Room 208

Elaborate Burn

Posts from July 2013

Serial Experiments Lain Director Ryutaro Nakamura Passes Away

Anime News Network:

The official Twitter feed for the Chibi Neko Tom no Dai Bōken anime announced on Thursday that anime director and storyboard artist Ryutaro Nakamura had passed away on June 29 at 4 p.m. after months of being hospitalized while fighting pancreatic cancer… He was 58 years old at the time of his death… He is also known as the director of the Kino’s Journey, Sakura Wars, and Ghost Hound anime series.

Original Twitter announcement.

Spring and the Flower Possessions

This is a quick-and-dirty English translation of a contemporary fantasy setting idea originally posted to Pixiv in Japanese by @thykgn. I’m doing this because it’s necessary background for a separate Pixiv comic that I’m looking to do a translation of on Danbooru.

I do apologize in advance for how stupid some of the phrasings sound; that’s entirely my fault, not the original author’s.

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– under the cherry tree, a dead body lay buried.


Contemporary fantasy.

The world has a little more greenery than it does now. This is a story of the flowers who seek the best fertilizer, so that flowers more beautiful than any other may blossom; and the people who abandon their remaining lives in order to obtain something greater.

After tree-planting was instituted into law, “enhanced” plants began to appear, and competition for survival among the various flowers turned fierce. At that point, the powerful abilities that the flowers held inside them began to manifest – the flowers tempted humans in despair with this exchange: In return for allowing one’s remaining human life and body to be taken, they would receive the power to satisfy one final wish through their connection to the flowers. The world’s flowers became ever more brilliant and beautiful, but people thought of it as merely the result of the earlier “enhancements.” Nor did anyone realize what was causing the increased number of human disappearances.

The title mentions “spring,” but this setting can be used in any place or season.

If you upload drawings or other images to Pixiv, I’d be happy if you could tag them with “Spring and the Flower Possessions” (春と花憑き).

Please send anything else to @thykgn.

The logo’s not all that fancy, but feel free to use it as you wish.

I got some questions about this: I don’t plan on doing further work on this on Pixiv for the time being (neither for a project, nor for the characters and setting), so feel free to put up character and setting drafts and contributions!

Character types

  • Possessed: Those who have been taken by the flowers. In exchange for offering their remaining lives and their bodies, they have been given one exceptional ability. Their bodies crumble like ash after their sacrifice, and become nourishment for the flowers, while the possessed themselves become like ghosts. A flower either grows from, or replaces a part of, their body. The flower starts out as something foreign, but after a short time can become like part of the body. The possessed cannot stray more than a few meters from the plant that has power over them, and should the plant wither they too will die. Flowers of annuals are short-lived, and therefore grant extraordinarily strong powers; if the possessor is a perennial, the possessed may hibernate during the winter, thereby extending their lives. Flowers of trees are longer-lived, and therefore only grant weaker powers.

  • Protectors: Those who protect flowers. Each has his or her own reason for doing so. There is no penalty for allowing a flower under one’s protection to die. On the other hand, there is no real benefit to protectors, even if they accompany a possessed person until his or her wish can be granted. They may borrow powers from possessed people with deeply-rooted greenery. Unlike the possessed, they may separate from their plants, and can even still use their powers; however, their powers grow weaker with distance. When using their powers, tattoos in the form of flowers appear on their bodies.

  • Devourers: Those who eat flowers. Each has his or her own reason for doing so. There are those who use methods of defoliation with the aim of destroying all of the possessed, and who are opposed by those who side with the possessed and become protectors. Others want to see a particular possessed person gone. Devourers do not literally eat flowers. There are fellowship-like organizations for devourers, but since there are many lone actors, membership is not high.

  • Researchers: Those who do the research to “enhance” flowers. Their numbers include those who wish to support flowers and become protectors, those who fall to despair and become possessed, and those who see the dangers of flowers and become devourers, as well as others. There are many who love flowers from the heart, and set their minds on research.


[All of the following pages are in Japanese, sorry. Maybe you can break out Google Translate or something.]

The Landry comms station was about six hundred miles from the giant snowdrift I called home, two and a half hours on the express maglev service interrupted by a transfer about a third of the way through. In other words, on the scale of interstellar messaging, basically a rounding error away.

For most of the five minutes I spent inside the main building, I could only think to myself that I’d drawn the short straw in getting assigned to Sudalis. The tech my boss had sent me to meet, a woman about my age who introduced herself as Sabina, gave me the rundown as we walked down to the control room. Landry had a recently renovated interior, modern equipment, and an automated monitoring system. I got the uneasy feeling that, even though all these niceties meant that Sabina had much less work to do, she was still getting paid a fair sight more than I was.

Most of this resentment went away when, upon opening the control room’s main door, we were greeted by the sound of alarms blaring like five fire drills all happening at once. Sabina cursed to herself, then promptly grabbed my arm and made for the nearest exit. Her build was rather slight, but she had the grip of a teenager who liked to take joyrides on fast-moving cargo transports. “I had a feeling this would happen,” she said as we pushed open an emergency exit leading to the rear of the building. The smell of burning metal wafted across my nose. “We should have just met in a coffee shop instead. Care for a cup?”

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As I tried not to burn my tongue on the espresso I’d just bought, Sabina explained to me that Landry had been suffering from a string of apparently unrelated equipment failures, at a pace of about once every three to four weeks. A couple of months ago, for instance, a central switch had developed a catastrophic short that touched off an electrical fire. Even with automatic deployment of suppressant gas, the fire got bad enough that two whole racks of hardware were eventually written off, and the station had to be shut down for an entire day while the mildly toxic suppressant ventilated from the building. This was followed some time later by a literal explosion, although fortunately a small one, in an underground tank used to store coolant. Again, the complex was evacuated. No one was hurt, but it seemed only a matter of time.

“I never really liked my job, but at least I didn’t hate it, you know?” Sabina said, swirling a stirrer idly around her half-empty cup. “I was willing to put up with most anything as long as I got paid, but putting my life on the line was never in the job description.”

“Oh. Well, that’s not why I came here, but you have my sym–”

“But isn’t it? Here’s the thing: This all started happening maybe three days after we got that first clown message. Suspicious? You tell me.”

I resisted. To my mind, whoever had sent the clown messages was just an idle prankster, not someone with a taste for wanton destruction. “It’s probably just a coincidence. You have all these new shiny gadgets. Maybe they’ve got, uh, unpredictable failure modes,” I said, wishing I could come up with a way to characterize the problem that sounded less like a technical euphemism.

“If they can forge headers that are supposed to be authenticated, who knows what else they’re capable of doing? God knows that with all those moving parts, there’s going to be at least one hole big enough to drive a clown car through.”

“Clown cars aren’t very big, you know. That’s the whole gimmick.”

Sabina sighed. “Just drink your damn coffee.”

Tamayura is always ever so relaxing, isn’t it?

More Aggressive, episode 2.

It’s clear from even a cursory viewing that a lot of talented people worked on The Flowers of Evil. The evidence of their presence is everywhere, not least in the show’s excellent background art and music direction. Even the much-maligned decision to use rotoscoping as the basis of the show’s animation at least indicated a willingness to think outside of the box. Unfortunately, The Flowers of Evil seems entirely too content to let these talents go to waste, squandering them with a chaotic, poorly-thought-out execution that too often strays into absurdity. Sure, I know there are production reasons for having a 19-year-old actor play the middle-school-age protagonist struggling with peculiarly middle-school-age problems, but they hardly make the end result any less bizarre to watch. On top of this, the show’s core philosophical conflict, the one that you would hope would be compelling enough to justify the series’ persistently self-serious, humorless atmosphere, is delivered with the subtlety of a brick to the face. The plot delivers few real surprises, just a slow, predictable realization of the main cast’s self-destructive tendencies. Only once or twice throughout did I feel like the show truly impressed, most particularly with a nighttime classroom scene towards the midpoint that might as well have been a trailer showing off what the animation and music teams could do with their unique approach. Otherwise, The Flowers of Evil is generally a muddle that seems to want to make a point before it quite understands what that point actually is.