Category Archives: Anime

Fate/Zero and Snazzy Dishcloths

In preparation for a move to a new apartment, I’ve been whipping up some dishcloths.  I’m really fond of this shell stitch pattern I found at http://www.examiner.com/article/simple-shell-dishcloth-pattern-to-crochet.  I used Lily’s Sugar & Cream cotton yarn (which I always call Sugar & Spice for some reason) and settled in for a Netflix marathon of Fate/Zero.

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SPOILERS COMING ‘ATCHA

A summary: Seven people with some sort of magical talent, or ties to it, are chosen by the Holy Grail (yes, that Holy Grail) to battle to the death for it in order to gain a wish. There’s also some backstory about three powerful Mage families and their ties to the Grail, but whatever.  These seven chosen ones then summon a Servant from one of seven classes: Saber, Archer, Rider, Lancer, Berserker, Caster, and Assassin.  These Servants are legendary heroes, each with specific abilities and strengths that either complement or are the antithesis to the Masters who have summoned them.  These Servants then fight on behalf of their Master for the Grail.  By the end of the series, a lot of people die, long discussions are held, mead is drunk, and there is an abundance of dark and creepy weirdness before everything goes to hell.

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Fate/Zero was an interesting series on several counts.  I loved the philosophical discussions that arose between the Servants as to what true kingship is, as a few of the servants actually claimed that title; King Arthur (Arturia), Gilgamesh, and Alexander/Iskandur the Great.  It raised questions about what it meant to be a leader, whether it be through power, riches, conquest, or your connection with the people you are ruling over.  I felt like I was back in my Arthurian Legends class, examining why King Arthur’s rule was so different from those who came before and after him, and how those other rulers might view his ideals.  Needless to say, I loved the dialogue between these legendary characters, and despite a few surprising creative decisions (Hi female King Arthur!), it felt like the creators had done their homework in researching each hero.

Among the heroes, the weak link (in character, though he wasn’t the strongest in combat, either) seemed to be Assassin. There could have been subtleties that I didn’t catch, but as a whole, he/she/they were just the creepers in the corner that were tricky and expositionful.  Not a lot to learn from him/her/them, whereas Arturia and Iskandur were a veritable fountain of character quirks, personality, and charisma.  And occasionally lightning.

In fact, for the most part, I actually found that the Servants were more interesting than their Masters.  This could totally be because of they are based on pre-existing lore, which is always my jam.  For example, I was more intrigued by Saber’s journey through her own doubts and weaknesses than I was with her Master, Kiritsugu, ‘s background story.  Don’t get me wrong – he was very interesting and rightfully angsty.  His background was sufficiently fascinating and could have been an entire series by itself.  I just found Saber’s story to be even more so, helped along by her being constantly challenged not only in battle, but in her ideals and worldview.  It was this way for most of the Servant v. Master dynamics.  Of course it is beautifully animated (That sky battle! Those lightning oxen! Giant pools of blooood!), the music was gorgeous, the character designs were fun, and all of that.  But it was the character dynamics, especially between the Servants, that compelled me the most throughout the series.

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The plot was a bit of a struggle, as the first few episodes are a massive info dump, and it was rather difficult to keep characters straight for a while.  I may need to go back and watch the first few episodes again now that I have finished, but as a first time watcher, they made it really difficult to understand the plot and give an errant fart about was happening.  And at a certain point, the push for the grail becomes quite secondary, as it was far more interesting to watch the characters interact than focus on whatever the grail plot was doing.  Seeping a lot and being corrupted, I guess.

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But the characters each had a story and a NEED for the grail that was so well-developed (barring a few early ones, such as Ryunosuke/Caster and Kayneth/Lancer, both of whom were great fun to watch) that by the end of the series when all of the hells break loose, you KNOW people are going to die, and it really is difficult to pinpoint who – if anyone – will be victorious.  There are some outliers of course.  Some we have more information about (Kiritsugu/Saber, Karia/Archer) and thus could be considered our main protagonists(?), so it is most likely one of them will prevail. But even those who do not have that advantage are built so well that it wouldn’t be surprising for them to be the dark horse and come away victorious.  The true ending pulls the rug right out from under you in terms of what you expect, but I loved not being able to predict what the outcome was supposed to be, and was even happier when it was completely different.  A downer of the highest caliber, but different.

Sidenote: More than your usual amount of ladies getting choked to death in this anime… twice it was the same lady.  And the other one, Tokiomi’s wife… I guess only mostly died?  Why… why so much lady violence, Fate/Zero?  Not cool.

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SO MANY CHARACTERS.

It’s time for Super Simplified Character Rundowns! These are the main traits I used to keep all of the characters straight throughout this sprawling series.  Feel free to use them yourself, or cackle at my incompetency.

Saber/Arturia – Kicks ass; contemplates philosophies; needs new motorcycle

IrisvielAll homunculi have weird eyes; high-pitched ladyvoice; full of secrets and other fluids

Kiritsugu – Haunted by past; gunslinger; surprisingly noble, but breaks stuff

Mariya – Quiet killer; shady implied past; unknown relationship dynamics… just shady in general, she was

Kariya – Extremely nutty family (understatement); good intentions; Berserker was fitting

Berserker – Crazy visuals; crazy character reveal; crazy in general

Archer/Gilgamesh – Stay golden, prettyboy; errbody be mongrels; Vash Hair

Tokiomi – Goatee of irritating ideals; sucky father and Master; I seriously forgot about you until I was making this list

Rider/Iskandur – Big muscles & big heart; perpetually jovial; surprisingly heartwrenching

Waver Velvet – Wanted to flick him; Slytherin outcast?; thanks, character development!

Grandma/Grandpa “Velvet” – Easily bamboozled; stargazers; know more than they let on

Lancer/Diarmund – Badass prettyboy; good team player; wish he could have stuck around longer

Kayneth – Creepy pureblood; remains creepy and tortured; ends creepy in a wheelchair

Sola-Ui – A giant NOPE to any proposal you will ever make concerning anything, ever

Ryunosuke – Killing insanity funtimes; amazingly amiable; Hi Johnny Yong Bosch!

Caster – Dem bug eyes; is he as big as his giant robe, or….?; intriguingly, and irredeemably, insane

Kirei – Christian stoic; sporadic loyalties; I constantly got you confused with Kiritsugu, you bloodlust maniac

Assassin – Skullface reconnaissance; easily killed; perches in plain sight

I know I’ve missed several characters, either because they didn’t show up often, or I just couldn’t think of anything in particular to say about them. Or I genuinely could not remember their names and I got lazy. *sad trombone sound* Oh, well. Most of the characters were great.  If you’ve seen the show, feel free to leave your own Super Simplified Character Rundowns in the comments!

Tying off:   Fate/Zero was beautifully animated and raised some interesting questions about the nature of leadership. And while it struggled in the plot department wandered into an abundance of exposition-dumping, the characters carried the series through their sheer charm.

And I now have four and a half dishcloths!  I still need to weave in the ends of the second stripy one and finish the bright orange, probably with the black border:

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I highly recommend the shell stitch pattern I linked earlier; it makes for a lovely-looking, yet highly efficient dishcloth.  They turned out pretty rad, since I’m a sucker for bright colors paired with black. What will happen in the next thrilling installment of CineCrochet?  Tune in next time, gentle reader, for more insane hook and analysis action!

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Pictured: Action!


Dye by Koolaid

This summer, I learned how to spin my own wool yarn, with the help of a lovely lady by the name of Chris. It was such a wonderful experience, and I became pretty darn good at working with the drop spindle by the end of the season. As a goodbye present, Chris gave me something else fiber-related with which to experiment: Dyeing! So today’s post will follow my stovetop dyeing-with-Koolaid adventures with some constructive(-ish) input from the characters of one of my favorite shows: Avatar: The Last Airbender. I had to tie it into my cine-theme somehow, you know. So off we go!

Nickelodeon Animation Studios

Nickelodeon Animation Studios

Dyeing Wool with Koolaid

Materials

  •     Wool
  •     Water
  •     Unsweetened Koolaid
  •     Vinegar

Instructions:

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Nickelodeon Animation Studios         Step One: DO NOT MAKE THE WHITE JADE BUSH INTO TEA.

1. If your (preferably white) 100% wool is in skeins, roll them into balls or cakes before beginning the dye process. This makes them easier to handle as you’re scootching them around.

2. Dampen the balls of wool in water. They don’t need to be soaking wet, just damp. Also, though I’m sure you already know this, do not twist the yarn to get the water out, just squeeze gently. This will prevent your strands from turning into an inadvertently felty monstrosity.20140910_205821

3. I chose lemon-lime, berry, and grape as my flavor/colors for this experiment. After that nerve-wracking decision (what if it doesn’t work?? What if they look weird?? My poor yarn!), dissolve 1 packet of koolaid in 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar in a large-ish pot. You can use less water if you would like a darker color, but make sure the amount of water will immerse your yarn.

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This blurry-ass picture is not that helpful. But oooh, colors!

4. Place your damp wool in the pot of liquid. I chose to throw caution to the wind and tied the ends of my two cakes together, pulled the middles out, and mixed up which pots they were in to create a varigated look. This will be a hot mess to untangle later, but that’s a worry for… later.

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Katara and Yue dissapointed

Nickelodeon Animation Studios           Katara and Princess Yue do not approve of my picture-taking abilities.

5. Place your pots on the stove and simmer for 20-30 minutes on low heat, or until the water in your pot is clear.

– There was a mild emergency during this part. I was puzting around, cleaning up, when I smelled burning wool. One of my strands stretching between the pots had rested on the stove top and was burning merrily. I pulled it off the stove, put it out, and cut off the charred part, tying the unburned ends together. So the moral of that story is: make sure you know where your strands are, gentle readers, lest your yarn be charred.

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I wouldn’t put it past Azula to have set it on fire when I wasn’t looking, that pyro psycho.

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                                    Nickelodeon Animation Studios

-Another tip not having to do with fire:

  •  Stir your yarn around a bit, but don’t get too excited. The stirring will help keep the yarn at the bottom of the pot from sticking and burning in unpleasantness. But if you stir it too much, it will felt up something fierce. Try to find a happy medium – two or three stirs during the 30 minutes is plenty.

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tai lee kyoshi

                                   Nickelodeon Animation Studios                   All three are looking good.

6. Once your yarn has soaked up all of the color it can hold, take it out and let it cool. I spread a few paper towels on a cookie sheet and plopped them on that, trying to keep them in some semblance of order.

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7.Once your yarn has cooled enough to handle, rinse the cakes in cool water until the water runs clear.

8. Extract the water, either by spinning in one of those fancy baskets, or going the peasant route like me and rolling the cakes in a dry towel.

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Nickelodeon Animation Studios                        Not sand, though.

9. Dry the yarn. You can either let it sit as it is on another towel, or drive yourself insane by winding it onto a random tub lid so it will dry faster. And make a cool picture. Guess which option I went with, fool that I am.20140911_110217

10. Just kidding, there is no 10. You have successfully dyed yarn with a childhood beverage. Kudos!

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Nickelodeon Animation Studios                      You are Koolaid Lord!

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Tying Off:

While mildly tricky, this is a simple project for any novice yarn-dyer. It’s really fun, and can also be done as an in-the-sun project, rather than on the stove. The color will be more on the pastel side, but it’s a great project to do with kids.

As for Avatar: The Last Airbender, can you tell I friggin’ love this show? I do. I love it so much. The characters, plot, animation, voice acting, direction…. I honestly can’t say enough good things about it. Clocking in at three seasons, it is one of the most tightly made, well-written shows I have ever seen. It tackles so many complex themes, like the use of power, dealing with conflict, and friendship among people with very different beliefs. It is a masterful blend of humor and drama, with surprisingly high stakes for the young protagonists, and moral grey areas abound, inviting critical thinking as to how morals affect decisions. Don’t be deterred by the fact that is is marketed as a children’s show – it is far more adult – and considerably more nuanced and well-done – than most “adult” shows I have watched in my day. I highly recommend it, whether you are of the Fire Nation, Water Tribe, Earth Kingdom, or Air Nomads.

Until next time, gentle readers!

the end


Hook Saga: The Return of CineCrochet

Well, my plan backfired on me. I told y’all that I would have more frequent posts, and look at this… 8 months after the fact, here I am.  I got a lot of projects done while watching a lot of movies/tv shows/cows walking by the house, so I thought I’d just do a quick running list from memory, and grace you with the corresponding links and pictures if I have them available, to catch you up. An exhaustive analysis of each of these films will not do, since I’m long-winded anyway, and talking about each movie separately will require a novella. So I’ll limit myself to a rating and quick summary. You know how hard that will be, gentle readers, but I will do my best. And here we go: some of the stuff I did while on an unintended, but frequently occurring, blog hiatus!

 

Porco Rosso and Continuing Granny Squares

9/10

Porco Rosso was a lot of fun to watch, and quickly became one of my favorite Ghibli films. It’s a departure from the Badass Heroine in a Mystical Land trope I usually gravitate toward, but the characters in this flick won me over. The titular character, Porco, is a particularly snarky enigma, once I got past Michael Keaton’s voice in the dub. It’s not that he was bad, just mildly distracting, since is voice is so familiar. But It’s a great historically-based magical realism romp. With planes. And pigs.

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Castle in the Sky and Continuing Granny Squares

7/10

I love the idea of Castle in the Sky. The story is quite original, and I got invested in the motivations of several of the characters. But the idea was hobbled by some weird casting in the voice acting department. I’ve heard worse, of course; there are some terrible dubs and VA performances out there. However, I think since it was coming from a Ghibli film, it hit me really hard how grating Sita’s voice was. And as a Ghibli heroine, she is not the strongest, but the supporting cast was very entertaining – Cloris Leachman in particular. I’d recommend it if you’re on a Ghibli kick, as the animation is gorgeous as always, and the story is interesting. Just be warned. THAT VOICE.

 

Departures and Continuing Granny Squares

10/10

I freakin’ love Departures. It is the best movie I’ve ever seen that deals with death, because it does it in such a refreshing and honest way. In some ways it’s a contradiction – it’s practical, yet heartwarming; comedic, yet deeply sad. It is the best depiction of death as a natural part of life that I have ever seen, and I strongly recommend it to anyone and everyone. A special thanks goes out to my Religion and Film professor, Dr. Roy Hammerling, for first introducing me to the film, and to my parents for putting up with me when I made them watch it. Now you should go watch it – it’s still on Netflix as of the writing of this article.

 

Kramer Vs. Kramer and Shopping Bags

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A riveting story, two amazing leads, and a beautiful setting. Kramer vs. Kramer was a great watch, and there’s not much to say other than that!

While watching, I made two shopping bags for my friends overseas – one for Emily in London and another for Steph in Argentina.

 

 

 

 

 

Roman Holiday and Marilee’s Hat

7/10

https://web.archive.org/web/20130613002217/http://www.crochettoday.com/files/patterns-pdf/FloralCloche_0.pdf

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While working on a hat for my aunt Marilee, I watched the Hepburn/Peck classic, and quite enjoyed it. It’s a familiar story, though probably less familiar at the time, of a royal escaping her structured life and going out among the people, only to meet a rougish love interest who shows her the world, but is keeping secrets from her that will drive a wedge between them in the third act. Yes, I made the Aladdin reference on purpose. No, I’m not sorry.

It’s a sweet little movie with some lovely cinematography. It’s almost as though Gregory Peck is going for a Carey Grant-type character, but he does well enough. Hepburn is sparkly and engaging as she flits through the film. It’s well worth a watch, as it is a classic for a reason, just be prepared for a storyline that will be familiar before it even begins.

 

Star Trek: the Next Generation and a Plethora

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Mittens for the lovely Jan

-Jan’s Mittens

-Alicia’s Baby Sweaters – http://www.mooglyblog.com/eloise-baby-sweater/

-A bunch of other stuff that I can’t remember

I’m not quite done with this series, so this, and the following, will need to wait to have judgement passed. But as of the fifth season, it’s been a lot of fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Xena: Warrior Princess and a Plethora

7/10

Again, I haven’t finished the series, but I’ve been watching it on and off over the last few years – even a bit back when I was still in school.  So the things I have worked on during watching it are numerous, and these are just a few that I can remember:

-A multitude of slouchy hats with various continuations

-Alicia’s Baby Hats – http://thedaintydaisyblog.blogspot.com/2010/04/shell-stitch-beanie.html

-Alicia’s Baby Booties

-Doily shawl – https://web.archive.org/web/20130829022125/http://www.caron.com/projects/ss_eco/sseco_pineapple_shawl.html

Xena is a campy hoot. It’s very episodic (at least in the first two seasons I’ve seen) with vague threads of continuing storyline. So some of the episodes are hit and miss, but the strongest ones for me are the ones that have an actual impact on the storyline, which tend to be multi-parters. Lucy Lawless is kickass and snarkily hilarious as Xena, but she also plays dramatic very well. Renee O’Connor, Gabrielle, provides a nice foil as the optimistic storyteller, but she has had a nice character arc making her also tough and realistic. Produced by Sam Rami (Evil Dead, Spider-Man, Drag Me to Hell), you can expect to have plenty of heart with your cheese when you watch Xena.  I might have to do a follow-up on this one when I finish the series, as it is lengthy, with a lot to discuss.

 

And last but not least, Twin Peaks and a Plethora

A fascinating 1990 TV series produced, and occasionally directed and written by David Lynch (Eraserhead, Elephant Man), Twin Peaks is fluid and unpredictable, therefore a follow-up will be required for a full discussion. So here are the projects I have worked on so far while watching it:

-Dalek shawl – http://crochetvolution.com/summer-2014/deco

-Bowl cozy

-Pineapple Doily – http://web.archive.org/web/20071231131255/www.angelfire.com/folk/celtwich/Doublepine.html

 

Well, if you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You’ve stuck with my rambling nonsense long enough to rewarded with a killer music video. I will hopefully be posting more regularly as my life settles down, but I’ve said that before… I’ll see you next month, readers! Keep shining!


Holiday Miscellany and Miyazaki, Post the First: The Cat Returns

Apparently I only get these things done during the holidays – sorry for the delay, all! I also renewed my New Year’s resolution from last year to do this blog, and I feel like now that I’ve told you that, I have no choice but to do it more often. Because now you know, dear reader, and you’re watching…. Always watching.

Now that I’ve creeped up your day, let’s get to the topic of today’s post – Miyazaki and Holiday Miscellany. Frantically working on several projects in the dark days before Christmas, I watched several films, so there will probably be several blog posts. I also just realized that this is the first CineCrochet post about an actual movie. Hurrah for actually following my own criteria! In keeping with the Japanese theme of my previous, long-ago post, let’s break out our crochet hooks and whimsy. The time has come for a peek into the flight-filled, pig-populated, and generally wonderful world of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli.

What better way to incorporate lengthy spells of crocheting than with a movie marathon? Well, there are probably several better ways, but few would involve the works of Studio Ghibli. Before this marathon, I was familiar with the ‘Big Name’ Miyazaki movies; the ones any film student worth their salt could name off, your Spirited Away-s, Princess Mononoke-s, and My Neighbor Totoro-s. I’ve adored all of these, with my favorite being Princess Mononoke. So this time, I decided to delve a little deeper into the Ghibli pantheon and begin with the studio’s lesser-known films, starting with The Cat Returns (2002).

To accompany me on this cinematic adventure, I began making a passel of granny squares to be used for makeshift earwarmers and whatever else I can come up with fr Christmas gifts The earwarmers are a pattern I just sort of made up after realizing I hadn’t made granny squares in a coon’s age, and the time had come. Here’s a granny square pattern just in case you’re curious about that sort of thing and off we go! And beware, dear reader – Spoilers Abound.

The Cat Returns is a rather unassuming little Ghibli film. It doesn’t have the bombast or depth of Mononoke, for example, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It opens with our main character, Haru, voiced by a pre-Les Miserables, but post-Princess Diaries, Anne Hathaway. Haru is an awkward but completely normal and quietly hilarious girl. Some of the lines that Hathaway comes up with in this dub are just gold – I never really thought of her as a comedic actress (Never much cared for The Princess Diaries – imagine the appalled gasps of my classmates when I was in junior high), but here she has some line deliveries and ad-libs that had me surprised-laugh more than once. Hathaway’s dub is really strong, and she adds a lot to a character that could very easily have been annoying in the hands (mouth?) of a lesser actor.

Haru never seems to be able to disembark from the struggle bus. She wakes up late for school constantly, the boy she likes doesn’t know she exists, she’s kind of a weird, put-upon outcast. Not in a blatant way, but you only see her hang out with one or two people her own age.

This all changes when she rescues a cat who just wanders out into the street like it ain’t no thang (seriously – am I overthinking it, or does that cat deliberately go out into the street. It looks right at the cars like it KNOWS… I need to start a blog that just allows me to overthink things like this. We’ll call it Elise Never Shuts Up About Trivial Happenings in Film.) Our protagonist snatches the cat off the road with a lacrosse stick and is rewarded by making her question her sanity when the cat gets up on its hind legs, brushes itself off, and thanks her for saving him. This suicidal fellow (but not… it’s just… YOU KNEW THE CARS WERE GOING TO MOVE. WHY ARE WE PRETENDING YOU DIDN’T?) happens to be the prince of the Cat Kingdom. In saving his life, Haru will now be showered with all of the wondrous gifts that a cat kingdom can bestow.

They’re pretty terrible gifts. Hopefully that’s not a harbinger for these earwarmers. Anyway, the cats are obviously familiar enough with the human world that they know where to find Haru, and how to interact with things while just seeming to be ordinary, non-English speaking creatures. Who are also not bipedal. But they gift her with things like catnip and mice in wee boxes stuffed into her locker. You would think they would be aware that there are not things that humans would enjoy. The scope of the cats’ ineptitude is pretty hilarious, actually. Confusing, considering their obvious knowledge, but hilarious.

Meanwhile, on the crocheting front, I’m cranking out squares like an octogenarian preparing for the local craft show. Lookit ‘em all! And I’m only about a third into the film! I’d forgotten how easy granny squares are. For realz, give ‘em a try at home, folks!

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Haru is fed up with these cats and their awful gift-giving. She complains to a little toadie cat, who offers her the final, most wondrous gift : she will be married to the Cat Prince that she had saved. While Haru considers this for only a moment – she doesn’t fit in well in the human world, perhaps the world of cats would better suit her – she quickly comes to her senses and tries to protest to The Toadie who has already taken off to tell the good news to the King of Cats. Who is like a perpetually drunk, bug-eyed old hippie… in cat form and voiced by Tim Curry. Just… just let that roll around in your head for a bit.

Panicked, because Haru knows that despite her protestations she will be carried off the cat kingdom regardless, she hears a mysterious voice telling her to seek help at the Cat Bureau. There, she meets Poofy Peter Boyle Cat, Stone Elliot Gould Raven, and Dapper-Ass Carey Elwes Cat Figurine… Cat. Don’t judge – it’s about as logical as his actual name, Baron Humbert von Gikkigen. The voice actors for these characters are a kick, but for different reasons.

Peter Boyle is very odd as a voice actor. He has a kind of deadpan sound to most of his lines, as if he’s very obviously reading them. But somehow this translates perfectly to his bored, sarcastic character, so I end up laughing whenever he speaks nonetheless. He’s just a hoot and one of my favorite things in this film.

Elliot Gould was driving me crazy – it took me way longer to place his voice than it should have. But the banter between his character and Peter Boyle Cat is great, since they’re both legendary smartasses.

Ah, Carey Elwes. Your voice is a balm for the Anglophile soul. I know it’s not your real accent, but’s just so damn beautiful. You can do no wrong. (Until this theory is tested in Porco Rosso).

These characters assure Haru that they will  protect her from the ‘generosity’ of the cats. Peter Boyle Cat had been banished from the kingdom long ago, and knows it best. They begin making plans for how to reason with or just straight-up avoid the cats of the Cat Kingdom. Then The Toadie appears like a stalker and interrupts the tea party to carry Haru away on a sea of cats. A sea of cats with magic portal powers. Just when you think the movie can’t get any weirder, it goes and does something like give cats magic portal powers.

Elliot Gould Raven and Dapper-Ass Carey Elwes are in hot pursuit, with Peter Boyle Cat also struggling to stay on the sea of cats, trying to reach Haru. The cat fleet jumps into a portal, and Dapper and the Raven just barely miss it. They need to find another way to get to Haru, as she is now trapped in the Cat Kingdom.

While this was going on, I realized you never really know when to stop when making Granny Squares. It’s like eating Lays. Or playing Doodle Jump. Once you start, it gets more and more difficult to quit. Before you know it, your hands are covered in grease, yarn is everywhere, and you’ve just spent all of your hard-jumped coins on a sumo outfit.

After that fever dream, Haru wakes up in the cat kingdom. She is suddenly much smaller than Peter Boyle Cat, and he and the other residents explain that she is slowly beginning to turn into a cat. She needs to get out of there quickly, but they’re taken into the kingdom by a more polite fleet of castle cats, and the madness only persists.

Haru begins turning into a cat and bugging out and Peter Boyle Cat dies in a bowl of catnip jelly and is wheeled about like a horrifying crown jewel. Only he’s not really dead, just sleeping in an agonized manner…? It’s not really explained, as he just pops out of the jelly jar and stars bashing heads when the time comes.

I have plenty of squares by this point, and need to figure out a way to connect them while minimizing the derpiness factor. And I’ve taken to finishing them and just tossing them on the floor, creating a carpetlike effect. It’s pretty keen. I began joining them with sc along one edge, tying off, and working the next one in line.

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Once I have seven squares joined (they go around my wee head with room to spare, so I assume it would fit the head of a normal human), I join them in a circle and sc around the top and bottom edges. They look kind of like film strips, actually. How fitting.

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Back in the film, we find that apparently it is a requirement for Carey Elwes characters to appear in their movie in a mask, expecting not be recognized. And to be dapper as hell. However, he declares that he is “exactly who he appears to be.”

Which is: The Lycanthrope Count of Monte Cristo

The rest of the film is pretty much a race against time to get Haru out of the Cat Kingdom before she becomes a cat forever. I’ve spoiled enough already, and I don’t want to give away the ending to those who have not seen it, as it is rather touching.

 

And now for something new on CineCrochet – a multitude of headings!

Various Thoughts:

Instead of assaulting you with (mostly) derivative things during the recap, these things now get their own section. Rejoice!

Did I mention that the epitome of a person (or cat) in this world is the “coolness” they exude; “I just think he’s so darn cool!” says Haru of her crush, and the same is said of Cat Prince by The Toadie. It’s just a weird anachronism of the movie. I found it mildly distracting, but not enough to keep it from being enjoyable.

Do only cats with tux markings get promoted to being bodyguards?

“King of cat kingdom, the CAT KING!” – Master of Obvious Ceremonial Titles

Did the cats steal all of those lacrosse sticks? Do they have a Lacrosse Stick-Making Factory in the Cat Kingdom? Or is there an owner of a nearby sporting goods store weeping at the loss of all of his/her lacrosse inventory?

That specialized eraser-beating stick is boss.

How does one go about making their own special blend of tea?

Why does a member of the cat band have a dumpster on his head? I would imagine it makes it difficult to play his clarinet/flute. (Clute?) I wish I could find a picture for you to see what I am talking about, but the internet is refusing to oblige.

 

The Waking Nightmare Award:

There are several moments in the running for this most prestigious award. For example:

How many riotously-laughing subjects are killed during an average dinner party in the Cat Kingdom? Is there just a pile of corpses beneath the window of the ballroom?

There are also giant floating disembodied eyes floating around the Cat Kingdom. They’re apparently like CCTV for the king, controlled via remote. But that knowledge doesn’t lessen the creepy. They just kind of show up and are never mentioned again.

However, the award has to go to Maybe-Dead Peter Boyle Cat Trapped in Catnip Jelly. The horror…

 

Best Single-Line Character:

“Maybe she has some catnip on her.” – Never Acknowledged Hipster-Glasses Girl

 

Favorite Miyazaki Trademark:

The Female Hero. Haru’s a different one, as she so average and relatable. We can talk all day about Princess Mononoke, but it can be agreed that San is hardly an average girl. With Haru, you can imagine yourself reacting similar to how she does. She’s not over-the-top, she knows when to be quiet and when to speak her mind, she’s funny, awkward, kind of dense, and eventually, very comfortable with herself. She’s a bit of a damsel in distress, but with as little knowledge as she has of the cat world, I’m not sure she could have managed a lot of this stuff on her own. She does what she can, but she’s also not afraid to ask for help when she needs it.

 

Tying Off:

I still have a passel of granny squares to find something to do with, but the headbands I ended up with look pretty legit.

The Cat Returns, for all of the grief I give it, was a thoroughly enjoyable little flick. It has the potential to be annoying, but comes across as endearing instead. It has a strong voice cast, lovely animation, and is weird as hell. The plot is a bit of a struggle, but if you’re willing to look past it and just go along for the ride, it’s decent enough. If you’re looking for some Ghibli that’s simple, but still full of wonder, this will fit the bill and then some.

 

Next Time on CineCrochet:

Holiday Miscellany and Miyazaki, Part the Second: Porco Rosso.

Will yours truly find a use for all of these granny squares? Will minds be blown by a flick in which pigs can fly? But most importantly, will the post be done within a timely manner (not four months after the fact)? Stay tuned!

 


Baby Booties & Fullmetal Alchemist

(Originally published August 31, 2013 on scenesandstitches.blogspot.com by Elise Dukart)

“Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. This is alchemy’s first law of equivalent exchange. In those days, we really believed that to be the world’s one and only truth.”
Sorry I’ve not updated for a while, what with school and graduating and general forgetfulness. However, since I have been home taking the summer off, I’ve seen some wonderful things and done plenty of crocheting while doing so, including the Marx brothers classic Duck Soup, some amazing Kurosawa flicks, various incarnations of StarTrek, and all but tying my mother to a chair to get her to watch Doctor Who. Despite this, the only media-related crochet project I documented in pictures is something a little different, and requires a bit of backstory.
There has been a veritable baby-palooza among those I know in the past few months. Just… Babies everywhere. Thus, I got it in my head to make some baby booties. Then I realized that booties are stupidly easy to make, and a good use for all of my extra bits of fingering/sport weight yarn, so I made a crapton of the buggers.
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Rockin’ everywhere.
While all of this was happening, I discovered Fullmetal Alchemist.
I imagine that a large portion of my readers (for some reason mainly consisting of former teachers… but I love you all!) are unfamiliar with Fullmetal Alchemist, but the few that are familiar are rolling their eyes. “Just discovered it?” these people are muttering to themselves before a glowing screen, “It’s only the biggest anime ever to infiltrate America! How could you have missed it, dopey?”
And to that I say – well, I really have no defense. Other than the fact that I was about 12 when it came out and more preoccupied with Hey Arnold! and Harry Potter and the like. I also haven’t watched a whole lot of anime, so it wasn’t exactly part of my normal repertoire. And no, FMA people, I haven’t watched any of the movies orBrotherhood. Honestly, I don’t know if they will spoil the original series for me, so watching them is up in the air for now.
But I’m getting off track. There’s plenty of time to talk about such things in future posts. And this post has the potential to be very long indeed, so there’s no time for tangents (she wrote, as she dedicated an entire paragraph to said tangent).
*AHEM*
Using Haley Missingham’s (super well-written) pattern for newborn baby booties, I made a wicked metric ton of wee shoes both using her design and variations I made up myself. Here’s a sole of one of ’em:
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I started watching Full Metal Alchemist on a whim. I had heard the name before, having grown up on Cartoon Network and seeing it advertised, but had never paid much attention to it. That’s because it would have scarred me for life in the best possible way.
  

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With odd puppy creatures! Except not…

FMA is about two brothers who are very skilled in alchemy, a science that causes something to be created from something else, similar to how transfiguration is used in Harry Potter, but more often used with inanimate objects. When they are still quite young, the boys’ mother dies, and they attempt to bring her back with alchemy – a great taboo. The transmutation goes horribly wrong, and the older brother, Edward, loses an arm and a leg while Alphonse loses his entire body. They barely survive, and decide to join the military to get access to files that will help them find a Philosopher’s Stone – a legendary item that would increase their alchemic power, and the only chance they have of rebuilding their bodies.
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Ed and Al: posing dramatically in front of arches since 2003.
All of this information is introduced in the first few episodes, but it sounds like a premise that would be stretched over an entire season in American TV… and that was the briefest non-spoiler summary I could give. So here’s some more in-depth (still non-spoilery) stuff. And baby booties.
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Or perhaps baby mukluks.
Firstly, the plot. The series spans 51 twenty-minute episodes, a pretty standard length for an anime, and a good amount of time to develop everything and throw in some great twists. As with many shows, it does have a few filler episodes as well as the tendency to meander a bit. However, these instances do not detract much from the story itself. Nearly everything that is brought up over the course of the show has some bearing on the story, and makes a return in a big way. More on that later.
Some ideas tend to repeat themselves a bit, but the English dub at least seems fully aware of this, as do the characters. An example of this is how several of the enemies that Ed and Al face justify their actions by comparing themselves to the way that the brothers operate, saying that they aren’t so different in their goals or beliefs. “Why do all of the bad guys keep comparing themselves to ME?” yells Ed at one point, following by a well-timed punch to one of the philosophizing bad guys’ faces.
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But these comparisons are often completely legitimate. The characters in this show develop in such a way that no one is completely black or white, save the occasional one-off villain. The main and supporting characters themselves are extremely well-developed, causing even the goofy episode focusing on these yahoos to have emotional impact:
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In fact, the storytelling is so complex that at a few points it seems like they’ve introduced a character or a premise out of nowhere, and only after really thinking about it do you realize that they’ve been sprinkling hints and allusions to these things long before their proper introduction. Take Izumi, for an example that I’ll try really hard not to spoil.

She shows up around pair #684… ish.Image
Izumi was Ed and Al’s alchemy teacher immediately after their mom died, but before they tried to resurrect her. After the failed attempt, they joined the military and work with (and against) it for several years until Izumi (the boys simply call her Teacher) abruptly comes back into their lives. She is harsh but fair, kicks all kinds of butt, and to the casual viewer it would seems as if Teacher just suddenly appeared, simply as a plot device. But she had been foreshadowed (quite literally in one case) long before that, and once she arrives, her actions drive the plot forward and add some more fascinating, dreadlock-infused backstory.
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                                              There she is, kickin’ ass in a lab coat.
In all honesty, I would love to do a review of each episode of Fullmetal Alchemist if I knew anyone would read it. The music, the animation, the setting, the philosophical musings, the sophomoric humor, all of it – the weak points and the great – make up a truly memorable series. Even that weird ending has grown on me after some musing.
By this point, you’re probably tired of me raving about this show. Heaven knows my family is. But it really is that good. Even if you’re not an anime person, Fullmetal Alchemist has something for everyone (like The Twilight Zone!) – from juvenile humor to action to dark themes of grief and uplifting ones of familial love. I couldn’t think of a better series to have watched while crocheting a ridiculous amount of booties. With every bootie, I remember a certain part of the show and how it touched me or made me laugh or made me examine my philosophies a little closer. If thoughts like that were woven into something made for an infant, I hope that something will pass on and that their lives will be as rich. Or at least they won’t vomit on all over them or something.
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                       Maybe I should Scotch Guard ’em all. (Thanks to my foot model, Evan.)

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