29 November 2004
I've been meaning to write this post for ages, but never quite got to it. Anyway, I noticed one day that when I bought manga, I avoided anything that was based on an anime, but happily watched anime that was based on manga. Why? I wondered. The answer is actually both simple and complex. Simply, it's for the same reason I usually avoid novelizations of movies, but watch movie based on novels. Generally, novelizations are shallow retellings of the movie, while a movie based on a book has the potential to be something different, something . . . I don't know. Not every movie based on a book is good, of course, and many of them are quite dismal, but there is always the possibility that the director has made something good from the book (even if it is not the same thing that the book was). Novelizations are almost always a waste of time (can anyone think of any exceptions to this? I can't, but there must be some.)
But, as I said, there's a more complex thing going on. Why is it that novelizations (and manga-izations) are almost never as good as the movie (or anime) they were adapted from? And why is it that movies made from books have so much potential to be good (even if they don't always succeed)? I think it has to do with the relative amount of stuff that is in each medium. A novel is full of stuff. It has careful characterizations, intricate plot, all kinds of description. A movie, being visual, has much less of those things, and has to rely on less stuff to do the job (the amount of stuff not being related to how good the thing is, mind you--I'm not saying novels are better than movies, nor the other way around. They're just different).
When a book gets made into a movie, there is simply too much stuff to use. Things always get added in to movies, of course, which may seem to contradict what I'm saying, but usually the only things added are things that are necessary for the change of medium. The process, then, of making a movie out of a book is one of distillation. The creative team works to take the book and extract its most essential elements, and those are the things that go into the movie. On order to include everything from a written work in a movie, one would have to start with something much shorter than a novel--the novella is probably about the right length. At any rate, a good creative team working with a visionary director can make something quite remarkable in the process of making a novel into a movie. The result isn't always exactly the same as the book--it can't be, really--but it may be just as good.
Turning a movie into a novel, on the other hand, is a process of transcription. The writer attempts to take the movie and put every detail into the book, resulting in a simple retelling. Because it is rarely possible for the writer to add to the movie while novelizing it, the result also tends to be shallow. It's like listening to someone describe a movie to you, play-by-play, without you being able to see or hear the original. Theoretically, if it were permissible to add to the movie, a good writer might be able to create a novelization as good as the movie. I don't know if it's ever been done.
So what about anime and manga? The processes are similar, though manga is also visual. It's possible to take a manga series and turn it into an anime series through a process of almost direct translation--InuYasha makes a decent example, though some of the events happen in a different order (the ones I'm thinking of are all ones that don't really need to happen in any particular order for the story to make sense). Theoretically, it should be possible to turn an anime into a manga by a reverse process, and maybe it's been done, but I have yet to encouter an example (to be fair, I have been avoiding manga I know is based on anime).
A lot of anime--movies, especially--are created from anime by distillation, much the same as making a movie from a novel. Akira, for example, is a single two-hour movie created from a manga of six thick volumes. A lot was left out, but the movie was still really, really good. The few manga-izations of anime that I have read, on the other hand, were lacking in depth, characterization, etc. Just like novelizations. Cowboy Bebop (blogged somewhere back there) is one example. I'd probably like the show, but I found the manga skimmed too quickly over just about everything. I wanted more substance. More recently, I read the three-volume (three rather thin volumes) Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. The Gundam franchise is really big, and I wanted to check it out. I'd watched a bit of Mobile Suit Gundam Seed on YTV, and it was okay, but not really gripping (didn't make me a regular watcher like InuYasha, Cardcaptors and Witch Hunter Robin did). I almost didn't bother to read the last volume of the manga. Probably a fan of the show would have liked it; they could use it to remind them of the show when they weren't actually watching. I don't think the book would gain Gundam any new fans, though. There is almost no characterization. There is too much left out of background events (and even events happening to the main characters) for the plot to make much sense, or for the reader to really care about anything. I could say more, but my intent isn't to rip the book apart, only to use it as an example of why I avoid manga based on anime. I don't know why this series was done this way, though. There's no reason why a longer series couldn't have been done, with the missing things added in. There must be lots of material from the anime that was skipped over. It doesn't make sense--when you have less stuff to work with in the first place, why leave out even more? Anyway, I hadn't even finished book three when I listed the series on eBay. Tomorrow I'll be mailing them off to someone who will hopefully enjoy them more than I did.
The one manga-based-on-anime that I did really enjoy (and I didn't realize the anime came first when I started reading it) was Neon Genesis Evangelion (I've only read the first four volumes as they're all the library has). The thing about this series though, as I discovered when I read the notes at the back, is that the writer/artist was deliberately fleshing out the story as he went along, adding all kinds of characterization and other detail. It shows that it is possible to make good manga adapted from anime, but it's necessary to add more stuff (as I hypothesized might be possible with novelizations).
Phew. That was a longer post than I was going to write. I hope it made sense. And I didn't even get to blathering about how Witch Hunter Robin is one of my favourite anime series now (if you're watching on Friday nights on YTV, be prepared for the story to take a somewhat different direction from here on. It gets really intense.)
- The Steampunk Trilogy by Paul Di Filippo. I blogged a while back about deciding to read some recent steampunk as part of my League of Extraordinary Reading (for those not in the know, that's my attempt to read everything mentioned or alluded to in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (not the movie), which is a monumental task, but one I am very much enjoying). This is one of the books my local library actually had. It reminded me a little of Jeff VanderMeer's City of Saints and Madmen, though they're really very different books. Perhaps it was just the sense of having fun and experimenting with fiction, and the sense of history. Anyway, this volume is actually three novellas (I'm guessing, as I didn't do a word count). They're alternate history--sort of. The steampunk elements are there, but more-or-less in the background (which is where they should be, really). It's been too long, now, since I read it for me to make any really useful comments, so probably I should just shut up. It's a good read, and very fun, and the perfect thing for those who like alternate looks at historical figures and fiction that plays around with the past. Oh, and the writing was very good, too.
- The Bookman's Promise by John Dunning. I think I made some exclamation or another when this book first came out. I adored the first two "bookman" mysteries, so I was really excited about this one. My first impression, though, was that it was not as absorbing as the others, that it was just harder to get in to. About halfway through, though, it really grabbed me and I couldn't put it down. Which isn't to say the first half was not good, just that it wasn't as gripping as the second half. But, hey, it's a novel about books, so it can't be a bad thing.
- Hemlock at Vespers by Peter Tremayne. More mystery fiction, this one is a collection of short stories about Tremayne's character Sister Fidelma, and Irish religieuse around the time when paganism in Ireland was not long gone (or entirely gone, even). I started reading these mostly because I'm interested in Celtic scholarship, and Tremayne is the pseudonym of Peter Berresford Ellis, a well-known Celtic scholar. I'd read some of his non-fiction and was curious about his mystery novels. The stories aren't especially outstanding, but neither are they a waste of time. Basically, they're competent, and sometimes quite good, historical mysteries. I think I prefer Fidelma at novel length (though I don't consider Tremayne's novels to be high art either, just good, entertaining reads. And what more do you want from a fat mystery, anyway?)
- Anno-Dracula by Kim Newman. Here's another steampunk novel, this time taking off from the question "What if Van Helsing et al had not defeated Dracula?" Like all steampunk, it plays with history and has fun doing so. I have to admit I was rather . . . er . . . frustrated with the quality of the copyediting, though. There seemed to be rather a lot of small grammatical annoyances and awkward sentences that could easily have been caught by a good editor. But, quibbles aside, this was a really good vampire novel. If you don't like vampire stories on principle, obviously you won't like it. I liked it well enough to sign out the sequel from the library (it's now waiting on my pile of library books for me to get to it). There's a third book, which I will also read, eventually.
- Portugese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith. I picked this up at Superstore, of all places. It's the first of a trilogy of slender novels, and I thought the writing was fun. It read more like a sequence of short stories than a novel, which is not a bad thing, necessarily (and maybe it was written as a series of short stories). The really odd thing, though, was that it read like a historical book (I thought it would have made fine steampunk with the right technological trappings), yet it was set in the present. Perhaps it's because the settings are old-world. I don't know. I'll probably read the others eventually. If it had had airships in, I'd probably have gone out to buy them right away (but I'm a bit mad for airships right now).
- Living Fossil: The Story of the Coelacanth by Keith S. Thomson. Okay, this is my favourite kind of non-fiction: a well-written book that makes science and natural history interesting and alive. Plus, it's about coelacanths. Coelacanths are cool. Not long after I read this, I happened across Daily Planet (weekdays at 8 on the Discovery Channel), and they had a story about a Canadian team planning to take a BC-built sub to east Africa to attempt to tag coelacanths with those new gadgets that record info and transmit it by satellite (I think). Used to be, you had to catch the fish--and probably kill it--to get the info. The team is mostly made up of people who recently used the devices (not the sub, though) to study Pacific salmon populations. Anyway, like I said, science is fun, coelacanths are cool, and this book is a very readable history of their discovery and study.
- Airship Saga by Lord Ventry and Eugene M. Kolesnik. This book, I am not so enthusiastic about, despite my recent fascination for airships (related, no doubt, to my steampunk obsession). While there was some truly interesting information and some great stories from old guys who actually flew airships, it was necessary to wade through an awful lot of really boring stuff to find it. There were a lot of old military guys writing in their military report style, things like: "We flew x number of hours on such-and-such a day in this direction, but didn't sight any submarines." Pages of it. But I was determined this book would not defeat me, and I read the whole thing, including all the overly-long picture captions. And I'm glad I did, because there really was some good stuff in there amongst the boringness. Some great photos and diagrams, too. (Someone wanna get me an RC airship for Christmas?)
- Nabakov's Blues by Kurt Johnson and Steve Coates. More science, but butterflies this time. Did you know that Vladimir Nabakov (author of Lolita, among other things) was a lepidopterist? He wasn't considered much more than an amateur at the time, since he hadn't much training and was best known for his writing, but he did some solid science on butterflies. This book is about Nabakov as butterfly scientist, and especially about the work he did on a group of butterfiles called "blues." A great deal of it was also about more recent work on these butterflies that filled in the things Nabakov was unable to study, and showed just how good his science was. The book wasn't quite as exciting or readable as Living Fossil, but was still very good. (Shall I say it? Butterflies are cool.)
Phew. More to come soon, as I'm almost through a book of short stories. Plus there's a tonne of new graphic novels to blog.
28 November 2004
27 November 2004
25 November 2004
24 November 2004
23 November 2004
22 November 2004
21 November 2004
Writers are mean to their creations sometimes, but if we weren't, nothing important would ever happen in our fictional worlds. Anyway, I wrote 2040 words (yee-haw, more than 2000 again), and am now at 37,117. That's 12,883 left to go. At least. And only 10 days. Phew.
20 November 2004
19 November 2004
18 November 2004
17 November 2004
Then, when I posted the latest bit on my NaNoBlog, I noticed the timestamp was wrong. Somehow, it was posting an hour in the future. So I went in an back-dated it to the right time. Of course, it could just be that I and my house (or my clocks, anyway) time-travelled an hour into the future and Blogger has it right after all. (Looks like the timestamp for this blog is wrong, too. I wonder how long that's been going on?) Oh well. Nothing like a little time travel before bed.
16 November 2004
15 November 2004
Tavie is now the owner of a very dirty horse, but he still can't see, so he doesn't really care how dirty it is. Ixion, who is pale in colour and likes to keep his coat clean, is a little disgusted and somewhat dubious about what they'll find under the dirt.
14 November 2004
- Baker Street: Honour Among Punks by Guy Davis and Gary Reed. Imagine Sherlock Holmes reincarnated (sort of) as a punk woman. Weird, no? But it's also really, really good. I think this is one of the best graphic novels I've read in a long time. Probably ever. I helps that I read the whole Sherlock Holmes cannon recently; I picked up a lot more of the allusions than I might have otherwise. Even if you've never read anything Holmesian, though (or would that be Sherlockian?), the story is fabulous all on its own. The black and white artwork, slightly sketchy in places, somewhat messy (not the right word, but I can't think of a better) in others, perfectly conveys the grittiness of London and the punk scene.
- Mark of the Dog by Silvio Cadelo. Now this one has got to be one of the most strange things I've ever read. The art is gorgeous and detailed and technically near-perfect (a lot of European comic artists seem to make beautiful art). The story is enganging (though, as I said, weird). I am amazed, actually, that anyone could take such a bizarre story, and such an odd structure, and make it work. Because it does.
- Chobits volume 4 by CLAMP. What would a list of my comics reading be wihout something by CLAMP? I'm halfway through this story and still enchanted. Now if I could only find the last four books cheap . . .
- The Ruler of the Land volume 1 by Jeon Keuk-Jin and Yang Jae-Hyun. This is one of my eBay finds. I got a lot of the first three books. I'm not really sure I'll keep reading it, though, beyond those three. It has some nice art, and cool martial arts, but it seems to be one of those books where the story is little more than an excuse for showing kung fu. Not that I have anything against kung fu. Kung fu is cool, and I'd probably study it myself, if I were younger (yup, I'm 32 and already feeling old). Anyway, I'll see how I feel after the next two volumes.
- Maison Ikkoku: Domestic Dispute (volume 8) by Rumiko Takahashi. Funny how this book really progresses very little in terms of plot, and the slapstick comedy is pretty similar in each issue, yet it remains a charming story for which I eagerly await each volume's arrival in my local library.
- Bone: Eyes of the Storm (volume 3) by Jeff Smith. I've read volume 4 already (blogged somewhere back there), and the library doesn't have any more until volume 8 or something. I guess I'll have to buy the one-volume edition for myself soon (as I am one of the very few comics readers who hasn't already).
- The Ruler of the Land volume 2 by Jeon Keuk-Jin and Yang Jae-Hyun. Well, the characters are developed a bit more in this volume, which is promising. I'm a little more engaged with the story, so if it keeps imporving, I may keep reading.
- Leave it to Chance: Trick or Threat (volume 2) by James Robinson and Paul Smith. This is a cool book. I'd read volume one ages ago, before we moved to Duncan (the GVPL had it). It's one of those few "all ages, both sexes" books that are actually successful (not counting manga, though). The main character, Chance, is a girl, but she's a girl even boys could identify with. She's tough and smart and adventurous, and she actually wears clothes that someone might wear in real life (not all that common in comics, alas, at least not for female characters). This is a book a whole family could be fans of toether.
- Leave it to Chance: Monster Madness and Other Stories (volume 3) by James Robinson and Paul Smith. I haven't much to add that I didn't say above, except the title really should hae been "and Other Story," since there is only one other story besides "Monster Madness." But hey, it had zombies and hockey, so I can forgive.
- Shutterbox volume 1 by Rikki Simons and Tavisha. This one's "Amerimanga" (i.e. American comics in manga style, published by a manga publisher). The art is mostly really lovely, but sometimes slips into not-so-good. The story is an intriguing one, and the characters are interesting. I'll probably look for volume two, though it won't be right at the top of my list.
- Dark Angel: The Path to Destiny (volume 1) by Kia Asamiya. It probably doesn't say anything good about this book that I don't remember much, even though I read it recently. The art is really nice, but I think (I'm really trying hard to remember) the pacing of the story was too fast. I like that it began in medias res, but then things happened too suddenly, before I really had much sense of the main character. I need to know him before I can care about him. Anyway, I'll probably read volume 2 eventually, but there are a lot of more memorable books in line ahead of it. Though maybe, if I re-read it, I might feel differently.
- The Ruler of the Land volume 3 by Jeon Keuk-Jin and Yong Jae-Hyun. Well, this volume doesn't seem to add any more insight into the characters, so I felt I was pretty much in the same place I was when I finished volume 2. No progression. And actually, though there was a lot of fighting, not all that much seemed to happen to advance the plot. Like several others I read recently, this series is pretty far down my list of things to read next.
- Culdcept volume 1 by Shinya Kaneko. This book is based on a video game, which is not a recommendation at all, for me (especially since I haven't played the game). In fact, it's a recommnedation to not read it (I've got the get that post about novelizations and anime-izations written; a lot of it would have relevance here). Anyway, I did read it, and was pleasantly surprised. While it's not one of the best things I've ever read, and its origins as a game show quite lot, it was pretty fun. Plus it has a plucky girl protagonist, who's pretty well-developed (in terms of character, that is).
- InuYasha volume 13 by Rumiko Takahashi. Now this book is one that never disappoints. It just sucks your farther and farther into the story, until you must read the next volume. And the art's pretty (and it has, not one, but two pretty-boy white-haired characters).
- InuYasha volume 14 by Rumiko Takahashi.
- Strangers in Paradise: David's Story (volume 14) by Terry Moore. You know, I'd forgotten how much I love this series. I used to buy the comics all the time, but it's one of the ones I never managed to catch up on after The Year Without Comics. Moore's art is slick and gorgeous, and his characters are fascinating. Plus, I liked getting David's backstory. He used to be quite the violent badass. Now I'm going to have to find the rest of the volumes so I can read the whole story. I wonder if the library has any (not much hope of that, but you never know).
- InuYasha volume 15 by Rumiko Takahashi.
- InuYasha volume 16 by Rumiko Takahashi.
- InuYasha volume 17 by Rumiko Takahashi.
- Crescent Moon volume 3 by Haruko Iida. Yay! I finally got to read more of this cute and pretty story about werewolves and fox demons and tengus and vampires (well, one of each). It's not really a hugely deep story (though it does have some subtle and interesting things going on), but it's a lot of fun. I've mentioned before how I'm a sucker for werewolf stories (I'm an even bigger sucker for fox-demon stories).
- InuYasha volume 18 by Rumiko Takahashi. You know the writing's good when the decisions a fictional character makes about his love life leave you feeling slightly gloomy the next day. Argh. I need volume 19 now!
Phew! I really need to update these lists more often. I've been reading a lot of comics as I write my NaNo novel. It's becuase I can read them in relatively short chunks, I think, between finishing my writing for the day and falling asleep. They drive out my own words for a while so my novel doesn't keep me awake (so instead, last night, my latest issue of InuYasha kept me gloomily awake for a while--after it made me cry!) (Only a little.)
I didn't end up having to drive to Langford today; instead Sue and I did some Christmas shopping (during which I didn't buy very many presents), went to the library, and mailed things at the post office. More junk sold on eBay, heading off to its new owners. Then I worked on Fey but didn't get much done--most of the page is pencilled, but then there's the inks and the scanning and the adding of text.
Now I go eat cereal and drink tea, read volume 18 of InuYasha and sleep. G'night.
13 November 2004
Anyway, all that happened before 9:30, but then there was important television to watch, so I didn't get back to blog it until now (plus, I thought I should let the machine rest before I made it do more things). Aside from disliking Java, Flash and assorted other fancy things, this machine really doesn't like Word documents more than about 40 pages long. Especially if they are single-spaced, and I tend to compose single-spaced.
Now I have new comics to read before bed. Tomorrow, I deliver people to Langford (well, one person, anyway), possibly go see a movie, and then work on the page of Fey I should have been working on today.
12 November 2004
I like to end while I still know what happens next. It was something Ray Bradbury said: if you stop when you know what happens next, then you have a place to begin next time you sit down to write. Very smart man, Mr Bradbury. So I have to write the bits I know happened and keep going until I know what happens next again. (Did that make any sense?)
Anway, I got (or rather, Ixion got) Octavian out of the nasty dream, and Tavie has finally accepted that he's a potential shaman-oracle (or maybe just a potential shaman; I really have to figure out what the difference is). Now I have to help Tavie get his eyesight back, and assist Chiron in convincing Deianira and Nessus (not to mention the rest of the herd) that taking Octavian with them across the River Acheron is a good idea. That probably won't be easy.
So, back to the words.
11 November 2004
theOtaku.com: What Wolf Are You?
[If the picture doesn't show, I'm Kiba.]
theOtaku.com: What CLAMP Heroine Are You?
[I'm Kotori, from X/1999.]
theOtaku.com: What Rurouni Kenshin Character Are You?
I'm starting to get a better idea of where this novel is going, but I still have no sense of how long it's going to be. I can't imagine it'll take me all of November to finish the draft, at the rate I'm going. I just hope it's long enough. Anyway.
Soon I shall write more here than just "I wrote this many words today. Centaurs blah blah blah. Pink horses blah blah." To start with, I have a few recently-read books to blog about. Just not right now.
10 November 2004
09 November 2004
And now something that has nothing to do with centaurs (and nothing to do with much of anything else, really): my favorite anime episode title is "The Girl who Overcame Time, and the Boy who was Just Overcome" (the very first episode of InuYasha). I don't know why, but I love that title. Now I must go do some very brief exercises, read some words written by someone who is not me, and go to sleep. I always need to read other people's writing before bed when I'm working on fiction; otherwise, my own stories will keep me awake all night.
- Mythical Beasts -Centaur: lots of pretty pictures and a bit of info, including something very interesting about Chiron
- A Catalogue of Centaurs on Greek and Related Painted Pottery : even includes a list of names, which, added to the list I culled from Ovid's Metamorphoses, should be useful. Maybe. If I ever give any of my other kentaur characters names. (Well, "the bay filly" definitely needs a name, at least.)
- Centaurs at Encyclopedia Mythica: not a whole lot, but one very intersting sentence: In medieval romances, the centaurs were called 'Sagittary', and it led me to the next one . . .
- Chapter 16 of Bullfinch's Mythology: The Age of Fable: in which all manner of monsters are discussed
- The Attic of the Centaurs : interesting things, plus a very cool picture right at the top
- Centaurs at Monstrous.com: more basics, but more info than E.M.
- A different kind of centaur: Centaurs will thus ultimately collide with the sun or a planet or else they may be ejected into interplanetary space--I think I knew this
- Centaur animation by Windsor MacCay: wow. Very cool.
- Centaursite: lots of pictures, and links and stuff
- Centaur clipart
- The Centaur Compendium: I really want that blue graphic on a t-shirt. Or a print.
- The Centaur Excavations at Volos: centaur archaeology. I want this in my living room.
- Stinz: the best centaur comic out there, created by Donna Barr
And now back to those 600+ words.
08 November 2004
Back in the present, I have reached 11,934 words, and am not quite yet at today's goal. But that's still 265 words ahead of schedule. By the time I reach today's goal, I should be around 1000 words ahead. Not quite 4000, but much better than being behind.
07 November 2004
I learned something interesting about Octavian (aka Tavie) today. And I wrote a rather gruesome dream sequence. Poor Ixion. I feel mean for putting him through it. Then again, he's the one had the dream; I just wrote it down. (Is it any wonder Freud thought writers were seriously disturbed, when we talk about our invented characters as if they were real people?)
06 November 2004
theOtaku.com: What Inuyasha Hero Are You?
"Reclusive and often grumpy." Yup, that's me. Hee hee. I get to be InuYasha!
theOtaku.com: What Inuyasha Villain Are You?
[In case you can't see the pictures, which sometimes vanish, I'm evil, evil, evil Naraku.]
theOtaku.com: Who Is Your Inuyasha Mystery Date?
[If you can't see this pic, either, my mystery date is Kouga the wolf demon.]
Anyway, I hit 9090 words toady, which didn't get me much over my daily goal, but I'm getting sleepy, and I haven't started inking the page of Fey I was meant to finish today. I guess I'll be finishing it tomorrow. Plus, there is tv to watch. Must have my weekly fix of InuYasha and Witch Hunter Robin.
05 November 2004
As a boy I wasn't sure whether we were meant to be celebrating Guy Fawkes as someone who tried to change the system by doing something about it, or whether it was just that the English love a good loser. When I grew up I realised that it was a thanksgiving for the fact that the Parliament had not been exploded. Still, Guy Fawkes has a day named after him, which is more than King James had (although James got a bible dedicated to him, of course).
Hee hee. Go have a bonfire and use up any fireworks left over from Hallowe'en.
04 November 2004
Er. Right in the middle of today's bunch of words I had to run for the Greek mythology book. Turns out I had remembered the Ixion story correctly, but I needed to make sure. Which isn't to say I'm rewriting Greek mythology, cuz I'm not. It's much stranger. I think. I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing. (And that's enough italics for one post.)
This novel is coming out much more reluctantly than last year's. It's partly, I think, because I don't really know where it's going or what it wants to be yet. I know, more or less, the end, but not much of anything in between. I don't even know why the kentaurs are heading for the River Acheron (in Greek myth, it's one of the rivers of the Underworld, the river of woe). I guess I'll find out when they get there.
So, now to go add my NaNoBlog to the sidebar.
03 November 2004
02 November 2004
01 November 2004
Also, I have green hair now. Well, not all of it, just a streak at the front. "Spring green," which is actually more like "really bright, obnoxious green." I like it.