Anime fans, get out the vote! Or even if you just like to vote for stuff, it’s easy! Click the buttons and vote the cutest girls in anime. Moe is serious business
This year’s edition of the International Saimoe League‘s tournament (their sixth) is now underway! Winnowed down from a list of 168 candidates, seventy-two of anime’s cutest and most memorable female characters (I hesitate to use the word “girls”, but mostly… yeah, I’ll have to) duke it out in bloodthirsty and unmerciful combat!
Well… not really. Some girls can’t even fight at all, and need your support with your vote even more than the ones who can! Remember to vote with your heart <3
(For full effect, watch the videos in Full-Screen. This makes sense, no? Yes!)
The voting resumes today with the Amethyst Period, with its related Necklace as the winner’s reward. This is the second of five necklace periods before the elimination rounds in September begin, where the fighting promises to be intense. Will Kanade (Tenshi) retain her unbeaten streak and pretty-near dominance over all the others? Or will conspiracies of vengeance and the concerted efforts of anti-voters prevent her from winning two years in a row? She won the whole thing last year, so she’s got a big target on her. Which, oddly enough, is how I saw her in her very first scene in Angel Beats!: through the scope of Yuri’s sniper rifle :-O
Some characters I have a weird love-hate relationship with. Tenshi is one of them, though I’m loyal to those special girls who strike you immediately as someone special, as she did. But she was the heavy at first! For some reason, when girls become too popular I kind of lose interest. Kind of like real life LOL! But the highly favorable first impressions might have been from the piano-playing in the OP; not that it was great or anything, just that she looked so… self-contained, I guess:
LOL – look at that still, above. Kanade’s so intriguing, unpredictable, and dangerous, and an amazingly magnetic character. I didn’t think that all that many people watched Angel Beats! such that they consistently vote her over her competition in these huge numbers! She’s unbeaten in I don’t know HOW many matches. She’s wayyy too popular, not that she doesn’t deserve it. But it’s old already. So, while I like her a lot as a character, I’m kinda pulling for someone else to win the Tiara this year (that is, the Grand Prize).
When I first took part in ISML’s initial year in 2008, I rather idealistically expected the tournament to show exactly who The Most Moe is. Between politicking, voting the most popular instead of the more-moe, and campaigns of anti-voting, the tourney’s not really indicative of who is most moe, but who’s most popular at the time of the match, and which girls’ faction can raise more votes. Which kinda sucks, because… I am curious! WHO IS THE MOE-EST OF THEM ALL???
I’ll be supporting Hyouka‘s Chitanda Eru in quite a few matches, but she was a bit too curious after awhile, so her “moe quotient” dropped. Still, she’s undeniably cute! Lily’s curious too,so I dug that <3
I’ve got a few favorites whom I’ll be supporting this year in every match, unless up against one of these other girls, when I’ll have to make difficult choices. It’s ISML; par for the course! In Part One, we’ll check out the eight newcomers in the Nova Division: (The pics are courtesy of ISML as well as is Ichigo-Sora’s banner at the top!)
Akemi Homura, from Puella Magi Madoka Magica:At first I didn’t like her much, but this was due to not knowing her back-story. Plus, she was played in a fairly threatening and ominous light. But PMMM is rightly considered the anime that turned light ‘n’ fluffy Magical Girl anime collectively on its head, for good reason. Once the scope of Homura’s puzzle is revealed and the pieces start falling into place, you gain a whole new appreciation for her. The sum total of her qualities and dedication to Madoka despite knowing their terrible fates equals one of my favorite characters in anime. She defines self-sacrifice and devotion. I went from hate to like to love in just a few (revealing) episodes! This tribute AMV reveals many of the “why”s (so here’s a SPOILER warning!) The red glasses didn’t hurt either
Hasegawa Kobato, fromBoku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai: This pint-sized heterochromiac (eyes of differing color) self-delusional little sister is almost too damned cute! There’s no way I can resist her! Plus, her stuffed bunny = moe overkill LOL Lucky (I guess) that her prickly personality offsets the sugar, otherwise she’d be waaayyy too sweet! She’s pretty funny, especially when paired with the equally-pint-sized little “nun” of the same age, Maria.
Honma Meiko (Menma), from Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai: I love Menma to death, and her anime AnoHana was really a thing of beauty. It’s joined my “immortal” list, as has its memorable heroine, Menma. Five childhood friends grow together and then apart following the death of one of them. Meiko is rather the linchpin of this small band of friends, all of whom are well-sketched out. The title translates to “We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day.” By the time of its end, you’ll discover something about Menma that’ll clue you in to the flower. You will certainly forget her not
For my tastes and money, Menma is the most moe girl in the entire tournament. But she’ll never get enough votes to match the popular powerhouses. Still, I’ll vote her over most every other girl here! The following AMV is almost as heartrending as the series is, and some SPOILERS are in it, so be advised…
Makise Kurisu, from Steins;Gate: She’s not all that moe (for my tastes), but this is another case where character and back-story propel an actor to the fore of your heart. Her place in the plot becomes ever-more significant, as the consequences and stakes raised play out in this convoluted but brilliant sci-fi/time-travel story, another anime high-water mark as PMMM and AnoHana were, all from 2011. Kurisu’s got the same qualities that Akemi Homura has; standoffish, cool, intelligent, driven, independent. This very often does not elicit that moe feeling; such capable girls certainly don’t need or care about my “protection” LOL! Not until late in the series does she become a much more sympathetic character, and one the viewer cares about.
Natsume Rin, from Little Busters!: Sometimes the slow-growers turn out to be the best characters (much like record albums sometimes are). It took me a few episodes, but watching her personality emerge was a lot of fun. You know that she’s resistant to interacting with others, but she comes out of her shell almost with a vengeance, while still staying true to character. Loves cats = another plus! Good baseball pitcher too
Oshino Shinobu, fromBakemonogatari: Shinobu is my favorite to win, though she’s got no chance against the upper-tier girls. Maybe she’ll surprise this year; you never know! I’m not sure exactly why I like her so much; it could be her rare first season appearances, always mute and sullen, sitting in a corner by herself, and then transforming (in Nisemonogatari) into a talkative, troublesome, donut-craving companion to Araragi, her “master”. Also probably because hidden in that child’s body is the essence and attitude of a 500-year old vampire, simultaneously annoyed and amused by her binding to this… human. She’s a bad-ass to boot! Brief glances:
Takanashi Rikka, from Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!: Only a few “eyepatch girls” appeal to me (Chihiro from ef – a tale of memories being one), but Rikka won me over with her persistence with sticking to her delusions, and bravery in attempting to banish them. Being a part of her make-believe world, her patch isn’t a necessity but more a connection to her only comfort zone. When she has to come out of it into the real world and lose the patch, things get pretty interesting. She’s someone I can really pull for, and will
Towa Erio, from Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko: Like Kobato’s design, Erio’s oozes beauty and otherworldly charm. She literally sparkles in some scenes! She spends much of the early episodes’ time wrapped up on her futon, which, for some reason, is unbearably cute! Rewatching this AMV reminds me how much fun her anime was xD
Those are my picks for the innocent-and-pure Nova Division; coming soon in Part Two will be the hardened veteran contestants from the Stella Division! Thanks for reading, now go and vote!
Now that the dust from the last culling of dropped series has settled (around five shows’ worth), I’ve settled on the eight titles I’ll be watching this spring. I usually can find eight to ten series of interest each season, and for what little time I have for viewing these days it’s good to have eight quality shows to follow. But polishing the manuscript must tale precedence, so I have to fit the episodes in when I can. Ditto the posting! Luckily, there’s always time for anime
It was six years ago this week that I saw my first anime series, Elfen Lied. My friend Davecat had sent me a dozen or so sampler DVDs from Newtype USA, and I was pleasantly surprised to see at least that many titles intriguing enough to investigate. These new stories, not to mention the culture, proved most attractive to this persnickety writer. Once I gleaned the scheduling, fan-subbing, and availability of episodes each season, I fully understood the implications: This was an open-ended medium in and of itself, spinning off not only anime series four times a year, but also figures, manga, light novels, movies and much more. It was as if a new and previously-hidden galaxy had appeared over this one, and opened up to me, brimming with new worlds to explore.
I like to explore This season’s Bounty:
Speaking of Davecat, I just watched Evangelion 3.33, You Can (Not) Redo, which he’d only just recommended the day before! (In the above pic are EVA’s Asuka, Mari, and Rei, l-r.)I thought the 90-minute movie was great fun, even in spite of my lukewarm reaction to mecha anime. I guess not growing up with giant robots, transformers, and various mecha anime (which was pretty much the sole anime diet of the westerner aside from Pokemon), has something to do with it. I’d already grown tired of the cartoon quality declining since the ’60s, and all those confusing metal suits clashing and banging around did little to draw my attention.
This season I found a couple of shows featuring mechs, but the only one I’m still following will be Suisei no Gargantia, or “Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet”. How the hell they got “verdurous” in there is beyond me, but yay vocabulary! (It essentially means “lush with vigorous green vegetation” or the like. I hadda look it up )
Here’s a short battle scene, where Ledo (the MC, here translated as “Red” which I doubt is right) shows what his mecha unit can do in a fight. He’s been thrown from the midst of a fantastic opening space battle onto a strange backwards planet where his technologies are unknown to these primitives, who nonetheless manage to survive by banding fleets of boats together to form floating cities on an ocean-covered world. The world-crafting here is deliciously layered, using kites and sail-boats for transportation, and scavenging for goods beneath the surface. There’s a language barrier to boot, but his mech can (after awhile) translate for him, and them. Handy! This is their first exposure to advanced technology, as you can see by their astonished (and dismayed) faces! Great character designs, btw, including the sexy redhead <3
We’ve got a diverse assortment of genres to quench just about any thirst this season, with a few standouts. One of these is Shingeki no Kyojin, or Attack on Titan. With a detailed, carefully crafted world, lush animation, involving story, great character designs and distinctive actors, this action show has it all. Living entirely within walled cities, humanity has limited resources and technology to fight their enemy, the dim-witted (if witted at all) Giants, who apparently live only to consume humans. The OP gives a scarifying glimpse of this grave new world (thanks Strawbs); I love the crowd-jumping bit at the end! Somehow I feel that mankind will survive, and we’ll have 25 episodes to discover how…
Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “anime, giants; big deal.” No! These giants are… well, gigantic; the terrifying ones you’d expect to meet reading The Arabian Nights or The Illiad and the Oddysey. Truly creepifying o.O Give it just one episode and you’ll see whether it’s your cup of tea! Hope you like tea… the Giants like YOU :-O
Aku no Hana, aka Flowers of Evil after Baudelaire’s notorious volume of poems, is the surprise show of the season for me. It’s not so much a show you will love, but be fascinated by. Kinda like a train wreck in slo-mo, but one you can’t look away from. An experience, perhaps; after five episodes (of thirteen) I’m totally engrossed with it and (quite) anxiously awaiting next week. I can’t see it ending well, but you never know with anime. We could end up with a School Days type ending *shudder*
It’s completely singular in so many respects! Not the least of which is the fans’ whining about how different it is LOL Something so unique is bound to attract the haters, and they’re out in force on this show. I’ve never seen such schizo ratings before (see the linked ANN page)!
But pay them no mind and make your own decisions. How grown-up are you? Can you tolerate a show that will toy with your expectations and other assumptions of what a “good” anime should be? This series has me on the hook; it’s brilliant, though that might be hard to see what with all the tension and suspense drenching nearly every minute, especially the slow ones. Very deliberately paced, and not in a hurry about it, the viewer becomes involved in a very realistic way, as opposed to your typical drama. It’s not your typical story, by any means.
Social-inept Kasuga is a bookworm and infatuated not only with Baudelaire’s book, but the girl whom he considers his Muse, the sweet Saeki, whom he worships from afar. After classes one day, he impulsively steals her gym clothes from her locker, but is observed by the class reprobate, Nakamura, who decides to use the information to manipulate him. As westerners, we might say, “So what? Kick her ass.” But in Japanese society, any implication of perversion or even non-conformity is frowned upon, and can be deleterious to your family’s honor. As we see, Kasuga’s family is strict, and so we feel his fears and concerns as he tries to hide his regrettable act, but it may be too late…
Nakamura (see above) is such a hateful, yet awesome character. I suspect that she’ll become legendary in anime history, if the story pans out. She’s unapologetic about anything; truly a psychopath-in-training, if not already. Unfortunately few videos are available; sharing is disabled on most I’ve found. But here’s one clip of the ED (ending theme), but without the creepy lyrics, or anything of the anime, just to give you a hint of the show’s menace:
(The lyrics paraphrased (from YT): “A flower has bloomed A flower has A flower has bloomed A flower which was scared at the wind terribly, which hasn’t been seen by anybody, has bloomed. A flower has bloomed A flower has A flower has bloomed It seems that A flower, which was scared at the wind terribly, which hasn’t been seen by anybody, has bloomed. A flower has bloomed A flower has A flower has bloomed A flower which hasn’t been seen by anybody, has been blooming.”)
It’s truly a singular piece of music, and fitting for this series. Especially creepy is how the first spoken lines play during the last scene, usually over an ominous development, and then the music/credits begin through the previews. Better to see it for yourself! But what loathsome characters to endure LOL Not evil (well, not yet, maybe), just somewhat twisted in one way or another, as much as school kids, fresh to Life, might be able to be, for good or ill.
The unsettling thing about Aku no Hana is the animation, and how realistic everything is. Despite being barely-sketched-in, the characters look like real people, and move likewise against near photo-realistic backgrounds. The writing supports this, as does the leisurely pacing, which only heightens the unease developing in the plot. The producers wisely decided to withhold advance glimpses of the characters, and I imagine there’s a whole lot of squawking by fans at the rotoscoped animation. I think it’s a stroke of genius, and supports this singular anime like normal animation might not. That ending theme is awesome, and it’s so hard to get out of my head!
Here’s a treat; I hope it stays up! The composer, ASA-CHANG made this video of an early and much-slower rendition of this song (“A Last Flower”), unless I’m mistaken (can’t read Japanese). It’s a very different version, and gives you an idea of this unique artist. Watch it quickly before it gets snipped! The strings remind me of Spiritualized’s “Broken Heart”, which is a very good thing. And search YT for other interesting performances by ASA-CHANG
(ROM)-COMS (to varying degrees):
One of the funnier shows I’ve caught in a while is Hataraku Maou-sama! or, The Devil Is a Part-Timer! True, it’s a one-trick pony, but what a trick! Talk about a fish out of water…! It seems that Satan (and his lackey) has been thrown into the Earthly plane, where he’s lost all of his powers (not to mention hellish appearance). Of course, now he has to find a job, and does at a fast food joint, where he excels. Who’dathunkit? Complicating matters is the fact that the Hero who is his mortal enemy, ALSO has found herself stuck on the Earth, in like straits. Clever writing, funny dialogue, and LOL_worthy situations make this show a treat
Two shows with second seasons are also on the schedule, Oreimo 2 (mercifully shortened LONG-ASS title), and Railgun 2 (ditto). With the former, I’ve a sort of love-hate thing going on, as sis-con plotlines are kind of not interesting to me, even though relatively innocent and not as incestuous as its title implies (translates to “My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute”). Kirino is (to me) an unlikable girl though fun to watch; I rather watch for Kuroneko:
Railgun is always a blast, but occasionally suffers from “too much dialogue in the midst of combat” syndrome. Still, that occasional breaking of the tempo doesn’t detract from the action or the story, and the characters are well-enough-known by now to make it worth following this well-animated sci-fi/action/comedy franchise, including A Certain Magical Index. Not much romance, but it’s probably not important to this story. Unless between the girls, who like each other a bit much LOL Here’s the official OP:
Rounding out the list is Hayate Cuties(slapstick-ish) and Red Data Girl, which is slowly catching on with me. We’ll see how it goes; I’m finding it curious enough, and the ED is lovely:
I’m also still enjoying a 25-episode series from Winter Season, the karuta-based series Chihayafuru 2, which satisfies the sports/romance itch. Now that’s what I call a full bouquet for the setting
Please feel free to share your thoughts and what you’re watching!
Things are (very) slowly turning around, unless I’m just becoming dizzy! There is that possibility. The back problem persists, but pain is lessening or else I’m adjusting to it better. So what better time to post this little update at Alastor’s, the portal to UNBOUND through which many of you Enter?
(By the way, the above setting is one of the scenes for UNBOUND, in the chapter entitled “The Turnaround”. The department store windows you can see are where our mad street preacher, the home-less Fingal, is accosted by some street thugs. To put it subtly, the glass doesn’t stay intact for long…)
First of all, apologies for the lengthy delay; I’ve really just been too down to feel much like writing or reading much of anything. Let alone comprehend what I’m reading! Way too much on my mind(s)! Not feeling-sorry-for-myself down, but fatigued-from-constant-crises-to-deal-with-for-the-past-six-years-to-even-think kind of down. Seriously tired of it, not to mention dealing with the constant pain and limitations (which I naturally abhor), let alone the cynical and skeptical government agencies who supposedly are set up to be there for us. It’s a deep fucking pit I’m trying to escape from. But I’m grateful for my Helpers
Then in the deepest depths (as they say), something I cherish always pulls me out, whether a friend’s timely advice or just Listening, or some uplifting music, or watching an inspiring anime. Or even just a glimpse of the ever-hopeful Lily-Doll, standing patiently, waiting for the World to discover her Story. Her eyes twinkle mischievously, I imagine; she seems to know something I don’t, and she’s not telling!
But she might tell you though, through the pages of her story. That’s why she’s here. She’s such a delightful and comforting presence and continual inspiration to me, as she is the persona of Lily Godwin, brought to “life”. (Well, my life anyway!) I’ve had her with me for nine years this month, and she’s been one of the few constant shining lights, along with Pennie, our cat. Our lights come in many hues and shades
Coming Up Dept: New Posts on the 2013 ISML tourney now underway, reflections on the past Wintery anime season, an overview of what I’ve chosen to watch for Spring, and a new collection of AMVs. So: Lots of stuff! Now to just find the time and a moment of peace. It’ll come
Thanks for visiting; your thoughts and comments are most welcome :-)
Now that UNBOUND Book Two: Air has been safely released, and just before diving into the final polishing of Book Three: Water (for release at month’s end), it’s time to squeeze in the second part of UNBOUND-like anime, this time of the darker variety. In UNBOUND Anime Part Onewe covered the lighter, fanciful and more dramatic and romantic titles, this time we turn it over…
“Balance” is a key element in the novel, and here we delve into the more psychological and horrifying themes. In a suspenseful book, you can’t have Good without the Evil, including the misguided, traumatized and broken characters in these shows, those avengers swept away in the tumultuous currents of justice and revenge.
First, I ought to warn the more gentle Visitor that, being darker, these videos (and anime) are mostly on the violent side, and all that that entails. While I dislike over-the-top gratuitous violence, that definition may be a bit subjective, so venture forth bravely
That being said, I’d humbly suggest you watch these full screen for maximum effect; it helps greatly. Also, each bold-faced title links to the Anime News Network Encyclopedia entries for information on each show, some with samples to watch. All of these entries are acclaimed for one reason or another; use the ANN ratings for guidance, as well to see if the genres suit your tastes. While these are mostly on the dark side, I won’t enjoy a show unless there’s something redeeming about it, and these delivered in spades!
As I mentioned previously, these series have in common an element (or several, more likely) with UNBOUND. It may be a huge but well-developed cast (Monster), or a psychological mind-bender regarding Identity (Lain), or a jigsaw-puzzle of a story where, disoriented, the witness stumbles desperately towards a likely-grisly but hopeful end (Higurashi). These series were chosen out of the 300+ shows I’ve seen, so this six and the previous are notable in that they evoked a sense of “belonging” for my story where really there is little elsewhere!
One of the most realistic and harrowing series ever, this masterpiece is a must-see for crime/detective/suspense fans, and those with a strong backbones, because the tension gets thick at times and the going rough. The horror here isn’t fantastic or supernatural but psychological; it’s all the more horrifying because the cause is quite human, if monstrous. While the animation isn’t flashy, it’s effective with its spareness and somewhat dull palette; these actually compliment its style. The direction was gripping and at times breathtaking, and the story spreads out over many locations. At 74 episodes, this is the longest series I tackled, but it was SO well worth it. You can Watch It Now (legally) via the ANN link in the title
But the characters are what drive this story, and nearly every supporting actor is Oscar-material, from the Ahab-like pursuer Inspector Runge, to the troubled grown-up child Nina Fortner, and the unforgettable Mr. Grimmer (one of my favorite supporting characters). But Monster features one of the most cruel villains ever in Johann; beautiful, manipulative, and very cruel. This AMV sums up the atmosphere nicely:
The first anime series I saw, that first ten horrifying minutes are ingrained in my memory, especially coming after the beautiful cathedral-like Opening Theme, “Lilium”. That song, sung in Latin, alone caught my eye (and ear), with its homage to artist Gustav Klimt, but when the story began unfolding I saw a few similarities with UNBOUND. It’s tricky to mention without spoiling my story, but I saw more than a little of Lily in Lucy. Being that Lily isn’t anything at all like a psycho-killer, the similarities are pretty subtle though LOL
The dual nature of Lucy/Nyuu fascinated me; the tragic vengeful former experiment and cold-blooded killer Lucy, and the naive, childlike and amnesiac Nyuu. You might find it echoed throughout UNBOUND
It’s difficult to find an AMV for Elfen Lied that doesn’t spoil something or else cover the viewer in gore, of which there is plenty, so here’s the official (and slightly less bloody) trailer. This (and Higurashi) are two of the most envelope-pushing anime in my collection, so be warned! Both are brutal. This clip features Lucy freeing herself from her bindings in bits and pieces from that notorious first ten minute gantlet. Despite its abject cruelty and “who-really-are-the-monsters” theme, Elfen Lied‘s power lies in its as-effective portrayal of love and forgiveness, something lost on those attracted to it solely for its violence…
Here’s a little reward for Alastor’s visitors so they aren’t left out of the social-networking loop: On Sunday, February 3rd, I’ll be offering UNBOUND Books One and Two for FREE!
We just want you to know that your presence and support (and just-plain curiosity) is appreciated, and also hope that the hooks in our books will dig deep into you so that you’ll want to buy Books Three & Four! (It’s totally un-ironic that a few of the supporting cast are addicts.) (*cough*) ‘Scuse me while I fix this Rod… xD
Here’s an apparently-unrelated AMV, but it has certain thematic resonances with the novel and appropriately-dramatic music by Yuki Kajiura so it’s fine:
All we ask is that IF you enjoy it and feel that another Reader might, please share with or recommend it to them, and help spread the word that way. Because I suck at promotion, and don’t want to appear obnoxious (any more so than I already have and for that I am truly sorry LOL)
I’ve started polishing on Book Three: Water and will hopefully have it lapping at your shores by month’s end
Here’s something to help “tide” you over (ow, I know): a video by the super-talented Mr Marrs based on Kate Bush’s sublime “Hello Earth”:
Best get out of the water, but you might be in too deep; you’ll know by the end of Unbound Book Three: Water…
To coincide with UNBOUND‘s birthing, I thought it’d be fun to take a look at some anime that resonated with my own project in various ways, whether of characters, themes, plot-twisting, subject matter or emotional pitch. Sometimes all of the above! Throughout the novel’s composition, I obsessively tracked various media to ensure it was a singular story, and one not done before. After completing the final draft in 2006, I felt satisfied that I’d created something unusual and different, with elements not well-explored. In 2007 I discovered anime, and found to my utter surprise and delight a format with which my ideas and designs sympathized a great deal. And, what stories!
Today I’ll focus on the lighter series, and follow up next week with the darker ones. Can’t have one without the other, and that may very well be another theme of UNBOUND. We don’t know yet!!! Well. I do, but… ANYWAY: There are lots of themes, devices and elements used in the story, so there are usually many more reasons than those few listed below that these featured anime resonate with my project. But I’ll try to stick to a minimum for the sake of brevity. These aren’t so much similarities, but more like reflections that they share with my novel, usually in very subtle ways.
I recommend watching these in full screen, as a lot of detail is lost when shrunk down, not to mention impact. Impact is what it’s all about! Speaking of, minor spoilers may be in some videos, but very few. I consider all of these titles to be worthy of your time and interest (if you enjoy animation; genre-assuming & etc); most (if not all) are considered classics, as the Anime News Network Encyclopedia links will indicate by the ratings. And if you’re still under the mistaken impression that anime is kids’ stuff… well, *chortle* wait for part two, if this one doesn’t convince you
Spanning two seasons, this masterpiece expertly weaves multiple characters and plot-lines together and interweaves those, which is pretty much how UNBOUND Magnolia‘d out. That maze (or rather labyrinth!) was the biggest challenge for me in constructing it, and making sure everything held the weave. The relationships between all of the characters was really a joy to discover, when it wasn’t painful, but even then. The artwork, design and direction by Studio SHAFT was eye-dazzling and thought-provoking, many scenes so intense you want to turn away but can’t. (You can “Watch It Now” via the above legal link!)
But without engaging characters a twisting plot is merely a convoluted story. The juggling of these 5 pairs of lovers (erstwhile, in some cases) with their own stories, plus the story’s own mysteries, was skillfully handled and yet fairly compartmentalized, except for Yuu and Yuuko, who spin these “fairytales of the two” over the course of both seasons, and told in the second. It is devastating yet ultimately fulfilling.
For me, the character that stood out the most was Yuuko; I saw a lot of Lily in her: teasing, melancholic, self-sacrificing yet selfish (or rather, necessarily self-centered) in her way. Yuuko’s a very complex character. Her back-story, as it’s teased out over the two seasons of memo/melo, is tragic and riveting, if you are patient and allow the weave to delicately unravel, revealing her secrets. Kind of (a lot) like UNBOUND
Here’s the full version of the OPening theme, “Euphoric Field”; Yuuko is the one playing the piano <3
I always go on about Misuzu (see the post below for an example), but in relation to UNBOUND it is Lady Kanna who provides the lily. While the bulk of Air takes place in the current day, Kanna’s part takes place “1,000 Summers” earlier, and serves as a story-within-the-story. Overall, I’d say that the most “Lily-like” character in all of anime must be Kanna, for reasons best left unsaid, for now
Air is another example of a busy story-line, though it’s more episodic than the usual inter-weaving of story arcs, which seems to be the common element between these picks. But what a story! Each of the other main girls have their eloquent and emotionally-dense arcs, and then Misuzu’s takes off. This lonely but engagingly sweet girl enlists traveling puppeteer Yukito as her friend, and he begins to see her as an aid to finding what he pursues: the legend of a girl with wings, trapped in the sky…
This is the OP without the credits, and expanded upon using scenes from the anime in this full version of “Tori no Uta”:
Combined, these two seasons make this one of the most memorable romantic comedy/dramas ever. Another great pairing of studio Kyoto Animation and game-designer Visual Art’s/Key, Clannad pulls no punches in its emotional content in the same manner as its siblings, Air (TV) and Kanon (2006). Nagisa’s development was beautifully subtle, growing from an uncertain, withdrawn schoolgirl into a devoted young woman, vulnerable, strong and brave.
I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year while it’s still fresh in the AIR
As an aside… to the Readers and Writers who may be unfamiliar with anime, the above pic is from a classic 2005 series, AIR. It’s one of my favorites, and its heroine Misuzu is probably my most-favorite character (out of soo many!). See if you can glimpse the elements of its story just from the synopsis and the beautiful presentation in this next AMV. (The Story spans 1,000 years, at least.)
This clip minimizes spoilers pretty well but there are still a few; if you full-screen it you’ll enjoy it much better (as with all of these). If you do watch the 13-episode series, which I highly recommend, be sure to have plenty of Kleenex… it’ll be the quickest six hours you’ll spend, and probably among the most-memorable. It has that effect…
…which is the effect I wanted UNBOUND to have, and which is why anime has endeared itself to me so deeply. It portrays beautifully and horrifyingly the stories I want to tell, and leave you feeling breathless. Simple as that
Now that Unbound’s Book One: Earth has been released, I’m working on Book Two: Air, and have finished NUKE-ing, re-formatting, and re-adding italics and such. Man, is there ever a lot of thinking going on in these pages! So, LOTS of italics to put back in. Happily, they all fit
While it’s only available on Kindle for now, after the exclusivity period ends I intend to publish to the other e-Readers as well. Ultimately, a Book! Made of paper!!! This is the only opportunity to begin that marathon, so I’m acting now to aim for that… goal. That’s a hard word to type after writing about Air-TV ;_;
Misuzu Kamio, such a brave girl…
Next up is to do a final tightening-up and polishing to make it nice ‘n’ pretty for your eyes in time for its release at the end of January. Not having an editor prior to publication was never something I thought I’d have to deal with, but I’ve scrupulously gone over it as well as four other First Readers have, and all are very happy with it. My biggest hope is that you will be too, and will want to share it with friends and family.
Next up for the website will be the opening chapter of Book Two: Air, Chapter 3.1, The Inside; I also will try to squeeze in new Character Snaps for the many new actors as well. Some of them blow trumpets…
Normally I keep the book’s news on the website, and the anime, music, and AMVs over here. But Alastor was pissed that I put an “UNBOUND Music” post over there, and wants a little action of his own. So, to mark the next phase of UNBOUND, some airy videos for your Visiting pleasure
Speaking of Visitors, we’ve gotten a huge increase over the past two months, many of them from China and no doubt here for the anime (unless there are a lot more English-readers over there than I know), and I’d like to thank them for their time. But they probably won’t be able to read this. Thanks anyway xD
Another increase is due to the redesigned website (thanks to my webmaster), plus an influx of curious readers and writers to whom I’m grateful for their kind (if quietly curious) attention. I’m happy to see that the website’s articles are being read; it makes the work so much more worthwhile. It’s such a difficult project to discuss, which is why the words are mostly all over there, and the more visual over here. So, I can tell there, and show here! Hopefully some Blog-visitors will flit over to the website, and Readers from the website will wing to the Blog, and the cross-pollination can continue! This is a rather deliberate slow-growth project
More background information can be found on the novel’s website; the Blog’s more entertainment-oriented. When I began this project, anime wasn’t even a gleam on my horizon. After discovering it though, I found to my utmost delight that it told stories much in the same veins I enjoyed my own stories to flow. For instance, I can say that UNBOUND is in the same vein as AIR-TV, and (probably) millions will know what I mean. So, I’ll say that here. Except that it isn’t, really. It’s a completely different horse, of a decidedly different color!
But if you enjoy stories like that one, Kanon, and Clannad, you’ll like this one, I’m sure. Reality, with a BIG twist of Fantasy. Or is it?
Just throw in lots of ef ~a fairytale of the two, Elfen Lied, and Monster, and you may start to get the idea. But that’s just a start. There’s no describing what you’re in for; it’s made to just dive into and enjoy the waters, if they’re warm enough for you. It may be that you just don’t like swimming, and the story may just not be for you. But really, it is. It’s a story about US.
I’ll let you discover that on your own, if you’re willing. A Word to the Wise and etc
It’s just taking a while. Things are currently progressing apace with the final polish of UNBOUND‘s first (e)book, but in fits and starts as events and crises occur seemingly one after the other. With the distractions almost constant it’s almost impossible to concentrate, let alone think critically. Yesterday and tonight were a total washout despite trying all day with the damn MS staring back at me, and all I’m doing is polishing it. But pretty damned deliberately!
I’m running on empty but somehow keep going. STUBBORN!!! I’d go into detail but (a) don’t want to appear pathetic, (b) or trying to elicit sympathy, (c) or kill your buzz. Seriously messed-up here, but if fits do happen, the starts will usually follow soon
I’ve also reconsidered the hoped-for release date of 12/21/12 to sometime before the year ends. I like symmetrical dates as much as the next guy, but I think that UNBOUND’s date of release should have more significance than that of the Mayan “last day”. Although that is a bit significant to the novel, hmm…
If you stopped by expecting something anime-related (since the Fall season is ending), I’ll try to recap next week if time allows. There was a lot to enjoy, so I’m a couple of weeks behind; see time limitations & etc. Whatever the reason for your visit, I wanted to say thanks and share a few holiday anime music videos with you. IT’S LIKE A CHRISTMAS PARTY!!! Only without the Christmas. Yet.
Since time is precious, the lack of it prevents me from searching out the best in holiday AMVs; these are a bit random but festive and fun. With just a wee touch of warm-hearted/heart-rending drama from Toradora thrown in. Because balance & etc
This short scene is taken out of context since it takes place so late in the series (after a lot of character and plot development), but this was a very sweet moment in Toradora, probably my favorite straight-up romantic comedy. Seeing these two singing together (let alone wearing make-up!) was a highlight of the series, as is the follow-up clip right after.
"When early youth had passed, he left his cold fireside and alienated home to seek strange truths in undiscovered lands. Many a wide waste and tangled wilderness has lured his fearless steps; and he has bought with his sweet voice and eyes, from savage men, his rest and food." (from 'Alastor, or, The Spirit of Solitude', by Percy Bysshe Shelley,1815)
For info on our novel UNBOUND, please see our website in the Blogroll!