Category Archives: Sword Art Online

“Taking Off” Negativity

Since dropping out of college almost 3 years ago, I’ve struggled with depression.

One of the methods of coping I’ve found is treating my negative emotions like clothes and, like clothes, “taking them off.”

Doubt: Am I good enough to be the person I want to be?

Fear: I can’t make it. I don’t want to make it.

Anger: Why did I do that?

Sadness: I don’t deserve all that you’ve given me, God. Give it to someone else.

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Suguha — “Sword Art Online”

Undressing to shower this morning, my mind going at a million miles an hour as I thought about what colleges to, before the end of the month, apply to, and what classes to take, I stopped suddenly, struck by a desire.

Saying a prayer — trusting in God that I had this desire for a reason — before I stepped in the shower, I left the bathroom and walked around my house naked.

It was a liberating and strange feeling.

I felt like I was in a place I shouldn’t be, but was also in a place I was meant to be. Which makes sense: Though naked is one’s natural state of being, a kitchen is not a place for butts. (I was careful to avoid inadvertently touching a surface.)

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I even went outside.

Closing the front door behind me, I stood in my yard, not minding the cold breeze, looking at the multi-colored clouds as the sun rose.

I don’t mean to sound like a hippie but, being in nature in my natural state, I felt cleansed.

My mind was like a dirty dish, and being naked was the soap, water, and sponge that cleaned it.

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Returning to the bathroom minutes later, letting the shower’s water clean me, I felt like I finally knew what it meant to “take off” my negative emotions, like my doubt and fear:

To “take off” my negativity is to put my trust in God — to trust that God has given me the thoughts, feelings, and desires I have for a reason. And that reason is: To spread God’s light in a world in darkness.

After being naked outside, being in my most vulnerable state for the world to see, I felt like I could do anything. I thought to myself If I can be naked outside, than acing that job interview should be a walk in the park.

I’m sorry if this comes across as me being prideful. Pride is a vice that I struggle with.

It’s just: After showing all of myself, I felt that I could be all of myself — I felt that I could put to use all that God has given me, and I could put it to use for a purpose that brought me closer to Him and satisfied my desire to make something of my life: my desire to not live my life on the couch.

How Can I Forgive Myself?

How can I forgive myself?

That’s the question I’m asking myself as I research college classes to take.

I hope to be returning to college this fall to study screenwriting.

And yet I can’t stop thinking about my previous experience at college…

During my second semester, I took classes that, I realized too late, I wasn’t prepared to take. In addition, for at least a week, I was as sick as I have ever been. (With what, and for what reason, I don’t know.)

As the semester ended, as it became clear that college, for the time being, wasn’t the place for me, and that there was nothing I could do to salvage my grades, the worst aspect of myself reared its ugly head — my anger.

I’ve struggled with anger since I was in Kindergarten. It’s just in my nature to, when stressed, instead of breaking down crying, get pissed.

I lashed out at people who were only trying to help — treated people like disposable objects: means to an end.

Then I came home and have been able to get my head on straight.

I couldn’t say exactly how, but I feel I am a different person now than I was when I came home almost 3 years ago.

There is more I wish I had done during my nearly 3 years home. But, as a whole, I feel that my time home has been good for me.

For example: I was able to accomplish a dream of mine: Establish a presence online.

This blog.

A place where, I hope, people always feel that their voice is heard. And if their voice isn’t heard — if I refuse to speak to them or refuse to allow them to speak by deleting their comment(s) — at the very least they know why. (If they want to know why.)

As corny as it might sound, I want my blog to be a Safe Space: An imperfect light in the darkness that is this imperfect world.

But:

For all that I feel I have accomplished and all the growth as a person that I feel I have gone through, I still find it hard to forgive myself for having to drop out of college, and for the way I treated people who were only trying to help: People who, circumstances being what they are, I am unable to reach.

I’ve accepted that me dropping out of college is something I’m never going to be OK with — it’s like Frodo’s wound from the Morgul blade in The Lord of the Rings: It’s a wound that will never fully heal.

I feel like Eureka:

Renton: “That’s enough.”

Eureka: “It is not! It is not enough…”

1:43 — 1:50:

One more thought:

Readers of this blog know that I write about nudity a lot.

The reason why is because I see the act of getting naked as more than the act of taking off clothes.

When I undress, I feel that I am doing more than taking off my clothes. I am “taking off” my doubt, fear, and regret, too. I am returning to the state of being that, as a Catholic, I believe God meant for not just me, but for every person: Naked without shame. (Genesis 2:15)

I’m not saying that getting naked is the be-all and end-all solution to my struggle to forgive myself. It’s not. And I never thought it was. But: I do believe that it is a step in the right direction.

Clothes always, eventually, have to come back on. But: When I’m naked, I feel that I am more able to be the person God wants me to be. Whoever that may be.

Which is why I always liked the below scene in Sword Art Online. I don’t want to consider it fanservice, because I consider it more than that. In Suguha, I see myself. A person struggling to know, and do, what is right. A person who sees taking off their clothes as a means of stripping away the negative aspects of themselves — their doubt, their fear — in order to say to themselves “___ is who I am. And ___ is who I am meant to be.”

Those are just some thoughts that had been bouncing around in my head, wanting to get out.

Thank you for reading.

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“Giving All” And “Getting Some”: How Anime Appeals To The Best – And Worst – In Men

Months ago, I wrote a post defending kawaii — cuteness in the context of Japanese popular culture.

Today, I would like to expand on that.

In Appreciating The Impossible Beauty of Anime Women, I said:

Anime characters, with their big eyes, soft voices, and long, colorful hair, are trying to make a person go “Cute!”

On the other hand:

Anime characters, with their big breasts, perfectly-shaped butts, and slim waists, are trying to get a person aroused.

The reason why I said this is because I believe that anime is trying to appeal to a man’s two strongest desires at the same time. Anime is trying to appeal to a man’s desire to “get some,” and a man’s desire to “give all.”

One reason to enjoy a film like Despicable Me (2010) — which, just for the record, isn’t an anime — is because, in Gru, we see a man “giving all.” We see a man giving up the comfortable, bachelor-esque life of villainhood in order to pursue a higher calling: Fatherhood.

Far from being something that drags him down and breaks him, fatherhood is what allows Gru to live up to his full potential — to be more than he ever imagined.

In anime characters, with their big eyes, soft voices, and youthful bodies…

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…we men see beings that, like Gru’s girls, we instinctively want to protect and respect — beings we instinctively want to “give all” for.

What man wouldn’t want to be Renton, flying off in a giant fighting mecha in order to save the life of the woman he loves?

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What man wouldn’t want to live in peace with the woman he loves, in the house the two of them bought?

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Gru’s love for his girls is a different kind of love than Renton’s love for Eureka or Kirito’s love for Asuna, but the principle is the same: Love is driving a man to do more, and be more, than he ever imagined.

On a side note:

Another, non-anime example of how love drives a man (0:58 — 1:08):

Regarding how anime tries to appeal to a man’s desire to “get some”:

One example:

Shots, like this one from Sword Art Online, can make a man want to find out what is underneath a certain piece of clothing:

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Concealment creates secrecy. “A secret,” a man’s body says, “that must be revealed.”

The desire to “reveal the secret” — to find out what is underneath a certain piece of clothing — can drive a man to do horrible things.

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In conclusion:

Is kawaii ultimately a good thing or bad thing?

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I would say: “It depends.”

On the one hand:

Kawaii can inspire a person to be more than they ever thought possible.

On the other hand:

Kawaii can cause a person to treat others as less than they are.

Yui the Sugar Plum Fairy

It’s currently snowing. Yay! ^_^

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Snow always puts me in the Christmas spirit.

To celebrate the snow, here is one of my favorite pieces of music — “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” — from my favorite play — The Nutcracker — represented by one of my favorite characters: Yui, from the anime Sword Art Online.

In preschool, my class performed The Nutcracker, and I have loved the play ever since.

Yui is going to The Land of Sweets:

Celebrating Beauty: Day 2 – Nudity

Note #1: This post talks about a subject that I talk a lot about on this blog — nakedness — so if you’re thinking This again? I understand. Whenever I talk about this subject, I always try and add something new, so that it doesn’t feel like I’m saying the same thing over and over again. I’m talking about it in this series of posts — Celebrating Beauty — because I see nudity as something to be celebrated and understood, not something to be ashamed of and see as indecent: A lot of bad in the world comes from seeing the naked body as evil, not good.

Note #2: In order to try and do this subject justice, I’m going to be getting into what I believe, as a Catholic, to be true.

Inspired by TheOriginalPhoenixThimblerig’s Ark, and Sunshine Lou, every day until Christmas, I’m going to write about one example of beauty that I have found, in order to counter the darkness that I see when I turn on the news.

Day 2, I am celebrating:

Nudity.

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I’ve realized why I write so much about nakedness:

I see my desire to be naked, and the joy I feel when I read how being naked positively impacts a person’s life, as a manifestation of “The Edenic Call.”*

The Edenic Call is a concept I heard about in a philosophy class. The Edenic Call is each person’s deep down desire to return to the paradise that was lost: Eden.

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This concept would help to explain why people feel more like their purest, deepest self when naked, particularly naked in nature: Because a person is in the state they were originally supposed to be in.

The man and his wife were naked, and felt no shame.
~ Genesis 2:25

Because of the imperfect nature of the world, we cannot live exactly like Adam and Eve lived: It is not possible to be completely without shame when naked in the sight of others.

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But that doesn’t make one’s desire for Eden — one’s desire to be, to quote Sunshine Lou, “Naked and free.” — any less real.

I see my nudity as a compass:

Taking my clothes off is not the fulfillment of my heart’s deepest desire, but my naked body does point toward who, I believe, is: God.

Why?

Because:

To quote author Sharon Hodde Miller:

“…a woman’s breasts, hips, bottom, and lips all proclaim the glory of the Lord! Each womanly part honors Him.”

My point is:

Every male and female part comes from God, and honors God in its own way.

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When I am naked, I am reminded of this quote from the movie Elysium (2013):

“Never forget about where you come from.”

I am reminded of where I come from.

And I am reminded of where I want to go.

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Question:

How does being naked positively impact your life?

*There are other ways The Edenic Call manifests itself in people. It’s just that a desire to be naked is the first way that I thought of.

Getting Naked

Inspired by fellow blogger Sunshine Lou, and wanting to go beyond being emotionally naked, I was naked for a second time this morning.

(My first time: My Experience Being Naked)

The reason I was inspired by Lou is because I read how being naked in nature is giving her a feeling of inner peace and freedom, and I thought to myself:

I want to experience that.

What I experienced when I was naked, is this:

A feeling of humility.

Because it snowed last night, I didn’t want to be naked outside.

Being naked in the privacy of my own room, behind a closed door, I felt like all eyes were on me.

As a Catholic, I believe that God has His eyes on me — it’s impossible to hide anything from Him. But only when I was naked did that belief really hit home.

I was reminded, too, of a line from the movie Elysium (2013):

“Never forget about where you come from.”

We come in to the world naked.

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When I was naked, I was “where I came from.”

One of the, for lack of a better word, “tragedies” of Catholic teaching about the body, I believe, is this:

The body is seen as shameful.

It makes sense for Catholics to have such a view of the body.

For example:

Adam and Eve covered themselves when they realized they were naked. (Genesis 3:7) And Jesus was stripped naked before being crucified, to add insult to injury.

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But:

I believe that so much evil in the world could be overcome if people were not just emotionally naked, but were not ashamed of their physical nakedness, either.

Industries like porn thrive on the naked body being seen as purely sexual. “If you want to see a woman take her clothes off, watch this…” porn says to the curious young man who wants to know what is underneath that piece of clothing a woman wears on her chest.*

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Suguha, “Sword Art Online”

If more people saw their naked body as something to not be ashamed of, and saw the sight of, for example, a woman’s breast and butt, as more than the sexual thoughts and feelings that such a sight can cause, the world would be a better place.

A desire to be clothed is, partly, a desire to be seen as more than the body parts that are unclothed. For example: One reason a woman covers her breasts is to implicitly say “I am more than my breasts.”

This doesn’t mean though that it’s wrong to be naked for a non-bathing, non-sexual, or non-medical reason — naked for the sake of being naked. I believe that God created our naked body and said it is “very good.” (Genesis 1:31) There is nothing inherently evil about nakedness.

This just means that, because of the nature of the world, there is a time and a place to be naked. If a person was naked everywhere, 24/7, there would be a greater chance of that person being harmed because of their nudity, and the peace and freedom one feels being naked would, no doubt, be lessened. It’s one thing to be naked on top of a mountain, alone, on a warm, cloudless day, and another thing to be naked in a crowded, dimly lit bar in the dead of winter.

So, the next time you’re getting dressed, don’t immediately reach for a new pair of underwear after taking off the old. Be naked in a safe place.

You might be surprised at what revealing your body reveals to you.

*The Line Between Porn And Art

The Line Between Porn And Art

Lately, I’ve found the line between porn and art blurred.

More and more, I’ve been finding that one person’s porn is another person’s art.

What inspired me to write this post is:

1) My analysis of Sword Art Online fanservice.

I don’t consider the scene above to be pornographic.

The reason why is because though the sight of Suguha in her underwear is arousing, I don’t see a young woman in her underwear for the sake of being in her underwear.*

I see Suguha physically stripping herself — taking off her clothes — as a manifestation of the mental stripping that she is doing. How is Suguha “mentally stripping” herself? She is taking off her doubt and fear like she would take off her shirt and pants. She is reminding herself of what she is doing — “I’m just showing him the way there. That’s all.” — and why she is doing it. Suguha is essentially asking herself: “What is important to me? Why?”

Do I think this scene is perfect? No.

For example: What’s the point of the shot of Suguha’s lower body? (0:22 — 0:24)

But: Though there are parts of this scene that could be considered pornographic, that is ultimately not the vibe I get from this scene. When I watch this scene, I don’t want to be aroused. What I want is this: To empathize with Suguha.

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My second inspiration for this post is:

2) Japan as Neverland by thesixfootbansai. An eye-opening post about the dark side of anime and manga.

What I am trying to say in this post is:

Porn is a problem. Porn hurts not only the people who are using it, but the people who are the porn, too.

Porn is dehumanizing. It says “This part of a person’s body is the most important aspect of them.”

Porn is unsatisfying. No matter how beautiful the person on the screen or on the page is, eventually the page is turned or a new tab is opened.

But:

It isn’t always easy to tell what is porn and what is not. What one person considers vile another could consider beautiful. And a thing can be pornographic but, at the same time, have much to commend.

That is why discernment is necessary: So that we can praise what is good and expose what is evil.

Test everything. Hold fast to what is good.
~1 Thessalonians 5:21

On a side note:

Fanservice saved my life.

There was a time where depression hit me harder than usual.

I was thinking about suicide because I had recently realized that my plans for my life weren’t viable. I felt that I had wasted my life. That I didn’t have anything to offer the world.

One of the reasons I didn’t make my thoughts a reality is because I was reminded that the universe is full of beauty. Beauty that I didn’t want to see the end of by killing myself.

One of the examples of beauty I thought of was a woman’s butt.

Specifically, a shot of Yolko’s butt from the Sword Art Online episode “Murder in the Safe Zone”:

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This fanservice helped me to realize that life is worth living.

I don’t appreciate this shot because it arouses me. I appreciate this shot because it reminds me of what I believe to be true:

God created the body and said it is “very good.” (Genesis 1:31)

*The body, to some extent, will always be arousing. The question to ask is “Is arousal the point?” It’s perfectly natural to feel aroused while looking at a piece of art like, for example, The Birth of Venus. But: Arousal is not the point of The Birth of Venus.

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