laila
07 February 2010 @ 12:29 am
On Personal Canon.  
In this post I made a reference to Schuldig yearning for the glory days of the Stasi. This was an inadvertent private joke, and one which relies for its explanation more than a little on my own take on where exactly Schuldig is coming from. This would be something I decided on in conversation with [livejournal.com profile] rokesmith, and may require a little bit of explaining. So, here I am explaining myself.

Being as I am not a big Schwarz fangirl, my understanding of the back doubles of their canon is slight. Being, however, a fangirl at all, this hasn't stopped me freely speculating based on what I do know about him - namely that he's a German, that he's in his early 20s, that he's a professional bastard and that he works, or worked, for Esset.

So, I don't know a lot - but I know enough about him and about German history to know that there are some serious unanswered questions implied in all this.

If we run with the idea that Weiss Kreuz is set in 1998 - which it clearly is given the onscreen confirmation of the year in Episode 19, an episode I would not recommend watching for any other reason unless of course you really like bloody awful electronic music - and Schuldig is around 23 years old during the series itself, this puts him at 15 years old during German reunification in 1990 and suggests that he must have been born sometime in 1975. Considering that Rosenkreuz must have gotten their claws into him and dragged him off to Austria by the time he was in his early teens at the very latest, this means that Schuldig spent his childhood in a divided country and may well never actually have lived in a unified Germany.

This, of course, begs the question of precisely where in that divided country he was living. There's a theory, of course, that Schuldig lived in West Berlin. I'd go with that if it wasn't for knowing where the theory came from: Sidara's Sünde. Now, Sünde is a decent enough fanfic, but it is just a fanfic. Just because Sidara said it doesn't mean we all have to go along with it. I don't. I think he's from that kind of area, but not from West Berlin. Or, in fact, from Berlin at all.

This is about where I start making shit up, so hold onto your hats, folks.

For some reason I think Schuldig is from Brandenburg. Specifically Potsdam. I'm going somewhere with this, so please nod, smile and move on.

This, for the record, makes him an East German. I think there's something about Schuldig's attitude that makes him uniquely suited to being brought up in the former Eastern Bloc. Knowledge, after all, is power, and nowhere more so than in a totalitarian state where even thinking the wrong way is strenuously discouraged, where kids are brought up from birth aware that there's a right way and a wrong way to think about things. An untrained but still-powerful psychic in a situation like that could very easily prove very dangerous.

Simply put I think Schuldig, growing up in the Eastern Bloc, would have been a very dangerous child indeed. I think that he realized from a very early age the power that his gift gave him over people, and that he wasn't at all averse to exploiting this. I think he may well have informed for the Stasi, more to settle scores with the people who'd wronged him or for the feeling of power it gave him than because he genuinely believed in the Soviet state's goals; I think, in the end, that this is why Rosenkreuz managed to track him down, because how in the world did a child know all these things? Underage informers were nothing new, of course, but one who knew quite as much as Schuldig did, and was quite as uncannily accurate, would be something to worry about. Where, exactly, would he have been getting all this from?

From there on, of course, I defer to canon and superior Schwarz-fangirl knowledge.

And, of course, this is simply my take on it. I may or may not be wrong about any or all of it, but to be totally honest I don't care if I am. I enjoy my little Schuldig fantasy origin story and I want to keep it. Permit me my girlish dreams a minute, please?
 
 
Current Mood: eeeh.
Current Music: one o' clock jump - count basie
 
 
laila
05 February 2010 @ 03:13 am
And then laila was a fangirl (again).  
Soo.

I just finished rewatching Weiss Kreuz for useful purposes. Specifically because I was worried I couldn't write Ken for shit any more and wanted a do-over to be sure I was still doing it right. Hadn't seen it in what felt like an absolute age and if I was beginning to wonder what in the world made me love my ridiculous twelve-year-old show about florist/assassins (complete with plot holes!) well, now I remember. Not that I can exactly put that love into coherent words, because I just love it because I do and it's not the kind of thing you can rationalize, it really isn't.

A couple of things were different this time round. Specifically, Sakura. Sakura is a character who I have previously just kinda tolerated. This time round, though? I liked her. I genuinely did like her. I think she's been unfairly maligned by a vast swathe of the fandom - including, I'm prepared to admit, me in my earlier days - and looking back I really don't know what she did to deserve it apart from daring to have two X chromosomes and a crush on Aya, Object of Fangirl Obsession #1. Which is a ridiculous thing to hold against her, because she's a fifteen year old girl. Of course she's got a crush on the good-looking, mysterious guy who's saved her life. I think I probably would have in her place.

Why the Hell I took against her I can't even begin to explain any more. I've never particularly cared for Aya or thought that Sakura's crush on Aya somehow made her in the way of Fanon Youji or my Mary Sue having him instead. Maybe I just thought she wasn't 'badass' enough for my tastes because God forbid a teenage schoolgirl should act like a teenage schoolgirl and actually get a little upset by, say, being abducted and mind-raped.

Maybe the difference is this time I was actually watching her, not just considering her scenes to be an unavoidable but rather unwelcome delay to the actual plot. I only did this because I'm RPing her over at [livejournal.com profile] wk_awakenings and I wanted to be sure I was doing it right, but the more I actually watched her instead of tuning out and wondering when the assassins would be back the more I wondered why in the world I had taken against her in the first place. She only sounds like a demure, passive little thing, and if she's occasionally overwhelmed by the things going on around her - once again, ordinary fifteen-year-old girl. She holds up a Hell of a lot better than I would.

So, purpose statement: I like Sakura now. In fact I like her rather a lot and would like to apologize for all the bad things I ever said about her which were manifestly far more fanon-flavored than they should have been. I was stupid at the time, but now I am smart(er).

See, this is why rewatches are useful.

It's probably no bad thing I rewatched in other ways. I wasn't anywhere near as off with Ken as I feared I might have been, but I was rather ignoring his tendency to get incredibly annoyed at... well, just about anything, especially where that thing is called a Youji Kudou (and then they made out!) which is rather a pity as that is pretty much where the whole I ship it thing originally comes from (AND THEN THEY MADE OUT, SERIOUSLY.) Still, knowing you have a problem is the first step to solving it: I've been practicing my irritable!Ken in the last couple of days and... well, what can I say? I missed him.

Now all I've got to do is rewatch Verbrechen and Strafe, but I'm saving that as a prize for getting my WIP back into some kind of order. Yes, that WIP. It needs extensive reworking and the opening chapter has to be totally rewritten, but I am going to finish it it it kills me.

Further purpose statement: I still love Weiss Kreuz far more than a grown woman ought, and Ken Hidaka is clearly totally awesome.

(The Wunder X episode is still bloody ridiculous, though.)
 
 
Current Mood: just fangirling
Current Music: something random off the kapitel ost
 
 
laila
25 January 2010 @ 05:47 pm
How to Write a Weiss Kreuz OC Without Royally Fucking Up, Part One  
Weiss Kreuz, as a series, is absolutely tailor-made for fan characters. Just about all the memorable fanfic I have ever read for this series has had OCs in, sometimes several of them, sometimes in major roles. The episodic nature of the show, and high turnover of supporting characters, is such that if a fan writer is going to write pretty much anything in the vein of an actual episode they're going to need OCs, and lots of them.

So why in the world is it that most Weiss Kreuz OCs out there tend to fall into the 'shitty Mary Sue' camp? This is a show it should be easy to insert a new character into, and yet we the fans keep on fucking up. How does this keep happening? Can't it be stopped?

Of course, it probably can't be stopped and nobody cares what you think, laila, but that never stopped me from ranting at incredible TL;DR length before and it damn sure isn't going to stop me now - certainly not when I've had this rant half-finished on my hard drive for God knows how long now and I am going to get it posted come Hell, high water or (more likely) incredible eye-crossing tedium. So to that end, I would like to present...


How to Write a Weiss Kreuz OC Without Royally Fucking Up

Advice that, I admit, is mostly geared toward avoiding all the most common pitfalls associated with the creation if Weiss Kreuz Mary Sues. This isn't to say that following this guide to the letter would render a would-be fanficcer utterly incapable of writing a Mary Sue, or that sometimes ignoring some of these factors may be excusable. Truth is, though, that most Mary Sue ficcers do make these mistakes, sometimes more than one of them, sometimes repeatedly, and anyone who genuinely wanted to create an OC for this fandom - particularly a young, female OC, as Weiss do have a tendency to run into pretty girls with ugly secrets in canon and there should be no harm in a fanfic doing the same thing - would do well to remember they exist, and plan accordingly.


She's Not That Remarkable
Weiss see dozens of girls over the course of a single day, most of whom are pretty, many of whom are friendly and charming, almost all of whom more than willing to get to know them a little better. They're quite used to this treatment and three-quarters of the team try with varying degrees of success to ignore it; the fourth quarter is something called a Youji Kudou. Pretty girls, to Weiss, are background noise at best; at worst, an occupational hazard.

An OC who chose to introduce herself by showing up in the shop would be just another pretty girl in a crowded room full of pretty girls. Weiss would have no reason to remember her over and above any of the other girls they've seen recently unless she looked utterly outrageous or did something likewise. Stunning beauty wouldn't count as outrageous but a missing limb would; a cute pratfull wouldn't count either, outrageous behavior would be raping Ken on the shop table. Weiss won't fall all over themselves to be nice to her the minute they clap eyes on her just because she exists. She'd have to do something before they noticed her, and it would have to be far more significant than 'buy flowers'. Weiss sell flowers. That's their job. Pretty girls buy flowers off them every day. It's really not a bonding experience.


Read The Job Description
Weiss are assassins: that's it. They are not bodyguards. They are not a SWAT team or a search and rescue squad and they're certainly not set dressing for any random OC who showed up five minutes previous. Under the circumstances, any Weiss fic which gets involved enough to need OCs (and 'my OC is cool and I want her here' does not mean a story needs a new character) is almost definitely going to make quite heavy reference to this whole 'assassin' thing the four of them have going on. If it doesn't, There Is A Problem.

Schwarz are bodyguards, and that's it for them too. They're the opposite of Weiss, okay? The opposite of assassin? Is a bodyguard.

That being the case, Weiss are not going to be asked to 'protect' an OC for any reason whatsoever. They certainly won't be ordered to watch over an OC by Kritiker - they're assassins, and Kritiker are the people who tell them who to kill and where to find them - and even if they themselves decide to protect her anyway there will be limits to what they can practically do for her without blowing their cover. (They are very unlikely, for example, to let her move in with them.) Weiss are assassins, exceptionally good at making things die, and really not the people you go to if you want to make sure someone stays alive. They just kill people - and not just the people who are supposed to die, either.

As for Schwarz, they're not going to be ordered to murder an OC. (Bodyguards.) They're not particularly likely to be frantically keen on abducting her either. (Bodyguards.) Considering they only bother with Weiss when Weiss are stood in front of them being obstructive, they aren't likely to take any real interest in an OC unless she's waving a gun at Takatori. (Once again, bodyguards.) And they wouldn't even be that desirable as bodyguards, either - it would take one Hell of a plot contrivance to explain why they were suddenly working for an OC, and an even larger one to explain why they didn't end up double-crossing her, too.


Life Goes On
Weiss and Schwarz had jobs to do, responsibilities to fulfill, problems to deal with and personal traumas to handle before any OC showed up on the scene. They will continue to have those jobs, responsibilities, problems and traumas after she arrives, too. It doesn't matter how awesomely significant she may be supposed to be to any or all of them. These eight men had lives of their own which didn't involve her before and they are going to go on dealing with things they find personally significant which have nothing to do with her after her arrival, too. She is not so awesomely indispensable that everything in the regulars' lives that has no connection to her will stop on a dime so as not to get in her way.

Simply, Weiss and Schwarz have more things to worry about than the trials and tribulations of some girl they only just met - things they, whisper it, may even consider more important than her and her problems. They are not going to want to spend every waking moment with her, and when not in her company they will have better things to do than sit around talking about her, thinking about her or worrying about her to the exclusion of absolutely everyone and everything else. Nobody is that significant to anyone.


Idiot Plots Are For Idiots
The main characters in this series are black-ops agents. They are, consequentially, going to be able to notice the similarity between Girl A and Girl A With A Different Hairstyle And Sunglasses On. It doesn't matter if the average Joe or Jane think that 'with a few minor changes to her looks' an OC is 'a different person' - the men of Weiss and Schwarz and their support workers are not average Joes or Janes. They're all quick-witted, observant people (yes, even Ken and the secretaries, thank you), and it's largely why they're still alive.

If, for whatever reason, they aren't supposed to recognize an OC for what she is, there are ways to work the transformation without making the regulars look like complete dumbasses - which means it's got to be a damn sight more complete than a ponytail, a pair of shades, or an awesome new outfit complete with miniskirt. Yes, it is going to require a change of clothing - but it's also likely to require a wig, colored contacts, and an entirely different way of talking, holding herself, and moving in her own body. If Youji can recognize Manx by her ankles, it's a pretty good bet he'd be able to identify an OC through body language and speech patterns - and Schuldig will recognize her by her thought patterns. If a fic is really going to fool a group of black-ops agents into thinking an OC is two different people, there have to be reasons, and damn good ones, for them to believe it. 'She's got sunglasses on now' is not a reason.


... what do you mean there's more?! )


... and that would be the end of that except that it's actually, as near as I can make out, just over half of it.

Coming up after the break (read when I've finished writing it, which now I've posted this half will have to be sometime in the next few days): So, crazed Weiss Kreuz 'OC' fanficcer, you think you want to give Weiss or Schwarz a neat new female teammate? Well, since 'no, for God's sake, I beg of you don't give Weiss or Schwarz a neat new female teammate' is not the kind of advice you're likely to bother listening to, you had probably better read this instead.
 
 
Current Mood: i want a nap
Current Music: carry on my wayward son - kansas
 
 
laila
22 January 2010 @ 10:53 pm
... wait, when did I last eat?  
I really should stop making icons, but I don't want to.

This post is, I admit, largely pointless. I'm making it simply because I want to use my latest icon and, in the process, pimp a little bit of digital coloring I've been doing in order to aid the whole icon-making process - though I am not, I admit, exactly the greatest at coloring images. All I can really manage is a sort of fake-ass 'cel shading' style beloved of adolescent Deviantart users drawing their Naruto Sues all over screenshots of Sakura Haruno and and precisely nobody else, which pretty much ignores damn near everything about tones and effective use of light and shade, but I do rather enjoy doing it for all that I kind of suck.

The issue is that uncolored, unshaded lineart just doesn't resize down very well for iconmaking purposes. Too much detail gets lost, the lines blur into one another and the whole thing just doesn't look very good. So, if I want to make an icon using an uncolored, unshaded image the best thing I can do is to shade or color the thing myself and then make the icon using the recolored image. Yeah, it does rather slow things down this end, but if it means I get a decent icon out the end of it, it's all worth it. That said, though, the time commitment of amateurishly recoloring a piece of lineart when you're not very good at it (and I'm not) does tend to mean that I'm not likely to bother in the first place if the image in question doesn't have Ken in it and-stroke-or can't be used to push my ridiculous fangirl-shipper agenda. No, I don't think I have quite enough Youji/Ken icons already, actually, why do you ask?

Needless to say I claim absolutely no responsibility for the linework in the following images: that's all the work of Kyoko Tsuchiya. I can't actually draw to save my life either and if I could maybe I'd have an actual reason to try and get better at digital coloring. But I can't. So I don't.

Anyway, enough of this nonsense and I shall now post the pictures. Of which I have two.

I originally wanted to do the first image in grayscale because I thought it would be quicker after the time I'd spent working on colorizing the Youji/Ken image. Hahaha NO. Lies! All the time I saved through not having to work in full-color I ended up spending on trying to deal with Ken's goddamn hair, which turned out to be way, way harder to color and highlight than I thought it'd be. I also did another version of the Ken with a scarf picture without the spot color, which is here. Personally I prefer it with the blue scarf as I think it makes for a more interesting image, but that's just my take on it and it is after all entirely possible that I am tired, not thinking straight, still cold-addled or just plain bats.

Incidentally, I am 27 years old and still can't spell 'amateur' without spellcheck looking over my shoulder to see that I'm doing it right, which I invariably am not... and I wouldn't even know how to spell 'unconscious' if it wasn't for the sheer number of times I've knocked out Ken.
 
 
Current Mood: apprehensive
Current Music: boy strange - pet shop boys
 
 
laila
17 January 2010 @ 08:28 pm
Clearly, there is something wrong with my sanity chip.  
Yeah, I'm still a little bit ick, but this doesn't seem quite as big a deal after an afternoon spent talking bullshit with [livejournal.com profile] rokesmith. Okay, so I'll probably pay for it tomorrow, but I really can't bring myself to care about that right now because dammit I am having fun here.

So, a quick news update: yes, I am still making icons and yes, they are for Weiss Kreuz because FANGIRL. I currently have forty... something. Ish. I want to make several more. The good thing about this is that it means that by the time I am finished I will have enough to post a decent-sized icon dump, which is something I haven't managed for a long while. Good news, I think: it would, of course, be better for the rest of the universe if I stopped making Ken icons for five minutes and concentrated on everyone else in the cast.

Anyway, on the subject of things I haven't done in a while: yeah, it's been a while since I did one of my lame-humor screendump selections. Since I somehow managed to find the others hilarious, I thought I'd go ahead and do another one.

The usual drill applies - it's image-heavy, most of said images are of Ken or feature him in some way because that's what my screencap collections tend to do, and there are a lot of rather dodgy sex jokes and a picture of Youji in bed with many beautiful ladies, because charisma is not just a dump stat. Well, okay, two beautiful ladies. If you find any or all of the following unappealing, you may care to look away now - though I really do have to wonder why, in that case, you're even reading this Livejournal.




"My name is Ran Aya Fujimiya. Son of a murdered father, brother of a comatose sister, and I will have my vengeance in this life or the next!" Well, nobody could say Ken hadn't warned them them this could happen if Aya watched Gladiator.

Youji likes Ken very much. )

Yes, I know I probably got a bit carried away with this one but it's what happens when you come up with all the really good jokes after you've already finished putting together the image post. As there's no goddamn way I'd remember said jokes if I saved them for a hypothetical next time - and if I hadn't written them down I'm pretty sure I wouldn't even have remembered them half an hour after the fact - I just went with it.

Tune in next time when I may actually have some content in this space.
 
 
Current Mood: WHEEE i'm an idiot
Current Music: white fairytale - shazna
 
 
laila
14 January 2010 @ 11:54 pm
A brief thought.  
Because yeah, I can do brief sometimes too, right?

It occurs to me apropos of badfic that writing dark, serious, plot-heavy fanfiction that focuses on Aya must be an exercise in utter frustration, because all half the Aya fans out there who read the damn thing will see will be Aya and his ridiculous and all-consuming AWESOME and to hell with niceties like plot, characterization, or what everyone else in the entire damn story might be getting up to because you know, that's interesting and all but OMG IT IS ALL ABOUT AYA, so much so that you might as well not have even bothered mentioning the rest of it because they'd be gushing all over it anyway.

It must get infuriating to labor for weeks over a plot-heavy story, making sure that everything about it is as good as it possibly can be, then post it and discover that you could probably have written about Aya walking into an empty room, turning slowly in a circle on the spot and then being jumped on by a lust-struck Youji and gotten exactly the same response. Because Aya's in it.

I mean just look at this drivel. Just look at it.

already feel bad for ran. he hasn't even been put into the story yet, and all i wanna do is bake him cookies and give him hugs. hm...so the takatori bastard just made him...dissapear basically. *hopes shes following the story correctly* and aya-chan's in a coma, ne? god i bet ran's ** nuts right now.
good job with yohji's character. it's always hard when your writing more than one fic at once to keep the same character the 'same' and yet 'different'. does that make sense? o_o hope so. *waits anxiously for more* X3

This is a review for a fic which - though it has several issues, which I will be going into later - appears to make a serious attempt to create a dark, twisted and compelling AT universe for the Weiss Kreuz characters to interact in. The first two chapters focus heavily on a drunk and depressed Youji, still working as a PI in the wake of Asuka's death because he doesn't know what else he should be doing with himself though he has no real love for the work any more, or for life itself for that matter. Aya has been discussed and is clearly significant to the plot, but hasn't actually appeared yet, except in case files and on audio tape - and yet Aya is still absolutely all that this fangirl reviewer can focus upon.

Forget the worldbuilding. Forget the plot. Forget the dark and depressing atmosphere the story is trying to invoke. Forget the rest of the cast, even: Persia is dying in hospital, Manx is worn out and depressed, but who cares! Even Youji, whose thoughts, feelings and traumas the first two chapters focuses on, barely gets so much as a token mention in her review, and his trials and tribulations didn't appear to evoke any kind of emotional response from her.

Because she's not reviewing for all that. She's reviewing for Aya. Aya, a character who has yet to appear, and who she feels bad for already.

This may be just me, but if I were to receive feedback like that for something I'd labored over, it'd probably upset me. It's like the fictional equivalent of preparing your Pomeranian puppy assiduously for a dog show. You spend weeks on end drilling and training your little dog, brushing him, grooming him, spending a fortune on doggy shampoo and canine hairdressers to ensure that he present himself as perfectly as he possibly can... then, after all that time and effort, you realize the judge likes Pomeranians so much you could just have dragged him in begrimed, yapping and trying to eat your shoes and you'd still have got a Highly Commended. Yeah, it's nice they like your dog so much, but what the Hell was all the work for if they'd have liked it regardless?
 
 
Current Mood: a bit light-headed
Current Music: fight or flight - yuu kobayashi
 
 
laila
03 January 2010 @ 09:48 pm
Have we not met before, monsieur?  
I suppose actually being able to get into my own house is as good a way to start the new year as any, so perhaps it's fitting that after all that I did manage to make it back home on the first. I've spent the last couple of days mostly relaxing, poking the Internet and hanging around with [livejournal.com profile] rokesmith, mainly to prove that I can now. Oh, and there's been some pretty hardcore sleeping at strange hours because nobody can tell me not to do that, either. Free! Free!

... okay, sorry about that. But it's just so nice not to be living out a suitcase again. I know that two weeks, or just under, isn't that long to do that, but it's a bit of a pain when you were only banking on being away for one and had packed accordingly.

Anyway. One of the things a return to casual internet means is a return to Gaia. It's a bit difficult to poke around on a website aimed at fourteen year old girls when you're twenty-seven and staying with your parents, so I've had to keep the amount of time I waste on that massive boredom-sink to a minimum over the past couple weeks. Yesterday and today, though, I took the opportunity to head on back. After fiddling with my avatar for a bit (it's the only reason I really use Gaia, after all - to play Pretty Princess Dress-Me-Up with pixels) I took the opportunity to go and poke some of the forums to see how they reacted. Because I have other things I'd like to do this evening, I steered well clear of... well,pretty much the entire site for the (relatively to the rest of the site, at least) safe haven of the Bug Reports and Technical Support forum.

What I know about technical troubleshooting you could write on the back of a postcard, but I like the Bug Reports forum, it's like a slightly less rabid Q&A. Sure, people can be plenty stupid in there, just like everywhere else, but it's not normally the kind of stupid I feel the need to rant about. The problem is the risk of discovering something only tangentially related to site bugs I will feel the need to rant about, and... yeah, that's why I'm here.

Specifically, I found this thread, and once again it was Rabbit Hole of Stupid time.

The issue? A user known as GummyBearSlayer's signature link. Specifically, this would be a signature link that led to yet another bad RP, and... well, I'll come to that. About the only real difference was that it was an RP guild - the Gaia Online term for a user-run subforum - and not a forum thread in Barton Town. Guilds are where the real hardcore, long-term Gaian RPers tend to prefer to do their business. Threads are easily lost and often don't take off. A big, long-term game is often far happier in its own subforum. Of course, though, all this means is the game is big - not necessarily that it's actually any good.

This game, for all its impressive organization, turned out to be rather not so good.



The game in question - which is entitled Camp Half-Blood- A New Adventure seems to be based on a series of teen novels about a guy called Percy Jackson. I've barely even heard of these and what I do know doesn't interest me, which along with my ignorance of The X-Factor probably means I'm officially Past It and need to apply for my tartan blanket and moccasins. Kids these days rowr bazz fazz get off my lawn.

Anyway, from what I know about this series, either the novels massively mangle Greek myths and legends or their fans do, because I haven't seen this much mythology FAIL since that fic where Ken Hidaka found a Dante Watch. I can't exactly blame the fans for going with the flow if it turns out the book is being quite this casual with the mythology as well, but either way it's pretty damn painful to read. The game - and maybe not just that, but I'll give the Percy Jackson series the benefit of the doubt - gives itself the tagline 'paradises are usually places where you get killed', which simply doesn't make much sense to me because if you're constantly fearing for your life then by definition you're not in paradise. Possibly they were trying to say that Paradise is a place you can normally only get to after you die, but if that was the aim the tagline missed it by a mile. Like so many other aspects of Gaia RPs, it only sounds cool until you actually start to think about it, at which point the 'wait - what?' response kicks in.

Of course, being me, I immediately gravitated toward the Character Profile thread, which for my money provides the quickest and easiest way to get laughs out of a Gaia RP without actually having to read it. Surprise! They're using the same character images as every other Gaia RP, some of which turn out to be very familiar indeed. How familiar? Well, even ignoring the fact the same dozen or so character images are being endlessly recycled here as well, I'd like to introduce Drake Bone, Syen James Corvinace, Hikari, Syrene Seymour and Ryan Keith - more commonly known as Squall Leonhart, Mello, Hotaru Tomoe, Kotonoha Katsura and L.

Funny though it was to see Mello the mafia don running round claiming to be the dark and edgy Syen James Corvinace, he was not the guy I was looking for. I was looking for the character who was mentioned in GummyBearSlayer's signature and, on page 23 of the profile thread, I found him.

Name: James Smith
Gender: Male
Age: 16
Race: Human
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Deep, stormy grey.
Other: Born military strategist, loves to learn, and is incredibly smart.
Mortal Parent F/M: Male
Weapon(s): Small knife, mind, and bow, which he uses if he has to, but prefers his knife

I knew this was the guy, GummyBearSlayer's ridiculous screenname and painfully generic blonde avatar thing aside. See, beneath this rather non-indicative character profile - to quote something I once read on the subject of character creation, even a good flat character should require at least a sentence to sum up, and a sentence with sub-clauses at that - which despite offering less information on who this guy thought he was than his personals ad would have done was nonetheless apparently quite comprehensive enough for the luminaries over at Camp Half-Blood to work out which Greek God had apparently helped spawn him, there was the same color-swapped artbook picture he had in his signature, saved under the filename 'boy44.jpg'.

You see, it turns out that 'boy 44' would be this guy (if not this particular image of him):



Only it was far, far worse than that. The applicant had color-swapped the original image - badly, though all that was required was a simple HSL adjustment which uses one paint tool and takes about 20 seconds - and then, as if he feared that we'd have totally forgotten who his 'OC' was in the few seconds it took to read through his profile, had written 'James Smith' on it using a truly horrible 'decorative' font much beloved by the Blingee crowd. You know, just in case you thought it was a picture of someone else like, I don't know, KEN HIDAKA maybe.

I like to think it's pretty obvious why this guy's signature caught my eye now - there was a picture of 'James Smith' in it, and it took me an embarrassingly long time to work out that this randomly-appearing image of Ken Hidaka had nothing to do with my fangirl but was, in fact, supposed to be someone's 'OC'.

The sad thing is that Kenken here's actually getting off pretty lightly. Yes, he's supposed to be some kind of super-smart mercenary warrior thing, but at least he's actually a human rather than a nymph or a demi-God or a 'demi human', whatever the fuck that means. At least he's actually using sensible real-world weapons rather than dual-wielding scythes and katanas that have been dipped in the river Styx, or a giant bronze hammer that shrinks to the size of a keychain, or a ring that can summon a panther, or a bow that shoots moonbeams, or some kind of mystical flange-object charm bracelet that allows him to summon any weapon ever made. At least he sounds like a relatively normal guy rather than the usual ridiculously Dark! And! Edgy! cliche who thinks that having a bad attitude is a substitute for an actual personality. At least his player isn't making desperate attempts to make him sound alluring to kindergoths by claiming he likes playing Tag in graveyards and crying in the rain.

Finally, there's the matter of his assumed name. Ken is going by the name James Smith, which is a pretty good English interpretation of 'Ken Hidaka' in terms of ordinariness. Given that he's sharing an RP with characters called Temperance Rose and Terra Star and Allete Crescent and Rex Maximillian Degenor and Pine Cone and Quanjanym Whiteberry and Siren Phoenix and Delphine Windsnap and Adonia Clearwater and Dexav Exodus, this is rather refreshing.

Still, I'm shocked. Ken, as the Token Normal Guy of the series, was about the only Weiss Kreuz character I thought I'd never see as an 'OC' in a Gaia RP. How, out of all the short, dark anime boys out there, did this guy hit on Ken? It is a mystery.
 
 
Current Mood: what the hell?
Current Music: computer love - kraftwerk
 
 
laila
23 December 2009 @ 03:17 pm
I still know a fictional character's birthday.  
I have jumped online briefly to make this brief update in which I confess once again to the blindingly obvious: indeed, for I am a sad fangirl and I still know Ken Hidaka's birthday.

Why I should be able to remember Ken's birthday when I can barely remember my dad's I don't know, but there you have it. I shall mark this occasion by trying not to write anything in which Ken has a gratuitously rotten time all day, which for me is honestly quite a sacrifice. I'll also see if there's ever a point in which I can quietly sing Happy Birthday without making myself look like a total lunatic (I'll gladly settle for looking kind of insane, though). Sadly though, once again I will not be able to get cake. We're having ham for dinner, maybe I should stick a candle in that?

Difficulties inherent in being seen to publically celebrate the birthday of a fictional character aside, Happy Birthday to a boy who, at least in my head, is perpetually stuck at the not-exactly-terrific age of nineteen, making the whole point of remembering his birthday moot. But I do it anyway because hey, it's Ken.

... and once again, if I wasn't stuck in Faversham, I probably would be buying cake. Oh, dear.

Anyway, last year, in an attempt to mark the occasion, I asked for Ken-centric fanfic prompts. I blush to recall this as I haven't actually managed to write a single one of these. Clearly where it comes to writing I have failed quite hard lately - and you'd think it wouldn't be that difficult to get me to write about Ken, after all - and so I won't be asking for any more of those this year. Instead, I think I'll celebrate by actually trying to start writing the damn things... if I can find a spare five minutes in between the whole preparing-for-Christmas thing that's going on down here. My afternoon and evening may be pretty nearly booked solid after this point, but I still have an idea for at least one of them I desperately need to make a start on, after all.

Dear Ken, it's your birthday, and I apologize unreservedly for Through a Glass Darkly. And, you know, just about everything else I have ever written with the possible exception of Paperclip, which at least got you laid.
 
 
Current Mood: fangirly
Current Music: moonflower - tomokazu seki
 
 
laila
01 November 2009 @ 07:14 pm
"... and the first victim was logic itself!"  
Warning: There are TV Tropes links in this post. Don't say I didn't warn you.

In one form or another, I have spent a lot of time complaining about fanfics that have plots that simply don't make sense. Fics where characters, fan or otherwise, are seriously menaced or gravely injured and it occurs to precisely nobody to call the police or an ambulance. Fics where four professionally paranoid men let a stranger move in with them at five seconds' notice because she's hot. Fics where Ken (it's almost always Ken, for some unknown reason) is the only member of the team present who seems to remember he is an assassin, and as a result is treated by every other character in the story as if he's somehow managed to totally miss the point.

I have never, though, come across a fanfic that so completely defines and describes exactly what readers and viewers are complaining about when they use the term 'idiot plot' as the subject of today's expression of abject horror.

So, what is an Idiot Plot? TV Tropes, of course, has the answer:

Idiot Plot
Popularized by film critic Roger Ebert, a term for a plot that hangs together only because the main characters behave like idiots. It's not so bad if the characters are supposed to be acting like idiots, but it's very bad if the Idiot Plot depends on a character suddenly acting stupid enough for the plot to work. A much more grating form is the "second-order idiot plot", in which the plot can only function if every character involved, including side characters, suddenly loses about 50 IQ points.

This would be bad enough, but that's not where it ends. Supplementary tropes contained in this fic - usually related to ridiculously contrived stupidity - would include Idiot Ball, Conflict Ball, Poor Communication Kills, Rule of Drama, Amateur Sleuth and, as a corollary, Impersonating An Officer, Always Murder and - at least up until Chapter Four, which is all there is of this thing at the moment - All Love is Unrequited, with only Always Murder even vaguely justified by the canon setting and the fact these are assassins we're dealing with.

In short, if these characters actually talked to one another from time to time instead of bitching, complaining, jumping to conclusions and randomly keeping secrets for absolutely no reason, this story would have been half the length and half as stupid. Poor characterization plays a part in all this horror as well; I would be remiss not to mention that at all, as the awful characterization is so very much a part of what makes this fanfic so painfully stupid. However, the characterization - for once - is not really the point. The point is how unbearably stupid the plot is, and how unbearably moronically the characters have been forced to behave in the service of it.

So, to move onto the story itself...

Chosen » by Kurai Shukujo
'A recent string of gruesome murders and a fateful mission lead Youji into the world of a satanic cult with Aya, his current obsession, playing a key role. Revised!'

About the only positive thing that can be said about this story from the summary is 'well, at least it's not pedophiles again'. As to all the rest of it, it's pretty much business-as-usual levels of awful, complete with Aya randomly being specially special because He's There and something about a 'gruesome string of murders' which, this being about a group of guys who are responsible for the longest and most gruesome series of murders Tokyo has seen for quite some time - I'm talking, of course, about Weiss themselves - I would have thought a reader could comfortably take as read without having to waste summary space on it. Either way at best this is going to be horribly samey, and at worst... well, it's at worst. Now read on.

From the minute this story started, I knew I was in trouble... not least of which because there's no clear demarcation between the author's notes and first paragraph, and it took me a few seconds to realize, oh wait, the fic's started. It took me a few seconds more to realize that the character narrating the story,. who sounds like nobody any of Weiss should ever have met, was Youji. Not a promising start, and it got worse. Oh, how much worse.

As to what comes after that, in an attempt not to be here all night I'm going to resort to bullet points.

They're behind here. )

In short: this is an Idiot Plot. If any of these characters were allowed to behave like normal human beings - still less like the (for the most part) intelligent and capable people they are - the plot would become completely unworkable. There is absolutely no reason for all the secrecy, and still less is there any reason for Youji to try to solve a case of ritual serial murder all by himself. It's just happening because it is, because if Aya was allowed to know about this cult of stupid he wouldn't make the perfect bewildered and innocent victim later on - and he's inevitably going to become one as the minute the cult clap eyes on him and Youji they're murmuring about Messiahs and Chosen Ones as if Aya had wings and a halo.

On the few occasions the characters actually sit down and talk, do they actually try and clear up any of this confusion? Do they Hell. Conversations quickly degenerate into games of Idiot Volleyball, as characters bat the Idiot Ball back and forth between them, and the few lengthy conversations the fic contains so far are largely irrelevant: one takes in the entire backstory of Bloaty McCorpseGuy; one is Birman ranting about how awesome Aya is; and the rest are Youji talking to some bottle fairy of a Gary Stu bartender about how annoying Goths are.

Sadly, that's not the end of it. There are several supplementary irritations not actually related to the plot to consider, too.

Which means more bullet points, naturally. )

The worst thing about this fic is how plain it is that even the characters are too smart for it. Youji spends a fair amount of time wondering why he has to conduct an investigation into a Satanic cult by himself - and why does he? Did the entire Tokyo Metropolitan Police fall down a hole or something?

My final question as regards the cult is this: what the Hell kind of self-respecting satanic cult has a central prophecy built around the person of a perfectly ordinary-looking random guy in his early twenties? Yeah, I think I'm going to start a cult called The Cult of Steve, and we will worship the personification of the Great Steve in the form of Steve the Graphic Designer, and we will know Steve the Graphic Designer by his narrow glasses and his amazing collection of ironic tee-shirts and his fondness for lattes, and until the Coming of the Great Bloke we shall keep Steve alive in our hearts by going to Starbucks wearing Thundercats tee-shirts and each sacrificing a small biscotti in His holy name.
 
 
Current Mood: i think i'm getting a headache
Current Music: le grand retour - yuki kajiura
 
 
laila
07 September 2009 @ 10:07 pm
Summary Executions  
There are, at present count, 6,136 Weiss Kreuz fanfics archived at the Pit of Voles.

6,136 pieces of fanfiction. 246 archive pages stretching back to 30th June, 2000. Filter out the M-Rated stories and you're left with a positively paltry 4,663 pieces of fanfic spread over a mere 187 archive pages. Even with the exclusion in place, that's a lot of fanfic - far, far more than the average fangirl could ever need to satisfy her cravings for florist-angst. With all the stories out there to choose from, how in the Hell does anyone browsing on spec find anything to read?

The simple answer, of course, is to let the summaries be your guide. Why, after all, are they there if not to gently steer the reader in the direction of something they'd actually enjoy reading? Oh, we as readers can filter by pairing, we can filter by word length, we can filter by whether or not the story is completed, but even writing a fic of the right length about the right people won't guarantee an audience if the summary suggests the fic itself is a stinker.

The summary, after all, is the only part of a fanfic that most people will ever see. Far more people will read the summary than ever get even as far as the author's note. For that reason alone, authors owe it to themselves to make sure that their summary is a good one. The point of the summary is to sell your story - it's your pitch, if you like. You the author have 250 characters to convince a browsing reader that what they really want is to read your story, not one of the other 6,135 stories on offer... and that, let's face it, is not going to happen if your summary just stinks.

I don't take a chance on fanfics if I think their summaries are awful. As to precisely what has me think a summary is awful... well, read on.

Of course, these are just my turnoffs. I'm not saying that it's right and proper for a reader to pass over any fic with a summary like like these, just that for my own part I do. These are the things that have me balking at the gate and backing up because yeah, maybe not. Onward!


A young girl with mysterious powers and a mysterious past, gets caught up between Weiss and Schwartz. Question is, can she tell which side is which? Or will a quickly blooming attatchment with a certain German stop her in her tracks? SchuldigxOC
Romance/Hurt/Comfort - Schuldig

The saddest thing about this summary is that it's not a joke. This reads almost identically to my summary for Roses in Rain, which deliberately attempts to ape Suethor Summary Tropes - and here we see a ficcer hit just about all of them so very neatly it's almost impossible to believe it wasn't done knowingly.

We've got a 'young girl'. We've been explicitly told she is a Mysterious Sue of Mystery. We've got the bit where she becomes stunningly important to Schwarz and Weiss by being. We've got the name of the regular she's destined to be swept off her daintily-shod feet by. We've even got the annoying Suethor tendency to have most of the summary consist of a string of EXTREMELY OBVIOUS QUESTIONS. All we need to add is a little disclaimer about the fic being 'non-yaoi!' as if the whole Mysterious Sue of Mystery shite didn't make it obvious and we'd have a full house. In short: painfully generic Suefic to be ignored pro tem.

All the crazy things happened on Omi's birthdays. Whether it was Ken, Yohji, Aya or Omi himself, something comedic and zany always exploded in their faces on February 29th. WARNING: Includes flying paint, rescue missions to the moon and sugar high chibies
Humor/Hurt/Comfort - Omi T. & Aya/Ran F.

This summary is trying far, far too hard to be funny. It's the equivalent of some guy standing up in the middle of a pitch meeting wearing a light-up spinning bow-tie that plays a tinny version of Camptown Races, a pair of comedy breasts and a hat with a foam-rubber mallet sticking out of it who, when pressed later, doesn't quite understand why everybody just shuffled their feet, coughed and looked the other way. Random things happening for no visible reason to a bunch of shrieking idiots does not a comedy make.

As if that wasn't bad enough, there's the word 'zany'. When was the last time you saw something described as 'zany' that didn't turn out to be painfully unfunny and cringemakingly embarrassing? Well then.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness." Matthew 23:27
Mystery/Horror - Youji K. & Aya/Ran F.

Okay, interesting choice of quote for a summary, but in isolation? It's just a turnoff for me. It doesn't tell me anything at all about the story for one thing, not even what characters it's about. This fic could be about any one of dozens of things, and - going by the helpful little addendum at the bottom that says Youji K. & Aya/Ran F. which isn't even part of the summary proper - it isn't even about either of the characters who might actually have the vaguest passing acquaintance with the book of Matthew. That's all my guesses about what the Hell this thing thinks its about out the window.

Long story short, if a summary doesn't give me some kind of idea what the actual story thinks it's about, I'm not going to bother reading it on the off-chance that it's going to be about something I like, namely Not Youji And Aya Getting It On Again. No offense meant to those as do like to read Youji x Aya pairing fics, but personally I don't and it's statistically proven to be at least twice as likely that a random fanfic is about Youji And Aya Getting It On Again as it is to be about... well, practically anything and anyone else. If I don't know better, I'm going to assume it's YxA and move on.

Six years after the anime series. There are some new kids on the block. I suck at summaries ^^* Please just read and review. I BEG YOU! -cough-
General

This is one surefire way to guarantee that I at least won't go anywhere near your fanfic. Not only does this summary suffer from the exact same problem as Whitewashed Graves above, it makes matters even worse by barely even trying to explain what the fic is about - apart, of course, from what sounds like the usual bunch of Mary Sues rolling up and utterly taking over. In 600 words.

Instead, the ficcer chooses to waste her character-limited summary on pointing out that, um, she sucks at writing summaries and to beg anyone passing by to read and review. No. Sorry, but no. Look, fanficcer, you have to give some sort of a reason for me to want to take a chance on your story and 'please read this because I'd really like it if you did' isn't going to cut it here any more than it would on the back cover of a novel. I'd rather see a terrible summary than a string of excuses for why there isn't one and pleas for me to read the story anyway even though I have no idea why I should want to.

RanKen fic. A/U, yaoi. Ran is Ken's cousin suffering from anorexia. What can Ken do to help? Rating for later chapters. (My first AU fic complete with severe OOCness. Extra long farewell chapter... give Ash a chance?)
Romance/Humor - Ken H. & Aya/Ran F.

First and foremost, the major reason I wouldn't go near this one: it's OOC. In fact, this fic is so painfully OOC the ficcer feels the need to include a warning for it in the summary. Since I'm here to read about Weiss, not The Adventures of That Redhead Dude and Normal Guy, this summary might as well just have said 'DO NOT READ THIS FANFIC' as elaborated on its premise. Hell, 'DO NOT READ THIS FANFIC' would have been more likely to make me want to read it...

Of course, I wouldn't want to read this one anyway because the fic sounds like it sucks a lot. Even setting aside the shall we say ill-advised Disease of the Week storyline, I really have to wonder why in the world the ficcer decided to take two totally unrelated characters and make them cousins... not least of which because she's clearly planning to hook Aya and Ken up. Maybe I just don't get it, but I have no idea why anyone would look at Ran and Ken and think, hm, I know what this pairing needs to make it work: more incest! Oh, and it's supposed to be a comedy because... because anorexia is funny or something?

Aya is dating Yohji who is in love with Omi. Omi is dating Schuldich who is also dating Nagi. Schu is in love with Yohji and Nagi is in love with Omi. Crawfrod is in love with Aya but dating Farefello. Ken has a plan to set everything strait.
Humor/Romance

And that solution is mass murder.

My problem with this? Well, it's a bit harder to quantify than some of the others, but in all honesty it's probably because the fic sounds really dumb. It also sounds OOC and as if the ficcer needs to be reminded she's writing about assassins, but mainly it's because the ficcer's so busy having a whale of a ship-happy time she forgot to write a story which wasn't quite painfully stupid. I just can't get on with fics where characters aren't allowed to do the logical thing about their problems. Why don't the idiots in this story just sit down and talked about things like normal human beings? Oh, of course, because if they did there would be no story. Of course the fic in question may not be painfully stupid, but after this summary, I'm not prepared to take the chance.
 
 
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