About Halloween

A quick update on what is going on with In Asian Spaces as we near 2019.

Hey Everyone!

So just a few things I wanted to talk about concerning the blog.

I wanted to post something for Halloween yesterday, particularly my own Japanese ghost story. While I was still at the cultural center, I encountered a lot of strange things – especially since I was frequently working early mornings or nights. The security guard and I used to trade our own stories.

One day, however, some really creepy things happened in the break room and the bathroom. It made me think back to all of those Japanese “bathroom” ghost stories I’d watched videos about on YouTube years ago. 赤マント, or Aka Mento levels of creepy.

It was very slow sometimes working there, so I had a habit of bringing notebooks and either studying Japanese or writing short stories. I thought I wrote down in detail what happened that day, because I remember texting my mom about the incident when it happened. Especially since besides myself, only maintenance was in the building and they were in the basement and I was alone on an upper floor of the building.

I hunted for two days looking for a particular notebook with the story. I have a really bad habit of buying a bunch of notebooks and using them for certain topics, or to just have one laying around in a random place whenever a spark of inspiration comes.

I did find one late yesterday evening, however, it was only half of the story. I really remember writing it down, so maybe next year I’ll post it in full.

Then I thought about doing a sort of countdown with past scary shows I’d watched. Psychological-thrillers and psychological-horror are particularly terrifying themes to me so I wanted to focus on being trapped in your own mind. I went back and forth with the idea, writing short reviews of some of my favorite series before deciding it didn’t sound good or felt half-assed, and abandoned it.

I am extremely picky about my writing and way too hard on myself. Actively trying to change that.

So I have a few little reviews that I most likely will push myself to sprinkle through the blog in due time.

I was working on the #YokaiSpiritSunday series, and one of the resources I was using (a medium blog post about Shinto regalia to cover the next yokai I had in mind) up and got deleted. I dabble in academic journals mainly for the series, but couldn’t find anything like that in English until that article. And they deleted it. As I gave them a clap for it.

I don’t know why, but I feel like I jinxed myself by showing appreciation before completing the article, which is usually what I have been doing. So I am still working on that, hoping to get one out this Sunday. I’m still also trying to figure out if I want to do it bi-monthly or at least three times a month. The research for the article is easy, I just seem to slog when it comes to editing. Also something I’m working on. But in general if I’m not completely happy with something, even with a self-imposed deadline, I really just will not do it/complete it/publish it until I’m happy with it. I had a really bad habit of doing that in film school by missing term paper deadlines and emailing the professor to literally type “I was not happy with my work and self-sabotaged. Can I have an extended deadline” and they usually obliged.

I’ve also been working on a book series, which I think I eluded to in earlier posts on this website. I’ve been writing content for when I launch the site, working on graphic novels and shorts trying to flesh things out more. There are two main stories in the series, and the rest is an offshoot. Similar to George R.R. Martin’s “1000 Worlds”, each story (for the most part) takes place in the universe on a different timeline. It’s a project I am super excited about, but I have (another) bad habit of doing all or nothing.

So I will either write a ton of content for In Asian Spaces, or spend a week or two writing and world building for the series and neglect this website. On Twitter today, I came across the #NaNoWriMo hashtag and decided “hell, why not” and threw my hat in. For those of you unfamiliar, basically it is a writing challenge to finish the first draft of a short novel (50,000 words) in the month of November. There is a huge community surrounding it and it feels good to be writing with everyone else, telling stories and sharing tips. It’s so much support and good creative energy.

I also feel like by entering, I’m one step closer to the goal of attending WorldCon 2019 in Ireland.

It will also help me kick start this backlog of short film screenplays, web-series ideas, graphic novel scripts, short story ideas and novel ideas I’ve been hoarding and inconsistently growing since college. In Asian Spaces was one of these ideas – a blog dedicated to anime, the culture surrounding it and its influences. So I am slowly, but surely getting to this mental list I’ve had for years now.

Luckily, I’ve been prepping content for this month and December to try to get ahead to work on my backburner projects, so this is where that comes in. I won’t be posting as much this November because of the reasons above, but I also don’t want to completely be a ghost. I have a few Kdrama reviews to upload this month from a backlog of binges in times prior. The Korean Culture tab has been kind of dry as well, so I feel the need to add in some reviews along with other one-off article ideas.

I also have a few manga reviews and then in December I’ll be reviewing all of the shows I mentioned on the blog (and a few I haven’t) that I vaguely promised reviews for “at a later time”.

So that’s the game plan for the remainder of 2018, along with guest posts and contributions to other websites. If anyone would like to collaborate on anything, please don’t hesitate to shoot me a message on the contact page or email me at InAsianSpaces@gmail.com .

It’s been wonderful getting to know those in the aniblogger/jblogger community here on WordPress. Everyone is so talented and has such unique voices, I truly feel lucky to be a part of it. Thank you, Everyone, for being so kind and encouraging! It really does mean a lot to me (=

I’ll most likely be posting something later on today and was going to add this onto the post, but judging by the length I’m glad I decided to leave it separate. Here’s to a creative November, Everyone! (=

-In Asian Spaces

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I Don’t Think I’ll Attend New York Comic Con Next Year | NYCC 2018 Review

After attending each year since 2011 religiously, it seems the East Coast convention’s magic has worn off on me.

It was a clear, cool day arriving to the Jacob Javits Center for Comic Con. I had a Friday badge, and had arrived later than previous years. Timing the trains correctly, I could leave home around 8 am and arrive an hour later in line with one of the doors in clear view. Despite not coming super early, I always had good luck with getting to the show floor first.

I remember in 2012, I left super early from home and missed tickets for the private signing with Danny Choo. I was heartbroken. So heartbroken, that despite fighting a con cold with a 3-Day badge I called out to him after his panel. I boldly asked for his autograph and despite the packed room, he came over and spoke to me. I didn’t want to go to College and before transferring to my dream university, I spent my downtime on campus viewing his website and watching anime using the school library’s crappy wifi.

It’s was the only thing that got me through those days.

That year I also received a map of Japan, which along with my signed badge and other mementos collected over the years hang on the walls of my computer room. I remember was so sick that I couldn’t finish out the remaining days of the convention that year, and on the way home I cried in happiness that I’d met him. It was something I never fathomed possible at that point in my life. Things were terrible all around, and I retreated to anime in the worst times as a crutch to cope with things. Danny Choo had always attended Anime Expo in Los Angeles and I never thought I’d attend that con, until 2015 when I did – but that is a story for another time.

Each year I was dazzled by the people, the costumes – the energy of the big city. Coming from the suburbs, it was a chance to see things that were not a part of my environment. My surroundings. Parts and facets of my life I desperately wanted to become main staples danced and mingled at this yearly con. I would later attend college in Manhattan, work in the city and have my dream job years later at a Japanese Cultural Center – but the me back then could not even realize that those were viable options.

My world was so small. Everything felt so hopeless. I was just so incredibly sad each day.

In 2014 The Legend of Korra came to New York Comic Con. I remember doing live updates on Tumblr for the fandom along with a core group of other users, sitting on the floor waiting for the panel, fans handing out “Thank You Bryke” pins. Just being in the same room as fans of the original show, Avatar: The Last Airbender and the precarious sequel series made me immensely happy. My fandom had come to life and was here, something tangible my senses could understand and soak in. We were no longer hidden behind our screens or gifs or lengthy discourses of the show – we were all here in one room together; and it was magical.

I attended an off-site event to promote an upcoming video game for the LOK series and made so many new friends. We ate pizza, drank beer and talked shit about the Asami – Mako – Korra love triangle. This was before Korrasami became endgame. It was a great time.

I also went to the Brooklyn Brewery Defend Beer parties in costume. Getting a lot of stares on the subway, I powered through it and met wonderful people at the party. It was my first time back then traveling to different boroughs alone and although I was scared, it was a new experience. The con also had these off-site cosplay parties where you could meet other fans and win the coveted 3-day and 4-day badges in a raffle. I never won, but I always met great people and the free food was delicious.  The parties were in random places (a gay bar downtown by the “gay” pier, the weird side of midtown no one goes to) but it was always a good time.

Sometime after that, I had my first internship in that area of town. After my day was done, I’d often pass that bar and smile to myself remembering the good times before sitting down to stare at the bay. Because of that experience, I learned the area and had a better time getting around when I needed to navigate the area during my time as an intern.

The following convention year, it all changed and really clicked into place. Kishimoto Masashi was coming to NYCC, his first time overseas at an event. The internet went wild. I was still on YouTube during that time, and I remember the power players like Sawyer7mage, Double4anime and Forneverworld to name a few flying to New York for a chance to meet him.

Viz Media was giving wristbands out for a private signing and held a raffle at three different times that day. I already snagged a wristband to his panel after literally running to the line and being counted in. A few minutes later, the line was capped as many other fans also did the same and ran for their lives to get a chance. I ended up entering the convention center that morning right by the place I had to go to, and asked Lance Fensterman if it was the correct place. I had seen him on TV just the hour before being interviewed by the news and thought it pretty neat to just run into him like that.

I silently thought maybe it was kismet, I would be able to meet Kishimoto.

In the raffle crowds, I made many line friends. My name was not called during the first round, and I wanted to stay close so I set up shop on the floor in an area where weary con goers were eating and looking at their merch. Around the time of the second round, I left, realized my name was not called and went back to the same spot. This took hours. The final round was being called, and only about two or three spots remained. The woman calling names would simply skip over your chance if you were not there and making noise that showed you were present. My name was called, and as I was in the back of the crowd – I hadn’t heard it. Suddenly, I heard a bunch of people shouting “wait, she’s here – she’s in the sheep costume back there, don’t continue!” My line friends from earlier were calling my name and rushing me up front for my wristband.

They were genuinely happy for me. It was the nicest thing that had ever happened to me. These complete strangers who shared the same passions helped me on my mission to meet Kishimoto, when they could have ignored my name to better their chances. Suddenly, sitting in the same spot alone and hungry for hours and wasting the rest of my convention time had been worth it. Even now, it makes me tear up a bit just thinking about it.

I wondered what the difference was between me and someone like Sawyer7mage, who was not chosen for the raffle or Kinokuniya signing. Someone who had reviewed the series for years consistently and was the most genuine of the reviewers in my opinion. He made a video saying that although he did not get a signature, he randomly met the mangaka in the restroom and Kishimoto told him he recognized him from watching his YouTube videos. He was happy with just that, and it was such a heartwarming story to watch him explain and describe.

I wondered why I got the ticket, and why he didn’t when I felt he deserved it more.

I stopped thinking so selfishly at conventions. No longer the first one to grab a poster, or shove someone out of the way for a freebie. I started going out of my way to help other con-goers in the way I had been helped. And of course, when I had that signed shikishi at home I looked at it and cried. That seems to be a common theme, me crying over silly things.

I know that when I do get to Japan, I may just bawl my eyes out the minute that plane lands on the tarmac.

After that amazing experience, nothing could ever top it for me. The following convention years had been quite…dull from my perspective. I went, walked the convention floor, seen a few panels, snuck some food in to eat and went home while catching a gyro on the way.

The Gyro place has since closed. New York Comic Con stopped offering the free cosplay event parties. They stopped offering 3-Day and 4-Day badges. They stopped finalizing the talent list and putting it online before the purchase of tickets. They implemented fan verification. They implemented the virtual queue from hell. They got stricter on cosplayers and props. Security was beefed up. The generous freebies stopped. The lines were now long and convoluted.

The things I fell in love with at the con were gone and had changed.I’ve changed along the way, as well.

I have had so many wonderful memories at this convention over the years and I wish many other con goers the same camaraderie and happiness I experienced for generations to come.

For me, however, I think it’s time I branch out to see what else is out there. This convention used to be something I looked forward to all year. I planned costumes, saved money, and felt eternal happiness in everything I did.

I’ve since retired the costume I religiously wore. I now know Manhattan and a few other boroughs like the back of my hand. I know where to go for authentic anime merchandise and traditional Japanese cultural experiences in the city. I know where to find the best curry, the best ramen, and where to catch subtitled films in theatres. I’ve learned so much since the time I first attended New York Comic Con in 2011, that I feel like I’ve outgrown it in a way. I’ve graduated, and want to experience what else the world has to offer. I did attend Anime Expo in 2015 as a college graduation gift to myself, but as a now self-identified thoroughbred New Yorker I felt like I was in a different country while there. It was an atrocious time, but luckily there was a group of people next door to my hotel room that were from New Jersey. We hung out a bit and talked about how much we collectively hated California.

Next year I’d like to go back, as I made some new friends who stay in LA and attend that con. I should have a different experience with an open mind.

I’ve also learned how to read and write in Japanese since 2011 (although my spoken conversation skills are still a bit shaky and lacking confidence) I’d like to go to Comiket one year. Or the Tokyo Game Show. Or even AnimeJapan. Along with Sacred Anime Pilgrimages, there are so many things I’d like to do that I could not envision until now.

I’m no longer afraid to try. I’m no longer afraid that my dreams won’t come true.

I realized while writing this that the missing factor in my enjoyment of the con the last few years has been a tie to anime or a life-long fandom. That was also why I was so visibly angry when Anime Fest was announced and presented as some new convention when I remembered its previous incarnate. Especially on the heels of attending Anime NYC last year and receiving a special pin for its inauguration. It felt like such a slap in the face to my patronage of NYCC.

Which is why, along with other reasons stated and unstated, I most likely will not attend New York Comic Con next year.

That is, unless an earth-shattering guest is in attendance. Then I will buy a single day badge.

Otherwise, I’ll be home saving my money for new adventures.

I meant for this to be a review of the current con that indulged us all this weekend, but it seems that this somehow ended up being a review of all my past con at the Javits Center.

I’ve had fun, and that’s all I ever wanted. I hope in years to come they improve on some things, and continue to bring fans happiness with as little hassle as possible.

What is New York Comic Con like?

I don’t know how to end this, so I’ll leave it here.

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In Asian Spaces

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How Our Environment Influences Us | Self Reflection Journal Entry

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

No, I have not become one of those hipsters that quote Rumi. But this is fitting to describe this passage of time I’m currently in. The ethos between self-reflection and meditation and the death of ego.

I’ve been in my head a lot lately.

There have been two reasons for this: a new diet, and an old home influencing me. I’ll explain – last summer I had access to farmers markets the entire season. Fresh, vibrant fruits and veggies I’d never seen before. I delighted in looking at the assorted goods each time the dully colored tents that attracted eclectic crowds of individuals came to the area. It lit up the grey and drab surroundings that sometimes the city can convey. I went vegan that summer. It was a struggle, then it was effortless. Now I know what you’re probably thinking – please stop rolling your eyes and don’t click that red x in the upper right corner. This is not a commercial supporting an eating ideology, I’m simply trying to make a point. This year without the privileges of the last, I’ve settled on a vegetarian diet that consists of intermittent fasting. It’s particularly difficult some days, but others I’ve never had so much energy. So much so that I actually stopped sleeping for a while. Like I’d literally be up all morning just reading and lost in my unconscious thoughts. Thinking and reflecting on things I hadn’t in years. It didn’t help that I started working out more and dabbling into meditative practices.  Which brings us to ye olde home.

I live in a very old home that thankfully has a beautiful yard that used to be all forest before I was born. Sometimes strange flowers pop up from time to time, sometimes wild roses and these past two years it’s been honeysuckles. Beautiful white flowers adorning yellow blossoms and great green vines. Each morning opening my window the scent mingles with pine trees and it’s been an absolutely stunning end of spring. The electrical wiring in my particular room is faulty – I live in the upstairs portion of the house.

Years ago one of the outlets in my room randomly stopped working and I thought nothing of it since I hardly used it. For weeks I’d heard sizzling and gingerly re-adjusted the power strip cord in the socket. Brought a new surge protector, a new adaptor, but alas it was finished. Then my antiquated console went as well. My modes of enjoying Netflix and YouTube were gone. Sure, I could come downstairs and hook my laptop up to an HDMI cord to the back of the TV but…it just seemed like a lot of effort for no reason.

So when it was time for Netflix to expire, I canceled the renewal for the next month.

I decided maybe the universe was telling me to take a step back, and I willingly unplugged and delve into this self-imposed isolation. So I thought, and I slept, and I wrote, and I started sleeping in silence.

Silence has always bothered me. I usually needed something, anything in the background. I’ve even awoken in the middle of the night once my TV turned itself off on a timer just to turn it back on to listen to anything. I started listening to music, lots of music. Dream Koala had always been one of my favorite artists, Biosphere, Nujabes…and lo-fi and jazzhop had captured my imagination. Then that became too much and I just slept in silence. Since then I’ve had this strange sense of clarity between the diet and hearing the birds outside my window each morning. Smelling the earth’s gifts beyond my doorstep. It did something to me and I finally made a lot of progress on other projects I work on that require mental juggling and the correct mood.  Graphic novels, short stories I’d like to compile into a book, the Solarpunk Afrofuturistic book series I’ve written mentally in my head but for some reason when I open up Word nothing comes out.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about older anime series I watched. Series I absolutely loved that are a bit taboo or far too…Blasé to speak on now that so much time has passed. But do you know what? I don’t give a damn and I’m going to re-watch them and talk about some of the ideas that have been setting up unauthorized office spaces in my head. I’m going way back, such as Yakitate!! Japan, Ghost Hunt, Samurai Champloo, Michiko e Hatchin

There are a few cultural topics relating to Japanese society that I’d like to cover as well, especially since summer is upon us. I’d also like to release some of the series that I’d worked on before I decided to mentally check out a few weeks ago. I seem to be coming back down to earth, and my collective consciousness is returning. A consciousness that allows me to actually focus on things I’ve written, proofread effectively and not absolutely hate every single thing I’ve written for no reason at all. Like writer’s block had a more aggressive, angry cousin coming in and telling you to just delete pages of content you’d prepared if you did decide to take a bit of a mental break. Anywho, it’s time for me to get back to work and get back to In Asian Spaces. Because it seems passions don’t go away, but rather enjoy to haunt you once you decide to turn your back on them.

Why would you turn your back on something you love? I don’t know. Fear and uncharted territory seem to make one do strange things. But we shouldn’t fear what we can accomplish in this lifetime, especially when we only have such a short window here in this moment. The seasons are changing and I will change right along with them. Until then…Check out our Instagram! I plan on posting more frequently, but don’t feel strange to drop by and share the love. I check out everyone who comes by, regardless of follower count or content.

Have you had any recent moments of clarity? What are your plans this summer? What do you long for? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us for more juicy content this upcoming season!

 (Also a Tokyo Ghoul:re review is coming soon…since the show should be ending this Tuesday and it’s been nothing short of a disjointed disappointment story wise for non-manga readers.)

Goodbye, Mr. Anthony Bourdain

I think it’s really something when one of your idols falls…How a complete stranger, can have such a curious impact on your actual being.

When I was younger, my dad used to drive trucks. My parents divorced early in my life and I ended up staying with him for about two or three years. He didn’t know how to take care of me well, and he was gone a lot on the road. Instead of staying in unwelcome places…I frequently went along with him. The end of third grade, fourth grade and fifth grade I traveled around the country in a tractor trailer – missing a ton of school. I met so many kind people and immersed myself in so many different cultures. It was a very unhappy period in my life, but that is the one experience I treasure out of that time in my life.

I watched the Travel Channel a lot growing up. I felt nostalgic about my experiences and in 2005 I stumbled upon a TV show called Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. And I think the sun came out for the first time. Here on TV was this brash, funny, absolutely authentic man talking about food, its relation to culture and traveling. I started thinking…maybe, just maybe I could actually achieve my goals. Maybe I would someday travel the world.

I had an old world map that I stuck thumbtacks in. I used to just sit and stare at it for hours, imagining what my life could be like once I was able to explore.

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After High School I didn’t magically have the opportunities to just take off, but in college I started small. I started roaming the streets of New York City – every back alley, little coffee spot, off the cuff specialty store – and started seeing the city for the first time.

Graduating College, at the ceremony in our gowns, I joked with a friend about wanting to travel and maybe create a show later in life. She remarked that I could be like the next Anthony Bourdain.  I laughed and shrugged it off, but how do you tell someone that you had a picture of a middle-aged chef on your wall for inspiration?

You don’t. With these things, I think it’s deeply personal. I eventually stopped watching the Travel Channel because it had gone to hell, and was delighted to see Tony back in action on CNN’s Parts Unknown. Years later, the same authentic voice that I trusted was back. I thought about all of the experiences that really stuck out to me – Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Missing the talking statues in Caesar’s Palace, Tall rides at Jazzland (is that still a thing?), Seeing rams butt heads going across the Hoover Dam, searching for black bears in the countryside, deciding not to stay at a hotel in a bad storm and on the way back seeing it was destroyed by a tornado…and I felt reaffirmed to make my dreams come true.

Two days ago I took a very long walk to a place I often go to clear my head. I sat down and stared at the ocean for hours; taking stock of my life and reaffirming what I would like to accomplish. Now, this morning I’m awoken to my mom’s voice telling me a stranger – someone I would never meet but knowingly (dare I say) loved – was gone from this world. It may sound cruel, but ‘celebrity’ deaths usually do not impact me. I think it’s sad for a moment and then go about my day as usual. However this time, I jumped out of bed and stayed where I currently am now – in front of the TV waiting to see a tribute assembled. It feels like a small part of me, something that has become a part of my collective, has died. One of the few determining factors of inspiration that I keep buried deep in my heart.

May Mr. Tony Bourdain find whatever he was searching for in this life, in the next one. I hope he knew how many people his work truly touched. I hope to see the Vietnam he loved. I hope we realize just how important it is to live and accomplish our goals. Our dreams. Our aspirations. I hope we never feel the fear of jumping out of our comfort zone to try something new. And I hope we all continue to travel. Best wishes, and stay safe everyone.