(Re)Definition and Alone vs Together

Writing this blog has caused me to really think a bit more about what is going on around me, as well as being rather introspective about myself.  Sure, I don’t post about my age or the details of my work or where I live, but you, good readers, still get to see that precious bit of myself called my mind; but before I can put my mind on the table for your personal digestion, first I have to sample the main course myself.

One of these thoughts has been about defining myself in general.  We all do this all the time, typically very unconsciously.  You’ve seen at lease some of my personal definition in previous posts, from the abstract of word choice and format to the more concrete when I mentioned my preferences for some things over others.  One thing that I’m realising as I define myself is that, frankly, I’m not hugely impressed.  We all have our character flaws, my biggest flaw is basically my defining factor, and I touched on it earlier: I retreat too easily.  When the going gets tough, you can find me at the spa.  It’s not pretty, but it is the truth.

Where am I going with this?  Well, not long before I started writing this blog, I moved a quarter of a continent away from my home, my friends, my family and everyone I’d ever known.  When I first moved, it was to help out my family, but since then, said family has moved back home, leaving me here alone.  It isn’t the first time I’ve been away from home, but it is the first time I’ve done it without a SO or any other connections.  It’s been a bit of an interesting experience for me, living truly by myself and all.

Growing up, I never really wanted to live alone, I defined myself by those around me, and I was afraid of what would happen if those people went away.  Would I become a shut in, already a bit of an introvert by nature anyway?  Would I simply lock the door, stop showering or bathing, and basically give the finger to the world except when I absolutely had to go out?  Would I slip deep into depression with no one there to help me out?  And so on.  The truth is a bit father away than my worst fears so far: I haven’t become a full shut in just yet, outside of this blog, I have a small social group that I am actively working on growing.  I haven’t locked myself in either, for a number of reasons starting with rent and ending in needing food, LOL.  But in all seriousness, even if I didn’t have to leave for those things, I’d go crazy well before I ceased to leave the house.  And as for the depression, sure, I can feel it knocking against my mental walls all the time, but I learned that while I always thought it was the people who helped me out of it, I’ve found that it is equally true that sometimes, it was those very people that brought me down into it as well.

There’s a hopelessness in defining yourself by those around you.  If your self worth is defined by the person willing to sit next to you, what does it mean when they get up, after all?  It’s a needy thing, and not very becoming.  Likely, it’s a not insignificant part of my problems with my SO.  But being alone, even if you aren’t truly along thanks to the internet and telephones, helps to reinforce what is really you.  After all, I can’t look at myself and say that I only got up on time because my SO reminded me that today is Tuesday and not Saturday, or even simply helped to motivate me by reminding me that skipping a day wouldn’t look good for my performance review.

Sure, I knew those things myself even then, as evidenced by now, but I let those around me have agency for my actions.  Being alone, the only one to take agency is myself.  If I don’t do the dishes, they never get done, and it’s my fault entirely.  It’s a painful thing, but at the same time, kinda liberating.  I expect that if and when I manage to make it out on my own as a blogger it might be the same.  I won’t have a boss anymore, no more set times to work vs screwing around, but at the same time, if I fail, it’s 100% my fault.

Now, if you looked at the post title, you might see that I mentioned not just definitions, but redefinitions.  Why is that, you might ask?  Particularly as I’ve spent almost 800 words just ranting about the current state of things.  Well, I got close earlier but then, like most rants, found myself diverted elsewhere.  The whole genesis for this post was to get down in ink (at least digital ink) what I learned from this introspection and definition.  As I said earlier, I don’t particularly like a lot about what I’ve seen about myself.  I’m lazy, I’m fat (these might be related), I run too easily from danger or harm, and I suffer for it.  So today, I’m putting the line in the sand.  I know what I am today, and tomorrow, I will be better, each and every day I will strive and push to make the me of that day better than the me of yesterday, until I can finally look behind me and see that I have finally become what I want to be.  And I’m going to blog about the whole journey, from the not-quite-middle-aged introvert today to the very end, whatever that end may be.  I am the ranting loon, and I invite you to join me, and I hope you find enjoyment in watching my triumphs, maybe cry with me in the failures, and perhaps grow with me by the end.

Ja ne!

The Ranting Loon

Just a random little post

Nothing new and earth shattering here today, just been doing a little introspection while I’ve been stuck at work today.  When I was younger, I wrote collective stories with my friends, as well as backgrounds for entire fantastic worlds and universes.  Occasionally, I look back at these little bits of fancy and debate with myself on reviving them somehow.

A friend reminded me today about the stories even, which reminded me of the fun I once had, back when I was a generally more creative person.  I’m not really sure what happened to the me that wrote poetry and built worlds and played with Legos, etc.  I have a few theories, some darker than others, but honestly, I really don’t know why I stopped.  I know the excuses of course, my first project was too ambitious, I often wrote myself into a corner, I wasn’t “inspired”, so much of my work was just a rehash or copy of other material, etc.  But I know that these were just that, excuses to hold me back.  I gave in to them, but I never really inspected just why I’d given up so easily.

In a way, a lot was going on in my life then.  I was in the middle of that awkward stage where attraction means more than just finding someone funny or entertaining to be around, I was starting to wrestle with powerful things like depression and withdrawing myself from, well, pretty much everything.  I basically shut my dreams deep inside me.  Truthfully, I haven’t had a literally memorable dream since then even, odd as that may sound.  Maybe that’s as deep as it goes, really, sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.

Anyway, the point of all of this is that I’ve been thinking about it off and on again, finishing up the writings on the backgrounds for my varied worlds, putting together stories, etc.  I think I’m going to do it, and I’ll be sure to post up little teasers here for you, my readers, to look at and even help with if you’re so interested.  I’ve always done it with a group of people before, and I see little reason to stop now.  Sadly, I don’t really have any ready-made teasers quite yet, but we’ll see, and I hope you like it.

Ja ne!

The Ranting Loon

Movie time! Big Hero 6

So, today I went and saw Big Hero 6 with some friends of mine.  Here is my little review on it.  I’m trying to be fairly spoiler free, but as always, I can’t promise my idea of spoiler free is the same as yours.  Keep that in mind and be warned.

The good, the bad and the ugly: first off, the film is beautiful and a ton of laughs with the right heartstrings being plucked, etc.  I also love the obligatory Stan Lee cameo, which I won’t spoil, just stay after the film and watch your jaw drop.  That said, if you’re a comic purist, stay away from this one, or at least try and forget that it is a comic movie.  Big Hero 6 the comic team and Big Hero 6 the film have only a passing resemblance.  It’s not even set in the same city (in fact, they made up a city just for the film, for reasons that I don’t entirely understand, but more on that later).  As for the ugly?  Well….honestly, that one is going to take at least a paragraph to sum up, so let’s get into the review proper, shall we?

So, let me start with saying that I consider myself a bit of a comic buff, though not so much of one that I remembered the team prior to sitting down.  These things happen, and Big Hero 6 really didn’t have a huge following prior to the film anyway (though they did have a Spiderman team up in End of the World, and I loved it, even if it was rather truncated).  That said, I’m honestly kinda afraid that those who watch the film might try and go after the comics.

The two are so different that it almost feels like they were pandering to the IP like Marvel did with The Wolverine, rather than actually trying to bring their story to a larger audience.  The cast is different, almost all of them have a vastly different backstory if nothing else, and several characters have their powerset changed even.  Granted, the changes did make some awesome heroes (GoGo Tomago becoming more like Ricochet made for some awesome visual effects, for instance) but some left me really going “why”, such as Fred(zilla).  Granted, some of those changes, I think, are because of Marvel’s bizarre thing about keeping power sources limited to one type at a time outside of Avengers (in this case, they’re all Science/Technology type heroes, instead of a mixed bag including several tech types, an alien (sort of), a Qi user and so on).  Granted, yes, this makes exposition time much shorter as you don’t have to explain things, but honestly, I think we would have swallowed “I never told anyone this, but I can turn into a giant kaiju” as an acceptable answer as well, and simply left it at that.

So, HUGE changes there, hence my previous statement about needing to think of it as something other than the Marvel Comics version.  It isn’t, they have a lot of the same names (Wassabi-no-Ginger had his name truncated, but I honestly don’t mind), and they do look kinda similar (most of the time) but that’s about the end of it.  Instead of Japan’s version of S.H.I.E.L.D. (or possibly H.A.M.M.E.R., depending on how you look at things), these are just a bunch of college kids (and one 14 year old super-genius) trying to do the right thing.  Honestly, no qualms about the story archetype, it’s part of what I love about Spiderman himself, and to be faithful to the actual origin of BH6 would easily have bumped it up from a cute all ages superhero story into a dark tale about bad choices and their consequences (I mean come on, the first villain in the comics is literally the embodiment of the people killed from the nuclear assault on Japan in World War 2).  Not likely a good fiscal move, really, which I can respect.

Instead what we get is a much more kid friendly film about loss, dealing with said loss, and reaching for the sky.  It’s cute, sure, but it’s also fun and has some Incredibles style butt kicking, so all around good fun.  Honestly, as long as you can get the comics out of your mind for a few hours, definitely worth a watch.

Now, about that ugly though: here’s my one big gripe on the film.  Big Hero 6 (the comic) is set in Japan, and you can tell that they wanted to keep this frame of reference through the film, which I actually like.  What I don’t like though is how they pander to do it.  Instead of just going with setting the film straight up out of Japan, they instead set it in “San Fransokyo”, and no, I didn’t make that one up.  It’s basically what you’d get if you mixed San Francisco with Tokyo, and makes very little logical sense.  Just about every time I was confronted with the name it just completely dropped me out of emersion.  Why is it called San Fransokyo?  What happened that would create this fusion city, presumably in the USA?  Doing some internet searching tells me that it was done intentionally because they wanted it to be a mashup between Tokyo (where the original story was set) and San Francisco in the same way that Marvel and Disney were mashing up to make the film, but honestly, I suspect it had less to do with that and more to do with trying to market a kid’s film like that set entirely in Japan with Japanese frames of reference was again, going to hurt the bottom line when it came to ticket sales, but setting it in America would not have that problem, BUT the entire setting was already built as a Japanese setting, and it would cost to much to change all the dialog and art pieces to represent normal America.  The set pieces rarely (if ever) truly seem American, just generic Southeast Asian.  Oh, except for the beds (typical Japanese houses use futons instead, but even those are being phased out due to the extra work they take).

As good of a film it is, there’s just a lot of moments like that where it makes my brain wonder if they didn’t have some sort of IP issue with the Big Hero 6 brand name that making a film would help correct, so it had to be Big Hero 6, but instead of giving it a good Marvel treatment like Phase 1 films did, this one is instead entirely cut to the bottom line.  So, in the end, I don’t really know what to make of it on that sort of a meta level.  Maybe it’s just because they knew it was so obscure (in an interview, Don Hall does remark that it might be THE most obscure Marvel comic in fact) so they figured they could cut the corners.  Or maybe they did the film in preparation for a new Big Hero 6 launch with a rewrite to match it more closely to the movie’s story rather than the original late 90s comic, honestly I don’t know on this one.

Bottom line though, it’s a kid safe, tons of fun film that plays into the same all-ages pocket as Incredibles, Shrek and Bolt.  A darling film to the kids, with enough adult moments that even mom and dad will enjoy it without getting bored.

I hope the review was useful to you.  As always, if you have any thoughts of your own, or just want to bash me for completely missing some fact or another, or just want to say hi, feel free to hit me up in the comments below.

Ja ne!

The Ranting Loon

Yandere and You

So, I know that I posted about Future Diary already, but I’ve been thinking about it a bit more as things often work once they begin to turn into brain stew.  Going to keep this spoiler lite again as best I can, in fact, this post really isn’t about the show itself but one of the basic themes (which is actually pretty common in anime anymore) to the show, but in either case, you have been warned.

Today, we’re talking about Yandere.  What it is, and why I think it has carved its bloody niche in culture.

Yandere, if you’re not familiar with the term, is a Japanese slang term for “love crazy”, and I don’t just mean that like the American term “star struck” or “love struck”, I mean it like puppy love having a rough encounter with Jason Voorhees.  A yandere is typically adorably starstruck in love, more often than not, some form of stalker, but with one hell of a secret: they’re so crazy in love that their moral compass points strait to “and no obstacles remain between me and my love”.  Speaking of which, anyone with any emotional attachment to their love may well qualify as an obstacle, and they will do everything in their power to remove said obstacles, from violently dismembering them to poisoning their food with an expert precision that implies serious training, to…well, pretty much anything else that might kill the theoretic rival.

So, Yuno is a crazy Yandere willing and able to mow down anything that gets between Yuki and Yuno from eternal bliss.  She, like most Yandere is scary creepy obsessive and possessive, and yet for some strange reason, I find this rather compelling, there’s a part of me that wants a Yuno of my own.  Maybe it’s just because my SOs so far have tended to be actually fairly emotionally distant with me in the end, looking at it more as a solution to a situation than an individual to be loved (or at least that’s how personal history remembers it) but the idea of someone being so crazy in love that they would literally (and gleefully!) kill just to keep you close is a powerful thought.  Yeah, it comes fraught with danger, as a single misstep could spell doom for a close personal friend, or the suicide of the yandere, depending on which archetype we’re dealing with, but it also brings with it the adoration you’d otherwise only ever find in a puppy.

Given the popularity of the character type, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels this way about this either.  Japan is often very weird, sure, I mean it’s the same island that made Card Captor Sakura, La Blue Girl and Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo.  But honestly, I think that’s pretty unfair to Japan.  Americans call it weird, but as anime becomes more and more popular, I’m increasingly convinced that it really isn’t weird so much as it is more honest with itself, though that might be more of a rant for another day.

Anyway, given the popularity, someone likes this concept.  Now, I couldn’t tell you for sure if it is because of a heart’s urge to be wanted to badly that the person literally goes crazy for you, or if it is because the archetype always makes for some very twisted drama, or something in between, but I’m going to project a bit and say that at least in part it’s that former bit.  After all, everyone wants someone to love, and someone to love them.  We have so many songs about it, and so many stories about it (some of which float by purely because of the concept of romance) that I don’t think anyone could argue otherwise.  And it makes sense in a way, after all: if they’re willing to kill for you, then obviously you mean a lot more to them than the corpse did, the fact that you’re still breathing and they’re not notwithstanding.  That sort of love is a powerful thing.  After all, psychologically and morally, for most people, human life is a rather big thing.  Having someone willing to throw that away (even if it isn’t THEIR life) for you at the drop of a hat is a very potent symbol.  Sure, you have to walk on eggshells, for fear of hurting one of your other friends, but you can also trust that as long as you are faithful, there is no chance that they will cease to be.

I think that’s the big thing that draws at least me to the concept too, that little itch of an idea that a Yandere might be a monster in a cute disguise, but at least the yandere isn’t going to stab YOU in the back unless you really did do something to deserve it (most of the time).  That’s a hell of an emotional support, at least conceptually.  Now, in practice, it becomes a whole different ball of wax, I’m sure, as any eggshell walking practice becomes, but attraction rarely has anything to do with the concept of practice itself, if you ask me.  There’s also the part where your typical yandere character is CUTE, at least while she’s in the dere (lovestruck) part of the yandere.  They get a bit terrifying while trying to kill someone of course.  And cute never hurt anyone’s chances of others liking them.

Of course, personally, I think an awful lot of it from my perspective has to do with the clingyness of it.  My SOs so far haven’t been nearly as touchy-feely as I can tend to be, and that can be a real downer when you get down to it.  My most recent SO has grown so cold that we barely touch when I do visit, even though normally I live a quarter of a continent away.  That hurts, and thanks to an amazing thing called  polar opposing insecurity compensation, the natural reaction is of course to try and grab the thing farthest possible from the current situation.  Obviously, not the best of options (think about it like flying to the North Pole because it is too hot in the Sahara), but our brains are hilariously stupid when it comes to reacting to pain and fear.  Still, something interesting to think about, at least in my mind.

Ja ne!

The Ranting Loon

Psychology, pain and moving forward vs moving back

So, a few minutes ago, I reblogged an interesting read from Cristian Mihai.  The basics about it being about letting go vs holding on.  Now, in some ways, he and I do have different opinions about things, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the read.  Rather than clutter up his blog with my own musings, however, I figured I’d post up here my thoughts and all about the subject in full.

The concept of “letting go vs moving on” is actually a really deep conversation, with a myriad factors.  Personally, I’m not a fan of blanket statements in general because of the inherent logical flaws that can spring up (yes, I’m aware of the irony in that statement), but personally, I find that in general, the act of holding on, protecting the status quo (if we wish to define “holding on” as such) is typically the easier route.  There are exceptions, such as Christian Mihai’s plight in keeping funding for his blog.  It would, without a doubt, be easier for him to just pack up and move on, at least in terms of physical effort and time.

At the same time, though, clinging to a dream as the last grains of sand slip through your fingers is a different kind of hard.  It’s not hard because of the effort, it’s hard emotionally, because you stare at failure while it taunts you.  This is a common problem for me, both with holding on, keeping my status quo at the cost of my expression, my love and sometimes, even my future; as well as with letting go, standing still while opportunity slips away, lettings others go because it is safer if I let the friendship die in the comfort of my home rather than confront them and push to keep going.

I suppose, in a way, one could argue that both options are a way of holding on being hard though.  After all, while I might be holding onto the status quo, I’m letting go of my future, of friends and fun, because I’m afraid to hold onto the moment and let myself be exposed to the potential pain.  It is, sadly, a bit of a defining feature for me these days, though one I am decided to let go, as this blog might show.  Yeah, I obfuscate who I am, hide where I live, will not speak of my age or gender, but at the same time, even behind those safeguards, this is the real me.  I’m deep at times, but I’m also hurt and damaged, afraid and alone.  I think about a lot, and usually I keep it all bottled up, but the cork’s off this bottle and who knows what comes next.

Anyway, in the subject I mentioned Psychology.  One thing we as humans have a tendency to do is to try and protect the current state.  Think about it, even those of you who are more spontaneous risk takes out there, how often do you make a choice knowing that doing so might hurt your current state?  And when you do, there’s always the thought that the reward is worth it, or the risk is small enough to be ignored.  You aren’t likely to go walking down a minefield for $1, but you might do it for $1b, as an extreme example (and even then, a large portion of you still wouldn’t do it, even if there was only one mine to worry about).  Similarly, how often have you looked at a cute guy or girl, thought about how much you might want to simply get to know them (let alone anything following) but simply sat where you were, watching from afar because you were afraid of changing the status quo from enjoying a latte to having someone laugh at you?  That fear is a powerful thing, and it is there for a good reason (for instance, with the mines, please don’t actually try that) but sometimes, it just holds you back (like saying hi).  So this is my saying hi, and letting go of at least some of that fear.  And I hope that maybe you can do the same thing, either in my comments, but if not there, maybe you’ll find someone nice to flirt with, if nothing else.

Ja ne!

The Ranting Loon

Letting go vs. holding on

I know I don’t have a lot of readers out there right now, but I thought I’d share this with those who do. Some really great thoughts, both in the original post as well as in the comments, and as always it is interesting to me to see how differing viewpoints intersect with each other. I’m sure I’ll post my own full blog post about the subject matter, likely not long from now, but in the meantime, please check out a fellow writer’s musings and see what you think.

Ja ne!
The Ranting Loon

Cristian Mihai

“Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.”Dylan Thomas

The say there’s one lesson of importance that life keep trying to teach us: letting go. Accepting whatever happened and moving on. Understanding that it is futile to fight back fate, destiny, or the will of the gods.

That, I’m afraid, is a lesson in humility that I never learned. And I think that it’s a different lesson altogether. That of holding on. Of being brave in the face of adversity, of being bold and persistent. Of forging your own destiny.

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A review, in brief

So, real quick, wanted to pop in and fire off a bit about the series I just finished before it all drizzled out of my mind, so here’s the piping hot and super fresh review for you on Future Diary (Mirai Nikki for the Japanese purists), the anime.  Try not to burn your mouth as it comes out the oven, eh?

So, ever wonder what might happen if Death Note and Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor had a mutant anime baby?  No?  Then you’re likely sane.  But that’s ok, we’re gonna answer that question anyway: you’d get Mirai Nikki.  The story follows poor wallflower Yukiteru “Yuki” Amano as he is drawn into a survival game using a diary that lets him see the future around him.  Yeah, that part is basically taken straight from Demon Survivor, practically down to an early line along the lines of “Let’s Survive”.  Granted, the trope is older than that, but still.

Episode one starts off confusing and brutal, and follows through with a scene change where the real plot gets to become unraveled.  I love some of the dialog between Yuki and Deus, and I could write whole papers on the implications of the early conversations on later episodes and the ending itself, but that’s something for another time.  Let’s just say that it opens itself up to a number of possibilities, and at least one of which is likely FAR more disturbing than the actual ending of the story.

Anyway, after a very fast paced opening, the show crawls itself on for a bit and all in all kinda reminds me of a sprinter trying to do a marathon.  One moment, it surges forth with an alacrity that has you pinned to the seat, but the next minute we become so dialog heavy (with good exposition, don’t get me wrong) that you think about grabbing a soda to pass the time.  Don’t get me wrong, you do yourself and the show an injustice to miss most any line as it builds on itself to much, but wow, exposition ho!  Honestly though, the expositional parts are no worse than When The Cry (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni) or Death Note as it gives you bits of information and clues to start putting everything together.  After all, despite the very intense fight scenes, at its core, Mirai Nikki is a horror/thriller instead of an action show, and it pulls it off pretty well.

One thing to admire for it is the number of times that things look one way and turn out another.  I won’t spoil with examples, but yeah, show is great for setting an anticipation and then ripping your heart out, or giving a key role a sudden face heel turn when things look grim.  Totally fitting to the characters once you start to learn their why too, which is another thing to really admire the writer for: these characters may be nuts (in most cases) but they’re still three dimensional, and trapped in one of the most horrible games imaginable.  It adds a good flavor of humanity even to the most otherwise irredeemable characters, which makes the “everything is a shade of grey” theme all the more fitting.

In the end, though, I think it loses a lot of itself when it starts worrying more about causality and less about the interaction between Yuki and Yuno, but maybe that’s just me.  There’s several points at the end where the expected (and practically spelled out) next event doesn’t happen, and I don’t mean because of the Future Diary changing itself.  An epilogue (longer than the 5-second-a-group treatment anyway) would have been nice, though the show was already at 26 episodes, so that may have been a pacing issue, or simply having 27+ episodes worth of stuff and only 26 episodes greenlit, so I’ll overlook that, at least there was an attempt at closure outside the obvious.

All in all, while it has its moments that make you question your sanity, and the sanity of most, if not all, of the characters (or at least their reasoning ability, their sanity can hardly be questioned in most cases), it is definitely worth watching.  Right now, the whole thing is free on Hulu (subtitled, if you care), so even more of a reason to scope it out.  If I get some interest, maybe I’ll do a much more spoileriffic review and discussion, so if you’re interested in that, let me know.

A half moon, it has a dark half and a bright half, just like me…

Ja ne!

The Ranting Loon