Where I want my blogging to go


Now I’m aware that I just wrote a whole post on Digibro, but I wanted to quickly reference him again to highlight something different. In a follow up video to the vlog where he calls out anime YouTubers (which reminded me of Kendrick’s verse on Control), he starts the video off with, “… if you’re following [me], you probably have a deep interest in who I am as a person as opposed to just my opinions about anime…”. This is absolutely true–for me anyways–and this relationship aspect of blogging is what I want to discuss in this post; this is what I want to build.

I enjoy watching Digibro’s videos because of the approach to communicating with his viewers that he has established. While it certainly helps that my opinions are generally aligned with his, I love how Digibro is just being himself (his drunken rants partially notwithstanding). His anime analysis, then, are just elaborations of his “what” and then the “why” opinions.

When it comes to music analysis, I subscribe to theneedledrop (Anthony Fantano). Fantano uses distinct and colourful adjectives to describe sounds in a way that usually leaves me appreciating a record in a new way. His impressive knowledge base (the current culture, origins of sound, landscape of the industry, etc) allows him to look at a record through multiple perspectives (commercial value, originality, influences, etc). And although his reviews aren’t necessarily objective, by offering his singular subjective analysis on a such a vast library of albums, he has established meaningful objectivity for those who follow him.

This style of reviewing feels more like sharing critique rather than claiming authority on art. Since objectivity is impossible and pointless when it comes to art anyways, I think that the idea of following a critic for their personal opinion is far more interesting. Both Fantano and Digibro employ this style–and they make this transparent–and Digibro takes it a step further and shares his life outside of his content creation. The art of sharing one’s life, I guess. And it’s always interesting to see the life of someone who really likes the same thing that you like.

This is where I want my blogging to go; I want a writing voice that sounds conversational. Not only is it easier for me to write this way, I think that it is necessary to establish a relationship to be able to talk about the heart of challenging or emotional topics. Topics like depression, sexism, racism, religion, politics, and etc. I want my friends to be my readers, and vice versa. This is why I love and believe in Young Life, which its core philosophy is based on the idea of forming relationships and sharing life together. As my supervisor loves to say, “Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship.”

As I realized from working with various ages of children, there is so much joy in teaching and sharing the lessons and perspectives that you yourself have learned over the years. Like the mistakes that you’ve made that you don’t want them to repeat, if possible. Or just simply knowing that you shaped someone’s perspectives in a fundamental way.

I love analyzing, but even more so understanding its process. I am fascinated by the ability to categorize and compartmentalize ideas and problems, to better understand the topic in relation to everything else, and to be able to easily explain it to others. I desire to share how I see the world connect together and how the world makes sense to me. And especially, I’m curious about the psychology behind why people like the things that they do. And in the core of the curiosity is in wondering why I am the way I am. Sometimes, when things amalgamate in ways that you didn’t expect, it just feels like life makes sense, and at the same time appreciate its complexity. What I’m trying to describe is my enjoyment of looking at things holistically, rather than being an expert in one area.

Realistically speaking, however, in order for anyone to care about my opinions in the first place, I have to be an expert in something. This may be broad and ambiguous, but I would love to understand relationships. This reflects why characters are the most important part of a show for me.

A quick shout to FrankJavCee, who I think has found an amazing balance between being informative and entertaining in his videos about music projection and music trends. And Vsauce, who I think does such a wonderful job capturing the curiosity of the human mind in his ‘stream-of-consciousness asking more questions than giving answers’ videos.

These would be my influences for my blogging and thinking patterns. To end, here are some quotes that I thought of while writing this post:

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
– Albert Einstein

“The simplest explanation is usually the correct one.”

– Occam’s razor


Image is from Hyouka


ぜんぶ / 전부 / everything


At the end of Bakemonogatari, this is what Senjoughara tells Araragi while they both look up at the night sky (spoilers):

“That’s everything.

That’s everything I have.

What I have is no more than this.

What I can give you, Araragi-kun, is no more than this.

No more than this… and everything.”

This scene touched my heart. Her honesty and vulnerability transcended the narrative and became a part of my own experience. Fictional or not, Senjoughara’s actions were a beautiful display of humanity and love.

Since watching this scene, this idea of giving my everything has been on my mind. In anime, we often hear the ubiquitous term がんばって [ganbatte], which translates to “do your best”. While there is, of course, a limit to pushing yourself, I don’t think I hear this notion enough in western culture, and so I find this to be a good reminder on how I should live my life — by doing my best.

In the Bible, we are told to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27). Whether you believe in God or not, I think it makes sense that love should be given with all that we have. And I would expect nothing less from God. Even in our relationships, we should strive for love and kindness; we should try our best.

Now the problem is, doing your best becomes increasingly difficult to do as you age. Gradually, it becomes harder to care about things. Things become boring or difficult, and I certainly admit to easily losing motivation. Basically, it becomes impossible to care about things in life without getting hurt or being taken for granted — or even worse — be taken advantage of. We often hear that the way to happiness is to “not give a shit about anything”.

But when it comes to love, at least, I think it’s necessary that we should try to love with our whole being. Otherwise… it’s not love. And I learned that by limiting my giving, I’m also limiting my receiving. Now just to be clear, there is a clear distinction among infatuation, dependence, and love. I am not advocating that your partner should be everything, because they’re also human beings with brokenness and flaws. But nonetheless, we should be striving to give without the fear of losing. The popular Bible verse about love comes from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

And when we witness real love, it transcends time and culture. And it necessarily changes us because when we experience something good, we won’t accept anything less. It’s that simple. This idea of love is all around us, and we can see the passion of love appearing in pop culture:

“Cause all of me loves all of you” – John Legend

“Give me your all and nothing else” – Selena Gomez

And these are just from a quick Google search. But although the love here is love too, it’s not the complete picture of love. Love is not dependant on time or based solely on physical desires. Passion is indeed a part of love, but I think that our pop culture’s idea of passion is often mixed in with sexual desires. And in many ways, this only limits our understanding of how amazing the fullness of love can be. But wait — if love is so amazing, why are we all so broken? Why is it so difficult to find real love?

I’ve mentioned before that I was a camp leader at RockRidge Canyon during New Years. The main theme of this camp was this: we were made for relationships. And as I spent 5 days getting to know a group of high school boys, I soon realized that they, too, have trust issues. Not that this was surprising — unfortunately — but at the same time, it’s really sad to see brokenness in kids. Trust is a necessary component of love, and if trust is broken for a person, it leads to them breaking future relationships with others.

I don’t mean to romanticize kids like they’re perfectly innocent human beings, but I would be lying if I didn’t call attention to the fact that they’re different from adults in that they still have a spark of light in them. Maybe this is a generalization, but I think I have some integrity to speak about this, as I’ve been working closely with two kids on the spectrum for the past 3 years.

Speaking of kids, high school is the most common setting in anime. Even if you’re saving the world, you still have to go to school. I appreciate the fact that in anime, the time of adolescence is not trivialized. The challenges that kids face are very real, and let me acknowledge that it is not easy being a kid; their pain and their suffering can just be as overwhelming. And I think it’s important to have this compassion for kids because we were all once kids. It’s widely known that the anime director (and co-founder of Studio Ghibli) Hayao Miyazaki has a passion for kids, and his work in the anime industry is regarded as one of the best. This is what Charles (TWWK) had to say about Miyazaki’s work in his post, Hayao Miyazaki’s Common Grace:

“[The] theme of children understanding and demonstrating love better than the adults surrounding them is frequent in Miyazaki’s works.” … “He taps into truths that cross the lines of culture, and conveys them with the signature lines of his proverbial brush.”

Charles then goes on to mention Luke 18:16, where Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”. From being around kids, it’s clear to me that kids’ still have an innate willingness to trust that many adults have lost (understandably, to be fair). When bad things happen to kids, their mind naturally floats rather than sinking into depression. These trusting and joyful tendencies are needed to love fully.

On the last night of camp, the boys and I were able to have a great discussion. It was amazing to witness what can happen when you love kids for who they are, even in just 5 days. As I talked to the kids, they seemed to have been inspired by love, and so was I. And it became painfully obvious that somewhere down the line, I had stopped trying my hardest in relationships, and that this was the norm of our culture.

So how can we establish and maintain a culture of kindness, love, and respect? A culture where asking for consent does not needed to be taught because it’s so obvious that consensual sex is better. A culture where it’s obvious that relationships are more important than wealth and fame. A culture where it’s obvious that money doesn’t bring you happiness. A culture where real love has inspired us to not want anything less than the best.

And perhaps even more so, for Christians, how can we strive to reconnect with our ability to trust and give everything? To pour ourselves into the relationships that we have, with such love like 1 Corinthians 13?

I urge you to all find the answer to these questions. I found my answer in Jesus, but that’s just me. In my experiences, it’s worth finding the answer because having the ability and the capacity give your all can be incredibly satisfying and fulfilling. You deserve this. You deserve love. Because you were made to be loved.

I have a lot of respect for those who come out of brokenness and is able to put faith back in love. And obviously, this is never easy. The fact that I was able to do it is a blessing and a privilege. When I look back at Senjoughara, I see what love can do. Coming from a broken family and a history of sexual assault, she said that she didn’t have much to give. But the remaining “treasures” in her life, she vowed to give it all to Araragi. What more can us humans do? What more would God ask for us? This is all He wants.

And for those of you in darkness, suffering a loss, or feeling the weight of this world, let me say this: there will be things in life that will make you believe in love again. Such beauty is still present in this world.

So my thank you goes out to God. For His glory, for His redeeming of my ugliness into beauty, for His healing of my heart into trusting again, and Him giving me His everything first.


Image is a screenshot from Bakemonogatari E12

Linguistics of dubs


As I had mentioned in my last post, I was away from Vancouver during New Years. I got back a week ago, and I’ve been trying to integrate myself back into the normal routine of things: school, work, volunteering, music, and anime. There were both pros and cons about the trip, but one con that turned out to be a pro was having my phone taken away. Looking at the mountains instead of screens all day was probably good for my eyes and my stress response. But still, the first few days of camp were embarrassingly rough. I was clearly upset, and I even had mild withdrawal-like symptoms as I found myself desperately trying to playback the Monogatari series’ OP in my head as I tried to fall asleep. Granted, this had been my sleeping habit for most of December. And along with music and anime, I also could not do my usual journals. This sucked the most because it’s these frustrations and anxiety that I would use Evernote for. Of course, I tried using pen and paper but that was not an alternative I enjoyed using. But whatever, like I said, I eventually realized that this detox from technology was much needed. I’m not someone who is constantly on their phone, but it was evident that I had become very dependant on it. Being away from my phone allowed me to develop other sober thoughts that I would not normally be able to have.

And so by the time I got my phone back, I didn’t even go straight into listening to anime music like I had thought I would. In fact, as I later listened to the Monogatari series’ OP on the bus ride back home, I felt a hint of foreignness to it. This might be because I was only exposed to music like Shut Up and Dance and Don’t Stop Believing all throughout the weekend, but it also seemed like I had lost some of the deep emotional attachment to the series I had before going on the trip. I don’t know whether this was a good thing or a bad thing, but it definitely gave me an opportunity to look at anime differently. I think being able see something that’s become so normal and natural to you in a more objective light can be an important experience as it allows for a new perceptions that I think ultimately leads to a better understanding of it. And when I’m trying to understand my own feelings, I’ll take as much objectivity I can get.

I’ll now get into the topic of today’s post. On the charter bus, there were these 14″ screens set up to play DVDs. No one had anything prepared on the way to RockRidge, but as for the trip back, someone had purchased a movie called Kubo and the Two Strings at a gas station. My friend Noah who sat beside me on the bus told me that he had seen this movie before and that he quite enjoyed it. To briefly introduce Noah, he is one of those well spoken individuals that I can’t help but feel jealous of when I hear him talk. He was reading a photography philosophy book on the way there and I think that this picture of him says a lot. From spending the weekend with Noah, I’ve come to value and respect his opinions, especially when it comes to (contemporary) art.

To talk about the movie, I’ll start by giving the movie a numerical rating of 5/10. I distinctly remember fighting the urge to go back to listening to my anime music multiple times throughout the movie, but I stuck with most of it because I wanted to know why Noah liked it. I was looking forward to discussing the differences in our tastes and preferences because it’s things like this that help further develop relationships and lead to better understandings of each other.

Well to be fair, the aspect of the movie that Noah appreciated the most was in its production. By production, Noah meant the movie’s blend of claymation and CG animations. And I have to agree, the animation certainly had a unique characteristic to it and the work that went into producing it was apparent. But I had to ask, was it worth the effort? Of course, watching the movie in the setting that I was in, there was no way that I would have been able to appreciate it. But although the aesthetic outcome of the film is interesting and admirable, I had 2 glaring issues: the characters and the dubbing.

From the start, I couldn’t get myself to care about the characters. So nothing in the rest of the movie resonated with me. Not being cute is one thing, but the characters were not shown to have any inherently attractive qualities about them — they felt flat. On top of this, the narrative flow of the story seemed like this movie was meant for 6 years olds. I feel that many kids movies and shows do this. The stories feel like a dumbed down version of reality that omits information that would otherwise help you relate and connect with the characters. And I’m not saying that the story-telling in anime is perfect either, but I would argue that for the most part, anime better acknowledges kids’ capability to understand emotions like joy and pain. Having said that, I fully enjoyed shows like Babar and Paddington and movies like Inside Out and Zootopia.

Okay, so the other problem I had with the movie I mentioned was in the dubbing. To be accurate, this movie is not a dub, since the movie is originally voice acted in English. But I got the same feeling I get when I watch dubs — it felt awkward and down right silly at times. And this made the characterizations worse.

I was told at the end that the movie is “inspired by Japanese culture”. I’m not saying that it was cultural appropriation or anything but this production is non-Japanese people making a story about Japanese culture. I’m not going to pretend that I’m an expert of Japanese culture, but I was so frustrated when it was obvious that the movie failed to capture the heart of the culture completely.

For example, to me, the monkey character’s voice was reminiscent of something like a fairy being that appears in front of fountains in a video game. She sounded deep and rather distant to humans in general and she had this tone of knowing much more than a mere human is capable of knowing. Apply this to a mother figure and the movie loses its relational intimacy and warmth between the characters. More over — and maybe this is simply unavoidable — I think the feelings inside language was not translated well into English.

To highlight this issue, let’s say that I was talking to a man on the street who is a stranger. Later on, I would refer to this person as an 아저씨 [ajeossi] if I were speaking in Korean, whereas in English, I would probably just refer to him as a guy or a stranger. 아저씨 is a relational word that you would use to call your dad’s friend, your mailman, or just about any guy who is clearly older than you. So in Korean, there are these relational words built into the language, thus creating these unspoken but clearly existing relational bonds within the framework of the society. And I’d assume that it’s more or less the same in Japanese, like with おじさん [ojisan]. This is why the language of the movie was a problem for me. The monkey, in Korean, would have definitely been conceptualized as an 아줌마 [ajumma] (female equivalent of 아저씨) to the audience, as opposed to this weird monkey lady thing. So in this way, I felt that a lot of the intimacy in the characters’ relationships were lost. I realize that the movie is meant for an American audience, but if Japan is the setting, I don’t think that it’s an unfair expectation to have.

These aspects of story-telling, portraying the warmth and intimacy of human relationships, as well as verisimilitude, is essential to me when it comes to art or entertainment. I realized that this is one of the biggest reasons as to why I love anime, because it showcases both the cultural and adolescent nostalgia to me. It’s also why, when I seriously thought about it, porn is such a emotionless and dead experience. It’s actually not erotic at all.

I’m not sure if this post made sense but I wanted to explain this disjointed feeling I have towards anime, and my own culture as a whole. When I look at anime, it’s both familiar and foreign. And the way I see it, there are these feelings that I feel from anime that are simply not present in Western culture. This is one of the reasons why I used to feel so isolated while exploring anime, I felt that the deep and emotional connection I had with anime would never be able to truly be understood by the people in Canada. I’ve seriously wondered if it’s possible for cultures to really understand each other.

But as I think back to the subtle foreignness I experienced on the bus ride — which has long gone by — I believe that people will be able to adapt and even embrace the foreignness if they are shown the genuineness and the humanity behind it. For years, I used to ask myself this question: is anime weird? Is it good or bad? Well, I found peace in Philippians 4:8: “… whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” I found anime to be able to narrate and bring to life some of the most heartwarming emotions and genuine human experiences to story-telling. And if it’s anything, it’s the love in stories or our actions that supersede language and culture.

If you want to explore more of the topic of translations, Beneath the Tangles has a whole column on it called Lost in Translation. And Digibro, whom I look up to, has a video called Video About My Stance On Dubs That I Apparently Somehow Haven’t Made Already where he talks about… well the title should be pretty self-explanatory.


Image is a screenshot from Carnival Phantasm E04

A year end episode (2016)


[Soundtrack: one]

This is going to be my first “slice of life” post, which is a posting category I intend for writing about my day-to-day life things. For today’s episode, it’s about the end of 2016! At this point in the year, it’s becoming harder and harder not to feel the year coming to an end. As for me, I’ll be spending New Years at RockRidge Canyon with Young Life. Since I’ll be without internet access for the next few days, I’ll take the opportunity now to wish everyone a happy new year — Happy New Year! I won’t be taking part in personifying and villainizing 2016. Whatever happened this year, I’m grateful for those who I got to share it with. Thank YOU.


Image is from Carnival Phantasm 2012 Calendar

Soundtrack one is Platinum Mukatsuku by Kousaki Satoru