Ask @iblessall:

How do you feel about death in storytelling? Is it just a cop out and an easy way to elicit an emotional response? Or is a there value in the idea of loss? Or maybe death can be both and neither, more and less? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

The unsatisfying answer? It depends.
At the core of my favorite anime of all time (Blast of Tempest) is the death of someone achingly important to the main characters. Martian Successor Nadesico uses the unceremonious death of one of its characters for both comedic and powerfully emotional effects. The death of the Ant King at the end of the Chimera Ant arc brought me to tears because of all the character and thematic threads woven into it. And there are plenty of other anime (and stories in other forms, for that matter) that use death well. I don't know if there's necessarily "value in the idea of loss," as you put it, but certainly death and loss is an unavoidable fact of life that we all have to face. As such, there is a definite gravity that ought to be lent to death in storytelling if it is aiming for a particular effect. It's likely true that all of the best death scenes in everything hold within them a particular regard for the dignity of death. It's sacred, in a way.
And so, yeah, that also means death is easy to mishandle and use badly. And I've seen my fair share of stories that do that. But you always hope for and remember the ones that do it right.

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how would you resolve Railgun Sister's arc while removing Touma?

Remove Touma, come up with a cool way to let Misaka strategize a way to beat Accelerator (possibly with the assistance of the Sisters). Listen, if you're clever enough to come up with a superpower like Accelerator, you should be clever enough to figure out a way to defeat him without resorting to a total copout like Touma.

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https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EcF3faTDFhU The English version of the concert song from Rolling Girls, which I recall you liking despite its numerous flaws. Behold Brina Palencia's magnificent vocals!

I still prefer the original, but as far as I'm concerned this is a super duper good vocal cover of a good song. I'm happy Funi actually was able to make this happen for the dub because it really preserves the sense of immersion within the dubbed language that gets really easily broken when you have to switch to listening to Japanese suddenly in the middle of a bunch of English talking.

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Straightforward so much that you don't even need the context of two other parts of the story?

Yeah, for sure! The context of "Past" and "Present" piece are implied (very effectively I think) within the "Future" part as is—and anyways, to me knowing the exact sci-fi details of how everything worked out is very much secondary to the story the OVA is trying to tell about the four girls who are sent to the future. Knowing the specific of the "how" might be nice, but the broad strokes of what happens (the phone is a link between two parallel future worlds, the boyfriend had some connection to it, the new future has been established) work just find when the primary goal is sharing the story of the future girls.
Frankly, I'd expect the other two parts of the story to be just as self-contained as this one. Although they are likely add some level of additional meaning to each other, none of the detracts from how effective the OVA is.
At least, that's how I see it. But, as this answer may have revealed, the things I value in the OVA might be different than what others want out of it.

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How long do do usually take to write an article from first draft to publishing? How many drafts do you go through? Do leave drafts alone so you can go back with fresh eyes?

T Yang
As long as it takes me to hit the publish button (assuming I've already plugged in all the social media bits & don't need to do anything weird with pictures).
I edit my CR stuff more substantially than my blog stuff, for hopefully obvious reasons.
I don't really go through drafts, but if that seems weird, it's because I usually spend a large amount of time just thinking through stuff before I even sit down to write. Additionally, I value writing a lot as a way of articulating my thought processes and generally people seem to like reading those, so I don't often feel a post requires me to hit it in the drafting process multiple times.
In summary, I'm lazy and crave the instant gratification of publishing something as soon as I've finished the hard work of writing.

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How on top are you on the Anime industry news? I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed with the amount of articles ANN pushes to my RSS feed and was thinking if it was really necessary to keep track of ALL the news one can find.

I generally only pay attention to the industry news that I'm particularly interested in, which generally means I only read stories about shows, creators, and franchises that I'm already interested in. Of course, by doing things this way I often miss out on stuff temporarily, but most things of interest I find out sooner or later by way of people I know talking about them. Crunchyroll's news service is good, too, since it's not as high volume, even if sometimes they run stories a day later than ANN does. I use the Fandom Post for this purpose, too.
In short, no, I don't think it's necessary (or really even useful, honestly) to be on top of all the anime industry news. Trying to do so seems like a really good way to quickly burn yourself out. I'd say just pay attention to the stuff that immediately catches your eye and do away with the impulse to need to know things as soon as they happen. Anything worth knowing about will likely come back up again sooner or later.

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how many podcasts did you participate in so far? what did you think of the experiences?

I've probably been on less than 5 total podcasts in my anime career. The most fun ones have been when I've just been talking with people about stuff—dunno how fun those were for other people to listen to, though ^_^"

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What about your background explains your Catholicism? Like, were your ancestors, say, Irish/Polish/Bavarian? Or did one of your ancestors convert to Catholicism in the US at some point (which seems much less likely to me)? Odd question, I know!

Well, my dad's a convert from Lutheranism and my mom was raised Catholic (her family was German), but I think the better explanation is that they both tried some different kinds of churches after getting married (including some charismatic-type church) before realized Catholicism is where it's at. And they've been really solid Catholics since they decided that!

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how much do you think you have grown as a writer/critic/interpreter of art since you started your blog?

Loads! Consider the piece I wrote on Glasslip (https://mageinabarrel.com/2015/11/14/glasslip-reflection) or my episodic write-ups on Hyouka (https://mageinabarrel.com/category/episode-write-ups/hyouka) and then compare those to the first review I wrote about The Devil is a Part-Timer! (https://mageinabarrel.com/2013/06/29/the-devil-is-part-timer-review-part-1). I couldn't have even dreamed of writing the way I do now back then.
I keep trying to improve myself, try new things, and make good stuff, though. The day I feel I can't do anything new is probably the day I stop aniblogging.

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why do you object to the act of characterizing you as "optimistic"?

Good question! I object because "optimistic," I think, implies a certain level of unawareness of reality. A blindness, if you will. And while I won't deny I have my blind spots, I'm not ignorant of the ugly truths of the world. I know evil exists out there.
Rather, if I am to be labeled this way, I much prefer the term "hopeful." I'll give the benefit of the doubt, hoping the best is true. I believe in and hope for a beautiful life after death. To live in a fallen world, as we do, we must either give ourselves up to despair or believe in something beyond this. The latter option, which I call hope, is the only one that seems reasonable to me.

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When you write articles, do you look at other articles about the same subject to inform your writing, or do you avoid that in case it might influence your writing?

Synthesis is cool—getting cool ideas from people and then expanding on them myself is always fun! It depends on the situation, though, and what I'm writing. If I'm trying to write a post that contains my personal impressions of a show, then reading other people's thoughts on that show wouldn't really be in line with that goal (at least, not necessarily). For more analytical writing it's definitely something I try to do—enriching your own ideas with the ideas of others is just learning.

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Is even someone like Donald Trump worthy of empathy and compassion?

Yes, although there are certainly massive difficulties in extending such things to him. Everything he projects is an act, a charade, so actually figuring out the real human motivations that are driving him to do what he's doing is basically impossible. At that point all you can do is believe there's a human being somewhere within that mass of ego, ignorance, and hatefulness.
Of course, believing that is equally difficult.

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Why are people so enamored with Concrete Revolutio?

Oh uh...because it's really good/because it's the sort of anime some of us watch anime for? Thoughtful, critical, personal, and ultimately positive despite acknowledging the brutal reality of life? We don't get shows about these sorts of things often – and we get ones as epic and well-executed as Conrevo even less often.
Storify isn't cooperating, so you just get this one tweet from my post-finale tweet essay: https://twitter.com/iblessall/status/743981146615201793

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Is there an anime you've seen that thoughtfully explores the emotional conflicts behind a young couple's first sexual experience? From what I've seen Kare Kano comes closest but could still explore a lot more.

....Aquarion EVOL...?
More seriously, not really. That sort of thing isn't really my cup of tea anyways.

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