Change is Inevitable

First off: Hello! I have been off of here for a while. Not avoiding my blog per se, but resisting writing by a combination of prolonged procrastination and distracting myself with other things ( The weather has finally been nice in Wisconsin). I will try to start writing more again because I do feel a little better when I do.

I got to thinking about parenting and anime again recently…a big surprise given the content of my blog.
What got me thinking was how I have been letting my younger son watch a few things that I previously had kept him away from. This is only makes sense as he gets older though.

As kids get older, they mature (hopefully), they are able to take in new information, and react to it in a more thoughtful way. Parenting is not static, your approach and how you view your child needs to evolve over time.

With some shows, I have just allowed it. Other shows, I still restrict. And some I will watch with him, so as to discuss the content of what he watched to monitor how he is reacting to the more controversial parts of a show.

The series that got me thinking about this was the Monogatari series. I love this series (as many of you may know already). He’s been bugging me for a long time to watch it and I have always responded with a resounding : “Nooooo”.

At some point I changed my mind. Why? I have no idea.

Araragi is a bit of a cretin…

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He creeps on Hachikuji…

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And then there’s Kanbaru…

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So there are many reasons as a parent to have reservations. However, I realize he is getting older and stuff he discusses with his peers are just as awful.

But the thing that made me have the most reservations was in Nisemonogatari…You know what it is…everyone knows…the toothbrush scene. I don’t even like this scene. It’s creepy. It’s the thing I dislike about the series the most. Nisemonogatari is my least favorite of the series, but it does have some great conversations and exposition that becomes important later.

So…I have been watching the series with him. He saw the toothbrush scene…How did he react? With extreme discomfort. Good. He should. He said it was one of the most uncomfortable things he’s watched. I’m happy he felt that way rather than complacent.

I think that is a side benefit of being a fan of anime (and this can apply to other media as well) when your kids watch it. It opens the floor for discussion. A myriad of issues can be discussed that may not have come up otherwise. I can talk with him and express my view that Araragi is a creepy dude in many ways, I can steer him to think about these things, and I see what he is thinking.

Now that being said, the Monogatari series really is great in many other ways. It is a dialog heavy show with rapid fire wit and discourse, which is why I love it so and wanted to share it.

Sometimes you take the good with the bad, but opening a dialog helps frame the bad in a new context.

Watch anime.

Watch anime with your kids.

Watch and discuss anime with your kids.

These are just some thought that crossed my mind of late.

Until next time: Happy viewing!

 

Non Anime Fun

Okay while we all love anime there are other things out there…calm down, I’m not blaspheming. I still love my shows, but there are other ways I keep myself entertained as well.

Here’s a few things of late:

Walking and Pokemon Go. The weather has finally gotten nice again which means It’s time for me to go wander in parks go and catch Pokemon sometimes (yes I still play sometimes) and take photos sometimes…just on my phone for fun.

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Eat Your Science with Alton Brown.

 Alton Brown (Good Eats on the Food Network) came to town to do his live show a couple of weeks ago. My younger son likes Good Eats, as do I, so being a bit of a cook we went to see his how. It was a great time. More stories and comedy than cooking and science, but still a really good time.

 

The Book of Mormon

 The spectacular Broadway musical from Trey Parker and Matt Stone. I took my older son to it last week and it was absolutely wonderful. Hilarious. Outstanding singing and dancing. Humor that you would expect from the creators of South Park.

 

Preacher

 This show based off the comic book by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon is great. The first season is available on Hulu. Great story, acting, and boy does it get brutal at times. Give it a watch! (not for kids)

Aside from that we are getting ready to hit Anime Central next weekend. What have you been doing besides watching anime?

Teens, Fandoms, and Parenting

Parenting teens is a minefield at times. The amount of content from the entertainment industry, and it’s resulting fandoms, is immense. Mind boggling really. But…I think this has been the case in most of modern history. Each successive generation looks at that their children and what they like as teens and thinks: “What the hell? It wasn’t like that when I was younger.”

It wasn’t. But that fact shouldn’t paralyze you.

I had some thoughts about this. It comes from my own experiences as a parent and from my former life when I worked with teens. Take the following words as a point of view, not a parenting guide. Everyone has to figure stuff out on what works best for them for themselves and their family.

I am a nerdy dad. I like a wide variety of music. I watch anime, sci-fi/ fantasy, and am mildly literate in the world of internet memes. Having two teen boys, I do okay. I can connect with them on things that they happen to like.

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 But is it that simple?

Yes and no.

It’s not enough to have off beat interests. It also means being interested in your teen’s world.

Teen years are one of increasing independence. Their peer group becomes a lot more important. They try on new personalities. Develop their own interests.

As a parent this is both cool to see and potentially frightening and sad. That kid who was once super dependent on you, now is less so. They don’t think the stuff you like is that cool anymore. They like stuff that is weird that their friends introduced them to. You have lost influence. In losing that, it also feel like you lose connection to them. That’s hard.

So what do parents do sometimes? They try to reconnect with their kids. Show them things that you think are cool. Criticize the things that they like also happens.

This works and doesn’t to varying degrees.

In order to bond with your teens, what has kid of worked for me, is joining.

“Joining” is a term that I picked up from my Family Therapy background. It means just that. You “join”, or ally, yourself with another person.

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 So how do you do this with your teen?

What do they like? Do they watch anime? Vampire Diaries? Steven Universe? Do they play Undertale? Overwatch? Listen to some band you have never heard of?

Find ways to ask them about it. Not in an over bearing way.

Watch an episode of their favorite show with them. If the show isn’t something you would typically like, is there an element you do like about it? Why do they like it? Why is it cool to them.

Sometimes the answers will surprise you. I never would have given much thought to Steven Universe if I hadn’t listened to my boys talk about the messages around inclusion that the show has. That’s cool! And it’s cool that they value this!

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 What about the music they listen to? Let them play you the music they like. Find the elements that you can appreciate about it and tell them. I don’t like every song that my boys like, and they know this. But I also don’t tell them that what they like sucks…when you do that you shut down communication. Find out what they like and why.

Having an interest in what is important to your teen goes a long way.

Having said this, here is the crux: It has to be a genuine interest. You can’t just be feigning interest to push your point of view. They can sense that.

Does this mean you need to like or validate all things? Absolutely not.

But by joining with your kids to see why they are fans of what they are fans of helps open dialog.

I’m never going to validate things that are openly racist, homophobic, sexist, or abusive and my boys know this. I will have that discussion with them.

Which brings us to fandoms…

It is where people go from liking a thing, to the online (sometimes obsessive) fan expressions of devotion to what ever that thing may be.

Fandoms can run the spectrum from being positive or innocuous to creepy and/or abusive.

Be aware of this as a parent. If you are able, talk to your teen about it. If you have a concern: express it. This doesn’t mean trying to ban them from being a fan or viewing fan material online, but do talk honestly about your concerns. Teens should be given the tools to know to draw appropriate boundaries between themselves, what they like, and unhealthy expressions of what they like. There are people in fandoms that create creepy content (why does there need to be MLP porn?) and people who get abusive online about their fandom. Have conversations about this.

This is an incoherent post, I know.

But it had some thoughts IU wanted to express.

Until next time: Happy viewing!

Feel free to comment.

 

 

“Your Name” at last! *spoilers*

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Kimi no Na wa

  I, like many people, have been waiting all year for this to come out.

 Last Sunday I was able to go see it in the theaters finally. Myself, a friend and my boys all went to see the English dub version.

 It was excellent.

 Beautiful.

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 The story was great. A little slow in the start, but that was to be expected. And at times, almost made me cry. Very sweet.

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 Radwimps provided the music, which was also great.

Attention Parents: Just go see it!

 

I loved it. I hope you do as well. I really don’t have anything else to add.
Until next time: Happy Viewing!

My Surprises From The Winter 2017 Season

More recently I haven’t been very aware of what is coming out in the new anime seasons unless it’s a second season of a show that I previously watch and enjoyed. So as I went into finding shows to watch in the winter 2017 season, I was flying blind.

So how do I choose? Look at the graphic and read the brief description on Crunchyroll. That’s about it. If I have been active on my blog and reading other’s posts, I will sometime take cues from there as well.

There were two surprises for me this season. Neither grabbed me on the first episode necessarily, but grew on me over time. They both ended up to be enjoyable shows that surprised me at how much I liked them.

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Interviews With Monster Girls

On the surface, this is just a moe sort of show. Cute girls that just happen to be monsters. And I suppose on the surface that’s what it is. But underneath that it held a nice heart.

The show centers around Sensei Takahashi getting to understand more about his demi-human (“demi”) students and what it is to be a vampire, succubus, snow woman, or dullahan. He starts this somewhat out of academic interest, but later sees the unique challenges that each of these students (and the succubus teacher) face.

The underlying heart of the show (to me) was more about the struggle many face in adolescence (and later in life for that matter). Finding your place in the world. Finding people who accept and understand who you are. Being accepted, not by ignoring your differences, but accepting them as an okay part of who you are.

That, to me, is the heart of the show. Acceptance and friendship.

While this may be a common theme in shows, I feel like they executed it well.

It is mildly fan service-y at times, but what can you expect I suppose…annoying yes, but common.

The animation is good. Not the best of the best, but well done and it fits the show.

Watch it. It’s funny, sweet, and well done. It left me wanting more.

Attention Parents: The show is mildly fan service-y. Several boob-focused moments. Some mildly suggestive talk. That’s about it for objectionable material (unless you are against stories about monsters).  It’s not ecchi mind you, but now you know what to expect.

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Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

I started out this show with great hesitation.

There were some definite early mildly ecchi moments that made me roll my eyes and question whether I was going to continue with the show.

I’m glad I did.

It turned out to be one of my favorite of the season. Once again, because it had a heart underneath that was hard to ignore.

On the surface it had all (and I mean all) of the moe trappings. Maids, cute kids, dragons, a goth butler sort, and an extremely chesty woman (dragon). It almost felt like pandering to the audience.

However it made up for it in the sweet, real feeling relationships between the characters.

I found that it had a similar theme to “Monster Girls” in that it was people seeking their place they fit in the world. Tohru (the dragon maid) leaves her other dimension of war and conflict with humans and finds a place of love and acceptance. Her other dragon friends who come to live among the humans of this world do as well. It is almost a bit of a metaphor for the feelings of loneliness in this modern world. The desire for connection and to share a life with another.

That’s what resonated with me. People finding connection and building a sense of home.

Attention Parents: There is a definite fair amount of fan service. This is mostly in the form of a scantily clad woman (dragon…excuse me exiled feathered serpent god) and a few comments from Tohru early on.

In spite of all the trappings of moe and the fan service bits this show really redeems itself. It is funny and sweet. The characters are enjoyable (including Miss Kobayashi) and you see their growth throughout the show. It’s well worth the watch!

Until Next time: Happy Viewing!

Sometimes a Basic Show Can Be Enjoyable

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Fuuka

On paper this show isn’t what I’d deem as remarkable. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable.

Fuuka was a pretty straight forward show. It all felt pretty familiar. Boy meets unique girl. They have experiences together. Feeling grow. There is a barrier to overcome. Boy and girl come together. Oh yeah, and there is a band that follows a similar course (because said boy and girl are in the band).

Arguably, one could say a lot of shows follow this pattern. They wouldn’t be wrong. Fuuka just seemed rather obvious in it’s presentation and that stood out to me.

Despite this, I still enjoyed the show.

The animation was decent.

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It had pretty good music (which one would hope seeing it was about a band).

As I understand, the story in the anime diverges a bunch from the manga (not too surprising). So, maybe this was why the story was not as compelling as it could have been…Who knows?

 I still enjoyed it and didn’t feel like it was a waste of time despite my misgivings about the formulaic feel of the story. Sometimes that is okay.

 Watch it. Don’t expect anything earth-shattering. Just a pleasant little show about teens, unrequited love, love, and a band.

Attention Parents: Aside from a brief: “you’re a pervert for trying to look at my panties” scene in the beginning, the show is mostly harmless. No real violence to speak of, not fan service-y, low to no cursing. A pretty safe watch.

Until next time: Happy Viewing!

On The Importance of Conventions

This subject has been in the back of my mind for a while now. I originally started this draft as just a title over a year ago, but here it is again, ever present in my thinking. And that is on the importance of conventions.

We (my two boys, their cousin, and best friend) just attended our first (of 3) anime conventions this year, Anime Milwaukee, a month ago.

There are all the regular trappings of conventions: the merch room, artist alley, video and tabletop gaming, guest panels, and cosplayers. These things alone set it up for an interesting weekend to be sure…but I perceive there to be a greater impact.

I was reminded of this during the “LGBTQ+& Anime Cultures” panel. I attended this panel out of curiosity and as a dad of a gay teen I sometimes feel it important (for me) to get a deeper perspective into things that affect his world. It was presented by the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center. It was a good panel. But one of the most things I walked away from the panel was the message of inclusion and having a safe space where individuals, no matter how they identify, feel like they can be themselves.

(Visit their site and support them or organizations like them in your community. http://www.mkelgbt.org/ )

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 I made sure to thank them afterwords. As a dad it makes a great impression and means a lot to me. While my son has a supportive family and group of great friends, not all people do and many struggle with being accepted and loved by those around them. Panels like these are important and I appreciate them.

 It’s not the only place I have heard messages like this at a Con. Anime Midwest is the first place I encountered this. Voice actor and D.J., Greg Ayres has been doing his “It Gets Better- Con Edition” panel there (and at other Cons) for the past several years. Greg’s panels include much of the same message, but is expansive beyond the LGBTQ community, but to those who are different (in the many ways we can be). But the overarching message is to be good to one another, be accepting, one of inclusion.

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(Go see this panel and say hi to Greg!)

 And as I walked through Anime Milwaukee I reflected on this. I saw all spectrum’s of race, gender, sexuality, size, and age. I saw all levels of fandom, from casual to hardcore. Anime otakus and gamers. People had a place to unite.

 A community.

 It gives me hope.

 In a time when there is increasing division and the politics of hate is prevalent. Where cynical politicians and intolerant, angry people are trying to legitimize racism, sexism, and homophobia, there is something else.

 The Importance of a Convention.

 It is there to help you realize, not all people are like that. That you can have a diverse community. That you can, and should, celebrate and love those around you. That we are better than the hatred that streams through our media filters daily.

 Conventions give me hope…and I love that!!!

 Go to a con near you and get some hope. See something new. Celebrate that there are people different than you and know that this is okay.

 Then let that inspire you and take it outside the con. Give to your time or money to something that you care deeply about. Stop getting in fights on social media and spread love and inclusion where you can.

 Just some thoughts from dadwatchesanime…

 Some of people I saw at Anime Milwaukee.

Oh yeah, I met Vic Minogna. That was cool. I got a FMA Brotherhood scroll signed for the boys.

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Until next time: Happy Viewing!

In Defense of Yuri…On Ice

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People need to chill the hell out.

Mostly, overly excited weeaboos need to calm down.

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What I’m talking about is the fact that many seemed to be weirdly out of sorts because Yuri on Ice has won now two awards for the “Best Anime of the Year”. YOI has gotten this from Crunchyroll’s  first “Anime of the Year” awards and from the fan polls for “Animation of the Year” at the Tokyo Anime Award Festival.

Some fans are horribly put off by this. They believe Mob Psycho 100, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure,  or whatever they happen to like more deserves it more.

Maybe they are right in some respects, but are wrong in others.

I enjoyed YOI . I thought it was a well put together story. A good sports anime. It had a great soundtrack and it’s dub was good as well. It was emotionally engaging and had a sweet love story that was also part of the show. The animation was decent.

Was it the best??? Not necessarily. The animation wasn’t as clear and pristine as Sound! Euphonium.  It wasn’t as unique as Mob Psycho 100. Erased was more emotionally intense by far. But that isn’t what awards are always about.

Awards, a lot of the time, are more of a reflection of popularity and impact. Sorry kids: sometimes the popularity contests of high school seep out into the real world. Sad, but true. YOI had a large impact that brought it a huge amount of attention outside of it’s normal fan base, and (sorry…not sorry) that matters.

I am actually happy it won. For a few reasons:

1) I liked it. A lot. Nice show. Emotionally engaging. Great soundtrack. Overall enjoyable watch.

2) Yuri and Victor’s relationship was important. The very fact of the matter was that a same sex romantic relationship was portrayed in the show, not as the central purpose/ plot of the show, but rather as a matter of fact is huge. The relationship was there and presented as a normal thing. Not a struggle. Not something to be dissected and discussed at length. It normalized a same sex relationship and didn’t make it a big deal, which is a big deal to many people in the LGBTQ community and those who count themselves as an ally (myself included) to this community.

3) It brought more attention to anime. It got people excited about anime. When a show is a big deal and reaches beyond it’s fandom, it helps the industry as a whole. Some of my favorite shows are not big with the American anime community, but huge in Japan. The more attention a show gets, the more it will potentially legitimize the industry as a whole outside of Japan, which means more projects will get attention that you may end up liking (or like already).

 

I get why some people get in a stir, but overall this is just immature drama. I grew up liking stuff no one else liked. I loved Sci-fi and Heavy Metal. My stuff didn’t get the attention of the awards community. I got over it. So should you (if you are in a stir), it’s not worth being concerned about. Next year some other show will win: Some people will be happy, some will be pissed, the cycle will continue. Don’t sweat it, just watch more anime.

Dad lecture over.

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Until next time: Happy Viewing!

 

Hey…Wait…What?

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Heybot

So a few weeks back my boys were over for the weekend. I had stolen the PS3 controller from my younger son and was looking for something other than the Hunter x Hunter marathon he was planning (he has been watching it, but I haven’t).

I started the first episode of Tigermask (as a bit of a joke), had a laugh, but quickly gave it up. Then I decided to (also as a joke on him) play an episode of Heybot.

My first impressions were one of mystified amusement. My son was repeatedly laughing and asking: “What the hell is going on.”

First impressions are sometimes on the nose.

We got over halfway through the first episode, then decided his older brother needed to watch it as well. So we called him in and restarted the episode. His reaction was much the same. “It’s as if someone did a bunch of cocaine and hallucinogens and then decided to make a show” was his description.

I wasn’t going to argue this.

Heybot is, I guess, a show aimed at a younger audience. The show takes place on the fictional island of Nejigajima and follows the Prince of this island and his robot (Heybot). They collect screws to use to compete in battles to tell the best joke. The island is all about these screws. The  Prince is creepily obsessed with screws. No, really. He creeps out other characters with his obsession.

The humor is fast paced, often juvenile, random, and occasionally clever. They do like to mess about with anime tropes on a regular basis. Not in a subtle way mind you. The humor does work. Often in a very confused what-the-hell sort of way, but it does get a chuckle.

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  The animation is nothing to write home about. It’s kid’s show style of animation. It is not bad for what it is and fits the format well.

Attention Parents: Mostly the show is harmless. There is some sexual suggestiveness in parts and bad body humor.

Would I recommend this show?

Maybe? My son now likes it (or at least watches it for the weird factor). I have gotten laughs out of it. Give it a try if you want to watch an off-beat, random show.

Until next time: Happy Viewing!