Waterbound

subject — Haruka Nanase (Free!)
medium — Anime
creation date — 15 August 2016
participated inDynamic Duos Challenge
All I want is to feel the water. With my skin, my eyes, my soul... To never doubt what it makes me feel. Believe in myself. Don't resist the water. Welcome it. We accept one another.
  • headcanons
  • lacking representation
  • autism spectrum
  • water
  • communication
  • identity
  • respect & understanding
  • neurodiversity
  • ways of connecting
  • hurdles
  • the right environment
  • acceptance

Favourite Pages

Milestones

  • first anime shrine
  • CSS sprites
  • CSS shapes
  • JS tooltips
  • replacing Lightbox with fancyBox
  • first time writing with Scrivener
  • first time writing with Markdown
  • animated image border upon hover

Making of

  • A lot has already been said in Mission Statement and Autistic Haru.
  • I wouldn't ever have made a shrine to Haru alone despite loving him very much, had it not been to relate his character to the autism spectrum. If I had to make a "more conventional" shrine for Haru, I don't think I would have found enough to say to make him a subject personally worth shrining. Like some of my bigger shrines, Strength of Heart and Baton Pass, I think that this shrine's structure shows the benefits of going about shrining with a clear vision, seeing how that vision alone can build the entire shrine from the ground up.
  • This shrine was very difficult and challenging in many regards, with many pages taking a long time until their completion due to all the struggles. A lot of things I had to do for this shrines made me scream "this is not how I want to make shrines", while understanding that "this is absolutely how I have to make this shrine", which made it a frustrating experience.
  • Firstly, as I wrote this shrine to also inform people about the autism spectrum, I had to be aware of my responsibility in this. While I have read up extensively about autism over the years and keep being curious about how other people portray it (especially autistic people), visitors to my shrine may only be exposed to the spectrum through my shrine. I wanted to make sure that I could give them a good overview on the subject matter, while also speaking my thoughts on certain things, and balancing possible public perceptions of autism (which visitors may have briefly encountered) with the voices of autistic people. I also didn't want to offend any autistic people who may come across my shrine. Although researching is fun, the weight of responsibility made researching for this shrine exhausting. I did learn some new things and come across some interesting articles while writing for the shrine though, so that's great.
  • Secondly, due to continuous interest and exposure to discourse around autism, I'm also aware of the unfortunate negative reception of autistic headcanons. To dedicate an entire shrine to it, which may very well be the first of its kind, made me extremely nervous – even with the immense support from close friends. I don't really know what kind of people happen upon shrines, aside from those already part of the community, and even within the community, I wasn't sure how people would take it. While I have no intention of pleasing people who are fundamentally against autistic headcanons, there was worry on my part that people not familiar with these kind of headcanons would have a negative initial reaction to the shrine – all the more so if they may have the wrong impression of autism in the first place. As a result, a good part of the approach to the shrine had to take a defensive approach, while also taking care that the writing isn't on the defense all the time. Mission Statement had to be edited over and over to cover myself and my own vision on all fronts, for example.

    Similarly, images included to illustrate my points were initially meant to be just that: examples, especially since those already familiar with the series would know what I mean. But because the shrine was created defensively, i.e. with the expectation that people would question it, the image examples turned into something approaching a "complete gallery of all relevant scenes", collecting as many examples as needed to present them as "evidence" under any given point. With 4000 roughly filtered screencaps from my Free! rewatch, going through them repeatedly to sort all the images into their appropriate category while making sure not to miss any and not to have too many overlaps was overwhelming. (Not to mention the process of screencapping all the images and roughly filtering them as well as going back and manually screencapping quick and easily missed scenes.)

    I also get very nervous when I feel like I'm overloading pages with pictures, as I'm afraid that it makes a negative impact on design and presentation. From what I've heard around the community though, everyone seems to be quite fond of browsing images!
  • Thirdly, this was the first time I took episodic notes while reexperiencing the source material. Anime is not my medium the way manga is; unlike manga, which I reread regularly and frequently, my memory of watched anime series isn't as good. I convinced myself that episodic notes were necessary to remember the series properly when moving from note-taking to working on the shrine, and also because I knew in advance that this shrine would take a while, what with two months inbetween being reserved for finals hell. What's more, such detailed notes were necessary in order to make a "full line-up" (see above) of examples I wanted to insert on the site, complete with their episode number. I colour-coded my notes much later, according to topics I wanted to discuss on the shrine.

    Just like the amount of screencaps, however, going about shrining with such extensive notes, not all of which are needed, overwhelmed me and made the process of shrining not enjoyable. I know now that I won't be taking episodic notes for anything again, instead making thematic notes of material I'm plenty familiar with (my approach to previou shrines) directly into my outline – but the fact remains that for this shrine, these extensive notes were necessary due to the "evidence-based" approach.
  • Fourthly, on top of the second and third point, delienation of topics for this shrine was pure hell, especially since characteristics of the autism spectrum are all connected to each other. Which traits should be grouped together for an ideal page length and the addressing of autism? Which traits are large enough to warrant their own page? Does a trait fit better in this group or another group? (Examples: Should body contact be part of touch sensitivity or nonverbal communication? Should tuning out during group conversations be part of eye contact or of connecting? And is soaking in the bathtub to relax a more prominent part of the connection to water itself or of routines?) This point just made image- and note-sorting even more tedious and intimidating than they already were.
  • Although most of the creation process of this shrine was tedious, one tool helped me through it: Scrivener. I had heard of Scrivener from several friends over at Amassment, and though I hesitated at first, I decided to invest in the program, seeing how I'm not going to lose my passion for shrines anytime soon, if ever. Trying out new things and changing my methods don't come easily to me, especially as I've been making shrines just fine without a dedicated writing program. But when I started writing in Scrivener and using Markdown, I could immediately see just how much easier it makes pushing out content, and how smooth the shrining process becomes when you don't have to move things around along with their HTML tags. Link lists and lists in general are much less of a pain with Markdown.

    Unlike previous shrines of mine, I jumped around the pages a lot with this one (because I couldn't deal with the struggles outlined above) – and Scrivener is what allowed me to do so. I'd probably have thrown in the towel had it not been for this. If you love writing long texts for your shrines and switching between pages as you work, I highly recommend Scrivener! Discount coupons are available at all times from what I've seen, and alternatives to Scrivener exist, though fewer in number on Windows than on Mac.
  • Lastly, one thing I'll keep in mind for the future is to not prolong the shrining process more than necessary. It seems that the longer you've been working on a shrine, the more timesome looking at it and your notes for it becomes.

Retrospect

This shrine has quite the amusing background, which is one of my favourite parts about it! I randomly poked Andrea after coming across a new fanlisting of hers by chance, made her realize that Amassment has migrated from LiveJournal to forums yeaaaaars ago, then she poked me back to ask me about domain stuff, actually gets her domain and network up not long afterwards... and then I stalked it and saw Makoto on her projects page. I had flirted with the idea of shrining Haru before, so I randomly asked her to join Amassment right away to sign up for the challenge with me – and she actually said yes! I still can't believe the chain of events that led to this shrine! And while the two of us have been too busy to keep each other up-to-date while working on these shrines, working together on projects that are to be revealed simultaneously helped a lot with motivation – not to mention how it makes the finished product something extra special.

Another aspect I adore about this shrine is the overwhelming amount of support I've received from many different people, whether they helped me with the layout, routinely asked me about my progress, or let me infodump, rant and whine about the spectrum or my shrining process. It makes me so appreciative of what I've been able to achieve and experience since rejoining Amassment a year ago: With every layout and shrine I make, I can see how I've personally improved – but I can also see how many friends I've gained, and what there is to be learnt from each other. This shrine's layout makes me ridiculously happy because it's so gorgeous, and I can't stress enough that I wouldn't ever have ended up with such a pretty layout had it not been for the bonds that made it happen.

Waterbound is slightly more personal than other shrines due to the subject matter, and as such, I think it's also a lovely reflection of how far I've come as a person. It seems only a few years ago that I first learnt about autism, and even fewer years since it has started to significantly reshape my self-image. In a way, this shrine records how much I've read up on the subject ever since, and how well I understand it in order to explain it to others. (If only it were this easy offline.)

In the end, it is because of all these pleasant associations with Waterbound as well as my vision in creating it that I can't bring myself to dislike the shrine. Regardless how excruciatingly tedious it was to make, it's well worth the effort.

Baton Pass
Sway →