For this month’s installment of “Hi, I’m…” we explore and find out more about an upcoming anime blog site called OWLS. OWLS stands for “Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect” and started in January 2017, steadily growing in popularity since. It consists of a group of otaku bloggers who promote acceptance of all individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and disability.
Kat Sade is a 27-year-old from Midwest USA who is the president of the OWLS website. When Kat isn’t running the site, she works for a nonprofit organization which helps families and teaches parenting skills. She also runs an anime/makeup blog, GrimmGirl. She describes her work method as chaotic, but you wouldn’t see that from how well organized the sites she runs/manages are!
I reached out to Kat and talked about OWLS’ history, its purpose and more. So let’s dive in!
Tell us a little bit about OWLS. How did the site come about?
OWLS is an online anime group started by our vice president, Kausus. He reached out to a bunch of anime/otaku type bloggers in the community to see if we were interested in starting a group within the anime community to promote acceptance of people regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender identity, religious values, gender, or anything else you can think of! If you’re a human being and are trying to be a good person and get by in this crazy world, we want you to know you have a place with us!
To do this, we decided to create monthly blog tours with a theme that expressed these values. It would give members of the group a chance to create a blog post viewing that theme through their eyes using something from the otaku/pop culture world. In this way, we hoped to open discussion on what might be a difficult topic, while also showing that while we might have different opinions we can still talk about things civilly.
How did you come up with OWLS’ name? What does it represent?
The credit for our name actually goes to our secretary, Arria Cross. OWLS stands for “Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect”. We really wanted a name that let people know from the get go this wasn’t a place to bash others. It was a place to learn from others. When Arria first suggested it I loved it, along with everyone else in the group!
What is your overall goal for OWLS?
I honestly feel like this might sound cheesy but… We just want people to come together!! *Cue The Beatles* But seriously, we’re all on this planet and we have so much to learn from each other. We can’t do that if we keep hating on each other and being so divided. So let’s try a different route! We’re not trying to get people to tolerate each other; we’re trying to get them to ACCEPT each other. There’s a difference with that.
What word of advice would you give to a novice starting out?
The motto of OWLS is “Free to be me”, and I think that thought should be in the forefront when blogging. People aren’t always going to agree with what you’re saying or doing, but as long as you’re being true to yourself while being respectful to others, then your blog will be something you are incredibly proud of.
What are some things that OWLS do?
Currently, our big things are our monthly blog tours and our end of the month live streams. As I mentioned before, each month has a different theme and prompt so, for example, our July Tour theme was “Mirror” and the prompt was,
“When we look in the mirror, what do we see? Do we see ourselves or someone we don’t want to be? For this month’s theme, we will be exploring some of our favorite anime and other pop culture media that redefine individual beauty—inside and out. Some topics we may explore are physical appearances, social expectations on gender, and the importance of self-confidence.”
Members were able to choose a date to publish their post of video and given free reign to interpret this prompt however they saw fit. The only other guideline was that they needed to use something from the otaku/pop culture scene to express their viewpoint. We then make sure to link back to the person who posted directly before us and the person going after us. That way our followers can easily go from post to post.
It’s always amazing to see the different directions each creator takes with these prompts! For example, my post dealt with Haruhi Fujioka from Ouran Highschool Host Club and how she is able to maintain a clear sense of self that is so hard to do (especially in high school). Meanwhile, Gigi from Animepalooza on YouTube created a video right before mine discussing Peach Girl and the scary world created by slut shaming. Same prompt, different directions, and both pretty darn cool!
Our end of the tour live stream brings Lita Kino, Pokeninja90, and myself together on our Youtube to discuss all the different topics and anime brought up by other OWLS members during the post. I love this because it’s a time for other people who may not write for OWLS to discuss their opinions on different topics with us and other members of the anime community.
Can anyone join OWLS? If so, what do they need to do?
We are always looking for new creators at OWLS! We only ask that you be committed to creating a space that is accepting of others and that you in some way be part of the otaku scene. Of course, you also need to have either a blog, YouTube channel, podcast, etc where you can have your blog stop.
If anyone is interested in joining please go to our official OWLS website where you can sign up and a member of our PR department will walk you through the steps.
What shows do you watch that are NOT anime?
The number of times I have watched Psych is ungodly. I mourned when it was taken off Netflix. I love Sherlock and Doctor Who! Also I really enjoy watching documentaries and nature shows like Planet Earth. Man, Planet Earth was just beautiful!
If you could name ONE scene from an anime that impacted you the most, what would it be and why?
Goodness, this is a hard one! There truly are so many, but the one that popped into mind was the scene where Gaara from Naruto Shippuden addresses the troops before the start of the Third Great Ninja War. If you had followed the show, you know that Gaara started as just this flat out horrible person, but as the show continues you learn how the people around him created the hatred in him, and it isn’t until he meets Naruto that he’s able to start to change.
That moment where he addresses everyone really moved me because you see how just one person standing up to him and basically saying, “Hey I know you are angry and I know things have been hard, but you have a choice to change and create something better for yourself and the people around you. If you decide to do this I’ll be here for you, but you need to make the first step” helped him to become the type of man who could influence thousands to put aside their differences and work together. It was just such a powerful reminder that we all have that power to make a difference in one person’s life and that difference can snowball into something so much bigger and more beautiful than we could imagine.
What is one thing that people don’t know about you?
Honestly, I think the thing that shocks people most when they first find out is that I’m married with a beautiful daughter (and another one on the way)! I think this is mostly because people assume I’m a lot younger than I actually am when they first see me.
Oh, and I know you said one yet I can’t help but also add that my name Sade is pronounced “Shar-Day”, not “Say-Dee”. Nobody ever says it right the first time!
Name three people in your line of work that influence you.
I am so fortunate to know so many talented people within the community, but I will say the three people that spring to mind have to be Arria Cross from Fujensi, Pokeninja90 from Nice Job Breaking it Hero, and Lita Kino from Lita Kino Anime Corner.
Arria was the first blogger to ever follow my site GrimmGirl, and when she did I almost died of joy I swear! I thought her site was so amazing and her writing was dead on. The fact that she noticed me at all was such a big deal to me. I think she would probably really laugh at that, because she is such an approachable person it would never occur to her that there was someone on the other side of the screen geeking out. She continues to be such an amazing source of advice when it comes to writing. She’s been doing this for awhile now, so she has a great handle on how to find a balance between writing and life. Plus there’s no one better to discuss Yuri!!! on Ice with!
Pokeninja90 is my Otome Queen and Haikyuu partner in crime. She got me into the Otome life and I never looked back! The entire reason there is an Otome section on GrimmGirl is due to her encouragement. She is also the reason I do polls on my site. I thought it was really cool that she was doing them so I decided to try it as well. So she has really influenced my website a great deal when you think about it! She is also so talented.
When you see her site, the content she is putting out and her consistency is so impressive. She is staying on top of her content and that is really hard to do. There’s always new games/news when it comes to otome and she is looking into all of that to make her site what it is. She’s not just looking at what is mainstream, she’s checking out the Indie scene, she’s seeing what Kickstarter campaigns are trying to create new otome, she is looking at it all. On top of that, she’s got her own Etsy business, is in grad school, writes for OWLS, and is our head of Public Relations. Talk about organized! I watch her and it inspires me to really think about what I’m doing with GrimmGirl.
Lita Kino is simply amazing. The woman does it all. She has her blog, but she also has her own YouTube channel while jointly hosting another YouTube channel, co-hosts our OWLS end of Tour Livestream, runs our YouTube channel and handles other PR aspects, and is constantly collaborating with other creators. I swear, amazing doesn’t even cover it. I look at her and I’m blown away with the things she is able to accomplish. I feel like whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed I just have to think, “What would Lita Kino do?” and then I answer, “CRUSH IT!” because that woman can do anything.
She reminds me that if I’m passionate about something, I can work it out. She also reminds me that being there for others is important. Lita is the type of person who truly wants to help others. If she can help you, she will, and if she can’t she’ll find out who can! People like Lita remind me why a group like OWLS is important.
What do you think the anime community can improve on?
I think the biggest thing we can approve on is just being more chill with each other! Sadly, it seems like lately the cool thing to do is to try to divide each other as much as possible. If you don’t like a certain show, you’re “trash”, if you do like that show you’re an “idiot”. I’ve seen people go at it over the littlest things like “Sub vs Dub” just to argue and insult each other. This isn’t just an anime thing, it’s a society thing. Everyone wants to be the winner of the Twitter or Reddit battle no matter the cost. It’s just crazy to me! Anime is so much fun; why ruin it with this stuff?
What is something you struggle with when working on OWLS (promoting, editing, etc) and how do you overcome it?
I will be the first to admit I’m a terrible editor and I can’t spell to save my life. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve read a post that’s been published and been like, “What am I even saying?!” I also sometimes have a hard time bringing an idea full circle. I get a prompt and I’ll have an idea straight away but actually writing it out is a whole different story. Luckily, I have the other OWLS members to lean on. We have a group chat where we can all talk together and throw around ideas, which is incredibly helpful.
What do you think is your biggest accomplishment so far?
In blogging or in life? In blogging just actually starting GrimmGirl to be honest! I was so nervous about it. I talked about it for months before I actually did it! In life probably getting through pregnancy and labor, to be honest! Not for the faint of heart, I assure you.
Below are a few of Kat’s favorite articles from previous OWLS tours:
- Gigi and her video using Peach Girl to discuss slut shaming
- Our first ever OWLS post by Matt using Bleach to discuss the roles of disruptors
- Venus discussing the idea of finding sanctuary in a home and what a home truly means through the eyes of the Zoldyck Family and Killua from HunterXHunter
- Haze during our Colors Tour using the anime Rose Bride to discuss the hurtfulness of fetishizing Asian women
Editor Note: This interview was edited slightly for clarity.
In the “Hi, I’m…” series, we sit down with fantastic folks who influence the world of Japanese culture, from AniTubers to experts & industry celebs. Every other month, we’ll present a new interview with insight on their daily life, their thoughts on the Japanese Culture industry and tips for those wanting to debut in the same field as them.
Have someone you want to see featured or questions you think we should ask? Send us an email: YattaTachi[at]gmail.com