BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 47 – The Second Annual “Thankful List”

Week 47 – The Second Annual “Thankful List”

Because “Second Annual List of Things to Be Thankful For” takes up too much space in the title bar. As I did last year, I’m going to look back through the last 46 weeks of Blogress Reports and list the actual good things about 2017, because I’m fairly certain everyone is tired of hearing about the bad stuff. In very loosely chronological order, let’s go with the pop culture stuff first:

  • Little Witch Academia (TV): One of my contenders for Anime of the Year. We all knew Studio Trigger would kill it with this series, but they went beyond the call of duty and delivered a true classic. LWA became something I looked forward to every week, and hearing Megumi Han’s spectacular voice work as Akko never failed to improve my mood. The series ended with one of the best final episodes since Madoka Magica, in my opinion, but that’s not the end for Akko and company, oh no. There’s a LWA RPG coming (!!!) which will get an English release (!!!), set to hit North America early next year.
  • Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid: My second choice for Anime of the Year was this title that came out of nowhere, smashed all of my expectations, and delivered bigger belly laughs than pretty much anything else I watched in the last eleven months. The initial buzz for Dragon Maid, at least in Tumblr circles, was profoundly negative… many, including myself, groaned when they heard just the title. But then something remarkable happened: word spread as to how touching, thoughtful, adorable, and legit hilarious the show really was. I eagerly await more adventures with Miss Kobayashi, Tohru, and Kanna next year (come on, KyoAni!)
  • KonoSuba Season 2: Last year’s surprise comedy hit came back with a vengeance, doubling down on its insanity. I’ve described KonoSuba to friends as “Imagine Sword Art Online but with the cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia“… but that would be selling it short, I think. True, almost all the main characters are horrible, horrible people who deserve most if not all of the abuse the universe heaps on them, but KonoSuba wouldn’t shine without its incredible satire of SAO and the “trapped in a game world” genre, or the flawless voice performances of its cast, particularly Sora Amamiya as Aqua. There’s another season on the way, and I’m counting the days until its release.
  • The Nintendo Switch: After what seems like forever, Nintendo scored a massive hit with the Switch’s launch. They kicked off with what people keep telling me is the best Zelda ever, and kept it going with a string of releases ranging from solid to instant classics, most recently with Super Mario Odyssey. And miracle of miracles, it looks like a mainline Nintendo console will have solid third-party support, something that hasn’t happened since the SNES! I’m still waiting to get mine until early next year, but when I do…
  • Attack on Titan Season 3: We had to wait four years for this season, and it may have been only 13 episodes, but holy hell did they make each one of those episodes worth waiting for. I’m not the biggest fan of AoT, but even I was glued to my screen for Season 3. Gone were the pacing problems that plagued seasons 1 and 2… the crew made every moment count.
  • Boku no Hero Academia Season 2: Rounding out the returning anime is BNHA, which saw a massive groundswell of popularity as its plot ramped up. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: BNHA is remarkable in many ways, but in my book the most remarkable thing it does is taking the tired old shonen anime/manga tropes and either subverting the hell out of them or breathing new life into them. I was a little late jumping on board, but come Season 3 next year, I’m gonna be there from the start.
  • Samurai Jack Season 5: The original cast and crew (minus Mako, RIP) brought Jack back for ten new Adult Swim episodes, and for a glorious few weeks it was on everybody’s mind. Season 5 did everything the original show did so well: minimalist atmosphere, incredible fight scenes, and gorgeous art. In terms of revivals of cancelled cult classics, it ranks up there with the best of them in my book.
  • Rick and Morty Season 3: Look, forget the szechuan sauce debacle. All the negative press from the worst parts of the fandom doesn’t change the fact that Rick and Morty delivered another season of winners, starting with a surprise season premiere on April Fools Day and continuing in the summer. There is nothing else like R&M on TV, bar none. It may have a shitty fandom, but it’s still brilliant.
  • The 13th Doctor: As I write this, I’m within ten episodes of finally catching up to Doctor Who. I was inspired to go through the rest of what I’ve missed by the bombshell announcement that Jodie Whittaker would succeed Peter Capaldi, becoming the first woman to play the Doctor. Hell yes, I say, and it’s about damned time. And of course, by marathoning from the later 10th Doctor episodes through the 12th’s, I’ve discovered some true masterpieces, episodes that make me proud to call myself a full-fledged Whovian at last. First among those is, of course, “Vincent and the Doctor”, which has two perfect scenes in it that I will remember for the rest of my life.
  • Wonder Woman: I’m no fan of the DC Snyderverse, but I’m all for feminism and empowerment. And if there’s one thing the DCEU got right, it’s Wonder Woman. The film blew away critics and audiences alike and became the highest-grossing film ever directed by a woman. Its massive success will have a positive effect on Hollywood, I hope.
  • Star Vs the Forces of Evil Season 2 and 3: The final episode of 2016 left people screaming. The screaming continued throughout much of 2017, as fans’ minds were blown multiple times in succession. It was getting there before, but now it’s official: Star Vs is up there with Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, and Rick and Morty as one of the best things happening in Western animation right now.
  • Sonic Mania: Though my former #1 fandom suffered another blow this year with the abrupt cancellation of the Archie comic after over 500 issues, and Sonic Forces was yet another mediocre effort, Sega actually got something exactly right in regards to the Sonic franchise this year: they put Christian Whitehead in charge of a truly retro-style Sonic game. And Whitehead and his crew delivered a Sonic title that looks, sounds, and feels perfect, like some lost relic from the Saturn era. I swallowed my pride and played it for myself, and I’m so glad that I did.
  • Made in Abyss: My third and final Anime of the Year candidate. MiA (oh, that acronym) hid gruesome darkness under a cute Miyazaki-esque exterior… but if there was any anime that triggered my feels HARD this year, it’s Made in Abyss. Yes, it’s brutal, but it’s also gorgeous, thought-provoking, and absolutely unique.
  • Star Trek Discovery: It had a hell of a time getting off the ground, but Star Trek is finally back. It’s darker, and it’s different, but it’s back… and it has Cadet Tilly, the #1 reason I have hope for the show. The midseason finale was by far the best episode so far… where it leads, we’ll see when it comes back in 2018.

And on more personal notes:

  • Silent InvenTOYry: What started as a one-off experiment turned into a full-fledged series, with each episode getting increasingly more elaborate (and more solid, I hope!) Filming, directing, and editing SI has been a ton of work, but it’s work that I honestly enjoy doing, and that makes it worthwhile. Seeing people like a Gainax staffer and Internet Personality Vangelus acknowledge the show is even better. I’m thankful to you all for sticking with me, for all your views, shares, and comments, and for your patience when I have to iron out the kinks. I’m proud to announce that there will be at least one more full episode of SI by the end of the year, so keep watching this space for more details.
  • Patreon: I launched my Patreon back in January with very low expectations, but it’s grown over time so that I’m now finally making decent money with each new Tasakeru chapter. I haven’t been able to keep to a consistent update schedule as often as I’d like, but I’m making every effort to change that.
  • Break My Heart, Break Your Heart: I had the privilege of reading and giving feedback on thesilvergoddess’s Overwatch fanfic, a truly incredible effort that they managed to update without fail every week for over a year. All the work that they put into BMHBYH culminated in a spectacular final chapter that tied together everything that came before it. This story was a labor of love, and it shows. I’m honored to have played even a small part in helping it get out there.
  • The Changeling of the Guard: My best friend VDrake’s ponyfic chronicling the adventures of “Bugpone Forrest Gump” had another great year, as Idol Hooves officially joined the Royal Guard after many, many chapters of buildup. VDrake then threw everyone a curveball by having Idol meet a certain someone in Canterlot… CotG continues to get well-deserved fan art, accolades, and possibly even a shout-out in the show itself. I couldn’t be prouder of my buddy for his success.
  • Shattered Skies: This year’s chapters have largely focused on the “Rescue Party Arc”, which includes some of those most challenging scenes I’ve yet written for my crossover epic. As a special third anniversary gift to my readers, though, I went completely off the rails with “The Non-Canon Lunatic Crack Chapter”, which was an absolute joy to write, and then there’s the “Viluy’s Database” character profiles that I started earlier this month… I’m still having a ton of fun with the story, and still treasuring every bit of feedback I get for it. Extra-special thanks and gratitude go to ErinPtah, who gave my story two (and counting!) amazing pieces of fan art.

So yeah, we’re almost through 2017. It’s been frustrating, maddening, insane, and often inexplicable… but there’s been good stuff, too. There will be good stuff and bad stuff in the future. I’m trying to be thankful for each new day as it comes, because now more than ever, you never can tell what’s around the corner.

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 46 – Go Help ErinPtah, I Got Nothin’

Week 46 – Go Help ErinPtah, I Got Nothin’

No, really, I have nothing interesting to write about for this week’s Report, so I’ll use this space to plug ErinPtah, who does a ton of creative-type stuff, including the two really awesome pieces of Shattered Skies fan art pictured below. Erin needs $600 to pay off a new hard drive, so having suffered through my own HD death earlier this year, I can’t help but sympathize and try to help out as best I can. Please consider buying a commission or donating via PayPal or Patreon, ‘kay?

Seriously, nothing happening over here, so you might as well click another link or your back button or something. You want I should write about dogsitting, or minding the house by myself for five days, or spending too much time playing Heroes of the Storm trying to level up D.Va and the Butcher? Good lord, people, spare your brain cells the agony.

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 45 – The Asshole Epidemic

Week 45 – The Asshole Epidemic

I hope my readers enjoyed Soulsnatcher Chapter 6, especially since it was actually on time for once (GASP!) Ditto for the Sailor Moon portion of Viluy’s Database, which was time-consuming but really fun to write. I just wish DeviantArt would get around to upping the size limit on text deviations, because seriously? 64 KB in 2017?! That’s practically stone age.

This week I’m looking forward to the return of Star Vs. The Forces of Evil, now resuming its third season. Star Vs. is a standout among the many, many fantastic Western cartoons of the past few years, and I’m not just saying that because it’s about a magical girl and created by a devoted Sailor Moon and Buffy fan. No, Star Vs. has really come into its own. The “Battle For Mewni” event in July has proven that it’s a worthy successor to the beloved Gravity Falls, and that’s one of the highest compliments I can give it. I’m also starting up Season 10 of Doctor Who this week after finishing the tragically short-lived spinoff Class, which means I’m just twelve episodes away from finally being caught up. Come December, I’ll be ready for the Christmas special, Twelve’s departure, and Thirteen’s debut… though whether or not my feels will be ready is a different matter.

So about that title… for about a year and a half now I’ve been playing team-based multiplayer games on my PC, namely Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm. I like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at both… good enough to do decently well in the Competitive and Ranked modes. I’m no pro gamer, but I have a somewhat respectable win ratio.

You’d never know that, though, from some of the bottom-feeders I’ve been matched up with lately. On Sunday alone, I actually lost count of how many times my wonderful teammates called me “dumbass”, “f*ggot”, and “r*tard”, among other insults, or was matched up with people who think it’s hilarious to start a competitive match that can only be won by cooperating and then deliberately ignore their teammates no matter how much they scream, beg, and plead for assistance.

I love both of these games, but I’m seriously considering quitting competitive modes altogether because of people like this. I’ve heard all the reports about the OW community being toxic and I’ve believed them, but this is out of control. When did it become acceptable to treat other human beings like trash? Why can’t people just be decent to each other?

Of course, I’m tempted to pin the blame on the Asshole in Chief, who’s brought all manner of trolls, fascists, racists, misogynists, and other human cockroaches crawling out of the woodwork over the past two and a half years (sigh…) but the problem hardly started with him. He’s just emboldened all the scum to come bubbling up to the surface.

The worst part is, there’s no winning against their ilk. If you fight back, they win because they got a reaction out of you. If you ignore them, they’ll take it as encouragement to be even worse. If you block them, they feel pride. If you scream insults and slurs back at them, you’re sinking to their level. There’s an entire subculture of people out there who truly don’t care about anything but their own amusement, and they get their kicks by making other people miserable.

It’s like a sickness, and I’m not sure it’s one that can be cured. This is deep-seeded bitterness and nihilism, and barring a major societal change, it’s probably never going away. The only defense against it is to try to be a better person than the trolls, to try not to get dragged down into their ugliness… but how does one do that when you’re bombarded with that ugliness every day?

I dunno. I’ve never really thought of myself as cynical or pessimistic, but the world is wearing me down, especially over the past year. Maybe I’m just getting old.

– BHS

  • Tasakeru Book III: Soulsnatcher, Chapter 6: COMPLETE!
  • Tasakeru Patreon: 3 Patrons
  • Book II Appendix: 2 pages done
  • Shattered Skies, Chapter 31: 2.5 pages done
  • Shattered Skies: Viluy’s Database Chapter 1: COMPLETE!
  • Shattered Skies: Viluy’s Database Chapter 2: 6 pages done
  • Silent InvenTOYry Semi-Shorts Episode 02: Now in progress

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SOULSNATCHER, CHAPTER 6

Chapter 6

Glimpse a twisted mind

Travel back into the past

Birth of the legion

 

“For all his terrible deeds, the Soulsnatcher succeeded at one thing: creating a new form of life. As creatures of science, we must acknowledge his achievement as much as we condemn his methods. The Soulsnatcher was insane, yes. A mass-murderer, absolutely… but he brought forth a being the likes of which the world had never seen.

“How to describe this creature, then? How does one describe the indescribable? Does the wickedness of a being’s creation taint its soul? And if not, could it have been done better?”

[Excerpt from Treatises by Galen Primus Avarius]

 

“I’m going.”

“Don’t be a fool, Takaishi. You could barely stand until a few minutes ago.”

“I don’t care. I’m going.”

“And he’ll be waiting.”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“Do you even know where to go?”

“I’ll find him. Whatever it takes.”

Voices raised in argument cut through the fog clouding Nadeshiko’s consciousness like handsaws through wood. With the loss of the fog came an awareness of both a splitting headache and a deep, throbbing pain in her neck and shoulder. The skunk opened her eyes and immediately shut them, as the infirmary’s lantern light ratcheted up her headache another few notches. “Would you please…” she began, then stopped. Her throat was dry, her lips chapped.

“Little One!” That voice was her mother, no doubt about that. Only Lily had the privilege of calling her by that name. Arms seized her in a hug that was entirely too tight, and her shoulder burned from the pressure. “Little One, thank the Greatmother you’re awake, I thought-”

“Mother!” Nadeshiko wheezed. “Mother, stop, that hurts…”

The arms pulled away in horror. “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry-”

Nadeshiko opened her eyes again, more slowly this time. Her temples pounded in protest, but the lights were a bit more bearable now. “Do not apologize, I will be fine. Water, please?”

“H-here.”

The rim of a glass pressed to her lips, and she drank greedily before speaking again. “Thank you.”

Blurry shapes hovered at the foot of her bed, one black and one white. Those shapes resolved into Zero Takaishi and the ancient wolf called Drake, both peering at her with great concern. “You two-” she said.

“Milady, we apologize for disturbing your rest,” said Drake, tilting forward in the deepest bow he could manage. “We shall take our leave shortly.”

With no such attempt at decorum, Zero scowled and turned toward the door of the infirmary. “No more reason for me to be here, then. I’m leaving.”

“Wait!” The word came out harder than Nadeshiko intended, more of a barked command. “Takaishi. That creature, the Soulsnatcher-”

“He took my sister.” Venom seethed in his words. “And the longer I dawdle here, the harder it’ll be to find him and kill him. So if you’ll excuse me, Lady Nadeshiko…”

“I know where he is.”

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 44 – Scary Enough Already

Week 44 – Scary Enough Already

I should be on track to finish Soulsnatcher Chapter 6 tomorrow, knock on wood. I’ve just got one or two more scenes to finish up, so if I work on it all day and don’t get distracted, I think I can manage. An actual on-time update for once! WHAT A SHOCK.

I’ve also started on an omake project for Shattered Skies, a little bonus thing to flesh out the story a bit more, similar to what I did with Stars Above and the Demon Profiles. Hopefully, this should make the wait between chapters a little more bearable… and if it goes as planned, it will bring people up to speed who don’t have the encyclopedic knowledge of magical girls that I have. 😛

And my other extra project got finished up this weekend… just in time for Halloween, it’s a short School-Live! / Gakkou Gurashi fic that you’ll find on my AO3 account. This was the “other project” I mentioned last week and the week before, and I think it turned out pretty well. Thank to SkaJrZombie for the art that inspired the fic, and go commission him if you like it and want to see more!

As for my other, other extra project: on Saturday, I discovered that there’s a fan-made RPG Maker sequel to the Sailor Moon RPG on the Super Famicom / SNES, Sailor Moon: Another Story. I played the hell out of the fan translation of that game on an emulator back in high school, so I decided to do a YouTube playthrough of both the original game and the sequel. Another Story, for those of you that know it, was basically written with huge fans of Sailor Moon in mind, and its plot involving old villains being resurrected and large-scale screwing around with time was a major inspiration for Shattered Skies. I plan to upload playthroughs of one chapter at a time, and I’ve started the first game with a bit of an XP boost so I won’t have to spend as much time grinding. The links to the first episode and the playlist are below, and I’ll be recording/streaming whenever I get a chance.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvXaLTIONlEyTmJeWBHLKCxQdIeVprtZJ

And of course, tomorrow’s Halloween… but given how effing scary the world is right now, I don’t think it needs to be any scarier, ya know? I’m planning on a quiet night inside. No need to tempt fate.

– BHS

  • Tasakeru Book III: Soulsnatcher, Chapter 6: 7.5 pages done
  • Tasakeru Patreon: 3 Patrons
  • Book II Appendix: 2 pages done
  • Shattered Skies, Chapter 31: 2.5 pages done
  • Shattered Skies Omake Project: 7.25 pages done
  • Silent InvenTOYry Semi-Shorts Episode 02: Now in progress

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 43 – Abyss-mal… or Not, Rather

Week 43 – Abyss-mal… or Not, Rather

It’s not often that I can report progress on both my major writing projects in the same day, but here you go: I got about 2.5 pages apiece of both Soulsnatcher Chapter 6 and Shattered Skies Chapter 31 done today. I’m aiming to get the former done by the end of the month in time for my Patreon deadline, we’ll see how well that works. Of course, there’s also my other project for AO3 that I want to finish by October’s end, but… that’s a lower-priority thing, it’ll happen when it happens.

My media consumption this week has been marked by some really heavy lifting done on my feels. The first I’ll mention was the end of Clara Oswald’s tenure as companion on Doctor Who. Since this is from a recent season, I’ll tag this section with a *SPOILER ALERT*.

So, I was peripherally aware of the events of the show enough to know that her departure was coming and that she was going to die, but I was not prepared for Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth becoming absolutely goddamn terrifying in his efforts to save her. A line he gave to the person indirectly responsible for Clara’s coming death made my skin crawl: “You let Clara die, and I will rain hell on you until the end of time.” Shortly followed by “You’ll find it’s a very small universe when I’m angry with you.” It’s heartbreaking to watch, but it’s also some of Capaldi’s best acting. And then he topped himself in the following episode, “Heaven Sent”, in which he carries the whole show by himself for fifty-five minutes (save for one line spoken by a hallucination of Clara, a non-speaking minor role for a little boy at the end, and a seriously disturbing monster) as the Doctor goes through his own personal Hell. That statement is not hyperbole at all: without spoiling it too much, when I say he out-Homuras Homura, that should be an indication of how impressive this episode was. It’s a crowning achievement, and now it’s right up there with “Vincent and the Doctor”, “The Doctor’s Wife”, and “Flatline” as an all-time favorite Moffat-era episode.

And then there was Made in Abyss, a fantasy anime from this past season that I was not prepared for. Oh, I heard in advance that its cutesy, adorable art style was a Madoka-esque deception, but good freaking lord. This series is simultaneously one of the most gorgeous to look at and one of the hardest to watch I’ve seen in years, and the comparisons to Madoka are NOT AT ALL unfounded.

To sum it up: there’s the Abyss. It’s in the middle of an island in the middle of the ocean. It’s a circular hole in the world several miles across, it’s filled with ancient relics and strange otherworldly life forms, and it’s so impossibly deep that no one’s ever seen the bottom and lived to tell about it. And something (or multiple somethings) about it is just plain wrong: the farther down you descend, the more goes wrong with you when you try to come back up. It starts with headaches, dizziness, and nausea just from climbing up a few feet within the first thousand meters or so, and at deeper depths it can escalate to hallucinations, bleeding out all your orifices, insanity, loss of humanity, death, and worse. Yes, worse. TVTropes calls this thing “Uncle Lovecraft’s Fun-Time Murder Hole” for damned good reason.

Our main character is an excitable twelve-year-old girl named Riko, a “cave raider” in training who waits for the day when she can go past the first layer and discover the Abyss’s secrets for herself. Her mother was Lyza, a great explorer who (possibly) went deeper into the Abyss than anyone else in history… but she’s been gone down there for ten years and hasn’t come back. On one of her excursions, Riko finds an amnesiac robot boy she names “Reg”, with extendable arms, a cool helmet, and laser cannons in his palms. Finding and activating Reg leads her to discover that Lyza might be alive in the Abyss after all, and that she might be waiting for Riko to join her… so Riko and Reg set off on a forbidden journey to the bottom, she to find her mom and he to find his lost memories.

This sounds like innocent fun, and the incredible Ghibli-esque scenery and animation certainly makes it look like it could be… but then you get stuff like the “Curse”, the Abyss sickness that seems purposefully designed by some sadistic asshole to prevent people who go down from coming back up. Then you get a succession of really horrible monsters that resemble Ghibli creations after a particularly terrifying acid trip. Then you get the plot twists, including the revelation that all along Riko’s been closer to the Abyss than she ever imagined, and then you get one of the few scenes in any anime ever that made me squirm with discomfort and distressed me almost to the point of illness, and then you get an absolutely adorable character with one of the saddest backstories in anime history, and-

I don’t say this often, but if this sounds interesting to you and you have a strong spine and stomach to take it, WATCH THIS SHOW. It’s been appearing on many “Best of the Year” lists, and it well deserves them. Despite my comparisons to Madoka, it’s one of the most unique stories I’ve seen in ages, very much its own thing. And dear lord does it grab hold of your feels and beat the living hell out of them. There’s apparently another season in the works, which gives me yet another 2018(?) anime series to anxiously look forward to.

– BHS

  • Tasakeru Book III: Soulsnatcher, Chapter 6: 2.25 pages done
  • Tasakeru Patreon: 3 Patrons
  • Book II Appendix: 2 pages done
  • Shattered Skies, Chapter 31: 2.25 pages done
  • Silent InvenTOYry Episode 05: COMPLETE!
  • Silent InvenTOYry Semi-Shorts Episode 02: Now in progress

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 42 – What the Hell is a “Hugtto”?

Week 42 – What the Hell is a “Hugtto”?

I hope you all enjoyed the insanity of Shattered Skies Chapter 30! It was a blast to write, obviously. Writing stuff that’s supposed to be funny is always risky because humor is so inherently subjective, but the consensus among my readers is that they got a kick out of it. I’m glad, because usually my pattern is to write something that amuses me, the author, first and foremost, and hope for the best when it comes to everybody else.

Now that I’ve got some leeway, I’m taking my time getting back to other stuff… including a one-shot that will be posted on AO3 for Halloween. I would post it on DA, but for reasons that will become quite clear, it wouldn’t exactly be welcome. ;p

News just broke this morning: the 2018-2019 Precure series is “Hugtto! Precure”, leading many to ask the eponymous question that titles this Blogress Report. The most plausible theory I’ve seen is that the title is an unholy Japanenglish portmanteau of “hug” and “gyutto”, i.e., “squeeze”. As titles go, it’s strange… it’s VERY strange. As for the theme and concept… well, the title tells us pretty much nothing other than that hugging is (presumably) somehow going to be involved, and that’s the only verified information we have on it right now. That’s not enough to make a judgment call on, so I’ll wait until character designs and/or plot details leak in the coming weeks. If it’s not another saccharine, generic cutefest like Mahou Tsukai, I’ll be happy with it.

(Comic by MissMellifluous, from this post on her Tumblr)

On the A La Mode side of things, promotional pictures released yesterday seem to indicate that at least the other three primary ALM Cures are definitely in the works. The promo shots indicated that the little papercraft/vinyl cake that comes with Figuarts Cure Whip will combine with four others to make a backdrop of the multi-layer cake from the Sweets Wonderful group finisher. That suggests that the other pieces will come with Custard, Gelato, Macaron, and Chocolat, which is fiendish incentive to buy them all. I was going to do that anyway, of course, but now I have even more reasons to shell out for them. Up until the Hugtto! news this morning broke, I was going to title this Blogress Report “Bandai? More like Bankruptdai!”, but maybe I’ll save that for a future entry.

SPECIAL SHAMELESS PLUG CORNER: Those of you who read the addendum attached to the end of Skies Chapter 30 will know that a certain character from my friend thesilvergoddess‘s epic fanfic Break My Heart, Break Your Heart made a special guest appearance. Thesilvergoddess also recently published a book of LGBTQIA+-themed poetry called Fragments, Recovered, and it would really help them out if you all would consider buying the digital version, which is currently on sale for $5.99. Buying their book helps them write more of the stuff they love, so please check it out if you’ve got a few bucks handy!

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 41 – Cadet Tilly Gives Me Life

Week 41 – Cadet Tilly Gives Me Life

Ahhh, look at all those COMPLETEs on the list down there. I feel really, really good about myself that I managed to finish both Shattered Skies Chapter 29 and the bonus chapter in the last three days. Cause enough, I think, to take a break from writing for the rest of the week. The bonus chapter will be up this Saturday, and I think you all will love it.

I got caught up and finished Boku no Hero Academia Season 2 with VDrake last week too, and now it’s officially on my all-time favorites list. And as excited as I am for the third season, I’m immeasurably glad that they’re not trying to go the Naruto/Bleach/whatever route and take advantage of the show’s popularity to crap out entire seasons of filler episodes. The wait will be hard, but I’m confident the results will be worth it.

So, last night I watched the two latest episodes of Star Trek: Discovery, and found an absolutely wonderful surprise. That surprise’s name is Cadet Sylvia Tilly, who in her first scene with her new roommate, main character Michael Burnham, introduces herself as “special-needs Starfleet”.

Her scenes in the next two episodes seem to make it clear that Cadet Tilly is on the autism spectrum. But rather than the stereotypical Hollywood portrayal of ASD people or their equivalents as inspirationally-disadvantaged idiot-savants (The Rain Man), obnoxious sociopaths played for cheap, easy laughs (The Big Bang Theory), or unfeeling and emotionless robots (take your pick of the rest), Cadet Tilly is sweet, friendly, exuberant, and brilliant in her field. She just happens to have quite a few quirks, such as having problems socializing and a somewhat broken conversational filter.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Cadet Tilly since last night. I fell in love with her character pretty much from her first scene, because she’s absolutely adorable, but more than that… there’s someone like me in Star Trek, a franchise I’ve loved since I was in kindergarten. There’s an actual, reasonably accurate, non-exploitative portrayal of an ASD on a major TV program. As I said to my dad when discussing it this morning, it wasn’t too long ago that some fans (even some Star Trek writers!) would have claimed that there were no autistic people in Star Trek, because all “diseases” were supposed to have been cured hundreds of years ago.

As I’ve learned to accept myself and my ASD, I’ve come to realize how harmful it is to treat autism as a disease. Autism is a different way of thinking, no less right or wrong than any other. It impacts my life in every way, and sometimes I wish it were less of an obstacle, but I wouldn’t be who I am without it. Seeing Star Trek validate the fact that autistic people aren’t sick and don’t need to be “cured”, having Starfleet acknowledge a “special needs” person like Tilly, even giving her a position on a top-secret, experimental starship with a hand-picked crew of the best of the best… it means more to me than I can say. Sure, she’s just a character on a TV show, but again… I’m seeing someone like me working on a Federation starship. Accepted as part of the crew. Trusted and relied on. Respected. Living the dream.

Representation is important. Not every series needs to have an autistic character, but those that do should treat the condition with respect and dignity. We’ve had too many Sheldon Coopers already. Cadet Sylvia Tilly has stepped up and won my heart, and I am deeply grateful. The stars are in my eyes, and I’m seeing a part of myself up there on screen, striding down the corridors and helping save the Federation… just like I always dreamed about doing when I was a little kid. Cadet Tilly is my newest favorite Star Trek character, and I can’t wait to spend more time seeing what she can do.

– BHS

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Aside

BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 40 – Give It Time to Grow

Week 40 – Give It Time to Grow

Finally! It’s long overdue, but Soulsnatcher Chapter 5 is finished! Along with finishing Silent InvenTOYry Episode 05 last week, that’s a huge load off my mind. And with no more renovation or huge petsitting jobs in the foreseeable future (knock on wood), I can finally relax a little.

But not too much, as you’ll see. I’m already working on Chapter 6, plus both the next regular chapter of Shattered Skies and the bonus chapter. I’d expect Chapter 29 to go up sometime in the next week, but you never know… The bonus chapter is almost finished, though, so that’ll almost definitely be up on October 14th.

So, as of last week, after many delays and much behind-the-scenes chaos, Star Trek: Discovery finally premiered on CBS for one night before moving to CBS All Access, its permanent(?) home. The pilot got something like 10 million people watching, and for broadcast TV in this day and age, that’s impressive as hell. You might think that would secure Discovery a guaranteed full-season run, but… well, nothing’s certain anymore. More worrying is that I’m seeing a lot of bitching, moaning, griping, and the usual fandom activities about how it’s “too much like the reboot movies”, or “the tech looks too advanced”, or “the Klingons look too different”, or “SPOCK NEVER HAD A HUMAN HALF-SISTER, WHAT THE HELL, CANON RUINED”, etc. etc. etc.

Now, I’ll admit, I’m used to fandoms doing this, especially fandoms as old and widespread as Star Trek. Fandoms complain, it’s in the nature of things. And I’ll also admit that based on the first two episodes, Discovery is not what I expected. Much darker, for one thing, and far more focused on a single character than on the ensemble. But I’m putting this out there for all my fellow Trekkies: please, be patient.

Yes, I know. It’s different, and change is hard to accept. We’ve all got our own ideas of “what Star Trek should be”. You have every right to think that Discovery isn’t what you wanted, or that it’s starting off weak, or that it’s messing with canon, or whatever the complaint du jour is. Please keep in mind, though: this is the first Star Trek series we’ve had on the air in twelve years. The future of the franchise as a TV show, at least for the next decade or so, is riding on this one. Now isn’t the time to nitpick and complain and declare that Trek is “RUINED FOREVER”, because we’re being watched very carefully for our reactions. If CBS has any reason to doubt the show, they’ll pull the plug and that’ll be it for ten-odd years, until somebody convinces the suits in charge to try again.

We’re so conditioned to want success right out of the gate that we’ve largely forgotten that even our much-beloved Next Generation took three seasons to really get off the ground. DS9 took four. People need to stick with Discovery even if its beginning is rough, because if given time to grow, it’ll be something spectacular. I have faith in Bryan Fuller’s plans, and though I’m sad he’s no longer involved with the show, the man has worked enough miracles that I’m confident he’s left his baby in good hands.

And dammit, if there’s one thing that we all need right now, it’s Star Trek. We have a glut of pessimism, cynicism, and nihilism in our culture right now… the two most popular scripted shows on TV are both drowning in it, the headlines are full of it, the internet is swarming with it. You can even argue there’s good reasons for that: right now, life sucks for a lot of people. But Star Trek, even bad Star Trek, offers the hope of something more, something better. It dares to show us a bright future for ourselves. When I was a little kid watching TNG with my dad, it taught me that even if the future seems scary, it’ll eventually be all right. Any idealism at all is sorely needed right now. We need Star Trek, so if Discovery isn’t what you want right now… please, just keep watching. Give it a chance to shine, and I know it will.

– BHS

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Aside

SOULSNATCHER, CHAPTER 5

Chapter 5

Petals on the floor

Rectifying past mistakes

Duel in the flames

“How ironic it is that one of the most terrible nights of the Silver Order’s history led to such great change… For all the horror that occurred that night, for all the innocent lives lost or ruined in both the Soulsnatcher’s attack and the events that followed because of it, it is that bloodthirsty monster that was arguably the catalyst for bringing the Order into the modern age.”

[Excerpt from the writings of Sister Belladonna Justitia]

 

None of them seemed able or willing to break the silence. Apart from the hiss and crackle of flames spreading through the meditation chamber, there was no talk, no motion, only the Soulsnatcher, Lady Lily, Drake, and Zero himself, locked in stalemate. And Lady Nadeshiko, Zero reminded himself, either unconscious or dead in the monstrous wolf’s grip. And Naole, still dazed in Drake’s arms, still helpless. Any moment now, he thought, someone would break the spell and all hell would break loose, but as long as no one moved and no one spoke-

“You,” growled the wolf again.

So much for that. There was an unnatural gleam in his crimson eyes, visible even beneath his heavy brow. The word was directed at Zero, but despite wracking his brain for the answer, he could not imagine how the wolf recognized him, or what provoked such seething rage. He was used to being hated on principle, but the only wolf Zero interacted with with any degree of regularity was Drake, and this, clearly, was no Drake. While he searched for an answer, and while the Soulsnatcher still had a hostage, it was best to try to stall. “Sorry,” he said as he raised his blade and dropped into a counter stance. Better to go on the defensive until he had a grasp on the wolf’s fighting style. “I can’t say I can place you. I think I’d remember a face like yours…”

“Murderer!” Froth flew from Stalker’s jaws. “You’re one of them! The ones that killed Mother!”

More confused than ever, Zero blinked. No one had ever accused him of that before. “What the hell are you talking abou-”

Any further attempt to unravel the mystery was derailed by a chilling, wordless howl of rage as Lady Lily Argenteus, the graceful and benevolent head of the Silver Order – Lily the aged, Lily past her prime, Lily whose days on the field were behind her – rushed the wolf that captured her daughter with hellfire in her eyes, her great broadsword’s edge for his neck. Heedless of the spreading flames, heedless of the danger, heedless of the chaos around her, Lily charged at the Soulsnatcher like a frenzied boar. Steel met steel, the heavy clang resounding through the chamber as Stalker raised his stolen cutlass to protect himself.

Lily would not stop. She gave no quarter, clashing against the flat of the cutlass again and again until it was in danger of being cleaved straight through. With every swing, she snarled: “Take… your hands… off… my… daughter…!”

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