LIFE AFTER: Naota
“Nothing can happen until you swing the bat.”
When you hear Haruko tell Naota that in FLCL, it hits some weird heartstrings. I first heard it in middle school and interpreted it as me having to stop being so damn scared to talk to my crush, but when I rewatched the 6-episode anime in college, the phrase took on a whole new meaning. It suddenly became clear that “swinging the bat” was something I had never actually done.
Up until the moment I decided to start SPiFF Passé, my life had consisted of safe choice after safe choice; I would step up to the plate and never swing. After hearing Haruko’s words one more time as a lost college student in my apartment in SF, I asked myself how much longer I planned on living life without taking a risk.
When was I going to stop giving a damn if I struck out?
If there’s one anime that left a lasting impression on me, it’s FLCL. I stumbled upon it one Saturday night in middle school on Adult Swim because they ran a marathon of the entire 6-episode season that I couldn’t take my eyes off of.
The show is a coming-of-age story focused on Naota Nandaba that literally makes zero sense 75% of the time, but the organized confusion produced by its creator is what makes it dope. It’s like watching a series someone made based on an inside joke only they understood. All that you’re sure of is that our protagonist is still learning what it means and looks like to channel your emotions in a manner that allows for progress.
Every time I watch FLCL and witness Naota come face to face with absurd obstacle after absurd obstacle, I’m forced to think back to all I’ve been through and reflect on those moments where I let my emotions, whether it be happiness, sadness, or nervousness, get the best of me.
I’ve both overreacted and underreacted to situations in ways that will forever haunt me. It’s those little instances where you get too nervous to talk to the cute girl at the concert or those big L’s when you become someone you aren’t for the sake of “winning” an argument that tends to expose you to the truth that just like Naota, you’re still figuring it out.
FIGURE IT OUT.
I knew I’d encounter new experiences where striking out was better than not swinging at all, but how was I supposed to put myself in the position where I had the confidence to take on these high-speed pitches?
After nearly 4 years of being at college, I was close to getting my degree, but I didn't feel like I made any decisions or take any actions that would lead to the life I once dreamed of as that kid who stayed up way too late to watch FLCL. This feeling allowed me to grasp exactly what people meant when they said life comes at you fast. Time was flying by and nothing but my age seemed to be changing.
In that era of my life, it became abundantly clear that it was now or never. It was time to step up, close my eyes, and swing the bat to attain a life of no regret. A few months later, SPiFF Passé was formed-- I haven’t looked back since.
- Is SPiFF the biggest brand in the world? No. (In my head it is. lol)
- Are we racking in cash every day? Not as much as a business probably should, but I never found that to be what mattered. (It’ll work itself out eventually.)
- Do I finally feel like I’m living? After years of being broken and numb, I can honestly say I do.
Maybe this streetwear with an anime influence thing I’ve been pushing wasn’t the right call. Maybe I should’ve listened to everyone else and stuck to something that was easier for the masses to appreciate.
But when you understand what those years of walking the line of success and regret taught me, you’ll realize that it never mattered if I hit a homerun or not; I simply couldn’t look myself in the mirror and be happy if I settled for less than I deserved because of a fear of failure and an unhealthy obsession with comfort.
“NOTHING AMAZING HAPPENS HERE.”
This is the first time I’ve finished a blog post after the drop is pretty much done. I’ve put in the hours to market this all properly, and it’s been one week since preorders opened; they end tonight so we could start production and finally get y’all the gear.
Weirdly enough, this is one of the most successful drops SPiFF has ever had. I’ve been trying to figure out why that is and came to the conclusion that it’s because y’all see that for the first time in who knows how long, I’ve created something that is truly me.
FLCL set the standard for me as an artist, teaching me that the most enticing pieces were created from being true to yourself. I could always make art for others to enjoy, but my audience would be more captivated by work that successfully expressed an authentic version of myself. Putting together art that allows the viewer to interpret what it means to them is the key to composing work that has substance.
That in mind, I went all in for this collection and bet on my art and work ethic for the first time in what feels like ever. I put my heart into these designs, my mind into the marketing and distribution, and my soul into this drop.
I’ve designed clothes for years now, but it always felt like I was holding back. After the initial high of starting a streetwear brand, I began to feel jaded by my lack of success and started to believe people who thought that nothing amazing happens here. The LIFE AFTER: Naota collection is my way of saying once again to all those who didn’t believe in my vision that it doesn’t matter to me whether I fail or succeed.
I just want to be able to say I swung the bat.
My question is, have you?
SUPPORT THE BRAND: https://spiffpasse.com/
Personal IG: @ericearholes
P.S. LIFE AFTER: Naota Pt. 2- COMING SOON.