Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Video Only - Orca Toys Nagi Sanzen'in White Cat Version

Just a short video to break the curse of me not uploading any new videos recently. I got a new revolving solar display stand for my favorite Nagi figure recently and thought I'd show her off. Apparently, only 3000 copies of this figure were ever made -- quite appropriate since Sanzen 三千 means 3000.  

Monday, September 2, 2019

Weathering With You 天気の子 Spoiler-Free Review and Some Hina Fanart

For the record, I personally don't care about spoilers, but I'm not one to impose my personal ideals upon others -- and if you disagree with me, then that's the difference between you and me. Food for thought.

Just got back from the cinemas and… “sensually enchanting” would be the most appropriate adjectives that come to mind when it comes to Makoto Shinkai’s latest piece, “天気の子,”  (which was translated to “Weathering With You” for some reason. The accurate translation is “child of the weather” or “weather’s child” or even “girl of the weather”). With that aside, the production values definitely live up to the hype. The movie is basically an audio-visual feast for the senses with an entrancing soundtrack, breathtaking animation, and the cool, calming, yet extremely detailed scenery (and product placements) that anyone familiar with Makoto Shinkai’s previous works might have come to expect. Therefore, over-all, I’d say that the movie was simply a delight to watch and actually quite timely since we’re in the rainy season right now in the Philippines.

The Supernatural And The Mundane

A common motif in Makoto Shinkai’s movies is the marriage of the supernatural and the mundane and this latest movie is no exception. Set in Tokyo, “Weathering With You” presents life in the big city with a tongue-in-cheek approach. We get to see glimpses of the actual living conditions of the everyman (sorry lgbt bbq+, not everyone is interested in your inclusive exclusivity) in Tokyo and particularly, we get to see how life must be like for two teenage runaways, the main characters Hodaka and Hina, and the common problems they face, such as difficulty in finding employment because of being underage. In fact, the movie shows several adult-themes including a brothel, a love hotel (basically a hotel that specializes in romantic couples) and some degree of violence against a minor as well as gunshots.

With that said, these elements all mingle quite naturally with its supernatural elements based on Japanese folklore, which is quite evident in Hina’s apparent power to control the weather.

Strong Supporting Cast

Drawing a comparison to Shinkai’s previous work, while Your Name was all about the two main characters with an only mildly memorable supporting cast, the same cannot be said for Weathering With You. Hina’s ladies man of a little brother Nagi, the ornery yet ultimately kind-hearted Suga, and the charming Natsumi are all very likable characters in their own right who each play a vital role in moving the movie’s plot forward.

A Less Than Stellar But Ultimately Satisfying Plot

Speaking of the plot in general – this is perhaps the movie’s weakest point. While it is by no means a train-wreck of a story, it can get dragging at certain points because of the linear nature of the storytelling. Furthermore, while it can get cathartic at times, it doesn’t really achieve the heights of Shinkai’s older masterpieces such as “5 Centimeters Per Second.”

Yet, while it might not be technically an aesthetically beautiful story, the strongest plot point of this film lies in the final choice made by Hodaka.  I love the fact that he chooses the selfish route and affirms that he’s fine with this in exchange for “changing the world forever.”  This is literally the kind of stuff that got me hooked on anime in the first place. Sometimes it’s not just about saving the world, being the altruistic one and thinking of the common good, nor restoring the status quo – sometimes it’s just about what really makes you happy – and I’m personally quite delighted that Hodaka chose to follow his heart rather than his mind in the movie’s climax.

Fanservice and Nods

Fans who rode the hype train to this movie from Your Name will definitely not be disappointed as far as fanservice goes because you will see some very familiar faces that give subtle nods to the co-existence of the Makoto Shinkaiverse across different films.

Personally, I was amused at the two Pretty Cure cosplayers who enlisted Hina’s service.

Also, it amuses me that main female character is Hina and her little brother is Nagi :)

Some Minor Complaints

I do have some minor complaints about this movie, of course. While the soundtrack is a joy to listen to, I do feel that the use of an insert-song while portraying a timelapse is a bit overused and jarring. It was used only two times in the movie, but that was twice too much for me – especially since I’ve seen it used before in almost the very same fashion in Your Name. It’s not enough to put me off on this movie, but it was a bit distracting.

Furthermore, while the lore behind the supernatural elements in Your Name was fully-fleshed out within the movie, the same cannot be said for Weathering With You. There were definitely attempt at subtle exposition here and there and the lore itself was quite interesting, but I feel that there just wasn’t enough of it crammed into this 2 hour movie for me to feel any sense of connection to the supernatural lore.

Also, as usual, the translation is a bit iffy in spots. Why do they always insist on listing the full name of the character whenever someone says “onee-chan” or uses some similar honorific? I know that calling someone “big sister” doesn’t sound that natural in English, but it’s also pretty off-putting when the subtitles say one thing and the character is obviously saying another. For the record, I don't agree with any of these conventions established by fansubbers as well as professional translators.

Over-all impressions

The lore aside, Hina is cute and that’s a plus for me – always. Over-all, Weathering With You is an aesthetically pleasing feel-good movie with a story that will have you leaving the cinema with a smile on your face.  If you were expecting another “Your Name,” you might feel a bit disappointed, but watch the movie for what it is, and I guarantee you’ll find it quite enjoyable.

Nagi approves of this movie

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Painting Hatsune Miku for 8/31/2019 With Anilinky Watercolors

Miku's birthday is a good time to try out the Anilinky Watercolors I bought from Deovir. Over-all, the watercolors have a very rich and deep color and they're very highly pigmented. They actually remind me of Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolors. There's 24 colors over-all and two types of white.

Anyway, I'll leave you with the video right here.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Zig Kuretake 12 Color Watercolor Palette Set -- Impressions (video)

Over-all, I really like this watercolor set. The colors are nice, highly pigmented and vibrant -- although lacking in intensity and they really do work great for anime style illustrations.

I'd imagine they'd work great for florals and caligraphic stuff as well -- although I personally don't do those. I wouldn't recommend these for landscapes unless you're deliberately going for a washed out look.

The colors also mix very well.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

I have a RedBubble Account btw.

Just letting you know that I have a RedBubble account. Follow the link to see more of my stuff. Also check my pixiv account:

Or tell me if you want to request a specific design. Most of the artworks I've done can be found tagged Fanart in this blog.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Hayate Reflections: Time To Gloat About Tonikaku Kawaii Chapter 67

Thanks to anonymous for the heads-up on Tonikaku Kawaii (call it Cawaii if you like just coz that's how it's spelled in English in the magazine, I know, I know...)
So anyway, I got sick again. As the seasons change, my throat acts like some kind of barometer because I have rhinitis and my throat and nose always act up whenever we transition from hot to cold weather.
Speaking of hot weather, Tsukasa is quite hot here.
With that out of the way, I’m just chiming in today with a quick update on Tonikaku Kawaii, Kenjiro Hata’s latest manga -- and probably an update that I should have done sooner. Anyway, in page 9 of chapter 67, we have a cameo of Hayate and Nagi being all kissy-kissy, lovey dovey with each other as Kaname educates her senpai on the different meanings of kisses.

Of course, this was all in Kaname’s imagination, but when the author of the manga draws the two main characters of his former manga this way, I think it leaves little doubt as to how he wanted them to end up and how to properly interpret the ending of said manga -- even if you think they’re not the Hayate and Nagi that you remember -- don’t worry, son. Memories are idealized most of the time. You’ll get over it.

Anyway, this is lordcloudx gloating and out for now.

By the way, don’t forget that I do art commissions for $6-$25 right now depending on complexity. I definitely prefer traditional art that I can send directly to the client, but I can of course do digital art as well. I’ll leave a link in the description and you can just email me directly at lordcloudx at gmail dot com and let’s talk.
Fanart Corner

I've noticed that people are "so much more aware" of depression nowadays and that's great... still, have a fanart.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Hayate Reflections: My Thoughts On Art

Sharp contrasts of bright green and dark shadows lend an alluring and almost otherworldly ambiance to this lush green forest. The seemingly random placement of the trees belie the artist’s subtle intent—which is to draw the viewer’s attention into the blank space at the upper left portion of the painting wherein the paper’s natural whites were purposely left intact in order to create the illusion of shards of light – sharp as daggers piercing into the thick veil of foliage below... is the kind of insincere, artsy, pseudo literary description that relies on empty prose and complex-sounding words to make something out to be more than it actually is. It’s also not the kind of description I’d ever want to give any of my paintings.
You know how long it took me to think up that description? All of 3 minutes at the very moment that I decided to start writing this essay. In fact, I could make up artsy sounding, insincere descriptions like that all day long – but I don’t, because I don’t like them.

Now let me tell you the real story behind this painting. This was a background done in around 10-15 minutes for an upcoming video game for desktop and mobiles called Miseria – which I did all the background art for. What I was really thinking as I was painting this piece was something more like “Ok, let me splish splash a few trees here and there, oh and we need some leaves there.  You know what? Let’s leave that area blank so that it looks like the light is filtering in through the leaves – oh yeah, that looks perfect! You’re such a genius, me.”  And you know what? I’m pretty sure that to some extent, all visual artists have the same kind of mindset as I do when they’re painting. I mean, forgive me if you’re actually thinking up all that empty pseudo-literary prose as you paint – and I guess you’d be the exception, but let’s get real, people. Let’s not put up any more barriers than there already are to art.
Anyway, I am lordcloudx, and today, I’m here to tell you about my art and the reason why I paint/draw the things that I do as well as a few of my pet peeves with how art is often perceived by other people. If you’ve seen my “Philosophy of Art” video before, you can think of this as an update, or a reaffirmation of sorts of the stuff I’ve said before.
I Am A Beauty Seeker
I have always been attracted to beauty – specifically, feminine beauty. As such, you might say that I have very heterosexual tastes. Certainly, I don’t consider myself to a part of the LGBTQ+ BBQ WTF LOL community, but I have a general disdain of communities in general anyway.

To get back on track, I have always been attracted to pretty pictures – specifically of the anime persuasion. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I limit myself to only manga/anime art. I can definitely appreciate the natural beauty of a colourful piece of scenery, or the complexity of an architectural drawing from an isometric, 3-dimensional perspective.

And for me, beauty in my personal art is rather simple to obtain – just add Nagi. It’s that simple. Whenever I draw/paint something for myself, I just think of how I can draw Nagi and make her look beautiful in my eyes – and in the eyes of other onlookers, and that is basically the entire philosophy behind my art. There’s no complex backstory, nor any attempt to shape society, nor some deep-seated psychological quandary behind what I do. I just like drawing Nagi because I love the character for who she is. Also, if you really take a good look at Nagi, she is actually far from perfect, even in appearance. Obviously, she’s short and flat-chested, and as far as her face goes, she’s definitely cute, but there are definitely many different anime characters who can be considered cuter and far more beautiful than her, but of course, Nagi will always be perfect in all her tiny imperfections for me – and that is all that really matters.
So to sum things up so far: I like drawing pretty pictures – and those pretty pictures usual end up being Nagi. No complications whatsoever here.

The Things I Dislike In Art

While art always has that element of individual preference to it, there are some things in the art community at large in my area that really set off all the wrong triggers in me. So let me talk about them for a little bit.

1.       The Wannabe Picasso Bandwagon

Yes, of course, I do understand the impact (not exactly the appeal) that the abstract expressionist, impressionist and pop art movements had in art history, but let’s face it, those days are long-gone and nowadays, it’s basically a free-for-all, for all kinds of art. With that said, what really ticks me off the wrong way is when I see exhibits on display with the kind of ambiguous, pseudo-literary narrative that I made as an example at the start of this video and paintings on display featuring women with wonky anatomy, asymmetrical features and nonsensical elements like the sun melting into a woman’s skirt and becoming a part of the pizza pie embryo of life or something similar – well, you probably know what I mean.
Maybe it’s just me, but I believe that these kinds of art that rely on the “viewer’s imagination” to fill in the blanks or makes use of pseudo-literary descriptions to make a trashy piece look like “high art” is just extremely pretentious and cringe-worthy. The worst part is when you see several pieces by the same artists and some are clearly lacking in the basics of good anatomy, color theory, perspective and lighting and other skills that a “professional artist” should possess some degree of competence in.

Certainly, it’s none of my business, but when you see people being drawn in and influenced by pseudo literary narratives into assuming that “this is high art” all the time, it kind of is – especially when people dismiss your own art all the time as “oh, it’s just anime.”

2.        The Talkers And Accessorizers

Of course, while abstact, expressionist art – especially from those lacking in basic drawing skills tend to tick me off, those people are still much better than the talkers and accessorizers. Have you ever come across a know-it-all who offers their brilliant “critique” and has this insatiable urge to redline and correct every piece of art they come across online? Chances are that these are also the same kind of people who will tell you to buy the most expensive pieces of art equipment that you can so that you can “level up your game” and even urge you to start creating your own paints out of gum arabic and your choice of pigment because that’s how a “real pro” does it.

Well, while there’s always the wild exception who can actually walk the talk, if you ever come across this kind of individual, it’s probably best to ask that person for some actual examples of their art. Chances are that you’ll discover something quite amusing. I’ll leave it at that.

3.       Communities

I did say that I hate communities, didn’t I? Anyway, the unfortunate reality is that if you desire any kind of recognition for your art, it’s really not about what you know, but about who you know. As a recent example, I hardly get more than 10 likes for any new artworks I upload publicly to my twitter, FB, and pixiv account. I’m not really one to self-market much and my favorite subject is from an anime/manga from another decade, basically.

So one day, I saw mikumiku_ebooks make an amusing post on twitter, so I decided to draw a piece of fanart dedicated to this tweet about Miku winning the Iron Throne in the Game of Thrones TV series – and suddenly, from out of nowhere, I got 1.8k likes and over 500 retweets in a single day. To be honest, this is more attention than anything I’ve ever produced in my 20+ years as a writer/artist/creator has ever received before.

To get back on track, art communities – especially if they are isolated to a particular locale like in my area, often tend to fall into a group mentality and will only recognize and promote fellow artists that join their community in the first place.

I can of course understand this kind of mentality for the purpose of self-gain, but when the same art community often says things like: “art is open to all” and how “art is a great equalizer for everyone,” I hope you’ll pardon me for thinking that these art communities are being hypocritical.
Is it an ode to Animal Farm perhaps? Art is a great equalizer, but artists in our community are a little bit more equal than others? I suppose that’s the only way for the contradiction to make sense.

Stop Being Pretentious

In conclusion, if you consider yourself an artist or at least a connoisseur of art, I implore you to stop being pretentious. If you want to paint/draw something, then do it, but don’t try to delude others into thinking that you were doing it for some higher purpose that transcends human existence while hiding behind a thin veil of eloquence. At the end of the day, all we visual artists really want to do is to draw pretty pictures and nothing more – and there should be no shame at all in admitting this.

I am lordcloudx and I like to draw pretty pictures – that is all.