#17 The GaMERCaT

The GaMERCaT. “What is ‘The GaMERCaT?” I pretend to hear some of you ask. Ah, dear followers, The GaMERCaT. How to describe The GaMERCaT? I hear his fur’s insured for a million dollars… One time he clawed me in the face… it was awesome. Oh. Wait. No, that’s the plotline to something else entirely (possibly, no one knows).

The GaMERCaT is a cute and kinda sassy webcomic that I have absolutely no recollection of how I stumbled upon it. But it’s pretty awesome.

Samantha Whitten, GaMERCaT’s creator, has come up with a sometimes-snappish but still likeable character that adores gaming. GaMERCat is relatable to any gender – because gaming, my friends, is not for any specific gender. Everyone can enjoy it. Even cats, with no opposable thumbs (yet, they may evolve sooner or later).

The great thing about these comics is that you don’t even need to have played every game Whitten references in order to enjoy the artwork and the storylines. In fact, really, you don’t even need to have played any game, though it does give you a little bit of a warm, smug feeling when you can nod your head along because you too have been there, rolling around on the DDR mat because your feet aren’t as co-ordinated as your thumbs.

GaMERCaT’s humour is just so easy to slip into; he’s almost like the black cat version of ourselves (or at least, myself. I find myself chuckling along because some of the responses just feel so familiar). It’s not over the top, nor is it too subtle. It’s just right in that it can be appreciated by almost everyone.

Though I don’t recall how I found this webcomic, I do remember expecting it to be something along the lines of Scott Ramsoomair’s VG Cats. And, yeah, okay, it kind of is a little. But the characters are distinctly different, the artistic approach just as good-looking but still very much Whitten’s own*. Let’s face it though, one can never have enough gaming kitties on the internet. Or cats in general (I Can Has Cheezburger, anyone?).

“Okay,” I hear you say now. “So it’s a cute cat on the internet, so what? Plenty of people can scribble one of those up in a jiffy.” Ahh. Well, that’s where Samantha Whitten has one up on the rest of us. Her comic based on the game Journey (that really interesting, quirky game that I only actually discovered a couple of months ago) has been featured in the official The Art of Journey book, in the fan-art segment. That’s pretty cool, you have to admit.

At the moment, Whitten is considering putting GaMERCaT into print. Like several other webcomics I read, this will probably involve using Kickstarter to help fund the project. If you check out the website and enjoy GaMERCaT as much as I do, you can keep an eye on the updates posted with each new comic and see how the project gets along. Definitely check it out though, if you’re into gaming and/or kitties. Who doesn’t love kitties (except maybe those with allergies)?

 

 

 
*This is not me saying Whitten has read or been inspired by VG Cats (because I just don’t know that, and she states herself that GaMERCat was inspired and modelled on her very own cat). It’s just me pointing out similarities in content.

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#16 Dance Dance Dance – Haruki Murakami

ddd

Haruki Murakami… Pretty sure you guys know I’m a big fan of his writing already; idiosyncratic prose where no word is unnecessary, sentences and story lines that leave you disjointed at the end of the chapter. I have to admit, after reading Sputnik Sweetheart, I was a little disappointed, so I avoided picking up his books again. It’s probably my least favourite of his that I’ve read so far, and for some reason that prejudice prevented me from picking up old favourites like Kafka on the Shore because I just couldn’t get back into reading them.

Dance Dance Dance changed all that.

This. This is a book I can quite easily fall in love with. It is deceptively dark and sinister, something you only realise as the novel peaks and falls. The unnamed narrator is as rich and interesting a character as After Dark‘s Takahashi; there is something charismatic about their plainness. Murakami’s female characters are often striking – they have a strangely attractive physical feature or mental lure to them, whilst the men are usually without these particular characterisations.

I don’t want to go into too much depth about the plot because the whole ‘spoiler alert’ system sometimes grates on my nerves and I don’t know how you guys will perceive that. Basics of the basic, a commercial journalist sets out to find someone who he thinks is crying for him and ends up on a journey looking for an ex-girlfriend with beautiful ears, befriending an old high-school friend turned popular actor and a snappish psychic 13 year old.

Apparently this is the final in a trilogy (preceded by Pinabll, 1973 and A Wild Sheep Chase); I would have picked up copies if my local bookstore stocked more than the keystones of Murakami (it’s a tiny, tiny place. The local McDonalds and chip shop are actually bigger than the bookstore…). Maybe next time!

Bare bones

Bare bones

Above is a link to the latest in my collection of blogs… (not including separationdrip here, I currently try to manage about three, though fortunately they’re not entirely serious endeavours, though posting updates to keep others in the loop is sometimes surprisingly draining).

I’ve never really posted my poetry before (save an early draft here on separationdrip a few months ago), but I figured I’d risk it! I’m only putting the bare bones up for now, the skeletal first drafts. Maybe I’ll flesh them out later when uni isn’t driving me to insomnia, or add some of my poetry portfolio drafts (usually in their fourth or fifth rewrite) once the assignment deadline is gone – because who wants to get in trouble for self-plagiarising?

But yes, there in the link lies the foundation blocks for some of my recent poetic adventures…

EDIT: WordPress didn’t put the link in correctly, so here it is -> click

#15 Elantris – Brandon Sanderson

Elantris UK

Recently (as in the last two months kind of recently), I’ve been reading Brandon Sanderson novels. I picked up Warbreaker a couple of months ago when it was on offer in Waterstones, and actually really enjoyed it. Both Warbreaker and Elantris are stand-alone novels, though I actually wish there were, if not sequels, then at least other novels set in the same ‘verse. Post Warbreaker, my mother and I both bought the three Mistborn books between us and devoured them pretty quickly. There’s a fourth Mistborn book already published (though not related to the characters from the original trilogy) and a fifth apparently in the pipelines. However, the Mistborn series isn’t my main focus today.

Elantris is a beautifully written book. I actually have very few qualms with it for once. The lore of the universe Sanderson has created is, for the most part, in-depth and detailed. It’s easy to read parallels with cultures of our own world in some aspects too, which doesn’t alienate a reader entirely by thrusting them into a world so strange and different from their own. Perhaps more could have been written about the religious sects, particularly the Derethi, though this would have been detrimental to the pacing of the book. The pacing of the novel itself is actually one of my biggest faults with Elantris, and this stems from the fact that it feels almost too well-paced. It is a little slow throughout the main body of the text, but during the last few chapters it seems to speed up significantly – again, almost too much. Elantris draws to a rapid-fire ending, covering the basics but not really lingering on details or the poignant emotional culminations of the events of the novel.

The magic of the world of Elantris is probably one of the most beautiful things about this creation; it is logical, it is intricate but understandable, it has its limits… Though Elantrians are talented in their magical art, they are not invulnerable or unlimited. The mystical Aons are incorporated throughout the book, and one wonders of the significance of each chapter being titled with a specific Aon (given more time, I hope to go back through and compare the meaning of the Aons with the events in each chapter). Admittedly, there is no explanation behind the existence of Aonic power, or how it came to be, but such things aren’t of utmost importance within the book; the reader is more concerned with the livelihood of their unfortunate Prince and the Princess who should have been his wife.

It has to be noted that Sanderson writes his female protagonists particularly well; they don’t entirely depend on their male counterparts, their focus is not on finding love (though they always struggle to balance their relationships with their duties because they cannot seem to find a balance between the two). The women are strong and they act with the best interests of the many, rather than themselves or those within their immediate circle. It is refreshing to see female characters who don’t simply fall at the ‘hero’s’ feet, simpering and swooning.

Elantris (2005) was Sanderson’s first novel and, despite the few faults I have picked out above, his writing has improved greatly since then. Taking into consideration the Mistborn series, the pacing of the novels can hardly be faulted. He crafts his fantasy worlds with the utmost care and precision; what is left outside of the reader’s knowledge has no place there anyway. Mysteries in the books that the characters are attempting to solve can also be followed easily by the reader – there is no exclusion, and sometimes there is even the satisfaction of working out the truth before the protagonist realises it themselves.

Brandon Sanderson’s work is definitely worth a read if you enjoy fantasy/high-fantasy that’s a little easier to swallow than Tolkien, but less tongue-in-cheek than Pratchett.

#14 Vampire Hunter D – Hideyuki Kikuchi

blahVampire Hunter D (Volume 1)Written by Hideyuki Kikuchi
Illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano
English translation by Kevin Leahy

Where to start with Vampire Hunter D?

As mentioned in my last post, my curiosity was piqued by this novel, mostly because of the illustration artist, Yoshitaka Amano. That, and I’ve always been interested in vampires, and vampire lore, and for this novel to develop on that, and include dhampirs, I figured it would be right up my alley.

Well.

It’s not that it isn’t, not per se. However, this is a strange novel; it’s set in the future, and yet because of the almost post-apocalyptic nature of human history, the way in which humans live has both regressed and progressed. It’s contradictory but understandable once explained, I suppose.

The book is both difficult and easy to ‘get into’. There are plenty of hooks to grip the reader, but the writing style itself seems clunky. In some places it seems overly convoluted and complex, and yet there are grammatical and spelling errors running rife through the 2005 DH Press edition I bought. Sometimes the writing itself seems clunky, others it’s overwrought and difficult to navigate. Now, I’m not sure whether this is due to the translation perhaps being off, or just the original writings being that way, but it was this that made the book difficult to read.

One element of this text really surprised me, in that Doris (our heroine, or damsel in distress who is more than willing and able to fight back) readily relinquishes her virgin qualities to the first Hunter that comes along that can maybe save her. There are hints at romantic possibilities throughout the novel, but nothing is ever made of them, and she is never flatly turned down. Along with other aspects of the novel, the question of Doris and D’s relationship is never truly answered, and this can be frustrating.

The most interesting thing about D is his abilities and his history, not to mention the tumour companion that resides in his right hand. Perhaps the plot of the novel didn’t necessarily call for more explanation of these things, but I would have liked to see some expansion on them, and perhaps a little more use of D’s abilities as a dhampir, as they are what truly make the novel its most interesting.

I was a little disappointed by Vampire Hunter D, I’m not going to lie (I was also looking forward to more illustrations, some perhaps in colour but I didn’t really get them), however that’s not to say I wouldn’t read more from Kikuchi’s series. Perhaps the novels mature in depth and readability as one progresses through them.

Work In Progress . . .

Making my way through a couple of assignments at the moment. Okay, a lot. There’s a lot of research and note-taking involved and I am s w a m p e d.

However! All going well, I should be able to post up a few reviews by the end of the month. With a little bit of luck.

I’m currently reading Haruki Murakami’s Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman and Sputnik Sweetheart; also been reading up on Norse Mythology in a copy of the Prose Edda a friend has lent me. Finished reading Murakami’s After Dark (whilst falling a little bit in love with Takahashi’s character), and Hitomi Kanehara’s Snakes and Earrings. I simply had to buy another copy of the latter seeing as mine’s been AWOL for about 3 years, and it’s one of my favourite novellas. It’s a quick read, so you can manage it in a half hour, up to two hours, depending on how quickly you read. I finished it on the train between uni and home earlier.

Sooo, yes, with any luck, I’ll post up a few reviews in a couple of weeks when the bulk of my work is out of the way. I also need to do my lesson plans for the creative writing workshops I’ll be doing with a class of year 5’s. I’m simultaneously terrified and excited; they’re going to eat me alive.

Edit! Waiting on a copy of Vampire Hunter D to arrive from America. I have to admit, it wasn’t the vampire thing that lured me in to wanting to read it, not at first. It’s mostly the fact that the illustrations to the book have been done by Yoshitaka Amano, one of my favourite illustrators and artists ever. He’s done a lot of work on the Final Fantasy games, and has also worked on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman: The Dream Hunters.

(Click through image for source)

His work is, quite simply, stunning.

Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children musings

It’s ridiculously early and I’m back into the habit of putting off sleep again, for some unknown reason, so I thought I’d share a little of my ramblings.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m pretty into Final Fantasy 7, and being a student whose studies are part of the core of English Literature/Language, it’s natural for me to read into things and analyse them.

But here’s my thought process on a scene or two from the Final Fantasy 7: Advent children movie. Take it all with a pinch of salt, if you’re familiar with it; these are just my opinions. I really enjoy reading into the meaning and purpose behind FF7 and certain other games, just because they’re such a culturally rich and diverse text. It’s a little nerdy to say, but they’ve molded me as a person and helped me define some of my own values.

So, yes, if you’re into Japanese RPG’s, please do take a look.