Thursday, February 28, 2019

Album Three Status Update

Earlier this week, my band - Second Player Score, for those of you who are new around here - finally wrapped up the tracking for our long-awaited third album, Glorified.
Glorified is a concept album (of course) that tells the story of a woman who, raised to be the best soldier of her generation, ends up fleeing her oppressive hometown and reluctantly helping people as she traverses a post-apocalyptic wasteland in search of answers about her past. The album is set up like the first season of a television series, with each of the twelve songs designed to go along with an episode of the show.

And said show is not purely hypothetical; we've actually written a script for the entire first episode ("Eye of the Needle") that, as we speak, is being turned into a 37-page manga-style comic/graphic novel by an amazing artist from San Jose. We've also hired a talented team of animators from Belgium to produce a one-minute-or-so proof-of-concept trailer for the show itself.

(By the way, even though Glorified takes place in the distant future, it shares the same universe as all of my other projects, including Joel Suzuki - in case you missed it, the major details about that universe are documented in this post.)

Anyway, the album, the comic, and the trailer are all scheduled to be released this coming June. So stay tuned for more updates!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Anime Roundup: Have Patience, Because Everything Is Awesome Edition

I realize it's been only five weeks since the last Anime Roundup post. But! I've just been so blown away by a few series I've recently finished watching that not only do I feel compelled to talk about them now, I've decided to make a major change to the way these posts are written.

You may recall that I used to divide the shows up into Japanese-style ranking categories from S (my favorites) to B (couldn't really get into them). However, I now believe that all I really need to do with the B category shows is give them more of a chance. You see, the way I used to do this is I would usually watch two, maybe three episodes and then see if it hooked me or not, and then if it didn't, I would move on.

But now, after having watched or sampled over thirty anime series and movies, I'm noticing that most of them are actually slow burns, and that they seem to be purposely designed that way. It's like the show wants to bring you along gradually before it starts dropping all the amazing stuff as it ramps up to an epic finish.

So, as of this post, I'm doing away with the categories. I'm just going to offer you my random thoughts and opinions, and then you can decide for yourself if you want to check out these shows or not. But trust me, for the optimal viewing experience, you may want to play the long game (I know that for me, I will definitely now be revisiting everything that I formerly lumped into "Category B").

Here we go! Oh, and there will be some mild spoilers, so maybe instead of reading this post, go and watch these shows first and then come back so then we can geek out about them together.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica
I'll start with this one, since it really is the one that finally made me decide to stick around longer with every anime I check out. On the surface, it seems like your typical "magical girl" show in the vein of stuff like Sailor Moon; really, the only reason I decided to give it a chance was that I had heard good things about it. As it turned out, this show is kind of like the magical girl version of Doki Doki Literature Club - a dark and subversive take on a typically innocuous genre. It starts off pretty slowly, and even after pulling a Game of Thrones-ish move in the third episode (which I thought - incorrectly - was going to be quickly reversed), I kept wondering when the heck Madoka was finally going to become a magical girl. I mean, that's the title of the whole show! But then, once it hit episode 8 or so (there are 12 episodes in all), the show began landing one body blow after another, until finally I was shouting "OMG this is so amazing!!" every other minute. Sheer brilliance. Oh, and on top of that, the artwork - especially of the witches and their labyrinths - is trippy and fantastic.

High Score Girl
A wonderful semi-romantic-comedy-drama that is also a historically accurate period piece about video games in the '90s. What more could you possibly want? At first I kept wondering when Akira was going to talk, but then I realized that it's actually better that she doesn't. I loved the tender piano reprise version of the trippy (yes, I've said "trippy" twice in one post now) Zappa-ish opening theme song "New Stranger," and am desperately hoping for a Season 2. I mean, c'mon, showrunners, you can't leave us with that cliffhanger ending, now, can you?

Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online
I'm a huge fan of the original Sword Art Online and Sword Art Online II, so the moment I saw this one was available on Netflix I did a fist pump and said "yessss!" Seriously, I did. And then I proceeded to binge the heck out of it. I should've been able to guess Pitohui's real-life identity early on - I mean, the clues were all there - but the ending actually surprised me, so, good job, show.

Seven Deadly Sins
This is one I had previously lumped into Category B, but then when I revisited it, I ended up loving it! So, there you go. The only part that bugs me is Meliodas' occasional, um, pestering of Elizabeth, which I get is played for laughs, but really doesn't add much to the story or characters and could've easily been left out, as there's still plenty of humor to go along with some great action and a cool plot.

Gunnm (Battle Angel Alita)
You may have heard of the latest James Cameron movie Alita: Battle Angel. Well, this is the original source material from 29 years ago. It, too, starts off a little slow but then picks up pretty quickly. I dug it when Gally had her John Wick-ish "you shouldn't have killed my dog" moment (which I guess is actually John Wick having a Gally-ish moment, seeing as how she predates him in our actual timeline). If I ever manage to get out to the theaters again, then perhaps the film adaptation will show up in the next Movie Roundup post.

Well, that's it for now. I have a feeling these Anime Roundup posts may become even more frequent now that I've unlocked a whole back catalog of stuff to watch. Until next time, mata ne!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Snowpocalypse In Seattle

Last Saturday my band Second Player Score played our first-ever show in snowy Seattle at the Skylark Cafe with our friends SixTwoSeven. (actually, it was Friday, but I was going for the "S" alliteration there).
We had a great time and were fortunate enough to make it up there and back despite the onset of WINTERSTORM SNOWMAGGEDON 2019 OMG!!!11!!1! Also on the bill were a couple of other awesome bands: Girl George and Marble.

I really like Seattle, so it was nice to finally be able to get up there to perform some music (usually my trips up north are of a Mariners baseball- or Seahawks football-viewing nature). As readers of the Joel Suzuki series know, Joel himself lives in Seattle, having moved there from Hawaii when he was ten, and Felicity lives in nearby Bellevue after having moved there from good ol' Vancouver, WA.

The romantic comedy spec script involving baseball, anime, philosophy, and magic that I wrote last fall is also set in Seattle.

Anyway, I hope to be able to get back up there sometime soon (but preferably without having to drive through a foot of frozen precipitation)!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Volume Five Status Update

Can you believe we're talking about Volume Five already?
I've been working on it in between all the other stuff I've been doing, and as of this moment, the first draft stands at around 35,000 words, or 140 pages.

Sounds like good progress, right? Well, sort of. After my experience with the first four volumes of the Joel Suzuki series, I've learned that there inevitably comes a point in the whole process that I now call "Stop, Regroup, and Rewrite."

This happened with Volume Four around early 2017 after I had hit the 27-28,000 word mark. Usually what I run into is that the story begins to head in a direction that I'm not completely happy with, which forces me to retreat a bit to get everything back on track. In Volume Four's case, I ended up cutting around 5,000 words before I was able to move forward once more. You may recall that with Volume Two, I actually (for the most part) started over again from scratch!

The good news is that I recognize this as a necessary checkpoint that I always have to get past, and now that I'm there, I know that things are moving along exactly the way they should. Also, it doesn't mean that I'll fall behind schedule; as you may know, Volume Four actually came out earlier than expected.

Which raises the question - when is Volume Five's expected launch date? Well, right now, I'm looking at early 2021, in keeping with my original every-other-year plan (Volume Four was supposed to have come out in early 2019). As always, I'll be providing you with occasional status updates as we go along. So, onward!