My Top 20 Songs from Anime

We’ve done a few lists now, haven’t we? I think they’re a fun exploration of a genre or form. And in the spirit of Lists: let’s try one that’s a little bit different: we’re going to be discussing in no particular order, the music of various different anime! This includes opening themes, background songs, ending themes and more. I’ll give you the series and a brief reason why that song means the world to me.

Let’s jam.

Oh, and you’ll likely see plenty of overlap between the music I like and the anime I like: reading over that list may give you a vision of the future. You’ll likely also see some repeats from a few core series: that’s likely for a reason.

Funny Bunny, The Pillows

FLCL

FLCL is one of my favorite series of all time and it has one of the best soundtracks I can think of. Don’t be surprised to see this series on the list more than once. Funny Bunny is sweet, sentimental and emotional: The Pillows as a band are good about using puns, wordplay and most importantly: heart. This song has made me cry too many times and one of my favorite moments of all is driving down the highway with Carlos singing this little song during A-Kon. It’s a love song for the ages.

Hybrid Rainbow, The Pillows

FLCL

I told you FLCL would appear on this list more than once. Even though this was just a background song, this was my anthem in college. A song about disillusionment, overcoming the sameness over the world and how what appears is not always as it is was the perfect song for the angsty college kid that I was.

Anti-Nostalgic, Kotani Kinya

Gravitation

Who knew an anime about music would have great music? This song still makes me super emotional and as a ballad to a lover, it doesn’t get much better. I always really related to how Yuki Eiri felt about love, time and relationships and how trauma colors your perception of all of those things: because of that, this was one of the first songs I remember committing to memory as a young fan.

Shining Collection, Iceman

Gravitation

Now, this is the real song from Gravitation that sold me. In the OVA, this song is the last thing Shuichi has to sing and he has the privilege to sing it with his idol, Ryuichi. Now, traditionally, the OVA says that this is a song that Yuki wrote for Shuichi. But that’s when my fangirl senses began to tingle. Yuki wrote a song with Ryuichi Sakuma and it made Shining Collection: one of the least romantic love songs possible. Here’s my theory, and this for all of us who still know this old anime: this song is about Yuki’s former lover and tormentor: Kitazawa. The tone, the feverish pace and all seems to add up more to this being a song about Kitazawa rather than the somewhat useless Shuichi: but that’s just an Amanda Theory. I love this song and it’s frantic pace keeps me typing away: you’ll often hear it while I work on my blog posts, my fiction projects or my panels.

Sleepless Beauty, The Seeker

Gravitation

Last one from this series, I promise. The confidence that Ryuichi Sakuma has when performing this song is a strong motivator for me. I’ve used this song to get me through some of the toughest patches in my life and the fact that it has an almost lullabye-like acoustic version that ramps up into an electrifying dance track only ensured that this song stayed in my heart for over a decade.

Fukai Mori, Do As Infinity

InuYasha

I’ve gone on record saying that this anime is the one that made me sell my soul to fandom and this beautiful ending theme is part of the reason I was ready to make that leap. I listened to this song on repeat before going to bed as a teen and I was so happy when I learned even a part of it in Japanese. I picked up a CD copy of InuYasha’s OST and Amber and I sang along the entire time. This song is a part of my childhood and a part of who I am as a fan.

My Will, Dream

InuYasha

Not to be outdone by Fukai Mori, My Will is beautiful, amazing, haunting and more. It had a stunning key visual, too that cemented to many Americans into anime. What more can be said about one of the most iconic songs in all of fandom?

Wind, Akeboshi

Naruto

This song makes me cry. This song comforts me when I am sad. This song helps lift me up. Naruto’s themes of not always fitting in, finding your family and your worth and being more than a painful past always hit home with me and a song as reassuring as Wind was vital to helping me cope as an angsty teen and even now as a sometimes melancholic adult.

Blue, Mai Yamane

Cowboy Bebop

Now is where things get serious. Bebop is probably a close attempt at number one for me as far as anime go. And this song, wow. It is in my actual will that this will be played during my funeral service. It is that serious to me. This song is haunting, emotional, raw and just…so powerful. I had a moment while driving to visit my mother’s grave and this song came on thanks to my phone’s cursed shuffle. I sobbed. I cried just over and over again repeating: “I’m so free.”

I cried, I put the flowers I got for my mom on her headstone, I spoke to her and visited my grandparents. And all the while I just kept repeating: “I’m so free.”

Space Lion, The Seatbelts

Cowboy Bebop

Didn’t think a song with almost no lyrics could bring me to tears but it did. Space Lion is a beautiful song that so perfectly bookends season 1 of one of the most perfect anime to ever exist. The song pulls elements from another part of the OST, Goodnight Julia, a song attached to Gren (who we meet during the last two episodes of season 1). Space Lion is the song we see Gren  die to. It’s the song that closes this part of a chapter and it’s just stunning.

Shiki no Uta, Minmi

Samurai Champloo

Champloo has an energetic opening that deserves an honorable mention but as soon as I heard the first bars of the jazzy closing, Shiki no Uta I was in love. The vocals are top notch and the whole vibe is calmer, more collected and more mellow than the high energy of the anime.

Who’s Theme, Minmi

Samurai Champloo

Watanabe-sensei can do no wrong when it comes to picking music and this mid-season finale song for Samurai Champloo is a stunning piece of music that I simply cannot skip if it starts playing.

Viva Namida, Okamura Yasuyuki

Space Dandy

Okay, Dandy is another Watanabe-sensei special and honestly, this song sold me on this weird anime about a dandy guy in space. The lyrics are deeper than you’d think, so be sure to pull up the English lyrics and simply enjoy.

Life Goes On ~Side K~, Chemistry

Antique Bakery

Have I told you lately how much I love this anime. Within moments of this opening song I was sold. It’s an anime about cake, pretty boys, emotional drama and had an amazing art style and the music, god this song did it for me immediately. It’s upbeat and fun and matches the energy of the series just right in places.

Life Goes On ~Side D~, Chemistry

Antique Bakery

If I ever get married, I want this to be my first dance with my new life partner. This is true and has been true about me for years now. ~Side D~ is the slower ending to Antique Bakery and while the lyrics are the same, the beat is way slowed down and turns an upbeat J-Pop song into a loving ballad. It stole my heart immediately.

Ranbu no Melody, SID

Bleach

I don’t think I can impress upon you all how much I love Bleach as a concept and show but am disappointed by its narrative choices. I fell in love with the characters almost immediately (Famously, I watched a fair amount when the show was first released and then fell out of it when the show started to bloat in the middle. I fell back in love during the Espada Arc because it’s some of the best writing the series has ever done and some of the best character design and arcs given in shonen anime.) and the music has always been top-notch. Even when the music isn’t firing all on cylinders, it’s some of the best in the shonen genre. So when I had to pick just a handful to represent this series on this list, it was difficult but only so. Ranbu no Melody is a stunningly beautiful song, it’s easy to see this as maybe a movie theme or something rather than just one of maybe 30 openings for the series. And it happens to be one of my favorites because of its unique feel: I’m also a little biased by the fact that the animation that goes with it may be some of the most stunning in the series’ history.

Life is Like a Boat, Rie Fu

Bleach

Of course I like this song. Of course I like this melancholic song with a little twinge at the end that even the heaviest of burdens can be shared with the right people. The vocals on this one alone are some of the best in anime and even though, yes, this song does feel melodramatic and sappy for those who haven’t felt the cold embrace of a tough life, for someone like me, it was and still is exactly what I need to hear after a difficult day.

The World, Nightmare

Death Note

In the theme of melodramatic, I happen to love Death Note and in this week’s entry in the category of: Someone really should have listened to young Amanda when she said she related to Light Yagami. The whole season one soundtrack is powerful and brooding and made my young vampire heart sing.

Alumnina, Nightmare

Death Note

Okay, it may be cheating to put an opening and a closing from the same season but come the math on! This song is moody, misanthropic and really helps to put you in Light’s headspace: he has a terrible but great responsibility to be the god of a new world and Alumina perfectly illustrates the miserable yet tantalizing burden that being a human shinigami carried with it.


Okay, it may be cheating to put an opening and a closing from the same season but come the math on! This song is moody, misanthropic and really helps to put you in Light’s headspace: he has a terrible but great responsibility to be the god of a new world and Alumina perfectly illustrates the miserable yet tantalizing burden that being a human shinigami carried with it.

Honorable Mentions:

Honestly, I could dedicated an entire blog to writing about anime music and its influence on me as a writer, human person and I found that this list changed depending on what day I wrote it. This list as it is now is far from the one it started as. But here’s where I want to give a shout out to the albums that you have probably heard me talk about but did not end up on this list. Namely the soundtrack for Axis Powers: Hetalia should have and needs to be mentioned.  You learn so much about the characters in these songs and I am still shameless in my ability to sing The Delicious Tomato Song or Paris is Indeed Splendid.

I’d also like to talk about the rest of the soundtracks to a lot of the animes I mention. Just because I picked one or two songs from each series does not mean the rest of the soundtrack is garbage. Bleach has amazing music, Naruto has amazing music: these series have fantastic soundtracks and you’re welcome to ask me more about it in the comments below. Additionally, there are songs particularly that are special to me despite not fitting neatly on this list that I’ll speed round here a little.

  • Haru no KatamiAyakashi Samurai Horror Tales
  • Genesis of NextCyborg 009
  • Most of the soundtrack to Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and the original Fullmetal Alchemist
  • A good portion of the soundtrack of Naruto: Shippuden
  • Cruel Angel’s Thesis and Fly Me to the Moon, Neon Genesis Evangelion
  • The entire OST to Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt
  • The rest of the FLCL soundtrack
  • Most of the Code Geass soundtrack
  • The OST to Air Gear
  • Is it cheating to mention how much I love the music of nearly every Miyazaki movie?

Now, onto the main event.

Ready, Steady, Go!,  L’Arc-En-Ciel

FullMetal Alchemist

You know this was going to be the official, unofficial number one, right? You knew I had to do this. You knew that there was no way I could get through this list without mentioning the anime theme song to end all anime theme songs. This song gets me so hype and it ignites something in me that I’ve felt for damn near twenty years now. The opening animation only continues to sell the song as uplifting, emotional and powerful. There are so many memories of me and my friends singing this song on road trips, during conventions, on stage and more. It’s brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. The vocals sell the song and lifts me to greater heights. I could dedicate more to this song but I’m sure it doesn’t do this song justice. If you’ve somehow never heard it before, just give it a listen.


Thanks for sticking with me through this post! I like doing these Top 10s! What’s the next thing I should rank?

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Unfortunately, Required Reading- Episode 5: Victory Gin and Rats to the Face

Greetings! In today’s episode we cover George Orwell’s 1984. 
Listen to hosts Victoria and Amanda day drink vodka, talk about current politics and try and eat cheese away from the all prying ear of the microphone.

https://anchor.fm/unfortunately-required/episodes/Victory-Gin-and-Rats-to-the-Face-e3017p/a-a941oa

Growing Up With Your Characters

I have been writing since I was 10 years old. Back then it was mostly poetry or at least, what a 10 year old could call poetry. It took me a long time to sort out fiction of my own but as soon as I found that world, I fell in faster than Kagome fell into that damn magical well. Fiction was a beautiful escape from my comic book protagonist reality: I had recently lost a parent, I was living with my strict aunts, I was teased in school but in fiction, oh in fiction, I could be anyone. And so I was.

I, like many early fiction writers, had a flock of Mary Sue original characters. Now, a Mary Sue, for those who do not know is a female character who is just too darn perfect. They’re usually self-insert characters made to allow mostly female writers to simply place themselves into the narrative. This means usually doing not so great writing things to pair off with the fictional character you want and to do whatever you fictionally want. Many grow out of the Mary Sue-stage but some stay there. And boy, did I stay there during those early years. I also don’t think I can impress upon you just how many fandoms I touched back then and still do. It was a lot of anime and manga sure but comic books, video games, books: basically if I was into it, I likely had a project relating to it (and possibly still do.).

The characters I wrote back then were almost all female and almost all were very strong: all the things I wanted to be. But they also reflected the concerns I had at the time, many were cursed or held under the thumb of the villain. And if you knew me during that time, you’d be able to see that in my own life. I was held under the thumb of strict aunts and wanted to badly to break free but never felt like I could so despite displaying outward strength, I was never and thus my characters were almost never, strong enough to leave their binds, their curses, their fates. Luckily, there were plenty of angsty male characters to “rescue” them and thus me back then.

High school, oh high school. I was for sure starting to develop more as a writer back then and that often meant that my writing reflected the things I was interested in: boys, intimacy and gender. By high school, I had this funny feeling inside of me that “female” only felt so right. I started writing more and more male characters in high school. I found immense power and comfort in writing as a male.  That also meant writing things of a more… carnal nature. I won’t go into detail here but let’s just say high school me’s writing very much was a look into my concerns and psyche: I wanted attention, I wanted intimacy, I wanted control and I wanted things just as I wanted them. These characters back then, especially the male ones, were melodramatic, self-absorbed, somewhat useless but well-intended and always, always rescued by a handsome prince/host-type. And these were long projects: some of them I just finished recently, recently, dear reader. But let’s not lose that train of thought, remember that duality of spirit I mentioned? That duality: the two types of male characters I wrote, would continue to be a duality even in my character. Part of me is a useless blob of self-indulgence and another wants so desperately for those around me to feel special because I know what it was like to even for a moment not feel important. It would be a duality that I struggle with even as I continued to write when I was in college.

I didn’t have much time for fiction in college. I was an English major. I had plenty of other things to write but my somewhat rigid schedule gave me all the time in the world to dive into a world I had dipped my toe into while in high school: roleplaying. I found a partner that I loved more than anything else and got to play characters I loved more than anything else. I was back to playing mostly host/prince types and living my best truth. In college, I found myself even using more and more male nouns in common speech. Writing fiction kept me going through school, stress, work, the loss of my mother and more stress. Fiction did for me then exactly what it did for me as a stressed out pre-teen: it gave me a place to escape but only so much so to keep me grounded by with a pleasant little distraction to power me through the rough times.

I stopped writing when I graduated. The years between college and career were less than kind and while I kept up some fiction writing, I had mostly abandoned my other projects. I had to build a portfolio and keep writing things that mattered to employers.

In 2014, I moved and that changed many things. I chose a partner who loved my fiction writing and encouraged me to do so more. I did so for them. They were my reason to keep writing. Which was all fine and good until that person left me. I didn’t write for months after that breakup, I couldn’t go back to the worlds we built together without them.

However, I’m a stubborn thing, it took me a while to get back to it but I did. Trust me, I did. I even finished a project I began when I was in high school and then immediately built upon that foundation: I’ve managed to add to it ever since then.

I manage to find time and inspiration in bursts. Maintaining my blog is a bit more of a priority to me than fiction mostly because I don’t see myself publishing that anytime soon. Not that I don’t think it’s any good, just that I think that phase of my life is over. Who knows, I may change my mind one day.

It’s amazing and sometimes a little painful to go back and read those old pieces and even more interesting to read the long-term projects. It’s amazing to see how my writing has changed, how my characters changed, how I changed. How I accepted myself and accepted the parts of my past that I was desperate to work through in writing. It’s fascinating to see how I’ve matured and how my characters matured.

It’s simply amazing to see a record of who I was, who I am, and who I can be.

Unfortunately, Required Reading: Episode 4: That Time Being Gay Ruined a Perfectly Good Dinner

Hello! Episode 4 of the podcast is live! In this week’s episode, we cover The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams and I complain for a very long time about making a Ramos Gin Fizz.

https://anchor.fm/unfortunately-required/episodes/That-Time-Being-Gay-Ruined-a-Perfectly-Good-Dinner-e2sssm/a-a7pe5l

Tending Your Social Media Garden

It is the new year and with that, many people are doing what they can to take a break from social media. Now, with the current times, I understand that social media is a cesspool for many. There are trolls. There are racists. There are homophobes and misogynists. There be devils out there and in this post I have no intention to take away the validity and power of those things. I am fortunate to not be that famous and I get to screech about feminism, the arbitrariness of the gender binary and why female anime characters are intentionally written poorly by bad writers. But I have been trolled. I have faced my fair amount of backlash. I am old, despite how young my face looks. I know what hate is on the Internet. And thus, I do not tolerate it.

Today, I’d like to share with you all how I keep my sanity online.

Now, for those of you who do not know, my day job is as a social media manager. It is literally my job to stay online. And in today’s climate that can be…taxing. I know about every mass shooting, every celebrity death, every terrible thing said by a terrible politician. I am aware of all those things and it’s an emotional drain each and every time. But I do what I can to put that in a little box. Every generation faces hardship and I use that discontent to do something to make the world a better place: I continue to panel, foster productive conversation and I vote, dammit I vote. But back to being online. I keep my online news on a pretty strict diet. Once I’m home, it’s nothing but Live P.D. and cat videos. Whatever breaking news happened will continue to be breaking when I get back into the office.

As far as my own personal social media: I am a strict and intense gardener. Let’s explain that metaphor. When I was younger, I tended to roses (because I am an anime boy and of course I did). Roses are fickle. You have to remove ones that are not as strong as others. Water but only so much. Prune back thorns and branches. Gardening is a lot of work and it’s exactly how I approach social media.

Someone who is toxic and does nothing but complain about a situation they can and should leave? Hide all posts or mute. Someone spouting transphobia or hate speech? Full block or removal. Someone says something cruel to me or one of my friends? Full block!

Social media is your garden: especially when you’re like me and have both a public and “private” persona. I set an expectation and basic level of understanding that if you read my blog, see my panels or follow me on social that such behavior like coarse language, homophobia, transphobia or general ignorance or hatred are simply not tolerated. Like O-ren Ishii I do always try to be respectful during these times where people are not so kind but much like O-ren, I have very little patience for trolls. I spent too many years on the Internet being berated, spoken to in not so kind ways to and other not so wonderful things. I am old now and full of ennui and wisdom: I know my worth and I know the worth of my friends; cruelty towards me or those I care about are simply not tolerated.

Back to gardening. Muting or removing people doesn’t always mean that I do not care for that person. There are plenty of people that I care about but do not have the time, patience or energy to deal with the nonsense that seems to surround them. It is entirely like a garden, prune and keep the roses that are show-stoppers and trim back the ones that are losing their luster.

But wait, you may insist: what do I do if I’m already being trolled? Well, I’m glad you asked. I do my best to be civil when civility is allowed. Most trolls are incredibly thrown off by simply engaging with them. They aren’t expecting a response, yet alone one that isn’t filled with fire and fury. I simply try to kill them with kindness. And if kindness doesn’t work, communication is a two-way street: it’s just as easy to block them as it is to continue to engage with them. I tend to think there’s two kinds of trolls, the defensive kind and the reprehensible kind. The defensive ones just have opinions and they’re ready to fight you if you so much as look at a beloved property the wrong way (something that puts me, your beloved Prince of Unpopular Opinions, at times at odds with this type of Internet warrior) they have fifteen comments already queued up as to why you’re wrong and usually will throw in an insult or two just to add “strength” to their point. This kind of troll can be reasoned with sometimes if you engage kindly and simply explain your position: even if you can’t convert them, sometimes, they’ll see your side of things. The reprehensible one is another sort of beast entirely. This type of creature wants to get under your skin, wants to say something nasty, wants to get a reaction; they are waiting for that reaction.

Don’t give it to them. For the love of all things good, do not give them that attention. That’s exactly what they want and I know how easy it is to say that. I know how easy it is to say that from the comfort of my apartment and relative obscurity. For those more in the public eye or more under scrutiny, know that I feel for you.  It’s hard to ignore those comments but it’s vital to do so. And every time you want to respond to a hateful person, know that you cannot change their mind.

Now, some will say this sounds a lot like Tina Fey and her cake analogy that many people hated her for after the horrendous Charlottesville protest and subsequent violence. Her SNL skit centered around eating a cake and screaming into it whenever something terrible happened in America. Many compared her to Marie Antoinette and her famous “let them eat brioche” line and while I am empathetic to those who think the comment was out of touch: I don’t disagree with the sentiment, just the delivery. There are plenty of instances in real life that many people have no luxury to quietly and in a dignified way endure hatred; there are lives at stake. But as far as online trolls go, it’s hard to get any proper context online: it’s simply not worth it sometimes. But when it comes to real life, well, that’s another post perhaps.

In this new year, I hope that all of you find more comfort in social media. The social internet was not invented to isolate us into tribes but it has. I want things to get better. I’m sure things will get better. I hope these tips are helpful.

Year in Review: 2018

Remember in 2016 when I said things possibly couldn’t get worse? I should have kept my damn mouth shut. I won’t attempt to touch on the fresh individual hell 2018 has been for far too people around the world but I have a tradition. I will do my best to continue on this tradition. Here is my Year in Review for 2018.

January: The year started off with hope and promise. Amber and I went to an exotic animal park in Johnson City after trying to visit a few LBJ-based historical sites. We got to feed camels and reflect on the nature of keeping animals in captivity. Oh, and a goat ate a hole in Amber’s purse. Over on the blog I celebrated 200 Blog Posts and I’m happy to continue working towards 300!

Apparently, this was the nicer of the two camels.

February: The month began with a visit to a local gin distillery that was a delight. I also did the revolutionary thing of seeing a show by myself. I saw a bunch of my favorite drag queens be mean to each other for an hour and I am so happy I did that for myself. There’s nothing like getting all made up and seeing a show alone after dark. The month wrapped up with me and my friend also named Amanda seeing The Black Panther.

A local gin cocktail is the best cocktail. 
Told y’all I got dolled up for a drag show.
The Haters Roast! So much fun! 

March: Over here on the blog I celebrated two milestones: 3,000 Visitors and my 5 Year Anniversary . The month was relatively quiet as far as my personal life goes. My store did open and I made my first sale in March.

April: April was quiet. I got notice that I was accepted for A-Kon later on in the year and began costume work and prep. I also got to cook a homemade Japanese meal for a friend. I made nikujaga (Japanese Beef Stew), miso soup, there was rice and a cocktail made with sake. I felt like the Japanese housewife I was trained to be.

The Full Spread!
As it boiled! 

May: In May I made my A-Kon cosplay announcement! I worked very hard on my costumes and am proud of them in hindsight. Over on the blog I celebrated 7,000 Views. I also saw Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 with Amber and left the movie violently angry.

June: I went to A-Kon 29! You can read all about that here! I got to present a panel that is close to my heart and I think went over well including a moment that I got to shout during pride month “MAKE AMERICA GAY AGAIN” and receive applause during a panel for it. I did receive (as did the rest of the world) the news that Anthony Bourdain passed away. He was an icon and inspiration and it was a huge gut punch to receive before I started my convention day. A few days later I was off traveling for work in Galveston for the Texas Funeral Directors Association convention and I had a magical time surrounded by caskets and kitchy beach decor. After that was a trip to Fredericksburg with Amber to pick peaches (yes, there is a ton of irony of two black women paying to pick peaches on someone else’s land) and an endeavor to make peach cobbler which ended with me slicing my thumb open. I have a cool scar now and a newfound respect for paring knives. I wrapped up June with a post about Juneteenth and the importance of remembering your history.

Get you a cosplayer who can do both.
Taken at A-Kon 29.
Taken in Galveston! I had a lovely time.
The peach cobbler that almost took my thumb.

July: My birth month! I didn’t do much for my birthday but did get a very special gift in the form of a friend visiting. I really came into my own on a site called Gendou. It’s an anime music site that had a chatroom and one fateful day in my teens, I joined chat. Literally, nearly a decade later some of the best friends I have in real life were people I met on this website. Well, in July, I got to meet one of my Gendou friends. We made it a whole damn thing and a bunch of us Gendou folk got together for a magical evening of Korean BBQ, soju, over the top ice cream and innuendo. It was a magical evening and one I won’t forget. Never give up on meeting your internet friends. What was amazing was picking up a conversation we had started hours before via text and we were able to continue it in real life as if we were lifelong friends: because in so many ways, we are.

I think we’re a handsome bunch. Except for me. I look like a hobgoblin.

August: August sure did start off slow but towards the end of the month, things sure did get interesting. Towards the end of the month, I got a last-minute invitation to visit Virginia for a cousin’s wedding. Never one to turn down a free trip, I boarded a plane to Virginia: America’s birthplace and a state full of mixed feelings for a young black person like me. I had an excellent time visiting Mount Vernon and seeing a part of the country I do not get to see very often. August also featured the terrifying and heartbreaking attack in Jacksonville that saw the loss of innocents at a Madden tournament. I did my best to collect my feelings and my heart honestly still hurts. I also got to write a personal love letter to all my female friends who keep me going.

Mount Vernon was stunning and beautiful and I can’t wait to go back.

September: In September I started working on my Halloween costume! I decided to work on Dr. Facilier for Halloween and it was an adventure in self-doubt and hot glue that you can learn about here. I also managed to find a beautiful little Korean garden down the street from my apartment and I did my best to take some photos of a place that looked like it was pulled from an anime.

October: October was a loss heavy month. Not only did I deal with both of my parents’ birthday, I suffered a few personal losses. My great-uncle passed away after a long battle with cancer. I also lost my senpai, Cris. Now, when I say senpai I mean the person who helped me be who I am today. Cris helped form the anime club I took over when I was in college. She was the one who encouraged me to panel, helped me figure out ideas and showed me how to market myself better. She was one of the best cosplayers I’ve ever known and one of the most talented writers I’ve ever known. Losing her hurt me deeply and I’m still not entirely over her loss. I just found out I was accepted to another convention to panel and I went to message her about it only to remember she’s no longer here. I never wanted to think of a world where one of my senpais was no longer with me and I am better having known her. I miss her but I will do all I can to make her proud. October also featured me having Dim Sum with Carlos and me having a mental breakdown over Devilman Crybaby.

Me and two of my senpais:
Cris in the center and Pat on the right. 

November:  November has been so far quiet except for the ungodly amount of time and resources playing Pokemon Let’s Go: Eevee. I also got to spend a quiet Thanksgiving with Amber at an Italian chain restaurant, because of course we did. Victoria and I went to the Austin Oddities and Curiosities Expo, because of course we did and I picked up a new necklace courtesy of The Austin Seance Society (the most on brand thing I have ever done in my life). The world lost Stan Lee and you can read me trying to form a coherent phrase about losing the creator of one of my favorite comic book companies of all time. Another family trip brought me to Virginia once more. I saw the Edgar Allan Poe museum (you can read about that adventure here) and enjoyed a part of the nation I don’t get to see often. I did all the the tourist things like see The White House and The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History which made me so giddy I nearly cried. I learned a lot about myself and my family during this trip including the fact that I may be more Type-A than I give myself credit for and living alone has really dulled my ability to cope with stressors beyond my control.

Thank you, Austin Seance Society, for letting me be goth forever.

December: Technically, all the tourist Virginia stuff happened in December, but it flowed better up there with the rest of November. December is still going on as I write this post and there’s some cool things on the horizon: another con or two perhaps, time with friends, time with family. 

A Shrine to Poe at The Edgar Allan Poe Museum
The REAL Hope Diamond
I know this is The White House but that won’t stop me from making an old Vlogbrothers Joke: Lone Bird, Perched Atop the Department of Agriculture, Thanks For Watching Over Our Nation’s Grain.

I’d like to take a moment to bring up a pin that I left up in the start all the horrible things that have happened this year: hate crimes, terrorism, national and international chaos and natural disasters; all of it is a lot and I still grieve a great deal of many of these things, it’s why I didn’t mention them earlier. But I do acknowledge them and they hurt me, but not enough to shut me down: no, in fact, I am simply more energized to continue to do the right thing for as long as I am able.

This year I also cut out as many of the toxic forces I could in my life. I removed people in my life that I swore would be with me to the very end. I’m growing as a person and I have no time for people who aren’t in it for the long haul. I’ve made new friends that I’m sure will last a lifetime and I feel better and stronger than ever.

I want to thank all of you for joining me here for another year. I’m grateful to each and every single one of you.

Thank you.