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branchandroot: a lotus (lotus)
So, I've fallen into Nirvana in Fire, and my goodness but this is a fun one.

Of course, I know, like, five words of the language by ear, as yet, so I'm having to rely on fanposts to pick out the /really/ juicy stuff. This intro, despite being brief, gave me two nice points to dig into.

For one, I do believe that what they're all calling Mei Changsu, translated here as the "Qilin Genius", is, indeed, a reference to the qilin, better known to anime fandom as the kirin, herald or portent of a ruler or great sage. Which is delightful purely on the symbolic level, in that Mei Changsu is exactly that, narratively, and also that the ruler he choses is neither of the ones who are so hot to secure him. But I am also giggling helplessly, because, if I'm not mistaken, Mei Changsu himself is the one who composes the message in which both the crown prince and Yu are told to seek him. And can't you just picture his glinty little smirk over that? On the one hand: arrogant creature. On the other... well, talk about calling your fate to you.

The even juicier concept that post gave me, though, was jianghu. Because my goodness but this makes so much sense (in narrative and genre terms) of Mei Changsu's choice in the end.

Suppose I should spoiler-cut this )

Okay, that got rather lyrical, but it's wuxia after all, what do you expect?
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
Now that the Winter anime season is completed, it's time to recommend things! My biggest winner from the past season is ACCA.

ACCA is, first of all, a single-season show, so the plotting is very tight and moves along briskly, and, most importantly, does not leave you hanging with ep 12 howling "what do you /mean/ I have to wait a year for the resolve?!".

It's also gratifyingly subtle. It starts out looking a little like a police procedural, but takes an immediate turn into complex mystery and politics. The setting is a country (or, more accurately, a federation) divided into twelve districts with country-type autonomy. The regulatory body that keeps an eye on government and trade in this situation, is ACCA, of which our protagonist is a member.

There's plenty of lovely world-building, and there are times you might wonder if the story is getting lost in an exploration of the twelve (very distinct) districts, but all of that exploration turns out to tie smoothly right back into the plot. Which is that there is a plot afoot! There is, we hear, a coup detat in the offing. Who is behind it, who is participating, and exactly what our protagonist's part in all this is, is revealed only slowly.

The reveals are actually my favorite part of this show. Every time, there are red herrings that lead you to the wrong conclusion, but there are also clues provided just enough in advance for you to figure it out and have the pleasure of having guessed right when the truth comes out. In addition, each truth, while feeling solid and satisfying, only reveals another layer of the plotting.

My next favorite part is probably the romance. Because, while there's quite a bit of romance floating around, every single romantic relationship is either torpedoed by revealed genetic relationships or else explicitly identified as one-sided. You know the thing a lot of manga and anime do, where the epilogue is years later and shows you the romantic relationships neatly tied up in marriages? ACCA flips that. The last episode features several romantic pairs saying in so many words to one another "I know it's one sided, don't worry" or words to that effect. I grinned for a /week/ on the power of that alone.

By contrast, the most obvious slash pairing ends with significant hand contact, which did make my heart go pitter pat a bit, because really, you barely need your slash colored goggles with these two. My word, romantic pairings should /hope/ to see that kind of devotion.

And, of course, my thoroughgoing favorite thing is our protagonist, who is mild and unassuming and who you really, really do not want to make angry because he will, calmly and quietly and without collateral damage, raze your entire life's work, social standing, and political capital down to the ground. Such a delightful boy. One of the best twists of the whole story revolves around his nature, and it's his nature that makes the red herring so convincing. Wonderful writing.

This is definitely one I recommend watching, ideally on a weekend when you can marathon the whole series and delight in the unfolding of it all.
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
Okay, so I’ve been wandering around recent anime, looking for decent things to watch, and have fallen into Madan no Ou to Vanadis. On the face of it, it’s not my thing. There’s way the fuck too many barely clad boobs everywhere and Ridiculously Underclad Warrior Maidens ™.  And yet…

And yet.

I mean, for one thing, the Ridiculously Underclad Warrior Maidens ™ do, in fact, kick all kinds of ass, despite the bouncing boobage. This is, in fact, a story of military strategy, with far too many bouncing boobs pasted on. It’s actually really interesting, if you can just squint past the fleshtones! Which should not be necessary, and is /truly/ annoying, but…

Well, but.

Because, see, this one also hits one of my bulletproof kinks, dead center. Our Hero, the unassuming minor noble who just happens to be collecting a harem of Ridiculously Underclad Warrior Maidens ™ with the prowess of his archery, is, in the very first scene, taken prisoner of war by Our Heroine (warrior maiden the first) and he insists on abiding by the terms and remaining her prisoner. Ally. But still her prisoner, even when they’ve taken the field together to defend his homeland! And she proceeds to call him her possession, throughout. And I really just cannot watch ep 5 without squeaking gleefully when, in the middle of a strategy meeting, Our Heroine’s second-in-command warrior maiden having appealed to Our Hero to please, for pity’s sake, talk her out of a single-handed charge on the enemy, Our Heroine demands of Our Hero who he belongs to (”Omae wa dare no mono da?”) and he replies, dead level and without hesitation, that he belongs to her (”Omae no mono da.”). 

Yes, that’s right, her prisoner of war uses plain forms to agree that he belongs to her. They talk to each other like this /all the time/. What am I supposed do with this, I ask you?

So I can’t exactly call this a rec, because it really depends on your tolerance for gratuitous boobage this week, but… well it’s definitely bookmarked.

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branchandroot: wings of fire (fire wings)
So, this morning, as is becoming increasingly common, I woke up, and spent five/ten minutes telling the immediate sense of existential dread to fuck off. I got up, showered, kicked clinging existential dread in the kneecaps a few times (which didn't make it go away but did mean I could get out of the shower) and hummed protest songs while doing my eye makeup.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Ohio", in this case. I'm not a cheerful person in the morning.

The morning commute provided a small break from existential dread, its place being temporarily taken by only mildly homicidal exasperation at all the people who can't fucking drive. It snuck in again to cling to my coat collar while I was walking down the cold, dank stairwell.

And then I had a sudden thought.

You know that anime haircut that shows up a lot, usually on girls, that's kind of a bob, usually chin-length or so in front but really short in the back, more like a pixie cut? Like Sakura's hair when she cut it in the chuunin-exam arc? I suddenly have a name for that. It's a pixie-bob..

And that made me giggle all the way up the stairs to the door, and now I feel like I can breathe all the way down.

So, you know, yes put away money to run if necessary, yes clean out the spare room, yes rally and march and write and call if you can. But remember to laugh, too, because we have to be alive at the end of this to dance on those motherfuckers' goddamn graves.

*whispers* Pixie-bob.
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
Would anyone like a serger? It's a Singer Perfect Finish, model 14ET754, about five years old but never used (kept in plastic, though, so dust in the innards should be minimal). Free to a good home, though I'd need the taker to pay shipment.

TAKEN!
branchandroot: stack of books by arm chair (book love)
So, I'm really not at home to most challenges, but some of the Snowflake prompts do catch my attention.

In your own space, share a book/song/movie/tv show/fanwork/etc that changed your life. Something that impacted on your consciousness in a way that left its mark on your soul.

And I recall Sailor Moon. But more than the anime itself (or the manga, or the other anime...) I recall how one of my literature students lassoed me into Fandom by using Sailor Moon. She spotted my weaknesses right off and suggested that I'd be interested by a narrative comparison of the sub versus dub endings to Season One, especially the way that excising all the violence for dub-land also managed to snip out all of Sailor Moon's agency in the scene. And, well, that was me done and dusted.

So here's to you, Kay. Well done.
branchandroot: wings of fire (fire wings)
My family doesn't have a tradition for this day (all the traditions are saved for New Year's Day, including huge pots of five-alarm chili and champagne cork shooting contests outside), so I've improvised. Today has consisted of nibbling on cubed Colby and summer sausage, onion crackers, and extremely expensive cherry tomatoes (worth it) while wandering the house finding places to put the cats' new toys and desultorily checking that I did, indeed, import all my LJ material five years ago before purging the personal journal.

The copious amounts of gay porn in my fic and RP journals shall remain in situ, as my personal gift to any agency, Russian or otherwise, who may now be peeking under journal locks on LJ. *raises her cranberry Mimosa* Cheers.

Looking back, this has been an extremely busy year for me, getting a foothold in a new life, new job, new home. I now feel like I have my feet well-set, which is a damn sight better than I felt a year ago, and 2016's efforts to burn down the world while I did it can blow me.

So, on this New Year's Eve Day, what I have to say for 2017 is this: BRING IT, MOTHERFUCKER.
branchandroot: Tsuzuki squeeing (Tsuzuki squee)
Okay, so I waited until this season was complete to watch it, because I knew that otherwise I’d be a total wreck. (Good call, me.) And now I just have to squee over the first handful of episodes, because Tsukishima! Eeeeeee!

I’ve kind of figured, in the back of my mind, that Kageyama would be the captain for his year, once he finally got his head together and learned to draw his team together. Treading in his senpai’s footsteps as it were, though I’m sure death-glares of epic proportions would meet anyone who actually /said/ so. But now… now I think it might just be Tsukishima. Because this season shows that he’s the one who analyzes and thinks ahead, and, most importantly, that he’s finally been fully engaged in the game.

Also, he’ll be a deadly psychological player and get the other side riled up /so bad/. And, well, his own team too, but you figure they’ll be (kind of) used to it by then, and all the kouhai will just exchange “they’re at it again” looks when he winds up Kageyama and Hinata.

It will undoubtedly take all of another year to get him there, to the place where he has the confidence in himself to actually plan for the whole team, but I think this is the start of it. Also, I have a soft spot for evil bastards, and Tsukishima is so very good at being evil.

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branchandroot: Tsuzuki squeeing (Tsuzuki squee)
Re Yuri on Ice: I do not often actually say this, but LEAVE ME HERE TO DIE WITH MY FEELS. I was wary, right up to the end, because fuck knows we’ve all been burned before, but omg that was /perfect/.

Re Sound Euphonium: SO MANY FEELS. *sobs into a handkerchief* Family Feels and Girlfriend Feels and Senpai Feels, oh my. Also, wow, Taki-sensei that was some exceptional emotional tai chi right there. Well done, that man.

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branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
It’s been a while since Natsume Yuujinchou made me seriously break down in tears, but this week…

*takes a moment to sob into a wad of kleenex some more*

*sniffs*

Just the /idea/ that Touko might know good and well that Natsume sees spirits… Oh wow. That’s such a central tension of the show that letting it ease, even just a little bit, feels like coming into the warm after a winter hike.

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branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
Okay, now we see why this season of Bungo Stray Dogs spent the first handful of episodes with a flashback to Dazai’s past with the Port Mafia. Because, with this episode, that history comes to the fore and settles into its prepared context: Dazai is not a good guy, which, honestly, was already relatively evident but is now absolutely inescapable. Dazai is an epic adrenaline addict who loves fighting in deadly danger and has deep, deep ties to the people who could keep up and fight alongside him.

For serious, I thought he was going to stop Nakahara’s rampage by kissing him. That’s how Old Married Couple they were acting.

Though, given his gift, I’m fascinated by how clearly Dazai is not the voice of restraint in any way, shape, or form. He clearly /is/ the control or safety (indeed, the “sheath”) for the whole Port Mafia, as far as gifts go, and now the way he was training Akutagawa also makes more sense. Dazai was fulfilling his function, training Akutagawa to have control, possibly while doing his best not to get attached in case Akutagawa couldn’t do it. In which case, given what else we’ve seen, I suspect it would have fallen to Dazai to kill him. But that function is not in line with Dazai’s basic nature, which is to be a smartmouth asshole who lives to tempt deadly fate and ride the combat high.

So now the ground is prepared for us to appreciate the conflict Dazai is about to find himself in, between the life and fellows (student, partner) he spent so long in and clearly enjoyed so much, and the new, less to his taste, life he’s created in the name of his lost friend (and possibly the new example of how to live it he may have found in Atsushi).

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branchandroot: Havoc totally blitzed (Havoc apathy)
So, yesterday I went and submitted my paperwork for passport renewal, which I had to do from scratch because I changed my name since the last one. As a public service, here are tips for others who may be doing the same.

1) you will need your parents' birthdays and places of birth (state is okay if you don't know the city), and also for your spouse or ex, if you have one. Do not believe the online application if/when it says it's okay to leave those blank. You also need to fill in prospective travel destination, even if you fill it in with "none".

2) don't try to take/print your own passport photo, seriously, just go to Walgreens or similar, it will save you hours of frustration.

3) you will want to look up whether acceptance facilities take walk-ins or require an appointment. Most drop-off points will require an appointment. My county clerk's office did not, and thankfully had extended hours on Tuesdays, which made it worth taking the bus down, but all the post offices needed appointments.

4) almost everywhere will require you to pay the passport fee and execution fee separately. Because reasons. Take you checkbook, your credit card, and cash just in case. You don't want to go through this twice. You cannot use cash for the actual passport fee, so make sure you have a check or money order for that part.

5) if you have an old passport that is even slightly damaged, write up a brief statement that it was damaged in a flood/plumbing accident/the dog ate it/whatever, to sign and include if called for.

6) take every piece of identification you own, birth certificate, old passport, marriage license, court order of name change, social security card, DEFINITELY the driver's license. Just take everything, just in case, because once again, you don't want to haul through this twice.

7) if you are doing this for a child, either both parents must be present or else you need a signed release form from the parent who couldn't come. Consider bringing along custody paperwork if you were awarded sole custody.

8) they will take away the originals of your ID, except the driver's license. Don't panic, you will get them back, but they will come in separate mailings from your passport.

9) I would not consider it amiss to take along at least a good photo of the kitchen sink. If nothing else, you may make the acceptance staff laugh, which they are surely in need of.

10) on which note: bring along your patience. There are sure to be people ahead of you in line, quite possibly people who are upset and nervous. Soothing music, phone games, a hip flask, whatever gets you through.

Personally, I'd schedule a stop by the pub in the way home, to celebrate wending your way through all that bureaucracy. *lifts her glass* Good luck!
branchandroot: one tree in an open field (calm solitary tree)
isolohr:

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© Jürgen Heckel

This pine forest picture reminded me.

Back when I was in 7th grade, I went to a week-long camp, having spent a month or two stumping around the neighborhood with my grade-mates selling overpriced cheese and meat products to raise the money. It was a standard summer type camp, for the most part, but with odd “educational” things pasted on here and there.

One of those things was an extremely peculiar exercise that involved having the whole camp draw cards to see what “animal” we were, and then being turned loose in the patch of forest behind the camp to run around (without maps) variously “mating with” or “preying on/being preyed on” by each other. At the end of the game, we would be scored based on how often we’d “mated,” “fed,” or “died.”

Yeah, looking back I kind of wonder what the organizers were smoking, too.

But that wasn’t the most peculiar part. No, the strangest part was that, after clattering around the deciduous area, rubbing our animal-name cards against each other (our rather embarrassed consensus gesture for mating) or else gingerly negotiating to reveal what animal we were preparatory to either running like fuck or chasing like mad, a lot of us came out into a small pine forest. Like the one pictured above, it was old and established, with straight trunks going up quite a ways before branches reached for the sun, and several inches of old needles turning the ground soft and silent underfoot.

And in that area, we all just… stopped. Stopped “mating” and “preying” and just wandered around in the quiet green and gold light, nodding silently at each other now and then, “rabbits” leaning against old trunks next to “wolves” just… being.

It was a suspended moment, in that bizarre “naturalistic” scenario, when we all just dropped aside our assigned hierarchy, ignored the prompts of the teachers, and sat together.

And today, today when I’ve been crying at my desk on and off all day, when I’ve seen, not the normal one or two, but six emergency vehicles run past the window with sirens on, all of them ambulances, when views of my stories have skyrocketed and all I can do is be glad I can, in some small way, be there for someone… Today, I’m glad I remember this.

A bunch of kids, given permission, even directions, to be their rawest selves to each other, shrugging it all off, sitting together under the shelter of old evergreens, just being.

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branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
*watches the first episode of Yuri!!! on Ice and dies laughing*

Okay, this is beautiful, but also no one can convince me that this is not going to be BL on ice skates.

Also also, I seriously think that Suwabe may have read Nikiforov’s part, gotten nostalgic, asked himself “what if Atobe were an adult champion Russian figure-skater?” and just kind of run with it from there.

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branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
So, I'm re-watching HunterXHunter, and remembering exactly why I /hate/ the Chimera Ant arc, or at least the Gon parts. It's because that was the most smashing writing failure ever, and it could have been fixed so easily.

Because, see, as written, Gon is a filthy, selfish little traitor. We've spent the whole story seeing the bond between him and Killua grow, seeing what it's based on, seeing how iron-clad it is, and then we see Gon turn his back on Killua, deny him, lash out at him and ignore how selflessly Killua is supporting him, all for the sake of a man who, as written, means next to nothing. An old buddy. Someone who gave him hunting tips. That's all we're shown. And for that, Gon drags Killua, Killua who has repudiated his whole previous life for Gon's sake, through hell and finally tries to kill himself in front of Killua.

And it would have been so easy to fix! Just a sentence here and there, creating a persistent thread, about how Kite is Gon's only living connection to his father, stood in his father's place, taught him things like morals and ethics, is the one who made Gon who he is (the person who could pull Killua out of the darkness like he did). Just some subtle reinforcement of that, at key points, and this whole fiasco could have been fixed!

But no. We don't get shown any of that. All we get shown is Gon betraying the one relationship we have actually seen developed in depth. Total. Writing. Fail.

Fuck's sake, it's enough to make a person start shipping Killua with fucking Hisoka.
branchandroot: pen with burning ink (ink burns)

Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Star Driver, Triskelion
Characters/Pairings: Agemaki Wako, Shindou Sugata, Tsunashi Takuto, Wako/Sugata/Takuto
Summary: The drama club is putting on a play with some scenes worth of Wako's fantasies. Takuto has to work a little to wrap his brain around the whole thing.
Meta: Humor, Romance, Fluff, I-3
Wordcount: 2959

"We are the future of the world." Sugata's words filled the space, low and intimate. "What do you wish to make of it?" His thumb stroked over Takuto's lips slowly and Takuto felt his whole face flush hot.

"I... um... The... The world..." Takuto's hands scrabbled at the wall behind him as Sugata leaned closer. "Help...?" he finished, strangled.

The corners of Sugata's mouth quivered as he looked at Takuto. One breath, and then two, and he finally lost it, dissolving into helpless laughter.

"Takuto-sama!" Yamasugata-senpai scolded. "If you forget your part, the word is 'line', not 'help'!"

A Language of Daisies )
branchandroot: pen with burning ink (ink burns)

Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Star Driver, Triskelion
Characters/Pairings: Agemaki Wako, Benio/Tetsuya/George, Gouda Tetsuya, Honda George, Shinada Benio, Shindou Sugata, Tsunashi Takuto, Wako/Sugata/Takuto
Summary: Wako has an epiphany and decides it's time to break the deadlock between her boys in a way neither of them anticipated.
Meta: Drama, Romance, I-3
Wordcount: 2188

Was that what they'd have to do, to stay together? Not let anything be romantic or... or anything, between them at all? Because, for all Shinada-senpai teased their schoolmates sometimes, none of those three had ever dated anyone. Certainly not each other.

Basically Three )
branchandroot: pen with burning ink (ink burns)

Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Star Driver, Triskelion
Characters/Pairings: Agemaki Wako, Gouda Tetsuya, Honda George, Katashiro Ryousuke, Miyabi Reiji, Nichi Kate, Okamoto Midori, Shinada Benio, Shindou Sugata, Simone Aragon, Tsunashi Takuto, Wako/Sugata/Takuto, Watanabe Kanako
Summary: The anime's ending leaves a great deal up in the air; this story takes up some of those loose threads. Picks up immediately after the end and throws everyone a little further into the future.
Meta: Drama, I-3
Wordcount: 9045

"Takuto is with him," Wako said firmly, eyes fixed on the sky. "They'll be all right." Takuto's look had promised her that, in that long, silent moment of fierce understanding they'd shared before she'd agreed to break the southern seal. And she was going to hold them both to that promise, if she had to regenerate Wauna and go up there herself to make sure of it!

And Like A River Continues )
branchandroot: pen with burning ink (ink burns)

Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Akatsuki no Yona, Standalone
Characters/Pairings: Il, Joo-Doh, Soo-won, Yona
Summary: Joo-Doh tries for a long time to contain, or at least conceal, what Soo-Won's anger at his father's death might lead him to do, and in the process misses exactly what Soo-Won is doing and what part he may have to play in it.
Meta: Character Study, Drama, Loyalty Porn, I-3
Wordcount: 5934

Joo-Doh was beginning to worry about Soo-Won.

Months after his father's funeral, the boy walked the halls of the palace as if he were still in the funeral procession, stumbling and uncertain. Joo-Doh was a little afraid that, if the princess stopped coaxing him to eat like a pet bird, he genuinely wouldn't remember to do so. And Joo-Doh didn't know what to do, now, any more than he had years ago when it was the queen who had been killed and Yona who was wild with grief.

Actually, that wildness had been easier to deal with than Soo-Won's pale, stunned silence.

The Blood of Kings )
branchandroot: pen with burning ink (ink burns)

Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Akatsuki no Yona, Standalone
Characters/Pairings: Son Hak, Soo-won, Yona
Summary: On a night, soon after affairs in the Water tribe's territory are concluded, Hak, Yona, and Soo-won think about each other, what they've become to each other, and what may wait in their future.
Meta: Drama, Character Study, Loyalty Porn, Light Angst, Sort-of Threesome, I-3
Wordcount: 2692

Hak tried not to be grateful that Yona's hands were as sure, now, on her bow and sword as they were, once, on her long sashes and bright over-robes. He tried hard not to be grateful for that.

It wasn't because of the old king's memory and his determination to keep his daughter and people free of blood, though Hak still respected that. It wasn't because he was her guard, should be her sword, should never allow her to be in danger, though he still felt that. It was because of where the gratitude came from.

Under One Sky )

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