Princess Mononoke, and a lot more

Currently playing: Sparks from the album “Parachutes” by Coldplay

Look out; this update’s a doozy. I haven’t written anything for a blog in a long while, and surprisingly there’s a fair amount I want to write about. So Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here.

I watched Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke (still not sure why it’s called that instead of Prince Ashitaka, but whatever) last night, and it certainly surprised me. Here I was expecting something along the lines of Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, or perhaps Spirited Away and what I got was a bloody, dark story with complicated characters and a much deeper look at the standard evil vs. good, nature vs. industrialization conflict than is normally portrayed. I was pretty shocked, and mildly disturbed (mainly thanks to my expectations going in; I wasn’t really prepared for the amount of death I was getting myself into).

So since Alan has yet again retreated from the hideous cat-caused stench in his room to Ariel’s, I watched it again tonight with the dubbing instead of the subtitles. Normally I’m really anti-dubbing, but I wanted an excuse to watch it again, and I did some casual computer work while it was running so most of the time I didn’t have to watch their mouths not quite line up with their words. Plus being animated it wasn’t really that much of a problem. Of course some of the voice acting was pretty hilarious, but what was really interesting was that the dubbed version was actually easier to understand than the literal translation of the subtitles (changed things like “Deer God” of the subtitles to “Forest Spirit”, which made much more sense in the context of the story).

But yeah. Very, very pleasantly surprised. Normally Miyazaki films leave me feeling kind of “meh” (although I enjoyed Spirited Away a fair amount). This one had me up stalking around the living room imagining dark fantasy scenes of my own, which is always a good sign that a story has done its work and really gripped me. My only regret is that I gave into temptation (and a desire to see something on the shelf that I hadn’t seen, which makes for slim pickings since a lot of Laurel’s other movies that I haven’t seen are–sorry Laurel–not anything I’d want to see) and watched it without Valerie. I’d been putting it off because I know she likes anime, but since I enjoyed it so much maybe I’ll watch it with her sometime anyway.

In other news, as I mentioned before Alan hasn’t been spending much time here in the evenings, so I’ve pretty much been alone in the house (Ross is at home this week right now). On the one hand, I get to play my music loud-ish over my speakers as late as I want, and I can sing along full voice instead of quietly (I do so love singing along to my music while I work; I went in to work in the office adjoining the Communications office on campus for a while, and it was painful not be able to boot up iTunes and break into song). On the other hand, it’s lonely.

Of course, it looks like I may very well have a few extremely non-lonely nights coming up in the next few months, because I’ve somehow managed to get myself an actual, hourly job that asks for some interesting things. I’ve been hired by a local place in Walla Walla that serves developmentally disabled adults. I’ll be starting a two week orientation on the 19th, and then after that I’ll have a variety of possible duties that apparently could range anywhere from spending a couple of hours with a given person in a day to help them function/learn how to function better to what they call 56 hour shifts, which are basically living with a person for two straight days.

So not so lonely there. I have kind of mixed feelings. I really wanted this job, and am kind of glad that I got it, but it’s going to be quite the experience and I got a lot more web design work than I was expecting.

On the other hand, the web design thing is mostly nebulous and could easily dry up, whereas this job is something that I’ll likely be able to do through the school year as well in a part time evenings and weekends capacity.

On to the happy news of the day: The King of Attolia arrived! I wouldn’t even have known that this book was out, but Valerie gave me a gift card to Barnes and Noble for my birthday, and I stumbled across this book. I read it in a single sitting starting within thirty minutes of its arrival (had to eat breakfast first). It made me very, very happy. For those of you not up on this series, it’s by Megan Whalen Turner and started with The Thief, a book that won a Newberry Honor and was (I believe) meant to be a stand-alone story. I loved The Thief, but wasn’t expecting a sequel until I stumbled across it shortly after it came out in a bookstore while on a vacation with my family. I bought the sequel, The Queen of Attolia, on the spot and devoured it. Then I find this unexpected third book, and while the book wraps itself up well there was obviously a series in Turner’s mind while writing this one. This makes me extremely excited. I think I might actually post a little mini review/rave about King of Attolia and the rest of the series over in Commentary, actually. I really liked this author to start, but now I love her.

Not like I want to have her children or anything, but I’m continually impressed by her decisions. So many fantasy authors fall victim to characters who drift flatly to the extremes of good and evil or just get stuck in a rut of one kind or another and fail to get out. Turner has turned out three very different books with flair, and I’m really looking forward to whatever she does next. She is truly one of those hidden fantasy gems and I don’t understand why her name isn’t as well known as J.K. Rowling. I suppose Queen of Attolia might not be for everyone, but I think it may be my favorite book in the series so far.

In still other news, what also came in the mail today was a splash cymbal from Mom for my birthday. Granted, she didn’t know to buy one part (have the boom stand, don’t have a way to attach it to anything yet), but I’m still ridiculously happy. I don’t play my drumset all that much currently, but I’ve always wanted a splash cymbal; they’re so much fun.

And I think that it might finally be time to end this ridiculously long post and go to bed. Kudos to those who had the persistence to actually read the whole silly thing.

2 responses to “Princess Mononoke, and a lot more”

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  1. Laurel says:

    I didn’t like Queen of Attolia, as I recall. But then, you’re all deeper than I am and stuff. I should probably reread it. I really enjoyed the first one.

    Glad you liked–whatchamacall–Princess Mononoke. (I got home not too long ago and am a wee bit incoherent.) You should read Miyazaki’s manga Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. You’d like it.

    Did I have anything else to say? Don’t think so.

  2. Ian Beck says:

    Queen of Attolia can definitely be off-putting; the characterization is very, very sparse in places. If I remember correctly the first time I read it I was a little bit shocked, and didn’t really feel much at the ending (she just did what to him?!). The second time I read it, though, I was clued into all of the little omissions and implications that Turner makes (I really hate that she omits details for the sake of a plot twist/surprise; she doesn’t do it in King) and I read a lot more into the characters and loved the book.

    You definitely should read King of Attolia. In a way it’s a marriage of Thief and Queen, because the writing and so forth is more accessible (a la Thief), but the characters are very complex (a la Queen) with more detail to sketch them out, but still leaving you some room for your own interpretation/imagination.

    And I don’t think I’m any more complex than you. I’m just obsessed with Megan Whalen Turner. On a whim after writing the post above, I visited her website (which looks to be made by her and not get much traffic; very user-unfriendly page), and she had an email address on it so I sent an embarassingly flattering piece of fan mail to her. I don’t really know what it is, but she’s one of my favorite YA fantasy authors right now (the Bartimeus guy is up there, too; I still need to read the third book, though).

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