Saturday, April 10

Halfway Point

The Holy Week holiday is more than halfway gone, so what have I accomplished? Well, I've pencilled quite a lot of Kunoichi Boy pages, as well as doing work on a surprise project that I received within the week. I'll be staying at home for the duration of the remaining weekend, so I think I'll be able to do a few more pages before work commences again. Not bad.

Friday, April 9

Aquatic Anime

A watery world, sexy girls in skimpy outfits and lots of explosions. Sounds great!

I must admit that when I first saw the character designs for the new anime Daphne in the Brilliant Blue, I was intrigued by the unique storyline... Okay, that's a lie. I was intrigued by the skimpy outfits. Anyway... So when the title finally began appearing in local anime shops, I grabbed it. So, what's this oddly-titled series all about?
Set in a world half-submerged in water (which brings to mind another fanservice-laden series, Agent Aika), DITBB focuses on the hard life of Mizuki Maia, a pretty 15-year old living in the city all by herself. Apparently, Maia's family members are all deceased (her parents died a year or two ago), and all she has is the hope of being employed by the government, along with her best friend, Tsukasa. Unfortunately, despite her being a brilliant student... she fails. In rapid succession, Maia loses her prospects for employment, her house and all her money (DAAMN she's having a bad day), and soon finds herself getting SHOT during a hostage situation!
Fortunately (or unfortunately), Maia finds herself alive and more or less forcibly employed in the Nereis agency, a company composed of sexy women who do all sorts of odd jobs for any price; think of it like the Getbackers, but with women instead of guys, and at least having their own office. The company is composed of red-headed Rena (the penny-pinching boss), purple-haired and bespectacled Shizuka (streetsmart and sympathetic) and the lone male branch mananger. With jobs ranging from collecting rent to catching deadly criminals, perhaps Maia would have been better off (and safer) taking her chances on the street...

The token brainy-looking girl, Shizuka is also the most sympathetic and friendly in the Nereis crew to newcomer Maia. She's also a lousy shot.

I am still a bit at a loss with this anime. The art style has an odd way of giving the girls HUGE heads at times, and their features have that angular, sharp look that reminds me a bit of Akira Toriyama's Dragonball Z art. For the most part, the copious amounts of skin the girls show off makes up most of the show's fanservice appeal. I mean, just LOOK at those dental-floss swimsuits the girls are sporting... it's never really explained WHY they have to wear them (then again, is it ever explained why in any anime..?); there's not even a vague reference ('They're special diver suits...'). Oh well, whatever works...
The animation is choppy and not the best you'd expect, even in a TV- the budget doesn't seem that big. However, it's adequate. As for the story, it's interesting, though you have to wonder where it will be going. There are hints of a long-term plot building, but it's alll just odd jobs for the first several episodes.
Daphne in the Brilliant Blue isn't a full on ecchi anime; aside from very slight sexual innuendo and the skimpy outfits, it isn't as sexy or as competent as titles such as Aika or Najica- viewers looking for that may be a bit disappointed. Still, for all the negatives, I find myself still looking forward to seeing the next few episodes of this new anime. We'll see as it goes along.

Tough girl Paku Yuu is the group's hand-to-hand combat specialist. The taciturn but loyal ex-con has a lot in common with a certain assassin babe I know...

Thursday, April 8

Tagging from the Cabin

Here I am, blogging from my secluded log cabin in the woods...

Of course, I'm really bloggin from the Sanctum, which is no big since I'm a total homebody and I've got my time all to myself. Aaaaaahhhh.
Yesterday, I went out to buy supplies for the holiday; junk food like chocolate chip cookies, chips and dip, lots of juice and cheez duds. Mmm. I've been pretty flagrant with eating meat for the past several weeks of Lent, but for this actual Holy Week I am making do with just tuna and whatever my family lays out on the table. I helped Vin do groceries for their trip to Tagaytay; they're probably out there by now (unless someone majorly fucked up), doing... whatever it is they're supposed to be doing. Heh.

Anyway, as promised, I'll be doing pages for my comics in a while. I've had a sluggish start in the day, admittedly, thanks to a bit of a sore throat and runny nose getting me down. I took a couple of pills and am feeling much better. I'll concentrate on Kunoichi Boy tonight; pencils for the 2nd 16-page installment should be finished by late tonight or early morning tomorrow.

Ah. I wish we had Holy Month instead of just Holy Week though. Hoho...

Wednesday, April 7

Guilty Pleasures

The girls of Guilty Gear dress down for the beach.

I passed by Comic Alley and got myself this cool set of 6 gashapon mini-figures based on the Guilty Gear X fighting game. It's the 'beach collection' set, so the girls are all dressed-down to their summer wear. My favorite is sexy hair-using assassin Millia Rage, dressed in a white bikini and a 'hair skirt' (which is removeable), followed closely by the immortal Sharon and the lovely angel-demon hybrid girl, Dizzy. These figures are going to look great atop my desk in the sanctum, along with the DOAX girls. I just hope they all get along...
Much-awaited Break

It's the start of the long Holy Week break here in the Philippines. Since last week, thousands, if not millions (AND MILLIONS!) of Filipinos are heading off to their provinces or to their favorite vacation spots. For me though, home is where I'll be. My proverbial cabin in the woods and my Sanctum are one and the same.
Tomorrow, if I can get myself to move out from the climate-controlled, pleasure device-filled stronghold, I'll have to stock up on supplies- namely junk food and perhaps a load of paper on which to draw. Then it'll be hour after hour of working with pen and page till I finish my K.I.A. and Kunoichi Boy chores, broken only by little naps, brainless gaming sessions and anime viewing.


Tuesday, April 6

Toothless PPV

Last night, I hurried home to watch Wrestlmania XX on cable. I actually have the show on VCD, but I wanted to see it on the TV. Well, if I was pleased by the relatively easy and quick commute (thanks to a ride on the MRT), I wasn't at all pleased by the show's screening. The more than 3-hour show was totally BUTCHERED by edits, including one HUGE cut- the entire Playboy Evening Gown Match between WWE Divas was cut from the showing. Now, in terms of a wrestling match it was pretty ridiculous, but it was a sexy and funny segment that no doubt would have been appreciated. Boy am I glad I have the whole show on VCD.
This was pretty disappointing, and if anyone here wants to watch the show as it should be, watch it without cuts on DVD or VCD yourself.
Reign of the Assassin

Kai fights her way to the FFFL championship in K.I.A.: Victors and Victims.

Here's a sample page from my cousin Jeremy. His indie style is really cool with firm, solid lines and bold blacks. I am loving it totally and can't wait to see the whole thing. I'm gonna use the sample page as an inspiration as I start my comic drawing penitentia tomorrow.
My past life as an Interplanetary Spy

Licensed to thrill... IN SPACE!

Back when I was in high school, we didn't have Playstation games or anime vcds lying around for the taking, like most of the young li'l whippersnappers today do. Heh. Nope- when I was younger all we had were books. BOOKS! Hell, even our videogames were books. The only systems around then were the Atari 2600, the Nintendo Famicon and later the Super NES. But those came later, and games came few and far between (Not to mention they were extremely expensive). If you wanted to experience gaming and loved reading, the nearest National Book Store was your place to go.
Choose Your Own Adventure books were all the rage then. These books put you as the hero, dropping you headfirst into an adventure which ranged from supernatural tales of fantasy or menace depending on your choices. Ah, I remember going off to sea on the good ship Allegro, accompanied by friends like the ubiquitous Doctor Vivaldi and company. One choice could lead me to uncovering a traitor and saving the day from conspiracy. Another could consign me to a deadly fate. Ouch!
While CYOA books were the most popular, I especially liked the harder-to-find Which Way books- with titles like Famous and Rick placing you in the shoes of a millionaire philanthropist/spy/actor; or the memorable Vampires, Spies and Alien Beings which pit you against... well, vampires, spies and alien beings. Darker and a bit more mature, I was only able to encounter WW books by borrowing them from friends.
But of course, the most interesting series of Reader Is Hero books for me is the Be An Interplanetary Spy! line from Bantam Books. I first learned of these space-fiction gamebooks from, what else, a videogame mag (yes, they existed even then). The article mentioned that the BAIS books would feature videogame-style graphics and storytelling, and unlimited adventure. So, when I saw the first BAIS book, Find the Kirillian! on a store shelf, I grabbed it.

Basically, the BAIS books put you in the airtight boots of an Interpanetary Spy; a nameless, faceless, sexless operative who tracks down galactic villains single-handedly. You are often given a secret weapon or special device to aid you in your mission, but for the most part your only defense is your ability to solve various visual riddles and puzzles that you will encounter on your way. And this is where the 'videogame' graphics come in; a lot of the art (the pages are usually art-filled, rather than the text-dominant CYIB books) is done in blocky, "electronic" style. The funny thing is, if you make one wrong move, you're DEAD. Blasted into atoms. Lost in a parallel dimension. Flattened by a Megasaur. You get the picture?
This meant that every BAIS adventure was pretty much a one-shot pony; once you solved it, that was that. Kinda like the book version of Final Fantasy games. Heh.

Still, I loved those books; I put away a lot of baddies... Marko Khen the Galactic Pirate, Phatax the giant Kirillian, the evil world-destroying Planet Hunters, the evil microscopic overlord Electron, Spymaster Gresh... all put away thanks to ME.

But of course, eventually I got too good. For my own safety, my mind was wiped clean, and I was sent to live out my life in peace as an ordinary human. Of course, sometimes I still reminisce about my glorious past... hence, this post. Heh.

I wonder if there will ever be a resurgence of those kind of books? Or better yet, how about a CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE or BE AN INTERPLANETARY SPY Manga? Hmmmm.... Interesting. Very interesting...

Monday, April 5

Dog Days

After years and years we've finally gotten dogs again at our house. Two, in fact; two little mongrel puppies that just seemed to suddenly appear from out of nowhere during the weekend. The kids of course love 'em to no end, but for me it's all just more noise (they bark and whine up a storm at night- good thing for airconditioning), doggy poo and doggy smells.

The last time we had a dog for a long time was our sweet little Japanese Spitz hybrid named Candy, who was with us even before we arrived at our present residence. She stayed for a year or so then apparently died quietly in her sleep. We buried her in the backyard, which is now covered in cement. Since then, we've never really had dogs for too long a time- most have the nasty tendency of digging up my mom's plants, ensuring their ejection from the house. These days however, there really aren't that many plants they can dig up, even if they were let loose in the yard.

Me, I pretty much ignore dogs these days. They're a dime a dozen for me... though there was that one night a week or two ago, when I was sure I saw a Whippet running around loose in the street. FYI, a Whippet is this foreign breed of dog that costs a bundle (apparently they put on antlers and pretend to be reindeer during Xmas celebrations). I would have grabbed the thin, funny-looking dog but it was too fast.

Oh well. Dog days are back. Let's see how long they last.
Battle Vixens

The latest offering from Tokyo Pop manga, Battle Vixens is the manga version of the ecchi anime series Ikki Tousen.
Basically, BV is all about the battles between the great warriors of the Three Kingdoms era of ancient China (which has been the topic of all those Romance of the Three Kingdom games). The twist here is, it's modern-day Japan and the warriors have now been transplanted into the bodies of Japanese teenagers who bear magatama, or soulstones that bear the spirits and destinies of corresponding warriors. Whew! Got all that?
The main character in Battle Vixens is one Hakufu Sonsaku, a busty and beautiful but somewhat air-headed girl who loves fighting. All her life she's been trained and driven by her mom to become a warrior, but it's only now that she can carry out her lust for combat as she enters high school and into the modern day war of the Toushin (warriors).
The anime version, Ikki Tousen, was pretty much characterized by tons of fan service- almost as many panty shots as Agent Aika and lots of skin (almost-nudity and some sex scenes). The manga looks to have just as much, if not more. It's just a hair's short of full-on hentai, and the language is also pretty mature. In short, not for kids.
Anyway, the art's really nice, with cool battle scenes and fighting sequences, and sexy girls aplenty. Compared to the manga, Hakufu's not as idiotic, and a lot more powerful; characters like the eyepatch-wearing, Frenchmaid-dressed Ryomou look as hot and formidable as ever.
Fans of the anime would probably want to pick this series up; fans of fanservice-laden martial arts-combat manga may want to check it out; just make sure you aren't bothered by lots of skin.

Sunday, April 4


This Holy Week, instead of going off with most of the gang to Tagaytay for the holidays, I'll be staying home to do stuff that I normally wouldn't be able to do on account of work and my hectic day schedule.
First and foremost, I will be finishing my art for pages in K.I.A.; the introductory story and the yarn spun by Dean. Alongside them I will be rendering art for the upcoming Kunoichi Boy series that's coming out in the pages of Questor Extreme in the next couple of months. I've been putting off doing work on these pages because of my day job, and now I have to catch up and finish my end of the bargain and finalize the K.I.A. project for production by May.
I'll be making it a point to finally READ the comics that I have been stockpiling in the Sanctum- Superman and Batman, Ragnarok, Elektra, Blade of the Immortal, The Ultimates and Heaven knows what else I have piled up. I'll also be watching the tons of anime that I have been raving about but HAVE NOT WATCHED, like Scrapped Princess, Last Exile, Read or Die TV, Full Metal Alchemist and more. Also gotta watch Battle Royale 2 somehow.
Gotta bring my body clock back into whack as well... gotta catch some Zzz's and just chill out.

All of these things I gotta do, and not all of them fit in with each other. But somehow, someway... I'm gonna do them all.

Crossing fingers.

Tonight's discussion around the dinner/coffee table ranged around what our reasons for writing are, what we want to write and who we are writing it for.

I love telling stories. I may not be as serious a writer as some of the gang, nor am I as honed or knowledgeable in the field of prose considering that I haven't picked up or read a good book in ages, nor have I kept up in what's hot or not in professional writing.
I guess I am lucky that I still am able to stay in the company of a lot of great writers and not feel out of place or out of my class. We are all storytellers, with our own strengths, fields and standards of success, satisfaction and challenge.
For my part, I love manga, the Japanese style of comics, illustration and storytelling having impressed upon me greatly their merits and possibilities. Despite this, I believe that I have been able to keep my own identity and mind both as an individual and as a Filipino (nationalistic bent inserted here) to keep myself from becoming just a 'me too' manga/anime wannabee or clone.
I love the style of stories that I specialize in- mostly action-adventure oriented yarns. First and foremost, I go to satisfy myself first, placing in it things that please me; fighting, action, espionage and of course, scantily-clad women (heh). Have I locked myself in a closed, non-growing cell? I don't think so. I haven't done that many stories yet, and I don't think I will exhaust my vein soon.
So, I guess while I am able- meaning while I still can draw, think up stories and have people read and appreciate them- I will continue drawing and telling stories about Angel Ace, Kai, Kunoichi Boy and other heroes and villains that I love to read about. Adventures will be funny, some dark, most usually full of action and good 'ol fashioned good versus evil with shades thrown in between. That's the way it is with me, and as long as it works it will remain so.
Ice Monster

My new favorite snack place at Megamall is Ice Monster, which sells icy concoctions ranging from sweet taro ice to fudge brownie and vanilla ice cream ice to the esoteric black gulaman and almond ice. I'm planning on trying every single flavor in the weeks ahead. Heh. Prices range from P60 to P80, and the size of the cup is comparable to the nearby Dairy Queen. Mmm. Ice is nice.