Anime Me! #3: Black Lagoon

Anime Me!  #3: Black Lagoon

This week, I bring to you one of my all-time favorites.  Black Lagoon.  This is one of those rare animes that I have just immersed myself into.  I have the original Japanese manga books, as well as the English translations.  I have the anime DVD’s, as well as the anime soundtrack.  So it’s not going to take a genius to figure out, I love this anime.

Black Lagoon is a manga series written and illustrated by the great Rei Hiroe, and published in Shogakukan’s Sunday GX since 2002.  The anime series based on the manga aired in Japan from April 8, 2006 to June 24, 2006.  It totaled twelve episodes.  The second season was called Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage and ran for another 12 episodes beginning on October 2, 2006.  The third season was just recently announced as Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail, and has been slated as an OVA.

The story follows a team of misfit mercenaries known as Lagoon Company, who smuggle goods around the seas of Southeast Asia.  They are located in the fictional city of Roanapur in Thailand.  Their main means of transport is an 80-foot Elco-type PT boat named Black Lagoon.

Each episode basically consists of the team taking on a variety of missions in various Southeast Asian locations.  What really draws me into the anime is that the stories take on a realistic view.  Such as if cars or other vehicles are destroyed in one episode, they remain destroyed in subsequent episodes.  Even some instances were some injuries will continue on in later episodes.

We begin the anime with the introduction of Rock, your mild-mannered Japanese businessman, and he’s been used by his bosses in a situation he wants no part of.  While you immediately feel sorry for him.  It won’t be the last time he finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He joins up with Lagoon Company and immediately gets at odds with most of them because of his moral compass.

While female anime characters are not exactly rare.  You will NEVER find one as tough, or as strong, or as talented as Revi.  She is the muscle for Lagoon Company and the protagonist for the series.  She is of Chinese descent and is very skilled with firearms.  What makes her character rare, is that she enjoys killing her enemies.  While normally calm, she tends to have some sort of internal emotional instability.  You can see this flourish with her interactions with Rock.  You can immediately tell, both of these characters need each other.  Rock needs Revi’s strong backbone, and Revi needs Rock’s moral stability.  This of course causes many fights, some very violent.  One of which almost costs Rock his life.  But it is soon realized that without each other, both characters just wouldn’t be the same.

But the anime doesn’t stop there.  Chock-full of many characters, and all of them are given a sort of depth, especially in the manga.  Some do border on cliche for anime, such as nuns & maids (both of whom are skilled in firearms).  But the characters never show any sign of just being thrown into the story.  Each has a purpose, and each are used to the fullest.  THAT is rare in any story telling in this day-and-age of old, tired, retread remakes.

Another aspect I enjoy is the humor.  A very dark humor that involves adult themes such as drugs, alcohol, guns, sex, and murder.  All usually during very violent scenes and gun battles.  One of my favorite is the Rock, Paper, Scissors game Revi plays with another character.  They are playing to see who will start killing first.  When Revi loses, she begins to whine like a child.

On the flip side, there are scenes of great depth, and thought.  The submarine scene with Rock and Revi comes to mind.  It is the first real instance where both Rock and Revi explain to each other their views.  Some scenes concern themselves with philosophical thought as well as emotions, actions, and responsibilities.

It’s a real treat to find an anime that can satisfy you with action, violence, thought, depth, and humor.  Quite literally you’d be lucky to get one of these with most.  With Black Lagoon, you get it all.

My Sketchbook: Nabiki

I just couldn’t wait, since our new post this past Monday of my Ranma 1/2 review.  Below is a sketch of one of my favorite characters to pose.  Nabiki Tendo, from Ranma 1/2.  She is the middle sister of the Tendo family, and older sister to Akane.  She initially was interested in becoming Ranma’s fiance until she realized (at least at first) that “he” was a “she”.  I always liked her character, and enjoyed the trouble she caused Akane.  Usually for a buck.  LOL!  That aside, you can see two sketches below.  The close-up of her face was a sketch I completed in about 12 minutes.  I wanted to keep it simple and fast, which is why I never went in to complete her eyes.  Maybe I will one day.  The other is a pose I saw from the anime itself, where she had just woken up.  This was more of an exercise in trying something different.  I liked the pose simply because it was a character in an everyday situation.  Simply waking up in the morning.

As you can see when I was doing most of my drawing during this time, I just wasn’t comfortable completing eyes yet.  Something I did eventually get over.  LOL!  These sketches were some of my favorites, just because of the character.  You will see though in later drawings I get more detailed with shading and how cloths lay on the body.

In this instance, I just wanted to draw Nabiki.

My Sketchbook

I’ve been messing around with my style lately, actually over the last few years, lol.  But more recently I have gotten myself to a more anime style.  I’ll post some of these every so often, mostly exercises and poses of some of my favorite characters.  To start, one of my most recent is a sketch I did right off the internet.  It was a pose and I wanted to see if I could duplicate it.  Maybe some of you anime fans will recognize it.

First off, I realize her right forearm on her chest is a bit disproportionate.  This exercise for me wasn’t about being exact, but being fast.  This from beginning to end took me approximately 21 minutes to complete.  I have others that are more refined, some detailed, some just quick sketches.  I’ll share my sketch book with you.

I try not to use an eraser.  But if your more comfortable with one, I’m not judging.  Get yourself a couple light, medium, and dark HB pencils if you plan on creating detail, or dark areas.  But for a quick sketch like the one above, a simple #2 will suffice.  Eventually I would love to get a set up so I can record video of me drawing.  But for now, I just want to share as much as I can.

Please enjoy!

The Job Interview #1

Thanks to the NEPA Job Fair I attended last week, I was able to acquire 2 job interviews.  Both were completed yesterday (Monday).  Well I survived, and they went pretty well.  I have always felt that if I can attain an interview, get face time with the employer, the job is mine.  It is just a mental attitude I have always brought with me.  You can be nervous, you can be worried.  But if you do not believe that you can get the job.  Then you won’t.

Now that isn’t to say I have gotten every job from every interview.  Your always going to be rejected at some point during your career search.  The idea is to not take it personally.  It happens, move on.  The way I handle being rejected is actually simple.  Call the employer and politely ask them why you were not selected.  Ask what the deciding factor was.  Do not argue or try to change their mind.  The decision has been made.  Your just asking for information to help you in your future interviews.  Maybe you were too nervous, or someone else was more qualified.  You just will never know unless you ask for this information.

I will always prepare answers before the interview.  You’re never really going to know what is going to be asked, but you should always be prepared for certain questions.  You’ll almost always be asked questions straight off of the application or resume.  Such as schooling, education, work experience, etc.  Of course you will almost ALWAYS be asked that one question that makes you state something negative about yourself.  It can be worded so many different ways.  Something you’d like to change or improve about yourself.  I have even been asked before if there was anything I did not like about myself.  I call these trap questions, as it forces you to answer something you may not want to.  Not to mention it’s not something everyone prepares for.

NEVER state anything negative about yourself during an interview.  NEVER!

Even if you are asked point blank.  Turn the question around and make it a positive.  The most common trap question in my experience is when you are asked, “Is there anything you feel that you need to improve upon?”.  Try your best to word the answer in a positive way.  My answer has always been that I am constantly improving and expanding my knowledge.  I have always believed that anyone who doesn’t seek to improve themselves in all aspects of life becomes stale.  Depending on where I am applying, my answer would obviously slightly differ.  I may quote some different programs I know or different skills I may have learned over the years.  But the idea is to NEVER state something about yourself in a negative fashion.  Be confident.  But also be loose.

Remember you would have never gotten the interview if the potential employer didn’t think, on some level, you’d fit well.  The purpose of the interview is to place a face on the application or resume.  They want to know you.  So be honest, but be positive!

Now with my interviews over yesterday.  I am glad to say that I have been offered one of the positions already and the second I am still waiting on.  I was honest and up front with the employer and I stated I still had interviews to attend.  I asked for some time to think it over, and was granted that.  Now just because I have gotten these interviews and even an offer, it doesn’t mean my search is over or I can take a break.  I sent out 3 more resumes in between each interview yesterday.  Now if your happy with the job offer, take it!  Congratulations.  If your still unsure, and you have time to think, the hope is to attain multiple offers and take the best one suited for you.  This is the position I am hoping for.  If the second interview doesn’t come through.  I can always accept the position offered to me, and continue my search if need be.

When it’s all said and done.  Be positive.  Every interview you attend, is experience you gain for the next.

Anime Me! #2: Ranma 1/2

Anime Me! #2: Ranma 1/2

We jump right into one of my all-time favorite anime.  Pronounced “Ranma One-Half”.  Originally a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by the great Rumiko Takahashi.  In April 1989, it was adapted as a 161 episode TV series, but almost didn’t return in September 1989 after the first 18, due to low ratings.  Thankfully a month later the story was repackaged and re-released, and had it’s long run including 3 theatrical movies and 13 OVA’s.  With it’s comedic formula and unique main character, it found new life in American anime fans after it’s Japanese run in 1992.

Ranma 1/2

The story follows a 16-year old boy named Ranma Saotome who has been trained by his father his entire life in martial arts.  We learn soon enough that they have both previously suffered an accident while training.  As a result, they are cursed to shape-shift when splashed with cold water.  His father is found to transform into a giant panda, and Ranma himself transforms into a girl.  Hot water will revert them back.

We are introduced to Ranma and his father as the series opens (pictured above).  The characters unique story gets even stranger when even more secondary characters are added.  Which begins soon when Ranma finds out that his father Genma has arranged a marriage for him.  Thus we are introduced to the 3 daughters of Soun Tendo (Kasumi, Nabiki, and Akane, who becomes Ranma’s fiance)…

Want to read more?
<–Click the “Anime Me! Review” page on the left!

Anime Me! #1: Monster

Anime Me!  #1: Monster

This week, the first Anime I am viewing is called “Monster”.  This anime is based on a seinen manga (Japanese Comic) written and illustrated by Naoki Urasawa, published by Shogakukan in “Big Comic Original” (1994 – 2001).  It was adapted as a 74 episode anime series by Madhouse.  It originally aired on Japanese NTV from April 2004 to September 2005.


Monster

First to note, this is not for children.  A seinen anime is generally targeted at an 18–30 year old male audience.  The series follows Dr. Kenzo Tenma as he pursues a young psychopath & sociopath named Johan, whose life as a little boy, Tenma once saved.  In doing so Tenma must make a severe moral choice, one that haunts him and alters his life and they way he views it.  It is a unique anime as it does not involve any locations within Japan.  In this instance most, if not all, locations are based in Germany and the Czech Republic…

Want to read more?
<–Click the “Anime Me! Review” page on the left!

NEPA Job Fair April 2010

http://www.nepajobfair.com

I just returned from the NEPA Job Fair (April 13, 2010). I have to admit it has been awhile since I have been to a large Job Fair such as this. Many interesting companies were at attendance, and this is actually the first one I have been to that had live seminars with helpful tips and hints. I met quite a few engaging and interesting people. Most importantly, I came away from this experience re-energized for another salvo of Resume shots to potential employers.

Now, I was however a little disappointed in that some of the employers were merely giving out information on how to apply on their own websites, rather than taking serious candidates right then. There were many companies that I had already applied to online, but didn’t really learn anything new. I understand this is the way job searching and recruiting is going in this day and age. If you are not tech-savvy, or if you do not at least know how to send an email, your going to be left behind very soon. But on the other hand, I miss the face-to-face time that I had expected. Yes it is tedious to go out to companies to apply. But I had always felt it gave you a leg up, forced you to learn about the company you were applying, and cut down on the competition for those jobs. Applying online is fine, and definitely easy. Unfortunately I feel it is too easy. It is too easy to have many many thousands of people apply who may not be qualified unnecessarily clogging up what is already a bland email to a point were the actual qualified candidates are not even seen. This is more of a personal feeling on my part, I will always go were the technology takes me. I just feel the face time with employers is so very important.

With that said, it is not like I didn’t get the chance to talk to anyone. I enjoyed my time walking around. I spent 7 hours trying to get as much face-time as I could. I always have a resume handy, and was able to send off 38. Now combine those with the companies that force you to apply online, and it was still a very good day. I even have an interview with a staffing company coming up next Monday.

If your reading this, wish me luck! LOL!

One interesting person I met was actually at the final seminar of the day. I was mulling over whether I should stay. It had been 6 hours, I was tired, most of the employers had already left. But I was interested in what this seminar had to offer. It was explained to me ways to use social networks in the job hunt. I have always known the importance of social networks, but for some reason it hadn’t dawned on me to use online forms of social networks like Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter. I was intrigued, so I decided to stay. I am glad I did. The speaker was a woman named Karla Porter (http://karlaporter.com/). I learned so many things about my job search and using social networks in this half hour, than I did the entire time I was at the Job Fair.  Including the knowledge of this very blog.  I was even able to get 10 minutes of one on one face-time speaking with her. I know she’ll be reading this eventually, and I want to personally thank her for her time and knowledge.

I came away from this Job Fair a new person. I have been searching for a career for quite awhile. I know what I can do, and I know what I can offer. Now is the time to get my face out there.

One of my favorite saying has always been from Walt Disney himself, “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

Keep believing and always move forward!