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Monday Works Roundup, 4/10/17 April 20, 2017

Posted by Erin Ptah in But I'm A Cat Person, Leif & Thorn, Works Roundup.
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But I’m A Cat Person
Lamp Miranda (art | Miranda | worksafe)

Leif & Thorn
Mine babes (sketch | Bram/Gil, Cress/Violet | worksafe)
Embassy Daemons (art | Leif, Katya, Thorn, Violet, Rowan, Birch, Juniper, D, Annie, Mata/Pato, ????????, Olive | worksafe)
Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall (art | Leif/Thorn | worksafe)
Thorn-Delphinium fusion – Imperial Jasper (art | Thorn, D | worksafe)

Hellsing
Hunter in the streets, monster in the sheets (art | Integra/Alucard | NSFWish)

Sailor Moon
Godmother Naru (art | Usagi, Chibiusa, Naru | worksafe)

Steven Universe
Shades of Blue (art | Blue Diamond | worksafe)
I always ‘remind people of.’ (art | Pearl/Mystery Girl | worksafe)

General/Miscellaneous
Saisen (reward chibi, worksafe)
Uneven rock wall pack (free tiled patterns, worksafe)
Stone block wall pack (free tiled patterns, worksafe)

This Week in But I’m A Cat Person:
Reseda may have a broken neck, but she also has a Plan.

This Week in Leif & Thorn:
The first adventure in the even-sparklier alternate universe of Magical Thorn!

Erin Listens: the Magic Tavern and other podcasts March 28, 2017

Posted by Erin Ptah in Erin Watches.
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Hello From The Magic Tavern just got so intense. There was an epic battle in episode 100…then a bunch of interludes, including one from the Cowboy Dimension that had me dying of muffled laughter at work…and now it’s officially designated Season 2, and, yowza.

If you’re not already listening (and if you’re not allergic to shows with a whole lot of butt jokes), you should start.

***

Deep into the backlog of Love and Justice. It’s kind of…uplifting?…to hear about how much they love Crystal. Like, I can listen to them gush about the things that were emotionally affecting, and don’t have to see the actual animation, so I can imagine they’re podcasting from an alternate dimension where it didn’t make me sad.

They’re too hard on the ’92 anime — by which I mean, they complain about things it objectively can’t help. Of course the first season doesn’t have much sense of “shared past” between the senshi and the Dark Kingdom. The animators didn’t know about it! Naoko hadn’t written it yet!

On the other hand, I regularly feel like Sailor Business (which I’m all caught up with now) is too easy on the ’92 anime. So it kinda balances out nicely.

***

I’m listening to both of those at 1.2x speed, because the hosts tend to meander. Same with Yo, Is This Racist? — it’s just too slow otherwise.

…also, it talks a lot about the awfulness of current politics. I kinda have to psych myself up before listening. And/or say something like “once I get through one of these, I’ll reward myself with the next Magic Tavern episode.”

More-polished and better-edited regulars on my MP3 player: the Savage Lovecast, and The West Wing Weekly. Those get played at regular speed. Both make references to the political awfulness — it’s an inherent side effect of their premises — but in measured and relatively-contained doses.

***

Still listening to Illusionoid, and Kakos Industries, although I stopped saving the episodes afterward. Neither one is so absorbing that I’d want to do a re-listen.

…in fact, the only series on this list where I’m holding onto the episodes is Magic Tavern. Did a re-listen just a few months ago, in preparation for Yuletide fic. It’s highly re-listenable.

Related, a couple anons on FFA were talking about Republic of Heaven Community Radio, and one mentioned the weaknesses in book 2. I stepped in with this:

Honestly, I’d go back and give it a full-body rewrite if canon hadn’t been such a painful kick in the teeth.

I can see the soft spots, can feel when the pacing sputters, I know there are ways it could have more consistency and stronger throughlines. I just…don’t have the stomach to go near it.

That’s not an empty promise — anyone who knew me from fake-news fandom might remember that I did a full-body rewrite on a longfic there. But, yeah. Not in the cards, not this time.

In which I have a lot of thoughts about Michiru March 7, 2017

Posted by Erin Ptah in Erin Watches, Meta, Uncategorized.
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All caught up with the Sailor Business podcast. They get better about doing research as it goes on! Plus, by now they have a large-enough listener base that a lot of solid, deep information is being called/sent in. Good stuff. Very listenable.

Followed a rec from one of their episodes to the Love and Justice podcast, where the shtick is that they compare plots across all the different versions. Starting with the Crystal episodes.

I did wince when they got to Ami’s introduction, and were confused that the manga was “more modern” than the ’92 anime, because she uses a CD instead of a floppy. Guys, your whole thing is comparing different versions, and you don’t realize the manga had two different releases? (Well, three at this point, but the uber-high-quality edition hasn’t been released stateside.) The version used for the Kodansha translations has a whole lot of updated art, most of which involves fixing wonky figures and adding more details, some of which involves the Dark Kingdom tech getting an upgrade.

Again, it’s still early episodes, and fun enough that I’m sticking with it. Hopefully someone eventually clues them in.

***

I ended up writing a long thing to Sailor Business, because they’ve been really doing a disservice to Michiru’s character. And apparently I have a lot more Feelings about her than I realized.

Context: They just passed the two-parter where Usagi is a daimon target. Before Uranus and Neptune arrive on-scene, Michiru asks Haruka if she’s really okay with the possibility of that cute girl being sacrificed. Haruka, stoically, insists that she’s fine. They gotta do what they gotta do.

…So our hosts keep saying Michiru is “passive” or “go along to get along.” Because Haruka is the more overtly loud and confrontational one…and that means Michiru is just following her lead, taking cues from her.

But now they’ve seen Michiru’s episode with Ami — she didn’t waver or wait for direction, she went straight for the jugular. And that’s a microcosm of how she’s approaching the whole quest: do something ruthless and cruel in the short term (pulling no punches with Ami/killing the Talisman holders) for the sake of a greater good in the long term (making Ami stronger/saving the world).

There’s an old butch-femme trope/cliche, that femmes are “steel wrapped in velvet,” and that’s Michiru. On the surface she’s all soft graceful feminine hobbies, but underneath she’s perfectly capable of knifing you in your sleep.

The flip side of the trope is that butches are “velvet wrapped in steel,” i.e. Haruka has a tough exterior but is a marshmallow underneath. Which lines right up with the podcast’s favorite relationship trope — “which of these people is the dog, and which is the cat?” Haruka is the dog! She barks really loud, but she’s a sucker for belly rubs. She yells a lot about how they have to kill the Talisman holders, to cover the fact that she’s the one who wrestles with it most in private.

Michiru handles the idea much better. Michiru is the cat who will knock all your stuff onto the floor, and look you in the eye while she’s doing it, with zero remorse. Michiru is the senshi who would win Most Likely To Become A Supervillain — not from brainwashing/hypnosis, we already know who’s most likely to go through that, but based on her own personality and for her own reasons.

So when Michiru asks Haruka if she’s okay with killing that cute innocent Usagi to save the world, there are two things going on here.

First is basically a supervillainy spot-check. Michiru knows it makes sense to her to kill a few people for the Greater Good, but is that really the moral strategy, or just the most coldly efficient one? Well, Haruka wouldn’t be capable of doing this for the sake of cold efficiency alone. So Michiru can reliably calibrate her moral compass by Haruka.

The second angle is Michiru being a concerned girlfriend. What if they get the Talismans and save the world, but afterward Haruka can’t handle the guilt? What if she has lifelong nightmares about Usagi’s death?

We don’t see what would have happened if Haruka had broken down and said “no, I’m sorry, this is too much, I can’t go through with it.” So different viewers can have different interpretations. My guess is that Michiru would say “it’s okay, sweetie, you don’t have to, we’ll find another way”…and then send Haruka home and go to Tokyo Tower on her own, making herself solely responsible for whatever happens to any Talisman-holders who show up.

Because sacrificing three lives for the sake of the world is one thing, but making Haruka feel bad about herself? That’s a bridge too far.

So, yeah, ruthless…but also, to be fair, a teenage girl in a traumatic situation. Part of the way she’s handling it is by telling herself, “look, I know I’m not a Good Person. A good person wouldn’t be this resigned to murdering three innocent people. But at least I can protect Haruka’s soul from being crushed along the way. I still get to draw the line somewhere, and I choose here.”

It takes another level in heart-rending when (and wow, I am looking forward to these episodes) you find out that Haruka got into the senshi game for Michiru. She told Haruka not to do it — trying to protect her, although at that point it was in an impersonal, “nobody should have to deal with this stress” way — and maybe Haruka would’ve listened, except then Sailor Neptune got in a monster fight she was going to lose without Sailor Uranus as backup.

So on some level Michiru is trying to atone for not being strong enough to keep this cute girl out of the fight.

 

…and you know, this makes it all the more satisfying when we get to that one SuperS special. A minor antagonist claims he has world-destroying powers, but Uranus and Neptune aren’t intimidated by that threat anymore. And Neptune cheerfully leans into her ruthlessness — she’s 100% bluffing, but she’s very good. Terrifies the pants off the guy. She has the power to simultaneously be a Big Damn Hero and out-villain the villains.

(Would you believe it, when I was a teenager, Michiru was the senshi I was least interested in? No, really. Even accounting for the context of her relationship with Haruka, who is probably my team-wide fave, I was not expecting to have this many Michiru feelings. But someone was Wrong On The Internet, and bam, here we are.)

Multifandom works roundup, 1/30/17 January 30, 2017

Posted by Erin Ptah in Leif & Thorn, Works Roundup.
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Leif & Thorn
Leif & Thorn Chibi Ensemble, stage 2 (chibis | Leif/Thorn, lots and lots of others | worksafe)
In the sparkling springtime (sketches | Leif/Thorn | worksafe)
Surf’s Up (art | Mata/Pato, Ivy | worksafe)
Vampire Castle (art | scenery | worksafe)

Hello From The Magic Tavern/Labyrinth
Should You Need Us…. (art | Usidore, Arnie/Sarah, Chunt, Jareth | worksafe)

Sailor Moon
Pallas Swing (art | PallaPalla | worksafe)
General of Mau (art | Bakene [Rhett Butler] | worksafe)

General/Miscellaneous
motifs (vintage designs, worksafe)
Figure drawings (sketches, NSFW)

This Week in Leif & Thorn:
Annie gets back to the surface, and Rowan gets a new musical obsession.

Erin Watches: Sailor Moon Original Flavor January 14, 2017

Posted by Erin Ptah in Erin Watches.
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As promised, I gave Sailor Moon Crystal s3 a chance.

…and then ended up bailing again after 5 or 6 episodes.

The new stock footage was mostly good, but, guys, they used it in the opening sequence. They couldn’t even be bothered to draw enough original high-quality footage to make a theme song!

Which gives you an idea of how deep the laziness runs in the rest of the show. So much claustrophobic cropping and other cheats, instead of drawing establishing shots, or scenery at different perspectives, or any motion as complicated as “picking something up” or “swinging a sword”. It’s painful.

***

In related news, I hadn’t watched any of the original series in years, but the first two seasons of the new Viz dub are up for free on Yahoo. So I’m checking out selective episodes. Starting with the ones that DiC never dubbed (because, uh, I had not actually gotten around to seeing those at any other point in the past ~20 years).

The animation is wonky and cheap in its own way — lots of exaggerated comedy faces, simplified motion (waving a pencil up and down on a piece of paper = writing!), fading from one scene to another instead of animating the transition, general sloppiness. But the direction is light-years better. It’s so refreshing.

Take the ski-contest episode (season 1, episode 38). They use shortcuts, like panning over a still image to set a scene, or having the same roll of background whip past while a character is skiing in a straight line.

On the other hand: Lots of establishing shots and different angles on the scenery! The characters move like they have human muscles! Hair and clothes blow realistically in the wind! Crowd scenes are populated with extras! Someone bothered to design outfits, instead of only ever drawing the characters in their school uniforms! Luna moves as if the artists have seen a cat at some point in their lives!

Usagi transforms while she’s in winter clothes, and obviously her stock henshin footage starts with an ungloved hand, so they show her yanking off her ski glove first. It’s such a little gesture, but they thought it was worth the care and effort to draw. That’s a level of care Crystal never shows.

***

I thought I was gonna have trouble with the voices. Some of the actors in the original dub left such an impression that it’s hard to shake, even if you’re still mad about how messed up the translation got. Was a non-British Luna just going to sound fundamentally weird?

Guys, new Luna sounds perfect.

She sounds like Pearl from Steven Universe, to the point where I looked up the actor and was surprised it wasn’t the same person. Apparently there’s a really good way to sound like a fussy, by-the-book mentor who doles out ancient secrets to her frustratingly flighty charges, at least until she gets caught off-guard by the details she herself is just finding out.

I’m liking the rest — of the handful of episodes I’ve watched, anyway. The girls are good, especially Makoto and Rei. Beryl is perfectly evil.

The one voice that has been weird…is Zoisite. They’re dubbing him as a guy, so obviously he’s gonna sound different, but in the Japanese he has this higher, androgynous bishounen voice, right? And the guy doing his English voice sounds unnaturally deep. Not deep like a baritone, deep like a teenage boy who’s self-conscious about his voice cracking and is overcompensating by pitching it extra low.

***

I’ve been working through the backlog of the Sailor Business podcast, which is episode-by-episode reviews of the original series, and a lot of fun. (Full disclosure: I listen at 1.2x speed. They talk slowly, okay.)

The hosts don’t do a lot of research, and in the beginning it’s frustrating when they go on a tangent about being baffled by something you already know. But eventually they build up enough of an audience that they’ve got a wide base for crowdsourcing explanations.

One of the guys is really into Ami/Makoto, and keeps pointing out moments when they’re notably together. Even taking the Shipper Goggles Welded On into account, it’s impressive how much quiet subtext there is when you take it scene-by-scene.

Me, I’m getting a resurgence of Rei/Usagi feelings. They’re so intense about each other! The initial bickering for bickering’s sake develops into a relationship where Rei has a ton of respect and admiration for Usagi, while Usagi trusts Rei to keep her honest, and come through with more straightforward support when she really needs it.

They just, augh, they love each other so much you guys.

Tuesday Works Roundup, 10/18/16 October 18, 2016

Posted by Erin Ptah in But I'm A Cat Person, Leif & Thorn, Works Roundup.
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But I’m A Cat Person
Pumpkin Spice Beings (art | Cybele, Patrick, Reseda, Poe | worksafe)

Leif & Thorn
Fancy Peach (art | Peach | worksafe)
Sexy Waiters (sketch | Leif, Katya | NSFW-ish)
Fancy ???????? (art | Woman In Black | worksafe)
Weak…ankles? (art | Leif/Thorn | worksafe)

Maleficent
True Love’s Revolution (art | Aurora/Maleficent | worksafe)

My Little Pony
Your Future (art | Luna, Sunset Shimmer, Starlight Glimmer | worksafe)

Sailor Moon
Tairon Crystal’s Court (art | gem!Mistress 9, Kaorinite, Cenicienta, Eudial, Mimete, Tellu, Viluy, Cyprine, Ptilol | worksafe)

Steven Universe
101 Dalmatian Jaspers (art | Jasper, corrupted Jaspers | worksafe)

Voltron: Legendary Defender
Gives the best hugs (sketch | Shiro/Hunk | worksafe)
Right between the ears (sketch | Shiro/Sendak | worksafe)
So much for the height difference (sketch | Pidge/Hunk | worksafe)
The veteran and the hotshot (sketch | Shiro/Lance | worksafe)

This Week in But I’m A Cat Person:
Unexpected hiatus, then unexpected Bennett eyeing the door of his closet.

This Week in Leif & Thorn:
Thorn has some good therapy, and a healing chat with his sister.

Monday Works Roundup, 10/3/16 October 3, 2016

Posted by Erin Ptah in But I'm A Cat Person, Leif & Thorn, Works Roundup.
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But I’m A Cat Person
Business Mom, Research Dad, and Shouty Big Brother (art | BICP ensemble | worksafe)
Sigils (wallpaper | magic symbols | art)

Leif & Thorn
…that sounds fake but ok (sketch | Thorn, Leif, Sigrún | worksafe)
Big Buff Quartzes, plus a Ruby (art | Sigrún, Peach, Juniper, Marula, Annie | worksafe)

Big Hero 6
Gonna kiss that gum right outta your mouth (sketch | Hiro/GoGo | worksafe)
Satisfied with your care (sketch | Hiro/Baymax | worksafe)

Fake News/Politics
Unconventional candidate (art | Hillary | worksafe)

Sailor Moon
Diamond Rage Face (art | Prince Demand | worksafe)

Steven Universe
My sassy lemon secretary (art | Yellow Diamond/Yellow Pearl | worksafe)

Voltron: Legendary Defender
Lighten up, soldier (sketch | Pidge/Lance | worksafe)

General/Miscellaneous
Anti logic (comic, T)

This Week in But I’m A Cat Person:
Cohen and Bianca both try to figure out what they’re doing with their lives.

This Week in Leif & Thorn:
President Romarin, a crack team of experts, and a mysterious shadowy figure gather to discuss the Thorn situation.

Monday Works Roundup, 7/18/16 July 18, 2016

Posted by Erin Ptah in Leif & Thorn, Works Roundup.
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Leif & Thorn
Patriotism is Sexy (art | Leif | NSFW ish)
Drawing Water (art | Ivy | worksafe)
Rainbow modern AU (art | Rowan, Juniper, Birch, Annie | worksafe)
Canoodling at work (art | Leif/Thorn | worksafe)
Spring fashion Leif (art | Leif | worksafe)

Fake News
Jon Stewart, you know, the farmer (sketch | Jon | worksafe)

My Little Pony
Dragonet love (art | Spike/Rarity | worksafe)
Gawdyna Grimfeathers (commissioned art | MLP OC | worksafe)

Oz books
Woozy and Sawhorse (art | Woozy, Sawhorse | worksafe)

Sailor Moon(/Steven Universe)
Red Beryl’s Court (art | Beryl, Shitennou, Morga, Tethys | worksafe)

Steven Universe
The Garnedot Two-Step (art | Garnet/Peridot | worksafe)
My liege Pearl (art | Pearl/Dewey | worksafe)

This Week in But I’m A Cat Person:
Jany tries to figure out some kind of strategy, as her deadline arrives to “pick a target.” 

This Week in Leif & Thorn:
Thorn frets a little too much about getting ready for his not-a-date with Leif.

Monday Works Roundup, 7/4/16 July 4, 2016

Posted by Erin Ptah in But I'm A Cat Person, Leif & Thorn, Works Roundup.
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But I’m A Cat Person
Species Swap I (art | Kara Lynn, Jany, Cybele, Bennett, Patrick, Bianca | worksafe)

Leif & Thorn
Fancy Thorn & Fancy Tiernan (art | Thorn, Tiernan | worksafe)
‘Studying’ (sketch | Holly/Violet | borderline NSFW)
Fancy Ivy (art | Ivy | worksafe)
Ceannic Magical Gem Girls (art | Ivy, Holly | worksafe)
Fish Story (sketches | various | worksafe)

Fake News/Politics
My Little Party: Equestria Candidates (art | Trump, Hillary, Bernie | worksafe)
That time Sam got Jon a pony (art | Sam, Jon | worksafe)

Homestuck
100% Muscle (sketch | Horuss/Equius | worksafe)

Oz books
Love Your Rainbow Self (art | Scraps, Ojo | worksafe)
The Wonderful Kitties of Oz

Sailor Moon/Steven Universe
Black Moon, White Diamond (art | gem!Demande, Emeraude, Rubeus, Saphir, Kooan, Berthier, Calaveras, Petz | worksafe)

General/Miscellaneous
Virgil and Banish (reward chibis, worksafe)

This Week in But I’m A Cat Person:
Ilsa doesn’t exactly look like Jany was expecting.

This Week in Leif & Thorn:
The professionals finally show up…just as Ivy’s curbstomp battle is ending.

Monday Roundup, 5/9/16 May 9, 2016

Posted by Erin Ptah in Leif & Thorn, Works Roundup.
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But I’m A Cat Person
Take Me To Her (wallpaper | Miranda | worksafe)

Leif & Thorn
Magical Ivy (art | Holly, Ivy | worksafe)
Spring Twirls (art | Leif/Thorn | worksafe)
Lacy underthings (art | Violet/Juniper | NSFW)
Kitchen sex (comic | Leif/Katya | NSFW)
Service topping (comic | Violet/Olive | NSFW)

Fake News
Colbits sketch (art | “Stephens” | worksafe)
“Stephen” On Your Shoulder (art | Stephen, “Stephen” | worksafe)

Phineas and Ferb
Doofensmooch. (comic | Perry/Doof | worksafe)

Puella Magi Madoka Magica(/various)
Duelist Sayaka (art | Sayaka | worksafe)

Steven Universe(/Sailor Moon)
Moon Princess Universe (art | Mamoru/Steven | worksafe)
Peace and love on the planet Earth (art | Steven/Peridot | worksafe)

The Wizard of Oz
Don’t make me get out my Belt (art | Dorothy | worksafe)

This Week in But I’m A Cat Person:
Ask a BICP Character! Possibly week 1 of 2? All your burning questions, answered.

This Week in Leif & Thorn:
Thorn talks with an old mentor about secret orders, vampire hunters, and Dread Pirate Robertsing.