reileen: (general - strawberry)
An absolutely fascinating website on Aztec Reconstructionism, which one doesn't see a lot of amongst the neopagans. Probably because, according to the author of the site, the Aztec deities do demand blood, and Lady knows real pagan deities are all benevolent and whiteness and light and if they demand something from you, especially icky icky blood, that means they're Very Bad! [/sarcasm] No, They're not looking for human sacrifice, at least not in the same way it was practiced in Ye Olden Mesoamerican Tymes (although you should check this guy's essay on how to bring back the concept of healthy sacrifice in today's society - I have to say, it's got some interesting implications), but voluntary drawing of one's own blood is a necessary part of being an Aztec Recon. 'Cause if you don't do it of your own will, the Gods are going to take it from you. Yeah, it sounds harsh, but They're Gods, so They'd have every right to do so.

Of course, being who I am, I'm thinking about this topic not just in terms of how it might apply to my own worship (Artemis, after all, has demanded both human blood and human sacrifice in her mythos), but also in terms of how I can incorporate this into my creative endeavors, particularly for world-building. I'd love to use the idea of "healthy sacrifice" in a sci-fi society.

Related to my own personal worldbuilding: John Scalzi tackles the practical issues surrounding polygamy in modern America. Be sure to check out the comments too; they bring up some really mind-boggling points. Holy shit, the legalities, they are over 9000! (And yet I'm tempted to incorporate some of this into Ryker's society, since I have the impression that, at least in one city he was in, polyamory was alive and well. But I hadn't decided yet whether that acceptance was realized in legal form in that particular city.)

Related to worldbuilding in general, yanked from the awesome [livejournal.com profile] ysabetwordsmith: A Collection of End of World Scenarios. Already I can hear my characters shivering in fear at my amazing authorial powers of doom! Ohohohoho.

***

Perhaps this just shows what an elitist whore I am, but I'm really dismayed at all the American-based "How to Draw Manga" books that have been coming out lately. I'd like to think that it's not so much that I'm not Super Special Awesome anymore in my love of Japanese comics and animation as it is that the art that often accompanies these books looks like the shit I drew in 6th grade - when I first started out in anime style. Seriously, y'all, what the fuck is this? This is a marked improvement, but it still can't compare to this. YMMV, of course.

***

Read through vols. 1-4 of Tokyo Mew Mew after I received them from a trade on [livejournal.com profile] garagesalejapan. I've been finding myself wanting to revisit the magical girl genre lately for some reason, but instead of returning to old-school Sailor Moon on crunchyroll, I decided to branch out a bit (though I still do want to return to Sailor Moon, omgnostalgia).

Well...I got TMM in a trade for some of my other manga, so I don't feel like I wasted money or anything, and I still want to read vols. 5-7, but the series seems lacking to me. I could have overlooked the outlandish premise ("Rich high school kid tries to fight invading aliens by injecting Earth animals with the DNA of endangered species, but he totally misses and hits five middle-school girls instead!"), since that's pretty much requisite for any magical girl series. And I could have overlooked the generically cute art that sometimes hovered at a "just technically competent enough" point (although it made the fight scenes boring as hell).

But I was not willing to overlook the one-dimensionality of the characters. In fact, these characters are so commonplace that I can describe them in terms of other popular anime characters.

Ichigo
Otaku-speak: Sakura Kinomoto, only much less cute and endearing.
Translation: The goodie-goodie middle-school girl who just wants a normal life and to have a boyfriend, and is always unselfish, etc. and so forth.

Mint
Otaku-speak: Tomoyo Daidouji with Rei Hino's personality minus Tomoyo's 'cesty crush on Sakura and her love of dressing Sakura up.
Translation: Snobby rich girl who in reality Just Wants to be Loved.

Lettuce (I kid you not, that's her name)
Otaku-speak: Fuu Hououji crossed with Usagi Tsukino.
Translation: A professional doormat that keeps on slipping out from under people's feet.

Pudding (yes, that is really her name, too)
Otaku-speak: A bite-sized Shampoo with Mokona tendencies.
Translation: A hyperactive Chinese acrobat.

Zakuro
Otaku-speak: Rei Hino (or, if you're going by the live-action Sailor Moon, Makoto Kino works here as well) with the looks of Arashi Kishuu.
Translation: Super-gorgeous girl who is cold and distant for some reason that I haven't yet been able to discern, and is initially antagonistic towards joining the Tokyo Mew Mews.

Let's not even get into the love interests, which include Masaya, the requisite Nice Classmate Who Has No Fucking Clue What's Going On (a.k.a. the Houjou of TMM); Ryou, the Jerk That Needs to Get the Hell Offa Mine Side But Is Really Cute/Hot (Inuyasha crossed with Tamaki, in this particular instance); and Kish, the Conflicted Baddie (Nephrite). I admittedly have a weak inclination for shipping Ichigo with Ryou, but that's because I have a general preference for that sort of dynamic in the romances I read about. Otherwise, I'm scratching my head over what these guys see in Ichigo. Is it her Sakura smile? Her pink hair? What?

The plot is even more confusing and vague. TMM follows a monster-of-the-week formula, which would be fine by me, except that these monsters aren't even remotely amusing or even scary. The aliens who sent/created the monsters in the first place are marginally more intriguing, if only because it's revealed that apparently they used to live on the Earth a long-ass time ago and now they want it back 'cause they're pissed that us stupid humans have fucked it up with pollution and shit. I have to admit that I (or a certain Huntress, at any rate) was amused at the environmental angle that TMM takes in setting up the core conflict of the story.

Overall, I might have liked TMM back when I was still a Sailor Moon Maniac. At the very least, I wouldn't have been bothered by the numerous problems I've just pointed out. But I wouldn't recommend it to other SM fans my age or older; it's best left to those of Ichigo's age bracket.

***

And finally, people think that deviantArt's little icon switcheroo deal for April Fools' this year is akin to rape! Oh, internets, nevar change.

-Reileen
I can't believe that I would keep, keep you from flying
reileen: (general - strawberry)
There are tarot card decks for One Piece, Naruto, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Prince of Tennis. Clearly, this is a stealth scheme by the Evil Pagans to teach witchcraft to young children by disguising it with cartoon characters!

I've always wanted my own set of Clow Cards, actually. Sakura used them in her magick in the series, but Kero mentioned once that the Clow Cards were also used for fortune-telling. Which makes me wonder if there was ever an actual system for reading the Clow Cards that was formulated either by CLAMP or by someone else? If not, creating a system of fortune-telling for the Clow Cards would be a pretty interesting undertaking.

I own two tarot decks at the moment, a Feng Shui-themed deck and this China Tarot with absolutely amazing art, but I haven't used either in a while. I used to do rapid-fire readings for [livejournal.com profile] aerithzstrife for a bit, and got good results with both. (I don't yet have the patience to learn proper spreads.) I'll probably end up getting another tarot deck at the Bristol Renaissance Faire this year, if I go. I have my eye on this Art Nouveau Tarot. Pretty art is pretty, although I can't speak for how well the symbolism is rendered in the art. I'm superficial like that.

-Reileen
finally, your final resting day is without me
reileen: (general - strawberry)
Buttlord GT is one of those things that I feel like I shouldn't like...but I love this thing to death anyway. I'm on my third or fourth re-read right now, and I'm still giggling like an immature school boy at all the penis and gay jokes. I think I can overlook it because it's a parody of Dragonball Z, and, well. Yeah.

"I would be spanking my own ass in defiance if I could reach it!"

-Reileen
give it to me, baby
reileen: (music - proofread score)
Holy hell, wordy Reileen is wordy. I was just working on the melody for "Eidolon" and ow ow ow so many words to get through. Yikes. Think I gotta do another revision on the lyrics to pare it all down so I don't give myself (and potential listeners) a headache later. I do have a melody for the first three lines that sounds appropriately creepy, at least. Yay for weird dissonant chords that...don't really make sense! Not to me, anyway. And I have no idea what to do for the chorus.

***

Read the first omnibus volume of the Gunsmith Cats manga. It's badass.


-WHY IT'S BADASS-

It's got girls with guns. And bombs. And it's set in Chicago. The Chi, dude! The first story arc has Minnie May intercepting the baddie of the week right near Buckingham Fountain with a well-timed kablamafoo. And then later someone sets off a bomb in the parking garage of Marina Towers, a.k.a. the Corncobs. Heeeeee. This makes me happy in my skirt.

The art is also really good, especially when you get down to the details with the guns and cars, among the usual suspects (backgrounds, characters, etc.). Ye gods, I wish I had that talent. I keep telling myself that I'll spend regular intervals drawing inanimate objects in painstaking detail just for the practice, but I get too distracted with drawing pretty boys and girls. Oops. I wasn't paying attention to the writing, but maybe that's a good thing - that means the writing was doing its job and wasn't being intrusive.


-WHY IT'S NOT BADASS-

Hmm. How do I put it as nicely and as concisely as possible?

MAH PEDOPHILIA, LET ME SHOW YOU IT.

I wish I were shitting you. I wish I were exaggerating. But the second lead character, May Hopkins, is a 17-year-old who looks like a 10-year-old. It's not even in the way that anime/manga-style naturally makes everyone look younger - this chick actually looks like she's 10 years old. I had to double-check on Wikipedia that she was actually 17 in the original Japanese and it wasn't just some weird localization thing that the American translators did (like in Bible Black where they apparently insisted that all the students involved in the debauch-o-rama of that series were all in college, despite the fact that they wore uniforms).

Little May? Is in a long-standing relationship with a guy who is 18 years older than she is.

Now, I have a high tolerance for squicky things, which includes massive age differences in romantic couples. But this particular instance of it bothered me for a number of reasons:

1) There's three overtly sexual scenes in this particular volume that involve May. In fact, I think the first one you see is in the second or third story arc, where May goes undercover at a high-end brothel to figure out where one of bad guys is going to be at a certain time. The "interview" scene shows her sucking off the pimp while wearing nothing but lingerie. No naughty bits are officially shown (the guy's dick is silhouetted in 20% screentone), but that's way too sensual for me to be seeing with a girl who only looks like she's 10.

2) Speaking of the brothel, apparently May spent some time hiding out/working in a Chinatown brothel for a few years prior to joining up with Rally Vincent (the other lead character)? I forget why, and I'm too lazy to look it up at the moment. Anyway, that little fact is mentioned, like, ten million times over the course of this volume, in varying degrees of specificity. I don't think that in and of itself bothers me, but there was this one time where May got into trouble on the West Side with a bunch of thugs, and one of them goes, "Hey, isn't that the one chick from The Purple Pussy? The blonde with the skills of a chink?" No, I shit you not. Not on the name of the brothel,and not on this particular reference to May's past. It was just so out of place in what was otherwise a decent action scene. OKAY. WE GET IT. MAY USED TO BE A WHORE AND SHE HAS A HEALING VAJAYJAY OF SPARKLINESS. LET'S MOVE ON.

3) This goes back to point one about the sexual scenes - there's one in which May masturbates to a picture of her manfriend. Gods, it squicks me just to type that. It wouldn't be so bad if May were drawn as a 17-year-old. But no, for some reason May is so stupid that (according to the Wiki page) she takes growth-stunting herbal supplements so that she can keep Ken happy, if you know what I mean, and I think you do, and for that I am so terribly sorry that I have to inflict my pain upon you. Except not really, because I refuse to be alone in this. OKAY. WE GET IT. MAY IS MADLY IN LOVE WITH KEN FOR A STUPID REASON I CAN'T FATHOM. LET'S MOVE ON.

The relationship between May and Ken is written and drawn as cute and endearing, but it's just creepy. The only reason I'm putting up with this thing is because Ken was the one who taught May how to make the awesome kablamafoos that she uses to blast bad guys to smithereens. No, I have no clue why he thought that would be a good idea, considering that I think May was 13 when they first started going out. Excuse me, I'm going to run out to the corner Walgreens to get myself a new brain, bbl.

(Holy shit, I just realized that Ken Taki (May's manfriend) shares a similar name with the creator of Gunsmith Cats, Kenichi Sonoda. Ken and Kenichi. Dude. Now the creepy level is over 9000! Maybe I'm reading too much into it. Please tell me I'm reading too much into it. Because I am so squicked out right now like you wouldn't believe.)

Also, Becky the so-called star reporter is seriously Too Fucking Stupid to Live.


Other than that little(?) caveat, though, I really like Gunsmith Cats and I want the rest of the volumes lieknao.

-Reileen
we'll be together, and you can be sure
reileen: (music - proofread score)
Okay, y'all, THIS IS NOT NO FREAKIN' SAILOR SATURN, aight?! That's, like...I don't even know what that is. I think that's Hotaru when the Outer Senshi fired her from the team 'cause they just knew this little bitch was gonna make trouble even after the whole Mistress 9 thing, so now Hotaru does striptease at the "Moon Kingdom" nightclub under the name and slogan "Mistress Firefly: She'll Set You Afire!"

(Tangent: Don't be fooled by the innocent face and sickly body - Sailor Saturn is badass. She is so badass, in fact, that the whole reason she doesn't show up often in either the manga or the anime is because otherwise she would overwhelm both with her level of badassitude. Werd to tha Glaive, y0.)

Shit. I really want/need/must to go back and watch the Sailor Moon series. That was, as it was for many others, my first initiation into the world of anime. AND OH GODS IT WAS GOOD. I first started watching in 3rd grade, waking up at 6am or so to catch the Beryl arc and the Doom Tree arc on UPN. Then I switched to Cartoon Network for Chibiusa's first appearance to halfway through the arc with the Witches 5 in it (can't remember the exact names of these seasons and too lazy to wiki it, lulz). I think? The memories are a little hazy in my mind, because I don't think Sailor Moon aired on Cartoon Network until a few years after it aired on UPN. Or maybe it did and all would be answered if I cared to check the Wikipedia entry on it, but it's nearly 5am here and I should be writing sleeping and...yeah.

***

Working here and there on music. I'd really like to get working on setting "Eidolon" to a melody, but all in due time. I'm smoothing out "Triskaidekaphobia" and re-discovering "Queen of Denial". For the former, there's a transition part halfway through the song that I'm trying to work out and make it sound vaguely interesting, with varying degrees of success. For the latter, I have to re-write the accompaniment for...well...most of the stanzas, 'cause the previous one (what I can remember of it at this point) suxx0red. I'm fond of the two versions of the chorus accompaniment, though. The lyrics still irk me with how needlessly dramatic they are, but I suppose I could claim that "Queen of Denial" is, in fact, meant to be a satirical commentary on the idea of noble suffering. Except then I would be a Big Fucking Liar, because the song was meant to be me seriously whining about how I didn't have a special someone to spend the holidays with one year. THERE. I SAID IT. ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?

*cue Michelle Branch song*

Other things I'm abusing the ivories with:

1) "Harbor" by Vienna Teng. Straight from the sheet music.
2) "Wanted" by Vanessa Carlton. Also straight from the sheet music.
3) "Whatever You Want" by Vienna Teng. My own version. I used the first known live recording of the song as the base for getting most of the notes.
4) "Serenade" by Franz Schubert. The famous one. Uh. Yeah. I just thought that I should get some classical stuff into my repertoire other than (a badly-performed) "Rondo alla Turca" by Mozart, and while I also really want to re-learn Liszt's "Notturno No. 3", this song is the easier one to re-learn and memorize, hands down.

-Reileen
now who's cryin', desirin' to come back to me?
reileen: (Default)
Oh gods I love the VT forums.

Posted by Rotkehlchen is this rather ingenious reinterpretation of some of Vienna Teng's song titles:

x^^n

mv

GmM/r^2 [less anthropocentric than 9.8m/s^2]

I|I

printf("uncle")

void(0)

type #1.txt>nul

10n+1


E=hv [can anyone make BBCode do Greek characters?]

F G C


>40

if(!u){i=null;}

IiI

R--


I personally like "if(!u){i=null;}" and "type#1.txt>nul"...

***

WHO'S A GINTAMA FANGIRL? WHO'S A GINTAMA FANGIRL? THAT'S RIGHT, [livejournal.com profile] reileen IS!

Seriously, this series is amazing. The American equivalent would be like if The Simpsons were set in colonial America and then the aliens from Futurama invaded and took over. Oh, and you'd have to do something about the art, of course. And either Bart or Homer would have to up their badass factor. By eleventy gazillion. And Maggie would have to age by like a decade and be able to wield a wooden umbrella with enough force to send people into next millennium.

I don't even know if I can try to do a proper review for this series because I love it so damn much. The series' creator, Hideaki Sorachi, is a sneaky little bastard, because he gets you to love the characters by virtue of their humorous interactions with each other, and then he'll stab you in the heart with wibble-tastic moments like in episodes 31 and 32. Also, what the fuck is copyright? If it's out there (well, if it's well-known in Japan), Gintama has parodied it. But what can you expect from a series whose name is a pun on a well-known Japanese metaphor for a man's family jewels - and whose creator chose it for that very reason? To quote the main character, Gintoki Sakata: "If my name were 'Kintoki' we wouldn't be able to use my name for this series!" I should also warn that neither Sorachi nor Sunrise (the animation studio who does Gintama) care about a fucking fourth wall. The fourth wall takes such a beating in this series that even a seasoned masochist like Sacchan would run away screaming at the thought of it. BUT OH GODS IT'S SO GOOD, IT FEELS SO GOOD.

Viz has released a couple of the manga volumes in English already, but I've not heard any news of an official dub. Not that I blame anyone, since dubbing around some of the Japanese-specific puns and jokes would be such a pain in the ass. But thank the Gods that Crunchyroll's got some subs! It's not up-to-date on the Japanese airings (which is at about episode 88 now or so), and the episodes here go up to 45, and then skip to 51 and 52, and then skip again to 62 and one last time to 66. No, I know not why the caged bird sings, but there you go. Go have a ball...so to speak. Heh, heh, I said "ball".

(Disclaimer: THIS IS ALL [livejournal.com profile] kiirobon'S FAULT. I SWEAR I'M INNOCENT.)

-Reileen
curls flying every which way
reileen: (general - strawberry)
Title: Romeo x Juliet.
Original story by: William Shakespeare. And before him, some anonymous Italian person.
Studio: Gonzo.
Demographic: Shoujo.
Genre: Fantasy, dystopia, romance, drama.
Number of episodes: 24.
Story: Fourteen years ago, on the floating continent of Neo Verona, the Capulets were overthrown in a bloody revolution by the Montagues. The only surviving member of the clan, Juliet, lives life as a boy, swordfighting in the streets of Neo Verona as a vigilante figure known as the Red Whirlwind. Once she turns sixteen, however, she must make the choice to lead a band of loyal Capulet vassals to march against the Montague house, the family of her new love, Romeo.
Grade: B.

For those of you who are familiar with the...wait, what the fuck am I saying, everyone's familiar with the source material! Thus, everyone should watch this series just so you can see Juliet kick ass and essentially steal the entire show. It's only 24 episodes, so we're not looking at Naruto or One Piece or Dragonball Z here. Also, the ending is considerably happier and more hopeful than in the play, even though Romeo and Juliet still both die (nomg not a spoiler!!!1! act five scene three, trufax!!!). It's not a perfect series by any means, but it won't make you want to tear out your hair. Unless you're a Shakespeare fanboy/fangirl, in which case, maybe you should just dig out the original and curl up with it in a plush, dusty armchair, because Romeo x Juliet diverges from the source material quite a bit.

I mentioned before that Juliet is essentially the main character in this series and benefits a lot from this version of the story, so if you read the play and thought that maybe you'd like to see more of her, Romeo x Juliet might be your thing. She gets a good amount of character development, and her initial impulsiveness is demonstrated not only by her love-at-first-sight with Romeo but also when she first takes on her role as the heir to the Capulet name. Romeo, unfortunately, is a little on the bland side: he's likable but not distinctive. Tybalt gets a total makeover, but aside from mentioning that holy hell he's kinda hot, I can't say how he got made over because that would involve spoilers. He could've been really badass if he had more of a chance to show off, but since this is Romeo x Juliet and not Romeo x Juliet x Tybalt (although I was actually kind of hoping for something like that), I can't really complain. (He totally gives off a Sasuke Uchiha vibe, though.) Lord Montague, a.k.a. Royal Asshole of the Year, gets some backstory as well, but by the time you get there you just want him to diediedie so it really just ends up being more of a footnote. Mercutio is Royal Asshole the Second, for more reasons than one, but he doesn't really get that way until the second half of the series. Benvolio is...well, he's still Romeo's friend, at least.

There's a plethora of new characters involved, and a lot of them are named after various characters from Shakespeare's other plays. Shakespeare himself - or so you may assume based on clues scattered throughout the series - appears as Willy, a struggling playwright whose family ties to the Montague line combined with a secret sympathy for the Capulet cause allow the Capulet vassals to hide under his roof until the time comes for them to rise up against Grand Duke Montague. Funnily enough, the Capulet vassals, save for Juliet's childhood friend Cordelia, aren't named after Shakespeare characters, at least not to my knowledge. There's Conrad, the former leader of the Capulet guard, who was the one who originally saved Juliet and Cordelia from the Capulet slaughter, and is the Grandfather Figure. Francisco and Curio, both former members of the Capulet guard, are respectively the Effeminate But Badass Fighter with a Hidden Intellect and the Spiky-Haired Rude Swordsman with a Heart of Gold. On the Montague side, Hermione is Romeo's intended fiancee, who later becomes jealous of Juliet's involvement with Romeo.

The story is still the same basic Romeo and Juliet - love at first sight, 'til death do us part. The only difference is that you at least get to see more interaction between the two, so even if you're like me and hate that entire "love at first sight" trope with a fucking burning passion, you can at least empathize with the characters. (It helps that Juliet can kick ass.) One of the biggest changes, though, is the addition of a certain fantastical element that I - surprisingly - didn't really like. I'll discuss why under the cut.

Animation and art is great, and some of the backgrounds really are quite beautiful. There's a couple of places where CGI is used, like when there's a shot of the Montague crest banners flapping in the wind, and while it's nicely done it's also seems a little pasteded on yey. The only thing I can remember about the music is that the opening theme is essentially an adaptation of "You Raise Me Up", which is actually sung in the original English at some point early on in the series (episode 8, maybe?). Also, one of the endings is some rock number ("Cyclone" by 12012), which made me go "bzuh"? Not to worry, shoujo fans, they change to a more appropriately romantic piece ("Good Bye, Yesterday" by Mizrock) about halfway through the series, with an equally shoujo animation sequence.

So is this cool? Yes. But not as could as it could be, which is why I gave it a B - a good series, but not good enough to wow me.

you raise me up, so I can write R&J AU fanfics )

-Reileen
the howls are sending chills down my spine
reileen: (general - strawberry)
Title: Black Cat.
Original manga by: Kentaro Yabuki.
Studio: Gonzo.
Demographic: Shounen.
Genre: Action, adventure, fantasy, comedy.
Number of episodes: 24.
Story: Train Heartnet is a feared assassin for a secret organization known as Chronos. His marksmanship and dedication to his work is such that no one who has been targeted by the "Black Cat" has ever lived. All that changes, though, once Train meets a sweeper (freelance bounty hunter) named Saya Minatsuki, who unwittingly convinces him that he doesn't have to kill if he doesn't want to. In his quest to live by his own rules, like a stray cat, he meets another sweeper named Sven Vollfied, a former police officer; Eve, a young girl with formidable transformative abilities; and Rinslet Walker, a professional thief. Opposing Train and the Chronos Numbers is Creed Diskenth, a swordsman and former member of Chronos who hates how "soft" Train has become and detests that Chronos secretly controls, among other things, about one-third of the world's economy. With the help of the Apostles of the Stars, who all wield special powers as a result of the power of "Tao", Creed intends to re-make the world into his own paradise - hopefully with Train at his side.
Grade: B-.

I first got into Black Cat when a friend of mine recommended the manga to me on basis of a good story and great art. As of writing this review, I have currently read/collected up to volume 9 of the English volumes, and was not disappointed. Armed thusly, I dove into the anime series.

Those of you who are already familiar with the manga should be warned that the anime starts out on quite a different track. Whereas the manga shows Train already happily adapted to his job as a sweeper, working with Sven, the anime goes farther back to actually show Train as the cold-hearted Chronos Number XIII meeting with the carefree sweeper Saya Minatsuki. Considering that this is a 24-episode series, I think that this change, while certainly interesting, does a vast disservice to Train's character because within one episode we see him go from Silent McBroody to LOLBlackCat, with nothing but a "OKAY, SIX MONTHS HAVE JUST PASSED..." as explanation. It's an abrupt change that would likely jar a viewer who isn't familiar with Train from the manga. In addition, the way that Train meets Sven, Eve, and Rinslet is different: he's on one side (Chronos) and they're all on the other (Eve is Chronos' intended target, while Sven and Rinslet happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time). While they do all end up working together soon enough, to me there was always this distinct feeling that Train was always set apart from the group, not really belonging with them. Perhaps that's an intentional part of his character, but in the manga I at least was able to associate him with Sven, because the story started out with the two of them. Since the anime introduces Train to us as a loner, that fixes him in the audience's mind as such even if he does gain his little group (or big group) by the end of the series. I suppose it may be possible that Gonzo may have wanted to make Train distinct from Kenshin Himura, another former-assassin-turned-happy-go-lucky-rogue, by showing Train's roots, but if that's the case they needed at least 50-something episodes to make the change easier for the audience to swallow.

The other good guys are likeable enough, at least. Sven is a self-proclaimed gentleman who won't stand by if women are threatened, and wields an endless arsenal of weapons from an innocuous-looking briefcase; Eve, the token Lolicon Weapon of Mass Destruction, likes to read and to compete with Train for Sven's attention; Rinslet loves her work and won't back down from a challenge, and has no problems with using her feminine wiles to get what she needs. On the side of Chronos, the most memorable character from there is Chronos Number VII, Jenos Hazard, who is a flirt that eventually becomes Rinslet's love interest. (Personally I just like his weapon, Excelion, which is a series of metal threads that he can control to either slice through things or to wrap around things. No, it totally wouldn't work in real life, but it just looks cool. I'm also fond of Chronos Number X's hagoromo, woven through with threads of orihalcon metal.) Chronos Number I, Sephiria Arks, is also intriguing - her youthful face belies a frightening determination and conviction in the rightness of her work, and I always looked forward to seeing her kick ass. As for the other Numbers, well, you learn about them soon enough.

The Apostles of the Stars are a more amusing bunch. My personal favorite is Kyoko Kirisaki, the fire-breathing schoolgirl. I was quite disappointed when the anime cut out one of my favorite scenes from the manga, where Kyouko kisses a policeman and thusly incinerates him from the inside out. I could make a joke here about what a hot scene that was, but instead I'll just say: dude, come on. She's a schoolgirl. Who breathes fire. Close behind Kyoko is Charden Flamberg, who can form his blood into monsters and (I think?) weapons. He doesn't really get a lot of backstory, but you usually see him paired with Kyoko, and the two look cute together, so that's enough for me. Other members of the Apostles include Leon Elliot, a kid who hates adults and controls the air; Maro, a descendant of royalty from what is referred to as the "other continent" who controls gravity; Echidna Parass, a former actress who can create gates in space; Durham, who can wield his Tao powers in the form of infinite ammunition in his gun and doesn't get any backstory at all; and Shiki, another person from the "other continent" who control bugs. Yes, the Apostles are certainly an interesting bunch, wouldn't you say?

But oh, Creed. Creed Diskenth is in a league of his own. Creed is Dist the Rose (from Tales of the Abyss) if Dist ever got the cojones to lead the God-Generals and could swordfight with an extendable chi sword of doom that totally isn't compensating for something else. They both even have light purple hair and the flower collars and the implication of Ultimate Gay and the creepy-ass fixation on their idols! Except that Dist's obsession with Jade can't even begin to compare with Creed's obsession with Train. No, I'm serious. If Dist's obsession with Jade is over nine thousand, then Creed's obsession with Train is over nine gazillion. [small spoilers ahead] Creed freakin' killed Saya because he thought that Saya was bewitching Train to "act against his nature" or whatever. And when Train finally gets to Creed's ultimate stronghold? Creed has a mural of Train (by his side, of course). And a statue. [/spoilers] Holy shit, dude, stop trying to get into Train's pants and start building fon machines or something.

Plot? What's that? Oh, right. There's three distinguishable story arcs in the series: Train starting to fall away from his role as a Chronos Number, Train trying to take down Creed without unwittingly becoming a pawn to Chronos, and something else that I'll talk about below the cut because it's very spoilery (and because I get a little ranty about it). I already talked about the story in terms of Train's character development, so I won't rehash that. The resolution of the conflict between Train's group, Chronos, and the Apostles is epic enough, although I will say that Leon vs. Eve had to be one of the most badass fights in the series, if not the most badass. It probably says something that I thought a showdown between two (admittedly superpowered) kids was more interesting and epic than a fight between a gunman and a swordsman, but I'm not sure what.

Animation and art was pretty good, although the opening sequence gave me headaches. (I can't remember the ending sequence because I never watched it - I always just skipped to the next episode.) The soundtrack had some nice moments, but ultimately didn't strike my fancy, and I didn't care for the opening or (what I could remember of the) ending, either. Still, execution of all the main elements was solid, which is why Black Cat gets a B as a base grade. The reason it got docked to a B- is explained in more detail below the cut. It may be an unfair reason for lowering the grade, but it annoyed me so much that I had to account for it somehow.

I've come to bring the rantiness )

Random thought: Train's Hades gun looks like a revolver, so how the hell is he able to keep up a near-constant round of fire? I'm not complaining, mind you, because he looks cool while doing it, but the question should at least be out there.

-Reileen
she's a dwelling place for demons
reileen: (general - strawberry)
There's about two weeks left of this quarter - three if you count finals week. DePaul's closed for Memorial Day, so hopefully I can get my ass in gear to use that as a work day instead of blowing it off like I did today. Of course, I also have to make use of the weekend hours as well, since I'm lolariously behind on my Japanese homework...

Busy making plans for how I'm going to spend my summer, both in my room and (gasp!) outside of the house. At the top of my list is my art, since I am determined like a woman scorned (...?) to work the Artist Alley at ACEN next year and sell my shit to unsuspecting victims. In addition to finally getting around to doing some fanarts that have gone woefully neglected for months, I'll be opening up commissions for the first time, the Gods help you all. I'll also be doing original art that I can sell as prints, designing cutely simple stationery, and pretty/cute Mother's Day cards (since ACEN tends to fall the week of or the week prior to Mother's Day). Auxiliary activities include getting a banner printed that I can hang on the booth that my friend and I are planning to share (she'll be selling her own cool shit as well), figuring out good quality paper that I can print my art on, getting some business cards done, and trying to decipher how I can use Paypal.

A fairly close second is working on my Jinx cosplay, which, uh...has theoretically been in the works for the past two years. The first year was when I actually decided that I wanted to do the cosplay; the second was when I actually bought the materials. This year - the third - is when I will actually attempt to put together the costume myself. Let it be known that last time I sewed anything was back in 4th grade, and it was all by hand. I suppose that this actually shouldn't have too much priority, since I'll be working the Artist Alley, which means that I'll have little to no time to wander around and show off my sexy costume. Still, I should get something done so I don't feel so guilty about it.

I'd also like to delve back into my writing - working both on fanfics and original schnazz. But considering how much energy I'm going to be pouring into my art, I'm not sure how much left I'll have to expend on vomiting prose. Music is out of the question, for the most part: the most I'll be doing is some reading on music theory, research into the music industry and home studios, and memorizing pieces (like "Liebestraum No.3" by Liszt and "Tatakau Monotachi" by Nobuo Uematsu...among other random stuff). There's also an assload of summer reading that's screaming my name, which is the freakin' understatement of the year.

As if all of this weren't enough to juggle, I'm hoping to have a summer job lined up at the mall somewhere and I'll be taking classes (Intro to Cognitive Science and Digital Sound Editing) during the second half of summer vacation, from July 23 to August 24 or something.

And, thanks to the machinations of [livejournal.com profile] mugging_hipster, this is supposed to be the "best summer ever" because I'll actually be going out with friends and living it up. It's surreal, it's absurd, it's wonderful.

But now, it's beddy-bye. Tomorrow I'm going to drop off some job applications at the mall, pick up one or two more, and then see if I can't get myself to work on school stuff for the rest of the day.

-Reileen
who can say where the road goes, where the day flows? only time
reileen: (music - proofread score)
1. Like mentioned in the previous entry, not too cold today, at least starting out. It ended up being a bit slushy, but that's what you get for wishing for a winter wonderland. (Not me, but the crazy freaks out yonder who actually like winter.)

2. I have an extra day to fix up the storyboard I did for today's class in ANI220 and make it look all pretty. I'm sick on handing in crap to a class that I know I can whup everyone's asses in. (Well, mostly everyone's.)

3. Learned the basics about perspective - that bane of all banes for artists - today in ART106. One day, I'll be able to draw detailed backgrounds with correct perspective! One day...

4. Drank mostly water instead of my usual Mt. Dew. I feel refreshed and clean!

5. Despite the fact that I have this chronic yet unexcusable tendency to be late for/missing most of/entirely skipping JPN102, I have still managed to ace all our quizzes as well as the midterm. This has colored 私の先生 very, very impressed.

***

A while back, I noticed a flyer in my dorm building advertising for a cross-uni student concert called Intonation hosted by one of the schools that houses students in this dorm building (there's three schools here total, including mine). Curious, I sent off an e-mail to the address on the tag that I ripped off the original flyer, and was asked about a week later for any sort of sample recording. Being the lazy girl that I am, I shot off the link to my YouTube account.

I got an e-mail two days later asking me if I was available to perform at the university on March 22.

I'm definitely flattered that the person thought I was good enough to be included in the line-up of musicians who are most likely way more talented than I am. Oddly enough, I'm also looking forward to it. The last time I performed live in front of an audience was back in...junior year of high school, maybe? And I hated having to do those two piano recitals that I did, so it's strange now that I'm looking forward to perform. Maybe it's because this is something I chose to do, instead of something I had to do? It's not a paying event, either: all monetary proceeds and food and clothing donations go to different charities (Intonation is apparently held 2-3 times a semester). I'm actually fine with that, though - right now I don't think I deserve to get paid for playing, but I'm glad that my plunkity-plunks will apparently be put to good use anyway. I'm pretty sure I can make the date, because it's right on the cusp of my spring break, and since spring break is only for a week, I should be able to convince my parents to let me snooze away my days at the dorm.

***

Also gearing up to eventually take ACEN '08 by storm when I make my debut on the Artists' Alley floor. I printed out the regulations for this year's ACEN so I could look them over and see what would be expected of me out there next year, because I'm deathly paranoid that I'm going to completely fuck up and ruin everything for myself. I have a couple of ideas for original stuff that I could sell, both at my hypothetical table and perhaps at the Art Show as auction items, so let's hope for my art muse to not abandon me so cruelly again.

Speaking of this year's ACEN, I still haven't started on sewing my cosplay costume...ahahahaha...

-Reileen
never thought it'd feel so right, bringing you to your knees

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Reileen van Kaile

April 2010

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