My first foray into anime blogging was a Cardcaptor Sakura Angelfire fan site. I had recently discovered the internet — thanks, in part, to Sailor Moon — and with that discovery came the subsequent unearthing of Cardcaptor Sakura, not to be confused with Cardcaptors, since the latter was, according to other fan sites, an abomination and a tragedy.
I didn’t know this myself until I managed to buy a few VHS tapes and DVDs of the original, and didn’t take a hard line on it one way or the other. The way I saw it then (and still see it to this day) was that Cardcaptors had at least introduced me to Cardcaptor Sakura. It may not have been very good, but it was an important gateway. I couldn’t bring myself to fully hate it. Yet, upon discovering the original, I felt compelled to write about it.
The site was about as awful as any free Angelfire site of the early aughts. It was pale pink with dark pink and white accents. The homepage autoplayed a midi version of the Cardcaptor Sakura opening, “Catch You, Catch Me.” It had episode writeups of both Cardcaptors and Cardcaptor Sakura, organized in airing order, where I would give my opinions on each episode that I had seen.
I never worried about whether my opinion was valid or meaningful in any way. I simply wrote.
I’ve previously waxed poetic on why I love Sailor Stars despite it being a bit of a disjointed mess. I’ve also written about how it’s inspired other anime visually — like the blocking of the Puella Magi Madoka Magica finale. This post isn’t about that.
Instead, it’s about another facet of why Sailor Stars is my favorite Sailor Moon season. Outside of the typical factors we use when rating anime — sensible things like animation quality, production, narrative coherency, overarching themes and symbolism — the circumstances and context of how we watched it and who with frame our emotional attachment. Nostalgia is a powerful feeling, and no other anime season inspires it in me quite like Sailor Stars due to how ridiculously difficult it was for me to watch it.
A few days before my high school graduation it struck me. I was staring out of our front bay window past the dying spider plant that hung on the right side looking towards the cloudy sky and thinking of nothing in particular.
It was the morning after a lock-in party that my school organized for the senior class as part of our senior week. I had been up all night. The day was empty with no classes, no senior activities, no preparation work, and no parties. My college had already been decided upon months ago and I had already attended pre-orientation where I had registered for classes in the coming fall.
I had nothing to do but catch up on sleep lost from staying up for over 24 hours, yet I had crossed a particular overtired threshold that looped back into being wide awake. In that moment, the day ahead seem to stretch out endlessly. School life, especially in junior high and high school, is regimented and organized. Without that order, I came to the realization that I would never have it again.
Whenever I visit my parents’ house, I tend to travel along the same paths that I did when I lived there as a teenager and twenty-something. I grab a bagel at Bagel World, a breakfast staple that I cannot find in Los Angeles. I sit on the old heating grate as the air rises up to keep warm until pins and needles shoot up from my ankles, forcing me to shift my weight into a different position. I watch softly falling snow from the same vantage point — the window of my old room that faces the streetlamp. The curtains are now an odd purple color and the bed is a full-size, meant for guests instead of one young woman.
I don’t think I’m trying to relive the past, but in traveling these same paths, how much has changed in my life is brought into sharper focus. At the same time, I can’t help but wonder when I won’t feel like my parents’ child in their house.
In 2009, I began watching anime as it currently aired. It wasn’t long before I was writing about it. My first year of blogging was full of horrid, weekly recaps that described what happened, maybe gave grades for music, visuals, story, etc., and moved on to the next show after perhaps doing a separate series review that was much of the same.
Steins;Gate came at the time when I was finally shedding my self-imposed, unimaginative shackles of graded episodic recaps (this is in no way meant to be a reflection of episodic blogging as a whole, only my own inadequacies) and moving towards an editorial style, even when writing weekly. I wrote about Albert Camus’ The Plague while watching vampires slowly take over an entire town in Shiki, and later framed the entirety of Star Driver through the lens of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. For Steins;Gate specifically, I contemplated Mayuri “Mayushii” Shiina’s role in the story as a catalyst for Rintarou “Hououin Kyouma” Okabe.
It wasn’t the best or most original output, but I began to play around with the craft of writing via anime blogging and rediscovered my love for it. This remains the primary reason why I still blog to this day.