wonders i have seen

Gankutsuou! Non-spoilery pimping post with lots of pretty pictures!

Lots of free time lately, so I've been watching lots of anime. My ever-faithful dealer provider of many series, erhune, hooked me up with quite a few of them. I've been wanting to type up some kind of recs for Princess Tutu, The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, Welcome to the NHK and xxxHOLiC, but then I acquired Gankutsuou.

erhune had been recommending Gankutsuou for pretty much ever, and I'd heard good things about it from other sources, and now that I think about it I don't know why I waited so long. But I did, and then I started watching... and then I finished watching, because there really was no stopping.

In one word, Gankutsuou is genius. In another word (I can never stick to just one word!), it's intense. Collapse )I wasn't prepared for how emotionally engaged I was going to become in the story, or how it would affect me. I mean - I get invested in fictive characters, of course I do! And I've watched a lot of good anime, where there have been plenty of emotions and impatient waiting for the next episode (why no new OP for two weeks, whyyy?), but... There was something about the intensity with which Gankutsuou overwhelmed me which I haven't felt for a long time. I think - since I started watching Fullmetal Alchemist. Back before there was the crazy enormous fandom and everything, when I'd just stumbled across it and found I couldn't stop watching the few episodes that were out.

Gankutsuou is a couple of things beside genius and intense. For one, the literal translation of the title (巌窟王 for some cool kanji) would be "Lord of the Cavern", which also happens to be the Japanese title for Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. (Or so Wikipedia informs me. Beware - the entry on Gankutsuou is full of spoilers!) It makes perfect sense that it is, because the series is very much based on that story. Not just the plot, but the setting too is a most creative take on the classic tale, which takes place in a futuristic Paris - a wild blend of sci-fi and 19th century elegance and aristocracy.

Spaceships!                                                                                           Early 20th century-type cars!

The animation is awesome beyond belief. It took me a little while to get used to it, but once you do - or even before you do, it's just cool. It's animation that takes the possibilities offered by the medium, and then runs with it. Runs far and wild and makes every single frame a feast for the eyes. There are patterns and colors and they're - moving, or not, depending on your definition. And they fit! They don't detract from the characters or the story - they add to it. Add atmosphere and feeling, and I found myself wondering why other animated series didn't try more of this. More of being creative and alive in their own medium, rather than trying to copy reality... Here, have a couple more screencaps!

Streets on Luna                                                                                      Flower floating in a river

And even screencaps don't really do the animation justice, so make sure to check out the links to clips I'm sticking on the end of this post! (erhune's already posted some clips on YouTube. I'd include them in the post, except it's still buggy enough that it doesn't work for me.)

What really makes the series work, in all its awesomeness, is the characters. The two main characters are the Count himself, and Albert. The Count is a mysterious aristocrat with seemingly unlimited wealth and influence, who appeared up on Luna one day, to much speculation from the local upper crust. Nobody knows who he is or where he came from - the rumours say he's someone who traveled into deep space and contracted a rare disease, or he's an impostor, or he's a vampire... One tale is more exaggerated than the next, and this air of mystery and danger immediately captures the young Albert's imagination. Albert is a viscount, the naive fifteen-year old son of one of his country's leaders. He's on his first space trip, together with his childhood friend, the amiable and slightly more mature Franz. A chance meeting at the opera one day leads the Count to invite Albert into his home, and this is the beginning of a chain of events that will go beyond anything Albert could ever have imagined...

The Count with Albert

The Count is possibly the coolest character ever. In my book, it's a competition between him and Hellsing's Alucard (the OVA version!). It's a tough choice, especially since both characters are voiced by the same seiyuu - Nakata Jouji, whose voice is simply made of awesome. He's like a Japanese James Earl Jones with fangs. No matter how politely he speaks, you can hear the teeth behind his smile - and those are the kind of teeth that will rip your throat out in a heartbeat. He fits the role perfectly.

More seiyuu - Albert is voiced by Fukuyama Jun, by now probably better known as xxxHOLiC's Watanuki. His Albert is quite different from Watanuki - more sensitive, less spastic, at once both young and vulnerable and possessed of an immense willpower. In one way, Gankutsuou is very much the story of Albert's coming of age, but because of Albert himself, and because of his relationships with his group of friends, I never experienced it as boring or heavy handed. (Otherwise "coming of age" always has an ominous note of "really boring" to me, for some reason.)

Every episode of Gankutsuou delves deeper into the main plot of the Count's motivation and actions, but also into Albert's world, with his friends and their families. His most important relationship, aside from the strange one he forms with the count, is the one he has with Franz. They've been together since they were very young, and Franz is hopelessly in love with utterly devoted to Albert. He sees the Count as a threat, and is the first to counsel Albert to stay away from him, but to no avail - the Count is too fascinating, too intense for Albert to resist.

Franz & Albert

So far, I've praised the animation, the story, the characters, and the seiyuu... but I can't forget the music! The opening and endings both are written for the show, and encapsule it quite beautifully. The ending (You Won't See Me Coming by Jean-Jacques Burnel) is incredibly cool, if vaguely reminiscent of an acid trip. The opening (We Were Lovers, by the same artist) is simple and pretty and almost melancholic in feel.

Another thing I love about this show is the recaps. They're absolutely unique in that it's Nakata Jouji doing the voice-over for them - in French! Actual, real French. With a Japanese accent, but still! It's French, and it's poetic French, and I don't really have any words for how it gave me chills the first time I heard it, so - here. Links to those clips I mentioned!

The intro to the second episode, with voice-over in French by Nakata Jouji! (It's subtitled in Japanese and French, and is too vague to be spoilery.)

Gankutsuou ending. Yes, the show is this cool! (But easier to watch. Um.)

Scene from episode 2. Spoilery for episode 2, but shows the amazing animation, and also the Count being incredibly kick-ass.

In short, this is a series I will watch again. I rarely re-watch things, but if people back home haven't seen Gankutsuou yet I'm going to sit them down in front of the TV and make them watch it. ♥ Because I want to share the awesome!
one piece - wtf?!

Probably correct DN casting!

From weeklyjump's oceanizer, who's almost always right - Jump #40 announces the casting for the Death Note anime, and... It's vaguely more sense-making than the fan-dream that was making the rounds before, but STILL. My BRAIN. It's the previous roles they've had and my brain hurts. Badly. ^^;;

Light - Miyano Mamoru. Ouran's Tamaki. And Kiba in Wolf's Rain. YEAH.

L - Yamaguchi Kappei. Does Yamaguchi Kappei even need an introduction? It's Yamaguchi Kappei. Usopp, Ranma, Ryuichi? L. L. Okay, my brain can totally deal with this.

Just not... now.

Ow. ^^;; (It kind of hurts in a good way, though. ♥)

ETA: This randomly led me to check out Yamaguchi Kappei's blog. And I didn't think it was possible to fangirl him more, after seeing him live and in action at Jump Festa and just loving him to bits because he's awesome, but. Then I found the August 18th entry, and. There was squeeing and flailing and there's still flailing, which makes it really hard to type! But he's such an adorable crazy thing! Who totally fanboys the characters he voices. It's beautiful. Just. Love. ♥
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Up the mountain

On Friday me and shayera visited Mt. Hiei, where we took the chance to check out the garden they've got right on top of the mountain. It's called a "Garden Museum", and there are reproductions of paintings by various famous European (mostly French) artists among the little winding paths and colorful greenery.

I'm not usually a big fan of plants, but it was a spectacular experience, especially with the magnificent view afforded through the location. We could see both the city of Kyoto, and Lake Biwa, which is on the other side of the mountains from Kyoto's side. Otsu looked like a tiny Lego town, and the boats sailing the lake were just a scattering of white against the glittering expanse. And the flowers were quite gorgeous.

My brother pointed me to a new web photo software JAlbum, and I've beating myself about not finding out about it sooner. It makes things so easy! So now there are pictures up, from the Mt. Hiei & Garden Museum visit. Worth a click, even if you're not usually into plants!
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Tiny little update

Am working on entering the new doujinshi in my catalogue. It's slow going, because I keep getting distracted by reading them, or looking at the pretty pictures, or just marvelling at how awesomely talanted and creative people can be.

Took a couple of hours to clean my room and re-organize my bookshelf - had just let everything accumulate in a big heap since before Comiket. Oops. I biked down some 30 minutes to Marutamachi in the heat of the day to hold a lesson with a new student, and when I came home I was pretty much back to being exhausted. I'm still in a state where I do everything really slowly and have trouble thinking clearly about stuff - especially writing seems to be almost impossible to manage. Stupid words won't... in the order I want them to, do that thing that makes them make sense!
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Super Comic City & other dangerous places

Not the longest report possible on today, considering I got... very few hours of sleep, got up at 5.45 AM, and am planning on doing it all again tomorrow! ^_____^ But! It's a report, yay!

Um. Somehow, 50 doujinshi (give or take a few - I'm tired enough to see double) seem to have followed me home. They. Um. They're not all mine? Only most of them are and I blame kagenami! For taking me places! And making me buy things! I was resiting all along, with lines like "Oooh, that's pretty!", and "Good Kenren x Tenpou Gaiden story, you say? Gimme that!".


Okay, so! Yes, had a fun day, and even got to speak to avalonjones on the phone! In the Yodoyabashi train station in Osaka, at 7.20 AM, because this world is wonderful like that. (Hi! Sorry I wasn't more coherent - wasn't awake was the thing. But it was nice speaking to you!)

As with Comiket, it was absolutely awesome to get to meet the doujinshiya in person. kagenami introduced me to a few (it was hilarious to be referred to as, more or less, "that sweet child", who was obviously dragged along here innocently and unknowingly!), and I worked up the courage to subject a few others to my sad Japanese. (Sad because I can't seem to wrap my brain around the concept of letting me say things I usually know how to say when I'm actually trying to use it to speak with people.)

What I remember best right now is finding a One Piece circle I'd bought one doujinshi from at Comiket, and getting a couple more of their things. (Young Iceburg & Franky, so sweet and pretty!) I was asked it if I was a One Piece fan, and replied that of course, I love it, and I loved their book - bought it at Comiket! Which the artist sitting right next to the person I was speaking to at the moment was really happy to hear. And then I noticed they were selling a Norland & Calgara story, and grabbed it with a little whoop, saying I loved those two. Which made the girl I was talking to so pleased she promptly shoved a set of their Norland/Calgara art postcards at me - free! I was so stunned and happy I can only hope I managed a properly polite thanks - they're really gorgeous, but it's mostly overwhelming how nice these people are. ♥

Happy and overwhelmed - that's my general state of mind right now. Had a fantastic day, a lot thanks to kagenami's great company. I also have a heap of awesome new loot. Off the top of my head I can remember getting stuff for a few new fandoms, including Twelve Kingdoms, Final Fantasy VII (I didn't meant to, it just kind of happened why must people draw such pretty Zack x Cloud?), Death Note and D.Gray-Man. I can also remember getting a whole heap of new used (...that sounds bizarre) Saiyuki, a few Wild Adapter (tiny little fandom, so glad to find stuff for it) and some GetBackers.

I think - I think I should sleep now. And stop worrying about whether I have enough money for tomorrow's Super Comic City. (I don't. Tomorrow is Saiyuki and GetBackers and various others that - oh, I'd never have enough money, but I have way too little now. And that's probably a very good thing.)

Meep. How will I get it all back home again? That joke about a suitcase full of doujinshi is looking less and less like a joke. OOPS. ^^;;

And this was all very, very incoherent. I know. I'm afraid I can't fix it - I'd probably only make it worse. It'll be a beautiful testimony to my present state of mind later? (Speaking of incoherent...) Right. Oyasumi!
book love

Me, my doujinshi & I

So. Tokyo. Comiket. Everyone else I travelled with has already reported on those days - shayera, gnine, and now xparrot with her hysterical (funny 'cause it's true) Comiket Countdown.

Me, I did the posting pictures, here. And then I've mostly been sitting around thinking about how I could possibly do justice to the experience that my four days (I had an extra day compared to the others ♥) in Tokyo was. And I still haven't been able to.

What I have done is - I've catalogued my doujinshi. And also played with Google's awesome new Page Creator. The result is, predictably, a page cataloguing my doujinshi! Which I had twenty and some of when I left, and over eighty when I returned from Tokyo and let's not do the math there, because it's vaguely horrifying! ^___^;

And tomorrow is Super Comic City Kansai, and I'm going and I will not be able to resist adding to that collection. I worry! (But only about how I will get them all home safely, really.)

Without further ado - for the curious: my doujinshi collection!

(Randomly, these past three weeks were crazy enough that I had no time at all to work on a CFUD app. Woe. At least I'll have one more thing to look forward to when September rolls around?)
zoro smile

Comiket pictures

I'm back!

And alive, and poor, but oh so happy. ^_______^ I bought enough doujinshi that it's beginning to feel like I should count them in kilos, and not individual books. I had a great time with wonderful friends, and we were lucky with the weather and stayed at a good hostel and saw seiyuu, live! And we even made it to the nightbus three minutes before it was due to leave!

Unfortunately I'm more than just a little exhausted after the five nights and four days away from home, so I can't really be coherent in the writing. ^^;; However, I did manage to upload a couple of pictures from Comiket in a gallery, for the curious:

Comiket 70

As for what happened, shayera has a great report of the first and second days of Comiket, gnine has squeed about our third day in Tokyo (the one with the seiyuu event), and even xparrot has mentioned the weekend in a brief note. ♥ (Ah, yes - since shayera uses that name - naye is the LJ I use for my entries in Swedish.)

I want to write something too! But right now is... not a good idea. What with the not being able to keep my eyes open and all. ^^; So I'll get back to that - later. With much squee and possible abuse of emoticons and exclamation marks, because it was just that good a weekend. I don't know how I can do it justice without the liberal application of heartmarks! ♥

ETA: shayera's updated with a report on the third day!
mieru hito - himeno

Return to Tokyo

Life kind of goes really, really fast right now, and August kind of blindsided me. My birthday came out of nowhere, and now it's already time for Comiket! This weekend! And I'm going, of course - taking the nightbus tonight, resting up tomorrow in Tokyo, then spending Friday, Saturday and Sunday browsing doujinshi and standing in big huge lines and looking at cosplayers and hopefully not dying of heatstroke. (I worry. A lot.) I'll be hanging out with friends and going to a seiyuu event (Seki Tomokazu! Ishida Akira! and more!) and it'll be great! My hostel should have internet, but I don't know how much I'll have in the way of time...

So! Off now, back again Monday, and I'm sorry if I'm missing comments or posts I should comment on or such, but feel free to poke me here about things I'm not replying to. Now that I'm no longer school-stressed I really enjoy being able to get into discussions and squee around here. ♥
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that went well, yep

Mostly alive

Trip was great, and went fine - took my brother & his friend mostly to places I'd already been in Tokyo, so I didn't get lost! I'm very impressed that I even found the nightbus home and everything.

Can't believe how much I've done in a few short days! Unfortunately we didn't get much sleep, and especially after the nightbus I'm kind of. Seriously jetlagged. From travelling inside a single time zone. I'm special that way.

We went to a bunch of places... Shinjuku twice, because it's worth seeing in the day and at night! I love that the Tokyo Government Metroplex Building is both free and open until 23.00. We stayed at Asakusa, so we saw quite a bit of that part of time. I took the guys to Akihabara and left them in Yodobashi Camera while I went looking for otaku places. Win-win situation, as they were quite happy to spend most of a day there - what they say about boys and men and their toys is so true! Then they dragged me to Harajuku, and I spent a couple of hours holding their things while they tried on clothes. It was... an interesting experience. I'm the kind of person who totally doesn't understand how you can spend 20.000 yen on a t-shirt and a shirt just because the brand is cool. Anyway. Got to see some stores I would never have visited if I'd been on my own. And then we went to Shibuya, and the crowds were overwhelming as usual, but this time I found Mandrake! And since I'd spent most of the day waiting on the guys, I didn't feel too bad leaving them to wait for me while I browsed the doujinshi shelves. With Comiket right around the corner, I was able to excercize some restraint, and only bought two Saiyuki doujinshi, which are both fantastic. ♥

Then nightbus home, and after last time I was more than just a little leery about getting back on the bus, but - it's summer, not winter, so there was no risk of getting snowed in for 20 hours, and the trip was actually very smooth. 6.5 hours, only two stops, and if I'd actually slept during the day, I would probably be completely recovered now.

I'm sure I've done quite a few more interesting things, but. Right now I'm feeling very much like this. (Which gave me an overdose of cute when I watched it, so beware!)
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