Monday, July 27, 2015

Piecemeal Terror - Pt 2

Because writing horror at 10.30 at night was a great idea. -_-

Dedicated to Silent Hills. Kojima, Del Toro, Reedus
“Then what happened?”
Haggard, the detective stared at the disheveled, trembling man across the table. He shook violently, eyes sunken and bloodshot, mouth twitching as he attempted to formulate words.
“924586, 924586…”
“Sir, I’ll ask again, what happened in that house?”
Detective Simon gave up.
He left the man to rock himself into insanity, wildly searching about the room. His manic demeanor had refused to cease from the moment they picked him up. He had been repeating that sequence of numbers when they found him, huddled on the porch of his home, covered in his family’s blood.
“What now?”
Leaning by the door to the interrogation room stood Officer Francine Dwyer, a pen poised between her lips, an impatient finger tap, tap, tapping over her notes. There were barely two sentences on the page. Dwyer’s pen clicked to a halt. The detective stared at his feet, his face contorted with frustration. He ran his hands through his hair.
“We’re getting nothing out of that twisted fuck.” Simon spat
"Forensics said that the bodies are still missing,"
"I know,"
Despite the drifting noise of chatter and phones, slamming doors and printing paper, there was silence between the two detectives. They were both thinking the same thing. What did we miss?
"We cased that house Simon," Dwyer said quietly, brushing a stray strand of light hair from her brow.
"I know,"
"We don't have to go back. We have enough evidence even without the confession or bodies."
“...I know,”
He reached out patting Dwyer on her shoulder.
"I know."
“Nothing for it then.”
Dwyer was sure the colour drained from them both as the words echoed about the empty hallway.

The crime scene was an hour’s drive from the Central Police Station. They took Dwyer’s car. Beside her, Simon leaned back into his passenger’s seat, eyes closed, a hand resting on the closed, navy bound notebook. It was worn about the edges. 
“Have you been home at all Simon?”
“What do you think?” Simon yawned, rubbing his eyes with his palms.
“Hey. When we get back I'll take care of the paperwork. I’m younger than you and definitely better looking. You need your beauty sleep.” Dwyer was relieved when he chuckled at her concern.
“I’m not that old.” He grumbled, though the smirk on his face took the sting from his words.
“Older than me.”
As silence fell between them again, Dwyer began to fidget, her fingers tapping at the wheel.
“Spit it out Dwyer,”
“This case. It’s weird. It’s like those ghost stories girl scouts tell each other around a campfire to creep each other out. I don’t like it.
“You scared?"
“I am neither confirming nor denying that fact.”
“You’re right. I’ve been on that guy since the moment we picked him up. Nothing. Absolutely fucking nothing. Just those goddamned infernal numbers!
“It’s alright to admit you’re scared you know. I sure as wish to never see that house again.”
“Do you think we missed something?”
The look Simon flashed her left her heart falling, dread snaking it’s way down her spine.
“We have yet to find the wife’s body for one."

“Man it feels weird to be back here again! Hey do you think forensics cleaned it? I mean look at it! They even dusted!” Dwyer chatted nervously. The house felt empty and cold as they entered the crime scene. The floors shone brilliantly, as if someone had waxed the wood recently. Even the air was devoid of must.

“What are we looking for?”

The detective picked up the framed wedding photograph from bureau, the happy couple smiling at him. 
“The eye of the wife is gouged out. Here look,”
"That's weird." Dwyer took the photo from him, flipping it in her hand. "Do you think the suspect did it?"
Before Simon could answer her there was a creak.
“Is someone here?” Dwyer tensed instinctively.
“Not that I kno…”
The front door slammed behind them with a bang. They jumped. The chill the detective experienced as he entered the house returned, his spine tingling uncomfortably.
The creaking could be heard again; a strange shuffling noise from upstairs as a foot dragged itself along the wooden floor, the sharp clip of a heel following in step.
Simon indicated to his partner. She nodded, slowly making her way around the corner of the corridor. 
It rounded a corner past the bathroom door. She nodded gun in hand. Her body shook as she stepped out…

Into another empty corridor.
“All clear.” She called out quietly.
There was no response.
  But he was no longer there.

He waited…
She could no longer be heard.
“Dwyer?” His voice tensed.
The detective rounded the corner, gun raised. Nothing. He stepped cautiously, blood resounding in his ears. In an alcove to his left, the digital clock blinked 11:59pm.
“924586, 924586…
  The detective froze.
From the entryway, the radio began to repeat those godforsaken numbers, over and over and over again. The shuffling began to grow louder. Behind him, the door to the bathroom shuddered, the small, gurgling squeals of a baby becoming shrill. A frantic pounding from the bathroom door filled the corridor with rhythmic panic, matching that of the detective's own heartbeat.
He whipped around the corner and stalled. Only the entryway was lit. A blood soaked woman, her heelless foot dragging behind her, painstakingly shuffled towards the radio. It clicked off.
The detective tried to speak, but no words came out… only numbers.
“N…nn…nine… t…t…two,”
The woman turned, face veiled in her own blood, a dark pit where her left eye should have been. Her head cocked to one side, a crooked smile cracking over her stained features.
The lights blinked.
The detective awoke to find himself alone in a black room. Lifting himself off the ground he stretched his muscles, unsure of how long he had been unconscious. He wasn’t given time to investigate. A door opened. Beyond the darkened room was the seemingly normal corridor. In the small alcove, beneath the smiling portraits of summer vacations, award ceremonies and birthdays was the digital clock.
It blinked 12:00am.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Let's Recycle!

So I am still feeling the effects of this dreaded flu! So what better time than to recycle an old post I made to a blog AAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSS ago. I studied the slice-of-life genre in manga and anime as part of my honours project. I was attempting to determine what qualified as a slice-of-life narrative.

I have 10 000 odd words that demonstrates that. Here is my non peer reviewed, solely opinion based article that was never published in a journal on why K-On! is and should never be considered a slice-of-life anime.

Why K-on! Is not a slice-of-life

Seriously, eating sweets and nothing else is not slice-of-life people!
I am new to this. I have blogged before but not long posts of deconstruction. I have not had much to say in terms of anime and manga but as time has gone by and I have been exposed to more and more of the culture I have discovered that yes, I might have a thing or two to say about some things. 

Here it goes. Buckle down your seats my friends because… K-On is not the groundbreaking anime people say it is. Ok so I lied. It’s not much of a revelation. I don’t hate it so much as think that it is vastly improved when sped up by 1.5x. If you can ignore the high pitched cuteness of the characters' saccharine squeaking, you’ll begin to truly believe that this is actually the pace the anime is supposed to be watched at. But I digress.

What I really want to say is that K-On! should not be classified as slice-of-life. I am not intending to get on the “K-On! sucks bandwagon.” Oh no. Regardless as to how I feel about this anime, my recent research just highlighted how little people know about the true meaning behind what makes a slice-of-life.

Let me outline a few things others have to say about the genre. Horton and Romero define the slice-of-life genre as being close to real life. They explain that though slice-of-life may utilise elements such as drama as a way to increase tension and or conflict, this should not be its main focus. However the mundane activities of the characters, settings and plots, whilst based on real life situations, should be “explorations of humanity.”

So how does K-On! not do this? Simple. There is little exploration of what it means to be human. There isn't much depth to the characters either. Rather it is the objectification of cakes, tea and Mio’s underwear. 

Oh my stars! A 'revealing' look at the depth of K-On!'s exploration of humanity.
The focus of the anime is the characters' everyday routine, granted, but that’s all there is to it. Cowboy Bepop by comparison deals with deep moral issues whilst living a life of a space bounty hunter. I have yet to see Faye and Spike talking about how “Kawaii” those cakes are and how they really should be playing music but oh my god, did Mugi bring out another cup of tea potentially laced with alcohol? (Wow… kinda got away from me there.) No, K-On! does not explore the essence of humanity. Rather, it meanders around, going nowhere and doing nothing. The only thing it does do is take up time by eating all the cake.

However, if we were to take Baker’s view that a slice-of-life was to have the absence of a satisfying ending and “a kind of arbitrary ‘core sample’ of life lived”, then hats off to K-On! because it certainly does that. Yet there is another factor that Baker argues that elaborates on this. As far as he is concerned, a story ends when the audience has been presented with enough morals or lessons or with a conclusion of an argument. He does explain that whilst the audience may not be presented with a satisfying ending, they are forced face the reality of the situation with a deeper respect for life as it is presented through the narrative.

Yeah… deep isn’t it? So what moral, lessons or conclusions can we gain from K-On!? If someone mentions cake then no, there is no overarching message or deep investigation or argument that K-On! puts forward. Although I will be the first to mention that it does offer an interesting look at the effects of stooping to the lowest common denominator has on a group of prepubescent girls. Maybe that’s its argument, but I am really not keen to give it that much of the benefit of the doubt. Particularly if we compare it to another, more worth while manga which I promise to stop banging on about to people despite how AMAZING IT IS!

“What a Wonderful World” by Inio Asano’s, strengthens the view put forward by Baker. This manga is a series of short stories, exploring the lives of young adults and their conflicts between their dreams and their perceived expectations from society. The characters are explored over 20 pages before it switches to the next “track.” These “tracks” reflect on what is to be a young Japanese person facing society’s challenges whilst coming to terms with how you feel about pursuing or abandoning your dreams.

I could keep going. But I think I have presented enough evidence to prove that K-On! is not a slice-of-life anime. At most I would call it humour. Or maybe it exists in its own bubble of unclassifiable anime. Where the pacing, characters and lack of story (except for the beach episode, because who doesn’t love a beach episode?) are just too ass retarded to warrant being pigeon-hold into any genre. My friends, if you enjoy K-On! awesome. If not, hats off to you. But take this final word of advice. Watch in 1.5x speed. It really improves the show. At the very least, it is over quicker.

Public Service announcement: If anyone has any information regarding this individual please contact the police. 

References for those who are interested...

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Read Throughs

Starting a blog that you've been meaning to commence for months whilst debilitated with the flu is not the brightest of ideas. Particularly when you've set yourself an update schedule.

This week has been close to a write off. Today was supposed to be a breakdown of translating a script into a storyboard but that has not happened. That's not to say I haven't been working on it. I just haven't got anything visual to show and I'd rather save that for next week.

However, I did make a little bit of progress and that started with my read through. Luckily no one was around when I got to read said script out loud and with all the voices. I enjoy building a character from the ground up. Once they are firmly there in my mind, drawing or writing for them is much simpler. Their expressions, the manner in which they converse with others, it's all there. A character has to be real to me before I can begin to do anything constructive with them.

I really like the story I am working on and can't wait to start putting it together. I will have to get the blog domain from my collaborator so you guys can check him out. It's a detective-noir story. I've been gathering ideas in regards to the look for it (thank you Pinterest). It'll be grungy, black, and dripping with a heady aesthetic.

Last week, I sat there during a massive, freezing storm, reading the script that was sent to me. It too began on a cold night. Stark scenes sprang to my mind as I began to hear the sultry tones of our protagonist. She talks of a case. A missing person.

This is a great technique. When you read dialogue aloud you get a sense of not only your pacing, but how your character is reacting to things. Are they flighty in their speech, or are they gruff and sharp? This is where you begin to really put the pieces together. And props to the writer in this case.

The scene I do want to highlight is one that takes place between the protagonist, Marla and her sister. As I read through it, I began to hear a slightly Marilyn Monroe-esque lilt to her sister's voice. The scene descended. Two women sitting about a bright 1950's kitchen. Painfully clean, yet there are signs of wear and tear. A small, torn corner of the wall paper. Stains on the floor from where the children have been playing. A sad collection of bottles by the bin. She's in a respectable wiggle dress with a flowery pattern, her hair slightly mussed from a day of chasing toddlers, a stark contrast to her dark, neat, angled sister Marla.

By reading this conversation aloud I now have them firmly in my head. From here I can begin to break down the script into what content will go on each page before I place it on a storyboard. All of which will come next week.

And I shall have to leave it there. Many apologies for the shorter post.

Tomorrow shall be my rant day. I have yet to chose what I want to say but no doubt I will be as surprised as you.

Thanks and good night!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Piecemeal Terror - Pt 1

Dedicated to Silent Hills. Kojima, Del Toro, Reedus... please...please... bring it back. :(

Beyond the darkened room is a seemingly normal corridor. The wooden floors are slightly scuffed, small nicks and notches of the footsteps that had been before. In a small alcove, beneath the smiling portraits of summer vacations, award ceremonies and birthdays is a digital clock. It blinks 11:59pm.
The dresser by the window shows signs of a struggle. A small doll lies haphazardly to one side, now forgotten and alone, red flecks marring its pale fabric. Candy and marbles are scattered about a framed photograph of charming couple on their wedding day. The phone is slightly off the hook, a woman’s voice calmly devoid of warmth announcing that there is no one on the other end.
Further down the corridor, around the corner, past a closed bathroom door to the right, sits a radio filling the entryway with static. The front door is locked tight. Beyond the entryway are three steps and another door, swallowed in darkness.
A second dresser sits presentably against the wall. The happy family photograph is damaged however, a smeared hand print sliding down the side. The eye of the woman is gouged, a red cross obscuring her features.
The radio begins to speak. It’s cracked. A man, a boring man, frustrated with his life, had destroyed his content family. As it drones on, describing a gruesome scene in dispassionate detail, the tang of copper blood increases. The bathroom door begins to shift, cockroaches crawling under and around the frame.
“…The police found the body of the mother in the bath, along with her child. The older daughter was later discovered in a fridge in the basement. During the investigation, the man was reported to have been heard repeating a sequence of numbers, 924586, 924586, 924586…” the radio announcer’s voice changes, becoming cracked and disjointed, the sequence of numbers repeating over and over, its volume washing through the hall.
From behind the bathroom door, strange gurgling noises can be heard. The light flickers slightly, the numbers repeating on the radio quickening in pace. The smell of blood is overwhelming. The walls begin to change, the frames morphing into pulsating eyes, frantically searching. The gurgling from the bathroom morphs into the tormented squeals of a baby, fighting the cacophony of never-ending, demonic numbers on the radio, repeating over and over and over.
Footsteps can be heard approaching, slowly, as if unable to walk properly, a silent footfall followed by a sharp clip of a heel. The panicked thumps of fists against the bathroom door punctuate the squeals of the child, a strange chuckle underlying the horror of noise…
The telephone rings. Nothing moves. Everything is silent. The phone rings again. Despite there being no one to answer, there’s a click.
“Turn around. Do it. Just turn around.” It says simply. The line is dead once again.
Passed the now still bathroom, beyond the ever-patient radio, down three steps, the locked door opens with a creak.
In the small alcove, beneath the smiling family portraits, is a digital clock. It blinks 12:00am.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

It's starts, not with a bang, but with my whimpers

The dreaded bout of the cold reached the shores of Fort Petersham. Every hacking cough spiraled down the stairs, reverberating the walls. Illness lingered in the air, the barely warm rooms comforting the patients within. Their bodies shake as spluttering and sneezing grip them tightly, squeezing what air remains in their lungs before they collapse, exhausted from the exertion.

It'll be a long, winter's night.

I sit here, cocooned in my elegant, purple and white polka dotted robe, stylish, pink tartan pajama pants, penning the events that are to come. And by events I mean musings on this here very blog. Every week you, dear reader, will receive three posts.

For it was on Mondays that she did decree, "Let there be piecemeal horror! Give them just enough. Small bits and pieces for them to collect. Make them cringe, make them huddle behind their monitors, render them gibbering wrecks! Actually no, just make it mildly interesting."

For it was on Tuesdays that she did decree, "Buggar that! I got things to do!"

For it was on Wednesdays that she did decree, "Look upon the work of illustration. A dark, twisted detective story; from script to page. Told by one and shown by the other. A narrative woven on a cold, winter's night."

For it was on Thursdays that she did decree, "I SHALL RANT!"

For it was on Fridays that she did decree, "Too tired..."

And weekends I have off :P

So join me on Monday for the first installment of Piecemeal Terror.

(I think I am running out of Strepsils....)