Sunday, 18 October 2015

A Dollar to Die For (1968) Brian Fox Review- spoiler-free version

When I first heard of this novel, I was hyped. It told the story of the continuing adventures of the Man with No Name. And not only that, but Tuco, that lovable buffoonish bandit of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, makes his only other official appearance.
The blurb had me worried, though. It told of "a murderous friendship based on greed and hate- which only one of the four could survive". I was depressed for a while. From the blurb, it looked to me like Tuco Ramirez, the character I related so much to in terms of being so energetic and accident prone, was really not going to make it this time. Images swam through my imagination as to how the story would progress. Does he die or not? What were the chases like? Does Pablo return? Despite myself, I finally went ahead and bought the book.
I was pleased to find out he lives! His subplot, however, was adequate.

First of all, the book is not as humorous as the movie. It's very dramatic and violent, with a lot of double crossing from different directions and a very strange Apache torture device.
Second, Blondie and Tuco have very few scenes together, for those that miss their violent bromance that they shared in the film. There's still a little bit of a post-breakup trust exercise, but there's so much story going on that it's kind of lost in there.

The MacGuffin of the story is the gold that the Count de Cabronet failed to send puppet Emperor Maximilian to save his life. I like the presentation of authority brutality in the story. There's a short scene where the greedy and corrupt governor kills the guard who had slipped Maximilian the note telling him he would be saved while torturing him for information. It's a nice demonstration how in such a huge political crisis, no side is innocent.
The Mexican Army is out to recover the money, and Sgt. Tuco Ramirez is among them. But he wants the gold for himself, of course. And he's more vicious here than he is in the movie, now that he's in a position of power.

I liked Tuco when he was just a tinhorn bandit. He was the constant victim of pratfalls and outright horrible luck. He constantly got tied up, nearly hanged and then left behind in the desert only to start mouthing off like he had suffered a breakup. And his obsessive determined revenge against Blondie, like that of a rejected lover, was a distinguishing and relatable feature, and so petty it was hilarious. The fact that he's so down and out was a constant source of humor, and I think that if Brian Fox had taken a different creative direction he'd have made the book as funny as the movie that inspired it.
Reading this, I feel like he's changed so much that I barely recognize him anymore. Then again, I guess five years can do that to a man.
He's still energetic and very entertaining to read about, but I think he could have suffered a little more consistently. We could have laughed at him a bit more.
Also, Fox is mean to him. He calls him ugly constantly. I know that's his designation, but the point is he's ugly on the inside. From what I've seen he was not bad looking.

So the Sergeant is kidnapped by Apaches, who aren't interested in the gold but there's an outlaw among them who decides to hold him hostage until he gets the hidden gold and...

And here's where it gets weird. The book has this bit where Apaches would stake their prisoner on an anthill and have ants eat them alive. I don't know if that's a real Apache form of torture or not. It sounds really made up. Maybe Fox was racist against Native Americans, I dunno. It seemed really pointless to kill a bunch of guys who aren't interested in gold.
This part of the story could have gone in a direction that was a bit less racist, and could have re-established the relationship between the bandit and bounty hunter, but unfortunately it chose not to.

What I like about the book is that there's moments of peace. There's moments where our bandido can just kick back and relax and once more, you feel it with him. You feel his health returning after a moment of extreme starvation and you can't help but smile with him.
There are few funny moments in the novel, but one is where he's dreaming that a beautiful woman is touching his shoulder when really it's Captain Alvarez. You can just picture his expression.

The last little bit of the book was just okay. For better or for worse, it's all a confusing mess. There is a fairly satisfying ending in all this. As I said before, there's none of that wonderful vengeful near-sadomasochistic behaviour between these two. In fact, their relationship can be compared more to Do-won and Tae-goo from The Good, the Bad, the Weird than to themselves. Still, the last line of the book implies that Blondie is returning those feelings that seemed unrequited in the movie.

This book was decent. There were a lot of things to enjoy about it. Things like Tuco's emotions were very well described. As usual, at times you really felt what he was going through, as soon as he wanders into Tyopa and collapses by the well. The violence makes the action in the movies look tame. There's not just guns, there's knives in it as well. And for some reason, ants.
I just wonder how such an ambitious premise would turn out in the hands of a different writer. Not that Fox's writing was bad, I just wonder if it would have turned out better in the hands of a different writer. How would Sergio Leone have handled the characters? Would he have made Blondie and Tuco still as emotionally close as they were in GBU? Would the characters have received expansion and development? Who can tell?
I'd forgive it if it was a fan fiction, but this is an official tie-in novel. This is officially what happens in the story's canon, or so it seems. I think I'd have kept to the spirit of the movie more.
On the whole, it's not as good as it could have been, but if you're really curious, maybe check it out.

Friday, 16 October 2015

A Dollar to Die For (1968) by Brian Fox- a review

When I first heard of this novel, I was hyped. It told the story of the continuing adventures of the Man with No Name. And not only that, but Tuco, that lovable buffoonish bandit of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, makes his only other official appearance.
The blurb had me worried, though. It told of "a murderous friendship based on greed and hate- which only one of the four could survive". I was depressed for a while. From the blurb, it looked to me like Tuco Ramirez, the character I related so much to in terms of being so energetic and accident prone, was really not going to make it this time. Images swam through my imagination as to how the story would progress. Does he die or not? What were the chases like? Does Pablo return? Despite myself, I finally went ahead and bought the book.
I was pleased to find out he lives! His subplot, however, was adequate.
The story introduces us first to the Man with No Name, bringing in an outlaw for the money and then freeing him, as he did with Tuco. He's out to capture a presumably "half-Apache" criminal named Pinky Roebuck, who has the distinction of being a charismatic Albino.
The MacGuffin of the story is the gold that the Count de Cabronet failed to send puppet Emperor Maximilian to save his life. I like the presentation of authority brutality in the story. There's a short scene where the greedy and corrupt governor kills the guard who had slipped Maximilian the note telling him he would be saved while torturing him for information. It's a nice demonstration how in such a huge political crisis, no side is innocent.

On that note, despite supporting a capitalist dictatorship, the Count de Cabronet is far too benevolent to be considered a threat. De Cabronet reminds me of the Baxters from 'A Fistful of Dollars'. Apart from attempting to free the pawn of a tyrant, who is portrayed in a sympathetic light here, he doesn't really do anything all that bad towards the other couple of guys. In fact, greed and dodgy political views aside, he's about Blondie's moral level. No wonder the bounty hunter trusts him.
The Mexican Army is out to recover the money, and Sgt. Tuco Ramirez is among them. That part surprised me. Those who have seen him in GBU will know that Tuco is not a political man, and finds war and rebellion just an obstacle in the way of money. I didn't think he'd actually find his way into that sort of thing.

I liked Tuco when he was just a tinhorn bandit. He was the constant victim of pratfalls and outright horrible luck. He constantly got tied up, nearly hanged and then left behind in the desert only to start mouthing off like he had suffered a breakup. And his obsessive determined revenge against Blondie, like that of a rejected lover, was a distinguishing and relatable feature, and so petty it was hilarious.  The fact that he's so down and out was a constant source of humor, and I think that if Brian Fox had taken a different creative direction he'd have made the book as funny as the movie that inspired it.
Reading this, I feel like he's changed so much that I barely recognize him anymore.
He's still energetic and very entertaining to read about, but I think he could have suffered a little more consistently. We could have laughed at him a bit more. His humour is what makes him one of the greatest movie characters of all time.
Also, Fox is mean to him. He calls him ugly constantly. I know that's his designation, but the point is he's ugly on the inside. And Eli Wallach was one handsome fellow, up until the age of about 60.

After killing De Cabronet's men, Sgt. Ramirez and his fellow bandits murder members of their own company, and Tuco promotes himself to General. As highly as he thinks of himself, he wouldn't go shouting that out in a forest. He'd know that he'd get caught and somebody would be listening. Even joining the army in the first place is out of character for him, or at least lasting in the army without getting fired for speaking out of turn or something.
Another thing, he keeps calling himself Tuco the Terrible. Yeah, that caught on really well.
While that went on, Blondie captures Pinky Roebuck, who is a fairly interesting character, if not merely delightfully evil. He's like this charismatic Giuliano Gemma type, only, you know, a terrifying albino. They find De Cabronet with his throat cut, but alive, so Blondie saves his life and the Count informs them about the gold that Tuco and his buddies made off with.
Meanwhile "General Tuco", having hidden De Cabronet's gold in various places and replaced the money in his men's bags with rocks, is out partying, and passes out by the well. Apaches attack the town, kill Tuco's men and take him hostage, mistaking him for someone more important than he really is. Pinky arrives, interrogates him, and for a moment we're on his side, despite the fact that Tuco is frightened out of his wits. We know what Tuco did and we want him to be punished, although he could have had more to happen to him that he didn't deserve, until we find out that Roebuck's going to double-cross Blondie as well to get the gold for himself.

And here's where it gets weird. The book has this bit where Apaches would stake their prisoner on an anthill and have ants eat them alive. I don't know if that's a real Apache form of torture or not. It sounds really made up. Maybe Fox was racist against Native Americans, I dunno. It seemed really pointless to kill a bunch of guys who aren't interested in gold.
I think at this point I'd have instead had Blondie and Tuco, tied together against a tree, attempt to get out, instead of having Apaches slash their shoulders with spears as they remained trussed up there. That would have been true to the spirit of their relationship. Then they'd have had a chance to turn on Pinky together. That I'd have liked to see.
But no, instead Blondie had to have that ant thing happen to him, almost, so that this Cabronet he trusts can save him. Sure, Cabronet abandons him as well, but I'll get to that later.

Meanwhile Pinky is leading the captive Tuco through the desert and the poor bandit is starved half to death. That big beautiful body of his (which Fox doesn't speak of so favourably) has pretty much shrunk as he bravely refuses to tell Pinky where he hid the money. He's depressed and drained of energy, and at this point, we really feel bad for him.
It's sort of the same thing that Tuco himself had put Blondie through in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, only the physical effects on him are described to be much worse. 
It also recalls the horrible beating that he took in the Union camp on orders from Angel Eyes, and yet again here he gets his revenge.
We start to root for him as he turns the tables on the albino Apache, tying him to a tree and making off with the gold. If I were Tuco, I'd have killed Roebuck for what he did to me.

What I like about the book is that there's moments of peace. There's moments where our bandido can just kick back and relax and once more, you feel it with him. You feel his health returning and you can't help but smile with him.
There are few funny moments in the novel, but one is where he's dreaming that a beautiful woman is touching his shoulder when really it's Captain Alvarez. You can just picture his expression, a goofy, sleepy smile morphing into a mask of dread.

The last act of the book was rather weak.
Tuco is found by Captain Alvarez and promoted to Lieutenant, then found by Blondie. They kill the Mexican soldiers to get to the gold and it's all a confusing mess. De Cabronet joins the fight, but his leg gets wounded, and Pinky and Tuco get turned in for their crimes against humanity. I don't understand why Pinky had to survive, other than the fact that Blondie is all too generous. We know the guy is worse than the Apaches, and yet the Apaches die for their trouble.
Good news is, Blondie yanks open the jail cell window because he feels that "a world without Tuco would be far less interesting." I knew it! He does feel something for him!

This book was just okay. Not good, not bad. But it has serious problems with characterizion, the most glaring example being Tuco. Fox gets a fair grasp of his personality but chooses to portray him as more of a stereotypical bandido than the complex, morally ambiguous figure he is. Also, he doesn't call Blondie "Blondie". I wonder why Fox made that choice.

Good news is, Blondie yanks open the jail cell window so he and Tuco can start their cat-and-mouse chase all over again. If there's one thing I'm satisfied with about the ending, it's the positive possiblity that Tuco escapes. As I said before, there's none of that wonderful vengeful, aggressive, attentive, behaviour between these two, behaviour which challenged heterosexual norms. In fact, their relationship can be compared more to Do-won and Tae-goo from The Good, the Bad, the Weird than to themselves. 

This book was decent. There were a lot of things to enjoy about it. Things like Tuco's emotions were very well described. As usual, at times you really felt what he was going through, as soon as he wanders into Tyopa and collapses by the well. The violence makes the action in the movies look tame. There's not just guns, there's knives in it as well. And for some reason, ants.
I just wonder how such an ambitious premise would turn out in the hands of a different writer. Not that Fox's writing was bad, I just wonder if it would have turned out better in the hands of a different writer. How would Sergio Leone have handled the characters? Would he have made Blondie and Tuco still as emotionally close as they were in GBU? Would the characters have received expansion and development? Who can tell? Probably. Almost certainly.
Although the novella is studio approved, it's nothing more than just glorified fanfiction. Since this belongs to a series which demystifies the Man with No Name's backstory, it's safe to say that the events of this book never really happened in the story's canon.
On the whole, it's not as good as it could have been, but if you're really curious, maybe check it out.






Tuesday, 6 October 2015

There Are No Strings On Me

This year I pitched an idea to University for a short film. It was going to be called 'There Are No Strings On Me', and it was going to be about Ren Kagami from 'Oyako Neburi- Sasou Hitozuma Dakaretai Oyako' who runs away from home after finding out that her mother and childhood friend have been having an affair together... before things get very surreal. It would have taken cues in acting from 'Snow White', the Spongebob Squarepants episode 'SB-129', and a little bit of 'Frozen' as well.

The game, as you've read, was a Japanese erotic game about a guy who screws his mother, his sister, his next door neighbour and her mother. Ren was the next door neighbour/stereotypical childhood friend character.
I deliberately changed Ren's hair colour to skirt around copyright infringement, and I tend to prefer drawing people with black hair anyway.

Yeah, baby, she's worth it!
I wanted to take the story of the game and put a feminist spin on it by having Ren being disgusted by her mother's affair, instead of being turned on like she was supposed to be.
Her personality also changed. Instead of being innocent and yet lusty, Ren was ambitious and hopeful, yet turns bitter and angry after she learns of the affair.

He was the biggest factor in Ren's development, right down to her clarinet playing.
I wanted Ren to be the exact opposite to what anyone expected, completely not how she was programmed, so I thought, "I know! I'll make her a female Squidward! What an outrage that'll be! And it would make sense seeing as she would be a bit bitter after finding out that her mother has been having sex with her childhood friend. And he's the strongest animated character I know, so I'll make her like that!"

I admit to having rushed the drawings in the animatic, but only because my computer was stolen as I was getting around to finishing the first version.
The song that was playing on that day was indeed 'I've Got No Strings'. I decided on the title after watching 'Avengers: Age of Ultron', which was about an AI rebelling against his creator, and who sings the song in a low and ominous tone. It was perfect.


Unfortunately, it never got voted.

This was because my audience was intimidated at the thought of working on the idea that even so much as subverted the very concept of a Japanese erotic game.
I consider myself to be rather squeamish on the subject of sex, and I played the imagery in my animatic pretty safe, but compared to the first and second years I showed my pitch to, I was a Can-Can dancer at the Moulin Rouge!

My idea would have indeed been a feminist story, one of female empowerment against objectification in erotic games. However, it wasn't the kind of feminism my audience was used to. That's why the story about a lesbian warrior princess got voted instead.

This is a sketch of Ren that a first year did as I pitched it. Cute, if a little disturbing. Next to the drawing she wrote, "Too extreme". This meant my idea was too bold and provocative even for a student film. I assumed student films were supposed to push the boundaries of what was acceptable in animation, and that's why I believed in my project so much. As I have learned, my audience were practically Hollywood executives when it came to choosing an idea.
At least the teachers liked it, that's why it got through. And my fellow third years thought my presentation was very good!
Still, that's the price I pay for being different and original. In any case, I'll keep crusading forth and getting my ideas out there.  People need to know that it's not right to objectify women, not in fiction, not even on DeviantArt.
I tried my best to make Ren more than just a sex object and the loss has hit me hard. At least people will remember my pitch, and hopefully not just for how shocking it was.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

You see?

This is one kind of sexism I really can't stand. When a man speaks his mind, he speaks his mind. He gets admired for it. When a woman speaks her mind, she's just making noise. That really isn't fair. I can't believe that men would view women like that.
It's because these men want to feel dominant. They want to feel in control of something. And if they can't control a chatterbox, they're weak.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

How I Properly Discovered Eroge, and Should We Take Eroge for Granted?

This image is demeaning, degrading and insulting to women's intelligence. A waste of a perfectly good character design as well.


How I properly discovered eroge

As an animation enthusiast I had always loved discovering different forms and genres of the medium. I had grown up on anime eve since I had discovered Pokemon at 6 years old, and I had gotten into Miyazaki’s films ever since I went to see ‘Spirited Away’ in the cinema. Around the same time as the former, anime was considered to be a children’s medium. There were always things on, like Digimon, Monster Ranchers, etc. I saw one episode of ‘Sailor Moon’ and it was only from the first season (it was the one with all the wedding dress stuff). 
Since then I had only been into Studio Ghibli films because they were richer, more ambitious and more visually striking.
I remember I was watching bits of ‘Saint Seiya’, just to rant and rave at what a damsel in distress Athena was (without appreciating fully the true strength of her character).

I got back into Sailor Moon when I was 15, and from there I started looking at more things like ‘Bleach’, ‘Ranma ½’, ‘Excel Saga’, ‘FLCL’ and various other bits and pieces of anime.
While it wasn’t always the best, I did appreciate the Japanese’s taste in character design. There was always something harmonious about the choices of colour and shape. I still think Rukia from ‘Bleach’ is one of the coolest designs ever.
There was one episode from ‘Excel Saga’, which parodied romance simulation games. I didn’t understand the whole joke, so I just went along with it. There was one point where Excel was the… big sister character? I can’t tell. Anyway, I enjoyed it like the rest of the series.

About 2010-ish, I wanted to get a book, which told you how to draw “Sexy sports wear”, but my mother wouldn’t let me get it. I later understood why. A 17-year-old girl would feel uncomfortable drawing from something meant for lonely teenage boys.
I got an alternative which didn’t turn out any better “How to Draw Anime and Game Characters: Bishoujo Game Characters.” I liked some of the outfits in it: the ninja outfit, the samurai top and hakama, the slightly androgynous kung fu outfit. I knew very well that most of the other outfits were made so that they didn’t leave much to the imagination.
This was the book that taught me about romance simulation games.
These were games that usually featured a male protagonist interacting with one or many female characters. They’re like ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ stories. Most of them set in a Japanese high school.
After the harrowing experience of 'Ren Kagami 5', this was the furthest experience of titillation I could bear to depict.

The games have multiple endings, good or bad, depending on which option you choose in the game.
Of course, as the book demonstrates, these girls were usually one-note stereotypes. You had the gentle heroine, the brainy one, the sporty one, the tough tsundere, etc.
Even more annoying, while each character had a model sheet, the demure heroine had twelve expressions featured while the other characters displayed only six. That was seriously annoying. There was no way my characters could display these expressions without looking one-and-a-half dimensional. However, it did work for the extras and background people. It was insulting that characters who were all supposed to be integral to a story didn’t have that much range in facial expression.

Another factor that introduced me to eroge was when I went to see the Takashi Murakami exhibition at the Tate Modern, and I saw the video of Kirsten Dunst dancing and singing to ‘Turning Japanese’ by ‘The Vapors’. There were some pretty lurid pictures shown in the video: lactation, disproportionately big breasted women, etc.
This picture is just bizarre. Why is she sweating so much? Is the subway that hot? Most likely. Even stranger, why is she crying bubbles? Did she eat a bar of soap?

I suspected that this would what I would encounter if I ever visited a store in Japan, especially since I am a self proclaimed otaku. I had hoped not to be ever surrounded by it.

In 2012, I had the idea of developing my own characters by having them interact with anyone on Anime Characters Database who had the same hair and eye colour as them (because I’m fascist like that). It worked. My main character mellowed down from an angry sociopath into a friendly and sociable individual.
Then for fun I started looking up characters who had the same hair and eye colour as me.
Then one design caught my eye.
She had dark blonde, almost brown pigtails in bunches, deep blue green eyes, and a healthy, friendly, smiling face.



Her name was Ren Kagami.
I loved this design. I wanted to steal this design for myself, illegally and shamelessly. This was a design that didn’t appear to fit any stereotype mentioned in the book.
It was a shame, then, that she had to be a sex object in a hentai game.
A hentai game about incest.
The game was called Oyako Neburi- Sasou Hitozuma Dakaretai. The artist is called Hajime Kotobuki. It was a game about a boy who has sex with his mother. And his sister. And his next door neighbor (Ren Kagami). And her mother.
I went onto the website, I looked up the game, and I saw Miss Kagami being treated as nothing more than a fictional piece of meat for the player to enjoy.
Poor girl, harassed in such a carnal manner.
You can imagine how personally insulting that is to me as a woman.

All in all, it was a waste of good character design, through and through. Insulting characterization that only serves to conform to teenage boy ideals. If this girl existed, she would not put up with her childhood friend having sex with her mother, let alone do a threesome.
In any case, this was the game that started my morbid curiosity for erotic games.

I’ve got a funny story I like to tell people. In the summer of 2012 I went to Japan, and spent a week in Tokyo and another week in Kyoto. One evening we were wandering around and we saw this store that had manga outside, so we went in. I went upstairs to look for costumes and I found rows and rows of video game pornography. It was so disgusting and disturbing to me that I started blundering about like Snow White in the forest. I had a good laugh afterwards.

A year later, I started developing Ren as my own character. I changed her hair colour, gave her a slightly different figure and a completely different face. A perfect thinly-disguised plagiarism.

About the same time, I went to London MCM Expo Comic Con in October 2013. I bought two Japanese music albums from there; one was an album of an artist and voice actress named Yui Sakakibara.
Her music was what you’d expect from women’s J-Pop: ear-bleedingly squeaky and obnoxious. Yet there were a couple of cool songs, so I looked them up.
And what a surprise, they were intro songs to various visual novels and eroge.

In December 2014 I set up a second DeviantArt account, SourNote2014. For a while I didn’t know what to do with it. Then I realized, I could use it as a disguise. I could disguise myself as a hentai to get people’s attention, and to ultimately read this blog post.

Give ‘em the old razzle dazzle, if you will.
It was easy. No one would ever find me out because perverts on DeviantArt are so selfish they don’t think about who could possibly be doing the artwork that they favourite practically all of.
Second, hentai artwork on DeviantArt is so commonplace that they wouldn’t suspect someone disguised as a pervert to really be an outspoken feminist.

Which brings me to this:


Should we take Eroge for granted?

My answer is no.
Ever since it came about, people in the West have accepted it as part of Japanese culture, and that bothers me.
We do still live in a male-dominated society, and despite the valiant efforts of feminists to create strong female characters (and there have been!), sexism still runs rampant in the world, and Japan is just as guilty as all the other places. Objectifying underage girls? Oh, well, it’s Japan.
No! We can’t let something like this slide because of culture!


What on earth is she even doing? Nobody poses like that!

And that is why I’m going to pitch an animation idea this year that will turn the eroge ideals on their head. It will also be an outright admission of copyright theft. And little miss Ren Kagami will be a part of it.
I want to tell Hajime Kotobuki that I stole his character, just to see his and the world’s reaction. I have even managed to successfully request at least one other person to draw pictures of Miss Kagami, just so she would get at least a little more publicity. She’s the most popular character in my gallery, so it’s a wonder why more people haven’t tried their hand at drawing her yet.

Don’t get me wrong, I have seen and read about few visual novels already. One of the standouts has been School Days, which plays around with the hentai genre and presents it in a fairly realistic, if still somewhat far-fetched light. A boy becomes a serial two-timer and several of the ‘bad endings’ end in the death of at least one of the three main characters.
If some of the reactions of the girls in that game were stupid, than at least they were reacting at all.
‘My Girlfriend is the President’ is somewhat guilty of this, having a number of girls serving all gravitating towards the main character and all easily being swayed by his words and not thinking he’s a pervert. However, it’s saved by its creativity, its insane, out-there storyline, and, intentionally or not, its often hilarious writing.
So, yeah. If eroge can be offensive, it doesn’t mean it’s all bad. Not in terms of story, at least.
However, I’ve watched a few eroge playthroughs like the one of ‘Honoo no Haramase Oppai Nyuu Doukyuusei’ and played a trial of ‘Oyako Neburi Sasou Hitozuma Dakaretai’, which was somewhat impaired by the lack of sound and the Japanese dialogue in the dialogue boxes ended up as binary coding (and I couldn’t be bothered to try and translate the Japanese written choices because it was just a trial)… and I found that a lot of eroge are really boring. It takes ages to get around to the character you like and even then you have to get through all these lurid sex scenes and it is just a pain in the neck. Also, you have to get through conversation after conversation, which you can easily skip but it’s still absolutely excruciating.

I have found myself a hypocrite on occasion. At times on my SourNote2014 DeviantArt account, I would post a picture of a topless woman just to get attention from my devoted audience, or recommend the website for the other lurid, loathsome pictures I have used for reference, hating myself all the while for going completely against my own feminist values. That said, by the time you have read this blog post, it would all have been worth it.
Besides which, despite the fact that I painted one topless women, I absolutely drew the line (no pun intended) at bondage, foot fetishes, lactation, naked butts, exposed genitalia and other such disgusting fetishes. I may have made myself look like a hentai, but I rarely did anything that made me feel uncomfortable. 

Furthermore, for all the dirtiness of his pictures, Hajime Kotobuki in particular has a very unique art style even by the conformist standards of manga and anime. He has a good eye for colour and design that makes him easily distinguishable from the others.

I get annoyed when people try to uses Japanese words as an excuse for their fetishes. The word “fanservice” in particular is a bad misuse. The definition of the word is something that may have no bearing on the plot but is pleasing to the eye. Spectacular scenery, for example. Or all the “stuff”, as the Nostalgia Critic puts it, in Waterworld. If you have a fetish for seeing how machinery works, no sexual innuendo intended, that’s fanservice. Or all of Padme Amidala’s outrageous outfits in the Star Wars prequels (except for the white bodysuit). That's fanservice to anyone who's a fan of Cecil B. Demille and other such creative costume designers.
Fanservice has consequently come to mean basically “tits and ass for the sake of tits and ass”, giving us the implication that a fan is just another perverted teenage boy (or girl, if “fanservice” consists of, say, a shirtless man).
However, my only complaint is that it’s used in anime where it only serves to provide out of context titillation, assuming all otaku are perverts. For example, despite the very genuine relationship between Kill La Kill’s Ryuko Matoi and her uniform Senketsu, there’s really no reason for the poor girl to dress like a stripper in battle other than for the purpose of male titillation.
Eroge, however, doesn’t hide the fact that it’s porn through and through. Doesn’t hide the fact that most of it is really boring either.

My attempt to cause trouble on DeviantArt has backfired so far. Remember when I said that hentai are selfish? It turns out they don't care if you're a hentai or not, they just favourite what they like. I guess it's nice, but it also means they care about the boobs and not about my personal opinions. User imrainmantoo expressed his opinion that he didn't care if I was a hentai or not, so I blocked him. Yeah, it was totally the ART he liked.

I’d have loved to have put this up for International Women’s Day, but I wouldn’t have come far enough if I did. I'd also have loved to put it up for April Fool's day, but no one would believe this article if I did that either.

On the other hand, there’s a chance that once can just let porn be porn. At least it’s not pretentious like, say, Sam Taylor-Wood’s ’50 Shades of Grey’, which tries to be artsy and do the best of bad writing by taking away all the silly grammar.
The issue I have with it was the portrayal of girls as subservient to boys to fit into conservative Japanese values.
Dominant she may look, Emi Sawamiya is really just as much of an object as the rest of them.

And it’s not just eroge that’s the problem. It’s just more graphic about it. Anime, manga and even literature (such as the infamous rape scene from Yasutaka Tsutsui’s Paprika) enforce passive women as being ideal, whereas someone like the Marquis de Sade, who was discussed in my Sixth Form English class in relation to the works of Angela Carter, presented passivity in a negative light. 'Game of Thrones', infamous for its sexual content as well as grisly violence, developed the character of Daenerys from a reluctant, passive bride into a sexually active lover and a strong, demanding princess, for better or for worse.

So yes, if such talent in character design is wasted on insulting characterization, especially in a medium such as eroge, it should definitely be studied.


PS: Once again, my devoted DeviantArt followers, thank you so much for your kind words and for favouriting my artwork.  I am sincerely grateful for you appreciating my artistic talent in this way. My style has always been rather impressionistic, given that my mother is fanatical about the Impressionists. So thank you for recognizing the unique way I paint in Photoshop, the watercolour effect I give my marker drawings. Thank you for recognizing my artistic skill.