< Piro >
Thursday - January 22, 2004
As i start to write this, i'm somewhere over Alaska, on my way home from my trip to Japan. I watching Sumo on the little TV in the headrest in front of me. It's kinda surreal.
Hard to believe that the day started with me leaving the Hotel JAL City Sendai, walking to the bus stop to catch a bus for the 40 min bus ride to Sendai airport, catching a small commuter turboprop for Narita, and then getting on this flight for the 12 hr trip home. The trip home is a few hours shorter (something to do with flying with the winds rather than against them), Of course, when i step off of this plane in Washington Dulles, I still have to fly to Detroit.
Ah well, doesn't matter. I'm really looking forward to getting home. Traveling is great, but it always feels good to head home. Besides, i miss Seraphim. This is the first long trip i've taken without her in well over a year. Felt like i was missing my better half all week.
Last time i traveled to Japan it was to visit buildings and architectural landmarks that I had studied in college. I considered it something worth doing because it was connected with what I did for a living. The funny thing is, in the end it wasn't the architectural landmarks or important buildings that impacted my life and my career, it was the inbetween moments and my quiet impressions of Tokyo, Osaka and Kyouto that ended up being of most value. Megatokyo is based on these impressions.
Admittedly, a large factor in my decision to go to japan back then was my growing interest in anime and manga. The tour to look at japan's architecture was as much an excuse to go as anything. What was nice about the trip I am now returning from is that my reasons for going were far clearer - i make a living writing a story (soon to be two stories) that take place in Japan. That requires research, going there, doing the appropriate research that any good writer or artist will do. It's almost hard to explain exactly how you do this.
Trying to absorb a sense of place takes more than just taking pictures and walking around. Actually, on the surface that pretty much is what it is, but there's more to it than that. Doing research for a story isn't, i think, like doing scientific research. I didn't spend all of my wandering around time taking pictures and mapping out neighborhoods. Sometimes i just... walked. Waited a half hour for a train to arrive. Put a can of hot coffee in my pocket to see how long it stayed warm. Stood and looked at a river. Kick back and watched an episode of Hamtaro while drinking a can of Boss coffee. People watching. Looking up, looking around.
It's not much different than what i did last time i was here, only then I had no idea that i'd be writing stuff based on what I was looking at. On this trip i was able to be a lot more focused, to look at specific neighborhoods, look at specific things... It's sort of like expanding on the toolbox of impressions that I had from 10 years ago. I've been able to add a lot to it. A whole lot, actually..
After a week of constant absorption, you sort of reach a saturation point. Last night my brain was saying "ok, i'm full. I'm not paying attention anymore." ^^;; You get to a point where you have to stop looking and start absorbing what you've seen. You have to start making connections, start to mix what you've seen with what you are writing and what you are drawing. That's sort of what i'm working on right now - decompression. Since i can't sleep on planes, that's pretty much what i've been doing.
Oh, I have a bunch of things to relate regarding Anime Expo Tokyo, but I'll save that for friday. I'm kind of in a thoughtful mood, so i'll go with the flow here. It's my rant area, i can rant however i feel like ranting. :P
Something that worked really well was to spend a few hours sitting here slowly reading thru MT from Chapter 1 right thru to the most recent strip. It's odd, but I look back at some of what happened previous chapters and some of it isn't bad, not bad at all. I feel like there are some dimensions to things that I can add that i hadn't thought of before. All in all, Megatokyo works all right. Not bad for winging it all this time.
I've been doing some sketches for warmth, and i think i'll turn now to working on the story a little. I have about three hrs of batter life left, that should get me thru the rest of the flight... yeah, just about. 3:10 left according to the flight data stuff. These little flight data readouts are the best thing ever. You know exactly where you are and how much longer it's gonna take to get there. This ANA plane actually has down pointing cameras that you can tune into. Of course, it's nightime out now, so it's just nothing but pitch black out over northern Canada, but in the daytime it's fun to look down sometimes.
I'll be posting this when i get home, with a picutre or two - so obviously the flight will be done and i'll be home when you see this, but i think i'll be too tired to do much else - traveling wears on you. I feel pretty energized about MT and warmth right now, it was really good to refresh my memory and learn some new things to help fill out some of the density of the stories and the sense of place. We'll see how all that pans out in the comics that i'm gonna have to get cracking on as soon as i can shake jetlag when i get home :)
Just a small note now that I'm home - god, what a day. That's a lot of flying. Good to be back. I kinda crashed and had to sleep for a while when i got in. Gonna go crash now to try to get my internal clock back on schedule. I'll post friday's comic as soon as i finish it (should be early on thursday evening). Gonna post some more comments, and some more pictures tomorrow and friday as well.