labingi: (Default)
2017-02-08 08:53 am
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Favorite Fictional Couples

Goodreads has just asked authors to weigh in on favorite fictional couples. I love the question and am crossposting my answer here:

Naoe and Kagetora from Mizuna Kuwabara’s boys love light novel series Mirage of Blaze, which is about samurai spirits vying for control of modern day Japan while our plucky group of heroes (also samurai spirits) attempt to thwart them. Uesugi Kagetora, adopted son of Uesugi Kenshin, is the field commander of these defenders of modern Japan (and by extension the world). Naoe is his vassal and bodyguard. (Like most of the characters, both are historical figures.) The two of them have had a love-hate relationship—with both feeling generous doses of the love and the hate—for 400 years.

Why are they my favorite?

Well, Mirage and its main couple just blow everything else out of the water. This is no criticism of any other love story. Mirage is just so huge, weird, and no-holds-barred that it explodes the mind and senses. Naoe and Kagetora have the intense, obsessive, ugly-yet-compelling passion of Wuthering Heights’s Catherine and Heathcliff (who would also be high on my list) but at a length of several hundred more pages with a commensurate depth of psychology, philosophy, and character development. They are an investigation of (and sometime challenge to) Buddhist concepts of attachment and detachment. They are an exploration of trauma and its ramifications throughout life. They are an illustration of the horror of being trapped in destructive patterns and the possibility of growth out of them. They are an intense exercise in self-examination, self-flagellation, a study in how human relationships go wrong (and can be rescued). They are the insanity of intense, prolonged overextension (in this case, the overextension of living for 400 years without proper reincarnation/purification). They do not exist on an isolated story island consisting only of each other but rather widely affect and are affected by other loved ones, family, friends, enemies, strangers, the world. They signify that forgiveness and redemption are always available. They challenge us (and each other) to love brokenness and to find healing. Read more... )
labingi: (Default)
2017-01-12 08:23 pm

Belated Jump into SNOWFLAKE Meme

Jumping into Day 11 with apologies for not doing the whole thing in order. I just don't have time to do the whole thing properly.

Day 11
In your own space, talk about a creator. Show us why you think they are amazing. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so.

I think this means fan creator? I want to extol several.

The amazing [ profile] astrogirl2 is the one who introduced me to LJ-style fandom in 2004. I came across her site somehow in searching for Blake's 7 fandom and was captivated by the wonderful community (doing B7 and Farscape RPGs at the time). Astrogirl herself--still posting regularly on LJ and still with quite a following--has always been such an intelligent, balanced, caring, engaged fandom presence, as well as a dashed good fan fic writer. (Alas, we are no longer in the same fandoms, but my admiration remains.)

Apart from Astrogirl, I want to use this space to praise some of the amazing people who have brought Mirage of Blaze fandom into English because I have been revisiting Mirage with much enthusiasm lately.

One of the first Mirage fans I ever encountered was [personal profile] petronia, first on her website, later through LJ. I long considered her--and pretty much still consider her--a celebrity I am rather shy about talking to. As far as Mirage goes, it does not get better than her humorous summaries. Across the years, I find I would usually rather read her account of Kotarou being mistaken for [Spoiler] than read the original. She captures very much the tone of Mirage itself when it self-satirizes with just a nance more meta and comedy. Utterly delightful.

The most professional-like of the many wonderful people who have taken a stab at translating the 40 volume epic of Mirage is Asphodel. Check out her amazing site of Mirage and other translations, complete with giant glossary and numerous hyperlinked footnotes. She is still at it! She has been at it for ten years or more now. The going is slow. (This is not her day job.) But the product she posts is always exceptional.

Also an excellent and voluminous translator is [personal profile] quaint_twilight. She is no longer active on LJ or DW, which I totally understand but makes me sad. I miss her wonderful translations and her enthusiastic fan presence, and I applaud her for keeping her account active so that we can continue to access the fruits of all her hard work on Mirage.

Other folks who have put in many long hours of translating work include [ profile] 99me, [ profile] tasha_poisonous, and [ profile] demitas, as well as many others who have translated some wonderful bits in English and other languages--and round about 10 years ago, a whole host of people doing amazing multi-page meta. I can't name everyone, but I appreciate it all.

As for traditionally published creators, hands down the most influential in my life over the past eight-ish years or so is Yasuhiro Nightow. I must admit, I don't really relate to his latest work, Kekkai Sensen (3B), but both of his two major earlier works, Trigun and Gungrave, have been not only big fandoms of mine but have transformed my life. Each has been a means of profound revelation about myself, my patterns, and how I can better address my life. I am extremely grateful for that. It's a rare and precious gift.
labingi: (Default)
2017-01-09 09:23 pm
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Long Overdue Essay on Mirage of Blaze and Trigun as Interrogators of Philosophies

Trigun and Mirage of Blaze are two stories I hold to be very great. Both come packaged in popular media forms (manga and light novel respectively) that connote light entertainment, not high literature. Yet both are among the most philosophically challenging texts I have read. Indeed, the two stories are engaged in philosophically analogous projects: while Trigun is a profound interrogation of Christian philosophy, Mirage is a profound interrogation of Buddhist philosophy. (Major spoilers for both follow.)Read more... )
labingi: (ivan)
2013-02-01 11:28 pm
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When stories collide

"He is a man who does kindness by musket shots" (943). Who knew that Jean Valjean had this in common with Vash the Stampede?
labingi: (riki)
2013-01-10 07:03 pm
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Small Trigun Fic--Knives & Legato

It's been a while since I've written fic, and this one's been simmering for a while...

Fandom: Trigun (manga)
Title: “Fear”
Characters: Knives, Legato, OC
Rating/Warnings: R, violence, dark themes
Words: About 800
Summary: Knives and Legato find a baby Plant.
Spoilers: through volume 7, and this story won’t make sense without vol. 7.

Fear )
labingi: (Default)
2012-08-30 10:22 pm
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Trigun Meta--Vash and Wolfwood

"In Every Heart There is a Room":
On Vash's Love for Wolfwood

(With thanks to Billy Joel for the song lyrics.)

Vash and Wolfwood are, of course, the great OTP of Trigun. Their love is one of the most touching things in Trigun. For this essay, I'll focus on Vash's love for Wolfwood, one of the most profound examples of mindful love I have encountered. spoilers follow )
labingi: (Default)
2012-07-27 11:06 pm
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Trigun Mega-Drabble

Title: "J. A. N."
Fandom: Trigun
Characters: Vash
Rating: PG for themes
Spoilers: Plant powers
Summary: Vash has women living in his arm.
Words: ~200

J. A. N. )
labingi: (riki)
2012-07-08 06:11 pm

Trigun--A Final (for Now) Assessment

Trigun, the Manga -- No Punch-Pulling Here

Rem is a Nazi, and this pretty much sums up Trigun. That's right: I am going to make a Holocaust analogy, with many caveats (and spoilers) under the cut...

Caveats, Spoilers, Review, and Meta... )
labingi: (Default)
2012-07-02 09:20 pm
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Trigun Volume 11 Quickie

One of these days, I'll write about something other than Trigun--promise! But for now, I'm still plowing through the end of the manga, and it's still foremost in my mind. Here follow brief thoughts on volume 11.

Volume 11 had its moments but, on the whole, was a bit of a letdown. Spoilers follow )
labingi: (Default)
2012-05-31 12:15 am
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Trigun Incest Fic--Merging

Fandom: Trigun
Title: "Merging"
Characters, Pairings: Vash/Knives, mentions of Vash/Meryl, Wolfwood
Rating/Warning: R for themes, incest
Summary: Vash and Knives have different ideas about how close brothers should be.
Length: about 2700 words
A/N: This is mostly manga continuity, but the series ending is a hybrid of manga and anime, and Vash/Meryl is taken from the anime. Spoilers for the whole series. I have made up some Plant pseudo-science jargon.

Merging )
labingi: (Default)
2012-05-19 08:27 pm
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Trigun--Musing on Plants' Genetics and Biology

Disclaimer: I've only read a bit in the Trigun manga (plus Wikipedia), so my Plant knowledge is far from complete, and I'm very open to having my musings corrected.

From what I can make out, the Plants in Trigun are a fascinating study in the nature of selfhood and (un-)differentiation of self, other, and environment. Spoilers Follow )
labingi: (Default)
2012-04-22 10:00 pm

Earth Day and Trigun--Yes These Are Related

(light spoilers, not cutting)

In church today, we had the Earth Day service, which consisted of singing about gratitude to God for the glories of the Earth and about our responsibilities steward the Earth. Because I've been obsessing about Trigun, I found myself contemplating how Trigun's Plants function as a metaphor for ecological awareness.

There's something odd about locating gratitude for the Earth in God. There's nothing wrong with it per se, but it has a tendency to crowd out gratitude to the actual living beings that enable our lives every day. The putative ultimate cause of the biosphere gets praised while the myriad proximate causes get framed more like pretty presents someone has given us.

In Trigun, life on a harsh desert planet is enabled by sentient (power) Plants that generate the energy and chemical constituents necessary to wrest life out of this hostile environment. They are not God, nor are they a functioning biosphere unto themselves, but they are beings whose entire lives are devoted to ensuring human beings survive, and they are almost totally ignored--if not willfully exploited--by the humans who depend on them.

In this respect, they are a powerful metaphor for our dominant human attitude toward natural processes in general. We treat them--as the humans in Trigun do their Plants--like lab experiments we can manipulate at will and use with impunity. In the 21st century, most of us know better: we've certainly had no dearth of natural disasters to remind us of our smallness. But still we live as if we didn't see the lives inside the light bulbs.

labingi: (Default)
2012-04-20 07:00 pm
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Random Update

Am having trouble getting through Soseki's Sorekara, despite the fact it's quite a good novel, because I keep getting distracted by Trigun manga. Had I world enough and time, there might be a quite a lot of Trigun fan fic in me; there are certainly many avenues. And happily the fandom is big and old enough that a lot of good stuff has been written. As it is, there's no way I'll time/energy to sit down and do any such thing in the future. I can't even find the time to load my old fic onto AO3. I probably will post more meta, though, when I've read more.
labingi: (Default)
2012-04-09 11:58 pm
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Trigun Review

Exhausted but have to write something about Trigun. Now that I've seen the whole anime, I understand why people have been telling me for years that it's awesome. It is; it just takes about a fourth of the series to get there. For anyone who has been as under a rock as me since 1998, the series is... hard to summarize without spoilers but about an action hero on Tatooine a desert planet grappling with moral problems. It starts as typically broad anime action-comedy (though the main female characters are never typical anime babes) and proceeds to become rather dark philosophical drama.

Thoughts & Spoilers )

Trigun and Christianity )

vs. Gungrave )