This month I took some time off before diving into the new academic year, which means in an absence of mandated activity I was effectively on “summer holidays” for the first time since high school. No shifts to work, no studying to do… just me, the sunshine, copious amounts of free time, and the crushing feeling of obligation to Get Things Done.
I’m sure this is a feeling we’re all familiar with in some way. Isn’t it a bastard of an emotion? Someone out there probably has a psychoanalytical explanation that this ingrained sense that we Must Be Productive is the result of capitalism’s slimy grip, but I think it’s also just the way my brain has come to work. When I realised January was half over already I felt the world spiral–my time was nearly up, and I hadn’t done enough!!
Of course, I don’t know what I’d officially define “enough” as. I did a pretty rad amount of writing this month, if I do say so myself (I have the blog queue stocked up quite nicely, and I finished my Madoka writeups, as well as impulsively starting a series on the currently-airing emotions-inducing A Place Further Than the Universe), but I think even if I ended up writing a hundred thousand words in my break I’d feel somehow like I hadn’t hit “enough”. And you know what? It’s a nonsense way for a brain to work. This concept of having to wring the productive potential out of every hour in the day will sap your mental energy when you adhere to it, and leave you anxious and unfulfilled when you don’t. Just do what you can, and remember that you’re allowed to just, like, chill out occasionally. Hours aren’t wasted just because you didn’t make something in them. Making stuff is hard, and you should be proud of anything new that you create! These are the mantras I’m trying to remind myself of, so I thought I’d pass them onto you guys as well.
All that aforementioned writing:
A Big Ol’ Pile of Anime Recommendations (2017)
A Magical Girl Education: Sugar Sugar Rune (the manga with a strong aesthetic, the Power of Friendship, and almost romanticised incest!)
Gods Behaving Badly: Shenanigans of Mythical Proportions (the novel that’s been called “the fluffy whipped-cream version of American Gods” where the gods of Olympus have to flatshare)
Madoka Magica episode writeups for 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 (it was a month with a lot of Mondays, thus a month with a lot of Madokas)
A Place Further Than the Universe episode writeups for 1 & 2, and 3 & 4
Hey, remember when I complained about Riverdale, but noted that I couldn’t judge it as an adaptation? Here’s someone who can! He says it’s Bad. (Bonus—respectful discussion of asexuality!)
It’s the start of a new anime season (again)! Which means it’s time to check out AniFem’s premiere reviews, all compiled nicely here, to see what looks good, what looks okay, and what looks like Anime Was a Mistake.
Sun, Moon & Stars: Cardcaptor Sakura Retrospective – Marion rewatches the magical girl darling and finds a renewed love for it (and a renewed critical eye for the skeevy aspects to some of the romance).
Recovery of an MMO Junkie: In Defense of an Anxious Protagonist – Black Nerd Problems celebrate the earnest portrayal of Moriko’s anxiety, and how it’s a nice change from the usual stereotypes on-screen anxiousness can fall into (for real, let’s move away from anything associated with Woody Allen, fictional character types or otherwise).
A Twitter thread from Vrai about the “take what you can get” gay character and why it’s a frustrating narrative (tying nicely into some of the problems Marion had with Cardcaptor Sakura).
Fantastic Video Essays by Women and Where to Find Them – on Film School Rejects, some recommendations of analytical video essays about film and media by ladies! Will definitely have to check some of these out.
The Written Word and more Victorian-Era Trappings in Violet Evergarden – looks like Violet Evergarden is the unwatchable (until it appears on my country’s Netflix) series that I’ll be keeping up with through meta posts this season. Emily writes knowledgably and beautifully as always, here about the power of the novel in the Industrial Revolution, and how this factors into Violet’s story.
Netoju no Susume – On Compersion and Virtual Identities – Another MMO Junkie analysis, this time looking into the phenomena of empathy for and identification with fictional characters, and how this influences both the audience watching the series and the how the characters within the series navigate their online relationships.
Weathering the Adolescent Storm: A Place Further Than the Universe and Liberation – everything Nana writes is beautiful, and this time Nana’s writing about freedom and coming-of-age in A Place Further Than the Universe.
There was a glorious phase where I was catching a lot of public transport and thus had plenty of perfect opportunities to listen to podcasts. Nowadays that’s not so much the case, so the rate at which I’m burning through episodes and discovering new series has dropped. That said, I have, courtesy of CP, found FoodStuff, which is a beautiful blend of social history and food science. And it’s run by ladies, which is always nice! They’ve covered everything from the history of the toast to current food fads like flavour tripping (see, I didn’t even know that was a thing, but I have learned!)
Anime Is Lit is also on a valiant mission to help me understand what the hell a DEVILMAN is, and Shojo and Tell continues to be a delight, as does Trash & Treasures. I’ve been in a real “chill out and listen to people talk about things they like” mood, can you tell? It’s the summertime. In between the monstrous desire to be Productive, anyway.
That’s about it for now, one month into 2018. Take care out there, whether it’s in the heat or the cold!