Draft for Second Ghost Book Completed

It was a long time coming, but yesterday I finally finished writing the first draft of the second “Ghost Expert” book. The working title for it is This Village (Apparently) Practices Ghostly Rituals. It is a sequel to I’m (Sort of) an Expert on Ghosts, and will follow Naoki in his next ghost-related venture. The title gives a good idea of what the story’s about, I think!

The draft came to about 110k words, or 350 pages (double-spaced, 12pt font). Chances are the final draft will be less than that. I intend to trim it down a lot, and change a number of scenes so the plot makes more sense. There’s still a lot of revising and editing to do, but for now I can at least sigh in relief at writing “The End” at long last.

This was a difficult book to write for various reasons… I guess the timeline would go like this:

  • After finishing first Ghost Expert novel, started wondering if I should write a sequel one day
  • Worked on Four Nights a Day novel (which I finished, but decided to “set aside in a drawer”)
  • Brainstormed ideas for Ghost Expert sequel (I considered different mediums, such as a game or visual novel… I’m not ready for something like that yet, ha ha)
  • Wrote some Healing Stories
  • Scrapped ideas for Ghost Expert sequel, brainstormed for a new novel
  • Started writing Ghost Expert sequel
  • Hit a roadblock, life got hectic, wrote some Healing Stories (I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to those, tbh)
  • Wrote more of Ghost Expert sequel… didn’t like where it was going (basically, it was too complicated, and had too many characters)
  • Worked on a new novel for a couple months, which I ended up not liking (sigh)
  • Reworked the plot of Ghost Expert sequel, cut out about half of what I had written (which was a lot)
  • Moved back to Japan, got used to my new job, etc — it was difficult to buckle down on writing
  • Buckled down on writing — wrote most of Ghost Expert sequel over the last few months
  • And that was while doing lots of editing for the first Ghost Expert novel, for its Tapas release… I’m just busy, busy, busy

Hachikuro is currently working on illustrations for the new book! All of them are great so far. You can look forward to those when the book releases… hopefully this year.

For those who are new to my stories, you can read I’m (Sort of) an Expert on Ghosts on Tapastic.com, either with your computer or smartphone (via the Tapas app). “Episodes” of the story are releasing on a weekly basis. This is my most polished version of the story, and I’m hoping it will connect well with the sequel when that finally comes out.

A New Home for the Ghost Novels

I’m happy to announce that my novel I’m (Sort of) an Expert on Ghosts has launched on Tapastic! You can find it here. The story can be read either on your PC, or on your smartphone via the Tapas app (Google Play iOS). The first five “episodes” are free, and the remaining are unlocked with keys you can purchase or earn. More bite-size chapters will be added from week to week, and if all goes well the sequel novel will follow later this year.

This is a new polished draft of I’m (Sort of) an Expert on Ghosts being released. Part of the purpose of my revising this book is to help tie it with the upcoming sequel more smoothly, and to clarify aspects of Naoki and Michiko’s characters that I felt were not brought out clearly enough. The actual storyline is still the same, but I wanted to improve the word choice of my prose and cut the fluff out of scenes that dragged on too long. Hopefully my writing has improved a little over the past couple years! I haven’t had a lot to update here on this blog, but I have been writing a lot.

For new visitors to this blog, here’s a brief synopsis of the story:

Tsunoda Naoki is a ghost expert in name only, scraping together a living by putting the easily-spooked at ease. But his luck seems to run out when he’s suddenly got a real ghost to deal with. He can’t even see this spirit, let alone exorcise her—and to complicate matters further, she apparently likes Naoki… a lot.

Also worth noting is that there are illustrations for this book. They were all drawn by hachikuro, who is currently working on illustrations for the sequel! ⌒°(❛ᴗ❛)°⌒

I hope you all enjoy the story! Be sure to share it with your friends, if you think they’d be interested~

A Look Ahead at Various Things (2017)

Anime-rry Christmas! The Day 12 post today will just be an overview of things I’d like to dive into next year. Seems like a decent way to end my 12 Days of Aniblogging. Think of it as a preview of what I’ll potentially be tweeting about in 2017.

Anime

I imagine I will approach 2017 in the same laid-back way I did for 2016. Since I have a stable income at the moment, I would actually like to try buying more anime shows that I have never gotten around to watching.

Some of the shows I’m thinking of picking up:

  • Higurashi When They Cry — I loved the manga adaptation; I’ve put off the anime for too long now
  • Dusk Maiden of Amnesia — I’m not sure this one’s really for me, but I do love ghost stories so I think I’ll give it a shot
  • Beautiful Bones — I like dark mystery stories
  • Blue Spring Ride — a shoujo romance I missed out on; it seems it was well-received
  • One Week Friends — this looked cute
  • Inu X Boku SS — I can’t remember if I ever tried this one or not; it seems like something I’d like

Manga

I’m not sure if I’ll get around to much manga next year. I plan to follow In/Spectre and The Case Study of Vanitas, at least (unless they drop in quality, I suppose).

Some titles I would like to read, but they don’t have ebook options available:

  • The Ancient Magus’ Bride — I liked the first volume a lot, but buying the rest in paperback right now is kind of troublesome while I live overseas
  • Liselotte and the Witch’s Forest — this is from the creator of Fruits Basket (which I loved) so I’d like to give it a try one day
  • Nichijou — I loved the anime, so I’d like to support the manga release too
  • Orange — I tried an ep or two of the anime, but I feel like I would like the manga a lot more
art by Reitaso

art by Reitaso

Games and Visual Novels

I’m planning to get a PS4, partly so I can finally play Blu-rays, and partly so I can play Persona 5, ha ha.

Other than that, it’ll mainly be VNs on my Vita. And the new Dangan Ronpa, whenever that comes out in English. I am thinking of getting into Steins;Gate too (and perhaps even its sequel that I think just came out?), if I find the time… I might just read another otome or two though, since there’s several coming out next year. At the very least, I’m definitely getting the new Code: Realize VN. I think it’s a collection of side stories.

Light Novels

There’s a lot of light novels I’m looking forward to next year! I’m sure I’ll write more about this on my other blog, but a couple new titles I’m interested in trying:

  • Your Name — really excited to read Makoto Shinkai’s novel (and spin-off novel?) for this
  • Magical Girl Raising Project — it sounds interesting; I like Battle Royale type setups

Some other titles I’ve been meaning to get around to:

  • Welcome to the NHK — I bought it in a sale a few months ago; need to read it
  • Qualia the Purple — the fan translation finished recently, and it’s long been hyped
  • Sugar Dark — it’s a horror one-shot, so I have to try it some time
  • Manuscript Screening Boy and Manuscript Writing Girl — this looks cute; I wish there was an epub though (I’ll work something out…)

That’s enough for now, ha ha. It’ll be interesting to see what I actually get around to next year.

A Look Back at Various Things (2016)

The Day 11 post today will just be a recap of things I’d like to mention about 2016, that I haven’t covered in any of my other posts for 12 Days of Aniblogging.

Anime

Before I moved back to Japan, I watched a lot of anime series with various friends:

  • Steins;Gate (a rewatch for me) — great time travel series, and Okabe is a wonderful take on the chuunibyou protagonist
  • Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun (another rewatch for me) — A+ hilarious series, love Nozaki-kun
  • My Neighbor Seki — we watched this all in one sitting, ha ha; it’s just adorable
  • Assassination Classroom (just the first season) — so silly; Koro-sensei is too cute
  • Uta no Prince-sama (the second season, specifically) — pure camp; my friends and I couldn’t stop laughing
  • Tsuritama (a rewatch for me) — the most charming weird anime you’ll ever see
  • Blood Blockade Battlefront — I didn’t really get it, but it was sure a feast for the eyes
  • Blast of Tempest (another rewatch for me) — this story was such a ride; Samon is love
  • Aldnoah;Zero — SLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAINE
  • Hyouka (finally I get around to this) — sweet, lovely, and fun… all the characters are just adorable
  • Serial Experiments Lain (I’ve watched this several times) — such a weird, weird, and amazing story
  • Ghost Hound — another weird and amazing story, but much cuter and more positive than Lain

I didn’t watch that many currently-airing anime this year. I guess I’m just too busy to keep up with it all these days. There are a few I would like to get around to some time though — it really seems like 2016 was a good year for anime in general.

Manga

I didn’t read much manga this year. I did start The Ancient Magus’ Bride, which looks exactly like My Sort of Thing. Unfortunately there are no ebooks for it, so I’m dragging my feet on buying more.

The two main manga I started and will definitely be continuing are The Case Study of Vanitas (from the creator of my #1 favorite manga, Pandora Hearts), and In/Spectre (same author as Blast of Tempest).

art by Raeyxia

art by Raeyxia

Games and Visual Novels

Other than Code: Realize, I don’t think I read any other VNs to completion this year. I did start The House of Fata Morgana though, and so far that has been a real treat. The problem with VNs is they are such a huge time sink, and I can’t help but take my time with a VN that looks and sounds as lovely as this one.

I finally got around to Dangan Ronpa‘s strange midquel spinoff Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, which I had to keep on “can’t lose” mode because I’m terrible at action-type games. The puzzles were actually pretty fun, but the story was… not the best. After this and the prequel novel Dangan Ronpa Zero, I feel that it’s really important for the zaniness of this franchise to be grounded by the mystery-solving aspect found in the two mainline titles. I’ll still inevitably watch the two(?!) Dangan Ronpa 3 anime that aired this year. However, I’m definitely much more excited for the upcoming new game coming next year, which will hopefully be a return to form for the franchise.

A dark VN/puzzle game I did play was Virtue’s Last Reward, the sequel to Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. I had to look up online how to solve most of the puzzles, and probably a wiki to fully(?) understand the plot. I’m not really into this Zero Escape franchise, but it’s certainly interesting. I will take a look at the newest entry (Zero Time Dilemma) probably some time next year.

Three other titles I played that I feel worth mentioning:

  • Severed — a wonderfully atmospheric tale in a kind of folklore Mesoamerica setting
  • Dragon Quest Builders — I don’t know much about this franchise, but it’s very cute; I find it kind of relaxing to build little block houses for all the peasants
  • IA/VT — this is a rhythm game similar to the Hatsune Miku ones, but with a different Vocaloid named IA; her voice sounds nicer IMO, and the game has the look of NicoNico videos (including Kagerou Daze songs, which was fun to see)

Why am I talking about all these Vita games? None of you have a Vita! ;) You might want to get one for all the visual novels coming out for it next year though. (I won’t actually have time for them… but all those otome will definitely tempt me…)

Light Novels

Oh yes, light novels. … I’ve already written plenty about those on my other blog, ha ha. They’re pretty good though.

Angst and Anomie (Zaregoto)

This is Day 10 of the 12 Days of Aniblogging holiday rumpus. Today I am going to talk about the second volume of the light novel series Zaregoto. The English translation was released by Del Rey back in 2010, but I only got around to reading it this year.

art by Hii101

art by Hii101

I’ll start this off with a couple quick definitions:

angst — a feeling of dread, anxiety, or anguish.

anomie — lack of social or moral standards in an individual or society.

The back cover of Zaregoto volume 2 describes the protagonist Ikkun with these two words, though it felt like the focus of the novel was much more on the second aspect of his character. But perhaps the angst referred to is what is beneath all those layers of anomie? Whatever the case may be, I found Ikkun to be a fascinating character. The second volume starts off with him encountering a serial killer, whom he describes as his mirror image. Which is interesting, because the two look and act completely differently. What ties them together is simply their apathy toward the rest of humanity, it seems.

I don’t think I relate to Ikkun’s anomie — but I felt like I could at least understand his feelings toward life and living. I don’t feel Zaregoto volume 2 is an “edgy” book, because it never really tries to make Ikkun look cool or better than everyone else. He’s not even all that negative of a person, I don’t think? (Just extremely pragmatic?) But he’s definitely an outsider… and the sad (or not sad?) thing is he doesn’t seem to mind this at all.

I guess there are some aspects to his character I can relate to. In real life I’m not particularly passionate about anything, for example. I try to keep to myself and never offend anyone (which is much easier said than done, BTW). To be honest, at this stage in my life, I feel like I’m just drifting along, and I don’t particularly care when things don’t turn out so well. But maybe that’s okay?

At any rate, Zaregoto volume 2 is definitely a novel that’s going to stick with me for a long time. It’s completely different from any other light novel I’ve read, and I think it’s worth a look for anyone who likes mulling over things of this sort. It’s also easily one of the best translations I’ve read of a work, and it probably connected with me more than any other light novel has, save for the Book Girl series. I really hope Vertical will be able to release the rest of Zaregoto, just in case there’s another entry as thought-provoking as volume 2.

Who are You Supposed to Be? (Your Name)

This is Day 9 of the 12 Days of Aniblogging holiday rumpus. Today I am going to talk about the anime film Your Name. (Or rather, your name. — again with the lower case letters and the period…)

art by tekitouga

art by tekitouga

Makoto Shinkai has directed some of my top favorite anime films — namely Garden of Words and 5 Centimeters Per Second. As soon as I learned Shinkai had a new film out, I had to go see it. I watched it in a theater in Japan — and though I’m not fluent in Japanese, I was able to follow the story pretty easily. (I checked some plot summaries online afterward to fill in some of the gaps.) Overall I really enjoyed it. I need to see it properly with English subs before I can decide if it’s my new favorite Shinkai film, but I can at least say for now that it’s very good. And it’s great to see a Shinkai film finally achieve such great success. I feel like the two films I mentioned before should have caught the world’s attention just as much, but I can understand Your Name being much more accessible to general audiences.

I’m not here to write a review though. I want to talk about how Your Name resonated with me. There was a book I wrote in the not-too-distant past that worked with a very similar premise to Your Name. In this story I wrote, a girl and a boy who lived in distant lands from one another switched bodies every night. There was also a strong apocalyptic element to the story, and a good chunk of the plot was about the two characters figuring out how to actually meet up with each other. There were even religious rituals tied to the magic of the story, and the girl was from a small village while the boy was from a large city.

Suffice to say, I felt like Makoto Shinkai and I really do think on a similar wavelength! (I’m not about to claim I’m anywhere near as good of a writer though, ha ha.)

One of the biggest themes in both my story and Shinkai’s (in my opinion) was the theme of identity. What is an individual? What makes you you? If you wake up in a different person’s body, are you still you? Are you now that person? Or are you some new person that is neither really you nor that person? If you woke up the next morning with amnesia, would your general character be the same as it was before, or is there a chance you would behave and think in entirely new ways? When your personality and inclinations change from one year to the next, are you still technically the same person?

I felt like that, in Your Name at least, a lot of what constitutes an individual’s identity is tied to her relationships with others. The sum of everyone’s interactions with you is just as much you as what you think you are… I’m not sure if that’s the best way to word it, but that’s what I’ll settle on for now.

Every Loser Has His Day (Re:Zero)

This is Day 8 of the 12 Days of Aniblogging holiday rumpus. Today I am going to talk about the anime Re:Zero. It aired during the spring and summer, but I watched it all at the end of summer.

I wasn’t sure what to think of Re:Zero at first. I didn’t care for the first volume of the light novel much, and I’m not a huge fan of the “trapped in a fantasy world” subgenre to begin with. But I was intrigued enough to give the anime adaptation a shot. I enjoyed the first few episodes enough to stick with it, and as the series went on I found myself liking the story more and more. In part, this is thanks to the show’s solid production values — good animation, good music, and good pacing. The second half of the series also introduced some secondary characters I really liked (particularly Wilhelm and Julius).

What I remember Re:Zero the most for though is how it handled Subaru, the fantasy world’s fish-out-of-water protagonist. At first I didn’t like him much, since his dialogue was generally annoying (note: this was toned down a bit in the anime). But over time, he really grew on me. He was just a regular boy who was in way over his head with all these crazy magic-users trying to kill each other in their power struggles. Day in and day out, everyone wrote him off as a loser — including most of the Re:Zero viewers, ha ha. But to be blunt, I’m pretty sure I would given up on the whole being a hero thing after that first painful death. Subaru, on the other hand, is the type to jump right back into the ring after being KO’ed with two black eyes and three missing teeth.

For the second half of the series, Re:Zero interestingly made Subaru his own worst enemy — a direction I did not expect this kind of story to take. It was both uncomfortable and fascinating to watch. In the end though, I really liked how it all played out. Giving the protagonist a fatal flaw or two is a great way to add some dimension to his character, and makes for a nicely thematic backdrop for both his character development and that story arc in general. So yes, Subaru is kind of a terrible person at times, but I feel like that’s something you can say about pretty much anyone — or at least, anyone who has been repeatedly and brutally killed ad nauseam.

And to be honest, looking back now… I actually might say Subaru’s awkward dorkiness, juvenile stubbornness, and foolhardy recklessness lend a kind of charm to his character. I can’t say I particularly relate to his struggles, but I can’t help but root for someone the entire world seems determined to make suffer.