Hello! My name is Aaron. pluvia33 is my standard username across the internet. I'm a pretty simple otaku in his mid-30s. Sometimes I randomly comment at people, so if you're here because of that, welcome! I have a tendency to be a little long-winded when I write, so if you want to know more about me and my thoughts, proceed with the spoiler tags....
I grew up in a country suburb of Dayton Ohio. Right out of high school I went off to college for two years with Japanese language courses (though I'm nowhere near fluent yet) and spent 4 years soon after that as an enlisted member of the US Air Force (most of which was spent in Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, right outside the town of Alamogordo). I then moved to a suburb of Cleveland Ohio, hoping to get a new job there. Things didn't work out too well (on both a personal and professional level) so I ended up moving back to New Mexico to work with my old Air Force office as a civilian. I also met my now-ex-wife Desirae upon moving back and we are still good friends. Aside from being deep into anime/manga entertainment, I'm also just as heavy of a tabletop gaming geek.
My Anime History:
I've been an anime fan since 1996 at the age of 12, waking up extra early on weekday mornings to watch Sailor Moon on Fox before school and watching as many anime movies I could find on cable movie channels and watching videos/DVDs that my friends rented. I got much deeper into anime during the Gundam Wing/Outlaw Star era of Toonami (2000-2001). Outlaw Star was my first real favorite anime and the first series I ever bought on DVD. I used to primarily watch anime dubbed and only watch things subbed on occasion (as I've always been a slow reader). Boogiepop Phantom was the first series that I loved much more with subtitles. Then after watching the Love Hina anime (after reading and loving the manga first) I hated the dub so much that I became a total sub-only anime fan. (Read more about my feelings on Dubs vs. Subs in this blog post, if you wish.)
A year after dropping out of college I joined the US Air Force and had a good amount of disposable income which in effect made my collection of anime DVDs grow at a rapid rate. I also began downloading a lot of fansubs. For a little over a year (from late 2007 to early 2009) I ran an anime club screening for Holloman AFB. After getting out of the Air Force in late 2009, I mostly just watched as much anime as I could, but other hobbies and life stuff getting in the way caused a bit of a dry spell for me in the world of anime around the time of 2012 through 2016. However, in 2017 I did my first MAL Anime Watching Challenge and that helped me get back on track to watching a LOT of stuff on a regular bases again. I do still get distracted from time to time, but it's never anywhere near as bad as that old dry spell was.
I've been to four different anime conventions so far with five trips total, plus one trip to a comic convention: Colossal Con 2007 in Cleveland Ohio, Anime Expo 2009 in LA, Ohayocon 2009 & 2010 in Columbus Ohio, Las Cruses Anime Days 2012 in Las Cruses New Mexico and Phoenix Comic Con 2011 in Phoenix Arizona. I'd really like to get back into going to conventions....
My Manga/Light Novel History:
I have been a manga fan since 2002 when I began seeing manga volumes in book stores and bought the first volumes of Love Hina and Chobits. Although I got into manga significantly later than anime, I love manga just as much and in some ways more than anime. After taking a year of Japanese while I was in college I began dabbling in importing manga in Japanese with the Iro-Hina versions of Love Hina being some of the first JPN language books I bought. Then after discovering scanlations I began buying Japanese-language manga that has never been licensed for English release. And when I watched the Suzumiya Haruhi anime for the first time I was introduced to light novels. I read the fan translations of all eleven books that had been released and I've bought them all in both Japanese and English. I'd really like to read more, but I've always been a really slow reader (I self-diagnosed myself with mild dyslexia).
Anime/Manga Rating Explanation:
I have a pretty wide range of tastes and can see good entertainment value in a lot of different things, overlooking some flaws, so my average ratings tend to be a little higher than many users. I do rate things that I've dropped when I don't think I'll ever pick them up again because otherwise I'd have WAY too many 7+ scores. Scores for dropped items start at a 5 and might go slightly up or down from there.
Personally, as I believe it is impossible to give a truly 100% objective grade to art/entertainment, I don't try to make my scores as objective as possible; the primary measuring stick for my ratings is by how much I liked (enjoyed) the final product overall in a subjective sense and/or how interesting it was (made me think). For me, my scores mean the following:
Perfect 10: This is something that I consider to be pretty much perfect in my eyes for what it was about. Any complaints I had just feel like minor nitpicking and are made up for by other aspects of the material; it's a must-buy.
Scores 9: When something gets this score, it's just shy of perfect (didn't quite capture me on that level and/or had a few too many flaws), but was definitely a very enjoyable experience that I'd consider buying if it were released in the US, or if it's manga I might even import it if it's not available in the US. These are also almost always part of my Top 100 Series list.
Scores 8: This is just a very good, solid, enjoyable piece of entertainment. High-quality guilty pleasure material usually falls into this rating and this is usually the highest score that hentai can hope to get from me.
Score 7: For me, this is the bridge between highly enjoyable and boring. These are just.... good. I wasn't wow'd by it and probably wouldn't bother buying the anime/manga, but I didn't regret watching/reading it either. If there's a continuation, I might give it a shot.
Scores 6-5: This is when I start to get "meh" about the material and most certainly won't buy it if I watched/read it first. These two scores are right in the middle, so I'm mostly indifferent about them. A 6 means I found a little bit of enjoyment in the item, it had some redeeming quality, while a 5 means I was probably sitting there just bored out of my mind most of the time. One of these scores may also be given to total WTF things that while I didn't really like it, it was so bizarre and interesting that I couldn’t quite justify giving it a *dislike* score.
4 or Lower: This is stuff that I really didn't like. It's really hard for me to rate something below of 4 as I don't typically downright HATE entertainment and to me, that's the territory that scores of 3, 2, and 1 cover. Some of my Dropped stuff may receive a 4 or lower if it was dropped for being EXTREMELY boring or because it left a really bad taste in my mouth.
Hentai Scores: As you can probably quickly tell if you look through my anime and manga lists, I am into hentai. Even with that stuff, I usually have a pretty wide range of tastes (fetishes?). Most hentai that I've thoroughly "enjoyed" gets a 7. If I was at least able to "get off" relatively easily from it but there wasn't much beyond that, I tend to give it a 6. If I had to "work harder" for it, but it was still doable, I'd probably give it a 5. If I score it an 8, it had something really special to it (i.e. a story that was actually entertaining and/or is was exceptionally hot); as mentioned in the Score 8 section above, an 8 is typically the highest score hentai can hope to get from me (currently I have not rated any hentai higher than that). Then anything lower than a 5 was just ineffective as porn and/or was just bad/repulsive.
Reviews: Over my first 9 years on MAL, I never wrote a single proper review. I mostly just didn't trust myself to give a good somewhat-objective view on a series or felt that my opinion on a show didn't matter that much. However, after reading a number of other reviews on here, I slowly began to think that maybe I could write reviews as well and bring some worthwhile input to the community. Then came Magical Girl Site. It is currently the only thing I've given a 2-score. I had many strong feelings about that series so I could talk about it pretty well and it then became my first ever MAL review (and was almost immediately followed by a review of Comic Girls to wash away the badness of Magical Girl Site from my mind).
Top 100 List: Beyond just my ratings and reviews, I got into the habit of maintaining a personal top ranking of anime/manga series after making my first Top 100 List of series. Since making that blog post I've been keeping an Excel spreadsheet as a working list and plan to make updated Top 100 List posts in my blog every 2 years or so (or when it otherwise seems appropriate). Aside from it being fun to make this list, keeping up with the working spreadsheet has also been a useful tool in knowing how to score a newly finished item by comparing it to my feelings for other material. A link to my most recently updated Top 100 is kept after all of my About Me stuff, under Favorites.
As mentioned in the very first section of this long ass About Me write-up, tabletop gaming has become just as big of a part of my life as my interests in anime/manga. However, growing up I wasn't really interested in board games beyond Checkers, Chinese Checkers, and a few random classic board games like Sorry on occasion. Magic: The Gathering was my introduction to the "proper" tabletop gaming hobby around the age of 12, but I'd almost totally lost interest in CCGs by high school graduation with very little dabbling in the format these days. I was introduced to tabletop roleplaying games during my late-middle school, early-high school years. I didn't get to play a lot, but the little bit of D&D I played back then I really enjoyed (I believe it was AD&D 2nd Ed at the time). It wasn't until I joined the Air Force that I began to REALLY get into tabletop RPGs after meeting some cool people. I particularly loved playing in a very long running D&D 3.5 campaign as a female gunslinger character named Anna who I initially modeled after Taiga from Toradora! After leaving the Air Force and then coming back to Alamogordo, I switched from D&D 3.5 to the Pathfinder RPG as my preferred system and Desirae helped get me into non-RPG tabletop stuff (i.e. board games and such).
One of the reasons that I lost interest in CCGs and felt more comfortable with RPGs is that I don't really enjoy direct confrontation between players; I'm just not a very competitive person by nature and I hate it when people get upset after losing. With Desirae, I was introduced to many games that either had passive conflict (like many deck building games and adventure board games) or were fully cooperative (such as games like Pandemic). I really, really like cooperative board games. Castle Panic is my favorite game period; it's a co-op game that you can even play it solo and it has relatively simple yet challenging mechanics. Even after splitting with Desirae, I've continued to play a lot, sometimes with her, but much more often with a friend of mine named David. I've even begun working with David to create tabletop games of our own with Booyah Games. Fun times! ^_^
If you're reading this, I guess you are really interested in me as a person or you are just really bored. Thanks? So if you care to know, Japanese entertainment and board games are not the only interest that I'm passionate about. I'm a bit of a geek-of-many-colors. So yeah, here's the rundown of my other geeky or not-so-geeky interests....
Video Games: Probably my first geek love if you don't count dinosaurs. I've been interested in electronic entertainment for about as early as I can remember, from playing old games on my grandparents' computer and being jealous of an old friend's NES right before I started kindergarten, to now. However, having three siblings and not having particularly well-off parents, video games weren't a regular thing in our house growing up. We eventually got a Sega Game Gear and Genesis, but not until after they were at the end of their life cycles, and therefore really cheap. My first video game system of my own was a red Game Boy Pocket which I got for free with Kool-Aid Points (and apparently, the points have been discontinued since 2007; that makes me feel old). The only game I had on it for a while was Pokemon Blue. As I'd watched the anime, Pokemon was my first proper introduction to video game RPGs (I'd seen and tried to play a few before, but I didn't really understand what was going until I got the Pokemon training wheels). Later in life, when I was able to save up money from cutting grass, I was able to buy my own Playstation (original) a few years before its cycle ended. From there, with games like Final Fantasy VII and VIII and many others, JRPGs became my favorite type of game. And although my tastes have broadened a bit since then, I've been a hardcore Playstation fan ever since eventually getting the PS2, PS3, PSP, and PS4. I've also gotten a Game Boy Advance, Game Cube, DS, and Wii, but I don't play them anywhere near as often as my Playstation stuff (partially because I am a bit of a Trophy whore). And I've never owned and don't care to ever own any Xbox consoles and my use of computers for gaming is currently very limited.
Other Reading: As I mentioned in my Manga/Light Novel section, I'm a bit of a slow reader. I really wish I could read more, but it's hard for me. In order for me to read something and actually comprehend it, I usually have to read stuff at the same speed as I'd be able to say it out loud. Plus reading tends to make my eyes tired rather quickly. So yeah, it sucks. But I do enjoy creative literature a lot. I am especially a fan of fantasy and sci-fi works. I was really into the Animorphs series when I was younger, although I never finished it (I think I was almost half way through it before dropping it). I liked the Everworld series (by the same author as Animorphs) much more as it was a bit more mature and actually finished after just 12 short novels. A little after that, I fell in love with the Ender's Game series (despite some of Card's personal views), especially Speaker for the Dead and Ender's Shadow. I took a Fantasy/Sci-Fi Lit class as an elective in college (when I more recently went back to school, mostly through online classes) which I absolutely loved because it turned fantasy/sci-fi reading into course work and the instructor had us reading some GREAT stuff. I especially loved The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks and now I really want to read more of his Culture series when I'm able to. The short stories were also rather amazing. I've now begun to get into audio books. Again, as my reading speed is around that of spoken word anyway, I might as well have someone else read to me! I loved The Martian on audio book, although I made the mistake of watching the movie right after finishing the book so that created a lot of bias against the film. I used to really be into poetry in my late high school/early college days, but I've mostly lost interest in it now.
Music: I've had at least some appreciation for music for about as long as I could remember, but I didn't really develop any actual tastes of my own until my high school years. Third Eye Blind and Matchbox 20 were my first favorite bands, but I soon transitioned to heavier acts like Korn and Staind. Growing up as an angsty fat kid, Staind was probably the band that I identified with most, although I began to lose interest in them after their 3rd album, Break the Cycle. I never even bothered buying 14 Shades of Grey. However, they still held a special place in my history as a music fan, so it still broke my heart when I learned that Aaron Lewis (lead singer of Staind) became a solo country singer.... Yeah, I'm one of those typical guys who likes just about any type of music other than country. Whatever; it just never really resonated with me. Anyway, I listened to a lot of alternative rock radio in my high school years and got into a lot of different bands. I got into a bunch of other music via the internet and gained an appreciation for video game music (original and remixes). My favorite video game music composer is probably Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, Xenosaga). I also like some rap music and was really heavy into Eminem in high school. Although I haven't really gotten very heavily into the genre, I do enjoy some EDM/techno with one of my favorites being Infected Mushroom. In more recent years, I haven't paid close attention to the world of music. I have no idea what's going on with a lot of the bands that I used to enjoy back in the day. However, I have made a few new discoveries, my favorite of which being Starset. They are a really cool band. Otherwise, my top three music acts haven't really changed in the last 15 years or so: Boy Hits Car, Mindless Self Indulgence, and Tech N9ne. MSI was my first ever live concert. While I was with Desirae, I saw a few other bands including her favorite, 10 Years (which are rather solid) and Starset.
Creative Outlets: Much like video games, for as long as I can remember I've always loved to draw. Sadly I don't draw much these days due to lack of time, lack of inspiration, other interests, etc. But I always remembered drawing, from drawing dinosaurs before I even knew what a classroom was, to drawing aliens and other weird stuff on the backs of church programs back when I was forced to go as a kid, to having art as a major during my second year of college. I've draw monsters, character designs with or without back stories, and various different kinds of fanart. I've also loved creative writing for a very long time, especially short stories. I've had a few ideas for comics, but they never really got off the ground. Maybe some day. Oh, and speaking of poetry back in the Reading section, I also wrote a lot of (likely very bad) poetry when I was in high school and especially during my time at Eastern Michigan University. Hopefully none of it is still floating around the internet, and if so hopefully it isn't easily traceable to me. It might be interesting to look back on, though. I don't know if I still have any of it saved to some thumb drive or burnt to some CD or not, but I might be a little too scared to read it. I was kind of a huge emo kid, minus the fashion. Anyway, a little more relevant to MyAnimeList, I've been highly interested in creating anime music videos (AMVs) for a very long time. I have a long list of ideas that I've been working on since high school. However, I've never actually completed a project of my own due to time restraints and lack of adequate equipment. Currently, my only legacy as an AMV editor is four clips that successfully made it into AMV Hell Divided by 0 (the second X-rated AMV Hell project). As usual, I used pluvia33 for my submissions if you're interested to see what I did on there. Although I'm proud of my clips, I'd really like to have a more fleshed out AMV portfolio. Sadly, it seems like AMVs are a bit of a dying art form. They just don't seem to be as big as they used to be and now with the influence of the Vine platform and "Dank Anime Memes" being a thing, the AMV Hell-style of gag clip compilations seem kind of dead as well due to oversaturation from these other areas. I'd still like to try creating some of the stuff I've had planned, though, even if it's mostly just for myself. We'll see.
I am not a Death Note fan. I have a LOT of issues with the series, but there are two big ones for me: I think the story has no re-play value and the characters are overall pretty crappy. While I enjoyed the manga well enough, experiencing the story again in anime form bored the crap out of me. Getting the story the second time around just exposed how simple and linear it actually was. Without any good characters to keep me interested, it was simply dead in the water. While I gave the anime a 6, that is a pretty low score from me. And if it wasn't for the great production values and a few other things, I'd probably give it a 4 instead. I can still understand why the series is as crazy popular and highly regarded as it is, but that understanding is little different than how I can understand why the big shounen action shows like Naruto and One Piece are crazy popular. When people try to hold up Death Note as something greater, like some super intellectual work of high art, I have to stifle a laugh. Anyway, no hard feelings if you're a hardcore Death Note fan.