You know how people used to require formal introductions by a mutual third party in order to begin conversation or become better acquainted?
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At the beginning of the July 2016 Camp NaNoWriMo, I was in the mood for some old-school anime. During Camp NaNo in July 2013, I’d inter-spaced bouts of writing with episodes of an anime called Black Jack. Every so many hours, words, or pages, I would reward myself with an episode or two. It got me through the month and it was an enjoyable show. This time, I decided to start watching an anime I’d been eyeing for a while. It’s called Space Pirate Captain Harlock, and I cannot express how hooked I currently am. It’s got that gorgeous old-school look that only anime from the late 70s and early 80s have. The drama is totally over-the-top, the science is out of whack or non-existent, and the plot lurches around like a drunken sailor. But the characters are so endearing and the adventures are so fun that I don’t even mind it. That’s just part of the experience. In fact, I’ve actually had to stop watching it for now because it makes me want to write about pirate ships and space operas, not steampunk or romances. (Oops. Wrong choice for this project’s inspirational material.)
Still, as I was watching the first several episodes of Captain Harlock on Crunchyroll, I started thinking about all of the other science fiction anime and TV shows that heavily feature nautical themes and emphasize the tight-knit family unit that the crews of these ships become. In Captain Harlock, this takes place on board the Arcadia. In Last Exile, the first anime I ever watched, it’s the Silvana. In the original Mobile Suit Gundam, we have the White Base. (The power of the Bright-slap compels you! …*ahem* Yes, well, moving on.) In Space Battleship Yamato it’s… er, well, the Yamato. (Yes, I know that was redundant.)
Then you have all of the English TV shows and films, like the Enterprise from Star Trek, the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars, Serenity from Firefly, Battlestar Galactica from… um, well, Battlestar Galactica. (Yes, yes, I know, more redundancy.) And to top that off there are good old-fashioned ocean-going vessels: the Defiant, the Albatross, the HMS Surprise, and Captain Nemo’s submarine the Nautilus, to name a few.
Continue reading “Houseboats in Space”
I’m going to tackle some stereotypes present in modern fiction that I think are dangerous when used irresponsibly. Any entries part of this series will be labeled as “Dangerous Stereotypes.” The previous entry on this topic is about the Scientist stereotype, which can be read here.
People have interesting ways of coping with scary things. Some deny their fear. Some avoid what frightens them. Some seek it out. And many people, often women, seem to be taking what should be scary and try to make it cute.
I’m talking about the “bad boys.”
There are so many villainous characters out there with cute, sorrowful, gentle, loving, or chibi-fied pictures of them out on the internet. Sometimes they are anti-heroes like Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z or Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sometimes they are villains like Voldemort from Harry Potter or Loki from the Marvel Comics. Sometimes they are someone who flickers in between like Mr. Gold from Once Upon a Time. And sometimes they are like Alucard from the anime and manga Hellsing. Alucard is the opposite of cute. He’s one of, if not the most, badass, psychotic, murderous vampire in modern literature. He’s fucking terrifying. He’s murdered and drunk the blood of hundreds, perhaps thousands of people, human and vampire, and enjoyed it. The only think that keeps him under control is the special spell that binds him to the will of the leader of the Hellsing Organization. And he’s one of the GOOD guys!
I’m currently working on the script for my manga project Astral Rain for the April edition of Camp NaNoWriMo 2014. Well, more accurately, I’ve been working on a lot of background notes, plot notes, and world-building because I noticed that a lot of that hadn’t been worked out in advance. As I was writing, I came across the article “I’m Demanding Better Representation For Black Girl Nerds in Geek Culture” by Chaka Cumberbatch. And that’s when it hit me: all of my characters in Astral Rain are white.
Granted, it’s supposed to be an OEL (Original English Language) manga, and most anime and manga lack people of color. I have no problem featuring white characters, but what surprised me is that the idea of any of the cast of Astral Rain being anything but fair-skinned never occurred to me. And that concerns me.
I recently watched Steven Spielberg’s Titanic for the first time in over a decade. My first experience was less than stellar; I remember liking the visuals, the cinematography, the effects, the music. But I loathed all of the characters. This time around, the visuals remain stunning, breath-taking, well-worthy of all the Academy Awards this movie received. The sinking of the ship itself remains powerful, heartbreaking, and utterly chilling.
Yet I still don’t like the main characters, Jack and Rose. I understood them better, understood their choices, their positions, and empathized more than I did when I was ten. But I still didn’t really like them. Or maybe it isn’t a matter of “liking.” They would be fine as acquaintances. But I didn’t…connect with them, not on any meaningful level that persisted past the end credits.