As it turns out, the manga and I aren’t going to be great friends. Rather than spend the energy on a liveblog that’s increasingly negative, I’m reading each manga act (mostly) silently, and then writing up summaries at the end. I’ll be very candid, which means there’s likely criticism and snark a’plenty about the manga, either wholesale or in details. If that isn’t a thing you feel like reading, please skip this post!
The next part begins in a fresh volume of manga, but Minako’s rainbowy greeting is as pleasant as it’s going to get. It’s also the pinnacle of sense. Buckle up and assume crash position, kids, this one goes off the fucking rails FAST.
Picking up where we left off, Wiseman takes Chibi-Usa’s hand, only Mamoru Pluto senses it and loses her goddamn shit. If you, like me, ever wondered about the sound of evil, the manga finally has the answer to this burning question.
Mamoru Pluto says she has to stand guard, thus implying she ever does anything else. Meanwhile Endymion is showing off his library. “You must have every book ever written collected here!” says someone, quite possibly Takeuchi, trying to convince us that a few bookshelves that wouldn’t even house the entire body of Steven King’s work is “every book ever written”. Minako looks for the porn, and instantly confirms this is the worst book collection in history.
Then Pluto Endymion senses … something? I guess? Maybe? I think it’s Neo Queen Serenity’s heartbeat? ALSO HOW CAN YOU SENSE FUCKING ANYTHING YOU’RE A GODDAMN COMPUTER PROGRAM RIGHT NOW YOU ARE SIRI GIVEN PURPLE FORM AND OTHERWISE YOU ARE COMATOSE THIS IS SUCH BULLSHIT
Endymion Who Is A Series Of Ones And Zeros And Incapable Of Physical Sensation somehow knows that the “pang in [his] chest” has to do with himself Pluto, because the story literally does not give a shit about sense, only its relentless zombie march toward page count. Mamoru assumes this means Chibi-Usa, and invites himself along. BUT NOT YOU MINAKO GOD THAT’S SO RUDE. Instead she gets to “hold down the fort”.
“What fort?! It’s a deserted palace filled with dead people and a shitty fucking library. ALSO WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME TO DO LITERALLY ANYTHING AND WHY AM I LISTENING TO YOU I AM THE GODDAMN LEADER OF THE PRINCESS’S PERSONAL GUARD.” But she shouted this at the two retreating backs, one of them holographic and yet still somehow more important than her, and stayed where she was told. “THIS IS REALLY PISSING ME OFF,” Minako literally says, finding her feet rooted to the spot for no reason other than authorial intent giving no shits about anyone who is not Mamoru.
It’s then that the cats – NOT MINAKO BUT THE CATS – find the Wikipedia page on “Death Phantom”, who I guess we’re still not supposed to know is Wiseman? Don’t answer that, I don’t actually care. According to the translation of the Wiki, Death Phantom DESTROYED Crystal Tokyo, which seems a tad concerning to me and maybe someone you’d not want to send to Planet Evil and forget about, but I’m sure you guys know what you’re doing. It also says NQS couldn’t kill him because of his “special powers”, though @maskedtranslatinganon tells me it should read "But despite his crimes, he was still human. Thus, the queen could not bring herself to order him killed.” Given that, I feel comfortable saying Neo-Queen Serenity fucked up in a cornucopia of ways, not the least of which is IGNORING THE EVIL MURDEROUS FUCK AFTER YOU COULDN’T MAKE THE TOUGH CHOICE. The second she – as literally the only person who could – refused to deal with Wiseman permanently, she accepted responsibility for him. Brushing him under the rug and ignoring him for centuries is the opposite of that, and basically, fuck you, NQS. How many people, YOUR people, have died both then and now so your conscience could remain clean? And if this was going to be any part of this story, I’d actually be all over it. But I know damned well it won’t be, AND I’M SO IRRITATED.
While I was ranting, Pluto Endymion and Pluto Mamoru find Endymamoru Pluto unconscious. There sure is a lot of traffic to and from The Gate of Time for a place everyone is forbidden from visiting ever. Pluto should really start charging admission, maybe she could afford a plant, or a goddamn vacation. She says she knows Chibs has been transformed (?) and it’s caused a storm in space-time (??) and Mamoru knows he’ll find Chibs on the other side of the storm (???) but he needs a key (????) for a thing which nobody knew would exist (?????) but he doesn’t stop two seconds to get it (??????) before running off and everything is very GWOOO.
Oh, remember when Usagi was in this story? Remember when she called her “best friends” by their names?
I SURE FUCKING DON’T
Usagi wanders for a while then eavesdrops on a conversation between Rubeus and Saffir, and then she just talks to Saffir, and things get so fucking inexplicable at this point I’m just not even going to fucking bother trying. Maybe it’s translation, maybe it’s lack of storytelling ability, maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been out of soda for three days and am dying inside. I’ll just sum it all up with this unedited panel:
Rubeus, showing the only ounce of sense in this thing, is like “This is some fucked up shit, yo, later.” Then Wiseman kills him, answering the question of why he survived this long. Just kidding, of course it doesn’t.
Mamoru wanders in the storm. Chibs finds him. She’s an adult now. Also maybe naked. Moving on quickly.
At Grand Central Time Gate, Pluto Endymion and Endymion Pluto and Minako Minako are all waiting when Usagi and MARSMERCURYJUPITER appear. Endymion runs off for some reason. WHY DOES HE NEED TO RUN HE IS A FUCKING HOLOGRAM. ALSO HOW IS HE HOLDING USAGI’S LATEST TOY
REMEMBER WHEN HE DIDN’T EVEN TRY TO HUG HIS CRYING BABY DAUGHTER THAT WAS SO AWESOME
Usagi asks where Mamoru and Chibs are. Pluto says they’re lost in time together. USAGI GETS THAT LOOK ON HER FACE AND YOU KNOW WHAT SHE’S THINKING AND JESUS FUCKING WEPT USAGI
Also, I keep seeing this, and I can only assume it’s my subconscious crying out for help that will never come.
While this certainly isn’t true in all cases, I get this sinking feeling that villagers and the town guard can’t hack it in their daily lives. It’s as almost some of these places merely exist to get saved by dashing level 3 heroes. I don’t like it. I am a civil servant, and I lament the fact that heroes are constantly bailing out befuddled town guards.
I admit, if system worked, we wouldn’t have much of a story. When the town guard is properly equipped with magical crossbows (the D&D equivalent of MP5s), there is no reason to keep around unstable, fickle heroes. Imagine the kind of campaign that occurs when the local evil necromancer is apprehended by the town guard, and, due to minimum sentencing laws, spends the next 57 years animating corpses for local PSAs.
The heroes, murder hobos as they are, would have nothing to do. The world is a happier, healthier place but the campaign is over before it started. There is no story to tell when the system works.
In reality, towns have a plan The standard fantasy setting includes a ridiculous number of things that want to kill you and animate your corpse. Any borderland town will plan for local threats. Sure most of the town population probably can’t write, but they aren’t stupid: they realized that building their homes near a place called the “Tombwood” required some additional planning.
Quick aside: back in the days of yore, King Edward the III basically required all able bodied men to learn how to use a longbow. The King wanted a population that could be drafted to die whenever he itched to fight wars in France. There was no need for the threat of monsters to spur this idea of a competently armed populace, killing one’s own species was enough.
Towns, especially those that experience trouble on the regular, should have some plan to deal with threats that they experience. Do zombies continue to march out of the Tombwood? There is going to be a watchtower on that side of town, maybe a wall even, and all able bodied people will know the drill. If they lived there their entire lives, they are probably even good at it.
There is tension here. If a town exists, it’s pretty good at taking care of itself, but invariably, to make the story epic, defenses have to be rendered sufficiently helpless or corrupt as to make the heroes existence a necessity. That’s the whole point.
So how do we balance the need to show the town and its officials as competent while still creating a campaign? Well here are some of the tried and true traditional methods:
Ignore it. Easy enough. There are lots of little things about the standard fantasy setting that we just accept. The townsfolk are weak as kittens, but somehow managed to survive out here all by themselves.
Town as Safe Zone. It’s a point of light in the darkness, and anything outside the walls is fair game. This makes the town appear competent from time to time, and still allows plenty of low level adventure.
Epic Evil. The town can normally handle 50 orcs, but now there are 200. Help. This is really useful when your players get higher in level.
Honestly? These can be employed effectively and will probably work wonders for your campaign. No one will question this. But to me, they seem hollow. I want something else.
Another way: Town guard as a faction. If you are a good DM, you’ll have multiple hooks, objectives, or locations for the players to choose. Maybe, while the adventurers are out murdering the kobolds, the town guard takes care of the zombie problem all by themselves. All zombie loot would become property of the city due to a robust civil forfeiture law. After that, the local lord realizes that all of the tombs in the aptly named Tombwood are basically filled with treasure and it’s time to start mounting expeditions.
From there, the town guard becomes a character or faction in your campaign, functioning as a resource for your characters. They can help in times of need, provide hirelings, and gobs of supplies. The faction can also become a hindrance. What happens to Lord Dunnywit and the guard when they recover the Corrupting Obsidian Skull? They turn evil. This could be especially effective if characters are close friends with Lord Dunnywit. What if he is their patron? Total. Drama. Bomb.
This can take away from the feeling that the heroes are special, but treating the town (and its guard) as living breathing entity as opposed to ducklings that need to be saved can lead to a more vibrant experience.
yesterday i was angry, i mean it’s obvious why mr. ramis’ death would hurt more than any of the other recent celebrity deaths that have occurred this year. i’ve been working on a ghostbuster album for two years, i wrote a song about his most famous character, i knew everything about him, i was happily lounging in the comforts of my past. but yesterday i was trying to think of what made this hurt so much.
everyone cited the great movies he made in the 80’s, the movies that taught me pretty much everything i know about comedy, and i realized what it was, what it was that made him so dear to me. it was that switch from brother to father. it was how he was always family and never a stranger.
growing up, the snl actors were my best friends, i got to see their movies before i should have and knowing they were contraband made the experiences are the more indelible. these guys weren’t authority figures they were goofs, smart asses, disrespectful gadflies. i had older brothers, but they were constantly quoting these guys, and it all became synonymous with each other. my brothers were them and they were my brothers.
it was weird to think, concerning ramis specifically, that this guy wrote this? this guy directed vacation? but he’s not in it! it made my head swim. that someone could be funny AND powerful. funny AND smart. because of that he was more than a brother. he had the strong hand of a father. and i don’t mean playing fatherly roles, like he did in the 90’s, but running the show, taking charge. he appeared to be going against the authorities in the 80’s when he was the authority all along. although from what i read he never acted that way.
when groundhog day came out it was a new kind of authority he was rebelling against; the worst of ourselves. our willingness to become our worst nightmares, our mindless zombie march towards boredom and monotony. he reminded us to live our lives to the fullest, lest we be trapped in a cycle of repetition and agony. and though he made other films afterward, i felt like that was his last great lesson.
he took me to so many places. opened my mind and made me laugh. he made me love my brothers more, love my life more, and in the end love my father more.
i’ll be trying to sell my record as this month and the next month continue, i have no choice, but it won’t be easy, because now everything is reminding me of him. and these days every death feels more hurtful because of my own father’s passing. i’m definitely more sensitive and more in tune with our limited amount of time here. everyone has to go some time, and now is the time, as many of my friends said yesterday, to say goodbye to our heroes.
can we be those heroes for others? can we take their place and do for the kids coming up, what our heroes did for us? i don’t know. we definitely were taught well. that i know for sure.
i’ll be posting scenes from his movies this week. mr. ramis you are not just missed, you are cherished.