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Monday, January 21, 2008

Fiction & Fiction

Something I've been meaning to do for quite some time now, and haven't yet gotten around to actually doing it, is to write a blog post about some of the anime I've watched that either I started watching because the synopsis sounded a lot like one of my stories, or just things I happened to watch that turned out to be similar to my stories. Given that my recent posts have been even more random than usual, now seemed like a decent time to do it (furthermore, one new series was added to this list within the last week).

In this post I'm mainly going to talk about my own stories, how they resemble the anime series, and any notable ways in which the two differ. I'd recommend reading the linked synopses of the anime series before reading the parts about my stories.

Anime: Ai Yori Aoshi (literally "Bluer than Indigo")
Story Title: Homecoming (working title - I'm hoping to come up with something better for the official title, but this is the best I have for now)
Length: Novel (note that these are equivalent measures; they don't necessarily represent the preferred medium). A stand-alone spin-off of Blood for Blood (working title), a story originally intended to be made into a role-playing game of size comparable to the Final Fantasies.
Universe: The Blood for Blood Universe

After more than a decade of education at boarding school followed by the events of Blood for Blood with few brief intermediate visits to his home, Kain (probably the second-most major character in Blood for Blood) is finally able to return to his homeland to claim his position as land-owning nobleman. Homecoming is the story of his return as he both tries to return to an ordinary life and to grow accustomed to his responsibilities as he learns to manage his estate and manor, deal with the populace of his territory, and, most central to the story, deal with his fiancé, Alice.

Alice, the daughter of a successful merchant in the upper middle classes, was betrothed to Kain shortly after the two of them were born (they were born several months apart), and raised accordingly, and Kain raised with the expectation of marrying her. Neither of them, however, is fond of the concept of predetermined marriage to someone they barely know, without any say in the decision. As both are thoughtful and well-mannered, they independently adopt patient, diplomatic approaches to the matter as they get to know each other in the few weeks before their planned marriage, and attempt to reconcile their own desires and options.

Compare and Contrast:
I can't recall where exactly I saw it, but the synopsis of Ai Yori Aoshi I first saw sounded like it was closer to Homecoming than it actually was. In Ai Yori Aoshi, any ambivalence toward the somewhat archaic concept of arranged marriage is rather one-sided and fairly brief; as ambivalence about the arrangement is one of the central themes of Homecoming, this alone makes the general dynamics of the stories significantly different. Not to mention the fact that Homecoming is not really a comedy (apart from Kain's generally amusing personality), or that Ai Yori Aoshi throws in a bunch of ecchi and harem stuff totally missing in Homecoming (even if it were made into a visual medium). Nevertheless, somehow I managed to end up liking Ai Yori Aoshi, and ultimately watched/read all of it.

Title: Gunslinger Girl (season 2 download)
Story Title: Starfall (official title)
Length: Novel. The first story in a larger work as of yet without an official name. Prequel to Eve of Tomorrow (official title).
Universe: Real world, around 20 years in the future.

In the fairly near future, a secret society known as Falcata gathered a wide array of top scientists around the world to conduct biological engineering research toward a project to develop a drastically more combat-capable human than those naturally occurring in humanity. A 15 year old boy named Safir is one of the specimens created in this study. Genetically engineered to possess several remarkable brain features, then trained from birth to hone those features to perfection, Safir quickly became by far the most successful of the first generation trials, with his combat abilities exceeding the expectations of everyone involved in the experiment, having agility greater than a human, and accuracy greater than a computer.

During the story of Starfall, Safir is sent on a series of missions to test his combat abilities, leading in the end to his final test. While the activities are so varied as to include both terrorism and military combat, the most common are missions of assassination, in increasingly difficult circumstances.

However, despite combat being the backbone of the story, the real focus of Starfall is psychological and sociological: how Safir thinks, how he acts, and how he views and relates to the world around him in his unique position, and, ultimately, how he becomes the terrifying character in Eve of Tomorrow so different from that initially in Starfall (the title Starfall is a reference to Lucifer/Satan: the star that fell from heaven).

Compare and Contrast:
This was another that I watched specifically because I saw an ad for it, looked up the synopsis, and thought it sounded like one of my stories. Apart from the fact that the girls in Gunslinger Girl are cyborgs, these two are indeed quite similar. For me the most interesting part of Gunslinger Girl was always seeing how they behaved and interacted in a world where they were raised to kill - the very same thing that I think makes Starfall interesting. I still follow the Gunslinger Girl series (manga); unfortunately, I've read all six volumes that have been written so far, so it will be a while before there's any more for me to read (and I'm pretty sure even the second anime season just starting won't go past what I've already read).

Anime: Wolf and Spice ("Spice and Wolf" would be a more literal translation of the title, but the other way seems to make more sense; download)
Story Title: The Mission (candidate official title)
Length: Series of novels
Universe: Real world, modern day

The Mission is one of my more secret projects; I don't think I've told anybody much about this story other than the fact that I was probably gonna rake up some controversy with it; so don't feel bad that I'm not gonna tell you much. :P

The Mission is the story of God, in the form of an apparently late teenage human named Simon, as he treks across the United States over quite a few months, for reasons which remain obscure until right at the end.

Compare and Contrast:
The most obvious difference between Simon and Horo is that Simon is a god, while Horo seems to me to be more of a 'great spirit' type thing. Other than that, Simon's demeanor is more passive than Horo's, preferring to deal out wisdom more subtly, and without the position of known superiority (that is, nobody knows who he is); though that is not to say that humor is not an intentional part of the story (it's actually a significant part of the story). Nevertheless, especially in the second episode of Wolf and Spice, there definitely seems to be some resemblance between their hearts (in fact, the similarity of the two series didn't really occur to me until then).

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