Dan Otsuki has been watching Survivor religiously since season two, and is a recent graduate of the University of Puget Sound, where he double majored in English and Religious Studies. He's also applied to play on the show every time he's been able to do so.
His column, "It's Kind of a Funny Story" has run here at the True Dork Times since 2017, when he first wrote about season 34, Survivor: Game Changers.
Follow him on twitter: @DanOtsuki
Episode 14: All hail the king
By Dan Otsuki | Published: May 20, 2020
Dan is back with his end-of-season assessment of Winners at War, praise for the winner of winners and the runners-up, and hopes that the show can fix some its current flaws during its downtime.
Episode 8: Like animals at a watering hole
By Dan Otsuki | Published: April 6, 2020
Dan Otsuki is back (not from Edge of Extinction) to evaluate the state of Winners at War at the merge. With a focus on their edits this season, who are the contenders for the two million, and who are the also-rans?
Pre-season: Winners at War cast assessment
By Dan Otsuki | Published: January 9, 2020
Dan is ecstatic to see the long-awaited All-Winners format finally come to fruition, but now all fans have to ask: Who will win? Dan assesses the chances of each returning winner, while also highlighting the ones he's most excited to see play again, win or lose.
Episode 14: Silver linings?
Published: December 20, 2019
Dan weighs in on the Island of the Idols finale and reunion, and looks for silver linings in the season as a whole, and the show's response to its own mishandling of the harassment that overshadowed the post-merge.
Episode 7: A story called Survivor
Published: November 9, 2019
Dan makes a brief return to examine how this season, with its diverse cast, emphasis on character stories, and strong female casting, has changed the overall arc of the two decade Survivor meta-narrative. Plus a post-merge power ranking.
Published: September 23, 2019
The True Dork Times writers congregate and try to pick the winner of Survivor: Island of the Idols based on almost zero evidence. But that's no reason to avoid making what are probably ludicrously inaccurate hot takes.
Episode 14: The theme is not on trial
Published: May 17, 2019
Dan Otsuki returns from being in law school isolation since Episode 4 to weigh in on the out-of-nowhere surprise ending of Edge of Extinction. Is Survivor still Survivor when a winning game is played over four episodes?
Episode 4: A Survivor spring break
Published: March 16, 2019
Dan Otsuki takes a literal spring break from law school to describe how this season is like a Survivor spring break: lots of beaches, filled with lots of people you don't know, and so on.
Pre-season: The TDT EoE contestant draft
Published: February 17, 2019
As the new season nears the True Dork Times writers gather to draft fantasy teams of three players. Whose prediction skills will drive their team to extinction? Whose prognostication will give them an edge and a victory?
Episode 14: Let the curses stay unreversed
Published: May 25, 2018
Dan praises the nail-biter Survivor: Ghost Island jury vote and the final three, while taking to task lingering problems with the Final 4 firemaking, the Ghost Island format, and next season's theme.
Pre-Episode 14: Jury Jeopardy - S36
Published: May 21, 2018
The True Dork Times writers assemble once more to project the jury votes, while doing battle with scribes from other Survivor sites: InsideSurvivor, A Tribe of One, Purple Rock Podcast, and the RHAP bloggers. Who can boast the most votes noted for Ghost Island?
Episode 12: If it ain't broke...
Published: May 13, 2018
In perhaps his final Ghost Island column, Dan laments Chelsea's near-invisible exit and the sluggish post-merge gameplay, and makes a modest proposal to avert Pagongings by... well, read and find out.
Episode 11: Bad luck is boring
Published: May 5, 2018
One bad decision may haunt you forever, but Dan decries the outsized role one bad random draw (or two, or three) has been having on the outcome of the season. Plus an attempt to decipher the curious decisions in the two Tribals.
Episode 10: Mistakes were made
Published: April 29, 2018
While Desiree clearly didn't have a perfect run in Episode 10 of Ghost Island, Dan argues that almost every other player also made long-term strategic mistakes this week, mainly by failing to take advantage of a golden opportunity to change the game.
Episode 9: Hiding in plain sight
Published: April 20, 2018
Dan compares the relative strengths of bold, aggressive play with passive, hiding in plain sight, under-the-radar play, praises the new, more visible Angela, the new, less-visible Domenick, and hopes for more age-related diversity going forward.
Episode 8: The Un-Noble One
Published: April 13, 2018
Following the Ghost Island merge, Dan reviews Chris's role in the season as a whole, proposes an alternate edit possibility, praises time-limited idols, and presents his power rankings for the remaining 12 players.
Episode 7: Fast takes from an airport in Newark
Published: April 7, 2018
In an abbreviated Story, Dan dispatches a few swift thoughts on Episode 7 of Ghost Island, ranging from the sudden flood of idols to the changes in the gameplay with the merge approaching.
Episode 6: Parallels past
Published: March 29, 2018
As Survivor: Ghost Island swaps from two up to three tribes, Dan looks back at how both the gameplay and editing compares to recent seasons where that happened, and projects the success of the main characters going forward.
Episode 5: An internal moral dilemma
Published: March 23, 2018
Dan wrestles with happiness over the relative dearth of idols and advantages at Ghost Island, and sadness that Stephanie had no shot at one. Then delves deeper into the role of idols in modern winning games, and looks ahead to the swap.
Episode 4: False priming
Published: March 15, 2018
As Dan bids farewell to his winner pick, he examines the many lines of narrative deception in Episode 4 of Ghost Island, both in the player's actions, and the editing of the show itself. Plus Kellyn, Bradley, and a ranking of the seasons.
Episode 3: Never trust the cute blondes
Published: March 8, 2018
As the tribes change up their membership, Dan tracks which players' narratives also changed. The departing Morgan, obviously, and her trusted Libby, but also Chris, Domenick, and others. Plus, what fate has Libby foretold?
Episodes 1-2: That's how you start a season
Published: March 2, 2018
Dan laments the first two exits, praises the novel first IC, foresees looming doom for one player, a potential new winner pick, and talks alpha males, Domenick and Chris, and gives a tentative initial mixed grade for the Ghost Island twist.
Pre-season: Who will reach the top?
Published: February 6, 2018
Dan makes his pre-season contestant assessments for Survivor 36: Ghost Island, and finds large numbers of superfans make it more difficult to predict which ones will be successful.
Chapter 13: Secrets and leverage
Published: December 21, 2017
In his final Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers column, Dan assesses the outcome of the season, determines the archetypes of the final five contestants, and has some hot takes on the winner and runner-up, that F4 twist, and the next season, Ghost Island.
Pre-Episode 14: Jury Jeopardy - HvHvH
Published: December 18, 2017
The True Dork Times writers combine their predictive powers to forecast the voting preferences of the Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers jurors, with an eye to predicting the winner. And, of course, beating Inside Survivor, A Tribe of One, Purple Rock Podcast, and the RHAP bloggers at the same game.
Chapter 12: Contenders and champions
Published: December 14, 2017
Dan takes a parting look at Ashley's archetype and lots (lots!) of idols, then sorts the mere contenders from the potential champions heading into the season finale of Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers.
Chapter 11: Twists of fate
Published: December 8, 2017
Dan contrasts the balanced play of Lauren with Ben's chaotic turn, and with Mike's nothing-to-lose approach, as they collided in Episode 12 of Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers. Also some thoughts on the loved ones visit and what it tells us about where the season might end up.
Chapter 10: Deceptive arcs
Published: December 5, 2017
Dan argues that the story shows the rise of Devon and Ashley may be a red herring, why Lauren reminds him of Natalie White, and where the season may be heading after Episodes 10-11 of Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers.
Chapter 9: Scotch 'n' Survivor
Published: November 24, 2017
Dan takes a stream-of-consciousness, somewhat scotch-aided tour through the highs, the lows, and head-scratching-even-while-sober events of Episode 9 of Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers.
Chapter 8: The clues and the clueless
Published: November 16, 2017
Dan praises the secret feasts and the big discoveries by Lauren and Ryan, explores Cole's lack of gameplay, questions the tone of Ben's edit, and peers into the future beyond Episode 8 of Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers.
Chapter 7: The Love, the Queen, and the Fool
Published: November 10, 2017
Following the merge, Dan looks at Ben's and Lauren's decision as one between royalty and comic relief, notes the importance of the merge vote, and finds an underdog who might overcome the long odds of being on the wrong side of it.
Chapter 6: Good move, bad TV
Published: November 3, 2017
Dan laments the loss of Ali (for TV purposes), then gathers himself to project the post-merge likelihood of success for the remaining dozen players of Heroes v Healers v Hustlers.
Chapter 5: When a bad move looks good
Published: October 27, 2017
Dan takes a critical eye to Ryan's big move, and posits its long-term significance, and praises Ben's moment, Mike's find, and Chrissy's manipulation. He also holds out hope for an Ali comeback after the fifth episode of Heroes v Healers v Hustlers.
Chapter 4: A mini moral quandary
Published: October 20, 2017
Dan finds problems with three key characters, praise for three new couples, and a divided opinion on short-lived but luck-based twists, as in the fourth episode of Heroes v Healers v Hustlers.
Chapter 3: Stupidity as a plot device
Published: October 13, 2017
With horror shows on his Friday-the-13th mind, Dan praises the show's focus on ill-advised, bumbling gameplay, plus the surprisingly good showings of two previously overlooked contestants.
Chapter 2: Foolish innocence
Published: October 6, 2017
Dan looks at the importance to the narrative of people playing the roles of literary fools (of various types) in the second episode of Survivor: Heroes v Healers v Hustlers.
Chapter 1: A tale of two people(s)
Published: September 30, 2017
Dan takes time to pay tribute to the unfortunately undershown first one out of Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers, then looks in depth at the bevy of duos pairing up in the season premiere.
Pre-season: TDT Survivor: HHH contestant draft
Published: September 22, 2017
Pre-season: Heroes, fodder, and everyone else
Published: August 31, 2017
Dan takes a quick look at the pre-season cast member interviews for Survivor 35: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers, and attempts to predict, based on that, how well they'll fare in this season's game.
Epilogue: What is the moral of our story?
Published: June 5, 2017
Dan looks back at the narrative arcs of the Game Changers final six, evaluates Sarah's winning game and the new jury format, suggests some idol improvements, and looks ahead to next season.
Pre-Ep.14: Jury jeopardy S34
Published: May 23, 2017
The True Dork Times writers (Ben, Dan, Pat, Jeff) combine their prognosticatory powers to predict the outcome of the Game Changers jury vote. And beat RHAP, Inside Survivor, and Reality Blurred, of course.
Chapter 11: You can steal a vote, but not an advantage
Published: May 18, 2017
Dan reviews the games of the two departed, tries to divine the impact of the chaotic second Tribal, then examines the expected fates of Tai's idols and the remaining six contestants.
Chapter 10: Loyalty of the doomed
Published: May 11, 2017
Dan finds Sierra's loyalty ultimately led to her downfall, previews the three players he sees as most likely to depart in the next episode's double boot, and someone whose winner chances are rising.
Chapter 9: Battle of the heavyweights is upon us
Published: May 8, 2017
Dan examines Zeke's fall, Sierra's safety, Andrea's rise, and the looming battle for Final Tribal Council supremacy as the end of Game Changers draws ever closer.
Chapter 8: A descent into madness
Published: April 27, 2017
Dan laments Debbie's departure while praising the Pagonging reprieve, and ponders where this leaves Troyzan, Sarah, Sierra, Cirie, Michaela, and the Game Changers season as a whole.
Chapter 7: Stories emerging
Published: April 24, 2017
With two episodes and the merge reducing the cast down to a single tribe, Dan takes stock of where the remaining 11 contestants' stories could be headed in the remainder of the season.
Chapter 6: Intent vs. impact
Published: April 18, 2017
Dan takes a break from the story analysis to briefly touch on the events at Tribal Council, praise Zeke, and take a glimpse at the likely story after the upcoming merge.
Chapter 5: A little Survivor mythos
Published: April 7, 2017
Dan laments the end of the Queen's reign, looks at how lingering Survivor mythology has affected her and other people's games, and digs deep into the Exile winner visit.
Chapter 4: Wretches and queens (and a king)
Published: March 30, 2017
Or more accurately, a wretch, three queens, and a king, as Dan looks at thrones and groans from Episode 5 of Game Changers, "Dirty Deed." Plus a look ahead at the swap and idols galore.
Chapter 3: Why the past matters
Published: March 24, 2017
Dan examines the conflict between prior game reputation and twists that require snap decisions, as in the Malcolm-booting Tribal Council in this week's episode of Game Changers. Then he takes a brief look at a few rising and falling players.
Chapter 2: The old becometh the new
Published: March 17, 2017
Dan explores how some of the old players are finding new life... changing their games, even... in the "Survivor Jackpot" episode of Survivor: Game Changers.
Chapter 1: Change is in the air
Published: March 13, 2017
Dan delves into the first chapter of the contestants' character archetypes, and how they've changed, or not, from their previous form in the premiere of Survivor: Game Changers.
S34 cast: Stories past
Published: February 9, 2017
Leap into the game as Dan examines the character archetypes the Game Changers cast have previously represented, and forecasts their potential success in Season 34.
Published: January 17, 2017
A prologue, of sorts, in which Dan lays out the format and scope of his new column. Dan shares his background in writing and Survivor, and his plans for examining the narrative and characters of the upcoming Survivor season.