On Eros and Agape

I know Yuri!!! on
Ice is quickly becoming the most overanalysed anime this season, but
I still want to add my two cents.

So.
About Eros versus
Agape.

Agape is, as Victor
puts it, ‘unconditional love’. In the original Greek, it is the highest
form of love. It is selfless, the love for God and family. The bible tends to use it
for ‘charity’ as well.
Eros is a much more sexual in nature.
‘Passionate love’ in Greek. It is also ‘love at first sight’, that
little explosion in your gut that happens when you see someone
flawless (like, say, Victor).

My main contention
here is that, while Victor says he wants both of them to surprise the
audience, what he’s doing is putting them in the song that best
reflects them
. Or at the very least, the part of them they need to
connect with.

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He even says it himself.

Agape

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Yuri wears all the acoutrements of the sexy rebel: leather, studs, cat stuff and attitude. That and the fact that he’s heartbreakingly beautiful means that he projects a certain sexiness. He’s aware of this.
He chooses the Eros piece because superficially, it suits him: it’s fast, it’s
feisty and Yuri, as an entertainer, probably realizes that this sort
of stuff sells.

But Yuri is basically sexless. He is very much a 15 year old in the throws of puberty and the show makes it clear he hasn’t come out the other side yet.

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This image pretty much sums up the difference between Yuri and Yuuri.

He doesn’t want to share baths with people and he either doesn’t
understand what sex *does* or doesn’t care. He seems mightily confused
by Yako’s bleeding nose syndrome, which could be a cultural thing. But then we see him admonishing Mila
for her relationships.
He doesn’t date and he doesn’t feel the need for a lover.
What he wants, is to win.
His Agape is for his grandfather and I have a
feeling he’s so set on winning to make his family proud. But most of
all, this love fits him because of the absence of sex. In a way, Victor is putting him closer to this core aspect of himself, which he actually does turn into his new weapon.

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We see in ep 4 that he is very aware of
his body, and he realizes that right now he’s still bendy and androgynous.
That makes sense, since the rigorous training involved in acrobatics
and ballet, especially when done from a young age, delays growth. And
Yuri wants to use that to win. His absence of Eros is what makes him strong.
As an aside, the agape piece has an extra effect on Yuri, in that it gives him back his love of skating. Yuri skates
primarily to win and in his age group, he had no contenders. In a
way, the face-off makes him regain his love for the sport (this is
incidentally about the same character arc as, say, an Aomine Daiki in
KnB). It grounds him and gives him the motivation to push through.
Agape, folks. All this with a single short choreography.

Eros

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And then we have
Yuuri, who thinks with his groin a lot.
Especially when Victor’s
around.
This is a guy who seems very blushy and shy and innocent,
but who did have a crush on an older woman at a young age. Who never
had a lover but feels particularly self-consious about that. Who
keeps having to deal with a naked Russian in his onsen, and is
extremely conflicted about that.
You don’t see Yuri getting
red in the face at the sight of a skating Victor, because to Yuri,
Victor is just a skater. A really good one, and one he wants as a coach.

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To Yuuri, he is so
much more.
Yuuri’s main wish for Victor isn’t to coach him, but to hang out with him.
Yuri
does not look at Victor the same way Yuuri does.
And it’s absolutely a sexual thing.
We keep making jokes about pork cutlet bowls, but there’s a reason Victor was all ‘ok we’ll go with that’. The link between food and sex has been studied for decades. It’s a thing.

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But for Yuuri, it’s the only thing he can think of to link him to Eros.
Yuuri is a 23 year old who cannot think of sex in other terms. He’s not in touch with his sexuality at all. Even putting aside the *nature* of his sexuality for a second, he’s not comfortable within his own skin. He’s way less aware of his own body than a kid 8 years his junior who is planning to weaponize puberty.
Yuuri’s body is fully developed, but his mind is still stuck in the murky waters of a middle-schooler. As an adult male he needs to get in touch with his own sexuality, through the power of ice skating. And Victor seems awfully willing to help him do that.
Through choreography.

Conclusion

Victor is a god among men and is basically pushing character development on both Yuri’s by giving them pieces that put them in touch with their inner strengths. The reason he’s still in Japan, is because Yuri only needed a little nudge while Yuuri is so deep in the closet he could be ruling Narnia.

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Happy Halloween

I did a thing.

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I swear this
started out as a short ghost story for Halloween. Now it’s a long
SouMako romance / psychological horror… thing set in a dark
alternate Iwatobi timeline.
A pretty depressing timeline, if I’m
honest. There’s a lot of angst here, guys.
Based on some events in
the light novels, but you really don’t need to have read those (in
fact, you may see what’s coming from a mile away if you did).

The boy in the water

15k words (holy crap)
Chapters: 2/2
Fandom: Free!
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Tachibana Makoto/Yamazaki Sousuke
Characters: Yamazaki Sousuke, Matsuoka Rin, Matsuoka Gou, Nana Matsuoka, Nanase Haruka, Matsuoka Gou & Rin’s Mother
Additional Tags: Romance, Psychological Horror, Angst, Drowning, Alternate Timelines, Implied/Referenced Sex, Fluff, One Shot
Summary:

It was the third night sleeping in Makoto’s bed, when it dawned on Sousuke that something was very, very wrong.

Big thanks to @leeva-z-kai and @mistersunshinesprinkles for dealing gracefully and helpfully with massive walls of text on their skype.

Three episode reviews: Poco’s udon world

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In
which I base my opinion on the first three episodes of a series and
give watching advice. Today: Poco’s udon world, aka Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari.

What it’s about:

Souta Tawara is a thirty year old with no real life goals or
accomplishments. When his father dies, he comes back from Tokyo to
his parental house in the countryside, to clean out the place. In his
father’s noodle shop he finds a small child that he ends up taking
care of.

First impression:

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This show is everything. I decided to try it based on the cute
toddler but there’s so much going on. Souta’s life hits me right in
the feels: he’s unmarried, no kids, no career to speak of, and at
that age where he’s supposed to have settled most of this. Coming
back home to his father’s life work stirs up this wealth of memories.
Also, yes, the toddler is friggin adorable.
There’s a weird
supernatural element, and random bits of a kid’s show about an
invading alien, to the point where it should be way too much but it
somehow keeps it together?
First impression is good.

Second impression:

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You know how I said it hits me right in the feels? The friggin ED
made me cry. Souta basically comes home and ends up having a quarter-life crisis, trying to ind himself, to
figure out what he wants to do with his life.
The show lays it on
pretty thick, actually, with Souta’s doctor friend who drives a
maserati and doesn’t even think about getting married. With Poco, Souta suddenly realizes that he wouldn’t make a bad family man, but of
course he has this entire history to get over first.

Best character:
Souta.

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I really like this
guy. He reminds me so much of myself I can’t even.
But also, kudos to
him for taking all the weird shit that happens in his stride.
Also
also: dude is hot. Just saying.

Cutest character:
Poco

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Holy shit. Poco’s
art style, and the enormous eyes, remind me a lot of Tsumugi from
Sweetness and Lightning, but he’s much… younger, education wise. He
doesn’t talk much and he seems to genuinely like everything; He’s got this completely carefree and extremely exploratory personality.
Also:
shapeshifter. Kid has a fluffy side (this is hardly a spoiler, it’s
in the OP)

Extra notes

  • This show actually
    has a lot of similar themes to Princess Jellyfish. It’s about
    figuring out how to adult, and what kind of adult you want to be.
  • As such, I think
    how hard it hits you has to do with age. I’m guessing if you’re
    fifteen, it’s not quite as pertinent as when you’re older. It’s still
    going to be an enjoyable show, but not in the ‘lay awake at night’
    kind of way.

Poco or no poco?

Yeah, I want to
know where this goes.

Recommended to
people who like some slower drama with a humorous touch. Be warned
that there is a LOT going on. This is far from a straight-forward
show and as such, it sometimes lays on the central theme a bit too
much in dialogues. But still very entertaining.

More writing tips: on inspiration management

Most of the writers
and artists I talk to have a million ideas. In my experience, we all
have way more ideas than time and energy to write them. I personally
curate these ideas like they’re some kind of sapling hoard and since
people seemed to enjoy my
previous little guide on getting actual text on paper
, here’s
some suggestions on how you could do that.

Jot them down

Not sure if it’s
like this with everyone, but I get a lot of friggin ideas, and they
get IN THE WAY. It’s like those fat flies that crawl into your house
and occasionally buzz by to bug you. It’s frankly impossible to
concentrate while one is flying around, so I try to write them down
fairly fast. That way at least, they’re quiet for a while and don’t
clutter up your brain while you’re trying to concentrate on something
else.
You can write these down pretty much everywhere. Mine show up
in Skype messages, in Evernote, in notes on my phone, in the document
on my laptop helpfully called ‘Ideas’, whatever I have handy.
That way, they’re nice and ready, waiting for you when you have time and energy to do something with them.

Perform triage

Look, not every
idea you get is gonna be great. Or even workable. It’s ok.
That’s
why we have more.

Every news room in the world has a meeting or
list where they just put down everything that came in that day, from
broken bones and idiotic politician gaffes all the way to major wars
or epidemics. And then they decide which to put their limited
resources into. They figure out the stories that get full front page
coverage, they decide which ones get a little blurb and which would
look better as a graph or a video.
When working with your own
ideas, you can do pretty much the same thing.
You find the right
format for each idea.

Archive the useless
ones

You know the ones.
Seems like a great idea at three in the morning on a friday night,
but you look at it in the bright light of day some time later and
its… nyeeeeeeh. It happens.
Maybe not because they’re bad ideas,
per se, maybe they’re just not something you can do anything with.
Because the style, the genre, the fandom doesn’t fit. A court room
drama with ninjas or your favourite character as a caveman might
sound quirky or interesting, but if you can’t find a good story for
them, or don’t have the background knowledge to make them exciting,
they’re not of use to you. Onto the archive pile they go.

Put out the quick
ones

Some ideas have
more story in them than others.
If anyone has ever wondered why I
write so many au’s and one shots, this is the reason.
The ‘what
ifs’
can make for some really awesome worlds, but you probably don’t
have time to write a full trilogy for every one of them. Imagining my
favourite sports anime boys in the zombie apocalypse, for instance,
makes for some gripping scenes, but not much more than that. So I
just write those scenes and leave them out there for people’s
imagination.
The same thing happens with short scenarios. A cute
quirk, a single action can make for a nice scene or short story but,
at that point, nothing more.
Writing these out is a form of practice
that makes you feel good about yourself, because it’s fast, you
accomplished something and you have something to share. A lot of
people enjoy reading scenario’s and imagines, so you may also get
feedback to keep you motivated for the bigger stuff.

Store and
recuperate scenes

This one might be a
bit controversial.
Ideas come in many forms. Sometimes a paragraph
writes itself in your head. Sometimes you come upon an alternate
time line and spend the next six hours breathlessly chatting to
friends about the many depressing things that this entails. Sometimes
you just imagine your favourite character in a Napoleon era style
military uniform and really dig how he looks in it.
Many times, I
get more cinematic ideas. Basically: scenes. Someone walking through
a fantasy version of Alexanderplatz, a guy playing basketball with
his s/o, a particularly fluffy moment between lovers on a lazy Sunday
morning.
Here’s the thing with scenes: they are the building
blocks of stories, and you can slot them into different ones. If a
particular scene is very vivid in your brain, just write it out and
save it for later.
Some of my stories are basically scenes that I
strung together and wrote out to make them coherent. The plot
doesn’t always come first. Sometimes the scenes dictate the plot.
Also, I have absolutely written out scenes and later put them in another
story when I decided the original au was going nowhere. This is fine.
They’re your scenes and you can do with them as you wish. Pick out
the best parts, dust them off, rewrite for the new reality and your
new story quickly gets some more substance.

Pat attention to
the strong ones

You can guide
inspiration, but only so far.
The more I write fiction, the more I believe that a lot of the themes and scenes that pop up are
basically things I myself am dealing with.
The strongest ideas
are the ones that resonate the most with you personally.

We write
about lovers because we want affection, we write angst because one
way or another, this gives us catharsis. We write adventures because
part of us wants to see the world, preferably without actually coming
out of the couch.
We write because we want to imagine these things
happening. As writers, we want to get lost in this scenario, and we
want to take readers with us.
So pay attention to the strongest
ideas.
These are the ones that keep popping up long after you’ve
already made notes for them, the themes and storylines that show up
in a million different ways in a dozen different character
configurations.
They’re the ones that are, possibly on some
subconscious level, the most important to you.
And if my personal
experience is anything to go by, they’re the ones that make for the
best stories.

The problem with writing ghosts stories late at night when i’m home alone is I’m freaking myself the fuck out and have no idea how to calm down so i can get sleep.

You know the thing with Yuri’s OP? The motivational lyrics, swelling chorus, the dramatic electric violin(?), the slight voice tuning, the falling percussion in the background, the over-the-top orchestral sound to it?
It sounds like it belongs on a stage with some ice skaters in the background.
It sounds like it needs the singer to wear sparkles and rhythmically jam on his keyboard while occasionally throwing his arms open in the air, a plea for the crowd to cheer.
It sounds like it needs that crowd to have lighters.

You know why it seems so familiar?
It sounds like a friggin Eurovision song.

Three episode review: All out!

In
which I base my opinion on the first three episodes of a series and
give watching advice.

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What it’s about:

Kenji Gion is short and aggressive, Sumiaki Iwashimizu is enormous
but has the heart of a small and rather frightened bunny. They are
asked to join the school’s rugby club.

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Please look at that height difference.

Look at it!

First impression:

DAAAYum. The OP leaves very little to the imagination about this show
and its protagonists. There are butts, tight shirts and Sekizan, who
could be an extra on JoJo if he wore outfits just a tad bit more
flashy.
It’s all very… bara, but that’s mostly Sumiaki and Sekizan,
really, and whoever is ‘the hot one’ on the opposing team, no doubt.
The show has some rather nice body diversity, which I’m fairly
certain is the point.

The setup of the show is pretty classic, with
first years in high school figuring out which club to join. Gion has
a Massive Napoleon complex and will fight anyone that calls him
small, Iwashimizu has All Kinds of complexes and would really rather
be in book club. Since this is a rugby show, you know where they’ll
end up. It’s all pretty standard stuff but I’m liking the dynamic
between the two, and the way the captain and vice-captain are set up
in the first episode. You already get a bit of the feel for their
motivations.

Second impression:

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All Out is very… tropey. It does the ‘wax on wax off’ thing, only it’s ‘the turtle’. It  has
fated rivals and Sumiaki manages to find his courage somewhere around
episode three. This is also the point where they break out the
lasers, by the way.
Having said that, it doesn’t really bother me
that much? The show is entertaining and varied enough to keep me
interested, so far.
I’m hoping it’ll get a bit deeper as it goes on.

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The thing it DOES
do, which is interesting, is how it applies drawing style. Yuri On
Ice has something similar, where they have cutesy cartoony funny bits
and then beautifully rendered drama. On top of that, it’s not just diverse with bodies, it’s REALLY diverse with the faces. And for someone
who watches a lot of anime pretty boys, this is a breath of fresh
air. Some of these faces have a style that reminds me of
french/belgian comics, even. It’s cool.

Hottest dude?

I know what you’re
thinking, and I realize that this is his official role but
Sekizan is Entirely
Too Intense for my tastes.
Like, dude. Chill.

I can’t even handle baby Sekizan. Dear lord.

I’m actually rather
fond of vice-captain Mutsumi, who at least seems pleasant, but my
vote goes to this guy:

His name is
Oharanu Etsugo and he appears to be made entirely out
of salt (I just noticed he’s voiced by Ono Kensho… that
explains so much).

Extra notes

  • Holy crap does
    this show like its muscle shots.
    Like, there are a LOT of random
    shots with tight t-shirts and tight pants and bulging biceps and
    thighs and is that really the rugby uniform because apparently I’ve
    been watching the wrong sports
    .
  • I love Umeno
    the manager? It’s sad that there is only a single girl, but she has
    floofy hair and kind of a big sister personality and she’s cool. For someone so tiny she
    must really be fierce to handle that team.
  • Gion is such
    an angry child, and not in a good way. He’s almost legitimately
    annoying with the constant temper tantrums. I really need him to get
    some kind of character development, stat.

All out?

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I’ll be honest with
you. It’s not as good as Yuri or Haikyuu. I like the body diversity,
I like the humour, but I’m not, you know, obsessed. I’ll keep watching
because it’s entertaining, and I like where they’re going with the
art style and the, uh, general esthetic (the muscles, I mean the
muscles).
It’s a 25 episode anime, so I’m really hoping it finds its
groove soon and really starts working on the good stuff, the
development and the storytelling arcs. So far the draw is mostly
visual.