The Third Day; From Me to You.

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The flower bloomed. It wishes you a Merry Christmas.

I have already written about Aku no Hana and how it is important to me as a human being.

At heart, Aku no Hana is a story about many things. It is about a boy who gives into his deepest temptation, relishes and inevitably glorifies his own self-destruction. It is about sexuality and adolescence, about depression and joy, about the human condition packed into an angsty story with teenagers, about self control and the importance of self validation. I love all of these things about the series, but recently, I’ve begun to realize that Aku no Hana is not just important to me as a human being, but as a writer. Because in the end, the biggest thing that Aku no Hana means for me is not just about Kasuga and his journey to being a better person, but the entire manuscript overall saying one important word:

Improvement.

How so? Well, Kasuga grows up for instance. He no longer condemns himself to live in a cage of self loathing and finds that if anything exists in this world, it is love. His enjoyment of reading transforms from superficial to real. But it’s not just him. Oshimi Shuzo too, has changed. His portrayal of his characters is no longer fit into packed stereotypes; his drawings, more elaborate, stylistic, and powerful. The writing has become more fluid and poignant. Perhaps the biggest change – and most interesting one – is how Shuzo may have taken the genius of Nagahama and instilled the importance of setting into his work. Every chapter of Aku no Hana is half dialogue-less setting, filled with breathtaking shots of cities and lonely roads that are taken from real life. The entire work has transformed into something new, resonant, and even more solid than it was before.

Recently, I’ve begun to think about a lot of things: myself, my future, and my present. Rather than where I stand and where I want to stand, I’m more about who I’m standing with and the people around me who have made me become who I am today.  And as a result, my writing has changed. My priorities have changed. Perhaps the way I view anime has changed as well. As much as I enjoy intellectual discussion and love juicy aniblog posts about the real meaning behind Kill la Kill‘s controversial ‘male gaze’ lens, or Samurai Flamenco‘s metatextual format of the sentai genre, or even the last twenty minutes of Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion, gone is the constant and singular need to explain those things in an academic format. Aniblogging is no longer just a way of stating “this is how I think about [X] and [Y] based on [Z]” but a message to myself and my readers. It is also a platform of finding myself in anime – from the range of Uchouten‘s seasonal changes, to Nagi no Asakura‘s portrayals of racism, to Kyousougiga‘s messages about dysfunctional but inherently balanced families.

With change however, comes frustration. Posts are a little more difficult. I’ve never been quite good with honestly expressing my emotions on a stage to an unknown audience. And draft after draft, that frustration sometimes build up. Writers block happens. “How do I convey what I feel about and put it into a format that is accessible and enjoyable? How do I make this less about me and more about the work? Am I putting too much? Sacrificing too much? Will people even care?” My dream of making a post that satisfies both me and the people I want to send it too is often fraught with these flares of anger. The end result are scraps of drafts, tossed out and replaced with new ones, only to be scrapped again. For two weeks, I couldn’t even bring myself to write one post, because I hated the way I wrote and how it never reflected what I truly wanted to say.

But then I think a little about Aku no Hana. Kasuga is a boy who stops running away from what he fears most. Oshimi Shuzo too, strives to create that personal work that resonates with his audience and himself. Thinking about these things gives me strength, and so I pick up the pen, again and again. Maybe I won’t get it right this time, or the next. But I write in the hopes that one day, my style will improve more, and that there will be one post that bonds with the audience, just like how I bonded with Aku no Hana. You can always try again. You can always get better. The world is frightening, but it is also worth struggling for and has meaning.

Writing is a process that is very similar, and thus, I would like to end (or rather, begin) a phase – a year of so many efforts and personal triumphs – with one of my favorite quotes, which is not from a manga nor an anime, but rather from a book. “I have loved the words and I have hated them, and I hope I have made them right.”

This is from me to you, a message of the past and perhaps of what’s to come. Thank you for sticking with me to the very end. :)

“There would be punishment and pain, and there would be happiness, too. That was writing.” For future days!

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