Featured image: “An Ordeal from God” by UniqueSKD.
A reader asked if he could use my face as the basis for a character in the cover art of some fan fiction. I told him I don’t think it’s actually necessary to ask permission for that kind of thing or political cartoonists would always be getting sued.
The story for which this image was created does not appear to have been posted yet.
Anyway, that is apparently an image of me as a Catholic priest holding up a DVD set of the original 1980s My Little Pony. Sounds legit.
I notice I’m holding up the complete season 1 released from Rhino in 2004, which is no longer available, but has been supplanted by the 2014 complete series box set from Shout! Factory, which also includes season 2 and is still in print.
“And now,” Pretty Dynamo snarled as she spun her shining spear, “I’m gonna waste that turkey!”
It was late fall, and the air was turning cold. Strong winds sent red oak leaves skittering across frost-slicked sidewalks. Overhead, the sky was a sheet of gray steel. The last remnants of a broken and beaten humanity huddled together in their one surviving city as a chill north wind threatened the onset of winter. Slavering monsters full of malice brooded just outside their borders, and only the vigilant magical girls, man’s last hope, could keep the forces of evil at bay. But hope was waning, for the monsters were innumerable, the girls were few, and winter would be cold.
Meanwhile, Jake was in fifth grade. He didn’t belong there, not exactly: his fifteenth birthday was coming soon, and he was supposed to be in his first year of high school, but a computer glitch had erased part of his elementary transcript, and the school system had a rather inflexible way of dealing with such unexpected contingencies.
If there was one thing his return to fifth grade had taught him, it was to hate holidays. Jake had already suffered through a childish Halloween party full of junk food and screaming kids, and now he had to suffer through Thanksgiving. He tried to remember the first time he went through elementary: had he really spent so little time spelling and doing sums, and so much time tracing his hand on construction paper and decorating it to look like a turkey? It was a wonder he was literate. Continue reading “Jake and the Dynamo’s Thanksgiving Parade of Awesomesauce (Part 1)”
A reader called my attention to this, a history and discussion of the tropes typical of the slew of recent anime, following on the heels of Sword Art Online, that depict a gamer otaku getting thrown into another world that looks like a sword-and-sorcery RPG.
This is a bit outside this blog’s usual scope; I admit my knowledge of this particular genre is minimal, simply because my interests run more toward shoujo anime, whereas isekai typically has male protagonists and a male target audience. However, the video does link isekai to predecessors from the ’90s like Magic Knight Rayearth and Vision of Escaflowne, which typically featured schoolgirls getting thrown into fantasy settings. Not discussed, but probably also an important influence on the isekai genre are the RPG-inspired fantasies from yesteryear like Record of Lodoss War.
In the last third of the video, the narrator explains that many of the light novels that make up the sources of isekai fantasy got their starts as web publications, and after suggesting that the isekai genre is saturated, he argues that this is leading in turn to a rise of “pure” fantasy without inserted modern characters, of which he holds up Made in Abyss as a premier example.
For recent examples of “traditional” or “pure” fantasy, I would also point to the less hyped but respectable Chaika the Coffin Princess, which was a competently made, light novel-based anime series that was something like an old-school fantasy in the tradition of Discarded Princess (because it was in fact from the same author and the same studio).
I have to confess I still haven’t watched or read Made in Abyss, though it’s on my list.
I had an interesting discussion with a friend last night as we were digging far too deeply into anime. Almost every anime show (especially those set in a high school environment, which is the majority of them), have male protagonists that are your classic gamma male archetype. They are socially awkward, especially around women. When encountered with women they go into a crazed frenzy, female worship, nosebleeds, slapstick failings. We’re supposed to root for them to get the girl in spite of their failures. And sometimes we do, but we can’t help but wince every time they enter the scene with their female counterparts, who are usually far more composed and cooler than they are. Continue reading “Jon Del Arroz on Passive Anime Protagonists”
Margherita stood by, biting her nails. Tears ran down her cheeks as she stared at all her boxes of ruined pizza. Her eyes flicked back between Jake and Magical Girl Punkin Spice.
“Please,” she pleaded. “Please, no more. Please don’t ruin any more food—”
In spite of the chilly night air, Jake felt sweat forming under his collar. He took another pull on his coffee, but then raised his hands and slowly backed away from Punkin. Her wand still pointed at his chest.
“Wait, hold on,” he said. “You don’t want me to get a taste for pumpkin spice—”
“Oh yes I do,” Punkin whispered. “I want everyone to know the joys of pumpkin spice!”
Jake chuckled nervously. “Look, I don’t know exactly how this kind of thing works, but I’m pretty sure pumpkin spice isn’t my thing. I mean, I’m a guy. I bet I’d have to have a lot more estrogen in my system before I could enjoy something like pumpkin spice—”
Magical Girl Punkin Spice leapt lightly from her broomstick, which with a flash of light shrank into a small dust broom. she clipped it to her belt. Flipping her braided ponytail off her shoulder, she cocked her enormous pointed hat, and her bright blue eyes surveyed the scene. The other magical girls stood tense, and the normal humans slowly backed away. Over near the bubbling cauldron of cider, Pretty Dynamo rested a hand on the wand holstered at her side.
Jake shrugged and took another bite of his pizza. Margherita’s pizza was good when it was cold, too.
“You there!” Punkin at last shouted, jabbing a finger toward him. “What is this blasphemy?”
She marched his way. Jake merely raised an eyebrow and sucked up a wayward strand of mozzarella. “Excuse me?”
This night was unlike any other. A tension, a frisson of excitement hung in the air like that melancholy tingle of expectation before a thunderstorm. The entire city of Urbanopolis, that last refuge of beleaguered humanity, glowed with multicolored lights and resounded with music and chatter. On every stoop grinned a fiery Jack-o’-Lantern eerily flickering with candlelight. Children laughed and ran pell-mell down sidewalks, their boots or sandals slapping against the concrete. Or they gathered in timid clusters, clinging to the hands of longsuffering parents. They wore garish costumes, like fairy creatures arisen from some dark corner of a half-forgotten world: Here was a ghost, there a goblin, there a ballerina in pink lace. Hastily made outfits of cardboard and brown paper crackled and crinkled as their wearers clumsily walked. A few children shivered with cold. Others had, at the behest of nervous mothers, forced themselves into parkas before climbing into their costumes, so they were plump and round as pumpkins under their elaborate dress. The clear sky was black, a hint of frost clung to the air, and the last remaining leaves hung brown and blood red on the trees.
Okay, I confess: I intended to have a JAKE AND THE DYNAMO short story ready to go for Halloween, but I have been so busy, I didn’t get it done. Perhaps it will appear later in the week, and you can enjoy it while eating the candy corn you picked up for fifty percent off out of the discount bin while you contemplate stuffing a rotten pumpkin into Mrs. Shushley’s mailbox because she gave you a toothbrush for Halloween instead of candy.
Halloween is, as you might expect, the most important day in the liturgical calendar of Urbanopolis, more important even than Walpurgisnacht (April 30) or the birthday of the Moon Princess (June 30). On Halloween, at midnight, it is the Witching Hour, when the girls’ power is at its greatest. At that hour, they customarily renew their oaths to their familiars and sign with fresh blood the contracts by which they have sold their souls.
It’s also a good time to pick up free junk food. Halloween is the one day of the year on which it is socially acceptable for children to take candy from strangers. Just don’t eat the apples; they contain razor blades. At least, that’s what my mom always said.
It’s also a good time to engage in disgustingly unhygienic pastimes like bobbing for apples. Do you realize you’ve indirectly kissed, like, the whole town when you play that game? That’s gross, dude. And you should’t be trying to catch apples in your mouth anyway—they contain razor blades.
Although I’d make an exception if the other players were ponies. It’s my lifelong dream to indirectly kiss a pony, though that’s not the kind of thing I’d admit to complete strangers on the Internet.
Um, where was I? Anyway, in honor of Halloween, have some images of cute witches:
Today, I was discussing cover art for the Jake and the Dynamo novel. I don’t have a contract in hand, so it’s probably best I don’t give any specific details as of yet, but things are moving ahead. It appears that the book should be out sometime next year.
I have a big project looming, but my schedule will ease up a little after next weekend. The rest of today I’m planning to spend on a short story I want to submit to an anthology project.