BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 13 – Wipeout

Ugh. I don’t know what’s going on today, but I’ve just been wiped out. Barely any energy at all. Therefore, this is going to be a very brief Report, sorry.

I think I’ve shot all the footage I need for Silent InvenTOYry Episode 03. If all goes as planned, it’ll go up on Sunday.

There are some logistical difficulties with getting certain characters where they need to be in Shattered Skies, so Chapter 25 is a bit stalled at the moment. I may try to go on ahead and write scenes after the point where I’m stuck.

I’ve started watching KonoSuba, a recent comedy anime that parodies the “trapped in an MMO” genre popularized by Sword Art Online, et al. The full title, Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!, or “God’s Blessings on This Wonderful World!” is one of those absurdly long ones that every third light novel uses these days, which may or may not have had something to do with my indifference to it up until now. A glowing recommendation by Pat of Super Best Friends Play convinced me to check it out, and I’m quite glad I did. Its cast, comprised of a scumbag otaku, an idiotic former goddess, a delusional mage, and a masochistic crusader, plays off each other in brilliant ways. The genre is now widespread enough that it’s rife for parody, so if Kirito and his many, many clones in other isekai series get on your nerves, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll love this.

And that’s all the energy I can expend tonight. See you next week.

– BHS

(Originally posted on DA: http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2017-Week-13-Wipeout-671472800)

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 12 – Hi-Jacked

Well, after the auto-flagging debacle with YouTube, the last thing I expected to work on this past week was another InvenTOYry episode. However it happened, I had some good ideas for my next one, so I decided to get a jump on it. This time, I think I have some ways around the problems with the music/footage, so working on it should be less stressful this time.

I pushed myself to get Chapter 3 of Soulsnatcher out this past week, as part of my effort to finish it by July at the latest. Chapter 3 was the halfway point in the last draft, but with all the additions and expansions I’m making in the revision, this one was double the length of the old one. I think I picked a really good place to cut it off, though.

Not much else to report, other than holy crap if you’re not watching the new Samurai Jack, you’re missing out. The original SJ was one of the best things Cartoon Network has ever aired; it was no surprise that I and so many other people loved it so much. Its cancellation was a travesty, but now it’s back and it’s better than ever. AND DARKER. Oh man, is it ever darker.

By next week I plan on having Chapter 25 of Shattered Skies done. And I should probably work on the Book II Appendix, too… busy busy busy.

– BHS

(Originally posted on DA: http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2017-Week-12-Hi-Jacked-670205204)

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SOULSNATCHER, CHAPTER 3

Chapter 3

Preparations made

Shoring up the defenses

To strike at the heart

“Something evil comes a-lurking

Baring fangs, in shadows smirking:

THE SOULSNATCHER, beware!

Wander not at night alone,

Lest he take you for his own:

THE SOULSNATCHER, beware!

Meet not his gaze, his maddened eyes

And listen not unto his lies:

THE SOULSNATCHER, beware!

His razor teeth, his foul breath,

His ragged claws, all steeped in death:

THE SOULSNATCHER, beware!

Your soul will writhe in endless hell

When takes he, leaving but a shell:

THE SOULSNATCHER, beware!”

[Folk song dating from late Year 1349, attributed to Marlowe the Mad Bard]

In the deepest heart of Aedis Centralis lay the Grand Mistress’s private meditation chamber. Precious few sentients were allowed here; only those of the Argenteus bloodline and their most trusted attendants ever set foot inside it. The chamber acquired a kind of mythical status over the years as a result. Many Order sistren and brethren wondered: what was behind those heavy mahogany double doors? Fabulous riches? Unseemly pleasures? Forbidden magic?

Those who wondered the most would doubtless have been disappointed if they saw the chamber for themselves. While its furnishings changed every time the title of Grand Mistress passed from mother to daughter, it had never strayed much from the concept that Mistress Emeritus Lotus envisioned thirty-three generations ago: a place of peace. A place of warmth, of quiet, of contemplation.

Soft colors dominated the chamber, pastel yellows, greens, and blues. Straight lines and sharp edges were kept to a bare minimum, and there were gentle arches were everywhere. The most striking feature was the water, a natural stream that ran right through the middle of the chamber. Fragrant lotus blossoms floated lazily on the stream’s surface in all seasons of the year, a permanent tribute to the namesake of the Order’s founder. Overlooking the stream was an old spruce footbridge coated in rose-colored lacquer, arcing from one bank to the other. Though there was a throne reserved for the use of the current Grand Mistress, Lily preferred to kneel on a cushion on the bridge, with candles burning low in the sconces that lined its supports. There she sat now, swathed in simple white robes, her eyes closed, her tail curled around herself, and her expression unreadable.

When Nadeshiko came through the doors moments later, she seemed an affront to what the meditation chamber stood for: in full, spotless white-and-chrome armor with broadsword at her side, as usual, not a trace of softness or gentleness in her expression, her lips drawn tight in what Lily feared would become a semi-permanent frown. “Mother,” she said by way of greeting. “I’ve just spoken with some of the head scribes of the news scrolls. They told me that-”

“Little One,” Lily sighed. Beneath her closed lids, her eyes rolled. “Please, I beg of you. Calm yourself.”

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 11 – Flagged

Shouldn’t have spoken so soon last week. I thought at the time that my work on Silent InvenTOYry was mostly done… and then on Tuesday night after I uploaded, I ran afoul of YouTube’s auto copyright flagging software. In case you weren’t aware: if a company’s copyright claim triggers a flag on your YouTube video, you can’t monetize it, which means no money for you, bucko. You can attempt to dispute the claim, and in fact VDrake said that reviews should be covered under Fair Use, but all evidence leads me to believe that one amateur YouTuber trying to take on DreamWorks, etc., would be a gigantic waste of time and effort. Another fun detail is that some footage and music apparently triggers claim flags immediately after your video is published. And for the trifecta: YouTube doesn’t allow you to simply replace your raw video file with a different or updated one. No, you have to delete your video altogether and resubmit it. Which also meant that to make the edits that would make Episode 02 monetizeable, I had to go back into Vegas, recut, retime, and rerender the entire fifteen minute video (which took upwards of an hour), go through the entire YouTube submission process again, then wait another hour for the video to process.

It’s worth mentioning that this happened four times before Episode 02 finally passed with no flags, so altogether that’s at least eight hours of time wasted… not counting the time it took to find public domain music that sounded similar enough to the Voltron soundtrack to replace the stuff I had to cut. If any of you were wondering why there was an upsurge in smartassed comments in the captions of this episode… well, that was why. By attempt number 5 I was supremely pissed-off and dead tired and it was 2:30 AM, factors which brought out the worst in me.

At least Attempt 5 finally, finally satisfied whatever algorithm immediately runs off and tattles to the poor corporate Goliaths who insist on going after Davids with the equivalent of the Death Star.

I’d be lying if I said I was totally happy with the final version, but this is the one that’s making me money, so I have to live with it. For what it’s worth, I was able to upload the unmolested version on another hosting site. http://tinyurl.com/SI02uncut Check it out if you’re curious to see what I originally had in mind, but please watch the YouTube version first if you haven’t already, so I can get revenue from it.

So that ordeal combined with another one on Friday with PayPal more or less wiped me out for the week. I ended up getting much less done than I’d planned, and spent a lot of time watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Netflix. There was also the Sailor Moon anniversary project (pic and MIDI), and an NSFW, astonishingly stupid thing (DON’T WATCH THIS, MOM) I put together for fun on Saturday, in time for the return of Samurai Jack on Adult Swim.

My plans for this week are up in the air. I did make some progress on both Tasakeru and Skies, but I may just take a couple days to crash. I do not want to burn myself out again.

– BHS

(Originally posted on DA: http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2017-Week-11-Flagged-668852496)

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BHS Blogress Report 2017, Week 10: [Insert Pun Here]

This was probably the single busiest weekend I’ve had in ages. Much of it was spent putting Episode 2 of Silent InvenTOYry together. For a number of reasons, this one is far more ambitious than the first episode, which means double the work at half the pace. I now have a whole new respect for people who put YouTube shows out on a weekly basis; I’m still having fun, but good lord does putting footage together eat up time! The next toy I review will be something far easier to cover, I think. I’m not even going to attempt to guess when the finished version of ep 2 will go up, but I can at least promise it’ll be in-depth.

Another ~40% of my workload was for a project that’s going up tomorrow, so I won’t take up space yakking about it. I just finished it less than an hour ago, but considering that I started the whole thing from scratch on Saturday, I think I made damned good progress.

What little time was left over was spent on Tasakeru. I think I’ve reached the halfway point in Chapter 3 of Soulsnatcher, so that should go up sooner rather than later.

Everything else I’m too tired to write about, so I’m going to relax with some pizza, a Sierra Mist, and the Deadpool movie. See you next week.

– BHS

(Originally posted on DA: http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2017-Week-10-Insert-Pun-667538691)

  • Tasakeru Book III: Soulsnatcher, Chapter 3: 5 pages done
  • Tasakeru Patreon: 2 Patrons
  • Book II Appendix: 0.5 pages done
  • Shattered Skies Chapter 25: 0.5 pages done
  • Silent InvenTOYry: Episode 02 ~35% complete

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BHS Blogress Report, Week 9 – Vegas, Baby, Vegas!

By a stroke of luck, I got a great deal on the full version of VEGAS Movie Studio Platinum, so now I’m officially in business! I had some new ideas and shot footage for the second episode of Silent InvenTOYry yesterday, and I’ll continue to work on that this week. There’s still a lot I have to learn about using the program, but now I’ve got time to experiment and teach myself new stuff.

As you can see, I also got a bit more written for Tasakeru, but there’s going to need to be some adjustment done on the next scene I have in mind. I mentioned several times before that I’m doing some things with Soulsnatcher very differently than I did in the first draft, so that’s requiring extra tweaking. All in all, though, I think I’m decently on track.

Probably the biggest geek news of the coming week is the launch of the Nintendo Switch. After all the hype and speculation, it’ll finally be here come Friday. Though I love the concept and I’m certainly planning on buying one eventually, I’ve made it a policy to never buy a new game system in its first year. Getting one near launch is never worth it, I think. Not only because of the expense, but game releases typically dry up for months afterward, and there’s always bugs and hardware problems with the first run of any new console. And then of course there’s the fact that the one time I saved up for months to buy a shiny new console in its first year, it was the Dreamcast. I loved that system, being a die-hard Sega fanboy back in the day, and I had the rotten luck to buy one roughly four months before Sega decided to pull out of the hardware market. That’s the kind of experience that tends to make one a lot more cautious. Good luck to those of you going for the Switch now, though. You’re braver than I am.

Nothing much else of note this week, so I’ll sign off and get back to work.

– BHS

(Originally posted on DA: http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2017-Week-9-Vegas-Baby-666187470)

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 8 – It Figures

Not much to say this week, honestly. I continue to work on stuff. Since I finished Chapter 24 of Skies today, I’m switching off to work on Tasakeru for the next week. An alternating system keeps me from getting too burnt out on any one project, I think.

I’ve decided that I definitely want to go ahead with more episodes of Silent InvenTOYry, so I’ll probably put my first-ever Patreon earnings toward registering my copy of Vegas. I hate to delay pre-ordering Figuarts Super Sailor Mercury and Cure Mermaid, but it’s probably for the best. And hey, Tamashii said they’re expanding their distribution in North America this week… maybe I won’t have to pay through the nose for exclusives from now on, yeah?

Speaking of figures, this weekend’s bi-annual Wonder Festival beat out the last several of them combined. There were a ton of new announcements I’m excited for: Overwatch Figmas, starting with Tracer and Genji with more doubtlessly on the way, a Nendoroid of Akko Kagari from Little Witch Academia… I’ve had some bad experiences with Nendos, so they’re not normally my thing, but the Nendo Luluco from last year was almost too adorable for words and captured Trigger’s art style perfectly. I can only expect that they’ll do the same with Akko. And also from Figma, there’s… Maara, the, um, interesting creature from the Persona and Shin Megami Tensei series (LINK ALMOST CERTAINLY NSFW)… I don’t know how exactly they’re going to make an articulated figure out of that, but if anyone can do it, GSC can. You’d think they’d have learned after what people did with that infamous Revoltech Woody from Toy Story, though…

Speaking of Revoltech, though! I haven’t bought a Revo for years, but damned if I’m not going to have to break that streak. They showed off a really gorgeous and flexible Spider-Gwen, and revealed figures for Zootopia’s Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde! I just hope all of these releases are decently spaced out, because there’s still plenty of Precure Figuarts on my wish list… Happiness Charge figures this year, Bandai? Please?

Anyway, see you all next week.

– BHS

(Originally posted on DA: http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2017-Week-8-It-Figures-664824418)

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 7 – BACK IN

The big news of the week is the launch of my new YouTube series, Silent InvenTOYry. As I mentioned two weeks ago, I was playing around for quite a while with this idea. Now I’ve finally decided to go for it, and the response so far has been quite positive! I’m hoping I can put together at least one more episode by the end of the month. I mean, it’s not like I have a lack of stuff to review… I should probably try to stick to reviewing the newest items in my collection until I get a viewer base established, but once people are consistently watching, I’ll be able to go back to older stuff. I could maybe even cover some of the vintage stuff I have, like my classic Power Rangers Zords. It’s an exciting new frontier, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do with it.

So after dropping Precure for most of last year because of Mahou Tsukai’s awful syrupy blandness, I’m now back in, and back in hard. Episode 2 of Precure A La Mode aired last night, and Himari Arisugawa/Cure Custard set a new all-time personal record for shortest interval between a character’s introduction and “OH MY GOD, I LOVE HER, SHE’S PERFECT”. Himari is a smol precious bae, in Tumblr parlance, and I’m thrilled that the fandom seems to love her as much as I do. As I’ve been telling people, PCALM already has shown more character depth in two episodes than MTPC had in its entire series… or at least in the nineteen episodes I was able to slog through. This is gonna be a fun year, I can tell.

You can see Episode 1 embedded below if you missed the announcement on Saturday.

It may be early, but I’m calling Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid as my favorite anime of the season. I mean, I love Little Witch Academia too, don’t get me wrong (and PCALM is going to run for a year, so it doesn’t count), but Dragon Maid has the advantage by virtue of completely destroying my initial expectations of it. And everyone’s expectations, it looks like… I saw so much hate going around based on the previews, blasting it as “just another monster girl harem show”, but it looks like word-of-mouth has spread about just how funny, smart, and surprisingly sweet it is. It really only resembles stuff like Daily Life with Monster Girl on the surface, and I was way off in my initial comparison to Haiyore! Nyarko-san. While most of Dragon Maid is gut-busting funny, it also has plenty of touching moments between Kobayashi and her weird little family… honestly, it’s more like a slice-of-life show that happens to have shapeshifting magic dragons in it than a fantasy harem comedy. Watching it has become one of the highlights of my week, and I can’t help but grin when I hear the theme music start. Wonderful stuff.

That’s it for this week. Expect a new Shattered Skies chapter within the next few days!

(Originally posted on DA: http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2017-Week-7-BACK-IN-663434622)

– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 6

Well, this was an improvement. I hesitate to say that things are looking up, but there’s no doubt they’re looking better. As you can see up there, I grabbed my second Patron, whose generous pledge has put me within striking distance of my first goal! That inspired me to get Chapter 2 of Soulsnatcher finished, and I’m particularly proud of the changes this one’s gone through as of the relaunch.

As you might also notice: I’ve made some adjustments to my Patreon’s reward tiers. The first tier now starts at $20 per chapter, which gets you acknowledgement in the future print editions of the Tasakeru books. I’ve also added the acknowledgement to the second tier, along with the free item of merch, for a $40 pledge. The third tier is now $80 for an acknowledgement, two merch items (with autographs and personal messages by request), and a private Q&A session with me in the format of your choice.

Of course, you don’t have to pledge $20 if you don’t want to… the minimum is $1 per chapter, and I’m sincerely grateful for any pledges at all, frankly. Since I can’t offer the kinds of incentives other Patreons do, I have to sell this thing on the merits of the work itself… it’s always nice to see somebody confirming that it does have merit.

So. KiraKira Precure A La Mode started yesterday. As I said in my status update and my Tumblr post on Sunday night: yes, it’s better than Mahou Tsukai, thank God, but at this early stage it’s also making some interesting departures from the standard formula… departures for the better, it looks like. Frankly, any improvements over MTPC are welcome. I’m so, so glad that Ichika/Cure Whip isn’t a personality-less cardboard cutout like Mirai/Cure Miracle, and that the episode’s fight scene was not only decently animated but clever, with some unexpected moves and neat camera angles that I wasn’t expecting. I also appreciated the return of two of my favorite Precure franchise running gags: accidentally jumping a thousand feet high when making the first dodge in Cure form, and the universe hitting the pink Cure in the face with random objects. Slapstick may not be the highest form of comedy, but it’s always encouraging to see it utilized well, and those two gags are so familiar to long-time fans like me that they were almost like an apology for the past year, like Toei was saying “We get it, we’re sorry, things will be better now.”

Yes, the dessert theming is pretty silly, but it manages to be silly in a charming way, rather than MTPC’s bland, generic cuteness. Believe it or not, the series with the sweets motif looks to be less sugary than its predecessor, if you’ll pardon the pun. Just in the first episode, there’s already been a surprisingly melancholy turn from Ichika, when she learns her world-traveling doctor mother won’t be able to make it home to share the shortcake she worked so hard on… now that feels real and compelling in a way that MTPC’s “all cute, all the time” aesthetic never did.

Look, I’m not expecting great art here. Precure, at its heart, is Power Rangers for girls: it’s a vehicle to sell toys and merch first and foremost, with everything else secondary. Despite that, though, the Precure franchise has managed to have moments of surprising depth, even beauty. The best of them have had fantastic character development in addition to the obligatory sparkly transformations, dramatic speeches and poses, and monster-pummeling fight scenes. I’ll take Madoka Magica (and, I’d argue, Cardcaptor Sakura, and most of most versions of Sailor Moon, with some well-known caveats) as the shining examples of what the genre can be… for Precure, I’ll settle for harmless fluff as long as it’s entertaining harmless fluff. Sometimes, as with Heartcatch and Go! Princess, it’s far more than that. It’s too early to tell whether KKPCALM (God, that acronym) will be one of the greats or just a fun way to spend each week, but I have my hopes up.

And that’s about it. I watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens again, with my mom this time, and… what else is there to say, really? It’s still a fantastic film, and for me it held up just as well the third time as it did the first two. I didn’t find out until about fifteen minutes in that Mom has never seen the original trilogy, though… so that’s one of my projects for the coming weeks.

– BHS

  • Tasakeru Book III: Soulsnatcher, Chapter 2: COMPLETE!
  • Tasakeru Patreon: 2 Patrons (Reward Tiers Updated!)
  • Book II Appendix: 0.5 pages done
  • Shattered Skies Chapter 24: 4 pages done

(Originally posted on DA: http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2017-Week-6-662046912)

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SOULSNATCHER, CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 2

Caution and conquest

A monster and a maiden

The theft of a soul

 

“Being haunted is the mark of people who have made important decisions. Some of us are haunted by mistakes we’ve made; failures and flaws; words spoken in anger; lovers lost;  misdeeds that can never be redeemed; the best of intentions, gone wrong. And some of us are haunted by doing the right thing, because sometimes that can be the the worst of all.”

[Final words of Lady Crocus Argenteus, 31st Grand Mistress of the Silver Order, Years 1201 – 1240]

 

“I don’t know about this, Faun.”

“Come on, don’t be so timid. He’s right there.”

“But-”

“Look, Flowers. As your friend, I’m telling you to go for it. You know you’re never going to do it if you keep hesitating. It’s your move, it’s your moment. Go.

“I just don’t think it’s right.”

“What’s not right about it? He’s open, you know he is. Yours for the taking, so take the advantage, girl! Get over there and rut him..”

“A-all right…” With trembling fingers, Hanami reached for the carved wooden figure. Her eyes were set as she moved the scout over the head of Faun’s paladin and placed it in the square behind it. Satisfied, she took up the captured paladin and dropped it in the cloth pouch on her side of the board.

Faun waited until her paladin was in the bag, then leaned forward. “You’re sure, right? You’re positive that’s your move?”

Hanami nodded. “Yes.”

The vixen’s face split into a triumphant grin that stretched from ear to pointed ear. “Gotcha!” Snatching up her scholar, she jumped it over Hanami’s scout… and her mage, and her archer, then finally over her noble, knocking it over for good measure. “Shouri. You owe me two hundred tri.”

A moan of despair escaped Hanami. “Not again” After handing over her coins, she slumped in her seat. Her tail drooped in abject misery. “That’s four games in a row. Faun, you’re a genius at this game, I don’t know how you talk me into this…”

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