I'M ON SUMMER BREAK OKAY
( AKA the one that even Tsubasa ignored )
So talking about fanfic: Here's the plot of "Wish" except that the entire cast is likeable and the implications of Kohaku's fate are followed to their logical conclusion
But "Angel Egg~ For Haru And Ruri" is one of my favourite pieces of Clamp music ♥
Crossover count: None (but plays a part in Legal Drug and Kobato)
To begin with, I'd read "The Hobbit" a few years earlier, and the book was very, very dear to me. I loved Bilbo Baggins something fierce, but as we all know, there's not a whole lot of Bilbo Baggins going on in LotR, and scarcely more of the general tone of The Hobbit. It's very, very obvious that "The Hobbit" is a children's book and that "Lord of the Rings" aspires towards myth, and I think that my problems comes being in the minority that read The Hobbit first and wanted more of it. I'd tried to read it several times by the times the films came around, yet I only just managed to finish the last two parts just before setting off to the cinema to see their films adaptations, respectively.
Briefly told: "Fellowship of the Ring" always went down fine. I loved the bits in the Shire, I loved Tom Bombadil, I loved the bits in Moria and the bits in Lórien. I loved "Fellowship of the Ring".
Then came "Two Towers", where I struggled. I didn't finish it until my third attempt at getting through it, and if you asked me to describe it to you before my recent re-read, the most detailed summary I could've given would be "Merry and Pippin meet the Ents, Strider and Legolas and Gimli run around doing IDK and meet Gandalf, Sam and Frodo and Gollum spend five hundred pages walking through some mire and I think they meet Faramir or was that in book 3".
And from "Return of the King", which I got through on my first try on sheer willpower, my memory was "they destroy the ring, Sam marries Rosie Cotton and sires his own football team, Eowyn gives up being a warrior and becomes a healer and marries Faramir, Legolas and Gimli are so totally a couple".
I assumed there was something wrong with my othwerwise capable reading abilities, aaaaand... yeah, in a way? Having become fifteen years older and professionally trained in the science behind reading comprehenseion, I'm pretty certain that my problem with reading the last two parts of Lord of the Rings was because "The Hobbit" had given me some genre expectations, and when LotR moved way beyond the genre, I was mentally unwilling to follow it there. I was there for the goofy dwarves, goddamnit, and if the book insisted on being difficult, then I wasn't about to follow it!
That, however, wasn't all. Lord of the Rings was an attempt at writing a mythology, which is reflected in its style. The Lord of the Rings is told to an audience that presumably lives in the same world that the story takes place (ref. The Hobbit, where the narratee is explicitly said to live in the same world as hobbits). Thus, the "author" (Bilbo, Frodo, Sam) makes references to Tolkien's mythopeia as naturally as a work of western fiction might refer to classical mythology. The enormous difference, of course, is that any reader who hasn't read the Silmarillion won't have the foggiest idea who Feänor or Eärendil are; will have to confer with the maps to figure out where the hell Anfalas and Anorien lie. At some point, it was mentioned that Aragorn and Eomer went into Minas Tirith with Imrahil, and I just went "Imrahil? Who the hell is Imrahil?" I can only assume he had been mentioned at some point before since he's obviously got some clot in Minas Tirith and leads one of their armies in the final battle, but yeah, that kind of thing. There are a lot of very casual references to past mythology, and a lot of landscapes and places mentioned in a manner that takes it for granted that the reader knows the map of Middle Earth like their native country.
Then there are the names. Forget about Sauron and Saruman, try with Denethor and Theoden, who besides being summarised as "allied ruler of questionable allegiance w. inheritance issues" have names that are fucking anagrams. Whenever I was reading about one, I couldn't remember the name of the other.
But that said: Having grown older and more open-minded re. genre, it went down just fine this time around. More than just fine, at that: I really, really love it and can actually see myself reading it again at some point when I don't have a 100+ list of unread books lying around at various locations.
And some complaining about the (Jackson) films:
First of all: I mostly like them very much, but don't do what I did and force people you love into maratoning them with you. Note that the problem was the maratoning, not that I did it in company; she suffered without complaint, but 3 times 3 hours is too much. I'm pretty sure Game of Thrones wouldn't exist if Peter Jackson hadn't made Lord of the Rings, but I'm also pretty sure that Lord of the Rings is a story of a scope that would be told better in TV-sized bits.
There is a lot of sillyness happening here, more obviously so after watching Jackson do it to the Hobbit too, I guess. Legolas-on-Oliphant action is one thing, but I don't actually think Rohirrim vs. Oliphant army was a whole lot better. There was a lot of pointless fighting going on here. Did we really need thirty minutes of Faramir going at Osgiliath? And Gollum jumping Frodo and Sam at Mt. Doom's doorstep, FFS.
In general, there was a lot of moments being blown out of proportions that didn't need to be - see Pippin with the palantir for the prime example, compared to the book. I just feel that a lot of those things would've been more, well, believable if they hadn't been so obviously dramatic when in the book they weren't.
I find it more annoying than I thought I would to revisit Jackson's films and be reminded about how he pretty much turned Merry and Pippin into one singularity. It's expected, I guess, but good God: Merry is the smart one out of all four of them, yet his first appearance in the film is to utter "no no, the big one!" while he and Pippin are filching Gandalf's fireworks. I'm also none too fond about the, uh, modernisation of Sam and Frodo's relationship. I don't like Sam a whole lot in the films in general. I'm oddly not bothered by the doe-eyed youngster Frodo - I guess Wood just makes it work. It bears some comparison to the BBC radio drama, particularly at the point where he starts ordering Gollum around. It might be that I'm subconsciously doing some Ian Holm = Bilbo thing in my head, but goddamn was that weird to listen to.
Legolas and Gimli: Ugh. Legolas lost his merry ways to become Aragorn's BFF, Gimli was reduced to comic relief.
You don't get to see a comic through a character's eyes because comics can't do the handheld camera bullshit and even film long since realised that an entire film emulating someone's POV would kill the audience
Anyway, I went over and did the count.
STATUS OF MY SHELVES, CA. NOW:
Maus (biography, ca. mid-seventies to mid eighties?): First person voice past (the father telling of his story) and present (Spiegelman's reflections upon his re-telling of it)
Hugo Tate (fiction, roughly nineteen eighties): First person voice used in journal entries and letters to friends and family that are so self-centred that they obviously are just journal entries in disguise (that is: present)
Odilou (fiction, mid-eighties to mid nineties?): First person voice present
Palestine (documentary, early to mid nineties): First person voice present
Understanding comics (documentary, mid nineties): First person voice present
Strangers in Paradise (fiction, mid-nineties to late noughties): First person voice of various characters, on different occasions, present except for in the epilogue
Persepolis, Embroideres (autobiography, early noughties): First person voice retrospective
Blankets (autobiography, mid-noughties): First person voice retrospective
Daisy Kutter - The Last Train (fiction, mid-noughties): First person, but sparingly used and mainly seems to substitute thought bubbles; retrospective in the epilogue
Elfquest: The Searcher and the Sword (fiction, late noughties): First person voice retrospective
Blue Is The Warmest Colour (fiction, late noughties): First person voice used in diary entries read within a frame story
Herr Merz (biography, coupla years ago): First person voice used by quoting letters and other writings on the subject
Are You My Mother? (biography/autobiography, coupla years ago): First person voice present
Very quick thoughts to this:
- Documentary is overrepresented, with well over half of the titles here being either non-fiction or lightly fictionalised real events (Maus, Persepolis, Blankets)
- Mainstream comics are also underrepresented, with only three titles whose open and stated goal is to be light and entertaining instead of some degree of "deep" (Daisy Kutter, SiP and that Elfquest one). The rest of them do clearly have various degrees of special audience that does not include the normal comic-reading lot. More telling about my comic tastes than anything, I guess: the non-artsy-fartsy titles are all independent.
- The topic-oriented documentaries on my list (Maus, Palestine, Herr Merz) dwell, to a surprising degree, on the artist's struggle with telling the story. Seriously: How often do you see documentary films, far less non-fictional book, that spend a good third of the story detailing how the documentarist is being torn about the topic they're uncovering? Understanding Comics is the one exception, but that one's more like a textbook anyway.
- Palestine and Understanding Comics are the only titles on this list that ultimately isn't focused on the life of one human being.
One interesting thing to note is that the only time I've found first person narration used in manga would be in four of the stories in Kaoru Mori's Anything and Something, all short and two of them instances of a one-sided conversation between a fictive, off-screen part through whose eyes the story is seen, and the on-screen, speaking part. This is probably where someone should comment on the creepy thing with this being scantily-clad women speaking indirectly to the reader of seinen manga, but that someone won't be me because Kaori Mori so very clearly loves women for something else than their butts even if she does have a thing for bunny suits.
Today, on "What's Wrong With The Tsubasa/xxxHolic Verse": The list of plot-carrying characters who are NOT, knowingly or unknowingly, living under some variety of false identity!
1. Fei Wan Reed
(2. Doumeki, if you count him as plot-carrying)
Writing this, I also had another epiphany: there is one single plot element that could have made Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles 3x less terrible: if we the readers were at any point uncertain about whether or not Sakura will remember Syaoran again. If it was at any point real, tangible doubt that he could get the girl. I don't care how - be it that Yuko's price was mentioned frequently enough to remind us that it existed as a real, fateful condition. Be it that there was a romantic rival who appeared as a real threat. Be it that the core of the bloody plot was less adamant about how THE WORLD WILL END IF SYAORAN AND SAKURA DO NOT GET TO SHAG.