I really HATE finishing everything and then that’s when I notice I missed something. Happens every single time.
Anyways, I really missed drawing these dorks so I’m making up for lost time. Have another transformation gif set among the sea of many. I forgot animation could be tedious but it’s still so fun. I also wanted to announce that I’m planning to open a patreon account very soon. I need some extra cash to pay off a few bills. ;_;
D&D: How to Use Character Arcs as a Dungeon Master
In my previous post on character arcs, I talked about how a player should determine how they want their character’s arc to begin and end. It was from a player’s perspective. But how does a DM write an adventure that will make that player’s arc happen?
First, get the information you need. Ask your players to each determine how their characters will begin the campaign and how they want them to change by the end of it. Then ask for copies of their character’s traits, flaws, ideals, and bonds. Note whether a player’s character is going to die tragically and if they are okay with that. With this information, you can give the players what I call a moral quandary, personalized for their own character’s arc. A moral quandary is giving the player two difficult options that the player must decide how their character would choose. The character should lean to one side of a moral quandary at the beginning of an adventure, but gradually start to lean the other way as their arc comes to completion.
For instance, a cleric might be presented with a choice to kill an evildoer or merely capture them. If the cleric is heading down an arc where their ideal changes from “all life is precious” to “evil must be stopped at all costs” in their character arc is going to make very different choices in that situation depending on where they are on their arc.
Let’s figure out how we can use this info as a DM and where to put moral quandaries using a 9-point story structure. These are not an entire campaign, but you can use each point as a fixed point in the narrative; a story outline based on the characters’ arcs. Plenty of different stuff can happen between each point, but the points must happen to create a robust story.
Call to Action
The player is given an initial call to action. Essentially, a moral quandary disguised as a quest hook. Try to have a separate but related call to action for each player. Ideally, the players should refuse the call to action, as they haven’t been “changed” yet. If they play to their characters’ initial backgrounds and traits, they will refuse the call. You can even enforce this by loading your call with descriptions of how the character is feeling. “You are offended that someone would even offer something so morally reprehensible to you, despite the fact that you could use the money.”
A good-hearted rogue is starting a tragic fall arc and is offered a chance to make millions from some morally questionable actions involving an evil regime, but decides it is wrong. An innocent paladin starting a coming of age arc could be offered a chance to rise against an evil regime, but values their own safety. A studious apprentice wizard starting a corruption arc is offered power in exchange for service to an evil regime, but decides they can get power on their own.
Something happens to force the player to action, whether they are ready or not. Try to come up with an inciting incident that involves all of the players, not just one. The inciting incident can act as where the adventuring party finally meets.
The evil regime in the Call to Action ends up invading the players’ quiet suburb to enforce martial law. The players escape or fight back or else they and their loved ones die or are enslaved. The rogue decides to run from their debts by joining the party. The paladin has seen firsthand what the regime can do, and will now join the party to find someone else who can help them stop it. The wizard seeks out more power to stop the regime.
1st Plot Point
The players learn the first shreds of information about the overarching narrative of the campaign. After the inciting incident, some characters might not be convinced and want to turn back. This gives them a reason to continue onward together, as a team. There should be no turning back from the 1st plot point.
Players learn how this evil regime has been spreading across the kingdom. It still holds many mysteries, but its power is great and threatening. Its power is centered in a capital city, which the players now opt to travel to in order to find the things they currently desire.
1st Pinch Point
A pinch point is the first real display of power from the antagonist or opposing force. In D&D this should be actual combat, though it doesn’t have to be. As long as the players see firsthand what the antagonist can do to their characters, this part will add the tension/drama that it should. If you want to have a 1st Pinch Point for each character, then this display of force should directly target the player’s character arc and spark the desire to change through a moral quandary. It’s an awakening. Create tension by ending a session with this pinch point.
The players come across a thieves’ guild run by the evil regime. The rogue takes note of how rich, glamorous, and lawless the life of a criminal is to spark their tragic fall arc. The paladin realizes how deep the corruption of the world runs and sparks their coming of age arc as their innocence starts to fade. The wizard realizes how much resources the evil regime has, and wonders what sorts of power they had in mind for him sparking their corruption arc.
More info is revealed about the antagonist and the perception of the characters change. They have an epiphany and decide to continue onward through their arc. This can, and most likely will, happen at different times for each character and their varying arcs.
The players learn about the leader of the regime. They have been pushed to the breaking point by the regime’s forces. The rogue decides join the regime and start doing crime for the regime and acting as a double agent against the party. The paladin no longer cares about finding someone else to help them stop the regime, vowing to end it themselves. The wizard gets an unholy tome and decides to learn how to make a pact with the demon the regime mentioned to overpower the regime. They are all still heading to the capital, though now with severely divergent goals.
2nd Pinch Point
The antagonist reveals their full power and threatens the completion of the characters’ arcs. The entire party should, in general, be at their lowest moment and completely without hope. This should happen at the same time for everyone. Ideally, end a session with this pinch point to create a cliffhanger and highlight the hopelessness.
The players reach the capital of the evil regime. The rogue is faced with a moral test, where they will be offered riches and allowed to live if they rat out their adventuring party. They choose to take the offer and are betrayed by the regime’s leader and sentenced to death anyway. The paladin comes face to face with the regime’s leader after being ratted out by the rogue. They fail the encounter and barely manage to escape with their life. The wizard is also defeated and their unholy tome is destroyed in the battle. The rogue is imprisoned and the paladin and rogue escape the leader and are being hunted in the capital.
2nd Plot Point
The last piece of the puzzle has come together in the second plot point. The characters finish their arc and learn how to overcome the antagonist. This can happen at different points and doesn’t have to happen quickly. For a tragic character, this is the part where they finally meet their end. Tragic characters fail to change or their change is self-destructive and they fail to overcome the antagonist of the story (tragic, isn’t it?). Think of this part as a moral quandary that characters’ finally “know the answer” to, as far as their character arc is concerned.
The rogue tries to escape, succeeds, but heads back to the thieves’ guild instead of his adventuring allies, and they ultimately betray and kill him. The paladin’s innocence is shattered and they gather rebel forces over time to take on the regime’s leader, becoming a leader themselves. They also find an unlikely ally in the wizard, who has finally succumbed to evil. The wizard still doesn’t know how to summon the demon, but they have already gotten a taste of evil’s power by performing vile rituals on captured regime members and will now use their power for vengeance against the regime’s leader.
The characters finally face off with the antagonist. The promise set out at the beginning of the campaign is fulfilled. The characters, having completed their arcs, are now changed enough to be able to defeat the antagonist. This should be the players at their most powerful and should be the most epic battle to take place in the campaign.
The paladin’s rebel army and the wizard’s evil magic face off against the evil regime’s leader. The battle is long and epic, but the characters succeed, freeing the kingdom of the evil regime.
The game shouldn’t abruptly end after the antagonist is defeated! There needs to be closure. The players’ characters find out the results and the aftermath of defeating the antagonist, for better or for worse. In the case of an ongoing game, you should now set up the next campaign here.
The paladin and wizard regard each other as unsteady allies who no longer have a common enemy. The wizard seeks more power, even seeking to possibly usurp the void of power left from the regime’s defeat. The paladin and their rebel army gather in defiance of the wizard. The paladin tells the wizard to leave the kingdom and not threaten anyone with their evil, else the paladin will smite them down. The wizard, not having many spells left after the battle and not being ready to face an entire army, teleports away to parts unknown with a puff of green smoke. The paladin is placed in power, and the wizard now acts as a looming threat. Perhaps an NPC and villain for the next campaign?
This character arc outline is not cut-and-dry. You should use it as a guide, not a rule. Some characters might abruptly choose to change. Some will reach different parts of the outline at different times or out of order. Some characters might waffle between two sides of their arc before deciding which side they want to be on. But the more you talk to your players about it, the easier it is to come up with a generalized plan for your campaign’s story. Heck, your story might even change from what you initially intended by the end of it (a character with a bad roll can still end up dying before even finishing their arc!) But hopefully this will aid you in making the players love their characters even more and have fun as they grow and change in your campaign’s world. That’s what it’s all about, after all.
You know that moment as a writer, when you’ve been charging through the story, high on how fantastic it is, and then suddenly…it all STOPS. The next scene doesn’t form in your head. You’ve got nothing.
Behind your characters, a string of bright and captivating scenes mark the trail of that rocket of inspiration; ahead of your characters, a foggy expanse, stretching to who-knows-where, a few shapeless blobs that should be scenes floating in the nothingness.The rocket is dead, and not refueling any time soon.
Well, to everybody who’s suffered this, or is currently suffering it, there’s a way to navigate through that fog. A map. Directions and a destination.
Or, more specifically, events that form the underlying structure of the story.
This post is going to focus on one facet of story structure: character arc. Structure is something people subconsciously recognize and expect, and if the story doesn’t match those expectations, they feel cheated (though usually can’t explain why). Every good story follows a structure. So if you know structure, you’ll always know where to go next, and won’t get lost in the fog.
So here are the 8 steps of a character arc:
1) Hero: Strength, Weakness, and Need
This happens in the setup of the story, when the main character’s ordinary world is being introduced. First, the main character’s strengths must be displayed; we must be given a reason to like them, or if not exactly “like” them, empathize with them, and be fascinated by them. The reader needs to bond with the character, feel concerned about how it all turns out for them. Or in other words, feel that the main character is worth experiencing the story. There are easy traits that do this: courage, love, humor, being in danger, being unfairly treated, being highly skilled at something, having a powerful noble goal. (Courage is the one they all need. If the character doesn’t have the gumption to actively pursue what they want, they are automatically a background character.)
After this, still in the beginning of your story, let the character exhibit what needs to change. Show their weaknesses of character and self awareness. And lastly, hint at what they NEED to learn. Sometimes this is even stated to the character, and they don’t understand it, refuse to believe it, or condemn it. Like “A Christmas Carol”, when Scrooge’s nephew says his speech about Christmas and how wonderful it is, and Scrooge replies “Bah Humbug!"
2) Desire: This is the moment when the character knows what they need to pursue, in order to obtain what they inwardly want. It is not the inciting incident or catalyst, the event in a story that disrupts the ordinary world and calls the hero on an adventure. This is a separate step entirely, occurring after that catalyst has shattered life as the main character knows it. They believe obtaining this goal will calm whatever inner turmoil or conflict they’re battling. And always, they’re not quite right. Think of Mr Fredricksen: His goal is to get the house – a symbolic representation of Ellie and the life he shared with her – to Paradise Falls, which he believes will heal his grief and guilt. It won’t. Once he obtains it, the achievement feels hollow. But I’m getting ahead of myself. So on we go!
3) Plan: Once in Act Two, the character is going to scramble for a plan of action. The inner want has solidified into a tangible goal, but they need a strategy to achieve it. This also spells out for the reader what to expect in that second act.
4) Conflict: What’s going to try stopping them? A hero with a goal is one thing, but to make it a story we need something that stands in the way. An obstacle. A force of opposition. If we didn’t have obstacles, books would be as interesting as "Harry Potter and the Trip to the Grocery Store.” (Although honestly, I’d probably read that.) After the catalyst has changed everything, after the character crosses the threshold into Act Two, everything from here on out will be laden with conflict. This is usually when enemies, or more accurately forces of opposition, begin to appear. Everything is accumulating to complicate the main character’s pathway to achieving what they want. The forces of opposition come from not only the villains, but from the actions that have to be taken to achieve the desire. Whatever this action is, it’s exactly what the main character is not suited to do, an action that pressures their flaws, exposes them to exactly what they need to become but can’t right now.
Like Stitch being forced to be the family dog. He’s not suited to this task.
5) Battle: The forces of opposition are amping up, growing stronger, fighting with greater intensity. The main character is taking the punches and working around them, relentlessly plowing forward. Hero and allies are usually punching back too.
6) Midpoint: This is the event where they first encounter what they need to learn, what they need to become. Something happens that forces them to behave in this new, life-saving way. But once they’ve seen it, they don’t know what to do with this knowledge.
7) Dark Night, Revelation, Choice: This is always the darkest point in the story, where all seems lost, and death – of a literal or spiritual nature – is in the air. And in this moment, something usually happens that makes the main character wake up to what is wrong, and what they need. More often than not, this revelation will arrive from the “love story” or relationship of the plot, and will be the thing that helps them pull themselves out of despair and see the light. And once this is uncovered, once the revelation of the truth about themselves is recognized, they are faced with a choice. Of course, they’ve been faced with choices in every beat of every scene, but this is the big choice that is going to determine if their story has a happy ending or a tragic one. The choice is this: “You are being faced the truth that you need to heal. Are you going to choose what you need, let your old self die, and become someone better?” And always, always, always this is a hard choice. The revelation must be significant to them. And it’s never easy. It can’t be. We don’t write stories about heroes who make easy choices. Villains have it easy. Are you going to adopt this new way of living, adopt this truth, and let your old self die? Or are you going to stay the way you are (which feels safer and is much less challenging) but end up stuck in a sort of living death? Most of the time, of course, they choose the right thing.
This moment is usually always the saddest scene in the thing. Like this scene with Stitch.
8) New Life: This is their changed life. After experiencing the trials of the story, after realizing what they need and choosing to be reborn, they are going to be different people – and are going to live a different life. This is what follows the statement “And every day after …” What has changed? Show the audience how things are different, how things are better, because they want to see that. This is the resolution, the wrapping up of everything we’ve been through with the main character, and having this in the story is often what gives that feeling of satisfaction after seeing a really well-told story.
So! To show off how this works, I’ve chosen the character arc of Carl from Up.
1) Hero: Strengths, Weakness, Need
Strengths: Reasons to like Carl are packed into that heartbreaking opening sequence. By the end of it, we love him, love Ellie, and are crying our eyes out.
Weaknesses: Now Carl is curmudgeonly, grumpy, cold, and won’t pay attention to a living soul. He’s also plagued by grief, regret, guilt, and loneliness. (Which we are all 100% okay with, because we already like him.)
Need: He needs Russel. The statement of what he needs to learn isn’t outright said (as it will be later) but Russel represents it.
Step Two: The catalyst was when a truck knocked down Ellie’s mailbox, Carl hit a construction worker in the head with his cane, and for this a judge declares him a public menace and orders him to go to Shady Oaks Retirement Village. The DESIRE is this moment.
Carl escapes in a flying house, thousands of balloons lifting him skyward. He even says the desire of the whole story out loud, “So long boys! I’ll send you a postcard from Paradise Falls!” The tangible goal is “live out the rest of his days in his and Ellie’s house, on the edge of Paradise Falls, South America.” (“It’s like America … but South.”)
Step Three: The plan and the conflict overlap, as they are wont to do. We have a scene where Carl is unfurling sails, setting a compass, and settling back in his chair for a smooth journey. But later on, after some conflict has arrived, we have Russel figuring out how to actually make it there. And after even more conflict has arrived, we have him telling Russel “We’re going to walk to the falls quickly and quietly, with no rap music or flash-dancing.”
Step Four: The moment he settles back into his armchair, high above the city, and here’s a knock on the front door, nothing is going to be easy for Carl. First, we have opposition in the form of Russel. Then we have a storm. Then the house lands miles away from the Falls, so they’ll have to walk it. Then we have Kevin, the giant bird. Then we have Dug. Which means they’re also being chased by a legion of talking dogs. Which brings us to Muntz, the main villain, and Carl’s shadow – the representation of Carl’s flaws, and the consequences of refusing to let go of the past.
Step Five: This is the trek to the Falls. It’s also the battle with every complication that arises. And it’s also exactly what Carl is not suited to do. He’s a curmudgeonly old guy, bent on living out the rest of his life alone. Well, the story says “Nope, Carl, that’s not how it’s going to be” and promptly gives him a surrogate grandson to take care of, a dog who adores him, and even a giant mythical bird. And he has to lead them all, if he’s going to get to the Falls.
Step Six: The moment when Russel invades Carl’s heart. Which is what he needs, but he doesn’t understand. (I have the scene beated out in the previous post.)
Step Seven: Finally, he gives in to the worst of himself and chooses his goal of living in his broken house on the edge of Paradise Falls. But somehow this doesn’t feel like victory. He’s still alone, next to Ellie’s empty chair, and she is still beyond his reach.
He picks up her adventure book, and leafs through the photographs, missing her; he pauses on the page scrawled with the words “Stuff I’m Going To Do”, lets his hand rest on it, grief and regret overwhelming him. He begins to close the book, and the page shifts … revealing the edge of another picture. Surprised, he turns the page. It’s their wedding picture.
Ellie added picture after picture of their happy marriage, the whole wonderful life they shared, all the things she did. And on the bottom of the last page is her last message to him: “Thanks for the adventure! Now go have a new one! Love, Ellie.” Exactly what Carl needs. He doesn’t need to be guilty, he doesn’t need to regret the past. The past was beautiful, and she will never truly leave him.
Choice: So, Carl can make the choice to throw everything out of the house to go save Russel.
New Life: Sitting on a curb, eating ice cream with Russel.
In the credits, we see a whole new life – or new adventure – with Carl, Russel, Dug, and even a bunch of new puppies.
So, it’s actually pretty simple. And once again, it’s fun to develop your own stories like this, but it’s surprisingly fun to analyze movies and books with it too. It improves your storytelling ability, I’ve found. Practice makes perfect.
I hope this post helps somebody out. It’ll make the ten times I cried while writing it, while watching scenes from Up, worth it.
What she means:
I've seen Wonder Woman twice now and I still think that Ares should've been Doctor Poison herself Isabel Maru because her character was consistently and noticeably integral to the plot, creating the most destructive weapon that mankind had ever seen, assisting Ludendorff and strengthening him to superhuman levels; Diana at one point is overcome by rage and becomes destructive so it is completely within believability that the rage of a woman i.e. Doctor Isabel Maru could be the rage of a war god, there is never any concrete resolution for her character because we don't know if she somehow survives that final battle or dies, and for such an important antagonist this feels like a complete loose end whereas when Ares was revealed I didn't even know the character's name until the second time I watched it and when he showed up onscreen the first time my only thought was "whomst?"
For writers, speaking scenes are either the bane of your existence, or the highlight of your day. On one hand, when characters are talking, it can really help further a scene and help with character development….but on the other hand…writing dialog is such a chore….blugh. So here’s some ways to write better dialog in your stories!
Give Your Characters Voices
Is your character southern? Do they have a lisp? Are they shy? Outspoken? Do they use a lot of big words, or are they an easy talker? Are they more likely to lie with confidence, or do they need to pause a lot to collect their thoughts? These are all factors that help build up a character’s profile, and to add realism to your dialog. Make sure to keep each character consistent – example: if Character A is an angry and resolute character, they wouldn’t stammer or blush when they’re caught off guard – so that your characters keep their individuality.
Embrace the Power of Verbs
Obviously, there’s a huge difference between ‘said’ and ‘yelled’ and ‘screamed’, but there are so many fics where ‘mumbled’ is an overused verb. Unless your character is incredibly shy – or loves to whisper insults under their breath – nobody mumbles every other sentence. ‘Quipped’, ‘snarked,’ ‘said indignantly’, ‘joked’, and ‘laughed’ are some of my favorite verbs.
Moving the Scene Through Dialog
If you’re ever terrified of having a scene turn into a monotonous he said/she said conversation, then break it up with actions! Have Character A yell at Character B as they angrily slam the car door, or Character C say “huh?” as they try to clear water out of their ears. Here’s a few examples.
“You look like crap!” Madison tried to touch the side of her
face, but Liz jerked her head back. “Are you like, sick? Your eyes are
all red and puffy.”
“Yeah, just a second.” Jade watched as the bright orange petals swirled down the drain.
Scout visibly recoiled from him. “Uh, no. I’ll pass.”
Talk to Yourself
This is the best trick; it’s what I do when I’m
writing dialog. I’ll put on different voices and talk aloud to myself in order to feel what sounds natural and what sounds plastic-y. You
may feel ridiculous when you’re up at 2am and repeating the same lines over and over again to yourself, but believe me, it will show in the final drafts when your characters are interacting.
Finally, Have Fun
It’s such a cliche tip that it makes me want to cry from boredom, but having fun with your dialog makes it infinitely easier to write. If your inspiration is just bone dry, have your characters get silly with their dialog – “Sir, that really hella dangerous experiment is going critical” “oh dang, lmao, we should probably leave?” “yes most definitely” – because even then, you’re getting your ideas out and you can come back later. Also, it’s hilarious. In the end, writing is supposed to be a fun hobby, so find what works for you and keep on doing it!
Hello everyone! Finally I’m ready to taking commissions. What is the purpose of this? Let me tell you: I will go to Indypopcon next year to sell some of my stuff. Since it’s the first time I leave my country (Colombia), I need to save some money for a Visa, the Passport and of course the flying tickets.
Also, I want to buy in the future a Wacom Cintiq 13HD, it’s time to get a better tool for my work!
This is what I can offer if you are interested on commission me :)
- Colored Chibi $10 USD Additional Character + $5 USD / With background $8 USD
- Fullbody monochrome character (comic style)
Fullbody color character $25 USD Additional character + $10 USD
/ With background + $15 USD
- Animated loop: $35 USD per second (until 5 secods) Additional character + $10 USD / With background + $15 USD
WHAT I CAN DRAW/ANIMATE:
-Your OCs (design and color reference in a good resolution required) -My OCs -Fandom characters -Your avatar or sona
WHAT I CAN’T DRAW/ANIMATE:
-NSFW (+18) content (including racism, pedophilia, incest, abuse or any kind of gross stuff) -Complex designs (Mechas - Vehicles - Complex locations - Complex clothing or characters without references) - More than 5 characters per illustration/animation - IRL ships or real people
I’ll open 20 slots during this two months for now. I will let you know if something has changed depending on the amount of work I’ve got.
If you are interested send me a mail to
Sweet/Vicious aka a show that NEVER should have been cancelled.
“I know how to do things most people don’t. There is stuff happening out there and no one is doing anything about it. People are just getting away with awful things. I’m trying to make some of that right.” “That’s the plot of Batman.”
Hi Beast! Do you know any good websites for story/plot charting?
I had to do some research for this question! Look at you guys, making me dig through the bowels of the earth.
Hiveword - Requires you to create an account, but it’s free; allows you to make lists for your characters and their descriptions, list out your plot/story flow, has a built-in name generator and more
Read-Write-Think - Though this one seems to be geared toward younger kids, don’t be fooled - it has different charts that allow you to type out your plot, characters, setting, and resolution via visual maps; the only drawback is that it’s somewhat too simplistic, and doesn’t account for overly complex plots but it’s good for mapping out all the base information needed to plan your story
Scrapple - An app for PCs and Macs that is basically a combination between a mind map and a basic text-editing software, but geared specifically toward writers (if you don’t know what a mind map is, here’s a helpful article); the downside is that it’s $15, but there’s a free trial version available on the linked site
LitLift - Free site (with account registration) that allows you to organize your stories, characters, and plots (similar to Scrapple); also has sharing capabilities so that you can share your story within the site - you can also browse other peoples’ stories if they’ve been shared
Scrivener - Another app for PCs and Macs; like a more advanced version of Microsoft Word, except that it gives you an outliner to list out your ideas/plots/etc, ‘index cards’ to keep your ideas organized, ‘scrivenings’ - which basically function as tabs to switch between manuscripts, and a lot more; downside is that it’s $45, but once again there’s a free trial available on the linked site
Storyplanner - Site that has lists of resources where you can select from novel/short story, screenplay, or nonfiction and it asks you further questions in detail about your story; great for getting all your ideas out in one go (I look at it as sort of a ‘quizilla’ for your story, except it’s not full on Mary Sues and sadness); the site is free to use, but there is a premium edition, though you don’t really need it (you can just copy your answers to your nearest document)
Hemingway - Though this one is more useful for editing rather than planning, this in-browser site that allows you to either write right in the browser or copy/paste text into the window; points out any writing errors, repeated syntax, long-ass sentences, and all kinds of other helpful editing advice; there’s also a desktop version available for download
If anyone finds anything else that’s helpful, feel free to add it!
Part 2: Task: 12 Days of lesser known animated show/film recommendations
Hey, guys! I’ve been a bit down lately, so in order to give myself something to do, I decided to share with you all the lesser known, underrated or entirely hidden gems of the animated world (as far as I know), be it show or film.
-The animation must be traditional (no CGI unless it’s minor and in the background; i’ll do an all CGI list later).
-The recommended work must have soothing, inspiring or otherwise admirable leads with realistic emotional connections.
-The plot of the story must be intriguing if not wholly believable and the artwork must meet certain aesthetic standards.
-The characters must have emotionally realistic interactions with one another in ratio to the time allowed for them to interact.
-The animation in question may be from anywhere in the world.
Also, feel free to clue me in on any that I don’t list, because I would really appreciate a new animated find!
As a matter of course, a great deal of the listed shows/films will be ‘anime’, simply because japanimation has the monopoly on the most unique and varied story lines, and Japan (and sometimes France) are the only ones making mostly traditionally drawn animated features still.
Alright, here we go … …
Day Two: Fairy Tale Films :)
The Day of the Crows
I absolutely adore this film. Not only is The Day of the Crows a superbly animated feast for the eyes, but the characters, lessons and honest interactions take it a level above most children’s films. Not only that, but the dialogue is wonderfully translated from the French to the English subtitles. As a matter of course, I prefer watching films in their original language unless the dub has some inventive dialogue or more adequate voice acting, but this little known gem isn’t likely to pick up a dub any time soon anyway, so all of you who only watch dubs should make an exception for this one.
It is the story of a young boy who has been raised by an ogre in the woods, until one day he must leave the protection of the trees for the nearby village in order to save someone precious to him. While there, he meets a young girl and begins to learn the touching history of his family. It’s a delightfully nuanced film. Really, don’t miss it!
Note: The title is mildly misleading, as any crow characters are showcased near the end of the film and don’t get much screen time. But why should that bother anyone?
Fusé: Teppō Musume no Torimonochō
Is there any anime lover who would pass up a film with adorable characters and animal transformations? Well, I actually would pass up the ‘animal transformations’ part, but that may just be me. Fusé is a touching fairy tale centring around a young huntress who befriends a dog-like humanoid named Shino. What puts this movie a pitch above the other films out there with a similar premise is it’s refusal to give the characters more slack than any real person would get. People die…there’s a surprising amount of gore which I feel is somehow toned up despite the soft animation. It’s the sort of film that makes you laugh less because it’s funny and more because you know your window to find things humorous is rapidly disappearing. You want the characters to be happy….you think they should be because the film is so cute…but it’s the bitter-sweet trick of the story.
It’s based on the Hakkenden, an old Japanese novel series that details the exploits of the ‘Dog Warriors’, beings reincarnated from the slaughtered spawn of a princess and her dog lover. This is part of why I can forgive the dog-creature theme, because the characters within the story on a few separate occasions refer to the story as a ‘counterfeit’ or parody of the Hakkenden.
An old Russian animation about a young woman who is the child of Spring and Winter, stepping into a village for the first time and learning that she does not have the capacity to love as other humans do. It’s very touching, very whimsical, and in the end bitter-sweet. I’d recommend it for the beautiful artwork alone, but the characters are given a surprising amount of life considering how old the film is. It’s clearly a labour of love.
The Dead Princess and the Seven Knights
An old Russian film based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The most fantastic thing about this film is that from start to finish the entirety of the script is one looong poem, complete with rhymes. I believe this film, Snow Maiden and The Twelve Months are all apart of the same collection, but these three are not dubbed into English, like some of the better known in the series, such as The Snow Queen.
The Twelve Months
If you are familiar with this film, it may be because you’ve watched the anime incarnation. I’d advise you to watch this one instead. Not only are the characters a bit more vital, but the art is a step above the anime and the humour is a bit more fluid. It is a Cinderella-like tale about a girl who wanders into the woods after being forced to preform an impossible task, and receives guidance from the Twelve Months, who are portrayed as a band of merry males of various ages having a meeting around a camp fire in the dead of winter.
Kirikou and the Sorceress
Kirikou and the Sorceress is a fascinating film about a young boy who, from the moment he is born, is able to talk and think like an adult. But he is still only a baby, and is very small because of it, which causes troubles between him and the towns people, and eventually gets the attention of a wicked sorceress that finds him a nuisance as he starts to use his size for unusual heroic feats.
Every character is fun, the dialogue is insightful and the resolution is terribly sweet.
Tales of the Night
A series of re-worked fairy tales told through ‘shadow puppet’ visuals. Beautiful stories, really. All of the interactions between the characters are unique and admirable, and every tale has a satisfying conclusion. You may think the shadow puppet look takes away from it, but, really, it only gives you a bit more emotion to savour since every character looks pretty much the same, allowing their intentions to nakedly drive the stories, rather than their looks.
The Last Unicorn
Based on the book of the same name, and with a screen play by the author, this film is one of the better known ‘hidden gems’. The story follows the ‘last unicorn’, as she searches for others of her kind, who are being held captive in a barren land that is very far away from her gentle forest. She gathers loyal and endearing companions along the way, and eventually looses a bit of herself in the throws of a pseudo-romance with a prince.
It’s a classic. The animation is unique and whimsical, and the pacing, characters and eventual resolution are all wonderful. It was my favourite film as a child.
The Princess and the Pilot
The Princess and the Pilot is a touching tale about the blooming tenderness and self-awareness between a pilot and the princess he is tasked with transporting across the ocean. There is political intrigue, bold decisions and the rude awakenings of reality in a war torn country. Both the leads are relatable and worth the care you inevitably develop toward them. And though the ending is a little frustrating, it is handled in a realistic and tentative manner that shows the meaning of personal feelings, even if physical circumstances can’t reflect them.
Miss Hokusai is the fictional and slightly sensationalised biography of an actual historical figure from the Japanese artistic past. The story is told in a series of self-contained artistic episodes that explore the philosophy needed to produce vital art, by teaching the characters emotional lessons through supernatural interactions. It’s very unique and telling, and every character has a degree of believably that is pleasantly attention grabbing. Some might complain that the formatting leaves a bit to be desired, but I’m pretty sure this is all intentional.
Princess Arete is one of those rare princess films that is all about a princess and her character building, and not at all about romance.
Little Princess Arete is kept in a tower where she grows increasingly depressed, despite her night time slips into the town bellow her window. By a bitter sort of luck, she is kidnapped by a wizard, and from here able to experience the world, albeit under a curse. The film has a very charmed and truthful grasp on the meanings in minor interactions and it never betrays the passionate heart of it’s female lead.
It’s a bit slow, but if you watch movies for the enrichment they provide and not for the face paced thrills, this one may be for you.
An old Japanese feature from the ‘60′s about a young boy who must do battle with a wicked witch to protect his home and family. The characters are enjoyable, the battles are pretty neat and the animation is a proto-perfect anime film suite. Honestly, if you’ve seen Kubo and the Two Strings and then you see this, you may feel, as I have, that it is like the spiritual grandfather to Kubo.
The Life of Guskou Budori
If you’ve ever seen Night on the Galactic Railroad, these two may look familiar to you. As you watch Guskou, you may develop the suspicion that the characters are an alternate incarnation or perhaps even a canon reincarnation of Giovanni and Campanella.
The Life of Guskou Budori is about said titular character as he navigates life after the death (otherworldly kidnapping?) of his younger sister during a great famine. The animation is simply gorgeous, and if you can forgive the incredibly vague narrative, you may just find yourself walking along a very enchanted dream.
Like Galactic Railroad, all of the characters are anthropomorphised cats. I’m unsure why that is, but it’s cute and inventive. It too, is based on a book. If you haven’t seen Night on the Galactic Railroad, I would also recommend that one, as it is very touching and poetic, but it is very slow. If you happen to like both of them, the anime Spring and Chaos, another anthropomorphic cat tale, may be for you, as it is about the guy who wrote the two aforementioned stories.
Tales from Earthsea
If you are a studio Ghibli fan, you may be in for a treat. This is a loose adaptation of Ursula K. LeGuin’s seminal work the Earthsea series. It wraps into one film the characters and issues of four books, and so it doesn’t do the books much justice as it has bit off a bit more than it can chew. But if you accept it as an entirely different story that happens to have similar magical rules and the same names as the Earthsea series character’s have, the film is quite good.
Young Arren is a disturbed young man who runs away from his posh life and is picked up by the Arch-mage Ged. After making a special friend and fighting a deranged wizard, Arren learns how to own up to his fears and find peace despite his crimes. I recommend watching the original Japanese dub, as it is a bit more insightful about the Earthsea world.
It is directed by Miyazaki’s son Goro. If you like this film, you may like his other, more well rounded film From Up On Poppy Hill (my favourite Ghibli film), and Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle, which is an adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones’s book of the same name (and a far more skillfully crafted adaptation than Tales from Earthsea. The perks of being a seasoned animator, I guess).
If you like the films, or even if you don’t, I recommend reading the Earthsea series and the Howl’s Moving Castle series. I prefer the latter.
A by itself, B-/C+ if compared to the books.
Fire and Ice
Fire and Ice is one of those barbarian films from the early 80′s. It’s got action and romance and wild prehistoric beasts, an obvious bad guy that’s still pretty well rounded despite his minor screen time and a bit of sorcery that you can laugh at if your mind is dirty enough to catch the innuendos. In a nutshell, Fire and Ice is a great late night blast from the past that every child of the 90′s should see at least once.
With art overseen by the legendary Frank Frazetta, I think any serious artist could find this film pretty rad as well.
The Cat Returns
The Cat Returns is a fascinating continuum of Shizuku’s story from Whisper of the Heart (another Ghibli film). It’s a fairy tale to the max, complete with a dapper cat ‘prince’ and woefully silly damsel-in-distress. It’s a lesser known Ghibli film, which is why it’s on the list, and if you do watch it, I recommend pairing it with Whisper of the Heart, a high school drama about a young girl’s blossoming romance and her attempt to write a novel, since it’s only right to see the little strings that connect the two tales.
It’s funny, charming and the Baron has a British accent ;) Mmm-mm delish!
Whew! What a long list!
Next time: Best Comedy Supernatural animated shows/films.
This is what I’ve been doing for the past 2 days.I had this scene in my head that would constantly show up again and again instead of imagining other scenes and I thought why not make a super short comic about it.And here it is!