Category Archives: anime nerd corner

A grab bag for February

Today’s productive(?) procrastination: researching cover trends to decide whether I want to overhaul the Healers covers. The promo didn’t work; therefore, something must be wrong that keeps people from clicking. I honestly still like covers 1 and 3, but I have to face the fact that they don’t look like the other covers out there in the cozy/literary fantasy space. That’s a hindrance.

If I do end up doing this, then all my agita about print editions is out the window; I will, in that case, redesign the interiors too.

I find this all kind of fascinating to research, but wildly out of my wheelhouse (I am not a visual person at all). It’s also exhausting to have to make decisions about it. But hey. That’s the fate of self-publishing.


Listened to another podcast episode that got me to buy a book: Why Do So Many Coffee Shops Look the Same?

Likewise, this kind of analysis is fascinating to me and wildly outside my wheelhouse, as someone who is not visually oriented and has never taken to social media that is visually oriented. Have not read the book yet; I’ll get to it soon.


Recent reads/recommendations include the entirety of Greenwing & Dart (the series feels unfinished, but I loved it up to that point), Wyngraf’s Valentine’s Day 2024 special (adorable) and the first couple of omnibi of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou (sad and adorable; will have more to say about this once I read the whole series).


Look at that, we’re halfway through the Winter 2024 anime season. TIme might be linear after all.

  • Delicious in Dungeon: Love it. Characterization is a breath of fresh air in a world of stale tropes. Opening theme is a banger. Calls on fantasy/RPG nostalgia without mindlessly copy-pasting. Only one notable female character so far (the other one is languishing in a dragon’s colon), but she is great despite being the party’s constant naysayer. We’ve been on the verge of cancelling Netflix among our raft of streaming services, and now I’m kind of mad that this has dragged me back in.
  • Mr. Villain’s Day Off: I think it’s accomplishing the “one joke” better than Too Cute Crisis did, which is why I’m still watching it. Not perfect — I’d like to dig six inches deeper on the characters they’ve established rather than just throwing in more and more new ones — but it’s refreshing to have a show that focuses on achievable work/life balance instead of throwing its hands up and saying “welp, the only way out is to die and get isekai’d, lol.”
  • ‘Tis Time for “Torture,” Princess — this season’s “this is so silly, and yet I’m still watching” pick. Nothing makes sense, but it’s oddly charming. Also not perfect (see the game of pervy chicken they’re playing with the paladin character), but mostly harmless. There is a large cast of adorable demons who take excellent care of each other and their prisoners, and I’m a sucker for that.
  • Have not started Sign of Affection yet; I’ll tackle it in the backlog later.
  • Backlog we’re still working on: Natsume’s Book of Friends, Isekai Izakaya, The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent, Revue Starlight. I had to pause RS for a bit when I didn’t have the stomach for drama, but I’m back in. Hidive, your days are also numbered. Sorry. Akiba Maid War was fucking fantastic and I’m glad I finally got through Penguindrum, but there are only a few more series I want to watch in your lineup.

edit to add: ooh, I forgot one! I started a Zoom guitar class. Having loads of fun. It seems like some of the general concepts I learned with the ukulele are carrying over, which is nice, but the strings are SO much sharper!

Better things around the corner

“One day at a time” mode is never a fun place to be. Of course, January is sometimes a little bit like this anyway; this is just a January of Januaries.

However, Therapist book 6 is almost ready — I hope to release it by the end of the month if all goes well. This one is Berry’s story (the retired adventurer from book 3), and it might be the most mellow of the series? I think it is.

In the Winter 2024 anime season, we’re trying Mr. Villain’s Day Off (already relatable, don’t mess it up), Delicious in Dungeon (fun so far), and A Sign of Affection (haven’t started it yet). It looks like ‘Tis Time for “Torture”, Princess is, despite its title, a food porn show, and we tend to like those in this house. But the descriptions I’ve seen make me kind of tired for reasons I can’t quite articulate, so that may go on the back burner (heh) for now.

[Edit, like 1 day later: I had some down time, and tried the first episode. Funny enough to keep going.]

Still working on The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent season 1, Natsume’s Book of Friends season 1, and Isekai Izakaya in the backlog, and I’m also midway through created-in-a-lab-for-the-likes-of-me Revue Starlight. We’ve got enough to watch for now.

A useful tool and a pointless rec

Just tweaked allllllLLLLlllll the keywords with the help of the tool at this site here. (h/t r/selfpublish, I’m pretty sure.) Basically it reorganizes the keywords you’re using: “hey, you could squish these two phrases on the same line, genius, that gives you a whole additional line”

(I have entire. additional. lines. on every single one of my eight listings. I struggle with keywords)

Also raised almost all of the prices. I dunno, universe. I’m trying to value my work more. $3.99 for all the Healers books in the US; $1.99 for the Therapist books. Other currencies vary, though I tend to tweak them to .99s, so some places get a break. (I try to tweak down, not up)


Although I keep hearing that the fall anime season is packed, I went ahead and tried out one of last season’s shows and ended up marathoning almost all of it within a week. It’s about a guy who turns into a vending machine. Yeah.

Here’s why I like this show, though, and it’s a reason I can’t entirely articulate. The word “wholesome” gets bandied about in some ways that I don’t agree with, so it’s not enough to just say #wholesome and go about my day.

I am not sure yet what I mean by “wholesome.” Not cynical. Not leering or exploitative, although I believe that media can be both horny and wholesome (Crash Course in Naughtiness is running that slalom right now). Respecting its characters, even if they are lightly sketched or not very deep: we still don’t know all that much about Lammis from Vending Machine, but the viewers aren’t encouraged to view her with contempt. And mind you, she’s got just as fanservicey a design as any other generic anime girl: short-shorts, big boobs, exposed midriff. But, imagine this, she’s portrayed as a person with short-shorts and an exposed midriff.

Basically, I think it’s a lack of cynicism more than anything. A lack of contempt for the viewers, the characters, and the universe. Oh hell, didn’t I just rant about sincerity recently? It’s related to that. Boxxo the vending machine is ridiculously earnest. All he wants to do is help people, all he can do is spit out goods in exchange for coins, and gosh darn it, that’s what he’s going to do. There’s something to be said at some point about the RPG system that makes it a risk to his life to give stuff away for free, but the show doesn’t seem interested in that.

Although I do have to note that this show is also a junk food version of Restaurant to Another World: all the fantasy-world people get immediately hooked on Coke Zero, potato chips, and instant noodles, and rhapsodize constantly about how awesome they are. I hate moralizing about food, but I constantly waffle between “this is funny” and “this is troubling.” Though if you’ve lived on mutton and gruel your whole life, compressed salt-and-carb wafers are going to taste effing amazing. I get it.

Friday the 13th roundup

  • One of the books I beta-read last year is approaching publication, and I want to plug it because I enjoyed it a lot: When We Walked in Memory by Charlotte Kersten. (If you are here from the cozy side of things, take note of content warnings first. Thanks!)
  • Almost done with the first draft of Therapist 5, The One That’s Basically Just a Fantasy Story Because The Isekai’d People Aren’t At the Center for Once. (not its actual title. Its actual title is The Sylvan Dragon’s Herald.)
  • Apparently The Healers’ Road has a vote in r/fantasy’s Top Self-Published Fantasy Novels, which is unexpected and fantastic. That sounds like sarcasm, but I promise it isn’t. As we close in on that book’s 10th anniversary, I am still awed and humbled that people have taken a chance on it.
    • I honestly don’t know what I’d vote, because I … don’t know what’s self-published and isn’t. I’d have to do some research. But I feel like I ought to have my own list, if only for plugging purposes.
  • Gaming: Currently 3 “years” into Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life, a game I originally played on PS2 (it was originally on the Gamecube). It holds up fine, and I’m enjoying it – but I’m also reminded of how much Stardew Valley brought to the table in terms of giving the side characters depth. Like any depth. Hey, I know SDV built upon SoS:AWL’s foundation. It’s just interesting to reflect how far this genre has come.
  • Anime: We are watching Undead Unluck (my spouse’s choice) and will eventually watch After School Hanako-kun. I am weirdly tempted to try Crash Course in Naughtiness. (Not what it sounds like) However, I made the ill-timed decision to try to squeeze another previous season’s show in: Endo and Kobayashi Live! I truly don’t have time to explain this show’s premise. It’s entertaining a couple of episodes in, and it’s not very long. I continue to wander the earth looking for more comedy anime that works in translation. We recently burned through O Maidens in Your Savage Season, which… … … I’d recommend the first half? It’s funny. The second half, when it dives into drama, less so.

Nerd minute, August edition

Hooray, I’m not the only person swearing up and down that Buddy Daddies had some layers (as well as some extremely bad decisions in the last story arc)

We’re still hanging onto Masterful Cat, though I feel bad for anyone who thought this show was soothing going into it. I don’t like the judginess of the term “cringe comedy”, but Human Whatsherface is useless, and the show seems to know it. Sometimes the joke is that her cat is her mom, usually the joke is that she’s the cat and the cat is the human, but I’m not so sure they really care about one another so much as that she’d die in squalor without him. Which is pretty cynical. Maybe on my part, if I’m misreading the situation.

I’m not quite hate-watching, I guess? Yukichi the Cat is great. I want better things for him that I know he’s never going to get. Occasionally it’s funny, particularly the mental contortions the side characters go through to avoid realizing the premise of the show. But the colors are still distractingly ugly.

Undead Murder Farce is fun, though. Yes, it’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Anime. Yes, it turned the Phantom of the Opera into Arsene Lupin’s sulky bishounen boyfriend. (not literally, settle down, but… basically.) You can either get on board and hang on, or give it a hard pass. I am entertained.

Spy x Family is coming back in the fall, along with The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent, which I haven’t watched yet but seriously mean to, and Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun, kind of, with some kind of wacky-hijinks sidestory thing. (Bananapants title, surprisingly cool show, by the way.) Two currently airing shows feels like enough for me, since I probably won’t be caught up with Omnipotent anywhere near then, but we’ll have to see.

[edit: An odd bit of trivia, too: This month was the first time Therapist outsold Healers in terms of sheer numbers across their respective series, although Healers 1 was still the top single book. Vaguely interesting. However future months shake out is also fine, though; I don’t have a real plan here. Just moving forward.]

[Edit 2, a week later — so after Masterful Cat episode 8 — I take it back, that headbutt was heartwarming as hell. Though I think the episode hiccupped and repeated half a scene? Was that a wrap around a commercial break, maybe? Anyway, Useless-chan shows that she is good at something, and Yukichi is adorably Concerned. Though in the grand tradition of overthinking everything, I can’t help but notice the weird combination of “gross jokes about marriageability” + “female character who gets to be a complete hot mess” + “male character who unapologetically loves cleanliness, cooking, and idol singers and wears a frilly apron to the grocery store”. Is this show accidentally doing a gender thing? My head hurts.]

Write stuff, break reality, have fun

C.A. Moss’s author page on Amazon is finally up, because I was reminded that author pages exist. (S.E. Robertson’s has been up for ages.) So if that’s a thing you use, there they are.

(Also, there’s no way book 2 is the “most popular?” What does that even mean? Oh well.)

This came out of an interesting discussion with a friend of my spouse’s who wasn’t aware of the extent of the writing I’d thrown out there online. Which is in absolutely no way a bad thing; if anything, it reassures me that I’m not boring everyone around me with my constant nattering about my work. Hopefully.

But the gist of it is that you, YES YOU, can put writing out there if you want to. There is no meaningful barrier to entry, to the endless tooth-gnashing frustration of a lot of auteurs. If you feel like it would be the realization of a lifelong dream? Fucking go for it. Why not. Life is short.

Now, making large quantities of money with said writing is exceptionally difficult. That’s an entirely different topic. So is scoring appreciable amounts of recognition/fame/social capital. There are one million and one hucksters hawking hacks(tm) to beat the system(tm), and I am not one of them. I’m not saying you’ll become An Author or that people will recognize you on the street* or that you’ll earn enough money for a white chocolate macadamia cold brew.

But if you’ve always wanted to try it, and wonder if maybe other people, even in the single digits, would be interested in what you made? If that’s not a blow to your ego but a fascinating possibility?

I, for one, think it’s fun and that you should go for it. People whine all the time that there are too many books out there, but hey, what constitutes “too many”? People whine that a lot of them are bad, but a) who decides that and b) who cares? When it comes to painting or learning to play the guitar, we (“we”) are capable of recognizing that the process is gratifying just because humans love to create things and express themselves, but “we” completely throw that out the window when words are involved.

Writing is fun. Do it if you want to. Share it with people. Maybe no one will be interested. But maybe someone will. And at that point, you’ve already had your fun, so no harm done.

You have my permission as an internet rando, if you want it. Try it.

* I’ve never been recognized on the street. Shudder. But I did experience a moment of extreme internet weirdness today when I popped into a book rec thread to collect some book recs and found my book on the list. A “but doctor, I am Pagliacci” except with books about sad jerks who don’t slay dragons. My brain is still turning itself inside-out. I mean it’s an honor, but also *incoherent shrieking noises*.


Updates:

  • Therapist 4 is as edited as it’s going to get. Waiting on the finished cover now. 3 just came out, so I’m going to spend the next few weeks waffling around for no constructive reason before finally releasing it. There will be a lot of work after that point, formatting the omnibus etc., so maybe I ought to enjoy the break.
  • Of the four potential Therapist side stories, I have a first draft of one of them and a first draft of a second about a quarter to a third of the way along. Still moving ahead.
  • Currently playing Pokemon Violet. This is the first time I’ve played a mainline Pokemon game, actually. In games when you have a number of characters that you can swap into your active team, I always level them more or less evenly. This habit is going to be the death of me this time, I think.
  • Skip and Loafer still excellent. Witch from Mercury catch-up continues; still excellent. I am now distracted wondering what in the hell people in the otherworld eat in Restaurant to Another World, since they are constantly talking about how terrible their own food is. Guys. Is the drinking water full of lead in your world? Are you okay?

Reading conditions, insomnia and me

This past weekend, I spent an afternoon in a car, midway through a family trip from the eastern US to the Midwest, reading through and making what are probably my last edits to Therapist book 3. And I think my work might be best suited to moments when you’re a captive audience, like car trips — assuming you don’t get motion sickness, of course. (I’m very lucky; I wouldn’t have survived childhood without reading in cars. I remember reading one sentence at a time as we passed under lights on the highway.)

Similarly?, I started reading Wyngraf issue 3 — a literary magazine focused on “cozy fantasy”, and one I highly recommend — in the middle of the night, on vacation, kept awake by acid reflux. Which are precisely the conditions under which I started reading issue 2 last year. There’s at least some rhyme and reason to that; short stories are nice when you aren’t sure how long you want to keep reading, and when you’re cursing your own body’s mundane failures, something cute and soothing hits the spot.

The latter is also why I read large stretches of the Dreamhealers series in my first few rounds of a style of insomnia that I can look forward to “enjoying” for the next ten years or so. (Maybe. It’s complicated.) Now I’ve settled into slowly reading through a nonfiction book which I only pull up under those conditions.

So sometimes it’s not just a matter of finding a book that matches your taste; it’s a matter of finding a book that compliments your situation. Not necessarily matches it, but compliments it.

Or maybe it’s just how my broken brain works: I remember where I read some particular books more than the details of the story. Over lunch, in a particular room at my day job: that’s I am Livia or The Thief or The Goblin Emperor. One park bench is Winter Tide, another is Glitter Up the Dark, a picnic table in the same park is Cryoburn. I also remember reading a lot of Song of Achilles while awake in the middle of the night due to stomach problems. At home that time.

Who knows. Moving on.

Anime update: Breaking: Cats are cute