What better way to kick off 2018, than to just dive into a bunch of random stuff that I’ve been into lately and what’s recently been making me tick? Especially since the real world seems ready to go down in flames every other day.
(It’s already April? Aw jeez. Well, better late than never.)
Yes, I have my new year’s resolutions, I suppose, but that’s basically getting my manuscript off the ground and out the door. And maybe making more money. So…enough about that. Time to dig into a bunch of stuff that’s just…been clicking with me lately.
1) The Ending Fight in Code Geass: Akito the Exiled
A billion posts back, I brought up Code Geass quite a bit. Or at the very least, I’d sprinkle memes based on the show throughout my older material. But to give some context for the uninitiated, the world of Code Geass is set in an alternate universe where most the world is ruled by something called the Britannian Empire (which is apparently actually America, I mean…their capital is where our United States is so…yeah), and one of the countries this empire has taken over is Japan, renamed Area 11 as one of their territories. Subsequently, the Japanese people are no longer recognized as Japanese, but as “Elevens”–at least by anyone who goes along with the Britannian conquerors. I suppose kind of the same way some people call Burma Myanmar, and other people still call it Burma.
The series proper title is Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, focusing on the quest of exiled-to-Japan, Britannian imperial prince Lelouch vi Britannia to find the one who murdered his mother and create a peaceful world for his crippled little sister, Nunally, by crushing the empire that abandoned him. The “Geass” enters the story in the first episode as a supernatural power gifted to him by a mysterious woman named C.C., and in him it manifests as the ability to force a command on anyone he makes eye contact with. Which is a formidable power for a young man who happens to have a brilliant strategic mind, as demonstrated in the way he plays chess in the first episode.
Obviously, this leads to a lot of epic action, tragic drama, and all the thrills and chills that come with wars and rebellions as told in stories.
Akito the Exiled, meanwhile, is a side story that takes place (chronologically speaking) in the gap between seasons one and two of Lelouch of the Rebellion. Moreover, instead of taking place in Japan, it takes place over in the E.U. (which incidentally stands for “Europia United”, and not “European Union”, go figure) and follows Akito Hyuga, an E.U.-born Japanese youth fighting for the E.U. in their resistance against Britannia.
Concerning Akito, he’s a mech pilot on a special ops unit called W-0, or Wyvern Squad, whose primary function is to deploy solely Japanese pilots on what are, more often than not, suicide missions. Because even in the E.U., Japanese exiles are treated like second-class (WTF, E.U.?), and are therefore “disposable”.
But Akito has a secret power that gives him an edge in battle. Yes, it’s Geass, but rather than him wielding its power, he’s under the influence of a Geass, a command that was given to him when he was a very small child by none other than his older brother, Shin, who’d tried to use his very own Geass power to kill him. And as is wont with stories like these, these two brothers find each other again during the course of this most recent clash between the E.U. and Britannia. And their blood feud comes to a head at the climax of the final episode, which brings us to the ending fight sequence.
Not so much for the mech bits, though those are impressive. I’m talking more about the part where the mechs get wrecked so bad that they can’t be used to fight anymore, and Akito and Shin resort to hand-to-hand sword-fighting. I guess if I had to put into words what I like so much about it, it’d have to be it’s just very effective that when the swords come out, the music cuts out and there’s just the clash of swords for a few beats, followed by a supernatural interlude featuring music, and then the music cuts out again and there’s just like 30-ish seconds of Shin tearing mercilessly in Akito and Akito begging him to stop because for heaven’s sake, Shin, he’s your little brother!!!
And being the show that it is, and what franchise it’s part of, it all resolves in beautiful melodrama. And yeah, I dunno. I just remember the first time I saw it, I was like, “Yes, I want to create fights like that in my story, fights that start out huge, end small, devolve into brutality, but at the same time come out beautiful.” This ending fight sequence did all these things for me, and I was immensely satisfied.
Also, shout-out to the character of Akito’s commander/eventual lover, Leila Malcal, who is in fact a Geass-user as well, but manages to be the only one in this whole universe who, because of her selfless and purely kind personality (like not just “had good intentions but ends up doing bad things to achieve nobler goals”, but is SERIOUSLY GOOD), her Geass manifests into the only one that’s purely good, probably instead of being a weapon, it’s more of a shield so she can be the one to save her beloved Akito’s life. Which leads me to giving a shout-out to the Akito x Leila pairing, lol.
2) Code Geass Re-watch Value
As for the original Code Geass, its rewatch value is still very solid, speaking as someone who’s rewatched it at least 3 times. I still stand by this, Fullmetal Alchemist (original and Brotherhood), and Fate/Zero all as my personal top 3 anime. I would be so ecstatic if I were to manage to write characters as epic and awesome as these. That’s part of what I’m aiming for anyway.
Unfortunately, someone had the bright idea to try and resurrect this juggernaut with a third season, called, rather appropriately, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Resurrection.
Will it be as good as the original series? Well, we’ll see.
For now though, I’m happy enough with what we already have and the way it concluded so nicely and epicly, and every time I rewatch it, it gets me geared up for creating equally epic characters of my own in the same way the stories of Middle-Earth inspire me with their poetry.
3) Enjoying Titanic, and Enjoying the Fact That It’s STILL Awesome
Okay I had the Leo crush back when I was like 10 and didn’t even really understand what it meant to have a crush like that. Like, to me, he was just a more adult Disney prince I guess. That and obviously everyone I knew found the sweaty handprint on the rear window of that car (you know the one) hilarious. Because we all thought we knew what was going on in there and well…we did, but in that way that kids just learning about sex do, and for some reason find it hilarious (though let’s face it, we still do sometimes).
All that aside, seeing the film now as an adult and understanding the importance and nuances of onscreen chemistry, like I did with Han and Leia in Star Wars, I find the experience of watching Rose and Jack’s love story all the more, implausible as it may be.
And I’m just enjoying that immensely.
In this jaded world, there are still a lot of things media-wise that still light my fire, in books, movies, anime, manga, more recently graphic novels, and basically everything most nerds gobble and slurp up like a hot fudge sundae with marshmallows and extra hot fudge. But when I find a good romance, like a good romance, like the kind where you’re saying, “Was it good for you? Cuz it was good for me,” while smoking a proverbial cigarette, and at the same time watching as you melt into a puddle of feels all over the floor, those are still gems that can take an expert eye to mine for.
Or maybe my standards are just too high.
Anyway, there’s a reason that when I find couples that make feel those feels like that rainbow unicorn in space, I hang onto them, and keep coming back to them, smiling every time, like I were keeping their photo in my back pocket of my favorite jeans or in a heart-shaped locket, so I can look back at them whenever I want to.
(And yes, they probably BOTH would’ve fit on that floating door, but not WELL. Probably.)
4) The Next Book In the Blood of Eden Trilogy
So I’m on book 2 here, and so far, I’m sitting here wishing this had been the teen vamp sensation instead of Twilight. I mean, I get why Twilight would probably still win that, but still. This has a badass vampire girl who has agency, wields a katana, and still finds herself in love with a human, and is even willing to give it a try. Plus the world has gone to hell, so it makes more sense for danger to be lurking around every corner. Moreover, the guy is no male Bella Swan analog. In fact, he’s got a heart of gold that makes me wanna cry.
But, sad to say, think the vamp ship has sailed way out. Regardless, I’m still enjoying this read, and pray, pray, pray for Allison and Zeke to end up together (even though this book is so grimdark that fairy tale endings seem far-fetched if we wanna be realistic–no spoilers please!)
Yes, you still get the “fighting the monster within” conflict that runs rampant in most modern vampire lit, but at the very least, Allie actually can be pretty monstrous. So at least her insecurity about whether she can keep it in check is called for. She’s not just moaning in a corner going, “Oh god, stay away, I love the smell of your blood too much!”
5) Reliving the Feels of Sailor Moon, With Extra Uncut On the Side
Man do I feel lucky to finally get this. I mean, as I kid I was perfectly happy with what I had already, not knowing how butcher-shopped the original North American release of Sailor Moon was. But even back then, I seemed to sense that there was something a little more here going on than anything I’d find in a Disney movie.
Sailor Moon was my first anime, and sticks in my brain to this day as one of the first shows I can remember feeling without exactly thinking it that I had never seen anything like it before. I was old enough to have something to compare it too, but had yet to learn what I would get many years later.
Now with the episodes available here, uncut and redubbed by Viz Media, which I honestly don’t mind in some ways–I mean, the original dub is fun to watch for kicks and giggles, but I’m glad we get an English revamp for the uncut release that covers all the adulty things that were neutered from the original release–no less because that means we finally get the last season, which was never brought over here because of the whole gender-swapping element.
No more hunting for scattered English sub clips on YouTube and underground streaming sites! And now that the redub of Season 4’s release is on the horizon, I know exactly where a portion of my birthday money is going. ;D
6) “Shelter”, a Love-Letter to Anime
Just watch it. If you don’t feel something, you either have no heart, or are completely turned off by the concept of parental/fatherly affection and/or father-daughter/parent-child relationships portrayed with genuine warm-fuzzies. Or you have a thing against the anime style on principle (though I totally get it if it’s JUST not your cup of tea).
Or if touchy-feely stuff isn’t your thing either.
Because this has FEELS.
7) The MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
Especially with Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther having come out, and The Avengers: Infinity Wars on the horizon.
I actually have way more thoughts on this then will fit into a little section here in this post (unless you want this to bloat and think it’s already dangerously on the edge of that) so I’ll save this for a whole post on its own.
That said, let me at least say that I’m not just enjoying how cool these movies are, and how cool their concept is, but how much I’m connecting with them on a lot of personal levels (hence the lengthiness of what I have to say here).
8) Annihilation OMG
Now, I’m gonna say this up front. I love weird. Weird is awesome. Weird is part of why I love anime and the way it embraces weird. Weird is why I love stories about people who are socially maladjusted in some way, because that’s me! Weird is why I can love James Cameron’s Avatar for its visuals (even if it is a bit bloated otherwise). Plus Sigourney Weaver is just awesome.
But then there comes a point where weird crosses over into horrifying, when it opens up the innards of the things we’d rather look away from like so much body horror a la John Carpenter’s The Thing. Which is precisely the reason I haven’t watched it.
And yet there is a part of my brain that’s pleasurably stimulated by what that film does. I feel the same way about David Cronenberg, and not just in the case of his movies, but also his novel, Consumed, which is supposed to be all kinds of gruesome. There is an itch inside me that’s eager to scratched, but my very basic fear of well…being scared gets in the way.
That’s where this movie comes in.
I’ve heard buzz about this one scene in Annihilation involving a bear, that is allegedly crazy terrifying. You get bits of it in the trailer and I think there’s a clip of it (if not in full then in part) on YouTube floating about, but just from that, I can tell that the scene is indeed intense. But imagining myself watching it involves me screaming so loud I explode. Or something like that.
At the same time though, I keep reading reviews and discussions with keen interest. And I checked out one of the tracks in the OST, the one that features that awesomely haunting sound bite that I can’t even describe, but you’d know it of you heard it. And yeah, I’m hearing it now, in my head, as I write this. It’s the kind of music that creepily follows you, and I’m very drawn to it. If the track is anything to go by, it sounds like the climax heads down a rabbit hole of trippiness on par with that of 2001: A Space Odyssey. And I am totally down for that.
So, we’ll see how much I’m willing to finally break another barrier in my comfort zone. For now though, I’m simply high on the idea of it. So much so that I picked up a copy of Ex Machina from Best Buy for $5. Lol.
9) Breaking Out of My “Reading Slump” with Magonia
Here’s the thing with being that person that claims to read five or six books at a time (which I do), there are times where it does get to be overwhelming (quite as much as it does trying to work on five or six different fanfictions, but there you are). My reading interest shifts very much with my mood, and since my mood can shift quite a lot, I tend to switch around between a few different books to satisfy wherever my current mood rests.
If I wanna feel smarter, I pick up one of the many non-fiction books I’ve picked up just to read for the pure pleasure of learning something new despite the fact that I’m no longer a student (hey, I’m a student of Life, we’ll put it that way, lol). If I wanna just feel, I’ll find something where the premise either has a lot of feels charge to it, or had one emotional hook that grabbed me as if the book caught my heart by a fishing line and is reeling me in and that alone was enough for me to answer the impulse to buy it. If I’m in a fantasy mood, I find something fantastic: sci-fi, something sci-fi. Etc.
But there are times where that just doesn’t work, and I can find myself in the mood for any of the books on my docket because there are just so many. At the moment I made the mistake of having both Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge both on my current docket, and they are both very thick books. Both were in the range of being about between 500 and 800 pages in length.
So I needed a quick read. Moreover, something I was really looking forward to reading for a while but wanted to save it in the same way they say you should savor wine or chocolate. Then I was like, “Hell, I’ll just crack this open now and read it, I wanna just give that to myself right now.”
I’ve breezed through about half of it now.
It is short read, YA, you know, my preferred niche, more or less, though I’ll read just about anything (if that wasn’t obvious) as long as it’s interesting.
But it’s a DREAMY read.
The cynical part of my brain is all like, “Man, this narrative voice is unique and fun and all, but it’s bordering on hipster,” which I have no problem with hipsterness on its own–it’s just when it gets high on itself that I start to roll my eyes.
That said, it is enjoyable to read nonetheless. Definitely comes from a mind that LOVES words and the way they rattle in the head (like myself when I get REALLY wordy), knows her mythology (which is a plus) and creates a very unique world (so far) that parallels our own.
The story itself is nothing new, the youth who discovers her heritage and parentage is not what she thought it was, a la Superman, and must now learn to adjust to this new place that the world has for her, but that doesn’t matter. There’s magic in the words, and I really needed something that had some glitter and iridescence to it, as well as some good feely feels, which so far it’s delivering on that enjoyably enough.
It’s a book called Magonia, by Maria Dahvana Headley, and I highly recommend. Probably yet another one of those books like the Chronicles of Lumatere trilogy that’ll slip under the radar in favor of other books like An Ember in the Ashes–which is fine as a book, don’t get me wrong, but the way they were promoting it they were banking on it being up there with the likes of Harry Potter, and for me, I wasn’t wholly impressed. I wasn’t unimpressed either, but I wouldn’t put it on par with Harry Potter. But that’s just me–if you loved it, more power to you, and I commend the author’s work on it immensely, because she definitely gave it a lot of good thought, and it definitely came from an intelligent observance of the real world.
Magonia though, I’m much keener on so far. Moreover, it’s the kind of book I should be reading given my own YA manuscript is in the same vein as far as the, “teenager finds out she’s not what she thought she was” aspect. So you know, it’s a market research thing too.
But FUN market research.
So yeah, I really hope this means that with Avengers: Infinity War, and Fairy Tail 2018 coming this fall, I’ve got some things to look forward to this year that’s just as great as what I’ve started with.