I haven’t been posting much lately, because I’ve pretty much been super busy with work and stuff… Nah, just kidding. I’m still a useless lay-about. Mostly I’ve been reading, lots of important reading.
I’ve basically put aside the idea of going off to do an MA for a bit, partly because I can’t really decide what I should do. Should I go on with English Literature? Study Film? Or Screenwriting? Or just something awesome like Japanese Studies or Science Fiction?
It’s all giving me a headache, so I’m decided for now just to fuck it, fuck studying, and just read a shit-ton of books instead. I discovered that most of the modules I think look interesting include full reading lists on the website anyway, so until I can make a solid this is what I want to do with my life choice, I’m gonna knuckle down and ~educate myself~, as it were.
It’s kinda like a masters course, only it doesn’t cost thousands of £s and involves little to no essay writing!
The first book on my reading list is this:
Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless
It seemed like a good place to start, a self-acclaimed no-bullshit introduction and guide to screenwriting, written by an actual screenwriter (always promising) and screenwriting university professor. So far the book is really good; the first few chapters basically talk about the nature of screenwriting as a profession, and as a writing form, and pretty much persuading the reader to avoid it at all costs – which is far enough, because it’s making sure you’re committed to the art. About twenty pages in, it pretty much confirmed my belief that screenwriting is something I’m passionate about – not only did it remind why I love it so much, but also helped me realise why I’m so shit at writing in other forms. Such as prose, I always write the dialogue first, and force myself to go back and insert description in between, ending up describing in detail where the characters’ eyes are looking or how they’re sitting. I tend to think ‘in pictures’, as it were. Further into the book involves writing exercises, which I’m pretty excited about.
Slightly less academically speaking, I’ve also been busying myself with:
Bakuman is a fantastic manga, written and illustrated by the same duo as Death Note. And whilst the writing is still clever, and the art still beautiful, the tone and theme couldn’t be more different – the anime presents it as practically shojo, although the manga itself is really more of a coming-of-age slice-of-life story. The two protagonists – young boys in middle school – team up with a dream to create manga together, and the comic follows their path with the complications and lessons along the way.
It’s pretty inspiring stuff, a touching and hilarious tale about a couple of kids wanting their dreams to come true, and learning how to do so without compromising their art. I recommend it to anyone with artistic or creative dreams – and it’s pretty down-to-earth and often brutally honest at times, so it doesn’t feel too washed over with magic and happiness (this is, after-all, from the parents of Death Note). I’ll emphasis again that it’s main charm is the clever writing – afterall, it’s a story about a couple of kids creating manga, what’s exciting about that? Well, a lot, as it happens. You really root for these characters, and believe in them more and more as they grow and mature. It’s got true heart, this manga.
The series also has an anime, which is excellent but unfortunately wasn’t too popular in the US as the dubbed series only ran for 7 episodes (!) although I would recommend watching them personally – for Shujin’s voice alone, which was just perfect. I know a lot of anime fans disagree with dubs but I happen to love a good English dub. Problems arise if the voices are all wrong (like the dub for the schoolgirl cast of K-On? Just creepy) or the dub is inaccurate, but having read the mangas I’d say the dialogue is pretty much spot-on – bar a couple of iffy comments about women and marriage, in which I was glad for some westernisation in those cases.
I’d also like to mention here the band Area 11 whose album All The Lights In The Sky is out and in the UK top 10 Indie Album chart this week, and whose song Dreams & Reality is based on Bakuman. The album also has songs based on anime such as Death Note, Cowboy Bebop, and Code Geass (also the namesake of the band), and video games too. Check them out!
And lastly, not strictly speaking (or non-strictly speaking) a book, but none-the-less time consuming and brilliant: