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Love is a temporary madness. (Sanji’s Star Sapphire)

4 Dec

Like Nami, Franky and Brook before him, Sanji’s lantern motivation comes from one the simplest character traits about him: he loves ladies. All of them I might add, in his field of vision.

Though it is often played for comedic affect, as he gets turned down, acts goofy or has to deal with some unattractive admirers, its hard to deny that Sanji is actually quite passionate. He’s a chef who touts quite a bit of knowledge about his craft and understands, better than anyone, the importance of food. He won’t fight with his hands at risk of losing them, his passion and reason for being. He’s passionate about the crew (especially the ladies), his dreams of the All Blue and his mentor for giving him life. He is a romantic and a lover of loving love and thats why he fits into the Star Sapphire’s.

The Star Sapphire’s wear violet power rings fueled by the emotion of love, one of the two emotions, with the other being rage, that most influence their user. The corp mostly consists of women, who have been loved and spurned and the Star Sapphire power was originally used as a way to enact revenge. Now they use their overwhelming power of Love to aid people, sometimes forcing them to change their minds along the way, by encasing them in a mind-warping crystal. This was the most difficult one to work with, not because of Sanji’s normal outfit, but because of the Star Sappphire standard wears. The corp is mostly made of women and their costume takes the form of a crystal swimsuit. I’m sure Sanji looks good in a violet speedo but we’ve already got on guy in the crew doing that so…

I think if you are out looking for love, a suit is the way to go guys. You look composed, thoughtful and all together powerful in the face of any challenge. Sanji knows this; he owns the suit. So it made sense to just work with the idea of a pink suit, playing to his sensitive and understanding nature. Pink is romantic and charming. Pink conveys a playfulness about someone.

There are several levels of sophistication in this outfit, especially when the pink is paired with his grey undershirt. The two compliment each other, blending rather than clashing. I didn’t want to adorn this outfit with the rather large symbol, so like Brook’s, I worked it into the shoes, which again I am very proud of. The reason that I am focusing so much on the importance of shoes stems from my love of a recent modern noir film titled Brick. The tale is about a former drug dealer who acts a detective & begins to unravel the murder of his former lover and if you haven’t seen it, I suggest you do. The director Rian Johnson uses shoes a design element and way to “instantly snapshot the essence of the characters”, a quote which really struck me. So Sanji’s shoes represent sophistication and a sort of chivalrous heroism. They are reminiscent of a more western style of shoe; a bit of a cowboy feel to them. Perfect for rescuing damsels in distress…

Anger is never without reason (Zolo’s Red Lantern)

3 Dec

Although Roronoa Zolo’s life hasn’t been the whirlwind of tragedy that many of the other Straw Hats have had, I still firmly believe that he is the crew member that best represents rage, which is the emotion tied to red light, and here’s why: According to Wikipedia, rage is a mental state that is one extreme of the intensity spectrum of anger, which is usually induced by a threat of some sort. When a person experiences rage, it usually lasts until the threat is removed or the person under rage is incapacitated. Rage can sometimes lead to a state of mind where the individual experiencing it believes, and often is capable of doing things that may normally seem physically impossible.

Zolo is not a character purely driven by rage but more of a disdain towards his situations and interactions with people and I think this stems from a past issues that he’s yet to overcome. As many of you may recall, when Zolo was first training to become a swordsman, he befriended a young girl who pushed not only his buttons but his limitations and belief in his own ability. She became the perfect catalyst for the growth of Zolo’s potential but unfortunately, met with an untimely end, prompting Zolo to make the promise to become the worlds greatest swordsman in her honor.

This character motivator is wonderfully complex. One on hand, it gives him honest and compelling justification towards his actions, making the reader feel more connected to the character, as he becomes closer and closer to achieving his goal. It allows the character to shine when he takes this step forward but when he gets set back, well that is a horse of a different color (sorry, really wanted to use that) Zolo, despite his notable victories, has been put in his place on a number of occasions. During his first encounter with Mihawk, he is devastated at his loss and nearly perishes because of it. Similarly, he is irked by the chance meeting with Tashigi, who bears a strikingly similar image to his long gone friend. What I am getting at, is that as much as this promise drives Zolo, he has essentially haunted by it and when he lacks to the ability to achieve his goals, it drives him to madness.

The same madness that many of the Red Lanterns in the DC universe have undergone. Formed by a shamanistic, intergalactic criminal, the RLC is a group of individuals who have had enough with the atrocities of this world. They, much like the Black Lanterns, are driven purely by the wrongs that were done to them and the revenge they seek to dish out to rectify that. The big notable difference between the abilities and appearance of the RLC with another other corp, is the use of blood. Upon donning their rings, the heart of the recipient is rendered useless, and the blood is changed to a corrosive, acidic state, used only in the violent nature of attack. But, as you’ll see in my Zolo design, blood is so much more than that…

I didn’t use the standard white shirt, haramaki and black pants outfits because to be absolutely honest, I find it really boring. I was really struck by a picture of Zolo, post battle, with his outfit torn and his body covered in blood. He looked defeated, hurt and like he was quietly building his rage to counteract this wrongdoing. So I took that, reformed his outfit to a toga-esque (but with pants) outfit and went “blood-crazy” with it. It’s interesting because the outfit is so unsophisticated that it really speaks to the nature of rage; that it is a baseline human trait.

The blood is on Zolo’s hands and its a fine color. It symbolizes the life and vitality that is in Zolo, covering his whole body to further emphasize the point that he is ready to take action. Red is also sometimes used as a color to protect us from our fears, because of its very bright intensity and associations with strength, which can also be interpreted here. As serious as this design is (blood stains on a black outfit. my lord), it is very energetic in a powerful, almost scary way. I had a lot of fun designing this outfit and this might be my most original piece in the collection. I wish I was better at doing the blood stains though.

He who is greedy, is always in want (Nami’s Orange Lantern)

2 Dec

Nami is greedy.

This is an inarguable part of the One Piece series. No matter how smart, pretty or wonderful of a person she is, her quirky character trait is her inherent greed and love of money. This stems from her childhood, when she lived a poor life with her adopted mother and sister, often unhappy with the lack of funds they had for food & clothing. This is also true, not only in material greed, but in the need for survival. Nami is bossy and especially when it comes to fighting, will shout out commands to every member of the crew, even Luffy. This is because her main concern is her own survival; she can be a bit of a coward when it comes to taking on the big names of the Grand Line. Where does all this cowardice, self concern and greed get her though? Right smack dab in the Orange Lantern Corp!

Currently, the OLC consists of one member and one member alone, a creature by the name of Larfleeze (although Lex Luthor was deputized at one point.) The Orange Lantern, who sometimes goes by the name of Agent Orange, was sequestered to the outer most reaches of the Galaxy and was only re-introduced to the universe at large. He is unreasonable powerful, able to draw in the essence of the deceased and recreate them in the image of an Orange light construct. As the only member of the Corp, Larfleeze is also immensely powerful, holding up to 100X the power capacity as a normal Lantern. The one fault, the one drawback to this immense power is the insatiable hunger and wanting that comes with the wielding of the Orange Lantern. No matter what they consume, the OL’s are always hunting for something to fill them.

As for their costumes, they seem to fall into the same category as White and Black, meaning that there is no set uniform for this corp yet. When Lex Luthor became one of the corp, his trademark armor was bathed in an orange light. As such, Nami is no exception…

Keeping in the tradition of the last few posts, I didn’t change Nami’s normal attire but instead, worked around it. Lets start off with talking about the colors at play here: orange is obviously the main focus. It is vibrant and works more a base color than black or white had in the other designs we’ve seen. Orange brings an energy to the outfit, without being offensively loud or aggressive on the viewers eyes and I wanted to place that energy where it made sense, in terms of conveying greed (Orange is such a warm, inviting color that I’ve always thought it was a bit of an off choice for greed. Although I just learned that in Christianity, Orange is associated with Gluttony) I chose to put Orange on most of the ‘moveable’ areas of Nami’s person, being her joints, arms and torso, to signify the energy and activity. After all, what good is a thief without her hands and feet?

We crave your hearts and your demise *Spoilers* (Brook’s Black Lantern)

1 Dec

This entry, much like the Franky/White Lantern design, is a no-brainer, as Brook is the perfect One Piece character choice for Black Lantern. *SPOILER ALERT for those who haven’t read that far ahead into the series* Brook is essentially, when you get down to it, a zombie. Formerly part of the Rumbar Pirates, Brook ate the Yomi Yomi no Mi, giving him the power to revive himself immediately after death. The power of the fruit keeps him alive in spirit, but not entirely in body, leaving him as a pair of bones in a nice suit. His apperance, reasons to carry on the torch for his former teammates and overall power make him an ideal candidate for the Black Lantern Corp.

The Black Lantern Corp is a difficult and interesting group to talk about. The members are not willingly chosen but instead judged by their emotional ties to the living and plucked from their graves to fight in the name of Death and the end of all things. As it is described in the comics, the darkness in existence before the creation of the universe is what powers that Black Lanterns. Banished at the dawn of time by the white light of creation, its fighting back causes the white light to be fractured into the emotional spectrum (thus creating all the other corp colors). The events transpiring throughout the titles of Blackest Night are a result of the darkness, once again, fighting back against creation. The Black Lanterns have no special abilities (they have all the same normal capabilities as the other corps do) but they are driven by pure instinct and desire to destroy those around them. As for the costumes, they are similar to the White Lantern design idea: the original costume design stays but the color and logo and switched out. The appearance of the flesh is decomposing, depending on how long the Bl has been deceased.

Here is Brook’s Black Lantern Outfit:

I’m really happy with the shoes. I had no idea what to do with them and the idea hit me last minute. In fact, the whole idea behind this design was to just throw the Black Lantern’s symbol everywhere, seeing as Brook’s outfit is mostly black to begin with. The repetition of the symbol works well for this outfit; there is a constant powerful reminder of what corp he belongs to but its always compilmented and cushioned by the black. You are never overpowered with the bright white of his symbol. Also in white is Brook’s normally purple cane. I wanted to change it to white not only to fit the color scheme of this design but to reinstate in the viewer the importance of bones. Bones structure our bodies, they help keep up together and functional and Brook is a “living” representation of that.

As a side note, as awful a practice as it is, I’ve always found ivory very interesting.

To truly live again *Spoiler Alert* (Franky’s White Lantern)

1 Dec

The reason I chose the Straw Hat’s mechanic Franky as my choice for the White Lantern of this little experiment is really very straightforward. As many of you know, and spoiler alert for those who haven’t read very far in, Franky was a young shipwright’s apprentice, who spent much of his time inventing ships with a lot of firepower, under the tutelage of a shipwright named Tom. Unfortunately, Tom was associated with Gol D. Roger and the World Government came to take him to jail for his involvement with the pirate king. When Tom and his other shipwright’s retaliated, the World Government used Franky’s ships as fire power. In a rage, Franky tried to stop the W.G but ended up getting nearly killed in the process. Using his mechanical knowledge, Franky was able to rebuild his body, giving him the opportunity to live again and to right the wrongs of his past and to work towards dismantling the government that destroyed his body and his loved ones.

The White Lantern corps purpose is in a very similar vein. In the DC universe comics, the WLC, for a short while, was made up entirely of  DC characters that had died and somehow come back to life. The WLC is associated with a willingness and determination that trumps even the Green Lantern corp. There is still much mystery surrounding the White Lanterns: who is going to be the “chosen lantern”, their purpose in the scope of the entire universe and their overall abilities but I notice something interesting about the White Lanterns. When a character assumes the identity of  White Lantern, there is no set costume to go along with the corp. The symbols and colors cover what the person is already wearing. Thus, Franky’s costume was very simple and fun to make.

Pretty straightforward, like I said. Just more or less change everything (including the stars) he has on, which is not much, to white. It’s a great color for Franky; normally he’s wearing so much that he’s too loud in my opinion. Although he is a character who is loud & proud, his hawaiian shirts are just too much. White represents new beginnings, wholeness and completion, which is just perfect for Franky.

Hope is Selfless (Nico Robin’s Blue Lantern)

30 Nov

After enduring the loss of her home, her mother, the mentors who made her who she is and being on the run for twenty years, you would think that Nico Robin would’ve given up hope by now. She has been beat down, cursed at, betrayed and left to die but yet, she still gets up. She still has goals, dreams and hopes for the world. She has things to complete in life and faith that she can accomplish them. She, like many recruits of the Blue Lantern Corp, has never let her light die out.

The Blue Lantern Corp was started by two former Guardians of the Galaxy, an immortal race that is responsible for creating the Green Lantern Corp. Sick of abandoning emotion and sitting atop their high horses for so long, these two create a light so powerful that it can restore the life of a dying sun, heal wounds, neutralize the effects of other rings and create constructs that mainly target the target’s psyche. This light and corp are created to help guide the other lights & unite them, although none of this can be accomplished without the presence of a Green Lantern, as Hope is nothing with the Willpower to enact it. The Blue Lantern design is similar to a Green Lantern uniform: the main portion of the suit is black with a Y shaped blue crest covering the chest of the Corpsmen. Many of the members wear clothing or appear as figures that are normally associated with religions. For instance, Brother Warth is unmistakably the Indian God, Ganesha and Brother Hynn is dressed in Shaolin Monk robes. Even though Robin would look good in robes, I again, didn’t want to rob her of her individuality…

Once again, lets jump right into the colors there are happening. There is that presence of black, bringing out that sense of dominance and credibility but it really stays in the background in comparison to the blue. I kept the Y shape near the top of her jacket and chest to keep in accordance with the Corps common appearance but also tried to incorporate it everywhere in some way. Blue is meant to open the flow of communication, which is why I made it a point to have the bottom half of the jacket arm blue; I want to the people she is reaching out of to feel comfortable. The blue band on the hat represents broadening your perspective and trying to understand others and the rest (top, skirt, etc.) is just there is relax the viewer. Blue is meant to create an air of familarity. I added in the White (not normally a part of the costume) because I think its presence helps to clear away any other thoughts and focus on the calming effects of the blue.

All in all, and I think you are finding most of this with my redesigns, I don’t want to change who these characters are but focus on what I see in them and let that shine. I think Oda has done a great job with these characters; they are real, honest people and while they’re situations are much more extreme than ours will ever be, their feelings are so true to human life that it is uncanny. I can’t tell you how many times that this series has touched me and made me tear up, thinking about my own experiences in life. I hope it touches you in the same way.

To alleviate another’s suffering… (Tony Tony Chopper’s Indigo Tribe)

29 Nov

Quite possibly the most loved character of the series, Tony Tony Chopper has been an amazing addition to the One Piece mythos. As the crew’s Doctor, he actually has the expertise and knowledge that characters, like Usopp only brag about, yet he isn’t cocky or overly confident in his abilities. In fact, Chopper has such a caring compassionate heart (just look at his backstory!); a real need to belong, that his main concern is finding friends and being a part of the group. He pals around with Luffy & Usopp, reveres the grand, tough manliness of Sanji & Zoro and adores Nami & Robin. He is the perfect fit for a Indigo Lantern.

A little background on the Indigo tribe before we get started. They are a elusive tribe of nomadic peoples who travel the universe, instilling compassion onto those who either need it or lack it. Meaning that the tribe helps those in pain, in suffering and subsequently punishes those who do harm unto others. They have a power ring, much like the GLC but instead of creating its own light, it has the ability to channel the other emotional lights & their effects. They also wholeheartedly devote themselves to the cause, forgoing any individuality they might have had previously. This leads their Corps appearance, unlike the GLC, to be absolutely one in the same; complete with tattered indigo loin cloths, painted symbols on the arms and legs and a collar depicting the Corps symbol, leaving Chopper to be no different:

Upon writing this, I realize that I didn’t exactly follow my own rules. Chopper’s trademark hat is still present, although the color and symbol has changed to fit his new job. I’ve also added some tassels and cloth to his horns intentionally.

Either way, I am pleased with this costume. The simplistic style fits Chopper well and I am glad that he isn’t too covered up; there is a nice balance of indigo and his natural fur color. Speaking of Indigo, it is a good color for Chopper, especially with his heightened intellect. Indigo, according to color theory, symbolizes a mystical borderland of wisdom, self-mastery and spiritual realization. It allows us to step outside of our boxes and look at the world in a new way, much like how Chopper felt when he joined the crew.

In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night (Luffy D. Monkey’s Green Lantern)

28 Nov

I can’t think of a better One Piece character to start off with. Luffy D. Monkey is the hero of our title this month and the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates. Although he can be absent-minded, overly boisterous and just down right exhausting, Luffy is a man with a golden heart. He is willing to literally stick his neck out for his friends and often puts his own life on the line for the safety of not only their physical being but their hopes and dreams. He is the perfect choice for a Green Lantern and before I get into why exactly, let me tell you a bit about the Green Lantern corp itself; in terms of admittance, design, etc.

The GLC is an intergalactic police forces that patrols up to 3600 sectors of the universe, accumulating over 7200 members in the entire corp, as two lanterns are assigned to patrol each sector. Members are chosen by the ring for being able to overcome great fear, as well as for their notable responsibility and honesty. Upon recruitment, each  Lantern receives a Power Ring, a Power Battery shaped like a lantern (with which the ring is recharged), and a uniform. The default uniform design was a green section covering the torso and shoulders, black arms and legs, green boots, white gloves, green domino mask, and a chest symbol of a stylized Green Lantern icon on a white circle (Reference Picture here). Lanterns were allowed to customize their uniforms as long as the color scheme and the symbol were present .

What I present to you now, is Luffy’s Green Lantern uniform

Luffy’s costume was very easy to design, because although Luffy fits the honest and strong willful nature of a Green Lantern, I see him being very particular about what he wears. Meaning he wouldn’t be too keen on wearing a uniform like everyone else. So I didn’t want to take that individuality from him. Also, what he’s wearing originally synchs up with what a Green Lantern stands for. His vest, which is usually open, and torn shorts show that Luffy isn’t afraid of hiding anything about him; he is exposed to the world around him.

Despite the individualistic differences, this look is still very uniformal though. Black is the most dominant color, creating a sleek, powerful look, which is accented by the green at the top of his vest & hat. It’s color theory in action; the Black, a color normally associated with power, grounds & empowers Luffy while the Green, close to his heart and mind, allow him the freedom to pursue new ideas. Its a very balanced look and gives Luffy a much-needed composure, which make him perfect for fighting crime. I really like subtly, especially when it comes to symbolism, so instead of going for the big, bold Lantern smack dab on Luffy’s chest, I placed it off to the side, as well as on the left side of the pants. David Welsh or the Manga Curmudgeon said that they reminded him of pockets, which he thinks Luffy would need considering all that he eats.

All in all, as I said before, I think Luffy is the perfect candidate for a Green Lantern, especially when it comes down to the Straw Hats. It was and wasn’t a tough decision; of all the emotions to choose from, Luffy can be paired with a number of them. He is hopeful in his dream to find One Piece and form his ultimate crew. He is compassionate towards others, especially his crew; look at the Arlong Park arc, as he comforts Nami in his own way before jumping into battle. When Luffy sets his mind to something, he will stop at nothing until it’s complete. And that’s why he’s a Green Lantern.

One Piece MMF: Introduction Piece, so you know what I’m up to…

28 Nov

I’ve always been a big fan of both American and Japanese comics and as someone who tends to read books side by side, the streams start to cross for me. I’ve often dreamed of what it would be like if Fumi Yoshinaga did the X-Men shojo or what horrors Kazuo Umezu could add to movies like Alien but the most recent amalgamation came from an American event book that came out last summer, called the Blackest Night from DC Comics.

The Blackest Night, written by Geoff Johns, is a story that centers around Green Lantern; a character whose sheer willpower allows him to create solid light constructs via an alien technology. In this universe, there is the Green Lantern Corp, which consists of beings from all over who have been chosen to wield the rings and act as a sort of space police force.  It was revealed that before the beginning of this event that alongside the Green Light of Willpower, there are 7 (now 8) other lights, each represented by other colors (Red, Yellow, Blue etc.) representing emotions (yes, willpower is considered an emotion) As a result, other emotionally colored corps start emerging (the main antagonist being a light of Blackness/Death ), causing a war of light to erupt. Sounds a tad complicated but it is still an interesting system to put into place for the comic universe. You really start to categorize other characters and even your friends according to the Ring system…

All while I was reading this, I was also beginning to dig really hard into Eiichiro Oda’s epic masterwork One Piece. If you are not already reading One Piece, pick it up. There is no reason that this work should be ignored; it has touched me on so many emotional levels with its insightful story-telling. As I progressed through the series, I began to see that each character really began to represent certain aspects of human emotion. While they all act as whole dynamic people in there own right, the individual members of the Straw Hat Crew act accordingly to a specific purpose. They each have specific desires to see achieved or different problems to overcome.

With my mind currently in categorization mode, it wasn’t long before I started to place the One Piece characters into their respective corps. For those of you who follow me on Twitter (shame on you if you don’t), I’ve already posted picture of the designs for each characters corp look and feel. What I haven’t done, is explained why I think they’d be good for each corp, why I designed things the way I did and what design I liked the best in terms of feel and communication of the ideas behind the Corps.

So with:

Luffy as a Green Lantern (Will)

Zolo as a Red Lantern (Rage)

Sanji as a Star Sapphire (Love)

Usopp as a Yellow Lantern (Fear)

Nami as an Orange Lantern (Avarice)

Robin as a Blue Lantern (Hope)

Franky as a White Lantern (Life)

Chopper as an Indigo Lantern (Compassion)

Brook as a Black Lantern (Death)

…we begin our exploration into the wonderful world of emotional pirates!

Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light (Josuke Higashikata’s Crazy Diamond)

14 Nov

The Song:

Shine On You Crazy Diamond” is a nine-part Pink Floyd composition written by Roger Waters, Richard Wright, and David Gilmour. The song is a tribute to former founding band member Syd Barrett, who left the group in 1968 amidst speculations of mental illness which was exacerbated by  Barrett’s heavy drug use, although it was not originally explicitly written with him in mind. The song is a part of Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” and was spilt into two parts that bookend the album. Parts 1–5 of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” became a staple of Pink Floyd’s live performances from 1987 until 1994.

http://www.youtube.com/v/vyqgjCKm9nQ?fs=1&hl=en_US

The Stand:

Crazy Diamond is the Stand that is used by the Series Four hero, Josuke Higashikata. Just a little background on Josuke, as he is a major character. Josuke is the illegitimate son of Jospeh Joestar, hero of Series Two and grandfather to hero of Series 3, Jotaro Kujo. Joseph had an affair with Josuke’s mother and never know of Josuke’s existence until Jotaro comes across him while investigating some missing Bow and Arrow’s.

Before I get into Crazy Diamonds abilities, I just wanted to talk about the overall design of the Stand. While it’s humanoid in its appearance, which isn’t anything new, Crazy Diamond is really one of the few Stands up until this point to start use symbols in its appearance. If you look at the top of its head, shape of the shoulders, mid torso, belt and knees, there are hearts everywhere.

This Stand is capable of repairing damages and healing injuries, often reverting an item back to its original components; ie; reverting a table back into the very lumber it was before, meaning that it can theoretically regress the timeline of an object. This ability allows Crazy Diamond to perform a number of interesting non-offensive tasks, including trapping the enemy, breaking & entering with ease and tracking. However, Crazy Diamond cannot resurrect the dead, Josuke cannot heal his own wounds and if used in a foul mood, the restoration will warp and cause that item to be improperly restored.

Connections:

Lets start with the most obvious observation, the connection between the songs message and the ability at play. The song, though not originally intended to be, is more or less a message to Syd Barrett, informing him that “though times are tough right now, we know how much of a good, successful person you are. Keep at it, keep trying and please come back to us as you once were.” If you don’t believe me, check out these lyrics:

Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now there’s a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond.

Crazy Diamond’s ability is this message put to action; restoring what is broken to its former glory. Which make you wonder how much of an influence this song had over the conception of this Stand’s ability.

Conclusion:

This is a difficult one to assess. While the overall message of the song is amazingly similar to the Stand’s abilities, there are many other aspects of the song that play no part whatsoever. For example, there is quite a bit of technical and instrumental analysis of the song, seeing as this is considered a groundbreaking piece of music. Also The song, as I previously mentioned, is spilt into two parts and used to book end performances; Crazy Diamond as a Stand does not ever deal with technology or the idea of dividing or multiplying itself. It never changes form either. Thus, while the parallels are interesting, I am going to have to credit this reference purely on name alone.