Feb. 6th, 2013 11:14 am
naukhel: (Default)
I accidentally revoked some people's access to my journal because I totally still don't understand how DW works. If you were reading my locked entries until recently and enjoying them, still want to read them and now you can't, please just let me know and I'll add you back.
naukhel: (crisis core: cloud)

This is a slightly different painting than usual insofar as this was a gift! The first time I watched the livestream of one of my now-favourite casters, he was playing this game. I guess I got hooked on it, and it became something of a running joke for me to suggest he play it every time he was looking for something else to do. I painted this for him in secret, so the first time he unwrapped it he had no idea what to expect!

There actually exists a video of him unveiling the painting, which I will embed under the cut. Read more... )

I think he was pleased with it! I really had a lot of fun painting it, especially as it was a silly break from more serious stuff I was painting at the time.

I have a few real-life entries to make which I will get around to hopefully later on! For now have some other pics of the Mario painting.

Extra pics! )

naukhel: (zelda: meet)

Another slightly older one, this is my Shadow of the Colossus painting! This was the third painting I started, back in May, and the biggest one I'd done at the time. I wasn't really sure if I wanted to sell this one or not... I may, at some point, as I keep improving by leaps and bounds every time I do a painting. What I think was my best work last month suddenly isn't any more... Initially I wanted to put this on my wall, but now I'm thinking I want to put my Skyrim painting on the wall instead!

In any case, I am thinking of doing a counterpart to this painting at some point in the future. This shows the more lighthearted side of the game; the exploration, the world at large. I'll probably do a close-up, darker painting of Wander climbing on one of the colossi at some point. Sort of tempted to put this up in my Etsy store.. But no, I will resist. For now.

Since [personal profile] aeslis was talking about seeing progress shots, I do actually have a bunch for this painting! I also paint live online on my streaming channel where people can come and watch me working on things, so maybe one day I'll post a link here before I do a session. It's fun to chat with people while painting, it keeps me focused and from getting bored and distracted and wandering off.

Work in progress shots )

naukhel: (Default)

I know I should probably start posting art oldest-first, but seeing as I just finished this painting yesterday I thought I'd start here!

Since I came back to England in May I've been painting on canvas. This is actually one of the earlier ones I started (I think the second one) and as a result I don't like it as much... It's hard to believe how much I've learned in the few months since I began. When I came back to it I realised I could have done a lot better than I have with this, but I re-worked some of it - repainting the trees almost entirely - and I am pleased with where it's ended up at the very least.

I pick video game paintings based on the aesthetic of the game rather than how much I like the game in question. I have multiple copies of Sword & Sworcery but have yet to put much time into it! I really should remedy that. Luckily for me, my housemate in London loves this game and already laid claim to this before I finished it, so it always had a place to go once it was finished and was guaranteed to make me a little bit of cash. Which is always good!

Currently I'm working on three unfinished paintings (Skyrim, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and Bastion) but I keep starting new ones. I'm terrible. Maybe tomorrow I'll post up one of the other finished ones. :)
naukhel: (crisis core: cloud)
Via the spEak You're bRanes website, I have come across the jewel of a website that is Andy Kadir-Buxton's homepage. He seems to be a genuine loon, convinced that he's found the cure for (almost) all mental disorders - hitting people in the head hard enough to stun them.

I'm not even joking.

In case clicking on outside links isn't your style, let's break down a bit of what he says on his amazing website. It's all very scientific.

Decades ago I discovered a cure for mental health problems. The cure, which I term the Kadir-Buxton Method, has been used on a wide variety of mental health problems. The procedure stuns and resets the brain of the patient, so that the patient returns to a normal condition. The Kadir-Buxton Method is done by making a fist of both hands, and striking both ears of the patient at exactly the same time and pressure with the soft part of the inner hand which is where the thumb joins the hand. The arrow in Figure 1 shows this point for your ease of use.

"For your ease of use". Just in case you want to try this out on your depressed significant other, or your child who's suffering from ADHD. I'm glad that someone has been looking into a more cost-effective way of tackling the problem of mental health, anyway! Who'd have thought that it was possible with just the palms of our hands? Just got to make sure it's exactly the same pressure when you smack your victim patient.

Read more... )

All of this is just from the opening page of his website. I haven't even got onto the extra links, like "reducing labour pains by 80%" or "the orgasmic nose". I don't know if I want to. By all means, terrify yourselves if you want to.


All blockages [in the fallopian tubes] that I have found have been dead bacteria, or sometimes lemonade which is a result of a country wide practice of lesbians at Universities.

...Wait, what!?

30 Minutes

May. 9th, 2010 03:31 pm
naukhel: (lamento: 虹色)

It's been a long time since I had any art to post to DW. I know that when I started this journal, it was primarily for that reason that I wanted to post. I have some things to say about that, which I'll put in a private entry rather than a public one. Instead enjoy a piece of art, finally. :)

I tasked myself with drawing something for 30 minutes - it didn't matter what, so long as at the end of 30 minutes I stopped and posted whatever it was. This was the result. I have little time for art lately, so I'm going to keep trying to fit in something like this in the cracks when I do have 30 minutes to spare.
naukhel: (crisis core: cloud)
True to my word, I bought a copy of FFXIII on my way home from the airport the day I got back to Japan. I've been seriously looking forward to it! So now that I've had about three days to play it (currently around the 16 hour mark) I thought I'd write a little bit about it.

I'm generally the kind of person who doesn't like to know about a new game or film before trying it out for myself. I like to be fresh when I come to form first impressions, and I find it a lot harder to do that if I've already learned about the story or the characters. It's a lot more fun to discover it as I go. I've avoided trailers and reviews in general.

Firstly, I'll say that I'm really enjoying it. I'm a lot more drawn to the storyline and the characters than I have been with more recent Final Fantasy games; I found it really difficult to get into FFXII's plot, and even found the characters to be fairly two-dimensional and uninteresting, even the ones that I desperately wanted to be interesting. The story for FFXIII had a more instant appeal for me - it's presented and paced well, for one thing. It's the kind of story where you're going to feel like you've come in halfway, because you really do. But the way that the backstory unfolds is really well dealt with, in my opinion, and it's not confusingly opaque as to the fact that you'll gradually find out what's going on the more you push forward.

On the face of it, the characters can seem pretty stereotypical: strong, standoffish warrior lead. Bullheaded but good-hearted Seifer-lookalike. Cutesy and a little off-the-wall young girl. Whiny and intolerable blonde boy-child. Middle-aged black guy with a baby chocobo that lives in his afro who he refers to as "dad", a character point that is yet to be explained or commented on in any way... Okay, so the last one is just strange. But I feel like there's a lot more character interaction and development than there ever was in FFXII. Perhaps the characters aren't exactly deep - they do all conform to their roles in a way - but they're not without personality or growth.

The battle system isn't unenjoyable, though I think I prefer the one from FFXII on the face of it. I did start thinking for a while that all the battles basically involved pressing "confirm" without making any choices whatsoever - the game chooses your party for you, which roles they play in battle in which combinations, and even selects which commands are most appropriate for the situation at hand. It was holding my hand a little TOO much, though that's got a bit better later on into the game - you can choose to select your own commands whenever you want, but since the computer does it quicker and already knows which ones to choose, it feels a bit like a waste of time.

In addition, some of the battles are hard. I mean really hard. People who've played earlier Final Fantasy games will probably be fairly familiar with the idea that if you fight regularly and level up, you're very unlikely to have a "game over" situation from your average random field battle. That's really not the case with FFXIII - if Lightning dies, it's game over whether or not other party members are alive. Add to this several other factors:

(1) Enemies often gang up on one party member, inflicting nearly constant damage if their ATB gauges are in such an alignment
(2) Actions can be interrupted by an enemy attack, and either delayed or canceled entirely.
(3) The above point causes, at times, huge problems. Take the situation, for example, that the game has chosen your party members and roles in such a way that Lightning is the only healer in the party. If enemies gang up on her, their attacks will cancel or delay her healing moves, and if that goes on for long enough, it's game over.

I think that the one other big thing that the game is going to be criticised for is how linear it is. I've been playing for around 16 hours, and to be entirely honest, virtually all of that time has felt like running down a one-way path fighting battle after battle and watching cutscene after cutscene. It's not a huge criticism, unless you were hoping for the expansive roaming that you get in, say, FFXII. I don't know if it will change later on in the game (see my earlier point about not spoiling myself ahead of time), but at the moment it's very much like that.

A personal criticism would be the music. It's not bad, but Masashi Hamauzu fails to write the catchy, moving score that Nobuo Uematsu does, for me. I liked the work that Hamauzu did for Dirge of Cerberus, but again it's not emotive enough - and I'd be hard pressed to hum you any tune from FFXIII if you asked me to. A score by Uematsu would have made a huge difference to the game, for me.

Of course, it looks fucking amazing though. The in-game graphics are stunning, and the polished cutscenes look even better.

All in all I'm enjoying it! I've been told that there's about 40~60 hours of gameplay in it by someone who's already seen the whole thing through, so we'll see how that holds up. Work starts next week and I'll have significantly less time to put into it, but I'm in no rush :) I've been waiting too long!
naukhel: (嵐: nice)

...Mainly because I never wrote about when Aes and I went to Sapporo, and last night we went to Tokyo Dome. I'm not going to wax lyrical about the concert, more like jot down the experiences. :)

So, a couple of weeks ago, Aes and I flew to Hokkaido! It was the first time for both of us, though honestly we didn't get much time to do anything tourist-y. We arrived to this beautiful vista:

Beautiful it would have been, I suppose, had it not been raining cats and dogs.

The rain was a major problem for us, because it not only stopped us from going out and exploring too much, but it ruined our shoes and turned Saturday into a hunt for new ones. All's well that ends well, however!

Sapporo food, drink, and concert stuff :D )

And now Tokyo Dome!

Our seats were fantastic. That's the main point to make, here. We were around 20 feet from the main stage, and four seats across from the center walkway. I've been this close to center stage before, but never up in the first block in front of the main stage. It was the kind of close where you can not only make out every detail, but you literally can't avoid making eye contact. Being in the corner between center stage and the center walkway like that, you get a chance to see everyone up close at least once. Where we sat we had a lot of Aiba time, though everyone came past in due course. Not to mention that they flew right over our heads in the opening, and the moving stage felt as though it was within arm's reach.

Center walkway hi!

Main stage hi!

It was amazing to see the concert from here, too, of course. When I'm sitting further back, I rarely have the same kind of stunned shock as I did at the beginning of this show. It was just all SO CLOSE that I forgot what I was supposed to do and simply stood there in a kind of daze. Every time someone came past with their eyes on the crowd, part of me hoped that we wouldn't make eye contact because I'd completely forget how to respond. Unfortunately, foreigners are a little easier to spot in a sea of Asian faces, and when Ohno and I had a staring match I only spasmodically remembered to wave. 8D (Let's not mention Jun. The man frightens me when he's close enough to get down and punch me in the face. Robin will totally understand what I mean.)

Being at the front as we were, we often found ourselves watching performances from behind. 8D This also meant that the MC and final comments were viewed from behind, granting a unique perspective on what was going through the other member's heads when each one was talking - we were close enough to lip-read when they were mouthing words to one another. We were facing Matsujun head-on when he got undressed during the MC - something I am convinced he only does to provoke everyone. Luckily Leader stepped up and interposed himself between Jun and the camera XD;

I think that's really it. I can't say anything else about it other than that it was amazing and I enjoyed it immensely. It was my first time at Tokyo Dome, as well! The trees outside are amazingly beautiful at this time of year.

It was a great way to end the year, as I will be going back to the UK on Monday to spend Christmas with my family. :)
naukhel: (gackt: suddenly)
Friday night I:

  • Came the closest I will ever come to traveling back in time and going to a Malice Mizer concert
  • Went back to school again 8D
  • Met my new student body president (who is in his thirties) (not to mention sexy as hell)
  • Saw a Gackt concert where only one Gackt song was performed. Sort of.
  • Was harassed for sex on the way home. Not cool, Japan.

Friday night was possibly the weirdest thing I have ever attended in my life. "Kamui Gakuen de Ikinasai" was this bizarre fanclub-only event Gackt's been doing recently where the entire thing is set up like a school assembly. Ahhh, suddenly my school uniform all makes horrible sense! There's a strict dress code for attendance, for boys as well as girls. Hence my post on Thursday night. :)

I got there on time, when I was told to get there. Of course, when I arrived I was told that they're running late and other things will have to be canceled since it's unlikely that the show will even be done before the venue closes. This is, of course, in total keeping with what I understand Gackt's fanclub-only events to be like. The same thing happened at his birthday concert this year, too. So I waited around outside, laughing at the food stalls. "Gacktの初恋鍋", "YOUカレー", as well as "Stargacks" serving coffee. I didn't sample any of it, but it actually smelled pretty good. I wish I'd brought my camera - it really was like a school festival, and everyone from the too-young-to-wear-high-school-costume kids to the definitely-too-old-to-be-wearing-it were dressed up in all varieties of school uniform. I even saw someone dressed as Rei Ayanami from Evangelion! It was an interesting twist on high school cosplay, that's for sure. XD

The event itself was really, genuinely bizarre. It was made up like a school hall, and frighteningly accurate. Hell, I worked in four Japanese schools for a year, and had to attend enough of these assemblies to feel very much transported straight back there. At least I knew all the conventions and so didn't fuck up when we all had to stand to attention and bow. There was a speech from the principal and the vice principal. Then we were introduced to our student body president; Gackt came out and walked through the crowd to get to the stage, the same way they do it in school, (except flanked by bodyguards). He was wearing school uniform too, of course. 8D;

Then we got a lecture from Gackt. Sorry, the Seito Kaicho. Congratulations on your enrollment in Kamui Gakuen! You're all very fortunate to be chosen. Our school, as you can see, is not about "learning", but about "fun".* Our motto is "study hard, play hard". When you refer to me, you will refer to me as Seito Kaicho. Or just Kaicho. When you refer to any of your elders, you will address them as "senpai". And when you respond to me, you will not say "yes" or "yay", but "I understand".

*The kanji for "gaku" in "gakuen" is usually the same as the kanji for "learn", obviously. But they've changed it to "fun". 8D

So there it was.  What followed was extremely bizarre; a mixture of some bizarre lottery for fans to go up on stage and be part of the .. uh... "public morals committee". A dance-off between two groups comprised of Gackt's backing dancers and his band, to remixed versions of his music; collectively they were called "F9" (those who have seen Hana Yori Dango will immediately get the reference). JUN-JI (Gackt's drummer) performing GHOST with the full dance -- and doing all the vocals himself. Then,  bizarrely enough, the "school bell" rung and we had a recess during which I simply sat there completely stunned and made bemused Twitter updates trying to convey how weird the entire event was.

After the break, Seito Kaicho came back out. Apparently him and some of the other F9 members had started up a school band called "Super Excellent High School Students In Japan", which he seemed to think was aptly abbreviated to "SEX JAPON". ...Don't ask, his grasp of English seems to be tenuous at times. So, SEX JAPON were going to perform some cover songs.

Yes, you heard that right. COVER songs.

At this point I was admittedly a little disappointed; I wanted to hear Gackt songs, damnit, not Gackt covering other bands. But even though it wasn't quite what I'd been hoping for, some of the results were absolutely excellent beyond comprehension. The first two songs were LUNA SEA. "The next two songs were written by Sugizo. I asked him if I could use them, and he said: 'yes, yes! go ahead! use them!'. So I responded, 'would you like to come and see the performance?'. He said, 'Actually, no thanks'."

After that, I noticed them putting a giant, vertical wig on JUN-JI's head, and my heart leaped! BUCK-TICK! It's BUCK-TICK! I was very excited. They performed "Just one more kiss". But then it just got better! Next, we're going to do one of l'arc~en~ciel's songs - PV style. Have you seen it? STAY AWAY.

I think I nearly died of joy right there. My absolute favourite l'arc song, and true to his word, he performed it like the PV to the absolute letter - including the hilarious choreographed dance at the end and the cute/awesome-lame hip-bobbing that Hyde does the whole way through. All in all, it was a very good impression of Hyde. (Why is Hyde so much shorter than me? Well, he has a hormonal imbalance or something. It's very serious, things like that exist, you know.)

Other covers of note... Well. Gackt performing a Malice Mizer song live was not something I thought I'd ever live to see. 8D He performed Au Revoir, and it was biblical. XD Absolutely amazing. He did perform one Gackt song (his "older brother's" song, sorry), and since it was Ai Senshi, we all had to learn "Akiba-kei" parapara for it. Gundam-style parapara. It was.... A sight to behold. I have to mention that all the way through this, Gackt had the driest, most amusing sense of humour in everything he was saying. He went through the steps to the dance for about twenty minutes, all along remarking that if we couldn't manage them we may as well all go home. Whenever he'd announce whose song they were going to perform next, he'd remark: Don't bother yourself if you have no idea who they are. It's fine. I don't care. You can go home and look them up on You Tube. Whatever. Of course we all knew who they were, he was just working everyone up. 8D

JUN-JI made another appearance and performed TRAIN TRAIN and one other song, which was pretty amazing. He has a good voice! Gack-- uh, Seito Kaicho also did a remioromen song, among others. And then for the encore... I KNEW they would do it. I just knew it. There's no way Gackt would do a covers concert without touching X JAPAN.

Except Chachamaru, Gackt's guitarist, was playing Toshi's part and doing the singing. They were all dressed up as their respective counterparts - huge eighties-style hair and all. Chacha was Toshi, You was Hide, and Gackt..... Well. Gackt was Yoshiki, which nearly made me have some kind of terminal brain event. Never mind that he was TOTALLY Yoshiki; he came out topless and played the drums in just the same fashion as Yoshiki does. Chacha was actually really impressive at the vocals, especially considering that Toshi is hardly easy for anyone to pull off.

So there you have it 8D Possibly the most supremely odd event I have attended - definitely the strangest event I think Gackt's done for a long time, if not the weirdest of all. It was fanclub-only, but I have a feeling that he's going to be opening it up to everyone next month; he mentioned that he was going to take it to Saitama Super Arena, which is a HUGE venue. He's also having events on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - none of these I can attend, of course, but I'm not sure if I could really take going to Kamui Gakuen again so soon anyway. XD

Oh, and I guess I should mention for those who aren't savvy in Japanese how dodgy the entire title is. Basically, through much word trickery and many puns, all night people were effectively saying "I want to make you come!". Everything that alluded to the "lessons" that apparently go on at the "school" was about sex. When they performed X Japan, in the spaces where you would normally shout "X! X! X!" we had to shout "SEX! SEX! SEX!".

... I really don't know what else to say. I think perhaps what I've written really speaks for itself 8D; Shame that we were strictly not allowed to take photos, because they would have been amazing. However, I can at least give you a little glimpse of our Seito Kaicho:

Kaicho, Kaicho! Ahh, I feel kinda like my sanity might never return. :( Never mind about my dignity, I think it wandered off somewhere while I was looking at which school uniform to buy.

Oh, and just to clarify my final bullet point - if any of you remember it by now - on the way home some drunken businessmen started harassing me to have sex with them. This is the trouble with wearing a school uniform, I suppose, even if I did have a hoodie covering up almost all of it and brought jeans along just in case. I was in such a hurry to get home that I didn't bother to get changed, and ended up having to quite firmly tell these guys to fuck each other if they were so desperate, before moving to the opposite end of the platform. 8D

naukhel: (crisis core: cloud)


...It's building a life-size one.

  I have to admit, I'm not exactly the world's greatest Gundam fan; when it comes to giant robots, I'm an Evangelion fangirl. But I have had my flings with Gundam in the past, and I couldn't possibly pass up the chance to go and stand in the shadow of a real life giant robot. After an aborted attempt to get out to Odaiba and see it last weekend, I finally made the plunge on Thursday evening with a new friend of mine. What can I say? It was awesome!

  The only trouble, of course, is that once you've got there and gone, "Oh wow that's so cool it's a giant fucking gundam!!!" there's not much else to do. You can take photos, of course - I did. But then there's this awkward silence while you stare at it and wonder who's going to be the first to say, "shall we go, then?".

  We got there just in time to see it moving. There's some narrative in the background ("Is that Gackt?" I asked, feeling like an idiot. Of course it was.) and the head swivels - it's all very fluid and believable. We speculated about whether or not there was actually a cockpit you could climb into, but since they auctioned off the chance to have your photo taken standing on its shoulder, I'm guessing that there isn't. And for those of you with currency issues, yes - the final auction price was around £16,000.

  The two photos above are the ones taken on my DSLR that I uploaded to my flickr stream (click thumbnails to view), but for anyone interested in the whole set - most of which were taken on my cellphone - the link to my post on MoBlog is here. It made it to featured highlights! :D Though how could it not - it's a giant fucking robot. I'd highlight it. Twice.

  Now to decide whether it's actually enough to make me download the series or not....
naukhel: (gackt: blue)
First off, apologies to those of you who are seeing two posts on the same subject - you can see that I tried to keep all the information separate so that you weren't reading the same thing twice, so hopefully that'll allow you to pick and choose what you read.

So, through various fairly stressful last-minute arrangements, I ended up going to another of Gackt's concerts yesterday: namely the "GACKT VISUALIVE ARENA TOUR 2009 Requiem et Réminiscence II Final 〜鎮魂と再生〜 Birthday with Dears" one (I know, long enough name? XD). I went to one of the earlier shows at the beginning of the tour, so it was material I'd already seen, but I'm not going to pass up the chance to go and see it again - and certainly not on Gackt's birthday!

The concert was fantastic. It was just as good as the last time I saw it, but with extra filling. ;D Gackt was on absolutely top form, he was silly and talkative and amusing. Similarly to the last time I went to this concert, the beginning run of songs is my favourite. It's just stronger than the rest of the set, the songs hit really hard one after the other and they follow the story set up by the intro movie. I have to say I LOVE seeing 'Uncontrol' live. Now I think about it, I think Gackt said it was his favourite of his own songs, but it's too hard to sing at karaoke. XD (understandably)

As for the extra filling, there were messages from a fair few familiar faces. Miyavi, Yoshiki, and Sugizo all gave video messages (with the exception of Yoshiki who left a rather amusing voice message but no video). Miyavi berated Gackt over turning up two hours late for a dinner date. Sugizo called Gackt his brother (and of course signed out with "live long and prosper" XD) and Yoshiki just said "sou desu ne" an awful lot for no apparent reason. There were also messages from several Gundam voice actors, which apparently pleased Gackt the most out of any of them XD He's such a fanboy!

There were two birthday cakes, one smaller one and a large one that was given to the guests after the show. At one point the screens all displayed a message to the fans that the lights were going to go out in a moment - and when they did we all had to wave blue glowsticks and sing Happy Birthday. That was awesome :)

Some of his MCs were really amusing, too. I'll try and transcribe what I can remember of the one where he was talking about Fukuyama Masaharu.

I finally made tentative friends with Fukuyama after Music Station yesterday. I don't really have many close friends, so I felt a bit like I'd matured, a little. *laughs* He asked me to come to one of his concerts, and I was like "YES! I want to go! When is it?".
"The Fourth."
"...Ahh... I have a concert that day. And it's my birthday."
"Well, then how about the 11th or the 12th?"
"....I have concerts those days, too."
"Okay, then some time in September, how's that?"
"...Well, I might have an event in September...."
"You don't HAVE to come, you know."
So we decided we'd just meet up privately instead, and we exchanged contact details. I asked Fukuyama, will you call me if you're free?
"...Well, I don't really call people."
*pained grin* "I don't, either."

Other moments of note... The audience at one point were shouting for him to strip, and he tugged his shirt up juuuust teasingly and then said: "If I get naked, the people sitting in the arena seats are the pool, you know, and if I jump in it's gonna be BAD."

There was also a trend for the people in the arena seats (where I was) to stamp their feet and jump up and down and make a great noise, in this concert. It happened every time the audience were haranguing Gackt, with hilarious effect. XD He said, "You know, in all my ten years of solo performances, I have NEVER had an arena who behaved in such a way". (cue more stamping). "Shut up!!"

Every time it happened he reprimanded us, which of course only made everyone do it all the more. It was a combination of shouting "YEAH!", stamping, or doing a cowboy-like gesture and going "Woooooooo" in a high pitched voice, depending on circumstance.

The concert was really long. It started at around 6:30, and I still hadn't found my seat when it started. The venue actually closes at 10pm, but because of the birthday messages and such, the concert stretched on far longer than it should have and didn't finish until 10:30. So all in all, four hours standing up in the hall. I was exhausted by the end of it.

One nice thing I did get to take away from the concert with me was one of the long, silver tapes that were blasted out at the very end. I'm never normally in a position to catch these things at the end of concerts, but since I was at the front in arena this time I got one :) It's very cool, it's printed with the name of the tour and the logo.

It says "GACKT VISUALIVE ARENA TOUR 2009 Requiem et Réminiscence II Final 〜鎮魂と再生〜 Birthday with Dears". XD

I'm glad I went. Even though it was a last-minute thing, it was fantastic fun, and these things don't roll around every other week. I'm definitely going to decline to go on the 11th or 12th, since I'm moving out on the 19th, but I'll be living in Tokyo after that and it will be a lot easier for me to arrange these things, even if they DO happen right at the last moment. :)
naukhel: (misc: blue)

I've been reminiscing over Dragon Half rather too much lately.
Last night, I couldn't sleep, and I desperately wanted to sketch something on paper - since I have been working digitally again ever since I scanned in that ink drawing of Sephiroth and Cloud I'm working on at the moment. There's something so much nicer about working in natural media that I wish I could think of more things to draw with it.
naukhel: (塊: miso)
My recent peaceful protest to the utter pointlessness that is lessons with a particular teacher is doodling on the back of my worksheets during class. When all I'm expected to do is stand around for fifty minutes looking ornamental, it's always a fight to keep myself entertained. Today's specimen was a rather random doodle I drew of Cloud that grew out of his sword (did it shrink in the wash, or is that just me?). I kinda grew fond of it during the course of the day, though! :D

Click pic to see full size! The detail is much prettier :D

naukhel: (零: tattoo)
I meant to post this yesterday, but... I forgot 8D

I haven't actually drawn anything for a few days, so I need to get back on that. I've been a bit burned out by the time I get home in the evenings lately, though. Aaanyway. This was just one of those little doodlies that I did while I was watching tv and trying to think of something better to draw in the meantime. What happened to the black on the right side of the picture? I'mmmm.... Not sure. 8D I sort of forgot to draw it. That's what you get for doodling while you watch documentaries.

I think if I did it again, I'd want to add in more hair.

naukhel: (嵐: nice)

I can't really tell if this came out the way I expected it to, or not.
As for the technical (ha!) details: it's all in pen. 8D
naukhel: (kuon: dark)
 Today is one of those days that reminds me how careful you have to be when you work in a Japanese office environment. I really would like to write about this publicly, so I'm going to do my best to obscure the names of workplaces, companies and colleagues here, because it's an issue worth talking about.

The subject was touched on briefly last night when I was chatting with [personal profile] aeslis about my upcoming job interview next Monday, and it's worth reiterating here. I have never had to be half as careful what I agree to do in any job in the West as I have to be here in Japan. Even when I was studying at unviersity here, there was so much unspoken obligation that was simply expected of you that I gained quite the reputation for being "difficult" and "unreasonable" among the office staff by asserting my right to say no to things that I didn't want to do.

There is a very delicate balance between wanting to be accepted as "just like anyone else" in this country (which - though I don't like to put it this way - in essence means being accepted "as Japanese") and asserting rights that are still very much overlooked. You don't want to be treated like the ignorant foreigner all the time among your colleagues, so it's not good to go playing the "foreigner card" every other day, but there are also times when I really feel that the Japanese need to be reminded of how the rest of the world works. I may be an "ambassador for my country" over here, and thereby partially responsible for the positive or negative views of foreigners that I'm creating by my actions, but I also think that responsibility can extend to helping Japan become a more truly international country.

For example: my Japanese colleagues rarely take time off work. Even if they're entitled to it, even if they're sick or desperately need the time off, it's "not the done thing". However, just because the expectation is that they will struggle into work and never use their paid holiday does NOT mean that I will not or should not. It's in my contract, I am entitled to it by law. Similarly, they can't force me to do things that are not stipulated in my contract, or things that are definitively stipulated against - such as if they ask me to teach classes on my own. It's happened once or twice, and luckily I was on the ball about telling them that I'm not allowed to by law.

It's always better to make sure that you are firm from day one about things you will or will not do. I like to think that I am fair about the things I agree to do at work, or the things I voluntarily undertake; but undertaking one thing voluntarily does not mean that I will always agree to it. I've been asked to work at weekends for no extra pay and with no compensatory time off, and that is not something I am going to blindly agree to. I understand that while often in Japan "would you do this?" means "we expect you to do this", but I am a person and not a machine. I've often felt as though my co-workers feel like I am a tool that simply gets switched off when I'm not at work, and not a human being who might not always be ready and willing to give up my free time and work work work.

This has all come up today because of some typical stipulations that my current workplace are trying to make now that I'm leaving. More things which I am NOT required to do. I still have not come to a conclusion about whether Japanese companies deliberately attempt to pull the wool over your eyes (especially if you're a foreigner in Japan) or if it's simply something they do to everyone. Today I got to work and was told "you HAVE to go home to your country when you quit, and then come back again." I know exactly why this is; the minute I go through immigration at the airport, they'll invalidate my visa. Unfortunately for them, I have plans to change sponsorship of my visa, and there's no reason that I should be "required" to leave the country and come back again when it can all be done on Japanese soil without my having to pay for a return flight.

Let's not get into the "surprise bills" you seem to get whenever you finish your term somewhere in Japan. When I was about to graduate from my Japanese university, I was suddenly presented with a bill for 71,000yen. Apparently it was a "backlog" of money I owed for various things - all things I had no idea I owed money for, of course. I cried when they gave it to me, because I literally didn't even have that much money in my bank account, and I still had to survive for two months and pay my way back to the UK. In the end I had to borrow £1,000 from my parents just to make it home. I could mention the trouble [personal profile] aeslis had with her former company this year when she left, but suffice to say that no-one owes 7.5 million yen to their former employer for "damages" and "defamation" simply by quitting when their contract is up. Did I mention that none of this is legally binding? But if you're not used to the way things work in Japan, especially if you don't speak the language, it would be all too easy to be caught out into thinking that you absolutely have to do these things or pay these bills.

I guess in a way this is just a reminder to anyone who doesn't already understand these things that they DO happen. You have to be careful. 
naukhel: (Default)
I have to admit, I have never really succeeded much in reading Japanese literature. At least, not in its original source language; I have read the English translations of Koushin Takami's Battle Royale, and one of my favourite crime authors is Natsuo Kirino, whose books I would never be able to enjoy on the same level if I was trying to dig through them in Japanese.

I've always wanted to read Japanese books, though. It's good practice and I love reading, so it seems perfect. However, I never got very far. I bought Kafka on the Shore (or, more precisely, I bought 海辺のカフカ) but I didn't love it, so I trailed off reading it. Yesterday, though, I found a book I'm actually excited to read.

On The Way To A Smile is a book of short stories about Final Fantasy VII characters. Namely, Denzel, Tifa, Barret, Nanaki, Yuffie, Shinra, and a short collection called "Life Stream Black 1-3 White 1-3". If I am a fan of anything, I am a huge fan of FFVII. So the subject interests me enough, and the book is easy enough for me to read without resorting to looking anything up all the time, which really takes the fun out of a book.

However, the difficulty with reading Japanese books, I've found, is not simply a question of understanding the words that are written on the page. The biggest problem for someone like me who is very deeply versed in Western literature is in following the structure of the writing. The very way in which Japanese authors tell a story to their readers is so vastly alien to me that sometimes I find myself wondering "wait, whose voice is this? Are we in first-person narrative here? Or is this the author's voice?". Sometimes it can be frustratingly difficult to tell.

For example, I found this paragraph frustrating for me when I first read it:


Now, unless I'm mistaken there are two voices at work there. "A customer arrived. He was still a child." is in the past tense, and to me sounds like the authors voice narrating. But then immediately afterwards, "It's unusual to see a kid around on his own.." is a first-person inner monologue, as is the following sentence: "Oh-hoh, if it isn't Denzel." But then the sentence immediately following that one is in third person again: "To Johnny, Denzel was a special kid."

The way it flicks around like that is hard to follow, and I find myself going back and forth re-reading things to try and work out from whose viewpoint they're being said. It can't just be that Johnny refers to himself in the third person during his inner monologue, or it would presumably happen all the time, instead of only occasionally.

Similarly, this paragraph holds no obvious indication of time or place switch, to me:

*   *

I understand that the asterisks mark a passage of time of some sort, but how can you tell who is speaking when you've just jumped to another time with absolutely no indication of scene? I mean, if we put it into English:

There's no meaning in a life without laughter. They're just trying to freak me out again.
"I don't believe either of you!"
*   *
"Troublesome parents, huh?"
"They just liked to joke around."

I can tell, eventually, from context what time the second part is from and who's talking. But it takes some getting used to, and I find it hard to automatically tune in to where the narrative is flickering back and forth to. The perspective changes so often and so fluidly that it's very difficult to instinctively take it in, for me. Often swathes of dialogue will have no narrative at all surrounding it; like the second part of the above quote, dialogue will just go on and on like that without the "he said" "she said" we're used to in English language books.

I'm enjoying reading this book so far, though, even if I do have to keep going back and wondering who/what/when/where/why, and perhaps if I can find something else where the subject matter interests me enough to keep reading, I'll gradually get used to the style in which it's written. :) Just thought it was an interesting point to get down somewhere.

* I've tagged this entry with "entry: in japanese" simply because while it doesn't require Japanese knowledge to understand my points, they would be easier grasped by the ability to read and understand the above passages autonomously.

naukhel: (tekkon: shore)

But honestly, only because I was asked to. XD

Read more... )
naukhel: (bof: dragon)

Goat-headed four-armed god-of-something is now done!

Read more... )

naukhel: (Default)

Yes, to all of the above! Maybe!

  When I got home today, instead of sitting down and doing work, or indeed working on finishing off the drawing I have going, I doodled this. What is it? Well, I don't know really, but I rather like it. I'll think of a name later, but all I know for the moment is that it's a benevolent nature spirit of some kind. Am I sounding all Ghibli, yet? In any case, it would probably let you ride it if you could ever catch it sitting down (which it almost never does, since its joints don't work very well and it rarely gets tired). It likes butterflies, but birds get annoying and pull at its hair. The tiny little T-Rex arms are used mainly to push branches out of eye-level. It's very careful about where it puts its feet, and very slow-moving.

Completely drawn in pen! :D

P.S. I'm still not very good at scanning. :(


naukhel: (Default)

February 2013

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