Saturday, September 10, 2016

In my Downtime

EDIT: added another streaming source

A few weeks ago I wrote a bit about my means of coping.  As I've felt my mood crash lately and pulled away from writing a bit I thought I would share a bit more in my process.

When the demons begin to surface it always starts small.  Little negative ticks that seem to make me feel like I'm slowly being pulled under.  This is usually accompanied by a breakdown in my normal quest of experiencing joy daily.

The past couple of weeks I have changed up my entire life schedule and been working a lot more.  In combination with T's recent schedule change I have basically lost 95% of my private time to think and to write. When I get home from work I'm exhausted mentally and that's the only time I have to myself.  After that I'm really dependent upon feeling numb or distracting myself.

Distraction is another way I seek joy but it really takes me out of my writing mindset.  My mind space shifts from feelings to whatever I have chosen to focus on and it removes me from the vulnerable state.  While I know this is part of my coping process, I still seek to have strong and meaningful feelings.

Where media steps in is that I shift into a state of experiencing feelings vicariously.  I seek out things that will affect me deeply and feel like my life is being enriched by exposing myself to it.  I do this with music, literature, movies, and TV series.  It is an endless process of seeking.  It is rare that something is good enough to where it can reach me on a deep level... less than 1%.  It does, however, make finding those rarities very special in both internal and external ways.  While the feelings manage to touch me deeply, my natural instinct is then to share it with the people that are close to me.

This past fall an anime series aired and I watched it on one of my streaming programs.  I have seen a lot of anime.  If you count series (and not movies) I have seen in their entirety over 500 shows and another 500 that I have watched but didn't care to finish.  When I watched this show over the winter I knew immediately that it was one of the strongest shows I had ever seen.  I was able to share it with a couple of friends then.  Last week I was able to convince T to watch it and while she was resistant at first it ended up drawing her in and we watched it in two sittings and it reminded me just how much I enjoy this show.  I know that anime is a bit of a niche genre but I wanted to share a bit about this show here (I will do my best to talk about it without spoilers).

The title of the show is "Erased."  The main character is a 29 year old failed manga artist that has shut down emotionally.  When he was in 5th grade, three children from his grade (two of whom were in his class) were abducted and murdered.  He saw the first child alone in a park ~30 minutes before they were abducted and thought about reaching out to them but chose to just walk on by.  In the aftermath of the murders, one of his good friends, an awkward but friendly young adult was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to death for the crimes even though he claimed to be innocent (in Japan most people confess after being convicted).  Over time he has put a block on his heart since he's constantly haunted by the regret of not reaching out to his classmate to save them and being unable to prevent his good friend from being convicted.

Through his regret he has developed a special power.  When something bad is about to happen around him he has a deja vu moment where he jumps back in time (usually 1-5 minutes).  Since he knows this means something bad will happen, he frantically assesses what is going on around him in order to prevent the unknown negative event that will occur if he doesn't act.  This doesn't always put him in a good situation.

After foiling a would-be crime, it sets into play a series of events that leads him to being framed for something terrible.  While fleeing from the police his power kicks in and he jumps back in time 19 years to his 5th grade self, a few days before the first kidnapping occurred.  He realizes that the present day events all stem back to those events and if he wishes to prevent that future from happening he has to change the terrible events of the past.

Erased is 12 episodes long.  If you fast-forward through the intro and skip the outro it pulls in at ~20 minutes per episode (~4 hours total) which is a quick little jaunt that can be easily taken down in a day or two.  The show puts you through the entire gambit of emotions... sweetness, despair, hope, pain, desperation, etc.  It is strong enough to where even people who are not anime fans but enjoy a good drama should be able to appreciate.  It is very rare for any media to touch me on a deep emotional level but this one definitely does.

It can be streamed for free with commercials at:

Crunchyroll has apps for tablet, Roku, Xbox, and Playstation.  They also have a free 2-week trial that will get rid of commercials.  Otherwise their standard rate for commercial-free is $7 a month or $60 a year.

Funimation has apps for tablets, Xbox, and Playstation. They just launched a new app and I'm not sure if you need an account to use it.  It can stream through a tablet web-browser though.   I believe they just dropped their premium rate to $4 a month.

It is also available on Hulu (subscription required):

This is one of my ways of handling my downtime.  If anyone decides to check out Erased please let me know.  I would be curious of your thoughts on it.