When I first found YouTube video essayist Super Eyepatch Wolf in the winter of 2020, I teared up a little at the first video I viewed, watched a few more that aligned with my interests and then moved on to other YouTubers. However, they just didn’t seem to have the same spark as this first video essayist, and so I returned and watched every piece of content he put out, staying updated for more. Then again, as I went back through every single one of his videos in research for this piece, I realized that one of my favorite content creators had cursed me. So please, put on an ambient track, prepare yourself for us getting personal and listen to what Super Eyepatch Wolf did to my writing.
John Walsh, the man behind Super Eyepatch Wolf, is not a furry — though he doesn’t resent the question or the community — he just thinks D-Dog from “Metal Gear Solid V” is badass. Walsh commonly writes about his deepest interests: anime, manga, video games, horror, genuinely epic (in the Greek literature sense) events from the world of martial arts and breakdowns of what modern society and the internet have done to media mammoths such as “The Simpsons,” “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Garfield.” These topics are sorted into a wide variety of series (though not so much in his playlists, which is why I’m linking mostly example videos) on his channel: his most common being “Why You Should Read/Watch/Play:(insert media here),” “My Favorite Things (insert season/year here)” and “What The Internet Did/The Bizarre Modern Reality” — the aforementioned breakdowns of those titans of art.
He has two very central interests, the first being the impact of formative media — art that influences one’s identity. The second is the power of long-term storytelling, like the decades put into professional wrestling, “One Piece” or the forever-unfinished “Berserk.” His videos are edited with the perfect blend of smooth narration and occasional comedic breaks, with the perfect sound setting to enhance each part, voicing his thoughts in a light Irish accent that gives his work the ethos of a nature documentary narrator as he does incredibly deep dives into so many subjects. However, as deep as Walsh’s rabbit holes go, he always finds some meaning in the madness. He imparts it to the viewer before telling them to take care of themselves and that he’ll see them next time. These seem like simple structures to follow, but several details make Walsh stand out to me: his innovations, skillful editing, emotional resonance, examinations of authorial intent and intense attention to his subjects.
In contrast to the edgy YouTube alt-right pipeline (and adjacent) content I think I and a lot of other teenagers on the Internet were unfortunately exposed to, Walsh is a breath of fresh air, especially in the anime community. He has discussed at length how he wants his channel to be a safe space from the bigotry that pervades so much of the Internet and is conscious of his identity as a cis white man in that role. In addition, he does the work to contribute to other creators’ videos on progressive discourse, such as F.D Signifier’s “Dissecting the Manosphere.” However, perhaps the most iconic and indicative example was when Walsh found out part of his video was stolen by far-right Christian extremists and monetized without credit as part of a documentary on why anime is Satanic. He didn’t take much action against his work being stolen, but upon finding out the group was extremely homophobic and transphobic, live-streamed the entire documentary as a charity event to raise money for LGBTQ+ organizations. Walsh’s emotional intelligence is also illustrated by his analyses of the authors of the art his essays are on — whether it’s webcomic artist ONE’s determination reflected in the eponymous hero of “One Punch Man,” the evolution of Hirohiko Araki and his characters in the “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure” series, or Yoshihiro Togashi’s frustrations with being a mangaka funneled into “Yu Yu Hakusho.” That being said, let’s take a closer look at Walsh himself.
Except, I don’t think I should. In watching so many of Walsh’s videos and podcast appearances that his lovely Irish accent now voices my inner monologue, I stumbled upon him explaining that the concept of him being picked apart by strangers on the internet is terrifying to him, as it should be to anyone. I don’t think I can — and I won’t — say anything about Walsh that he doesn’t already know about himself. Iconic manga authors might never see Walsh’s videos, but a creator that engages with the interpretations of his identity on the internet might see this piece. He’s a figure now so prolific that his channel was analyzed for a Rutgers graduate thesis. It’s worth focusing on how Walsh handles this inevitable scrutiny of being on the internet — in his years of being a YouTuber, he has compartmentalized who he is, what work he has to put into the channel and what that work means to people. Rather than losing himself to a persona and burning out long-term like so many other YouTubers do, he modifies the amount of hours he works per week to keep the life of John Walsh and Super Eyepatch Wolf separate. It’s something to be commended, especially in his transparency of how YouTube fame actually makes him feel. So, to talk about this channel’s impact on me, I’ll talk about more Wolf than Walsh.
I discovered Super Eyepatch Wolf’s channel at a dark time in my life — both literal and figurative. It was a winter night in my room, only illuminated by the glow of my monitor and my lamp. It was another night I spent killing time playing video games and simultaneously watching videos in an attempt to overstimulate myself out of the emptiness quarantine filled me with. I found a dissection of the frenetic fandom growth of one of my favorite games — “Undertale.” After its 40-minute runtime, I found myself sobbing, something that I absolutely wasn’t expecting from a random video essayist. I found myself having similar reactions to new videos and rewatches, including his explanations on professional wrestling heels, his beloved but admittedly very-weird manga “Gantz” and a deep dive into the Lovecraftian horror of “Garfield” fan-creations.
In this intersection of nerd culture and academic analysis, I never expected to feel any kind of emotion from it. However, this resonance comes from a fundamental truth that Super Eyepatch Wolf weaves into all of his videos — that every piece of art is ultimately the communication of emotion from the creator to the interpreter, which Wolf then filters through his lens and experience to transform a view on the piece to make us empathize both with the author and essayist. He gets very personal in a lot of videos, but it’s never just some random placement of pathos. Rather, what he references is meant to enhance the analysis of the art and to empathize with the authors that impacted him: interjecting his own experiences with self-identity in the context of “Undertale” and its creator Toby Fox, his existential crises when viewing “Garfield” as a cultural behemoth that has long eclipsed his creator Jim Davis and the infinite struggle for finding happiness in the forever-unfinished manga “Berserk” by the late Kentaro Miura. For one of the first times in my life, I found myself able to feel so strongly about something not exceptionally sad that I would weep. I found myself inspired to do the same.
Super Eyepatch Wolf’s style is one that I realize I have been unconsciously emulating, and while writing this, I feel imprisoned by my inspiration from him. I’ve based this piece on his video structure, I’ve written so many video essay drafts and can visualize the edits I would make in my head all in his style, and while that structure can be comforting, it can still feel like a confinement. When I look at Super Eyepatch Wolf’s catalog of videos working off of existing art, I see that same struggle — something he’s even voiced explicitly. However, I think one can find salvation in that struggle. While Super Eyepatch Wolf’s videos have now become transformative to what they analyze, it was only ever because he wanted to innovate.
There’s a reason why there are so many disjointed and perhaps unorganized “series” on Super Eyepatch Wolf’s channel. There’s also a reason why there are so many outliers in those series. Of course, there’s plenty to say about art and the industries that create them, but there are so many standouts on his channel as well. Super Eyepatch Wolf primarily created “nerd content” — think anime/manga, video games, shows — until one fateful April Fool’s Day four years ago when he confessed to and created a video on the power of professional wrestling, then later became a wrestling heel HIMSELF. After analyzing why “The Simpsons” had gone into decline, he analyzed the revitalizing power of its fanworks. He made documentaries on the phenomena of fake martial arts, spiritualists and “influencer” courses, plus a personal series of vlogs documenting how buying a Dell computer ruined his life for months and a video on the “Space Jam” franchise that tricks you into thinking it’s an analysis on the original movie before transforming into a legendary shitpost about Michael Jordan’s insatiable lust for power. His videos connect to each other in such an intricate web of lore, rivalries and alternate personas that he’s now contributed to the form of long-term storytelling itself in over half a decade of videos, the ridiculous amount of hours put into each work further contributing. In his onslaughts of originality, he inspires me to innovate further as well, to create more than I have — especially when I submitted a sample review on his “Garfield” video essay on the application that got me the job of writing this column for you to read. That same inspiration is freeing to find meaning in the madnesses of the modern world, or as Wolf once said while dressed in a “Garfield” onesie: “I take my hope where I can get it.” His artistry, his empathy and his analyses, that’s why he’s such an inspiration to me. That’s why you should watch Super Eyepatch Wolf.
Take care of yourself, Mr. Walsh. I’m happy to see whatever you choose to do next.
Daily Arts Writer Saarthak Johri can be reached at email@example.com.