This post will be a bit more personal and a bit less anime-related than usual.

I’ve put behind a battle that was various months long, with many self doubts, anxiety and negative emotions along the way.

I’m talking about driving school. It’s still a shock that I’m even able to write this, but yesterday I passed the driving test from the second attempt.

From the second attempt, just as I passed the theory segment and first aid as well.

“Nobody said it was easy…”

“…no one ever said, it would be this hard.”

This Coldplay quote can basically sum up my more than 8 month long time at driving school. I enrolled into driving school in the crazy days after I received my shocking results of the high school finals and when Croatia got through to the World Cup final. It was a time when I finished Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and started watching Hunter x Hunter. I wasn’t even thinking I would start blogging in October, nor did I know what university I’ll be in. I was still in my “old” house. That’s how much time has passed. It really feels like a different era.

The lessons themselves as well as first aid were still really the calm before the storm. Even if I passed them both from the second attempt, compared to what was gonna come next, it really wasn’t that much of a challenge.

Before enrolling into driving school, I said I think I would have a bit of a fear while driving in traffic and that I’m not considering it “urgent” to go to driving school at this stage. But my father basically insisted that I should go now, and I decided I will do it, to challenge those anxious thoughts. I wanted to believe it will go well.

New Game! Traumas

But it was nowhere near straightforward as you would wish. It was the start of September when I started the 35 mandatory driving sessions before you are eligible for the driving test.

To keep it short: it was terrible. The anxiety was well and truly there, even if I wasn’t even in traffic yet. Every mistake was followed by more of them, and the attitude of the driving instructor was really not helpful. Basically, he yelled a lot, and with the anxiety I had and the amount of errors I was making, it really wasn’t comfortable.

That night, before the second driving session the next day, I couldn’t sleep properly due to all the anxiety and negative feelings. What didn’t help matters was the rain that was falling, making me even more anxious because driving in rain was gonna make things even harder.

I think that was the most anxiety-filled night of my life. And in those moments, random New Game! openings and endings were playing in my head. And since I tend to remember such unimportant details, I’ve started associating the New Game season 2 music with those tough moments. You can probably guess I avoided listening to those openings and endings in all these months. Season 1 though was uneffected, and gives me memories of better things, because I watched Season 1 just at the end of August.

Hope

Maybe Miyamori Aoi would be a good driving instructor as she seems quite handy behind the wheel of a car…

As the driving sessions went on, there was little improvement. The anxiety was huge before every single driving hour, and although there were a few moments when it seemed things are going in the right direction, the next driving session would override that impression.

Looking back, these first 15 or so hours of driving were likely the reason I felt such a lack of confidence in my driving for all these months, and why I still had anxiety before every session, even this week too.

In December I’ve done what I should have done much earlier – change driving instructors. A new bit of hope was appearing, and after the Christmas break it was time for a fresh start.

The difference between instructors was night and day. It seemed that the new instructor actually understood that for people with anxiety, yelling and borderline insulting won’t help in any way. This new instructor was calming, and understanding that some people just need more time and a more calm approach.

Will it ever end?

It was definitely getting better. But I still wasn’t fully ready for the test. Mistakes were still a common thing. After I did the mandatory 35 driving sessions, the instructor told me to get 10 additional driving sessions. This was devastating. Not only was I tired of doing those driving sessions and trying to survive the anxiety, but each driving session required a lot more time and money than it should because in late January I kind of changed my residence. Emphasis on “kind of” but that’s a story I won’t go into now.

Will there ever be an end to it? How much more suffering do I have to endure? Why do I have to be like this?

These were the questions that I tormented myself with, especially at the start of this week current week.

The tests

When I finally had the chance to take the driving test, I failed the first one. The positive part was that the person that evaluated me told me he thinks I will “pass soon” and that my “pedal control was good”. My main error was failing to stop at the stop signs.

Failing meant you had to do 3 additional driving sessions before taking the test again. Just to make things more complicated, the instructor took a vacation and I had a substitute for those 3 extra sessions and the second exam.

I don’t remember the last time I had a week as rough as this one, excluding yesterday onwards. On Tuesday and Wednesday, when I had those extra driving sessions, it rained. And various other unlucky things have been happening during these days. I don’t feel like going into details right now but let me tell you, some of it was stuff you wouldn’t even see with the unluckiest anime characters.

Yesterday it rained too. But luckily it was only in the later stages of the test, and it wasn’t heavy enough to affect me too much. I had the final extra driving session right before the test. All of those 3 additional driving sessions were quite bad, even the one right before the test.

The examiner was the same person as the first time. Apparently, that’s a rare thing.

I was still full of visible anxiety but somehow, I made it through the test without any major errors. There were some needless things, but not enough for a failure it seems. When the examiner said “-2, Matija” I was certain that meant another failure. Then he started talking about my mistakes but he only really mentioned 2 or 3 things. After the first exam this was when he told me I can leave so it was unusual that he didn’t do so yet.

You can then imagine the pure shock and disbelief when I saw the paper in front of me that said that I passed the exam. It is something I still can’t quite believe has happened.

Relief

It’s hard to properly describe the relief that this has been. To think I never have to worry about driving school again is just so beautiful. And to think of all the doors that have now opened thanks to this… I am so happy and so relieved that I’ve finally put all of this behind.

I guess the lesson I can learn from all of this is to never give up no matter how bad it seems. In this case I really wanted to give up, even if I was already kind of at the point of no return. In case of failing the second time, I would have tried to take a break from driving for a number of months, so I would not have to think about this again.

Even on the day of the exam, it felt like I’m a lost cause and there is no way I can actually pass this. But fortunately it turned out I was wrong. Just as I thought I would fail my Croatian high school finals, just as I wasn’t sure about passing university physics… It seems every time I’m convinced in failure, it ends up the opposite way.

Moral of the story – keep facing those challenges you have. Keep fighting that s*itty anxiety. If after all the self doubting and terrible anxiety I managed to pass that driving test, you can face your own challenges too. Just instead of self-doubting, believe in yourself. Trust me, it will make things much easier.

I hope your time at driving school was easier. If you haven’t experienced driving school yet, I hope you’ll have an easier time than me…

That’s right – part 2.

The first post from this mini “series” that I never actually thought of as a series but maybe really is a series was about cakes. Toradora cakes to be specific.

Then in this post I shared with you some of the drawings I was making for school. Now we are talking about cooking once again and this time its not a dessert.

It’s onigiri.

Onigiri

Onigiri, or rice balls are a simple Japanese food often used as breakfast or in bentos. They are essentially a triangle-shaped ball of rice filled with stuffings.

Usually they are decorated with some nori paper and seeds on top.

I’ve seen them across various anime. Most notably, I can recall Aisaka Taiga making onigiri during the Toradora OVA episode, and Hinata Miyake wearing a T-shirt with an onigiri on it.

While I’m not sure how well Hinata Miyake prepares her onigiri, I remember Aisaka Taiga made them too salty.

Was I able to do better?

Unlike the cake post, this time I actually have a picture.

Previous failures

I actually already tried making onigiri once. It was another one of my “home alone cooking experiements”. I tried doing it with the common rice you can buy in Croatia, and not the sushi rice that is required.

That time I also didn’t have the nori paper, so it lacked the look as well as the taste. And it didn’t really hold together so I ate most of it with the jaw.

But this time I came ready. I had the nori paper, I had the sushi rice. I had the tuna and mayo, one of the most common stuffings.

This was my day for making proper onigiri.

Ryuuji intensifies

Proper attempt

After cooking the rice exactly as it was written, waiting for it to start boiling, then lowering the temperature and leaving closed for 15 minutes…

…a lot of it was left sticking at the bottom of the pot. It left me wondering where did it go wrong. The amount of water was fine as well as timing so really, what was the problem?

My mother said it could be because of the plate. I guess we’ll just leave it at that.

In any case, the rice really tasted great. Its a better rice than the one I usually eat here. Just a shame that it costs significantly more than the “standard” one for these areas.

While the rice was cooking, I mixed the tuna with mayo, chopped a carrot, took out the cheese and “cropped” the nori paper into smaller bits.

An important thing to note is that before using the rice to shape the onigiri, you have to dampen your hands with salted water. Otherwise you are going to get a lot of the rice sticking on your hands.

I didn’t do this the last time, because back then I used a plastic wrap while shaping the rice, which you can also do if you don’t want to shape the rice with your hands directly.

Most of my onigiri were tuna-mayo filled. Once you get your shape, you place a small bit of the nori paper, for decoration but it also works nicely for holding the onigiri.

The nori is an edible part too ofcourse. It has quite a specific flavour but I can’t say I didn’t like it.

500 grams of the rice was enough for 7 onigiri. At the end, I put some flax seeds on them. Usually you would put sesame seeds but I didn’t have those this time.

Conclusion

That was fine and everything but where is the picture? How did it end up looking? Was it worth it? Was it tasty?

There they are. My first ever proper onigiri. Not all of them have that shape but I think it was a good attempt. Would, and will definitely do again. This time with sesame seeds and maybe wasabi because why not?

I already mentioned how the rice was great and the nori had a specific but good taste. Nothing to complain about the fillings either, cause I really love tuna and mayo.

But what I could add is that these things fill up your belly quicker than expected. 2 or 3 are more than enough as a meal after a soup.

Now I’d really like to try making them with more fillings, preferably Japanese specific. Or maybe next time I could try my hand at sushi. I did also buy those sushi rollers afterall.

If you’ve made onigiri, feel free to tell me how it went in the comments! Or what about other Japanese foods? Share your cooking stories in the comments! 😀

Affiliate links

If all of this made you want to buy some onigiri related stuff, you can do that on Amazon!

I hate anime.

It gives me so many happy moments, it makes my life better in so many ways.

I watch certain series week after week, get invested in the story and characters.

And then things just… End. And I’m left with a huge void in my heart.

And yet I keep coming back for more. Only to experience this sadness again.

I’m writing this just after finishing the last episode of Sword Art Online: Alicization Part 1 and, as you can probably tell, it has left me feeling quite sad.

6 months

6 months. The number of months that had passed since Alicization Part 1 had started, and the number of months that will take for Alicization to return.

A lot of things have happened in these 6 months. Both in my world and the SAO world.

But on Saturday there was always an episode of Alicization to watch. Well not anymore.

Wait, am I really getting this emotional over Sword Art Online? With Kaguya-sama: Love is War ending just a few hours before on this same day, I’m really an emotional wreck right now. My heart has taken too many hits today.

The only thing that could probably make me feel better right now is the announcement of a second season for Kaguya-sama.

But wait what was this post about again? Alicization? Kaguya-sama? A simple sad rant and excuse for a blog post that I’m writing to make myself feel better? Probably the latter.

‘Life goes on’

That’s what the Alicization’s second ending song says. And it really fits so well for these tough times.

Yes. Life has to go on.

Saturdays have to continue. Without Kaguya-sama or Alicization.

The next weeks and months will pass. New anime will air. New characters will keep me company and new stories will intrigue me.

But it’s always a neverending circle. You always start new things. They will make you feel better.

But when you’ll get reminded of what has ended, it will still hurt.

At least Alicization will return. But Kaguya-sama?

The reception for the anime has been hugely positive, as it should be, but as it stands at this moment, we still have no second season announced.

Yay best girl gets extra cute screentime

But this could be the last time we see her in anime form

Conclusion

So what was this post about again?

I’m so sorry for this, its seriously just a sad rant without any purpose. But I do think I feel a bit better now after writing this.

This has happened so many times, again and again. And yet there is something about it that makes you want to do it again.

If you get these feelings for anime, it means it has done its purpose really well. You got attached to the characters.

You’ve spent a certain amount of time with them, be it on a sad day or a happy day, you were with them in their own world.

But then reality said hi and separated you.

But it doesn’t have to end that way.

Just as Eugeo will continue living in Kirito’s memory, all those characters you had to get separated from will stay in your memory.

And they may help you find the inspiration in some tough moments or you will think of them as you find yourself in similar situations.

And that’s what makes the suffering of separation worth it.

To end with a quote I almost always think of when I’m sad that things are over:

Don’t be sad because its over, smile because it happened

I’ve recently started a YouTube channel where I plan to post AMVs.

AMVs are likely to be the main focus of the channel, but I won’t rule out making some other types of content, perhaps turning some of my blog posts into videos.

The amount of videos I will post all depends on my avaliable time.

Turns out being in university while running a blog at the same time, plus all other life activities takes a lot of time, so since I started the channel I’ve only uploaded one video so far.

But I do have ideas for more. And I did start some new stuff. Things have just been a bit slower and there has been less time than I have expected.

I think posting a video each week will be tough. But 2 per month is duable I think. Note that I always want to make each thing I post, be it on the blog or the YouTube, of the highest level of quality, and sacrificing the level of quality I aim for in favour of quantity just wouldn’t be right I feel.

What was the point of this post again? I guess I wanted to write about why am I even doing AMVs.

Love for video editing

I finished web design in high school, and I had a few subjects where I did media editing.

It made me realize I really enjoy video editing and expressing myself in that way.

I aimed to enter a university where I would study all about media editing. Maybe you remember I’ve been mentioning this a few times.

Unfortunately it didn’t exactly work out that way, and now I’m studying computer science, but at least a few multimedia related subjects are coming up next year.

So now as I have a blog, adding a YouTube channel is the perfect addition to it which allows me to continue improving my media editing skills while making content about the stuff I love.

Music videos

A part of video editing I specially enjoy is making music videos.

Back in 2016, I was a huge fan of an Italian singer called Francesca Michielin.

Such a huge fan in fact, that I even made a YouTube channel where I posted some videos of her that I found on other sites but that weren’t uploaded on YouTube yet.

Occasionally I also uploaded my own edited videos, and one of them was an unofficial music video that reached over 30 thousand views.

I’m still so proud of that video and all the positive feedback it has received.

Another video I uploaded was a lyric video. You know, the type of lyric video with moving text and cool effects and graphics. That project was actually my final project for school.

Which takes us to the next point…

Inspiration for AMVs

I wasn’t seriously thinking of making AMVs until I came to the AMV part of Reddit where I clicked on some of the best AMVs.

One of them was this textual AMV, called Boxxed, with the song from Marina and the Diamonds.

I was in awe. It wasn’t till watching that video that I realized the potential an AMV can have. It wasn’t till then that I realized I really want to do this too.

Basically this became my AMV inspiration.

It inspired me to keep improving myself to maybe one day reach the same level of quality.

Compare Boxxed to my lyric video from earlier and it’s clear that I’m nowhere near that kind of level. But you can’t ever improve without making any videos so I’m ready to give it my best.

Just because I’m not doing video editing at university doesn’t mean I can’t do it at home. It doesn’t mean I can’t make projects and improve my skills along the way.

Conclusion

That was, I guess, the “why” behind my YouTube channel. Please subscribe if you’re interested in seeing how it will all work out, and check out my first AMV from the channel!

As a child I loved doodling stuff into notebooks and writing down my imaginary sports results, entertainment shows, and similar stuff.

But by high school I more or less stopped doing it. I “grew up” you may say.

Fast forward to Summer 2017 and I suddenly got hugely into Japanese “cartoons”. So much that I even felt like drawing again and improving my skills.

I watched various tutorials on how to improve, I practised drawing loads of eyes in different ways.

But most of the tutorial videos reached a similar conclusion – good drawing skills require A LOT of practice.

I guess you could only call it a small phase but I did give it a go. It resulted in a Fumikage Tokoyami drawing with some weirdly colored clothes.

I would show it if I had the picture around me right now.

Design theory

But that wasn’t all. The last year of high school was coming and with it the final year for the subject called “design theory” where we… Drew things.

A lot of my drawings ended up being anime related.
I was proud of most of them, despite the fact that it was more or less just traced stuff.

The assigment was to draw five aesthetic principles which were relation, symmetry, balance, domination and contrast.

Every week was spent thinking of a new way to incorporate anime into those aesthetic principles. It was great fun coming up with the ideas, but when I had all the 5 drawings ready, it was hard to actually determine which drawing represented each principle in the best way, since some drawings could easily fall into more categories.

This is my version of the Steins;Gate clocks from the opening, used as “relation”.

For “contrast” I tried to draw Shoto Todoroki during that certain amazing fight from My Hero Academia season 2.

“Balance” or “unity” was this scene from the opening of Girlish Number where the characters unite to make a star with their fingers.

This is a beautiful fanart of Fumikage Tokoyami that I just really wanted to try recreating myself. It was used as “domination”.

At first my idea for “domination” was Shinya Kogami from Psycho-Pass pointing the dominator. I even finished the drawing but wasn’t entirely satisfied with the result and I realized it doesn’t actually fit that well for the intended role.

I can’t seem to find the drawing so I can’t post it here now…

What we have next are the emblems of team JNPR from RWBY arranged into this unity. I first thought it could be used as “unity” but I then realized it could actually serve very well as “symmetry”.

That was all for the aesthetic principles. But it’s not all of the anime inspired stuff…

Does the font seem a bit familiar? Well that’s because it was inspired by the Toradora font, and its wavy looking exclamation mark with the star serving as a dot.

This was my work for the “custom font” we had to make.

Not to brag, but all of the things pictured here brought me the highest grade you can get in a Croatian school, and that is 5.

So yeah now you saw my attempts at trying to draw well. If you have similar stories of drawing anime stuff, I would love to read them in the comments!