Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A fearsome thing to behold

In the past, I've been affectionately accused of being a "Renaissance woman." Today I had a sudden craving to read in Japanese and to play the cello, and I was reminded of this, and of a part of Pride and Prejudice from chapter 8:

"Oh! certainly," cried his faithful assistant [Miss Bingley], "no one can be really esteemed accomplished, who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved."

"All this she must possess," added Darcy, "and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading."

There was a line added in the film version to the original "I never saw such a woman" reply by Lizzie, they had her say "she would certainly be a fearsome thing to behold." I liked this addition. ;)

Something I've found as I've been struggling to be a more consistent writer these past months, is that sometimes if I burn out on writing, resting/goofing off can help, but what often helps even more is engaging my brain in a different way, whether that be editing a friend's work, watching or reading something in Japanese, drawing, or playing the cello, each thing uses my brain in a different way, almost like a brain massage or stretching a brain muscle.

Though my current aim is to become a professional writer, at heart I want to end up accomplished in all of these fields: writing, reading fiction, reading non-fiction (whether it be history, science or biography), watching fiction (I believe in quality television and film), editing (my own and others' works), drawing, singing (karaoke of course ;) ), playing musical instruments (cello, bass and piano), listening to music (classical and contemporary), language (Japanese), philosophy, physical strength (I lift weights and do cardio), cooking (I love cooking Italian and Japanese) and even dancing (probably my area of least talent among the categories listed)

It can be difficult to make time for all of them, and obviously some get prioritized over others, but there are so many rich experiences to be had in life that I want to go after them all! <3

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Awesome Characters: Genjo Sanzo

Today I'd like to talk about Genjo Sanzo from the manga/anime Gensoumaden Saiyuki. It is a story based on the classic Chinese tale "Journey to the West" but drastically alters the characters and plot. The "west" mentioned in the title is India. The story has the characters making their way from Sanzo's home temple in China to a location in India where dark forces are trying to resurrect an ox-demon king. Sanzo is actually a title, rather than a name, it's the highest rank of buddhist priest, but his group of fellow travelers call him that like it's his name.

Sanzo isn't what you would expect from a priest, he swears and smokes and is almost always in a bad mood. He has a revolver known as a banishing gun which works significantly better than a regular gun on youkai. The English translation of youkai is often demon, but they're not creatures from hell, they're kind of like evil elves, they're just another race that lives alongside humanity and is generally more powerful than humanity. There was actually peace between most of the youkai and humans until the experiments to resurrect the ox-demon king started. It sent a "minus wave" out that causes youkai to lose their minds and go on murderous rampages. Sanzo's group is constantly battling crazed youkai on their way to India.

Sanzo is a complex character. His motivations are mixed. On the surface, it looks like he's going on the trip to India because he's a priest and the Three Heavenly Aspects ordered him to go, but he's only a priest because his mentor, Koumyou Sanzo, found him as an orphan, raised him, and when Koumyou was dying, he made him the next Sanzo. Sanzo is determined to avenge him and take back the seiten scroll the enemy youkai stole, which was supposed to be passed on to Sanzo along with the maten scroll which he still has and which the enemy wants. He's pretty obsessed with his goal and pretends like he doesn't care about anything or anyone else. But along the way, he does end up saving a lot of people from crazed youkai, and though he won't formally lecture as a priest, he does drive home some philosophical points to people when they need some sense knocked into them.

His fellow travelers is another area where appearances are deceiving. Despite the fact that when the group meets someone new, Sanzo will refer to his three fellow travelers as his servants, the reality is, they are his friends and he cares about them, and they have no obligation to follow him at all. He also respects them because all three of them are badass enough to take care of themselves. In fact, it's pretty common for them to have to rescue him. That's another thing I like about him, he's an aloof badass, but he's not over-powered.

Really, the dynamic between the four main characters is one of the best reasons to watch the show. They joke, they fight amongst themselves, they back each other up, they help each other deal with issues (each of them has a dark past of course) and they kick a lot of ass together.

I've realized writing this that Saiyuki is hard to explain in a few paragraphs, but I hope that was another interesting Awesome Characters post regardless. Sorry it's been like a month. :)