Friday, 24 August 2012

Monday, 20 August 2012

Neef Fresh (Fashion)

Neef again. I do adore her.

Star xx

EDIT: I have recently become aware that some of the pictures have disappeared.... *shrug* Oh well. Not my problem.





 











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Sunday, 12 August 2012

Gunslinger Girl Anime Verdict (Review)

Some stuff has happened... yeah, can't say any more than that. All that needs to be said is that thankfully, I'm getting cognitive-behavioural therapy for my depression, and I'm not cutting myself any more. Really. I mean it this time. Anyway, the music of Gunslinger Girl season one always cheers me up...

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't seen GSG, you shouldn't be here. You should be on Netflix watching it or borrowing the manga from your library.

 

A few weeks ago, I watched the anime from start to finish over two weeks, when I was feeling quite shit and a bit concerned that I am a little bit in love with death. One thing that really got me was how well the politics was laid out in season 1; in my stories involving the government, I have a tendency to 'haze through' quite a lot of political stuff but Gunslinger Girl had urged me to sharpen up my act. The story for season 1 was so gripping, and the back and forth of narrative in the first couple of episodes was excellent, it made perfect sense the way things pan out and fall into place. It adds intrigue to the whole Adolescent Girl Cyborg Assassin-type thing.


   

Triela (voiced by Caitlyn Glass, who also voices Kazuho in Nabari - !!!) is my favourite character. Her image is perfect, she looks so smooth in her sharp suits, and admittedly she has given me a slight thing about pigtails now. She has so many dimensions to her and is an incredibly complex character in how she's kinda dominant around the other cyborgs but softer around Hilshire (I prefer to call him Victor, heh). Her backstory was as tragic as HELL. It was so sweet and equally heart-wrenching that she thought Rachelle was her mother. Man, that was rough. How STUPID were Hilshire and Rachelle to go rushing into unknown territory like nobody's business! Jeez!

 

My second-favourite would be Claes, whose matter-of-fact tone, constant calmness and intellect I adore. I LOVED her little bit of action in the season one episode where she acts as a decoy for a political figurehead's daughter, and gets in her moment of Kick Ass. Plus, her connection to the song Scarborough Fair wasss... pretty much perfect.
 
L-R: Triela, Henrietta, Rico

Next would be Henrietta, whose devotion to Jose and simpleness is effortlessly sweet. Her image (the school uniform) suited her so well, but I couldn't help but felt that falls down when she's standing beside Jose and he's saying he's a reporter. Then why the hack have you got a schoolgirl with you?! (Obviously we know why, but if I was the enemy I wouldn't let him through my door either. It's weird). I couldn't help but read what happens to the Henrietta-Jose fratello in the manga on Wikipedia, and I couldn't BELIEVE how it ends for them. I wanted to sit on my arse and wail. How effortlessly depressing. And it was scary that in the manga, Jose loses his affection for Henrietta and has her 'reset' without regret or remorse, despite that the conditioning was messing her up inside. Man oh man.

Second-least favourite is Rico, who seemed a bit mindless, and although that is explained in the story, is does make her character a bit boring. BUT, I do love how she's portrayed as loving every minute in her new body - they only talk about it in her episode, but through the entire series you can see it, she's always balancing on things, skipping, swinging her legs, waving her arms, and the like. Very clever. (I found it kinda shit how her handler - damn what was his name again? I always forget! - uses her for his revenge. She doesn't mind, but that only makes it creepier. OH YEAH, his name was Jean. Jean Jean Jean. I'll remember.)

I liked Angelica least, because despite her deterioration, with the memory loss and all that (it's depressingly sad), she's just really annoying. Marco's quite harsh to her and she's always eager to please. It's a strange relationship.

 

I found it unique that it was set in Italy, that all the charaters had well-chosen italian names and the soundtrack was perfectly suited for the setting. Sometimes it's weird and a little bit funny when one character asks another 'Don't you speak Italian?' in English, and I remember that realistically, leaving out that its a dubbed anime, they would be.

In tGunslinger Girl's first season soundtrack, my favourites were all of the TEMA's; I, II, III, IV, V, and VI, Chiesa, Pauro, Ansia (reminded me of Elsa), Ti Amo (made me think of Henrietta and Jose), Malinconomia, and Costruzione. So many. It was a beautifully authentic sountrack (bravo, Toshihiko Sahashi) although I must say above all, my favourite was the opening theme, The Light Before We Land by The Delgados.



As for Il Teatrino, WELL.

It deifinately had it's ups and downs, In terms of plot, five stars. The addition of Pinocchio was perfect timing, his charater was even more complex than Triela, which somehow also made them a perfect match despite that they were rivals. And the back story behind Flanca and Franco was GREAT. Weaving that all into the hype about that bridge, it was pretty amazing.

But the animation in Il Teatrino was HORRIBLE... Herietta lost her adorable, timid sweetness and became an overflowing mound of giggles and hugeee brown eyes. Likewise, Jose lost his graceful, respectable look and became a joke, Hilshire was worse than a joke, he was COMEDY - and Triela lost that mature, kind of inner-complexity look with her blue eyes being so damn big. As for Angelica, Marco, and Raballo in Claes' flashback, my God. Unbelievable how characters can be shattered.

However, some characters really, and I mean really benefited from the animation change. It suited Rico perfectly. Franco and Flanco were given such life - in season one they looked a bit dead. So yeah, it had its pros and cons.

But otherwise, Il Teatrino was great. The soundtrack wasn't as good as season one as the tracks weren't very Italian in an authentic sense, but they gave a great sense of atmosphere - Main Theme, Jiken, Sentou, Rome Shigai, Restaurant, Kanashimi, even the new opening theme Tatta Hitotsu no Omoi, which I hated when I started watching season two, but loved by the end, since they changed that terrible opening animation. A particular favourite of mine is Scarborough Fair, which was my favourite song from the Il Teatrino, only succeeded by the closing theme Doll (sung by both Lia and Tada Aoi). Even though I loved the version of Scarborough Fair used in the episode and the version Claes played on piano, Tada Aoi really did it justice too as her accent gave the words a unique sound.

Well, its all on my iPod so no complains from me :)



So, next port of call - I'll need to get the manga omnibus as soon as possible, because I have no idea who Petrushka is and I would quite like to find out. I almost hyperventilated when I saw that a Playstation 2 game had been developed for it as well - and hyperventilated again when I saw the price. Imported, you say? GET OUTTA HERE. I could fly to Japan, buy the game and come back and I STILL would've spent less than what Amazon and eBay are suggesting. Please.



Star .

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Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Sylvia Plath - Tulips

By my favourite poet.



The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.
Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in.
I am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly
As the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands.
I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions.
I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses
And my history to the anesthetist and my body to surgeons.

They have propped my head between the pillow and the sheet-cuff
Like an eye between two white lids that will not shut.
Stupid pupil, it has to take everything in.
The nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble,
They pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps,
Doing things with their hands, one just the same as another,
So it is impossible to tell how many there are.

My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water
Tends to the pebbles it must run over, smoothing them gently.
They bring me numbness in their bright needles, they bring me sleep
Now I have lost myself I am sick of baggage
My patent leather overnight case like a black pillbox,
My husband and child smiling out of the family photo;
Their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks.

I have let things slip, a thirty-year-old cargo boat
Stubbornly hanging on to my name and address.
They have swabbed me clear of my loving associations.
Scared and bare on the green plastic-pillowed trolley
I watched my teaset, my bureaus of linen, my books
Sink out of sight, and the water went over my head.
I am a nun now, I have never been so pure.

I didn't want any flowers, I only wanted
To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
How free it is, you have no idea how free -
The peacefulness is so big it dazes you,
And it asks nothing, a name tag, a few trinkets.
It is what the dead close on, finally; I imagine them
Shutting their mouths on it, like a Communion tablet.

The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me.
Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe
Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby.
Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds.
They are subtle: they seem to float, though they weigh me down
Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their color,
A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck.

Nobody watched me before, now I am watched.
The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me
Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins,
And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow
Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,
And I have no face, I have wanted to efface myself
The vivid tulips eat my oxygen.

Before they came the air was calm enough,
Coming and going, breath by breath, without any fuss.
Then the tulips filled it up like a loud noise.
Now the air snags and eddies round them the way a river
Snags and eddies round a sunken rust-red engine.
They concentrate my attention, that was happy
Playing and resting without committing itself.

The walls, also, seem to be warming themselves.
The tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals;
They are opening like the mouth of some great African cat,
And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes
Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me.
The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea,
And comes from a country far away as health.


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Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Unlikely Suicide


Something I wrote.

Star. x


The Unlikely Suicide

Part One: Death As Your Companion


What would make a person do it?

...commit suicide?

My aunt used to say there is nothing in life that is bad enough to make a person want to take their life. After a her son died, she altered her philosophy slightly, instead saying that there is nothing in life that would give a person the right to take their own life, even if they want to take it, even if they have nothing left to live for. My aunt was Christian. Was. She’s dead now.

What would make a person choose to die?

My mind is deteriorating. It’s not hard to tell; I feel myself getting weaker every day, powerless to stop it. I sleep for four hours, I am tired. I sleep for eight hours, I am tired. I sleep for fourteen hours, I am tired. I drink coffee, I go running, I trail the city late at night, and I am tired. Nothing thrills me, nothing snaps me out of a daze and reminds me why I’m still here, there is no adrenaline burst, no buzz, no break, no epiphany, only this continued, aching tiredness and a simple disinterest, or would that be uninterest?

I should be angry that I can’t even summon the energy to live life to the fullest, being young and perfectly healthy, but I can’t even feel that, so I bought a will and last testament last Tuesday. I don’t know what for, even if I had somebody to leave something for, I don’t have anything to give them.

 


When my sister was almost dead, she said strange things, things that seriously scared me and paralysed my shoulders and fingers, but at least she never told me she was ‘tired’, which in itself would have been more symbolic than me saying it. My sister was vibrant and full of energy that she transferred to me on a daily basis. I curled up at home with books, but whenever she was around, she filled me with daring.

“Sometimes, I feel like I’m being called...” she said suddenly, on the last train home after a night out. I had my eye of the drunk at the other end of the carriage and hadn’t really been listening, instead wondering if I should’ve kept my personal alarm in my pocket instead of my handbag as he stumbled towards us. “... called to... the other side.” The words only half-registered. Once the drunk passed us, swaying and stumbling his way to the other end of the carriage for no apparent reason, I relaxed and tried to catch up with the conversation.

“To the... the what? Sorry, say that again.”

She had a vacant look, her body swayed with the rattle of the train. Her bare shoulders hunched upwards slightly, tense. “They want me there.”

“Who?”

“Aunty. Nana. They want me with them.”

I stared at her. As disturbing as it was, I didn’t want to think that she was ‘going’. Leaving the realm of the living. Bloody hell, she’s my bloody sister – I don’t want to face up to the fact that any day now she might burst an artery. And yet, she never seemed concerned. If she was scared about dying, I wish she’d done something appropriate like cry, so I’d at least have known she was being sombre and not having a moment of delirium. Instead, she only gave a sad little smile, but after a short sigh, a sparkle was back in her eyes and we didn’t speak about it again. A light coughed tickled her. Suddenly a violence took hold, and instantly her hand was at her mouth, a Kleenex tissue acting as a barrier. I noted how good she was getting at getting a tissue out quickly, but when I saw splotches of blood as she put it away, I couldn’t see anything good about anything.

Considering that she rarely gets sick, it didn’t actually seem like much when it first started happening. The coughing, fainting, bleeding. It happened sporadically so no one thought it was a big deal. But I knew. You’d just be able to tell, wouldn’t you? That your time was near...

Actually, no. Our whole family was oblivious for a long time. By the time warning lights switched on, my sister’s life-light was beginning to flicker off. Almost every day since, her coughing, bleeding and fainting was a regular occurrence.

With a start of fear, I realised that a stranger was sitting opposite us in the carriage, silent and foreboding, but he looked as if he was behind a sheet of fog. It didn’t make sense to explain it in any way, but if I had to, I’d say that he looked a little... blurred at the edges, like some ghost, like he wasn’t really there. I assumed the person was male because of their build, but thinking twice, I guess I never really knew. I inspected him out of the corner of my eye in the bored way you do when you’re on the train with nothing else to focus on but curious little people that you’ll never meet again. It was only after about twenty minutes that I remembered that the whole reason we’d gotten onto this carriage was because it was empty. Only one person had gotten on after us – and that was the drunk.

So who was this?

Suddenly I was on edge. Casually, I leaned over to my sister. “You know the guy in the long black –” What was he wearing? I just couldn’t tell. The more I looked, the fuzzier his image became. “- coat,” I made up, “- when did he get on?”

She sat in silence for a long time, before she looked at me. Her eyebrows were knotted in that way that could be scathing, condescending, expectant or confused, depending on the shape her mouth made to compliment her eyebrows. This time, her lips pursed, giving me a weird but ultimately confused look.

“What?”

I frowned, wondering if I was going to have to explain something very simple to a very dumb girl.

“You mean the drunk?”

I tutted at her irritatedly. “The drunk isn’t even wearing a coat.”

“Exactly.” She said, with the small incredulous laugh she makes when somebody has proved her point. “So what are you talking about?”

I looked back to the figure, and almost choked. I looked back to my sister Olivia, now wearing a concerned look. Then I looked across the carriageway again, but the person who sat there was the same person who sat beside me. I was looking at two versions of my sister.



There have been countless depictions of Death over the ages. Personally, I quite like the one of Lucifer, the angel too bright and yet too cunning for Heaven. I never cared much for the big mound in the willowy cloak and a scythe in a hand of bones, but I don’t think my own depiction was much different from that. I suppose, being finite human beings, we can only work with what we know. Saying that, where my subconscious decided to come up with a shimmering black figure, I don’t know. And why Death has such an attitude, I will never understand.

I was doing my normal washing-up routine, going through the motions without actually caring whether or not the cutlery was clean. The sponge rubbed over utensils made in China, hand-painted crockery, and gadgets that make cooking easy.

As I slid the sponge over my favourite cooking knife, a black-gloved hand covered mine, the feel of leather sticking to my hand via friction, and the tip of the knife moved instantly to my neck, the tip gently resting against where my adam’s apple would have been, had I been born male.

“It intrigues you, doesn’t it?”

The voice was soothing enough to fall asleep to, too low to be female, too melodic to be male, too gentle, too quiet, too piercing to be human. It filled my head. Despite all of its beautiful qualities, it sounded like noise – like the faint crackle you hear from a radio, an untuned TV, or an ancient record player where its needle is about to translate plastic into music. It was that ongoing static, an awful drone that made me grit my teeth. A migraine threatened to fall.

“You’re curious. That’s natural.” The hand gently pressed my own, making the tip of the knife do a little less resting and a little more poking. “Remember when... you first learnt to swim? Surrounded by all that water? Remember... how happy you were at not only learning a new skill... but feeling like you’d entered a new world?”

It was the only childhood memory I’d had of my whole family being together on an outing, including both sets of grandparents before they passed. I’d never forget.

“How comforting would it be to let yourself be consumed by that liquid again... blood running down your neck and soaking your clothes... covering yourself in it... learning the skill of release... entering the world of sleep. You look tired, Saellie. Would you like to go there?”

“Yes...” I sighed, my eyes drooping. The gloved hand moved the knife to the left side of my neck, just under my chin, and lightly traced a line from ear to ear with the tip. “I am very, very tired...”

“I know.” Death said gently. “You should sleep. You’ll feel better.”

“But... I don’t want to die.” I said, and suddenly it was like I was fighting for breath. The hand didn’t tighten its grip, neither did it release its hold. It seemed like an age before my fingers uncurled; the soapy cooking knife dropped into the sink with a loud clang and clatter. A tiny bead of blood had appeared on my neck.

“Oh...” I leaned over the drain, feeling as if the last bit of my sanity had escaped down that dark hole. “What is happening to me?”

“Don’t be alarmed. That is what life is all about... discovering how effortless, how pointless it is. Meaningless. Futile. Aren’t you tired?” the voice prompted again.

I turned to look at the figure. It seemed to be male, but I couldn’t be sure. This time, it really was wearing a long black coat, with black leather gloves and boots, a smart grey fedora hat, and a startlingly white mask, with a small red tear of blood painted underneath one eye. No mouthhole, no nosehole, and eyeholes were black pits. It seemed to fade at the edges, like before. The less I concentrated on it, the clearer it became. The more I tried to focus, the more of a phantom it became.

“You’re Death. Right?” I said, touching the back of my hand where I’d felt it’s leather glove. Unbelievable how real it had seemed. Just another indication that I’d finally lost my mind.

“If you say so, Saellie.”

“Sorry, I didn’t ask that correctly. Are you Death? That’s a direct question,” I added, sensing another nonchalant answer.

“I am if you say so, Saellie.”

I couldn’t help but feel a little pissed off at its remarkable attitude. “So... you want me dead, is that right? You want me to die? Yes? No?”

“No.”

“Then...?”

“I only want you to realise what you want. What you really want.” Death tiled its head forward, its mask narrowing horizontally. “You want to kill yourself. That is what you want.”


“So... you do want me to die.

“No. You are not listening. There is a difference between dying and killing yourself. Killing yourself guarantees that you will die, but dying does not necessarily mean that you have killed yourself.”

Oh fuck. I've conjured up a fucking psychopath.

“You conjured me up. You are the psychopath.” Death pointed out.

I was shocked into silence by the truth of it. I don't know what came over me, but words spurted from my mouth like blood from a wound. “I don’t want to kill myself,” I whimpered, glancing back at the knife in the sink. Soap spuds slid of it and dispersed at an achingly slow pace.

“That is what everyone expects you to say.” Death nodded once. “And you are scared of pain, like everybody else. But I am here to help you.”

“You’re here to help me... kill myself, then.”

“No,” Death whispered, although saying that is odd because its voice always seemed to be a whisper. But in saying this particular phrase, its voice took on a chilling quiet I hadn’t heard before. “You are still not listening. I want you to realise what you want. And you want to sleep...

This was worse than I’d thought. 
There is nothing worse than having a mind that creates someone who talks in circles. I’ll have to get my doctor to up my dose of anti-depressants. 

“That’s a good idea,” Death said, its masked face jerking up as if suddenly animated. “They will help you. Whenever you feel bad, take one. If you still feel bad, take another. Two hours later, take another, just to be sure. It’s just like taking painkillers. After a few hours, you’ll be fast asleep. You won’t feel a thing. They really work, those anti-depressants. Don’t they?”

“I won’t overdose,” I told Death coldly, wondering how my mind could have thought up such a morbid creature. I must have, because no-one else can see him. Him, it, I’m not even sure if it matters. “Although I’ll consider it, if it means I won’t have to listen to you.”

There was a silence in which Death was still. I wondered what its face was like behind that mask, if it had one, and if it was smiling. “That was all I wanted...” it said.

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