BHS Blogress Report: 2019, Week 3 – Change of Plans

Week 3 – Change of Plans
I hate to have to do this, but I’m canceling the Silent InvenTOYry Semi-Short episode that would have gone up at the end of the month. Looking at the next couple months’ worth of expenses, I think it’s for the best if I hold off purchasing the figure I had in mind, which was really nice but relatively low-priority on my wishlist, and instead save up for one of the Big Ones, something I’m dying to get my hands on. So you will get SISS Episode 5 at some point, it’ll just be covering a different item and releasing at a later date.
Speaking of SI, as you can see up there, work is progressing nicely on Episode 09. Filming is about 70% done; there’s an outdoor gag I still need to shoot and two more portions of the review to do, but assuming nothing needs to be reshot, I should be in good shape to post the episode within the week. One full day spent editing ought to be enough to get it out the door… I hope.
Looking at the listings for this anime season, I really thought it would be a dry spell after last season’s bevy of interesting shows. The first week’s worth has proven me wrong yet again, it looks like. First up in my watchlist is Dororo, based on an unfinished manga by the God of Manga himself, Osamu Tezuka. One of his darker works, it takes place in a particularly hellish depiction of the Sengoku era, opening with a power-hungry lord bargaining with forty-eight demons for his own personal glory. The demons take the… well, pretty much everything from his newborn infant son as the cost, leaving the baby with no eyes, no nose, no skin, no arms, and no legs… but somehow still alive. The lord’s attempt to quietly get rid of the poor thing doesn’t take, and he shows up sixteen years later as a badass demon hunter whose entire body, more or less, is prosthetics and hidden weapons. Killing one demon to save a cocky little thief named Dororo restores his skin… so, one gathers, the plot involves him tracking down the rest of the forty-eight to recover all the body parts he lost. I described the show to EvilNeko as “the weirdest example of Mega Manning ever”, and in fact the story was adapted in video game form for the PS2 fifteen years ago… Anyway, as far as great hooks for a series go, that’s way up there, I think. The fight animation is gorgeous, and I can’t wait to see what hidden gadgets our demon slayer will pull out of his artificial parts next.
The second is The Promised Neverland. All I’m willing to say about it is that it reminds me of Made in Abyss in terms of “seemingly cute and innocuous series has absolutely horrible things happening to small children underneath the surface”. Granted, in Neverland’s case, the darkness isn’t hiding very far under the surface, but the question of “What do we do now?” makes a pretty compelling reason to tune in, I think. So long as you can stomach the very real possibility of adorable kids meeting gruesome ends, I give this one an earnest recommendation.
I also need to give credit to my friend Ninty (go check out The Convergence, his magical girl crossover fanfic, which I’m beta reading! Leave comments and feedback, please!) for talking me into watching Symphogear, a magical girl franchise which I had heard of before but avoided due to some really bad info from the person who recommended it. I was led to believe it was “idol singers with light magical girl elements”, when in fact it’s the other way around: the show has a pretty impressive fusion of Nanoha and Madoka going in terms of the level of darkness (Madoka) and the magitech that the girls use to fight (Nanoha). And yes, they do sing while they’re fighting, and they do sing to activate their powers… but as jarring as that is at first, it fades into the background really quickly. The music is universally great, too, which helps! So you’ve got a girl named Hibiki (played by Madoka’s Aoi Yuuki, giving an awesomely hot-blooded performance) fighting off waves of horrible monsters called Noise by Bruce Lee-ing them to death, while her two (so far) teammates slice them up with swords and lots and lots of dakka… and they’re singing all the while. It’s a weird premise, but I swear the show makes it work. According to Ninty, the following seasons are even better… I can’t wait. No, before you ask, this does not mean that the Symphogears will be showing up in Shattered Skies… but a subtle indirect reference or two might make it in there at some point.
Speaking of Skies: after my brief hiatus, I’m slowly feeling the urge to get back to work on it. I really do need to finish my other projects first, but I have ideas percolating as to where to take the story next. More to come on this later.
– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2019, Week 2 – Back to Work, You Bum!

Week 2 – Back to Work, You Bum!
I ended up taking most of the last week off from creative stuff. I felt a creative burnout coming on, and I wanted to do whatever I could to head it off at the pass. So I’m trying to take small steps to get back in my groove, doing a little bit of work on Silent InvenTOYry each day, in increasing increments of time. Easing back into my groove, in other words. I may try to do the same with writing, perhaps make a little progress on Uravity Falls while Shattered Skies cools its heels for a bit.
I really do need to get the Appendix and Chapter 3 of Viluy’s Database out sometime this year. Those entries have been sitting there in the to-do list for way too long. At least this season’s new anime doesn’t have anywhere near as many interesting shows as last season did… that’s a strange thing to be thankful for, but less time spent keeping up with anime every week means more time spent doing other stuff. The itinerary for January is to get SI out first, then Twilight’s Dreaming Chapter 7, then finish my Hugtto Precure tributes (yes, tributes, plural) in time for the last episode at the end of the month.
Also on the subject of scheduling: I’ve decided to change up my streaming schedule a bit, partly to give myself an extra day to work on other stuff. I’m now going to be streaming Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 PM EST to 8 PM EST. It’s a half hour less each week in total, but I feel it’s a net gain overall.
Lots to do, but I always get through it somehow.
– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2019, Week 1 – Believing in Bunny Senpai

Week 1 – Believing in Bunny Senpai
Yeah, I’m calling this “2019, Week 1” even though 2019 hasn’t technically started yet. I mean, it’s better than calling it Week 53 of 2018, right?
It’s been semi-quiet today, for once. Holidays are always busy seasons for those of us in the petsitting business, but today was the first day in over a week that I haven’t had to get up and run out. Bless. I’m thinking tomorrow will probably be pretty low-energy too, since I suspect I might have caught a cold, but if I manage to work on anything, it’s probably going to be Silent InvenTOYry Episode 09, due out as early in January as possible. I’ve also got a Semi-Short episode in line for the end of the month and another full episode on track for early March, so you’ll be getting lots of SI goodness in the first part of the new year.
Speaking of project updates: since I put three Shattered Skies chapters up over the course of the past month, including one big event that I’ve been planning for an absurd length of time, I’m putting the story on temporary hiatus, for at least a week or two. After the rush to get Chapter 42 up and finished in time, I’m quite ready for a break where I can work on other things, including the Tasakeru chapter that I neglected for December. Fear not, as this is only until I can make up for all the lost time lately.
Special thanks are due to Neko / rinsweeb, who convinced me to try out one of this season’s anime, a series that I likely wouldn’t have picked up otherwise. That series is now one of my contenders for Anime of the Year; it basically grabbed hold of my heart in episode 3 and refused to let go. That series is Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny-Girl Senpai, based on a series of light novels by Hajime Kamoshida, author of The Pet Girl of Sakuraso and Just Because. Rascal is a hard sell based on the premise of its opening story arc, I admit: a teenage high school student named Sakuta Azusagawa sees the beautiful, famous actress and upperclassman Mai Sakurajima walk by him in a Playboy bunny girl outfit in the middle of a crowded library, but no one else seems to even notice her. Thus begins a relationship that’s probably one of the realest and most honest that I’ve ever seen in an anime; this is a power couple and watching them is a joy. For that matter, for a show that revolves around supernatural happenings with complicated quantum physics explanations, all the characters and their problems feel amazingly grounded in ways that you just don’t see often. Even better, Rascal seems to be a refutation to Japan’s horribly backwards attitude toward mental illness and seeking therapy. Having anime characters confronting their traumas through anything close to realistic psychotherapy, professional or not, is mind-blowing in ways I can’t explain without a multi-paragraph treatise on the cultural context, but having endured similar traumas to some of Rascal’s cast, it means the world to me. And dammit, when it comes to characters being able and willing to shoulder any humiliation gladly for the sake of those they love… I’m a sucker for that, and Rascal delivers in spades. I really can’t recommend this series enough; it’s miles deeper than it appears to be on the surface, and it feels both wildly unique and comfortingly familiar. Thanks again, Neko, for insisting that I try it. I owe you one, or several.
Anyway, that’s about it for the 2018 Blogress Report. May the next year be better, more peaceful, and more productive for all of us.
– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2018, Week 52 – A Very Short Holiday Message

Week 52 – A Very Short Holiday Message

I honestly have nothing to say this week, except that tonight’s the culmination of a mystery I’ve been building up for four years now, so I hope it’s not a disappointment.
Also, for those celebrating Christmas and those that aren’t, have a blessed holiday season. Peace and goodwill to all.
– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2018, Week 51 – Hypest

Week 51 – Hypest
The first part of this week’s Report will be a pretty significant downer, sorry. Skip the next two paragraphs if you’re not in the mood.
So, it’s been a week of two goodbyes, neither of which I wanted. Yesterday night at midnight I logged out of my Tumblr for the final time, as I took part in the Log Off protest against their authoritarian new policy. Yes, I know, Tumblr’s been a trash fire for some time, that this is just the last nail in its coffin, and that I’m better off migrating to a place that won’t shun or censor me or others like me for being who we are… but as awful as the site could be, it was my trash fire, dammit. I felt at home on Tumblr in a way I never have and never will on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. It was a place for weirdos and losers and rejects like me, for creatives of all kinds, for a unique batshit sense of humor. It was a place where you could share as much or as little as you wanted, without pressure. It was where I was exposed to perspectives far beyond my own, perspectives than helped me come out and be proud of myself when I had been so torn up inside about my identity. It was a cross-section of internet life, with all the positives and negatives that that entails. And I spent six years there, dammit. You don’t go to a place every day for six years without feeling anything. Going through all the posts that were accidentally ported to my website, I saw ten thousand little fragments of the past, of the person I was two and three and five years ago… what I was thinking, what I was laughing at, what I was watching. And now, because they’ve decided to embrace the hysterical right-wing puritanism of their parent company rather than stand up for their loyal users, it’s all over. The policy could be reversed tomorrow and I’d still never go back. The place has been tainted.
And on a related note… this weekend brought an abrupt and painful end to my beloved Super Best Friends, the LP/streaming group that’s been a constant in my life for the past seven years. It probably sounds stupid, me getting emotional over some guys on YouTube/Twitch that I’ve never met, but more than any other Internet personalities I’ve ever seen, the Best Friends felt… genuine. Less like lofty celebrities and more like your neighbors down the street. One of the highlights of my week for the last five years has been simply listening to them talk about their weeks on the Friendcast, about what’s going on in their lives. They were humble, they were real, they were self-deprecating but honest about their mistakes, and they were frequently hilarious… some of the hardest laughs I’ve had in the last ten years came from their misadventures. They felt, in some strange way, like family. So to hear that the channel is ending and the group is breaking up because Matt and Pat’s friendship has collapsed… my exact words to Drake were “This hurts my soul, man.” Of course they’re all continuing on with their own projects, and of course Pat and Woolie are continuing a new podcast by themselves, but now… I can’t. It won’t ever be the same. I’ll never hear them all laugh together again. A couple hours ago, I went to check my subscriptions for the new Friendcast like I do every Monday, purely out of habit, and it was like a punch to the gut. I said in my tribute message on their Reddit that I understand why it’s happening, and that I don’t want them to continue if it’s no longer bringing them any joy, but… but… Their stuff was my surefire method of cheering myself up whenever reality got too gloomy, and now it’s over. It’s gone, and the world seems much less funny. Regardless of my feelings, though, I want to thank Matt, Pat, Woolie, Liam, and all their friends and comrades, plus the group’s incredible fandom, for all these years. I hope that someday, now that the business aspect of the friendship is over and done, things will begin to heal.
Anyway. I’m making good progress on Shattered Skies Chapter 41, which I estimate is about halfway done at this point. If I can put in one or two more full days on it, I think I’ll be on track to hit my deadline of posting 42 on Christmas next week. I’m really, really proud of the fight scene I finished today, and I hope you all will love it.
My Steven Universe commentary returns tonight, now in its new home on my Pillowfort. I currently have no way to post the archives there, but I’m working on a new WordPress blog to preserve both those and the Star Vs Commentaries as they were on my Tumblr. The site still needs a lot of work, but it’s coming along. I hope that SU’s return can bring some much needed cheer to this week, because I really, really need it.
– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2018, Week 50 – Maintenance

Week 50 – Maintenance
Once again, thanks a heap, Tumblr. While attempting to archive my Steven Universe commentary on another WordPress blog for when I leave the site for good next week, I accidentally imported my BHSDesk Tumblr to Tasakeru.com… all 10,000 posts of it. Of course, there was no way to stop this once it started. My current WordPress platform doesn’t allow bulk deleting of posts without a plugin (at least, no bulk deleting of posts that actually works), so in order to get my site back in working order I had to make a (mercifully) temporary $300 upgrade. Once that was done, I found the UI for the top recommended bulk delete plugin was so needlessly confusing and convoluted that I ended up wiping out not only all the Tumblr posts, but also nearly every post made on my site before this past April… nine and a half years of work. For a very stressful ~18 hour period, I was ready to give the site up as a lost cause; reuploading the most recent versions of the chapters would have meant fixing hundreds of broken links and putting the site on hold for an indefinite period of time.
Fortunately, after much back-and-forth with tech support, I got the site restored to the way it was before the upgrade. Exactly the way it was, including those 10,000 Tumblr posts. Since I’m understandably sick of trying to deal with techs, I need to go in and delete those posts in batches of about 100 at a time… any more, and the script timeout renders the effort pointless. The process is about half done, and will probably take the rest of the week, but at least the chapters are all safe. Ugh.
Speaking of Tasakeru, I want to give special thanks to Equinox3141 for helping convert the first three books to epub format, making them much more accessible to new readers. I’ll be using these files when I finally publish on Amazon, hopefully early next year. Equinox is also doing a professional-quality audio reading of VDrake’s The Changeling of the Guard over on his YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2pd4K3-VbEMAa-tn92mIaA), so please go check him out and subscribe if you can. He do good stuff.
And on the subject of YouTube: I’ve dropped my subscriber count from the progress list down there. For reasons I don’t want to bother to figure out, ever since YT nuked my monetization status in June, I’ve been losing subscribers at a rate of about a dozen per week. Since it’s now been six months and I’ve yet to hear word one about the status of my reapplication, I’m forced to come to the conclusion that even if I do eventually get it restored, by the time that happens I’ll probably be below the minimum subscriber count if this keeps up. YouTube’s monetization policies are utter horseshit anyway, so I think my effort would be better spent focusing on my Twitch channel. I’m planning on doing some special stuff on there in the new year, which will hopefully push me over the required 50 follower mark so I can start making a small profit.
My, this is a cranky Report, isn’t it? Best do something about that.
Shattered Skies Chapter 40 got posted before the shit went down, so that’s good. This chapter is the start of the real meat of Act III, with the first targeted strike against Dead End, the introduction of a monster concept I’ve had in the works for a couple months, and the start of the first Cure Peace vs. Bad End Peace II fight, which is something I’ve been itching to do ever since I brought the latter into the story. You’ll see more of that fight in the next chapter, but I feel like now I can finally show why my version of BEP is found to be roughly equal parts hilarious and terrifying. Our girl Yayoi’s got her work cut out for her, but I think you’ll love what I have in mind for her counterattack.
The goal is to get 41 out late this week or early next, so that 42 and its big reveal will be on schedule for Christmas. I already have a couple pages of 42 written and in my notes, and I’ve got a pretty clear picture of how it’s gonna go, so it should come out pretty fast. Just gotta finish the big fight in 41 first. Wish me luck.
– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2018, Week 49 – It All Comes Tumbling Down

Week 49 – It All Comes Tumbling Down

This has been a goddamn frustrating day. I had a figure order I was waiting for for three weeks finally arrive today, and the second I took the box out of the packaging I could tell something was wrong. The box itself was damaged, dirty, and unsealed. The figure’s arms had multiple visible spots, which were either significant paint flaws, degraded plastic, dirt, or (so help me) mold. More paint flaws were clearly visible on one hand and the lower torso. And worst of all, the eyes on one of the faceplates were at eight o’clock and noon positions, making what should have been an intimidating scowl look ridiculous. Any one of these things would have been suspect; considering all of them, I have little doubt that the seller sent me a Chinese bootleg, despite their insistence when I opened a prior case that they only deal in genuine items. Needless to say, I sent it right back and requested a full refund. I was going to try to start a photo project with it if it checked out, but like hell am I letting something that’s possibly growing mold near my other figures. So that’s on hold for now.
And, as I’m sure you’ve probably heard by now, Tumblr decided to alienate ~80% of its userbase in favor of the almighty dollar, and announced that they’re banning all “adult content” from their site. The working title for this edition was “Go Fuck Yourself, Tumblr”, but as my mother still reads this blog, I decided against it. Not that “Go Fuck Yourself, Tumblr” doesn’t articulate my feelings on the matter, but. It doesn’t matter that this will accomplish precisely nothing, that the algorithm they’re using to determine what is and isn’t “adult” is irreparably broken, that thousands of creators’ livelihoods are now at risk without an audience… as usual, hysterical self-righteous puritanism (and of course, those advertising dollars) win out over any number of angry users.
What really stinks about this is the transparent attempt to spin it as taking a moral stand. This was never about getting rid of CP; a spokesman for Tumblr straight up admitted it. This was a cowardly stunt by Tumblr’s parent company Verizon to try to pacify its investors long enough to sell the works. This was desperate groveling to get the mobile app relisted on the App Store because all that money. Well, congratulations, Tumblr, you’ve just saved a dead site.
We’re already seeing the results, two weeks before the deadline. Perfectly innocent posts of same-sex couples holding hands or kissing are being tagged en masse as “sensitive” or “explicit” material, as are any posts complaining about the situation, posts about progressive causes and non-violent political protests, and quite a few entire fandom tags (such as “precure”, “mlp”, etc) have been blacklisted, rendering them invisible to the site’s search engine or to Google. Basically whatever the executives don’t agree with is being flagged or outright purged, and they expect us to believe this is in the interest of “a happier, more positive Tumblr”. Horse shit. This was an excuse to slash and burn all those nasty non-white, non-straight, non-cisgender, non-conservative, anti-corporate heathens that had been fouling up their site. Verizon’s made no secret of where they lie; frankly, I’m astonished that this didn’t happen long before now. And instead of actually taking steps to fix the problem, such as building a moderation system that actually works, stemming the pornbot epidemic, or heaven forbid, going after the hate blogs, trolls, and neo-Nazis infesting the site, they do this. I hope they’re proud of themselves, the hypocritical bastards.
Hell yes, I’m pissed off. Tumblr was the first social media site where I felt I belonged. It was where I shed some of my ignorance about people outside my experience, and its users helped me to realize things about myself that I never knew. I met friends through there, I found great artists, writers, and creatives. I discovered fandoms that I never would have otherwise. I even managed to carve out my own little niche.
Well, all that’s over. My BHSDesk blog will stay up, at least until I finish backing it up and transferring elsewhere, but aside from sharing info about the purge, I’m done posting there. You can now find me on Pillowfort.io at http://www.pillowfort.io/bhsdesk once PF is back up, and I’m starting the process of transferring my Steven Universe Commentary and other posts to WordPress. Links will come later when everything’s in working order.
Expect a new Shattered Skies chapter later this week, and a new LP starting on Friday. For now, I’m gonna watch some happy stuff to try to get my mind off all this fuckery.
– BHS

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BHS Belated Blogress Report: 2018, Week 48 – I Know It’s Late, Dammit

Week 48 – I Know It’s Late, Dammit

I should have done this last night, but it completely slipped my mind. I guess doing the Thankful List special edition threw off my timing.
Well, anyway. Since most of the major happenings of the past week were covered there, I don’t have all that much to talk about. I’m in crunch mode as far as writing goes, trying to get out Chapter 40 of Shattered Skies and Chapter 6 of Twilight’s Dreaming by the end of the week so I can hit my self-imposed deadline of posting Chapter 42 of the former on or near Christmas.
As it happens, as I was writing this, I had a major breakthrough on Chapter 6. I ended up writing seven pages just tonight, and the only things that are left are the flavor text and the chapter haiku. You’d think this is some kind of record… but then, this chapter has a very unusual structure. Thinking of doing it this way was what prompted my breakthrough. Hey, whatever works. If all goes well, I’ll put the finishing touches on it and post it tomorrow. I’m still waiting on VDrake‘s take, but I think I’ve stumbled on something kind of brilliant.
Anyway, that’s about it. Go welcome my good friend Neko to DA, she joined this week under the name rinsweeb. Shower her with affection and llamas, because I demand it. And tell her to CALM DOWN, NEKO, because she always needs to hear it. :P

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BHS Blogress Report: 2018, Week 47 – Placeholder

Week 47 – Placeholder

This was going to be a standard Report up until a few hours ago, when I started feeling bad. “Bad” has rapidly downgraded to “awful”, so I’m putting the updated list of projects up now and doing my usual Report discussion and content with the annual Thankful List (to be posted on DA, link forthcoming) on Thursday, by which I’ll be feeling better, hopefully. Sorry.
– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2018, Week 46 – A Little Bit of Light

Week 46 – A Little Bit of Light

I woke up on Wednesday morning, and for the first time in more than two years, I didn’t feel complete dread for the future. It’s a funny thing… the world isn’t really all that much different than it was last week. We made a little bit of progress, we had a lot of good news and a lot of bad news too… but more good than bad. It’s like I have a different perspective now that I couldn’t see before. There’s a little bit of light ahead… not much, but it’s enough.
I’m realizing just how smart it was to cut the news out of my life. I used to feel guilty if I didn’t at least stay informed as to what was going on in the world… but as I mentioned last week, following the headlines just made me angry all the time and pushed me into a breakdown. So from now on, I intend to stay informed, but in a broader, more general sense. No more rage-bingeing on politics for me, I’mma take care of myself.
Anyway, other stuff happened: a new chapter of Shattered Skies that I just dropped today, for one. I’m now aiming to get to Chapter 42 and its big reveal by Christmas, so I have a goal to shoot for. Chapter 39 was mostly setup, I grant you, but it begins to set the stage not just for the first real clash between Dead End and the Morning Lights, but for the readers finding out who Fantine really is. I’m also really proud of both the big speech she gives in this chapter on the nature of the Seeds and the conversation between Homura and Hotaru. The latter is something I had written and in my notes for at least two years… I see so many parallels between them that I couldn’t help but plan for them to interact like this. Hotaru’s lines about sadness and about not hating yourself come right from me… how appropriate that this is the week I post them.
In other news, a silly post I made on Tumblr and shared with both the Precure Discord server and the Precure subreddit gained surprising popularity… it was a mock “ranking” of all the Precure leaders, the central joke being that I was claiming not to be biased while including a cheap shot at Cure Miracle in almost every single entry. I got numerous requests to do the rest of the Cures, and so the “Precure Ranking” project was born, nay, unleashed upon the world. Despite the burst of fandom drama that accompanied the first post, I’ve had tons of fun doing the subsequent ones, and there’s at least three more coming. Enjoy, and remember, do not take it seriously.
 
Doctor Who aired another masterpiece last night, “Demons of the Punjab”. It concerned a subject I had absolutely no knowledge of, that being the Partition of India in 1947 that gave rise to the nation of Pakistan, but that didn’t matter. The story was small-scale, it was personal, it was phenomenally well-acted, and it made its point magnificently. I’m not ashamed at all to say that I wept at the ending, and as I said in my summary on Tumblr, that’s one of the highest compliments a writer can give or get. This episode is one of the reasons I love Doctor Who, one of the ones that make me proud to call myself a fan.
And then there’s SSSS.Gridman, which I also loved but I cannot talk about because ARRRRGH. Just… see it for yourself.
Anyway. Gonna try to do some Tasakeru and Uravity Falls with this week, or maybe work on the long-stalled Appendix and Viluy’s Database. We’ll see.
RIP Stan Lee, Marvel legend. One of the greatest storytellers of our age. His work will outlive us all.
– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2018, Week 45 – Staying Angry

Week 45 – Staying Angry

It may come as a surprise to some of you, seeing as I make a name for myself putting characters I love through the wringer, but in real life, I actually hate conflict. I’ve gotten myself into numerous very bad situations over the years because when conflict is happening or seems imminent, I almost always back down in an effort to resolve it as quickly as possible. I get incredibly uncomfortable if I’m in the same room with people having a heated argument, for example. Anger and frustration, even righteous anger and frustration, exhaust me like little else does.
So when I say that in certain circumstances, it’s critical to stay angry, I want you, the reader, to fully understand how significant it is. This is one of those times. No matter what happens tomorrow, we need to stay angry until the greedy, xenophobic fascists who have hijacked this country are brought to justice one and all.
That said, staying angry takes a hell of a toll. I’ve been on a self-imposed exile from the news for the past week-plus, because the constant outrages of the headlines were pushing me toward a breakdown. Raise hell, by all means, but if it starts to adversely affect your health, physical or mental… step back. You can’t fight if you destroy yourself to do it.
Self-destruction is something I’m intimately familiar with. I said last week that Chapter 5 of Twilight’s Dreaming came from a really personal place, and reading it should make it obvious what I meant by that. All my characters are little pieces of me, and I’m telling you here and now that I’ve been both Hanami and Zero in this chapter. Depression is terrifying in a way that people who don’t suffer from it just can’t understand… when you’re on the brink and staring into the abyss, it warps your very perception of reality. I’m attempting to channel that fear into my work, and I hope I’m succeeding, but… well.
Anyway. I’m making progress on both Shattered Skies Chapter 39 and Uravity Falls Chapter 3. Tomorrow, after I get hope from voting, I’m going to cut myself off from reality for the day, and pour all my energy into getting stuff done. I can try getting angry again the day after that, but for my own sake, I need one more day of respite.
– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2018, Week 44 – Close to Home

Week 44 – Close to Home
Not much to talk about this week, sorry. I’m pushing myself to get Chapter 5 of Twilight’s Dreaming done by the end of the month. This is a difficult chapter to write, because it’s supposed to be intensely emotional… and it involves drawing on experiences and aspects of myself that aren’t pleasant in the least. I wonder if that’s part of the reason I’ve been putting it off. God knows I don’t need any additional reasons to feel depressed these days. That’s part of the reason I decided to avoid as much of the news as I can until at least Election Day. It’s not that I don’t care, far from it… it’s just self-preservation at this point.
Anyway, those of you who watch my streams should know that I’ve made some significant changes and upgrades to my setup. Among other changes, you’ll now earn eternal loyalty points for every ten minutes you watch, which can be redeemed for all kinds of neat stuff. I’m hoping this will drive engagement to my channel, because I’d really like to upgrade to a better webcam by the end of the year. The one I have is ten years old, which is damn near ancient as far as these things go. I’ll be alternating between playing The Messenger and My Hero One’s Justice for the foreseeable future until I finish one of them.
– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2018, Week 43 – Star☆Twinkle!

Week 43 – Star☆Twinkle!
The title and logo of the next Precure series has apparently leaked, as usually happens around this time of year. Assuming it’s accurate, 2019’s team will be StarTwinkle Precure. I admit, I was a little worried that Hugtto was shaping up to be the franchise’s grand finale, what with the All-Stars returning. The past two episodes in particular went the extra mile and brought back characters I was sure would never be seen or referenced again, making for a sort of mini-All-Stars separate from the new movie. In the event that Hugtto was the last, I was prepared to say that they’re going out on a hell of a high note, but I’m glad I’m wrong. Of course, it’ll be sad to see the Hugtto Cures go when the time comes, but… so it goes.
So, the title seems to suggest a space theme for next year. I’m making a prediction that the Cures’ names will be based on constellations (as with last year’s Super Sentai, Kyuranger) but I think it would be great if Toei surprised us all and themed them around astronomy and science instead. We’ll see. The speculation will of course run rampant for the next few weeks until the first official art hits the net, but until then the guessing game will be fun.
Next, I want to plug a new anime that I don’t think is getting enough attention. Release the Spyce is a new original series from Lay-Duce, concerning an organization of ninja/spy girls called “Tsukikage” that has been operating in secret since Japan’s Warring States era, and their battles against a sinister crime syndicate. Your standard Ordinary High School Girl Protagonist gets scouted by the team to become their newest member, and it turns out that of course they’re all her classmates… including the one girl she has a not-so-secret crush on, who starts mentoring her in the art. The Tsukikage fight crime using a combination of ninja weapons and techniques, high-tech gadgets, modern weaponry, and “Spyce”, a substance that essentially overclocks their brains and bodies for a limited time when they eat it.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that this premise is ridiculous. I described it to VDrake as “the most anime thing ever”, and I meant it. Release the Spyce probably won’t be a masterpiece by any stretch of the word, but it’s got adorable characters, neat action scenes, a surprisingly dark underlying story arc, a kickass opening theme… and most importantly, it’s fun. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, and after three incredibly solid episodes, I’m eager to see where it goes. If ninja-spy-high school action with heavy yuri subtext sounds like your bag, check it out.
On the personal front: work continues on all my usual stuff, but I’m also trying to get back in the streaming business on a regular basis. I’ve been playing The Messenger over on my Twitch channel (http://twitch.tv/bhsdesk, followers needed), but at the end of the week I’ll be getting hold of My Hero Academia: One’s Justice, the first proper console game for the HeroAca franchise. Starting then, I’ll be alternating between Messenger and One’s Justice, and I may even have a special event or two for the latter. Come check me out if you get the chance, please!
– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2018, Week 42 – They’re Scrapped Ideas for a Reason

Week 42 – They’re Scrapped Ideas for a Reason
Shattered Skies turned four yesterday. For something that started partly as a self-imposed challenge, I think it’s turned out remarkably coherent, don’t you? I hope you all enjoyed the pic I made to celebrate, linked below:
I experimented a bit with the lighting effects this time around, and I really like how it turned out.
So, as additional bonus content for the fourth anniversary of my passion project, I thought I’d share a few concepts from the story that got changed or left on the cutting room floor. For some of them, it should be obvious why I edited or scrapped them… for others, maybe not so much.
Please be advised, these will be *SPOILERS* for those of you who aren’t yet caught up with the recent chapters.
In chronological order:
  • Joker was going to appear in person in all five Vertices during the Invasion arc. I scaled this back because I thought doing so would dilute his presence and potentially make people tired of him too early.
  • The merged Moebius-Pharaoh 90 entity was going to essentially turn Carnaaji into a planet-sized fortress for Dead End, as a staging ground to attack the TSAB. I couldn’t figure out how to make it work, and I felt the heroes needed to foil at least one of Joker’s many plots during the Invasion chapters… so I had the Arc-en-Ciel successfully destroy Moebius 90, but not Unison!Will.
  • The Princess Precure weren’t going to be in the story at all. When I started it in 2014, I fully intended to have Happiness Charge be the cutoff point, and both Cure Fortune and Cure Princess were going to make it to the Lighthouse. This was partly because I was convinced that Go! Princess would be an off year. By the time I actually got to writing the Precureverse Invasion chapters, though,GoPrin had become one of my all-time favorite Precure series, and I decided I had to include the team. Because of that, poor Hime got left behind…
  • I also considered sparing one of the Fresh Cures, which at various times was going to be Peach, Pine, or Passion. Then I considered that Passion reverting back into Eas had a ton of potential, and, well…
  • Artemis was going to die in the Sailorverse Invasion arc, when the Senshi were trapped inside the merged Labyrinth. He was going to be hit by one of the Familiars of Gisela, the motorcycle Witch, and die in Sailor Venus’s arms. That was going to be the reason she snapped and attacked Joker with the Holy Sword. I scrapped this one because there were way too many important things happening in those chapters. The death of such an important member of the Sailor Moon supporting cast just couldn’t be given proper weight with everything else I had to work in. This was a last-minute decision; I was in the process of writing the scene in Gisela’s part of the Labyrinth when I changed my mind.
  • It took forever to decide which Senshi would make it to the Lighthouse. Usagi was always a given, as were Chibi-Usa and Hotaru, but at one time or another nearly all the others were being considered as casualties. The final decision came down to which characters I thought would make for the most interesting interactions going forward. The ones captured and converted by Dead End were largely chosen because having them on the side of the Lights would given them too much of an advantage… Ami in particular, being a super-genius doctor and all.
  • On a related note, either Mami or Kyoko was going to escape from Vertex Five along with Madoka and Homura… until I realized that the only way to keep Homura’s actions secret was to be sure she and Madoka escaped alone.
  • Chapter 21 was going to be merged into what became Chapter 22, then it was going to be scrapped altogether, then I changed my mind. The real-life stuff happening that week convinced me that it absolutely had to be a standalone chapter. It’s loosely based on a conversation between myself and :devVDrake: that happened the night before I posted it. He didn’t slap me, but he did give me a much-needed talking-to very similar to the one Erika gave Tsubomi.
  • Yayoi and Yui’s relationship was written in almost entirely out of spite. I know how horrible that sounds, but bear with me: a friend of mine was writing his own Smile/GoPrin crossover in which Yayoi and Yui got together, and I couldn’t believe how perfectly they fit together, or that I hadn’t thought of it first. That story was then rewritten to remove Yayoi entirely, in favor of giving Yui Precure powers… I was so enraged at the loss of my YaYui adorableness that I vowed to write it into my story instead. Make of that what you will.
  • The name “Operation Batman” was VDrake’s idea. He suggested it as a joke. As with quite a lot of the ideas that we toss back and forth, I thought it was good/bad enough to use for real.
  • I always planned to have a nightmare fuel orifice invasion scene with Jamanen (a shoutout to a notorious scene from Batman Beyond), but it wasn’t always going to end with someone being Jellaxified. My original plan was to have Jamanen attempt to possess the unfortunate victim from inside… and said victim would regain control long enough to beg Cure Black to “punch me in the stomach… as hard as you can!” That would, ahem, cause Jamanen to be expelled from her victim in a spectacularly disgusting fashion. I went back and forth on that one before deciding that it would raise the stakes much higher to have one of the rescue team be assimilated successfully.
  • Part of the Jamais Ville sequence were written with the help of Forzare, my Stars Above co-author. They’ve always had a flair for surreal horror.
  • Chibi-Usa was going to have a scene in Jamais Ville where she turned a corner and temporarily ended up back in Tokyo in Vertex One, right in front of the jewelry store. She would then see a little of what had happened since the Senshi all left Earth. As with the earlier example in the Labyrinth, I thought there was too much going on already to do that scene justice, so I cut it. I actually have about two pages of that scene written, so I might reuse it in some form.
  • When the post-GoPrin Precure continuities are attacked by “the entity”, the original plan was to have it appear at the precise moment in each series where the main character first encounters the supernatural, thus ending their stories before they began. Up to the point where I was halfway through writing Ichika’s scene in the KKPCALM-verse, my intention was to insert “the entity” into the Hugtto-verse at the moment in the first episode when Hana’s about to get hit by the baseball and time freezes as she hears Hugtan’s voice crying out. I was going to move its entry to later in the episode, in the scene where Hana stands on her balcony and talks about her future… but I relented because I honestly couldn’t bear to wipe Hana from existence right after her inspiring “You can be anything! You can do anything!” speech. I may be cruel and sadistic to the characters I love, but even I’m not totally heartless… much as my reputation may suggest the contrary.
  • Speaking of relenting: Yuko/Cure Honey was going to die right after she woke up in Chapter 37. The damage the Merry-Go-Round inflicted on her was going to be fatal, as part of the original plan to make Chapter 37 as bleak as I could. After talking it over with VDrake, I realized that Yuko dying would take away from the gravitas of losing Alph a few scenes later… and I was already concerned about the chapter being too dark, which led to me moving up the birth of the Umino’s baby. So I had Yuko survive, albeit badly injured and without her Cure powers.
  • And finally, there were many, many names I considered for the Lightouse faction before I chose “the Morning Lights”. I mentioned to a few people that I had a devil of a time thinking of something that was as effective and elegant as “Dead End”. The list of rejected names is below, copied directly from my 70-plus(!!!) pages of notes. The last one on the list was almost finalized, to the point where I had an updated version of the cover with that name finished and ready to upload… but ultimately I decided that I needed something more hopeful and less fatalistic. So here’s what almost was…

    Children of the Stars

    Children of Cosmos

    Children of the Lighthouse

    Alpha Dogs

    Alpha Wolves

    Toudai-gun (Japanese for “Lighthouse army”)

    Toudai-dan (“Lighthouse brigade”)

    Toudaimori (“Lighthouse keeper[s]”)

    [Dai]Goten-gun (“[Great] five star army”)

    [Dai]Goten-dan (“[Great] five star brigade”)

    Lumos

    Army of Solace

    Stellar Solace

    Hearts of the Stars

    Solace of the Stars

    Daybreak

    Signal [Beam]

    The Crossroads

    TsuKiMiTaKa (“Look at the moon,” from Tsukino, Kinomoto, Misumi, Takamachi, and Kaname)

    Last Lights

Whew! I don’t know how much of thatif any of itwas of interest to you guys, but you got a peek inside my thought process, at least.
Now then. This week saw the publication of Chapter 2 of Uravity Falls, which turned out quite nicely, I think. My next item of business is to get Chapter 5 of Twilight’s Dreaming done… I’m also trying to get back into streaming with The Messenger, in preparation for the launch of My Hero One’s Justice on the 26th. Busy busy busy.
– BHS

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BHS Blogress Report: 2018, Week 41 – Downs and Ups

Week 41 – Downs and Ups
It’s a hell of a thing to go from feelings of impending doom to rabid fanboy excitement within 24 hours. Saturday was… not great, for obvious reasons, but by Sunday, I was determined to put real world shit aside and focus on the highlight of the week: Jodie Whittaker’s first episode as the Thirteenth Doctor. There were some technical setbacks which prevented me from live streaming my reactions, unfortunately… but I was able to do a live blog over on my Tumblr for the big event. Whatever else happens, wherever the show goes from here, I’m proud that I was able to share that moment with so many fans… lots and lots and lots of fans. One of the headlines in my feed today was that the premiere’s ratings were the highest the show has had in ten years, and it was watched by over eight million people from around the world, including the attendees who watched it with Jodie herself at NYCC. As far as new beginnings go, you can’t ask for much better than that. I’m totally psyched for what comes next, especially episode 3…
So, I cranked out the first chapter of Shattered Skies Act III a couple days ago. This chapter was a brief interlude, showing things from Sayaka’s perspective in Dead End. It featured the first extended look at Kanna Kise/Bad End Peace II, who’s the closest thing this story has to an Original Character. Kanna actually predates Shattered Skies by about two years… she was spawned from my mind pretty much fully formed almost immediately after I saw the first leaked images of Bad End Peace from what was then an upcoming episode of Smile Precure. Though the episode wasn’t set to air for another month-plus, I instantly started making headcanons for what BEP and the others might be like.
Of course, as with so many other aspects of Smile, the Bad End Cures turned out to be a massive waste of potential, with the five of them combined having at most 20 minutes of screen time. I was ready to forgive the show’s other flaws if they gave us a knock-down, drag-out fight between the Cures and their evil counterparts over the course of the last few episodes, ending with a showdown with Joker, but… well. Let’s just say that much of Joker’s disgust with Pierrot in the fic is me venting about how the franchise’s most deliciously vile villain got shoved out of the way to make room for what was pretty much the definition of a Generic Doomsday Monster.
But anyway, back to Kanna… of course, I wasn’t going to let a little thing like horrifically wasted potential stop me from doing the concept my way. My Bad End Peace, later to be named “Kanna” to distinguish her from Yayoi (“Yayoi” and “Kanna” both come from the old Japanese calendar. “Kanna” is also the name of the Ainu goddess of lightning… which I did not know when I picked out her name, but which I chalk up to being divinely inspired) was a hyperactive, psychotic little hellion who dubbed herself The Most Perverted Sentient Being in the Multiverse™ (she earned that title by having sex with persons of all genders, animals, plants, furniture, abstract concepts, and Tuesday), dropped anime references by the truckload, and smashed the poor fourth wall to itty-bitty pieces. I still don’t know what dark and twisted corner of my brain was responsible for her, but she’s one of those rare instances where a character takes their own reins and dictates their own words and actions with almost no input from me, the writer who is allegedly in charge. I learned early on that Kanna absolutely refused to be filtered, so I just let her run wild… and the result was some of the most offensive, most demented, and (arguably) most hilarious material I’ve ever written.
Naturally, when I decided to import a version of Kanna into Shattered Skies, I knew that I’d have to tone her down a bit. This Kanna has a far more horrifying backstory, after all… she’s an innocent victim whose mind was thoroughly broken by Joker, rather than a creation of his that went rogue. As you can see from the chapter, however, she wouldn’t let me tone her down that much… I think I’ve found a decent balance for her that fluctuates between funny and disturbing, but we’ll see how well she holds up.
And speaking of Shattered Skies, I still need to come up with something for the 4th anniversary this week. Maybe another photo shoot, I dunno.
– BHS

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