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Topics - Aozora

Pages: [1] 2 3
1
Manga Talk / Grashros
« on: December 05, 2017, 08:48:43 PM »
Please let's discuss this manga!!!!! It's soooo good :heart: Only three chapters in on MangaStream so you can catch up very quick

What's cool about this manga is that the story is very cliche and simple - something you or I would write and post on here haha, but the dialogue and artwork is so good, it's just amazing.

It's an action and historic manga about a hunter tribe where a child is born to defy destiny. Yes, sounds super cliche - I know. But just check it out; trust me!



2
Develop Your Story / Hikaru Rising [Reboot]
« on: May 31, 2017, 03:40:45 PM »
Just had this random spark to try and revive the first and largest project I had undertaken: Hikaru Rising. I was about 8 and a half chapters into the story, 45,000+ words when I pretty much abandoned it indefinitely (http://forums.mangaraiders.com/index.php/topic,12745.msg217288/topicseen.html#msg217288).

There were several things I didn't like about the story that I wanted to change and so here I am. I only have very little so far and to be honest I'm not very confident this reboot will last very long lol but we'll see how it goes. Feel free to offer any thoughts.


Prologue-sort-of-thing

“I watched in remorseful silence as my son, Prince of the Realm, heir to my throne, was brought into the Great Hall in shackles and chains. I sat high on my throne like a fool, but I might as well have been buried within the deepest pits of the earth. For a King to overlook the judicial proceedings of his own son, there is no greater sorrow. He was stoic and brave, not perturbed in the slightest by the incriminating looks of the High Council members. He didn’t even blink when they doomed him to a human birth. My son…I watched you vanish into dust – a sight no father should ever have to behold. I could blame those duplicitous crooks on the High Council but ultimately it was his arrogance and imprudence that led to his demise. But he will return. I have no doubt of that.”

King Lucidus turned from the window and faced the youthful, but fierce woman kneeling before him. “Patrona, the human birth of Prince Hikaru is upon us!”

“My lord!” Patrona rose to her feet.

“You are perhaps the only person in the entire Realm I can trust.” Lucidus slowly revealed a vial containing a golden substance from beneath his robes.

“I have extracted the essence of Lord Vratos’ power from the dust that was once my son. A son created by the God of War himself. Patrona, you will ensure that this power flows through the veins of Hikaru once more. It will protect him from the dangers of the mortal realm when you or I cannot.”

“But My lord,” Patrona said, “a human form cannot possibly withstand such power, let alone that of an infant. It could kill the young prince.”

“Have faith. The body is merely a vessel. The soul is where true strength lies,” the King said, as he gently placed the vial in Patrona’s hand.

“Yes, My lord,” Patrona said, clenching the vial in her fist. “I will protect Prince Hikaru with my life.”

“You have my gratitude, Patrona. Deliver the essence directly into the bloodstream. There will be those looking to use this opportunity to take Hikaru’s life while he is confined to this mortal body. I am sure you are aware of the perils that await…Be safe.”

Patrona bowed deeply and took her leave.

King Lucidus turned to the window once more. The flowing rivers and lush fields had lost their appeal since the departure of his son. He had only one thought.

Rise…Hikaru!




3
break Room / INVINCIBLE UNDER THE SUN - What does it mean??
« on: April 11, 2017, 02:31:52 AM »
I really like this phrase: Invincible Under the Sun.

Don't know how many people here have read Vagabond, a manga that I would highly recommend to anybody looking for a nice, gritty manga. It's about Musashi Miyamoto, one of the greatest samurais to have ever lived. I'm sure a lot of liberty was taken with the historical accuracy but the story of his rise to greatness is incredibly crafted. In the manga, Musashi Miyamoto is a brutish young man raised in the mountains who sets off on a journey to defeat those claimed to be the strongest, so that he may prove himself to be superior to them, prove himself to be invincible under the sun.

I thought it'd be interesting to start a light-hearted, philosophical discussion on what exactly does it mean to be "invincible under the sun" with regards to current society and our personal lives. Where and when can this phrase be applied, if at all? I'm curious to know what you guys think.

For me, I've been watching a lot of professional basketball recently so the person who comes to mind when I think of "invincible under the sun" is Tim Duncan.

Tim Duncan may not be the best NBA player, considering guys like Michael Jordan and Lebron James, all of whom have better stats than Duncan. But Duncan is the strongest player in my opinion. What I mean by that is Duncan was a force to be reckoned with. When he got on the court, the opposing team would quiver at the sight of this 6' 11'' behemoth. Another thing mentioned in the Vagabond manga is that as one grows kinder as they grow stronger. Duncan was extremely kind. Players would speak all kinds of trash but nothing ever got under his skin. He never threw insults or jabs, or sought fame or glory, often shying away from the camera and the spotlight. If anything, he only gave compliments on the court, which often confused the opposing players. So in the world of basketball, I would give Tim Duncan the title of "invincible under the sun". Basically for me, I think "invincible under the sun" not only means an individual who is extremely good at what he/she does, but who also has a character that speaks volumes.

4
Develop Your Story / Forged In The Flames
« on: November 09, 2016, 03:13:16 AM »
FORGED IN THE FLAMES

STORY PROGRESS:
Chapter 1


SYNOPSIS:
Long before recorded history was the time of the Barons, powerful men who led nomadic groups of warriors known as factions. These factions battle to the death in their conquest of power and control over the lands. Shahm, a 15 year old boy, raised in a farmers' tribe has no experience in battle. Yet he somehow lands himself into a respectable faction by the name of the Order of the White Hawk, led by the Lord Baron Ogus Stanza. His job is simple: act as a shield to the Baron's grandson, Vers Stanza. This historical fantasy follows the adventures of Shahm, as he tries to prove himself a true warrior in a cruel and cut-throat world full of mythical beasts, mystical weapons, and supernatural warriors!





NON-ESSENTIAL MATERIAL:

Character List
Shahm

Vers Stanza

Morticus "Mort" Randol

Ogus Stanza
NOTE: List will be updated as characters are revealed. Descriptions to be added soon

History
Ancient history speaks of a time when man once lived amongst beasts and creatures of mythical proportions. All trembled, however, before the awesome might of the great dragons. It was then, perhaps by divine intervention, that man discovered weapons of unimaginable power, which could only be unlocked by those chosen wielders. Such power was used to fell many a vicious beast or bring into submission, but was no match against the almighty dragons. Until finally, three brothers combined their strength to slay the Emperor Dragon. In accordance to lore, they consumed the blood of the fallen behemoth and attained immeasurable power, comparable to that of demigods. Power capable of taming even the dragons. With none who could dare oppose them, declare themselves as the world’s rulers they did and divided the land in three. The most loyal and deserving of subjects were rewarded with this power, and like this, the power was distributed until each brother had an army of Dragon Lords. Conflict amongst the brothers begot violence and the armies clashed, engulfing the world in a catastrophic war. By the end of the war, the few remaining Dragon Lords were brutally hunted and exterminated by the populace, which refused to live any longer under their oppressive rule. Whatever happened to the mounts of these Lords remains a mystery. Whether the dragons were slain as well, or simply returned to the icy hilltops of the great mountain ranges, or reside in some remote corner of land uninhabited by man cannot be known for certain. Regardless, dragons have not been seen for 500 years and the era of Dragon Lords has long ended, ushering in the age of Barons, or warrior-kings, who compete with one another for annexation of land and resources through small bands of warriors called factions.   

5
Develop Your Story / Guru
« on: July 16, 2016, 09:07:00 PM »
GURU

Hellooooo everyone. Finally put up some writing after a long, long time. This is meant to be a one-shot/ short-story type of deal but I haven't planned it out yet so we'll have to see how it goes. Main influences for this are Kung Fu Panda, Kung Fu Hustle, and my own spiritual/religious beliefs so I really do like this project of mine because I get to combine philosophy with fiction which is kinda cool. Critique and feedback is more than welcome.


Synopsis:
During a time when the world was in turmoil, three kung fu masters emerged and brought peace to the world. However, the arrogance and vanity of these masters turned them against one another and soon had them competing against one another for power, might, and influence, once again leading to disharmony in the world. Fortunately, an elderly man known as Guru was able to show these masters the folly of their ways and have them unite, thereby once again bringing peace to the world. Returning to the current timeline, a mysterious man has suddenly attacked the school of one of the masters, demanding that he have a fight with the master. Who is he? What are his goals?

What I Have So Far:
Spoiler
"Quiet down now children!" Jed ordered. "The master has a story to tell."

Master Baji beamed at the energetic youths sitting cross-legged on the polished wooden floor. The gray of his hair and beard showed signs of age but his face glowed with a freshness and purity like that of the lush hills upon which his school was built. His was the largest among all the Three Masters and the only to accept and house young children - a fact in which he took immense pride. Though black as night, his eyes twinkled. He must have recounted this tale at least a thousand times, yet he could not withhold his excitement.

When the children had all settled, Jed walked to his master's side. "I think we're ready Master."

Baji simply smiled and nodded at his most loyal disciple whom he had entrusted with the arduous task of managing and caring for the children. And what a splendid job he had done thus far.

The attentive eyes and blank expressions of the children meant he should not delay any longer. The tale - which had been passed down by his master, and the master before him, and the countless masters that came before - would inspire a new generation of spiritual and virtuous Kung Fu masters. As long as it was delivered in such a way that it would resonate with the children, that is. Master Baji could only hope that he would not fail at this task.   

"Long ago," he began, "the world was in a time of great turmoil: corruption and greed ran amok, crime and unlawfulness was rampant, evil hid in every corner. When all hope seemed to be lost, three individuals with extraordinary gifts emerged to restore peace and order to the world. They were the First Masters, the original founders of Kung Fu! Earning the respect and esteem of many across the world, the Masters gained huge followings and established their own schools of Kung Fu. However, there was a problem. It is often said: Glory is a poison that can be taken in small doses but when taken in large quantities, it can be impossible to digest." What does this mean? It means that the fame and glory had poisoned their hearts. The Masters were vain and arrogant, each thinking he was the greatest man to ever grace the Earth. As such, they could never get along, always competing to see who was stronger, who had more disciples, whose vision and philosophy of kung fu was superior. The Masters cared not for maintaining harmony in the world but more for increasing their own power and might. And so disharmony rose again and began to consume the world in its clutches. It is then that one day a very interesting thing happened. Master Elf, one of the First Masters, was holding sparring matches in his dojo. Outsiders, in addition to his disciples, were allowed to partake in these matches. All were shocked to see a  bald, plump, elderly man enter the dojo. His face was so pristine and calm, just like the white robes he donned.

He said with such humility, 'I challenge Master Elf to a duel.'

Master Elf and all the others laughed at the old man. But when they saw his determination they became silent. Master Elf stood from his seat and said, 'O old man! Have you lost your mind? Do you know who I am? I am the great Master Elf! My fists can shatter mountains and my legs can move the seas! And you dare to challenge me? Do you think this is a joke?'

The old man simply smiled and said, 'Master Elf, it was never my intention to disgrace you. I have made my request with the utmost solemnity and sincerity."

At this, Master Elf became enraged. He said, 'Fine. I will teach you what a loose mouth will get you.' And so they battled. Let me tell you: No one could have been more shocked by the outcome than Master Elf himself. The utter shock and horror he felt upon realizing that he was on the floor, completely humiliated in front of all his disciples by the unimposing old man hovering over him was too much. He had no pain, no cuts or bruises, or broken bones, or anything of that nature. But for the first time in his life, he felt overwhelmed. 'Who are you?' he asked the old man.

The old man, who had been so humble and nonchalant in victory, smiled. 'I am merely a servant of those who seek peace and happiness in the world.'

Master Elf was in tears. He bowed at the old man's feet. 'I know who you are! You are Guru! The master of masters, the wisest of the wise, the king of kings! O Guru, please teach me what I have failed to learn!"

Guru quietly helped Master Elf to his feet and said, 'On the night of the nearest full moon, meet me at the Great Banyan Tree and I shall teach all that you wish to know.'

And with that, the old man disappeared into the mist of the cold, Spring day. Like this, Guru went to the other two Masters, defeated them, and told them to meet him at the same location.

On the night of the full moon, the Masters gathered at the Great Banyan Tree but upon seeing each other they immediately started arguing. It is only when Guru appeared that they stopped, bowed at his feet, and sat on the ground before him. They asked for the knowledge they lacked. Guru sat under the Great Banyan Tree in silence for a moment. He then said gently, 'Touch the other's feet.'

Guru's words came as a surprise to the Masters. They hesitated, neither one willing to take such an action. Then Guru said, 'You wished to learn but look now how you refuse to do what I say. Your stubbornness and arrogance has created deficiencies within you and in this world. You seek greatness. But tell me. What is greatness? It is not power, might, or following. It is peace within the heart. Until you put aside your differences, you will not find peace within your heart, and without peace within your heart, you cannot possibly help others find peace. So what will it be? Will you unite and help bring peace to the world or allow the world to suffer? What is your decision? My special fried rice is getting cold so I'll give you ten seconds.'

Almost instantaneously, the Masters began touching one another's feet as a sign of respect and reverence. They agreed to put aside their differences and help restore peace to the world. When they turned back to see Guru's reaction, he had vanished. However, they heard a voice. 'Whenever there is darkness and chaos in the world, I will be there to stop it, for Guru never leaves the Earth.' From that day forward, the Masters stopped fighting with one another and worked together to maintain peace and order in the world."

Master Baji had become so engrossed in the story that only after he finished did he realize almost every child had dozed off to sleep.

Noticing his master's disappointed expression, Jed attempted to console him. "Worry not Master. The children are still young. A few more years to mature is all they need."

Baji mustered a half-hearted smile. "Yes, perhaps you are right Jed."

Jed clapped loudly, waking the children with a jolt. "Come on now. Story time is over. Back to your quarters."

"Is it over" and "can we have snack time" were a few of the phrases Baji could discern amongst the children's chatter. The children's innocence brought a smile to his face and renewed his spirits. Jed was right. He would try again in a couple years after the children had grown. 

As Jed guided the children out, a young man, battered and bloody, stumbled into the room. Baji immediately stood from his seat and rushed to the aid of the man, who could barely stand. "What happened Jof?"

Jof grimaced in pain. "This man - he wanted to fight you. We refused and we tried to stop him but-" The man clenched his teeth in remorse. He was too ashamed to continue. "We were no match Master! I'm sorry!" he yelled through his tears.

Baji attempted to console his disciple. He turned to Jed. "Evacuate the children immediately! Get them as far away from here as possible!"

Jed dashed off to do as told.

Baji laid his disciple on the floor and put his hand on his shoulder. "You don't worry. Just rest now. I will take care of everything."

He got back to his feet, his expression full of resolve. He stormed out the room, walked to the edge of the grassy hill, and looked down below. The sight crushed his heart. The bodies of his disciples lay sprawled and scattered everywhere; in the middle of it all stood a masked man clad in all white. Baji raced down the stone steps to confront the man.

"Who are you?" he roared.

The man stared at Baji for a few moments, his eyes like sapphire daggers. And then came his cold, coarse voice. "I am Guru."   
 

6
MR Pub / Help for a presentation
« on: May 13, 2016, 06:37:40 PM »
I have to do a presentation in a couple of days relating to the themes of loyalty/fidelity. I'm having trouble finding a good relatable current event or story that exemplifies these themes and that also does not involve pets! (every google search I do on these topics consistently returns stories about dogs for some reason) So if you guys have any ideas I'm all ears! Thanks in advance. 

7
break Room / Which One Should I Submit?
« on: August 08, 2015, 01:03:46 AM »
Hello all, I want to join a writing competition but I need your guys' help. I actually tried to join the last time it was held, but my submission was outright rejected. T'was an epic fail unfortunately. So! That being said, I decided that this time I would come to you guys for help and decide which piece I should enter into the competition. Below are three different pieces I've written. I'd appreciate it if you all could look at them and tell me which one has the best writing. So try not to look at the story and characters and things like that so much, but more on the writing aspects of it. Thanks! Without further ado...

Spoiler
Kash Daddy

“Put your hands in the air, like you got facial hair!”

But they didn’t put their hands in the air, not a single person.

The sudden shift in mood was jarring. He didn’t know how to continue with the cold, silent stares of an unimpressed crowd bearing into him.

That is until Draymond, his opponent, threw his head back and guffawed. He pulled up his sagging pants and tried to control his amusement. “Aye man, you being serious with me right now?” he asked through stifled chuckles.

He didn’t back down, looking at Draymond square in the eye. Though he had to tilt his head up, since he was a bit shorter and smaller than him – actually he was a lot shorter and smaller. It’s not that he was a midget; just everyone else was a tower. Where he lived, every other guy seemed to have the physique of a basketball player so being the 5 foot, eleven plebian that he was, he often found himself having to strain his neck whenever he spoke.

“Aye, I’m being damn serious man.” Just as he finished, he knew he had messed up. And for a moment, the brief silence led him to think no one noticed but then the hall erupted in laughter.

He usually hid his thick Indian accent fairly well, but this time it came out in full force, like a loud hiccup that scares everyone in the room or a really long burp that won’t stop until it’s finished. His embarrassment was obvious from his fidgeting and looking at the ground.

Draymond was laughing so hard, his dreadlocks had joined in the laughter too, flailing and dancing around. And every time he’d try to say something, he’d just start cackling again. When the laughter had finally subsided, he was practically out of breath. “Get this dumbass off the stage,” he said to a pair of men double his size.

The emcee stepped forward and grabbed the mic from him.

“Aye wait man, just give me another chance!” He protested only to be answered with another spurt of laughter. No matter how much he tried, he just wasn’t able to hide his accent today. And he knew why. Tense situations like these had a tendency to repress the American in him, and expose the Indian – that’s just how it’d always been, ever since he first set foot in the star-spangled country. 

The guards grabbed him and forced him off the stage. He raised his chin, flared his nostrils, and shrugged his shoulders. Though it was clear his pathetic attempts at acting cool weren’t fooling anyone there. Because underneath all that bravado was just a devastated high school dropout, who didn’t fit in anywhere.

As he was thrown out the building, he fell in a pile of sludge and grime that littered the dark alleyways of New York’s ghettos. He wiped it off and got back to his feet, looking at the building once more. This was where the useless and hopeless denizens of New York would gather every Saturday to watch two failures hurl insults at each other in beats and rhymes. And he had finally gotten his chance to be one of those failures up on that stage but he had failed at that too.

He had been trying for the past six months to participate in a rap battle. And every single time he volunteered, shouting and waving his arm like a madman, they had ignored him. It must have been because of how he looked. A scrawny Indian kid fresh-off-the-boat with glasses and disheveled black hair didn’t exactly scream “rapper”, and he knew that. But he didn’t care. He just wanted to be on that stage and today it had finally happened.

No one had dared to face Draymond, apparently the best rapper on the streets. So he had jumped on the opportunity, and pushed his way to the front of the crowd declaring to the emcee that he would do it – he would battle the almighty Draymond. But of course, they had acted like they couldn’t see him and desperately searched for another brave soul to speak up. No one did. So, before anyone could deny him his moment to shine, he had swaggered onto the stage ready to rap, only to be later humiliated in front of all those people, his one chance completely shattered and ruined.

The thought brought tears to his eyes as he walked through the slums. Though he quickly wiped them with the sleeve of his tattered jacket, which he had found in a dumpster the day before. Crying was not an option, especially in these parts of town. It was a sign of weakness that would only give others a reason to prey on him.

He stopped at a small, dilapidated building – the kind that a corporate tycoon would have demolished long ago to build a McDonald’s but couldn’t because people like him needed a place to live. As soon as he entered, he heard the cries of children wanting their fathers and mothers needing support. He climbed the stairs in the racket. He was used to it by now.

When he got to his room, he wanted to go inside and escape this unforgiving world so badly that his hands shook, fumbling with the key. But a New York accent he recognized immediately caught his attention.

“How’d it go today, Kash?” Mrs. Haley, his neighbor so to speak, stood outside her room, cradling her infant daughter in her arms.

He forced a smile. “It was alright. I didn’t win but it was close.” He lied and he was surprised at how easily he was able to do it. That’s what humiliation can do to a person, he supposed.

“That’s alright,” she smiled. “Just keep trying and doing what you’re doing. I’m sure-” Her daughter’s siren sounded, drowning out her voice. She tried to calm her wailing babe with playful faces and sounds. But it was in vain. He knew all too well that that baby was not going to shut up anytime soon, because all the babies in this entire building never shut up anytime soon. It was a curse.

On the verge of a splitting migraine, he turned to his door and unlocked it. He was just about to go in when he heard Mrs. Haley’s voice.

“I don’t know why this always happens.” She tried to yell over her daughter. “I put her to sleep and everything’s fine, but then she just starts crying for no reason.”

The tears rolled from her eyes like small rivers. And that’s when it hit him – the realization that everyone’s struggling with something. For him it was humiliation and crushed hopes; for Mrs. Haley it was helplessness. She had given birth to her daughter out of wedlock, and the father had left her to raise their child on her own while she juggled college and a part-time job on the side. It didn’t work out in the end. She had failed all her classes and had been fired from her job. A pity, since she had been a bright student with dreams of becoming a lawyer, all of which had been crushed in just one night because she decided to have one too many drinks. In those helpless tears, there was bound to be some remorse and regret swimming in there too. Because the once aspiring lawyer had been reduced to a maid, cleaning bathrooms and babysitting elderly folk for schmucks too lazy to do it themselves.

There was no way he could just leave her like that. He took his hand off the doorknob and walked over to Mrs. Haley. “Do you think I could try?” he said, extending out his arms.

Mrs. Haley looked up at him with a glimmer of hope. She tried to act hesitant but it was clear how relieved she was to have some help just from the manner in which she handed him her daughter.

He took the babe in his arms and rocked her back and forth. “Ssshhh,” he said in his most soothing voice. And for some reason, it was working. The siren had become more like a drone, and before long, quiet whimpers.

Mrs. Haley’s expression lit up and she beamed at him. “How did you do that? Thank you so much!”

“I’m not really sure,” he chuckled as he gazed into the babe’s face. All that crying always made him avoid the babe so this was his first time holding her like this. He kind of liked her without the screaming. In fact, he found her beautiful: the pink cheeks, the wide eyes, the flawless skin. But all of those qualities paled in comparison to her smile. When she opened her mouth and stretched her thin red lips into a toothless grin, he forgot everything. All the pain, hardship, suffering he had endured since coming to this country – he had forgotten it all if only for a split moment. Without knowing, he started crying because the amount of love and happiness contained in just that one smile was overwhelming. He knew right then and there that he now had a reason, a purpose. He would work to never let the smile on this babe’s face turn to sorrow. All the other rappers could have all the money, prostitutes, and fame they wanted. Those were not his desires, and they never would be.

Spoiler
Super Mom

Oh how she hated it – the way she’d waltz into her house all giggly and oblivious to everything other than her son. And he was the same way. Whenever she was around, Jacob wouldn’t even look at her – his own mother – for crying out loud!

She needed to get her out of this house and away from Jacob pronto. Otherwise, it would only be a matter of time before he’d fall into the clutches of this deceptive seductress. Or perhaps, was it already too late?

“Mom!”

The sound of her son’s voice startled her as she snapped back to reality.

Jacob stood in the kitchen visibly annoyed with her. “I called you like a hundred times,” he scoffed.

“Oh hon’, I’m sorry,” she smiled. “You know how I am…always thinking about something.”   

She had definitely been thinking about something all right, thinking about that ditz who, from the corner of her eyes, she could now see was flashing her a smile, her stretched lips pink and glossy. It was blinding – all that sparkly, glittery nonsense around her mouth. Why’d Jacob have to become friends with her? Why not Molly from down the street? She was such a nice, well-mannered girl – nothing like this serpent dressed in a human guise. The temptress – she couldn’t even remember her name – waved hello to her after noticing she made eye contact. “Buzz off!” That’s what she wanted to say at least. But she restrained herself and just casually waved back.

 “Yeah, whatever.” Jacob shook his head, sighing. “Anyways, I just wanted to let you know that Rachel and I are going to be doing homework in my room. So please don’t…”

“Yes, yes, I know, I know.” She stuck out her hands in acquiescence. “I’ll try not to do anything to embarrass you,” she teased. But she didn’t make any promises. No way was she going to do that.

“Alright cool,” Jacob said with a tinge of doubt in his voice. As he turned to leave, he noted, “By the way, the meatloaf’s burning.”

She immediately turned to the stove and switched off the flame, disappointed by the charred slab that lay smoldering before her. Gosh darn it! That’s what she deserved for paying more attention to her self-proclaimed arch nemesis than to dinner, she supposed.

Spoiler
What Is Love?

I first heard it on a Pepsi commercial. The upbeat, catchy tune sang by a fellow named Haddaway went something like this: “What is love? Baby, don’t hurt me. Don’t hurt me. No more…” And it really got me thinking: What is love?

Is love the familial ties of individuals to their brother, sister, mother, father, and the other gazillion relatives they have? Is love the young couple who strut around middle school, showing off they’re in a relationship? Is love the star-crossed lovers who eloped only to be now sleeping in separate beds after their initial passion had withered away like the petals on a dying flower? Is love the husband and wife who regret their arranged marriage after it took them some 30 years to realize their incompatibility?

Love is all of these, and none of these. To slap a universal definition next to the word would not capture its essence because love is not just a word. It’s a concept; it’s an idea – something that is common to us all, yet conceived differently by every person. Regardless of whatever we understand love to be, it doesn’t matter. Love was never meant to be understood by the likes of us, for it transcends human thinking. It originates from the stars above, from Him Himself. It is His gift to mankind, a medium through which we can extinguish the darkness from our hearts and suppress our inner demons.

Despite its purifying power, love is not any less susceptible to the infectious darkness of the human psyche and can often take ugly forms – lust, libido, desire – all of which drive men crazy and obsessed, greedy and vain. These corrupted forms skew weak men’s understanding of love into one that is solely based on the need for instant gratification and pleasure. They are the reason why a teenage boy would rather lose his virginity than build strong bonds, why the divorce rates in most developed countries continue to rise steadily.

And even if we sought to return love to its true, perfect form by obliterating the weakness in our hearts, the standards of society would not allow it. For how could it? Love threatens to topple the very pillars of greed and material ambition upon which civilization is built. Thus societies have established laws and rules, systems and traditions in an effort to silence it. And they have succeeded. In a world where we compete with our friends for that last seat in a high-ranking university, with our colleagues for that once-in-a-lifetime promotion, with anyone or anything over petty matters, love cannot and will not thrive.

But it exists. In whatever small corner of the world it may be hiding, it exists – in the form of an orphan being embraced by his foster parents; in the form of a disabled child being told that, although special, should not feel inferior to others; in the form of a homeless man being given lunch by a good Samaritan. Love not only exists now and here, but throughout history, throughout the course of human existence. Love is all around us! It flows from the great dam of His heart like a continuous, endless river that will never deplete, never stop flowing. So then, let us make the best use of it.   

SUBMISSIONS ARE DUE AUG 14 SO THE SOONER I GET Y'ALL'S OPINIONS THE BETTER!!

8
Develop Your Story / SuperMom
« on: July 07, 2015, 12:56:35 AM »
Another short story I've started working on, SuperMom! It's action, comedy, supernatural, and a little bit of slice-of-life thrown in there. It's about a mom...who's super. Ok no really it's about a mom with special superpowers who is overprotective of her son. Only got roughly 390 words so far - WIP.


SuperMom!

Oh how she hated it – the way she’d waltz into her house all giggly and oblivious to everything other than her son. And he was the same way. Whenever she was around, Jacob wouldn’t even look at her – his own mother – for crying out loud!

She needed to get her out of this house and away from Jacob pronto. Otherwise, it would only be a matter of time before he’d fall into the clutches of this deceptive seductress. Or perhaps, was it already too late? She’d better do something fast, she thought.

“Mom!”

The sound of her son’s voice startled her as she snapped back to reality.

Jacob stood in the kitchen visibly annoyed with her. “I called you like a hundred times,” he scoffed.

“Oh hon’, I’m sorry,” she smiled. “You know how I am…always thinking about something for no reason.”

She had been definitely thinking about something all right, thinking about that ditz who, from the corner of her eyes, she could now see was flashing her a smile, her stretched lips pink and glossy. It was blinding – all that sparkly, glittery nonsense around her mouth. Why’d Jacob have to become friends with her? Why not Molly from down the street? She was such a nice, well-mannered girl – nothing like this serpent dressed in a human guise. The temptress – she couldn’t even remember her name – waved hello to her after noticing she made eye contact. “Buzz off!” That’s what she wanted to say at least. But she restrained herself and just casually waved back.

 “Yeah, whatever.” Jacob shook his head, sighing. “Anyways, I just wanted to let you know that Rachel and I are going to be doing homework in my room. So please don’t…”

“Yes, yes, I know, I know.” She stuck out her hands in acquiescence. “I’ll try not to do anything to embarrass you,” she said in a playful tone. But she didn’t make any promises. No way was she going to do that.

“Alright cool,” he said with a tinge of distrust in his voice. As he turned to leave, he noted, “By the way, the meatloaf is burning.”

She immediately turned to the stove and switched off the flame, disappointed by the charred slab that lay smoking before her. Gosh darn it! That’s what she deserved for paying more attention to her self-proclaimed arch nemesis than to dinner, she supposed.
     

9
Manga Creations / Ka$h Daddy
« on: July 05, 2015, 02:58:40 AM »
Thought of a new story idea and rolled with it thanks to the Hot Seat. Quick note: every writer should do the Hot Seat. I was reluctant at first but once I started it, I've had no regrets. Story was supposed to be more light and comedic but it ended up taking a more dark/serious turn, which I'm okay with. Synopsis is simple: Indian kid, kicked out of his house, trying to become a rapper on the streets of NY. It's a WIP. Enjoy.


Kash Daddy

“Put your hands in the air, like you got facial hair!”

But they didn’t put their hands in the air, not a single person.

The sudden shift in mood was jarring. He didn’t know how to continue with the cold, silent stares of an unimpressed crowd bearing into him.

That is until Draymond, his opponent, threw his head back and guffawed. He pulled up his sagging pants and tried to control his amusement. “Aye man, you being serious with me right now?” he asked through stifled chuckles.

He didn’t back down, looking at Draymond square in the eye. Though he had to tilt his head up, since he was a bit shorter and smaller than him – actually he was a lot shorter and smaller. It’s not that he was a midget; just everyone else was a tower. Where he lived, every other guy seemed to have the physique of a basketball player so being the 5 foot, eleven plebian that he was, he often found himself having to strain his neck whenever he spoke.

“Aye, I’m being damn serious man.” Just as he finished, he knew he had messed up. And for a moment, the brief silence led him to think no one noticed but then the hall erupted in laughter.

He usually hid his thick Indian accent fairly well, but this time it came out in full force, like a loud hiccup that scares everyone in the room or a really long burp that won’t stop until it’s finished. His embarrassment was obvious from his fidgeting and looking at the ground.

Draymond was laughing so hard, his dreadlocks had joined in the laughter too, flailing and dancing around. And every time he’d try to say something, he’d just start cackling again. When the laughter had finally subsided, he was practically out of breath. “Get this dumbass off the stage,” he said to a pair of men double his size.

The emcee stepped forward and grabbed the mic from him.

“Aye wait man, just give me another chance!” He protested only to be answered with another spurt of laughter. No matter how much he tried, he just wasn’t able to hide his accent today. And he knew why. Tense situations like these had a tendency to repress the American in him, and expose the Indian – that’s just how it’d always been, ever since he first set foot in the star-spangled country. 

The guards gripped him and forced him off the stage. He raised his chin, flared his nostrils, and shrugged his shoulders. Though it was clear his pathetic attempts at acting cool weren’t fooling anyone there. Because underneath all that bravado was just a devastated high school dropout, who didn’t fit in anywhere.

As he was thrown out the building, he fell in a pile of sludge and grime that littered the dark alleyways of New York’s ghettos. He wiped it off and got back to his feet, looking at the building once more. This was where the useless and hopeless denizens of New York would gather every Saturday to watch two failures hurl insults at each other in beats and rhymes. And he had finally gotten his chance to be one of those failures up on that stage but he had failed at that too.

He had been trying for the past six months to participate in a rap battle. And every single time he had volunteered, shouting and waving his arm like a madman, they had ignored him. It must have been because of how he looked. A scrawny Indian kid fresh-off-the-boat with glasses and disheveled black hair didn’t exactly scream “rapper”, and he knew that. But he didn’t care. He just wanted to be on that stage and today it had finally happened.

No one had dared to face Draymond, apparently the best rapper on the streets. So he had jumped on the opportunity, and had pushed his way to the front of the crowd declaring to the emcee that he would do it – he would battle the almighty Draymond. But of course, they had acted like they couldn’t see him and desperately searched for another brave soul to speak up. No one did. So, before anyone could deny him his moment to shine, he had swaggered onto the stage ready to rap, only to be later humiliated in front of all those people, his one chance completely shattered and ruined.

The thought brought tears to his eyes as he walked through the slums. Though, he quickly wiped them with the sleeve of his tattered jacket, which he had found in a dumpster the day before. Crying was not an option, especially in these parts of town. It was a sign of weakness that would only give others a reason to prey on him.

He stopped at a small, dilapidated building – the kind that a corporate tycoon would have demolished long ago to build a McDonald’s but couldn’t because people like him needed a place to live. As soon as he entered, he heard the cries of children wanting their fathers and mothers needing support. He climbed the stairs in the racket. He was used to it by now.

When he got to his room, he wanted to go inside and escape this unforgiving world so badly that his hands shook, fumbling with the key. But a New York accent he recognized immediately caught his attention.

“How’d it go today, Kash?” Mrs. Haley, his neighbor so to speak, stood outside her room, cradling her infant daughter in her arms.

He forced a smile. “It was alright. I didn’t win but it was close.” He lied and he was surprised at how easily he was able to do it. That’s what humiliation can do to a person, he supposed.

“That’s alright,” she smiled. “Just keep trying and doing what you’re doing. I’m sure-” Her daughter’s siren sounded, drowning out her voice. She tried to calm her wailing babe with playful faces and sounds. But it was in vain. He knew all too well that that baby was not going to shut up anytime soon, because all the babies in this entire building never shut up anytime soon. It was a curse.

On the verge of a splitting migraine, he turned to his door and unlocked it. He was just about to go in when he heard Mrs. Haley’s voice.

“I don’t know why this always happens.” She tried to yell over her daughter. “I put her to sleep and everything’s fine, but then she just starts crying for no reason.”

The tears rolled from her eyes like small rivers. And that’s when it hit him – the realization that everyone’s struggling with something. For him it was humiliation and crushed hopes; for Mrs. Haley it was helplessness. She had given birth to her daughter out of wedlock, and the father had left her to raise their child on her own while she juggled college and a part-time job on the side. It didn’t work out in the end. She had failed all her classes and had been fired from her job. A pity, since she had been a bright student with dreams of becoming a lawyer, all of which had been crushed in just one night because she decided to have one too many drinks. In those helpless tears, there was bound to be some remorse and regret swimming in there too. Because the once aspiring lawyer had been reduced to a maid, cleaning bathrooms and babysitting elderly folk for schmucks too lazy to do it themselves.

There was no way he could just leave her like that. He took his hand off the doorknob and walked over to Mrs. Haley. “Do you think I could try?” he said, extending out his arms.

Mrs. Haley looked up at him with a glimmer of hope. She tried to act hesitant but it was clear from the manner in which she handed him her daughter how relieved she was to have some help.

He took the babe in his arms and rocked her back and forth. “Ssshhh,” he said in his most soothing voice. And for some reason, it was working. The siren had become more like a drone, and before long, quiet whimpers.

Mrs. Haley’s expression lit up and she beamed at him. “How did you do that? Thank you so much!”

“I’m not really sure,” he chuckled as he gazed into the babe’s face. All that crying always made him avoid the babe so this was his first time holding her like this. He kind of liked her without the screaming. In fact, he found her beautiful: the pink cheeks, the wide eyes, the flawless skin. But all of those qualities paled in comparison to her smile. When she opened her mouth and stretched her thin red lips into a toothless grin, he forgot everything. All the pain, hardship, suffering he had endured since coming to this country – he had forgotten it all if only for a split moment. Without knowing, he started crying because the amount of love and happiness contained in just that one smile was overwhelming. He knew right then and there that he now had a reason, a purpose. He would work to never let the smile on this babe’s face turn to sorrow. All the other rappers could have all the money, prostitutes, and fame they wanted. That was not his desire, and it never would be.   
   

To be continued...


 

10
Anime Talk / Naoki Urasawa's Monster
« on: June 30, 2015, 02:15:19 AM »
Did some anime hopping and ended up finding a really good one. It's called Monster and is actually quite similar to a story I wrote in that it has a medical/hospital based setting and a dark, suspenseful atmosphere. So it caught my attention and I decided to give it a watch, and the two episodes I've seen so far have not disappointed.

It's about a neurosurgeon, Dr. Tenma, who for some reason is surrounded by a bunch of scumbag doctors, all of whom are more concerned about money and the hospital's reputation as opposed to the lives of their patients. One fateful night Tenma decides he's fed up with the hospital's bureaucracy and disobeys a direct order from the medical director - who also happens to be the father of the woman with whom Tenma is engaged - operating on a boy in critical condition despite being told explicitly to operate on the mayor of the town instead. His disobedience costs him his favor with the medical director, and he consequently loses his high-ranking post in the hospital and his engagement with the director's daughter. Following Tenma's operation on the boy, the medical director and a couple other corrupt doctors are found dead. How did they die? Who is it that killed them? That is what the rest of the series will seem to focus on from here.

I think this anime is definitely worth checking out for everyone, but especially writers. The storytelling, from what I've heard and so far seen, is exemplary and could provide some pointers on how to construct and tell a good story. 

http://myanimelist.net/anime/19/Monster

11
break Room / What languages do you speak?
« on: June 04, 2015, 08:55:13 PM »
Since MR is such a diverse community of people all over the world, I was wondering...what languages do you guys speak, other than English of course?

I'll go first.

Telugu (an Indian language, my mother tongue) - used to be fluent when I was a kid but now I've kind of lost touch; can't write or read.

Spanish - don't know if I can claim I know this language lol. I learned the very basics in high school and even that I've forgotten a lot of. But thanks to my friend I'll always know how to say dirty things in Spanish like this: "Tu mama esta en mi pantalones"....lol

Ok, now your guys' turn.

12
MR Writers Anthology / Deformed
« on: May 30, 2015, 02:22:31 AM »
Hello everyone, this is my submission for MR Writers Anthology. It's a bit long (over 9,000 words) so you may want to pace yourself if you decide to read my work, for which I am always grateful of course. I've broken it into 3 parts to make it an easier read. Lastly, please respect my intellectual property and do not use or reproduce any part of my story without my consent. Thanks, hope you all enjoy.


Deformed
a western based story of fate and misfortune

Genre: Suspense, Psychological
Rating: PG-13 for language and violence



Synopsis
Spoiler
Damon Zovolsky is a 30-year-old, up and coming plastic surgeon, who has already made a name for himself as one of the best. However, he is quite morally dubious, often taking bribes and neglecting to follow certain healthcare insurance regulations, as well as other questionable activities. On a spring day like any other, he is approached by a shady customer, requesting a complete facial transformation. This man has no paperwork, ID, or any medical history whatsoever but offers to pay a large sum of cash. Damon accepts the deal and operates on this man. A few days later, while watching the news, Damon realizes that the man he operated on is the serial killer everyone has been worrying and talking about. It isn't long before the man returns to Damon, seeking another facial transformation as he was so impressed with the first one. How will Damon escape this situation? Who is this serial killer and why is he so fixated with Damon?

Part 1: Fraud
Spoiler
During the late hours of the morning on this pleasant spring day in Los Angeles, the magnificent California Mountains stand tall in the background, and the sun peeks its golden head over the mountaintops. In an upper class suburban neighborhood, Damon Zovolsky exits his luxurious, one-story house in his pajamas and silk night robe and pauses for a moment at the doorstep. He closes his eyes and runs his hands through his long brown hair, feeling the moist, warm air tickle his face.

“Finally, it’s over!” he thinks to himself while exhaling deeply. Damon lumbers onto his driveway to pick up the newspaper.

Meanwhile, his neighbor, dressed in a spotless gray suit, walks out of his home ready to go to work in his BMW convertible. He turns his head, revealing his clean-shaven face and blonde-hair oozing with gel, and peers at Damon through his aviator sunglasses. “Well, look who it is! Do all quack doctors wake up this late and look like *censored*?” he asks with a smug smile on his face. Damon notices the overly polished man and gazes at him with his deep blue eyes.

“You can blame your wife for how I look, Rob. She kept me up all night,” he replies, his tone exuding feigned arrogance.

Rob chuckles, displaying his sparkling white teeth. “Ah, your comebacks are still better than ever…But still, do you really think you should be poking fun at the guy who saved your sorry ass?” Even though Rob posed his question in a joking manner, Damon could sense the probing, even slightly threatening, undertones in his voice and smug countenance.

Maintaining the light-hearted mood, Damon chuckles, “Saved my ass? More like pulled all the money out of it that you could get your hands on!”

Rob rolls his eyes. “Oh come on, that was like pennies for you. And plus, you know what I hate more than anything? Hypocrites.”

Again, he could sense Rob pricking him with his words while using the joking mood to conceal his true intention. Wanting to no longer prolong the subtle abuse from this arrogant schmuck, Damon decides to give him what he wants.

“I’m just kidding man. The last three months were brutal, and you really pulled through for me man. Thanks.”

Although that was exactly what he wanted to hear, Rob simply shrugs Damon’s gratitude away with feigned humility. “Oh, it’s no problem bud. That’s my job after all, right?” he chuckles. Damon forces a smile in response. Satisfied that he had heard what he wanted, Rob opens the door and slips into his convertible. Turning to Damon one last time he says, “Anyways, it was nice chatting with you, but I gotta run to the law firm bud. Boss hates it when I’m late. See you later, alligator!”

Damon watches with a scowl as Rob fires the ignition and zooms out of the neighborhood at speeds way too high for a residential area, and mutters under his breath, “What a piece of *censored*.” As Damon strolls back inside his house, he studies the clutter of stories on the front page of the newspaper. In the center of the front page in large, bold letters reads the headline: “SERIAL KILLER MURDERS TWO, STEALS MONEY AND JEWELRY.” However, Damon completely ignores the conspicuous headline, instead focusing on one off to the side: “PLASTIC SURGEON FOUND INNOCENT ON CHARGES OF FRAUD.” His eyes wander to the sub-heading on the next line: “Dr. Damon Zovolsky, accused of fraudulent billing to healthcare insurance companies, was found innocent after standing on trial for three months.” Beneath the headings is a photo of him smiling and shaking hands with his lawyer, a blonde-haired man, who is none other than the neighbor with whom he just had a lovely chat.

He enters the living room and uncaringly hurls the newspaper onto the center table before collapsing onto the welcoming sofa. He then turns the TV on and sifts through the channels at blazing speed with the remote, finally arriving at SportsCenter. Although his eyes stare blankly at the screen, his mind pays no heed to the fact that Stephen Curry scored 25 points last game. Instead, his thoughts wander around the events that had transpired over the last three months.

“I got lucky…really lucky. If I had been found guilty…damn, it would’ve been bad – would’ve been locked up in prison for a few years and then no license to practice or any money when I got out…” He stretches his legs, placing them on top of the center table and continues pondering his past actions.

“I can’t do stuff like that anymore…I gotta stop, start following the rules. But dammit, why should I? Those insurance companies control everything with their *censored*ed up policies. That’s all the medical field is now…full of bureaucracy.”

He releases a loud sigh and says aloud, “I should do something or I’ll go crazy.” He whips his slick smartphone out of his pant pocket and dials a number. Putting the phone against his ear, he waits as it rings a few times and then hears a gentle, feminine voice answer, “Hello?”

“Hey, what’s up? You busy right now?” he asks.

“No, the kids just went out for recess. Um, are you calling from work?”

“No, no, I’m at home. I thought I’d just go back next week. I need a break after all this *censored*, you know,” Damon says while rubbing his eyes and forehead.

“Oh…okay.”

“Why do you ask?”

“It’s nothing…you never call when you’re at work so I was just wondering. Anyways, why’d you call?”

“I wanted to know if you’re free tonight. I thought we could do something tonight – you know, go out for dinner or something.”

“On a weekday? What’s the occasion?”

“Nothing, really. We’ve barely talked since this whole thing started and I wanna see you.”

“Yeah…you’re right. I wanna see you too. What time were you thinking?”

Damon smiles faintly. It was a hook, line, and sinker – the way she took the bait. Of course, he could not tell his girlfriend that the reason he was proposing a date was because he was bored out of his mind and needed something to do, so he phrased it a bit differently. He has always had a knack for words. “How about 7:30?”

“Sounds good. I’ll see you then…The kids are coming back. I got to go.”

“Alright, see you then. Bye.” After ending his conversation with his girlfriend, he adds his phone to the growing pile of clutter on the center table and stretches his arms while yawning.

“Alright, just gotta keep myself occupied till 7:30…I can do that,” he thinks.

***
It’s 2:30 in the afternoon and Damon lays sprawled decorated with food crumbs in the living room sofa fast asleep. The mountain of clutter on his center table now includes bags of chips, cookie packets, PlayStation controllers, and a multitude of other items. The TV continues to play in the background. Suddenly, Damon’s phone rings loudly. He jerks awake, sending food crumbs flying everywhere. Scouring through the mess half-asleep, he soon starts furiously swiping objects off the table in search of his phone like a miner digging for gold. Finally, he arrives at the bottom of the heap and quickly picks it up. “Hello.”

An extremely enthusiastic voice greets him from the other side, causing Damon to wince slightly. “Hi, Dr. Zovolsky! It’s so good to hear your voice again! How have you been?” Recognizing the familiar voice, he sits back, relaxing in the sofa.

“Oh hey, Sarah. I’ve been good. Uh, is there something I can help you with?”

“Well sir, one of your repeat patients, Mrs. Pennyworth, just came into the clinic asking for you. We told her you’re not here and that Dr. Goodman could help her, but she’s pretty adamant about only you operating on her.”

Now feeling more urgent and alert, Damon says, “Okay, okay. Let her into my office and tell her I’ll be right there.”

***
The Goodman and Zovolsky Clinic for Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery is a small brown and white building with a few windows lining its sides. Damon bursts through the automatic sliding doors of the front entrance in his gray scrubs and white coat, ignoring the surprised stares of the patients in the waiting area. He then proceeds past another door, and finds the medical staff working busily – typing rapidly at their computers, or helping patients in their rooms, or filling out paperwork. They all greet him casually except one.

“Dr. Zovolsky!” cries a voice. Confused Damon looks around and then down to find the blonde-haired, petite head of medical staff gazing up at him with her large, unblinking hazel eyes.

“Oh hey Sarah, I ha-”

“How have you been, sir?” she says with a concerned expression and placing her hand on his arm. Feeling awkward and trapped, Damon tries to escape from his overly dramatic co-worker but to no avail.

“I was so worried about you over these last three months. They must have been really hard on you.”

“Sarah!” Damon snaps, causing her to jump a little but also finally securing her attention. “I’m glad to see you too, but we can catch up later. Mrs. Pennyworth, is she in my office?”

“Oh yes, sir! I can take you to-”

“No, no that’s alright. You attend to other matters. I can handle this,” he replies and marches down the corridor to his office. As he enters, he’s greeted by the two shelves filled with books on either side of his desk, which is adorned with various decorations. On one side of the desk sits Mrs. Pennyworth, an elderly lady who has a passion for cats and is one of Damon’s most loyal patients.

“Mrs. Pennyworth, it’s so good to see you!” he exclaims.

“Oh Damon, my dear, it’s nice to see you too. I was wondering when you’d arrive,” she crows while turning to face him, revealing her pale, wrinkled skin and small, brown eyes.

Damon smiles and says, “Sorry, it took so long. LA traffic is simply terrible.” He then bends down to touch her cheek with his own, and then takes a seat at his desk, facing Mrs. Pennyworth.

Upon taking his seat, he cursorily observes her appearance.
The large black hat atop her head seems too big for her, the white frills on its edges making it appear even more conspicuous. She dons several rings on each hand in addition to a beautiful pearl necklace and diamond earrings. Her white dress complements her hat. And to top it all off, a white, plump cat sits comfortably in her lap. She’s, quite simply put, the epitome of opulence.

“How have you been, Mrs. Pennyworth?”

She folds one leg over the other and tilts her head to the side as though she’s the Queen of England. “Oh you know, my dear, the usual business. Jack still works at the investment firm. I tell him to retire but he just won’t listen. And so, I’m all alone having to keep myself occupied,” she sighs, exaggerating her problems to seem more important than they actually are. “But I’ve got Smithers here to keep me company!” she says, referring to the cat in her lap cheerfully. She leans forward slightly and assumes a more solemn tone. “But that’s enough about me, my dear. How are you faring? These last months must have been quite the…ordeal.”

Damon feigns a chuckle in response. “Being on trial was quite the scare indeed. But I’m back and better than ever,” he says with a toothy grin and spreading his arms out for emphasis.

“And we couldn’t be happier,” Mrs. Pennyworth replies delightedly.

“Thank you. So! What can I do for you today, Mrs. Pennyworth?”

“Well dear, it’s a few things actually. First, I want some work done on my nose…”

Meanwhile, in the waiting room of the clinic, a rather disheveled middle-aged woman rushes to the front-desk receptionist and sputters, “Excuse me. The man who just walked in now – was that Dr. Zovolsky?”

Slightly taken aback by how aggressively the woman approached her, the receptionist replies, “Y-yes, that was him. Can I help you?”

“Yes, I need to speak with him! It’s an urgent matter!”

“I apologize, ma’am. He’s currently busy with another patient and he’s completely booked for today. You’ll have to make an appointment in advance.” To the side, a hooded man sitting in the waiting area watches the verbal exchange between the woman and the receptionist quietly, his piercing, blue eyes fixed on them.

“Please, it will just take a second,” the woman cries. “My son, he-”

The woman abruptly stops speaking, struggling to suppress her emotions. She regroups herself and continues with tears in her eyes, “He suffered third-degree burns. The doctors overseeing his care said that they can give him skin grafts but they may not be enough. Please, only Dr. Zovolsky can help him. Everybody says he’s one of the best reconstructive surgeons.”

Before the receptionist can respond, the woman starts shoving paperwork her way. “These are all my past medical bills and my son’s diagnoses.”

The receptionist skims over a few papers and looks up to face the woman with a sympathetic expression. “I’m very sorry ma’am. Your insurance simply can’t cover the cost of Dr. Zovolsky’s operations. There are lots of great surgeons specializing in reconstructive surgery in town. We’d be happy to refer you to them.”

“No, you don’t understand. Only he can help with this. Please!” she cries desperately, on the verge of tears.

In Damon’s office, Mrs. Pennyworth continues explaining what she would like to him to do for her. As she rambles on, he jots down her litany of requests on a notepad with an exhausted expression. Before he loses his patience, however, a woman frantically bursts into his office. Unsure of what to say, she pauses momentarily while Damon and Mrs. Pennyworth stare at her shocked.

Just as the woman is about to speak, Sarah, the head of medical staff, appears in the office and exclaims, “Dr. Zovolsky, I’m very sorry. We told her you were busy but she forced her way past us.”

Still a bit dazed and confused, Damon expresses understanding but fails to articulate a response.

Sarah then turns to the woman and places her hand on her arm. “Ma’am, you need to come with us right now. Otherwise, we’ll have to ca-“

The woman interrupts her, flinging her elbow violently backwards to push the petite head of staff off of her. Her aggressive actions evoke a strong response from Mrs. Pennyworth, who glares at her with utter disgust and outrage. The woman turns to the alarmed Damon and presents her emotional pitch. “Doctor, my three-year-old son means the world to me and I want nothing more than to give him a happy life. But he suffered third-degree burns on his face recently after playing near the stove. He’s going to be given skin grafts but the doctors said that they may not be enough…Please, I may not have much money now, but I can pay the expenses for the operation after some time.”

Damon slowly stands up from his chair with a solemn expression, and he begins to walk towards the woman but stops when Mrs. Pennyworth turns her face, her eyes meeting with his. Her expression was screaming the words: “Are you actually going to cater to the wishes of this poor, uneducated nut!?”

And there he freezes. He looks at the appalled face of his most loyal customer and then glances at the frantic woman desperate to save her son. Finally, he makes his choice. The words quietly and softly escape his lips: “Sarah…please call security.”

At that moment, Sarah jolts out of his office while the woman absorbs Damon’s response, sadness and humiliation slowly overwhelming her. As Damon takes his seat again, she shakes her head and whispers, “No…no, please! Please, you have to help my son!” She inches closer to Damon to beg for his help, but before she can close the gap between herself and the stone-faced doctor, two security guards enter the office and forcefully remove her from the premises.

“Let go of me!” the woman screams as the guards escort her into the front lobby. The hooded man still sitting in the waiting area watches the commotion intently as the guards finally force the woman out the front doors of the clinic.

Meanwhile, in Damon’s office, Mrs. Pennyworth turns to him aghast and says, “My goodness! Does your clinic always bring in such riff raff?”

Irritated by her ignorant question, Damon replies stoically, “Our clinic attracts all sorts of folks, Mrs. Pennyworth. Do you think that only the wealthy need doctors?”

Taken aback by Damon’s bluntness, Mrs. Pennyworth cocks her head and stumbles on her words. “Well, I know that…I was just shocked by how ill-mannered some can be.”

She pauses and then adds with a forced chuckle, “Even Smithers here is more refined than that crazy woman.”

Damon refuses to make light of the situation and maintains his stoic attitude, his mind still distraught by his decision not to operate on the woman’s son.

Part 2: Invincible
Spoiler
***
Around six o’ clock, as the last remnants of sunshine fade into the darkness, the medical staff start leaving for home, but Damon remains in his office, furiously typing away at his computer.

Sarah strolls in enthusiastically as ever. “Dr. Zovolsky, is there anything I can help you with?”

Without looking up from his screen, Damon replies, “No, I’m alright. You’re free to go. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Okay, sir. Don’t stay out too late,” she says and leaves. Utter silence ensues. Not a soul or sound, except for the tapping of fingers against the keyboard. Damon feels at peace, unbothered by complaining patients or annoying medical staff. It’s just him by himself, alone with his thoughts. He smashes the “Enter” key one last time and says, “Finally done!”

After packing his bag, he heads out of the clinic towards his black sedan in the parking lot. While putting his bag in the trunk, his thoughts drift towards his encounter with the frantic woman earlier today. “I should have helped her,” he thinks solemnly. “I was so worried about losing Pennyworth’s business that I couldn’t even…dammit,” he mutters, banging his car lightly with his fist.

“Dr. Zovolsky…” Alarmed by the coarse voice, Damon whips around to find the mysterious hooded man from earlier peering at him with his piercing, blue eyes. He discerns the man’s sharp nose and sculpted jawline, but fails to identify anything more due to his hood partially covering his face.

“Uh…yes. Can I help you?”

“I need a facial reconstruction,” rumbles his deep voice.

“Wh-what?”

“I need a facial reconstruction…now,” he repeats, his expression intensifying.

Damon turns around, trying to escape from this shady character. He opens the door to the driver seat of his car but before he can get in, the hooded man appears in front of him and shuts the door. Damon stares in fear at the man for a moment, wondering whether he should call the police. Before he has the chance to react, however, the man reaches into his coat pocket and smacks a wad of cash against the hood of his car.

“What is this?” Damon asks dumbfounded.

“One hundred thousand dollars in cash,” he replies bluntly.

Damon gapes at him for a moment, finally finding his voice. “And…how about medical history, insurance, ID?”

“Nothing,” the man replies bluntly, his gaze now fiercer than before. “So…are you gonna do it?”

***   
The man sits opposite Damon at his desk gently touching the bandages covering his face. “My face feels numb…how long do I need to keep these on?”

“A few days or so. After a face transplant like the one you just had, the tissues need some time to merge and settle,” he replies while typing at his computer.

The man eyes him for a moment and then asks, “What are you doing? I thought this was supposed to be off-record…”

“It won’t be in the official records, but I keep a personal record of all my operations. Don’t worry…no one will know that this ever happened.”

While Damon continues typing on his computer, the man sits there quiet and bored. Feeling restless, he reaches for a picture on Damon’s desk and studies it. It is a portrait of a family – a mother and father, and two sons. Damon eyes him from the corner of his eyes without stopping his typing, still skeptical of this mysterious stranger. Slowly, he turns the portrait towards Damon and points towards one of the boys in the photo.

“Who’s this…the one with the red marks on his face?”

Damon stays silent for a moment and then answers bluntly, “My brother.”

“What does he do?”

“Don’t know. Haven’t seen him in twenty years.” Damon continues to stare at his computer screen, expressing no interest in the questions about his brother, or at least trying to act as though he has none.

The man places the portrait back on the desk and leans back in his chair. “Ah, touchy subject, eh? I hope you’re not offended. I didn’t mean to pry,” he says with a feigned apologetic tone. He taps his fingers gently against the desk and then says musingly, “I think I get it now. You wanted to become a plastic surgeon because of your brother…you know, help people with deformations like his.”

Damon remains silent, feeling it unnecessary to respond to the man’s commentary on his personal life.

He continues, “But if that’s the case…why didn’t you help the poor lady and her son today?”

Immediately, Damon stops typing and shoots him a glare. The man smiles faintly in response as Damon had reacted exactly the way he expected.

“It’s none of your concern,” growls Damon.

“Okay, okay. I’m not looking to start a fight, big guy,” the man responds mockingly.

Damon grabs a paper from the printer behind him and slams it in front of the man. “Sign it and we’re done here.”

“What is it?”

“Like I said earlier…it’s for my personal records.”

The man and Damon exchange stares for a moment. Finally, the man yields. “Fine, I’ll do it,” he says groans and quickly scribbles his signature.

He kicks the chair back and strolls out of the office, stopping at the door to leave Damon with a few last words. “I wonder what your brother would think if he saw the type of man you are now.” And with that, he vanishes into the darkness.

The man’s final comment leaves Damon in a trance. He stares aimlessly at the doorway where the man stood before he left. Somehow, his words stung him in a way he had not expected. Finally returning to reality, he thinks, “Damn, what a creepy guy…that must have been one of the shadiest deals I’ve ever done.”

He checks his phone; it’s already 11:30. He also has several missed calls and a text message from his girlfriend. He opens the message and reads it: “We talk after three months and the first thing you do is stand me up. We’re done, Damon.”

He sighs in exasperation. “I’ll just call her tomorrow. I need to get the hell outta here,” he thinks and sprints to his car, ready to race home after a tiring day full of strange, unexpected events.
   
As he cruises along the highway, passing streetlights and cars, which appear like streaks of colors in his peripheral vision, Damon muses over his encounter with the mysterious man. Who was he? And why did he approach him out of all the plastic surgeons in L.A.?

But what intrigues Damon most of all about the man are his final words before he left: “I wonder what your brother would think if he saw the type of man you are now.” The words play in his mind over and over again, gently pricking him every time. A sense of nostalgia begins to overwhelm him as he thinks about his brother and their days together when they were young.
“Nathan…where the hell are you?” he wonders.

***
A ten-year-old Damon slumps in the couch of a spacious living room, watching TV at an unreasonably high volume to drown out the sound of his mother shouting at him to do his homework.

Suddenly, the front door bursts open and a teenage, brown-haired boy with a facial disfiguration enters with his head titled downwards as though he’s hiding something. Before he can dash up the stairs to his room, a middle-aged woman with hair the color of a perfect mixture between brown and blonde intercepts him.

“Nathan, what’s wrong? Why are you trying to hide your face?” she asks trying to get a better look at him.

“It’s nothing, Mom. Just leave it alright!” he says trying to avoid her.

But she overpowers him with that inexplicable motherly ability and forces him to show him his face. She gasps after noticing a purplish-black tint underneath his left eye. “What happened? Who did this?” she asks overflowing with concern.

However, Nathan brushes her questions aside and climbs the stairs to his room. “Nathan!” she shouts after him but to no avail.

***
At the dinner table, Damon and the rest of his family eat in silence, as is usually the case when his father is present. Every aspect of his appearance - from his crisp white collared shirt, to his neatly combed brown hair, to his perfectly trimmed moustache – serves as an indication of the tremendous value he places in discipline and order.

While chewing on a piece of chicken, Damon’s father turns towards Damon’s brother, Nathan, and says, “So, you wanna tell me what happened today? Your mother told me you got a little bruise under your eye.”

Nathan looks down at his plate, avoiding eye contact. “It’s nothing…Just some kids at my school. They were making fun of me…” he mumbles.

“Making fun of you about what? Your skin problem?”

Nathan nods obediently with his gaze fixed on his plate.

“And you wanted to be a tough guy so you got in a fight. Is that right?” he inquires trying to look directly into his eyes. Unable to evoke a response from Nathan, his father barks, “Look at me!!”

Everyone at the table jumps at the sound of his bellow, including Damon’s mother. Nathan immediately lifts his head, quivering at the same time. 

He brings his face uncomfortably close to Nathan’s and stares into his eyes. “I’m tired of you getting in trouble, you understand me? I ain’t sending you to school so you can come home with this,” he says pointing to Nathan’s bruise. “From now on, I better not see you getting in any more trouble.”

He slowly backs his face away from Nathan’s and resumes eating. And once again, the Zovolsky household falls completely silent.

***
“Happy Birthday, Natie!” Damon’s mother cheerfully exclaims as she hands Nathan a small, gift-wrapped package while he eats his breakfast along with Damon at the dining table.

“Mom, I’m too old for this,” he groans in feigned disapproval and embarrassment.

“Oh, just open it,” she prompts.

He tears off the wrapping and opens the package. “A dog tag…with my initials on it. Nice. This is not the Nintendo 64 but this is still pretty cool. Thanks, Mom,” he says with a pleasant smile.

“Don’t thank me. Someone else picked it out for you,” she replies, gesturing to the boy beside him.

Nathan turns to find his younger brother gazing at him with a wide grin.

“Thanks buddy,” he says and gives Damon a half-hearted hug.

Damon giggles innocently. “No problem brother!
***
As the sun sets in the horizon and the evening breeze grows stronger, Nathan and his friend shoot the ball around in the neighborhood’s basketball courts.

“Damn, nice dude! Your shot’s gotten pretty good,” Nathan’s friend exclaims as he passes the ball to him so he can take another shot. “At this rate, you might make it on the varsity team next year.”

Nathan catches the ball and assumes his stance behind the three-point line. “I don’t know about that man. We’ll see.”

He focuses and then launches the ball with a beautiful arc.
“Fwish,” the ball falls cleanly into the hoop.

About to take another shot, Nathan abruptly stops as he and his friend notice a chubby, six-foot behemoth striding towards them. “*censored*, it’s Bobby. Should we bounce?” whispers Nathan’s friend.

“Hey, what do you know? If it isn’t the two fugly ducklings!” he yells with feigned cheerfulness, causing both Nathan and his friend to grimace. “What’s wrong, ladies? Not happy to see me?”

“Leave us alone, Bobby. We don’t want any trouble,” his friend remarks.

“Shut up and gimme the ball,” Bobby snarls.

Nathan’s friend tries to resist but is no match for Bobby’s overwhelming power, falling to the floor after Bobby yanks the ball from his arms.

Angered by how he treated his friend, Nathan yells, “What the hell asshole?”

Bobby looks at him with the utmost condescension while resting the ball between his arm and waist. “What now, Scarface? You got something to say to me?” he mocks, bringing his face closer to Nathan’s.

Nathan looks away unable to meet Bobby’s gaze.

“Know your place, you ugly piece of *censored*,” he continues. “Your face is like a permanent Halloween mask, you know that right? I could wear it anywhere and people’d get scared.”

Bobby shoots the ball, missing the hoop by miles, while Nathan burns silently with rage. He looks at Nathan again. “Aw, is lil’ Scarface mad? It’s okay. I’d be mad too if my face was so ugly.” He pauses for a moment, and then adds, “Gosh, it must suck. Cause not a single girl would want to date you or even look at you for that matter.”

That was it. He could not take it anymore. He wants to rip Bobby to shreds and pound his face into the dirt, but instead he leaps onto his bike and races home.

Nathan storms into his room panting from the combination of physical exertion and anger, his eyes bulging and expression menacing. He stares at the metal baseball bat leaning against the wall in the corner of his room. “This has gone too long…No more! I’m putting an end to this!” he decides angrily in his mind. He snatches the baseball bat and heads once more to the park. There he finds Bobby still shooting the basketball around on the court.

Bobby notices Nathan walking towards him and extends the ball out to him as a sign of reconciliation. “Came back for your ball? Here take it.”

As he hands the ball to Nathan, however, he fails to notice the silver blur aiming for his head. The bat hits its mark, causing Bobby to stagger backwards. Nathan then issues another quick strike with the bat to Bobby’s calf bringing him to his knees. However, Nathan immediately realizes that his plan of whacking Bobby a couple of times was a foolish one, for Bobby glares at him in a mountain of range, like a lion wanting to tear its prey to pieces.

With fear now also motivating his physical retaliation, he swings the bat again, nailing Bobby in the head and causing him to cry out in pain. He does not stop there. Falling deep within the pit of his boiling emotions, he loses self-control, the chains of moral constraint shattering altogether.

The blows come flying one after another until finally Nathan’s friend sprints towards him, crying his name. He breaks Nathan free from his rampage. “Holy *censored*! What the hell did you do?” he says referring to the incapacitated and bloodied Bobby.

Nathan sheds tears as he gazes in disbelief upon his gruesome handiwork.

“We gotta call the cops man,” his friend says but the sound of law enforcement sends Nathan fleeing for his life.

“Nathan!” his friend calls after him.

Once Nathan reaches home, sweat pouring from his face, his parents immediately ambush him in the living room. His mother wears an apprehensive expression while his father appears strict and angry. His father speaks with a menacing tone. “I just got a call saying that the Portermans’ boy was found beaten half to death…did you have something to do with this?”

He inches closer with a stern expression, while Nathan steps backwards to maintain a safe distance. Suddenly, his father lunges at him, closing the distance Nathan had created in the blink of an eye, and grabs his arm, staring into his face. “Tell me, boy! Did you have something to do with this?” his father roars.

Terrified of the strict dictator looming over him, Nathan stumbles on his words, “I-I-”

But his stuttering was enough to evoke his father’s wrath. “What did you do?” he growls and strikes him across the face with his hand.

Unable to articulate a response, Nathan simply stares at his father in fear while taking another slap to the face, this time to his other cheek.

“Jonathan, stop!” his mother screams trying to cease her husband’s abuse of their son.

“Stay out of this, Michelle! This boy needs to learn his lesson!” He continues to bombard him with blows while Nathan defends himself in vain with his arms raised.

“Wait, why? Why am I just standing here doing nothing?” Nathan contemplates. “I’m done! I’m done dealing with bullies, with my father, with everything!” And with that final thought, he rips his arm from his father’s grip, clenches his fist, and aims right for his father’s face. His fist, fueled by an eruption of negative emotions, meets his father’s jaw and sends him to the ground. His mother rushes to his father’s side and they both stare at Nathan in horror.

Taking a few steps backwards, Nathan looks down at his hands with regret, wondering what possibly could have driven him to commit such a dreadful action.

He notices his parents looking at him aghast as though he’s a stranger in his own home. Ashamed and panicking, he whips around and runs out the door of his house. “I can’t stay here,” he thinks to himself. “I’ve got to go somewhere no one can find me.” As he mounts his bicycle frantically and prepares to take off, he hears a voice behind him.

“Nathan?” Damon questions sitting on his bike with one foot planted against the ground.

Nathan turns around to find the two blue pearls of his brother’s eye gazing innocently at him.

Damon notices the beads of sweat and tears racing down Nathan’s face. “It’s almost dinner time. Where’re you going?” he asks confused. As Nathan looks at him, Damon notices his brother’s face contort with sadness and deciphers the implicit message hidden within his expression: “I’m sorry.”

Before he can say another word, his brother whips around and pedals furiously, racing off into the distance beneath the setting sun. This was the last time Damon had seen his brother.
   
***
On a lazy Saturday, two days after his encounter with the mysterious man in need of a facial reconstruction, Damon sits in his living room watching the news while munching on some scrambled eggs. He stuffs his face with large bites as the well-groomed news anchor chatters away on the screen.

“An eye-witness at the murder scene was able to provide a sketch of the serial killer. The police have matched the sketch to this man here.”

An image of the man presumed to be the serial killer pops onto the TV screen. Upon recognizing the man, Damon drops his fork and a lump forms in his throat, making it difficult to swallow the bite of scrambled eggs he just put in his mouth. Those piercing blue eyes, the sharp nose, the pronounced jawline – it was him. It was the hooded man. “The guy I operated on…is the serial killer,” he wonders in disbelief. What hits him next is the terrifying realization that he’s now an accomplice to murder after changing the appearance of the serial killer, for the man no longer looks like the image shown on the screen thanks to his handiwork. No wonder the man was in such a rush to have his operation. And on top of that, the bribe he accepted was blood money – money that was most likely stolen from the victims he murdered in cold blood.

“*censored*, what should I do!?” he says, standing up suddenly with his hand in his hair. “I can’t call the police,” he contemplates. “That bastard would rat me out in a second…”

He looks around wildly and then lunges for his phone and rapidly dials in a number. It rings several times, and just when he’s about to lose all hope, he hears his girlfriend’s gentle voice. “Damon, if you’re calling to apologize, don’t bother. I really don’t care-”

“No, no, it’s not about that! I mean, I’m sorry about standing you up, but there’s something else. I messed up. I’m scared, Emily,” he sputters.

“Whoa, slow down. What’s wrong?”

“That night – the night I stood you up…I didn’t tell you but I was late because I was operating on somebody. But I didn’t know who this guy was…He came up to me with a lot of money and wanted a facial reconstruction. He was really creepy too so I said okay and I did it…And today, I found out that the guy I operated on is the *censored*ing serial killer.”

A moment of silence ensues his tirade. “A-are you gonna say anything?” he asks loudly with a tinge of desperation in his voice.

“What do you want me to say, Damon?” she calmly answers.

Damon tries to respond but stumbles, not knowing how to answer her question.

Noticing that he’s struggling to formulate a proper response, she fires, “You keep doing these stupid things, Damon. I thought you learned your lesson after going to court and almost going to jail! I mean did you really think you were going to get away doing all this shady stuff for the rest of your life? You’ve finally managed to get yourself in a pile of *censored* that no one can get you out of – not me or you or anyone else. Goodbye, Damon.”

“No wait, Emily!” he cries to stop her from hanging up the phone.

At the sound of his voice, Emily decides to leave him with a few final words: “Also, I was serious when I texted you. We’re done. Don’t call me again.”

“Emily!” he yells but he’s too late. She had hung up and left him feeling even worse than he did before after he realized that he had operated on a ruthless, cold-blooded killer.

He gazes down at the phone in his lap remorsefully. However, at that moment, his myriad of emotions – apprehension, sadness, loneliness – convert to rage and contempt almost instantaneously as though undergoing a chemical reaction.

Standing up swiftly, Damon grabs his phone and chucks it at the mirror in his living room with all his might, debris of glass and cellphone components erupting from the point of contact.

“*censored* you, then!” he screams thinking of his girlfriend. “I don’t need you.”

He starts towards the mirror and peers at his reflection. The crack in the glass of the mirror runs through the menacing face of his reflection, a representation of his deformed soul.

His eyes still fixed on his reflection, he thinks, “In a pile of *censored*, huh? Yeah right. They haven’t caught me yet and this time won’t be any different…because I’m invincible. I’m the best *censored*ing plastic surgeon in the whole damn world. No one can touch me, not the insurance companies, not the courts…nobody.”

13
Looking for:
An artist who would be willing to work without commission. They can be...
1. of any skill level but should be able to...
2. draw mature style as this is a mature/serious story (that means no chibi, kawaii, big-eyed characters).

Story Information:
Title - "Deformed"
Length - Oneshot (# pages TBD)
Genre - Suspense, Psychological, Western (as in the setting and characters are western, but the drawing style can be anything)

Basic Story Plot:
When a corrupt and arrogant, yet skilled, plastic surgeon named Damon unknowingly operates on a serial killer, his life takes a turn for the worse when the killer returns requesting another operation.

Link to full Story: http://figment.com/books/900572-Deformed-

Is there a script?
There is a detailed panel-by-panel script from beginning to end with description, action, and dialogue currently being worked on. I should finish in a few days.

Are there storyboards?
None right now, but I'm fully willing to do them.

Artist's Say:
Artist can propose/make changes to story as long as they do not alter the overall idea or plot.

Profits:
If there are any, they will be distributed equally between writer and artist.


Please PM or post on this thread if you're interested.

14
Anime Talk / Usopp Lies about Anime & Manga
« on: May 18, 2015, 04:26:05 AM »
Just gonna discuss anime/manga I've recently finished or am currently following. Please feel free to discuss with me or even debate about things that you disagree on! I'd love to hear different opinions.

5/18/2015

ANIME

Basilisk Review
4.5 out of 5 stars

Wow what a story. This was truly a fantastic anime. I would not have heard about it if it were not for an MR member who recommended it in another post.

Basilisk is about two shinobi (ninja) clans, the Kouga and Iga, with a 400-year old grudge. Their endless fighting was ceased when the shogun issued an anti-war pact. However, the shogun, who is now retired, must decide which of his grandsons will be the new shogun. He breaks the anti-war pact and has the two ninja clans engage in 10 vs 10 ninja war, with each clan representing one of his grandsons. The first clan to eliminate all 10 of the other clan's ninjas is the victor. Seems pretty simple right? Well it isn't because the grandchildren of each clan's chief, Gennosuke of the Kouga clan and Oboro of the Iga clan, are among the participants in this battle and are in love with each other! And so, this anime follows the bloody battle between these two clans and the implications it has on the relationship between Gennosuke and Oboro. 

Storytelling-wise the anime was on point. It didn't feel redundant or boring with ninja A kills ninja B and then ninja C avenges ninja A. It was a lot more interesting than that. The story was definitely character driven. Most of the characters had distinct personalities and backstories that really drove the story forward and made it as good as it is. Oftentimes, you'll find yourself sympathizing with even the most wicked and ruthless of the ninjas because of the way they are portrayed as humans with real feelings and emotions. Only criticism I would have for the story is that the history behind the two clans' feud could have been explained a bit better because it was a bit hard to understand fully who deceived who in the first episode's flashback. Also, the end of the anime is really predictable but I don't know if there was another way they could have ended it that would have been as powerful.

Biggest theme of this anime definitely comes from this line: "Whether a Kouga or an Iga, a person is a person."
The two clans have such deep-rooted hatred for each other that they often forget to see each other as humans, and just as enemies and rivals. Such animosity had caused despair for both sides and could have easily been avoided if both clans had just gotten over their differences and joined hands.

Definitely worth a watch! Let me know what y'all think if and when you check it out.


MANGA

Attack on Titan Chapter 69 Discussion

I fully did not expect this chapter to focus on Kenny the Ripper. The transition from Rod Reiss's defeat and Historia's declaration as queen to Kenny's flashback felt quite jarring and forced, almost as though the author wanted to just slap it on the readers before it was too late to show it. But that aside, let's look at the flashback itself. I felt it was rather pointless because it didn't reveal any important information or something that hasn't been implied already. Yes, it showed the relationship between Kenny and Levi, how Kenny started working for the military police, and who this Uri fellow is, which were quite interesting. However, the important lingering questions still remain unanswered such as: Why did the Reiss's not make any attempts to save humanity with the Titan Power? So, in this sense, the story progression is moving at a snail pace. At the same time though, it's also moving at a rapid pace because I'm confused as to how Historia went from standing on a wheelbarrow declaring she is the queen to having a crown on her head. I mean that escalated way too quickly. Yes, I understand that the fake king was ousted so the people need a leader to fill his position, but how are the people so accepting of an adolescent girl as their ruler and furthermore, don't the Reiss's have a shady past that the public would be skeptical of? I felt these caveats were completely overlooked and Historia was prematurely catapulted into the throne without any really good reason. But oh well, I guess this means the story can move past this whole segment on internal strife and get to the good stuff, so no complaints there.   

One Piece Chapter 786 Discussion

Well as I expected, Doflamingo isn't out for the count yet, which I'm glad. It would be silly to have such a overhyped villain defeated so easily. However, I do have to say I've been quite disappointed by this fight thus far due to a mix of reasons. With all the hype and build-up surrounding this fight, I had expected something equal in magnitude to Luffy vs Lucci or perhaps even greater, but the intensity and excitement in the Luffy and Lucci fight is completely lacking in Luffy's battle against Doflamingo. I can't pinpoint the exact reason for this but one of the factors that is contributing to the low intensity of this fight are interruptions. In some way or another, Luffy and Doflamingo's fight keeps getting interrupted. In past chapters, it was Law, Trebol, Bellamy, and now again the fight has been interrupted in this chapter. The Luffy and Lucci fight just involved the both of them battling it out continuously like two hardcore beasts. I really do hope the intensity and hype of this fight will pick up over the next few chapters. 

15
Develop Your Story / Hansha ("Reflection") - A Western Story
« on: April 29, 2015, 01:57:06 AM »
Hansha - title is WIP

Hello, I told myself I wouldn't write anything with exams going on but I had this idea brewing in my head, and I just had to get it out. Title of the story is a work in progress. Right now I have Hanshu, which means "reflection". Genres of this story include mainly action, romance, seinen, and possibly tragedy (I'm thinking of killing off the MC at the end :D.

Background:
Ten years ago, Seiji University was considered one of the best colleges in Japan. However, the area in which Seiji University was located was declining and becoming increasingly impoverished. Due to the unfavorable conditions of the areas surrounding Seiji University, many top students avoided the university and as a result, the student population at Seiji fell drastically. The university decided to lower its admission selectivity, opening its doors to more students, including those who lived in the poor areas surrounding the school. From that day on, the university would see a steady influx of drug dealers, womanizers, thugs, and scoundrels into their student body and the gradual deterioration of their reputation as a formerly respected university.

Story:
Fast-forward 10 years to present time. Ryoba Keimaru has just joined Seiji University as a freshman. He is a quiet, good looking, and intelligent boy. He's just your average guy who minds his own business, dreaming about the cute girl sitting at the corner of class, Ayumi. Well, actually not quite. Ryoba is not your average fellow because he has a condition - dissociative identity disorder. In other words, he has multiple personalities. When Ryoba goes to sleep at night, something else awakens - something demonic. This alternate, cold-blooded personality of Ryoba hunts at night, searching for the scum that have ruined this school and beating them to a pulp. In Ryoba's "cleansing" of his school, he believes he's drawing closer to the source of the problems, a mysterious and obscure ringleader known as the Rainmaker, who controls and profits from the selling and distribution of a viral drug throughout the university and some areas surrounding it. Ryoba seeks to bring Shizuka down but the situation becomes complicated when his alternate personality meets a girl and starts developing feelings for her, showing that even the devil can love. Thus, Ryoba struggles to end the vileness that corrupts his school while also protecting the girl he loves from the perilous nature of his activities and his foes.


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