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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Power Play The Game!!!

Do you ever wonder how you're supposed to accomplish anything significant in life?! I wonder about that all the damn time!

 We've all got really crazy amazing dreams of life that we desperately want to bring to fruition. The problem is that there are so many obstacles in the way. It seems that hard work doesn't really matter in the face of your obligations to other people in your life, the orders of authorities, the lack of time and resources to devote to your most dearly held ideals of living, and the apparent lack of energy and gusto we have to face all of these things in order to overcome them and move full steam ahead to our dream lives!

 In anime we are constantly barraged by examples of characters who in some way or another manage to break from the life as "one of the herd" in order to branch out and become a powerful force that can contend with any challenge. The examples are endless within the otaku world. Naruto was supposed to be a loser destined to fail but he's succeeding more and more everyday and is saving his village from danger constantly Lelouch vi Britannia was never going to be able to change the world and would live and die as a pathetic commoner. But suddenly, endowed with the mysterious Geass power he rises to become one of the greatest men to ever live. Ichigo Kurosaki had no strength to shatter fate and so had to resign himself to a world where he could do very little and protect no one from harm. Then Rukia changed his world and gave him the power to challenge Soul Society, Aizen, the Fullbringers, and now the Vandenreich. 

 I think you see where I'm going with all of this. Relatable characters in the position of "normal person" somehow breaks the chains and rises to a dream life. Doing everything a self-actualized person would have to do to maintain his/her satisfaction.

 You won't stop him so easy now and his friends will be safe!

 The problem when you get down to it is that anime is written by authors who control literally everything that happens. While in life you can only be the author of your own actions and you really can't account for the choices of others. Our suspension of disbelief allows us to pretend that the characters face the same kinds of challenges that we face but in reality they have the advantage of a writer who wants them to achieve exactly what they want to achieve and in spite of the twists turns and suspenseful events the author will ultimately insure success exactly the way the audience wants it. I believe in God myself but never the less it's clear He's not too keen on letting us have our merry way in life. So what are we to do?

 I've mentioned before that I believe that we can achieve happiness and fulfillment by following certain principles of Anime without having to defy the laws of our physical reality and I firmly believe this. But in order to do this we need to have some way to approach the harsh realities of life. 

 When I brought munchins and friendly little love notes for everyone in my office I was trying to instigate some anime inspired crazy fun and happiness! But my boss, the authority figure went and decided that I was suicidal and told my mother on me causing a whole ordeal in which I was hunted down in the middle of Baltimore where I had to face my mother breaking down in tears with worry about my safety and well-being... 

 I care for my mother very much and of course I felt bad for her, but at the same time I thought to my self "YOU DAMN FOOLS!". I was mostly disappointed and really crushed that people didn't seem to get it. Why didn't they react like the anime script? Why weren't they all just so touched that they had their hearts melt and everyone began a friendship building adventure?! That's what would have happened in Naruto or in Kimi ni Todoke! 

                                       "I must show them my appreciation...with COOKIES!"

 Unfortunately real life has freakin rules that we normally have to follow. We are under the thumb of many different "authorities" that suppress even our greatest efforts and rebels tend to be demonized as outcasts, trouble makers, and gullible idealistic fools. So when we try to introduce better ideas full of love and fun instead of being revered like Haruhi Suzumiya we get squashed by our teachers and bosses and parents and neighbors and friends and every freakin body else!!! 

 The question I want to pose and answer is this: How to you successfully rebel against and positively change a world that doesn't want it? 

                                              "Could I become a man like that maybe?"

 I mean what are we going to do really? Can we kill slews of people like Lelouch? Ahhhhh...I don't think that's a good idea. What about kidnapping a Moe girl and forcing her to join your SOS Brigade and then extorting a computer from the computer club?! Hmmmm...we probably can't get away with that either...

 So what do we do???!!!

                                              Please share your wisdom oh mighty goddess!!!

 We need some creative solutions to rebel against the grain to advance the world to the next exciting stage of existence. We need to break rules with impunity, using loopholes in the very system that keeps us down. The first thing I think we need to do is start breaking our own rules!!!

 Yes! Remember how I said we are only in control of our own behaviors? Well guess what, with that power you have you have established rules to oppress your own damn self! Think about it, there are numerous things that you forbid yourself to do as well as many things that you insist on doing constantly no matter what because if you don't do them you somehow feel a void in life. These are the "rules" that you impose on yourself. I for one thought for the longest time that blogging was a waste of time because it was just some silly hobby that nerds living in mom's basement took up because they had no lives. That was a "rule" that I set down to oppress my own life because I didn't know any better!!! But when I broke that one stupid rule of mine in order to start this anime blog I gained an immense amount of power and confidence by successfully trying to write a blog that was well received by readers and allowed me to start connecting to my fellow anime fans of the world!

 I also had a personal tendency to shy away from study partners at school because, in an act of unsuccessful rebellion I was trying to stick it to "the system" and remain aloof and disengaged. But that didn't get me anywhere I was in a failing rebellion and didn't know where life was going. But when I broke that rule and saved a classmate from dropping the class I started on an exciting and unpredictable path that got me connected to worlds and people I never knew existed and launched an adventure that is transforming me into a friggin statistics master! Statistics of all things! I've always sucked at math and now I'm a Stats Nerd!

 By breaking your own rules you are teaching yourself how to have and acquire more power and influence. You're also getting a feel for what you are truly capable of in life and it will open soooooo many doors and windows for you. Your first step in a successful better world rebellion is to rebel against your own worst enemy...yourself. Break the chains that you bind yourself with by facing your fears and working at things that you absolutely suck at. The suckier you are at what you are working at the more fun it will be. The point is to go beyond what you think is sensible because what you think is sensible is really nothing but arbitrary rules you've set for the way you've been trained to believe the world works. Your thoughts are wrong!!!

                                                           This is a relevant picture right??

 So then once we've mastered ourselves what are we supposed to do about the fools all around us? Well...I have to be honest I'm not really sure. But I'm thinking that if we build up our power by using our own anime logic to fight against our self-oppression we will unlock the key to defying the gravity issues of the world at large. (I.E. "gravity issue" refers to something that can't be changed or fixed.) Don't resist the chaos of life by trying to suppress it with logic and rules. Embrace the natural craziness of the world and use whatever you  can grab onto as a tool to enhance your life.

 This is the next suggestion I have: When you've freed yourself from your self constructed constraints you then have to use your new found freedom to start grabbing opportunity. My brother invited me to a film festival this coming weekend for my birthday. I have no idea what I'm in for but I'm breaking my personal rule of avoiding strange new situations in order to free myself up and grab the power that I could acquire from the friends I could make or the knowledge I could learn and the resources I might manage to acquire on the journey. Hopefully I'll become closer to my brother and make friends who could enhance my life. Hopefully I'll encounter creative work that inspires me with an idea that I can run with to create a cool work of my own. By freeing myself so that even I can't predict what I'll do, discover, or receive I become a force to be reckoned with. Something that can't be constrained because it doesn't even acknowledge constraints because they no longer exist within my own heart. A free soul is the key to a free life and the achievement of unlimited power!

                             Pictured: Combat sponsored by their school! Could this really happen? 

 There are lots of crazy stupid ridiculous things that could totally be made real in some form or another but we have to free our selves from what we think can happen in order to discover the amazing possible dream lives we could be living right now. So go ahead get out there and defy yourself and in so doing you will defy the world and conquer along with me!!! 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What To Do In A Disturbingly Normal World...

 I've noticed in my life that things get very very very predictable. Every freakin Sunday I see posts on facebook lamenting the coming of Monday once again! Every freakin time I watch the news someone's complaining about the economy and the rise of socialism! Every freakin time my dad wants a favor he'll come to me and say: "Hey...what're you doing?...what are your plans? ...can you help me for 5 minutes? ...when you have time?..." I swear it's the same damn script every time!!!!

                                 I'm starting to understand Haruhi's penchant for random craziness...

The vast majority of life seems to be like one single song playing on an endless loop with the same beats and rhythms over and over and over and over and over again. In my opinion this is stagnation, but have you noticed where this miserable pattern does not exist? In Anime Of Course!

 In anime I get sucked into a world where every single thing is both meaningful and progressive. What I mean by that is that it always seems that the characters are always moving forward, either to the next level or the next adventure or the next game or battle. No matter what there's always something new and bizarrely interesting around every turn of an anime adventure!

 Take any good anime that comes to mind and think about this. Is there any point throughout the show that makes you go: "ahhhhh when is this gonna pick up again?! All he does is get up go to work, sweep floors and go home every episode!"(Or something to that effect?) No, we never have that problem. Take Bleach for example. You can easily divide it into it's multiple arcs to compile the complete adventure: Agent of the Shinigami, Soul Society Arc, Arrancar Arc, Hueco Mundo Arc, Fake Karakura Arc, Fullbring Arc, and now the Thousand Year Blood War Arc. Ichigo and friends lives are lived in a very smooth, progressive, and novel path that tests them, strengthens them, and keeps them energized with spirit.

 I want soooooo badly to be able to live like that! But the problem is that we think we're supposed to live in a particular way...most people do anyway. For as long as I can remember my life has been structured on a repetitive cycle of repetitive cycle of repetitive cycle. I'm tired of finishing lunch with someone always saying: "Back to the grind..." BACK TO THE GRIND!? Blasphemy! The very existence of a "GRIND" is life draining crap! My mother would even remark all the time that she was: "Going back to jail..." referring to work. HEARTBREAKING!!!

                             Above: Me thinking about everything that keeps happening...every day.

I think that each of us is stuck in a world that has us caught in a trap of one part ignorance and one part fear of the dangers of the world. Now, it's only natural to be wary of all the numerous people, places, and things that could kill, maim, rob, slander, or otherwise screw with our lives. But it's that ignorance part that really kills us. You see, I theorize that the main reason we all seem to be stuck in our boring and habitual lifestyles is because we really don't know much more than we did yesterday, last week, last month, or even in previous years!

 Life was fun as a kid, because we knew nothing and we were pretty much forced to explore and discover new things about the world every day. But as adults we supposedly "finish" learning. When you graduate school and get a job, supposedly you know everything you need to know and now you are a wise and mighty adult who has learned through the school of hard knocks how the world "really works"...WRONG!

 The best times I've ever had were novel experiences. When I built that patio table it was an adventure! When I sewed a shirt for the first time that was a hell of an ordeal. When I make and wear my geta they'll be sure to turn some heads. This blog has been a fun experience too because every week I'm challenged to come up with something that will intrigue readers and keep them coming back for more!

                                                           At Your Service!

Code Geass is one of my favorite anime's and one of the main themes that pushes Lelouch through one level after the next is the concept of advancement. Lelouch himself talks repeatedly about moving the world to the next stage(Lelouch: "I was sick to death of a world that couldn't be changed!") and at the end Kallen even remarks that the world was finally free of the past and moving into the future. I think the reason it was such a great anime is the fact that it was extremely relatable to real life because of the weaknesses, restrictions, and failures that everyone had to deal with. On top of that, the realism is imbued with the kind of hope and promises that we desperately need in real life. In real life people will give in and accept their helpless dead end day job lives...but in anime's like Code Geass there is no giving up. Instead it's all about: "Where do we go from here? What comes next?".

 Those are the questions that we need to answer now. So life is boring and normal...where do we go from here? I say we need to start exploring. We need to throw ourselves into the world to see what we'll find for our hands to do and then get to work. We need to let go of the illusion that's been drilled into our heads of a safe perfect little life where everything is all under strict management! There is no ultimate goal to be achieved where everything's finished and life's all fine and good. If there were life would be incredibly boring. I must say I sympathize with Haruhi Suzumiya's quest for strange and exciting things because if what we have now is all we have then...what a pathetic boring deal!

 I think Mayuri Kurotsuchi's speech on perfection is probably the absolute best way to describe what I'm getting at:

 There's the answer! We all have to become scientists! Scientists of life itself! We have to explore, we have to experiment, we have to pursue new knowledge and abilities without hoping to ever finish! The opposite even because we'll be in ecstasy within our daily adventures and we won't want them to ever end with perfection. That's why conflict is entertaining to us. It's also why every single anime that we love is centered around problems to solve and enemies to fight. I can tell you from experience that when an anime I absolutely love comes to an end I actually get a little depressed for a while. Why? Because the happy ending isn't so happy after all. Mainly because while it may have been happy, it is still an ending. Endings suck...I want more and more and more! I want to live all the way up to my death and I don't want to stop living until I truly have nothing left. Perfection is meaningless, and so our daily routines intended to be the go to patterns that serve us best at getting through life are also meaningless. And they're not as good for us as we thought.

 If it wasn't for constant learning and creativity this...

...would never have been made into this:

 And in turn my blog would have lacked the material to even write this post! You see the connections here? When we start exploring and discovering we get all kinds of engaging and invigorating experiences and memories to last us for generations! I'll make my traditional Japanese clothing like the hakama, kimono, and geta and then I can even post those pictures here on the blog and write a few posts about all of that stuff. Then maybe I could engage the community for ideas and perhaps get some idea sharing and resource sharing as well! There you see!? I came up with all of that right on the spot right now and I'm having immense fun writing this piece right now! Unfortunately I'm about to bring it to a close...but rather than stress about whether or not this is a perfect blog, I'm going to accept it a a part of a never ending adventure that's only just getting started, and I'll move on to the next one. I wish you all good luck and ask that you wish the same for me!


Sunday, March 24, 2013


 Hey everyone I just want to post the news that my next article will be late coming out this time around. I've been burdened with school work and such and rather than doing a rush job I want to put the time in to write something satisfying.

Don't worry though, I will still put out the one that was due this Sunday and another for next Sunday as well!

 Thank You If You Follow Me Enough To Care!!!!

You're Awesome!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sensible Insanity: Is Anime Craziness Not Only Cool But Wise?

 I have a suspicion that embodying the spirit of anime culture and the Japanese/Eastern traditions that inspire it are actually chock full of wise and life satisfying lifestyle options. I believe very strongly that the socioemotional aspects of anime are what separate the truly Great Ones from all the rest. When they grab you with a couple's undying love for each other that doesn't have one damn to give about death threats, the obstacles of distance or social pressure or anything else that stands in the way. "I will save her!!!"

                                               Scenes like this put my relationships to shame...

 What troubles me most in life is also what keeps me coming back to anime/manga at the end of a stressful day. It's this disturbing fact that people don't seem to put a whole lot of passion into life and they never work at having good friendships or real love. I personally have decided to blame an excessive amount of logic and reason! That's my diagnosis! Our minds are overloaded with rationality! I've decided to label this mental sickness as: Rational-itis! We don't need to reason our way into happiness and passion. In fact it's impossible because I believe that true fulfillment in life has absolutely positively no way of being born out of any algorithm or line of reasoning.

 I noticed that in anime, people form relationships and life purposes without using any of what normal people in real life would consider appropriate and well reasoned conclusions! Think about of my favorite shows which I am currently watching is an anime called Sword Art Online. It's an amazing story about the meaning of life, the nature of reality, and the pursuit of happiness. There are points throughout the show where I see the main characters enjoying happiness and love on what I would label as being on an arbitrary basis! When Kirito saves Lizbeth from a dragon, she asked him why he did so. His answer was that he figured it was better to die together than to live alone! Such a weird and petty reason and it led to Lizbeth coming to love Kirito. I think that a secret to life is contained in scenes like this.

                                                   Or maybe he was trying to score...?

You see reasons are compulsions. When you have long drawn out reasoned explanations for your life choices your heart gets lost in the mix. You find you're not really living for any happiness or fulfillment but on the basis of "have to's". When we use reason to reach conclusions about how the world works and figuring out what our options are it's very helpful. But far too many people try to reason out a justification for existence and for love and friendship too. This is where we go wrong. Asuna, one of the heroes repeatedly berated Kirito for resting on a field rather than fighting monsters so he could level up and defeat a boss who was keeping them from moving to the next world. Kirito's response was simple, unreasoned, and compelling enough to get Asuna to join him. He said it would be a waste to fight monsters in dungeons on such a beautiful day!

                                          And I should trade this for a dungeon...because why?

 I believe that the best experiences in life are the one you make when you let go of the need to justify yourself. That's the heart of the message and the key principle I'm proposing. Logic is for living, but the source of life itself is your heart! I have often confused and shocked people with my behavior. Why would I give twenty dollars to a charity when everyone else gives singles? Why not!? It's a shame that good causes don't get more so I gave more!

 Why do I show random displays of affection with random gifts, random hugs, and random text messages? Why the hell not?! Love is a good thing isn't it?! Should I not be spreading it so much?! Does it bother you?!

 I think the greatest power humans have is that we can choose to arbitrarily, randomly, and profusely spread whatever kind of influence we want to. You don't keep a relationship going by working out some technique or special strategy with your silly "logic stuff". You want to know how to keep a friend or a lover? Here's my advice. If your special someone is near you now, give him/her a hug or kiss him/her even. If not send him/her an "I Love You." message or find some other way to express love. Do it right now, don't think about it, don't question it,...really don't freaking question it!! Why? Because you love him/her and you want to that's why! I'll tell you right now, if that's not good enough for you then my hopes for your relationship are very low...and I'm disappointed in you...

                                       If it takes longer than an instant to say don't mean it.

 There is no call to justify happiness or love or friendship with any kind of reasoning. In fact, when we try to rationalize the experience of life itself, that experience becomes corrupted. We take ourselves waaaay too seriously nowadays and it's depressing us all... Strategy and logic are for winning conflicts and finagling the system but they are useless for your enjoyment of your life!

                                           Why dress like this? Because look at her that's why!

 We need to create better life experiences. That why I'm going to make kimonos and a kotatsu. It's also why I go ice skating with friends. It's also why the woman I hopefully will fall in love with will be getting kissed and hugged and cuddled and doted on, on a daily basis. Because I don't need to justify these things. They're just a part of what a good life is so I'm going to do them all and much much more. There is no obligation in life but the obligations you choose to take on. There are no rewards but the rewards you seek to win. There is no happiness but the happiness you choose to embrace. You do this arbitrarily and freely. Life isn't going to fall together for you, what life is is already setup for you and what it will become is for you to determine. Do you know why people don't like work? Because they have to do it. Do you know why they love to play? Because when they play it's always just some bullshit they decided to do one day. Look back over your life and I guarantee that your best memories are the ones you didn't plan, they're the ones you didn't know would work out that perfectly, the ones that went Beyond your hopes and dreams.

 In Amagami SS Junichi fell in love with a girl simply through good experiences. In truth I believe that as childish as young love stories are, where boy meets girls, boy embarrasses himself and girl finds it cute, lalalalala... then they fall in love...where was I going here? Oh yea! I think the lovey dovey romantic crap, born out of the characters crazy decision to choose love and friendship over everything is in truth the secret to living the best life. Why did Junichi go crazy looking for Kaoru when she didn't come to school? Because chasing after her just seemed like the most meaningful thing to do! Why share a bed? Because that's a way better experience than the boring meaningless, you can take the floor approach!

 Look, certainly there are poor decisions that we want to avoid making. But I say we take more chances on life! I was so happy when I asked my server at one of my bar/restaurants about how she got the name Breezy. Somebody was reminded of the beach when they saw her! I disagreed and when I thought about it I declared her the Breeze that brings food and happiness and takes the plates away! Who's right and who's wrong? That's the wrong question my friends, we're just having fun and making friends and hopefully falling in love along the way too. You think I planned this post out with some secret scheme to get a bunch of people to read it? Well, sure I do want to have plenty of readers but in truth my stuff comes from the heart on impulse. I chose on a whim to write every post/article I have here. I don't know exactly what governs their success or failure in terms of popularity, but I know I enjoy the writing because I'm experiencing good living when I write stuff that just feels right. Maybe I'm wrong sometimes, but I can only learn as I go.

 So off I go, I will make the happiest and most fulfilling choices I can, and if this article wasn't good enough for my readers then I'll simply move forward to the next one!


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Anime: My Inspiration...Or My Addiction?

 You know, anime makes me really really happy. But it also makes me really really sad too. I hate to say this but one of the reasons I indulge in anime and manga so very much is because I'm in a desperate search for something. It's something really important that I'm missing in life. I think this thing that I'm looking for is my soul.

When I was in high school I got the pleasure of watching The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and that girl inspired me. Watching her fight an uphill battle against sadness and boredom with crazy creative madness made my heart sing. I wanted to be like her and even tried starting my own SOS Brigade! But it didn't work out so well...people just didn't seem to get it. They just kind of, kept living their own normal regular lives. In turn I didn't get them either. It was a real bummer...

 Never the less I always kept trying, I'd walk out in public wearing a cape but chicken out because clearly I couldn't go into class like that...I also built a table for my family's deck and tried sewing a shirt and I'm also now planning to make some kimono's and yukata's and geta sandals too! I do these things in search of my spirit, or maybe I'm even looking for a spirit superior to mine! One that will make me happier.

 I've had a lot of fun along the way but I've had heart breaks time I brought munchkins into work and wrote a nice friendly note for each one of my co-workers(Dozens of all accounts I was the nutty guy at the office.). People really loved them! Mostly...but a few people thought I was suicidal and my mom and a co-worker chased me around Baltimore to make sure I didn't kill myself...hehehe huh... :P. Then I targeted, or rather I should say I selected one lady at the office that I know. I'd admired her and looked up to her for her work ethic and intelligence. But she always seemed so sad and stressed that I wanted to cheer her up. 

 My anime's gave me values that I really truly love. They taught me never to give up on people including yourself. That you have to fight and persist everyday to learn and understand and conquer the demons you face in life, so I didn't give up on this woman. I care about her a lot. I not talking about romance or anything like that, but she's special to me and I want her to learn my anime happiness, which is really what I want for everyone. So I tried all the anime tricks that seemed "appropriate". 

 I would tease and joke about stuff that made no sense, like how Valentines day originated with some random stuff I don't recall but it had nothing to do with love. And I would also write on the white board in the lunch room that I loved everybody and I would leave smiley faces I drew on post it notes for a certain unhappy someone to see. I would also text her and some other co-workers wishing them well on the Holidays! 

 Operation Anime Happiness!!! That's what it was all about! 

                                              Picture acquired by Googling Anime Happiness.

 I thought it was going well. I enjoyed everyone's company and everyone seemed to get increasingly nicer. But that one baka-onna...she refused to submit to the Anime cheer! So I intensified my efforts with her and tried to make her see the error of her misery!

 But in the end I left my job over one understood. The boss said it was inappropriate for work and I couldn't do it was such a betrayal and I just couldn't show my face there anymore. How could they reject my love? How could they refuse the excitement and happiness I offered? Why was my love and friendship forbidden?!

 I never got my answers...I never got to have my goodbyes or any resolution with "her". I never got any closure. I had to simply pack my bags and walk away defeated. In an anime I would have rushed back there in the middle of a random work day, poured my heart and soul out to her in front of the whole world, and after all the pain and awkwardness we would've had our breakthrough and we'd be great friends right now. But that didn't couldn't happen...

 Do you remember how in many anime's, the characters are insanely dedicated to their friends and family. And the way they very quickly bond with each other over their common ground. Whether it's the fact that they're co-workers or classmates or battle brethren or they're sharing in a quest? That's how I go through life myself. I was always inspired by that touching sense of loyalty and meaning that anime characters acquire so easily as a simple function of being in the pit together. Normally I take that anime meaning as inspiration for real life. But when I suffer these defeats it makes me wonder. Am I not really inspired or enlightened? Am I instead just addicted to some fantasy crap?!

                                              Is this more realistic...?

 I don't want to give up! I can't give up! I won't give up! Somehow we've got to get through to people! Somehow we've got to make them see the livelier and happier side of life. This so called professionalism and cold-hearted sciency world we live in has lost its heart! I want the heart back. I want passion and honesty in life!!! I don't know how to do it but there's got to be something to my anime inspiration. This blog is a good start I think. It's helped me to get connected and express the thoughts of an Anime spirit. I want to try out some kendo and build a kotatsu with which I'll have a Japanese tea ceremony. I want to forge friendships powerful enough to drive me into battle if my nakama ever needed me to fight for them. I want to propose to my future wife with a red thread of fate that I'll tie around our pinky fingers and I want to fall in love with her to start with by seeing her wearing a yukata I made at a party we threw! These are some of my dreams. They are inspired by anime. Crazy as that may be what better ideas do we have? Life is not something we need to understand(In fact I believe half the fun is that we don't get what the hell's going on in life.). It's given to us to live out by any means necessary and to waste it on miserable stuck up professionalism values that offer no quality of life is what would be truly crazy!!!

                                              Pictured Above: My Dream Life!

  I'm going to try then, little by little to build a better life. It's not that I'm going to try to find aliens, time travelers, or espers. It's not like I'm going to try to do a Dragon Ball Z power up on youtube and publicly embarrass myself in front of millions(Or maybe I will just for the hell of it! :)). But the values I've witnessed in my greatest anime heroes can't be all that ridiculous. At least that's how I feel. Anime is born of human minds after all and fed by human hearts. So some of it has to have a dose of reality. Some of it has to be made of dreams that we can and should work to realize in our lives. But I can't do it alone. Hell, even if I could it wouldn't be any fun and would carry no meaning or weight for me. I'm going to search...ah yes search...that's what I'm searching for. What I really need to find is not my spirit, but other spirits that resonate with mine. I would liken it to the soul resonance power in the anime Soul Eater. Our power grows when we connect and resonate. That's what I need, to join with nakama who will be one with me. Together we will rock this world! We will leave a grand legacy! We will make and keep the promises of love and friendship with one another for all time! And last but not least...we will party!!!

Well, that's my two cents on that! Thanks for reading! Share your thoughts with me if you would. It'd be nice to know I'm really not alone!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Who's Right Or Wrong? Is That The Wrong Question?

 I've been watching one anime in particular in recent weeks that has confused my understanding of human motivation and made me feel that what I thought were pure intentions were actually very convoluted and chaotic.


Toradora is about a nice guy and a mean nasty girl who actually turn out to be more relatable and lovable as human beings than I ever expected them to be.

This show rubbed the notion in my face that everyone in life seems to have what I would call "Complete Self-Justification." Basically, everyone's got a friggin' excuse for their behavior however terrible it is. Taiga(The orange haired little girl.) is known as the Palm Top Tiger in school which is a hilariously ingenious nickname because she is a really tiny little girl who's also the nastiest and strongest fighter in town! Right off the bat I found myself in awe of Taiga's foolish aggression. I would think that she really needs to get a grip, because it does not matter what's happened to you in life you don't have a right to trample on others! Knocking over all the desks in class, randomly punching Ryuuji(The male lead.) just because he bumped into you, and speaking to everyone in really rude and derogatory language. Behave yourself you little brat!

                                                          "Who are you calling a brat dog!"

But things develop quickly, when at the start of the story she busts into Ryuuji's house with a bokken(wooden sword) and starts assaulting him viciously! Why? Because she accidentally gave him a love letter...wait love letter? Yep! She's in love with a classmate and in trying to pass off a confession letter she slipped it in the wrong bag.

 The series goes on with Taiga gradually making best friends with Ryuuji, her crush Kitamura, and her other classmates and while we continue to receive entertainment from Taiga's powerful fighting skills and frightening wrath, we're also forced to confront the fact that her nasty behaviors all seem to be born out of great pain she's been through in life. Her father apparently left her to remarry and abandoned her to her own devices, doesn't care much for her at all and so Taiga as just a young high school girl has to fend for herself...

                                                     ...a picture of a "monster".

 The point is, when I see a character presented initially, I immediately judge them for the apparent kindness or lack thereof in their actions. But when the complexity of experiences and emotions of the characters are gradually revealed it becomes harder and harder to hate the ones I thought were evil and love the ones I thought were good... The same thing happened with Ami, one of the friends the lead characters make. She represents a class of people that actually irritate me in real life. She's a model and when she's first introduced she's a manipulative little princess who just pretends to be nice(What I expect from those stuck up pretty people...), but when most people aren't looking she's worse than Taiga. But then we see her suffer at the hands of a serial stalker who will not leave her alone. Driving her to stuff her face with candy out of stress and move from town to town to try to escape and so never settling down and making a real life, we discover that Ami has her own serious troubles in life...

 Time after time throughout this anime I see people, I draw opinions of them, and then I'm forced to recant my judgments. In my interpretation, it seems to me that when people behave badly, it's not really a problem. Rather it is a symptom of a problem. When people are struggling and suffering they have a tendency to indulge in strange and maladaptive activity in order to escape. Some people use well known, stereotypical methods like doing drugs or becoming obsessively absorbed in a hobby like say...World of Warcraft perhaps ;). While others use more subtle methods that are largely misunderstood or even unrecognized. People with anger issues are probably acting out of an intense fear they've developed or perhaps they want attention and have no better ideas of how to get it. Antisocial people or people who are just plain shy may not have developed the experiences and aptitudes necessary to engage in conversation. Or maybe feel like they're "too different" to be a part of the group. 

 I think one of the big lessons that Toradora teaches is that the issues that we have in life are deeper than what we see on the surface. When someone is manipulative or mean or weird or timid, the problem isn't that the person is sneaky or conniving or weak or pick a reason. The true problem is the insecurities and struggles which that person is dealing with that prompt their crappy behavior. 

 I'm not suggesting now that we excuse crappy behavior. I'm simply suggesting that perhaps we need to take a much closer look at what's going on underneath the surface in order to find the true problems and true solutions of life.

 One of the beauties of the Toradora story is the fact that when the characters learn more about each other and come to understand the pain of others, they not only develop powerful friendships but even learn to over come the more maladaptive sides of their personalities.

 At one point in the story Taiga was suspended from school for fighting...but the suspension didn't do a damn thing for anyone. The problem was that the girl she fought refused to show proper respect to her friends love confession, and the solution was that this girl's shell cracked and she finally gave recognition to what she had failed to do. It goes to show that just punishing crappy behavior(i.e. suspension for fighting) did not solve a thing. The solution was found in the deep digging and soul searching and face to face very personal confrontation that the characters succeeded in doing with great effect. 

                                        That's right kids! This IS how you solve your problems!

 Taiga also said something really compelling and amazing just before she launched her first attack. Or rather, she thought to herself: "I don't understand who's wrong and who isn't, all I know is I have to keep moving forward!!" That is a bit of wisdom I'm going to hand down to the kids and grand kids as a family legacy. Even though we can't always be sure who or what's right or wrong we have to keep living, for the rest of our lives. It follows then, that the most important thing is not praise or blame but growth and learning. Even if we don't have justice with proper rewards and punishments, maybe we can achieve widespread happiness anyway! In fact maybe it'll even be easier without worrying about who's at fault!

 So I'm declaring this here and now! We must not judge based on what we see on the face of things! But instead we will study and research and open our hearts and minds to each other! In doing this we will discover what's really happening to us in the funny and painful world and while we may never solve the  mystery of life, we will sure as hell enjoy the ride!!!! Falling in love and friendship as we go!!!!

 I think this goes along with that concept of trying to accept people as they are. It's not that you're letting people slide on their bull crap. You're simply having patience with the thorough and deliberate process of growth and learning within individuals and relationships alike, because in truth none of us is all that smart or wise. :) 

 Have a good week mina-san!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Naruto Manga 623 A Mindful Review

 So as it appears that Izuna is still alive and things are about to get serious!

 So to begin with the Leaf Village though apparently not yet named has been conceptualized by Hashirama and Madara. Their plan revolves around the ambitious notion of a permanent resolution to hate and war with an institution that raises children with reasonable non-malicious expectations into adults with goals centered around kinship and love. This is pretty powerful stuff for a two kids to be planning just between the two of them!

 But in their conversation they made me wonder with the approach they took. When Hashirama muses that he doesn't know where to start Madara brings up two points to which Hashirama quickly agrees. One is to hold firm to you principles no matter what, and the second in that you have to become powerful because no one will follow a weakling! These principles pretty much define what I consider to be the important features of this chapter.

 I will explain that here. This brings up a perhaps unfortunate but none the less realistic reflection of real life. The fact that in order to be taken seriously in life, it typically is ineffective to simply make logically sense in discussion and debate. Rather, the key to credibility is looking and acting like you are powerful! My theory to explain this incorporates primarily two instincts for human survival: The need to belong and the economically pragmatic but scientifically lacking demands of cognitive miserliness...

 The need to belong is an easy concept. We stick to our tribes with stubborn loyalty because they accept us and keep us alive. As a result we will give extreme loyalty to our ninja clan at the expense of pretty much anyone or anything else. This is a big part of warfare and generally any human conflict. Your team is your life, how do you simple turn around and say I don't want to follow your ways for the Senju clan because I care for those other people too! If you think of it in more relatable terms it might be easier to understand. If you grow up in a Christian home and are raised on such values, those values and the family and friends who embrace them become your whole freaking life. They are literally everything to a believer, so no matter how hard someone might try to sway another away from God you have to imagine how painful and inconceivable it would have to be for someone to turn against what has defined their life and their survival and happiness. The same applies to an Atheist who let's say he believed in Humanism, converting to Christianity. So admitting that you might be wrong or mistaken about something or at the very least that you've personally chosen not to embrace something anymore is a HUGE deal. It's not a simple matter of: "Oh well let's drop it and move on." Not by a long shot! To turn on what your friends and family and you have believed in, turns your whole world inside out. So it's is really not such a sensible easy's really damn hard!

                                                  The typical cost of changing your ways...

 The message here is not to critique anyone's belief system or anything, I'm establishing rather a common ground between people with clashing beliefs. The common ground is that we are all afraid to have our beliefs defeated because they carry the essence of our lives and to lose them would at least feel like death...

 This is why the Senju and the Uchiha tend not to be swayed by even the soundest argument for making friends with the other side. They are only concerned with their sense of belonging and survival within their respective ninja clans. As senseless as it may seem the notion of making friends with the other side actually threatens their sense of identity and vitality! If we admit that the other team is worthy of our friendship, it's tantamount to confessing that all the killing we did was not only unjustified but downright evil! We're not evil so that can't be! Also, it would be an admission that all of the family we've lost died in vain... blasphemy! How could I disrespect my son's and brother's deaths by making up with the enemy and declaring their deaths senseless?! Bull crap!

 You see as social creatures we have to be able to present ourselves in a positive light in order to look like human beings worthy of belonging in a group because this sets us up for a good life. So we get desperate to justify ourselves in our every word and action. So, with this desperate demand for a good name every despicable thing we say and do becomes an act of love in our irrational survival driven human minds... So the Uchiha are good people and the Senju are good people, because if they're not then they are unfit for love and life!

 Oh but it gets worse ladies and gentleman! The other half of the equation is the Cognitive Miserliness of the human mind! Unfortunately, we are not good at science and research at all. This is because we are not really built to be computers or databases, we are built to survive and at least try to be happy and we are given limited resources in our bodies and Brains in order to do this. But guess what! If we only have limited mental resources, it being a fact that the brain amazing as it is is still a physical entity constrained by physical limits then we have to be very choosy and picky about how we use those mental resources. In other words folks, we only put thought into stuff when we really care about it, either for survival or for happiness. If it doesn't keep you alive and it doesn't give your life any pleasure your brain is liable to make the call that it's not worth any thinking, studying, or researching. That's right, laziness is a normal state of life for human beings. It's a point of efficient survival!

                                        Being smart and giving a damn are two different things...

 You know how they say that academic and scientific study should have emotion separated out for the sake of objectivity? Well it turns out this is impossible, because intellectual activity is limited only to things you can actually get emotionally passionate about!

 This connects to Madara's and Hashirama's strategy for getting people to cooperate! They will hold stubbornly to their beliefs and work to gain maximum power! Why? Because no one will take the time and energy to talk and learn and grow the way they would have to to make peace. It's too many mental resources and too threatening to their sense of self worth. In order to open everyone's eyes Madara and Hashirama's best bet is to become a couple of bad ass men who will stand up against everyone else's vengeful hateful crap and not be defeated. People will simply never want to "waste" their time and energy on reasoning and learning, and they will not risk admitting they were wrong about anything important lest their value as people is depreciated. The only thing that will get through to most people is the stubbornness and bad ass power of a couple of nuts who insist on love and friendship!

                                                Pictured Above: People Who Get Respect!

 Madara and Hashirama teach us a true life lesson, which is that most people consider thoughtfulness too expensive and the confession of guilt too risky. I believe Kakashi Hatake once quoted Hashirama as saying, "Those who stray from the path of justice have no courage, but under the wing of a strong leader cowardice can not survive." This is why all of human history is marked by a handful of great people carrying the world to prosperity. People are most moved only when they see what is at least perceived to be a strong source of the greatest needs and wants of life! If you look like and alpha and act like as alpha people will let you be the alpha. If you don't then it doesn't matter how smart and nice you body gives a damn...

 This is my interpretation of events within Naruto Manga 623! I'll work on a piece for the latest Bleach stuff too.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Anime Mind Part 2: In Practice

 I'm pleased to say that I have practiced what I preached from my previous article of The Anime Mind!
Allow me to elaborate for you dear readers!

 In the past week since the publishing of the aforementioned article, I had a pretty awesome experience of kick ass learning, training, and general success! You'll remember how I went on last article about remembering Captain Kyoraku's zanpakutou inside and out but I had to google even simple physics equations in order to produce them for you. I postulated that my dedication to and absorption within anime and my lack thereof with school work probably accounted for the steep contrast in mental performance between these two fields of human interest, and that if we could only dedicate our passion into the area that is wanting of it we could boost our performance in life exponentially. I can proudly report enjoying some successes right off the bat!

 At this time as I write this article I am taking Experimental Psychology 331 at UMBC in the state of Maryland for those of you not familiar with the area. The class is largely about statistics and collecting data. There are algebraic equations and terms to learn that aren't necessarily familiar to the public and it's starting to get difficult for a good portion of us. Anyway, while working on a lab with a statistical computer program a fellow student fell behind due to computer errors and became quite flustered. But I endured because I reminded myself, "This is my life and these are the things I must deal with in this life. The adventure and romance will happen as a function of my passion and honest living!" It wasn't under my strict control even, my mind simply responded to my will, and it automatically kicked into high gear to serve my demands!


 Okay I make it sound too easy but really, when you make a real and firm decision in your heart every fiber of your being in the mind, body, and spirit will naturally respond to your commands and it becomes natural for you to do the work and make it happen. This is how I have begun mastering statistics, starting with graphed data distributions and using z-scores! I don't expect you to understand if you don't work with stats, but just observe what I'm going to throw down here as a demonstration, if you would. :)

(Disclaimer: Really don't try to comprehend this if you don't know stats, just read to appreciate the complexity!)

 On a graph showing the distribution of a set of statistical data, using the mean as the central tendency of interest one can see how each piece of data falls and where it stands in relation to the rest of the data. However, there is a standardized way of establishing, in simpler terms how each piece of data compares not only to the rest of the data within its own distribution, but also how it compares to pieces of data in other data set distributions by revealing the relative significance of each score within it's own data set. This is done by taking the mean, the standard deviation, and the data piece otherwise called a "score" in order to determine what is called a z-score which tells you how many standard deviations above or below the mean(average) that particular score is. By using z-scores one can determine the true significance of a score by giving you a standard score that can be applied to all data set distributions which shows you exactly how much a given score deviates from the mean(average) score within its own distribution. The basic equation for z-scores is as follows:

 X= M + z(sd)

 Did you get all that gibberish? If you did I congratulate you! If not I will proudly boast to you now that I typed all of that out from memory as I learned it within the past seven days! To be clear: I did not need google!(Or any other help for that matter!) In fact within this past week I was tutoring a fellow student and helped her get top marks on her assignments! I'll tell you with pride I had a happy and high functioning week since writing the first Anime Mind article and boy am I pleased with it all!

 Now this blog and in turn this article is still supposed to technically be about anime and I just went off about some figgin' statistics! What am I thinking!? Well...I'm thinking of the Anime mind! So here's a good anime/life tie in: Let's take Sae Nakata from Amagami SS/SS Plus. She actually serves as a great parallel to the life improvement strategy that I'm ultimately trying to get at. Sae is a perfect example because she starts out completely hopeless. I mean she's got no hope, nada, zero, she can't talk to strangers, can't carry a tray of food, and she's afraid of puppy dogs whose teeth haven't even grown in. If you haven't seen it don't worry, I'll explain the relevant points and if you want you can see it on episodes 9-12 on anime freak starting with this link. -> Sae Nakata Episode 9 Her Amagami SS Plus arc is episodes 9 and 10 starting at this link ->
Sae Nakata PLUS Episodes

 Anyway let's focus more on the hopelessness. The plot of the story is that Sae needs to stop being so hopeless and...okay let's have some new words to use shall we? Sae needs a bright future, she's got potential and Junichi's got to help her bring it out. He does this by officially becoming her instructor to help her get a part time job as a waitress. The problem is that she "IS SHY" and she "IS CLUMSY"...someone like her "CAN'T" be a waitress. But Junichi starts training her hard anyway, but how to you change someone? How do you bring competence out of an incompetent weakling?

 And herein lies my answer, the answer that holds true in real life and is reflected in Sae's struggle: Personality...does...not...really...exist. Well, at least not the way you think it does. You see personality is really nothing more than a theoretical construct used to reference and describe patterns of typical behavior that a person exhibits. But the word "personality" offers no explanation for behavior, it implies that a person simply possesses inherent unchanging qualities but offers no source from which a persons thoughts and behaviors originated. Take timidity for example. What is a timid person? Is there a chemical in the brain, or some neurological program in the brain that we can refer to as a persons timidity? No, there aren't any such things. Oh sure, we can draw conclusions of correlation between brain activity and a persons thoughts and behaviors but thus far "they" have yet to find the tangible entity know simply as "Timidity". Ultimately, for all the brain science we've done such personality traits remain as mere abstract concepts.

                                                                 (Is this Timidity?)

 So what does all of this really mean? What's my point? My point is that regardless of a persons predispositions to certain "personalities" if personality is not a solid and tangible entity then it is NOT absolute and can therefore be manipulated, changed, and improved! But I'm sure some readers right now are struggling with this, "I am who I am Derek! You said that yourself!" or "But the people I'm close to in life have always stayed the same! Maintaining their crappiest behavior no matter how I plead with them to change!"

 These are valid points...people don't seem to change too much in life do they? And yet, despite human stubbornness here I am asserting the potential for humans to change and improve. I can explain this with my own personal, Theory of Personality. When people are born, they do have certain predispositions. More testosterone seems to make you more prone to aggression. If you're raised in an enriching environment you may retain and build more neural pathways and therefore have better intelligence and things like this. But this is not personality. These things are physical properties that endow you with potentialities, strengths, and weaknesses, but they do not make you who you are. Your "personality" is really an assemblage of behaviors and thoughts that you have learned to adopt as daily habits of living.

 Since I'm using Sae Nakata as my go to example I'll stick with timidity as my subject of dissection. I myself was timid as a child much like Sae, and my self-esteem was pleasantly stroked when this girl, who's shyness I could relate to was described as having an over-protective father. Much the same way I have an over-protective mother! Now with my experience, backed by Psychological research of course: "Parenting Style May Foster Anxiety." I will give some analysis and interpretations.

 You see if a child is overly-protected, they may never learn the basic skills of social interaction and persistence in the face of adversity. While you may feel that you're protecting them, you're possibly actually stunting their growth and making life harder for them over the long haul. People aren't "timid" per Se, rather people learn to be fearful and cautious around others due to their earlier experiences! It's the same with other traits, hard working people aren't really "determined" individuals. They merely learned to constantly work and persist at things in order to achieve goals through earlier experiences. Humans are not robots, we are learners and we can learn an unlearn a hell of a lot!

 This is what Junichi helped Sae to achieve, through an experiential process. (I actually have issues with the education system because I believe the natural way people learn is through experience rather that classroom instruction, but that's another can of worms entirely.) Junichi got Sae to start by just belting out a greeting in a commanding voice! That's all he started with. Teaching her a basic skill of annunciating from the stomach to the tongue. He had her yell in the wind, he had her talk to a vending machine, then he had her pretend the lunch ladies were vending machines so that she could talk to them without freaking out! This is what Psychologists call exposure. It's a technique usually used to help people overcome phobias.

                                                         (Above: NOT a mistranslation...)

 What you do, is you gradually ease someone into an experience that makes them uncomfortable or downright terrified, and over time they learn to adapt and change to live with the new activities and experiences! When Sae gets her job she thanks Junichi, saying that she did it because of the new things he had her experience, and she is absolutely right. It's true that you can't change just on willpower or desired results, but new experiences are all about change and growth! So the key is to let your real world tasks and challenges to absorb you, the same way anime absorbs you. When I had a classmate/friend counting on me for her grade, it was no longer a question of: "All this stupid work I shouldn't be forced to do!" Rather, it was a matter of: "Alright let's kick some ass and show those Teaching Assistants who's boss around here!"

                                                           (Above: A "shy girl" in transformation!)

 When Sae and myself stopped thinking about the work, and started focusing on and experiencing the way our lives were moving on an exciting and promising path, we lost ourselves in the adventure and in doing so we found passion and an honest way to live. This is because we were never really "timid people" we just learned to be very cautious about people, but when we were able to experience new things that encouraged us to try new ways of living and working we "changed", which essentially means we learned to do better.

 So what's my advice? Just take a step in any direction that looks appealing. Want to have a better life? Just try new things, any new things and keep trying little bit by little bit, ask someone for help even. Don't try to turn the world upside down, because that will just happen on its own. You just focus on taking one step then another. The funny thing is that you won't really notice when it starts to work. You'll just get sucked into something, you'll forget you ever had a problem to contend with and when you walk away you'll think, "Damn...that's more like it.". As for what thing you should start working on, that's really not up to me. I for one need to get into my school work so I can finally graduate(I'm on year number 5...) but you need to decide what's important to you to improve and enjoy. It's okay if it's arbitrary, even though I believe in a GOD I still think life is more than a bit arbitrary in it's design. Just pick something, anything, if you have something come to mind without putting too much thought into it, it's likely a sign from your subconscious that you are interested in doing that thing, however embarrassing or silly your "logical" mind might think it is. But we're not using that mind, we're using the "Anime Mind" the mind that can flow without interruption and take you anywhere.

 My classmate said I reminded her of her son who is really shy, who she wanted to encourage to be more assertive. You can bet your bottom dollar I'm rooting for him all the way!