Music, Anime, and Me

Shigatsu wa Kimi No Uso. Sometimes it’s better known as Your Lie in April. It’s a show about music and the way it can tear people apart and bring them together.

Nodame Cantabile. A long series about what it means to be a performer, or an artist, and trying to find love along the way.

Music has always been kind of an interesting topic for me, especially classical music. I’ve been playing violin for thirteen years, and I’ve gotten pretty good in that span of time. It’s very important to me, and it’s also very conflicting with the rest of what I do.

Violin is probably one of the most painful relationships I have. It’s something that I give hours and hours of my life of, pour my heart into, master incredibly difficult pieces and know them like the back of my hand, but with no payoff. The conflict lies in what I can feasibly do with violin and what I actually do. I’m an engineer. I belong in the sciences. I know this; all of me knows this. I don’t have the time or the dedication to make violin my living. But I still practice violin as if I’m going to be playing in Carnegie Hall one day, even though I’m well aware that I probably won’t ever even step foot on the local theater stage.

“Well, why the fuck are you still in engineering then, if you like violin so much?” This is a question I get asked pretty much every time I bring this up. And the reason is because I will never be any sort of happy in my life if I am not doing science. I love knowing how things work and making things work, designing, theorizing, drawing logical conclusions. I like the feeling I get when I write a piece of code and it runs perfectly after hours of debugging. There is no profession for me that does not involve science. I love physics and tech too much.

So where does violin fit into that world? Well, simply answered–it doesn’t. There’s simply not enough time to keep up mastery of an instrument and perform and be able to be a rocking engineer. And yet, I keep shoving it in anyways, practicing every day, because I can’t let go of it.

These anime series are like a glimpse into what-could-have-been. In another world, one where I didn’t want to voluntarily sell my soul to science, or loved math and physics just a little less–that could have been me. I could have moved people with my music. Violin isn’t just a way for me to communicate with other people; it’s a way for me to understand others as well. It’s setting up scenes I would never have imagined by myself, or finding stories that I didn’t even know I was missing.

So I envy Kaori for her ability to turn heads. I envy Kousei for having his prodigal talent realized and he himself for the strength to keep on fighting. I envy Chiaki too for his insane musical prowess, and Nodame for her dedication to her art. I see too many could-have-been’s in these characters, and it is sometimes painful for me to keep watching. Knowing that these are things I could have had or could be, but will not have by my own choice.

But I also relate too. The way they love music? That’s me, right there. The way Kaori moves when she performs? I do that too. When Chiaki looks at a piece of sheet music and has it play out in his head? Every time I play a new piece. It’s like seeing the rarely acknowledged, haphazard pieces of yourself highlighted on a laptop screen.

So I appreciate these classical music anime. They’re good to me. I’m too in love with something I have no business loving, so in the end, I’ll just love it harder and know that even without anything else, it’s already loved me back hard enough that I’ll probably never stop.


The Official Semi-Log Scale of Weeb Enjoyment

I’ve found that in rating anime, things tend to be “it’s shit, but this is even more shit, and jesus christ this is all shit but they can’t all be 1’s either,” so I end up giving 4’s to things that are just. Really. Bad. They just aren’t WORSE than other things, so I can’t justify giving them 1’s.

The same goes for the upper end. I give some really, really good shows like 6’s or something because I can’t justify them being equally as good as another show. But that’s not reflective of how much I liked watching it.

See, the problem is that we assume a direct linear relationship of any given anime on a very limited scale that directly relates how objectively good an anime (with subjective ratings, of course…) to how much you subjectively enjoyed it. A 10/10 anime, while only 1 number higher on the scale, gives me infinitely more enjoyment than a 9/10 anime.

So, in order to rectify this problem for my personal self, I present an alternative:
a semi-log plot with the logarithmic scale along the x axis.

Now, you might ask, what is a semi-log plot?
Honestly, it’s pretty simple. It’s a logarithmic graph where only one of the axes (x or y) is scaled logarithmically (usually to base 10). The other axis is scaled linearly.
In this case, the x-axis is the one that is plotted on a logarithmic scale.

For this purpose of Weeb Enjoyment, the x-axis will be a “how good is it” rating on a scale of 1-10. HOWEVER, because this is a logarithmic scale, x will actually be a function of y–namely, x=log(y), assuming that log is the base-10 algorithm. This means that the value of y, at x=10, will be 10000000000, or 10 trillion. The y-axis for us will represent How Good This Shit Actually Is. That’s a scale from 1-10 trillion, which is a far sight better than 1-10. You can graph this expression in your calculator by using f(x)=10^x. (but don’t, because that really won’t get you anywhere)

Because the default log expression of x=log(y) is really…imperfect for how much I like things (and seriously, a scale from 1 to 10 trillion is way more precise than we need for our purposes), we need to modify the equation.
First, we realize that the base does not, in fact, have to be 10, though for purposes of computing, it is easiest to be base 10 (unless we want to work with the natural log, and I don’t in this case). Also, how the graph looks can be modified by putting a multiplier in front of the exponent, which is how we’ll handle the graph so that it can be base 10.
Then, to account for how graphing this shit actually looks, we’ll put in a function multiplier and move down the graph a little. The resulting equation?


The resulting graph looks like this:


Now, why 0.213446, you might ask?
Because that’s the number that gives approximately f(8)=100.
Any anime up to 8 on the regular linear scale can be rated on the enjoyment scale of 0-100, 0 being total shit and 100 being yeah, this a damn good anime. And, to me, an anime of totally “meh and just half okay”–a perfect five–does not give that much enjoyment. At all. So the 21.349 score it gets on the enjoyment scale is actually pretty accurate.

But above 8? Oh boy, we getting into the masterpieces here. You don’t just enjoy them, they aren’t just good–they are another level. This graph reflects that, because from 8-10, the scale goes from 100 to 270.5. Boys, this is the elite part of the graph. This is where you start picking and choosing. This is the cream of the crop. This is where the graph actually matters. These are the anime you would die for. This is where the distinction “this anime is too good to be with the plebs, but not good enough for it to be in my top ten” comes into play.

The range of 100-270.5 isn’t meant to be taken on the same level as range 0-100. Anything above 100 means that I had a damn good time watching it. It’s all about semantics and decimals from there on out, which I think is awesome. Any rating I give above eight will be allllll about that enjoyment, which means the corresponding “enjoyment number” from 100-270 is actually far more important than a decimal number from 8-10.

Link to graph for those interested

So yes, let’s use a better graph with better representation of what anime is really like.


Free! and Related Things

So, we’re all aware that in 2013, Kyoto Animation made a fun little thing called Free!:Iwatobi Swim Club
make us free na splash kasenata–
and it veritably exploded with a giant-ass fandom of mostly teenage girls screaming about shirtless boys with heavy, unresolved drama mostly due the lack of ANY SORT OF COMMUNICATION. (*Note: at some point, I’ll do an actual full review on Free!…probably.)


Listen. Free! was the third anime I ever watched to completion (the first two were Mirai Nikki and Prince of Stride: Alternative) and the first one I ever watched to the end by myself (note 1). Thing is, I saw it in 2016, a good few years after the show had ended, so I never had the chance to ride the hype train that came with it.

See, I was a competitive swimmer in middle and high school. I mean, I wasn’t good, and I sure as hell never made the Nationals team, but I do know how swimming works. And, you know, I love swimming and water. Essentially–a normal, human-like version of Haru, minus all the talent and athleticism.

So I wanted to hype with this show. Swimming was legitimately the only sport I had ever enjoyed doing, and I felt like I could relate to these swim team struggles.


KyoAni says “Heya mothafuckas look what we got for you. A TRILOGY OF MOVIES. IN 2017. Aren’t you excited?”

And I said, “YES HELL YES my god do I get to jump on the hype train now ????”

Because listen. LISTEN. This was the first anime I ever saw that actually sort of aligned with my real life interests. ANd HNNNNGH there are new movies and shit and hnnnngh hype train inc. Cause dude. I want to see the Iwatobi team getting closer. I want to see the development of the Samezuka team. I want to see Ikuya and Asahi again. AND I WANT TO SEE POST-FREE HARU SO ALL MY DREAMS OF HARUMAKOTOKYO CAN BE CANONICALLY CONFIR–I mean what. I said nothing.

gay boys on ice in water is a wet dream, y’all.

and yes. pun intended.


*Note 1: I have a not-friend-only-best-buddies dude, whom we shall refer to Bob, who is a gigantic fuckin’ weeb. Much of my anime experience has come through him, since he more or less “pays” me to watch anime with him. By that, I mean he gifts me random video games and shit inside video games, even though I’d probably do it without that incentive just because we’re not-friends-only-best-buddies. Bob is a dick, Bob is loud, Bob likes samurai, and Bob is a lonely piece of shit who wants to make me suffer. Bob makes me watch a lot of anime.