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Q – Q-chan (Petshop of Horrors)

  • Posted on April 20, 2017 at 1:50 pm

Since I’ve only seen one anime that starts with Q (Qwasar of the Stigmata), and it was awful, I decided to bend the rules a little bit. Q-chan is a character from a wonderful anime/manga series called Petshop of Horrors. The stories are all centered around Count D and his petshop. The series follows him and the pets he sells to his customers.

Why I recommend it to writers: Because it’s a very good representation of how to have a villain as the main character and still make them very sympathetic. One might want to read the manga a little to understand the series better, depending on your preference.

Warnings: Death. Murder. Gore.

For the rest of the articles in this series, please visit this page.

Have you seen this anime? What about it made you want to be a better writer? Do you intend to go shotgun this anime now that I’ve shown it to you? Comment below and tell me what you think!

Q-chan in all his glory

K – Katanagatari (Sword Story)

  • Posted on April 13, 2017 at 5:36 pm

Katanagatari is an amazing narrative, driven by strange, otherworldly characters who all bounce off the page with beauty and poise. Did I mention this anime was originally a series of light novels? Yeah, that happens. The main character, Shichika, goes through a lot to understand what it means to be human, and to be a sword, as he accompanies his master, the strategian (her words not mine) Tougami.

Why I recommend it for writers: As the series was originally a very well-sold novel series, it has great tips for characterisation. Also, the ending. But I can’t spoil it for you.

Warnings: A lot of people die. Be prepared to cry.

For the rest of the articles in this series, please visit this page.

Have you seen this anime? What about it made you want to be a better writer? Do you intend to go shotgun this anime now that I’ve shown it to you? Comment below and tell me what you think!

J – Jigoku Shojo (Hell Girl)

  • Posted on April 12, 2017 at 4:54 pm

Jigoku Shoujo, or Hell Girl, as it is translated is another great horror anime. This particular series is about a young girl who people say you can call on to drag your enemy to hell. But the price is your soul. I loved the dark themes of this particular anime, and the piecemeal storytelling makes for a wonderful watch.

Why I reccomend it for writers: Specifically because of how the story is told. We rarely hear more than stock phrases from the main character, but through her interactions with the world around her, we slowly learn more about her. It’s a lesson in showing, not telling.

Warnings: creepy things, death, murder

For the rest of the articles in this series, please visit this page.

Have you seen this anime? What about it made you want to be a better writer? Do you intend to go shotgun this anime now that I’ve shown it to you? Comment below and tell me what you think!

B – Berserk

  • Posted on April 3, 2017 at 5:19 pm

The next letter on our list is B, which in this case stands for Berserk. A dark fantasy series, this series focuses on main character Guts, and his bloody path to salvation and vengeance. I would recommend the old version, rather than the new remake, if only for the quality of animation.

Why Writers should watch it: Between the badass villain and the main character, this show is a wonderful combination of characterisation and dark gore. The reason I recommend it to writers, however, is because, in the flashback arc, there is a lovely fall-to-darkness by a main character that the best writers should attempt to emulate.

Warnings: nudity, rape, gore, torture.

For the rest of the articles in this series, please visit this page.

Click the picture to go to the TVTropes page.

Have you seen this anime? What about it made you want to be a better writer? Do you intend to go shotgun this anime now that I’ve shown it to you? Comment below and tell me what you think!

A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal!

  • Posted on March 20, 2017 at 7:01 am

This year, I’ll be participating in the A-To-Z-Challenge. Which, if you don’t know, is a huge blog-hop where everyone participating posts daily during the month of April. These posts have to be titled from A to Z, and go along with a theme chosen before the month begins! Normally, people choose themes that work well for them, as it’s a very tough thing to maintain a post a day.

I’ve decided to do small posts of only about a hundred words each, in order to make sure that my writing stamina remains pure for my lovely books. But that doesn’t mean my reveal isn’t worthwhile, oh no! If you are a writer yourself, or maybe just a nerd/geek/dork, you’ll jump for joy at the theme I’ve chosen!

 

Official Image – Not Mine

ANIME!

That is to say, I’ll be reviewing animes that all writers should watch. I’ll give a short blurb about what the anime is about, and then about why I’m recommending it to writers specifically. After that, I’ll be providing a short list of warnings, if necessary, for the anime itself. This way you can avoid unpleasantness if you don’t want to see it.

I’ve had a love of anime and manga ever since I was introduced at the tender age of nine to Sailor Moon, Digimon, and Pokemon. After that, the love affair continued with Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star, both of which are great space operas. You should try them out! (No they aren’t on my list! You’ll have to wait and see what anime made the Alphabet!)

The anime I’ve watched and the manga I’ve read have really shaped who I am as a person and what I write. So I want to share this list with everyone so that anime can continue to improve the world! Join me, and we’ll learn together!

Have you ever watched an anime and thought to yourself ‘this is a great story! How did they do it?’ Are you new to the anime scene? Do you have a favorite anime you think should be on the list?  Comment below and let us know!

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Writing Anime: An Interview

  • Posted on August 21, 2016 at 11:35 pm

Today, instead of lecturing you on what to cherry-pick from certain animes, I’ve met with and interviewed an individual who knows his stuff. Cuchallain has a long career of analysing and reviewing anime, manga and video games. So much so in fact that I greatly respect his opinions on most of the review videos I’ve watched. He also happens to have my favorite Let’s Play of Tales of Zestiria on the entirety of the internet, so let’s put that out there too.

As the first interview I ever conducted, Cu and I started with just a few questions, and while he didn’t exactly consider himself an expert to start with, it quickly became apparent to me that he was, in fact, quite knowledgeable. An avid anime fan since the age of ten years old, a convention-goer on the regular, and now the personality behind a youtube channel with over five thousand subscribers, Cu is also incredibly humble.

When asked what goes into his writing for his typical reviews, he explained that he’s actually very unscripted with them. At most, he takes a few notes, generally about the speech of the characters and the themes behind the videos. He in fact, doesn’t even script his theory videos. Then, unfortunately, we devolved into a discussion about his online name, and then that devolved into a conversation on fanfiction and the wonders of Inuyasha as a gateway drug.

Writing Anime: Pokemon Go

  • Posted on July 23, 2016 at 5:13 pm

So, like most others, my life has been taken over by Pokemon Go, an altered reality game where you catch cute as hell pokemon and run around like a crazy person. Altered Reality Games are defined as ” an interactive networked narrative that uses the real world as a platform and uses transmedia storytelling to deliver a story that may be altered by players’ ideas or actions.” What this means is, it’s interactive and fully user-based. In this case, it involves walking and jogging around town to different landmarks, collecting items from those landmarks, and catching cute pokemon that spawn through out town.

Now, what does this have to do with Writing? Well, it explains a lot about fandom and how interacting with it works. We’ve seen a lot of examples of fandom interactions between those of us who create, and those who consume. Often times, those that interact with their fans generally make more sales, and also have more material with which to work. After all, what better engine of creation than several hundred rabid fans all coming up with theories like breathing?

In fact, some artists interact with their fandoms solely for this reason. Others, however, have fun with it, and generally just interact with their fans for entertainment. Then there are those who fuck it up royally while interacting, and somehow get accused of being predatory towards their fanbase (here’s looking at you, John Greene).

One of my favorite examples of an author who interacts with their fanbase is Andrew Hussie, creator of modern day Illiad Homestuck and Problem Sleuth. This is a man whose work has garnered him a fanbase capable of pulling together 1.2 million dollars in TWO. WEEKS. I saw the kickstarter (and donated to it myself) go from 0 dollars to $500,000 in 24 hours, all in anticipation of a videogame.

How did he do it? In-jokes. Good writing. MASSIVE character base. He opened his twitter and several other places for questions to his fanbase. He allowed them to interact with him, and they did. It was massive. In fact, there’s an entire in-joke within the fandom (Fat Vriska, for anyone who knows it) that was started when someone on Formspring asked him about the weight of one of his characters. Eventually, he was asked about Vriska. Which concluded in this glorious manner:

In one of the most glorious fuck-you’s I’ve ever seen, he declared this, and the fandom ran with it.

For more of these absolutely hilarious happenings, you can, of course go to Knowyourmeme.com, and read up on all of them. Or, you can attempt to track them all down. That could be a fun scavenger hunt!

Speaking of scavenger hunts, have you heard of CipherHunt? Well, the fandom of Gravity Falls has. You see, Gravity Falls is a disney show that made it’s fandom massive through the use of ciphers, mysteries and the sorts of things that make those particular fans go crazy. That is, an omniscient Dorito demon who makes bad deals. CipherHunt is creator Alex Hirsch‘s way of making his fans happy one last time. Even though the series has ended, he’s provided them a series of clues, and told them, go on, get hunting.

At the end of each clue is a souvenir/next clue. Now, this isn’t possible for ALL authors, obviously, especially if you don’t have DISNEY backing you. But the fact that he allows it, even though his series is over, shows you what kind of person ends up with a fandom that large. Playful people who love what they’re doing.

Rebecca Sugar, creator of Steven Universe, is another playful person who loves what she’s doing, and in so doing, interacts with her fandom. But she does it quite a bit less than the others on this list. Honestly, she just keeps an eye on what her fandom creates and says, and then sometimes makes nods to it in her show. This is the bare minimum, but because of the way her show works, it does wonders.

So, you might be asking, how can I become this sort of creator? What do I need to do to woo my fandom beast? Well, first of all, find the fans. If you have work out already, look at who bought it, and who likes it. Encourage these people to talk to you. Encourage them to create, whether fanfiction, fanart, or fanmusic. Encourage creation, and it’ll create itself around you.

Then, remember, no matter what you do, it’s not going to be perfect. Laugh about your mistakes with those who point them out. Or, like Hussie does, make them into injokes. Have a sense of humour, and openly enjoy the community growing around your works. Even if it’s only a few people.

And finally, be accessible. Don’t hide yourself away, because while that may work for people like Steven King, or George R.R. Martin, when you’re writing for the sort of demographic that likes Anime and Manga, you really can’t afford to.

Who knows, if you succeed, you just might end up like Ishida-sensei, the creator of Tokyo Ghoul, who got to share his joy at his new Pokemon with the fans of his work.

 

IWSG – 03/02/16

  • Posted on March 2, 2016 at 3:52 pm

A lot of writers will discuss ‘finding your niche’ as if this is some magical journey. As if that mythical ‘niche’ for which you search will set you on the track for results. As if that long-awaited niche will answer all your questions, and make it easier to understand yourself. A lot of authors attribute their success to finding their niche, and sticking to it, learning the trade entirely and devoting themselves to that long-awaited god named Niche.

I’m here to tell you that’s bullshit. It’s a lot like in real life. A lot of the problems that people have is that we’re all pressured to find that one thing we’re good at. That one ‘passion’ we have, that one great joy in our lives, is what we’re expected to cultivate and then unleash upon the world like an unholy tide of pleasantness. The thing is, and a lot of people are beginning to learn that now, that’s all a crock of horseshit.

There is no one end all, be all, of your creativity. You may never find that one job that you love forever. You may never find that one calling that you were ‘put on this earth for’. Your calling might be sitting in your pjs and making diagrams of buildings out of toothpicks. No one is really going to recognise you for your ability to eat an entire bag of potato chips without having to take a sip of something because of how salty they are. And I know for a fact that my odd ability to find and then binge watch anime and manga is not even remotely going to earn me money.

Or is it?

See that’s another thing a lot of people don’t tell you. Often times, niches, callings, and that one great passion, come out of a lot of practice and thought. It comes from writing those BILLION articles that mean almost nothing, and sound like an incoherent child’s scrawlings. It comes with time, and effort and energy. And yeah, you may never realize what your niche is. You may never realize that when you put those words to paper and out comes YET ANOTHER STUPID FAIRY TALE, that that is in fact your niche.

I recently had a sort of revelation. You see, ever since middle school, I had the uncanny ability to pick out interesting things to read out of the school library. And then, in highschool, I managed to find one interesting manga, or anime, or book, after another. I had, for a long while, lapsed in that talent. I focused on work, on trying to maintain school, on trying to focus. I focused on everything but this one talent that makes me happy. This consumption of stories. This absorption of plots and characters.

Recently, however, I have found a way to turn that odd talent, into something that motivates me to write here on this blog. That motivates me to do more with my life. I started my Writing Anime series. I meant it just to explore some of the lessons of writing that Anime have taught ME over the years. I meant it as a way to make use of the hundreds of hours I spend watching cartoons as a grown adult.

So it’s not an instantaneous thing, realizing that you’ve found your one thing. It’s not something that comes immediately. It’s honestly not even something I can see coming with thought or contemplation. I can only see the finding of your niche happening with massive work and effort. With a natural move that you barely even think about, that pushes you to work harder. So keep writing. You’ll find it eventually.

And when you do, it’ll feel like coming home, changing into sweats and putting on fuzzy socks after a long hard day. Difficult to do, but oh, so, worth it.

Writing Anime – Colorful

  • Posted on January 24, 2016 at 3:52 pm

There are very few movies that have managed to reduce me to tears. One I can name was A.I., the movie that was basically a pinocchio parallel except with robots. This movie, Colorful? It reduced me to tears halfway through the movie, and then just kept them coming. I recommend this movie for anyone who is going through hard times, suffering depression, or any sort of problem with belief in oneself.

The premise of the movie is simple. A soul is given a second chance, and that second chance requires that they figure out the crime they committed in their past life, as well as why the boy who’s body they inhabit killed himself. The ending is staggering. I definately didn’t see it coming. But what really did it for me was how it drew me in. The first sequence of the movie is entirely in first person. That is, the characters talk to YOU directly, and there is a beautiful falling sequence that just plain made me sigh with happiness.

Then, after a heart-wrenching scene where the family greets you, and then hands you a mirror to see yourself, it switches from first person into third, but you continue to hold onto that connection. You’re STILL that person, and you’ve STILL got the wonder and the fear and the anxiety that the opening instilled in you. It’s a wonderful technique that often isn’t pulled off well. However, this movie does it masterfully.

How can we translate this work into a literary practice? Well, let’s take a look at a few authors who make regular changes in point of view, and what delineates how well it is done. One of my favorite books that I read recently was Haruki Murakami‘s Kafka on the Shore. In the book, his two main characters, an old man named Nakata and a young boy named Kafka have different point of views. When the book speaks of Kafka’s adventures, they’re all first person. Nakata’s part of the story however, is always in third person.

The way this ends up working is very different from what you might think. In fact, in even more jarring, and therefore attention grabbing, parts in Kafka’s sections, parts of it drop into second person, telling me what is occuring to ME while I read it. Those parts were designed to make one uncomfortable, and they did. It was very uncomfortable reading those parts, but again, it drew you in.

Here are a few things you might consider when doing POV switches:

  • Consider which point of view is necessary for which character
  • if you do switch point of view, make sure it is clearly outlined who is using what pov.
  • if you switch points of view with the same character, only do so when the section needs to be unsettling or paid very close attention to.

Another book that did Point of View changes is one of my favorites, Patricia Briggs‘ Dragon Blood. The sequel to her Dragon Bones, Dragon Blood is told in a different way than her first book. In the first book, it was entirely from her main character, Ward’s perspective. Although we were privy to bits of excitement that happened to other people when Ward wasn’t present, it was clearly presented in a way of “Ward is telling the story, and adding parts he was told after the fact”. In Dragon Blood, however, it’s very clear that the Main Character-ship was shared between Tisala and Ward.

The way this was done was very simple. Each chapter had a denotation of WHO was the perspective character. This made it easy to follow, and also kept the linearness that Briggs is so exemplary for. I would definitely emulate her, were I writing something so straight forward.

These three examples prove that no matter what your medium, you’re going to have to keep an eye out for your POV. It’s not something you should spend only a few seconds considering. And if you get stuck? Well, try a new perspective!

The Anatomy of an Anime Mental Breakdown

  • Posted on February 17, 2015 at 11:58 pm

As defined by TV tropes, Sanity Slippage  is when it is apparent that a character is losing their edge, and slowly sliding down the slippery slope to insanity. It may be that they now have a verbal tic they didn’t before, perhaps they’re spouting a Madness Mantra. Perhaps they’re simply not sleeping, or not eating, or maybe, just maybe, they’ve gone off the deep end, and are completely different from the character they were before.

So, how does one define a Mental Breakdown of this sort? How does one describe and even characterize such a thing? After all, nothing is more interesting than the breaking and splintering of a human psyche. Nothing gets us more than the suffering of another. Perhaps it’s Schadenfruede, or perhaps it’s just a need to see how far a person can be pushed before they break.

That's one hell of a smile you got there, Shinji

See, Shinji knows what I’m talking about.

So, we’re going to break down that amazing phenomena that is the Anime Breakdown.

Step One: Stress

So, How do we take a perfectly normal character, and make them into something broken and weeping? First, we have to start with that perfectly normal character! Whether this is your villain or your hero, or both, you need a base line for them. So start them off at their normal. Perhaps they’re a normal high-school student?

Yeahhh, I'd be bored in geometry too.

Take Light Yagami here. He’s a perfectly normal, bored high school student.

Stressors would be required to remove them from this normalcy state, and into something close to the sanity slippage we mentioned earlier. In the case of our example here, Mr. Yagami is introduced to a book titled the Death Note. This Death Note provides him a literal example of how “With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility”.

Over time, the toll of his body count, as well as the things he needs to do to keep from being prosecuted, begin to take a toll on his sanity. Light grows paranoid, increasingly so, and emotionally manipulative. He hides from those who care about him, and performs actions that most would consider appalling. He meets people he’d never thought to meet, but can’t really call any of them friends. In fact, he’s withdrawn from humanity so much that he honestly begins to believe he’s a god.

These stressors cause his reactions to become more and more terrifying and odd, until we get this lovely number:

Yeahhhh….

So Stressors. But what happens once stressors take their toll?

Step Two: Symptoms

This is when we begin to show our homework. A lot of this is going to require research, because honestly, every character is going to react differently. Your stressors are different, and while there will be some crossover sometimes, you can’t just slap a sticker on it and call it good.

So, first, take into account the exact stressors. Is your character being spoken to by the whispering voices of dark gods, dreaming in the beyond? Well then, maybe they’d start listening to music, accidentally yell at their friends, maybe they would end up gouging out their ears? Oh, wait. We’ aren’t there yet, are we…

Here are some common symptoms and examples:

Madness Mantra – A character begins to repeat over and over something that was said to them, something they heard, something they thought, some small phrase that means a lot. This could also double as arch words, if the author is thoughtful about it!

Room Full of Crazy – Perhaps the character begins posting pictures of the victims on their walls, writing the connecting facts between them? Perhaps they start carving out a calender, representing all the times they’d lost time. Or maybe they simply don’t control their room any more. Things go missing, they can’t find something, and then it turns up in places they didn’t put it.

Paranoia – They may begin to grow distrustful of those they once loved, and those they cared about. Maybe they don’t quite know who they can trust. Maybe they worry that someone they don’t know at all will turn out to be their downfall? Who knows.

That’s right Shinji, You listen to Evenescence. That’ll fix everything.

Running Away from Responsibilities – That’s right. When a person is pushed to the limit, they often try to escape from the pressures restraining them. In this case, that means they refuse to fight, they hide. There might be a scene in which they lay about, while others do important things, or perhaps the character hides under blankets.

Now these are just a few symptoms, and to be honest, there are as many symptoms as there are characters. Each one is going to have it’s own reaction. But now you have a general idea of what to do.

Step three: The Catalyst

On  TvTropes, this is referred to as The Despair Event Horizon, which basically just means, the thing that pushes them over the edge into complete and utter breakdown. My favorite culmination for this is into what is known as a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. Which is basically a character who has undergone such a life of misery and woe, that they have decided the only way to end it is to kill themselves and everyone else along with them. It’s a great trope, give it a read!

Anyway, so the Catalyst can be just about anything. From a Woman in the Fridge to a Kick the Dog moment, it really depends. Basically, the final straw that breaks the camels back. This is the thing that will finally cause that “Everything is over” moment that shatters the character’s (and if you did it right, your reader’s) hearts. This should be your climax, the high point in your story, and the culmination of this character’s arc. After this, it’s all downhill, and healing.

So congratulations! Those are the three big ingredients to writing an Anime Mental Breakdown. There are of course other tropes you can invoke, or even revoke, in order to make it more interesting, and more unique, however, these are the three main things you need. I would recommend reading through those pages, if only so that you can get an idea of what’s already been done. You don’t wanna accidentally overlap, after all.

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