upside, there's plenty of food for thought, particularly in the realm of fandom motivations. Downside, I have no idea how I can turn these hastily-taken notes into something resembling a coherent post.

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Marisa reacts to Aya.

It is probably not a good sign that I immediately pictured Suika Ibuki as being some sort of displaced (and horned) Yui Hirasawa, especially since I'm pretty sure I've encountered Aki Toyosaki's voice in plenty of other anime before. (Particularly Momo Deviluke from To Love-Ru, who looks more like a standard youkai anyway.)

To be fair, Ayumi Fujimura as Aya Shameimaru (\SHAMEIMARU/) sound nothing like what I expected from her roles as Naomi Umegae (Zettai Karen Children) or Misaki Ayuzawa (Kaichou wa Maid-sama). And from the other direction, Mai Nakahara as Reimu Hakurei sounds pretty much like most of her other more memorable roles, possibly due to some sort of bias: ever since Mai Tokiha (Mai-HiME) and Teana Lanster (Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS), I associate her with the calm, long-suffering, serious Girl Next Door roles, and I remember her as such.

Miyuki Sawashiro as Marisa Kirisame did make me happy, of course. And the narrator being Kikuko Inoue is several kinds of amusing.

Still, hearing Sakuya Izayoi voiced by Rie Tanaka made me imagine many strange things about Hayate the Combat Butler's Maria.

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This is actually my current party, although it's missing the PSP-added Welch Vineyard, which I keep thinking is the name of an actual business somewhere.

One of the problems I face with JRPGs, or indeed many RPGs of whatever geographical origin, is the tendency to put in Hidden Items. Not because there is a story reason for them to be hidden, but simply to effectively sell strategy guides, which GameFAQs circumvents to a certain degree. I don't just mean treasure chests or items in inconspicuous locations, but more of having to go through a certain number of very specific actions that nothing in the actual game itself indicates, just to be able to unlock this or that or the other. Final Fantasy 7 players might remember the Gold Chocobo, and Final Fantasy 12 players might recall the Zodiac Spear.

I'm not sure why this happens, although as guessed, it might have something to do with strategy guides. But it's not like I know for certain that this is the case, so everything is just speculation. I might not even bother if all I get is something that has no bearing on the story, but all too often I have to follow the steps of an elaborately-choreographed dance in order to get the True End or something.

I've always figured the Star Ocean setting to be fairly intriguing, at least on the surface. Of course, I've never actually finished a Star Ocean game before (even though I've played at least past the tutorial of all four so far), so I could be missing something. Right now I think Star Ocean: Second Evolution is the furthest I've ever gotten in a game, although Star Ocean: The Last Hope is sitting temptingly near my PS3.

But Star Ocean 2 (or Second Evolution or whatever) has a special place in my nostalgia, thanks to the Star Ocean EX anime. I remember wishing for more Precis screentime, all those years ago, and so now I am making it happen.

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There are few things as draining to my enthusiasm for watching anime as reading what other people have to say about it. It's like being… no, it is exactly being the one moe fan in a world of anti-moe.

Sometimes, in my darker moods, I have to wonder if I'm the only person who still enjoys watching anime instead of complaining about it nigh-constantly. If it's Not To My Tastes, then so it goes; not everything is to my tastes. I don't complain about the immense popularity of mecha anime or shounen fighting anime, after all.

But hearing myself and my tastes insulted by generalities has gotten old a long time ago. I'm tired, so very tired, of having to defend myself. Which I inevitably have to do any time I express interest and enthusiasm over an anime which has been popularly derided as "moe-blob" or whatever the derogatory term du jour may be, because I still believe that the point of a discussion forum is discussion, and it would defeat the purpose for me to fail to carry on the discussion.

So more often than not, I simply avoid joining in. And soon, this leads to not being able to participate in any discussion about anime. Which leads in turn to not participating in the anime fandom in general, and soon I'm operating in what may be charitably termed a vacuum caused by my own inability to hew to the popular line.

This rant was brought to you by my attempt, now discouraged by negative reinforcement, to find out about the upcoming season of anime. So far Puella Magi Madoka Magica was about the least-reviled among the shows revealed so far, and I'm looking forward to it myself (assuming Shinbo-SHAFT doesn't go Pani Poni Dash on what I hope to be a straightforward Magical Girl story), but I have to question those who claim not to care about something, and then spend paragraphs of vitriol on how much they do not care.

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Ika Musume strikes a cool pose.

Possibly as a follow-up from the previous post, a common tendency for those characters not usually seen as the brightest bioluminescent organisms in the ocean is to have them be some kind of unexpected genius in some field.

I think it's part of the explanation given occasionally on the difference between the Intelligence and the Wisdom stats: here, Ika Musume displays high Intelligence, but her usual behaviour and lack of insight means low Wisdom.

Considering how quickly she's said to learn various abilities like speaking the language of those around her, and utilizing their technology (albeit to play video games), this obviously gives her a great many skill points too.

… I miss my gaming group.

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