Akira: A Dystopian Vision of the 21st Century [OWLS Blog Tour 2020: Visions]

Happy New Year! Since it is a new year, it’s a new you! This month we will be talking about various pop culture mediums that focus on envisioning “the future.” What type of future do we want for ourselves, our communities, and the world? Also, we will be sharing our goals and plans for the new year. Once again, happy new year!

Long time, no see, folks and welcome to my first post of 2020! I am terribly sorry for going radio silent over the past few months as I have been extremely busy with work and other things in Japan (more on that later). One of my wishes and plans for this year is to start writing more again on this blog.

Many of you, I’m pretty sure, have watched or, at least, heard about Akira, often regarded as a seminal and influential anime film for both anime fans and creatives alike (it’s also regarded as one of the films that gave anime its broad appeal to the West). I have watched this film many times and every time I watch it I learn something new that I didn’t catch the previous time. With that in mind, it’s interesting, yet scary, to notice just how much Akira predicted how the world was going to go in the 21st century (heck, it even predicted that the 2020 Olympics were going to be held in Tokyo) and this is a film that was made more than 30 years ago.

Continue reading “Akira: A Dystopian Vision of the 21st Century [OWLS Blog Tour 2020: Visions]”

How I Accepted Myself as an Otaku Through Lucky Star [OWLS Blog Tour August 2019: Believe]

Kyoto Animation. We all have that one anime we enjoyed from Kyoto Animation. Whether it is pain or joy, Kyoto Animation has brought to life stories that can touch our emotions. For the month of August, we will be honoring Kyoto Animation and all it has done for art, storytelling, and popular culture by discussing some of our favorite Kyoto Animation series. We will discuss what we love about these series and what they taught us. 


The fire that happened at the studio is indeed a tragedy. We pray for the lives that were lost in this tragedy and the families that are suffering at this time. Fires may be dangerous, but there are flames that burn within us that spark passion, hope, and belief in ourselves.

Lucky Star has a very special place in my heart. Not only is it one of the first anime that I watched from KyoAni (apart from Haruhi), it is also the show that helped me accept myself as an Otaku and in this OWLS tour I want to talk about the effect Lucky Star has had on my anime journey. For those of you who have never watched or heard about Lucky Star, basically it is a slice-of-life anime about four high school girls: Konata, an otaku, Kagami and Tsukasa, who are twins, and Miyuki, a well-mannered and responsible girl. The show explores the daily lives of these girls and the various oddities they experience along the way.

Continue reading “How I Accepted Myself as an Otaku Through Lucky Star [OWLS Blog Tour August 2019: Believe]”

School Days: The Dark Side of Love [OWLS Blog Tour February 2019 – Adore]

In February, we will be exploring love and romance. The word selected is “adore” because it has two main connotations: to be loved and respected or to feel worshipped. We will analyze characters that give us a feeling of admiration and explain why we love those characters. We will also be exploring different forms of love (familial, friendship, and even self-love) and how those types of love influence our lives.

For most of you reading this blog tour, you have either heard of or watched School Days sometime in your life. In that respect, you probably know where I’m going to go with this post. If you don’t know about School Days, then that’s probably a good thing because the show is quite infamous (and controversial) among most anime fans for various reasons (more on that later). Despite its notoriety, however, I want to look at how School Days turns the high school romance genre on its head and illustrates the darker side of love not really seen in most romance anime (also, spoilers).

Continue reading “School Days: The Dark Side of Love [OWLS Blog Tour February 2019 – Adore]”

Kiki’s Delivery Service: The Miracle of Self Belief [OWLS Blog Tour December 2018: Miracles]

Tis the season where miracles happen. For December’s theme, we will be exploring faith in anime and pop culture. We will discuss some of the miracles that enter a character’s life during their darkest moments. Some of their questions we will explore is how does a “miracle” change a person’s life? How do we define miracles? Can miracles only happen due to a legend or a mystical being? Or do miracles happen every day, but we just don’t see it? We hope that you enjoy this holiday season! Happy Holidays! 

When one thinks of Miyazaki, apart from his themes of flight and nature, the three films that come to mind are Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and My Neighbour Totoro. This is not to say that Miyazaki’s other films aren’t good or memorable, but these are the films even non-anime fans are able to recognize, mostly, in part, due to their impact on pop culture.

What also separates Miyazaki from most other anime directors is his depiction of the shojo (which has been well documented by scholars, such as Susan Napier, over time), who were mostly depicted as passive and helpless in other mediums at the time. Most of Miyazaki’s films have female leads and these characters are often depicted as strong, active and independent figures. One of these female figures is Kiki, a teenage witch who moves to a seaside town with her cat, Jiji, as part of her witch training.

Continue reading “Kiki’s Delivery Service: The Miracle of Self Belief [OWLS Blog Tour December 2018: Miracles]”

“You Talkin’ To Me?”: New York and Mental Illness in Taxi Driver [OWLS Blog Tour September 2018 – “Self-Care”]

In favor of positivity and good mental health, we will be exploring the importance of self-care. Sometimes, we are lost in our thoughts and emotions that it can cause a negative impact on our lifestyle and our relationships. For this month’s topic, the OWLS bloggers will be exploring the mental health of pop culture characters and how their mental health affects their environments. We will explore the dangers of mental health illnesses and how it might lead to self-destruction and/or how one has the power to overcome their demons. In addition, we will share our personal stories and struggles about mental health and discuss positive ways in handling mental health issues.

The concept of self-care is twofold: while the word literally means taking care of one’s self, it also involves taking some sort of action when doing so. Whether these actions are positive or negative, there will always be consequences. However, there is also the grey area of whether an action can truly be seen as good or bad. Suicide, for example, can be seen as an example of an action that may fall into the grey area. While, for the most part, suicide is considered a bad decision due to the fact that the person committing it will leave behind their loved ones and their dreams and aspirations, in the mind of the victim, suicide may be the only choice they have left to receive “self-care” [NOTE: I am not advocating for suicide here. As a person who has had suicidal thoughts in the past, I am talking about what thoughts could potentially go on inside a suicidal person’s head]. This idea of what constitutes as “good” or “bad” is one of the driving points of Martin Scorsese’s seminal film, Taxi Driverwhich also featured a young Robert De Niro in the titular role.

Continue reading ““You Talkin’ To Me?”: New York and Mental Illness in Taxi Driver [OWLS Blog Tour September 2018 – “Self-Care”]”

The Theme of the Journey in the Anime of Shinichiro Watanabe [OWLS Blog Tour August 2018 – “Journey”]

We have all heard this saying in some shape or form: “Life is a journey.” We travel down a path in hope that we reach a goal or destination, but the travel in getting there isn’t always easy. Along the way, we encounter some personal struggles. It is in those moments where we must overcome an adversity to complete our journey or take a different route or path instead. In this month’s OWLS post, we will be discussing the personal journeys of pop culture creators, icons, and characters. We will explore the journeys that these characters went through, discuss the process and experiences they had on their journeys, what they discover about themselves, or share our own personal journeys.

The word “journey” has many meanings for different people. It can refer to a physical journey to a new and exciting place, an internal journey of overcoming adversity in order to better oneself, or (my favourite one) it can refer to the name of the band that sang one of the most iconic rock anthems ever, Don’t Stop Believin’ (“Hold on to the feeling…”). Whatever your definition of “journey” is, they all have one defining constant: every journey that begins eventually comes to an end.

While the theme of the journey is a common trope mostly used in Shounen anime (i.e. Joseph Campbell’s notion of “the hero’s journey”), Shinichiro Watanabe, best known for works such as Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, applies a different approach to the theme of the journey which is present in almost all of his anime. Note that for this blog tour I will mostly be referring to research that I had previously done on Watanabe as part of my written thesis last year.

Continue reading “The Theme of the Journey in the Anime of Shinichiro Watanabe [OWLS Blog Tour August 2018 – “Journey”]”

A Lesson in Revenge: Itachi as the Anti-Mentor in Naruto [OWLS Blog Tour July 2018 – “Mentor”]

Throughout our lives, we might have encountered someone that we admired as a role model or has guided us in some life dilemma. This mentor could be a teacher at school, a coach, a boss or team leader at work, or a family friend. Whoever it is that person impacted your life in a positive manner. For this month’s OWLS topic, we will be writing about mentors or mentorships in anime and other pop culture media. Some topics we will be exploring include how a mentorship impacted a main character’s life, the types of mentor relationships a person could have, and/or personal stories about mentors or mentorships.

Whenever we think of a mentor, we think of someone who has had a positive influence on our lives or who has made us a better person in one capacity or another; be it physically, academically or even emotionally and psychologically. But what about someone who negatively affects us, yet still makes us stronger in the process? Can we still consider them a “mentor” in the traditional sense? For this blog tour, I would like to explore this idea of what I call the “anti-mentor” by using Itachi and his influence on Sasuke in the Naruto series as a case study.

Continue reading “A Lesson in Revenge: Itachi as the Anti-Mentor in Naruto [OWLS Blog Tour July 2018 – “Mentor”]”

My Love for Professional Wrestling and Why I’m Not Ashamed of it [OWLS Blog Tour June 2018 – “Pride”]

Welcome, everyone, to my first blog tour for OWLS (Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect). For those of you unfamiliar with OWLS:

We are a group of otaku bloggers who promote acceptance of all individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and disability. We emphasise the importance of respect, kindness, and tolerance to every human being. Even though we come from all walks of life, each and every one of our amazing members are dedicated to our cause!

As you can guess from the title, this month’s theme is “Pride”. Below is the prompt that was given to us:

In honor of “Pride Month,” we will be discussing the word, “Pride” and its meaning. We will be exploring pop culture characters’ most satisfying and joyful achievements or skills that they possessed and whether or not these qualities could be seen as a positive or negative aspect in their personal lives and/or society.

So what is pride? Given that it is “Pride Month”, the first thing that comes to mind is queer pride. Pride can also mean the following, according to fellow blogger Matt-in-the-Hat:

Pride is having the abundance of confidence on one’s own skills or traits. People can have pride on certain things like their skills in their hobbies or even their own personality such as being kind or cocky. Showing some pride can be a good thing because it shows how much the person cares about something and it makes them stand out and different.

Today, however, I’m going to play the black sheep of the blog tour and talk about a form of pride that is very personal to me: pride in an interest or fandom. In this case, my love for professional wrestling. On a personal note, this took a lot of courage and self-motivation for me to write about as this is a topic I usually keep to myself.

Continue reading “My Love for Professional Wrestling and Why I’m Not Ashamed of it [OWLS Blog Tour June 2018 – “Pride”]”

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