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Strip 578, Volume 4, Page 56


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< Piro >

Kirara, working purely on faith ^^;;

"parts and pieces"

Tuesday - June 22, 2004

[Piro] - 01:18:00 - [link here]

After finishing the comic last night, i sat down and foolishly watched the first two episodes of Samurai 7, a new anime series by Gonzo roughly based on Akira Kurosawa's classic film Seven Samurai. Sorta like Ghost in the Shell meets an old fasion samurai flick.

I'll be the first to tell you that this is not the kind of anime i generally drawn to. I'm not a big fan of big fancy swordfighting scenes, nor am I a big mecha fan. In fact, in my opinion you could pretty much remove mecha from my favorite anime that contains them and i don't think i'd really notice (makes note to put on flak vest - mecha fans are scary). Well, in my normal rounds of poking around at new stuff, and seeing a few particular screenshots, i decided to give it a try. Screenshots of what? Impressive fight scenes? Beautifully detailed animation? Intense, emotional heroism? Well... not really. What really got me was one of the character designs, specifically Kirara, more specifically, the look in her eyes.

"cute female characters" are about as common in anime as ketchup bottles are in burger joints. Just about every anime ever made has at least one cute female character in it somewhere (yes, yes, there are ones that dont, but it is pretty rare). If you decide to watch every anime that just happens to have a pretty girl in it, you're gonna end up watching a lot of anime (and, therefore, preclude your ability to meet real ones). Girls aren't so lucky, of course - anime with pretty boys in them are actually part of a sub-genere, not a standard requirement of all anime.

Anyways, i won't say i didn't enjoy watching Samurai 7, because i did, to a point. Honestly, i could care less about the story. I could care less about the samurai. I was pretty much only interested in Kirara's quest and her troubles. Even so, her character does fall a little flat - she's a little TOO much the good priestess. So what in the world made me stay up till 3:30 watching both episodes?

Maybe it was just the look in her eyes, the way she was animated. Sure, it is an element to her character that isn't strongly defined. In fact, i often found the way she looked and the intensity of her gaze to be drastically weakened by what she was saying.Having Fumiko Orisaka's voice didn't hurt either. I like her character design, the way her outfit looks on her, the way her headgear works with her facial design and not against it (as so many costumes do). I even like her silly hat. I like her character. Maybe not enough to watch the entire series, but then again...

Have you ever watched something because you liked just one little thing about it? that's pretty much the case here. I've suffered thru amazingly bad anime because there was one character i cared about, i've flipped past hundreds of pages of manga to get to the pages that focus on some minor character i liked. I've even valiantly endured horrifically boring books just to make sure a favorite character came out all right in the end.

I don't think this is necessarily unusual. In fact, i think that it is more unusual for me to like every element of an anime. Haibane Renmei was the last one i can think of that I really liked the show as a whole. Maybe that's the difference between shows you watch, shows you like, and shows you love. Shows you love are shows you like everything about it, the entire package. Shows you watch and shows you like you watch for parts and pieces that are important to you.

When the material is in a forign language like, say, Japanese, you are suddenly often faced with not having all the parts and pieces available for you to judge. I used to watch a lot of raw japanese anime, often having only the most basic idea of what is going on. I watched all of Escaflowne raw, and honestly, to this day i still don't really know what the hell was going on at the end :P The DVDs are on my to-watch-in-my-next-life list. Yet the anime itself effected me deeply.

Even if you don't fully understand the language, emotions usually require little translation. When watching raw anime, you may wonder why a character was reacting the way he or she was, but you usually don't have to worry about understanding the way the character is feeling. Watch a new anime DVD that you know nothing about with the subtitles off sometime and you'll see what i mean.

It wasn't unusual for me, really, to have a favorite anime that I barely understood. In fact, there use to be a lot of fan-sites run by people who had only a have minimal grasp on what their favorite show was about. Sometimes, the parts that you could see and understand were enough to make the show important to you.

Of course, these days most shows are fansubbed fairly quickly, and soon after released here in the English on nice little DVDs. Even a lot of manga is more accessible than ever, either via scantranslations or as one of the many hundreds of new titles seem to be released here every month. There is less of a gap these days in understanding the "why" of what you are watching.

This doesn't always make it better, of course. I knew what Kirara was saying in Samurai 7, but I don't think really had much impact in what i liked about her character. In fact, it really seemed to dull her character for me. I almost wish i didn't know what she was saying. The show would then have a far more exotic quality to it, and between her looks and her voice and her mannerisms, i would probably form my own thoughts about her as a character, which i think would be far different that what she seems to actually be.

I'll continue this line of thought on wednesday. :)

< Seraphim >


"stunt pixels"

Wednesday - June 30, 2004

[Seraphim] - 01:30:00 - [link here]

Spiderman 2 will be released today. I can't really enjoy movies that rely so heavily on CG effects. Spiderman, Matrix Reloaded, the Hulk and others annoy me. When I go to a live action film I go there to see actors acting not a computer generated character swinging around New York. I like the actors to work for it by being suspended by a rope 20 feet off the ground hanging on for dear life in a sound stage whilst industrial fans blow them around like a scrap of paper in a hurricane. Dress up a mannequin and make me believe it is the real thing. Use CG to fix their hair and plaster a fake smile on their face. Use special effects to hide the wires and harnesses don't computer animate the entire person.

Not all tricks are achieved with computer graphics. I know people who believed Elijah Wood and the other Hobbits were actors of very short stature and all they used were camera angle tricks to achieve that effect. It looked real and felt real. Fooling people is what it is all about. Knowing it is CG takes all the fun and wonder out of it.

Free Comic Book Day is being held in conjunction with opening weekend of Spiderman. If you think you don't like comics (the non-web comic type) stop by a local participating independent comic store July 3rd and try it for free. For more information about Free Comic Book day and how it works, be sure to read the website. We're lucky in that we have two comic shops locally and Piro and I are reading a few:

Nightmares and Fairy Tales - Serena Valentino
Love Fights - Andi Watson
True Story: Swear to God - Tom Beland
Serenity Rose - Aaron A.
Legends From Darkwood - Kantz & Reid
The Adventures of Mia - Enrico Casarosa
PVP - Scott Kurtz
Usagi Yojimbo - Stan Sakai
Courtney Crumrin - Ted Naifeh
Neotopia - Rod Espinoza

If you are interested in comics for younger readers there is Amelia Rules! by Jim Gownley, Mia, Neotopia, or Courtney Crumrin. There is a lot of good stuff out there with several interesting titles coming out later this year like Autumn by Slave Labor Graphics and Flight by Image. Personally, I have been waiting around for two going on three years for Image to publish a sequel to Avigon by Che Gilson and Jimmie Robinson. What is with that? One year is forgivable and I can understand. Lots of people are just one year overdue ^_^;; I was told by the author that it will be out in October. She is going to be at SDCC and I plan to track her down. 90,000 people and all - I will locate her. I could just send Piro over to the Image booth to go all Piro the Homicidal Web Comic Artist on them.

We are hoping to meet Serena Valentino, Enrico Casarosa, Ted Naifeh, and Stan Sakai at San Diego Comic Con this year. I actually wasn't into comics last year when we were there and I can't believe how much I missed out on. Don't worry, we'll be at our booth too - at least a little bit : ) We just don't know where that is yet. We'll go where ever they tell us too when we get there. The Megatokyo panel is Friday the 23rd at 3:00 p.m. in room 8. It is supposed to be in a much larger room so hopefully everyone will fit this year.


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