Thoughts That Move’s Greatest Hits, Volume 1

One of the hurdles presented by WordPress’ format is that it’s difficult to provide visibility to older content. In light of this, I’m creating a “greatest hits” compilation of my personal favorite articles as a means of curation for new readers. Think of this as a starting guide for Thoughts That Move. Additionally, you can look at this as me giving post-mortem commentary on the pieces I’ve written. New entries will come out every four or five months. I’ll also be linking to the tag in the home bar of the site to maintain its presence.

In other words, these are the singles and deep cuts. Here’s how the system works (and heads up, this is all gonna sound ridiculously conceited):

Chart-Topper status is reserved for the select few pieces that have defined this blog. If you only read a few articles, make it these.

Singles are what I consider my top-shelf content, the marquee titles that have been both personal and reader favorites.

Deep Cuts are the pieces worth highlighting for their “historical” (lol) significance, niche appeal, etc.

Anything not included here is considered a B-Side, which is to say that I don’t feel the quality of the writing holds up and/or I don’t stand by the points presented wherein.

Tip: make use of your browser’s search function to jump to entries in each category as there’s admittedly a lot to wade through here. And don’t feel like you need to read it all! Seriously, I wouldn’t either. Pick what you think looks interesting.

Deep Cut – Manchester by the Sea has a Lee problem – January 12, 2017

This was the very first post on the blog, and because of that it earns a place on this list for posterity’s sake. After seeing Manchester by the Sea in the theater– an experience I felt particularly apathetic towards– I took to the blog to dissent the critical praise it had received. The bugbear I focused on was that I was given no reason to care about Lee and as such the ways in which the film tried to make me feel uncomfortable lacked substance. I used the first scene from The End of Evangelion (you know the one) as a foil to this, showing how the flagrant debauchery on display worked because we were already deeply invested in the characters.

Deep Cut – Why I’m moving away from anime simulcasts (and thoughts on series structure) – January 16, 2017

I’m including this post to clarify a question I’m sometimes asked as to why I’m not watching current-season series. I’ve still held to this although I don’t feel quite as strongly about it as I did at the time of writing. Over the few years prior I had watched a ridiculous amount of current anime so it’s still weird to be out of the loop but I also don’t feel I’ve missed much, and some of the less-than-great series I might have watched just to fill a quota aren’t missed at all.

Also in the piece: I throw shade at Netflix’s decision not to simulcast anime. I still stand by this being completely shitty move that hurts the community and corners people into pirating as a necessity.

Single – J-pop personas: Perfume, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Hatsune Miku, and how they’ve changed my life – January 23, 2017

This was the first time I got super personal on the blog, recounting my love for the J-pop acts mentioned in the title, along with analysis of each’s personas and my experiences at their concerts. Anime, film and gaming are things I love to death but music is my longest-running passion, especially live music (if you follow me on Twitter, you know that I go to concerts on the regular). Even so, writing about music is a challenge, but I think I did as good of a job as I could here. Definitely a favorite of mine.

Deep Cut – On Your Name’s Oscar snub – January 24, 2017

This one’s mostly here for the sake of it being an important message and the first piece to pick up traction outside of the handful of people reading at the time. The Oscars have come and gone, but I think it’s important to remember that we don’t need their validation to justify our hobby.

Single – An analysis of Less Than Zero (1987) – January 30, 2017

This is one of my favorite films, albeit a forgotten relic of its time and one that had mixed reception upon release. To me (watching it nearly three decades after its release), people just didn’t understand it, and I’d been holding in these thoughts without an outlet for some time. This is the first analysis of mine that I feel captured what I wanted to say in a convincing manner, and finding metaphors in screencaps was a cool exercise that I want to do more of.

A little piece of trivia: this was originally supposed to kick off a series called “Underview” where I talked about pieces of media that I felt were either forgotten or under-appreciated. Of course, such a concept is flawed from the beginning: by talking about things people don’t know/care about I’m effectively limiting my audience, and spending my time focusing on that isn’t the best choice when trying to get a new blog rolling.

Single – A modern contextualization of Serial Experiments Lain – February 6, 2017

We’ve landed upon one of my favorite pieces to trot out whenever I get the chance, which has actually been pretty often! After watching Lain I was inspired to discuss the way I felt it was ahead of its time, reflecting the constant attachment to the internet prevalent in modern culture where we’re constantly glued to our smartphones and the like. I also hit upon how I saw my struggles with depression reflected in the series. I might call it my favorite analytical anime piece? Although some readers would definitely contest that it’s the following…

Single – Dissecting Monogatari: “Hitagi Crab” – Bakemonogatari – February 25, 2017 & Mayoi Snail – March 10, 2017

So yeah, this is the project where I analyze Monogatari arc-by-arc. An ambitious undertaking for sure, and I only got the first two arcs out before putting it on hiatus. There’s not much to say about this other than it’s what it says on the tin and if you like Monogatari then these will be up your alley. I’ll eventually be returning to this project, even if it kills me.

Deep Cut – In response to “How To Make ‘Great’ Anime” – February 27, 2017

Here I respond to a video by The Pedantic Romantic where he talks about why Fune wo Amu and Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu (focusing mostly on the former). Within that same day I had turned around an article contesting what made a great “anime,” although my own thoughts could have used a bit more time in the oven because it’s an incredibly abstract way of looking at the topic. Regardless, I think there are some good points about media that plays to the strength of its medium, mostly using examples of indie games. In fact, I’d say the reason to read this one is if you’re interested in analysis of some random indie games from 2013, and you can pretty much skip right to those segments.

Deep Cut – How Breath of the Wild crafts an adventurer – March 6, 2017

This one came soon after completing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I felt that the way it most succeeded was how it taught the player the skills to survive in its wilderness naturally through its world design. Reading it now brings back some fond memories of that game, which by the way is as fantastic as everyone says, but this is coming from a massive Nintendo fanboy.

Deep Cut – The importance of “the first time” – March 29, 2017

This is the starting point for a topic I’m sure I’ll talk about more in the future: that the first experience we have with a piece of media and the emotional reaction it provokes from us is important, and that even innocuous “spoilers” can have an impact on that. It’s an angle that’s always in the back of my mind when writing my analytical pieces.

Single – Thoughts on Your Name – April 10, 2017

I’m a big fan of studying Shinkai. Not all of his works are among my favorites but the way he’s ruminated on similar themes through each of his films is fascinating, especially when you get into the minutia. Your Name seemed like a culmination of this in many ways. My focus is as such: talking about Shinkai’s thematic trajectory as seen through Your Name, as well as about what I want to see from Shinkai in the future. If you’re yet to see Your Name, do be wary of spoilers here.

Deep Cut – Persona 5 and cultural localization – April 14, 2017

After reading a piece Kotaku wrote in regards to a game developer commenting on Persona 5’s localization via Twitter, I took to the blog to write a response detailing why I think it misses the point of what makes good localization: namely, maintaining the tone of the culture the original work comes from. This will probably be considered a hot take to some but I really do feel like Persona 5 had a great localization, and I honestly didn’t feel that any of the dialogue up to the point of the game I’ve played up to has been awkward.

Chart-Topper – The crippling overabundance of media – April 23, 2017

Ah, here we go, one of the biggies. I get personal here, talking about the stress and even depression that the amount of media I’m constantly being bombarded with can foster. I then get… existential. I think this is my best piece, and I’d say my readers would agree. It’s what I consider the marquee piece of the blog. It also marks the point where the blog really took off. If you only read one piece, make it this.

Single – Splash Mountain & theme park rides as a narrative medium – May 17, 2017

Theme parks have become one of my passions in the past few months as I planned a trip to Walt Disney World & Universal Studios (although the real catalyst for this was the announcement of the Super Nintendo World land coming to Universal). I was inspired after returning to talk about how these carefully constructed rides draw you into their worlds and weave narratives. It’s probably a bit indulgent for me to call this a Single because it’s an incredibly niche topic but hey, I want people to check this one out to see what an unexpected medium is capable of! Spreading the love of theme parks is something I’ll do at every chance I get.

Chart-Topper – What The New York Times’ anime article gets wrong – May 20, 2017 and The aftermath – May 24, 2017

These two changed everything for me. The first– a critique of an op-ed in The New York Times that painted anime in an unfavorable light– made waves across the anime community that sparked a five-plus day fallout. It was a real rollercoaster, one recounted to an extent in updates to the piece. The aftermath is a moment-by-moment commentary of the last three days of the fallout, as well as some of the other events that happened around the world in that span of time. If you’re going to read the critique then I do ask you give the follow-up a look too as it addresses some conclusions from the events that are very important.

And that’s that! If you made it this far then… wow, I applaud you, you’re awesome. I hope you found something you enjoyed. Thanks for reading, and hey, feel free to hit me up on Twitter if you want to discuss anything. See you around!

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