This month I’m doing something new thanks to the fine people at Loot Crate. They’ve sent me one of their Loot Anime boxes to check out!
Don’t forget, if this looks like something you’d enjoy, use the link above to get 10% off! And yes, this helps the channel financially as well, so thank you!
Not a long post today, but wanted to let you know about an exciting development for readers over at the website Goodreads, and the discovery of another site I’m having fun with.
Ask the Author
Goodreads has launched a new feature called Ask the Author. It allows you to visit an author’s profile page and, if they’ve enabled the feature, ask questions. I’ve activated the feature on my profile and would love to answer any questions you might have! You can find my Goodreads Profile via this link.
On the fun side of things, I discovered a website where I can keep track of all the anime I’ve watched over the years. The site is called Hummingbird and you can visit my profile at this link.
The site has a clean and easy to navigate design. It also has a cool feature where it displays the total amount of time you’ve spent watching anime. At the time of this article I have watched 1 month, 23 days, 23 hours and 37 minutes worth of anime!
Please visit both of these sites and add me to your friends lists. And ask me a question over on Goodreads. I’m usually on the site daily, so you won’t have to wait long for an answer.
All the best,
PS Resonance is doing well. Hoping to give some more concrete answers on release date soon!
Since MMORPGs (Massive Multi-Player Online Role Playing Games) became a thing, anime has had series asking the question, What happens when the game becomes far more than a game?
An older series to pose this question was the multimedia project .Hack//Sign, which incorporated an anime, manga, and video game series all at the same time. In the anime, a single character finds they are unable to log off. The story revolves around this mysterious player and the deeper mysteries surrounding the game’s origin and purpose.
More recently, a series to have huge success, was Sword Art Online. In this series, players interacted with the game via a virtual reality helmet. The creator of the game goes a bit batsh!t crazy and traps all the players inside the game. If they die in the game, they die in real life. If someone disconnects them from the game in real life, they will also die. The only way to escape is to win the game by defeating the ninety-nine floors of the main dungeon.
I really enjoyed Sword Art. So when I heard a similar series had been released, called Log Horizon, I had to check it out.
Initially my impression was that Log Horizon was just another Sword Art clone. In the anime, players of a MMORPG called Ender’s Tale find themselves waking up in the game world. This occurs just after a new update is added to the game.
Several episodes in, I realized though Log Horizon started from a similar place, it had something much different to say.
In Sword Art, the players have a goal, right from day one. They know why they are stuck, they know the basic rules of how they are stuck, and they know what they must do to escape. The series focuses on the characters as they level up, find allies, and face off against challenging odds to win the game.
In Log Horizon, the situation is very different.
The players have no idea how they ended up in the game world. In fact, unlike Sword Art where players played the game at all times as they though were truly “living” it, Elder’s Tale was a more traditional game where players sat at their computer and manipulated a character on screen.
So the players waking up “living” in the game world is far stranger and more disorienting.
Log Horizon also deals with the hopelessness and despondency people face when their life has no goal or purpose. Unlike Sword Art, even if you die in Log Horizon, you revive just as normal. So even death lacks a consequence or meaning.
Log Horizon is much more about politics, morals, and how to build a new society with order and rules when you’re starting point is pure chaos.
I’m a little halfway through the series and loving it! Though the character designs are a little drab and/or cliche, the actual characters themselves are cool and the story is engaging. I especially appreciate how they keep comparing how things worked in the game, compared to how they operate now it’s a living world. There’s a lot of thought given to the mechanics and back story of Elder’s Tale and it gives added depth to the series. I almost wish Elder’s Tale was a real game!
So if you dig the whole genre of characters trapped in an RPG, check out Log Horizon and share your thoughts.
How do you start a work of fiction? What is the initial spark that lights the fire?
In these series of articles, I’m going to be looking at what starts the ball rolling. This isn’t about the first line or paragraph, this is about what made you want to start writing your story in the first place. Today’s focus is on Character.
The lady with the big gun is named Black Rock Shooter. She was first an illustration that was posted by Japanese illustrator Huke on his website and the illustrator website Pixiv on December 26, 2007. At that time, she was nothing more than an image of a character.
Soon after, Ryo of JPop group Supercell caught a glimpse of the character and was so inspired that he wrote a song about her. The band had Huke do drawings & animations for the music video.
The video was released on the web and garnered hundreds of thousands of views. It was so popular that soon a 50 minute anime was produced, which of course spawned countless figures, posters, etc.
So what’s the point?
The point here is that a story, and an entire marketing franchise, launched because of one thing; a cool looking character.
JK Rowling has often said that the character of Harry Potter just popped right into her head. The kind of boy he was, the scar, the boy he would become, all of it, BAM, into her head like a lightening shot.
In these cases, and many more like them, an author had a character in mind but no story to use that character in. The story was eventually born from poking and prodding the character to learn more about them.
Some writers compare this to an interview process. In fact, some literally have interview questions that they write and fill out by asking their character.
From the answers that they receive, the author begins to build a story. From the character they learn who their friends are, what kind of family they have, what scares them, what makes them happy. If the character has some sort of defining physical trait, the author probes deeper into it. Like, gee Harry, why do you have that scar?
Admittedly, I’ve never written anything this way. I’m more a concept person.
The potential for strengths I see in this are probably clear. First of all, most readers are hooked by a compelling and fully fleshed out character. That’s likely to happen when the whole story has been crafted around a character so compelling that the author had to write their tale.
Is there a downside? I can only think of one; a thin plot.
Reading the synopsis of the Black Rock Shooter anime, it’s pretty clear that either it was meant as a tease for future projects, or the story was only half conceived (when I’ve actually watched it, I’ll let you know my full opinion).
What it all boils down to is the author’s intent. Is the story beautiful & wonderful because of its character, or is there an amazing story that has an equally awesome character? I mean, would anyone argue that Harry Potter’s plot was thin and lacked intricacy?
In the case of Harry, I think what truly saved him wasn’t just the world he revealed to his author, but that it was populated with characters just as interesting and compelling as Harry himself. And that’s where careful steps need to be taken. A story usually involves several characters. If only one is formed in your head, there’s probably going to be issues.
What do you guys think? Are there liabilities to writing based on a character as opposed to writing based on a concept that you then populate with characters (that approach will be post 2)?
I’ve made no attempt to hide my love of anime. Recently I ordered a figure for a character named Black Rock Shooter (who is going to figure prominently in a future post).
Anywho, an anime that has proven to be immensely popular is K-On! a story about a group of girls in a high school music club.
Someone, who has an extraordinary amount of extra time on their hands, has used the highly pose-able Figma action figures of the main characters to recreate the opening of the show. It’s odd, maybe a little scary, but very well done stop-motion animation.