Do you think I'll catch him?
Do you think I'll catch him?
Here's what I'm sending her this week:
Pretty nice, huh? I bet you wish you were my pen pal.
Or maybe not. Maybe you'd be pretty sick of all the Renji I send.... Although, tbf, I have actually sent her Ichigo, Kisuke Urahara, Captain Kyouraku, Byakuya, and Gin Ichimaru, so I'm not ENTIRELY one-track fan art-ing her. Though there's a lot of Renji. How do I know? My red colored pencil is little more than a sad little stub.
The other goodies I got for my dollar each include (but are not limited to):
An insert explaining the mysteries of Japanese sound effects!
I also got several other black-and-white inserts that explain everything from "how to introduce yourself in Japan" (using a moment from Bleach) to "Case Files" for the Espada. I suspect a lot of these end up collected in things like MASKED and SOULS, the official guides to Bleach, but, hey, it's neat to see them in situ, as it were.
Also... a dollar? I would have paid several for this:
And random pretty...
I will say that there's one set of color pages that made me laugh. It's in the middle of the Ichigo/Grimmjow fight and it's is a HUGE panel of blue sky with blood raining down from it. Yeah, that's what they blew their full-color page on. There are two tiny panels beneath that big one, showing close-ups of seriously intent Grimmjow (released in his Pantera form and looking beat-up) and glaring, determined Ichigo.
But, yeah. Blood.
Anyway, here is a picture of the large pile of goodies:
In other similar news Mason is officialy all caught up. He, like me, is now reading the episodes as they come out either from our on-line JUMP subscription or from Manga Panda, a free fan site. So, that's a yay. There are no more cries of, "IMA! NO SPOILERS!" when I start talking about Bleach.
BUT, this got me to thinking that I probably need an alternative plan for what to wear on Sunday. Luckily, my friend and fellow writer Anna Waltz loaned me her shihakushô, which she sewed herself. The only thing I didn't have were sandals, but this morning, when I rushed off to Walgreen's to get some coffee and cat food they had flip-flops on sale.
The funny part? I think that the tattoos, even faded, are in fact MAGIC. Because the lady who checked me out, whom I'd been talking to, called me "sir." I haven't been called sir for about twenty years. I thought to myself, "Ha! She sees my inner Renji" (or, more likely? She was _so_ not going to look at anyone who had painted weird crap on their face. I had a a hat on, but she could probably sense I was not someone you wanted to actually engage because I was clearly insane. *snort*)
Anyway, here's what I'd look like if I went in costume (though I'd probably put more effort into the hair since I'd want it to stick straight out more in back.)
First the front, in which I am clearly saying, "I don't think Renji has quite so many boobs."
Because, yeah, he'd wear Hello Kitty, you know he would:
A sultry look over my shoulder to show off the back:
I tell you, I'd feel a lot sexier if I was a lot more ripped. Getting these done at the dojon made me very aware that I should spend a lot more time jumping around....
Then, I have several that go along with a piece of collaborative fan fic which I wrote with fellow Bleach aficionado and writer empty_mirrors. Our story picks up shortly after Aizen's betrayal and Ichigo's return to Karakara Town, and Renji has been assigned to the human world under the "care" of Urahara and his fellow outlaws at the shoten. Things go awry, as they say.. You can read what we've posted so far, here: http://archiveofourown.org/series/29688
And, then things get even "worse" for our boy Renji:
Then I had fun imagining newly Vizard!Renji in a moment, I'd like to call, "Surprise, Taicho!"
There are actually a few more, but this is enough for now. Enjoy!
We have a lot left over, so you're all happy to come over if you're feeling brave.
At any rate, he and I slogged through seven more episodes. We're at 280-something now, I think. The point is we're in the middle of the Fake Kakakura Town battle. Urahara and company have just joined in to face off with Aizen, and it looks like we have to endure another tiny filler arc before returning to the action, which is why we were okay with quitting yesterday.
At night, when I tuck Mason in to bed, we always have a little chat. He asks, "What would you like to talk about tonight?" and we cover all sorts of topics. Usually I tease him by offering things like, "Chickens!" But, last night, no surprise, the talk turned to Bleach. We'd had to put up with a two episode cleverly disguised filler arc of all of Ichigo's big battles. At some point this triggered a thought for Mason because he said to me, "Is it only Renji and Ichigo whose outfits change during bankai?"
The significance of this tiny detail is actually very HUGE in the world of Bleach. It has to do with how people interact with their magical swords (zanpakuto). There's a lot of discussion about how you level-up. Traditionally, you mediate with your zanpakuto to learn its name (shikai) and then go deeper into your inner world and discover how to work together (bankai.) The fact that both Renji and Ichigo are changed by their swords (and not the other way around) seems really IMPORTANT and indicative of some really deep soul connection. I'm pretty sure, in fact, that Renji's captain is secretly horrified that Renji allows Zabimaru to affect a change in Renji's appearance. This seems almost like a violation of some sacred shinigami thing, but what, exactly, I'm not sure. But, all I know is that I should have noticed. This is, as our vice president might say, a big F*CKING deal.
Why is it that my nine year old son is more brillant about my Anime than I am? He claimed, after I told him how amazing his mind was, that I told him this long ago when we first started watching. I have no memory of that, so I told him it counts as his idea. I'm pretty sure he was just being modest, because I'm not sure he's ever seen me SO EXCITED by an idea before. (He doesn't come to cons with me.)
Also, apparently, there is some juicy information about how Renji's bankai was made waiting for me in the upcoming issues of Jump. Alas, all my friends are reading fan translations, so I'm at least a couple of weeks behind (if not more.) It took me forever to finally see Byakuya's "death" (HA! Still alive you non-believers!) and I only just got to the BIG REVEAL about Ichigo's mother (which I resisted at first, but then I was watching that whole recap of every fight ever and I noticed that Ichigo does seem to have had the ability to suck in reishi, in a way no other Soul Reaper can.... if Kubo-sensei really knew that all along, I might have to decide he's not an irritating moron who makes stuff up on the fly, but ridiculously brilliant.)
I do think, however, that Aizen is the Dr. Doom of Anime. His plans are so convoluted that they almost don't make any sense. (I know, I'll use a Quantum Bullet! No, dude, just shoot Captain America dead.) Aizen needs a Scott Evil to tell him to stop with the plans. Just kill the people and take their stuff. Because I'm still not entirely sure what motivates the guy, despite listening to his villian soliloquy six times at the end of the Rescue arc and now his expanded talks throughout the fight at Fake Karakura Town. Maybe having his rival finally on stage will tease out the truth. I ended up, for instance, kind of digging Tosen's backstory. Kind of goes to my personal theories that the Soul Society is seriously MESSED UP.
And oh? New captain crush? Still in love with Kouryaku, of course, possibly more so since seeing the children's game creepiness of his fight with Coyote Startk, but Komamura... so amazingly noble. Furry fans should be all over him. He's... totally hot.
On that note, I shall sign off.
I had a HORRIBLE fish dream last night, though, clearly about the recent fish-related trauma. I dreamed I had a tiny fish, like a white mountain minnow, who kept flopping out of his tank and I had to try to pick him up off the floor--except in my dream, every time I got my hands on him, he'd slip back out and fall into some horrible new place. The most memorable image? Him getting tangled in a huge spiderweb, and when I finally got him out of that he was gasping and covered in dust and webbing.
Clearly, I feel like a terrible fish mommy.
Since I was asked to provide some pictures of the recent house project, I have a couple for you:
This is a view of the picky bits. It may not be obvious in the photo, but the crown moulding is painted brown. In the furtherst room visible in the picture is what the real moulding should look like. But all of the crown moulding in the downstairs was badly mistreated by our previous owners. They used that popcorn plaster spray on the ceiling and, for reasons known only to the dark recesses of their twisted minds, they sprayed the same crap all over the lovely hardwood moulding. Possibly because owners previous to them had painted it as well. I know this because in the golden room, our dining room, I scraped all the popcorn plaster crap from the moulding and then used a heat gun to remove several layers of paint. Underneath it all is a beautiful dark (red?) maple or possibly even oak. But that's a sh*tload of work, and not anything resembling a weekend project. Shawn and I have decided that painting the moulding will work for now, and that eventually, when Mason is off to M.I.T. or Yale, we will tackle the messy, arduous project of refinishing the moulding for real.
I also painted the walls, which used to be a dirty, grayish sort of white, but are now a color that doesn't show terribly well in the photos but is a sort of creamy yellowish white.
Here, perhaps, is a slightly better sense of color. The "new" paint is the lighter colored one. The other wall of the foyer is the deeper gold of the dining room. I also painted those radiator pipes going up the wall and the crown moulding you see there. The ceiling still needs to be done at some point, but that's a little less critical because it's held up fairly well and will be repainted a very similar sort of egg-shell whitish color.
You wouldn't think such tiny bits of wall and moulding would take so long, but I spent nearly all of Sunday working on this stupid project. The upside is that it really looks quite lovely now, and it's done. We shouldn't need to repaint for several years.
And, now for something completely different:
Here's the latest of my fan art: Renji and Zabimaru. Yep. Still obsessed.
So here's the sketch. This is my boy Renji and the externalization of his zanpaktou, Zabimaru. Zabimaru is a nue demon, which is described on Wikipedia as a demon who has the arms and legs of a tiger, the body of a tanuki, the head of a monkey and the tail of a snake. Kubo-sensei, however, has always drawn Zabimaru as looking mostly like an albino gorrilla with a snake-head tail. Renji, interestingly, has chosen to tattoo his arms with tiger stripes (he also has them on his legs), and he's from a district in the Soul Society called "Hang Dog," Inuzuri, and always gets harrassed for being a dog (which seems to be the same sort of insult to the Japanese as it would be in English to an American)--of course, the ony NATIVE dog to Japan is the tanuki.
Now for the colored version of the same:
This image was inspired by my own fan fiction again, I have to admit. This time from a scene in which our hero is contemplating his relationship with his captain and getting some advice from his zanpaktou. If you're curious, you can check out: http://archiveofourown.org/works/487390
I hope you enjoy!
Here's Renji-grrl bankai:
Now, this one I wan't entirely pleased with, but I will post it because there are things I still like about it. For one, I wanted to show the difference in the height between Renji and her lover-captain, Byakuya.
Okay, so close your eyes if you're not up for this...
I'd say "long story," but it really is that simple. I had it outside of its usual backpack, sitting in the footwell of the backseat of our car, when, after grocery shopping, I dropped a 13 pound frozen turkey on it and cracked the screen. It still works, but the screen is completely busted. You can't see to type. BUT, I was able to quickly pull everything off the laptop and transfer it to a USB drive, so even though we were out the cost of a new computer, I didn't lose anything was working on.
Because, you know, it's important to have stuff like this:
So, what this is, is that my friend Kate and I were emailing back and forth about my Anime obsession and she basically asked the question: What if your favorite character were a girl instead of a boy? Suddenly, I had to draw it. The above is actually my second piece, because I wanted to see what 'she' looked like with her tattoos showing. Below, was the first attempt.
I found, to my surprise, that drawing Renji-as-a-grrl was actually easier on my brain in a way. She's a scary lady (dude's a scary guy,) but I'm pleased how sexy she looks, how her determinaton shows through, in a way that I struggle to show on him. If she's JUST like him, she's also six foot two. It would be interesting to show her "in situ" with Byakuya (who is 5'11") still as a guy. It would be fun to draw the both of them with Renji-as-grrl because Byakuya is SO PRETTY, and while Renji is sexy in either gender, s/he's never supposed to be pretty, per se.
I also may draw her in bankai, because I think she'd rock the fur collar in a way Renji-boy never quite does. :-)
Oops, sorry that this is just sitting here, but I was reading the latest Shonen Jump on my iPad and I thought that this particular picture of my boy would make for a much better profile pic than the one I currently have, and, weirdly, I've found that LJ has a nice interface for resizing pictures.
It may go away, I noticed that my other pic of Renji disappeared off the internet. (Sorry, Sensei Kubo, just sharing the love.)
Just so you know, if anyone out there wanted to take my fan art and make it into their profile picture or flash it around the internet, I'd be okay with that. I see that as, you know, flattery.
Speaking of stuff that fans stole from me that I appreciate, thank god for internet pirates or I wouldn't be able to announce: AngeLINK books to come out as E-books, Finally! No official release date yet, as Cheryl and I are trying to see just how MESSY the copies we have are, but check back in. I'm hoping it will be soon!
I realized, today, why I love Renji. Renji isn't the hero of "Bleach," no, far from it. He's not even the most powerful or cool guy in the show. In point of fact, he gets his a$$ handed to him on a surprisingly regular basis. The reason I love Renji is he gets back up. Every damn time. There is ABSOLUTELY no keeping Renji Abarai down.
Today, I need to be Renji. I need his indomitable spirit. I feel kind of crushed by a particular rejection -- shredded, quite honestly. But, as much as I want to just lay down and die, what I need to do is get up off my knees, *again*, and fight.
This one is a funny combination of the St. Paul firefighter calendar and Manga, but completely original.
Here's a surprised looking Byakuya Kuchiki:
My boy Renji Abarai:
Renji with Zabimaru:
Also, as I was searching through the vast wasteland of the Internets for a picture of Renji in this particular shirt, I came across his Wikipedia entry. Now, I feel the need to defend him. You KNOW, he may have lost to Byakuya Kuchiki, but that's only because Byakuya is a big, fat cheater. I want any Renji detractor to go back and watch the episode/read the Manga of that fight. Here's how it goes in a nut shell.
Byakuya: "Renji, where are you going?"
Renji (paraphrasing): I'm savin' Rukia and you can't stop me.
Byakuya: "You may not." (Note snottiness already present.)
Renji: "I will!"
Fight ensues. Byakuya tries out his tired old flash-step trick and Renji (who still can't entirely see it), still manages to deflect it because Byakuya is so f**king habitual, he does the same move every time. Thwarted, Byakuya goes shikai. He's all "Scatter, a Thousand..." --oops, Renji's sword crashes into Senbonzakura and knocks the shikai out. Byakuya gets his WTF look (slightly more opened eyes) because Renji didn't have to call Zabimaru's name, and tries to ask Renji if this means he's achieved bankai, and Renji says (basically) "Check it out. My bankai is going to drive you to your knees." Byakuya is all snotty about it, tries scattering the thousand cherry blossoms again, but Renji is totally unscathed. Zabimaru achieves its stated goal. Byakuya has to pick himself up off one knee.
Things are looking good for Renji, right?
In a fair fight, yes. What is Byakuya next move? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Right, magic. Not, let's go man-to-man, sword-to-sword. No! Byakuya uses binding spell number 33, which Renji manages to mostly deflect but this leaves him open to... ANOTHER MAGICAL ATTACK, binding spell 61, which completely immoblizes him.
Are you following how dishonorable this is??
Renji can no longer fight. He's been spelled at a really high level. He is peirced with "six-rod light restraint."
It's also a fairly well established in the story at this point that Renji has some magic, but it's not his main skill set.
So, as his captain, Byakuya knows this. It's like you and your opponant both have swords (you're equal there), but you also have a giant laser gun, while your enemy has a pea-shooter. Fair to use the laser gun?
I think not!
Because, now that Renji is utterly helpless, Byakuya decides it's a good time to pick up his sword again. His opponent can't move a muscle. Can't lift his sword in defense, and Byakuya isn't satisfied with a swipe or two, no, he goes ninja on Renji's a$$, and rains a million sword-pettles down on him (his bankai).
THEN, when Renji is laying on the ground, completely torn to ribbons, Byakuya has the nerve to give Renji a lesson in "class." He says the difference is that Byakuya is much more noble and pure and awesome than Renji could ever even hope to imagine being. In his amazingly rude lecture, he tells Renji that there was never any way to win this fight because Byakuya is just that much better, he's too high up for Renji to even consider going after.
How would he know? He never let Renji fight! He tied him up and hit him with a cannon.
What makes Renji even more awesome here is that, he doesn't just lay there. He just got completely plowed (unfairly), but he gets up and goes again, even though his bankai is shattered and has returned to its sealed form unconsciously. Picture a regular katana now. When he gets to his feet, Baykuya nails him (almost literally) with more magical swords.
Is Renji done? No, he pulls them out of his body, one by one, and goes after Byakuya *again*. Only then, after actually scratching Byakuya's cheek, is he finally down for the count.
I think, without magic, Byakuya would have been pulverized.
And, I think Byakuya knew it the second Zabimaru drove him to his knees. What annoys me, is that Byakuya gives far more respect to Ichigo in their fight, moments later. He doesn't resort to magical restraints until much deeper in.
So, okay, Renji gets his butt handed to him a lot. But, at least one time, it wasn't a fair fight.