Last week, I traveled on the first of two vacations we’ve planned for this summer. While I might have some pertinent content to share for the second, I was surprised that I also had something to share for the first, which was a simple excursion to South Padre Island, the nicest beach that we have here in Texas. We spent time enjoying the sand, checking out conservation sites, and eating fresh seafood. Other than a love for surfing, I really have no love for the beach, but I still enjoyed this little getaway.
Heading south to the ocean reminded me of when “beach episodes” where a thing. They still are, I suppose, but I think that with a shift in what many series are about these days, we (thankfully?) don’t get as many beach episodes, onsen episodes, etc. in anime. That, or maybe I’ve just become immune to them. The most infamous I can remember is the one for Outlaw Star, a fun series that’s largely unknown to recent anime fans. When the series aired on Adult Swim, the beach episode wasn’t merely censored; it was omitted entirely. Even as beach episodes went, as I later found out when I purchased the Outlaw Star DVD’s, it was particularly fan-service heavy.
Thankfully for this guy who doesn’t need more temptation in his life, no scantily-dressed catgirls or beautiful samurai assassins at my beach (none that I’m aware of at least). Instead, we had modest crowds and were even able to get to know some of the locals. The captain of our dolphin-seeking vessel and his girlfriend were among them. It was neat hearing the story of their relationship, as relayed by a retired naval man of all people, which began through online gaming. Each led a clan in some game I can’t remember but which my son has played. They hit it off and soon their hearts, as well as their clans, were one.
Their story reminded me of my own past in gaming, where the best thing I took away wasn’t the entertainment value, but the relationships. For a short time, I obsessed over Evony, and though I quit when my schedule couldn’t keep up with enemy invasions, I remained Facebook friends with folks from there for quite some time. Those of you who game more than I do, which is probably all of you, likely have more and stronger friendships developed from the medium than I do.
I find it so fascinating to live in a world where friendships created in the digital world amount to something real, and oftentimes more real than those we develop with people living near us. My own “beach episode” last week, then, felt like a strange convergence of these two worlds that aren’t so distant after all, reminding me all the connections I’ve made through the Internet and especially Beneath the Tangles, as well as the bonds we form in real life through people we physically meet. Both are meaningful and I think increasingly necessary in this world where these relationships can bind us together, and be a foundation for understanding, lest we completely fall apart.
And now…I leave you with baby turtles: