Fan Fiction Friday!!!

While watching Darker Than BLACK, I kept finding myself rooting for Misaki Kirihara and Hei/BK-201. Theirs would’ve been a classic star-crossed lovers type of love story, really. Uptight law enforcement officer falls in love with a mysterious guy with a very, very dark side. She’s totally by the book; for him, there is no book. (Think George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez in Out of Sight, except instead of robbing banks, George Clooney kills people by shocking them with massive amounts of electricity.) In the series, Misaki is clearly attracted to Li, Hei/BK-201’s well-mannered albeit naive alter-ego. But would she risk her career for a relationship with a criminal? Viconia2000 poses this question in “A Deeper Shade of Black” and the answer is “yes.”

The story starts with Hei/BK-201 saving Misaki during a bust gone wrong. After essentially kidnapping her and fleeing to safety, he propositions her. Her first instinct is to object. “Anyone who knows me knows I don’t have time to date, let alone carry on a clandestine affair with the most wanted contractor in Tokyo,” she says. There’s no real rational reason for her to say yes to him. She merely does so out of curiosity. That’s the thing about clandestine affairs; they’re completely irrational.

“A Deeper Shade of Black” almost reads like a chick-lit novel, which I don’t tend to enjoy, but it works because viconia2000’s Misaki is just so in-character. The story is more about her and her entire life is filtered through the lens of her work than it is about Hei/BK-201 seducing her. In the end, Misaki finally puts the pieces together on her paramour’s identity, leaving her with a decision to make: turn him in or date him. I’ll let you guess which one she chooses.

A Deeper Shade of Black. Rated M. Grade B.


Fringe the Graphic Novel? Love.

I’m kind of in love with this idea. At the very least, it will tide my over until Fringe starts up again on January 21. Although moving the show to Fridays at 9 might kill it, my guess is it was already getting decimated in the ratings, having to go up against Grey’s Anatomy at 9 on Thursdays. *shrug* Whatever. I’ll be watching it on Hulu anyway.


My Review of Ooku: The Inner Chambers for Ghettoblaster Magazine

Volume 5 of Ooku: The Inner Chambers comes out later this month (December 21) and I’m excited to see what happens next. I reviewed the series for the fall issue of Ghettoblaster Magazine (on newsstands NOW!) and it’s a tense, complicated read that re-imagines gender disparities in women’s favor. Or does it? Here what I wrote:

Ooku: The Inner Chambers (Viz Media)
From prostitution to marriage dowries to pornography, history is full of individuals trading in sexual currency. And the most common characteristic of methods that use sex and sexuality as a means to monetary compensation and power? Women bear the brunt of the consequences. Fumi Yoshinaga’s Ooku: The Inner Chambers turns this subjugation on its ear. Set in feudal Japan, where a disease has killed nearly 75 percent of men in the last 80 years, women serve in positions of power, including that of the country’s leader, the shogunate. Each shogunate keeps a harem of handsome, young men to “service” her regularly in the hopes that she’ll get pregnant and give birth to a son who will live long enough to help jump start the male population and rule the country after his mother’s death. The politicking and back-biting that follows among the men within the inner chambers—all of whom wish to live the lush life afforded the father of the shogunate’s child—is the basis for most of the action in Ooku, whose fifth volume comes out this December. While the fake Victorian-period dialogue can get tiresome after a while, it’s compelling enough to keep readers turning the pages. It’s a intriguing character study of how things might be different if women ruled the world. Yoshinaga’s answer to that question apparently is “not much.”

What I didn’t have room to fully spell out because of space constraints is that women being in charge doesn’t mean much unless the gender mindset changes. In Ooku, most roles are reversed but the mental paradigm doesn’t shift along with the power structure. While they may be “in control,” the female characters still act as the weaker sex, deferring to the men in their lives whenever possible. The shogunate continues popping out kids in hopes of having a boy to whom she can turn over the reigns, essentially making her the most powerful woman in the country in name only.

With the exception of one female character, none of the women grab power in a way that asserts their true dominance in the times in which they live. That character’s assertion of power was cruel and downright despicable, and I felt that a clear distinction was being drawn between her and the other women of the series, one that counts on us to be taken aback by her actions due our general understanding that women are ultimately nurturers and caregivers. But if you look past what she did to get what she wanted, you’d see that it was still done out of her twisted desire to take care of someone else, so while her approach was outrageous, the underlying message is still the same.

I can’t wait to grab my copy of the latest volume. I appreciate Yoshinaga’s attempt to give us a different interpretation of power as seen through female eyes. Ooku can distract you with its drastic declines in the male population and what that means for the society physically, but underneath it all, the mentality about gender differences seem to remain unchanged.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Spike Spiegel? Yes, please.

This? This right here? This is so Spike Spiegel. I think it’s the broken cigarette that does it. Mmmm….

My Love/Hate (Mostly Hate) Relationship with Bleach

I should stop watching Bleach. I’m not really into it anymore, but I keep watching, hoping that it’ll get better. It doesn’t and I still watch. *sigh*

It’s kind of like this: there’s this guy you’re going out with, right? You’ve been dating him for a while and you started off with lots of things in common, but that’s all gone now. Whatever you initially saw in him no longer exists (if it was ever there to begin with) and he’s boring you and the sex is mediocre at best and you should just dump him. But you put [insert number of months/years] into the relationship and turning your back on him now seems like…a waste. A waste of time, of affection, of everything. So you hold on, constantly wondering if something good is just around the bend, something that will get the two of you back on track to relationship awesomeness. OK…so it’s not exactly like that, but you get my point.

I think I feel this way because Ichigo’s “train harder/get stronger/fight tougher/last longer” schtick is wearing me down. I get that his dad’s a shinigami and that cleared up a little of the mystery of his powers but I still feel that his prowess is unjustified. The lengths to which the anime goes to hammer home the idea that believing in one’s self is the only true source of power is very Disney-esque (it’s the same thing that annoys me about Naruto…at least that series has good fan fiction, which in many respects, is essentially its saving grace).

The one bright spot for me as of late is Aizen’s revelation of his puppet master-like manipulations of Ichigo’s fights. Even if it was a lie, I enjoyed the look on Ichigo’s face. (It said, “Is it possible that I’m not awesome all on my own?”) Aizen’s cruelty balances Ichigo’s schtick and I hope that when he dies, he at least goes out in a blaze of glory befitting a villain of his caliber.

Plot aside, at least I’m still getting some decent songs out of this series:

Fan Fiction Friday!!!

OK, so work has been kicking my butt lately and I’ve slacked off on posting all month. For the three people who read this blog, I’m sorry. For the one person who likes my Fan Fiction Friday recommendations, I’m extra sorry. Let me make it up to you with this entry. Since I missed an FFF post a couple of weeks ago, I’m going to give you two recs (two!) for the price of one. They’re both Kakashi/Sakura, of course, because they’re my standby couple.

Up this week are two dystopian works-in-progress, both of which ponder what would happen if Danzo was in charge of Konoha for any significant amount of time. The answer? Corruption, mass destruction, and chaos. In Cynchick’s “Will of Fire,” Tsunade’s still healing from facing off against Pein and Danzo eighty-sixes her before she has a chance resume her role as Hokage, using his ROOT forces to take control of the village. But the coup doesn’t stop with Tsunade. No, he wants just about everyone who’s loyal to her taking a dirt nap (Kakashi, Naruto, Shikamaru…the list goes on and on). The survivors escape and start to mount a resistance to win back Konoha from the evil dictator.

So far, seven chapters in, Kakashi and Sakura have only shared a couple of moments (including a very touching scene where he confides in her in front of the cenotaph), but it really doesn’t matter because I’m drawn in by the larger story more than the KakaSaku aspect of it. Will Naruto’s rebel army be victorious? Will Hinata get caught spying on Danzo? Is Karin really loyal to the cause or is she just waiting for the perfect time to rat everyone out? Where the author is going with this is all a mystery, but I’m happily following along.

While Cynchick’s Danzo tries to terminate all remnants of Tsunade’s regime with brute force in “Will of Fire,” SilverShine’s Danzo has a different way of destroying his enemies in “Scarlet Scroll.” This story is based on SilverShine’s short fic “Fraud” and in it, Danzo’s forcing kunoichi to, um, “acquire” the jutsus of enemy ninja through seduction missions. The hope is that each seduction will end in pregnancy and the pregnancy will produce a child who takes after his father, thus making him or her an asset to Konoha’s military defenses. He’s clearly trying to break both Sakura and Kakashi simultaneously by sending her on one of these missions and making Kakashi act as her handler. Sakura can’t disobey his orders and live, and Kakashi is completely helpless, unable to protect her from what’s being forced upon her. After some pretty intense interactions with her target, she gets the bright idea that if Kakashi impregnates her instead, then she can stop whoring herself out, they can go home and all will be right with the world. Right? Probably not. Nine chapters in, the deed is done and I’m impatiently waiting for SilverShine to post her next chapter.

I thought long and hard about whether to recommend this one. It’s fairly graphic and it reminds me a lot of Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale, in which all aspects of women’s lives — including when and with whom they have sex — are tightly controlled by men. Some scenes are kind of squicky but it goes with the territory, I suppose; the storyline itself is a bit squicky. I would imagine that a truly loyal ninja would feel obligated to do a great deal of repulsive things for his or her village, including use one’s body to obtain information. (And, really, is that more or less disgusting than teaching children to kill?) I generally try to avoid reccing fics that are extremely explicit, but SilverShine’s work is so challenging, so thought-provoking, that it practically recommends itself. Suck up the squick and concentrate on the narrative.  Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Scarlet Scroll. Rated M (but it’s almost an NC-17). Grade: A.

Will of Fire. Rated M. Grade B+.

Attention KakaSaku Lovers!

It's Kakashi...on a pumpkin!

Happy November, fellow fangirls! I’ve just discovered that the gals over at the KakaSaku LiveJournal community have another awesome challenge going on now through November 11. It’s the Underneath the Underneath Anonymous KakaSaku Challenge and there are a boatload of participants. I can’t vouch for any of the writers, but here’s to hoping I find something interesting. So excuse me because I’ll be over here reading KakaSaku fics until my eyeballs bleed.