Thomas “Everything I Say Is A Joke” Barto.

Thomas Barto is, by and large, a boy who focuses on what he enjoys. What he enjoys, in this instance, is the anime-manga-game trinity of modern Japanese popular culture. However, he resists categorization as an “otaku,” which is frankly a limiting and blinkered worldview unsuited to the globalized informational environment of the 21st century. He attempts to subsist on an undifferentiated diet of media, scavenging what scraps of entertainment he can from the dust of the world like a vulture picking over a delicious, tentacles-and-schoolgirls-filled corpse.

That said, it’s not like he doesn’t know or care that there’s more to Japan than Samurai Champloo and Rurouni Kenshin. He finds the political history of the island fascinating; its culture and social norms are a wonderfully intricate puzzle with lots of shiny bits and moving pieces for him to mess around with and figure out. He wrote a four-thousand-word essay on the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate in his senior year of high school.

Thomas’ interest in Japan can actually be traced back to when he watched Outlaw Star on Cartoon Network at his grandparents’ house when he was about 7. Nothing came of it until his friend loaned him a copy of Angelic Layer in sixth grade, at which point he was basically doomed for life. His interest in Japan past manga and anime, however, can be traced to James Clavell’s Gai-Jin, which was basically all kinds of interesting and provoked him to learn more.

In his free time he enjoys Minecraft and tabletop RPGs, especially White Wolf’s anime-inspired epic fantasy Exalted. He means no harm, and his only desire is to be your friend.