In which I bother to watch tv for once… on youtube.

Summer Heights High beat out all other shows in its timeslot, even with its lowest rated episode.

I watched this show a few weeks ago thanks to some darling on youtube who took the time to upload the entire series to their channel, although that isn’t saying much because it’s only eight episodes. I would suggest this to people who like shows such as Parks and Rec or maybe Arrested Development. The show I’m referring to is Summer Heights High, a 2007 Australian mockumentary based on the high school of the same name.

Summer Heights High is written by Chris Lilley, and he plays all three main characters the show follows: Mr. G, a flamboyant and self-centered drama teacher; Ja’mie, a pretentious transfer student from a private school; and Jonah, a problem child that does almost nothing but cause misery for his teachers. Lilley gets into each one of his roles perfectly, and sometimes it’s hard to remember they’re all played by the same guy.

Like almost all shows of this nature, there are moments of secondhand embarrassment so that it becomes painful to watch (i.e. almost everything Michael does in The Office), but overall it’s awesome and would have been a very promising show had it lasted over one season. It does a good job of playfully poking fun of life in high school, from student and teacher perspective.

Not to mention it also has a lot of great one-liners.

Traversing the nightmare that is .flow

Several weeks ago I got bored and replayed a game that I beat a few months ago, mostly just to try getting a different one of the three possible endings. This game is called .flow (pronounced out loud as Dot Flow), and it’s a darker, Silent Hill-esque fangame of Yume Nikki, or “Dream Diary.” You’d think I’d write about Yume Nikki rather than one of its dozens of fan productions, but whatever.

Yume Nikki is a surreal game based on a girl named Madotsuki who refuses to leave her room, falling asleep where she traverses the land of her dreams while the player collects “effects” that allow you to do certain things. Altogether it’s a fun experience, and the mysterious nature of Madotsuki and what seems to be hints in her dreams at past trauma has inspired dozens of fangames like Yume 2kki, Yume Nisshi, Answered Prayers, Lcddem, and of course, .flow.

Sabitsuki floats on her broom effect while observing a character named Smile in the school.

If Yume Nikki’s imagery was somewhat symbolic, .flow’s is up front. It is not for the faint of heart. You play as a white-haired girl named Sabitsuki, Japanese for “Rust.” Her nightmarish realm of dreams is riddled with imagery of blood, hospitals, corpses, and terminal illness. In the latest 0.17 update (which I can’t play because of technical difficulty with the Japanese programming), you relive Sabitsuki’s dramatized childhood in a hospital where a gas mask-wearing maid saves her from a mass murdering doctor who appeared in previous versions wearing a muzzle.

Far from the lighthearted effects of Yume Nikki like “bicycle,” “frog,” and “hat and scarf,” Sabitsuki collects effects like “corpse” (gives her red, rotting flesh), “tumbling doll” (removes her limbs, making her wobble about or fall on her face), and “viscera” (allows her to walk about with her guts hanging out). Unlike the colorful and whimsical-looking Toriningen (bird-faces) that chase Madotsuki in Yume Nikki, Sabitsuki is chased by bloody-faced, cackling school children called Kaibutsu while witnessing occasional “events” with titles such as “Dying Girls” and “Corrupted School” that cause Sabitsuki to bleed upon the walls of her room in the real world, upping her “Erosion Counter.”

I can imagine that .flow isn’t your cup of tea, which is understandable. When I played it the first time, taking care to get

Sabitsuki in her room, at this point awake.

the “good ending,” the only thing I was afraid of were the Red Demons at the end that chase Sabitsuki and merge with her, causing her to slowly errode until she dies if you aren’t quick enough. If you can get past the horrific nature of much of the content, .flow has superb backgrounds, quirky characters, and very ambient background music. However, if you’re looking for something a bit simpler and easier on the psyche, Yume Nikki is a good place to start, although I must warn you that the ending is a bit sad.

Yume Nikki 0.10 can be downloaded here.

.flow 0.10 can be downloaded here.

Getting paid to do mad artz.

To be honest I don’t really know what to write about this week so let’s talk about this college resume us juniors gotta get did this week. Wow, talk about putting it perspective. I’m a little offended that colleges don’t look at what really matters, such as the ability to hold two adult cats at the same time, eat a whole pizza in less than two hours, or stay online for eleven consecutive hours. Get it together folks!

This paired with my crippling nonobservance to everything around me is really getting to me. Turns out the deadline to apply to Artworks is next week and I never knew because whoops, I never stopped to read the poster on Mrs. Lair’s door.

Let’s be honest though, even if I’m neighbors with the director (which I am), the competition is still pretty rough, and I’m not even that good. Still, um, I get PAID, and I’ll be able to put that on my resume when it comes time to update it next year. They like community based work, don’t they? They better. They better. 

I might not have any friends there, but that’s just how it is I guess. I suppose I better apply soon, then. Wish me luck.

Next blogging week I’ll write a nice little novel about a game I played, okay? That’ll be quaint.

DoomCON and why it depresses me

I’ve written about Invader ZIM before, haven’t I? Man, I went through a heeeck of a Zim phase. I still have like seven shirts. Again, for anyone who doesn’t know what it is. You know that annoying green dog that yells “TACOS!” and is worn by like, every thirteen year old girl who thinks she’s different for shopping at Hot Topic? Yeah that’s. Uh. That’s from Invader ZIM.

Despite being cancelled for like ten years, the show still has a massive cult following, and last year to celebrate its anniversary there was a convention called InvaderCON held in Atlanta. Oh my gosh the memory of it requires smelling salts. It was my very first convention, probably a good thing since it was small scale and was like practice for bigger cons. Dude. Wow. 99.9% of people were incredibly nice except for some weirdooos and the voice actors were there and GAH it was one big event of dorky delight.

School filter strikes again in my quest to find a decent sized image.

Anyway, the thing was so popular that this summer there’s going to be ANOTHER one called DoomCON. What makes this special is that the creator of the show, Jhonen Vasquez, is going. The fans who don’t worship the ground he walks on are scared you-know-whatless of him, and he has a reputation for only attending Comic Con each year. Sooo this is a big deal.

It’s also in a city where a lot of  major cons happen.

Los Angeles.

I was able to handle the ride to Atlanta and it was fine and all but wow there is no way I’m going to be able to make it to DoomCON. It’ll most definitely be much bigger than InvaderCON, and the freaking creATOR IS GONNA BE THERE GOSH.

Excuse me while I wallow in my own pity. All this warm spring weather is making me think of this summer and the DoomCON-less-ness it’s bound to bring with it.

Oops I accidentally anime.

I’ll start off by admitting that anime is not my forte. The last series I actually finished was Madoka Magica a few months ago. Now, most people will probably say “Anime is that Japanese stuff with the big eyes, right?” Well… yeah. It is. But due to peer pressure and the lure of decent character designs, last weekend I started watching Black★Rock Shooter.

The whole thing originated from a 2007 song by the band Supercell, and a remixed version would become the theme song for the anime. A 52-minute OVA was released in late 2009, and it would grow so popular that an anime started up last month. Eight episodes are planned, with six episodes out at the time of this being published. As of right now I’m up to episode five. There’s also a manga and a video game. All four mediums take place in slightly different universes.

What makes Black★Rock Shooter so good is that it’s relatable. The OVA and anime are slightly different, but both follow the story of a junior high girl named Mato who befriends a classmate named Yomi. In the OVA, they move on to the next grade and end up in different classes, causing them to drift apart. In the anime, the situation is complicated by Yomi’s dependent and sociopathic childhood friend Kagari, who wants Yomi all to herself. The struggle between the three girls is represented by various cuts to a darker world, where their “other selves” battle it out. Mato’s other self is Black Rock Shooter, Yomi’s is the Dead Master, and Kagari’s is Chariot. Occasionally other odd characters representing people in their lives show up too, their psychopath of a school sounselor, Saya, who shows up as Black Gold Saw, and Mato’s friend Yuu, who appears as a girl named Strength.

Generally, the battles between Black Rock Shooter and other “other selves” is what makes it interesting, and without it the anime would probably have a smaller audience. But the characters in the “real” world are likable, relateable, and you get attached to them pretty easily.

Which do I like better? The OVA is simpler, with a happier ending that is good if not a bit confusing. I have no idea how the anime is going to end, but let me say that it is getting intense and kind of disturbing.

I don’t expect any of you to watch it, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea after all. Plus YouTube is blocked or I would have included a link to the OVA. But you know, I had to break the streak of Ohayocon posts.

Oh, and that’s Black Rock Shooter as she appears in the OVA by the way. I drew that… with the help of a FREE DOWNLOAD OF UNLIMITED SAI HOLLA HOLLA GET DOLLA NO MORE MOOCHING OFF AN EXPIRED TRIAL.

Okay I’m done.

So I found some Ohayocon pictures….

None of the pictures following are mine. I’m going to crop them down so that it’s just me or Morgan or Sarah or WHOMEVER and maybe some surrounding people because let’s face it there were a lot of foxy costumes at this con.

I’ll put the url of the person who took each photo onto each one, obviously. Just like… click on them or something? But they’ll be credited. I’m just gonna say though that I’m not responsible for whatever people choose to put on their individual blogs.

So yeah here are our (mostly my) HOMESTUCK COSPLAYS………………
You’d better appreciate these cause it took like four hours to paint ourselves grey/white.

Me at the Gamzee photoshoot. I'm to the left of the guy with the horn. As I said, I cosplayed as the FEMALE version of this character.

 

The Gamzee/Dave shipping photoshoot. Leaving this partially uncropped because LOOK AT THAT DISGUSTED DAVE. also can you say "crooked horns"?

 

Gamzee/Tavros shipping photoshoot. I was actually paired with a female Tavros for this one but you can't see her! What a shame she was a cutie. I hope I didn't get grey on her jacket....

 

 

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST. Me, Sarah, and Morgan! Oops, I didn't do a very good job of hiding my glasses for this one.

Where all the other pictures ended up on the internet I cannot say. Like, I honestly don’t actually know. But yeah that’s pretty much it. I was only in this costume for a few hours. It got tiresome wandering around with blind eyes and crooked horns. But it was very fun!

The amazing thing about our makeup was that it came off when you wanted it to stick and stuck when you wanted it to come off. Oh how grey the shower got. We cleaned it up though, obviously… that’d be rude….

Ohayocon obligatory review, whooo.

I’m still very loopy from sickness and lack of sleep, so about 30% of the typos I make will be fixed. Also, I was done typing this when wordpress spontaneously logged me out and lost me my original version of this, so I’m kind of cranky that I have to completely retype it. What did I even say first? Oh my god.

So obviously I have to do a review of this convention sicne I prattled on about it for so long. No pictures, since they are all on my home computer. Still waiting for the pictures from the meetup and the pictures people asked to take of me to show up.

We got there Friday around five and were immediately struck by sensory overload. Every five seconds I was like “LOOK a turret! LOOK a Madoka! LOOK a Marceline! OH MY GOD LOOK a Madotsuki!” No other place would you see people wearing cat ears, fuzzy tails, rainbow fluffy leg warmers, and cybergoth dreads and consider it socially acceptable. The room where we got our badges had a TARDIS in it, and that was what I took my first picture of. The most exciting thing was recognizing people from fandoms I’m not even a part of. A lot of Team Fortress there for some reason.

My mom found out about the con when we were settled into the hotel. She actually didn’t believe me at first. But she took it very well. My only regret was that my cat was emotionally distraught over my absence.

The artist alley/vendor room was also excellent. I did more staring than buying. I got a couple shirts though, and a llama thing on Sunday. So many good things there, oh my gosh.

My one complaint is the “”HEATED WALKWAY”” connecting the hotel to the convention. So not heated. Every trip was like braving the wild tundra. And everyone else walking through it complained too. It was like Frozen Ice Hades: This Time It’s Personal. Not very fun. Friday night we walked around Columbus, and to our dismay everything was closed. Nothing to eat. No dollar store to get glue for a rogue horn. Nothing. Kudos to the parking officer who helped us out. And thumbs down to the numerous bars that turned us away because they “”don’t have a kitchen.””

Saturday we learned we were wrong in assuming eight in the morning was early enough to wake up and start painting ourselves grey for our cosplays. We (AND BY WE I MEAN MORGAN) got grey EVERYWHERE. Except for Sarah, since her makeup was white. Only Morgan stayed in cosplay all day. Sarah and I got tired of it and scrubbed ourselves off that evening. They were so professional though. Sooo professional. I would have been in roughly the same amount of pictures as them if I hadn’t constantly escaped to the side to fix my horns, which I had clipped on top of my wig. Such a mistake. Ugh.

A lot of people think the Homestuck fandom sucks because of how people behave at conventions, but everyone was very tame and very polite. The meetup was all right, with very good cosplayers. Like I said, still waiting for pictures to surface. Too many people lazy with uploading their photos. I mean, I may have been blind because I couldn’t wear my glasses, but I know for a fact there were camera lights going off.

Sunday was when everyone started to chill out. Not as many cosplays, as everyone was tuckered out and checkout time was noon. We sat on an open couch with some other Homestucks and ate Fun Dip until the time came to call my dad. In the car, we all passed out pretty quickly. And when I got home, I was incredibly sore. I was also a little sick from high-fiving too many people in line for the Saturday rave (which we were in for all of fifteen minutes). It was an okay rave though… I mean, one of the employees said we could be molested and we weren’t, so.

Overall, very glad I went and I would gladly go again. Next time though, not cosplaying a troll. Too much painting involved!!!

SAI: Saddening Annoying Institution

Most people fond of making art would generally agree that sometimes, pencil and paper is not enough. Traditional media will only get you so far, and even if you get it all down on canvas or what have you, taking a picture of it or scanning it will probably butcher the quality. That’s why a lot of people turn to digital art.

Everyone has MS Paint on their computer, and even if art isn’t your thing, you’ve probably spent a good hour or so of your life making doodles on it. And if you’re like me, the limitless options in Photoshop will overwhelm you, leaving you in the fetal position murmuring “all those filters… f-filters….”

My personal favorite is SAI, a program somewhere in between the two. It’s simpler and cleaner, with the options of Photoshop mixed with the cleanness and primness of MS Paint. Sounds awesome, right? Well it is.

But it is so hard to make anything good on it.

It’s a cute program, with a small array of different brushes as well as some filters for when you want to make some sw33t color effectz. But, and I see this happening often, I will see something that someone has made on SAI, stare at my hands, stare at the blank SAI canvas before me, look back at my hands, and silently close out the window.

Don’t get me wrong, once in a blue moon I’ve been able to go the distance and pop out something that vaguely resembles art of quality.

wow I was really proud of this. hurrah for homestuck fanart!!

Even if I muster up the strength to produce something like that, as soon as I’ve posted it for the world to see, I end up hating it and fearing that everyone will judge me for my lack of skill minutes later.

I’ve had access to a tablet pen once in my life. It was part of a fancy laptop/tablet hybrid my friend had. Once she fell asleep, I ended up going on SAI on her laptop and staying up til around four in the morning drawing with it. MAN IT WAS FUN. Maybe if I had a tablet SAI would be less frustrating than drawing with a mouse. Who knows.

To be honest at this point I don’t even know where this is going.

8^y

I guess this could just be considered me whining about my struggles as a starving artist. It’s a hard knock life. I mean, I could make another post about my imminent cosplay panic attack, but no one wants to read that, right?

In conclusion:

Why am I not on SAI right now testing it out and making sure I improve rather than talking about it on a blog. Take it from me kids. Practice truly makes perfect.

Crunch time: Ohayocon in three weeks!!

I’ve written about Ohayocon before, but I’ll gloss over it again. Taking place for around a decade now, Ohayocon (pronounced Ohio Con) is a Columbus event categorized as an anime convention, but people from all walks of the pop culture world can be found there. I’m really there for the Homestuck and Doctor Who.

I ordered my badge last month, and now the con is three weeks away. I’m more anxious than excited. I’ve barely paid any thought to all the cool stuff that’s going to be there. This is mostly because I’ve been too wrapped up in finishing my cosplay, which I’ve written a post about before.

It’s coming along nicely. Since my last post I’ve made new horns and gotten 90% further in the whole getup. All we have to do now, my group and I, is order makeup that includes body paint and tooth black (which sounds gross, but you just put it on to give the illusion of pointed teeth).

While I’ve been torn on whether or not the final product is going to be really good or really bad, I’m more confident in how it’s all going to tie together, although I’m pressed for time to finish things like messing with the wig that came from China, complete with a washing guide written in terribly broken English. The more I mess with it the more I remember why long hair never suited me.

Here’s a gallery of everything I have so far.

Wig/horns. I have to straighten the wig and tinker with the hair parting. That’s a foam head I drew on in sixth grade, now edited to have the cosplay’s makeup pattern.

borderline barbarian chic.

Skirt, courtesy of Morgan that I painted and sewed a purple waist band onto to spice it up. The less solid black there is the better. That would be boring.

getting my swish on.

Hollow plastic wiffle ball bat painted to resemble a club. I’ll probably have to approach a security guard and tell them it’s not a deadly weapon. It’s not very visible, but the end is splatted with green and blue paint.

strangely non-threatening.

…And everything else, including two pairs of shoes and a whopping eight pieces of handmade jewelry. Yeah I have a cat blanket, wanna fight about it?

meow.

Here’s a close up of one of the shoes, since I painted them myself.

honk.

I’m waiting on a couple of finishing details in the mail, and then the whole thing will be complete save for makeup. And then we’ll all be crammed in a Columbus hotel room, painting each other grey and white and sticking horns on our heads.

It’s gonna be a great time.

Invader Zim and the wonderful world of background art

And here we are once again, me using my student blog to pimp out my favorite things. This week we take a look at Invader ZIM, a cult hit cartoon that ran on Nickelodeon from 2001 to 2002, and recently has experienced an unbelievable surge of popularity (including a convention that I went to earlier this year!!) that raises the serious question of whether or not this long-cancelled show will come back on air.

The show follows the misadventures of an alien “invader” named Zim as he fruitlessly tries to conquer Earth with his idiotic robot GIR, while his classmate, a paranormal investigator named Dib, tries to stop him and try to expose his true identity.

Even people who don’t watch the show would probably recognize GIR in his sweet little adorable green doggy outfit which has been ruthlessly pimped out by Hot Topic in efforts to make money from preteen girls, but one of the truly amazing parts of this show was how ahead of its time it was with its background art.

Most of the amazing coloring in IZ was the work of either Rosearik Rikki Simons (also the voice of GIR) or Jean-Paul Bondy. Simons by himself did over 700 backgrounds, while Bondy directed the color department. As the style of the series evolved, it also developed a specific theme. With sprawling metropolises, demonic pig realms, not to mention numerous industrial-looking alien planets, the scenes and backgrounds of the show are spectacular and even with the characters removed, it’s easy to spend more time than intended just… staring at them. They’re simply fantastic, and ten times the eye candy that you’d see in any modern cartoon (with maybe a few exceptions). While many shows will have elementary backgrounds under the presumption that no kids will pay attention, the backgrounds in IZ make the viewer drift off and forget about what’s actually going on because they’re too busy staring at the backgrounds.

It’s hard to pick out any specific favorites. If I could put in a slideshow of every background ever I certainly would. Here are some of my favorites that I feel best illustrate the breathtaking background art. Most if not all of it is from the show’s second season in 2002.

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