For my American readers…HAPPY 4th OF JULY! I burned myself with a firework. What have YOU done in celebration of your country? Well who cares! Here’s a fun Captain America image my best friend showed me:
My goofiness aside, I really ought to get more consistent with these journal entries. I suppose I just don’t want to sound like a broken record. But today I actually have some things to go on about.
The return of Eikasia really feels…well…real. There had been a few updates in the past, but they were bursts of inspiration in a sea of nothing. The bonus updates have been a great help in keeping me connected with the story, and it’s true that I still have four to finish, but I think it’s infinitely more important that I’ve returned to writing the main story. The entire reason I started the bonus updates was because I had run out of juice for writing, after all. But in case you were wondering, the next bonus update (The Cats Have Claws) is at about around 6k words. The Abaddonic, if you guys remember that Tobias bonus update I never finished, is still hovering at around 3k words. Personally, I think it’s better that these stories were started at least. That way, if I felt so compelled later, it’d be much easier to finish them (and much more likely that I would, ha ha.)
This new return to writing has come due to a boost in my general mood. In my video podcasts, I’ve mentioned my problems with depression-anxiety disorder, and some of the challenges that I’ve faced as a newly wed in a new area away from home. After settling into the rhythm of work and school, getting over certain financial hurdles, and getting both medical, emotional, and psychological help, I’m starting to feel a lot better. The “bad” days are becoming less frequent, and I’m finally starting to feel comfortable with my new surroundings. This led me to getting back into the things I absolutely love, among them, anime and manga. If you’ve somehow been living under a rock, anime is simply Japanese animation, and manga are Japanese illustrated works (like graphic novels or comics). Mostly, I revisited some of my favorite niche genres: shoujo-ai and horror. If you’re wondering what shoujo-ai is, it literally translates to “girl’s love.” Just some of the shows I watched were Strawberry Panic!, Aoi Hana, Sasameki Koto, and Maria-sama ga Miteru. What do all of these shows have in common? Lesbian love and school girls!
Which brings me to what I really wanted to talk about. While these shows, with their angst and young love helped me reconnect with what really gave Eikasia its soul–Elmiryn and Nyx’s romantic connection–it also led to a sudden and intense desire to write my own “anime/manga-inspired” high school based story. Thus, Akumu Love Panic! was born. Clearly, it’s a play off of Strawberry Panic!, but it’s not without some meaning. Akumu, in Japanese, means “nightmare.” You see, while I was watching all of the above, I was also watching a certain infamous show called Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni, roughly translated to “When They Cry” in English. It’s a horror-mystery show based off of a popular visual novel in Japan. The show does an excellent job of taking ordinary kids and tossing them into otherwise horrific situations, using their tranquil and happy lives as perfect foils for the violence and madness that beset them. The shows excellent storytelling and use of atmosphere really got me excited to do something of a similar nature.
It led me to explore more “alternative” Japanese works, and I ended up rewatching certain gems of extreme Asian cinema (Suicide Club, Battle Royale, Noriko’s Dinner Table, Audition, and Ichi the Killer). The rabbit hole went pretty deep, and I ended up touching on some pretty hardcore material. I didn’t actually watch Guinea Pig: Flowers of Flesh and Blood, Niku Daruma (aka Psycho: The Snuff Reels, aka Tumbling Doll of Flesh), or Girl Hell 1999…(for all my morbid curiosity, Japanese exploitation is waaay too much for me to sit through) but rather, I read and watched a bunch of reviews about them, which gave some succinct summaries, and also pulled up a few film stills (about all I can take–some of this stuff is really hardcore). I found it adequate enough to start forming ideas for antagonists and to get ideas for the sort of menace I wanted to have present in ALP!. If you’re curious to learn more, SculptingFragments of YouTube is an excellent guide into the world of extreme cinema, though he doesn’t just review Asian cinema.
In the midst of all this, I also checked out the unusual sub-genre of manga called ero guro.
Ero guro probably sounds like “erotic gore” which is the primary reason so many Westerners misunderstand the genre. It isn’t about eroticising gore and violence. Ero guro is about decadence, deviancy, eroticism, and the bizarre. Some stories may not even have blood or violence. The artistic movement started back in the 1920’s and 30’s in Japan, and though it was suppressed during WWII, in the post-war years it has influenced Japanese art and culture in various ways. Some of my favorite ero guro works are by Shintaro Kago. Of what I’ve read, I feel Abstraction is his best short story by far, but I also enjoyed Holy Night and Harakiri for their dark humor and sharp social commentary. You can visit this site to read some of his works–beware! Some of his manga shorts are NSFW, never mind the rather graphic ads.
In summary, the archetypes and fetishes encountered in school romance stories, coupled with the arresting atmosphere of Asian horror, and the unusual but poignant exploration of the human condition by ero guro, led me to the creation of Akumu Love Panic!. That is why last week’s update was so short. I just got so into writing ALP! and sort of lost track. For that I apologize.
When I started writing Akumu Love Panic!, I was drawing mostly on my knowledge of Japanese culture as seen through anime and Asian cinema. Not that I didn’t do a little reading to complement that, but I felt that, for the opening on ideal Japanese school life, painstaking realism wasn’t really necessary. My intention with ALP! is to satirize the “cute and innocent” stereotypes often encountered in school animes, especially shoujo romances. This runs as the undercurrent to the otherwise dark nature of the series, which explores the bizarre and erotic whilst struggling to survive the evil. As I see it, the major theme is simply about coping with things–how one copes with serious depression, alien surroundings, the pressures of school life, a health disorder, a magical curse, a difficult family tradition, and a poor relationship with a parent, among other things. The story’s genre (ignoring my frustration with genres) can be understood as Horror and Romance, meaning that this shall be another girl-girl romp. But if my sources of inspiration haven’t been enough of an indication for you, this story will be nothing like Eikasia. I know that Eikasia can get graphic in its own ways, but Akumu Love Panic! is meant to push the limits of erotic fetishism and graphic horror. If you’ve never read Tales of MU, then I’ve already lost my best example of the “fetishism” I’m talking about (and you can even argue that ToMU has some isolated examples of the graphic horror I intend as well.)
I think ALP! is coming about easier for me to write than Susie Swordfish (my other writing project, which has so far been left in my “to-write” box) because it deals more directly with the issues I’d like to write about that isn’t already covered by Eikasia. I’ve set a tentative update schedule for every Monday, but I’m not sure how that will work. Last week, I was somehow able to come up with something for both Eikasia and ALP! and still finish schoolwork, but then again I only had 8 hours of work scheduled. This week I have 14 hours of work scheduled and its a new school week. Worst comes to worse, I think it’d be nice if I could always make an effort to update at least one story a week. I’m not sure what you guys think of ALP!. Perhaps it feels rushed, and I suppose in some ways it is. Just like with Eikasia, however, I intend to improve it as time goes on. Have you guys seen the first draft of Eikasia’s Chapter One before? I mean, the VERY FIRST DRAFT, from my old Blogspot site? It’s horrendous. I’m astounded people even kept reading beyond that point.
And in unrelated news, we have a new black kitty. His name is Garo, or Gar-Gar for short. Swoon over his cuteness. SWOON.