Selling Character in the First Episode

A first impressions post! I wanted to tie this with what I’ve been learning in writing flash fiction, so that I don’t forget it! It’s also great to know that what you’ve learned in creating could be applied in consuming. That is, the better you can cook, the more you can discern how a dish was made when eating it.

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Quick Thoughts on Argevollen

I’ll make this quick.

  • The setting is modern but some elements seem anachronistic: the blue-uniformed soldiers (Who don’t wear helmets), a wall (as if that’s going to stop robots), and generals who seem to be stuck in the 19th century.
  • The main character’s unit is quite gender-diverse. There’s a female commander, a female squad leader, and even female mechanics. They’re also more than just pretty faces, which is A Good Thing.
  • The other major female character who isn’t a soldier seems to have motivations of her own. She’s definitely serious at her job and might get headhunted by Anaheim Electronics in the near future.
  • The good guys’ mechs look like Wanzers from Front Mission. They even have cockpits that look straight out of the 90s. I dig the shoulder cannons. The opposing faction’s mechs look straight out of Code Geass: Akito of the Exiled. You know what I’m talking about. Thankfully there’s no rollerblading… for now.
  • I really like that scene where the main character tries to punch the enemy and misses because he was compensating for his old mech’s feedback. Whoever this director is, he gets mechs.
  • The Argevollen’s biggest strength may not be firepower, but handling. Which is how I would like it.
  • It’s a straight-laced, unpretentious war story. We don’t have enough of these nowadays. I hope this show stays grounded.
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On Outgrowing Anime

At the start of the Spring season, I tried watching an episode of Daimidaler. I couldn’t finish it.

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Effortful Friendship

one_week_friends

Rather than love or romance stories, I wish we had more stories about friendship. After all, I believe that friendship is the bedrock upon which a stable relationship rests. I watch so many shows and movies with couples who can’t stand each other, and I often wonder, how the hell did they get together in the first place?

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Aikatsu, the Super Idol Anime

ichigo_obari_pose

This is an idol anime.

I’ve been watching Aikatsu, Sunrise’s multimedia ploy to part elementary school girls with their lunch money. With more than 60 episodes, it’s become my full-length, four-cour anime to complete for this year. I’m 14 episodes in, and it’s been a fun ride so far.

I picked Aikatsu up in the middle of Wake Up Girls, another idol anime. To adopt a dichotomy from mecha anime, Aikatsu is about super idols in contrast to Wake Up Girls’ real idols. WUG is an underdog plot about a ragtag group of novice idols led by a former top idol, and the tone of the show aims for realism, exposing the darker underbelly of the idol industry. Aikatsu, however, is about a girl trying to be the best idol she could be in a world where idols are the greatest thing ever.

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Gundam is saved, forever and ever,

gunpla_battle_in_the_pocketAmen.

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Wake Up, Girls! and the Harshness of Criticism

miyu_truth

One of the hardest parts of fiction writing is getting good feedback. The problem is that good feedback tends to be harsh and blunt and awful to hear. And we writers need it.

Writing is hard, precisely because it’s hard to gauge. It takes a modicum of focused reading to identify flaws in the text, and more effort to convey what needs improvement. Most people can’t give a decent critique because it’ll make them say something mean, and we all know how creative types hold their creations close to their hearts. It’s impossible to be fully detached to one’s creative effort, and honest critiques twist the knife.

Writing is hard, because most people treat it as a magical thing wherein writers turn in bestselling books every year and rake in the money, as if it’s some special, god-given quality. It’s a skill, and to get better at it, writers must know exactly how they’re doing. Plain encouragement doesn’t cut it.

It goes for the entertainment industry, too. Watching Wake Up, Girls! hit close to home, especially in the arc wherein Hayasaka takes over management of the group. It takes a tough soul to tell someone who’s trying their best that no, their best is not good enough and they totally lack talent. Taking criticism is a difficult skill to master, and I’ve never truly formed a thick skin of my own to weather the harshest.

So why does Hayasaka have to be mean?

If you ask me, this is the gulf that separates the doers from the dreamers. The world is harsh, and people will say anything outside of a controlled environment. The ability to endure in spite of callous, malicious words thrown your way is a prime element in creative success. Do you go on, even when nobody likes you? Hayasaka’s tutelage is the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, preparing the girls for the worst.

After all, if you can endure that, then you could plow through the rest. But isn’t that a sad way to engage in something? You can never get better if nobody tells you how much you suck?

It pays to kick off your shoes and just have fun–I really like the part in episode 2 where Miyu shows the rest of the girls her maid job. She goes a few steps down to recharge and recapture her love of performing. It’s especially the tonic that I need after being repeatedly kicked down for trying. We need to recharge, to remind ourselves why we keep at this painful pursuit in the first place. And in doing so, we renew our resolve to try again tomorrow, and the day after.

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