Critique

Release the Spyce Part 2 – Story Collapse

Last week, I gave a brief overview of this show and the problem I have with it, I.E. that it suffers from the phenomenon known as tonal whiplash. The first half-dozen episodes aren’t actually that bad. There’s some weirdness there, for sure, which I’ll talk about momentarily, but overall it was fairly standard anime fare. Then a certain scene happens and bam! The whiplash kicks in. It’s actually pretty rare in the grand scheme of things for a show, movie, game, or whatever to so clearly have a moment where it jumps the shark. So when it does happen, it …

Critique

Release the Spyce Part 1 – An Object Lesson in Tonal Whiplash

This is the first post in a new series I’ll be writing for Fridays, talking about various anime, specifically the writing behind them. First up, I’m going to talk a little about a show called Release the Spyce, which aired from October 2018 and was… nothing all that special. The show is pretty standard anime fare; cute girls in cute situations, with some serious stuff thrown in; a world that’s fairly generic; characters who fall squarely into established tropes and stereotypes; and a story that’s about as by the numbers as a paint by numbers picture book. It does, admittedly, …

News

Kyoto Animation Fire – Please Help if You Can

I woke up this morning to the news that one of my favourite animation studios has been burned down by some idiot with a grudge. Over the years, I’ve had innumerable hours of pure joy from this studio, especially the show I still consider to be their magnum opus, K-ON. So far, reports are that at least 33 people have died and dozens more injured, and the awesome people over at Sentai Filmworks have set up a GoFundMe to raise money for those affected by this tragedy. If you can spare a few dollars, please do so. Here’s the link: …

Writing

Getting Started as a Writer

How do you get started as a writer? Simple question with a simple answer: just do it. I realise this isn’t particularly helpful advice, however, so let’s expand the simple answer into something a bit more useful. I’ll link a few good resources, both free and paid, at the end of this post as well. First, the most important thing: to be a good writer, you should be a good reader. This is an absolute truth of the writer’s craft, simply because without having read a lot of other authors’ works, how can you expect to write anything worth a …

Gaming World Building

Youthful Problems

Have you ever played Rise of the Tomb Raider? If not, no worries, there are plenty of examples of what I’m about to talk about in other media. Anyway, in this specific game the main character of Lara Croft talks about a MacGuffin that can unlock the secrets of immortality for humankind, talking about how it would change everything, stop sickness and disease, and all the usual nonsense people think up in these situations. So let’s think for a moment about why this line of thinking is naïve and catastrophically flawed. First, yes, the basic premise Lara is discussing here …

Releases

The Love We Lost – Starlight Book 1 Published

After some two years, the first book of my magical girl (urban fantasy/paranormal) Starlight series is complete. The book, titled The Love We Lost, is soft-launched on Amazon, if you’re into this kind of genre, and especially so if you like stories with a Japanese setting/flavour. Completing a novel is always a great feeling. Many people talk about writing a book, but very few actually manage to start, and fewer still finish, so getting that first draft completed is a really big deal. And taking it through editing and polishing and actually publishing it? Few things come close to the …

World Building

Post-Apocalyptic Lesbians

I have an odd relationship with post-apoc settings. I love the general idea, the concept of post-apoc, but often find the execution to be lacking. For every Mad Max, there’s at least one Aftermath or New Gladiators. Some nice ideas in the lower budget movies, sure, but the obvious issue is the ‘lower budget’. By nice, I do of course mean awful, because… you know, post-apoc. Similarly, for every Fallout: New Vegas (one of my top 5 games of all time), you have… well, something like Fallout 76, which completely misses the point of the franchise it’s aping off, exactly …

Visual Novels

Do You Read Visual Novels?

A long, long time ago I read my first ever visual novel. I think it was around 2007, maybe? Alas, my memory isn’t what it used to be. But I remember the visual novel itself, it was a drama-heavy high school romance called Yume Miru Kusuri. It was your standard ‘boy meets several cute girls, ends up with one of them’ story Japan very much likes to tell in this particular medium, but I enjoyed it well enough. It wasn’t until much later that I finally found a few good examples of Japanese yuri (百合, lit. ‘lily’, the Japanese term …

Gaming Writing

The Masks We Wear

Have you ever played the Persona series of games? If not, I’d highly recommend checking them out. Persona 4 The Golden is an excellent starting point, but if you don’t have a Playstation Vita (which wouldn’t be surprising, considering how quickly that console died), you could start with Persona 5 on PS3 or PS4. Why am I suddenly recommending you Japanese RPGs? Simple, because one of the things I adore about the series in question is its exploration of—what else?—personae, the different metaphorical masks people wear. As a series, it delves heavily into Jungian psychology, including the titular persona, but …

Writing

Is Conflict Essential to a Story?

  Most writers will tell you that conflict is essential to a story. Some would even go so far as to say a story can’t exist without conflict. And sure, depending on the medium involved, conflict is pretty crucial to a story. But is it essential to a story? Short answer: nope. The longer answer is a bit more involved. There are several major exceptions to this rule. The most prominent examples I can think of would be humour and slice of life. In both instances, something else takes the place of conflict. For humour it’s the concept of set …