Just a quick little heads-up for those interested in getting in on The 2010 International Saimoe League from the start: the first Preliminary Match has begun today, and only runs for one full day, ending at 15:00 on the 1st, so time to get your votes in! Go here to begin!
And here’s KholdStare’s Promotional Video for it:
A couple of minor things to note: Not all of the girls pictured are contestants; they’re just moe~ Also, the music is from the series Ichigo Mashimaro, and its star(let)s can be seen starting at around 0:45 into it. Good job, KS!
Here’s my voting tally, taken from the Ballot Page’s results (after you’ve voted, you can copy various codes to use in blogs, forums and websites). Basically, each Arena has three contestants to choose from, plus an option to abstain if you wish. BTW, I don’t abstain
And remember: YMMV (Your Moe May (and will) Vary)!
Every so often I still encounter people here who just don’t (or won’t) get the fascination with anime that fans in the U.S. (and countries outside of Japan) have. As this also has a lot to do with the moe sub-phenomenon, I’ll add it here, courtesy of John Opplinger of Anime Nation’s Blog, in his “Ask John” column (emphasis in the following is mine):
Could you give me some insight into what makes Americans like anime? What is it about this foreign art that Americans find appealing?
Answer: In my own estimation, one of the major drawing points anime has over American cartoons is its emphasis on characterizations. The bright colors and fantastic look of anime attract viewers initially, and some people will argue that it’s the outrageous action, violence and sensationalism that attract Americans to anime, but shows like Sailormoon and Tenchi Muyo which are popular on TV now have relatively little of that. The most fundamental difference between anime and American cartoons is that anime is always grounded in its characters. American cartoons will place characters in a situation. Anime places situations around characters. Many anime shows have a continuing story, while very nearly all American cartoons are episodic, created specifically to be a series of individual, stand-alone stories rather than small pieces of a whole. Even in the case of anime series that are episodic, the characters develop and change from episode to episode. Anime, therefore, engenders more personal involvement between the show and the viewer than typical American cartoons do. Live-action programs commonly feature a continuing story and developing characters, you may argue, so why do anime fans still cling so tenaciously to anime rather than to live-action? Anime, when compared to live-action, can provide more involvement and interaction than even live-action because anime is so obviously fantasy that it allows for suspension of disbelief, and allows for role-playing with much greater ease than live-action programs do. When watching a live-action program, a viewer may think, “I wouldn’t do that,” or “I wouldn’t be there or wouldn’t say that,” because live-action is so familiar that a viewer can imagine him/herself as a part of the situation on screen, or alienate them self from the characters on screen, i.e. “Those beautiful people would never hang out with me,” or “I’d never be caught dead with those dumb people.” With anime, it’s simply easier to place oneself amidst the action because the action is so far apart from our natural expectations, prejudices and assumptions.
Well said, John!
I plan on doing one or two Posts this week (time permitting) that will put these comments to good use in highlighting the shows I’m following in this Winter Season and the reasons why, and then hope to follow that up with another in the “AMV’d” series highlighting one of the most powerful “personally involving” series I’ve ever come across, the ef – a fairy tale of the two pair of anime, namely, ef – a tale of memories, and ef – a tale of melodies. These are two truly captivating shows, at times breathtakingly so (pretty literally in several scenes), that anyone who appreciates character-driven stories of emotional depth will love. That doesn’t even take into account the visual effect (and Affect)! But more on these tales when the time comes
I decided to postpone the “writerly post” started below for now, as frankly, I’m not in the mood what with all the intense job-hunting processes wearing me down and making me highly pessimistic/negative/cynical/inflammatory and etc etc etc. I don’t want to share that vibe with you.
Not yet anyway When it’s time for The Revolution, then yeah. For now though, I need to decompress. Job hunting in a 17% unemployed locale is pretty awful. Especially with “the age issue” and the “gap-in-employment” issue counting as strikes against me. Anyway, enough of that, before I get started.
So, since this is the one-hundredth post(YAYYY!), this one will be for general Alastor-stuff… sort of a combination maintenance/upkeep/celebratory Post!
This paragraph is to spammers and such persons-of-interest: I’ve been getting what appear to be non-spam comments lately, but since they contain nothing about the Post they’ve been attached to, I’m considering them as spam. Sorry, but if you (the Spammer) are ”just happening to mention” your politically-oriented Blog/Website in my “Monster” Post without actually commenting on Monster, then even despite your flattering compliments for this humble Blog, I’m considering it as spam and deleting it. Nothing personal. Tricksters will not prevail in this place. But maybe I’ll let you if you actually read and comment on the Post at hand. But since “you” are most likely automated I highly doubt that you will. So.
Secondly, to the Silent Majority of lurkers out there, please do feel free to leave your comments, as I value them highly and welcome them from anyone. Well, except spammers; see above. As long as the comments are of some substance even opposing views are accepted, and we thank you ALL for your visits and your comments :-)
Thirdly, I’ve noticed that many Visitors are from foreign lands (yes, even Canada!), and so I’d like to say “Welcome!” in your own native tongues. But I only took Latin in high school, so… please pretend that I have. And do come again!
Fourth… I really would like to have a more diverse assortment of postings put up here, but really, the present state of world-affairs leaves me fuming, and I fear my political views (not to mention religious/spiritual) may be somewhat inciteful. And I’m rather old-school in that you don’t discuss politics or religion at the dinner table! And Alastor’s is nothing if not a casual feast between friends with the sharing of sumptuous goodies and treats. I really don’t feel it necessary to foul the pure waters of Alastor’s Reflection with angry rhetoric, at least not at this stage.
The same applies to the frustrations with my attempts to get Unboundpublished/agented. The Publishing Industry is really beginning to piss me off, much as the Music Industry already has long ago. So let’s not go there either. For now. I will keep occasionally posting about my (and Lily’s) novel, since that is what we are really here for, and point you to Unbound‘s website (insert shameless plug here but oh wait I already did). However, I feel that a literary-type Blog will put most of you to sleep, since (a) nothing is coming from its pursuit of publication, (b) the posts I have done on the subject receive no Comments anyway, and (c) writing about it just stirs up my resentments even more, which is an ugly thing that I should spare you. So I will. For now.
Fifth: I had planned to have my website and Blogs split into two, but those plans are apparently on hold, as my benefactor has become quite busy with real life and hasn’t had the time to recreate the new templates she lost when her computer crashed last year. I’d intended to have the Unbound website redesigned and an associated new Blog dedicated solely to my writing projects and other literary-related Posts (because literature and poetry are topics I like to write about -see aborted Post below this one), and leaving Alastor’s Reflection to deal with the many other topics of Things That I Am Interested In And Hope That You Are Too. So, for the meantime, they’ll all be jumbled together here. Sorry. But diversity is good for you!
Sixth: Since, due to the daily and draining dealing with critical survival/quality-of-life issues, many of my most-enjoyed subjects and hobbies (such as music, movies, and reading, to name but a few) have necessarily been placed on hiatus. Bummer, since I like to write about them too. But as I do need some form of entertainment to “take the edge off” the knife-blade of Life, I’ve settled on anime, which blends all of the above into so many beautifully-colored little presents, which I would like to share with you, and expose to those Visitors who might not otherwise know of its pleasures. It provides stories, but not those that need to be read, visuals in place of movies for which I haven’t the time to watch, and music in the way of scores with which I was culturally unfamiliar but welcome with enthusiasm, since my life has become so distractingly oppressive that I can’t even enjoy the music I’ve loved since a child. The resulting intrigue and fascination with the Japanese culture and its related anime/manga subculture really has been a refreshing godsend
Seventh: Since I’m active in quite a few anime forums, boards, IRC channels, and websites, I’m enjoying having Alastor’s becoming “anime-centric” for the time being, and welcome the many friends I’ve made in those places to pass through and check out the offerings here. It might be true that for the anime elitist these paltry writings may seem of the elementary sort, but there are better, more savvy, and saturated anime forums out there (a few of which are reachable through my Blogroll) for those who’ve graduated from “the basics.” My purpose here is to awaken an interest in anime in The Westerner, and one must proceed carefully and gradually so as not to overwhelm them with Higurashi no Naku Koro nibefore they’ve even seen Azumanga Daioh! Baby steps
So, I owe a large debt of thanks to those brilliant Japanese illustrators, animators, composers and creators who have provided me with such a delightful way to escape into magical, sensational, evocative, and wonderful animated storytelling, and I would love to expose Westerners to it in the pages of this Blog, and hope to promote the medium through these posts, videos, and recommended purchases; I pray that my small efforts here will help generate sales to assist in keeping the hobby alive. Also: welcome to those Visitors from Japan who’ve dropped in lately; I’ve noticed your numbers are increasing! :-D
The current 90th Anniversary issue of Writer’s Digest contains, among many other invaluable-to-writers articles, an excellent interview with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who is essentially the godfather of the San Francisco Beat poets, and owner and co-founder of the iconic City Lights Bookstore in North Beach. This bookstore was an early hangout for me beginning in 1968 for several years until real life (a.k.a. “work”) dragged me away, as it is wont to do. This man was such an essential early influence upon me and my writing ever since those wonderful long-ago days, and kept me in good company through his and other poets’ respective works which I found for sale in this magical, wonderful store. Lawrence and his bookstore were so important a symbol to me of the ideals of those incandescent moments of the ’60′s that City Lights is featured in several scenes in my own novel, Unbound. I hope that the Reader will consider it a well-deserved tip o’ the hat
I bought A Coney Island of the Mind there, along with other slim and slender books of his poetry, including Starting From San Francisco. While searching for poetic epigraphs for the novel, I found one poem in particular that summed up the part’s essence for which it was intended. Since I’m unsure whether I’ll be able to afford the rights to include it upon Unbound‘s fervently-hoped-and-prayed-for publication, I’ll include it here:
birds flute up here
Ah there’s a slit
to slither through
Cannot make it
Pied Piper’s cave
(Excerpt from “Flying Out of It” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
From Starting From San Francisco )
(EDIT:)… okay, now I’m really pissed. I just lost an HOUR’S worth of typing the continuance for this entry For SOME reason, WordPress stopped auto-saving. I was typing up a storm (which for me is a minor miracle) and had about ten paragraphs with Important Points to Make which I was later going to expand upon. IMPORTANT POINTS!!! Then, for SOME reason, in the midst of typing, I get this error about “Do you want to navigate away from this page?” Uh… NO. Why, did I act like I *wanted* to? GRR!
So, I thought “ya know… I’d better save this just in case.” So, I clicked “Save Draft.” Then, FOR SOME REASON, it goes to the Log In page! WTF?????????????????????? So, I logged in (again) and got taken to the Drafts Page where lo and behold, my Draft was lying in wait… at its earliest auto-saved point! It didn’t even save my Draft as I told it to! Everything was gone below the above Ferlinghetti poem. And there was a LOT (see previous Posts; all of them). I’ve tried to resuscitate my enthusiasm to continue, but it went south along with all of my Important Points to Make. Shit.
So, I’ll continue this thoughtful post on publishing, the creative arts, the Beat Scene and Mr. Ferlinghetti at the next opportunity. Right now I need a drink. Or something.
AND I SAW A BEAST RISING OUT OF THE SEA HAVING TEN HORNS AND SEVEN HEADS; AND ON ITS HORNS WERE TEN DIADEMS, AND ON ITS HEADS WERE BLASPHEMOUS NAMES… AND THE DRAGON GAVE IT HIS POWER AND HIS THRONE AND GREAT AUTHORITY… THEY WORSHIPPED THE DRAGON, FOR HE HAD GIVEN HIS AUTHORITY TO THE BEAST, AND THEY WORSHIPPED THE BEAST, SAYING, “WHO IS LIKE THE BEAST, AND WHO CAN FIGHT AGAINST IT?” -Revelations 13:1-4 NRSV
…and so it began…
I finally finished watching all 74 episodes of Monster last night… and wow, I’m speechless. So I’ll type instead
I’d been wanting to watch this show ever since getting into anime in May of 2007, but the length always put me off, despite the very high ratings it received pretty much everywhere. Its themes of morality, judgement, and good-versus-evil combined with its genres of drama, mystery, suspense, psychological thriller, and yes, chilling horror intrigued me from the first moment I discovered its entry at Anime News Network, along with its sky-high rating. Eventually its esteemed reputation wore me down, and after a long time searching I finally tracked down the files to watch at my convenience (i.e.: not at a network’s convenience and unreliability). From the first episode, I was hooked.
The question often is asked of what anime would make a good gateway through which to introduce non-anime fans into the medium; a show that doesn’t feature any of the typical and overexposed cliches that abound in much of the anime broadcast in the West. There really aren’t that many; even the superb Cowboy Bebopcould presumably be off-putting to those potential viewers not into science-fiction. (But if they are, Bebop would be perfect!) And so Monster raises its grisly, bloody head, a Mature series for mature people who can take a straightforward thriller that rarely falters in its unrelenting breakneck pace towards its very violent end. Totally addicting and filled with enough fully-fleshed secondary characters and well-thought out subplots to spin a web that will wrap as tightly as a shroud around the viewer, by the time they’ve dug through its 74 episodes and reached its end, the concept of “salvation” may become known in more ways than one…
… or not, depending upon the viewer
For those not inclined to click the above link, here’s the summary from Anime News Network:
Plot Summary: Kenzou Tenma, a Japanese brain surgeon in Germany, had it all: incredible skill at his work, a rich and beautiful fiancee, and a promising career at his hospital. However, after becoming disenchanted by hospital politics, he chose to save the life of a young boy who got shot in the head over the life of the mayor. As a result he lost the support of the hospital director, as well as his position in the hospital and his fiance. A short time later, the hospital director and the doctors that replaced him were murdered, and once again he was catapulted back onto the top. But as the chief suspect of the murders, Tenma did not get a easy life. As a matter of fact, it seems that the boy he saved was much more than he had appeared to be… Now to clear his name and to correct his past mistake, Tenma must get to the bottom of these and other murders, and investigate the truth of the Monster who is behind all of this.
It’s often been said that for a good “gateway anime” to work here in the West that it must be dubbed in English, as all-too-many potential viewers are put off by (or too lazy to read) subtitles. Monster is said to have a decent dub, but to be honest, the original Japanese voice actors provide a much more dramatic portrayal. From what I understand, these are actual live-action actors used to playing on-screen roles, so their performances are pitch-perfect and believeable. (Note that I’m unsure about this, namely because one of my favorite anime seiyuus, Mamiko Noto, voices Nina/Anna, and it’s probably her greatest role, Clannad‘s Kotomi and Kimi ni Todoke’s Sawako notwithstanding!) You don’t get the impression that they’re forcing their voices into the characters, but are actually WHO they are portraying. I was very impressed with the quality of not only the actors, but the writing, plotting, and direction of Monster. It was the easiest “10″ I ever gave
About the only anime I can think of to compare it to would be Death Note, without the supernatural elements. The police/detective themes run strong in both, and continually poke, prod, and propel the viewer along with the story’s relentless pacing. To be sure, there are moments where the pace does slow a bit, but I think that it’s necessary to do so in order to give the recipient a break in the feast set before them. Otherwise the addictive nature of this creation will glut them to explosive oversaturation…
The bad news is that since the series has been licensed for sale here in North America, it’s hard to find not only the episodes but also fitting (and subtitled) YouTube clips Although you can sample DUBBED episodes through the above Anime News Network link, so check that out by clicking the Watch It Now button on the encyclopedia page.
The good news is that after five years since its airing, the first DVD box set has just been released here! I’d say that if, after sampling a few episodes and finding it addictive enough, it would make an excellent addition to anyone’s library of movies, because in any form this is a story that is deep, thought-provoking, and satisfying, and a very worthy title to own outright. Since this first box only contains episodes 1-15, it’ll probably take five sets to fit all 74 episodes, but will be worth every penny; I’m definitely buying it (when I get some more pennies, that is). The only shame is that David Sylvian’s beautiful and haunting song for the ending theme, “For the Love of Life” wasn’t licensed for release here in the States. So, in the spirit of not letting those idiotic money-grubbing issues prevent you from enjoying this most-fitting piece of music, here it is in its entirety along with some of the background images taken from the thematic “The Monster Without a Name” picture book that is central to Monster…
Sylvian’s a really under-appreciated artist and has long been a favorite of mine ever since buying “Down to Earth” when it came out (ON VINYL). Great atmospherics So he joins Radiohead (Ergo Proxy) the Delgados (Gunslinger Girl) and Noel Gallagher from Oasis (Eden of the East) as rockers who’ve contributed musics to anime; pretty cool! (Note that the lyrics to “For the Love of Life” can be found on the above video’s YouTube page.)
Here’s a final treat/SPOILER for those that still need prodding and aren’t averse to a little spoilage. This occurs in episode 37 (the halfway point), and is the reading of “The Monster Without a Name” by Nina, voiced by Mamiko Noto:
Just like a fairy tale… except that the tale of Monster is very, very realistic, and pretty damned believable. Not exactly a nursery rhyme or children’s lullabye.
…and I’m feelin’ good (if a bit anticipatory)! 2010 has finally arrived and we can all happily kick and shove 2009 into the trashbin of history, where it belongs. Ugh. What a year! To be honest, it did have several redeeming and possibly life-saving events and encounters, but on the whole I’m glad that it’s gone. Here’s hoping that our nice, new, bright ‘n’ shiny 2010 will be good to us all
banner designed by Marina(ra)
…with the advent of a new year comes the nominations phase of the third annual International Saimoe League, a.k.a. the 2010 ISML tournament! Aside from wishing everyone here a Happy New Year, this post is to give a heads-up to my Anime Visitors to get in early and nominate your favorites whom the voters will hopefully be choosing between throughout the coming year. This phase runs only through January 7th, so head over to HERE to get started! HURRY!!!
And, by the way, since there’s been a welcome influx of Japanese visitors here lately, I’d like to add that we are very much wanting more Japanese participation in our tournament this year, where foreign voters are actually desired, unlike OTHER Moe Tournaments which won’t be mentioned *cough*… (To show my sincerity in courting voters from Japan, I will list the girls’ names here in the Japanese form of “last name first”, which frankly is confusing as hell since I always have to look twice to find their first name. WHYYY???)
Okay: once at the ISML site, your first stop ought to be the Rules Page; there’ve been a lot of changes and improvements in this year’s tournament. After reading up on them go to the Nominations Page, click on the “DO NOT NOMINATE” box to see who is already in (so you don’t waste a nomination), and then fill in the ballot of those 12 moe~tastic girls who you feel should be in the tournament. It’s a year-long tourney, so make sure that each nominee is someone whom you want to be in it for the long haul, ’cause hopefully, you will be with them all the way! It’s quite an endurance test, but a fun one, though it WILL be full of despair as your precious little cuties will be sure to become bashed and bruised in defeat And probablyin the Forums And… there will be despair
I’m just sayin’…
BUT IT’S FUN, DAMMIT! Zetsubou is just a part of it… zetsubou means you care
By the way, for those non-anime visitors who’ve gotten this far and are intrigued about this “moe” business (which is indeed serious) there’s a scholarly-type article here, and as always, the Wikipediagives a general overview with other viewpoints as well. Unfortunately, the concept and definitions of moe have become corrupted nowadays by many anime fans who want to distort the original meanings just to include girls and even males (!!!) to whomever they simply feel attracted to, no matter what the attraction is. Which is NOT moe. It’s totally becoming watered-down, which is a shame, because all too many are simple-mindedly equating moe with “popular” or “hot.” So don’t even get me started
Anyway, that bit of unpleasantry aside, my nominations for this year are the following, and not in any particular order since the votes are not weighted anymore:
Amamiya Yuuko-ef-a fairy tale of the two series
Kuronuma Sawako-Kimi ni Todoke
Amamiya Manami-Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight!
Sawatari Makoto-Kanon (2006)
Ochibana Ame-Denpa teki na Kanojo
That’s a very nice assortment of (my) favorites from both old and new series, and all of ‘em are cherished characters whom I consider very moe. I did have to reluctantly leave some girls out, but ultimately went with those twelve who I really wanted in the contest who might otherwise be overlooked. My #1 girl here is Misuzu, whom I’ll be voting for in every match since she’s the embodiment of moe to me…
Misuzu and Yukito on a picnic
She’s such a brave girl… ;__;
Now, here’s a sampling of the girls I’ll be strongly supporting this year from the list of those 56 already locked in, and so don’t need to be nominated (SO DON’T NOMINATE THESE):
Aisaka Taiga – Toradora
Furude Hanyuu – Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
Furude Rika – Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
Furukawa Nagisa – CLANNAD
Holo – Spice and Wolf
Ibuki Fuuko – CLANNAD
Ichinose Kotomi – CLANNAD
Okazaki Ushio – CLANNAD ~After Story
Shana – Shakugan no Shana
Shinku – Rozen Maiden
Suiseiseki – Rozen Maiden
Tsukimiya Ayu – Kanon 2006
In the past two tourneys I’ve consistently voted for Rika, Nagisa, Ayu, and Misuzu in almost every match; this year they’ll be joined by Holo (due to newfound respect and love after finally watching Spice and Wolf), and precious little Ushio, whom I doubt I will ever be able to vote against!
Ushio with Naoyuki Okazaki, Tomoya's dad
Aww~! So cute Incidentally, the illustrations in this post are by the magnificently-talented Moonknives, who somehow manages to bring these wonderful 2D creations to almost-3D life. And since I’m in his folder, here’s a very sweet pic of Kanon‘s Ayu for your wintery day:
Moonknives' Ayu sitting on The Stump
All things (and series) considered, I believe that Ayu and Misuzu are my two most-favorite characters in anime, and I love ‘em to death :-)
Now go forth and vote, support your girls, have fun, and NO CHEATING!!! Cheaters are dealt with harshly in order to keep the tournament on the level; integrity is very important, and the vote counts are taken seriously. The ISML Staff are dedicated to providing you, the voters, with a fun tournament and are working hard and doing their best to see to it that your time is invested well
And, have a Happy New Year!
on the water
"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!