32X: Short Name, Short Life, Big Fun (February 23, 2004)
This is the very first article I ever wrote for any sort of online publication, and it was more or less done on a whim. GameSpotting was, in short, the blog section of GameSpot, where the various editors & managers of the site would talk about various game-related subjects. The cool thing about this feature was that they allowed fans to send in their own pieces, and each new GameSpotting featured one "GuestSpotter" article that was written by a fan. One day I decided to type up a piece about the Sega 32X to send to GameSpot, expecting to not write much of anything, but when all was said & done I had a complete article written! Getting screenshots from online I decided to send my article to GameSpot, figuring that it wouldn't get anywhere... Until I checked my e-mail one day to see a message from Jeff Gertsmann, Senior Editor of GameSpot (& now of Giant Bomb).
Turns out that they found the article good enough to put online, but they couldn't remove the images from my article, requiring Jeff to ask to me to re-send the images on their own. I did just that and, lo & behold, my article was unleashed to the public! As a 17 year old senior in high school, I was in complete shock to see my name listed among the likes of Gertsmann, Greg Kasavin, & Alex Navarro, people who I held in the highest regard when it came to video game journalism at the time (& I still hold them in regard to this day). I even received e-mails from other gaming sites, asking if I wanted to join their staffs; I was too shy & unsure of myself, so I never responded back to any of them. Looking back on it now it's a little embarrassing, to be honest, but from a nostalgic perspective it's still one of my most cherished pieces of work ever.
My Old YouTube Channel (October 12, 2009-January 18, 2011)
Before I started The Land of Obscusion & focused on writing, I tried my hand at doing YouTube videos. I'll admit it right away & say that I'm not exactly proud of my year-ish as a video producer, simply because I didn't do any sort of actual producing. All I did was put a digital camera on a tripod, put it in front of the TV I had at the time, pressed the record button, & simply played the game I was "reviewing" while talking about it at the same time (or "watch" the anime while reviewing). There was no video editing, no audio balancing, & no special effects; this was zero-budget video making at its most basic. After I finished my video, usually utilizing the ~11 minute time restriction YouTube had at the time, I simply moved it from the camera to my computer & uploaded it to YouTube. I was inspired by the likes of the Angry Video Game Nerd, Classic Game Room, MN12BIRD, & the Happy Console Gamer, but didn't want to do any of the hard work that they all put into their videos.
That being said, I'm amazed that these videos came out as well as they did. The video footage looked okay for what was nothing more than filming a television, my voice was recorded surprisingly well for what was just the camera's built-in microphone (I literally sat next to the camera while playing & recording, nothing else), & somehow I received a lot of positive remarks from viewers. I really don't see why, though, because out of all of the videos I produced (or at least whatever still remains after copyright claims removed a bunch of them in the years since), I really only think a small handful are actually any "good". I originally planned on continuing to do videos while also doing the blog, leaving the videos for video games, but after an update in early 2011 I simply stopped because I lost access to the camera I had been using (the one I used for the final video was a horrible replacement). Oddly enough, I still get replies to my videos on occasion & even the rare subscriber (the poor fools), and I've since renamed the channel to reflect the blog, but I only say watch these videos if you want a good laugh at me.
Mystical Fighter (November 18, 2010)
Sega-16 is a website that's all about the Sega Genesis & its history, with one of the biggest appeals being its massive compendium of game reviews, all of which are written either by the site's regular editorial staff or by fans who wish to help out. I've helped out with this massive effort to cover every single Genesis/Mega Drive, Sega CD, & 32X game, & this was the first review I ever did for the site, appearing less than a month before this blog came into existence.
Known in Japan as Maou Renjishi & developed by KID (Pepsiman, Recca), Mystical Fighter is an early-90s beat-em-up with a heavy Japanese aesthetic that I felt was sadly not as known as it should be. While not one of the all-time Genesis classics, Mystical Fighter still holds up very well & is a lot of fun to play today. Picking up your enemies & either spinning them around to their deaths or jumping up & smashing them into the ground never gets old.
The Masked Rider: Kamen Rider ZO (November 29, 2010)
The second review I did for Sega-16 was more or less a FMV game for the Sega CD that took the 1993 movie Kamen Rider ZO & turned it into a semi-interactive video game. It's overall a very simple game, though it does actually offer some slight replay value, but considering the low bar of quality that most FMV games reached for, Masked Rider: Kamen Rider ZO isn't too bad, actually. It's also the only legal way to actually see the movie outside of Japan, complete with a super cheesy dub; you just have to play through it to see the entire story.
My "Appearances" on ANNCast (March 3 & November 11, 2011 & October 26, 2012)
Now, to get some immediate clarification out of the way, none of these were as a proper "guest". Instead, all of my "appearances" on ANNCast were via the occasional "Viewers Like You" episode that invited fans of the podcast in advance to talk about subjects of their choice; I volunteered my time for these three episodes. My first time on the show was episode 68, where I talked with hosts Zac Bertschy & Justin Sevakis about license rescues, as that was around the time when they first started becoming more common than they used to be. The second was episode 96, where I talked about some obscure anime (including Zaizen Jotaro, Bartender, & Ring ni Kakero 1), with Zac & Justin adding in their views on them when possible. My third (& final[?]) involvement with ANNCast was episode 136, where I talked with Zac about sports anime & how anime fans react to various shows in the genre based on how realistic or over-the-top they are.
Of these experiences, my favorite is easily my first time on the show, as the discussion felt very natural & all three of us seemed to have a fun time talking about all sorts of old & forgotten anime. My second time on the show is probably my least favorite, as I simply felt uncomfortable talking about series that I wound up feeling Zac & Justin had no desire to really talk about. I'm not blaming them, but rather I blame myself for not doing a better job with my subject & being unable to back up my feelings on the shows I covered when Zac & Justin had their counter-arguments. The third experience was okay, if maybe a little cyclical in the long-run. I have nothing but great respect for Zac & Justin, and I thank them for welcoming me onto the show, but all of these experiences simply showcase that I'm not always a great conversationalist, especially when I can't see the people I'm talking to. While I'm not against appearing on a podcast ever again, I feel that I should only do so when it's something I can really talk about & have a good time doing so; simply talking about something because I can isn't always going to work.
"Manga review: FIST OF THE BLUE SKY volumes 1-4." (September 6, 2012)
While the Blog of the North Star isn't around in the way it used to be, the Internet Wayback Machine makes it possible to still check out this interesting cooperative review I did with Milo Turnbull back in 2012 for the four volumes of Fist of the Blue Sky that Gutsoon released in the early-00s. It was a real experiment of a production, since it was done by Milo & I taking turns talking about these manga volumes & what they were about. Milo would write a couple of paragraphs, leaving off with some sort of line to indicate where to go next, & then I would take a turn, leading into the next subject. I can definitely say that I have never, ever done another piece of writing quite like it, so give it a read if you want to see something different in terms of talking about manga.
2004: Rebellious, Yet Respectful & Respectful, Yet Rebellious (July 16 & 20, 2013)
The year 2013 marked the 50th Anniversary of the debut of Tetsuwan Atomu/Astro Boy on Japanese TV, essentially marking the beginning of TV anime as we now know it; there was TV anime before 1963, but not executed like Atomu. To celebrate this occasion, Geoff Tebbetts (of the now-defunct Animerica magazine) decided to start a blog that would compile fifty essays, one for each year from 1963-2012, creating possibly the most comprehensive history of televised anime ever made in English. The end result would be the Golden Ani-Versary, and to help with such a massive endeavor Geoff asked for anyone & everyone who writes about anime to help out, winding up with ~50 authors to do all of the essays. I was a part of this, & my year of choice was 2004.
If you want to know why I chose 2004, you can read the post I made about it back when my two-part essay went live. For my essay, I wanted to focus on specific titles that dared to be different, yet still followed the traditions that had been established over the 40 years that came before my topical year. In the end I covered the original Pretty Cure, Satoshi Kon's Paranoia Agent, the Yugo the Negotiator anime series, the legendary Monster, the highly underrated Fantastic Children, the visually one-of-a-kind Gankutsuou-The Count of Monte Cristo, personal favorite Ring ni Kakero 1 (the first season), the first Genshiken anime series, & Shinichiro Watanabe's Samurai Champloo, as well as a basic overview of 19 other notable anime that debuted in 2004, not to mention the other 13 titles I snuck in as quick mentions; that's a total of 41(!) different anime I brought up. It is, without a doubt, one of my favorite & most cherished works ever when it comes to me writing about anime.
Montezuma's Revenge (May 7, 2015)
This is the third review I have done for Sega-16, and this first is over four years. In 2015, the site decided to expand & start covering games from Sega's 8-bit console, the Mark-III/Master System (& possibly even the SG-1000, as well). While I don't have many games for the console, I did have a copy of Parker Brothers' unlikely port of early-80s platforming classic Montezuma's Revenge, & since it's not an easy to get version I volunteered to review it. It's one of the very few North American-exclusive games for the Master System, but it's still an excellent old-school 2D platformer, even adding in a bit of item management in order to properly advance to the bottom of each pyramid Panama Joe must traverse. If you ever get the opportunity to play this version then definitely do so.
Master of Darkness (October 20, 2015)
This is the fourth review for Sega-16, and the second one about a Master System game. Released in 1992, after the system was abandoned in North America & Japan, this Europe & Brazil-exclusive action platformer (a Game Gear version was released everywhere, including the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console) is completely, blatantly a clone of Konami's old Castlevania games. Luckily, developer SIMS crafted an excellent clone, and in some ways even beat out Konami's games, astonishingly enough. While there was some talk on the Sega-16 forums that I may have rated it too high, with most people feeling that this was a 7 or 8 instead of a 9/10, I stand behind my final rating (which I prefer to not give for my reviews, but the site requires ratings). For anyone who owns a Sega Master System, Master of Darkness is a must-own & if one can find a good deal on it then don't hesitate.
My Anime Origin Story (June 8, 2017)
Lauren Orsini truly lives up to her site's moniker of Otaku Journalist, lending her style of reporting & writing to sites like Anime News Network & Forbes, let alone her own site & her Gundam model kit site Gunpla 101. This year she had a great idea called Anime Origin Stories to ask anime fans to fill out a survey that let everyone go over how exactly they got into anime & manga, and how both they & fandom at large has changed over the years compared to when they got into it. Naturally, I found it interesting, so I filled out the survey, Lauren sent me some follow up questions, & just a few weeks shy of my 31st birthday my story was shared on the site itself. Overall, I don't reveal too much more than what I've occasionally brought up here on this blog, but it's cool to be part of a larger (almost 120 entries as of this update!) examination of anime fandom around the world.
FlipCast: George J. Horvath (Land Of Obscusion) (November 5, 2019)
FlipOtaku is an up-&-coming "MangaTuber", i.e. a YouTube video producer who focuses on manga, and early on he invited numerous people to interview for his "FlipCast" video podcast. For whatever reason, he thought I'd make a decent person to interview, and I guess he caught me on a good day, because I agreed to it. The end result was Flip's first ever live recording, complete with people watching & participating in a live chat & asking questions that I answered. The end result was a fun little hour where Flip asked me about how I got into anime & manga, my early YouTube days in 2009/2010, recommendations for manga I had, what goes into writing for the blog, and other fun little things like that. Unfortunately, my only webcam is for my laptop, which wasn't using a wired internet connection, so I had to limit my movements, so that I didn't disconnect. Overall, this was a fun experience, and one that has remained relatively foreign to me, since I'm not one to be invited for a podcast, for obvious reasons.
A Guide to Japanese Role-Playing Games [Super Robot Wars] (June 25, 2021)
Hardcore Gaming 101 & Bitmap Books are both known for their extensive publications going into a variety of gaming-related subjects, so it only made sense for the two to eventually team up for a book, right? The end result of this union is A Guide to Japanese Role-Playing Games, a massive 652-page hardcover tome (the largest either one has ever published!) covering both the history & evolution of JRPGs, as well as giving overviews of hundreds of hundreds of games, either individually or by series. About a year or so prior to the book's publication, HG101's Kurt Kulata sent out an open call for contributors to help cover specific subjects, and I decided to take the initiative & offered to do a 500-word overview of the Super Robot Wars series, which Kurt accepted; this was literally my first ever "paid gig" as a writer. The craziest thing of all is that when Kurt sent out the open call, he had not yet revealed that this book would be published by Bitmap, so you can just imagine how surprised I was when that news came out; to call being part of a Bitmap Books release "an honor" would be an understatement.
My SRW overview, which got an entire page all to itself(!), is found closer to the end of this massive tome, though you can find my name early on in the "Contributors" section, where I obviously plug this very blog. If you have the chance to buy this book, please do so, and not simply because I wrote a single page; it truly is just that great of a final product.
The Apocrypha of Hareluya II BØY & Why It's Worth Watching (March 14, 2022)
Without a doubt, the biggest name when it comes to websites that focus primarily on anime would Anime News Network, which has been around since 1998. I'd wager that any person who writes about anime in English has had hopes of contributing something to ANN, and the same would be true for me. I mean, its columns like founder Justin Sevakis' Buried Treasure, Jason Thompson's House of 1000 Manga, & Mike Toole's The Mike Toole Show that helped both form the foundation of this very blog & helped influence it in too many ways to count. However, while ANN has in the past decade or so started opening up more to accepting freelance pitches, it's still not a site that will just accept any old idea. No, it has to be relevant in some way, and that has effectively made it nigh-impossible for someone like me, who purposefully(?) keeps himself as far away from "relevancy" as possible, for me ever feel like I could actually contribute anything to ANN.
And then the impossible happened.
At the end of 2021, Sentai Filmworks announced that it had license the 1997 anime Hareluya II BØY, something that I thought would never get licensed... ever. That December, Hidive started streaming the show, uploading one new episode every week, almost like a sort of "retro simulcast" (*patent pending*), and with that I found an opening. I had to chance to pitch an article about an obscure-as-hell anime, because it was now (just barely) relevant to current anime fandom, so balled up my courage & submitted it... And it got accepted. I now have a "feature" on ANN where I go over the origin of Hareluya II BØY, the confusion regarding the original Hareluya manga, its place in the history of late-night anime, Yasuhiro Imagawa's involvement as head writer, and pretty much any other cool tidbit I knew about it, all in an effort to try to make more people check it out, & all within 2,000 words, too. It will now be there in posterity for as long as Anime News Network exists, and barring any sort of wild calamity, I imagine that means that it will be there for a long, long time.