Sunday, October 30, 2011

Howl's Moving Castle

The book was a little difficult to get into at first, but then I found my self not being able to put the book down. My favorite part of the book was at the end when the twist of Miss Lily Angorian was revealed to be the Wicked Witch of the Waste fire demon by Howl. The book has so many intertwined relationships, I wish that quality carried more over to the movie, which I watched afterwards. I vaguely remember the movie which made reading the book much easier without the pre context. The different worlds Diana Wynne Jones describe are all distinct and different. She takes you across this world filled with different environments, the quaint bustling town which Sophie was raised in, the vast luxuriousness and promptness of Kingsbury, and the oven hot harsh wilderness of the Waste. In the book, I missed the development of Sophie's feelings for Howl and vice versa. I did see the two bonding and the relationship growing stronger but I missed those feelings evolving into something more romantic. Sophie did reject the idea of Howl having feelings for her multiple times telling herself she wasn't pretty enough. In the book Diana Wynne Jones has Howl chasing after multiple pretty girls, making it appearing Sophie was the last thing on Howl's mind. In the film, Hayao Miyazaki choose to eliminate the active roles of these girls and focused on the interaction between Howl and Sophie.

I enjoy Diana Wynne Jones creation of her story. Hayao Miyazaki recreation Howl's Moving Castle is very different from the novel; the story has evolved to be more of his own. The film's plot is heavily influenced by World War I with battleships and aircrafts elements. Miyazaki represent Howl to be the anti war hero and all about make love not war. He incorporates different problems in the plot, shifting the conflict between man verse man, to man verses war. There are also a lot of character changes and shift of roles, but the general idea of the relationships are still present. Both Howl and Sophie broke their curses with the power of love.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I found myself not being able to put Brandon Sander's Warbreak down. So many interesting twists and character relationships being developed. I felt the story dragged here and there. The author definitely took advantage of grabbing your attention then letting you wait around to hear more. Between the two main characters, Siri, the youngest sister, is more fascinating, for she had more spunk and character where her older sister Vivenna was dull and boring like her country, Idris. She eventually developed a personality towards the end of the book, when she no longer views herself as Princess Vivenna, but Vivenna the Awakener. I was taken by complete surprise about how the two sisters switched roles in the novel. Both were raised entirely differently, yet developed to be totally opposite people. Siri is such a lovable character, genuine and true. How she rebels without having an intention to hurt people and passion for life makes the reader love her like an energetic child running around. The relationship that develops between the God King and Siri is absolutely heart touching, especially when the God King motions Siri to read a children book to him. The culture depicts the god to be ruthless and menacing when in actuality he is an innocent man with a pure heart. Siri matures as an individual being the God King's wife. She learns to be on her own and important. Most of all she learns to feel needed by the God King, something she lacked when she was a princess of Idris.

Brandon Sander's depiction of color is very intriguing. A country lacking color and another full of saturated colors. He shows life without color is dull, boring and lacks life its self and shows the complete opposite where color makes life. He creates a world where color can be intensified by breath and the multiple heightening. Also color can be taken away by extreme means. This piece of literature provoked me to think about color influence on people's life and how powerful it can be. As an artist I have to use color to my advantage and impact people. Brandon Sanders also integrates themes of politics and religious conflict which is nice to read taken out of the context of reality and learned about in a different perspective.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Farenheit 451 the Movie

I've always wanted to read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, I absolutely love dystopia books. The original book was written in 1953 and the movie was made in 1966 directed by Francois Truffaut. The general synopsis of the story is about a fireman burning books in an oppressive society and begins to be curious of why he is doing so. The situation of Fahrenheit 451 is very similar to the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwells. The environment is much different and so is the control of authority. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, living was grungy and freedom was limited. People were constantly watch by “Big Brother” and recreational actives were essentially nonexistence. In Fahrenheit 451, people live fabulously with luxurious items and drugs. Both stories had controlled media and the television was the main focus of everyday life.

The main focus was how television corrupts people and destroy's peoples interest in reading books. When the wife is introduced in the film, she is glued to the television. Montag brings home good news of a promotion and she responds in a impersonal manner and also delayed. Linda is a very bland person, only focused on being popular, materialistic and constantly on drugs. Drugs is a common thing is this story, as well as overdosing. People don't get arrested for taking drugs, instead they get arrested for reading books. The other main female in this movie is Clarissa, a book reader, who is “well of words.” Those who read are well cultured and actually have thoughts that are not controlled by the media. I watched the film twice; once to amerce my self in the film and the second to observe closer and to take notes. I didn't notice the first time that Linda, Montag's wife, and Clarissa was the actress, the hair cut totally fooled me.

The two groups of people in the film are very different. Those who break the law live in shambles, living out in the cold in rags while those who follow the law are leaving luxurious life of fabricated happiness. Which is better? To live a life drugged up and only knowing of false happiness or a life full of emotions enhanced by literature?

The Hero's Journey

I've read a little bit of The Hobbit by JR Tolken when I was young, but not enough to remember. Nor have I watched Lord of the Rings trilogy entirely. Maybe this is a good thing since nothing from the movies can spoil the book. Picking up this book again was very enjoyable though. The book was easy to read and attention grabbing for there was something always happening. Tolken's descriptions were simple to follow and just the right amount of detail to imaging what was going on. Not too much to the point where you forget what is being describe and just enough to get the big picture and keep the story moving. My favorite environmental description is of Baggins home in the Shire. His home sounds incredibly cozy and lovely. I would not mind the life of a hobbit. Especially their eating behaviors, multiple meals a day of a wide assortment is a dream come true. The food and drinks Tolken describes are so delectable.

The development of Bilbo Baggins character is a true representation of the Hero's Journey. According to Joseph Campbell's chart of the Hero's Journey, also known as Monomyth, involves three stages; departure, initiation, and the return. The stepping out of the comfort zone into the unknown and learning about one self and abilities makes the comfort zone dull and boring. The journey equips the traveler with new found wisdom and responsibility but leaves the traveler craving for more adventure and unsatisfied with the comfort life style. Once the traveler is out in the wild, he doesn't want to go back to the simple life. Bilbo Baggins experiences bliss and enlightenment and is required an outside force to bring him back down. The refusal to return is a difficult journey within its self. How to integrate back into everyday life and to have experience something great in the supernatural world. The solution to this stage is to become a master of both worlds and learn how to share his findings in his home world. By using a fictional fantasy setting, the author can create a scenario for the reader to get lost into. A chance to observe life in a different environment. Many of the challenges Bilbo Baggins face are similar challenges we face in our life. As we read more of Bilbo Baggins adventure we learn more about our selves.

Japanese Horror

This is my first time reading anything in this genre. When I think of Japanese Horror, I immediately think of Silent Hill video games, Resident Evil and Castlevania. My all time favorite Japanese horror games since childhood is Parasite eve, two game which were release for playstation and additional game recently release for the PSP called Third Birthday. These games are actually based of a novel by Hideaki Sena. The story is more biochemical horror rather than myths and legends. Parasite Eve played a major role in bringing japanese horror literature to modern America. The book also one the first Japan Horror Novel Award. I recommend reading this book, its starts slow in the beginning but give it a chance. 

Unfortunately, I could not get my hands on the required reading, A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami. Instead I read the alternative or additional Reading Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn. I read all seven recommended stories: The Story of Mimi-Hashi-Hoichi, Diplomacy, Of a Mirror and a Bell, Jikiniki, Mujina, Rokura-Kubi. Reading his stories were difficult at first because of the foreign names and words that were exclusive to the language. They are all simple stories, but very enjoyable to read. All of his stories have a similar structure, beginning with location of the story, the legend of the location, and the main character along with his or her occupation; very cut and dry. The author is still captures the reader, even within a few paragraphs, most of his stories are a few short pages. Each of his stories have one key element, the shock factor, which leaves an last impression on the reader. The relationships that are developed between the characters are simple yet deep.

My favorite stories from the seven are The Story of Mimi-Hashi-Hoichi, Diplomacy, and Jikiniki. His other stories are just as enjoyable, these three had the biggest impression on me. The relationship between Hoichi, the blind man who performed historical recitations with his four sting lute, and the priest is very touching in The Story of Mimi Hashi Hoichi. When Hoichi has his ears ripped oh by the ghost samurai, its rather impressive how he doesn't scream in agony. In Diplomacy, the lead samurai's wittiness is admirable. He has the right character traits of a true leader, he doesn't flinch at fear and he doesn't make foolish actions.

In Japanese culture, from what I have gathered from these short stories, is heavily wrapped in legends, myths and karma. How you treat others and honestly feel, reflects how life will treat you in return. If you are respectful towards people and are well mannered, your goodness will be rewarded. In contrast to Japanese myths, American stories are more about conquering and wealth. Good morale and honor isn't as prominent in American culture. Its also fascinating how ghosts and demons exist in Japanese culture. These elements act as a medium to convey morals supernaturally yet apply to normal people.