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< Piro >

Jack, being cute with his little car high up in the Smokey Mountains

"the 'good kind'"

Friday - November 19, 2010

[Piro] - 20:41:37 - [link here]

One thing readers have probably noticed over the past six months or so is that the comic release schedule has been noticeably slower than usual, even for me. It is probably seen by most of you as nothing more than a reasonable progression down from the +/- 2 comics per week that I was managing to produce up till starting work on MT Volume 6. Honestly, I wish that was the case. There is more to it than that, and it’s time we let readers know what’s up.

As most of you may remember, back in 2001 Sarah was starting to experience a multitude of health problems that was puzzling us as well as her doctors. One of these symptoms actually showed up in a comic, with Seraphim sporting the same knee brace Sarah herself was wearing at the time. It was almost a year later that she was finally diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disorder, which she talked about in this rant back in 2002. Over the intervening years, treatment helped a lot, so much so that it was easy to forget she was sick. She was the primary force behind the running of the MegaGear store, managing online sales and shipping as well as running our booth at conventions all over the country, and after a high risk pregnancy (three years ago last week!) gave birth to our remarkably awesome son Jack. That’s a lot. I look back and feel more than a little sheepish about the amount I’ve done in comparison ^^;;.

As some of you can probably attest, it’s not easy to bounce back from a pregnancy, especially one involving an emergency c-section. Sarah actually recovered relatively quickly... But not completely. All new parents know all about the happy exhaustion and remarkable work load that comes with a new little one, and the fact that its several years of 24hr gameplay with no pause buttons. Feeling “ugh” is something we both often suffered from and is usually blamed on the lack of said pause button. Things got a little easier after Jack turned two, enough that Sarah started to worry that some of her health issues may not be due to the wear and tear of the first two years of being a new parent.

To make a long story short, the path to a diagnosis really started with a trip to the eye doctor several months ago and some concern about a small lump over her left eye. Some immediate concerns were alleviated by a CT scan that eliminated more serious concerns, but it did show swelling that could just be part of her chronic autoimmune disorder - or it could be something else. The only way to know for sure was to have a biopsy.

Last month Sarah had a surgical biopsy on her eye (having general anesthesia for the first time which she tells me was loads and loads of fun :). While she was still moving towards waking up, the doctor came out and took me into one of the consultation rooms. I’m pretty dense (i didn’t really have a sense of what Sarah was worried about until she explained to me why they wanted to do the CT scan a week earlier) but at this point everyone, including Sarah and her doctors, were fairly certain that it really was just inflammation. The biopsy was just to confirm it. So I was a little taken aback when the doctor told me that the tissue really did look like lymphoma and that he was having the lab do a very quick preliminary look to see if it really was. I figured, ok, well it looks like it but it probably isn’t, right? Less than twenty minutes later he came back out to the waiting room and told me what they were seeing. It was lymphoma. Don’t worry, it was the “good kind of lymphoma” to have, he said.

About a week later, the final test results came in and Sarah was diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a blood cancer of the lymph and immune system.

We are focusing on the positives: As far as we know know, it has been caught early. While incurable, Lymphoma is well researched and there are treatments that can put it into remission. The Lymphoma clinic at the University of Michigan Hospital is well respected. And lets not forget - Sarah is very tough.

Odd as it may sound, it’s actually good *knowing*. It’s always good to know your enemy, otherwise you are just wasting ammo. :) Nothing is worse than the limbo that comes with knowing something is wrong but not what it is. Knowing what is wrong means knowing what to do next. At least mostly what to do next.

I’m sure it’s fairly obvious now why my schedule has been slow even for me lately. I’ve been covering both the store and the comic, as well as doing my best to take care of Jack and Sarah. Add to that an enjoyable trip to Sugoicon two weeks ago and a birthday party for Jack and 14 of his little friends last weekend... Yeah, you get the idea.

Things have started to settle down a little, I even found some time time to write a rant ^^;;. I’m doing my best to keep it all going, and Sarah is doing ok, but we don’t really know what the schedule for her treatment is going to be over the next few months. That brings me to the the issue of Holiday Shopping and the MegaGear store.

We will, as always, do our very best to make sure all orders for Christmas are printed and shipped in time to be there in time for the holiday. What I ask is that if you would like to give the Gift of Megatokyo stuff for Christmas, please place your orders early!! The earlier the better. I know it’s kinda scary to think of me being in charge of getting your orders to you in time, but I will do my best (and Sarah will probably step in and save me from time to time). Ordering from the MegaGear store is the best way to support us and we appreciate your business.

I am also trying to step up comic production. One per week is a little too slow. I appreciate your patience, but at least now you know that it’s not entirely just me slipping further into ineptitude ^^;;. It’s been a little rough recently, but things should be ok. Thank you again for your support.

(Oh, if you wanted post about this where Sarah is most likely to see it, head on over to the Megatokyo Facebook page where she tends to hang out more :)

< Kalium >

Watson-kun...

"Elementary"

Saturday - February 5, 2011

[Kalium] - 11:55:20 - [link here]

Hey, folks. Long time no see. So, a lot of things have happened. Have I mentioned that I moved to San Francisco? Probably not. Incidentally, this city is amazing and insane.

Moving on.

So, new season of anime means a new group of shows to talk about. As usual, they range from excellent to truly horrific. You're going to get some of each, friend.

First is Dragon Crisis. The basic setup is that you have a guy whose parents are treasure hunters. They're globe-trotting in search of magical artifacts, some of which are very powerful. The Lead Male is actually kind of pissed at his parents over this, as they're not the most attentive of parents. So when he winds up with one in his possession, he's a bit conflicted.

When said item turns out to be a girl, his internal conflict gets turned up to eleven. She's cute as a button, has imprinted upon him, and happens to be a dragon. Oh, and she's being hunted by a larger, more powerful dragon.

It's not a bad show. The relationship between Rose and what's-his-face is fun. The writing is kind of uninspired, but it's not intolerable. Worth watching if a shounen that doesn't involve ninjas is your thing.

Next is Fractale. The world of Fractale is... interesting. It's set in the far future, at a time where reality is incredibly heavily augmented by computer systems that are universally implanted into people. Pretty much everyone lives a nomadic life, terrified of losing their freedom by settling down. Clain is an odd duck, a guy who lives alone in an actual house and spends a lot of time studying "ancient" artifacts (think current computing systems). Then a strange woman shows up, being chased. He hides her, she gives him a brooch, and she leaves. An even stranger woman pops out of his computer.

It turns out that the overarching computer system that their world depends on - the Fractale system - is starting to collapse. The story of Fractale has gotten strange, but it's a very promising show so far. There's something about it that feels like an echo of a Ghibli work. Well worth watching.

Freezing is... very stereotypical in a lot of ways. Futuristic Japan under attack by aliens? Check. High school students pressed into service as weapons? Check. Generic traumatic pasts for characters? Check. Tsundere lead female? Check. Generic, bland, and earnest lead male? Check.

Seriously, this could be any one of a hundred or more shows. I remember when this was called "Gunparade March"... well, except for the semi-magical effects, but that's just a detail. This show isn't even visually remarkable. Drop it like a hot potato.

As if Freezing wasn't enough, there's another horribly stereotypical show this season. From some of the people who worked on Macross Frontier (and decided Ranka was a compelling character) comes Infinite Stratos.

Infinite Stratos is set in a world where gender politics have been neatly turned on their head. There is a small number of mecha in the world of substantial power that can only be piloted by women. And, you know, the hapless male lead. Who happens to be improbably good at everything he does (except comprehending women). From there it turns into about what you would expect from a harem/mecha hybrid. There's the Strict Older Sister, the Tsundere, two Childhood Friends (apparently a firesale a Stereotypes R Us), the Ditzy Teacher, and various generic mecha trappings.

Infinite Stratos is at best a guilty pleasure. The girls waste no time establishing a state of livelock surrounding Ichika (which I've come to call "cocklock") as each attempts and fails to acquire an exclusive lock but succeeds in locking resources required by other actors. Antics ensue.

Think of the exalted work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The imposing intellect of Sherlock and the Watson who kept him grounded. Now imagine that Sherlock is a little blonde girl (complete with bubble pipe) and Watson is an exchange student. Instead of being set in England, it's now set in a fictional small European nation. This is Gosick.

Once your vertigo settles, I can explain that this show is actually quite good. Victorique is harsh, brash, incisive, and blindingly bright, even if she likes her aura of mystery perhaps too much. She's forced to live cooped up at the top of a tower (cue Rapunzel jokes) and craves the news and stimulation that Watson (er, Kujo) brings her. Without him, she's bored out of her skull.

What does she like? Mysteries, mostly. Crimes, great and small (but preferably great) and criminals against which she can test her wit and Kujo's mettle. It doesn't take long for the two to land themselves in the middle of a murder mystery, which promptly leads to a larger and more complex murder mystery.

Despite how lightly I'm treating it, Gosick is really one of the better shows this season. It's well written and the interactions between Kujo and Victorique are pure genius.

When I was in high school I read that play written by Marlowe in which a man sells his soul to the devil for power and pleasure. With that in mind, I come to the next show, Puella Magi Madoka Magica. In this show, two unsuspecting girls are thrown into a chaotic world where monsters prey on humanity and Puella Magi fight against them. The Puella Magi is a girl who runs the very real risk of losing her life in combat.

Our Mephistopheles is a cutsey little guy named Kyubey. He even offers Madoka a wish in exchange for her sou- er, becoming a Puella Magi. Every wish seems to come with a price, and it's implied that no wish really works out the way the girls would want it to. There are even a few implications that Kyubey is not really being entirely honest with the girls.

The show is actually a lot darker than it sounds. It is unquestionably one of the best shows this season, and it gets darker by the episode. Ah, Faust, be careful what bargains you strike!

So anyway. That's a few of this seasons' shows. Now I have to remember where I left my ticket for Kara no Kyoukai in the theater...

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