Fan Art Friday: Drizzt Do’Urden

Drizzt

Kiri and I will be back soon with our Star Wars coloring book.  In the meantime, have a picture of the most famous dark elf ever.

In college I went through a summer where I read every Forgotten Realms book by R.A. Salvatore featuring his most famous creation, the drow Drizzt Do’Urden.  I blame my husband for getting me hooked (he lent me all of them).  You can clearly tell this is Drizzt because he is dual-wielding scimitars.

I haven’t kept up with the Drizzt books from the past 10 years or so, though Salvatore is still writing about him.  I kind of lost interest after a dozen plus novels.  But Drizzt still has a special place in my heart.

 

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Fan Art Friday: Queen Amidala

Amidala

Kiri and I are postponing our coloring book pictures this month, so I’m bringing you an original drawing.  Just as with Cardcaptor Sakura, I enjoyed drawing Queen Amidala because I could invent elaborate outfits for her.  This one seems a bit medieval-inspired.  The writing says “Queen Amidala” in Japanese katakana, though I made a small mistake in “queen.”  The date is 2006, when I was at university.  I was beginning to study Japanese and probably practicing the characters I was learning.

 

Review: Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card

34713646Most fans of anime will tell you that there was a “gateway drug,” so to speak: one show that hooked them and got them into the medium of anime in general.  Ask people of my generation, and they will name shows like Dragonball Z and Sailor Moon as shows still hold a special place in their hearts.

For me, it was Cardcaptor Sakura by CLAMP.

From my first viewing of the terrible English dub Cardcaptors, I was hooked.  The manga, with two story arcs of six volumes each, was even better, and remains to this day my favorite manga.  I own two versions of it, a boxed set of the volumes and an omnibus edition.  If you like magical girl anime, it doesn’t get any better than CCS.

When I heard a few months ago that CLAMP was putting out new volumes of Cardcaptor Sakura, I screamed so loud my husband came to ask me what was wrong.  Wrong?  Nothing’s wrong!  This is only the best day of my life!

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The first volume of Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card is now available in English, with more to follow in the next months, and the anime is currently running in simulcast on Crunchyroll and in “simuldub” on Funimation.  I have not seen the anime yet, but I devoured the first manga volume when I got it for my birthday recently.

The Clear Card story arc picks up exactly where the Sakura Card story arc left off.  The first chapter expands on the last scene of the last manga, where Syaoran surprises Sakura on her way to middle school, saying he’s returned to Tomoeda to stay for good.

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S+S shippers rejoice!

The story continues in a very familiar fashion, hiting all the typical Cardcaptor Sakura beats: a mysterious figure appearing in Sakura’s dreams, strange forces working in Tomoeda, new cards (this time they are transparent), a new, upgraded staff, and of course new costumes made by Tomoyo-chan!  All of Sakura’s friends and family are back as well.  I like that it has such a familiar feel, and I can’ wait to see what twists and turns are coming as the story develops more.  What secrets are Syaoran and Eriol keeping?

The artwork remains absolutely gorgeous.  There are so many beautiful large panels and two page spreads that really let you appreciate the art.

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Release!

I really enjoyed the experience of reading this volume, because for me it was the first time reading a CCS manga without having seen the anime first.  I’m sure I will watch the anime soon, maybe even before reading more volumes, but it was kinda fun to have an “all new” manga to read.

The only thing I found slightly jarring was the incorporation of modern technology in the story, like smart phones, email, and texting.  While it was worked seamlessly into the story, it was just surprising to me because the story takes place immediately after the original volumes which were produced in the 90s and therefore barely had the concept of primitive mobile phones. So it was a big jump forward in technology with no jump forward in time.  However, I don’t think they could have handled it any better and it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story.

Basically, it’s just wonderful to be back in the CCS world after fifteen years away.  And this volume has only just whet my appetite for more.  This is just the beginning!

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Things I’ve watched on Netflix while feeding my infant

Before they send you home from the hospital with your newborn, they really should surgically attach two more arms to all moms.  Because everything with babies requires two hands: nursing, feeding bottles, holding them while they cry for seemingly no reason, making sure their pacifier doesn’t fall out of their mouth. Et cetera.

So all you can do to keep your brain from turning to baby mush is watch TV, because this requires no hands at all.  Bonus points if you never have to change the channel.  At Christmas, I watched every single holiday movie on the Hallmark channel at least once.  Now it’s HGTV or Food Network.

But the better option obviously is binging TV shows on Netflix.  So here are a few of the things I’ve enjoyed recently.

Castlevania

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This is a Netflix original animation inspired by the classic video game of the same name.  The story follows vampire hunter Trevor Belmont as he and his group attempt to stop Dracula from taking revenge on humanity after the vampire’s wife was unjustly executed for witchcraft.  I’ve never played that game series, but my husband recognized several elements from it.  It is also quite violent and gruesome, so I wouldn’t recommend it for children despite the fact that it’s animated.

I give it major points for the quality of the writing and animation, plus the voice cast is great, featuring Richard “Thorin Oakenshield” Armitage as Belmont.

The first season is only four episodes, which mostly just sets up the story, introducing characters, etc.  The second season will be out this year, and there are more planned after that.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

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I read and enjoyed this series of books around 15 years ago, and this adaptation is quite frankly all I could have asked for.  The story follows the three Baudelaire orphans as they try to escape the clutches of the evil Count Olaf, who is after their fortune.  It is narrated by the fictitious author Lemony Snicket with a tone of surrealist dark humor.  Also the theme song is absurdly catchy.

The cast is excellent, featuring Patrick Warburton, Alfre Woodard, Catherine O’Hara, and especially Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf.  The three Baudelaire children are also excellent and carry the series easily.

The first season covers the first four books in the series, with two episodes per book, and the pacing is perfect.  The second season, which I am looking forward to in March, with cover the next five books over ten episodes.

The Punisher

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I’m still working my way through this one, but so far it’s been on par with the better Marvel Netflix series.

This is a series I certainly would not have had much interest in…until the portrayal of Frank Castle was the best thing about season two of Netflix’s Daredevil.  Now he has his own series, and his own season two is on the way.  Frank is still dealing with the loss of his family as well as secrets from his time serving in Afghanistan; after the events of Daredevil, only a few people even know he’s alive.

This show has the intensity you would expect, and I thought the violence was about on par with Daredevil, perhaps a little more brutal.  I tried watching this back in December, and while I thought the first episode was a great start to the series, I just could not handle it in my post-partum state.  I cried straight through the last ten minutes of it.  So now I’m trying again.

I don’t think this show has gotten as much hype as the other Marvel Netflix shows, so I would encourage you to check it out even if you haven’t seen the others.  It’s nice to have a story with an antihero every now and then; Punisher is much more “grey” than the other Defenders main characters.

Sword Art Online

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People have been recommending this one to me for years, and with good reason.  It follows a group of gamers stuck in a virtual reality MMORPG.  The premise reminded me of .hack//Sign, an anime from the 2000s that I enjoyed.  Having played MMORPGs, a lot of the concepts were familiar and worked well with the story (but you don’t need to be a gamer to enjoy it).

I actually watched the English dub for this one and I thought it was pretty good.  The animation is nice, too, but nothing revolutionary.  I very much liked the episodic way the story is laid out; it sometimes skips ahead months to the next quest/raid/boss battle.  The two main characters, Kirito and Asuna, are great, and there’s a nice supporting cast.

The tone of the story is a nice balance; it’s not very dark, but it does deal with some serious concepts about life and death and reality.  The second story arc is less impressive, sidelining Asuna in a weird, rapey plot.  Overall I would definitely recommend it, but it’s probably not among the best anime I’ve ever seen.

Others

I’ve been further catching up on my anime with Death Note, and enjoying the new Japanese drama The Many Faces of Ito.  I always enjoy a good BBC drama, and Call the Midwife has been really interesting to me, having recently had to do just that!

What are you guys watching right now?  Any recommendations?  Especially light comedy or drama!  I also have Amazon Prime, and I’m contemplating getting Hulu so I can watch The Handmaid’s Tale and Runaways.

Fan Art Friday: Black Balloon

I discovered the Goo Goo Dolls after their hit song “Iris,” and was fairly obsessed with them in high school.  They are still among my favorite bands.

I also enjoyed writing “song fics” where I took song lyrics and made fan fiction (or original stories) with them.  This is what I would call a “song sketch,”  where I took the opening lyrics from the Goo Goo Dolls’ song “Black Balloon” and drew an image.  I don’t think there’s a story that goes with it, it’s just an impression I had based on the feeling from the song.  I was also practicing perspective obviously lol.

Baby’s black balloon makes her fly