2017 is coming to an end, and the OWLS Bloggers have reached a great milestone: TURNING 1 YEARS-OLD. Let’s be honest, I’m pretty sure some of you readers didn’t think we would last long, but too bad, we did!
Throughout this year, we embraced you all with positive posts about anime and pop culture. Now, I’m here to give you a recap as to what I think are some of the best posts of 2017 based on the themes and topics that I have created.
I don’t really say much about the OWLS posts throughout the year because my fellow OWLS partners speak for a good majority of us. However, I do think now is the appropriate time as the creative chief to reflect on the themes I created as a whole and the posts that were produced by my fellow bloggers.
Back in December 2016, Arria assigned me to be the creative chief officer of the OWLS group. At the time, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. In fact, there were a few moments where I had no confidence that the monthly theme was a good one. However, my fellow OWLS bloggers enjoyed writing posts for each month’s theme (even though they struggled sometimes) and the posts we wrote impacted our readers’ perspectives on life, as you can see from the comments they get in their posts. In fact, it is through these creative posts that the OWLS group grew—more bloggers wanted to be part of the movement, and we were very grateful that we were able to make an impact, even if it’s just a little one.
For this special OWLS post, I’ll be looking back at each month’s theme and select some of the best ones based on my subjective opinion. The criteria I based my picks are on how well it fits with the overall monthly theme and topic, originality (selecting an anime or pop culture piece that one wouldn’t generally associate it with the topic at hand) and adding some flair and uniqueness to my prompt (like a personal spin on the topic).
So, without further delay, here it is!
January 2017 – “Disruptors”
“To disrupt” has a negative denotation, but rather than looking at the verb in a negative light, we are going to use the verb in a positive way. It’s like the word, “protest” which has positive and negative connotations depending on the perspective of the person.
Disruptors: An individual or a group disturbing a system or social norms/conventions that they believe is destroying what is morally right.
“Disruptors” was our first monthly topic for OWLS, and I came up with this topic easily. I wanted to start off the year strong and with a loud statement that introduces our movement and purpose, and the theme, “Disruptors” definitely fitted that criteria especially since there was a lot of outcry with what was going on in the world at the time.
Best “Disruptors” Posts:
- “Bleach – A ‘Disruptor’ in the anime and real world” – Matt
- “Claymore’s 7 Ghosts of the Northern War” – Venus
- “Disrupting Gender in Ouran High School Host Club” – Lyn
- “‘In The Name of Peace’ & What is Moral in Mobile Suit Gundam 00“ – Arria
- “Kiznaiver, Where Change is Worth the Pain” – Takuto
February 2017 – Yuri!!! on Ice‘s “Flight”
For this month, the anime we will be writing about is Yuri!!! on Ice.
An individual takes flight when there is a goal, a dream, or an ambition that he or she wants to achieve. However, for this blog post, we are going to look at “flight” in different lenses: the underdog’s dream, the possibilities that Yuri!!! on Ice allows viewers to think about, and also the dangers of greed and ignorance that can influence one’s dream.
February’s theme was actually a challenge for me because a majority of our team really wanted to write about Yuri!!! on Ice since it just finished at the time. While I’m all for requests, coming up with February’s theme was difficult due to the fact that there wasn’t enough substance in the series. It’s easy to come up with a theme for a series like Naruto or Sailor Moon because there are a plethora of episodes pinpointing to various issues and themes as opposed to Yuri!!! on Ice which is only 12 episodes. Furthermore, I had to come up with a topic that is open enough to spark “new” ideas, so that my fellow bloggers aren’t redundant in their thoughts since they are all writing about the same anime.
As you can see, this was a pretty difficult task for me, but I was pretty happy with the results. Each post on Yuri!!! on Ice was unique. Each blogger took a different approach with the word, “Flight,” and I personally thought this was one of my stronger creative topics.
Best Yuri!!! on Ice‘s “Flight” Posts:
- “Diversity and the Normalization of the LGBTQ Community Brought to You By Yuri on Ice“ – Kat
- “The Flight of a Russian Fairy — A Character Analysis of Yuri Plisetsky” – Pink
- “We’re All Pork Cutlet Bowls: The Relatability of the Underdog’s Dream in Yuri!!! on Ice“ – Naja
- “Would Yuri and Viktor’s Relationship Be Accepted in Their Own Countries? Homosexuality in Japan and Russia” – Rai
- “Yuri On Ice — Love and Life” – Steph (Two Happy Cats)
March 2017 – “Sanctuary”
A sanctuary is a place of safety and stability. In anime, there are several different places and environments that characters call “home.” For this topic, we will be discussing various locations and settings within certain anime series.
For March’s topic, the term “sanctuary” came from the concept of “sanctuary cities.” I wanted to bring the concept of “sanctuary cities” in dialogue with anime.
Best “Sanctuary” Posts:
- “A Figure Skater’s Sanctuary” – Eren
- “Amamizukan, The Sanctuary in Princess Jellyfish“ – Lyn
- “Evangelion‘s Misato Provides a Home for the Lonely” – Takuto
- “Watamote ‘Sanctuary'” – Stephanie (Anime Girls NYC)
- “When Your Dreams Dissolve Into A Barren Wasteland” – Hazelyn
April 2017 – “Colors”
We are all part of one race, the human race. “Colors” refers to people of color in anime. For this monthly topic, we will be discussing how people of color or characters of different “races” (a literal alien race) are represented in anime. Some topics we are considering is the dangers of stereotyping, bi-racial characters, and the importance of racial inclusion.
For this month, there was a topic request to discuss racism and people of color. OWLS embraces all people from different cultures and backgrounds, and so it was only a matter of time that we talk about it. Now, I like the prompt I created but I had trouble coming up with the theme word. In fact, I didn’t like the word I selected in the end. “Colors” doesn’t stand out like the others and I felt that the word completely gives away what the prompt is going to be about. (Fun Fact: I found the right word when it was too late to change it. I’ll be using it in 2018 OWLS’ monthly themes, though.)
Best “Colors” Posts:
- “Crimson’s Upbringing and (Lack of) Connection to Colors” – Crimson
- “Fetishization of the ‘Rose Bride’ and Asian Women” – Hazelyn
- “Forged Through Adversity: A Look at Killer B and the Shinobi of the Hidden Cloud Village” – Naja
- “K Project Owls Post: Your ‘Color’ Says It All (Or Maybe Not)” – Venus
- “Racewashing in Attack on Titan Films & Other Adaptations” – Arria
May 2017 – “Strength”
“Your greatest weakness can become your greatest strength.”
In anime, characters struggle with inner demons or physical weaknesses that make them feel insecure and prevent them from achieving goals. Yet when these characters overcome their adversity, they can finally be able to express who they are or in other words, “Free to be Me.”
For this tour, we will be exploring anime characters that have overcome adversity due to a personal insecurity or physical weakness. It is these type of characters that many anime fans may identify as role models because fans are able to feel empathetic towards these characters’ struggles and insecurities.
“Strength” was another one of those theme words that I didn’t like using because of its obvious implications. However, the prompt was formulated from a request by Arria, Kat, and Lita (I think), who wanted a topic centered on disabilities. This month’s theme was one of those topics where I had to find a neutral, politically correct term and the theme had to be broad enough for anyone to write about but also emphasizes “disabilities.”
Best “Strength” Posts:
- “Dragon Ball Z — Hidden strength through emotions” – Matt
- “Having Strength in Your Voice” – Lita
- “Our Imperfections Make Us Stronger — Learning to Accept Your True Colors” – Naja
- “Shirotani’s Mental Fortitude and Helping Hand (It’s OK to Need Help Sometimes)” – Crimson
- “Strength By Overcoming Anxiety in Amanchu“ – Rai
June 2017 – “Team”
June is known as “Pride Month” within the LGBT & Queer communities in honor of the Stonewall Riots that occurred at the end of June in 1969. At OWLS, we strongly support individuals who are part of the LGBT & Queer communities as well as individuals who are struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity.
As the Chief Creative Officer, this was a difficult creative assignment for me because I don’t identify with any of these terms, but I have friends who do and I know some of my other OWLS bloggers may have friends and family that are part of the LGBT and Queer communities as well. And so, I wanted this theme to show our love and support to them as well as allow some of my fellow blogging members who identify (or don’t identify) with specific gender terms to freely express themselves on this month’s topic.
Therefore, June’s topic is “Team.” I picked the word “Team” because it functions in two ways: 1) allows individuals to show their support to the LGBT & Queer communities and 2) allows LGBT & Queer communities to express their love to whoever they want.
So for the “Team” topic, we will be discussing our favorite LGBT & Queer characters in anime and other pop culture related media, the impact of the yaoi and yuri genre within LGBT & Queer communities, our personal stories involving gender/sexual orientation, and etc.
I think my prompt pretty much sums up my struggles when writing about June’s theme.
Best “Team” Posts:
- “Crona Gorgon: ‘Soul Eater'” – Zoe
- “Redefining The Rotten Fandom of The Rotten Yaoi Genre” – Arria
- “The Poor Perception of Male Crossdressers in Japanese Media” – Remy
- “Yuri Anime and Manga: Validating Lesbian Relationships as Real” – Rai
- “Akuma no Riddle — Is My Love Story” – Stephanie (Anime Girls NYC)
July 2017 – “Mirrors”
“Magic mirror, on the wall—who is the fairest one of all?”
When we look in the mirror, what do we see? Do we see ourselves or someone we don’t want to be? For this month’s theme, we will be exploring some of our favorite anime and other pop culture mediums that redefine individual beauty—inside and out. Some topics we may explore are physical appearances, social expectations on gender, and the importance of self-confidence.
“Mirrors” is my personal favorite 2017 blog tour for two reasons. My first reason is that I have an interest in discussing personal image and beauty and the second reason is that every single post for July’s theme was amazing. Everyone brought their own unique spin on the topic and even added their personal experiences when it comes to body image.
Best “Mirrors” Posts:
- “Brotherhood Final Fantasy XV — Listen to your body” – Matt
- “Fujita Tatara said: ‘I have to change!'” – Moonid
- “Mirrors in Wandering Son: Navigating Visual Gender Norms” – Carla (Pop Culture Literary)
- “Paradise Kiss and Self Confidence/Self Acceptance” – Shay
- “Reflections on Peach Girl“ –Gigi
August 2017 – “Bloodlines”
Family means everything (or does it?) This month, we will be discussing the importance of family relationships in anime and pop culture. Family relationships include a child and his/her parents, sibling rivalries, adoptions, and etc. Some questions about family that we will be contemplating on include how one’s family shapes his or her identity? How do we define family? How does a broken household influence a person’s view on family? We will be exploring these questions and types of relationships in this blog tour—so enjoy!
“Bloodlines” was a theme that I came up with back in January but it was on the backburner for a while because I was given many requests for themes by the other OWLS bloggers. (I tend to prioritize recommendations and requests before I come up with an original idea myself). However, since this month no one had any requests for me, I decided to go with this topic of family.
Best “Bloodlines” Posts:
- “Family & Dragon Maid“ – Andrealinia
- “Family Dynamics in Gravity Falls“ – Carla (Pop Culture Literary)
- “Itachi and Sasuke: The Things A Brother Would Do…” – Brandon
- “Otouto no Otto (My Brother’s Husband) — OWLS” – Steph (Two Happy Cats)
- “OWLS August Blog Tour: ‘Bloodlines'” – Lita
September 2017 – “Treasure”
There are moments in our lives where we lose our sense of self-worth and value and as a result, we find ourselves deep in darkness or drowning in the ocean. However, every person in this world is a treasure—we treasure ourselves or we are treasured by others—and at times, we may need to be reminded of that.
For this month’s topic, we will be exploring pop culture characters who have suffered from mental illnesses, depression, and/or suicide. We will be discussing how these individuals cope with these issues, the reasons for their emotions, and how they handled the situations they are in.
***Mental illness, suicide, and depression are pretty serious topics and we hope that our OWLS post will give you some solace.
Matt was the one that suggested the idea of having a prompt on suicide, depression, and mental illness, and this came right after we heard the tragic news of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington. For this month’s theme, I wanted to emphasize the importance of valuing oneself and recognizing that you matter in this world, and that’s how “Treasure” became the theme term.
Best “Treasure” Posts:
- “Dramatical Murder and Rap Music: How Pop Culture Raises Awareness For Mental Health” – Carla (Pop Culture Literary)
- “Mental Health” – Kat & Naja
- “Nothing Changes You” – Lita
- “Orange is Sweet & Sour, Yet All The More Beautiful” – Takuto
- “Rie Kiriyama’s Loss and Recovery” – Scott
October 2017- “Dreamers”
“What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?”
Due to recent events that happened in September, this month’s OWLS topic will be on “Dreamers.” Every individual has a goal or ambition that they devote their whole life to with passion and courage—whether it’s landing your dream job, traveling, or finding the love of your life. However, there are those who spent their whole life working towards a dream but it was cut short due to an unexpected occurrence. Those people are left only to dream and wonder about the possibility.
This month’s topic will be dedicated to these characters in pop culture entertainment. We are not going to focus on the individuals that achieved their aspirations but instead, we will focus on characters that weren’t able to. We will explore what happens to characters who had their wings forcefully cut off as well as those who gave up before they even started their journey. We will also discuss what it means for “a dream to be deferred.”
Originally, I had a different topic in mind for October, but I decided to change it after hearing the news on the DACA (Deferred Action for Child Arrivals) program. I wrote this prompt right after reading some online news about the program that made me upset. I think you can hear that lingering “anger” in my voice.
Best “Dreamers” Posts:
- “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” – Steph (Two Happy Cats)
- “Angel Beats: Reliving Your Dead Dreams. Literally!” – Rai
- “Berserk: When Dreams Go Bad” – Irina
- “The Broken Dreams of Jean Jacques Leroy” – Gigi
- “The Door That Never Opened: Daiki Aomine” – Hazelyn
November 2017 – “Diplomacy”
Whenever we have a disagreement with someone, we use our words to express our thoughts and opinions. However, there are those who would rather use fists instead of words, those who forget that being “right” isn’t the most important thing, and those who lose sight of compromising and acknowledging differences in opinion and belief. Diplomacy is an important skill and tactic that not many of us have or are able to utilize properly especially in “social media wars” for sensitive issues and anime discourse—we just express our opinions without really listening. For this month’s prompt, we will be exploring some of the best negotiations scenes in pop culture media and discuss how effective these diplomatic moments are and what we can learn from them. We will also discuss why communication and listening are important traits to have and whether or not there are other means to enforce peace.
According to the OWLS bloggers, “Diplomacy” was one of the most difficult prompts they had to write about. (There were some sighs after I released the prompt.) Yet even though it was a challenge, the OWLS had another successful tour.
The topic of “diplomacy” was one that I think needed to be stated this year because there’s a lot of dialogue and action happening in current events, but at times, we forget to listen and compromise. So the “Diplomacy” tour was a reminder that we should be diplomats when needed.
Best “Diplomacy” Posts:
- “Diplomacy? What is that? – Never Let Hate Lead Negotiations” – Mel
- “Harry Potter for Diplomat” – Kat
- “How being the bad guy helps” – Mirando
- “How Otomes Taught Me What Diplomacy Is” – Irina
- “The Mind Behind the Glasses” – Moonid
December 2017 – “Warmth”
It’s the season of joy, thankfulness, and love. This month’s topic is “Warmth.” Whether it is spending time with family members during the holiday season or with that special someone during New Year’s, we will discuss moments in anime and pop culture media that convey a feeling of happiness in our hearts. During times of struggles, we look towards the things that matter to us as a source of strength, hope, and happiness. We hope you enjoy this round of posts and that you will have a wonderful holiday season!
The final prompt and posts of 2017 showed all the OWLS bloggers’ holiday spirit. “Warmth” represents generosity, love, appreciation, thankfulness and a whole lot of positive vibes.
Best “Warmth” Posts:
- “A Year in Lessons: Looking Back at Blog Tours Past” – Naja
- “Finding Warmth in the Greatest of Gifts” – Mistress of Yaoi
- “One Piece – A man’s source of strength is a warm heart” – Matt
- “Thank You for the Warmth of Your Support During My Cold Despair” – Arria
- “Warmth in Recovery of an MMO Junkie“ – Andrealinia
While I was writing this recap post, it was really difficult selecting which posts to showcase for each month’s prompt because each and every one of the OWLS bloggers’ posts should be on here. Every post is phenomenal and every writer took the prompts I created and made it their own.
I am thankful to be part of an amazing community and I look forward to 2018. I hope you look forward to seeing more OWLS posts and if you are interested in joining us, please do!