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< Piro >

yay for unconnected randomness!

"things inbetween"

Tuesday - October 14, 2003

[Piro] - 14:05:02 - [link here]

Before I start, just a quick note. Sarah and I will be at the Motor City Comic Con this Saturday in Novi, Michigan. We should be there, at the Wizzywig booth, most of the day, so if you live in the area, stop by and say hi. :)

It's been an odd month for me. At least three times in the past two weeks I have sat down to write a new rant, but found myself unable to write much of anything. Ideas have wanted to stay vague, thoughts wanted to stay thoughts and not suffer the ignominy of being organized out and communicated to anyone else.

There is always a multitude of odd little things bouncing around inside the protoplasmic goo that fills my brain cavity, but there is something about the cold weather that seems to slow them in their endless tumble. They become harder to corral, more difficult to coalesce into some communicable medium. It's almost like they just want to stay where they are and remain disassociated thoughts, comfortable and freely disconnected in the goo.

It's odd, then, that I consider fall to be my 'creative' season. Back when MT started, one of my earliest rants dealt with how much I like this time of year, when the very nature of the outside world seems to change into something more amenable to my inner thoughts. I don't really know why I have an affinity for this time of year. If you look objectively at Fall and Winter, you can almost see shades of death, of ending, of nature turning itself off to hide until the warmth returns in the spring. So why *do* I like this time of year?

One of the indelible things about being human is that most of us have the capacity to feel emotions. "Oh god," I hear some of you think, "Piro is gonna talk about 'feelings' and 'emotions'. Get me a bucket." Well, like it or not, even that inner groan you feel is a 'feeling'. Everything we do is affected in some way by your emotional makeup. When I refer to emotive things, I am talking about the whole range, even the subtle and mundane feelings. These are the inbetween feelings that are often overlooked in most mass marketed media.

Emotions are funny things. Sure, there are words, phrases, commonly understood concepts that describe feelings. We all know what 'happy' means, what 'sad' means, 'depressed', 'jubilant', 'ecstatic', 'gloomy', 'suicidal', 'bubbly', 'petulant'... human language is chock full of words that describe emotions. We understand what they mean because we can connect them with how we actually feel. An essential part of human communication is the communication of emotions. Words are probably one of least efficient way to describe feelings. People are very sensitive to the signs - body language, tone of voice, the eyes, facial expressions. What's remarkable is how universal most communicable feelings are, even subtle ones

Yet there are inner thoughts, moods, places - the bits inbetween the easy to describe emotions, that I think many of us strive to understand. It's a lot like being able to see something only out of the corner of your eye, or something that becomes less distinct the more you focus on it. This is where 'entertainment' media comes in. We tell stories not because the facts of a story are really all that important, but because the process of experiencing a story lets us feel something we wouldn't get from a simple description. Good stories, or stories that mean something to us, help us experience thoughts and feelings we aren't quite sure how to put into words.

The most important thing about emotions is the fact that descriptions alone don't mean anything - it is the experiencing of emotions them that give them validity. Sort of how you can't really describe a taste, you can only label something you've experienced, and use that as a indicator. There are several levels to communicating information about emotions. You can describe emotions or the state of someone's feelings with a certain detachment. This is what news reports are supposed to be like - objective, neutral, informative. Or you express things in such a way that the reader/viewer actually experiences the feelings you are trying to communicate. This is what most books, movies, TV, anime, manga do best. They are an experiential medium.

Have you ever had anyone try to explain to you their 'great story idea'? It's usually something they have worked very hard on, figuring out all the details, what happens where, who the characters are, the mechanics of the universe, etc. ... and this is often followed by a blow by blow outline of everything that happens. The only feeling you get from listening to this is usually just the desire to claw your own eyes out or strangle the person before you. This is not because the story is bad, per se, but because the method they are using to tell you totally does nothing to convey the emotional content that they themselves feel quite strongly. A big mistake that many people make is not realizing that just because you feel something, it doesn't mean that others will automatically feel what you feel. Communicating what you feel inside successfully is very difficult, and the desire to do this is what I think drives creative people to work as hard as they do on things.

I've had people ask me to describe Megatokyo in a few sentences. I can't do it. I've been ask to describe 'warmth' in a short paragraph. I can't do that either. I think that's because the expression of the story comes out in the telling of it, in the art, in the dialogue, in the experience of it. In this world of Cliff Notes and sound bytes, I think a lot of important little subtleties get lost. And people wonder why I avoid doing the Story and Character section of this website :)

So, I guess in the background, outside of the actual work I've been doing (Megatokyo itself, working on Book 2, etc) there have been a lot of vague inbetween thoughts and feelings brewing in the goo that wants to somehow find it's way to paper. It's raining out today, but it feels oddly comforting, not really sure why...

One good thing about this is that these moods have prompted me to start working on 'warmth' again in those little cubbyholes of time that I can spare. This story has been missing something, and I've been trying to pin it down, to find what's missing, what isn't working. I guess that's where the frustration comes into these things, no matter how much you try, all you can ever do is get close.

But maybe close isn't so bad, it lets people fill in the blanks with their own feelings. Maybe in the end its more important to prompt people to feel, and fill in whatever blanks you've left. Maybe the blanks are important too...

-----

- megatokyo merchandise -

Megatokyo t-shirts, posters and other merchandise can either be purchased online at the Megatokyo / ThinkGeek store, or from Wizzywig at various anime conventions around the country, even conventions that I will not be at. Below is a list of upcoming conventions where Wizzywig will be at:

  • September 26-28 Anime Weekend Atlanta (Atlanta GA)
  • October 3-5 C-Kon (South Bend IN)
  • October 18 Motor City Comic Con (Detroit, MI)
  • October 24-26, Anime Reactor, Rosemont, IL
  • November 7-9 - Neko Con (Virginia Beach, VA)
  • November 21-23 - Sugoi Con (Cincinnati OH)
Just for reference, here is Piro and Seraphim's con schedule for the rest of the year:

< Dom >

Huh... weird.

"Betting fools"

Friday - October 24, 2003

[Dom] - 03:13:00 - [link here]

This is the story of how I stuck my foot in my mouth and got into one of the more interesting bets in my life, one that means I have to watch a fairly average (but at least watchable) harem anime called Maburaho. And which may end up with me undergoing approximately 88 minutes of pure torture once this TV season is over.

So I'm hanging out on IRC with Ken, AKA Asmodeus, and he starts ragging on this new show called Maburaho. He mumbles something about a weird-ass premise for J. Standard Bishoujo Harem Anime, and being bored and fascinated, I grabbed the show from him and started watching.

And it turns out that Maburaho is seriously as weird as he mentioned it was. See, Shikimori Kazuki, who's your average shounen anime loser boy, lives in a world filled with magic, and goes to magic high school. Where people leave paper dolls disguised as themselves to skip class, and posted on the bulletin board is "I will not use offensive magic in the halls". But all that just enhances Shikimori's loserness, since he has no hobbies, isn't good at sports, and can only use magic eight times in his life. In other words, he's Big Fat Loser Boy. Everyone knows it.

One particularly depressing day, he comes home to a girl his age claiming to be his wife. While running the hell away from the freak, he runs into another girl who tries to strip him, and while running from HER another girl tries to cut him in half. You know, typical harem anime stuff.

But wait! There's more! It turns out that Loser Boy Shikimori has in him the blood of some of the most powerful magicians in history, and most of the girls are after his "genes" so their children can be the most powerful magicians ever. In other words, they want to have his babies.

Really standard stuff, right? Yeah.

But wait! There's something in the opening that makes you think "Hey, wait, Shikimori's not a loser boy... that little girl called him the best magician in the world".

Enter Seiya, who currently has my copy of Disgaea. We're talking about the series, and I talk about how I hate the generic loser boy archetype that populates the harem (oh, sorry, "Shounen Romance") genre. And I say that things would be so much cooler in Maburaho if Shikimori snapped, released all limits on himself and became, y'know, a villain. And it was up to the main girl, Yuna (pictured above) to save him from himself. The conversation went something like this, though this is by no means an exact transcript:

dom: Looking through the doctor's glasses, Kazuki is full of magic pawaa
dom: He's... burning!
dom: With EVIL, I say
seiya: ...
dom: I swear, this show would be so awesome if Shikimori snapped and tried to destroy the world that looked down on him when he was a weakling. Y'know?
seiya: It won't happen :P
dom: I bet it will!
seiya: I'll take that bet.

And so there it is. If, before the end of the series, Kazuki turns into a villain or even shows strong leanings toward it (His voice actor, Sakaguchi Daisuke, made a great psycho villain in Heat Guy J) then I win. If he goes through it remaining a good guy and probably a loser boy despite his BURNING POWER, then he wins.

Winner gets to force four episodes of the anime of his choice on the loser. Seiya plans to make me watch Divergence Eve, perhaps the most pointless, fan servicy show of the past ten years. But that's not going to happen, because Shikimori will take over the world, and I'll be able to force Seiya to watch Boboboobo Boobobo, which, as the name suggests, is just plain weird. See, Boboboobo Boobobo is the heartwarming story of an afro with a man attached to it, his prehensile nose hair, and the most random situations you can think of. And I know Seiya will roll over and die if he has to watch it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some sleep to catch up on. And book 2.

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