You are currently browsing the Obsessivity weblog archives for the day Wednesday, October 11th, 2006.

11 Oct 2006

Kashimashi – Girl Meets Girl

Anime

A short – but quite sweet – series. Yet another “yuri based on a silly premise because we can’t really have girls liking girls, can we?” shōjo anime. About as silly a concept as Simoun – but as a comedy it doesn’t need to take its excuses seriously.

A somewhat effeminate (but straight) boy, Hazumu, is wandering in the woods after being spurned by a girl he’s been in love with for a long time. While there, he’s smacked by a wayward spaceship, and the alien on board – who just happens to be studying earth love – repairs him and returns him. But incidentally turns him into a girl, for reasons never explained. That’s silly plot twist #1.

Silly plot twist #2 is that the girl he confessed his love to – she can’t see boys. Not that she doesn’t like them, she can’t see them – anyone male is a grey blur to her. Hazumu was the one exception, because he always seemed so feminine – but since he was a boy, she was afraid he’d fade, too, which is why she turned him down. Now that she’s a girl, however…

With Hazumu’s closest female companion deciding she’s also been in love Hazuku from early childhood, and her best (male) friend also attracted to her, the series becomes a very odd harem anime. Add in the annoying sister in the form of the alien’s companion to get a complete set.

Given such a silly and purely comedic background, the series is surprisingly tender as well as funny. The harem really is more for form than substance – the real romantic ties are between Hazumu and her two girlfriends. She is an admitted coward, and painfully indecisive, and hurts them both with her inability to commit. The final episode (there are only twelve) is very touching, and has a wonderfully ambiguous ending.

One thing that’s not funny or touching – something I find quite disturbing, personally – is the reaction of Hazuma’s father to her. Incest fantasies are not something I thing belong in a light / comedic show.

The series is already licensed. I hope the distributor does as good a job with it as it deserves.

Current obsessions: (anime)Simoun

11 Oct 2006

Point of view

Writing

I don’t want to start griping here about everything I read, but some writers annoy me because I know they’re better than what I’m reading.

Many writers don’t really understand point of view. I’m sure I will gripe about that some time. But one thing all decent writers understand is the need to decide on a mode of writing going into the book. Maybe you’ll pick a single point of view, which means nothing happens that is out of your main character’s perception. Maybe that’s too limiting, and you’ll go for multiple points of view. You need to know before you start, because if you write ten chapters in one point of view, then leap into another character’s head, your readers will be wondering why.

Maybe you’ll decide that you’re going to write in the first person. It can be very immediate, and very involving. Zelazny mastered the power of the first person novel. It makes for a great identification of the reader with the protagonist. It’s even more limiting than single point of view – nothing can happen at all that’s out of the protagonist’s awareness (although well-written single point of view should also be that way), and the reader has a sense that there has to be a “me” telling the story from the end, which is something of a spoiler, especially in a thriller. So it is easy to make the story predictable.

One of my pet peeves is the writer who writes in the first person, but introduces material from outside, in chapters or scenes which don’t involve the narrator. Patricia Cornwell did some of that, and it was an annoyance – until her books got too irritating for me to try to read them, so it’s no longer an issue for me. Stuart Pawson does it, and his writing is otherwise excellent.

Basically, if you can’t tell the story in the perspective you’ve chosen, you’ve picked the wrong perspective (or failed at creating the story), and mixing styles only proves that to your reader. If you’re writing a first person book, let the reader discover the facts as your protagonist does, not be privy to secret knowledge. If the material absolutely can’t be skipped, you need a multiple person point of view, and all in third person.

I like reading Michael Connelly. His thrillers are dark and moody. His protagonists are heavily flawed, at odds with the world around them. As he’s gotten more success, though, his writing has become a little more egocentric. Instead of keeping his series protagonists unique, he’s got them inhabiting the same world, meeting and playing off each other. And back into and out of the real world – where Clint Eastwood played agent Terry McCaleb in Blood Work, now Connelly has dragged the movie and Eastwood back into the book, with Eastwood attending McCaleb’s funeral… even pointing out canonical errors in the movie. It takes a lot of nerve to do all that, and it’s too jarring to ring true. But that isn’t my biggest problem.

Michael Connelly writes Harry Bosch books in the first person – and does a good job of it. He writes most of his other thrillers in multiple person point of view. When he decides to involve Bosch in another series, he really has two choices that would work: show the FBI (or whomever) from Bosch’s internal perspective, or add Bosch as one (third person) point of view to the other setting. Well, he does neither: Bosch’s contributions are still first person, and the rest is not, and it just doesn’t work. We’re trying to be Heironymous Bosch, but we know what he doesn’t know. We know everything that’s going on off-camera. Even from the mind of the villain wondering what Bosch is up to.

So, that’s The Narrows. I can’t say I’d recommend it. The Poet deserved a better sequel, and Connelly deserves a better (or more aggressive) editor.