January 15th, 2010

Death Chess

Pawns in Love

I was right in thinking that the second episode of Dance in the Vampire Bund would be better than the first, but it's still far from Akiyuki Shinbo's best work. I almost wonder if he's doing this mainly for the cash.

On the other hand, I can't remember an anime series that so blatantly portrayed a romance between a teenage boy and what appears to be a preteen girl, and it's possible it's intentionally disturbing. Shinbo's often uses his shows as commentary on otaku culture and he could be doing so again, though in this case I think it'd be more accurate to say it's a commentary on otaku psychology.

There's a scene where the young man rubs "shade gel" on Mina Tepes, the little girl vampire, while she's almost totally naked to protect her from the sun. The scene has an unambiguously sexual quality, and among other things, it got me thinking about how truly bizarre censorship is in Japan. Anyone familiar with Japanese porn (which, I suspect, is actually everyone) has noticed the ridiculous, thin black bars almost randomly placed on genitals, obscuring maybe 5 percent of the image. And nowadays, anime series often forgo the frequent naked breasts of early 90s and 80s anime in order to court U.S. licensers, but a loophole in this strategy finds sexualised, naked children to be perfectly okay. It's almost like a fetish created by censorship, self-imposed and otherwise.

The show might work better for anyone who, somehow, in this day and age, can put themselves in the mind of finding vampires disturbing. If there's a connexion between the uncomfortable scenario of a child's body in adult contexts and something demonic, there could really be something here. It could almost be The Vampire Claudia: The Series. I guess I'll need to see where it's going before I can really judge, but the idea of an adult mind trapped in a child's body takes the imagination to uncomfortable places. I suppose one could ask oneself how they'd react if she was a midget.

Again, there's a new Venia's Travels online to-day. Careful readers might have noticed the chess pieces on Venia's and Rolethir's chessboard are placed in legitimate places. I actually played a game against myself using medieval rules; the Queen could only move one space diagonally, the bishop could only move two, the pawns couldn't move more than one space in the beginning, and there were no fancy things like en passant and castling.

The trickiest thing was to remember that the Queen had very little value--I came close to accidentally sacrificing a Knight to take one out a couple times. And it's very much a game of knights, as the Rooks, blocked by the slowed pawns and without the recourse of castling, could only come into the game relatively late. I also role-played as the two characters, presuming Venia's a decent player while Rolethir was playing for the first time and had no particular desire to win. And I wanted his last move to be with his Knight, since that's the piece newbies find trickiest to learn how to use. So, first Rolethir tried to move his Knight from g1 to h4, possibly to attack Venia's Rook while freeing his own Rook to attack Venia's Knight. After putting his piece in a correct space, Venia moved one of her Knights from d4 to f3, as seen in the comic.

I modelled the pieces after the Lewis chessmen. For my fictional universe, I consider chess to have been invented in Paelywa, and maybe the Niverikiin will eventually make the Queens and Bishops more powerful since their society essentially gives women the same rights as men and their religious institutions have a great deal more power and social prominence.

Last night's tweets;

Trash bins withdraw into a blue shadow.
Feline, pink bellhops block confused rabbits.
Recycling's gift wrapped by a black widow.
Spiders prescribe guests' vacation habits.
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