Otaku Links: Soooo good!

12 June 2015 | 2 comments


  • Speaking of Akira, here’s a definitive list of all the times anime has attempted to predict the future. Props on including so many oldies.
  • Which anime characters do you share a birthday with? This site helps you find out. My birthday is December 21, and I share it with Jyusirou Ukitake from Bleach, plus a loooot of others.
  • Recently found out about this comic about a time-traveling attorney in space, which sounds like it could go either way but waaaiiiit a minute… is that… is that Koro-sensei?
  • I don’t think Derek Padula ever sleeps. He’s been releasing his Dragon Ball ebooks in such quick succession, and they’re astoundingly thorough. His latest, Dragon Soul, interviews 81 fans from 25 countries and 27 professionals who worked on the show. I haven’t read it yet but holy crap.
  • Speaking of ebooks… like I could go an entire post without mentioning Build Your Anime Blog. Pro anime blogger and OJ interviewee Humberto Saabedra shared his thoughts. He also reviewed my previous book, Otaku Journalism.
  • Remember that book about cosplay that I wrote in seven weeks last fall? And it was up on Amazon, then removed from Amazon, and now up on Amazon again? Traditional book deals are complicated. I am 99% sure it’s up for sale for good, both in the United States and the United Kingdom. Also, people are actually reading and reviewing it now: here and here for starters.

Teen Girl Squad cosplay photo via Tim Cronley

And now, an update

12 June 2015 | 6 comments

I owe you an apology, readers.

“Where the heck is Lauren?” the three of you have been asking one another. “She said she’d be blogging regularly again, and then she takes a week off?”

A week off from Otaku Journalist, maybe. But there have been a lot of big changes going on elsewhere in my career. And now I can fiiiiiinally clue you in:

1) I quit my job at ReadWrite, where I covered technology. It was amicable, if you’re wondering. I worked there for over two years, and I was ready for something new.

2) I started a new job at Forbes. I’m covering the business of fandom. This might ring a bell for anyone who’s been around here long enough to remember How I ended up writing about cat ears, maids, and furries for Forbes. Winning Susannah Breslin’s contest for young journalists was my big break, and now my career has gone full circle.

You can read my first column, Why Adults Fall In Love With And Spend Big Money On Anime Characters, today. It might seem a little simplistic for experienced otaku, because I’m once again writing about our fandom in a way a general audience can understand. It’s a challenge, sure, but honestly it’s my favorite way to write. Too often we’re written about from an outside perspective and I want to bring some humanity to the culture.

Next step: to interview professional anime and manga translators. If you know one or are one, leave a comment or send me a note.

3) I’m going on a hiatus while I overhaul Otaku Journalist. It’s been over two years since I did a redesign, and you have probably noticed the site is not mobile-friendly. I am not just changing the web design, but also working with designer Ben Huber to establish a logo and some branding. I expect to have the whole thing done by July 12.

I also foresee a content shift here on Otaku Journalist as my fandom writings expand to other outlets around the web. Already, I do several anime reviews a week at Anime News Network, and now I’ll be shifting my fandom reporting to mainly Forbes. As that happens, I want to make Otaku Journalist more of a home for tutorials and resources on writing about and reviewing fandom topics. If there’s anything in particular you’d find helpful, let me know.

4) Thanks to all of you who have been reading through the years, the self-reinventions, the good times and bad. I wouldn’t do any of this without you.

See you on Twitter, Instagram, and the comments sections on your blogs, for now.

5) It’s Friday, so stay tuned for some Otaku Links!

Otaku Links: Hello City

5 June 2015 | 2 comments

bbbBy the time this post goes live, I’ll be on a train to New York City, checking out whether it’s everything Blood Blockade Battlefront led me to believe. It’s John’s first visit ever, so we’ll probably stick to the tourist stuff, but if you want to recommend a geeky must-see, let me know in the comments! For now, have some fresh links:

  • Back when Gainax was a group of otaku goofing around, the studio created the comedy anime Otaku No Video. Now AnimEigo is bringing it to English speaking fans with a subtitled blu-ray, and you won’t be surprised to hear their Kickstarter has already shot way past their goal.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend, everyone’s favorite pigeon dating sim, is now getting its sequel, Holiday Star, officially translated into English. Just what everyone was asking for!
  • My Twitter friend AJ is looking for volunteer writings to contribute to his animation and graphic novel blog. If you’re a beginner who is looking for a place to get some writing experience before you go pro, here’s a place to start.
  • I like playing Magic: The Gathering, but I don’t want to spend my life’s savings on it or anything! Here’s the story of how one particular card ended up valued at five figures.* (*The article says $19,000 but the eBay page says otherwise.)
  • Filmmaker Brandon Li’s travelogue of Japan is expertly edited, and unlike any other I’ve seen before, depicting parts of Japan you might never see otherwise, including what looks like three different kinds of wedding ceremonies.
  • I finally finished Gundam 0080 AKA War in the Pocket, and it certainly deserves its cult classic status. The best part was finally being able to read Sir Noogen’s entire review of it, spoilers and all! (If you haven’t seen it, you can get a taste for why you might want to by reading until the spoiler warning.)
  • Another week, three more anime reviews from me. Whether the shows are surprisingly great, like Kyokai no Rinne, or surprisingly awful, like Gunslinger Stratos, I’m having a great time covering them. Kuroko’s Basketball, as you might expect of a 70-episode show, is just as consistent as ever.

Screencap via Blood Blockade Battlefront

Baby Steps and my Real Life Sports Anime

1 June 2015 | 5 comments


In March, I started watching Baby Steps, the story of a high school student who abruptly decides to take up tennis. This weekend, I bought my first tennis racket.

I have never played tennis in my life. I didn’t even know how to hold the racket. But I have watched a lot of sports anime, so that should count for something, right?

Of course not. I could barely hit the ball. I spent more than three hours practicing tennis this weekend, and all I have to show for it is a nasty blister on my thumb. Even so, I’ll be back at it tomorrow. I owe Baby Steps for that.

I think that sometimes, in the interest of entertainment, sports anime sometimes gives us the wrong message about sports. Onoda is a nerd who’s never considered road racing—until he becomes a major challenger in Yowamushi Pedal. On Haikyuu, Kageyama is a volleyball genius. The boys of Kuroko’s Basketball each were born with innate supernatural abilities. I’ve now watched 110 episodes of the Prince of Tennis, and Ryoma has lost just once—and very recently at that. For me this says, if you’re not immediately good at something, you probably just weren’t meant to do it. It’s a comfortable mindset, and one that kept me dreading gym class for my entire school career. I only engage in my one physical activity, running, because even I can move one foot in front of the other without worrying about being bad at it.

Baby Steps is unique among sports anime because it doesn’t star a prodigy. Ei-chan has never played tennis before high school, and it shows. He loses all the time! At one point in the first season, he lost in the very first round of an important tournament, going against the standard narrative for sports anime. Ei-chan doesn’t get better overnight, either. We get tired and stressed and frustrated right along with him. Usually, the protagonist doesn’t have to practice so hard and for so long to get results. But in real life, that’s exactly what athletes have to do in order to get to the top—even if they were born with physical advantages.

One of the things I like best about sports anime is watching people who are really good at what they do show off their skills. But until Baby Steps, there wasn’t a sports anime that truly conveyed how they got to that point. I’m awful at tennis, but all I can think about is how fun it is, and how much I want to keep trying to improve.

I always figured that by the time I was pushing thirty, I’d spend my time doing things I was actually good at. Instead, here I am, stumbling through Japanese and now tennis (coincidentally both hobbies I took up thanks to anime). Baby Steps contains the not-so-subtle message “believe in yourself,” repeated every opening sequence. I guess it’s rubbing off.

On Twitter and Instagram, I am noting my forays into athleticism with the hashtag #irlsportsanime. If you’re also an anime fan with fitness goals, it’d be awesome if you used it, too.

Otaku Links: Deus Ex Machina

29 May 2015 | 2 comments


  • Finally, one of these lists that makes sense! Zac’s reasonable guide to making the most of your time at an anime convention. I especially like his tip about not playing sardines—in college, I shared an Otakon hotel room with my six closest friends in the world and even THAT was a strain.
  • Kudos to Anime Planet for setting up their new LGBTQ-friendly policy. This will be especially helpful to fans looking for anime with gay and transgender characters and themes.
  • Don’t like podcasts? I did ANOTHER interview about my book with Justin of Organization Anti-Social Geniuses, and he transcribed it for your reading pleasure. It is extremely candid, and I pretty much just go into my business plan and writing career with no filter, if you’re curious about that stuff.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if nobody reading this post is watching Gunslinger Stratos. In my episode 8 review, I air my grievances and speculate whether this anime will or won’t be able to save itself. Also: my reviews of the far more reliable and consistent Kyokai no Rinne and Kuroko’s Basketball.

As always, put any links I missed this week in the comments. I hope you have a fantastic weekend.

Screenshot via Gunslinger Stratos, but don’t ask me what’s happening here.

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