Thursday, October 28, 2021

Anime Roundup

That's right, it's time for another edition of Anime Roundup!

Fire Force
Kind of like Avatar/Legend of Korra, except everyone is a firebender? Sort of? Actually, not really, but there is a lot of fire being thrown around. Basically, (cue movie announcer voice) in a world where a special fire brigade called the Fire Force is fighting and investigating cases of spontaneous human combustion, one boy with special pyrokinetic powers (that are more special than other people's "regular" pyrokinetic powers) and who flashes a creepy smile whenever he's nervous joins the Fire Force in order to become a hero while discovering who was behind the murder of his mother (who was, naturally, killed in a fire). Fun fact: the manga upon which it's based is made by the same guy who made Soul Eater!

Fena: Pirate Princess
As you may know, I watch a lot of stuff on both Crunchyroll and Adult Swim (Rick and Morty, etc.), so this show being an original joint production of the two, I had been getting routinely bombarded with ads and promos for it. It looked like an interesting story with some fantastic art, so I decided to give it a shot. And was not disappointed! A historical fantasy about an orphan girl rescued from an arranged marriage and swept up into a quest to find the meaning behind her late father's last words, it's a new show that is made in Japan (by Production I.G) but comes out in the U.S. first, which is an interesting twist.

Star Wars: Visions
Star Wars and anime together? Yes, please! This is an anthology of original anime shorts set in the Star Wars galaxy that were created by some of Japan's finest animation studios, including the aforementioned Production I.G. Totally awesome and mind-blowing, although my only gripe is that I couldn't figure out how to change the Disney+ settings to Japanese with English subtitles, which a few reviewers of this series recommended doing (and is how I watch all my anime). Editor's note: I have since figured out how to change it and am considering doing a full rewatch

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
With a title like Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai, I was expecting a lighthearted romantic comedy romp along the lines of Don't Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro! or maybe even Toradora! What I got instead was a wistful, melancholy drama with some really cool supernatural elements (time loops, body swaps, doppelgangers, etc.) that reminded me more of something like Clannad. Once I got used to the tone (and got past the third episode, which seemed like it was the natural ending for the story but totally was not), I really got into it, especially as it started landing one surprisingly deep and emotional moment after another.

Love is Like a Cocktail
A series of short episodes about a hard-working office woman and her stay-at-home husband who dutifully mixes her favorite drinks for her at the end of a long day, I liked this one so much (being a fan of light and fluffy slice-of-life rom-coms) that I wanted each episode to be thirty minutes instead of three. Bonus points for the actual cocktail recipes at the end of most episodes.

Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!
Two high school girls discover that they not only have a mutual passion for anime but that they are also super-talented artists - one is great at character design, the other at backgrounds. Meanwhile, a third girl (the best friend of one of the two) is not an artist but has expert-level business acumen. So, what happens? Naturally, they form an anime club - which is technically called the "film club" because their school already has an anime club - and set about to create the ultimate anime. This show, which started off good and got better and better as it went along, is a must-watch for anyone who is interested in going into the anime industry and/or just wants to know some of the things that might be going on behind the scenes of their favorite shows (sleepless nights, creative differences, budget issues, etc.)

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Special International Livestream Podcast

If you've been following this blog, then you know that one of the many things I do with my band besides playing music is a more-or-less weekly podcast called Second Player Speaks, which I previously wrote about in this post.

Normally, we record each episode on Sunday before band practice, and then publish them on Tuesday. But this week, for the first time, we're doing something new: a livestreamed episode!
For this occasion, we'll be welcoming a special guest: a YouTube personality named Gabriela, whose channel is called "Amateur Youtuber - A bit of everything." She's based in Italy(!) and does reaction videos mostly to various anime shows, although she also has videos about food, exercise, and even computers (a bit of everything, for sure).

How can you watch it live? Well, it'll be broadcast on Second Player Score's YouTube page (here's the direct link to the stream) starting at 10pm Pacific Time on Saturday 10/23, which is 7am Sunday 10/24 Italy time and 2pm Sunday 10/24 Japan time (Gabriela has a lot of fans in Japan). We'll be talking for an hour or so about anime and whatever other subjects come up while drinking Italian beer, so it's sure to be a lot of fun! Check it out if you can, and also be sure to check out Gabriela's channel (yes, she has reaction videos to Squid Game).

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Volume Six Status Update: The First (Real) Draft Is Complete!

Last time on Volume Six Status Update (which was over FOUR MONTHS AGO, whaaat?) I said that I had reached the 62,000-word mark but then I realized that I was spinning my wheels and was quite possibly building on a flawed foundation so I went back and started again from scratch and got it back up to 28,000 words.

Well now, I'm done.
As in, I've finished the story according to how I originally mapped it out, resulting in a draft that is 90,000 words (approximately 360 pages) long. I know there are still some things that need to be cleaned up, and I'm sure the third act is a bit of a mess, but otherwise, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. A few weeks ago, I adopted a daily mantra of "it's only the first draft, just write anything," which really helped me get it to the finish line (you would think that, six books into this whole deal, I would've adopted that mantra a lot sooner, but, well, to paraphrase the Doctor, forgetting is a human superpower).

So now, as per the usual process, I'm letting the draft cool off for a little while before I go back and submerge myself in the revision and rewriting process. My guess is that I'll have something ready to send to my editor early next year, which would keep me on track for a late 2022 or early 2023 release, right in line with the overall schedule for the series (i.e. a new volume every other year or so). Editor's note: the draft will be sent for editing in December!

I can say that this volume is probably the most ambitious so far, not only because of its length (which, if it holds, will make it the longest Joel Suzuki book to date) but also because it has so much stuff going on and, as the penultimate entry in the main 7-book story arc, really raises the level of stakes, action, and character development (do Joel and Felicity finally kiss?* You'll just have to wait to find out).

Anyway, stay tuned for more updates!

* Felicity: do we what, now?

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Words & Pictures Festival 2021

This year's Words & Pictures Festival (the 5th annual) will once again be virtual! It worked out really well last year, so I'm confident it will be just as good this time around.
What's changing this year is that it will be two days instead of one, so twice the fun! It's this Saturday, October 9th from 10am-5pm and Sunday, October 10th from 10am-3:15pm. I'll be kicking off the Saturday festivities with an author reading at 10am, followed by Karen Eisenbrey and Kristin Burchell and then a Q&A until 11am. On Sunday, I'll be in a panel called "Marketing & Social Media for Authors, Part 2" along with Heidi Mason and Gretchen McLellan from 11:15am-12:15pm. Of course, there are lots of other great workshops, readings, and events happening for aspiring writers, children, and families, so it's totally worth checking out all day long on both days. And best of all, it's free!

You can see the entire program, bios of all the participating writers and illustrators, and the registration link here. Hope to see your smiling faces (and, perhaps, cats?) on Zoom!