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We were so overcast last night that I missed the lunar eclipse. I don't know how much of it I would have stayed up for anyway, but when I went out to check the visibility around midnight or one, I couldn't see a thing.

I've gotten pretty caught up in Kemono no Souja Erin (currently on ep 13) and am still very much enjoying it. I also remembered, probably part of what bumped it up to the top of the queue was awhile back randomly running into this: a fanvid trailer for the series which manages to make it look completely awesome. (The creator had initially done a parody of setting the soundtrack of Eragon's trailer to Erin footage; I haven't read or seen Eragon, but watching the two vids together makes it look much more shallow and trite, whether it really is or whether the pros have a shallow and trite idea of what appeals to people in a trailer---I suspect the latter is true in any case.)

I also went off (and am not yet done) on reading old-school Shoujo, trying to look up artists from the Year 24 Group and such. I'd never actually read Riyoko Ikeda before, but with this read Oniisama E and Claudine; after finding Andromeda Stories at the library awhile back, there was a bit more Keiko Takemiya, and I found some pretty amazing Hagio Moto short pieces. Like my first time reading Astro Boy or when I found Andromeda Stories, it was really fascinating to get this feeling like, oh, all this more recent stuff I've enjoyed, now I can see what's underneath that it's resting on---especially with Ikeda (although Oniisama E was downright over the top sometimes---once I broke myself up badly by literalizing one of those depictions of emotion into a MST comment: "She didn't even look at me once!" "That strips my clothes off and shatters my pelvis!"). However, since this also got me into some vintage shonen/shoujo-ai, it was also like DAMMIT MANGA LESBIANS, STOP DYING! Now I really feel bad about Mirrorverse Takiko... -_-;;

Speaking of the Mirrorverse, I haven't posted more draft of it in like a week now. I have only been inching along (maybe get through the holidays and then try to shape up), but it's enough to post, even if it is in the middle of things, so here goes:

Things are getting bad. )

Hero Tales

Nov. 15th, 2010 12:17 am
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I recently found that Hero Tales is on Hulu, and I've been meaning to watch it, but NaNo is displacing watching much of anything from my schedule, so I just have it filed away for later...

I was looking because a few weeks earlier I had snagged the first volume of the manga at a particularly well-stocked B&N and enjoyed it, but it may not be so much that it's all that good as that I'm a sucker for astronomy-themed destined adventures in fantasy-historical China settings (some evidence suggests, anyway), I am currently willing to buy anything with Hiromu Arakawa's name on it (someday she might blow it, but that day has not yet come), and, I'm woman enough to admit, it does help a series for me when it includes a male character whom I find hot (Ryuukou in this case).

That's all for now...
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So I did finish FMA Brotherhood, and yes, it was awesome. I think [ profile] kumpania lending me .hack//SIGN reminded me how wonderful anime was after I hadn't watched much for some time. But the way this past week went, yes, it's wonderful, but I need to either get some self-control or be careful about going there...

(BTW, before anyone jumps in, I currently have no plans to watch the first series' FMA Nazi movie, so don't worry about that.)

While I'm posting, I'll link a couple choice bits out of the online comics I've been poking around.

First is MYth by Zelda Wang. It's a shoujo-inflected Greek Mythology adaptation; I read the first two arcs and liked it a lot.

Then one from the scanlation site: Adventure Boys by Mitsuru Adachi. Poking around the site, I was interested in the more adult genres (seinen and josei vs. shounen and shoujo), and I like more understated kind of stories that still have an element of fantastic wonder, and this fits that description well. It's a series of self-contained stories with shared themes of adult men having some kind of encounter with their own youth.

And finally, actual art, and maybe a consolation prize for the folks I've been standing up this past week on the Castlevania front (see first paragraph), another ATC with a cat, but this time the cat is not alone. This is Maria from Rondo of Blood (I started with her original Rondo costume and tweaked it to be a little more period).

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I have got to get myself off of watching video game playthroughs online; I'm just wasting too much time on it. The only one left that I can claim some reason to do it is Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, so I finally did start watching it.

I guess what I've heard said about it is bearing out, as far as one can tell by watching. The combat system does look like fun, but it's like they made the environments huge thinking that it would impart an epic feel, but it actually imparts a lot of time running down passages with nothing much happening.

Of course myself, I'm interested in the story, and so far I'm not warming up to it so much. Let's see, they started out by making the ending of CV3 retroactively suck (turns out "Dracula's Curse" refers to something that started, not ended, with Trevor & Co's quest), and so far Hector isn't a terribly likable hero. He shows up ranting about the dead girlfriend the player knows nothing about and REVENGE!, and his conversation with Isaac goes something like:
H: My old powers are horrible and evil and I will never ever use them!
I: You can't wreak bloody vengeance on me without them.
H: Oh. Well, okay I will then.
I: Did I mention I'm playing you like a violin with this whole revenge thing?
H: Fine, whatever, I'll take the bait.
This is how the game first starts, and it needs one or more prologue manga to render the respective motivations meaningful.

Speaking of the said manga, I've only read the first half of the Kou Sasakura one available from TokyoPop, and I'll just say one of the problems I had with it was also Hector's unlikability (when a nun and a young boy are menaced by a werewolf, he sits around on his ass for awhile before finally foisting responsibility for his actions onto the twelve-year-old. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen).

There's also the much shorter preorder manga by Ayami Kojima (translated at Vampire Killer), which does the job short and sweet and pretty effectively (though perhaps not so coherently), but not enough to make it all good, if anything could... (This game in general is also perhaps the worst moment of Castlevania putting the history of witch hunting through a sausage-grinder, but that ought to be par for the course, really...)

Each of those manga got me onto more general thoughts about comics and manga. The first one because, well... It's just kind of mediocre crud, from what I saw. Part of my "cranky old Japanophile" designation is that I do like J-Pop and manga and such, but I will readily acknowledge that if manga is less liable to Sturgeon's Law ("90% of everything is crud") than American comics, it's not by a wide margin. On the manga shelves in bookstores, it's hard to find anything that looks good. Where I think the difference comes in is that with manga, the good 10% is a part of the mainstream where in American comics, the good 10% is apart from the mainstream. This almost makes it more of a pain from my end to find the good manga, because it's mixed in with all the rest as opposed to being uniquely "indie", but in terms of economics for the creators I'm sure it's more than worth it.

As for what the Kojima one got me thinking, well, I'm embarrassed to admit that when I read that Vampire Killer translation, I was reading the pages backward, being so used to reading manga right-to-left, and it took several pages before I realised I was doing it wrong. So it isn't as incoherent as it first seemed, but not so coherent that the mistake was immediately clear. In this case it's understandable, given the amount of story that was necessarily being done in a short space, but, well, awhile back talking about medium and disbelief, I remarked that comics can get away with a lot between panels, but a fairly common problem I have when reading comics is them trying to get away with too much, such that it starts to feel like just a jumble of images and text. For awhile I was a sucker for Koge-Donbo's cutesy style (I think I'm over it now), but those books seemed pretty prone to the problem. And it's not like I can't comprehend a story out of it, it just gets a subjective sort of whirlwind feeling that I don't like. I wonder what the difference really is that I'm feeling there...
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The bed was successfully delivered! It's definitely different (and taller than I expected) but I don't think I'll have much trouble getting used to it... ^_~

As for "adult content," I was musing on the absurdity of how people freak out about certain things. One example is from Castlevania, and I was telling Jessie about it the other day: I've been playing (via emulator) the Saturn version of SotN, and I know just enough Japanese to be dangerous. Among all the crazy food and beverage healing items the enemies can drop was (in the American version) "Barley Tea." Oh, how distinctively Japanese, I thought. Only in the actual Japanese, that item isn't Barley Tea at all; it's Beer (You can kind of tell if you look at the stuff; I'm also thinking the "Green Tea" looks a heckuva lot like sake, but time will tell). Clearly, beer was something an American audience could not handle. From what my Suikoden fan friends told me at the time, "tea" was a popular euphemism in the PSX era. This has actually gotten better since the '90s, though; I guess enough gamers grew up that the old "video games are for kids" idea fell apart. Like in Okami, all the sake is uncensored. (Which is good; if they had made you subdue Orochi with "tea," I would have lost it, I swear.)

(There's actually a funny little story about this; in my first University semester of Japanese, we had a lesson on how to say "This is X." "Is it Y?" "Yes/No." One of the examples was "This is barley tea." I was supposed to ask my partner if it was something, and they answer yes or no; the assumed question was "Osake desu ka?" (is it alcohol?), but no one had told us whether barley tea was alcoholic, so I decided to ask a question where the answer was totally clear and said "Yasai desu ka?" (is it a vegetable?) Sensei was like "wtf?" and explained to us that barley tea is not alcohol, but perhaps my uncertainty was understandable...)

I was also re-reading the first two Finder volumes the other day, and was musing on, if I were to lend them out, how to warn/explain that, while the story is not about genitals, you will see some? It's like there's this virgin/whore dichotomy of art; the idea that something would show you a penis without being smut seems somehow edgy or overly-sophisticated. Which is weird; genitals are part of human life and sometimes they figure into things, with or without sex as such (which also just figures into life in all kinds of ways). Some indie comics are really good about this (Finder, as mentioned, also Blankets, although that probably does mean the library shouldn't have shelved it as "YA"); it's just strange and sad that only little cultural niches would get past that kind of thing.

And finally, today's installment of Castlevania playthrough links brings us to the Fifteen-Hundreds and the adventures of Christopher Belmont, who was hapless enough to have IDW make a comic book about him, but let's not talk about that, shall we...? -_-;;

Christopher's exploits began with The Castlevania Adventure (or is it Castlevania: The Adventure? Either way, 1576). As mentioned yesterday, it wasn't even clear that this game was about Christopher when it came out, and now I have proof that even Konami didn't know: in Kurt Kalata's review at The Castlevania Dungeon, he brings us this choice morsel of gaming ephemera. If anybody at Konami knew that wasn't Simon, they didn't tell the folks in Marketing. But we with our priveleged hindsight know that it was Christopher! We also know that this game is widely considered a bitch. I bring it to you in two flavors:

First, it's time to revisit Let's Player FreezingInfernos for his run through the game. This is what I watched myself, but I don't want to leave it at that because, well, after stage one... He cheated. Some rom-hacking wizard has apparently created a patch to translate the power-ups into standard Castlevania language, make Chris move at a reasonable speed, and let him keep his whip upgrades when he gets hit, rendering the game significantly easier/more playable. (When Chris's trailing leg is furthest from the camera it still looks like a spaghetti noodle, however.)

So for the straight version, how about... Full Color? (This one's not a playlist, but the other installments are linked in the video description.) Sadly we in the States didn't get the "Konami GameBoy Collection" releases, but that's what this is, in a perfect run by ArekTheAbsolute, who might just be psycho.

But why settle for mere Turner-esque colorization when you can have a complete, lush, shiny, still-brand-new-smelling remake?? That's right, just the last few months have brought us Castlevania: The Adventure Rebirth. And there's a full playthrough of it on YouTube already, courtesy Rodriguezjr. Ahh, modernity...

Christopher's first quest brought him fifteen years of peace, but then, the plot thickened (as in there's a plot now) and congealed into Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge (1591), wherein Chris is generally believed to have improved with age, walking a little faster, not bleeding whip upgrades like a sieve, and able to use some special weapons.*

The intro text scroll will fill you in on the now-existent plot, and allow me to make a couple of asides regarding Christopher's son. Firstly, his name should read "Soleil"---in fact the Konami GameBoy Collection (released in Europe) does render it that way. "Soleiyu" is some good old-fashioned transliteration fail, but when you hear how that's pronounced in French, you can understand how it happened. All of a sudden, it makes sense, and there's even a multilingual pun in that Chris named his son French for "sun." We don't see that much of Soleil, but he's significant in a couple of other ways, speaking here in terms of game-release order. He was the series' first canon "damsel in distress," preceded only by Simon's non-canon bride in Haunted Castle (more on it tomorrow). Soleil was also the first proper case of a mind-controlled/loyalty-challenged friend or loved one, a complication that would later become something of a series trademark.

But, playthroughs! One last time we revisit FreezingInfernos, who is much happier this time than last, and engages in some amusing hijinx before it's done. Also, all but the first video is again on the Konami GB collection, so it's in color, and you will see the ending call him "Soleil." So, for the straight version, we'll go classic black-and-white, with this run by UnitedVirusX (again, not available in a playlist that I can find; you'll just have to follow the trail through the "related videos" links); this way you can see the American version of the text---the ending at least is a bit different, and not only for spelling it "Soleiyu."

Generally, Christopher isn't one I've put a whole lot of thought into, I admit, so on the "my reactions" front I'm a bit indifferent. In my fanfic universe, I have actually considered axing Adventure and saying that only Revenge happened (Chris thought he dodged the family-destiny bullet, but no!), but I'm not sure I'd really be doing that for any particular reason, so why mess with it...?

* The weird thing is, the IDW comic ("The Belmont Legacy") has a scene of him getting the special weapons---for Adventure, in which game he does not use them. It might have been more interesting to use the scene to explain why he didn't have them that time, and any geeks who caught onto the reference/accuracy might enjoy it (or maybe it's just me that would do or enjoy that sort of thing), but who am I kidding, nothing could have saved that drek...
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I have Graphic Novels I can hardly read because they just make me cry too much. In a good way, but...

I love Blankets, and I've read all or at least the vast majority of it, but never straight through and certainly never in one sitting because it makes me cry too bad. (Also it's really long, but mostly the crying thing.)

The "Talisman" book of Finder, oh god...

But for some reason the worst is Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O'Malley. That one, I don't really even know how (or whether) it goes; every time I try to read it, I open it up, skim around it a little, am reduced to a bawling wreck, and have to put it away.

Some of them it's like there's so much force in them that I have trouble reading them calmly straight through and just bounce around them until I can assemble a fairly complete composite view of the story (what happened with Blankets). But then there are some that are too much even for that... I don't always know why.
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I just spent several hours reading all of Kid Radd. My socks have been rocked.

(My browser started intermittently cutting out at the worst possible time, but thankfully it came back before long...)

Go. Read. You know, when you have time.

(I think I need to find some bad comics to read so I won't feel intimidated by the glow of awesomeness... ^_~;; )


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