Favorite discoveries of the 2010s


In snowball-to-avalanche fashion, I went from quietly enjoying my time with Trails in the Sky in 2016 to spending four hundred hours on the series this year, playing through three games in their entirety and replaying parts of two others in a kind of frenzy.

It has quickly become my drop-everything media franchise; in the way that others might move mountains to see a new Star Wars film on opening night, I will clear the deck for a new Trails game. Trails of Cold Steel II was my favorite game of last year despite being one of my least favorite entries in the series, and Trails of Cold Steel III was my favorite game of this year despite some stiff Fire Emblem competition. I don’t want to make any promises about a year that will include a new Animal Crossing, but if another Trails game makes it out in 2020 I think it’ll have a good shot.

Ichiko Aoba

I’m used to fandom involving some amount of intentionality: I learn about something, decide that I’m going to “get into it,” and then start buying the merchandise or reading the wiki articles or doing whatever makes sense for the burgeoning new interest.

I never consciously chose to get into Ichiko Aoba. These CDs didn’t import themselves, of course, but I never thought “Hey, maybe I’ll give this obscure Japanese classical guitarist a shot.” One day I just realized that without really intending to, I had begun listening to her more than every other artist combined. Her music doesn’t especially resemble the rest of my catalog, nor is it what I’d typically think of as my favorite kind of music, but there’s no arguing with my listening behavior. If I had bought qp on vinyl last year, it would already be worn out.

Hobonichi Techo

In a decade where I “won” National Novel Writing Month five times, I still wrote more words in Hobonichi Techos than anywhere else.

While many people use techos for things like sketching and scrapbooking, I use it as a diary and fill it cover to cover with words. That means that, as much as I love its aesthetic trappings, it’s effectively just a blank notebook for me. Somehow, though, it’s the only notebook that’s inspired me to maintain a consistent writing habit.

I have filled out every single page for four years straight now, in four different techos. (On the rare occasions where I have to miss a day, I take notes about what I want to write on my phone so that I can catch up later.) It’s the most sacred and inviolable ritual I have that isn’t eating or basic hygiene. I have next year’s techo next to me right now, ready to unwrap in a few hours.