One Year of 2010s Retrospectives

It’s been an entire year since I first started the 2010s Retrospectives Series. There’s already been nearly 70 different posts in that time, covering topics as varied as my teenage histrionics, to queer representation in media, to the web fiction community, to Jeb! Bush, to bizarre internet urban legends.

I hope you’ve enjoyed them so far!

I certainly didn’t expect for the series to last as long as it did. But I kept getting more and more ideas for posts, and I wanted to share my reflections with the world. We sure did a lot of stuff in the 2010s, and I think shining a spotlight on all of it will help us chart a new path through the 2020s.

Of course, 2020 in particular has been… a very climactic year… and there will be a lot of pieces to pick up. With pop culture decimated, our political system ruined, and a global pandemic, things will absolutely change. And that’s why I think reflecting back on these pre-2020 times is more important than ever.

Even though my 2010s Retrospectives don’t bring in very many readers, I still want to write a few more big posts. I want to create a patchwork of memories that help paint a picture of the entire decade. Maybe that sounds a bit hokey and over-ambitious, but I want to try!

My new goal is to finish by December 31st. Maybe a few stragglers will pop up in 2021, but hopefully this will wrap up soon.

So, stick around a bit longer, and subscribe by e-mail, and I’ll make sure to keep writing. There’s bound to be a few more good blogs in here somewhere!

(Also, there’s only a week before election day in the United States. If you’re an American, please vote!!!!)

The Ever-Present Life of the Monogatari Series [2009-2019]

Okay, including the Monogatari series in my 2010s Retrospectives is kinda cheating, since the books started in 2006 and the anime started in 2009. But it was a phenomenal success that shaped the entire anime industry throughout the 2010s. And it’s worth mentioning when we look back at the decade. It was REALLY influential!

The premise of the entire series is simple: Characters’ mental illnesses manifest in supernatural form. And each story plays like a weird teen mystery novel.

Simple, but ripe for a billion entries in this extremely long series.

(Extremely long and extremely strange to follow through: Use this reading/viewing order to make sure you don’t miss anything!)

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Content Creators I Stopped Following [2010s]

There are a lot of web content creators I used to follow. Back when I was younger and had more time to devote to passively keeping up with internet celebrities and pop culture websites and all of that. With declining free time and increasing standards, there are several places and people I followed quite regularly that I’ve completely abandoned over the last ten years.

Here’s a few of them, and you might notice a common theme…

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Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Alita Battle Angel [2019]

Alita: Battle Angel rules.

It’s a great movie! The story is ridiculously silly and moves along at an exhausting pace as it attempts to cram twelve TV episodes’ worth of content into two hours. The world is gorgeous and textured, while the action sequences are top-notch. And Alita herself is one of my favorite action movie protagonists in a long time! It may be hard to keep up with sometimes, but Alita is absolutely worth your time.

The movie ended up losing money at the box office, but it performed at a best-case scenario for a February release for a non-franchise film. $400 million worldwide isn’t good enough for a film that cost $175 million to produce, but it’s a success story nonetheless.

The movie is re-releasing in U.S. theaters very soon, on October 30th, and I really hope you’ll go watch or rewatch it. It’s a great film for the big screen and every extra ticket sold will help its legacy.

However…

The internet doesn’t let us have nice things anymore. We can’t just have a good movie that tries its best and gets remembered fondly.

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Ranked Choice Vote Works! Maine 2018

Finally, finally, a success for Ranked Choice Vote in the United States. After decades of struggling against the disastrous first-past-the-post voting system, we finally get a real step towards voting that actually works.

(Seriously, first past the post is horrible, and stuff like the 1998 Minnesota Governor Election shows exactly why. Only five states—Washington, California, Louisiana, Georgia (<3), and Maine—avoid this massive problem that has plagued the country for ages.)

ranked choice vote only in maine
Pathetic

Finally, in 2016, Maine approved instant runoff voting for all its statewide elections—or, in other words, Ranked Choice Voting. And in 2018, we finally saw it in action for the first time.

Ranked Choice Vote

voting precinct

If you aren’t familiar with Ranked Choice Voting, here is the way-too-simple explanation. Instead of choosing one candidate to vote for, you take all candidates on the ballot and rank them from top to bottom. Then, when all ballots are counted, if nobody reaches 50% on the first round, the worst scoring candidate is eliminated, and anyone who had the worst candidate as their #1 will then transfer to their #2, and then so on and so on.

Read more about it and other electoral reform topics on FairVote.

It’s not a perfect system, but literally anything is better than first-past-the-post. And Maine is the first state to show it off… And to show that it really works!

Maine Paves the Way

Despite constant repeal attempts over the past few years, Ranked Choice Voice has survived and thrived in Maine, and in 2018 we got to see it in action. People voted, the system didn’t collapse in on itself, and the votes came in just as planned.

In fact, in the second district, we actually saw our first case of multi-ballot voting. In the first round, the Republican candidate led, but only with 46%. After the lower-ranking candidates were eliminated, the Democrat was declared the winner with 50.6% of the vote.

It all went very well. And it showed that Ranked Choice Vote is a viable voting system that will hopefully replace first-past-the-post in many more states.

On the ballot in November, voters in Alaska and Massachusetts will decide on Ranked Choice Vote. And starting next year, New York City will conduct its biggest local elections with the system. If all of that goes as well as Maine, we could see a really big revolution in voting in the 20s. All thanks to 2018!

And in extremely recent news: Maine will vote for President with Ranked Choice Vote for the first time ever in American history! Yay!

For more another blog post on news & politics, read about the GOP’s disastrous anti-transit tactics in the early 10s.

Artificial Shortages of Every Single Nintendo Product Ever Made [2012-2019]

Here is a brief history of Nintendo’s undying love for artificial shortages.

Nintendo got cocky from the Wii. It sold out really badly in its first Christmas season; nobody could get one, and everyone wanted one. It created a fire that fueled the console’s amazing success in the years to follow. Possibly thanks to its incredible scarcity, the Wii quickly took off to become the second-best-selling console of all-time.

So when the Wii U stalled out of the gate and did NOT sell out in Holiday 2012, Nintendo apparently took the lessons of the Wii’s success, assumed that scarcity was the only way it succeeded, and decided to redo the same exact same strategy with every stupid piece of hardware they ever released!

Xenoblade Chronicles (2012)

tiny xenoblade

Nintendo decided to hang the game out to dry with not a single clue that it could ever succeed. This made no sense because Xenoblade was already a critically acclaimed smash in Japan and Europe, but Nintendo of America just had no confidence here. It suffered stock shortages in the UK because it was so popular… And yet they still did it!

It was a Gamestop exclusive, so its copies were already going to be sparse. A major example of artificial shortages if there ever was one. But when it inevitably earned its status as a modern classic, Gamestop decided to go even further into craven business practices by causing an artificial price boost to its own copies.

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Living in Florida: The Month of S [2018]

I didn’t plan on living in Florida, but somehow it happened. If you want to talk about really badly planned events that went extremely well, you want to talk about the time in 2018 when I moved to Florida for a couple months.

Waiting for JET

Because I had just gone and assumed I’d be accepted for the JET Program after applying in 2017, I decided not to renew my lease in Seattle. I would quit my job at the end of May 2018, then spend time with my Dad’s side of the family, then my Mom’s side of the family, before I moved to Japan for several years.

It was a very solid plan—June in Florida, July in Georgia, then August and beyond in wherever JET sent me, hopefully Aichi Prefecture. The only problem was that I didn’t get accepted. I got waitlisted.

I feverishly tracked the JET Program Reddit to find out the status of waitlisted candidates to see my chances go down, and down, and down.

In April when the real acceptances were picked, some obviously had to decline and then more alternates would be picked to fill those slots. That never came.

In May I waited for the college graduates who got a sweet offer at their Dad’s firm and decided a $70,000 base salary was better than their presumed year-long vacation to Japan. That never came.

In June I waited for those last emergency dropouts for people who got arrested or had health problems or simply got wet feet. That never came.

I mean, I know I bombed the interview really badly, but I felt so confident that I looked great on paper. I studied in Japan for a year and had Japanese as a minor, I had experience as a teaching assistant, I had a degree in Writing & Linguistics and knew a lot about the English language… It genuinely hurt me to find that I had been completely passed over.

It hurt me even more to know that I had already set the plans in motion to go and could not stop them under any circumstance. Already having subleased my room out, already having put in my notice at work, already having bought plane tickets to Florida, it was beyond too late to reconsider. And it really sucked, but I decided to make good use of it anyway!

This is actually a pretty happy story, I promise.

(Also, spoiler alert, but I DID get accepted to the JET Program months later in one of the most fateful freak accidents the world has ever given me. I’ve been grateful ever since.)

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[2015] The Making of Barty Anderson 4

More than anything I have made thus far in my life as a storyteller, Barty’s Brew-Ha-Ha 4: Tale of the Legend of the Crystal Chubacabra [sic] is the thing I am most proud of. My masterpiece, one that debuted five years ago today.

(first off, if you want to read further, you should probably watch the original Barty Anderson movies by the Brothers Hussie, Byron and Andrew. I’ll embed the entire series playlist below.)

And then Barty 4 itself can be watched here:

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[2019] Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – I Love It, But I’d Change It

Aside from the perfectly-passable-but-weightless Solo, it’s not a tough statement to say that The Rise of Skywalker is the worst (live-action, theatrical) Star Wars film. Maybe Attack of the Clones or The Force Awakens are kinda close, but it’s pretty clear to me that Episode IX is the least artistically accomplished, most flawed of the Skywalker Saga.

But I still love it anyway.

Rewatching the movie in preparation for this article, I was struck by just how overcome with joy I was by so much of this movie. It’s such an exciting and silly experience. Never for a moment do I get bored, even when I’m rolling my eyes at the dumber parts. Honestly, that’s what it was supposed to do, anyway; provide a smashing finale to the greatest epic saga in the history of film. It’s the climax to a nine-part series and thus doesn’t exactly need to be jam packed with new storylines and deeper themes. Even though… that’s kind of what it tried to do…

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[2015] Star Wars Episode VII Actually Exists… Think About That

We live in an era where Star Wars Episode VII really exists, and it’s hard to imagine now that, at the beginning of the decade, that wasn’t even a thought in anyone’s mind that that would ever come to pass.

Okay, maybe the absolute biggest turbo-nerds had kept track of all those offhand comments by Mark Hamill where he said George Lucas once wanted him to play the old man mentor character in a new Star Wars movie decades in the future. But for 99% of the population, Star Wars was a finished franchise, at least until the inevitable remake sometime after Lucas bit the dust.

But it happened. Lucasfilm was sold to Disney. JJ Abrams signed on to direct. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was filmed and released, and not only that but it became the #1 highest-grossing movie in North America by such a wide margin that no film has even come close to breaching it since.

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