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  1. Panel 1:
    Piro:
    Wow, it must have been bad. I've never seen him drink like this before. I wonder if he's OK. Talk about trying to drink yourself numb...
  2. Panel 2:
    Piro:
    Aaghh!! I don't have time for Largo's problems right now! I have a call to make!
  3. Panel 3:
    Characters shown:
    Piro
  4. Panel 4:
    Characters shown:
    Piro
  5. Panel 5:
    Characters shown:
    Piro
  6. Panel 6:
    Kimiko:
    <Hi~! This is Nanasawa! Please leave a message!>
    Also shown:
    Piro
  7. Panel 7:
    Characters shown:
    Piro
  8. Panel 8:
    Characters shown:
    Piro
  9. Panel 9:
    Characters shown:
    Piro
  10. Panel 10:
    Piro:
    I wonder if Largo has any beer left.

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< Piro >

just the most recent fredart sketch...

"tweak'd and twonk'd"

Tuesday - March 22, 2005

[Piro] - 12:26:00 - [link here]

Yknow, its kind of weird to be disconnected from the net. We are so used to being able to look at things online without thinking about it, or automatically connecting to the net when we open our laptops in our homes that not having it it there can be oddly jarring.

I'm sitting here in our new home and I already have some respect for my new neighbors. All of the wireless connections i can see from here are encrypted and protected. No slipping online for me, but it's good to see that they are smart enough to enable at least some level of security enabled.

I've mentioned this a few times in the status bar and on the fredart site, but Seraphim and I are moving this weekend. I'm sitting here in the new, empty house that we are renting going over all the things that we need to do before we move in. It's an older place, and we have some painting we want to do before we move in, but Seraphim, the cats and I are really looking forward to finally moving into a bigger place. At least, i think the cats are looking forward to it.

As you might guess, this might (and probably will) effect the comic schedule over the next week - mainly friday's and monday's comic. I was originally planning to DPD or 4-panel both friday and monday's comic, but after the response to today's comic... i think i might keep it down to missing just one comic if i can.

While it is true that part of the reason i looked into revising monday's comic was because of a general sense that most readers were not happy with it, there is some artistic legitimacy to the changes i made. There were some problems with the original layout that caused a different effect than i intended. In fact, it was pretty clear that this was just one of those comics and one of those experiments that didn't communicate things the way i had intended. It happens sometimes.

So, in the interest of learning from it, I tweaked the comic a little as a kind of experiment to see what worked and what didn't, and maybe to understand what worked for me didn't work for so many others. Usually, my sense of things and the general readership is pretty close, it always puzzles me when i blow it like this :)

Pacing in a long-ranging comic can always be a problem. We all know what a disaster the pacing in the last chapter was, but so far chapter 6 has been moving along nicely. There is also the fact that i decided six months ago that i was being way too timid with the story and that i needed to stop holding back and just plow forward with things. So far, so good i thinkl. This particular comic worried me a little because pirowaffling is something we've seen a lot of over the past few years, and people have seen so much of it that i'm finding a surprising lack of tolerance for the kind of behavior that made up my high school and college years :) But, It was a story point i had to get through, so I put up the shields and plowed forward, experimenting a little to try to give it a different twist for once.

I wanted the art style here to show more of a comical nervousness than the normal piro-angst. As i often do with MT comics, i experimented a little. The first two frames are pretty typical MT frames, but the sequence of the call and Piro's hanging up on Kimiko's voice mail i felt would be best conveyed by an almost comical series of SD drawings.

From an artistic point of view, the main problem with the first comic is managing the passage and the rythm of time for the sequence of events presented. In the original comic, i used two copes of the same frame to show Piro frozen in his attempt to press the "send" button. Then two frames showing him grimacing about it and finally doing so in the 4th frame. From a sequence point of view this worked, but in the final comic, something really wasn't working right.

The problem really was a function of the limitations of the 650 x 875 pixel page that MT is based on - squeezing 5 frames into each of the last two rows was the right thing to do from a sequence point of view, but from a layout point of view... something wasn't working right. I specifically used the simpler art style so that those frames could be smaller... but look at how tall and narrow each was, and how overly regular each frame had to be in order to get them to fit. The effect is similar to that of placing several sequential images from a film next to each other. each frame is different, but the similarities overpower the differences and at a glance they all start to look the same.

It also has an odd effect of seeming to speed things up, not provide that sense of time i wanted. The amount of space in a frame can help give a feel for how much time is passing in that frame. The effect of the first version didn't give, to me, a good sense of time. the multiple frames gave an impression of rapid succession and had a motion and movement to it that wasn't really right for this scene.

if you look at the newer version, the change isn't really that major - i cut out the 'repeat' frames i was using to establish the idea of a continuing passages of time and spread things out to allow for some more flexibility in the layout. Piro now has some space around him in some of the frames now, and the contrast between tight and open frames helps give a sense of how fast or slow a scene might be going.

I also eliminated piro's sound as he gets Kimiko's voice mail. Why? Because i didnt want to show it in the first place. for some reason, in the original version, showing piro wih his mouth open and no sound didn't seem to work - but by providing a frame with much more of a 'pause' to it, i was able to remove it and still have it work, at least to me.

Now, does this new version REALLY work better? I don't know. It feels like it does, but i could be wrong. In sequence, much like many other so so comics i've done in the past, its not a big deal, but as a current pause point the comic isn't that great. It was interesting to think about what could have made it better, and to me did just by changing a few little things.

Anyways, pardon the experimient :) I have a busy day ahead, but im working on the comic. I think it's going to be pretty late tonight, and perhaps even tomorrow morning sometime, but it's a complex one and i hope it comes off better than this current monday comic did.

< Dom >

You can join her fan club, if you like. I'm not in it, but I probably should be.

"Cleanup efforts"

Monday - March 21, 2005

[Dom] - 08:00:00 - [link here]

Welp, thanks to the way the voting turned out, it looks like most of you are interested in hearing about how I'm fascinated by preversion. Wednesday I'll rant about Greg Dean's wedding, since the memories will be fresh, next Monday I'll write about gut-punching people, and after that, I'll figure out what I'm going to write about.

On with today's rant--and it's gonna be a long one. I won't be linking to any of the H games and anime I mention, but I'll also be linking to some sites that, if you click around, may lead you to pr0n. So be warned. And if you want to look up the games I mention, feel free. I'm not going to tell you where to find them, since this rant is going to be read by people under the age of 18, as well as you preverts out there.

And yes, I'm going to be spelling it "prevert" the whole way through.

So my idea for this rant came when I was playing Blue Flow the other day. As is my habit, I started rummaging through the Seiyuu Database site for the cast, to see what other work of theirs I had seen. I found most of the cast listings on there despite the DB being a year out of date, but one name eluded me, Kanzaki Canari. So I ended up googling for her, and found her personal web site (Be warned: following some links on there will lead you to some pages that aren't safe for work). Poking around her blog, I found that she's a huge Hanshin Tigers fan, and that endeared her to me instantly--then I saw an entry in her blog saying "Wow, I've gotten a lot of hits lately. Uh, well, welcome to the site of the, uh, best porn game voice actress in the world. :)" From there, I found the link to her work history, and found that she's a six-year veteran of voicing H games, from the original Eien no Aselia to stuff like Duel Savior.

While I wondered what she was doing on a cast that included much more mainstream seiyuu like Kawakami Tomoko and Tanaka Rie (sing it with me, "one of these things is not like the other, one of these things does not belong"), I mostly wondered why she'd kept her stage name the same. I mean, it's fairly standard practice for a voice actress to work in pr0n under one name, and change stage names when making the move into mainstream work. For example, when Nabatame Hitomi's previous voice work in H games was the subject of debate after she spent nearly half of an episode of Maburaho moaning, Japanese message boards were scrambling to find out what her old name was, since they just knew that she'd done work under a different name before.

For more information on who uses/used what name for pr0n, a great resource is GP's Room, the page of a man with too much time on his hands and way too many porn games.

Okay, back from the tangent, and on to finding out about Kanzaki Canari's not-secret-at-all life. I was just fascinated by a person who didn't use a different name to try to keep the careers separate. I talked to fellow prevert Seiya about this topic, and he took time out from organizing some kind of mutiny of preverts to point out a few more actresses who, like Kanzaki Canari, didn't bother changing their stage names when doing clean work.

I mean, it's not like it's generally acceptable in Japan for people to come out and say "Oh, hey, look at my pr0n! Isn't it awesome?" (and even in the Traci Lords exception to the American rule of no porno actress goes Hollywood, she doesn't really talk about it anymore). In Kanzaki's blog, she talks about a recent date she went on, and when it came time for them to talk about what they did for a living, she said she does "narrations for Hanshin Tigers videos." So obviously there's the same level of social taboo involved for these actresses, otherwise you wouldn't see people changing their names to separate their careers, or, as is rumored in the Inoue Kikuko/Ogenki Clinic issue, preventing the release of entire language tracks in the US.

So why did she keep her name? I mean, why not make the clean break that other pr0n voice actresses did? It's not like anyone knows what she looks like, so it'd be easy to make a smooth transition away from her six years of moaning and making slurping noises for a living. And besides a few people on her BBS, I'm not really seeing that she has a big fan base that she doesn't want to give up--though the fans on that BBS are really friendly, so it's not like they're scary preverts she wants to discard, either.

I just don't get it, and that's why it continues to fascinate me.

Well, for more angles on this whole deal, let's look at the career of another of the people who inspired this rant in the first place, Kuribayashi Minami (I'll talk about KOTOKO, the big mama of the porn/clean career dichotomy, later). Seiya introduced me to her work in late 2003, when Kimi ga Nozomu Eien was on the air. She played Haruka, one of the lead female roles, and she also sang the ending song, "Hoshizora no Waltz". The song entranced me, because Kuribayashi Minami has an absolutely wonderful voice, soft and smooth, but vibrant (which is why the Mai-HiME opening makes me sad, it doesn’t seem like the song is suited to her voice).

So I looked up her previous work--and it turned out that she'd gotten her start in Age Soft's porn games, first singing the opening song for Kimi ga Ita Kitsetsu, then being cast in the lead for Age's next two H games, Kaseki no Uta and Kimi ga Nozomu Eien (she also sings the opening/ending for Muv Luv, but doesn't play a major role in it).

When KimiNozo was made into a clean (but excessively angsty) anime, she didn't miss a beat in taking up her old role again, and not only did she use her name from her Age Soft days, she kept it for later work. So come Chrno Crusade and Mai-HiME, there she was singing the opening themes, and under her original name (as a sidenote, the Chrno Crusade opening was written/produced by Uematsu Noriyasu from feelsounds, which is a studio that... produces H game music).

And nowhere, in any interview with her or article about her that I've found, do they really mention her work before the KimiNozo TV series, or with Age Soft in general. I don't know if it's politeness on the writer's part or a simple concentration on the task at hand, but anything I read about her seems to sweep under the rug the earliest part of her career. Which is funny, because about half of the songs on her best album Overture are from H games, with the other half being from the various cleaned-up versions of the KimiNozo game and anime.

And if you're wondering, yes, I do own Overture.

I haven't played any of the games Kuribayashi Minami starred in, and honestly, I don't really want to--which may be part of what helped her transition from them to mainstream work. I'm of the "As long as her singing is good now, I don't care what she did 5 years ago" mindset, and maybe some people think the same way.

But still, that doesn't explain everything--you can't assume apathy over an entire fan base, and it wouldn't explain why she was sought out by Sunrise and GONZO to sing for their shows. Maybe it's just a choice by agents and producers, "I don't care what she did before, I like her--let's get her."

Come to think of it, that may be what Please! did for Onegai Teacher and the I've girls--then again, maybe it's just because they're preverts too, and wanted to attract I've's (oh, God, I've written the word "I've's", the English language is gonna kill me when she finds out) built-in audience. It would be the meritocratic explanation, that no matter what these people've done before, their talent allows people to overlook their past or brush it off.

Okay, looking at this rant, it's scraping up against the 7000 word threshold already, so I think I'll stop here before diarrhea of the keyboard takes over. Stay tuned for the most fascinating case study in this phenomenon, KOTOKO and the other I've girls, who continue to embrace their work on the 18-and-over side of the spectrum while being able to hit the top of the Oricon charts.

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