Suffering the consequences of playing Anime Rental Roulette

With the news of the Blockbuster Airbnb on everyone’s tongue, it got me thinking about how video rental spaces shaped me as a fan. I made $6/hour working at McDonald’s in high school, so I put serious thought into the value of the anime I was buying. 

New anime releases regularly sold for $30 and came with 3-5 episodes. That’s $6-$10 per episode! Price-per-episode was the biggest deciding factor when making a purchase. It was common for me to buy a show I’d never heard of if the first volume had more episodes on it than something I knew I would like.

If something was sold at a discount, the decision-making process was even simpler:

  1. This exists in front of me right now.
  2. It’s only $15.
  3. Holy shit, there are five episodes on this disc‽

That’s how I ended up with the first volume of Samurai Deeper Kyo. The only thing notable about Samurai Deeper Kyo is that the 2008 box-set came with a Gameboy Advance game. This was the last game released for the system and could not be purchased separately

This bargain-hunter mindset is something I still have trouble shaking as an adult. Even when I can watch what amounts to unlimited anime for $10/month, I catch myself browsing fire sales. For fuck’s sake, I bought all of Kanonkon because it was on clearance.

Not being able to drive also put a damper on my teenage spending habits. Online retail was still pretty new, and I didn’t have a debit card anyway. Unless my mom drove me to the city, which wasn’t going to happen, I was limited to what was in biking distance.

Mr. Movies in New Richmond, WI. Not the store I grew up with. (Credit: CBS Minnesota)

Thankfully, we had a rental shop called Mr. Movies nearby. We also had a Blockbuster, but they charged so damn much that we only went there if Mr. Movies didn’t have what we wanted. I remember renting games from a local grocery store for $2/week when I was in college. The same game was $7 at Blockbuster for fewer days. Fuck that.

My earliest memory of renting anime is from 2003. I would watch anything during this time period, and I would rationalize until I enjoyed it. I don’t know what the goal was, but I refused to admit to myself that bad anime existed. That didn’t last very long.

Mr. Movies played a big role in this. When it only costs a few dollars to watch a show, you’re not as picky as when you’re buying something at full price. Sometimes you’ll get lucky. That’s how I first saw Akira and Berserk. But more often than not you would end up with something like Ninja Resurrection or Sin: The Movie. It’s a dangerous game of Anime Rental Roulette.

One day I rented ADV Film’s Doomed Megalopolis: Special Edition.

Trust me. Don’t click on that.

Doomed Megalopolis is the kind of show Anime Network is talking about when they say that anime is, “NOT KID’S STUFF.” It’s hyper-violent, hyper-sexual, and an all-around bad time for every woman in the cast. In Flowers from Hell, Jim Harper compares it to Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend

It’s that’s kind of show.

At this time in my life, I had seen Ninja Scroll more than once. I wasn’t new to disturbing anime, but Ninja Scroll also has fun with its characters. Jubei spends half the film snarking off and being a doof. Doomed Megalopolis is just plain mean. Nothing good happens to anyone over its 4-hour runtime.

Having recently revisited the series, I’m still not sure what I think about it. The animation is top-notch, and the pacing works surprisingly well for a story that’s told over several decades. But it’s also a tidal wave of nonsensical bloody nightmare visions and unrelenting misogyny. And it’s damn near incomprehensible.

Something changed in me when I watched Doomed Megalopolis as a teenager. I caught myself thinking, “Some parts of it were good. Anime is still good, right?” And anime was still good. 

Part of it. 

It would take a few more years, but I was on the path learning an important lesson about internalizing the media I consumed. Too often I see people battle with the cognitive dissonance that comes from making the entertainment they enjoy a defining part of their identity.

I watch anime and I consider myself part of the anime fandom community. When I joined this community, I had trouble admitting that anime wasn’t always perfect, because I thought that would mean that I wasn’t always perfect. That’s ridiculous mindset, because it’s not and I’m not.

I don’t remember renting anime from Mr. Movies after Doomed Megalopolis. It’s not that it broke me; I just ran out of things to rent and stopped going to the store. I saw what I needed to see and moved on. Of the 20 or so titles they carried, the only things I hadn’t rented were Record of Lodoss Wars and éX-Driver: The Movie.

I would rediscover my love of blindly renting titles with the Netflix anime catalog in 2008, but it doesn’t hit the same when you have a giant list to pick from. There’s also no mystery when you can watch trailers online. 

The days of Anime Rental Roulette were over.

In another world without anime in 2017

Being an anime fan is a strange thing sometimes. There are things about the fandom that you don’t often find in other communities. One of those things is the guilt we feel for not watching anime hard enough. We might still rewatch our favorite shows and attend conventions, but we’ll find ourselves in group settings with other fans afraid to admit that we haven’t kept up with the latest trends.

Conversely, we might be embarrassed because the only thing we are keeping up with is considered too mainstream. You may watch Toonami every Saturday, but you don’t feel like a real fan anymore.

We wear knowledge of obscure trivia as a badge of honer, as if knowing who directed that anime film from the 80s about secret police escorting an ambassador from the demon realm to a treaty signing really matters. It’s Yoshiaki Kawajiri, by the way. How do you not know that‽

We have this obsession with collecting that I’ve touched on before. We buy things for the sake of buying things. I once left an anime convention with a giant box of anime VHS tapes. For a time, I owned most of the US print run of Shonen Jump and Newtype. I didn’t even read them, I just liked knowing they existed near me.

That isn’t to say there aren’t super fans of other media. Lost and Game of Thrones are perfect examples of this. Fans of those series spent years analyzing frames and weird character details, crafting theories until their faces were red. But most people just watched the weekly episodes at face value and moved on with their lives.

Nobody casually watches Queen’s Blade.

Anime fans will spend an afternoon defending their hobby to non-fans that think it’s all porn, then spend all evening defending themselves to other fans because they still haven’t seen the uncensored hot springs OVAs. They haven’t been translated yet, Barry. Fucking chill.

What’s I’m getting at is that as long as I’ve been an anime fan I’ve felt this cognitive dissonance when I’m not actively watching something. In 2017 I didn’t watch anything.

After how productive of a fan I was in 2016, I failed to maintain that level of energy in 2017. And while it’s weird to apply the word productive in a situation like this, it’s weirdly appropriate. Because I often feel disconnected from fellow anime fans if I’m not watching something current.

I throw around the term Fake Anime Boy sarcastically on Twitter, but when I look at everything that was released in 2017 and I only recognize a few titles, it stops feeling like a joke.

So why wasn’t I watching anything? With all the strides I was making in my professional life, I was simultaneously making strides in my depressive life. My mental health was being run like a company with a new CEO that wanted to impress the overzealous shareholders. They wanted to bring things back to the glory days of 2014 depression, but with a modern approach.

Now that I was done with college, I had to find new ways to be self destructive. Phoning it in at work was a start, but not having a full-time job made it difficult to reach my worst potential. 

But don’t worry, I found a really nerdy way to outdo myself.

In the Summer of 2016, an arcade bar opened in my neighborhood. I had been there a few times, but it didn’t become a regular thing until after a bad breakup. Now that things were falling apart, this bar became my happy place. I started going every night. The deafening crowds and nostalgic pop music made it harder to hear the voices in my head.

I became addicted to games like Smash TV, Ice Cold Beer, and Hyper Sports spending hours at a time trying to best my high scores. When I wasn’t throwing away my savings trying to reach the Pleasure Dome, I was chain-smoking on the back patio. 

This is how I was first introduced to Killer Queen, a ten player indie arcade game that required two oversized cabinets and a lot of communication.

One of the league players asked if they could use my lighter. She asked me if I’d ever played Killer Queen. I hadn’t. I was familiar with the game, but I was always intimidated by how complicated the gameplay looked and how people would huddle around the cab to watch others play.

She convinced me to join her once the crowd had calmed down. After explaining the basic mechanics with the in-game tutorial we played a few casual games while I got the hang of things. And once I was introduced to the competitive scene, I was hooked. 

Killer Queen became my new routine. Every night I would go to the bar and play until the staff unplugged the cabinet at 2am and kicked us out. When I wasn’t playing, I was watching archived gameplay online. I started playing in tournaments and became friends with players from other cities.

Despite my devotion, I never became a star player. In fact, during nationals that year I didn’t make it past round one of the losers bracket. Turns out it’s harder to play video games while Two Beers In. But being part of this new community helped me crawl out of my funk. I was still an unhappy drunk, but at least I had things to look forward too again. I had friends.

But not having a steady job makes it very difficult to drink and play video games seven days a week. I solved this problem by selling all the junk that I had been hoarding my entire life. When an addict is backed into a corner, choosing between a liter of whiskey and the limited edition Pokemon Yellow Gameboy Color is easy. I didn’t need all of Inuyasha on DVD if meant I could drink for another week.

Fortunately, work started to pick back up in the Spring. I still wasn’t working full-time but between the occasional radio shift and recording voice over for religious cartoons, I was able to survive long enough until my next big film job.

And when that job did finally come, nothing that could’ve prepared me for what happened next.

The job itself was a nightmare, but the circumstances of its conclusion resulted in my move to New York. For the next two months, I would driving back-and-forth between Minnesota and New York, jumping from project to project, while simultaneously playing musical rent with my landlord. I don’t recommend that last bit. They don’t like when you do that.

In October I received a call from a friend in Brooklyn. Somehow they had gotten me a job on a major motion picture. The catch was that I needed to be in New York in seven days. I was already planning to move at the end of the month, but now I had to put the plan into overdrive.

I put the rest of my high ticket items on eBay with a three day window and sold the remainder to Half-Priced Books. What I couldn’t sell went into the industrial sized dumpster behind my apartment. At 11pm, after seven days of literally throwing my life in the trash, I put whatever would fit in my car and set out on the 20 hour drive to New York.

But something I didn’t account for was that I wasn’t driving to Brooklyn this time. The job was three hours upstate.

I made it to the hotel with just enough time to slam a beer and get 90 minutes of sleep before my shift. The next two months was spent sleeping on a mattress pad in my friend’s dining room while looking for an apartment.

By the end of the year, I was back on my feet. Sort of. I didn’t have a bed yet, but at least I was sleeping on my own floor. I rounded out the year by watching the Crunchyroll Holiday Special while drinking a mimosa and eating breakfast tacos. Considering how poorly the year went, I couldn’t have asked for a better conclusion.

And you thought there is never anime in 2016

The second half of 2015 brought on many positive changes. But I didn’t make it out of the darkness unscathed. Years of jumping financial hurdles, clinical depression, and more than one existential crisis left a blackness under my eyes that persists to this day. Things weren’t perfect, but they were the best they had ever been.

After returning home from working my first big paying gig, I was filled with a sense of pride and confidence for my work. This is something I had never felt before in a professional setting. And with good reason. Up to this point I was working jobs I didn’t care about. I was a pretty good pizza delivery driver, but that doesn’t mean anything after you clock out.

Now I was making art for a living. And while it would still be a few years before I contributed to any major piece of entertainment, the work I was doing was making a difference in people’s lives. There’s something different about the energy on lower budget projects. At that level of filmmaking, it’s not about money. The cast and crew are genuinely happy to be there.

The director spent over a decade saving the money to produce this film. He called in every favor anyone had ever owed him to make it happen. Much of the crew was right out of college. And some were still in college using it as the required internship to complete their degree. For the actors, this was their chance to fulfill their dream of being in a movie.

That doesn’t mean the movie was any good. It’s highly unlikely to hit a home run in this situation. None of us had a clue what we were doing. Most departments — including my own — were understaffed. And for some people it was the first time they’d ever been on a film set. But we were having the time of our lives figuring things out.

After completing this film, I joined the crew of another for the second half of their shooting schedule before finally taking a job as a sound engineer at an animation studio in the city. It wasn’t my dream job of being an ADR technician recording anime dubs, but for living in Minnesota it was pretty fucking close.


Oh, that’s right. This is anime blog. Not only was 2016 a big year for my career, it was big year for anime. And I even watched some of it this time.

January comes in hot with ERASED, a show where a guy travels through time to prevent a series of murders. Why can he do this? It’s anyones fucking guess. His powers also conveniently go away when the story concludes. But don’t let that nonsense prevent you from watching it. ERASED was one of the best shows of the year. And that’s saying a lot in 2016.

Winter also gave us Dimension W. I’ve been meaning to watch this since it came out. My friend Ryan tells me it’s terrible, but I’d like to figure that out for myself. The reason I’m so fixated on this show is because Funimation put out a series of behind-the-scenes videos while it was being produced, giving us a rare glimpse into the sound production side of the anime making process.

The Lost Village is about a group of people that hate their lives so much that they move to an imaginary ghost town to start over. A lot of people didn’t like this show, which is why I watched it. This was a very sensible thing to do as a person who doesn’t even watch what they’re interested in.

It was also written by Mari Okada, who I’m now realizing worked on lot of the anime that I’ve mentioned in this series of articles. Like, a lot of them. Along with Gen Urobuchi, Okada is part of a short list of anime writers that fans know the names of. And for good reason.

The Spring season didn’t fuck around. Both My Hero Academia and Re:Zero premiered.
With the conclusion of Bleach in 2012, anime fans were asking the question, “What will take its place in The Big Three?” Why does it have to be three? Don’t worry about it. What matters is that My Hero Academia brought the pain.

The mangaka, Kohei Horikoshi, even had a similar career progression as Taito Kubo. Bleach was written shortly after the early cancellation of Zombiepowder. My Hero Academia was written shortly after the even earlier cancellation of Barrage. I really enjoyed Barrage when it was running in Shonen Jump, but considering My Hero went on to outsell the American superhero comics it was influenced by, I think it worked out.

On the other side of the spectrum is Re:Zero, something I have difficulty describing what I like about it. It’s a fairly common isekai story full of cute characters and speech affectations. At one point the diverge from the main storyline to do a side-quest where they fight a mysterious time whale. Normally, I wound’t be into this type of thing.

I think the reason that Re:Zero works so well is that it combines everything good about 3×3 Eyes — except Keith David — and The Butterfly Effect — which could only have been improved if Ashton Kutcher’s girlfriend was a blue-haired maid.

A lot happened in the Spring, so we’re going to go through these quickly.

Berserk had a great opening theme song, but I couldn’t get passed the choice to animate everything like a Dreamcast game. Also, I wish I could erase the horse scene from my memory.

The Morose Mononokean is an alright yokai-of-week show that is most notable for being the last job Vic Mignonga will ever voice for Funimation.

The only thing I remember about Rewrite is that the first episode is nearly an hour long and it features the main character getting beat up by Yu-Gi-Oh while he’s trying to pee. That almost definitely didn’t really happen, but its something I’ve inexplicably associated with the show.

New Game! is about someone getting a job after high school working as artist for a popular video game series despite having no experience. Even in the world of anime where we have talking cats and people who change sex based on water temperature, this is a farfetched story idea. They also didn’t focus enough time on the loud drunk woman that didn’t wear pants for my taste.

Orange is if Future Diary was about telling your past self to bang that hot guy in class before he dies prematurely.

Sweetness & Lightning, a lighthearted show about cooking for your daughter, puts more care into the sound design than some mainstream movies.

Hybrid x Heart Magias Academy Ataraxia has too long of a title for a show about large breasted anime ladies that battle in power armor that can only be recharged by fucking the main character.

91 Days is the mobster revenge story that I needed after Baccano left a hole in my heart in 2007.

Deep breath.

Things slowed down for me at the end of the year with me only watching DRIFTERS, a historical fanfic from Kouta Hirano, the lunatic behind Hellsing. It can be hard to follow at times if you’re like me and slept through history class, but it’s still worth watching.

2016 is when I rediscovered my love of podcasting. And my output was higher than it’s ever been. I was doing an anime morning show everyday before work. On Thursdays, I did a three hour general topic show. And if that wasn’t enough, I also did a diary style show every other Wednesday for a few months.

But everything changed when I got a call to do a movie in New York that August.

The pay was bad. So bad that I actually lost money by accepting it. Normally, I would tell someone to turn an offer like this down, but the decision was Vindicated when it turned out to be one of the most important jobs of my career. And what eventually led to me moving there the following year

That job is also how I was able to attend my first Otakon because the shooting schedule overlapped with the con weekend. So after driving 20 hours from Minnesota to New York and spending five days lost in a new city, I found myself on a 5-hour Greyhound to Baltimore.

This may sound exciting; however, I was laughably broke and my phone didn’t work. Fortunately, my friend Tony offered to pay for my badge and drinks while I was in town. But that didn’t solve the phone issue.

For whatever reason, I couldn’t get service. This wasn’t a problem when I was near a WiFi hotspot, but there’s a lot of places in New York that don’t have them. Or they just don’t work. This forced me to learn the subway system through brute force and a series of screenshots.

It also meant that I was unable to call my friends when I arrived at the convention center. So I walked around holding my phone up like an idiot until I found WiFi and was able to tweet them. I’m still not sure how I pulled the trip off.

My bank account went negative purchasing my bus ticket home, and I got off at the wrong subway stop more than once when I was back in New York.

I’m still paying the price for accepting that job. Things worked out in the end, but my bank account took a hit that would take me years to recover from.

Over the next few months, I would regularly travel back and forth from Minnesota to New York. Sometimes for fun. But most of the time it was for a job. One time it started out as fun and turned into a job. 

I learned about myself and how to work on a real film set in New York. I also learned that even though I thought I wanted to work in a studio, I don’t. But something I learned that I think everybody should apply to their life is that you should always let people know when you’re going to be in town. 

Because you never know what kind of opportunities might be waiting for you.

Is it wrong to try to pick up anime in 2015?

After hitting rock bottom in 2014, I really needed to catch a break. And fortunately I did at the end of the year. Against All Odds, I got a job working at my alma matter as an Admissions Representative. This is a fancy way of saying someone who tricks people into signing up for student loans.

It’s a gross job, and I’m not proud of it. But if there’s some solace to be found, I was so transparent about what people would be signing up for that I was put on probation and almost fired.

While the job was soul crushing, it did open a lot of doors for me. I able to afford to live alone for the first time in my adult life. I could also start taking more risks in my preferred field of work. Agreeing to a low paying sound job to get your name circulating in the local film community is a lot easier to do when you can use your paid time off to do it.

But most importantly, my new salary would allow me to purchase anime that I would never watch at a speed that was previously unattainable.

While undeniably exciting, this is a habit that I started to examine in 2015. Why did I keep buying so much physical media if I was never going to watch it? Nearly all of the anime I was watching at the time was through streaming services. In fact, I don’t think I’ve watched anime or otherwise on a physical disc in two years!

Part of why I kept buying so much anime was habit. It’s just something that I’d always done as a fan. Going to the store and browsing the anime section was an adventure when I was in high school. In 2004, Best Buy and Suncoast carried so much anime that it would take me hours to look at everything. And I was so fresh to the fandom that every title was new to me.

This left such impact on me that I still consider it the Golden Age of Anime.

Pride also factors into why I made so many irresponsible anime purchasing decisions. Coming from a time when anime was $30 for a four episode disc, a large anime collection was a sign of wealth. Similar to how a rapper will flaunt their gold chains, anime fans will show off their collections. But that stops meaning something when you can buy all of Kokoro Connect for $4.99.

Still not worth it, by the way.

Now it just shows that we’re all morons. We used to only buy the shows that were important to us. Now we buy stuff we don’t even care about because we remember how bad it used to. “How could I not buy the He is my Master Complete Collection? It’s only $5.14! In this economy you need to know how to recognize a bargain!”

There’s also the simple fact that opening a new anime box set is fun. Tearing off the shrink wrap and waging war against those stupid security stickers sends a rush of dopamine to the brain. And it should. Because those stickers are a pain in the ass and it feels good to make them suffer. 

And here’s a thought: maybe we should stop calling them box sets in 2020. When an entire series can fit on two discs in a single case, it’s not exactly a box anymore.

The fallacy of my attachment to physical things began to show its head when I quit my office job and left town for a month to work on a feature film. Telling my boss that I was quitting right as she was about to fire me is still one of the greatest moments of my life.

And working on that film is still one of the most stressful moments of my life. But it helped me learn that I didn’t need things to be happy. Turns out, I didn’t miss my stuff as much as I thought I would.

And that doesn’t mean that I think we should buy things we love. But I used to have a shelf full of so much anime and manga that it almost collapsed under it’s own weight. It would be different if I was actively enjoying that media on a regular basis, but it just collected dust until I moved.

I wish I could say that I kept that energy moving forward, but decades of capitalistic programming can’t be overwritten so easily.

Wow! That’s a crazy target that I went on. Good thing I didn’t spend that much time watching anime or this entry would be interminable.
So did I actually watch anime this year?

I mentioned in my 2013 entry that I watched Attack on Titan a few years after it was released. This is when that happened. It took me a while to get internet when I moved to my new apartment, and it forced me to start watching things from my embarrassingly large collection of media.

I know. It’s one of the arguments against living a stream-only lifestyle. Can’t watch anything without the internet. But my current apartment is too small for me to have an anime watching insurance plan. I also still have all those episodes of Yu Yu Hakusho on hard drive somewhere, so blow me.

So without the internet for three weeks, and growing tired of watching Hot Tub Time Machine for the seventh time, I began making a dent in my anime library. This involved watching Dragon Ball Z season one for the first time, and buying even more anime because I didn’t want to make too much of a dent.

Speaking of DBZ, this when Dragon Ball Super was launched. It really bothers me that they couldn’t just let that story stay done. I know people are really enjoying it right now, but I thought we learned our lesson from GT? It’s okay for your favorite thing to have a conclusion.

Death Parade came out this year, but I wouldn’t watch it until 2018. I really enjoyed the series, but it tries too hard in the end and fails to do anything meaningful. The creator/director, Yuzuru Tachikawa, would go on to direct the critically acclaimed Mob Psycho 100 next year, and blow peoples minds in 2020 with the big reveal in Deca-Dence episode two.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon is something that will be forever known as “That show with the boob ribbon.”

Rin-ne will forever be known as something that failed to maintain the momentum of Inuyasha, proving that even a juggernaut like Rumiko Takashi will occasionally miss. The manga still ran for 40 volumes and sold over three million copies, which would be a success story for anyone else. But when you compare this to Takahashi’s back catalog, it might have been a better idea for her to retire early.

Not to be outdone by Takahashi, Yasuhiro Nightow failed to recapture the glory of his Trigun days with Blood Blockade Battlefront. The most notable thing about this show is that I struggle to say its name out loud. Fortunately for Japanese fans, Kekkai Sensen is much easier on the tongue.

In the Summer, there was a 24 episode show called Gate. The only reason I’m bringing it up is for the sake of a joke I’m about to make.

Speaking of gates…Prison School also aired in the Summer. There’s a certain gate-centric community that still won’t shut up about that time the Prison School dub made fun of them. I’ll let you research that story on your own.

I’m sure the same people that got mad about the Prison School dub are the same ones that watched K: Return of Kings thinking it was an anime adaptation of Roosh V’s blog.
I know that was a stupid joke, but I refuse to believe anyone has read this far expecting anything less of me.

Wrapping up the year, I think everyone would agree with me when I say that the highlight of 2015 was Crunchyroll’s Christmas Special hosted by Mike Toole. I don’t know who green-lit this bizarre gem of anti-comedy, but I’m glad they did. 

And I especially love that they bought a bunch of early morning infomercial slots to get it aired on cable TV. I’m sure they confused at least one middle-aged dad that stumbled upon it on accident while drinking his morning coffee.

Alright so I didn’t do much in the way of anime this year either.

After college, I was fired from my first internship. An unpaid internship, to be specific. And I wasn’t fired because of my performance, I was fired because I chose a salary job with benefits over working for free in a studio. Nevertheless, this was still discouraging. 

So I gave up for a while. My office job was paying enough that I didn’t really care about “making it” anymore. For the first time I wasn’t struggle to get by, and that was enough.
Then one day I came into work and found out that a coworker had ended their life over the weekend.

This was a huge kick in the ass that forced me to take inventory of what really mattered in my life. I’d spent enough time on autopilot, and decided it was time to focus all of my energy to starting a career in sound. Part of this involved making new friends and taking a nine month break from podcasting.

And I’m glad that I did, because otherwise I might not have been prepared for what would happen in 2016.

No anime in 2014, no life

In 2014 I was hit with a depression harder than I had ever felt. I was drinking more. Sleeping more. I stopped caring about everything. The passion that I felt for my studies was no longer strong enough to distract me from what was happening in my head.

I began skipping class and putting minimal effort into my homework assignments. Graduating with a perfect report card no longer mattered to me. My behavior didn’t go unnoticed. Teachers that once praised me, started calling me out in front of the class. And things only got worse when I graduated and couldn’t find a job.

Despite everything going wrong, there was still a light of hope that got me through even the worst of days — anime.

Just kidding. It was alcohol and porn.

With an introduction as dark as that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I didn’t really watch a lot this year. I was too busy being unable to keep up with my bills and finding the motivation to eat.

Was Space Dandy as good as everyone thought it would be? I know it ran on Adult Swim, but I don’t think I’ve ever met someone that watched it.

Something I did watch was Super Sonico. Because sometimes when you’re sad, the only thing that can cheer you up is a large breasted anime character designed to sell headphones.

The highlight of the Winter season — and probably the year — was the Chunibyo sequel. This is an anime where there’s an episode dedicated to competitive napping. The antithesis of this energy would be found in Wake Up, Girls.

Something that surprised me, was that they made more Mushishi. Something that shouldn’t surprise you, is that I didn’t watch it.

I have a weird history with Mushishi. When I was 18, I would frequent websites that offered anime via direct download. This was very important to me because I didn’t understand how torrenting worked. For many years this was how I watched most of my anime outside of what was on TV.

Some sites would encode dubbed episodes at a laughably low bitrate. This was perfect for me because I preferred dubs and had dial-up internet. I watched all of Yu Yu Hakusho and Chobits this way.

I found Mushishi on a site like this. It didn’t have a dub at the time, so they raised the bitrate just enough so the burnt-in subtitles would be readable. The site only had two other titles — Night Head Genesis and Fate/Stay Night. I downloaded, but never watched Fate/Stay Night. Considering that they’re still making entries in that series, I think I made right call.

The point that I’m getting at is that it was surprising to see a sequel to an obscure show about a ghost bug doctor ten years later. But I shouldn’t be too surprised because this is the same season that gave us a sequel to The Kindaichi Case Files, a show from the 90s.

They also made more Dragon Ball Z Kai, something that still perplexes me. I know DBZ is a titan of a franchise, but has any other series received a remix treatment like this? And wasn’t the whole point of Kai that it was supposed to end after the Cell Games because that was Toriyama’s original vision?

Eh. What do I know? My favorite part of DBZ was The Great Saiyaman arc.

Knights of Sidonia was the first anime to become a Netflix Original, paving the way for more important things like Grappler Baki. We’ll talk about that more in 2018.
It appears that I have nothing to say about the Summer season, so let’s just pretend it didn’t happen.

In the Fall, we got Terra Formars. The only thing I know about Terra Formars is that some people said it was racist. I don’t know if this is true or not because I didn’t want to watch a show about space cockroaches. I was already plagued by Miss Misery, the last thing I needed was to have nightmares about sentient bug people.

I guess Parasyte also came out. That was kind of weird considering when the manga was written. Even the reissue was ten years ago at this point. I’m sure it was good. I think it ran on Toonami. I don’t know. This is another manga I forgot I was reading because of the long release schedule.

That’s kind of it.

2014 was not a good year for me. But it was also the best year for me. I graduated from college with honors. I moved back to the Minneapolis after spending 15 years rotting away in various suburbs. And most importantly, this was the year that I discovered my love for working on film sets.

The first movie I ever worked on was shot over five day at a local bar during closing hours. I was still going to school full-time, so this meant that I didn’t get to sleep very much. When I got this job I thought it was because someone saw my potential and was taking a chance on me.

The reality is that they didn’t want to do a week of overnights for a crappy rate and I was the only person dumb enough to say yes.

Should I have been upset for being taken advantage of? Maybe. But I didn’t care because for the first time I was going to be able to pay my rent with money I earned working in my field.

It would be almost two years before I would be able to do this again.

Going to an art school is terrifying. It’s fun while you’re there because you’re surrounded by creativity, but when you graduate you’re faced with the harsh reality that turning your passion into a career is not going to be a good time. People smarter and more talented than me struggle to do it. Many of my colleagues simply gave up and got jobs at Guitar Center.

Unless you have prior connections, it almost always comes down to luck. But luck isn’t just randomly getting a break. Luck is the combination of being in the right place, at the right time, and being ready.

2014 is when I learned to be ready.