Category Archives: OWLS Posts

OWLS September “Self-Care” Post: The Great Passage and Remembering Something Important

Welcome, weebs and authors alike, to The Aniwriter

For today I have another OWLS post, this time focused on a show that I just recently finished and have had a great experience with: The Great Passage.

This months topic is “Self-Care,” described below:

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.

Also, make sure to check out Dale from That Baka Blog for his post yesterday, and Scott from Mechanical Anime Reviews for his tomorrow.

Now, with all that out of the way, here is the post.


Sleeping is something that I often have trouble doing. I’ll get ready for bed, start to lie down, and then suddenly a million thoughts will come rushing into my head. Some good, like thinking about the pizza that I probably ate that day, but most bad, like crippling insecurities and lack of confidence. It isn’t that I want to think about these things, but a certain combination of chemicals keeps them looping in the back of my mind like a bad movie that my friend forces me to watch every time I come over.

I say all this to let you that this post isn’t going to be anything special. I can promise you that know the unknown universal truth will be revealed about why we’re all here, or about the meaning of life. I am writing this post only to tell you one thing: you matter, and that includes people like Majime.

The Great Passage

The Great Passage is a show that, until recently, I had not gotten a chance to watch. I had read the description of the story and thought about it until one day I finally sat down to watch it. It focuses on Majime Mitsuya, a sales guy who only works the job he has because it allows him to keep to himself, not having to talk to anyone. One day, though, he gets transferred to the Dictionary Department of Genbu Publishing.

In the opening episode of the show, Majime appears to be at a crossroad. His life seems to have been mostly constant and unchanging, largely because of his lack of confidence and his feeling that nothing will get better. But, the dictionary department changes all of that.

The Great Passage 2

When Majime starts his work at the dictionary department, he realizes that much of what he thought about his life before is wrong. He understands that life does not have to be a constant, unchanging phenomenon. It is possible to get friends like Nishioka, or fall in love and get married to the person you most care about.

The dictionary department also taught Majime that words matter, and that what you say to someone can have a huge impact on their lives. I think that in a world in which people can more and more easily isolate themselves from others, that impact of words becomes much more felt and the sensation much more genuine.

As he studies new words and continues to work on the Daitokai, “The Great Passage,” Majime learns more and more about the world around him and all of the experiences he has never had. Words are the only form of expression he has to alleviate those feelings of dread, and he finds comfort in making a dictionary.

This may just sound like a bunch of rambling nonsense from some dude on the internet, but this rambling does have a purpose. If there were ever two words that Majime and I could both agree on that are important, they would be: you matter.


What do you guys think the definition of Slice of Life is? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support the Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

OWLS Blog Tour August “Journey” Post: Magi’s Wonderful Adventure

Welcome, weebs and authors alike, to The Aniwriter

Its that time again, and I am back with another OWLS post. For those who don’t know, OWLS stands for Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect. OWLS is a group of bloggers dedicated to ideals of acceptance of all people no matter their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Each month, The OWLS Bloggers crew chooses a topic to write about, and this month that topic is “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.

For my own post this month, I decided to focus on an old favorite of mine: Magi: The Magic of the Labyrinth, a show that I feel like has one of the most awesome journeys in all of anime.

Also, be sure to check out yesterday’s OWLS post by Moonid about what a journey is, to begin with. Now, without further ado, let’s get started.


In almost every anime, even in much of the slice of life genre, the characters almost always go on a journey. Whether it be a one-off side character episode where they take a walk to someone else’s house or start from nothing and rise up to become the most important figure in a revolutionary army, journeys are as much a staple of storytelling as settings and a climax.

One show in particular, though, has what is one of the most epic and engaging journeys that anime has to offer. That show is Magi, and for this month’s OWLS post, I thought I would take a look at the elements that make up that epic journey, while also analyzing some of the admittedly weaker points.

Motivation

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In his book How to Read Literature like a Professor, Thomas C. Foster points out that in the quest format of storytelling, every journey begins with an initial motivation that sends the characters on the start of their journey. Alibaba, who the show opens on, wants to return to Balbadd, the country in which he grew up so that he can right his past wrongs. However, having no money and no power, Alibaba is forced to work in the small town of Quishan. In the short term, Alibaba wants to concur the Dungeon in Quishan, giving him access to money and power. Alibaba’s motivation doesn’t really change at all throughout the first half of the show, but it becomes forever affected by his introduction to Aladdin.

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It’s easy to tell, even from when the two first meet that Alibaba is much more cynical, whereas Aladdin is extremely idealistic, and admittedly a lot more carefree, and that’s reflected in his initial motivation. Given that he ignorant as to most of the world and how it works, Aladdin wants to journey the earth and gain the knowledge he didn’t have before. As their journeys continue on and on, the two find out more about themselves. Alibaba confronts his ghosts, in the form of Cassim, in one of the major arcs of the first season after he, Aladdin, and Morgiana get separated. Alibaba initially joins Cassim’s group known as the Fog Troop in order to help alleviate the extreme poverty in the country of Balbadd, his home. Alibaba wants to help them but isn’t really sure if what he’s doing is the right answer, especially after Aladdin show up to find him.

Alibaba’s struggle in the first season not only sets him up to be a much more interesting character than he otherwise would have been but wanting to solve the problems of his home country is something that I think many can relate to, especially given the current political and socio-economic climate.

Magic

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It wouldn’t be a shounen manga without some kind of extraordinary powers to back up the already ridiculous fights. Even with magic being an already played out concept, though, Magi definitely works to make it more interesting. In the world of Magi, the world is made up of Rukh, or what is essentially the essence of every living thing. Rukh contains Magoi, which allows humans to perform feats of magic, including being able to use the power of Djinns found in Dungeons. Magi have unlimited access to Rukh because they can use other living being’s as well as their own.

It should be noted that most of the lore of Magi is loosely based on the stories in 1001 Arabian Nights, a collection of middle eastern folk tales about varying individuals, including Alibaba and Sinbad. Since I haven’t read the stories for myself, I can’t really determine how much of the story of the show is based on those original stories. What I can say is that the Magi as a concept makes the show that much cooler. Having an all-powerful being at the center of the story makes for a much more exciting journey. Not necessarily because it is expected that Aladdin will face a lot of challenges, although he does do that. It is more because 1) how he solves his problems, and 2) how solving those problems affects his growth.

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An interesting part of the story in which this process plays out is right at the beginning, just after the three leads are separated and scattered across the continent. Aladdin gets sent to a small native village in the territory of the Kou Empire, known as the Kouga Clan. He comes to learn quickly that despite once being a force to be reckoned with, the clan has certainly seen better days. Shortly after Aladdin arrives, Hakuei, representing the Kou Empire, comes to the Kouga Clan in order to offer the empire’s protection. Even despite the attempted kidnapping of multiple female clan members, the murder of their clan leader, and an attempted invasion by the Kou army, the Kouga Clan, and Aladdin, came together, and as a family, they got through it. Aladdin’s safety during the arc was never really in question, but his ability to find out who he really is was. Self-doubt and an inability to figure out what he needed/wanted to do could have kept him stranded on the journey of life, but he got through it.

Manifest Destiny

No, I’m not talking about the 19th-century philosophy used as a backdrop by political leaders to encourage illegal settlement westward as a justification to start wars over land and natural resources while also treating Native Americans terribly, although there is a lot to talk about there. When I say Manifest Destiny, I mean it in a much more literal sense, as in one of Magi’s core themes is the ability to manifest your own destiny.

Many of the show’s main cast, as well as a lot of the side characters, are caught up in an ideological battle of letting nature run its course vs cursing fate and changing destiny altogether, which is represented in the show as more or less a contest of good vs evil, dark vs light. Those who wish to see destiny play out naturally, like Aladdin, have normal colored Rukh. On the other hand, those who do not wish to take their given path and who curse fate are known as the “Fallen,” and have black Rukh.

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What Magi does in the final moments of its first season is break this false dichotomy, as Aladdin, after rescuing Alibaba when he became fallen, tells him that while it is important to recognize the place we have been given in life, it is also important to forge our own path and make our own decisions. Even before the last episode though, Alibaba seems to recognize this idea when he proposes that the newly reborn Balbadd should relinquish the power of its monarchy in favor of a Representative Republic.

In Summary:

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I wasn’t expecting this to be the three M’s of Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, but that is what it has turned into. In all seriousness though, Magi is a prime example not only of a great journey but also of the purpose of a journey in the first place: self-discovery. Whether it be going to school abroad or simply heading to a new part of town to enjoy a night out with friends, journeys are at the core of what makes us human, and they are important parts of growing as people.


What’s your guys take on journeys? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support The Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

OWLS Blog Tour July “Mentor” Post: What Sora and Shiro Can Teach Us About the Human Condition

Hello, Anifriends

OWLS

Welcome to second ever OWLS blog post. I’ve only been apart of OWLS for a few weeks now, but it has been great getting to talk to a bunch of like-minded individuals who want to make the world a better place with writing, and I plan on doing just that with this post as well.

As you might have deduced from the title, today I’ll be focusing on two of my favorite characters, Sora and Shiro, and how they manage to bring a sort of hopefulness to the story of No Game No Life.

Before I get started though, a few more things. This month’s theme is Mentor, which you can read about directly below.

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.

Also, I want to give a shoutout to the last OWLS post of this month, which came from Scott of Mechanical Anime Reviews. You can read his post about Gundam Unicorn here.

And now, without further Ado, my OWLS post for July:


There seems to be no end for the praise that the anime adaptation of Yuu Kamiya’s now famous light novel No Game No Life. Many talk about the story’s main characters, Sora and Shiro, and how there Neet personalities dropped against the very real fantasy world of Disboard makes the show almost like a parody. Others praise its unique color palette and the abundance of purple that ties the world together.

There is, however, one element of the show that does not often get a fair shake: the show’s many ideas about the human condition. Littered throughout the fun and exciting world of endless gaming that makes No Game No Life’s story so unique is a very real and powerful examination of what makes people, people.

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The first example of this comes during Sora’s coronation speech during the fourth episode. After having beaten Kurami, who was being supported by an elf, Sora talks about the current condition of Elkia. Sora explains that in the world of Disboard that was created by the one true god Tet, those who previously relied on Brute strength to take down there enemies were now forced to rely on the wisdom they could gather and use to defeat other nations in games.

That knowledge, he explains, has given them an edge over humans, and that in order to regain the strength that Immanity once had, humans needed to realize something about themselves: that they are weak. Humans, in the world of Disboard, have no magic nor any ability to perceive its use. Sora concludes that by remembering their own weakness, Immanity can once again become a strong and powerful nation.

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This core philosophy that drives not only Sora and Shiro personally but the way that they choose to govern and utilize Elkia is also exactly the kind of mindset that Steph’s grandfather, the former king, was looking for in the next king. To him, it was always more important to have someone that believed the potential of Immanity as well as being able to act on that potential

While the mindset of remembering your own weakness in this case likely comes from their neglected past and NEET status back in Japan, the overall philosophy makes a lot of sense. It has always been important to recognize what you cannot do and make good use of the assets that you do have. Without a grounded sense of what is possible and what is not, many would go on to think they cannot do anything.

Another much more obvious thematic element involved in the story of No Game No Life is the act of escaping into is Disboard in the first place. It is completely fair to say that the Isekai trope in anime has more than overstayed its welcome, but in No Game No Life’s case, it speaks to a much more harsh reality.

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The show alludes a number to time to the fact that at the very least Sora and Shiro were very often neglected by their parents, and in the case of Shiro, was sent off to a facility somewhere because of her unique level of intellect and basically forgotten about. When the two meet for the first time, Shiro says something to him even though she hadn’t spoken in a long time: “You really are empty.” Sora realizes that Shiro used his name as a double insult, and the two instantly formed a bond.

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The flashbacks to a much worse time in both of their lives reveals a troubling reality: that, just like they explained at the beginning of the show, life can often times just be a crappy game. While many of those living in Disboard cannot remember a time where violence ever existed, Sora and Shiro come from a world where it is alive and well.

It is interesting to think about the sort of background that Sora and Shiro come from, one where robbery and murder are still plentiful, one where genocide still happens on a pretty consistent basis, and one where corrupt rulers take hold of power and turn countries into dictatorships in a matter of just a few months. To think about all that, and then to realize that many in Disboard know nothing about that, is kind of incredible.

What makes No Game No Life such a compelling story, on top of everything I mentioned at the beginning, is its very human themes and ability to communicate those ideas so well. Sora and Shiro could have very easily been uninteresting, underwritten, and overpowered, especially in the wake of the success of Sword Art Online, but it does not. It goes the extra step to remind us all about just how important it is to learn from our beings and to remember where we came from.


What do you guys think about No Game No Life? Is there something that I missed when talking about it this time? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support the Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

OWLS Blog Tour June Pride Post: Hachiman Hikigaya, A Benefactor, and Victim, of Pride

Hello again everyone. Welcome to my first ever OWLS post. I joined OWLS around a week ago now, and if you want to hear the full version why I joined this wonderful group of individuals, then you can read my recent blog update here.

OWLS

As a short recap for those who don’t know what OWLS is, OWLS stands for Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect, and they are a group dedicated to promoting acceptance of all individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and disability.

This month’s theme is pride, as described down below:

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.

Before you get into my post though, I would highly recommend you check out yesterday’s post from OWLS member Naja, who wrote about the characters of Piano no Mori. You should also look at Marth’s post for today as well.

The pop culture figure I have chosen to focus on is one that has had a fair bit of impact on me, ever since I watched the show he comes from. Today, I’ll be talking about Hachiman Hikigaya.


Walking into a room full of unknown people can be hard. Glares from eyes that may or may not be looking come crashing down like a ton of bricks. Taking a seat reveals that isolation is your only friend. No one in the room is familiar, and everyone is talking to someone else, except you. You have been gone from school for three months, because of an accident that wasn’t your fault. The room, however, does not know or care. They only continue to ignore.

That is the situation of Hachiman Hikigaya, a student at Soubu High School. Lost in the flood of cliques and friend groups that he had no ability to become apart of, Hachiman, at the start of Oregairu, is alone. A limousine hitting him while he tried to save a passerby’s dog left him in the hospital for three months, unable to return to school and interact with others. These three months away from people during his first year of high school had a profound effect Hachiman, leaving him cynical and uncaring about the world around him. In this way, Hachiman’s pride was a burden, as he was unwilling to admit that he was lonely and wanted interaction with others.

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His teacher, Shizuka, recognized his god complex right away, and after he turned in a terrible paper, she decided to punish, and help him, by forcing him to join the service club, with the only other member being Yukino Yukinoshita, another girl who seems to have emotional retreated from the world around her. Hachiman, instinctively, let his pride bury any chance to form a meaningful relationship with Yukino. He resists with all of his being any willingness to be friends with Yukino.

The same happens later on with the show’s third main character. After finding out that Yui was the owner of the dog he saved, he immediately lets his pride take over, assuming that the only reason Yui decided to hang out with him, and by extension join the club, was out of pity. Hachiman lashes out, and tells Yui is she should just leave him alone if all she is doing is pitying him.

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Sure, eventually Hachiman is fine. He lowers his guard, realizes that there was no need to isolate himself, and allows his trust to be tested. But for a time, there was a benefit to always carrying a shield around.

Admittedly, it is hard to trust people sometimes, especially when your in high school. There are those that only seek to take advantage of you, like what happened to Yui. Sure, maybe when you hould your shield out in front of you all the time, you can never see the faces of the the ones in front. But, at least you know you are safe. When someone swings, there will be no pain, only the momentary ping of avoided conflict.

Hachiman is also not like others. While he may have longed for the need of a real relationship with people, there are others who do not need it. The moment people forget that being alone and being lonely are not the same is the moment reaching out with a weapon in your hand looks the same as an attack.

Pride is a Double-Edged Sword

Pride, like a double-edged sword, is a contradiction. We expect it to protect us, but in reality it can be our greatest downfall. Pride is like bending yourself to your own will, and in Oregairu, that is exactly what happens. Despite a brief protection from the outside world, Hachiman’s pride eventually came to hurt him. The more he struggled to be released from social obligation, the closer he became to them, and the more he realized that he wanted them.

This is not to say all people who put up barriers, or in some cases fortified military bases, are secretly desperate for attention. But, when it comes to the destructive power of pride, it is important to remember that sacrafising yourself is not the same as protecting others.


How have all of you been celebrating pride month? What did you guys think of this short dive into Hachiman as a character? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support the Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!


Oh, and here is the schedule for the rest of the month.

“Pride” Blog Tour Schedule
(June 2018)

5: Matthew Castillo (Matt-in-the-Hat)

7: Mel (Mel in Anime Land)

12: Zoe (Let’s Talk Anime)

14: Mistress of Yaoi (Yaoi Playground)

15: Zel (Archi-Anime)

17: Karandi (100 Word Anime)

18: Irina (Drunken Anime Blog)

19: Naja B. (Nice Job Breaking It, Hero)

20: Marth (Marth’s Anime Blog)

20: Jack (The Aniwriter)

21: Dylan (DynamicDylan)

22: Gloria (The Nerdy Girl News)

23: Marina (Anime B&B)

24: Dale (That Baka Blog)

25: Gigi (Animepalooza)

26: Takuto (Takuto’s Anime Cafe)

27: Scott (Mechanical Anime Reviews)

28: Crimson (Crimson is Blogging)

29: Carla (PopCultureLiterary)

30: Matt (MattDoyleMedia)