Tag Archives: Viz

Each time we face our fear…(Usopp’s Yellow Lantern)

5 Dec

I really love Usopp as a character. Not only he is outrageous in his antics & anxieties about the world around him, he is also the conduit for the readers understanding of how emotionally intense One Piece can be. Usopp has always been, at least for me, the most accessible character in the crew. He is unsure of himself, lying to try to prove his worth. He has had to work extremely hard to rise to the level of combat and technical skill, all while standing in the shadow of giants like Luffy and Zolo. He really idealizes the crew members and the value of family that he gets from them and their adventures. They give him, like Chopper, a sense of value and purpose in the world and I think this is great because Usopp, for most of his life, has been afraid…

And I think knowing and beginning to understand that fear is ultimately what brings him to the Yellow Lantern/Sinestro Corp. For those of you not familiar with the rich history of Green Lantern, when the Silver Age Green Lantern’s (Hal Jordan) run began, he was taken under the tutelage of the greatest Green Lantern at that time, an alien named Thaal Sinestro. Though Jordan deeply respected Sinestro, he was aghast at his totalitarian methods of keeping his sector in line; by acting as a dictator instead of a protector. Doing the right thing, Jordan informed the Corp and Sinestro was considered a Rouge member, banished to the Antimatter Universe. There, Sinestro met the Qward, who formed him a yellow ring to fight the GL’s, seeing as their only weakness was yellow materials. Sinestro became a staple of the Green Lantern mythos and soon, his own corp was formed. A sheer mirror image, both in practice and uniform alone, of the GLC, the Sinestro corp members are selected on their ability to instill fear rather than overcome it.

The reason I chose the coward of the crew to be in the corp that brings fear, is because I think to first understand what scares people and how to successfully do it, you first must understand what you are afraid of and become it. I think Usopp has had time to do just that.

From what you can see here, there is a standard uniform to those who join the Sinestro Corp, however like my other designs, I didn’t simply want to forgo what I think makes Usopp’s Sogeking outfit so great. As you can see, I changed the mask, so that instead of being mysterious, it is a tribute to the great Sinestro (Sinestro is best known for his moustache, gaining him the nickname “Frenchy”). There is also that dynamic balance between black and yellow, creating a very science fiction look. You would not be surprised to see this outfit out in space. The yellow is also nice in this design because it isn’t overstating. Too much yellow, like in some of my other designs, can be too strong; this amount of yellow gets the idea of deceit and sneakery across perfectly. In the original SC design, the characters all have these arm and leg bands that look like stacked gold rings so I decided to keep those. They add a sense of dominance, as the color is more focused and contained than just filling in his arms with yellow.

Altogether, this was my most difficult design choice to make because there were so many things I could do with this idea. I revamped the mask in some cases to make it more jestery or devilish, as well as tattering the cape and making the shoes more pointed instead of combat boots. This makes him a Corpsmen but there are a number of ways that Usopp could become a devil…

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…

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.

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.

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.

Please help me Under-STAND! A look at the Stands from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

1 Nov

I figure that since I am about to undertake a project. where I describe the musical influences that Hirohiko Araki used in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, I should explain that the concept of Stands from the popular Manga series. For those of you not familiar with the series, The manga, published by Shueisha in their magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump, started in 1987 and went on to 2002. The story follows a family called the Joestars as they battle the supernatural forces surrounding their daily lives. Each series (there are seven in total so far) focuses on a different generation of the Joestar bloodline and often have overlapping appearances. It is currently Weekly Shōnen Jump’s second longest running manga with 100 volumes and counting

A Variety of Stands

Derived from the term, “one who stands by me”, Stands are a manifestation of one’s psyche and control over our innate power. Only those with unusually strong spiritual power and determination can produce stands, as they reflect our true values, whether they be of good or evil intention. Stands, in some instances, can be developed by way of using an external tool to bring them out, (the Bow and Arrow in series Four). If a person cannot physically or willingly handle the emergence of a Stand though, they will die. Families, like the Joestar’s, that have a unique history of Stand Users often produce offspring with Stands that automatically function, without having to be awakened. There have also been instances of Stands being produced artificially by other stands (Whitesnake in Series 6 is able to take others Stands and insert them into non-User via discs).

Stands retained a Humanoid appearance at first introduction in Series 3 and mostly consisted of using elemental abilities, such as Fire, Plants and Water, as well as more simplistic abilities. The four, fifth and sixth series introduced Stands with a more mechanical and more abstract appearance often trading the humanoid appearance for either more cartoonish or object based stands. Newer abilities followed, changing from elemental, almost magical abilities, to more intricate and specific (manifesting a plane and controlling it, giving life to inanimate objects, creating Zippers on objects to open them). More limitations were put on the abilities as well. Some abilities, however, are outside of the User’s control and often restrict them from movement, speech or another function. There are also Stands capable of acting outside of the will of their User, deeming the name “Automatic” Stands. The Users of these Stands often set commands and are not aware or in control of what the Stand does when it is “out in the field”.

Jotaro and Star Platinum

For the most part, Stands apperar over and above the users, when summoned remaining visible to only other Stand Users . When those who cannot see them experience Stands, they are often described as Ghosts, ESP or some other supernatural event. Some, like Strength and Wheel of Fortune from Series 3, are bound to physical objects (ships, hair, cars) and thus can be viewed by Non-Users. Other, like the Emperor and Beach Boys, appears as visible tools (in these cases, a gun and a fishing rod.)

Stands share an incredible link with their User. Users can ‘sense’ through their Stand, hearing and seeing up to one hundred times their normal human ability. Stands are not independent beings from their users though, as they relie on them as a battery or source of power. For instance, when Jotaro is suffocated during the beginning of Series 3, his Stand begins to disappear because of loss of breath. Stands also account for their User’s body. If a Stand is injured in a fight, those injuries get carried over immediately to the User.

Music plays an large role in the naming of the characters and abilities in the series.  Throughout the first two series and most of the third, many of the main characters from the various heroes, allies to villains such as Santana, Kars, J. Geil, Oingo and Boingo have names that can be accounted for by music. By the end of Series 3, Araki began using musical terms for a couple of his final Stands alongside the character, such as Vanilla Ice having an ability known as Cream. In Series 4, the musical references were more focused on the Stands and abilities of the enemies, where there was a fine balance between good and bad Stand Users in Series 5 & 6.

What I think is most interesting about Araki’s work, especially Jojo’s, is the insertion of popular culture into his creations. It has always raised the question for me though, is Araki really being influenced by the music around him and is enough  of a creative writer to interpret & create his own creations or is his real intention to use these interesting and popular titles to popularize his works and make them, atleast at the time of publication, culturally relevant?

Let’s find out, shall we? As I examine a few dozen Stands from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure!