Friday, March 26, 2010

A Certain Metaphorical Anime... and About Me

A Certain Scientific Railgun is over, but its presence and metaphors will always stay with me. It's much better now since most people have finished the show too, so perhaps I won't create too much spoiler in this post. If you haven't given Railgun a go, I hope that I can give you a good reason to watch it, and I hope I won't spoil it too much for you ^^;

This is a follow up to my older post when Railgun reached its midway. After I watched that batch of episodes I gave Railgun a quick break and when I continued it, I was barraged with so many lines of thoughts that I need to address it. For a long time I couldn't put my thoughts into words, not even right now, but they are important to me so I'm going to try.

By the way, all subtitles in the screenshots are relevant, that they add and support my own writing.

But first the basics... Ruiko Saten, in the picture above, is the only one without an ability in the group of 4 friends that have abilities. No matter how she tried, she can't attain any ability. With the Level Upper, a tool that increases people's abilities and levels, Ruiko finally attained some kind of ability... but at what price? The others who used this lost their consciousness.

I also feel that I don't have any abilities because I lack focus and a goal/dream. No matter what I think, I still don't know where I'm going. Having that ability feels like it would give me something to look forward to. What I do have is interest in a lot of things, but because I am interested in many things I can't put my focus on just one thing. So I'm just floundering around not ever sure where I'm going and living life day-by-day, unable to see what's ahead of me.

This is Kazari Uiharu's response to Ruiko's despaired phone call... That's all that I can do. I can help people, though sometimes I feel it is a bother because I thought it as something simple. I want to be more helpful without having to feel that way. If I can't have my focus/ability then at least I can help others to see their focus and help them when they are in need. I can only try to help, but at some point I ought to help myself to find mine. For the moment I'll do only what I can.

That is how I'm living now. Being myself mean being surrounded by anime and everything that comes along with it. Even though I lack focus and goals in life, at least I focus on what makes me who I am. I wrote this along a similar line of thought when I was reading Yi's post: "To me I have to be myself and that is to be an anime fan no matter where I go. Live it no matter what others say; from one end of the spectrum to the other end." If I can't watch anime, then I'd surround myself with it and take it wherever I go.

This is a metaphor of what the antagonist, Kiyama Harumi, is trying to do in Academy City. She is basically trying to create a more powerful network using people: "Computers don't improve their performance through software. However, connecting to a network is a different matter. The performance of the individual units won't increase. However, if you connect many computers in parallel, you can increase their overall processing power."

This is the main reason why I want to write this... Having a network of people who is following it definitely increases the power of that group. Recently two "networks" with their own following suddenly came into conflict, I will not name these networks because I'm sure a lot of people know what I'm talking about. Network 1 claims are that of an otaku and lead a great number of followers who are loyal to that network. This network doesn't attack people, discourages any attacks and penalize any who would attack. Whereas Network A disproves of Network 1 and attacks anyone else they don't approve of. Some of its supporters also do the same, attacking others that weren't approved by Network A. The thing is, both networks have good points. Network 1 tries to change the word "otaku" and its external views. Whereas Network A wants the pure word to be kept as is, and anyone who "corrupts" it don't deserve it.

I am a neutralist. I want to look both sides of the story. Both networks have valid points, but also unfavourable sides... It does become difficult to be neutral when I get attacked unfortunately, so I cannot approve of Network A. The problem is that their method does not make the change they want. Or do they even care? Perhaps they just want to attack people they dislike? For me, if you're a bunch of strangers and wanting to correct me and change my ways, you'd be in a better luck if you ask me sincerely. I am stubborn and hard to change, but be diplomatic then even the hard-headed me will soften. I am willing to change, but when you do nothing but attacking, that will be quite a challenge to change me, isn't it?

The people wanting to increase their ability or wanting an ability caused them to unintentionally follow/join the network of abilities created by Kiyama Harumi. This network went out of control and gave birth to an evil fetus... Showing us a great view of Misaka's knee pits in the process.

I don't follow fashion or trends. I made this blog wanting to post things that are different than what other people have done. It's my way to be unique. I find myself to be boring, so I prefer to do something different on this blog and on the net to balance out myself. My internet persona and my real life persona is similar in that I don't want to piss off anybody and I try not to upset anyone, at least not intentionally.

The fact that Network A wants to make a change by upsetting everyone they disapprove does not bode well for me. It created some hateful feelings toward those they don't approve. It also created feelings of dissent towards (and maybe among?) people of Network 1. Though perhaps those feelings were already there, they just weren't out in the open. My suggestion, and exactly what I'm doing, is not following either of the philosophy, especially the ones where you attack other people. You can disagree with each other without causing too much malice.

Misaka who is a level 5, the highest level of ability that can be attained, always thought that levels do not matter... But perhaps it may not be as simple as that, "I might be a Level Five, but I'm no good with stuff like this... If there's a hurdle in my path, I feel like I have to clear it. I'm only Level Five because of my personality. I've never seen this as something special, really. But there are people out there who freeze in front of that hurdle. I never realized this. I kept claiming that level didn't matter."

I'm nowhere near level 5, but I am as modest as Misaka can be. I do try to use what abilities I have to help others as she has done, but I do urge people to overcome that hurdle that's in their path on their own as well. When I was showing my room, I hesitated a little. I didn't want to show it off whatsoever. When I did, I was very embarrassed because of how messy and cluttered it was, however, I did receive other comments that were complimentary. For me compliments always surprises me. Whenever I start a personal project, I am hyped up, but along the way I always feel that I messed it up and felt that it's not turning out the way I hoped. Then in the end, I just post it and see what I get. Compliments do stroke some of my ego, so sometimes I try to downplay them so that it doesn't go over my head.

The fact is the word "otaku" doesn't matter. Maybe I should've realized this when I started using the word. It was about two years ago that I felt that using the word "otaku" finally explained what I've gotten into. Before that, I didn't like the word at all because of its negative connotations... Some people do try to bring it into a brighter light and a lot of people in this side of the Pacific glorified it. In the end, it seems as if it's still perceived as something negative in Japan. I was happy before in just using the word "maniac" which was one level below "otaku", but I know I'm beyond that. I'm pretty sure a stranger would easily call me "otaku" and I may not hate it anymore, but perhaps I don't need it. I only live this way because it's My Way of Life, and I can't live it any other way. Therefore, the Life of an Otaku tag in my posts will change. Perhaps what Network A had said about me is changing that causing me to have a defeatist attitude or perhaps I'm just living my way the way I want it without having to a concern for that title. See... I'm always the neutralist =P
In the end, Kiyama Harumi's intentions were meant well, it was the methods that do not bode well with our protagonist, Misaka, and others who defends the victims of her methods.

I am not Misaka that I can't always defend the victims... I have my own hurdles that I need to overcome first. My words and thoughts aren't as clear and may lack some convictions, so there is only so much I can say. Obviously when there's an attack one tries to defend, right? Defending is the best I can do, but in my own way. Perhaps that is my goal one day... To be more like Misaka who hurls herself into trouble and always finding a way to overcome the hurdle ahead of her...

I apologize if I sound pretentious or preachy in this post... Lastly I leave you one of the most inspirational speeches from Railgun.

I hope to follow these instructions as well as I live my way of life...


  1. What was very interesting and a great character growth plot in "Railgun" was not only how Saten must overcome her lack at an esper ability but the fact everyone acknowledges Uiharu for her skills which in the end don't turn out to be her esper ability at all.

    Am unfamiliar with the conflict you refer to but alas I can fathom there's far too many people online or out there who are negatively opinionated or focused by trying to project the patterns they see as fit onto others. The Internet gives them a forum with a cloak of anonymity which alas means they can get quite out of acceptable bounds.

    Perhaps youth is a factor? At my age I tend not to care one bit if people disapprove of me or my passions.

    To quote that song from the Levellers (what a fitting band name for a Railgun post reply):
    "There's only one way of life and that's your own" ^^

  2. railgun is much better than index. I heard that index seasnon 2 is in wip, so hopefully it will be as good as railgun. Index season 1 is 80% touma talking and 20% action *facepalm*

    Another great thing abour railgun are its op/ed, all VERY good!

  3. Great post! Railgun sure has a lot of good things to show to us, the anime shows a lot of faces of people, and how deep they can go if they don't have trust in theirselfs, when Saten lost her hope in herself she tried to be better using the level up, it's like when people have problems and try to forget them using drugs or drinking a lot.
    Then, Uiharu helped her, and she could show that she was strong and that she was going to fight, that was nice!
    I think that everyone needs a support, doesn't matter if it is friends, or things that make u happy like music, anime, if those things can make u feel better, then go for it! Watch anime when u are sad, talk to ur friends, listen to ur fave song, cry, scream if u need to, but always be ready to fight again...

  4. @bluebluewave: I should really post my thoughts on the ending too then... It brought me to tears... kinda ^^

    I just wanted to get some things off my chest by mentioning this conflict, but looks like you nailed it right on the spot even without knowing about it.

    Well they claim they're mature people, but their actions aren't... It's just the first time I have to deal with this kind of sh**.

    That is a freaking nice lyric and by an appropriate band!

    @Delon: I was considering Railgun should have a second season! Academy City is rich with all sorts of story brewing underneath its futuristic and scientific facade! I kinda didn't mind Touma though ^^; Yes, the OP and ED were great too! I fell in love with them so quickly!

    @Yuri Downloads: Thank you! Your kind words and advice brings a warmness to my heart... Or is that the heater? Hehe, but really. I feel much better after reading your last paragraph.

    I watched Railgun in spurts, so the characters' growth were more evident as I tried to catch up. Misaka and Kuroko may be the most powerful, but Saten and Ruiko's friendship definitely took the spotlight :)

  5. Now you've made me sad ;-;

    Kidding. But mm, this is one on a much more solemn note.
    Thing is, network 1 still intensely dwarfs network A. It's less a war, and more activists throwing stones at an empire...

    bluebluewave pretty much got it; They say they're 'proud of anonymity', the very reason they can attack people without putting themselves at risk - their reason just sounds like a baseless excuse to justify the cornerstone of their attack.

    At this point, I don't want to take a side at all. At the bottom of it it's a guy who is misusing a term for commercial gain - is that really something to get personally worked up over? Guy has to win his bread too. What he did doesn't require justice; he likes anime, they like anime. It's civil war. Or civil activist assault.

    But well, I'm going on, this isn't even about them. Don't take it to heart, rob. The only reason anybody would make personal assaults is to unnerve that person. You don't need to play into their hands, just let them talk to themselves. Right, continue writing your blog for those reasons. Make your 4koma to your hearts content. It's great. A blog's a personal statement; it can't be wrong, the same way it is to have an opinion.

    You know what, I won't even justify it, justifying expression is doubt. Just do it, and love it as you always have. Anime's our respite, our fun. We can leave the depression induction to real life.

    As for railgun, it looks like I really should get to it. At first it seemed like a Needless + blatant lesbian fanservice series so I stayed well away, but I've heard very different since then.

  6. I must admit that they've stirred up something more than I expected they would, considering they're such a small group. I've had to question myself a few times too, but in the end, taking sides really doesn't help the situation. There are things I disagree on with both sides, and things that I agree on. Does that make me neutral? Not really - it's what *I* stand for, which is different from what *they* stand for, and what *you* stand for. bluebluewave states it perfectly in that regard. Nothing is ever black and white anyway.

    Ningyo and I have talked a lot about societal influences and stigmas, and we sort of have the same feelings in regards to it all.

    Keep doing what you're doing, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It's *your* blog, not theirs.

  7. @Tim & Radiant: I hope you guys aren't thinking that I succumbed to what Network A is saying, because I'm not. I wrote this to get things off my chest and I want to put out a message to readers that you shouldn't follow things so blindly. From what I hear about what other people saying regarding this topic is that they are so quick to judge because of what these networks say. That piss me off. I don't care about what they say, I just don't want people to suddenly lose faith in someone so quickly.

    This post was meant to be more neutral, but because they keep throwing rocks (and the first rock), I can't help but lean over to one side.

    @Tim: Yes, you're right, it's a very insignificant battle, where one tries to get attention while the other just ignores it. I agree with your and Smithy's comment about anonymity.

    Network A did have a good point and I will rectify it soon, but of course only at MY convenience :P No, not the tagging. That's my own choice because what I said about the word "otaku" is my own opinion, not theirs. I'll keep using the word when it fits what I'm talking about though.

    I won't stop what I'm doing either, I actually had a small conversation with Network 1 and said the exact same thing you said. After this post, it's business as usual. I gotta keep my promise to make those 15 characters from the Durarara parody into the 4koma XD

    Yes, Railgun did look very deceiving at first, but even with a stereotypical fights, it's got great messages that really spoke to me.

    @Radiant: Yes, and this is my own stance as well. Please don't misunderstand that I'm actually feeling defeated by this. I only wrote this because I bottled up a lot of things... This is not one thing I do not want to bottle up. I already feel better after I pushed the Publish button on this post.

    And yes, you got that right that: it's MY blog! I'll do WHATEVER I want with it, nyahahaha!

  8. Good attitude!

    I consider myself to be neutral too. A and 1 both have their good points. I appreciate what 1 has brought to the western audience. At the same time, I understand A's wanting to keep a purist scene among bloggers.

    I do find some followers of A to be kind of annoying... I dislike some people taking their "pass" too seriously, as though the pass grant them some sort of superior status. They shove their new found ego down readers' throats. Luckily, the good thing about blogs is that I don't have to read pretentious, self-important stuff. And I don't.

    On the other hand, followers of 1 can be annoying too in a different way.

    But everyone expresses fandom differently and there's really no wrong way.

    In the end... Too much drama. And sadly I think I contributed a bit to it too... :(

    Anyway, I'm about half-way done with Railgun and loving it. ^ ^

  9. @Yi: I think now I just don't want to care anymore, lol. I just go about my business, that's the best neutral thing I can do after I did lean towards one side in this post. ^^;

    That was what I would worry about if I did get a "pass". I wonder if I would act the same way as them. I also worried that what I wrote would sound pretentious as well here. And yes, good to have choices, eh? :D

    It was already a drama, so I wouldn't worry about it so much. Drama was a reason why I left World of Warcraft. Just too much... I thought if I avoided that I wouldn't get involved in anymore drama. I thought about doing the same this time around, but that would be a truly defeatist attitude and that is something I will not allow myself to do. If I do leave the scene, it'd be under on my own accord.

    Oooh... I hope I didn't spoil Railgun for you then ^^; It's a great story even if the yuri relationship didn't develop that much ^_^

  10. I was brought aware to the existence of this conflict not too long ago and I got curious about it and read into it further.

    Allow me to get a few things off my chest too. Both networks have some good points and some negative side effect.

    While I don't necessarily agree with everything that has been going on in Network 1, but that doesn't necessarily mean I don't support the ideal. But at time, I have to wonder some of the fandom surrounding Network 1 is well justified. Let's face it, there are some rather annoying fanboy/fangirl out there whom might have inadvertently contributed the formation of Network A.

    After viewing some of the frustration from some of the people I converse with, I too have had developed some doubt about Network 1 and where it was going; however, a recent conversation with a certain individual from Network 1 have brought hope back in me again.

    I'm totally on board with Smithy's comment as well.

  11. @Wolfheinrich: Yes, some of the fandom going on in 1 is kinda overdone sometimes, but at least it's in good taste... maybe? You're probably right that it might've contributed to that formation of A. I think 1 has quite a bunch of good people, just have to scratch the surface, eh? :)

    I was doubting too after reading A, but again I realized that I can learn from others, but doesn't mean I should follow everything either networks say.

  12. Wonderful anime post. I always love anime series as like Certain Scientific Railgun and I have just collected this beautiful anime series at PIJ. Its really attractive to me as a real fan of this anime series.