You are currently browsing the Obsessivity weblog archives for January, 2007.

28 Jan 2007

Chrno Crusade

Anime

(a.k.a Chrono Crusade.) I’ve been watching this for a while, but got interrupted by EQ2. Now I’ve finished it. I’d planned just to list it among “misc. animes” in a wrap-up post sometime, but in the end I was surprised. I’ll add more about that behind a more tag.

What’s worth noting is that it does have a touching boy-girl romance that isn’t played (much) for embarrassment and avoidance. Though the girl is the series’ protag, and the boy is an ancient demon…

The first half is pure action, with the heroine blowing up demons and creating havoc, and some hints of a mystery. The second half is very intense, with a theology so twisted that you have to wonder why they would even claim that it’s based on Catholicism, but which nevertheless is fairly consistent and leads to a very dark story.

One of the four main characters (Azmaria) is played by Saeko Chiba, who’s also Natsuki in Mai HiME / Mai Otome. In this, she’s a young girl – I don’t know if we know exactly how old, but I’d guess about 12. I’m impressed at Chiba’s skill at voicing the deep-voiced, confident Natsuki and the little girl Azmaria. As Azmaria, she has to persuade us that she has a child’s singing voice so beautiful it shows the divine – and she does (though her English accent is pretty bad).

She also sings the closing theme, partnered with my music idol, Kajiura Yuki. That’s a song that didn’t impress me immediately, but grew on me through the series – beautiful, quiet, and powerfully poignant. More about that below the tag.

It was music that got me into the series – Tsubasa wa Pleasure Line by Kuribayashi Minami, who sang some of the best songs in Mai HiME (and played Erstin in Mai Otome). I heard it on animenfo radio, and that led me to see what the series was like that it introduced.

Beyond that, I can’t really say anything without getting into very heavy spoilers. Even whether I’d recommend the series.

Update: After a couple of days’ contemplation – yeah, I’d have to say I would recommend it. It’s definitely one of the best series I’ve seen, though it certainly has predictable ideas in a genre that I think is weak and overused.

So, here goes. Beyond this point lie spoilers.

(more…)

22 Jan 2007

Out from under – for a time.

Anime, Writing

I’ve managed to evade the grip of EverQuest II somewhat for the last few days. Since writing the short story, that is.

I don’t seem to do well at handling life without an active obsession, but reworking the story as much as it needs has provided that. And rather than go back to EQ2 when I’m done with a revision session, I’ve been using the break to catch up on Simoun. The fine folks at Simoun-Fans are now up to episode 23 – only 3 left. ‘Course, that’s only 7 further on from where we were when I last obsessed over the series, so I’m still going to have a long, painful wait after I get up to 23.

I started over from the beginning, because I’d forgotten so much, and it really is a good series. [spoiler /Slight spoiler/ /Hide spoiler/] I do find myself a little depressed after episode 19. Not saying more, even behind a spoiler tag.[/spoiler] My gripe about the music persists. It’s so completely inappropriate.

About the short story – currently titled “The Scent of Petunias” – I’m at the stage with it where I can’t decide if I should really hate it. This always happens, and I find it extremely stressful. It happens right after I decide that a story / section is good enough to get critiqued, and before I get much serious feedback. I haven’t been able to name the feeling. It’s not exactly embarrassment that I’m showing the story around. It’s more an extremely strong apprehensiveness about the potential for embarrassment.

I feel very much the same if I make a controversial post to a public forum. It isn’t a rational fear – but most of my fears aren’t rational anyway, so it isn’t anything new.

In this case, I love the concept. I think that for the most part I’ve done it justice, but then I read a section and it seems incredibly amateurish, so I fix it, then find another – and soon I’m worrying not about whether the writing is any good, but whether I’ve edited out all of the feeling in my constant changes. And whether it’s worth even close to this level of effort, for only 25 pages.

But then, I approach a short story very differently from The Book. When I write something short, I’m looking for a mood rather than a narrative – and that’s another thing I get anxious over, because I wonder if the mood is overdone, and whether it always seems to be the same from story to story… I can certainly tell the difference between tone between this short story and The Book, but I’m not sure if it’s much different from the last serious attempt I made at a short story.

What I will say is I enjoyed the process enough to try working on some others. I have several ideas that just may be viable, though most tend to be “hey, that’s a neat concept – but where’s the story?”

It’s also fueled my motivation to work on the online project I mentioned a while back. But I have to get some other starter stories for that before I can take it anywhere.

Current obsessions: (anime) Simoun

18 Jan 2007

Something Worthwhile

Writing

I finished the SF short story I mentioned, and I’m quite proud of it. It needs polishing, and I somehow doubt it will be seen as having the kind of distinctive style that SF magazines prefer, but I will try to have it published.

Current obsessions: (games) EverQuest II
(writing) SF short

16 Jan 2007

Active Obsessions

Games, General, Writing

One obvious problem with documenting obsessions – and one I did recognize up-front – is that when they hit, you don’t take the time away to document them.

So I haven’t written much since EverQuest II regained its grip. I’ve been away levelling up my characters, doing quests, obsessively wasting time. Some old friends have returned, one due to my persuasion (he was killing time in World of Warcraft, so I don’t feel guilty about dragging him back), and I’ve been playing with them some, doing the Christmas quests, making items and money in-game, and generally having a blast.

I had hoped that the discipline of maintaining this blog would help me manage my time when I got sucked back into EQ2 (or whichever game it would be), but that hasn’t happened. If maintaining the blog had required any real commitment, I would likely not have started it anyway.

My writing’s suffering. of course. I still am at a part of The Book for our critique group that isn’t going to change, so I can refurbish it a little and present it – but soon I’ve got to start making serious changes. I’m convinced now that the narrative is too linear, and I don’t know what to do about it. I introduced plot elements that stretched credibility in order to keep the plot from being simplistic; what I need instead is more story twists, and simplify the involvement of the antagonist(s).

I just finished a Robert Ludlum book, “The Ambler Warning“. He needs better editing, as do most authors as popular as he is, but he still writes a hell of a good thriller. A Ludlum thriller involves huge and unexpected plot twists, inexplicable background that you know will be explained, but can’t see how, and action-packed scenes all the way through. The Ambler Warning didn’t disappoint. It just makes me realize how far away I am from creating a powerful thriller.

I have had an idea for a Science-Fiction short story that I intend to write, if I ever free up the time to do so. I pretty much have it all mapped out in my mind now, it’s time to put pen to paper…

Current obsessions: (games) EverQuest II
(writing) SF short