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Last night's drama was in my brain. The desktop will start up --- I'm posting from it right now --- it just took longer than I was used to, and I was nervous and impatient and didn't give it enough time last night.

So hopefully it will fly right! I'll have a bit of learning to trust again, but I'm already very relieved, and the mild embarrassment for my impatience is a lot better than the alternative of continued drama and running it back to town with heavy weather closing in.

Ahh, to hear DS Clock chiming again! (It's a little freeware thing; you can set it to ring the hours and chime the quarters like your computer is a grandfather clock.)

I haven't decided about my nighttime white noise, though. Usually I have an MP3 I play all night, but while the desktop was gone, I improvised by turning my old stereo on and tuning the FM dial to static. I got used to that; I might just stick with it.
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Computer drama continues. Finally got the call that the desktop was ready, made the drive and picked it up, brought it home --- and it won't start up. Call the shop again in the morning... (This place has always been good before, honest.) [ETA: forgot to note, my portable hard drive where I actually keep my stuff was pronounced healthy, so having that back is a big help at least.]

On the comic relief side, though, guilty admission... Stuff like this is my catnip. Not the show, mind, which I haven't seen (although apparently the same people made K, whose first episode left me very cold). Reviews like this. Catnip. And good laughs.

Some choice bits:

"The extent of how mind-numbingly bad Hand Shakers is kind of just leaves you stunned. It's not even the kind of bad that would make you angry. It mostly just makes you question your life decisions up until that point, and wonder if there's a slight gas leak in your apartment." -Bamboo Dong

"It shouldn't really be possible for anime, because of its low framerate, to start showing signs of horrible decision-making in the time it takes you to blink twice in disbelief. But [...]" -Jacob Chapman

"[T]hese color atrocities are generally accompanied by a sense of direction and composition inspired by the sensation of being tossed drunkenly out of a bar. The specificity of that inspiration is important - GoHands shows don't just look drunk, they look like they are drunk while falling down a set of stairs. The GoHands experience is like being beaten to death by a Lisa Frank trapper keeper." -Nick Creamer

And a bonus, from Anime Feminist's preview:

"[One character's] breasts frequently look like water balloons containing eels fighting desperately to escape their airless grave." -Amelia Cook

Gods, if I had internet access that could actually do streaming, I might just have to watch the damn thing.
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Desktop computer is still in the shop. Waiting for the shop to call is stressful.

I didn't so much decide as observe after the fact: I'm pretty much on news blackout right now. I can't help a certain amount coming in because my Dad watches it all the time, and I'm still trusting the internet to pass along anything hugely important, but it all feels really raw. Even news sources I would normally be aligned with aren't something I have spoons for at this point.

On the upside, I ordered myself some translated manga volumes so I'll be caught up on the English releases of Yona (which currently stand at vol. 3 of 22, thank goodness for scanlations), and to start giving my Natsume Yuujinchou collection some love again.

While I was looking at my manga collection and deciding for sure what I wanted, it struck me that I had the old TokyoPop volumes of Loveless and hadn't read them in years, and I figured I'd take a look and see if I still liked it enough to hang onto it or even catch up. Long story short, probably not. More under the cut with vague allusions to BDSM, underage, and general WTFery. )
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I'm having some computer trouble right now, but I still have my laptop so it hopefully shouldn't be debilitating. (Disruptive for me, but I can manage.)

Anyway, now that the new year has begun, my belated report on Christmas and timely report on Yuletide!

Christmas haul, plus fanfiction for Chalice by Robin McKinley, Legend of Zelda, and I can finally reveal my overachieving Yuletide assignment and squee about AKATSUKI NO YONA, OMG AKATSUKI NO YONA )
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A few notes beforehand:

My big Amazon Japan order shipped today and should be here by the end of the week.

I also found my cache of anime posters, in time for my (Unitarian) church changing out the art and putting up a poster exhibit, so I'm taking some in for consideration, including a few Rurouni Kenshin ones, the one Fushigi Yuugi poster I have left and like (it's a cast pic, chibi, in a hat), and the Symphony of the Night wall scroll [ profile] kumpania gave me back when.

When I went to church yesterday, I also finally tried the sushi restaurant in that town, but sadly, it was disappointing. They unnecessarily covered the rolls in sauces, and used some kind of shredded krab with mayonnaise instead of stick-style krab---and put so much of it in the tempura shrimp roll that the pieces were clumsily large and the tempura was overshadowed. It was still tasty, but for sushi? Not that good. Well, now I know...

But anyway, today I finished Kemono no Souja Erin, and I enjoyed it very much and recommend it highly. Just to reiterate, it can be viewed online here, and now that I've seen the whole thing I can say that that fanvid trailer, while it focuses on the second half and you wouldn't know from it just how domestic most of the series is, gives a pretty good idea of what the show is about.

If I were to make any complaints, the overlapping categories of "depiction of psychological states" and "recycled footage" sometimes go a bit too far, and especially toward the end the effects are perhaps wearing thin. The epilogue (as in the last ten minutes or so after the story is resolved showing what the characters go on to do etc) was underdone. The villain is also so oozingly obvious from the very first time he shows up that it's a wonder more of the other characters don't see right through him. Toward the end there are also some minor attacks of CGI pop-out*, nothing too bad.

But those are mere quibbles. I won't try to deal with the plot here (see the fanvid trailer), but I loved the combination of the domestic and the epic, and in particular, the beasts who are so crucial to the story (Touda, the armored assault vehicles of the animal world, and Ohjuu, the giant wolf-eagle things that snap Touda in half) are shown as an uncommonly appropriate mix of lovable and dangerous. The depiction of psychological states---particularly the brightly-colored, semi-abstracted "panic vision" that you'll see in the very first sequence, kind of a discretion shot without actually cutting away---was, yes, milked too hard on occasion, especially later on, but very effective most of the time (I particularly recall a time a character was injured and his viewpoint took on that style). I also like that that oozingly obvious villain is probably the only named character I would peg as outright evil---there's a right side and a wrong side, but a good deal of room in between and off to the sides, and most people are neither all good nor all bad and end up where they are through at least somewhat respectable differences (or being just pretty messed up, as in the case of the Poisons teacher with the paranoia-inducing habit of handing out candy). There are also quite a few women who talk to each other all the time, only rarely about men. Romance in general tends to be low-key but satisfying (and there is a stone-faced prettyboy for ladies like me to enjoy; dang, if he'd just gotten more than a yellow-colored portrait shot in the epilogue, I probably would have been satisfied...).

BTW, the series is based on novels by Uehashi Nahoko, who, as previously mentioned, also wrote the novels behind Moribito---I also watched the four episodes of it available on Crunchyroll; it looked promising, and the rest is on Netflix Instant View, so yeah... I'm starting to think, btw, that if an anime was adapted from fantasy novels to air on NHK, this may be a good sign in general (being true of Kemono no Souja Erin and Moribito, as well as The Twelve Kingdoms; makes me wonder what else...).

PS: ...Green-haired "mist people" who guard a secret art for controlling fantastical creatures... Why does that part seem so familiar...? ^_~

*Not related to Kemono no Souja Erin, but mentioning CGI pop-out reminded me of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, where I thought that was actually harnessed to good effect on Envy's giant monster form (yeah, something about the way that looks and moves just seems like it doesn't belong in the world you're seeing it in; in that case, that feeling seemed entirely appropriate).


Jan. 1st, 2011 12:50 am
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Happy New Year everyone! My family has a tradition of not really ringing in the new year at all, but tonight I'm listening to NPR's special and had wine and cheese at midnight. (Wine is an issue at our house, but Mom and I had hidden some mini-bottles of Sauvignon Blanc for cooking and I drank one; I still can't help making a face when I drink almost any alcohol, but I still just want to every great now and again... And of course, because I never have it, 187ml might be making me disproportionately silly...)

Since Christmas, I've kind of fallen off doing everything, including writing and blogging, so I'll have to get my act together... For now, though, I'll just keep it to notes I can dash off quickly.

Still loving Kemono no Souja Erin; watched too much of it today, but hey, special occasion.

My favorite Let's Player is posting again; hoping that holds.

I also gave myself some serious sticker shock yesterday by spending the money I had gotten for Christmas and a bit more at Amazon Japan on stuff I just love even though I can barely read it... With the exchange rate and express trans-Pacific shipping, it worked out to about $15 per book, which isn't so bad for books these days, but when it's a dozen of them, you can do the math. Sticker shock, yeah... But I got essentially two, technically three entire Manga series. "After 0" by Okazaki Jiro is like a Twilight-Zone-esque series of Sci-Fi one-shots that was occasionally featured in Mangajin Magazine back in the day (I had a subscription toward the end of its run and still miss it, but the After 0 stories are what stuck with me most)---I had a few tankoubon already, but it was just re-released in a new "definitive edition," so I just got the whole new set, plus the two "After 0 Neo" volumes. I also got the two volumes of "Sarusuberi," a Manga about the life of Hokusai, which I wanted after seeing it featured in "Kingyo Used Books." And then, because such an order just wouldn't feel complete without the aspirational cherry on top (something even more fascinatingly impenetrable than manga), there was this, and I want you all to know that I didn't just get it because the cover looks cool and it involves a fox; I got it because the cover looks cool, it involves a fox, and it's by the author of the novels on which Kemono no Souja Erin is based. (Moribito is based on another series of hers, the first two volumes of which were translated into English, so I'll have to check those out when I get the chance, too.)

And that kind of took me beyond "dashing off quick notes"... I want to stay up another hour, until it's 2011 where Jessie and Jo are, but I'll wrap this up with one last thing:

New Years Resolutions:
-Finish the Mirrorverse.
-Limit Soda Intake to 2 cans/24 oz per day.
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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. )
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Been feeling under the weather the past few days, but I don't know if I'm actually sick or if I'm adjusting to the dry furnace air of winter. I'm not actually congested, but my nose and throat are kind of dry-feeling and itchy and gunked up; when it makes me cough, it's not that there's any kind of obstruction, just that there's a tickle. It's really annoying. I spent yesterday lounging around watching MST3Ks and have been hitting the diet soda kind of hard, but I don't know if it's helping...

Writing is inching along, not yet to the point I feel like posting more, though. (Right now something is on the very brink of hitting a fan in a big way.)

I did start to feel like watching something again, and I did finish that first episode of Hero Tales, but it continued to not click. I should eventually give it more of a chance, but I remain mystified that the manga would draw me in and the anime would push me away so well; my current theory is that it's basically schlock and only in the manga did Arakawa have enough creative control to salvage it. The realization that our standard-issue-hotheaded-hero-whom-I-have-no-particular-affection-for has Rakushun's voice served only to remind me that there are better ways to get a fantasy-China anime fix than this. Heck, I still have Saiunkoku Monogatari in the queue and have always heard good things about it.

For now, however, I put it off and started watching Kemono no Souja Erin (I had the Static-Subs fansubs stashed away and am watching those, but the whole thing is now free to watch online here). I'm only five episodes in, so I understand it hasn't gotten into the thick of it yet, but I'm really enjoying it so far. It reminds me a little of Princess Arete (fansubbed movie I enjoyed) in that both are fairy tale fantasies focused on precocious young girls, and both have a look and a storytelling style that suggests a young target audience, despite the fact that neither of them is so much with pulling punches. Not sure how well this would actually float with kids, but I like it.
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Today we went to the old college town then backtracked for more shopping in the smaller and more familiar state capital where my church is. I had one last library book to return (having scanned the one story I needed out of it for when and if I get back to my project of watching and reviewing Aoi Bungaku) which necessitated the trip, but after offering holiday cards (offer still open, look in my recent entries), I realized I didn't have any, and the hippie-inflected downtown area seemed like the perfect place to find good ones; indeed the first place I went, the peaceworks store, had something just lovely.

As for the rest, I'm trying to avoid buying even books and things I would otherwise want until after Christmas, and most of what makes it onto my wishlist isn't in stores anyway (Christmas convinced me to wait on Ooku #4; I told myself if they had Hero Tales #2 I'd get it, but I've only seen that in a store like one time...). Eating out choices were, as usual, reduced to the least common denominator of a crummy buffet.

Tomorrow I go to the dentist, which I'm looking forward to because one of the coil springs in my braces has rotated just wrong so that the end of it will hook the inside of my lip without liberal application of wax, and if I eat anything I have to bite off (like a sandwich), the said wax will be pushed out of place resulting in less pain than it sounds like, but still somehow an appetite-killing ordeal.

On a random note, the other day I finally did try going back to Hulu and watching Hero Tales, but actually I didn't make it through the first episode; not sure why. The first volume of the manga seems kind of schlocky, like as though someone said to themself "I think I'll create a shonen series of limited scope" and proceeded to competently do so, but there's some kind of emergent magic (to say "alchemy" would be cruel in this context) that just isn't there. (Let's see, so far, the hero is a standard issue hothead who I have no particular affection for, his sister has a kind of slapsticky power but doesn't rise to the awesomeness common to FMA's women... Oh, here's a bit-villain psycho lesbian who apparently doesn't wash her hair, that's certainly creative...) I still like the manga enough that I want to see it play out (see above), but somehow the anime, with the popping veins and the spurting black blood and the ridiculous thrown-through-stone-walls fight scene as the very first thing that happens, came across as much dumber. I should go back some other time and give it another chance... But I might want to read the comic first.

It might also be the mood I've been in. For as voracious as I was not long ago, I just don't feel like watching or otherwise consuming much of anything. Back when I was that voracious, I liked to think that it was a charging process and would eventually enable an output phase, and now I might like to think that has come to pass, but...

Writing has been slower than I'd like. However, I do have something done since last post, so here it goes...

Miboshi's viewpoint; ick. )


Apr. 7th, 2010 07:56 pm
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Dad went off on one of his Confederate apologetics kicks. Not as disgusting at that phrase might imply, but enough that I'm now steaming mad and don't have anything to do about it. Grr...
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(crossposted to LJ)

First, an overdue housekeeping note for the folks on LJ, and I apologize if this is rude, again. Crossposting everything from DW, it pretty much felt like I was on LJ anyway, and LJ just isn't agreeing with me. I wanted to get back to the unselfconsciousness I had when I first moved, so I'm no longer crossposting by default, only when I actively choose to. In the past week I also had a linkblogging project of going through the whole Castlevania series via online playthroughs and I figured it would bore everyone but me anyway... If you want to take a look over there, remember I also set it to allow anonymous commenting (I think; let me know if it gives you trouble), so you could comment over there as easily as possible.


I am completely uninterested in the Olympics. Of course, I've been this way for probably fifteen years or so. When I was at University and even more of a Japanophile than I am now (maybe I should get out my old one or make a new "cranky old Japanophile" userpic) they had the Winter games in Nagano, and even that didn't make the Olympics remotely interesting to me. Stephen Colbert couldn't even make them interesting to me on his own show.

On the upside, if Dad watches the Olympics all evening, it might actually be a good thing to try to break my Olbermann/Maddow habit. I've been flirting with politics fatigue, but the habit is hard to break...
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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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The new bed is supposed to be arriving today, finally, which led to some drama about what to do with the old futon in this overstuffed slide-puzzle of a house; only when moving it into the living room proved utterly untenable was that plan abandoned, and I still couldn't talk them into just having the furniture people haul it away... There's a chance they might not make it today due to weather, in which case I'll have to figure out where to sleep until they do, but it'll be fine.

Anyway, continuing the walk through the Castlevania timeline via online playthroughs, I've decided to take it century by century, and so today we have the Fourteen-Hundreds---before Transylvania discovered witch trials, but no need to go into that...

This brings us first to one of the old-school classics, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (1476). This was probably the moment when the series first began expanding from the episodic and infinitely-rehashed adventures of Simon (the only non-Simon game released before it was The Castlevania Adventure, and it didn't become entirely clear that its hero was not Simon until Belmont's Revenge came out later) into the elaborate mythos we know today, and was also the first to branch out into different kinds of playable characters. Many of its concepts have been shuffled around a lot since, but at any rate it introduced us to Trevor Belmont, Alucard (who would be much more important and awesome later), Sypha Belnades (founder of a heroic lineage to rival the Belmonts themselves), and some pirate guy. I kid Grant... ^_^; It also had incredibly awesome music for an NES game, just want to mention.

First, I feel like I should include the cinematic intro; written by a third-grader as it may appear, it's still classic. As for the rest, I turn this time to Tom Votava's runs at Speed Demos Archive (ETA: Since writing, Tom Votava's times have been beaten by Josh Ballard). The downsides are that the dialogue scenes do get rushed (they're all there but worrying the pause button might help in reading them fully) and he doesn't use Sypha much at all. On the other hand, all four endings are included in full unhurried glory, and he exploits Alucard and Grant in ways that can be fun to watch; the first time Grant climbed up through the status area to take a short cut I was like "He can't do that! Can he??" For this kind of old-school game, the sacrifices for speed don't detract from the experience the way they do with a newer, story-heavy type of game.

As for reactions, well, what can I say about this? It's one of those things I take for granted, a matter of course, but especially an old-school game like this, I take its depiction of events as a rough sketch and feel free to finesse things and improvise around it.

But speaking of newer, story-heavy games, there is one more entry from this era, far more recent but a direct story-sequel to CV3, Curse of Darkness (1479). I'm flying blind here because I haven't watched it. I have this playthrough by Rodriguezjr filed away to watch, but I'm currently resting up before I do so because, er... I expect this to hurt. A lot. (Not that I expect it's a bad game, but the story is pretty much certain to cause me some dissonance issues and I'm not the best at dealing with that kind of thing.) On the upside, when I manage it, then this will probably become even more hilarious than it is now. And any reactions should wait until then.

ADDENDA: Curse of Darkness had a preorder manga by Ayami Kojima, which helps it make more sense as the game throws you en medias res. Vampire Killer has a translated version (which reads Western-style, left-to-right; I got all confused... ^_^;). There's also another prologue manga of two volumes by Kou Sasakura, available in translated form from TokyoPop. I have it but I've only read the first half.

ADDENDA 2: Okay, I have now watched the playthrough; it hurt about as much as I expected, and I concluded that the thing is essentially bad fanfiction. By and large, not canon in my CV universe; it is possible that Hector and Isaac exist in some capacity, but the events of the game certainly don't happen.
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Dang; we're having some winter weather and not much expecting clear skies tonight...
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Howard Zinn passed away yesterday.

As a radical and influential progressive historian, he was a hero of mine. He will be missed.
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I knew what I wanted to write about but kept not getting around to it, but it's been a few days so I wanted to do it before I go to bed.

Speaking of, I'm getting a new bed. We just needed a mattress set, and it's a nice one. I'm looking forward to it; the futon is wearing pretty thin...

Tomorrow we're going to visit Jessie, and I'll get my braces adjusted (cue up another week of eating gingerly against the soreness), and a haircut, which I'm seriously needing. I think I'm going to cut it back like 6-8"; I'd still have a respectable ponytail even then.

But anyway, blabbering topics from the title!

I did start FF1 over again; figured I'd better do it before I got in too far, and invested an afternoon in more-than-catching up. As I said, I changed out the black mage for a black belt, and it's working very nicely. BM's attacks burned up so fast I tended to be sparing with them, but it meant he was a load the vast majority of the time; now the party is load-free, and it just feels more pleasant. I also have to grind out gold for only two mages instead of three, and the magic prices in that game are utterly insane, so this matters. The embarrassing part... I'm at the Marsh Cave and I still haven't fully decided whether my black belt is a boy or a girl. I named her/him Haru, which could probably go either way (especially in a fantasy world). I think I want a girl, but I'll just have to make a special effort to picture her that way. (White mage has always read as a girl, although none of the sprites are all that gender-specific when you come right to it.)

Randomly FF-related, this is cool.

So the black belt has the nunchucks, and as for the other... It's the Castlevania fanfic again. I'm still just making stuff up and kind of summarizing it in this big text file while I try to figure out what to do about it, but I was thinking about what I have there and... God forgive me, I did it! I stuffed a woman in a refrigerator!!! ^0^;; And I still like the story idea...

It's not like Castlevania didn't hand me enough of them already, either, for me to need to make one up myself. That is one kind of problem I had getting sucked back into this after my stint in comics feminism, is I'm back in a series full of distressed damsels, evil succubi, fridge-women, and just plain woman-free games. I could probably wring a Bechdel test pass out of a few of them (does it count if Mina and Yoko are implied to have talked to each other at some prior point in time...?), but a small minority.

In some cases I kind of feel like it's dragging me down with it, like the mentioned woman in the refrigerator (Alucard's; that "mustn't get close; cursed blood" thing? He didn't make that up by himself.), the trouble with a reincarnation romance being that (since in this case it seems thus directional) the guy becomes literally the reason the girl exists, etc... In other cases though, I daresay I'm finding ways to resist. When I invent a whole new scenario to add, I tend toward heroines. While the women in refrigerators I was handed are still women who died as part of a male character's story, I've tried in various ways to give them some agency, that they made their own choices that brought them to that pass or didn't actually play along with the guy's story so easily (sadly I have not yet really managed this with the one I myself added; the idea really hinges on her being a total innocent victim). And the reincarnation romance thing, I also imagine that as a choice, and it's not like the women are broken up and incomplete in the absence of the respective men. (Since I mentioned in a previous entry having done this with Alucard and Maria, er, him without her is orders of magnitude more pathetic than her without him; when he went back to his eternal sleep, she did always want another chance, but she also got over the loss and got on with her life.)

But being in the grip of one of my story-obsessions, it's really hard for me to say if I'm doing okay; it's so tempting to rationalize, and I don't think the whole "women in refrigerators" meme was ever meant as a "never ever do this or you fail at writing and decency forever" kind of thing, but would I think so much of this if it was someone else doing it...?

Unrelated, but amid all my other crises of confidence, I'm unsure of my ability to pull off a suitable Castlevania mood; I mean, I've always had problems drawing monsters in a way that they aren't, um... cute. Probably manageable, tho...

But in general, it's like I'm stuck in this uncomfortable space of a) being totally obsessed with something while b) not knowing if it's worthwhile to even do. Once when I was young, that doubt would hardly have occurred to me (or it was presented to me consciously but I had the strength not to internalize it)---although I don't know how often I did get beyond summaries and snippets or actually show people anything (I was scared to death of people seeing my fanfic when I was a kid; Jessie can probably tell you how neurotic I was), so maybe it's not really so different... Having come to assume an internet full of assholes as the potential audience doesn't help, but it's full of nice, fun, understanding people, too, as I should well know. Of course, maybe this is all just excuses for being lazy, too, then I could really beat myself up...

Just mucking around with the story, though, finding ways that little game-trivia details or things I didn't think would fit can work in nicely... It's just so much fun.
foxinthestars: cute drawing of a fox (Default)
First thing, I don't know her (many apologies if the pronoun is wrong), but [personal profile] branchandroot is by all appearances awesome. She posted the invite code that I used, she made the layout I picked, and when I curiously looked at her journal she was holding forth about the worthiness of fanfic in its own right and the epic fail that is JK Rowling's treatment of the Other. If I wasn't so shy and not still wanting to get myself settled before bringing friends here, I would glomp her. (I did put her on my reading page; OMG she friended me!)

(And then---before she friended me---I went and looked at her profile to make sure as best I could that she wasn't actually my ex. Yes, I am still that fucked up; I finally gave up Lolcats partly out of paranoia that one day it would be her (formerly our) cats there, suspicion of any cats in any house that looked like maybe it could be... I did run into my ex under a new username on LJ recently and had a bit of a meltdown and went running to cry to my sister, and she is part of what's pushing me away from LJ, since we had so many friends in common and trying to disentangle the whole thing is just too much... Maybe giving myself permission to self-defensively hate on her at least for awhile wouldn't have been so bad, but I'm shy about being a bad guy to start with and with mutual friends all around, there wasn't any space for it...)

Anyway, yesterday was Christmas of course, so I thought I'd post about what I got. My high-dollar gift was a Wacom Intuos pad which I had been drooling over for some time. My old Graphire was pretty grubby. With the artist's block, I don't know if I'll be using this as much as I perhaps should, but it's still awesome. I should try out the different nibs in the pen; finding those was like the crowning moment of "this thing is so cool!"

I also got the last game I needed to complete my Metrovania collection (Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin; I still need to finish Ecclesia---taking a hiatus at Dracula's doorstep, not a good thing, but sometimes it goes that way---and play Dawn of Sorrow. I loved Aria so much I really should see those characters' further adventures...). Unfortunately, there was a mixup where Jessie (Sis) got it for me, told Mom, Mom forgot, and I ended up with two copies of it, and I opened the one from Mom first. The Amazon seller Mom got from doesn't have a great return policy either (20% restocking fee at best), so I'll probably just say screw it and trade it in at Hastings or something. Even so, I wasn't too worried about it, I'm just sorry because Jessie felt bad.

Mom also got me Fullmetal Alchemist 21, which I'd been having trouble finding, and a Castlevania necklace like this, plus some candy and stuff. It was nice.

(BTW, I also had been a brat and bought these for myself. You know what I'm obsessed with... It's my OTP and everything! In my fanfic universe, I brought her back from the dead so they could be together and I don't care how cheesy it is!)

I was really more excited about getting things for other people than receiving things, though. I ended up picking out most of the gifts for Mom, including a glass rolling pin and a good pair of shoes (SAS Jewel in Black; I have it in my head that SAS are the best shoes, and when I told the shoe store clerk as much, she just said "Oh, they are."), and she really liked those. Dad liked the DVDs I got him (In Living Color season 1). I got it stuck in my head that I wanted to get Jessie a PSP, and I did, with a memory card and a game (Castlevania Dracula X Chronicles; I've corrupted her with my CV-fannish ways---the necklace made her jealous---and it seems like an obvious choice but actually I went back and forth for a good while about what game to get. If I'd found a copy of the first Disgaea it probably would have been that, but I didn't. Williams Pinball Hall of Fame didn't seem like a good only game to have, and God of War: Chains of Olympus lost out only because I wanted to give it ready to play right away---that turned out not to be possible---and thought Castlevania would be more parent-friendly, especially given that certain thing that always seems to happen toward the beginning of a God of War game...). Getting it for her made me happy, but I worry that I messed it up by being too extravagant and made her feel bad. She has important uses for her money (important to me, too, because I love her and I know how important it is for her) and can't do things like that. I just hope she enjoys it.

All for now!


foxinthestars: cute drawing of a fox (Default)

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