silverr: abstract art of pink and purple swirls on a black background (Default)

Not the greatest year, in any sense of the word. So many losses, large and small; so much hatred and miscommunication and pettiness and sorrow in the world.

Even before November 8, creating fanworks had come to feel like swimming upstream in a hailstorm: but I kept at it. Had a few things to say and a gift or two to deliver, and wasn't going to quit before everything was done.
 

Each Day is a Blessing
World of Warcraft,
Fel Rangari Anaara

After fleeing with her people from Argus to Draenor, Anaara becomes the only Rangari to join the enemy.

A stray musing on a wowhead entry sparked this one.

4100+ words
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Cenotaph
World of Warcraft,
Wrathion/Anduin

Near the end of his life, a widowed former king in declining health reunites with an old friend.

Gift for [archiveofourown.org profile] alternatedoom 

Though it is a pairing that generally melts my heart and makes me grin, I didn't think i'd ever write any Wranduin… and then this prompt came along, and boom.

17,000+ words
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Light's Heart
World of Warcraft,
Xe'ra
 
They are so afraid, so desperate for a savior..

A drabble sparked by a conversation with Mipeltaja.

100 words
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Requited
World of Warcraft,
Kael'thas/Rommath

After his death in Tempest Keep, Kael'thas dreams of Rommath, and Quel'Thalas.

Gift for [personal profile] alternatedoom [archiveofourown.org profile] cynisca 

A sidestory of sorts to Deceiver, with angst and body horror.

1600 words
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Deceiver
Warcraft III, World of Warcraft,
Kael'thas Sunstrider
 

Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider serves the demon lord known as Kil'jaeden the Deceiver. But Kil'jaeden is not the only one skilled at deception.

The completion of a story idea from 2007. Six years of thought and planning, four years of writing, this novel-length "lore slalom" was both exhausting and exhilarating to write. (Chapter 20 technically wasn't posted by the end of the year—which was my goal—but it did go off to beta around then.)

@160,000 words
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silverr: abstract art of pink and purple swirls on a black background (Default)
Chapter 20 of 20, and an Appendix, now posted.

Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider serves the archdemon Kil'jaeden the Deceiver. But Kil'jaeden is not not the only one skilled at deception..

Deceiver on FFnet :||: Deceiver on Ao3

Almost 10 years after the story idea first sparked, 5 years after I posted the Prologue, 160,000 words and 650 screen shots later, it's finally complete.

Author's notes for earlier chapters are here (it has become a very long post).
silverr: Summer 2012 Olympic flame (_2012_cauldron)

Summary: After fleeing with her people from Argus to Draenor, a draenei hunter becomes the only Rangari to join the enemy..


Each Day is A Blessing
on Ao3 :||:  on FF.net

Fel Rangari Anaara is a fel-corrupted eredar — the skin of her face is red, and her arms and legs are charred and cracked and ooze green fel corruption—sitting on a mushroom on the southern shore of Tanaan, looking across Tanaan Channel in the direction of Elodor and the Altar of Sha'tar in Shadowmoon Valley. Although hostile, hunters can approach quite close without aggroing her (non-hunters will be one or two shotted). When defeated, she drops an item, the Vial of Fel Cleansing, which allows hunters to turn the felbound wolf aberrations of Tanaan Jungle into tameable beasts.

Note: This story also includes beautiful fanart of Anaara by Mipeltaja

Written for the [community profile] halfamoon challenge.
.Author's Notes )

silverr: abstract art of pink and purple swirls on a black background (Default)

Not a big year in terms of quantity, but I am happy with the three pinch hits and the one promptficI did write—and happily, I also made progress on Deceiver.
 

By Sea and Sun Espouse'd
Hellenic Myth & Lore,
Hektor/Andromache

Enroute to their wedding in Troy, Andromache and her future husband begin to get to know each other.

Pinch hit for [community profile] rarelywritten 

2,500
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Before I Was Gay
If I Were Gay (song),
OMC/OMC

Sooner or later, most songs get stale. When that happens, you probably need to switch to a different song—or, at the very least, add new verses to the old one. ** Over a bottle of whiskey and a bag of Hallowe'en candy, the relationship between two old friends begins to shift.

Pinch hit written for [community profile] jukebox .

It took me a day to get in the right headspace to write a story with all-original characters again — it's like writing blank verse compared to fandom canon's sonnets — but it was fun.

4,000
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Eclipse
Original Work
Sun Priestess/Moon Priestess
 
The eternal story: dark, light, structure, chaos, order, abandon, passion, lies, truth, love, sorrow, descent, ascension.

Pinch hit for [community profile] tagyourit

An all-female society of sun-worshipping vampires and the moon priestesses who willingly feed them, wrapped up in angsty soulbonding and tied with a body horror-bow.


2,500
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 Marginalia
World of Warcraft,
Rommath

As Grand Magister Rommath will tell you, being a member of the Six is an overrated privilege.

A promptfic of sorts. Written after reading speculation about a small potential spoiler from Legion, it's  dedicated to the people whose discussion of Rommath broke my heart.

900
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Deceiver
Warcraft III, World of Warcraft,
Kael'thas Sunstrider
 
Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider serves the demon lord known as Kil'jaeden the Deceiver. But Kil'jaeden is not the only one skilled at deception.

I made progress after breaking the '2 months per chapter' barrier. Hoping to have the remainder of the novel drafted by the end of the year, I tried to use NaNo to finish (which did not succeed); I then tried to use December to achieve completion, and while that also failed, I did make progress on drafting the last 5 chapters + a sidestory.

@110,000+ posted,  (ongoing)
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silverr: abstract art of pink and purple swirls on a black background (Default)
As Grand Magister Rommath will tell you, being a member of the Six is  woul be a vastly-overrated privilege.

on Ao3 :: | :: on FFnet

Written as result of this post. Because sometimes the ideas that people toss out as they speed past hit me in the face.

(Note: mild spoilers for the Legion expansion.)
  Heh, well, so it seems as though that 'detail' was simply in the Legion alpha to troll dataminers. Still, I do think that if Rommath ever had to go through the archives and found those papers, he'd have the same rection.


silverr: abstract art of pink and purple swirls on a black background (Default)
An eleventh-hour pinch hit written for [community profile] tagyourit , this merges the request for sun priestess/moon priestess with requests for worldbuilding, vampires, soulbonding and body horror.  By far the strangest thing I've ever written (and my first attempt at body horror), to my joy the recipient was pleased with it. 

The eternal story: dark, light, structure, chaos, order, abandon, passion, lies, truth, love, sorrow, descent, ascension.

Very very loosely based on the fairy tale "East of the Sun, West of the Moon."

:||: Eclipse on Ao3






silverr: abstract art of pink and purple swirls on a black background (Default)
Steven Lynch's "If I Were Gay" is a funny song. When I saw a pinch hit for it fly by on the [community profile] jukebox_fest  comm, I decided to tackle it. The result was my first entirely original fanfic in 11 years, and the realization that quite a bit of double entendre can be mined from candy names.

Sooner or later, most songs get stale. When that happens, you probably need to switch to a different song—or, at the very least, add new verses to the old one. ** Over a bottle of whiskey and a bag of Hallowe'en candy, the relationship between two old friends begins to change.

Before I Was Gay on Fictionpress :||: Before I Was Gay on Ao3



silverr: abstract art of pink and purple swirls on a black background (Default)
(I'm sorry I can't recall who asked me to post this!)

Alongside my default playlist of 8+ hours of rain and surf sounds, I've accumulated an instrumental playlist for my World of Warcraft novel Deceiver that might serve others needing to write about despair, unrequited love, existential angst, and similarly-cheerful themes.

I haven't listed conductors/performers if other than the composer. Anything marked with an asterisk is on the playlist twice.

...................................................

Airbase, Cherubini, et al.
   
"Ocean Realm (Kil'jaeden Remix)"
SK Gaming World Firsts (DJ Bluerose)

The only non-official .mp3 here, the only one specifically connected to the Warcraft universe, and the only one with words. Years ago my friend jacqland extracted the audio from the HD video of the SK Gaming World First Kil'jaeden defeat, and other than my standard surf-and-rain playlist (which also burbles while I sleep), this is by far my most-played track. (If anyone's curious, I did purchase all three songs used in the mix, though none of them have ever sounded quite right without Kil'jaeden rumbling "Oblivion!" and "Destruction!" *g*)


Barber, Samuel
"Adagio For Strings, (Op 11)"     

For years, this song has seemed to me to be the absolute distillation—into heartachingly musical form—of yearning and regret. (Barber apparently grew to resent the work, as it overshadowed all of what he thought were his better works.)


Budd, Harold
"Dark Star" and "Abandoned Cities"  from Abandoned Cities

Long, low volume, ominously droning ambient pieces.

  
Eno, Brian
"LUX 3" and LUX 4" from LUX
"Theme from 'Creation' "  from Music for Films 3   
"The Lost Day"  from On Land   

Eno has been one of my favorite musicians for (*gulp*)  35+ years now.  Most of his electronica is too light-infused to work for this playlist, but the first three listed do a good job of leavening the playlist with a thoughfulness that invokes Netherstorm, and "The Lost Day" is as unsettling as the Harold Budd pieces.


Liszt, Franz   
"Nuages gris, S. 199"  from The 50 Darkest Pieces of Classical Music   

For a long time this was the "Scourge invasion" piece; it's now shifted to being the "assault Arthas in Icecrown" piece.


Pärt, Arvo   
"Pari intervallo"  from Light   
"Für Alina: 1"  and "Für Alina: 2" from Alina - Spiegel im Spiegel    
"Cantus In Memory Of Benjamin Britten For Strings & One Bell"  from Fratres        
"Trisagion"  from Litany       
"Festina Lente"*  from Miserere           
"Tabula Rasa - Silentium"  from Sanctuary
"Tabula Rasa"  from Tabula Rasa
"Spiegel im Spiegel, For Violin and Piano"  from The Very Best of Arvo Pärt

Pärt ties with Prokofiev as my favorite classical composer. For me the appeal of most of his music is that it often manages to be simultaneously full of both sorrow and hope. (The Cantus is the piece I'd want played at my own funeral.)

For me "Trisagion" is Kael's theme music as a character; though I don't necessarily like assigning adjectives because they can be limiting, for me the piece has an overall feel of "heroic melancholy" interspersed with sections that remind me of the panicked, futile struggle of an animal in a trap.

"Spiegel im Spiegel 2" is a perfect Kael > Jaina theme.  Listening to it as I write this, I can imagine the piano part as Jaina and the violin part as Kael: the mostly cheerful and diligent piano melody seems almost unrelated to the mournful strings that accompany and quietly echo it. I didn't necessarily have this music in mind when I was writing their scenes (and at any rate the playlist is on shuffle & repeat) but what I hear in the music is completely how I see that unrequited relationship.


Satie, Erik   
"3 Gnossiennes"   from Satie: Piano Music [Disc 2]   
"Six gnossiennes: Gnossienne No. 1"*
"Six gnossiennes: Gnossienne No. 3"
"Six gnossiennes: Gnossienne No. 4"

These aren't necessarily sad pieces, but for me they have a certain je ne sais quoi that suits Silvermoon and the quel'dorei / sin'dorei in general.


Stars of the Lid   
"Even If You're Never Awake"*  and "Tippy's Demise"*  from  … And Their Refinement of the Decline   

A recent discovery, this ambient drone music perfectly captures the mood I want to be in while writing Deceiver.

............................................
One piece that was on the playlist for a while was Mozart's "Masonic Funeral Music in C Minor, K. 477 (Maurerische Trauermusic)."  There are parts of it that are perfect for Dalaran and Northrend, but ultimately it felt too bouncy compared with the other pieces. I also had "Murder" from the 1997 Berserk anime OST in the playlist for a while as well.

"Oblivion!"


silverr: abstract art of pink and purple swirls on a black background (Default)
Enroute to their wedding in Troy, Andromache and her future husband begin to get to know each other.

Pinch hit written for the [community profile] rarelywritten  exchange.

- § - on FF.net  - § - on Ao3 - § -

Story Ramblings )
.
silverr: abstract art of pink and purple swirls on a black background (Default)

Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider serves the demon lord known as Kil'jaeden the Deceiver. But Kil'jaeden is not the only one skilled at deception.

Deceiver on FFnet :||: Deceiver on Ao3

The prologue was posted in March 2012: the remaining chapters began to appear in 2014.

Note that the Author's Notes contain chapter spoilers!

Apologies for all the placeholder text: this post is a work in-progress as my notes are currently a scattered mess.

I welcome questions and love discussion, but due to its length, comments on this post are disabled so that inboxes don't get clogged. Please comment here.

.....................

Overall notes and origin )

.....................

Prologue and Chapter 1 )

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Chapter 2 )

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Chapter 3 )

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Chapter 4 )

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Chapter 5 )

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Chapter 6 )

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Chapter 7 )

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Chapter 8 )

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Chapter 9 )

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Chapter 10 notes )

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Chapter 11 notes )

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Chapter 12 )

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Chapter 13 ) Chapter 14 )

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Chapter 15 ).....................Chapter 16 ) Chapter 17 ) Chapter 18 )

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Chapter 19 )

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Chapter 20 )

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Chapter 21 (Epilogue) )

last edited 4 July 2016


silverr: abstract art of pink and purple swirls on a black background (Default)
As per the label, the story is meant as the counterpart to the bleak, depressing, Koltira-crushing Comfort, and is intended to be that story's inverse in as many ways as possible.

::|:: on FFnet    ::|::    On Ao3::|::

-~-

Author's Notes (contains animated GIF) )

-~-

silverr: abstract art of pink and purple swirls on a black background (Default)

Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh is the intellectual property of Kazuki Takahashi and Konami, and is being used in this fanfiction for fan purposes only. No infringement or disrespect is intended by this fanfiction.

Yes, yes, laugh all you want. It was my first anime fandom, and I wrote for it on and off (mostly off) from 2002 until 2013.

Summary

When high school student Yugi puts together a pyramid-shaped puzzle necklace given to him by his grandfather (who runs a game shop), he awakens the spirit of the King of Games, who amiably possesses Yugi in order to beat school bullies and neighborhood evildoers though defeating them at card games and then exacting a psychic "game penalty." After cleaning up the high school and the neighborhood, Yugi and his other self and their friends save the world by playing card games.

(grins)

 A 38 volume manga that led to two anime series and four spin-offs, Yuugiou (often abbreviated YGO) also grew into a merchandising phenomenon. The first series (27 episodes) was based on the first 7 volumes of the manga. The second series, animated by a different studio with different seiyuu, is the one that was shown in the US: sometimes referred to as "YGO Duel Monsters" it more or less picked up at volume 8 and ran for 224 episodes (a good many of those in filler arcs, as the manga was still running at the time).

How I wound up writing for it

My spawn were small and by request I was taping Pokemon for them. I was then asked to tape a new show called Yu-gi-oh!.

As I had done with Pokemon, I went on-line in search of an episode guide so that I could label the tapes accurately. In watching the episodes I was somewhat surprised at their content ( much more "adult" in theme and characterization compared to Pokemon). I went online to learn more, and by the time I found my way to pojo, The Shadow Realm, and the Kyoku Geemu board, my curiosity had definitely deepened. I then turned to ebay and bought "subtitled discs" of the series (completely unaware of the horrid subtitles these gray market discs would have) and completely fell under the spell of the voice (Kenjiro Tsuda) that my favorite character (Kaiba Seto) had. This, combined with a dream that conflated one of the other main characters of the show with David Bowie's Aladdin Sane, amused me, and I began journaling about why a kid's show was hooking me, journaling that led to my first creative writing in twenty years. After that I discovered fanfiction.net and, encouraged by my new-found friends in the fandom, decided to post this story. ~ In order to get a feel for what rating I ought to give that first story, I read random fanfictions, and came across a rapefic involving my two favorite characters that caused me to erupt in a second story as a sort of response ... and after that the stories kept coming.

Why I love it (yes, really!)

Once you get past how ridiculously seriously everyone is treating "a children's card game" and its outcomes – they're like legally binding contracts – the series has some unexpectedly non-juvenile stories about identity, courage, obsession, forgiveness, and redemption. (Which may be a result of the original manga being a shonen, rather then a children's, title.)

YGO and its world and characters also have that element that's so very conducive for fanfiction – a large cast with complex interactions, each character a mostly-blank canvas with just enough details of personality and backstory sketched in to make them intriguing. ~ Then too, while there are few canon relationships, there's subtext all over.

Why people knock it

Well, let's see. The fact that it spawned a ton of merchandising, and the whole "children's card game" aspect generally are enough for it to be dismissed. ~ Others see its superficial similarity to Hikaru no Go (which is seen as being superior in both art and storyline).

And honestly, those are all valid criticisms. The merchandising doesn't bother me, I laugh just as hard as anyone else at the Abridged Series, and I think HikoGa is indeed much better overall ... but even with all that, for me YGO is a lot like Saint Seiya: while I fully admit  that it's cheesy, at times badly drawn, and silly, there's also something about it that can still grab me.

Characters I wrote about

Seto Kaiba, an ultra-rich teenage CEO genius who is used to getting his way and winning at everything, appears as the series' first antagonist. He wants Yugi's grandfather to sell him a certain very rare card: only 4 exist, and Kaiba has 3. The old man refuses, so Kaiba comes back later that night, bullies the old man into a duel with the card as ante, and when he wins tears the card up. Grandpa has a heart attack just as Yugi and his friends arrive, and Yugi – now taken over by the angry Game King – challenges Kaiba to another duel. Kaiba, who's never been defeated, agrees—and loses. The repercussions of this loss drive many of the storylines that follow.

Arrogant and highly unlikeable at first glance, Kaiba (he is usually referred to by his family name) develops a largely one-sided rivalry with Yugi – or more precisely, with the Game King, Yugi's "dark half."  (It's reasonable to compare him to Akira Toya.). As the anime progresses Kaiba does shade gradually from villainous rival to anti-hero (he doesn't change as much in the manga), but never quite accepts the friendship that Yugi and friends extend. (He'd rather stand on the sidelines and scoff.)

Kaiba trusts no one but his little brother Mokuba, of whom he is fiercely protective. The two were orphaned at an early age, but fortunately Seto's talents as a chess prodigy caught the attention of Gozaburo Kaiba, a wealthy widowed industrialist who saw in Seto the raw material suitable for shaping an heir to inherit the Kaiba fortune and business. Seto grew up in a cold, unloving environment, relentlessly pushed to excel at everything – which he did, so much so that he usurped his adoptive father at the age of 16 and took over the company. Kaiba shifted the company's emphasis from military products to holographic gaming systems (which he invented), and became the top duelist in the world – until Yugi came along.

Canon Kaiba comes across as too asexual and aromantic to be shipped with anyone seriously – even friendship seems a difficult, almost alien concept for one as guarded of his inner life as he is. Having said that, the central works in my YGO output were a series (collectively called "Temenos") that grew out of KP Duty (that "reaction" story I mentioned above) set in an AR in which Kaiba was assaulted while soulless at Duelist Kingdom.  ~ Having done this to Kaiba, however, I wanted to show as much as possible his journey up out of this crushing hell and perhaps even to a place where he could finally begin to connect to others. ~ It was the occasional letter about this journey out of hell that brought me back to writing YGO fanfiction six years after I thought I'd give it up for good.

In lighter works Kaiba's humorlessness and rigidity and flared-nostril disdain are a great target for characters that stymie and tease and aggravate him (which for me has been either Pegasus or Jounouchi).

Anyhow. Kaiba is the YGO character I've written the most, and I'm usually commended for keeping him IC (in both serious and comic  pieces). He's appeared in KP Duty, Dark Fortress, Coming Clean, Carwash with Extra Wax, Tossed Off, Snowblind, Spectator Sport, Egg Hunt, Beholden, A Perfect Monster, Shampoo Boy, Face Voice Hands, Impressions, House of Three, World's Worst, and The Cerulean Spell.


Pegasus, a somewhat reclusive artist and amateur Egyptologist who was the inventor of the Duel Monsters card game (which was based on ancient tablets he discovered in Egypt), has a golden artifact – the Millennium Eye – in place of his own left eye. The Millennium Eye allows him to read minds, which makes him unbeatable when he does engage in the rare duel.

The first major villain of the series, Pegasus wants to take advantage of the public's loss in confidence in Kaiba after his defeat by Yugi to try to take over Kaiba's company. He is assured by Kaiba's board of directors that they will back him completely and oust Kaiba – if and only if Pegasus can defeat Yugi. To this end Pegasus – who also has plans to retain Seto as his pet genius – holds a tournament called Duelist Kingdom on his private island. To force Yugi to attend he tricks him into a duel and then takes Yugi's grandfather's soul as his "winnings," (a motif – along with mind control – that will occur often in the series). Pegasus also kidnaps Mokuba, who has been entrusted by Seto with a special card that contains the Kaiba Corporation encryption codes, and takes his soul in order to force Kaiba into a rematch with Yugi (which Kaiba wins by threatening suicide). Kaiba is then defeated by (and his soul taken by) Pegasus, and remains a soulless husk until Yugi defeats Pegasus at the end of Duelist Kingdom (at which time the 3 stolen souls are returned to the bodies of Kaiba, Mokuba, and Yugi's grandfather.)

After Duelist Kingdom, Pegasus' eye is taken from him by the series' overaching supervillain. In the manga, this causes his death: in the anime, Pegasus repents and subsequently appears now and then as an ally of Yugi and his friends.

Pegasus as seen and heard in the anime was the first character to catch my eye. He's presented as androgynous, a dandifued fop, with a lilting, almost stereotypically effeminate voice, and addresses most of the show's protagonists – Kaiba especially – in a way that seems intended to put them on edge. (Early on much of the fandom saw him coded as gay, and some even saw a sexual predator vibe, though was likely due to the voicework that Darren Dunstan did and unintended connotations in the English dub dialogue. In canon, Pegasus was one of the few characters who had had an established heterosexual relationship – with Cyndia, the woman who had been his soul mate and muse until she died.). ~ At any rate, Pegasus' customary frothiness makes the contrast when he becomes angry or threatening quite chilling.

Pegasus appears in KP Duty, Coming Clean, Impressions, Beholden (those four stories being part of the Temenos series), Rosetta, From Page 41, World's Worst, and The Cerulean Spell.


 

Katsuya Jounouchi is an ex-gang member who is one of Yugi's best friends. Exuberant, impulsive, loyal, and doggedly stubborn, he's the shonen archetype of the regular guy who keeps fighting no matter how many times he gets knocked down. Living on the edge of poverty with an alcoholic father, he "lost" his younger sister Shizuka when his parents divorced. He works hard to enter Duelist Kingdom, hoping to win enough prize money to pay for an eye operation that would cure his sister's blindness, and over the course of the series rises from mediocre to one of the top eight in the world.

Jounouchi is brash enough to get in Kaiba's face and tell him off when Kaiba is being a jerk – an occurrence to which Kaiba usually reacts with cool disdain and insulting epithets. ~ So of course some of us saw this as subtext.

Pairing Jounouchi with Kaiba is done a lot – but usually one or both are so OOC that the ship has come to be reviled. ~ Very often, Jounouchi is made weak, girly, and/or masochistic ( which imo is no fun at all). ~ Personally I prefer to see Jou as the one who'd be more assertive sexually (as he's far more open emotionally). Not necessarily talking top/bottom here, but more "who would put energy into pursuit." I think Jou has the persistence and energy to get through to Kaiba's defenses (either as a friend or a lover), and that's how I cast their relationship in most of the stories. (In portmanteau, I see it as JouKai rather than KaiJou).

Jounouchi appears in Coming Clean, Face Voice Hands, Beholden, Carwash, Tossed Off, Snowblind, Egg Hunt, A Perfect Monster, Shampoo Boy, Out of the Blue, and The Cerulean Spell.

Other characters.

[Honda, Anzu, Ryou, Mai, Ishizu, Rishid, Croquet, Saruwatari]

Where to get it

The manga is published by VIZ. The first 7 volumes are what became the first series anime, with green-haired Kaiba and Death-T. The next 27 volumes, which have the subtitle "Duelist" begint he number ing at 1 again — as does the last arc, the 7-volume Millennium World (sometimes called the Ancient Egypt arc or Memory World).

Dubbed anime episodes of the first season of Duel Monsters have been available for a while. Season 2 is due to be released in November of 2013.
 

Links

[]

Written February 2011; Edited 6 September 2013

silverr: abstract art of pink and purple swirls on a black background (Default)

Saint Seiyais copyright Kurumada Masami and Toei.. No infringement or disrespect of the intellectual property rights held by the owners of existing copyrights in Saint Seiya or its derivative works is intended by this non-profit, non-commercial web page.

Summary

First of all: I'm acknowledging up front that I won't be able to do this justice.

Second: If you happened to have watched any of a series shown in the US as Knights of the Zodiac – well, just forget what you saw. In so many ways, in all the ways that count, that wasn't Saint Seiya.

The premise, in a very tiny over-generalized nutshell: Every 250 years or so, the god Hades (yes that Hades, from Greek mythology) and the goddess Athena are reincarnated as humans. Once they reach maturity they raise up their respective armies (bad guys called Spectres, good guys called Saints) and wage a Holy War for the fate of the earth and all the human beings upon it.

Like angels, Athena's Saints are ranked at several levels of power – at the bottom are the 72 Bronze Saints (the "Seiya" of the title is a Bronze), then 24 Silver Saints, and twelve Gold Saints. Each Saint is associated with a constellation; for example, Seiya with Pegasus, and other comrades for Draco and Cygus. The Gold Saints are associated with the twelve Hellenistic zodiac sun signs (Aries, Taurus, Cancer, Libra, etc.) .

The Gold Saints and Athena live in temples in a hidden area (called "Sanctuary") near the Acropolis. For day-to-day organization Saints are organized under the "Kyoko" (usually translated as Pope; I personally use the term Pontifex or Holy Father).

The particular armor that each Saint (and the gods and goddesses as well) wear is called a "Cloth". The Saints use the power of the universe ("cosmo") and their own spiritual focus to transcend the weakness of their human bodies and do truly superhuman things.

And if I don't stop there, you've going to get entirely buried in minutiae: this is a very well thought out universe. So let's go to ...

Why I love it

I'll say it up front: Saint Seiya is cheesy, melodramatic, at times badly drawn – and yet for 25 years has managed to remain one of the most popular anime ever made. (I've been told that it has been shown in syndication in parts of Latin and South America continuously since it was dubbed.) It's a wonderful example of the shonen genre, where the scrappy underdogs have so much spirit and heart and determination that not even 100 broken bones, losing 2/3 of the blood in their body, or being punched at the speed of light can stop them. It was the direct inspiration for Sailor Moon, and was one of the series that provided raw material for the earliest waves of doujinshika. If you love BL and shonen ai, Saint Seiya is one of the series you can thank for it.

Because what else are you going to get from a series where the female characters are so overwhelmingly outnumbered? Saint Seiya was unabashedly "bromantic" decades before that term was heard, chock-full of beautiful bishonen and biseinen wearing colorful latex, tossing waist-length hair of every color imaginable, and shedding manly man-tears over the heroic sacrifices of their fallen comrades.

The first few episodes are not that great; one might even say they're bad. But once you get to the fight between Seiya and Shiryu… well, you might find yourself falling under the spell, like I did back in 2003. (By episode 10, I was so hooked that I marathoned the remaining 104 episodes plus the newly-released first third of the Hades arc. All that solidified my love for the characters, and inspired what I still think are two of my best fanfictions, Intermezzo and Legacy.)

I'd like to note that the Saint Seiya material I used as canon back then was primarily the original manga, the fansubs of the first 73 episodes (Sanctuary arc) of the original series, plus the first 13 episodes of the Hades arc of 2002-2003. The universe has continued to expand since then: Lost Canvas manga and anime, the Soul of Gold OVA, the Legend of Sanctaury live action film, and yet more manga -- Episode G, Next Dimension. (Lost Canvas especially threw canon wenches into my previously canon-faithful fics, but I haven't gone back and tidied yet. :p)

What some people don't like about it (and my response)

"The original series looks dated."

Well, yes. it's old enough to be oldschool.

"The storylines are just .. ridiculous. and no one could survive the kinds of injuries they incur. And ..."

Pffffbt. If you can't get in the spirit of the series, watch something else.
 

Characters I write

Though there are literally dozens to choose from, there are 4 characters that have received most of my fanfic love.

 

Dragon Shiryu, one of the Bronze Saints that, along with Seiya, are considered the "main characters" of the original anime series. Shiryu is calm, respectful, physically powerful, and like all Athena's Saints entirely dedicated to his mission (almost to the point of masochism.) He has a dragon tattoo on his back that fades when his life force is low. He is the only Bronze Saint I write extensively, mostly because, in my universe, he is the recipient of an unrequited and mostly Platonic love from ...

 

…  Gold Saint Aries Mu. I admit that I was predisposed to like Mu, as his seiyuu in the original series was Kaneto Shiozawa. I adore Shiozawa's voice so much that watching whatever I could find that he had voiced guided most of my anime viewing for the first few years. (Iason Mink in Ai no Kusabi, Narsus in Arislan, Ageha in Basara, Shin Kazuma in Area 88, Shadi in series 1 YGO, D in the original Vampire Hunter D … I still continue to track down his more obscure performances.)

But even without that, Mu would have become a favorite. He gets one of the more interesting introductions and backstory – we find out that he had fled Sanctuary at the age of 7 when his Master, Aries Shion, was killed. (Shion had also been the Pontifex of Sanctuary; his killer impersonated him for many years until he was finally defeated by .. oops, shouldn't tell ya :p) Mu seems to have lived on his own in Tibet, perfecting the "Cloth Repair" skills that Shion had taught him, fending off assassins from the "false pope", and training his own apprentice, the rascally Kiki.

My only quibble (if you can call it that) with Mu is that he doesn't seem like a "traditional" fiery Aries.

 

We don't learn much about Gold Saint Aries Shion until the beginning of the Hades arc – and even then, for a long time the only things known about him were: a) he's like Kiki and Mu in appearance (a "dothead" – I'm not sure if it's fanon or canon that they're from Atlantis or Lemuria); b) he was one of the only two Saints to survive the Holy War of 1743 (the other was Libra Dohko); c) he was Mu's master, and d) the Kyoko of Sanctuary until he was killed.

Shion seems a bit more like a typical Aries in the Hades arc – his temper and emotions are more on display (although it's difficult to know how much of what he does in the Hades arc is an act.) He seems to have a dry, wry, almost sardonic wit (though this may be colored by his seiyuu, who is the same actor who voiced Akabane "Dr Jackal" Kurodo in GetBackers.)

Shion's goodbye scene with Dohko in the Hades arc – brief as it is – sealed Shion/Dohko as my Saint Seiya OTP. (Well, that and some gorgeous doujinshi :p)

As I have decided that the dotheads are a different race than humans, I've given them a physiology that essentially replaces pubic hair with a tough membrane covering the genitals (this membrane, the tegimen, thins sufficiently in the presence of the appropriate pheromone that the cuspis breaks through it) and an external nerve cluster meant for pleasurable sensations (the occasus).

 

Gold Saint Libra Dohko is known for most of the Saint Seiya series as a Roshi, a purple Yoda who trained Shiryu and who spends most of this time watching a waterfall in Rozan, China. ~ We find out a number of things about Dohko in the Hades arc: a) he's spent the time since the last Holy War guarding the prison of the 108 Specters of Hades army b) he's got a tiger tattoo on his back and c) he's not nearly as old as he looks.

 .

Go ahead, fire that canon at me:

So … back in 2004 when I was inspired to write Shion and Dohko and Mu develop a backstory for them, I teased out the few details in canon and studied their few appearances, and based on their voices and what I saw (Shion and Dohko were essentially personality opposites) I made Shion the fiery, impatient one and Dohko the calm, steady one. With the help of friends (and inspired by a fabulous French fanart) I invented names and nationalities for the rest of the gold Saints from 1743. ~ I took a lovely color panel of the two limping off after the end of the war and used that as the opening for both Intermezzo and Legacy.

And then, as I mentioned above, new works came out that shot that all to hell. Turns out that Kurumada meant Shion to be the quiet steady one, and Dohko to be the firebrand. (Well, that explains all the girly Shion uke fanart I've seen for so long :p) ~ I do still think my characterizations & stories stand on their own for the most part, as the stories are about the relationship more than big plotty tie-ins to canon.

Reading Seed

If you want to tackle Seed, my strange "erotic gothic yaoi drama with demons, Spectres, Silvers, Bronzes, love, angst, twincest, kink, violence, yuri, and WAFF" or one of the other Saint Seiya fics I haven't mentioned yet, then here are quick summaries of my takes on the other Gold Saints.

[]

Taurus Aldebaran, Mu's genial Brazilian neighbor. In my fics he's had a low-key crush on his best friend Mu since they were kids. Physically, he's a gentle giant – 6' 9".

[]

Gemini Saga – one of the bad boys. He was a candidate to succeed Shion until he lost patience and killed him instead: canon was sort of undecided whether it was his "evil side" or a possession by the god Ares (and to top that off, he later was revealed to have a "black sheep" evil twin named Kanon. I sort of rolled all that together in Chiaroscuro.) ~ Anime gave him cobalt blue long hair.

[]

Cancer Deathmask – in the original anime he comes across like a complete sadist – he throws women and old men down cliffs and has no problem attacking a blinded, cloth-less Shiryu until Mu intervenes. He decorates his temple with death masks of those he's killed (hence the name). I enjoy making him a swaggering, foul-mouthed prick.

Leo Aiolia – younger brother of the defamed Sagittarius Saint, Aiolia seems to be one of the noblest and purest Saints – to me he has a definite Galahad vibe. Short brown hair.

Virgo Shakais said to be the reincarnation of the Buddha. Often referred to as "The Man Closest to God," to me he's very difficult to write IC in a serious piece (his chapter in Seedtook me four months of revision.) He generally keeps his eyes closed unless he's getting ready to blast someone. In a comic piece, however, he's "golden," because he can be whatever you want. I like him prissy and sort of repressed (The Gold Hussy). Long long blond hair.

Scorpio Milo… ah, Milo. Fanon wise, he's the resident priapic sex god. Canon, he's a merciless, vindictive assassin if he feels he has right on his side. Pairing him with Camus has been done so often, for so long, that most people are sick of it, but it still works. (This is one of those cases where a small detail in the anime became the foundation for acres of slash.) Longish blue-violet hair, the index finger of his right hand acquires a long red fingernail/stinger when he's getting ready to use his "Scarlet Needle" attack.

[]

Sagittarius Aiolos – deceased. He was the older brother of Aiolia, the Leo saint. When Aiolos caught Saga trying to kill baby Athena, he saved the baby but was framed by Saga instead. He died getting the baby (who was raised as Saori Kiddo) to safety.

[]

Capricorn Shura gets kinda short shrift in my fics. I'm sorry, but there are just too many pretty boys, and too little time!

Aquarius Camus, my personal favorite for the sexiest Gold Saint, is a French Saint who trained in Siberia (and was the Master of Bronze Saint Cygnus Hyouga) has all ice-based attacks and a very cool, aloof manner. (His seiyuuis also in the goo-inducing range for me, so …) Plus, woo, Long Blue Hair!!

[]

Pisces Aphrodite – one of the Saints who is often mistaken as a woman. Fights with roses, beauty marks, and aqua hair. As in many doujinshi, I make him buddies with Deathmask just because … it's kinda cracky.

[]

Ophiuchus Shaina – a powerful Silver Saint, she (like all female Saints) wears a mask. To conceal her gender. (Because that's the only thing that would give it away, right? :p)

[]

Aquila Marin – another Silver Saint, she trained Seiya.

 

Where to get it: anime

(Apologies for covering just Region 1 here) There were two previous Region 1 releases. DiC (now Cookie Jar) released the 32 heavily edited episodes that had been shown on Cartoon network as Knights of the Zodiac. ADV released the first 2 seasons ( 60 episodes) uncut/unedited with dual audio.

According to wikipedia, "A DVD set entitled "Saint Seiya: Sanctuary Classic Complete Collection" will be released to DVD in the US on November 5, 2013 from New Video, containing 12 discs, and the English dub of the first 73 episodes (marking episodes 61-73's debut in English). However, it contains no Japanese audio."

Saint Seiya: Lost Canvas has been available to stream on Crunchyroll.  It covers the eighteenth-century war, and includes Shion and Dohko as major characters.

Additional links

[]

Wikipedia entry

 

One of the Saint Seiya wiki: http://saintseiya.wikia.com/wiki/Saint_Seiya_Wiki

Back to main Fandom page


Written May 2009; edited 24 Dec 2015

silverr: abstract art of pink and purple swirls on a black background (Default)

Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is copyright Mahiro Maeda, GONZO / Media Factory, GDH, Geneon, and Funimation. No infringement or disrespect of owners of existing copyrights in Gankutsuou or its derivative works is intended by this non-profit, non-commercial web page.

Summary

In a 26 episode anime produced in 2004 (and 3 supplemental volumes of manga) Gankutsuou offers a visually stunning retelling of Dumas' classic novel of a man framed  for a crime by three of his friends, only to return 25 years later to take revenge.

Set in the year 5053, it shifts the focus of the novel to Albert de Morcerf, a naive young man who gets caught up in the Count's terrible plots of revenge.

Why it's good

It retains the "spirit" of the book and most of its cast, while folding in science fiction elements (there's a traditional duel – fought in mecha suits! there are carriages – drawn by robot horses!) and a number of unique twists to the characters and plot (such as Albert's fascination with (i.e., crush on) the Count) so seamlessly that it never felt tacked on. I hadn't read the novel, so I was amazed to talk to Dumas fans (most of which seem to love it) after I saw the series and hear just how many things had been changed while still staying true to so many of the original's themes.

But that's not all! Not only does it have a crackling good plot - it's gorgeous. I admit that many of my fandoms I love for their brains or heart more than their looks, but to me Gankutsuou has it all. Below are four of the caps I made while rewatching it for my fics. (The small, still pictures really don't do it justice – that dress Haydee is wearing in the upper left literally scintillates; in the other scenes colors pulse, candles flicker, and that freaky thing in the background of the upper right picture is an orrey that's in constant motion.)

Four screen captures from the anime series Gankutsuou

Toss in an often stunning soundtrack – the work of two different composers (one French, one Japanese), which complement both the sumptuous style and the futuristic setting, add intense emotion conveyed by wonderful seiyuu, and you have a true feast for the senses.

What people don't like (and why to stick with it)

The visuals – or more precisely, the way clothing (and less noticeably hair) is handled on the main characters drives some people nuts enough in the early episodes that they stop watching. It doesn't show as much in the still shots (and it's a bit hard to describe) but … see that jacket pattern in the lower right picture? Imagine that the fabric's pattern is a "background layer" which does not move when the character moves.

(I agree that it can be distracting, but honestly, you get used to it. Or learn to ignore it. Or accept it as a small flaw in an otherwise amazing work.)

The first few episodes can seem to be a little slow moving – I know my spouse found them so – but if you stick with it (and can get used to the visual style, which some people don't like) you'll find that it's all there for a purpose.

Characters

a series of screen captures of the character of the Count from the anime Gankutsuou

The Count, of course, is the center of the story. Mysterious, wealthy, worldly, he captivates Albert and Parisian society – all the while setting in motion the intricate traps that will disgrace and then destroy the three former friends who have since gone on to become prominent in politics, finance, and the law.

(I'm holding off on certain spoilers here, too.)

Appears in Etheloisa, Kyrie, Mainspring, Nurture, Poisons II, and Possibilities.

 

Albert de Morcerf is the main character. Telling the story from his POV allows the Count's machinations to remain hidden for a longer time. Albert's innocent trust encourages empathy, because for a while we are just as enthralled with the Count as he is. At the beginning of the story Albert is engaged to his childhood friend Eugénie de Danglars.

The dub tones down the exact nature of Albert's feelings for the Count, as the original anime pulls out all the crush tropes. Maeda, the anime's creator, does say in one of the commentaries that he considers Gankutsuou to include "a homosexual love story," though whether that's Count/Albert or Franz/Albert he didn't say. (Considering the promo art,I'd say it was the former.)

Appears in Choices, Etheloisa, Mainspring, and the two Hookah Monologues pieces, Possibilities and Nurture.

 

Le Baron Franz d'Epinay, Albert's best friend since childhood, is a little more of a cynic than Albert, and suspicious of the Count from the first. It's not clear how much he's motivated by jealousy, but whether it's friendship or unrequited love, he certainly wants to pry Albert away from the Count. He's engaged to Valentine de Villefort, but it was an arranged marriage and he doesn't have romantic feelings for her.

Appears in Choices, Etheloisa, and Hookah Monologues I: Possibilities.

 

Héloïse de Villefort, the second wife of Gérard de Villefort, Procureur-général, is a woman with no great love for her husband or stepdaugher Valentine. She's bitter because her own son, Edouard, won't inherit much from the Villefort estate. Her hobby is gardening.

Appears in Poisons, I and Poisons, II.

Bertuccio, the Count's major domo and right-hand man. He's in my fics mostly because his seiyuu(Kōji Ishii) has a great voice, and because I'm generally a sucker for sexy bald men. (Also I saw really, really amazing Bertuccio fanart years ago on a Japanese fansite, and it branded my brainmeats.)

Appears in Kyrie.

 

Marquis Andrea Cavalcanti, an "aristocrat" groomed by the Count as part of the destruction of the Danglars family. He replaces Albert as Eugénie's fiance, but being that he's a complete sociopath, he assaults her the night before their wedding when he catches her trying to run away.

Appears in Inheritance and Honor.

 

>

Eugénie de Danglars, Albert's fiancee. Best friends with Albert and Franz since childhood, she's also a gifted pianist and composer. She agrees to marry Andrea in obedience to her father.

Appears in Honor.

Other Characters

[]

Where to get it

The anime, originally released by Funimation in a gorgeous boxset, was out of print for a while, but has been picked up and reissued as a thinpak). Crunchyroll has subs (it's a pretty good dub, too as dubs go, but personally I prefer the the original.)

Additional links

Gankutsuou Wikipedia entry


written [] edited 6 September 2014

silverr: abstract art of pink and purple swirls on a black background (Default)

Crimson Spell is copyright Ayano Yamane, Tokuma Shoten Publishing, Kitty Media, and SuBLime. No infringement or disrespect of the intellectual property rights held by the owners of existing copyrights in Crimson Spell or its derivative works is intended by this non-profit, non-commercial web page.

Overall series setting

Oh, what a fantasy! To save his kingdom from destruction, Prince Valdrigr takes up an invincible sword that contains the essence of a demon god – but the price of such power is a curse that turns the prince into a demon at night!

To break the spell, Prince Valdrigr seeks out Halvir, a powerful and somewhat arrogant sorcerer who lives alone in a forest. As they travel, Halvir calms and bonds with Vald's beast side at night (Crimson Spell is a yaoi manga, after all), but during the day he begins to fall for the noble Prince as well. ~ As Halvir and Vald seek to learn more about the curse, they pick up various other companions – and face increasingly powerful enemies intent on harnessing the power of the Prince's beast-form.

Why I love it

The setup for this series – yaoi fantasy romance – is so delicious I don't understand why there aren't tons of these, but Crimson Spell seems to be rather unique.

Yes, it is definitely a yaoi title—there is very hot, explicit sex (e.g., end of chapter 1)—but it's far from PWP. Often several chapters go by without any erotic encounters, and the romance feels genuine, developing gradually on both sides with the requisite snags and bumps.

And then there's the fantasy element! Yamane Ayano's art is wonderful even when creating short-haired men in suits, but is stunning when applied to knee-length hair (swoons), sumptuous robes, elaborate jewelry, fantastical creatures, and sword and magical fights.

Currently, at 40+ chapters and still going: 5 volumes published in Japan so far. (The first two were published in English several years ago but went OOP. SuBLime Manga picked up the license for vols 1-5 and they started releasing in Dec 2013). It seems likely the book will wrap up in volume 6 or 7 as a) we have finally met the Big Bad, b) the romance, after being derailed twice, is finally back on track and c) there are several unresolved plot points.

Oh, and did I mention there's humor, too?

I hope I've conveyed how very very much I love this manga! * hugs *
 

Characters I write for

Havi (Halvir Hroptr), 22, an orphan who was raised by the sorcerers of the magical city of Celeasdeile, he's initially presented as a mercenary loner. He's not the traditional cold seme, however: his feelings for Vald (both Prince and Beast) develop quickly and he's generally not hesitant to show them. Protectiveness and jealousy occasionally make him reckless—but seriously, who doesn't love to see that once in a while? ;p)

 

Vald (Prince Valdrigr of Alsvieth), 18, the cursed Prince, is noble, kind, and okay, at times less than patient. His developing feelings for Halvir confuse and distress him at first. ~ His demon-beast side (that's the tribal tattoo'd guy with the fangs and claws) has no such ambivalence, though – after the first encounter with Halvir (mildly dubcon-ish because the beast was on the frenzied side) he's not only eager for sex but very very protective of Halvir as well. At first only manifesting when Vald is asleep or unconscious, once Vald becomes aware of the beast (and once the Prince's feelings begin to parallel the Beast's) the two begin to merge. (Don't miss the spectacular side story, Black & White Labyrinth, in volume 4.)


 

Rulca (fan translation of this was Ruruka) — known as Liethregveel in his magical rabbit form – was released from captivity early in volume 1 by the Prince. Rulca is completely loyal to Vald. Although he can take bishonen form when needed, he spends a lot of time in rabbit form, curled around Vald's neck. Rulca does not approve of Havi's clandestine nighttime activities with the Beast and expresses his dislike of Halvir (who he calls "Habi") quite often, but as he sees how much Halvir truly cares for Vald the hostility gradually fades a little.

 

Marse, a swordsman fallen on hard times and forced into thieving.


Halrein  a former classmate of Halvir's still resentful of being in Halvir's shadow.

 

Other characters

Halceles, Halvir's teacher, and -- nope, that's a spoiler :p --- he's been trapped in a timeless dimension for some years.

Guile an adversary encountered early in the group's travels who sends his winged servant after our heroes.

Rimris a shy scholar rescued by Vald, he seems to have a hidden agenda.

Astadoule, a centuries-old sorcerer who was involved in the creation of the sword nad who seeks to recover its power.
 

Where to get it

Crimson Spell has been translated into a number of languages. The first two volumes were published in English  around 2005 (? check this) but went out of print. SuBLime acquired the title and has releasing it in English (first volume came out December 2013). Volumes can be ordered through links on the SuBLime manga website.

UPDATE: As of October 2016, Crimson Spell is available in digital format!!

Additional links

Most of the major manga sites have reviewed Crimson Spell.

Crimson Spell on Wikipedia

Back to main Fandom page

Written 21 June 2010; edited 6 Sept 2014

silverr: abstract art of pink and purple swirls on a black background (Default)

The Legend of Basara is copyright Yumi Tamura, Betsucomi / Flower Comics, KSS, and VIZ manga. No infringement or disrespect of the intellectual property rights held by the owners of existing copyrights in The Legend of Basara or its derivative works is intended by this non-profit, noncommercial web page, which is for information purposes only.

Summary

Basara, which ran from 1990–1998 and won the Shogakukan Manga Award for shoujo in 1992, is set in a postapocalyptic fantasy Japan (the emphasis more on the fantasy than the apocalypse). The country has been split onto 4 regions, each ruled by a different tyrannical King: King Ukon, the Black King and overall ruler, and his children the Blue, Red, and White Kings. ~ It is prophesied that a savior will unite the sacred sword of each region and lead the people out of repression.

Why it's good

Basara is my absolute favorite non-yaoi manga. Though it's a cliche to say so, it really does have a sweeping plot and literally dozens of memorable characters, major and minor, both male and female… and among them, my favorite manga character ever: Ageha of the Blue Nobles.

Basara has so many interesting motifs – gender identity, doubling (many of the main characters have secret or dual identities), the tension between being and becoming… There's drama, passion, angst, humor, a strong yet believable heroine (and a female pirate queen!), honorable enemies, not-so honorable friends, twists, heartbreaking reveals... yeah, Basara has just about everything.

What some people don't like about it (and my response)

Don't like the "old school" art.

No, it's not the prettiest -- and it varies sometimes -- but in my opinion story quickly trumps art.

Can't keep track of the plot and huge cast of characters! And there's a map every chapter!

I felt this too on first read, but each time I re-read it – and I do – I pick up more.

The central romance is between a man and a woman!  Yuck!

True, there's very little full throttle "gay" in this shoujo: for that I recommend Crimson Spell. On the other hand, there are many many close friendships that can be interpreted however you wish.

Characters I write for

Sarasa, the central character of Basara, is a teenaged girl who takes the identity of her twin brother Tatara – the "savior of the people" – when he is killed by the Red King's forces. She becomes the galvanizing center of the fledgling rebellion. (Since this is a shoujo manga, she also learns a lot about love, loss, sacrifice, and so on.) For most of the manga Ageha is her adviser and protector.

Appears in Roles and certain of the Swallowtail vignettes ("Clean Blanket").


 

Ageha. I have never loved a character so hard, so fast. (I don't now remember if I read the manga or saw the anime first, but the fact that he's yet another one of Kaneto Shiozawa's roles certainly doesn't hurt.) One of the last of the Blue Nobles, a desert people that was all but wiped out when Ageha was a child, he enters the manga in a dramatic way in the very first chapter when he seems to materialize out of the desert to off-handedly scold the teenaged Red King for threatening a young girl's life. He loses his left eye for his impertinence, and then walks back into the desert, refusing offers of help by saying that he'll lick his own wounds.

I wondered: Who IS this guy and what made him this way?

Description makes him sound like a stereotypical shojo biseinen: Aloof, soft-spoken ex-slave with waist length silver hair and a mandala tattoo on his back. Possessor of immense pride and resourcefulness, he becomes Sarasa's key confidant/mentor/substitute parent/man behind the scenes. He might be carrying a torch of very mixed feelings for Shido, the son of the man who enslaved him. Capable of extremely tough love ... and of complete self-sacrifice, he'll also joke that he's a bit of a masochist. His owl, Kagero, is the father of Sarasa's pet owlet Shinbashi.

One of the ways that Ageha is able to help Tatara/Sarasa is through his alter ego "Kicho," the cross-dressing star of the Madame Butterfly Dance Troupe. The dance troupe seems to travel quite freely, the performances are attended by the powerful and well-informed, and Kicho's ability to turn heads probably causes a number of those "she" comes in contact with to underestimate "her" (though most people do seem to know that Kicho is Ageha) and possibly talk more freely than they should.

Early in the series, before we see Kicho perform for the first time, Ageha and Sarasa go swimming. When Ageha removes his eyepatch, Sarasa tells him how sorry she is that he lost his eye because of her. His response is "Something that is imperfect can be more beautiful than something that is perfect." (That is also, when Sarasa sees Ageha without his shirt, that she learns that he's an ex-slave.) Later in that scene, Ageha refers to Sarasa as "my woman" – and though he seems to be joking at that point, by a later point in the manga it's clear that his feelings for her have become very deep. (When someone says, "Don't tell me you're in love with Sarasa/Tatara," Ageha's response is, "Okay, I won't tell you.")

Ageha's backstory is revealed slowly over several volumes – we don't get all of it until the manga is almost over. I'm telling you this because … well, my stories will spoil that aspect of surprise for you, as I generally use every scrap of Ageha backstory I can find. If you want his backstory sort of … chronologically, then read the two Chrysalisstories first – though the first one is told from the viewpoint of Ageha as an adult, it covers his childhood (as does the "Tenderness" vignette in Swallowtail.) Both drew on material from volume 16 of the manga. Restraint, which is set during Ageha's interrogation by Shido, has references to events that happened when he was 16; it's drawn from the side story in vol 23. Finally, That Sleep …is set during the Abashiri Prison arc of vols 11-13. It has no flashbacks, but knowing Ageha's backstory and psyche before you go into it should give the story extra depth.

(As I write all this, I realize that Ageha is … kind of a Gary Stu. But I can live with that.)

Appears in all my Basara stories.


 

Shirasu, who first appears in manga volume 11, says he's a fisherman imprisoned in Abashiri prison for years because of some unspecified defiance of the Black King. Shirasu has become the de facto leader of Cell Block A, and so Ageha offers to sleep with him if he'll ensure "Tatara's" safety. (Shirasu keeps the secret that "Tatara" is female.)

Shirasu often speaks in hackneyed proverbs and catchphrases, but he's no dummy: he has an extensive information network within the prison (making him handy for exposition) and it's clear he's been methodically working on a way to escape the inescapable prison. He appears to become attached to Ageha quite quickly (and who wouldn't?), even asking him, "Was your mind on me at all the entire time we were – ?" to which Ageha replies, "Of course. I like men with droopy eyes."

At the end of the arc, Shirasu expresses enthusiasm for getting back to "the real world, with real women." When some of the other prisoners react in surprise he says, "When there are women, I'll always take women," but adds, "Ageha is an exception."

Yes indeed.

Appears in That Sleep Which is the End of Each Day's Life  and the Swallowtail  vignette "Clean Blanket".


 

Shido, who is 26 (he says that he and Ageha are the same age, but that's not confirmed) was the son of the man who kept Ageha – known then simply as "Slave Number 31." Shido can be very gentle – he showed unusual compassion for his father's slaves, especially Ageha – but on the battlefield is absolutely ruthless. He's completely loyal to his younger cousin Shuri, the Red King, and will do whatever it takes to help Shuri. (Shido seems to be one of the few who see through Shuri's surface flaws to the idealistic and noble goals he holds deep down.)

Appears in Restraintand the Swallowtail vignette "Tenderness."


 

Shido's father (whose name I'm not sure was ever mentioned), has only a few pages in side stories in volumes 16 and 23. (The contents of the spoiler-text that follows are potentially triggering for abuse. Highlight to read.) (skip) He systematically beat and raped the child slave Ageha )known as "Number 31") for an unknown number of years, then tossed Ageha out into the desert to die when he saw him leaning over to give a chaste kiss to a sleeping Shido.

Appears in Chrysalis I, Chrysalis II,and the Swallowtailvignette "Tenderness."

 

Other characters

 

Because of a prophecy that he would kill his father, Shuri, son of King Ukon, was branded a slave and banished in childhood. He was raised in the household of his cousin Shido. He is the same age as Sarasa, and is Tatara's primary enemy for most of the manga.

So far he doesn't actually appear, but he's on everyone's mind.

Where to get it

Although the 27 volumes of the print edition have slowly been going out of print, Basara has recently been made available digitally by VIZ. You can read the entire first volume free here.

Additional links

There aren't many Basara websites in English. Fortunately, the one that's out there is great. Jump right to the major characters page, m'kay? - it covers a few of the many wonderful characters I haven't mentioned here – and click through to see the supporting and minor characters pages (and even then, many aren't covered!)

Basara on wikipedia

 
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written 19 September 2010; edited 6 Jan 2014

silverr: abstract art of pink and purple swirls on a black background (Default)

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... or: My heart is in pieces, let me tell you why

These are the fandoms I currently adore, the ones I'll use the flimsiest excuse to happily squee and babble about at length.


|:.. Adventure Time ..:| |:.. Basara ..:| |:.. Buffy the Vampire Slayer ..:| |:.. Crimson Spell ..:| |:.. Demon Knights ..:| |:.. Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 ..:|  |:.. Gankutsuou ..:| |:.. Greek Mythology ..:|  |:.. Mononoke (Ayakashi Bakeneko) ..:| |:.. New Girl ..:| |:.. Oglaf ..:|  |:.. Orphan Black ..:| |:.. Saint Seiya ..:| |:.. Silicon Valley ..:| |:.. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ..:| |:.. World of Warcraft ..:| |:.. Yuugiou: Duel Monsters ..:| 

Links will take you to pages giving an overview of the fandom, why I was drawn to it, my take on certain characters, and random relevant links. BEWARE: Pages will contain spoilers, opinionated rambling, and occasional fangirling.

Stories I have written (for these and other fandoms) are on Ao3 (Archive of Our Own) under the pen names Silverr and Animom. Some are also posted on Fanfiction.net, in communities on LiveJournal and Dreamwidth, and in specialized communities such as A Teaspoon and an Open Mind.

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