New art!

Hey guys!

It’s been a while. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been sick of reading lately so I haven’t really picked up any books that I want to talk about. I read a few graphic novels — the first two volumes of I Hate Fairyland, a humorous, cartoonishly violent story of a girl trapped in a magical world she’s desperate to escape; and the first volume of Jonesy, which is about a girl that has the power to make anyone fall in love with someone else and the inevitable antics that follow. I enjoyed them, but I probably won’t go into too much detail on talking about individual volumes of graphic novels. Maybe once a series is finished I’d talk about the series as a whole, though.

So even though I don’t have any books to talk about, I do have a few art-related things to share. I got a nice case of markers from my sister for Christmas, so I drew a character named Annie from Splatoon.

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Annie’s got this really funky coral-like hair, complete with a snarky fish swimming in it. Between that and all of the colors in her design, I felt a strong urge to try drawing her and I thought she would be a good way to test out my new markers.

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I also made a fairly big Bowser out of Perler beads. I’ve been watching a let’s play of Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story lately and… well, I’m not exactly sure what it was, but I was really impressed with Bowser’s sprite work. Like, so impressed I dropped everything to go make a Perler Bowser!

He wasn’t too bad. I had to substitute some bead colors here and there, but overall I’m really happy with how he came out! And if you’re curious about the let’s play, it’s being done on YouTube by lucahjin, so go look her up if you’re in the mood for some fun, silly commentary for a fun, silly game! 🙂

And finally, I’ve been working on a huge cross-stitch project since New Year’s Eve. Last year I learned how to cross-stitch and I thought to myself, “Hey, this would be a cool alternative for doing pixel art for projects too big for Perler beads!” I also thought there were a lot of cozy, homey areas in video games that would make good cross-stitch projects. So I started my first in hopefully a series of cross-stitch projects, Pallet Town from Pokemon Red/Blue. I was going to wait a little while longer before revealing my progress, but since today is Pokemon’s 21st anniversary…

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It may not seem impressive now, but I’ve put a lot of work into it! This is Oak’s lab, and I’m hoping to have this portion of Pallet Town finished within a few weeks! I debated whether or not to go with the classic black and white color palette of the Game Boy, or the color palette of the Super Game Boy. I eventually decided  to go with the Super Game Boy palette, mostly because I obtained a newfound appreciation for it when I played through Blue last year with my friend and completed the Pokedex for the first time.

I feel like the colors I’m using are blending in too much with each other, though. I feel like I picked up the right colors, and when I looked at the game itself and compared it to my sprite sheet it feels like I’m doing this right, but… I dunno. Maybe I need to get a little further to really tell. It’s just one part of the entire town, after all.

Well that’s all for now. As for books, I did start reading a really interesting one that plays a lot with structure and layout, so I think there’s a good chance I’ll make a post about it one I’m done! Until then, I hope everyone’s having a great week! 🙂

New Perler bead art! (Pokemon, Splatoon, and Legend of Zelda)

Happy New Year, everyone! It’s been a while since my last post, and I was hoping to have one final book discussion before 2016 was over. I read through the ttyl series (or Internet Girls series, as it’s apparently been called) last month, but it took longer than I thought it would. I just finished the final book the other day and I’m hoping to have a post about it before the week is over.

However, I’ve also made some new Perler art in the past month that I wanted to share! The first three were made as Christmas gifts for friends, so let’s take a look!

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The first one I made last month was the Pokemon Espeon, who was first introduced in Pokemon Gold/Silver. It was one of the new Eevee evolutions, and a counterpart to Umbreon, Eevee’s other new evolution. While Umbreon was one of the new dark types and represented the moon, Espeon here was a psychic type and represented the sun. The friend I made this for loves Espeon, so I looked through sprites of it from different games and chose one I thought she would like. This particular one is from Pokemon Diamond/Pearl, and I chose it because it looks like a meowing cat, which my friend is also a huge fan of.

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The next Perler project I did was another Pokemon one. Here I made Vileplume and Oddish attached to each other. The friend I made this for loves Vileplume and used one in her party when we played through Pokemon Red/Blue together last year, so making this particular project held double the meaning for me. I made an Oddish with it because I had an idea to make a mommy and baby Pokemon together and wanted to see how it came out. I was originally going to have Oddish on top of Vileplume’s head, like it was riding on the petals, but I thought it wasn’t going to look good so I ended up putting Oddish slightly in front of Vileplume instead.

These particular sprites came from Pokemon Silver. An interesting thing about the entire Oddish family in the earlier games is that although their artwork depicts them as having grayish-blue body tones, some of their sprites depict them as all black. These sprites did something interesting and kept hints of the blue in the otherwise black bodies, and I thought they looked really stylized and pretty badass. I knew my friend would appreciate something like that, so I chose these sprites to go with.

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My next project is the squid mascot from Splatoon, a team-based game for Wii U. I finally purchased one last year, my first new video game console in eight years. One of the games I’ve really enjoyed is Splatoon. You’re paired up with other players to form teams of four, and your goal is to cover the most ground with a paint-like ink. You play as Inklings, characters that look mostly human with the exception of their hair, which are squid tentacles formed to look like hairstyles. However, you can turn into a squid at anytime, which is mostly used to travel quickly through ink you’ve splattered on the ground.

One of my friends and I have been playing Splatoon online together once every week or so lately, and I thought he would appreciate a Perler piece from that game. Since it’s an HD console game, however, there are no sprites to use, so I took an image of the mascot squid and put a grid over it like I’ve done a few times before. I think it came out rather nice, although I think the spots on the bottom came out a little too blocky.

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Finally, I made some smaller Perler art for myself. These are some characters from The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for the Game Boy. Link’s Awakening is a game I haven’t played through entirely since I was a kid, despite being a big Zelda fan. There was no real reason why, either; for the past few years especially, I’ve always said I should replay it soon but for whatever reason I never did. Three or four years ago, I started a new file but stopped halfway through, again, for no real reason.

So about a week before Christmas, I was getting nostalgic for some of the games I got for Christmas in 2002. That was probably the best Christmas for me for a number of reasons, but gift-wise, I got very lucky and got three Game Boy Advance games and four Gamecube games. I wanted to play one of those Game Boy Advance games again, and I chose the port of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, originally for the Super Nintendo. Now, I’ve played through this game many, many times since then, and although I always enjoy revisiting it, it’s unfortunately one of those games that I’ve played to death and feel like I just go through the motions while playing. I beat it in a few days, but I was still feeling nostalgic and still in the mood for a 2-D Zelda game. So I finally decided that this was the perfect time to finally revisit Link’s Awakening after so many years.

I could go on about my recent experience playing Link’s Awakening, but that’s probably better saved for its own separate post. The short version is, I loved it! It was so charming for a Zelda game, and since I haven’t played it fully since I was a kid and only had vague memories from then and a few let’s plays I’ve watched, it felt new. Anyway, I really wanted to make some Perler characters from this game, so I made a bunch of either my favorites or from characters I thought looked interesting. I think my favorite part of making these was that I had found this slightly off-white, almost ivory colored bag of Perler beads that I usually reserve for shades of gray, but here it’s perfect for how white appears on the Game Boy, making these Perler pieces feel extra retro. 🙂

Well that’s all for now! Stay tuned for my Let’s Talk Books on the ttyl series, and possibly even a Link’s Awakening post shortly after that! Thanks everyone for reading, I hope you’re having a great week, and I definitely hope you’re going to have a great year! 🙂

Late InkTober Drawings!

Hey everyone! While writing the Dracula post last week, I forgot to make a post showing the rest of the drawings I did for InkTober.

I cheated a little with some of these final drawings. InkTober is supposed to use, well, ink. And while I did use ink for all of these drawings, I started using colored pencils for some of the last few (I got frustrated doing so many drawings in only black and white).

Part of the reason I wasn’t using color in the first place is that I don’t really have any colored markers. I have a few in varying shades of gray, and a few colored India Ink markers, but I was never happy with how they came out. I would have bought some, but good markers are pretty expensive and now wasn’t exactly the best time to drop money on something I probably won’t use too often. 😛

However, one of my friends lent me a few copic markers to try out, and I used those for my final two drawings. I was thrilled with how they turned out! They were very thick, consistent, and left no streaks. I really want to invest in them some time!

InkTober was very fun. I try using my creativity to make different things as often as I can, but this was the first time since college that I actually worked on something every single day for a month straight. Even when I didn’t feel like it (and trust me, there were a lot of days I wasn’t feeling it), I powered through. There was something really great about starting and finishing something every day, too. I’ve got a bad habit of spending too long on certain things, trying to make them perfect, or even giving up on them if I convince myself there’s no way I could make them look good in the first place. Forcing myself to start and finish something within one day made me more comfortable with myself. Even if something didn’t turn out well (and I definitely think some of these didn’t turn out well), I had plenty more that I was proud of. It became easier for me to understand that if something I was working on wasn’t working out, that’s all right. Because there will always be something next time.

Thanks for reading, and I hope everyone’s having a great week! 🙂

New S-P-O-O-P-Y Perler art and InkTober drawings!

Happy Halloween everyone!!

I feel like a broken record by this point, but once again… I don’t have as many Halloween Perler projects to share this week as I wanted to. In fact, it’s one again. :/ It took a lot longer than I anticipated, and it was sort of complicated too. But it’s better than nothing, right? So here it is, the last Halloween Perler project until next year — Death, from Super Castlevania IV!

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I’ve never actually played any Castlevania games before, so I can’t tell you much about Death here. It’s the Grim Reaper, and… well, I hear he’s super hard in the first game. I’ve seen some let’s plays of a few different Castlevania games though, and I know from those that they’re full of spooky monsters that are perfect for Halloween. I browsed some sprite sheets and went with Death because I just thought it looked cool.

Super Castlevania IV, like the Donkey Kong Country games, is one of those SNES titles with more complicated graphics. A lot of different colors, more realistic looking sprites — that sort of thing. I’ll admit, I was hesitant to even do Death. Honestly, I just wanted to make Gastly, Haunter, and Gengar from Pokemon and call it there. But I forgot that there aren’t many shades of purple for Perler beads, and I knew I was going to need more than was available, so I went here instead.

Which was stupid, because I ran into the exact same problem here except with blues. 😦

Yeah, I run into this problem a lot. And I’m still surprised, since there are actually a lot of blue shaded Perlers out there. But I never find any blueish purples or blueish grays, and those are the ones I always need. In this case, I had to improvise about half the colors, so it doesn’t look exactly like the sprite. I still think it came out all right, but it’s definitely one of my pieces I need to step back from to actually appreciate the details.

I’ve also got some more InkTober drawings. I didn’t hit 31, but since I started halfway through the month and still did at least one a day, I’m happy with where I’m at. I’m actually going to keep going with the InkTober challenge even though it’s over, so expect to see more in November. But here’s the next batch:

Anyway, Happy Halloween everyone! Dracula‘s about three quarters done, so hopefully I’ll have a review of it next week! 🙂

New Perler Bead Art!

Let’s jump right into this!

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First is Hitmonlee from Pokemon Red/Blue. Why Hitmonlee? I don’t really know. I like him as a Pokemon, but I’ve never really used one before. Honestly, I came home from work one day, I was pretty tired, a stream I wanted to watch was just about to start, and I thought an art project would be a good way to unwind and do something productive for a couple of hours. I picked Hitmonlee at random; I honestly just wanted to make something that day.

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Next up is Sandslash from Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire. This one was a birthday present for someone, Sandslash being their favorite Pokemon. It was a lot of fun to make, too! I haven’t really used many yellow beads since my Princess Kenny project, and it’s nice to see a little more color in something I made.

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I also made a Wooper from Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire. Lucahjin is currently playing through Pokemon HeartGold blind on YouTube, and when she caught a Wooper I was overcome with awe. I forgot how absurdly cute and derpy this little guy is, and I just had to make one.

You know, it’s funny. There are a lot of shades of blue beads but I often find myself never having the right shade. This project was an example of that. It still looks like a Wooper, but I had to make some different choices off the sprite sheet I was using to make it look like this. It looked awkward before because none of the blues were mixing well with each other.

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The first three were my major projects during the past couple of months. Other than that, I’ve been trying to produce smaller pieces to trying selling at flea markets. A lot involved Super Mario Bros. 3; here I have Mario, a super mushroom, Super Mario, a racoon leaf, and Racoon Mario arranged on my fridge.

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I also made Megaman from his NES games. I don’t really have a lot to say about the original Megaman series, except I have little experience and the little experience I have involves dying a lot. I dunno, like the Mario games on NES, the Megaman series was something I never felt completely used to. However, I will say he makes a pretty cool magnet. 😉

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And finally, I wanted to try making some Legend of Zelda magnets, so I chose Link and an Octorok from the first game. I think they came out all right enough, but I was never a big fan of sprites from NES games that didn’t have an outline to them. They kind of come off meh to me. Oh well.

And that about wraps up all my new Perler projects. I wouldn’t expect many new pieces anytime soon, as I’m currently working on a new writing project for NaNoWriMo. This is my first major writing project since last year, and even though I don’t expect to finish it by the end of the month, I’d like to give it my full artistic attention until it’s over. (It’s not even a novel; I’m more or less just using NaNoWriMo as an excuse to work a lot on this project).

Anyway, hope you’re all having a great week! 🙂

New Perler Bead Art!

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I originally had a different post planned for this week, but I wasn’t really liking what I had written. So here’s some more Perler bead art instead! 🙂

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First up is Storm Eagle from Megaman X. He’s the boss of my favorite stage (a lot of people’s favorite stage, actually), and it’s my favorite because of the music. Anyone who appreciates retro game music who hasn’t heard it before should probably go look it up after reading this post. 🙂

Anyway, this is definitely one of my better ones. I’m learning how to iron together bigger projects more effectively, and I think this one didn’t have any issues whatsoever. Finding the right shades of purple wasn’t easy, though; Perler doesn’t seem to offer a great range of purple shades, so I had to improvise. If you look really closely, you can even see I used some striped beads to give the illusion of another shade of purple. It actually worked out pretty well! I have a bunch of spare striped beads, and while I don’t want to get into the habit of relying on them, it’s good to know they can get the job done if needed.

DSCN1320Next up is Cloud from Final Fantasy Tactics. Although I haven’t been pursuing it very well, I’d like to make each character from Final Fantasy Tactics out of Perler beads. I chose Cloud next because… well, it’s Cloud! Final Fantasy VII was a big part of my high school experience, and seeing the main character show up as a secret one in Final Fantasy Tactics blew my mind back then. These days I can’t help but wonder if his inclusion was shameless promotion for Final Fantasy VII, but…

… I don’t care. :X

Cloud was pretty easy to make. He’s not particularly big, so ironing went well too. It was kind of weird using so many browns and golds in the hair, considering he’s blonde, but in the end I think it turned out well. 🙂

DSCN1326The next few are all from Pokemon Sapphire, a game that also played a large role for me during high school. As anyone that’s read this blog for a while could tell you, Pokemon was a huge interest for me when I was a kid, as it was for virtually everyone else. When Red and Blue were released, every kid in school was super into it. But by the time Gold and Silver came out, the kids’ interest was fading. Eventually it came to a point where if you liked Pokemon, you were a loser. I still played Silver and my best friend next door played Gold, but a big part of the charm of Pokemon — the communal interest — had been lost. We had to like it in secret for a while.

Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire came out when I was a freshman in high school. To my surprise, one of my friends got it and really loved it. I actually saw a handful of people really interested in it. It wasn’t a popular thing to like, especially as a high schooler, but there was enough of a following that bounced back to make my interest peak again. I got Sapphire for my birthday that year and ended up putting close to 200 hours on the game by the end of high school. :X

Between learning the game’s new mechanics, training up level 100 Pokemon to battle against my friends, keeping an unnaturally close eye on growing berries, challenging the Battle Tower, attempting to fill up the Pokedex, and faffing around with secret bases, it’s no wonder Pokemon Sapphire took up so much of my time back then.

Like Cloud, the Pokemon trainer you play as (his name is Brendan, apparently) didn’t take long to make. He’s really small. So small, I’m thinking about turning him into a keychain. It’s the pose from when the trainer uses an HM move; back then, I thought it was the coolest thing.

Besides from Ralts, of course.

DSCN1329Early in the game, you take a new trainer named Wally out to catch his first Pokemon. Out pops this thing. I don’t know why, but I thought this was the coolest, most adorable little thing in the entire game so far (all 20 minutes of playing it). I searched for an hour in the tall grass before I found one of my own. Later that day, my friend told me it evolves into one of the best Pokemon in the game.

I’m not sure how this one came out, though. Something I’ve noticed about Game Boy Advance Sprites is that they’re more complex than Super Nintendo and surprisingly PlayStation sprites. There’s a lot of smaller differences in color shades that you probably wouldn’t even notice until you saw a sprite of one zoomed in. As a result, sometimes some of the Perler art I make from medium-sized Game Boy Advance sprites looks a little weird unless you’re looking at them from far away.

DSCN1331Ralts’ fully evolved form, Gardevoir, became an instant favorite of mine. Ralts took a while before he could hold his own in battle, but by the time it became a Gardevoir it was one of my best Pokemon. Not to mention this Pokemon looks classy. It’s so elegant, it almost looks like it’s wearing some kind of gown. It was usually my go-to Pokemon.

Maybe because it’s bigger, so more shades can spread out a little more, but I think Gardevoir came out much better than Ralts. It’s definitely one of my favorite Perler pieces so far, nostalgia aside.

Hope everyone’s having a good week. 🙂

New Perler Bead Art!

So, I wasn’t planning on showing off more Perler bead projects this week. I wanted to write a new Let’s Talk Books post about the Harry Potter series, but I don’t think I would have been able to make it as good as I could have unless I gave myself another week. Then I was going to write something else, but I began wondering if it would have worked better as a blog post or a very experimental short story, so that may or may not be posted at some point in the future.

Blah blah blah who cares, let’s get dorky with Perler bead art!

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Tellah from Final Fantasy IV.

First up is a Final Fantasy character, Tellah, from Final Fantasy IV. I never grew up with the Nintendo or Super Nintendo Final Fantasy games; my first experience with the series was Final Fantasy VII for the original PlayStation in 2002, almost five years after the game was released. However, I’ve played many of the other games since then, including FFIV. Actually, my interest in playing this particular game came from one of the first Let’s Plays I ever watched. It sounds weird, but I have more memories with that Let’s Play than from playing the game itself.

Anyway, one of my coworkers really likes FFIV, especially Tellah. This was a very spur of the moment project, and I ended up giving it to him. It wasn’t very big; it easily fit on a single pegboard, and it probably took less than an hour to make, too.

Setzer from FFVI.

Setzer from FFVI.

Next is another Final Fantasy character, Setzer from Final Fantasy VI. I played this game for the first time last year, and while I don’t agree it’s the best Final Fantasy game, I really liked it and can see why it’s so many people’s favorite. Setzer was one of my favorite characters to use, and I always loved this pose of his. When I finished Tellah, I went straight to making Setzer. They’re both about the same size and took about the same amount of time to make.

Kirby from Kirby Super Star.

Kirby from Kirby Super Star.

I’ve always enjoyed Kirby games since I was a kid. They’re very casual, which suits me perfectly. They’re great for when I’m in the mood to play something, but only for a couple of days. Sometime last month, that exact situation popped up and I played through two games. And sure enough, I got the urge to make Perler bead art from the series.

I chose a sprite from the Super Nintendo game Kirby Super Star. This was also another game I didn’t grow up with; I had the Nintendo DS remake Kirby Super Star Ultra. I’m not sure why I picked a sprite from the Super Nintendo version, but what’s done is done. I’m not exactly thrilled with the way it came out, and I had a feeling I wasn’t going to be when I started. I didn’t seem to have any of the exact colors used in the sprite sheet I referenced. This isn’t the first time something like that happened, though, so I tried it out anyway.

Eh.

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Morty from Pokemon Gold and Silver.

I’ve already talked about the influence Pokemon had on me as a kid in the first part of my anime retrospective, as well as many other posts, so I won’t talk about it too much here. Since making the protagonist, rival, and Prof. Oak from Pokemon Red and Blue last year, I wanted to eventually make all of the main characters and gym leaders from the series that had 2-D sprites. I used a random number generator to decide who to make next, and I got Morty from Pokemon Gold and Silver.

It came out okay, I guess. But I don’t know, something about it didn’t wow me like the monochrome Game Boy sprites.

Sonic from Sonic 3 and Knuckles.

Sonic from Sonic 3 and Knuckles.

Tails from Sonic 3 and Knuckles.

Tails from Sonic 3 and Knuckles.

Knuckles from Sonic 3 and Knuckles.

Knuckles from Sonic 3 and Knuckles.

Dr. Robotnik from Sonic 3 and Knuckles.

Dr. Robotnik from Sonic 3 and Knuckles.

And finally, we have the main cast from the Sega Genesis Sonic the Hedgehog series: Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Dr. Robotnik as seen in Sonic 3 and Knuckles. This (or Sonic 3 or Sonic and Knuckles on their own) were my go-to video game when I was a kid. Whether by myself or when playing with my best friend next door, we spent a lot of time with the Sonic series on the Genesis. When I first started making Perler bead art, I couldn’t wait to try making Sonic characters. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a good range of colors until recently. But at least I finally made them!

Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles came out all right (the lighting in the Sonic picture makes the beads look a lot brighter than they are, unfortunately). They aren’t very big; I think each one fit on a single pegboard. Dr. Robotnik, however, was a much bigger project. I believe he took up four pegboards and a teeny bit of two more for the flames coming from his vehicle’s exhaust pipe, so I had to use six in total. This was one of those situations where I had a strong hunch the beads were going to give me a lot of trouble fusing, so I split the ironing between the top and bottom half, and then ironed both sides together. Thankfully, this pulled the project together fairly well, and Dr. Robotnik is now one of my best pieces yet!

The eternal chase.

The eternal chase.

Hope everyone’s having a good week! Next time I’ll (hopefully) have something to say about the Harry Potter series! 🙂

Why I Fell In Love With Anime and Why I Grew to Hate It – Part 1

I’m going to try talking about something a little different for the next few weeks. It’s something I’ve kind of wanted to talk about for a while, not just on the blog, but in general. I’ve always put it off because I was never quite sure how to explain myself without sounding offensive in some way, but I feel like no matter what I say, it’s not going to come off perfect, so I may as well try just say it. To all of you anime fans reading this, take it with a grain of salt.

When I was in my teens and as late as my early 20s, I loved anime. There was something about it that really connected with me, whether it was the art styles, the stories, the characters, or the merchandise. It was something that I thought I would always love, and it was something I found incredibly difficult to discuss with people that either didn’t get it or didn’t like it.

And then, sometime when I was… 21? 22? At around that time I sort of just stopped liking it. I don’t want to say it happened out of nowhere, as I saw myself losing interest in it for about a year. But I remember the exact moment when I realized I no longer liked anime.

It was Halloween 2010. One of my friends invited me over to hang out with a couple of other people. When I got there, it was just my friend and another one of his friends. Me and my friend were 21 or 22, but his friend was still in high school. We put on an anime to watch until everyone else got there. It was Soul Eater, a 51-episode series about something I honestly can’t remember. I’d watched it earlier in the year and enjoyed it enough. I thought, yeah, okay. I wouldn’t mind watching some of Soul Eater again.

I guess it was my friend’s first time watching through the series though, because he started on the last DVD. We were watching the final few episodes, which consisted of the final fights with the bad guys or something. There were over-the-top, acrobatic fights, a lot of commentary by onlookers, etc. etc. It was the kind of final fight in anime that I’d seen plenty of times before.

My friend’s friend, the high schooler, was awestruck. It’s like he’d never seen anything like it before (and if memory serves correctly, he was still kind of new to anime, so maybe he really hadn’t). He just kept saying “cool” and “epic” every few minutes as we watched this final fight.

But the whole time, I thought it was really stupid. Like, really really stupid. And I remember in the middle of one episode, listening to my friend’s young friend rant and rave about how cool this show was, looking around my friend’s room at all of his anime figures and wall scrolls (half of which were barely clothed women), I had some kind of epiphany.

I’m too old for this.

I don’t know why watching that scene struck such a dramatically different chord with me than it had earlier in the year. I don’t know why everything about anime just seemed to be a turn off for me. But from that day on, I just officially stopped liking anime. And not just stopped liking it; I started to hate it. All I could think of whenever I looked at something anime related was how dumb it was and how many years I’d wasted consuming anime and manga, not to mention how much money I’d dropped on all of it. I took most of my anime pictures and posters off the walls in my room. I packed up my figures in a box and stuffed it in the bottom of my closet. It was like I was embarrassed of that side of me, and I wanted to hide it away where no one could see it.

It’s almost been 5 years since then. I still don’t like anime, although I started developing a fondness for my memories of some of the better ones. I wouldn’t say I hate it anymore; it’s been out of my life for too long to really justify hating it. I’ve even started to reappreciate some of the art styles.

But what exactly happened? Why was it so appealing to me when I was in my teens, and why did it disgust me so much as an adult?

Why I Used to Love It: Elementary and Middle School Years

Cartoons were a big part of my life as a kid. Even as I was entering middle school, when other kids starting watching MTV or prime time shows, my first (and pretty much only) television watching had been Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. Maybe I was just immature for my age, but I felt more at home with cartoons going into my teens (and even early college, if I’m going to be completely honest) than with other programming. Maybe it was the cartoonist in me that subconsciously appreciated what those channels had to offer over other shows. I don’t know.

But in 1998, when I was in 5th grade, Pokemon spread like wildfire. I remember the first advertisement I ever saw of it was on the back of a Disney Adventures magazine, and I was in front of the TV day one when the cartoon premiered. I’ll always think of Pokemon as just Pokemon, not an anime. I don’t even think I knew the term back then. But that was my first “official” experience with it.

The rest is a little fuzzy. Dragonball Z and Sailor Moon aired before the bus came on the WB, and I eventually got interested in those shows, too. I could tell they were different, like Pokemon, but I didn’t know in what way. They were more addicting than other cartoons, though, and I wanted to know more. During the next few years of collecting Pokemon merchandise, I eventually started discovering more things drawn in similar styles. The first was one of the Pokemon comics, The Electric Tale of Pikachu. This was much more Japanese-stylized than the cartoon, and it was even more fun to draw from. And on the back cover of one of the issues was an advertisement for another Japanese comic, Neon Genesis Evangelion. I thought it was cool and the art was really good, but I never ended up looking for it in comic book stores. I just stuck looking for Pokemon stuff . (And the occasional issue of Bone; it wasn’t anime-related, but I liked other comics too. Sort of.) Little did I know Evangelion was going to be the thing that completely sucked me into the world of anime a couple years later.

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Yup, I still have them. It may not be all of them, but I was a big fan of these comics around 2000. Most of them were gifts from my grandfather, but I think I bought a couple of them with allowance money.

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The advertisement for Evangelion on the back cover of one of the Pokemon comics.

 

But until that time, Pokemon was good. My grandfather was very into comics and drawing from them, and when he went out to comic book stores he often bought me magazines that featured Pokemon articles. A lot of these magazines were about anime in general, and I think this is where I first learned what it was that I was finding such an attraction to.

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One of the magazines about anime I’d gotten from my grandfather. I spent more time looking through all the pictures, wondering what all this was, than actually reading it.

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An advertisement for the Evangelion movie featured in the above magazine. Ha, $30 for a DVD. Oh, early 2000s… 🙂

 

When I was in middle school I started watching the Toonami block each afternoon on Cartoon Network. I was mostly in it for Dragonball Z, which became my new favorite thing once Pokemon was universally decided by my school to be unpopular after its initial 2-year craze. I still liked it, but I had to like it in secret. But Dragonball Z was fine for me. (It had fights! With people! Yeah!) Dragonball Z characters quickly became my new thing to draw from. I remember hanging my drawings up on my wall and making a collage out of them. It was more complicated than Pokemon, yet retained simple enough faces and bodies for my middle school hands to copy down on paper easily enough. This was something I began to like about anime as I was growing out of being a child and into a teen: anime was still like a cartoon, but it had more mature themes and art styles to them. It felt a lot cooler than cartoons, even though I was still watching them. It felt like a totally different world for me to discover.

The Toonami block kept my attention for mostly Dragonball Z, but I eventually started watching other anime they had to offer. The Tenchi Muyo shows were probably the first animes I saw to feature a lot of Japanese settings and mannerisms. It was essentially a harem show, where the main character was a guy surrounded by a bunch of beautiful women who fell in love with him, although it seemed a lot more innocent than some of the other harem shows that eventually came over to the US. Maybe they censored a lot of it, maybe it really was a lot more innocent; who knows. I didn’t even know what a harem show was back then. To me, I was just experiencing more anime, more new art styles, more foreign characters.

As I was entering high school, other shows like Rurouni Kenshin, Zoids, and G Gundam caught my attention for a while as well, all three adding something new to the table. Rurouni Kenshin introduced me to what samurai stories could be like in anime, while Zoids and G Gundam helped familiarize me with the giant robot genre a little better (although I didn’t find drawing mechs nearly as fun as drawing people). I always felt like I was one of the few people in my school (who watched Toonami, anyway) that actually liked G Gundam. Everyone thought it wasn’t as good as Gundam Wing. Unfortunately, I never watched Gundam Wing when it was on Toonami. For whatever reason, it never appealed to me at the time. I guess I was too into Pokemon and Digimon to really care. And of course, I was super excited when Dragonball, the original series before Dragonball Z, started airing. (Finally, I got to see how everything started! No more hearing vague and inaccurate summaries from classmates!)

Toonami was great for my middle school years and even my freshman year of high school. I guess by today’s standards, it wasn’t a huge selection of anime, but I thought for a kid just getting into it, Toonami provided a pretty good lineup of shows that I could easily see most afternoons. Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s late night block, also started offering some more shows like Yu Yu Hakusho and Cowboy Bebop, both of which I really liked. They probably would have been more influential at the time if they were on TV for more than one night a week.

However, it wasn’t until a trip to my library one fateful day that new doors suddenly opened. I’m not sure how I stumbled across it, I’m not sure if it was always there and I just didn’t know it, I don’t know if it was new: but there, in a small shelf in the teen section, was manga. Not just the individual issues of anime I’d occasionally see in comic stores, but smaller, book-sized volumes consisting of multiple issues. I looked through a few and took a couple of books from 2 series with me. One was Inuyasha, which strangely enough started premiering on Adult Swim shortly after I started reading some of the library’s manga. I can’t say it was something I followed as well as other shows, both because it was a little harder to catch on Adult Swim (I think it was only on Saturday nights for a while, and then after 12 or 1 am on weekdays) and because I started losing interest. But it was really popular with other anime fans in my school for a couple of years during this time, and I was still discovering a lot about the world of anime, so I still have a few fond memories with the early stuff.

The other was Neon Genesis Evangelion, the one advertised on the back of the Pokemon comic I mentioned earlier.

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The manga adaptations of Evangelion my library offered when I was around 14. I had such fond, nostalgic memories of borrowing these and drawing from them, that I eventually went and found used copies in bookstores and comic shops when I studied in community college.

 

Evangelion… where do I even start.

Evangelion, to put it extremely bluntly, was a show about a 14-year-old boy named Shinji who piloted a bio-mechanical robot (an Evangelion, or Eva for short) to fight strange, otherworldly monsters codenamed “Angels,” who begin appearing and attacking Shinji’s home of Tokyo-3. And yes, that’s the third Tokyo Japan has in this series. It’s set in the not-so-distant future of 2015. Or, it was. When the show was created in 1995. I can’t even begin to explain how strange and almost surreal it is to know I’m currently residing in the year 2015, knowing that an anime that had an incredible influence on me as a teenager was set in the same year.

So it sounds like a semi-futuristic, giant robot anime, but that blunt description doesn’t do it justice. While that’s the main concept of the show, Evangelion goes in a completely different direction and puts so much focus on the mental health of several main characters. Shinji suffers from depression, poor self-esteem, and father issues (The organization Shinji fights for? His dad runs that, by the way.), another pilot is emotionally withdrawn from the world around her, another one has a massive inferiority complex, etc.

The show’s plot regarding the Evas and Angels takes a backseat halfway through the series. It’s still there, but it becomes clear that the focus of the show turns towards these characters’ deteriorating mental health. The show begins to go through a lot of surreal, self-analyzing scenes, and the final two episodes focus solely on that. As someone that didn’t have great self-esteem growing up, and as someone entering his teenage years while developing problems with depression, this show really spoke out to me. It wasn’t just me loving the characters or the plot or how different this anime was compared to everything else I’d experienced. It made me think in a way nothing else had. It featured a protagonist I could relate to, and the fact that we were the same age definitely helped. And to top it off, the character designer, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, made amazing art for the show and even drew the manga himself. Even after all these years and my love for anime has long since burned out, I’d be lying if I said he wasn’t one of my favorite artists. There’s something about the way he draws faces and uses colors. I wish I knew more about art to accurately describe just what it is he does that appeals to me so much.

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“Der Mond,” the art book for Evangelion. It features art and concept sketches by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto. I saw it advertised in one of the Evangelion mangas when I was in middle school, but I never found a copy until years later.

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An example of Evangelion’s art. The page on the left features the main character Shinji in the front, his commanding officer, Misato, behind him, and Shinji’s Eva behind her. On the right (sorry for the light!) is another picture of Shinji and his Eva.

 

Evangelion was the first show to really draw me into the world of anime. I borrowed random volumes of manga and the TV series from my library in 8th grade, and when I graduated middle school my parents got me the box set of the show as a gift. (An extremely generous gift, too. The thing was $180, which I guess in 2002 would have made some sense, considering the cost of DVDs and the limited availability of anime.)

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It’s still here, after all this time. Hello, old friend.

I would show each of my friends the show and try to get them to love it as much as me. Some of them liked it, others were turned off when the philosophical stuff started taking over the show. I can’t exactly blame them. Evangelion isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, even in anime circles. I remember it being a big hit or miss show with many anime fans for years to come. But for me, it was what finally sucked me in for good. It became a source of inspiration for both writing and drawing, at least for a while. And it set the bar for what I had expected from future anime shows I would get into.

Part 2 –>

New Perler Bead Art!

Happy New Year, everyone! Don’t know about you, but I’m glad to be out of 2014. It sucked for a lot of people I know, and while I can’t say there’s anything I’m particularly looking forward to in 2015, it’s nice to have that feeling of starting a fresh slate again.

Anyway, I’ve got some new Perler bead stuff to show off! It’s been a while, so let’s get started!

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First off is another gift I made a friend. He’s a big Dragon Ball Z fan, so I wanted to make him something from one of the games. After searching through a bunch of sprite sheets, I decided on Vegeta from a game called Dragon Ball Z: Hyper Dimension, which I don’t think was ever released in America. But who cares? The sprites from that game seemed to be the most high quality I’ve found, so I rolled with it.

Geez! Easily the biggest Perler project I’ve done yet. I’m pretty lucky It came out okay; ironing bigger projects always brings problems, but it wasn’t as bad as, say, my Snorlax. Vegeta here had a lot of convenient “limbs” that fused more quickly and easily. I’ve started to use less pressure when ironing, and I’ve got to say it usually helps somewhat. The ironing paper rarely sticks, which makes the problem of pulling up straggling beads less of an issue. It also helps prevent beads from “bleeding” into each other.

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Next up is my own attempt to show some Christmas spirit. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce The Legend of Zelda: A Link to Christmas Past! I used a sprite of Link from Link to the Past and made some color changes for a Santa outfit. I gave him a cookie shield, which is slightly modified in shape from the Red Shield, and a candy cane “sword,” which I sort of copied from one of the other canes he gets in the game. I put some string through it and put it in my car, trying to remind myself that Christmas can be fun as I drove to work.

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Meta Knight, from Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland. My freshman year of high school holds a lot of memories for me regarding the Game Boy Advance. Games like Metroid Fusion, Megaman Zero, Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland, Pokemon Sapphire, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past found their way into my house one way or another. Whether it was just a good time for Game Boy Advance games, I was lucky regarding Christmas and birthday gifts, or maybe a combination of the two, I found myself playing these games a lot.

Anyway, I have this one particularly strong memory of watching my friend play Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland as we were walking laps around the soccer field during gym one day. There wasn’t anything special about it, just one of those “snapshot” memories that recalls a specific time during your life. This game always reminds me of that time. I don’t know why I don’t revisit it more; this is probably my favorite Kirby game I own, and the fact you can play through the entire game as Meta Knight in a sort of challenge mode is one of the cooler things this series brings.

This one wasn’t too bad to make; the wings, feet, and sword fused mostly fine with only a little difficulty fusing the center area. I honestly didn’t like how it turned out at first, but when I came back to it the next day, I fell in love with it. This might be my new favorite Perler bead piece.

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Here’s Super Sonic from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it in another post, but the Genesis Sonic games played a big part in my childhood. That being said, I really hate Super Sonic. I feel like I’m the only person in the world that thinks this, but for me, Super Sonic is just an obnoxious way to stop hearing the great music that plays through almost every stage. Replacing it with a short loop of an extremely tedious and annoying melody doesn’t seem like much of a reward for collecting all the Chaos Emeralds. I won’t say he’s completely useless, though; I can use him to blaze past the two middle levels of Sonic the Hedgehog 3, which I’m not much of a fan.

Anyway, I made this for a friend from work for covering one of my shifts. It was a day I really wanted covered, and I felt so overjoyed and grateful I just offered to make him something in return, and this is what he chose.

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And finally, here’s Vileplume from Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen. I bought one of those big, 11,000 count containers of beads since I was running a little low on a lot of colors. I ended up having an abundance of reds, so I looked through some sprite sheets that might help me use some up. I settled on this; definitely wasn’t my first pick of things I wanted to recreate from Pokemon, but whatever. It’s not like I hate Vileplume, or anything.

This was probably the most obnoxious project I’ve had to iron. You can probably tell from the photo, but different parts of this ended up fusing at inconsistent rates. This thing just wouldn’t work with me, and by the time it finally fused as one whole piece, it became extremely warped, even after pressing it down with books overnight. Oh well. I think next time I do a big project, I’ll fuse one pegboard worth of beads at a time and then iron them altogether. Maybe that will bring some more luck.

Anyway, hope you guys have enjoyed the first day of the new year. Here’s hoping it’s better than the last! 🙂

New Perler Bead Art!

Whew! It’s been a while since I uploaded any new Perler bead projects. But I’ve got six new ones to show off today, so I guess that makes up for it.

The first three are main characters from Suikoden II, an RPG for the PS1. Personally, I’ve never played it before. One of my favorite YouTubers, Lucahjin, did a let’s play of it last year. I was kind of indifferent to it at first, but after rewatching/listening to it this past summer, I got more into it. This was around the time I first started making Perler bead art, too. After making NES and SNES sprites, I wanted to see how sprites from the PS1 would look, so I tried these guys out.

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Riou

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Jowy

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Nanami

I made these a little over a month ago and decided to send them to Lucahjin as fan mail. Admittedly, part of the reason why I didn’t post these until now was because I wanted to send them out first, and I didn’t ship them out until a couple of days ago. Oops. Hope she likes them!

So after I made these, we sold our kitchen table because we weren’t taking it with us when we moved. I didn’t have a good space to work on any more Perler bead stuff until a couple of weeks ago. I was going to start making the Dragonball Z project I told my friend I’d make him, but since it had been a while since I’d worked on anything, I wanted to warm up with something small first. I decided to make a Pokemon from Red and Blue.

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Draw me like one of your French girls… sorry, couldn’t help it. 🙂

Snorlax was my favorite Pokemon when I was a kid. I honestly don’t know why, maybe because it made a cool plushie and toy, maybe because it was rare and it took me a while to figure out how to catch one, who knows? I used to have this big Snorlax pillow-plushie thing, too, but I gave it away to a friend that moved because at the time she liked it more than I did. It’s still one of my favorites, but I don’t know if it’s the favorite.

This thing wasn’t a small warmup, though. This thing was huge. In retrospect, I don’t know why I was expecting it to be small; I knew it was probably going to be almost as tall as the protagonist, rival, and Prof. Oak pieces I made a little while ago. But I’m still surprised how big these sprites came out for Game Boy sprites.

It also had a lot of trouble sticking together after ironing. Like, a lot of trouble. I don’t know if you can notice from the photo, but some parts are over-ironed while others aren’t ironed enough. I eventually just tried taking the small chunks of half-fused beads and ironing them to the proper places instead of ironing the whole thing over and over. And I keep looking for tips for ironing bigger Perler bead pieces, but I can’t find anything besides variations of the basic instructions for normal sized projects. Does anyone have any ironing advice for bigger pieces? I’m still kind of new and would love to know a better way to tackle this.

While waiting for Snorlax to cool in between ironing sessions, I made Ramza from Final Fantasy Tactics.

Ramza, as he appears in Chapters 2 and 3.

Ramza, as he appears in Chapters 2 and 3.

Final Fantasy Tactics was one of my favorite games in high school. Poor translation aside, I had a blast playing it with one of my friends. During our junior year we played through it at the same times and compared notes to see how each of us was approaching the game and what kind of characters we were using. The music was phenomenal; it was completely orchestrated and in my opinion, outshines every other Final Fantasy game I’ve played in the audio department. That’s not to say the others games have bad music, absolutely not, but this game… well, this game’s soundtrack just does something magical to me. Even though I’ve lost a lot of interest in playing RPGs over the years, I recently played through this one for the first time in at least six years and am proud to say it’s still fun for me.

Last up is another Pokemon. After working on Snorlax, I noticed that bigger pieces without a lot of limbs or other, smaller areas protruding out tend to take more time and heat to fuse properly. I wanted to pick another Pokemon that was roundish in its basic shape, so I chose another favorite, Clefairy.

AH SO CUTE <3

AH SO CUTE ❤

I don’t really know why, but over the years I’ve noticed my favorite Pokemon tend to be normal types. A lot of these tend to be really cutesie, too. Whatever the reason, Clefairy and its evolution Clefable have joined my list of favorites during the past couple of years. This was smaller than Snorlax, about half the size, and I didn’t have nearly as much trouble. There were still some pieces that wouldn’t fuse, but that was normal; nothing to the degree of Snorlax. I didn’t really do anything different, except maybe use a little less force while ironing so the colors wouldn’t bleed. I don’t know why I had an easier time with Clefairy, it may have been half the size but it was still decently large. Is it because of the colors? Do darker beads give more trouble for people? I’ll have to keep an eye out for that during future problems.

Well it’s good to be back doing Perler bead stuff! I’m settling into the new house, but there’s still a lot left to unpack. I have some writing things I want to get done soon (including stuff I’ve been working on for the blog), and I’m expecting my hours at work to pick up with the holiday season breathing down my neck, not to mention I’m scrambling to finish up my reading goal for the year (25 out of 30 books, it’s gonna be close!), so I don’t know how much attention my Perler bead projects will get. I’d like to make at least one thing each week, but we’ll see. I’ll probably post some more once I have a few ready to show off. I can’t stress enough how helpful this has been for dealing with depression, so give it a shot if you need something to take your mind of things!

Hope everyone’s having a healthy week! 🙂