New discoveries, new ideas, new outlook, new writing

So, it’s been almost eight months since the last time I really engaged in the world of blogging.  I managed to not write a single blog post in those months.  Sad, right.  So, what have I been doing?  Well…quite  bit of procrastinating…a fair amount of getting myself together…making a few new discoveries (new for me anyway)…and, most importantly getting back to writing (as weird as that may sound).  Now you will have to be prepared.  As this is the first blog in ages, it’s going to be really, really, really, long!

I’ll start with the new discoveries bit – because that was what I was doing whilst simultaneously procrastinating instead of writing 🙂 .  The first discovery I made was that of Japanese anime (Yes you can laugh if you want) but there are so many fantastic shows and a lot of those shows have spawned from Japanese manga.  Now I won’t lie to you, I cannot read a word of Japanese and have never read one of those manga before but if the shows are anything to go by the manga must be good too. (Well, that’s what I want to believe anyway.)  Those stories, written by some talented authors and then brought to life by some amazing artists…well what else is there to say.  Of course, not all anime comes from manga.  Some are derived from games or otome games (which are story-based video games) or from graphic novels or visual novels and there are many anime series and movies that are simply, well, anime!

I have been into anime for some time now.  That said, I am hardly an expert.  In fact I am still quite a novice.  There have been a number of hits and misses (yes – just like books, there are plenty bad anime to counter the good) but there are anime shows to cover all tastes.  I have discovered things about anime purely by mistake.  For example, animes that are labelled or tagged ecchi have (at the very least)some nudity and (at the other end of the scale) a lot of other things.  So I steer clear of those (my innocent mind, would like to remain intact).  And anything yaoi is the same type of stuff but with same-sex couples.  I also generally avoid anime labelled mecha.  Mecha anime shows have (as the name somewhat suggests) humanoid machines or machines or robots of some sort.  I really don’t enjoy such things but I would suspect fans of Transformers and the like would enjoy them.  That said, I have just finished probably one of the most intense, most enjoyable anime series I have seen to date: Guilty Crown.  I didn’t read the tags beforehand or I would have known the show had mecha and would accordingly have avoided it.  But I’m really glad I didn’t see the tag because the show was fantastic.  You can view the trailer below.  It’s in English.

I have also enjoyed more lighthearted stuff for those days when my brain just said NO,like the music based Uta no Prince Sama and slice of life stuff like Barakamon (which was brilliant BTW).  I also love just about anything that is sport.  Good shows in that genre that I have watched included Kuroko no Basket ( about basketball), Haikyuu (about volleyball) and Free! (a swimming one).  Of course a good course of anime viewing wouldn’t be complete without action like Akame ga Kill, Tokyo Ghoul and its sequel currently airing, Hamatora and its sequel, Fate/Stay night and Bleach (I watched the 4 movies, not the series – this was the first anime that launched my obsession 😉 ).  There are also a number of supernatural/ demons type animes like Ao no Exorcist, Strike the blood, Tears to Tiara, Hiiro no Kakera and its sequel, and Natsume Yuujinchou which is not scary in the least but it is about demons and the supernatural.  There are four seasons to that one and it really is worth watching.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

There are also some good music ones, like: Kiniro no Corda and its sequels and Uta no Prince Sama and its sequel (which I have already mentioned)  and even if you don’t really get on with the story, the music parts are very good.  Oh, and lets not forget the historical ones or ones set in the past, including Hakuouki Reimeiroku and its sequel(I must warn you, though, that you will not enjoy this one if you like happy endings – sorry for the spoiler!) and Saiunkoku Monogatari and its sequel.   There are also some ongoing anime that I’m currently watching which are worth mentioning:  Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso is a music one (very emotionally draining but excellent show), Kamisama Hajimemashita second season (it’s really very funny but you must watch season 1 first), Akatsuki no Yona (one of those set in the past, very good show) and Tokyo Ghoul Route A which is the second season of the show (another very intense, quite emotionally draining show – why am I watching so many of those lately?  Haha! Also excellent.)  Now a lot of anime are school based stuff so don’t judge me, I’m just reliving the ‘old days’ – well how I would have liked my school days to be anyway (notice how I left good out of the ‘good old days’ :P)

There are many many animes covering all the genres you can think of, you only have to search for yourself.  I have watched loads, far too many to mention here and have enjoyed most of them.  So, search for the ones that you think you would enjoy and I guarantee a whole new world will open up to you.  Now I do suggest that you figure out what the different genres mean before you jump into watching or you may get some…surprises.  You can check out what anime shows are available via the brilliant site,  Anime Planet.

There are many anime that are English-dubbed.  I watch mine in Japanese with English subs.  I find the voices more authentic that way – and have even learnt a few Japanese words and phrases (see, they’re educational too 🙂 ).  I have watched some movies in English with my daughter: My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind,  Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Ponyo and From up on Poppy hill, which were all very good.  I have also watched Final Fantasy VII in English, which was very good and, I found, rather heart-wrenching.

Below are trailers for Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited away, two of my favourites.

One thing that really struck me about the anime shows I have watched, were the opening and closing theme songs and songs at pivotal moments, etc.  There were some really fantastic songs.  And that led me onto my next discovery.  Because I can’t help but research anything new that I come across, I had to research the actors behind the voices of some of my favourite anime.  I was surprised to learn that in most, if not all cases, the voice actors are also the ones singing in the shows where the characters sing.  That’s some fantastic talent!  Anyway, with my interest in Japanese music piqued, I began searching for Japanese musicians. And I stumbled upon a singer by the name of Gackt.  He is a Japanese singer and musician.  He is also an actor. I had to find and listen to some of his music.  I really enjoyed it!

Whilst going through YouTube videos of Gackt, I noticed a few videos where he was with someone by the name of Yohio.  So I had to search him.  He’s Swedish but can speak English and Japanese.  Apparently, he was in a band called Seremedy.  Their style was called Visual Kei and they seemed to be rather popular in Japan.  I’m not going to pretend I know anything about Visual Kei because it was the first time I had even heard of it but I believe it’s a type of rock music where how you look on stage is as important as how well you perform your songs (anyone is welcome to correct me here if I am wrong).  It seems that band not longer exists.  He has done some songs on his own and is now part of a new band called Disreign.  I actually think this young man (and he is young – 19 years old) is actually a genius.  To be able to follow your dream at the age of fourteen to the point where you have your own record label is really something.  Oh, and not only is he a fantastic musician who can play piano and guitar, as well as sing, he is also now in a Swedish television show called Jordskott (not sure how many episodes).  Furthermore, it would seem he is now delving into the world of writing (check that out on Wattpad here).  Aside from his beautiful voice (and beautiful face), what really caught my attention with this singer, is that he not only thinks out of the box, he really lives out of it too.  I guess I would see my daughter as being the same, which is probably why I am so fascinated by him.

After I followed Yohio on Twitter (yes, he is there too.  You can check him out at @YOHIO_DISREIGN), along with the other band members of Disreign, I received a few of my own new followers, some of them are obviously Yohio fans, and some of those unfollowed me the next day (bastards haha!) but there were a few who are young Swedish musicians in their own bands.  Of those musicians, two of them tweet quite  lot: Endigo is in a band called Nanda?! I really enjoyed his song, Promised Land and he seems to do vlogs on a regular basis, some of which I watched and thought they were rather good. You can check out his YouTube channel here and his twitter handle is @EndigoDarkBad.  The other musician is Patrick (who is really quite beautiful – I know, it’s the second time in one post that I have said that about a man but if you check out his twitter account, you will understand!) who is in a band called BatAAr.  The call themselves Art Metal, which is really not my thing but there is a haunting song called Fleur de Lys that I loved and if you love metal, you will enjoy their music.  Plus it is also worth watching their music videos just for that guy 😛  He is on twitter at @PatrikBatAAr.

After finding those fresh music styles, I wondered if there were any fresh new-style artists from South Africa (of course I have to support my home country 🙂 ) and found a guy called Jeremy Loops.  He calls himself a folk singer but I would call him a homegrown South African…well, you’d have to listen for yourself to understand.  He is also described as a loop singer because part of what he does is record various voices, sounds, music etc, and then uses a foot plate to loop those sounds through on some of his songs.  Anyway, it’s rather enjoyable, very different.  So go check him out!  He is on Twitter at @JeremyLoops and you can find him on YouTube here.

Do you see how easy it is for one thing to lead to another?

Anyway,  how does this all connect to my writing?  Well, I started watching the animes shortly after I hit a real slump in my writing (well, in life really).  I watched them and I watched them and I watched them some more.  The more I watched them, the more I realised how different they are in expressing the feelings and attitudes of their characters and how differently they approach the unfolding of the story.  I was in awe of those writers.  They made me feel refreshed and invigorated.  They made me want to write again. So I did, slowly at first, battling away, kicking myself up the butt every day and as with all things forgotten then remembered, I eventually got into the rhythm and began picking up the pace and you’ll be pleased to know that I am now writing every day.  But there’s more to it than that because when I started following those musicians and reading up about them, I realised that they, like the creators of the anime (and the manga or whatever may have come before that), are really putting themselves out there for the world to see.  They are exposing themselves to hate and ridicule  but they are also exposing themselves to love and to genuine fans who admire them for who they are and what they do.  But what makes them truly inspirational is that they don’t let the bad stuff get them down and they don’t make excuses but rather, they embrace who they are.  And I realised that’s the one thing that has probably always held me back in writing – the fear of being ridiculed, of being told I am not good enough or that I am not doing it right.  And any of you who have followed my blog from the start will know that – how many times have I questioned myself or become disheartened?  So, so many times.  Not anymore.  Because of them, my new discoveries, I am rediscovering my writing.  And this time, no one will stop me!

If you got all the way to the end, thanks for stopping by.  Check out the anime and those bands I have mentioned and don’t forget to drop by again.  Also, check out my writing blog at 1000 words (haven’t written anything there in a while either but there are plenty older pieces to keep you occupied!).  No promises as I am busy with my other writing but I’ll post whenever I can x

Copyright © 190215 by Karen Payze



  1. I used to watch and read a fair bit of mange/anime years ago. Some of it was… incredibly weird but some of it was very good.

    Spirited Away managed to be both!

    • Yes, spirited away was rather weird 🙂 I loved it!

  2. Great to see you back and so energized! My own present journey seems to be following a similar course, except that I’m returning to painting a variety of subjects in mixed media, having done most of the writing I ever intended to do. Music was quite a part of the writing creative process in the beginning, but so far in this “new” old activity with pastel/paint I’m finding that relative silence is most conducive. Interestingly enough, when I did my first website, much of the theme music was done by Fantasy (IV? not sure). After reading about some poor soul who was sued for using some photographer’s picture w/o permission, I took that whole site down and built another — every scrap there is attributed. LOL!

    • Thank you 🙂 it’s great to reconnect! yes I’m going and going and going 😉 ah yes, that whole permission thing. I did that with a few posts when I first started my blog until someone warned me of that. Now I always check that first 🙂 Glad to hear you’re still pursuing your painting! And I wish you the very best in it. Post some pics of your paintings when you are able. I would love to see them x

  3. Nice to read you again, Karen. I’ve missed you. I love how anime and its music rejuvenated you. My son is a huge fan and he tells me about some of the bigger plots. I agree they have special way about them. 🙂

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

    • Thanks, it feels good to be back 🙂 Yes, some of the story lines are brilliant! Will be popping round to your blog soon x

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