Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Opinions: Sometimes I Have Them.

I don't know how this line of thought crossed my mind... I probably shouldn't think so much while I'm in the shower. But I was thinking a lot about the anime "Baccano!". If you haven't watched it yet, stop what you're doing and go watch it right now. You have no excuse for having not watched this series. It's fantastic beyond belief. Especially if your into mafia stories and crazy antics. It has a very non-linear storytelling process and bounces around between several timelines (and sometimes time periods) to tell the story. And honestly, I don't think it would be as good if it had been done any other way.

I spent a long time thinking on this and realized my thoughts would be more coherent if I wrote them down. And then I remembered I had this blog. So, time for my first ever opinion piece for Rook Takes Queen on the subject of the main character of "Baccano!"

"Baccano!", for a story with so many characters, is largely plot driven. Then again, when you have that many characters, using the plot to drive things is probably a good idea lest you end up like "Bleach". "Baccano!" can be divided by and large into two main segments; the segment in 1930 that takes place in lower Manhattan, and the segment in 1931 that takes place aboard the trans-continental train, "The Flying Pussyfoot". The driving force in the former is the creation and various thefts of the "Grand Panacea", an immortality elixer, and the latter is driven by the cast's need to survive the trip, and/or kill other passengers on the train.

There is also the segment in 1932, which consists entirely of Eve Genoard trying to find her brother Dallas. I don't consider this one of the main segments of the story, since all it really does is wrap up Dallas's involvement in the 1930 segment.

The series opens with Carol and the Vice President of the Daily Days discussing the overall story and who the main character is. Since it's one of the first things brought up, I spent the first few episodes asking the question myself, "Who here is the main character?" In their discussion, Caorl and the Vice-President cover several of the characters who appear in the story, but -- interestingly enough to me (and the title card of the first episode points out one of these) -- they do not mention two of the characters that I feel are main characters in the story.

They do mention Isaac and Miria, who I believe are the main characters of the overall series, just because they are the only one involved in all of the storylines (including Eve's, though only very early on). But they do not have the one qualification I believe all main characters should have -- They need to develop/change in some way.

In all honesty, most of the characters in the series do not fall into that category. Like I said, this is plot driven. The story drives the characters actions, not the other way around. Therefore the characters do not need to change in order to be good characters. They just have to have realistic reactions to the world around them, and boy do they ever. But in the 1930 and 1931 segments there are characters who develop and change.

1930 -- Ennis
Ennis is an incredibly interesting character in that she is the only cast member who is not, in any way, human. Ennis is a homunculus. We first see her at what is essentially the end of the story, with Firo, Maiza, and the Gandors as they greet Isaac and Miria when they get off the train. We also, early on, hear a letter from Ennis to Isaac and Miria about how she misses them and thinks of them as "the older siblings she never got to meet".

But as we work our way back, Ennis is presented to us initally as just an emotionless tool of her somewhat abusive creator. But the more she runs into Isaac, Miria, and Firo the more she begins to develop a personality and feelings. Early on, in her first encouter with Isaac and Miria she hits them with her car and thinks nothing of it. But, as I mentioned, at the end of the series she greets them both very cheerfully when they arrive at Grand Central station, and in one of the Epiloge OVAs, she's seen setting up dominos and enjoying herself.

The true showing of Ennis's growth and change is when she turns on her creator's orders to kill Isaac and Miria in order to try and kill him instead to save them knowing full well she will probably die. She's saved by Isaac and Miria, and then by Firo, but it doesn't change the fact that she was willing to sacrifice herself for people she'd only really known for a few days at most.

1931 -- Jacuzzi Splot
The man with the crazy tattoo, the crazier name, and the best voice I've ever heard. Jacuzzi Splot, along with Nice Hollystone, is my favorite character in "Baccano!" Jacuzzi is the leader of a gang in Chicago that bootlegs liquor. (Remember, this is prohibition-era.) Jacuzzi's girlfriend, Nice, also makes bombs. Can you see why these are my favorite characters? Jacuzzi is pretty timid, but he's got a big heart and a bit of a stubborn streak that sometimes manifests as misguided bravery.

Jacuzzi starts off as a very jumpy character, and his whole set of actions are sparked to life by Isaac telling him the story of the "Railtracer", but forgot the ending of how to save everyone from it. Someone brings up that the younger of the train's two conductors knew the story and probably knew the ending. Nice even comments that it's just the way he is. We watch Jacuzzi cry his way through the entire Flying Pussyfoot arc of the story, and we learn in bits and pieces why he acts that way.

But the further things go, the more he realizes that he can't just take his gang and run. There are so many innocent people on the train being threatened by so many different bad guys that he has to step up and do something or he's going to lose his friends. It takes a few pep-talks from Isaac and Miria, but Jacuzzi really pulls it together and goes out of his way to risk his life to protect not only his friend, but people had had only just met on the train. He doesn't cry through the fight, he doesn't try to talk his way out of it. He just faces it head on.

So I still believe that Isaac and Miria are the main characters over all (since they are the only ones tied to every aspect of the plot), but when you break it down I think Ennis and Jacuzzi are the main characters of their respective plot segments.

Man this entry took me a lot longer to write than I thought it would...

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bad News Tues.

So I've officially declared yesterday "Bad News Tues." because that's pretty much all we got yesterday -- Bad news.

First came the news that Satoshi Kon had passed away at age 47. He was the director of "Perfect Blue", "Tokyo Godfathers", "Paprika", several other films, and the anime "Paranoia Agent". Several of his works weren't to my taste (to this day, I very much dislike "Perfect Blue"), and several I have yet to see, but I will not deny in the slightest that he was absolutely brilliant.

Satoshi Kon 2Image by Aaron Webb via Flickr

I found out via Twitter, though if you check any of your regular anime news sites, everywhere has something written up by now. From what I've read, he'd had cancer. It's really tragic that someone that brilliant was taken away so young. He was in the middle of a project, and I don't know the fate of it at this time. I'm not sure if that information has been released.

And then the day got worse. Word was passed to me through the grapevine that Studio Ghibli may shut down, all depending on the success of their next feature. Everyone knows Ghibli, whether they realize it or not. They brought us "Princess Mononoke", "My Neightbor Totoro", and "Kiki's Delivery Service". Things we all knew in our younger days. More recently there was "Spirited Away" and "Howl's Moving Castle". And on top of those there are tons of others that are all wonderful and charming and beautiful in more ways than I can count.

Of the two ends of the spectrum for brilliant anime films, we've lost for good the slightly-twisted, deep, sometimes dark, and always wonderful work of Satoshi Kon, and we're on the verge of losing the whimsical, thoughtful, also deep (but in a different way), and always lovely work of Studio Ghibli. "Paprika" and "Kiki's Delivery Service" have always been two of my favorite animated films, and to know that more in the same kind isn't in store for the future is tragic.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, August 23, 2010

Blogging about everything today.

Yeahhh.... I've been slacking off this week guys. Sorry. I've been out doing things pretty much every other day, so it's understandable right? But while I've been at ti I've watched more K-On, some clips from Hetalia, listening to the soundtrack from "The Road to El Dorado", and started reading "Yankee-kun to Megane-chan", which is absolutely hilarious. I'm still a long way from caught up, but it's fantastic, so far so I'd recommend taking a look at it if you've got some time to kill. I also went to a family reunion in there somewhere.

In pokemon news, we got another new pokemon revealed -- Yanappu.

A grass-type monkey is a weird combination to me, and I'm not totally sold on the broccoli growing out of his head, but I suppose he could be an interesting grass-type to work with if you're into that sort of thing. However, he's probably not going to be on my B/W team.

This pokemon isn't actually a reveal so much as a confirmation. We got a picture of a figure of this pokemon back in July, but up until now it wasn't confirmed as an actual pokemon in the games.

I've been playing SoulSilver again, finishing up some things that I've left hanging, such as chasing down roaming legendaries and doing the spiky-eared Pichu event. Suri's been helping me shuffle pokemon over from my copies of Platinum and Diamond to help me finish my pokedex. I also got a Japanese Wigglytuff over the GTS that has pokerus, so I've been infecting my pokemon with that slowly but surely. This is the first time I've ever had pokemon with it, so that's kind of exciting for me.

On a complete shift of subject, this week's "Bakuman" reminded me just who the team working on this was -- The pair who did "Death Note".

Mashiro and Takagi are currently planning a five-chapter story are in "Perfect Crime Party" that involves a rival trying to expose the club. Listening to them plan it out, it sounded a lot like the rivalry between Light and L, but with a lot less murder. Not that this is a bad thing. "Death Note" was written very well, even though I never finished it. I'm really excited to see how the next chapters play out and if "Perfect Crime Party" can beat Iwase and Eiji's crossover between "Crow" and "+Natural".

The cover of the first tankōbon released in Ja...Image via Wikipedia

If you're not reading Bakuman yet, now is the perfect time to start. VIZ's translation has just hit stores, so the first volume is available. Go pick it up, and then catch up to the scans. then in November we can all go out an pick up volume 2. Especially if you're into the process of making comics, the physical volumes are worth picking up because VIZ has thrown in a little something extra for us -- Ohba and Obata's thumbnails for some of the pages! Getting that little something extra between chapters really sealed the deal for me. With how important the thumbnails are for Mashiro and Takagi within the story, getting to see Ohba and Obata's made it all the better.

Ahaha, I guess I managed to write a decent blog entry after all. I'm pretty impressed, since I didn't intend to. I'll try and do another update soon. It will probably be about Scott Pilgrim since I need to finish reading that and go see the movie.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Tuesday's Anime Sampler" or "Thanks For 1,000 Hits!"

Back home from my two week stay at Downtown Otaku's. It was a great trip and I was glad to hear that he had a nice time and got there and back okay. He bought me a figure of Rukia with Shirayuki, even though I already had it. so now I have one, and a special one from Chile. He also bought me GOALSBOT, which is probably the coolest robot I now own.

The one he got me is red and blue and has a 7 on it's uniform, but I couldn't find a picture of it, and I'm too tired to get up and actually take one. This is why I should not blog right after waking up.

"Rook Takes Queen" has also hit the milestone of 1,000 page views. For a blog that's only been consistently updating for two and a half months (which is the period of time I've been tracking visitors) I think that's a pretty impressive number, and I want to thank you all for coming by here 1,000 times. I hope in the next two and a half months, you'll all come by 1,000 more times.

To celebrate, let's take another look at my ridiculous visitor map.

Spent yesterday with McLovin and Kristin, once again in Kristin's basement watching anime. This is usually the only time I get a chance to watch new things, because on my own I am generally just too busy and impatient to sit and watch series. And I miss out on a lot because of this. But it's been fun sitting around with friends and watching things together and I'd rather see things with friends than alone anyway. While usually we pick one thing to watch and marathon, this time we watched a little bit of several things...

Gurren Lagann: Parallel Works 2

In all honesty ParaWorks 2 deserves it's own post, so I think i'm going to hold off saying too much and write about it in full later. Like most people, "Kittan Zero" is my favorite but I also adored "Kiyal's Magical Time". It was humorous and sweet, and I think I described it as "If Gurren Lagann and Di Gi Charat were the same thing." Over all, I liked Parallel Works 1 better, but 2 had some really great stuff.

Hetalia: Axis Powers

I've always been pretty against Hetalia because portions of the fandom drive me insane. (Sorry guys, but it's true.) But at Otakon, I went to the Voice Actor Q&As for the voices of Vino and Firo from "Baccano!", who happen to be doing Russia and Italy. They did a bit of the voices, and there was so much crazy accents that I thought I'd give the dub a shot just for that.

We watched the four episodes that are up on Funimation's website, and while I'm not suddenly going to throw aside everything else I'm doing to dive into this fandom, I did think it was pretty funny and cute. I have also developed a huge crush on Italy. Italy and Germany are amusing to me, but so far i'm not that into anyone else. We'll have to see where things go as I watch more.


McLovin once described K-On to me as "If the cast of Lucky Star was in a band." and I have to admit that's pretty spot on. The story isn't quite as scattered and moment-to-moment as Lucky Star, but it's got a lot of the same feel. The characters are very cute, and the show is a little mindless (at least as far as I've watched into it), but I think after watching things that are a little heavier, like "Baccano!" and "Durarara!!" (which are both still hilarious at points, but are not straight comedies), there's nothing wrong with something that's just silly and cute.

I'm loving all of the character interactions in K-On a lot, and their reactions to the world around them. it's a very sweet little series and if you just want to laugh and enjoy something fluffy and silly, I'd recommend it.

I'm still waiting on the last chapter of "The Lucifer & The Biscuit Hammer" before I can blog about that, and Kristin just sent me a link to "Yankee-kun to Megane-chan" for me to start reading, so I'll have those to blog about in the near future. I'm also planning my next cosplay; Marlone from "Atelier Marie". I've got lists of everything I need, and my best friend, Cass, has offered to help me make it. Suri's possibly going to do Kreis so we'll be a matching pair. So I'll have updates on that as things happen too.

Thanks again for coming by guys! It's been great blogging for you all and I hope to bring you more great things to read about in the future!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Recent Nerdy Purchases

So I felt the need to finally update again. It's been a few days, and I haven't really been doing anything nerdy since I've been apartment-sitting. But I did buy a few things last Sunday when McLovin, Suri, and a few others came up to visit so we could run around for McLovin's birthday. So I can talk about all that I guess.

But first, man guys... Look at my visitor map...

I hope all of my international visitors, who probably came looking for something else, at least found something they could enjoy for a few minutes while they were here. From what I can tell form looking at my stats, a lot of people have ended up here recently searching for pictures of Alcyone cosplays and finding our picture we took of Super Cosplay Kazoku's Alcyone and Lantis. (Which, again, were just stunning.) While I'm on the subject, drop by and give them a look if you're into cosplay. They're really fantastic, and I hope to see them again at future conventions.

Okay so onto the stuff I bought on Sunday. At one point we ended up at Forbidden Planet, a great NYC comic store (one of several) and went upstairs to their manga section. I was surprised to see that VIZ had released a translation of the Bleach "Official Bootleg" book. A while ago, Downtown Otaku had bought me a japanese copy, and I've always been curious as to what all of the little bonus comics were about.

It's probably just been released in the past few weeks (it was on FP's new releases shelf) but if you've got a decent manga section at your local Borders, B&N, or other bookstore you shouldn't have a hard time getting it. And if you can't find it there, it's already up on Amazon.com. If you're a bleach fan, and you're like me and can't be bothered keeping up with all of the communities that translate supplementary material like this (and therefore haven't read it yet) it's definitely a worthwhile addition to your collection. The color comics are pretty hilarious and there's some other good general info included in the book.

The other book I bought was Let's find Pokemon! Crystal, which is basically "Where's Waldo" but with pokemon. It's all Gen II art, and is apparently the third in a line of "Let's Find Pokemon!" books.

I've already sat down and found all of the pokemon I was supposed to find, but it's also fun sitting down and seeing what other pokemon are in the scenes, and I love the Gen II artwork. When McLovin showed it to me I just took it from him and was pretty much set on buying it. It wasn't much of a question. Because I love me some Gen II pokemon stuff.

So I've still got a few more days before I go back to New Jersey. Hopefully I'll manage one more post before I head home and get back to my usual nerdings. Take care, ya'll!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, August 7, 2010

More New Pokemon Black & White Info

So it's time for more leaks and new information on pokemon and characters from the new Black and White games. This news came to me a little suddenly, and surprisingly via a commented on DeviantART.

As you all may remember, I got excited about Hihidaruma entirely because of the prospect of a little rolly fire-breathing daruma doll as a possible pre-evolution. Those who keep tabs on me elsewhere may even remember me drawing up "Daruhi", a made-up 'this is what I hope we get'.

In several palces I declared that I would totally give up on fire types if there wasn't a little daruma for me to love and cuddle and burn things with. I was do dead set on this pokemon happening, that I was almost completely convinced that it wouldn't. Because that's the kind of luck I have.

Well, this morning, I woke up and checked my messages on DA, to find a comment left with a link to this:

This is Darumakka. A little rolly fire-breathing daruma doll.

Thank you, Nintendo.

It's not quite Daruhi, but my design was based a lot on Hihidaruma. Darumakka seems to be a lot more red, and to have ignored the idea of appendages entirely. Which I am okay with. I think Daruhi is a little cuter, but Darumakka is still adorable and I will be catching one as quickly as I possibly can and never letting it evolve.

I guess while I'm here, I should talk about some of the other new information too shouldn't I? Okay, but only because I love you guys so much.

Emonga is that flying squirrel on the top left. Typing is, obviously, electric/flying. Which seems contradictory. It's ability is static, which is always handy. My first thought was "Oh look a flying pikachu." It seems to be following in the tradition of Plusle/Minun and Pachirisu. Unnecessary, but cute.

Below that is Gigaiasu, the high pressure pokemon. I'm not sold on this one really. It seems like Heatran and those "chromastone" aliens from Ben 10 had a love child. I'm sure some people will like it, but it's not a pokemon I'd have on my team. nice to see a rock type that isn't brown/grey for once though.

Then there's Victini who I have already covered in the past, but since we have a little more information I thought I should take another look at Butt-Wings here. It's official typing is Psychic/Fire, which just seems weird to me, it is the "Victory Pokemon", and it's ability is "Victory Star". Clearly this is why it is made of V's. It does not, however, explain the butt-wings.

To the right of Victini is Shikijika, who doesn't have a species type yet, but it's elemental typing is normal/grass, and it has the ability "chlorophyll". Apparently, in different weather or climate or something, Shikijika will change colors. It reminds me a little too much of Shaymin for me to be totally okay with it. I'd be more okay if Shaymin wasn't a legendary, but I want to believe that, for some reason, Shaymin is a rare mutation of Shikijika that further somehow mutated a sky forme and flew off to Sinnoh or some reason.

On the bottom are a still unnamed swan and caterpillar pokemon. The caterpillar seems to be yet another poor-man's Caterpie, but I'm hoping it will turn into something that is not just another poor man's Buttefree. I am a little excited about the swan, just because I can name it "SodeNoShirayuki". I'm hoping it's got an Ice typing instead of just water, but I find that doubtful. However, it is very pretty, and I could see it having a gorgeous evolution or a super cute pre-evolution. (Maybe even both? Eh, Nintendo? Wink wink, nudge nudge?)

And of course there were some new human characters released...

Aloe is one of the new gym leaders. I'm sorry guys but the first thing I thought of was Aunt Jemima. I am praying to god that no one takes that the wrong way, because I love that brand of products. And I'm sure Aloe is a great lady. But... I mean... C'mon. You see it too, don't you guys?

Then there is Dento. Dento doesn't seem to be a gym leader. there's how Bulbanews describes his anime counterpart (who, I assume, plays the same role in the games)...

"With an abundance of knowledge and experience, Dento is a "Pokémon Sommelier", who checks ("diagnoses") the compatibility between a trainer and their Pokémon, gives them advice on how to become better friends. Is the actual condition what is expected?"

Honestly, that sounds pretty awesome. And he walks around dressed like a waiter? C'mon, Nintendo. Are you trying to win my heart? Because it's working. "Pokemon Sommelier" is my new favorite job right after "Treasure Hunter" in this series.

And then we got the grunts for our new pile of bad guys, Team Plasma, who look like they are trying a little too hard to be medieval knights in outer space. I'd be far more receptive of this outfit if it didn't have the ridiculous hood, but guys that just totally killed it for me. I will never be able to take these guys seriously. I hope their executives and boss at least don't have hoods like that. Then maybe they'll be a little threatening.

So, more and more, this game is looking pretty great. I'm still not excited for it like I was with HeartGold and SoulSilver, but it looks like it's going to have some great stuff. And I cannot get over Darumakka and how much I want it forever.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Rambling about a personal project.

As I've mentioned here and there, I'm a cartoonist by trade. Or getting there are least. I've got one more year at the School of Visual Arts before I'm out in the big bad world, trying to do this for a living. I'm in no way under the impression that this is going to be easy, but it's my only marketable skill, and it's what I love to do.

I'm very lucky in that my family is in full support of my choice in career, and I have a fantastic network of friends helping me along. Not to mention that guy I'm dating, who is far more patient with me than he probably should be. So I've got all of the backing I could ever hope for, and I am so grateful for that.

I'm not sure how often I'll post about my own projects, just since I'm not really sure how much anyone cares. But I figured I would lay all of my cards on the table now so that way later I could make posts about them if I actually ever do them and you'd all be slightly less confused about what I was rambling about.

Since it's the focus of my two week stay in Downtown Otaku's apartment, and it's still pretty nerdy, I guess I'll talk a little about the project I'm currently diving headfirst into.

Originally, "Waiting For Neveah" was part of an alternate-reality segment of another story idea I had, so it has some or the same characters, but I ended up getting so interested in the story that I started working on it separately. It takes place on a much smaller scale than my other idea, so wrapping my head around it has been much easier.

I took the standard idea of people trying to break out of a government or system they didn't like and flipped it. So the basic premise of the story is a small group trying to establish order in an otherwise chaotic world that has fallen apart. This is an idea I posed to Suri when we first started dating and it's always stuck as something we wanted to play with.

At it's core, "Waiting For Neveah" is about priorities, following through, and taking risks with no promise for reward. I'm still fiddling around with exactly

I had written a script for the prolouge in my Junior year for a script writing class I took with Jack Harris (a former writer and editor with DC comics!). Since it's such a straightforward story (going from point A to point B) and I'm already used to drawing all of the important characters it's going to be an easy project to move forward with. I've got thumbnails and pencils started and I'm planning to do it as my portfolio project for my Senior year. Hopefully I'll be able to make the project public next summer when I graduate.

I post a lot of sketches and misc. work over in my sketchblog, Watermelon Bees, so if you're interested in seeing more stuff related to this, or just other artwork of mine, you can head over there and sort through those entries.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

In the hopes that one day I can play Atelier Marie.

Before I get started, I want to thank whoever linked my Saturday report for Otakon on facebook. It drew in a lot of traffic. I also want to welcome the new followers. It warms my heart to know people are actually reading this thing and it's not just me shouting into the dark.

Today I want to talk about something very near and dear to my heart. It is a game that I have fallen in love with, even though I haven't gotten to play it -- Atelier Marie.

For what it is, Atelier Marie doesn't get the credit it deserves in the western market. This is most likely because up until recently the Atelier franchise was struggling stateside. All we had was Atelier Iris, which iv'e heard is a bit different from the traditional games, and Mana Khemia, which is a spin-off of the Atelier series. More recently we've gotten Atelier Annie for the DS, which I have played multiple times and adore (and have covered here once), and are coming to Atelier Rorona for the PS3 (I'm not sure if this has hit the US market yet. I need to check my release dates.)

But a lot of modern RPGs owe their thanks to Atelier in one way or another, and Atelier all started with the one and only Atelier Marie. I've been completely in love with the artwork from this game for years now It's heavily influenced by Alphonse Mucha, who is one of my favorite artists. Some images are even reworkings of his illustrations.

Even with how Atelier has slowly been crawling into the western market, we still have not, and most likely will not, see any of the games from the original Zarlberg (Salberg?) continuity that started with Atelier Marie. Even if the franchise does finally become popular here, I doubt NiS (who is localizing the games) will go back and bring us Marie, Elie, Lilie, Violet, and Judie.

The closest we've come was Tokyopop localizing 4 out of 5 volumes of the manga "Atelier Marie and Elie: Zarlburg Alchemists". However, they dropped volume 5 when the going got tough. I have Japanese scans of all 5 manga, and have gotten the basic idea of what goes on in volume 5 (the ending is very clear from the visuals, and is fantastic.) but I'd love to actually get to read it.

Finding merchandise for what is, essentially, a dead fandom in the west has been a challenge, but I've managed to get some doujinshi, a guide book, a poster from the re-release of Atelier Marie And Elie, and matching figures of Marie and Elie. They're basically the stars of my collection of things, and I'm glad I was able to find anything at all. But it doesn't bring me any closer to playing the game.

However, there is still some hope for that. There is an Atelier Marie translation project that some fans are working on to make a playable rom of the game for English language fans. I've been following the project for a while now, both on the blog and on an Ar Tonelico forum and just quietly offering support.

But now I guess I'm going to make a little bit of a rallying cry? If there's anyone who has the time and ability to help with translating or coding, please drop these guys a line. If not, spread the word and see if there's anyone who can. I'd love to see this project completed and get to play Atelier Marie one day.

Enhanced by Zemanta