Thursday, January 21, 2021

Glorified Issue #3 Now Available!

Great news - Issue #3 of Glorified (titled "Broken Ecstasy") is now available for general sale on IndyPlanet!
In case you don't know, IndyPlanet is an awesome online store that offers titles from indie comics creators from all over the world in both print-on-demand and digital download formats. To order copies of Glorified's new issue (and the previous two as well), just go to these links:

Also, a little bit of status update news - work on Issue #4 ("Liberty's End") is well underway, with all of the thumbnail sketches complete and preliminary line art for the first five pages in progress. A new Kickstarter campaign for the issue will be launching soon, which I will announce here when it does!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Anime Roundup: Second Chance Edition

I'm a firm believer in second chances. My band Second Player Score - the second major musical musical project I've been involved with - is an example of that. And, as I've mentioned before, sometimes with anime you just have to stick with a show before it gets good. A few that I've revisited that have paid off big-time include Fullmetal Alchemist, Saiki K., and Seven Deadly Sins, and so for this roundup I decided to go back and check out a bunch more, such as:

Kill la Kill
I starting watching this show back in the summer of 2018, when I was still a relative anime noob. I think it was because I was a noob that I was kind of caught off guard by its quirky and, yes, racy nature, so I stopped after three episodes. But now that I am a grizzled anime veteran, I know that quirky and racy are standard operating procedure! So I revisited this one and, well, I fell in love with it. Deeply. What starts off as a simple revenge tale quickly builds into something far more deep, epic, and unique than I could have ever expected or imagined. Even the raciness, instead of just being there for so-called "fan service," is actually an integral part of the overall plot! The pace is fast (they even call this fact out in a fun meta moment), the action is intense, the writing is amazing, the twists are twisty, there's drama, humor, suspense, intrigue...I just can't say enough good stuff about this show. They even made it so that when there were relatively long passages of expository dialogue, instead of feeling bored, I hung breathlessly on the characters' every word - and sometimes even replayed those sections to make sure I got everything. Oh, and if you watch this show, trust me - you will never look at your own clothes the same way again.

Gurren Lagann
After finishing Kill la Kill, I discovered that its writer (Kazuki Nakashima) and director (Hiroyuki Imaishi) also did another show called Gurren Lagann a number of years earlier (they also did Promare, which I watched and talked about in another post). As it just so happens, I had also tried watching Gurren Lagann back when I was an anime noob but gave up after only three episodes thinking that it was a dull and generic mecha show. But so, since I loved Kill la Kill after giving it a second chance, I figured I would try this one again, and...boy, was I wrong about the "dull and generic" thing. Sure, it does start off a little slow and at first it seems like just a bunch of big robots fighting each other, but if you stick with it, it does the same thing as Kill la Kill (although I guess I should say Kill la Kill does the same thing as Gurren Lagann, since the latter came first) and evolves into so, so much more, complete with a few shocking twists. Also, a lot of the stuff that happens near the end will definitely provide inspiration for the sixth and seventh volumes of the Joel Suzuki seriesOtsukaresama deshita, Imaishi-san and Nakashima-san, you guys are brilliant geniuses.

Violet Evergarden
Another one from the summer of '18 that I had given up on, this time after only two episodes. What the heck was I thinking? Sure, it starts off a little slow, and the overall tone of the show is pretty melancholy, but if you stick with it, it gets really powerful, poignant, and heartfelt. Oh, and the artwork is fantastic - probably among the best anime art I've ever seen (and by now, I've seen a lot). It's also kind of neat that the protagonist - a young woman named Violet Evergarden, naturally - is similar in a lot of ways to Gloria Sin from my own comic book series, Glorified. They both have backgrounds as emotionless soldiers who had the ability from a young age to take out entire troops singlehandedly (the show never explains how Violet got her training, but it doesn't matter) along with prosthetic limbs (Gloria has one to replace a lost hand, Violet has two mechanical arms that reminded me of the automail from Fullmetal Alchemist), and both of their journeys involve them trying to gain or regain their respective versions of humanity.

Children of the Whales
In the fall of 2018 I watched this one and said in this previous post, "I watched the first few episodes and couldn't figure out why it was rated TV-MA. I believe I stopped right before I was about to find out." Sure enough, in episode three, I found out (Netflix has since changed it to TV-14, but - spoiler alert - there are some pretty intense scenes of violence). It's hard to pin down how I feel about this one because the tone of this show is kind of all over the place, bouncing from gentle and reflective one moment to dark and grisly the next with moments of standard anime-style levity sprinkled in between. The world-building, while unique, is also a little confusing, although that's probably my fault for not paying better attention (there were a few times when I said out loud to my TV, "I have no idea what's going on here"). Still, though, it was very watchable the second time around, and the twelve episodes (which - spoiler alert - only adapts part of the original manga) went by pretty quickly.

Inuyashiki Last Hero
I actually started on this one fairly recently after seeing it appear on some best-of lists. Then, for whatever unknown reason, I stopped after one episode. I have no idea why. Was I distracted by some bright and shiny object? Was I put off by the slightly-uncanny-valley computer-generated art style? Who knows. Anyway, after seeing it on yet another best-of list, I decided to give it a second chance. Which was a very good decision. I mean, you have to love it just based on the premise alone - a middle-aged man (he's 58 but looks 78 or maybe even 88) who has terminal health issues and is treated with utter contempt by his kids is accidentally killed and then turned into a superpowered cyborg by extraterrestrials (who had apparently taken a wrong turn) and then he goes off to save people before eventually facing off with a teenage dude who had gained the same powers but uses them to be a mass murderer instead. As a middle-aged man myself, I approve of this concept. Even the teenage guy - named "Hiro" with obvious on-the-nose irony - says at one point (mild spoiler alert), "wait, you mean I'M the villain, and this old guy is the hero??" Bonus points awarded for the hilarious meta moment when the teenager makes an offhand comment about what a terrible manga Gantz is (the writer of Gantz is also the writer of this show).

Anonymous Noise
This was not one I had to give a second chance to, but I'm just including it here anyway. It's a rom-com/dram with rock bands and love triangles and all that sort of stuff, so it was right up my alley. And at only twelve episodes, quick and easy to get through. One of the lessons learned from it is: beware, because random students at your local high school may actually be secretly moonlighting as famous rock stars in their spare time (while also engaging in immature and melodramatic romantic attachments typical of that age).

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Volume Five Is Here!

On Christmas Day 2010, I sat down to write what would eventually become Joel Suzuki, Volume One: Secret of the Songshell. Now, over eight years and hundreds of thousands of words later, my little sci-fi/fantasy series about an autistic boy who travels to a world where music is magic is now up to five volumes.
That's right - Joel Suzuki, Volume Five: Ballad of the Bluerock, has been officially launched into the world!

Thank you so, so much to everyone that has helped make this journey possible so far: Karen and John from Autism Empowerment, my editor Susan DeFreitas, cover artist Jill Colbert, my fellow authors in the Northwest Independent Writers Association, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and Willamette Writers, all the fans, readers, teachers, media, bookstores, schools, nonprofit organizations, and everyone else who has supported the series, and, of course, my two amazing kids.

If you want to get your hands on a copy, it's available online from these sources:

Barnes & Noble - Paperback Edition

You can also ask your favorite brick & mortar bookstore to order it for you. Some fine establishments that already carry the Joel Suzuki series include:

Of course, there are no in-person launch parties planned at the moment, but I will definitely make an announcement as soon as such a thing is possible once again.

And in the meantime, you can catch up with the entire series by binge-reading the first four volumes:

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Stuff I'm Looking Forward To In 2021 (In January and February Alone)

Well, that was some year, huh? Let's hope this new one is much, much better. So far, it seems like it's lining up to be, at least as far as pop culture is concerned...

WandaVision (January 15)
I love alternate reality/multiverse-type stuff, so I'm really looking forward to this one. Plus, I think I've been having MCU withdrawals.

Cobra Kai (January 1)
Apparently, the release date for Season 3 has been moved up from the originally-planned January 8th to tomorrow, woohoo! You can read what I had to say about this awesome show in this previous post.

Doctor Who Holiday Special (January 1)
Seems like I might have a lot to do on New Year's Day? Then again, I'm assuming that the BBC will be airing this episode (subtitled "Revolution of the Daleks") sometime in the evening after my regularly-getting-woken-up-by-cats-at-330am-self has gone to bed, so I'll probably catch it via On Demand the following morning.

Joel Suzuki, Volume Five: Ballad of the Bluerock (January 7)
That's right, an official release date! We'll have an entire post dedicated to it next week.

Glorified, Issue #3: "Broken Ecstasy" (date pending)
Signed copies will be sent out to our Kickstarter backers in a few days, and it should be available for general sale on IndyPlanet soon.

Four-D: The Winter Suite EP by Second Player Score (February 4)
Four new songs! This release will also get its own post on the day it comes out.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Happy Holidays!

From all of us here at the Brian Tashima Blog and the Joel Suzuki Series, we hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday season.
Felicity: Oh, so you think you're cute with your marginal Microsoft Paint skills, huh.
Brian: Yes, I do.
Felicity: Those are terribly-drawn hats, dude. Even worse than the ones you did last time.
Brian: I dunno, I think they're okay. Joel?
Joel: I agree with her.
Brian: You do?
Joel: Yeah. They're not the correct shape.
Felicity: Right? They're missing the pointy bit at the top.
Brian: There wasn't any room for that.
Felicity: An actual artist would've figured something out.
Brian: I never claimed to be an actual artist.
Felicity: Then stop drawing stuff on our pictures.
Brian: I think it gets the message across.
Felicity: Badly.
Joel: It does match your dress. And the background.
Felicity: Whose side are you on?
Brian: Okay, okay, let's stop arguing. It's the holiday season, after all.
Felicity: That's the perfect time for a family argument.
Joel: Except we're not really family.
Felicity: True. But whatever.
Brian: How about we eat dinner and open presents instead?
Joel: Sounds good.
Felicity: Now you're talking.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Volume Five Proof!

It's always exciting when the first printed copy of a new volume arrives, even if it has a "not for resale" stripe splashed across the cover.
Everything came out perfect, so we are on track to have an official launch date soon! Oh, and in case you missed it, here's the back cover copy again (WARNING: CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS FOR VOLUME FOUR):

"After a disastrous concert festival that claimed the lives of thousands, Joel Suzuki's archenemy is now, quite possibly, all-powerful. The only way Joel can undo the damage and save the universe is to return to Spectraland, complete his training, and fulfill his destiny as the Virtuoso - the greatest Wavemaker of them all.

Trouble is, Joel is stuck on the Bluerock (Spectraland's name for Earth) with no idea of how to get back, and he has only a few months before the gateway between the two worlds closes forever. What's worse, the one person he thinks can help him - and that he can trust - doesn't believe his story.

Then there's the pesky private eye on his trail, investigating the disappearance of Joel's friend Felicity, who was tragically killed at the concert festival. Or was she? With no solid proof that Spectraland exists, Joel starts to question whether the island of music and magic was even real in the first place...or was it all in his imagination?"

Joel may not have solid proof that Spectraland exists, but we do have solid proof - see what I did there - that this book exists. 'Cause, you know, this is a proof copy, and...okay, sorry, never mind. The humor in the book is better, I promise.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Haiku Hour, Mou Ichido ("Once More")

Hey, remember when I wrote some haikus back in July? Well, I figured enough time had passed by that it was all right for me to try again. As a reminder for those who don't know, a haiku is a Japanese poem that consists of seventeen syllables divided into three lines of five, seven, and five syllables. Traditionally, they include references to seasons and/or have nature as a topic, but, well, whatever. Hajimemashou!
Spinach eggs and spam
With some cheese toast on the side
Breakfast for dinner
Big furnace filter
Sold out almost everywhere
After the fires
Now how did this work?
Book design, so tedious
Joys of D.I.Y.

Awesome Zelda game
Minus all the hard puzzles
Button mashing, yeah!
A pint glass with the
Second Player Score logo
Chalice of power

Okay, I'll stop now.