Short Live the King

April 15, 2009 at 2:06 pm (Game Time) (, )

I hate Varian Wrynn so much. And it’s not just because I’m for the Horde.

The thing is, I can’t get over how much of an ass he is. It doesn’t help that people think he’s badass and cool for being a complete and utter a-hole; every time I hear someone singing Varian’s praises I want to gag a little. Really? He bugs me for the exact same reason Fandral Staghelm does, which is that his ability and/or desire to make decision for the benefit of his people is consistently overridden by his personal desires and vendettas.

In the Secrets of Ulduar trailer, he doesn’t do anything heroic or even good–he allows his hatred of Thrall and orcs to override any sense in seeing that HELLO, OLD GOD, can’t we just, you know, agree to disagree and maybe work together to keep this evil out? Sir? Your Highness, King of Stormwind?

But, no. What would his people say if they knew his reaction to a dire threat was to brawl in public?

Look, I know that in the comic Varian Wrynn’s been through a lot–kidnap, amnesia, being a gladiator. But the fact of the matter is that his kidnap and amnesia? Were not Thrall’s fault. They were not even the orcs’ fault, unless the orcish individuals in question were part of the Defias Brotherhood, which, again–not affiliated with the Horde. And quite frankly the reason the Defias were even attacking him was because he allowed his nobles to kick them out without payment. Really, Varian? You make stonemasons work and rebuild your city for four years and then throw them out with paying what you agreed to pay? And you’re surprised they lashed out at you? Please, you asshole. And another thing, why the fuck would Thrall or the Horde want to sabotage you on your way to a peace conference? Seriously? You can’t have the possibility of an alliance without both parties wanting to talk.

And another thing–blaming Thrall for the gladiators? Look, I know Varian doesn’t exactly know Thrall’s history, but Thrall was raised in slavery to be a gladiator. Being denied freedom and forced to live a life of brutality for the amusement of others? He’s been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, lost it in battle. You don’t see Thrall demanding retribution from the entire Alliance for the wrongs done him in his youth, do you? You don’t see him demanding Varian lose his head for Tabetha’s death, do you? No, because he’s not a self-absorbed asshat like Varian Wrynn. He understands that the wrongs of the few shouldn’t be attributed to the many or even thrown onto the shoulders of a scapegoat. But Thrall is Varian’s scapegoat; he is the person Varian blames for all his problems when, quite frankly, some of them were rooted in his own arrogance and greed. And Varian is allowing his personal mad-on for Thrall affect his ability to rule. That doesn’t make him cool or badass; that makes him Fandral fucking Staghelm, the guy people let Horde raids take out because nobody likes him.

I understand that Varian is also grieving for Bolvar Fordragon. Hey, they were best buddies, they barely got a chance to say hello to each other before he was killed. I see the grief, I sympathize, I do not sympathize with allowing his grief to endanger his people. Seriously, he is not the only person to lost someone in that battle. He makes his whole spiel about the Alliance losing more people, well, that’s just the way the cookie rolls sometimes and considering the Horde probably lost significant, elite (they were on wolves, after all) troops as well–who is he to go around saying WE LOST MORE AND SO WE ARE JUSTIFIED IN HATING YOU BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T LOSE AS MANY rather than hating, you know, the guy who made the plague? And orchestrated its use? You know, some dude named VARIMATHRAS THE MOTHERFUCKING DREADLORD.

Look, I know that Varian doesn’t know half this stuff. But the reason he doesn’t know half this stuff isn’t that the Horde won’t talk to him–Thrall answered the summons to Dalaran pretty quickly, and he had to have known that if Jaina was calling then the Alliance was probably involved somehow, and he was probably also hoping that Dalaran being, you know, neutral territory would help keep hostilities at bay and oh oh oh let’s not forget that he had to have beenwilling to talk for the initial peace conferences anyway–it’s that Varian completely shuts down any possibility of communication. He refuses to examine how the Alliance was the cause of his troubles, how members of the Horde don’t represent the entire Horde, and instead focuses on hating Thrall who, quite frankly, hasn’t really given him a reason for hate except that he’s an orc and members of his Horde happen to engage in reprehensible activities.

And, as his little hissyfit in the Secrets of Ulduar trailer shows, he’s perfectly willing to allow his personal and pretty unreasonable and irrational hate for Thrall wreck attempts at alliance in the face of the greater evil, ie. Yogg-Saron and the fucking Lich King (who, by the way, was originally human and therefore originally Alliance). Did Varian not realize that losing Northrend would also result in his own men being lost, thus rendering the loss of Bolvar’s life completely insignificant? Yeah, way to honor your friend there, Varian. Let your hotheadedness and willful blindness and scapegoating and inability to get your head out of your ass render his death completely useless, I’m sure Fordragon really appreciates it.

Granted, Garrosh Hellscream didn’t act any better. But Thrall, who is warchief of the Horde and therefore the one who would be in charge of orchestrating any peace or alliance, didn’t act. He did not go into that room in Dalaran with hostile intent. He went in with the knowledge that bad shit is going down, maybe we’d better sit down and listen to the powerful mage people and maybe decide what to do so we don’t all friggin’ die.

So congrats, Blizzard. Varian Wrynn is indeed the anti-Thrall. He’s a completely unlikable jerkface who needs to die in a fire ASAP, and good riddance to him say I.


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Do Cyborg Vampires Sound Good to You? They Do to Me!

April 13, 2009 at 6:02 am (Animanga) (, )

(ETA 2: originally written 03/17/2009 but if I want to backlog posts I can, so there. :P)

So hey, who wants a manga rec?

In a nutshell, Vassalord is about Charley the cyborg vampire who is a vampire hunter and his adventures with Rayflo, a hedonistic vampire who is his master and the source of his blood. If you guessed it was shounen-ai, you guessed right! But the description utterly fails to take into account the complex relationship between Charley and Rayflo, one that’s long and changing and is full of denial and confessions and forbidden desires and just, I was expecting a thinly veiled excuse for extremely homoerotic blood-sucking and yeah, there is that, but I wasn’t expecting the twistiness of Charley and Rayflo at all.

It helps that the characters are themselves interesting. There is no set seme or uke (top or bottom) which I find fascinating as a part of their complex relationship to each other. The other characters are pretty cool too, and when’s the last time you saw a scruffy hard-boiled detective in a manga? And then there’s the obscure vampire lorebits, and the plot which looks to be shaping up to something rather interesting…The characterizations are a bit shaky in the beginning but they even out, same with the art.

Even if the premise doesn’t sound like your thing, check it out anyway and give it a couple chapters. Probably not NSFW; there’s no sex (only sublimations) only violence (well, it’s got vampires, what were you expecting?) and some non-explicit nudity. Also Rayflo likes to go around with his shirt open (I’m not complaining, but people around you might).

The link up top leads to an online viewers which seems to be a bit slow so be warned if you have a slow connection.

ETA: I just got some exposition on one of the newest characters and a;dkljaf;sdkf, why is this manga so much more awesome than it should be. On the other hand, cyborg vampiric vampire hunter so uh, maybe not that surprising after all.

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Merlin Viewing Notes

April 13, 2009 at 5:58 am (Don't Touch That Dial) ()

Yes, I watched it. No, these aren’t all my notes. Yes, beware of spoilers for pretty much the entire first season. No, I didn’t watch every single episode, mostly because I wanted to skip to the slashier ones and then didn’t feel like going back to see the other two.

I’d put up the extended notes, but I’d want to put them into some semblence of order first, and Merlin seems to have been a hothothot-cooooooold fandom for me. Le sigh.

(Format cribbed from Copperbadge’s various “3 Things About –” posts.)

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Mini-Book Report: Corambis by Sarah Monette

April 12, 2009 at 12:16 pm (Books Galore) (, )

Corambis was pretty much everything I wanted it to be.

(This quick knee-jerk reaction isn’t spoiler-y in a specific events sense, but may be spoiler-y in a general-story-structure kind of way.)

I mean, it started out a little shaky and heavy on the exposition—Monette handwaved the beginning of their journey quite a bit—but by the time the book really got going? Oh god. By the end, I felt so happy for Mildmay and Felix, like my heart was lifting and spreading wings. It’s not a get-up-and-dance-and-squee kind of happy—it’s a sort of gentle sense of hope and rightness and the internal equivalent of a grin that wont’ fucking go away. Because those boys, they’ve worked so fucking hard for a happy ending, and they got one, dammit, they’ve got one and while I’d’ve liked to see Mehitabel and Vincent, and more Mildmay than was in there, I can see why Monette would make the call for them to take the back seat a bit because Mirador was Mildmay’s book and it makes sense that this book would be about Felix. This series’ strength has ever been the characters, rather than the plot (perhaps natural, considering the nature of its rotating first person POV) and oh god, I can’t even properly express myself here. FELIX, YOU ARE CHANGING AND BEING HAPPY AND A;DKAJSLDF OH GOD I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU I CANNOT EVEN DEAL.

It was worth the wait, to read this thing in one sitting. Oh, boys. I’m so, so, happy for you both.

BRB, off to reread.

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The Anti-Onyxia

February 8, 2009 at 5:01 am (Webcomics) ()

Regarding Order of the Stick‘s latest…the great debate, it would seem, is how justified the dragon is in her wrath and her plan. Before that, I want to talk about how she compares to World of Warcraft’s Onyxia.

As the title of this post might clue you in, she’s very much an anti-Onyxia. I don’t know how deliberate the reference is–it’s entirely possible Blizzard stole the black-body-purple-wings convention for black dragons from D&D; in fact, it’s even more likely. This doesn’t change the fact that the first time I saw that black-bodied-purple-winged black dragon momma I immediately thought of Onyxia, broodmother of the black dragonflight.

But she’s not Onyxia at all. First, she unnamed–doubtful that she has the same kind of power and position Onyxia has broodmother. She’s also a family dragon; references a mate (deceased) and her only child (also deceased) and has a motherly interest in her son’s mating prospects*. She cares very much for her single child. Compare to Onyxia–a named dragon in a position of great power, manipulative and cruel, with many legions of children that she uses as her foot soldiers and canon fodder. She is the matriarch of a clan she doesn’t care about at all; OotS-dragon is mother of a family that’s all she has left. She expresses emotions such as love and fidelity, neither of which are traits conventionally associated with “bad”. They are both cunning beasts, but cunning is not in of itself an evil trait either (though it is associated with it–as if do-gooders have to be blunt charge-first-ask-later types. *eyeroll*)

So, back to the moral dilemma at hand: to be sure, the dragon has devised a cruel revenge to inflict on Vaarsuvius. Is she justified in this or not? Was she right, or is she wrong?

The answer is that there doesn’t HAVE to be a right or wrong. Vaarsuvius and the adventurers killed her only child, memento of her mate–who met a similar fate. Both killed to satisfy the avarice of adventurers, which is even less noble than killing a dragon to stop it from, say, a fiery rampage. The adventurers were certainly not in the right. But does the dragon go too far with her revenge? She says she will not only kill Vaarsuvius’ children, but she will take their souls and disappear with them, presumably meaning they will be unable to ascend to heaven–trapping them for all eternity. Her revenge is cruel not only to Vaarsuvius, but to his children, who will presumably suffer as long as she keeps their souls with her. His children have not done anything to her–then again, the dragon didn’t do anything to Vaarsuvius & Co. either.

So we’ve established that neither side is right in this situation. The question remains then, who is more justified? Who, relatively speaking, is the least at fault? The dragon seeks revenge, and we call that wrong, but what else should she do to avenge the death of her only child? It’s very hard to fault her for demanding justice for her child’s death; the only thing she can be faulted for is the magnitude of her (over?)reaction. We want to say she shouldn’t seek justice on her own, but if she doesn’t, who will? It isn’t as if there’s a joint committee of adventurers and dragons to arbitrate disputes over acts of gross cruelty between said parties. If the dragon doesn’t take matters into her own hand, no one will. If she’d been a hero–if this was the othe way around–somehow I don’t think anyone would hesitate to support her actions in intent, if not in execution.

In conclusion: I can only judge that she is wrong in the magnitude of her revenge, because it forces unrelated and innocent parties to suffer for Vaarsuvius’ wrong (though it is admittedly rather ingenius and is, (un?)fortunately, not your standard fiery rampage). I can’t say the dragon is unjustified in wanting revenge, and I couldn’t say how else she is supposed to find justice, because as far as we’ve seen so far, there will be no justice save the justice she makes herself. Which doesn’t mean her revenge should be condoned…but her motives can be understood and emphasized with, at least.

Morality is hard.

* I like her line about being open-minded. You can’t even call her a bad mother, can you? Not when it comes to her own.

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February 4, 2009 at 1:02 pm (Animanga) (, , )

It occurred to me why it is very easy to make Uchiha Itachi (of Naruto fame), and indeed any Uchiha character, into a vampire. It’s because both the Sharingan and vampirism are inherently parasitic means of gaining power.

Think about it. The Sharingan depends on copying and storing the jutsus of other ninjas; it’s only originality is the fact that it isn’t. I mean, it kind of makes sense given Kishimoto’s given history of ninja historically having a bunch of squabbling clans instead of villages, each with their own special signature jutsus. Why come up with a niche technique that’s powerful against almost everyone when you can come up with a technique that’s less powerful against everyone? It was bound to show up sooner or later; the Uchiha just lucked out.* The Sharingan depends on the existence of other people in order to be effective and grant power. Even its level-ups work the same way. The Mangekyou Sharingan depends on the existence of the best friend (whose blood must be spilled in order to grant greater power. Sound familiar?). Preventing eye deterioration and the subsequent loss of power and blindness depends on having a brother to kill.

Whereas vampirism, well, do I really need to spell it out? Vampires depends on spilling the blood of others in order to achieve longevity, power, and plain survival. If there are no other people, vampires will die; in the same way, without other ninjas to oppose and live around, the Sharingan is kind of useless except as a nifty way to dodge blows–a tactic that will only work for so long.

So while normally these AU and crossover things hit snags when it comes to translating powers, Itachi–>vampire works eerily well. The black-and-red color scheme doesn’t hurt the transition either. ;)

* Incidentally, this is why I think the Uchiha rely on katon (fire) jutsu to show when their nin reach manhood, and why they consider themselves to be specialists in katon jutsu. Once they became legitimate (Konohagakure’s police force) they needed a way to prove they weren’t just filthy jutsu thieves, profiting off the hard work of the ninja around rather than creating their own.

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Reaction Shots: Sakura Gari 6 RAW

January 29, 2009 at 6:32 am (Animanga) (, )

I actually downloaded this yesterday and then proceeded TO NOT EVEN UNZIP THE FILE.

Clearly school is screwing with my head.

As always, warning for incoherent rambling + spoilers.

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The King and the Clown (partial viewing notes)

January 13, 2009 at 12:08 pm (Moving Pictures)

So, no I haven’t seen the whole thing. I want to, I started to on YouTube, but ten minute chunks is no way to see a movie, especially one that comes this highly recommended. So I’ve seen maybe the first twenty-thirty minutes or so? And then guiltily snuck to the last fifteen minutes because I am awful with not spoiling myself, a habit I should probably break some time in the near future.


The ending conversation between Jangsaeng and Gonggil: my limited literary context translation.

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Let the Right One In

January 11, 2009 at 2:30 pm (Moving Pictures)

Literally just got back from watching Let the Right One In. My rec in two words: watch it.

I can’t really speak for the cinematography except in a really general, vague kind of way; because I’m so much about writing, the narrative and the story and how it’s told is what I tend to focus on. If you fear it’s like Twilight, well, I’m almost 100% sure it isn’t, despite never having read the books or seen the movie. Twilight (and a lot of other vampire media) tend to romanticize the myth, focus on the loneliness of immortality and the pain of seeing all you love die, the angst of having to kill to live. You know what I mean; from what I know of Twilight that’s more or less the deal.

That’s not what Let the Right One In does. The vampire mythos it uses isn’t anything really new, but it’s presented in a really–neutral kind of way, is the best way to put it. It’s free of any outside judgement, the film’s perspective doesn’t focus on any one part of being a vampire but rather presents all of it: relatively-good and bad. The need for blood because you have no choice, the inability to settle and connect because of having to feed, the danger and longing for connection and relationships, the way things between vampires and humans can’t work, the loneliness of being a predator among prey and watching people you love grow old and die. It’s not romanticized. It’s just laid out there in a very…matter-of-fact way and I really like it. There’s no value judgement made.

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Random DoL Meta Scraps 5/5

January 2, 2009 at 11:54 pm (Miscellaneous Meta) ()

Let’s play a game: how many literary tropes is the Doctrine of Labyrinths series subverting at the same time? Spoilers for all three books, last bit of DoL meta spam yay!

1. Fiery-tempered redheads (‘cause god damn does Felix have a temper, and not in a cute, amusing way. More like a “beat a random guy bloody and abuse his position as a top” kind of way. Even Mildmay has a temper, and he’s probably just as violent as Felix, though he’s a hell of a lot better as keeping it under control.)

2. Long-lost siblings finding each other

3. Mystical bonds binding people together for life (As in Wheel of Time: think of the Aes Sedai Bonding Warders. The roles of the esclavin and obligataire in the obligation d’ame are also flipped from that of the Warder Bond. The Warder—the ordinary person bonded to the magic user—is the one who is supposed to protect; in the obligation d’ame, it’s the obligataire—the magic user doing the bonding—who is the protector.)

4. Use of a lover to blackmail someone into doing something (Mehitabel and her Hallam; the subversion is more from how that particular plotline plays out than the actual use of the trope. Mehitabel plays along and confesses all only when it’s that or watch Felix and Mildmay die; there are no daring rescues or dramatic breakings of ties and no protracted angst. Straightforward plots, I’m telling you.)

5. The heroic archetype period. Which, you know, is not anything new, but Felix definitely falls under the heading of anti-hero.

6. The story of the street kid done good. I’m sure Felix is not amused by this at all, but I am. :D

7. Using an actor as a spy! Go Mehitabel.

Probably more but these are just off the top of my head.

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