...I finished the Narrator request pictures! Hooray~!
And he's so dissatisfied with my plodding pace, he's never gonna request another pic from me again! Hoor--...er.... uh...
But hey, at least I have tea. Lotsa tea. Mostly green and oolong, 'cause I prefer my teas smoky, light, and served straight. And none of that Japanese stuff--I don't like it when tea tastes like grass. It's all Chinese-style tea for me. Though, I'm also partial to Darjeeling, as far as black teas go. I honestly don't see what other tea-drinkers see in Earl Grey. Bergamot oil tends to overpower the actual tea flavor, and the only tea I like less than Earl Grey is nasty old Orange Pekoe, which requires milk and sugar just to reach an acceptable level of potability. Also, I have cider. You can't beat that. I hear that the only readily available cider here on the West Coast, George Hornsby's, is a bit plain compared to the likes of Woodchuck Draft Cider over on the East Coast. I wouldn't know, as Hornsby's the only hard cider I've ever had, and I like it a lot. I hear the Brits have something called "Strongbow," but I wouldn't know anything about that brand, either. I've only had one bottle a night because, unlike with beer, cider can sneak up on you. You won't know you're drunk until it's too late. Yes, instead of coffee, I have tea. Instead of beer, I have cider.
Tea & Cider.
Why am I going on about Tea & Cider, you ask? Simple! It's to commemorate the old userpic I fished out and put onto the LJ. The Yukarin-sama avatar you see gracing this ramble-post. If anybody's suited to Tea & Cider, it'd be her. And it's not because she's a Brit--she's actually got more French blood than anything vaguely Briton or Anglo-Saxon, and twice as much Japanese on top of either. But, rather, because I transpose all of my minor likes and dislikes onto her, and I happen to like tea and cider. Just like how Dorian Cornelius Jasper likes root beer, or how the Kuroda siblings like to cook Chinese, while Runa prefers to make French. I find it's difficult to describe preferences and experiences one has never actually felt for oneself... so at least there's some use to using random people as potential self-inserts, if only for a while.
Also, Haruhi defeated Gurren Lagann in Derailed By Darry's March Madness poll. I don't care any more. Just shoot me. No way there's a penis on any of that blog's readers. Under the guise of Dorian Cornelius Jasper, I made a massively rambling rant as to why it was a damn shame that Gurren Lagann was losing the popularity contest, and why it was the superior show in nearly every respect... but that's just me shouting at the wind. At the very least, the case I made for GL got name-checked in the aftermath post once the tally was counted, which was nice--it meant somebody actually read it. Heh. Even someone dedicated to cute, funny, and nerdy like myself couldn't help but get swept away by hotblooded Spiral Power. Maybe I'm just too jaded to like Haruhi as much as most of the internet seems to, but Gurren Lagann reminded me of why I fell in love with anime in the first place.
On the other side of the coin, I'm addicted to Honey and Clover. I love each and every character, and I want to see more of their antics and daily lives. I can't keep waiting month after month for more issues of Shojo Beat, everytime I finish a chapter I find I'm in withdrawal... I keep going back and re-reading the chapters I have. I can't help it, I love this comic that much. Almost as much, Crimson Hero. I never knew I could care so much about a volleyball team that keeps losing... but it looks like fate's finally turning around for them--especially Nobara, who now has her own, er, super move! It's so strange to read a sports comic about players who lose much more often than they win, and to follow the comic for as long as I have... I guess the characters just grew on me.
A final note before I get on with business... it's always something to get funny looks from guys manning the cash register at the supermarket where I usually pick up Shojo Beat--as well as Tea, Cider, and Food. Well, at least I'm old enough, and just barely masculine enough, not to get mistaken for a girl at times. Having short hair helps. Heh.
And people wonder why my stories tend to involve gender issues or twist traditional gender roles.
Narrator, whose real name is withheld for the sake of his dignity and reputation, is writing a story that's something of a sequel to two RPGs the Beast Lair Chat's played over the past years. I'm not sure if he's going to publish, or self-publish. Or even put it up on the web for its own sake. All I know is that writing is his passion, and he's nice enough to write a novel (novella? novelophalous?) set in the Baymoon universe. Unlike Evaron, who intends to get his novelization of the Silva Mage Association RPG published for certain, and thus transplants the story into a somewhat more coherent universe and changes the names of many characters so as not to step on anybody's legal toes--as well as to prevent me or Narr from stepping on his legal toes. What with my work pace, I'm pretty sure he'll be published before I get a single page done.
Anywho, Narrator's story is the sequel to the Silva RPG and another campaign we've played, based loosely on White Wolf's Orpheus and using that as the system for the campaign. It's set in the 2040's, and so takes place twenty years after the former, and thirty after the latter. Presumably, he's using the alternate timeline I, er, made up so as not to logically conflict with the Silva RPG's ending. The same general timeline I was using to write Wonderful with, and play havoc with. (As it turns out, the end of the Silva RPG shakes up the status quo both Narrator and I rely on quite a bit, and also established the main characters as possessing enough power to, well, take over the world. So a bunch of them decided to leave Earth and travel out into Space, or to reconquer the Celestial City in the name of equal rights and representation for humanity the solar system over... Er, whoops. Hence, the reboot!)
It's centered around two characters, antagonized protagonists, if you would. One is Mizuji Sarina, the daughter of Professor Lifthrasir von Einzb[STATIC INTERFERENCE] and Mizuji Rin* from Silva. The other is Paul Ingmar, veteran snarker and generally downbeat former beta male from Team Orpheus. One possesses superhuman strength, speed, fighting skills, and a finely honed visual "danger sense," as befits the child of two of the most powerful Avatar Magi martial artists alive today. The other has a gun, his wits, and skill at innate (as in, not taught by Mage Guilds) magics dedicated to manipulation of space as well as illusions, and his own nearly flawless spatial awareness that makes him almost impossible to ambush. But powers aren't important, not in my book. No, it's a character's character that matters. And I like these characters enough to actually try to draw them!
I'll leave the rest of the details under wraps, mostly because Narr likes to keep details under wraps from me.
[Note: *Her real name is actually supposed to be Mizuji Suzuran--"Rin" being a nickname, based on an alternate reading of the kanji for "suzu." I've never told anyone this, because with her and Lift, married, they're only a Marcella Lucius-xcaliber or an Akamine Yukimura-e Bolg away from being a running Fate/Stay Night joke.]
Here's the pic of the Sarina group.
The one on the far right is Aoshima Yoshika. She's actually an antagonist and foil, but she's cute enough to deserve a spot in the sketch. Is she spying? Is she merely here by coincidence, and complaining on the phone about her bad luck? Is she ordering delivery? Who knows. All we know is, she's cute, and she's rather too close to that trashcan for my liking.
Left of her is Sarina, or Rina, for short. Don't worry, you can add a suffix if you like. That's how we roll here in Baymoon City. We don't even care if you mispronounce it, there's more weeaboos per capita here than any other city in the Pacific Northwest! She's amazingly powerful, not as bright as her sister, but much more energetic. She likes to say she has a boyfriend, though it would be more accurate to say she has a debtor.
In the middle is her boyfriend-by-circumstance, the beleaguered Katsura Nozomu. Or Nozzy. Nozzy works. He's a bit like Xander, in that he's a rather ordinary guy competing for the spotlight with girls as powerful as Buffy and Willow. I like to think he's a lot smarter than he lets on. Narrator, on the other hand, remains largely silent on the matter. He has a girlfriend in Japan, and I'm not sure how he feels being in a city once described as "the biggest, dorkiest, least well-organized anime convention this side of the Pacific." I'm pretty sure he's used to it by now. I think. He has money problems, and is in debt to Rina's family. This picture happens to show one of the ways he works it off--that is, taking his creditors to go sightseeing at the park.
Finally, in the far left is Mizuji Miya. I consider her the real protagonist, because more than Rina, she tends to act with agency and design, as well as being someone rather relatable--even through her rather crappy circumstances. She's smart, magically very powerful, and deliciously passive-aggressive. She lives vicariously through her little half-sister, Rina, and is the one that brought her and Nozzy together--though that was, by nature, more of a financial transaction than a proper match-making. Also, I gather that she's quite jealous of her little sister, bitter and a bit snarky over how fate seems to have dealt her a pretty crappy hand in comparison to her more-mobile sister. And when I say "more-mobile," I mean Rina can walk around on her own two legs and use her powers without fear of burning out her nervous system, unlike Miya, who's nearly quadriplegic in exchange for being among the mightiest psychokineticists in the world, on par with Celestial Nobles in terms of power level. I also like to think she's more mischievous than she lets on--when you're a powerful mage and esper bound to a wheelchair while friends and family gave a jolly good time without you, you would be, too! Narrator is also silent on that subject.
A vignette I wrote dedicated to the Sarina-side trio, those plucky kids confronting the, er, "villain."
SennoYukari (3:33:42 AM): Sarina: "Don't try to escape, Paul! We have you surrounded!"
SennoYukari (3:33:48 AM): Miya: "...Again."
SennoYukari (3:34:00 AM): Nozomu: "..."
SennoYukari (3:34:45 AM): Paul: *takes a drag from cigarette* "Seriously, you kids think you're any threat? I mean, come on already."
SennoYukari (3:35:26 AM): Sarina: "Hey, I have superhuman strength and speed! Miya-chan can implode your skeleton with a thought! And Nozzy... Nozzy..."
SennoYukari (3:35:33 AM): Miya: "Has a tattoo."
SennoYukari (3:35:48 AM): Sarina: "A TATTOO. You're done for, Ingmar!"
SennoYukari (3:36:19 AM): Nozomu: "H-hey, come on, now. Can't you think of anything better than that?"
Now, onto the Paul-side trio.
First in Paul Ingmar, in the center. A celebrity in the 2040's, he's fought in numerous conflicts among Magi and made quite a name for himself as a Sellsword. Though, by now, he's coming to realize that the mercenary life definitely isn't the life for him. A historian could argue that he'd taken part in several of the world's most pivotal conflicts and that he, along with his peers, had saved the world more times than most civilians could imagine. Narrator also likes to point out that he was the least powerful of the Team Orpheus agents, perhaps one of the reasons why he's so fondly remembered in the post-RPG days. Here, he's now a CWSA agent. Working legit for a change, though he's certainly not one fit for a desk job--teleporting around and playing M.C. Escher with the coffee lounge doesn't go well with paperwork. Narrator's always trying to kill him off, and I find that depressing. Considering that he's a Mage who stared down a chthonic elder God and made it blink and cough, I'm not sure a film noir-type ending would suit him. Maybe he'll just fade away when his time comes, like all old soldiers. Or maybe he'll get hit on the head by a stray foul softball while his HP and MP are both near zero. Narr digs the dark comedy, you know?
To his left is Etruria Belmont. I'm not sure why he picked the name, not like Vampires need slaying in Baymoon. Though some are jerks, and could probably take being brought down a notch! She's the daughter of one of Paul's sidekicks post-Orpheus. She also happens to be his boss in the CWSA. When he applied for a job, she and several others fast-tracked him through the application process to get him started right away. When a legendary Mage and war-hero asks for a job, you'd have to be insane to reject him. She's very observant, in all the ways that Paul isn't. And in some of the ways he is, too. The impression I got was that she's more comfortable with a desk job than he is, but tends to defer to him out in the field. She also operates as his one-liner fire support. When Paul's under fire, she's ready with a one-liner! Her father is also the reincarnated Beowulf. This bears mentioning.
To the right is Inoue Kaguya, the illegitimate daughter of a Celestial Sage and a hero of the Two Earths Revolutionary War, born before either of them were famous--or had even graduated from high school, unfortunately. She's named after a moon princess from an old Japanese folktale because her mother's name tends to remind people of the moon. And most of her looks... she got from her father. This was a character I'd created for Wonderful, though she's only a little kid at the time it takes place (starts in 2024). When Narr wrote about Paul joining the CWSA, I made the suggestion that he run into Kaguya, who happens to be a painfully by-the-book bureaucrat in her adult life and the total opposite of either him or Etruria. He liked the idea, and the potential for character chemistry between their personalities, and ran with it. She's rather antagonistic towards Paul, because everything about him defies process and regulations--heck, even his induction into the CWSA was against regulation, something that bugs her to no end. However, Paul can easily fluster her, especially when he defuses her anger and frustration with a well-placed comment or even compliment. Apparently, her personality's that sort of "hot and cold" type. "Standoffish, then mushy." You know, there's a term for that sort of personality, a loanword coined in Japanese...
The scene depicted above was inspired by another vignette I mean to copy-paste here:
SennoYukari (4:11:17 AM): Kaguya: "Hold on a minute! What's that you're putting in your coffee?!"
SennoYukari (4:11:24 AM): Paul: "Sugar."
SennoYukari (4:11:46 AM): Kaguya: "... Is it regulation sugar?"
SennoYukari (4:12:34 AM): Paul: "If it isn't, that's something you'll have to take up with the barista."
SennoYukari (4:12:47 AM): Kaguya: "... You win this round, Ingmar."
SennoYukari (4:14:06 AM): Etruria: "She's really grasping at straws."
Note that the vignettes included with these pictures weren't actually written by Narrator, but by me. His material is his own business. My material is mine!
And now for something completely different!
Have some Law Godhigh.
I was dissatisfied with the old sketch I drew of Law Godhigh, which was admittedly rather crude and short on detail. This is my attempt to rectify that. He's not the reincarnation of Pan Rui, from the Water Margin novel. He is Pan Rui, a Mage who is now almost a thousand years old and easily capable of crushing a young Celestial under his might. He's so powerful, that other Magi call him a "Wizard." The Japanese read the characters that make up his name as "Hanzui." I, however, read his name as "Lord Demon-King-Monocle the Third." Pan Rui was a hero fighting the corrupt Northern Song Dynasty. I wonder what he's up to nowadays? Something involving super-powered Taoist magic, possibly?
Speaking of fixing up characters I drew rather crappily some time ago, here's Doctor Dante Bering again.
It's only through sheer laziness that I never bother trying to draw real cornrows for the guy. His old flame is also unfortunately married to Professor Lifthrasir, so this ties in with the Narrator request pics. Dante's in an awkward position as his family is actually descended from a line of Japanese Magi, despite appearing to be an ordinary black family in America. And unlike most Baymooners, the Berings don't wear their weeaboo on their sleeve. But that's not what makes it awkward for him. What's awkward is that he doesn't practice the family's traditional schools of magic, half of which were passed down through the Heian period as onmyodo, the other half developed during the Sengoku period for stealth, espionage, and assassination. Instead, he studies kung fu. And uses Chinese-developed magical styles. He's an iconoclast, that guy.
In the books written by Yukari, he's a hero of the Nine Banners and among the top ten martial artists in all of the Blueworld, exceeded only by two of his closest friends (see: Sarina's parentage). He's amused by the prospect of being a heroic Captain of the Banners in Yukarin-sama's novel series, and is her self-professed biggest fan. While technically holding a doctorate in several schools of magic, as well as magical martial art styles, Dante prefers a peaceful life of living as a shopkeeper of curious and various Chinese herbs, teas, medicines, and concoctions--most of which are known to Chinese Magi, but are largely unknown to civilians and mundanes, so most Chinese mundanes who visit his store believe the products he peddles aren't authentic or traditional at all. Which doesn't bother him in the least, as he prefers to do business with his fellow Magi. That, and he could get in trouble if he advertised magical concoctions to nonmagical people. The CWSA likes to fine people for that.
[Yukarin-sama: "Apparently, he has what is known as 'good hair.' I'm not entirely sure what it means."]
[Racquel-sama: "It means it's silky soft and so, so smooth~!"]
[Dr. Bering: "Hey, what are you two going on about? Go away, there's another picture coming up."]
I mentioned Dorian Cornelius Jasper above, so this is as good a time as any to put up a picture of him here. I'll call it "Trilby Ripoff Special Edition ver." He's also an old friend of Dante's, so I might as well put up the two pics together.
I prefer to use Mr. Jasper as my online persona around the internets because, well, he matches my curmudgeony tendencies rather well. And he gives me an excuse to use the phrase "Bad Sandwich." In contexts that could, at best, be described as "non sequitur." He's a pulp dime novelist and something of a loud figure in the Magely community. He owns a small publishing firm which he mostly uses to distribute his own work. He also claims to be a rather capable fighter and an experienced Sellsword, though nobody can really remember him actually doing anything. Just as well, as his "mercenary" identity is something else entirely.
When he enters "battle mode," the illusions disguising his visage under somewhat more masculine and cocky persona fade away to reveal a person that, in Dante's words, "more resembles a robot girlfriend than a killer android." He also went on to dub Jasper, "Xeno RoboCyber Battle Pansy." Perhaps it's best that the world doesn't recall him actually taking part in any of the greater conflicts of the past few centuries.
I don't know why I drew him with a trilby this time, and I probably will never do so again.
And now that that's done, I can get on with drawing my latest task. The 28 Unlucky Folks Who Happened To Get Teleported Away To Another World on New Year's Eve, 2024. All 28 of them. Then I should write about them. I was supposed to do this a while ago, but... man, things get distracting.
P.S. Speaking of the Beast's Lair chatroom and Gurren Lagann... I still cannot, for the love of Chewbacca, figure out why Evaron hasn't watched Gurren Lagann yet. He says he's put off by gay subtext, what with Kamina being shirtless all the time (you know, because apparently yakuza badasses are all HAADO GEI). This coming from the man who loves 300 as the epitome of manliness in modern cinema. The same 300 based on the comic by Frank "Renders Spartan Pubic Hair In Loving Detail" Miller, with digitally retouched glistening sweat on Leonidas' naked man-chest. You'd expect someone who publicly places great value in the virtues of "Raw, Unfiltered Awesome" and "Manliest Manliness" would be a right fit with Gurren Lagann... But he'd rather watch Code Geass, instead.
P.P.S. ... Think about that. Code Geass.
P.P.P.S. To reflect back on an earlier comment before I went and uploaded the pictures here.... Why does Hagu look like a little kid? No, seriously. At least in the Honey and Clover J-drama, she looks her age. Now, if only I could bring myself to watch it.