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.

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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]”

Reflecting on the Kyoto Animation Incident From Japan

By now almost all of us have heard about the tragic news regarding Kyoto Animation (KyoAni). Not only did the news tragically affect anime fans around the world, it also affected Japan in general as it is now being regarded as the most violent event to occur in Japan following World War II. Now while most of you may know that I’m currently doing my Masters studies in Kyoto, what you may not know is that my dormitory is actually located two train stations away from where it happened (I was in class during this time). When I realised this, the weight of the tragedy affected me greatly. Naturally, my friends and family back home were worried about me when the news broke out so I reassured them that I was OK.

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A (Humourous) Guide to the Japanese Language

So the other day I was taking a nice, nightly stroll around Kawaramachi after watching Godzilla: King of the Monsters (which was actually a good movie) and caught a Starbucks in the corner of my eye which allowed you to enjoy your nice cup of pumpkin spiced latte coffee near the banks of the Kamogawa River. Intrigued by this prospect, I went inside and, as always, ordered my coffee in Japanese. However, on this day, I also brought along my coffee tumbler so I asked the barrister, in Japanese, if it was OK for him to put the coffee in the tumbler instead. Instead of asking him “Kore, ii desu ka (Is this ok)?” I accidentally asked him “Koko ni ii desu ka (Is it OK to have my coffee here [while pointing at my tumbler])?” It took a brief second for the barrister to realise what I actually wanted to say, to which he replied with “Hai. OK desu (Yes, that’s OK)”.

So this embarrassing language blunder is only one of many times where I’ve accidentally said the wrong thing while having the right intentions, but I guess this is just part of the language learning process, right?

Continue reading “A (Humourous) Guide to the Japanese Language”

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).

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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.

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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.

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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”]”

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