Listen, punks I'm going to tell you about the toughest punk at Sarayashiki Junior High, Yusuke Urameshi and why Yu Yu Hakusho is the best anime series of all time. The reasoning is besides co-starring Kazuma Kuwabara the second toughest punk at Sarayashiki Junior High School there are many reasons for this. The focus on characters whom are all enjoyable, the fusion of genres and tropes as well as the witty humor to contrast some of it's darker undertones.
Yu Yu Hakusho is an anime series that is based off of the manga of the same name by Yoshihiro Togashi, who has also worked on Hunter x Hunter. The main attraction to his work is that of his characters. He has created tons of memorable characters who have influenced my own writing. These characters may be based on popular tropes or mythological creatures, but they are powerful characters whom have strong character arcs and paths. Yusuke Urameshi, the series main character has one of my favorite character arcs of any shonen manga/anime I have ever read or watched. Yusuke is the most dynamic character in the series as he changes from a punk who has not motivation or desire to change himself into a hero respected by many friends and enemies alike.
Yusuke is not the only character as his supporting cast mostly consisting of Kuwabara, Hiei and Kurama also have character arcs themselves. Hiei for example and to a lesser extent Kurama start off as antagonists, and then later after various obstacles involving Yusuke overcome their differences and over the course of the series become friends and rivals. Yusuke's enemies many of which become his allies and rivals over the course of the series are dynamic as well, not just because they change from good guy to bad guy, but because they change overtime due to the actions of our main protagonist. This wrapping up of character arcs where they intersect with each other is another endearing thing about the series, even though the arcs may not have the most plot, they have ton of character development which in my opinion is more enjoyable than a lot of plot twists and plot dumping.
It is not just the characters that I enjoy, but the fact that Togashi is able to combine multiple genres into one, to make it far more superior to other shonen shows such as Dragon Ball, One Piece, Naruto, and many others. Yu Yu Hakusho starts as a Mystery/Detective story with supernatural elements. That element never really goes away and makes it a bit different than the adventures of other shonen at the time like Dragon Ball or JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
As the series progresses the genre changes on multiple occasions. The series is notable for it's fighting tournaments. There are technically three main tournaments, The Genkai Tournament, The Dark Tournament and the Demon World Tournament. Of those The Dark Tournament is the longest, and takes up most of the time. Although the detective/mystery element appears once again during the Chapter Black story arc, by the end of that arc Yusuke is no longer a spirit detective. It switches to a full on shonen trope show with a final tournament arc similar to Dragon Ball and a few other older manga/anime of that era.
The anime and manga can be serious at times with tense situations, but it is the witty humor to contrast some of the darker undertones that along with the characters and genre make it special. This is most visible in the English dub, but is still present in the manga and in the Japanese subs. Togashi's humor to paint a situation even in the darkest of times with a glimmer of hope is a great skill to have. There are high stakes such as during the battles with the Saint Beasts or the end of the Dark Tournament with Togoro's gambit. There is even a Lord of the Ring's moment after the Dark Tournament when everyone thinks Kuwabara has died, when in reality we found out he did not. (Sorry:Spoilers)
The dialogue that combines some of the dark supernatural elements and some pretty tough situations. The series discusses trafficking of drugs/demons/humans, the criminal underground, the afterlife, and in the final arc it gets a bit political. A running theme through the last few arcs is that humans are of course just as evil as the demons that they paint as evil, and it shows with characters taking sides and being pittied against one another. But, in the end they just needed some punk from middle school to punch them in the end.
Despite it's shonen tropes, and sometimes violence for the sack of violence to end conflict, the show has always had a strong impact on me. I loved watching it as a kid, and I rewatch the series all the time. It is a fantastic and fun adventure seeing those characters mature with me as I watched the anime series growing up or reading the manga. The witty humor and dialogue, plus the dark undertones the series presents is a bit different than the pointless violence of Dragon Ball Z or the romantic fiction of Rurouni Kenshin, and despite the fact I like those other shows, it is Yu Yu Hakusho that has always risen in my eyes to be the superior anime series.
2nd draft begins
I don't have much to talk about on this blog post, but there is a bit of good news this week. This weekend I begin the second draft of my first book in the Imagient King series. I want to thank beta readers for reading my first draft and continue to give me positive feedback. But, I have to start working on what I need to fix in my second draft. I have compiled my own notes as well as some notes I have gotten from my friends and beta readers. I want to thank you all for giving me feedback and having interest in my book. I may not be the best writer, but you all give me hope that I can improve.
Next step is the second draft, I already have worked on my edited outline and will fix some things for my second draft. Once second draft is done everyone we will have a second beta readers session. I want to be done with the second draft by no later than January, but December is when I want to ideally be done by. That month will get pushed back depending if I want to do NaWriNoMo novel, which I have ideas for a one shot dark fantasy novel, but I might wait until I'm done with my second draft.
Once I get done with my second draft, I will have a second beta reader session after a revision process and continue to take feedback and look at what I like and don't like about my second draft. Hopefully after the second beta reader session around March if I am in a good position I will send my edited second draft to an editor and hopefully get the book professionally edited. That will mean more edits, more rewrites, and more drafts. But, if I want to publish this book in the next few years it is the next logical conclusion. So I want to once again thank everyone.
The Value of art
Today's blog post is going to be a bit different because I have seen a mentality going around that art should be free. That all art should fundamentally be free. It is something that has sparked much discussion from my artistic friends be them musicians, graphic artists, animators, or authors. It is a view that many blame on millennial generation that grew up with the Internet where everything was free, and they didn't have to pay for art. Be it illegally or artists legally posting stuff for free.
Let's walk through a scenario, you are a hard-working and passionate member of a clean-up and maintenance service. But, for you hard work and determination, all the hours you put into your craft, your job, all the energy and effort that you put in for your hard work and service your company decides that you did a great job, but instead of paying you they pat you on the back and tell all of their friends how great of an employee you are. How does that make you feel?
That type of response that you are feeling, is the same that happens when an artist doesn't get payed for the amount of time, energy, and resources it took to accomplish their art. Be it, music, animation, comics, books, ect and the list goes on. Art is something in my opinion that takes someone working with their own imagination and creativity and tools of the trade to create something, a craft that is perfected by hard work and determination.
It is no different than the time and energy a carpenter, a mechanic, a baker, or a clean-up/maintenance person does at their job. All these jobs are important so why as a society do we demonize artists for wanting some money for creating something that we enjoy?
How did we become a society that values art in this way? That art is not worth paying for? I could go on with theories and hypothesis on how and why certain people view art as less worthy of pay. Many say that it is the millennial generation and the Internet that has caused this mentality, but the mentality has existed before. The old tag-line of Baby-Boomers berating Generation X and younger for being lazy and not getting a job has always existed in society.
If we just look into a labor costs, such as most of our economic wage system is centered on, the cost of labor is one of the largest factors in paying a livable wage. An 8 hour work shift at a service industry is doing about as much work as an 8 hour work shift drawing a character for a comic.
An 8 hour work shift on drawing a character for example doesn't go into the gritty reality of an artist. Multiple times an artist will have to discard a draft and start over. They have to pay usually out of pocket for drawing programs, utensils, paper, and other tools of the trade. Authors, animators, scupltors and others are also apart of this too. They have to pay for tools to get a job done, and it is out of pocket. There are free writing programs, and you could technically use a paint or another free,open-source program for doing art, but there is still the time, and energy that goes into the creative process.
Voice actors and stage actors as well as illustrators and authors have to do multiple drafts, multiple takes, multiple versions before the finished product. This takes time and energy and a copious amount of stress and copying mechanisms to get a product done and finished. Time that could be used for other artistic methods and projects.
Art requires sacrifice of time, it requires dedication and effort. For some artists it takes less time, but it still is a skill-set that needs to be learned. Just like any other job. And, like any other job artists need to be payed for that sacrifice. They may not be working a 9-5 job doing sweat shop level labor, but it is still an extensive process that artists sacrifice their sweat, their blood and their tears. Artists deserve respect from society and until that happens it will force artists to work 9-5 jobs plus work on their art which will push back their art months at a time, not allow them to practice and do multiple takes. It doesn't allow an artist to sharpen their skills.
For up and coming artists this is the most problematic for them, they have no way to get out of this escapist ideology of trapped between survival and doing the things they love. If they can't afford to eat, pay bills, rent how can an artist thrive in this environment and the answer is many don't. So they give up their dreams and go do something that they can survive on. This creates a bottleneck and until artists can survive in society, art in reality can't be free. You should respect art by promoting your local artists be them musicians, or comic book artists, novelists, or just a painter.
A.L. Hornbeck, historian, author, metalhead, and all around geek.