Suiiki (Waters)

Published December 15, 2013 by thecruellestmonth

Title:  Waters
Author:
  Yuki Urushibara
Format:
  Manga
Genre: 
 Seinen
For Fans Of:
  The author, everyday stories with a supernatural twist, rain, places you visit in your dreams
My Rating:  
5/5

I read the entirety of Yuki Urushibara’s Waters in about two sittings. It’s a very engaging story with a dreamlike atmosphere full of nostalgia. The main character is Chinami, a middle school student who lives in a town with a water shortage. One hot summer day, while running laps with the swim team (since they can’t use the swimming pool), Chinami passes out. She awakens in a village where the rain never stops. Only a young boy and his father live there, although there are many empty houses where people used to live. Something seems oddly familiar about the village and inhabitants, but Chinami can’t place what it is. As she walks the boundaries of her world and the dream world, connections are formed between the past and the present, between Chinami and her family, between generations separated by time and united by intertwining stories.

The artwork is beautiful, the settings subtly powerful. I felt drawn into Chinami’s world and, like her, wanted to stay forever in the lonely village. There are many twists and turns that keep the story mesmerizing. But my favorite parts were the settings, as often is the case. Reading this story felt very much like visiting a place in my dreams, a place that I know I’ve dreamed of before but couldn’t remember until now. Being a lover of rain, I also enjoyed the watery themes that ran throughout the book.

If you like understated stories with lovely imagery and a longing for the past, this one’s for you.

New Mushishi One-Hour Special Coming in January

Published December 15, 2013 by thecruellestmonth

I can’t believe I forgot to post this, seeing as it’s been in the news for a while, but I think I’m still in shock. It’s a dream come true! Mushishi is getting a brand new one-hour episode that will be released along with two new manga chapters by Yuki Urushibara! Many of the original anime creators and voice actors will be returning for the show. It’s a wonderful and rare treat to see the artists coming back to this story after so many years. I can only hope that Funimation and Kodansha USA will pick up the special episode with the same dedication–that would be a rare treat indeed! But I would be happy just to see a fan-subbed version. Fan-sub people, hear my plea.

There’s already a great trailer for the new episode that you can watch here. I can’t wait!

Support an Amazing Artist

Published November 7, 2013 by thecruellestmonth

Dee Juusan, creator of the beautiful manga Grey is…, has listed a campaign to raise funds for the publication of her manga’s third volume.

A friend mentioned Grey is… to me, and as soon as I started reading it, I was hooked. The story is about two friends named Black and White, each suffering their own personal hardships, who counteract and compliment each other with the opposite nature of their personalities. Every chapter to date is free to read on the website. I highly suggest that you check it out, and if you like what you see, please consider donating to help with Volume 3!

Here is a link to the campaign.

Opening Titles

Published August 3, 2013 by thecruellestmonth

You can tell a lot about what a show is going to be like from its opening credits. I personally love watching these little introductions, especially in the case of anime, because it’s the most unique feature of a screen adaptation (while the story and substance of the anime is usually taken from the original manga, the credits sequence is chosen by the anime creators). I like to hear the songs that the creators choose to match the atmosphere of the story, as well as the visuals used to enhance that atmosphere. Here are some of my favorite opening titles.

1. Mushishi

The interesting thing about this one is that no characters or scenes from the anime are shown in the titles, just dreamy natural imagery paired with “The Sore Feet Song” by Ally Kerr. You get the feeling that the story is going to be rather quiet and subtle, maybe a little sad. This is what I mean by “atmosphere.” Without giving too much away, it sets the mood for the rest of the episode.

2. Ouran High School Host Club

Here’s a completely different kind of opening. All of the main characters are introduced with bright, energetic animation and Chieko Kawabe’s upbeat “Sakura Kiss,” which sets you up for a lighthearted story with the suggestion of romance.

3. NANA

This is the second credits sequence that appears later in the series, but I think it captures the emotional intensity of the story. Images of the characters are interspersed with snapshots of the setting, and “Wish” by Olivia Lufkin (Reira from Trapnest) provides a perfect backdrop.

4. Death Note

Another opening that appears halfway through the series. Additional characters are glimpsed alongside the main cast, and “What’s Up People” by Maximum the Hormone heightens the change of atmosphere. I really love this one for how crazy it is.

5. Black Butler

I like this opening better than the show itself. The song is “Monochrome No Kiss” by SID.

6. Cowboy Bebop

The best for last! Fistfights, gunfights, spaceships, and jazz. The blocks of color and silhouetted characters make this title sequence a work of art.

Plushie Progress (Part 1)

Published June 3, 2013 by thecruellestmonth

What do you do when your favorite anime is so obscure that no one ever bothered to make a cute stuffed plushie to go along with it? Or worse, someone bothered, but the result isn’t cute enough? Why, you make your own, of course!

At least that is what I’ve been wanting to do for some time now. I’ve attempted to make plushies in the past, but it’s a very time-consuming process, and it’s very hard to make something that measures up to my own exacting standards of cuteness. But I finally decided to go for it. I bought an expensive bundle of materials, so failure is not an option. I haven’t gotten very far yet.

I set out to make a Ginko plushie, but I thought I’d get some practice first, so I’m making a test plushie to figure out the kind of pattern I want to use. I chose a character I’m more familiar with for the practice plushie: Haruhi Fujioka from Ouran High School Host Club.

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Here’s what her face looks like. I didn’t think to take pictures until recently, so I’ll do my best to explain how I made it. First, I cut out a squashed circle shape that I sketched onto the fabric for her skin. I’m using a soft, suede-like material that’s very thin but strong and fray-resistant. For the hair, I cut a copy of the circle from brown fleece, then laid it over the face and cut jagged edges, starting at the bottom and working my way up until I got the length I wanted. As you can see, the hair covers about half the face. Instead of sewing the hair piece on, I’ve just pinned it in place for now.

I sketched out a faint pencil outline of where I wanted the eyes, nose and mouth to be. Then I cut eye shapes out from a piece of stiffened white felt. Though I was going to use these pieces for the whites of her eyes, I ended up omitting them later. But they served as an outline to form the black shapes around (also stiffened felt). Since I liked the look of the eyes without the white part behind them, I cut the white pieces down to small circles and used them for shiny pupils instead.

Once I sewed the white felt to the black felt, I positioned the eyes on the face and sewed them into place. Instead of one continuous stitch, I made little single stitches in the places where the felt would want to pop away from the fabric. This is because I don’t want the felt to warp or bulge oddly when I stuff the head later. We’ll see how that goes.

The nose and mouth are embroidered. I played with the idea of using felt, then tried to embroider it with black thread, but that didn’t look good so I sewed over it with embroidery floss. I’m not very good with embroidery, but I like the way it came out.

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I sketched the eyebrows and outlined them with embroidery floss, as well. You won’t be able to see much of them under her bangs, but I like to be thorough.

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Here’s what I worked on today. I cut two pairs of ears from the skin fabric, using the scraps from where I cut out the face. That way I could use the edge of her cheek to match the place where the ear meets her head.

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To make one ear, I sewed along the outside edge of one pair of ear pieces. I sewed this edge with the “ugly” side of the fabric facing out, so that once I finished I could turn the ear inside-out and leave the seam hidden, as pictured above.

This is a good time to mention that all the pieces are cut just a little bit bigger than how I want them to look on the finished plushie, because the edges will be tucked inside of the seam later. That’s why Haruhi’s face looks a little puffy.

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This is how I sewed her left ear onto her face. Before closing it up, I stuffed the ear with a tiny piece of stiffened felt to give it shape and stability. Then I used the thread to close the open edge and attach it to the side of her head. I kept messing up at this part. The thread kinked and I broke it, and then I had to take out several stitches when I realized the needle hadn’t been piercing all three layers of fabric. Sewing can be really annoying. Anyway, the ear is facing the wrong way because…

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…once you finish sewing and flip it over, it looks like this.

I was too tired to sew the other ear today, so that’s all for now. Let me know what you think! And if you know any plushie-making tips, please share them.

Also, I updated my fanart page so you can take a look at that if you want. I know everyone’ probably getting sick of my Mushishi drawings so I heaped them all together in one place.