I’ve been out of the OWLS game for a while. Did you know that OWLS stands for Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect? It’s cute, isn’t it? When I joined, I thought it would be a chance to cooperate with some amazing and talented authors on anime centric takes of issues of inclusivity and acceptance. A chance to make people feel welcomed in the aniblogging community. It sounded incredible to me and I was so happy they gave me the chance to do so.
And that’s still what OWLS means to me, even though my posts haven’t always lived up to that ideal. That’s why I decided to take a step back until a topic came along that i could tackle with confidence while giving you all an OWLS worthy post. That didn’t exactly work out to plan…
Topics kept coming up and I either drew a blank or could only think of the most basic, boring and literal examples. I managed a few decent essay posts but nothing that fit in with OWLS’ greater message so I put them aside. A few of the bloggers I look to for inspiration hadn’t been able to participate as much and I started seriously considering quitting myself. And then, as he often does without realizing it, Scott fixed everything. Scott brought a few of us together for a Natsume collab that was somewhat similar in structure to an OWLS post, and gave me the shot of inspiration I had been looking for.
I could have written posts about inclusivity and acceptance on my own at any time. I wanted to join OWLS because I believe the message is more powerful when you’re saying it as a group. But also, because I wasn’t really sure how to go about it and thought OWLS could guide me. I was looking at it the wrong way around. What I needed was to find my own inspiration and basis then use the post prompts to refine it. And for me, of course that means Natsume. This show embodies the feelings I want to express in my OWLS posts. So starting this month, I’m going to be extending Natsume week through OWLS. Nowltsume.. no that’s dumb, forget I said that.
November in the United States means Thanksgiving and in celebration of that, the OWLS topic is “thankful”:
11th Monthly Topic: “Thankful” Here at OWLS, we are pretty thankful that we are able to come together as a community and share a love and appreciation for anime and manga. This month we will be showcasing our appreciation by giving a shout out post to our favorite manga artists, creators, production companies, and writers who produced some of our favorite works. We will be discussing our favorite works by these creators and our reasons as to why we appreciate them. Examples: Hayao Miyazaki Makoto Shinkai Osamu Tezuka
Now this I can write about!
In case you haven’t realized this I am very thankful to Yuki Midorikawa for bringing us Natsume. I recently finished all the available manga and these come with little margin notes from the author. I’ve come to realize all the challenges in publishing a serialized manga and I’m extremely happy that Yuki could rise to the occasion. Considering all the obstacles in the way of creators, especially those that are both sole writer and artist, I don’t blame the creators for taking frequent hiatus. It’s a great source of comfort to me that Ms. Midorikawa doesn’t seem prone to breaks. Beyond that however, I’m just really grateful for her openness and honesty.
A story like Natsume’s book of friends, is visibly personal. It just wouldn’t resonate properly if the author didn’t pour a lot of themselves in it. And Ms. Midorikawa does just that. Year after year, every chapter written with tenderness and care, as if she was telling me something a little private and very important. Just for me. Because it might make me smile, or help me out a little. Of course I appreciate that. Who wouldn’t?
But it goes way beyond that. Beyond just Yuki and me. I love that Hakusensha decided to publish a first chapter about a quiet boy with a cranky cat. I’m grateful that Brain Base picked it up for adaptation and gave it to a team that really understood the material. I feel lucky that this team was moved by Natsume’s story, like I was, and decided to bring it with them to Shuka and continue his adventures.
Because of all these people, not only do I have a warm and welcoming place to turn to in my mind, but I also get to live in a world where a simple story of a polite young man finding a place to belong can touch enough hearts to go on for 6 seasons, maybe more! This fantasy world of sleepy rural towns full kind people and playful Yokai that has brought me so much comfort has translated into a real, if digital world of long distance friends who share a common fondness.
There are those stories in our lives that mean as much to us as our own experiences. That make our world so much bigger yet also so welcoming. For me Natsume is one of one of those stories. It brings out the best of me and you know what, I kinda like that girl. Best Irina is pretty neat.
And so this month, I’m thankful that Yuki Midorikawa decided to share this story with us because she had a few things to say. A young woman I never met across the planet, had some things she really wanted to tell me. Most of those things being deeply lovely things. Some, a little sad. One of those things is to remember to be grateful. Taking the time to truly appreciate the people around us and the opportunities we have is incredibly important. Happiness isn’t just about what you have, it’s about knowing how to enjoy it. It sounds easy but it’s a lot trickier than you think. There’s a reason why despite growing privileged and wearing wealth, general satisfaction is still elusive. All of this starts at gratefulness. Being thankful for what you have isn’t settling. It doesn’t mean you can’t try for more or different. But it’s the first step in being happy with yourself.
I have found that acknowledging all the great things in my life, and there really are a lot, has made that life better. So today, I listen to Yuki and say I’m thankful I get to share my world with Natsume’s Book of Friends and all the wonderful people who appreciate it as well.