2019 Update (A Masters Degree, Health Crisis and an Itasha)

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Holy hell does time fly. While I doubt anyone is reading this now, since I’ve pretty much moved completely over to Facebook, I’ve been thinking of reviving my blog and using it to post some of my longer and more insightful (says me) posts. But today, I just want to talk about life, what I’ve been up to and what I plan to do going forward.

For those who don’t know, this past couple of years, I’ve been exceedingly busy juggling work and a postgraduate degree. Happy to report that my Master’s Thesis has been submitted and approved and I will be graduating very shortly. Hm? You want to know the title of my thesis? Well…

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As you can see from the title, the topic of my thesis is everyone’s favorite slice-of-life anime! Interestingly enough, I seem to get the ideas for my papers from my own experience with anime fandom. I wrote my honors thesis in response to people saying that moe is the death of anime and I wrote my master’s thesis in response to people saying that slice-of-life anime is lacking in depth. Petty… perhaps. But I absolutely love going against the dominant discourse and proving people on the internet wrong. Don’t we all? Ain’t nobody gonna diss my Lucky Star or K-ON!. (^.^’) But in all seriousness, there’s much more that went into it and I draw from numerous philosophical and cultural perspectives while utilizing various media and literary theories to substantiate my arguments. Here’s the full abstract, in case you’re interested:

By adopting a media studies and cultural studies approach, this thesis seeks to reexamine otaku consumption, showing how the current theories of otaku consumption are insufficient in accounting for numerous aspects of otaku behavior today. Analyzing the genre of slice-of-life anime illustrates how narratives have not become subordinate to the database. Instead, narratives are created by the otaku by linking together various narrative elements extracted from anime series using the narrative database. It is these fan-created narratives that are responsible for imbuing the fictional worlds of anime with a sense of reality. Far from being individuals who cannot discern between fiction and reality, the otaku embrace these fictional realities in order to compensate for a failure to adhere to traditional notions of masculinity. By engaging in liminal 2.5D experiences, the otaku further narrow the gap between fiction and reality, increasing the intimacy that they experience with fictional female characters.

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In my opinion, one of the best Transformers figures to come out in years.

Other than that, during the past year, I did have a little bit of a health crisis, made worse by the fact that I’ve always been a hypochondriac, but I don’t really want to get into it any more than that nor do I think you guys want to hear all about it. Don’t worry, I’m perfectly fine for the time being, but it may require some serious intervention sooner than later. Needless to say that all these factors put me through a ton of anxiety and stress, leading to a full-blown existential crisis of Dinobot-proportions. Hopefully, with much of that behind me, I can focus on putting aside more time for myself and rediscovering my passions.

Speaking of passions, last year wasn’t all doom and gloom. First off, I got my first car (a white Honda Vezel) after getting my license more than two years ago. So. What’s an otaku gonna do with a car? Well, I guess it would be pretty obvious seeing the title of this post, but I just knew I had to have my very own itasha (aka anime car). Now, the only question was, which character should go on my car? I was actually considering a number of options, but in the end, I went with… Hanasaki Tsubomi or Cure Blossom from HeartCatch PreCure!. If you know me, Tsubomi is my absolute favorite female anime character of all time, beating out even Yui and Fate. 

Just in case you’re wondering… when it comes to my favorite characters, I don’t just like them as if they were a passing fad, nor do I like them in a creepy obsessive “get in their pants” kinda way. I respect them. I admire them. I like them for the qualities that they possess. Their compassion, their strength, their courage, their determination, their understanding, their hope, their idealism, their love. Frankly, I am jealous of them. As a huge, jaded cynic that has taken the red pill of reality, these are qualities that I myself would like to possess and qualities I would like to see in others as well because I truly believe that we can all be better people by learning from them. So, unless I have a huge paradigm shift or change in world view, these are the characters that I will love for all my life.

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…and I’ve decided to show my love for Tsubomi by turning my car into my own, HeartCatch PreCure! itasha. In addition to that, I also went with Tsubomi in the end for a couple more pragmatic reasons like Pink goes with white and PreCure itasha are kinda rare even among itasha.

As this was my first foray into itasha, this project took quite some time to get off the ground and to complete. I first had to come up with a basic design, commission an artist to give my vision form and find a printing company that could make that vision a reality. It is no exaggeration to state that I went over hundreds and hundreds of pictures before I decided upon the pose and background. That’s not even taking into consideration the amount of time I needed to make sure everything was perfect. Sadly, due to budgetary constraints (and not wanting to draw TOO much attention), I decided to keep the design relatively simple with just the four doors and rear windows with the concept being Tsubomi on one side and her henshined form on the other with sakura petals flowing in the background. But in the end, all that effort and time really paid off and I think both pictures encapsulate her character phenomenally.

Honestly, it really is an amazing feeling, driving down the road with your otakuness on full display, having your favorite character with you wherever you go. (^.^’) I can’t help but smile when I catch people taking pictures of my car in the parking lot. And, before anyone asks, I’m not embarrassed in the slightest. The reason is because there’s simply nothing to be embarrassed about. I see my itasha as a physical realization of my achievements, a milestone if you will. Not to mention, once you reach a certain age, you realize that nobody really cares about what you like or do in your free time because there are more important things to worry about. Not to mention, you aren’t afraid of being judged by others because you’ve developed a far stronger sense of self. My advice? Just do what makes you happy. Life is short, it’s your life. Don’t live by other people’s rules. (^o^)

3 Responses to 2019 Update (A Masters Degree, Health Crisis and an Itasha)

  1. alexeon says:

    It’s great seeing content here again. I tend to not log on to Facebook too often so I actually prefer getting an email notification when you post something on here.

    Congratulations on almost finishing your Masters! Should I call you Actar, Master of Otaku now? Maybe you prefer Otaku Master instead…

    I did see something about a health issue the one time I logged into Facebook. Is it life threatening? I hope you’re doing okay.

    Congratulations on the car. I plan on getting my dream car next year and I’m thinking of making it an Itasha as well. However, I’m a bit of a coward so I’ll probably go with a mecha design instead of a girl. I’m thinking the GP01FB from Gundam 0083. Not sure yet.

    Anyway, I look forward to seeing more content on here.

  2. Actar says:

    @ alexeon: Thank you so much for following this blog for all these years! I really look forward to seeing your comments and am really glad to see you’re doing fine as well. (^.^)

    Haha, yeah. I figured that with my passion for anime, the only other way that I could get into anime professionally was via academics, which is what I’m doing now. Wouldn’t it be kinda cool for a mere anime fan to have a PhD? (^.^’)

    With regard to my health condition… I haven’t actually discussed this anywhere else yet, but I will eventually need to undergo open heart surgery to replace a faulty heart valve (like the one Robbin Williams underwent). Because of another preexisting condition, the risks that come with surgery are much, much higher for me. Needless to say, I didn’t take it very well at the start, considering I’m a hypochondriac and all, but in this past year, I’ve more or less come to terms with it. I’m still fine now, but it’s only a matter of time…

    Looking forward to seeing pictures of your car! (^.^)

  3. alexeon says:

    Of course! Your posts are always very interesting and I enjoy reading what you have to say.

    If you get a PhD in otaku studies, you’d be no mere fan.

    I’m sorry to hear you have to deal with that. I wish the best for you but I know you can pull through it. Its not much, but I’m rooting for you!

    Once I get my car, I’ll post picture of it on Facebook. The itasha-ing of it will happen at a later date if I decide to go through with it.

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