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Strip 791, Volume 5, Page 48


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< Piro >


"junk collection"

Sunday - November 27, 2005

[Piro] - 14:11:00 - [link here]

Ok, if you are a Rozen Maiden fan, i'm sure this won't count as a spoiler, but i'm going to give a spoiler warning anyway, just in case. Skip down to the 'end spoiler warning' if you want to stay in the dark :)

[---- begin spoiler warning ----]

Yay! So happy! Gin-chan is back! (does piro-happy-dance).

I don't think it's any great secret that Suigintou was coming back at some point in Rozen Maiden Traumend. I, like so many other Gin-chan fans, have been waiting for this episode since, well, since Sugintou bought the farm in the first series :P The way things panned out left so many possibilities for her return. I think the most popular and obvious fan-scenario was that of Jun 'repairing' her and bringing her back, but i'm much more intrigued by how it really did come about. I'm impressed by this show, both by the writing, the animation quality (the OP and ED are amazing, IMHO) and the subtlety of the characters - i'm even warming up to Suiseiseki :P I think Memento did the best job of summing this episode up, if you really don't mind excessive spoilers, so read on.

(some quick notes on that little Suigintou doujin: I put it on the mt servers so i wouldn't kill anyone's bandwidth, since it is just a jpg, but I wanted to give a special thanks to Zyl for the translation, and to Moyism for the link. The untranslated version is floating around but i can't find any info on the original creator. If you know, please let me know and i'll give credit :) Oh, and if you don't have a clue what Rozen Maiden is about, they are dolls with added creepy factor because they have lives and attitude :P)

[---- end spoiler warning ----]

Lets be honest, most of the time when we watch anime, the episodes are good, but its only occasional that you watch an episode that really makes your day. Each anime usually has one or two eps that give you the warm fuzzies, or really stick with you and makes you want to watch it again, but usually the episodes are just part of a whole -- you watch it and move on to whatever else you are doing that day. Good anime has more than one episode like that.

There are the rare series where each episode is like an event you wait for with baited breath, and you find yourself curtailing things you should be doing just because you finally manage to get that most recent episode to watch. Haibane Renmei was like that for me (and you all know just how much it effected my work over time).

Well, shows like that are great, but if every show was like that we'd all have to shut our lives down :P I'm really happy to just have a few episodes here and there that make you happy and make you smile. To watch something that inspires and makes you ponder things. Rozen Maiden Traumend episode 6 was a nice like that.

In the past few weeks i've been suffering from an odd kind of artistic block where nothing i drew for the comic seemed to have much life in it. I've have to lean on the drawings and hammer at them quite a bit to get any kind of spark in them, and i was finding that the drawings were not revealing that kind of emotive expose that lets the characters speak their minds to me. It's been a struggle, and while the comics were ok recently, i really felt they could have been much better. In fact, there was one comic where the struggle was very painful, i ended up not using more than half the drawings i created. I found myself doing creative re-use of frames from previous comics to get the story across.

This kind of thing always stresses me out because you get that feeling that you've 'lost it', whatever it was. Experience has told the logical side of my brain that these are just cycles and that it just takes time to get through them. I'm also dealing with the real negative aspect of not having any real art training or education -- the ability to fall back on that training when inspiration is weak and your emotive energies are not in sync with the lines you are putting on paper. I think a 'professional' has enough ability to be able to draw the characters, the bodies, the faces, the backgrounds, etc, as necessary to follow whatever script he or she is following. Me, i can't draw that way. If there isn't that emotive simpatico behind my drawing efforts, what comes out is bleah.

I look at some of the things i read or watch, like this latest episode of Rozen Maiden Traumend, and i'm not only enjoying the story, but i'm inspired and encouraged to do better with my own works. I feel like i'm capable of a doing a lot more than i do, if i could just keep the flow going.

The good news is that last week things seemed to break loose a little - Wednesday's comic came out really well, the art was flowing well with the ideas and the story. I also have seen a real improvement in my random sketches. Even that DPD i posted for friday -- far better than the lifeless sketches i've been doing for the past three weeks.

Not to say that this particular drawing of Piroko is a good one - there's something really not right about it, something in her attitude that doesn't feel quite right. It's like there was a little too much internal aggression that went into it, in her eyes, something i maybe didn't intend, i'm not sure (ignore the perspective errors, they are pretty major)

Well, thats part of the uncontrollable nature of creating, i think. It's like life, you can only control it so much. I feel like so much of what i do is 'junk' ... but maybe thats just part of the process. You have to produce a lot of 'junk' to get to the 'perfect' stuff.

Maybe even the junk isn't so much junk as it is potential... or maybe just reflections of yourself that don't inspire you. Maybe it's really the 'junk' that makes us human.

It makes you wonder, sometimes...

< Dom >

Soul steeeeaal!

"Collection exhaustion"

Monday - November 28, 2005

[Dom] - 11:00:00 - [link here]

So, after finally finding it used and further discounted by Black Friday, I picked up Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow for my Nintendo DS. I'd read nothing but good reviews of it, and Opus Croakus had been playing around with it a great deal while the rest of us were popping Puyos or playing Band Brothers.

And, generally, I enjoyed the game. It's not surprising, given that Konami achieved something close to gaming perfection with Symphony of the Night and has been copying it since. So all the exploration and RPG elements are there, and if that were all Dawn of Sorrow was, I'd have enjoyed it immensely for about 6 hours, then moved on to something else.

But then came the soul collecting system, or as Opus calls it, Pokevania. While I'm told that the system was alive and well in the previous GBA games, they were never necessary to this extent--the subweapons, traditionally obtained from candles in previous Castlevania games, all must be collected from monsters.

And it's not like they drop it on the first kill--no, the game actively encourages old Metroid-style monster farming. Walk into room, kill monster, pick up what it dropped if anything, walk out, walk into room, repeat.

And again, I wouldn't have minded this system if it'd been entirely optional and extra, since they give you several useful souls automatically, and the "ability" souls needed to advance the game and explore more of the castle are obtained by beating bosses, who also drop them automatically.

Then there's the 10% of the castle that you can only access with either of a couple of rare souls.

I mean really rare souls. I mean:

[21:57] Dom: (censored)pokevania
[21:58] Crackpr0n: pokemon castlevania?
[21:58] Crackpr0n: oh
[21:58] Crackpr0n: hahahhahah you're soul collecting
[21:58] Dom: I've gained TWO levels trying to get Skeleton Ape so I can get across this one area
[21:58] Crackpr0n: the spike area?
[21:58] Dom: yeah
[21:58] Dom: note that the levels are 43 and 44
[22:00] Dom: maybe I should try bone arks for a change of pace, I hear those can get you across too
[22:00] Crackpr0n: bone ark is worse
[22:06] Dom: omfg I'm 10k away from level 45 and I still don't have Skeleton Ape
[22:07] Crackpr0n: hahaha
[22:07] Crackpr0n: this was like me and peeping eye
[22:07] Crackpr0n: took me like 3 hours to get it

Note that Skeleton Ape gives you 48 XP per kill, and it takes about 16 thousand experience to get from level 43 to level 44.

I was not a happy man after three hours of farming drudgery. I wouldn't have minded it if I was doing it just for fun, or to power up my weapons--I'm obsessive-compulsive, I know all about repetitive actions done for their own sake.

Hell, I even dodged 200 lightning bolts in a row once, because it was finals week and I needed a way to turn my brain off, and figured that there are few better ways to kill your brain than to press one button rhythmically 200 times.

But in most of the games, the dumb little minigames only unlock tiny things, extra weapons, things like that. Things that you know you're perfectly capable of living without.

In this case, it's 10% of the castle (though admittedly, there aren't any bosses in it), and I have to say, I didn't appreciate the game designers making me walk in and out of a room several hundred times (I don't want to do the math on how often I did it, it'll depress me) in order to experience something like a tenth of the game.

I don't know, maybe I'm out of line here, but I just don't like my seven hours of playing getting stretched into 10 by drudgery that even Harvest Moon wouldn't dare to inflict on its players, and the people who play that game (myself included) like doing chores.

Now, don't let me stop you from getting Aria of Sorrow. It's a fine game in its own right. Just be warned that if you want to do anything other than just run through the game, get ready for a lot of repetition and frustration.

In other news, Bejeweled Zookeeper is going to take up near-permanent residence in my Nintendo DS soon. It just seems like the right thing to do, in the light of certain angry weekends.


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