BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 5

Lord almighty, this week.

Not gonna lie: I’ve been feeling pretty damned uninspired for the past few days, given that my dog is sick, the weather’s turned cold again, and every day seems to be bringing us closer to the total collapse of civilization. Just getting out of bed in the mornings is turning into a challenge. As a matter of fact, were I not reasonably sure my mother was going to be reading this, quite a lot of this week’s Blogress Report would consist of the word “F–K” repeated over and over and over. Therefore, I’ll go with a slightly more articulate way of expressing the same sentiment.

First off, since I can’t join the marches, influence what I refuse to dignify as “policy” without sarcasm quotes, or otherwise make much of an impact, I’ve been using FaxZero to send free faxes to the spineless cowards in control of Congress, who could maybe do something about Voldemorange and his inner circle of Nazi sociopaths if they had any shreds of decency or principles. I’m not laboring under any illusions that most of them will even see my messages, let alone pay attention, but it’s at least helping me to feel a little less useless. I’m also selling a new design on teepublic, “Tuck Frump”, with a quarter of my profits going towards the ACLU and other progressive causes. Heaven knows they need all the help they can get right now.

I’ve been contemplating an idea for a series of Japanese toy reviews on YouTube. I thought maybe doing in-depth looks at items from my giant collection might make me a few extra dollars. Of course, I’d need decent camera equipment, space, and lighting for something like that… not to mention that I stutter badly, especially when I’m nervous, so I’d need to find some way of doing reviews that doesn’t require talking.

Sailor Moon Crystal is getting another season! And that’s all the information that’s out right now, but it’s a pretty sure bet that this will be an adaptation of the manga’s Dream arc, covering the fight against Nehelenia and the Dead Moon Circus. I’ll bet a lot of you cringed from reading that if you’ve seen any of the original anime’s fourth season, but as I’ve been saying to people: the manga version is incomparably better in pretty much every respect. In brief, it furthers the mythology, gives all the Senshi awesome solo moments, elevates Mamoru/Tuxedo Kamen to rear-equal with Usagi/Sailor Moon, features the return of the Outer Senshi including Saturn, and ends with the grand debut of Eternal Sailor Moon. Not only does Chibi-Usa not take over the series in the manga’s version of this storyline, but her subplot with Helios is A) far more subdued and B) far less creepy, since the possibility of romance isn’t brought up until after it’s clear he’s not a horse. If your only exposure to this arc has been the 90s anime, then you’re in for a hell of a nice surprise.

And speaking of magical girls, this week will see the premiere of KiraKira Precure A La Mode. From what I read online, Mahou Tsukai blew its final chances to be interesting, so that means even if PCALM is only kinda good, it’ll be a massive improvement. And again, we’ve got bunnygirl and squirrelgirl and catgirl Cures this year, all of whom are getting massive amounts of pre-series fan art, so it already looks like this year’s series will be far better received. On a related note: as I mentioned last week, I have a new photo project idea, one that’s a tribute to Smile Precure on its 5th anniversary. If I possibly can, I’m going to have that up on Sunday.

Hang in there, people. It may not be much of a comfort, but at least we’re all suffering together. That counts for something, right?

– BHS

  • Tasakeru Book III: Soulsnatcher, Chapter 2: 2.25 pages done
  • Tasakeru Patreon: 1 patron (REWARD TIERS NOW ACTIVE!)
  • Book II Appendix: 0.5 pages done
  • Shattered Skies Chapter 24: 4 pages done
  • Steven Universe Commentary: See this post

(Originally posted on DA: http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2017-Week-5-660638611)

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Aside

BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 4

Not all that much to report this week. Thursday and Friday were… really bad, the worst days I’ve had in a while, but Sunday was a definite high point. I was surprisingly productive on both Tasakeru and Shattered Skies, so there’s that.

Huge props and respect to all those who attended or supported the Women’s March on Saturday, my mother among them. You made yourselves heard and you spoiled Voldemorange’s day, so I’d call that a rousing success.

I finished Season 2 of Voltron: Legendary Defender today. The first season was already great, but the second was a massive improvement. Better story, more character development, darker themes, and one of the sickest mecha fights I’ve seen in ages in the finale… Season 3 can’t get here fast enough.

Figuarts Sailor Moon Crystal and Cure Twinkle should both be shipping out this week. I’ll try to get some quick shots, but the primary photo project I’ll be working on in the next week-plus will be focusing on a series about to celebrate its fifth anniversary. More on that next week.

– BHS

(Orignally posted on DA: http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2017-Week-4-659302740)

  • Tasakeru Book III: Soulsnatcher, Chapter 2: 1.75 pages done
  • Tasakeru Patreon: 1 patron (REWARD TIERS NOW ACTIVE!)
  • Book II Appendix: 0.5 pages done
  • Shattered Skies Chapter 24: 3 pages done

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 3

Huge thanks to the amazing Chronorin for becoming my very first Patron, and hopefully the first of many! Thanks to him, I’m already 1/5th of the way there for my first fundraising goal. Once I hit $15 a month, I’ll be able to offer the Tasakeru Original Soundtrack (composed by yours truly, natch) for download on SoundCloud. Hopefully, by the time I’m there, I’ll have a full album’s worth of stuff ready for it.

This week’s activities, apart from Shattered Skies Ch. 23, have mostly been Pokemon, Pokemon, and more Pokemon. I hit the point in Pokemon Sun where the game truly opens up, and oh am I so back in. I had heard the story was one of the highlights of this one, and now I can confirm: it’s far and away the best plot that’s ever been in a Pokemon game. I mean, not like it’s got a lot of competition, but still… this is a damned good JRPG in addition to a damned good Pokemon title.

On that subject: in preparation for the Pokemon Box update that should hopefully be happening by the end of the month, I went back and transferred everything worth transferring from my Diamond Version, through White 2, and into Y. Doing so has made me appreciate just how many quality-of-life improvements have been made to the series since Gen IV. Honestly even going back to Y was kind of a chore, because Sun/Moon has streamlined so many little things that should have been streamlined several generations ago. There’s finally a one-button shortcut to access your Pokeballs, for one thing, and HM moves are straight-up GONE, replaced by the far more enjoyable Ride Pokemon feature. Now traveling long distances is as easy as opening a map and choosing a place to go; you don’t have to lug around somebody with Fly anymore, or waste a valuable move slot on Surf or Strength. All of these and more are Ride Pokemon functions now, they’re always there when you need them from the moment they unlock, and they have tons more personality that surfing or flying on a generic blob or shadow ever did.

And oh lordy, the characters. Now I see why the explosion of Team Skull artwork and memes happened. Instead of trying to one-up the previous gens’ obligatory villain teams yet again, they took the brilliant step of making Team Skull hilariously pathetic losers for the most part. I’m talking like Jessie, James, and Meowth from the old days of the anime, here. Somebody finally figured out that no matter what they did, these guys were going to end up looking like chumps anyway… so why not cut to the chase?

Then there’s Lillie. Lillie is a precious bae, and

*SPOILER ALERT*

her mom is a scary, scary lady, whose comparisons to Ragyo Kiryuin of Kill La Kill infamy are not unfounded in the least. There’s something I never thought I’d write about a Pokemon title, good lord.

I also started the Little Witch Academia TV anime, as I mentioned last week. I’m surprised that they’re going for an origin story rather than pick up where the movies left off… but hey, it’s still LWA, it’s still Trigger, it’s still funny and charming and gorgeous to look at, and Sucy is still the best. Would that all trolls were as awesome as she is.

The other new anime I’m trying out is Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, which I dismissed at first as yet another monster girl harem show trying to cash in on the subgenre while it’s still making money. Then I found out that my beloved Emiri Katou is in it. Then I found out that the role of bland love interest/straight man to the wacky dragon maid is a woman, an actual adult, single, working woman, IN AN ANIME(!!!), and my interest was piqued. Having seen the first episode, I can confirm that it has a lot of fun with its bonkers premise, it has glorious amounts of deadpan snark from Kobayashi, and it’s just as delightfully strange as I hoped it would be. Maybe it’s not as balls-to-the-wall insane as Nyarko-san was, but I think it’ll do just fine as a replacement, since that one’s probably not coming back without the dearly departed Miyu Matsuki, RIP.

And that’s about it for now. Here’s hoping we all survive the next week, everyone.

– BHS

(Originally posted on DA: http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2017-Week-3-657905631)

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Aside

BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 2 – PATREON LAUNCH

TASAKERU PATREON

I’ve been mulling over the concept of launching a Patreon for at least a year now, but I decided it’s finally time to go ahead with it. I can’t really offer much in the way of rewards right now, but when/if I get pledges of $15 or more per chapter, I’ll be able to put the Tasakeru soundtrack up on Soundcloud for download. If I can reach that, then we’ll see what we can do from there. This is all still experimental, but I’d appreciate if you would at least consider pledging a few bucks every month. And yes, that’s per chapter… I wouldn’t feel right accepting money during my dry spells, so I’ll only charge when new chapters get posted.

It’s been a slow week otherwise. I got my Chogokin Voltron, which you can see in my gallery… I took an entire battery’s worth of unboxing pictures too, which are up on Google Drive.

I’m getting more and more excited for Precure A La Mode. The only concern I have is with the mascot, and as long as she’s not horrible like the ones from Precure 5 or stupefyingly boring like, well, the entire cast of Mahou Tsukai, I think we’ll be good. The large amount of early fanart I’ve been seeing both here and on Pixiv is a good sign that this will be a fan favorite.

Off to watch the first ep of Trigger’s Little Witch Academia TV anime. This gon’ be good.

– BHS

  • Tasakeru Book III: Soulsnatcher, Chapter 1: COMPLETE!
  • Book II Appendix: 0.5 pages done
  • Shattered Skies Chapter 23: 4.5 pages done

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SOULSNATCHER, CHAPTER 1

BOOK III: SOULSNATCHER

Chapter 1

On an autumn night

Innocent lives cross paths with

Hunters in the dark

 

“Let us lay to rest a common misconception: though the Outcasts of Tasakeru (at least, those of the era that this book covers, with Hanami, Zero Takaishi, Faun Muranaka, Rowan Longstripe, and the rest being by far the most well-known of them all) are considered folk heroes, they were by no means seen as such at the time. According to most stories, the Magistrate Representatives and their various species governments made every effort to paint them as traitors, outlaws, scoundrels, and what-have-you. This despite the fact that, Muranaka aside, they were not career criminals… at least, not in the traditional sense. The majority of the Outcasts of that era were exiled for violating cultural taboos, rather than exhibiting criminal malice: Hanami for use of magic, Longstripe on his own volition as an act of symbolic protest, etc.

“Of course, that is not to say that all Outcasts were considered heroes. Far from it, in fact. Some Outcasts were undoubtedly exiled for very good reason…”

[An excerpt from The Outcasts in Fact and Folklore, by Hill Jakes]

 

The problem was that they just couldn’t see. Couldn’t, or wouldn’t. It was because of that stubborn blindness on their part, that refusal to see what was right in front of them, that he had to do it. He wasn’t to blame. He had done no wrong. Why couldn’t they understand that?

The young brute wolf thought these bitter thoughts to himself as he trudged through the  forest at close to midnight. His dark eyes glowered, hidden in part by strands of long, lank black hair that threw the details of his features into perpetual shadow. Perhaps he would have been handsome, had he groomed himself with more care: the claws on each of his long, thin fingers were ragged and overgrown, and his fur was shaggy and unkempt over a lean, wiry frame. Like many wolves, he normally eschewed clothing. Unlike almost all of the wolves, however, his fur bore no markings, no patterns, no indication of any kind that he belonged to a pack.

This was because he didn’t. Not anymore.

They exiled him. They made him an Outcast, because they couldn’t see.

Fools, all of them.

Why couldn’t they understand? He explained it to them over and over, but each time they refused to listen to reason. They imprisoned him, stripped him of his markings, exiled him out to Tasakeru in the cold autumn night. They couldn’t see.

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 1

2017-coming-soon

That’s me and my best friend/co-author/editor/proofreader/partner-in-crime VDrake, wishing everyone a happy and productive new year. The two of us had a blast during his visit, of course. One of the highlights was presenting him with the very first copy of the finished Tasakeru Book I manuscript, seen above. We also saw Rogue One (which was fantastic), marathoned Gainax’s classic mecha series Gunbuster and Diebuster, and jointly discovered Netflix’s Voltron: Legendary Defender, which got us both hooked in a hurry. So that was the best possible way to end the flaming garbage year that was 2016.

Now that I’m back to semi-normal, my first order of business at the start of the second year of Blogress Reports is to set several long term goals. In no particular order:

  • Finish the revision of Tasakeru Book III: Soulsnatcher by July
  • Write the Book II Appendix and send the complete manuscript off to the copyright office
  • Compose at least three new songs for the Tasakeru soundtrack
  • Write at least ten chapters of Shattered Skies
  • Finish reading at least three of the half-dozen-odd novels that I’ve been neglecting, including Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Neverwhere
  • Resume work on my incomplete photo projects
  • Avoid politics whenever possible until a certain orange-skinned cockroach gets himself impeached
  • Continue posting Blogress Reports every Monday, with no late ones this time

There are other goals, of course, but these are the major ones.

A weather-related headache is currently making it difficult to focus on much else, so for now I’m signing off. Next week (hopefully), I’ll have some pictures of my shiny new Chogokin, along with a detailed review.

  • Tasakeru Book III: Soulsnatcher, Chapter 1: 4 pages done
  • Book II Appendix: Pending
  • Shattered Skies Chapter 23: 4 pages done

(Originally posted on DA: http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2017-Week-1-655075883)

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2016, Week 52

So here we are with the final Blogress Report of the year.

Last year at this time, when I was coming up with the idea for weekly Blogress Reports… well, for one thing, I didn’t imagine that I’d make the progress that I did. Honestly, I wasn’t thinking much about the future, as I try not to do that when I don’t have to. Life, in my experience, is unpredictable and ever-changing. For me, the best way to cope with the changes is to live in the moment and let the future try to sort itself out.

My best friend will be on his way here soon enough and will be staying until January 1st, so barring any last-minute bursts of inspiration, I’m pretty sure I won’t be getting much work done in the last few days of the year. I’m okay with that, though. The time I’ve taken off has been healthy for me.

I still can’t shake the feeling that next year is going to do a number on us all, but no matter what happens, I’m going to try to keep my new survival mantra in mind: “We got this.” It’s a simple way of reaffirming not just my own strength, but the strength of the people and things that keep me going. I may have to repeat it multiple times a day, but you know how it goes: tell yourself something often enough, and you’ll start to believe it.

So that’s it from me for 2016, everyone. Enjoy your holidays, and remember: “We got this.”

  • Tasakeru Book III: Soulsnatcher, Chapter 1: 4 pages done
  • Shattered Skies Chapter 23: 4 pages done


– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2016, Week 51

The penultimate Blogress Report of the year mostly covers wrap-ups of this season’s anime. I’m still enjoying my break, but I did manage to work on some stuff here and there…

http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2016-Week-51-652175587

  • Tasakeru Book III: Soulsnatcher, Chapter 1: 4 pages done
  • Shattered Skies, Chapter 23: 0.75 pages done

I hope all my readers have safe and happy holidays in the coming week. Peace on earth, and all that jazz.

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2016, Week 50

SPECIAL “ALL PROJECTS FINISHED FOR THE YEAR” EDITION!

Yes, for once, I’m ahead of the game! I got everything I wanted to do before the year’s end finished, so for the next two weeks, I can enjoy a well-deserved break. Blogress Reports will continue as usual, of course… and I’m already working on a bit of a buffer so that next year there won’t be as long a wait between updates. The first page and a half of Soulsnatcher’s revision is already done, with more to come.

A few more details are at the usual link:

http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2016-Week-50-650946106

– BHS

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ETERNITY AWAKES, CHAPTER 6

Chapter 6

Woe, oh ancient one

When all that you know is gone

Where will you wander?

“Never corner a fox, if at all possible. When foxes are trapped with no hope of escape and their lives in danger, their first instinct is to attempt to talk their way out of peril. Anyone who has spent sufficient time in the company of foxes could explain why this is undesirable for all parties concerned.

“Foxes, of course, think themselves quite witty. The average todd or vixen has such a high opinion of themselves and their intelligence that they will approach the task of talking themselves through life-threatening danger with the utmost confidence. One supposes they reason that once their adversary is angry or distracted enough that judgment is impaired, the fox can make their escape with impunity. Anger or distraction on the other party’s part is all but guaranteed, given that when a fox speaks at length, their words inevitably become insulting, offensive, or both.

“So provoked, the fox’s adversary will resort to violence, lose their temper, or otherwise make an effort to force the fox to stop talking by any available means. In the ensuing confusion, the fox will take advantage of their clouded judgment, and more often than not will flee the premises, laughing all the way. While the adversary may experience significant frustration over this turn of events, it is often eclipsed by relief that at least the talking has stopped. Thus, a favorable outcome for both parties, all things considered.”

[An excerpt from The Art of Diplomacy, by Gaius Cloelius Fulcinius]

“Look,” said Faun. “I’m just saying, there’s been some kind of huge misunderstanding here.”

The jackal did not answer.

“I mean, I get it. Three thousand years alone, you’re looking for companionship, I come along and… well.” She smirked. “Nobody would blame you.”

The jackal did not answer.

“I’m just saying. There’s better ways to solve that problem, ones that don’t involve me.”

Still the jackal did not answer.

Faun sighed and leaned against the back wall, playing idly with her tail fur. Blasting her way out of her prison was no longer an option; after a few more useless grenade volleys, Seker had taken her boom belt from her. When he grew bored of her constant attempts to retrieve it, he made both the bandolier and his hand insubstantial with a spell that Faun had to admit was rather impressive, then sank the belt into the brick floor. Now it was embedded there, completely out of reach. The only way to access the tower shaft to the lower chamber was by his will, so that was out. That left talking as her only viable option. It was not going well.

Seker stood immobile before the tower’s enormous crystalline picture window, his hands clasped behind his back, as much like a statue as the first time Faun saw him. The jackal cut a noble figure, there was no disputing that… but every time she felt faint stirrings of sympathy for him, she remembered that he intended to keep her there against her will until she agreed to be his eternal companion or died, whichever came first. Any pity she had for him shriveled in a hurry when she thought of that.

At this point, the sole comfort she had was trying to annoy him. It was something she had quite a knack for. “For example,” she said with a wicked grin, “why not try, you know, indulging yourself? I swear it doesn’t really make you go blind, that’s a myth.”

She thought she saw his shoulders twitch, but perhaps it was a trick of the light.

“Or a hobby!” said Faun. “That could help pass your time. Do you have any hobbies? Painting, sculpting, collecting bird feathers? I had a friend back in Unify once that loved bird feathers, he collected all kinds. Sparrow feathers, chicken feathers, swallow feathers, pigeon feathers, seagull feathers, duck feathers, red-tailed hawk feathers, white-tailed hawk feathers…”

As she babbled on and on, Seker was unreasonably glad that the vixen could not see his pained expression, nor his eyes rolling behind his mask. He stood in silence, trying to ignore his slowly growing suspicion that this entire situation was spiraling out of his control. However, he took solace in the fact that eventually, given enough time, she would stop talking. Eventually, given enough time, she had to stop.

Didn’t she?

The jackal suppressed a dry chuckle. Thousands of years spent yearning in vain for the sound of a voice other than his own, and now he found himself wishing for silence. What an irony.

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