Review: Ender’s Game

Ender's Game Cover

My absolute favorite works have one thing in common: each has a major character that I can deeply relate to. But there are a few pieces that especially stand out; these are the works that almost tempt me to say that the author must have known me, as the protagonists bear an uncanny resemblance to me.

Such works include Calvin and Hobbes, Sherlock, Matilda, Code Geass: Leleouch of the Rebellionand, of course, Ender’s Game. For those familiar with all of these works, you can probably guess which characters I’m comparing myself to. For those who can’t, I’ll give you a hint: the titles are all named for them.

The ones who probably most resemble me are Calvin and Leleouch Lamperouge. In fact, I would go so far as to predict that Calvin will grow up to be remarkably like Leleouch. If you don’t believe me, allow me to list their similarities: both are easily bored, have very dark senses of humor, desperately wish to destroy their enemies, have ridiculously lofty ambitions, are very sensitive and compassionate, and are insanely intelligent.

I’m not going to mince words. I speak bluntly and honestly: I am one of the most intelligent, sensitive, compassionate people I know. All of the traits I have attributed to the aforementioned Calvin and Leleouch I also attribute to myself. But along with their strengths, I also admit to their weaknesses: I’m arrogant, socially inept, completely void of humility, and cruel.

I would argue that sadism and compassion are not necessarily mutually exclusive; I argue that they are two sides of the same coin. The sociopath, I suggest, and the cold-blooded killer can actually be among the most sensitive and empathetic people in the world. Ender’s Game is a novel that understands this little-spoken truth. After all- who but Ender, a cold-blooded killer- could empathize with those who no one else would- those who would have him killed?

The novel opens with the dialogue of a pair of officers discussing how they plan to manipulate Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, which is what opens every chapter. A doctor then removes Ender’s monitor, a device which allowed the Earth-defending International Fleet to experience all Ender perceived. Ender then returns to school, where it is noted by his classmates that his monitor has been removed. He is then insulted by being called a “third,” as the world is under population limitation laws that only allow every couple to have two children and Ender is a third child.

As Ender leaves school, he is stopped by a group of bullies led by a boy named Stilson. They begin pushing him around, and Ender decides to end the fight before it escalates. He convinces Stilson to fight him alone and then attacks him. Though Stilson is rendered prone, Ender decides to preemptively end all other fights they might have, so he continues to attack Stilson until he unwittingly kills him. He despairingly goes home convinced he is like his psychopathic brother Peter.

When Ender arrives home, his kind sister Valentine comforts him. Peter then arrives home, and as their parents are out he tells Ender to play Buggers and Astronauts with him. The game is a pretend battle between a human astronaut and a formic, also known as a “bugger,” which is the alien species that invaded Earth twice and resulted in the International Fleet’s formation. Peter makes Ender be the bugger, and then Peter attacks Ender and positions himself to kill him, which he threatens to do. When Valentine threatens to inform the authorities that Peter murdered Ender, Peter claims it was all a joke and laughs at his siblings for believing him. That night, he apologizes to Ender and tells him he loves him, which causes Ender to cry again.

At breakfast the next day, the Wiggin family is visited by Colonel Graff of the International Fleet, the principal of a Battle School that trains soldiers for the Fleet. He convinces Ender to come, despite his desire not to leave his parents or sister, by appealing to his desire to defend them.

While Ender and several other boys are preparing to launch and fly to Battle School, Colonel Graff isolates Ender and singles him out for hatred from the other boys by praising his intelligence and insulting the others’. The boy behind Ender, named Bernard, begins striking Ender’s head, and after realizing no one will help him Ender breaks Bernard’s arm and throws him through the air of the shuttle. After Graff splinters Bernard’s arm and puts him back in his seat, the shuttle launches and they are taken to Battle School.

Once at the school, the boys (who are known as “launchies” by the older children) are introduced to the facilities and their living quarters. They are shown a game room, where ender plays a strategy game against an older boy and wins a two-out-of-three match after losing (and learning how to play) the first game. This establishes Ender in their minds as a potential threat.

Bernard forms a gang that continues to bully Ender, to which Ender counterattacks Bernard by sending all the other boys a message that reads, “Cover your butt. Bernard is watching. – God”. After Bernard attacks Ender for this, Ender sends the boys another message that reads, “I love your butt. Let me kiss it. – Bernard”. Bernard leaves him alone after this. Ender befriends nother boy named Shen, who knows he did it, but doesn’t yet know how.

The launchies are introduced to the Battle Room, a zero-gravity chamber where the students’ main game is played. Bernard’s best friend, Alai and Ender together acquaint themselves with the basics of moving around the room and learn how to operate their laser guns. Once they do, they fire them at the other boys and freeze them. Alai soon becomes a leader for the other boys.

Ender plays a fantasy game on his tablet. In the game, he always eventually encounters a giant, who plays a game with him involving two shot glasses. The giant tells him that one is poison, and if he guesses which isn’t the giant will take him to “fairyland.” As Ender plays over and over again, he finds that the glasses are always poisoned. Eventually, he decides instead to attack the giant; he digs into its eye until he kills it. A bat tells him he can now go to fairyland, but he doesn’t; he is convinced that he is a murderer and that Peter would be proud of him.

Just after Alai tells Ender that he knows how Ender entered a fake ID for Bernard (by entering a blank space after his name), Ender is given an early promotion to become a soldier in one of the older boys’ armies. Alai gives Ender a kiss on the cheek and whispers “Salaam” to him as he leaves.

Ender goes to the barracks of Salamander, the army he was assigned to. Its leader, a boy named Bonzo Madrid, angrily calls him useless and tells him that he’ll trade him away as soon as he can. However, the army’s best shooter, a girl named Petra Arkanian, befriends Ender and takes him under her wing. Petra teaches Ender shooting, but Bonzo attempts to prevent Ender from doing so. Ender defies him by pointing out that though he can order him to not fight, he can’t keep him from practicing. This causes Bonzo to begin resenting and hating Ender.

During one battle, Ender singlehandedly saves the Salamanders from defeat against Bonzo’s orders to not draw his gun. Bonzo trades Ender off to Rat Army and hits him before he is transferred.

In Rat Army, Ender is placed in the toon of Dink Meeker, a boy who the school attempted to promote several times. He tells Ender that there is no bugger war, and the school is training them to fight on Earth for them. Ender continues practicing with the Launchies and becomes the school’s top student. During one of the Launchie practices, several boys attack them and they are able to escape; however, Ender has to tear the ear of one to do so. When Ender returns to his chambers, he is beginning to believe that no one will help him.

The book takes a brief detour to focus on Ender’s family. Valentine has not forgotten, and celebrates his birthday by building him a little fire. The Wiggins have moved into a wooded area because they have begun to notice troubling behavior in Peter. Valentine finds a skinned squirrel and immediately knows that Peter is responsible. While she confronts him about this, he asks her to help him gradually gain influence in the blogosphere under the pseudonyms “Locke” and “Demosthenes.” Valentine agrees to do so to in order to monitor and keep Peter in line.

Back at Battle School, Ender is beginning to grow depressed and disheartened- as reflected in his continued attempts at playing the fantasy game, where he is always devoured by snakes after smashing a mirror which reflects a bloody Peter with a snake in his mouth looking back at him. The Fleet commissions Valentine to write a letter of encouragement to Ender, and once he reads this he is at last able to make peace with himself- which is reflected in the game by his being reunited with Valentine and gaining the approval of a crowd of Peters.

Ender is again promoted early- this time to being the commander of the just-revived Dragon Army. He then meets Bean, a similarly brilliant young boy who immediately comes into conflict with Ender through insubordination. Ender proves to be an efficient, effective commander, and immediately begins introducing original concepts to them such as that the enemy’s gate is downward, so you should “fall” towards it.

However, Ender finds himself growing more isolated and lonely, and he finds that he has nearly lost all of his friends, including Alai. He decides to channel that anger into beating the teachers at whatever challenges they throw at him.

The teachers begin making Dragon Army perform in unusually biased games- including several battles closely together and battles beginning unusually early. Ender begins to confide in Bean and makes him a toon leader.

As Ender continues securing an unbroken string of victories, he becomes aware that other boys are wishing to kill him. After one battle, he is confronted by Bonzo and a couple of other boys in the showers. Ender convinces Bonzo to fight him naked and alone, and then in the pursuing fight Ender unwittingly kills Bonzo.

Immediately afterward, Dragon Army is called again to another battle- this time against two armies. Using a human shield-based formation, Ender is able to push his men into a swift if unorthodox victory. He then declares that he’s not going to play anymore.

In response, Colonel Graff takes Ender back to Earth for a brief vacation. While there, they bring Valentine to Ender to convince him to complete his studies. Though she has trouble doing so, she ultimately succeeds.

Rather than Battle School, Graff and Ender fly to Command School, as Ender has been graduated early. There Ender is given a tutor: Mazer Rakham, the commander who defeated the buggers in their last invasion. He tells Ender the nature of the buggers: that they all share one mind, and therefore work as one and have no forms of “conventional” communication. Mazer tells Ender that he believes that the inability for the buggers to communicate with humans is the source of their conflict. They begin training Ender to battle the buggers specifically.

The training becomes harsher and harsher, and Ender grows more and more traumatized and exhausted. Eventually Ender is given a final examination where he commands several of his former friends in a simulated attack of the bugger home world. Using a similar defensive technique to the “human shield” that won Ender his last game at Battle School, they reach the bugger home world and destroy it.

Those watching Ender’s examination cheer in celebration, and it is revealed to Ender that he was in fact commanding a real fleet as they invaded the buggers’ home world, and that he had just won the wars between them by destroying them. Ender exhaustedly sleeps for several days, during which there is fighting over him.

Peter takes control of and stabilizes the Earth while Valentine begins a colonization effort of the bugger worlds with some other humans. While Ender is governing one settlement, he goes to an area which is an exact recreation of the world of his fantasy game. As he delves deeper into it, he discovers a bugger queen pupa. The pupa communicates with him, and reveals to him that the buggers are remorseful, ashamed, and repentant for what they’ve done to mankind, as they didn’t realize that every human was an individual in their own right. The unborn queen begs Ender to find her a new home so the buggers can survive, which Ender reluctantly agrees to.

Ender becomes the “Speaker for the Dead,” who becomes a venerated religious figure. He speaks on behalf of the deceased buggers, and later for Peter, who has established peace on Earth. The novel ends with Ender and Valentine beginning their search for a new home for the queen.

My first experience with this book was having it read to me by my father. I took to it immediately; I was astounded at how much I related to Ender. I was actually six (the age Ender is at the beginning) the first time I heard it, so I’ll tell you now: I was not capable of advanced mathematics or computer coding at that age. My days of coding would instead begin at the ripe old age of seven.

I wasn’t as superhumanly brilliant as Ender was, but I was still a surpassingly brilliant young boy. I absolutely loved being told the story of another little kid who could comfortably discuss complex or abstract ideas with adults. It was essentially my introduction to science fiction literature, so needless to say I was immediately hooked. To hear of that same kid going to a cool war academy and play games with laser guns in space was an immensely satisfying experience. I’m especially grateful that the tale was written with uncommonly great skill; after all, first impressions are the most important ones, so they better damn well be the best.

This novel had a special place in my heart from the beginning. However, I found that my love for it would only grow deeper as I grew older- not only because my knowledge and capacity for comprehension of the novel’s ideas grew, but because my identification with Ender also grew.

When I was in elementary school, I was viciously bullied. I was subjected to both verbal and physical abuse by my peers. In response, I threatened to kill them- and part of me meant it. But I didn’t want to kill them for the sake of killing them; I just wanted them to stop hurting me. Just like Ender.

There aren’t enough books like Ender’s Game. This book understands that every action always has a reason behind it. Nobody wants to be evil. Too many works portray their villains as heartless monsters who are and always have been incapable of anything remotely like guilt or remorse. Ender’s Game knows the truth: if everyone truly understood each other, there would never again be malice or wickedness. This, I think, is the true nature of mankind: everyone is born good, but many (perhaps even most) get that inherent goodness pounded out of them.

But this novel also understands that no soul is truly lost; Ender commits that most unforgivable of acts: the genocide of an entire race. However, he is redeemed through his dedication of his life to the atonement of his sin. Valentine, who is even more compassionate than Ender, begins to understand lust for blood. The sociopath Peter develops empathy and begs forgiveness from his siblings. There is evil in everyone. There is good in everyone. Not enough books understand this.

The novel’s astonishing wisdom aside, it’s also ridiculously entertaining. I can think of no book that could be a better introduction to science fiction than this; the games are very fun, fascinating, and suspenseful to watch. It’s the rare author who makes a character a genius strategist- and proceeds to give them truly brilliant strategies. Orson Scott Card is one such author. The drama is excellent; the characters are extremely memorable. The writing is top-notch, as well; it’s rather minimalistic, describing only what truly needs to be described, but that’s all that’s needed. As a result, the novel is very fast-paced and tight. But most importantly, the characters are wholly three-dimensional and believable. The novel knows that Ender is a child soldier, and a great deal of it deals exclusively with the trauma he suffers as a result of it. Friendships are made and lost; much regret and sorrow befalls every character. But the characters also love. In fact, it is the love for his planet, his family, and especially his sister that drives Ender forward throughout the entire tale.

This book is thrilling, compelling, fun, nuanced, and profoundly wise all at once. It is, in my opinion, everything a book should be.

This book is, of course, a masterpiece that I adore.

My Storytelling Style

Now that I’ve started to make my work available to all of you, I thought it would be appropriate to introduce you all to how I craft my projects.

First of all, I am a storyteller by extension of being a lover of stories. Put another way, I write because I love reading. Aside from writing, I probably spend more time reading than I do doing anything else; I will literally forget to eat and lose sleep while reading. I don’t even listen to music or watch movies or shows as much as I read. I’m the sort of bookworm other bookworms would call too obsessed with books (although I’m nearly every bit as obsessed with all other media, as well).

When I read (or watch a movie, or play a game, etc.), I always expect a few things: I expect to be entertained, I expect to learn, but most of all I expect to lose myself in a stunning fictional world.

This is the main reason I read: the escapism. I don’t much care for reality; my childhood was extremely difficult and unhappy due to a number of things, including being witness to a pretty nasty divorce, having a thoroughly screwed up extended family, and being viciously bullied by other kids.

The bullying was absolutely the very worst part; I’ve always been extremely weird and socially inept (I have Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD, among other things) and completely nonconformist. As a result, I was abused physically and emotionally by other kids throughout my entire elementary school career. Since I live in Utah, a lovely little hamlet of repression and unenlightenment of the honorary Deep South, the adults did nothing, thinking it wasn’t a real problem.

The bullying deeply damaged me. Between my abuse at the hands of my peers and my authority figures’ complete lack of interference, I developed a deep hatred and mistrust of my fellow human beings that I continue to bear to this day. I completely lost any empathy for those who’d done me harm, and began desiring to inflict the same pain upon them that they’d inflicted upon me. I’m so very grateful for my mother, who understood and cared for me and was largely responsible for me not becoming something truly horrific like a serial killer or a school shooter or something like that. As a brief aside: to all those who read this, monsters are made, not born. Trust me, as someone who was well on the path to becoming one, I know.

I’m convinced now that sociopaths are perhaps the most empathetic people around; my mother (who is a brilliant psychology student) told me that everyone has empathy, but most sociopaths are so sensitive and have had such terrible experiences that they can’t bear their own emotions and simply switch them off. I can personally attest that that is probably true; I’m extremely sensitive and compassionate (especially towards animals), but after my suffering at the hands of my abusers I no longer have any of that compassion whatsoever for those I deem to be evil. I think at this point you could accurately say that I’m partially sociopathic. You know how I compare myself to Sherlock Holmes, Leleouch Lamperouge, and Light Yagami? Yeah, I’m not kidding.

I’m eternally grateful for my mother. She’s every bit as intelligent and sensitive as I am, and she was able to understand me and was instrumental in my survival in a frankly dark and rather hopeless world. She nurtured my empathy and helped steer me off the course of exacting vengeance upon those who’d wronged me. Another of the best things she did for me is she pulled me out of school and homeschooled me during my middle school years.

I’m also very grateful for my dad. It was his side of my family that is especially screwed up, and he and my mother’s divorce was because of things he’d done, so I’m not saying he’s a saint by any means. But he’s a much better person than he used to be, and I owe him eternally for one thing: if my mother saved me from my despair, my father was the gatekeeper to all that brings me joy.

The word “nostalgia” is meaningless to me. I had a horrible childhood, and I never want to have it back. However, there is one source of happy memories within that bleak time: reading, watching movies, playing games, and otherwise consuming media. The only happy times I can remember are when I watched Disney movies, played games on my Gameboy and PC, was read books to at bedtime, and all the other times I sat and listened to stories. I can only recall joy in those moments watching The Secret of NIMH, or playing Klonoa: Empire of Dreams, or when my dad read me Ender’s Game or told me epic fantasy stories he made up as he went along.

There’s nothing I love my parents for more than this. Through stories, they gave me my only moments of happiness and my only escapes from my relentless sorrow. Though both of my parents gave me both of these things, my mother provided me more of the latter while my father provided me more of the former. Of course, I can trace my love of many of my favorite works to my mother; because of her I love The Wizard of OzPride and Prejudice, and Hitch. However, though my mother introduced me to these and saved me from becoming a monster, it is my father who made me who I am.

My father was a nerd in the ’80s when geekdom was still a tiny subculture. He’s one of Star Wars’ biggest and oldest fans, he was one of the first in line to see The Fellowship of the Ring when it was first released in 2001, and he was a hardcore gamer in the golden age of arcades. He passed the flame of highest-caliber nerdiness down to me by watching Batman Begins with me, reading Harry Potter to me, and playing Medal of Honor with me. It is he who gave me my tastes and my passionate, burning love for media. Matilda is one of my favorite books because I can relate so deeply to Matilda Wormwood; like her, I was a brilliant, miserable little kid whose only escape from his dark, cynical world was the bright, optimistic world of fiction.

I cannot describe how much I love reading. It continues to be what makes me happy and what makes my life worth living. I found that I could not be satisfied with what I had, however; there were books that I wanted to read that did not exist. So naturally, the duty fell to me to make it so I could read them. This is actually why I am an author: I write the books that I want to read but currently cannot. I am simply a storyteller as an extension of being an audience.

I’ve been writing and drawing my whole life. Most of what I made at first was fan works of my favorite stories. From the moment I could hold a crayon, I drew Spider-Man over and over and over again, getting steadily better each time. I wrote very poorly-spelled stories about Batman and Pokémon and Klonoa and everything else I loved. I read my first novel (The Incredibles) in one sitting, and proceeded to do the same with every installment of the Harry Potter books. As I grew older, I began writing (somewhat) original stories by asking myself questions such as: “What would happen if a boy fell in love with an alien girl?”, “What would happen if a serial killer turned up in Idaville, and Encyclopedia was the only one who could stop him?”, and “Shouldn’t there be an amazing Santa Claus novel?” These questions have led me to write novels called UFOPact, and Santa Claus respectively, which I will at some point finish and release for all of you to read.

But my most defining experience was when I conceived my magnum opus. While I was playing on the swing-set in my front yard, I formulated the idea of a story with a few basic concepts: a girl who could transform into a mouse, a witch, an inky, warped, black figure with red eyes, a hotel room, and psychedelic rainbow-ness everywhere. The idea really intrigued me, and I thought it was really cool.

Then I completely forgot about it.

A few years later, in the summer of my eleventh year, I was reading a series of books on the paranormal called Mysteries of the Unknown in my town’s public library. My father had brought them from the library a few years earlier, and I’d adored and been fascinated by them since. This is actually perhaps my most vivid memory; I can tell you exactly where I was and which book it was. I was cross-legged in one of the corners and the book in question was Utopian Visions.

Upon finishing one of the pages I closed the book and thumped it against my knee. “Wow,” I thought. “This stuff is amazing. How the heck has someone not written a novel about it?”

I think the thing I loved most about those books (and the weird, supernatural subjects they covered) was the pure, unadulterated sense of wonder I felt reading them. It’s a bit difficult to describe what I mean, but I’ll try: play Bejeweled 3, or read A Wrinkle in Time, or listen to The Real World by Owl City. Hell, just read The Mysteries of the Unknown. You feel that? That’s the mood, the feeling, the wonder I’m talking about.

“Why hasn’t someone made a novel about this stuff?” I thought. Of course, stories about aliens, or ghosts, or vampires, or Bigfoot, or telekinesis, or fortunetelling, or bending reality had all existed already. However, most everything I’d yet seen of the subject matter (such as GhostbustersAtlantis: The Lost Empire, or the aforementioned A Wrinkle in Time) covered only a few of these things, mentioning the rest only in passing. But I had yet to see a story cover all of it at once, let alone on as grand and epic a scale as, say, Lord of the Rings.

“If someone would write a book like that,” I thought, “that would be the best book ever.”

And at that moment, the inspiration struck me. I suddenly remembered that beginning of an idea I’d had years before, and with this newfound realization the story rapidly grew. would write that book, and it would indeed be the best book ever.

At that moment I immediately ran home, pulled open a binder full of filler paper, and began writing a book I knew should be titled Rainbow. My reasoning was simple: it was the only name that suited it. Only rainbows were comparable to the wonder and beauty this book would contain. Only rainbows were as magical.

Ever since I began this project seven years ago, it has been my greatest obsession. It has remained almost entirely unchanged from those ideas I formulated on the library floor when I was eleven years old. I have dedicated my life to it; I fully intend to make it truly the Grand Masterpiece of All Literature. In my mind, all other things are subordinate to and serve it; I eat, drink, and sleep so that I can write it. I read, play games, and watch movies and shows to increase its quality. Finally, I create other works simply to support and expand upon it. Indeed, this website itself is ultimately here only for the sake of Rainbow.

About a year later, I sat down and watched an anime with my father and brother. Though I’d seen Pokémon and Digimon and Yu-Gi-Oh and Naruto, I hadn’t yet seen what anime was truly capable of.

The anime my father, brother, and I watched was Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. It was the most thoroughly mind-blowing experience I’ve ever had.

I was absolutely staggered at how overwhelmingly epic and enormous this show was. It was bright, it was colorful, it was emotional, it was existential, it was thrilling, it was exciting, it was awesome, and it was so, so damn beautiful. Ever since then, I’ve been every bit as obsessed with anime as I was with Rainbow, and very shortly thereafter I realized that I must make Rainbow an anime; believe me, when you all read it, you’ll see that anime really is the perfect medium for it. Shortly after that I decided I’d move to Japan to make it fully realized; I would make the Grand Masterpiece of All Literature shine across every medium; prose, animation, graphic literature, live performance, and simulation. Japan is the perfect place to accomplish all that.

With all that in mind, I can now explain my style of storytelling.

Firstly, I write for myself. As I said before, I write the books I want to read. I have dedicated my life to writing Rainbow because I have dedicated my life to reading Rainbow, which I will be unsatisfied with unless it’s the greatest novel of all time.

Because of this, I am determined to make every one of my works a timeless masterpiece. Once again, because those are the sorts of things I want to read.

My writing is passionate, direct, and blunt. I do not write to shock, but I also do not care if what I say shocks my audience. I aim to tell the truth, no matter how shocking it is nor how much people don’t want to hear it. Because of this I have no doubt I’ll be controversial, but I say: so be it. Nearly every great work (and man) shakes the world, and as Gandhi said: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

People say that True Art is Angsty. I disagree; I think that true art is angsty, but hopeful. My favorite works are those that plunge the audience into deep darkness, but show that there is still enormous beauty and light in the world. If you want great examples of this, watch It’s a Wonderful Life or The Wizard of Oz or Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. All of these movies are stereotypically “happy,” but if you watch them they are actually quite dark; none of them shy away from the depths of horror and despair that humans can experience. However, they don’t conclude with the message “the world sucks and we’re all screwed;” rather, they reassure us that despite the great horror and misery in the world, it’s still unbelievably beautiful and you can still be happy. I create my works with this philosophy; I attempt to make every one of my works speak a message of hope and compassion after its characters undergo great trial and tribulation to demonstrate the truth of it.

By the same token, all of my works are deconstructions/reconstructions of themselves. I believe all the best works are; for instance, Harry Potter is an unbuilt story, since it’s about a kid who goes to a magic school. However, even though it was the first story to popularize this concept, it deconstructed its own ideas before anyone else could; though the world of magic is shown to be wondrous and awesome, it’s also demonstrated to be dark and horrific. Once again, I don’t believe in darkness for darkness’ sake, but rather to make the victory of light all the more triumphant, which I believe is what will naturally happen when a story is truly great. This is one of my philosophies: a story should be self-aware and intelligent.

I am primarily a world builder. This makes sense, I think, since the primary motivation behind my love of reading is to escape to a better world. I’ve never had much tolerance for works that attempt to show the “gritty and ugly” side of life; if I wanted to experience that, I’d just go out and walk down an impoverished street. My philosophy is: there is no reason to not make everything about your work beautiful. If sewers can look gorgeous *cough* *cough* Eternal Sonata *cough* *cough*, anything can. This is actually why my art falls in a spectrum between anime-style art and fantastic realism; I find that they are the most aesthetically pleasing art styles. This is also why my favorite works are very slick and/or colorful, and I aim to make all of my own exactly the same.

Because of my love for intricate and detailed worlds, I have an especial love for doorstoppers. You are all free to call me “tree-killer;” I love doorstoppers and most of my works will probably be doorstoppers themselves.

With regards to themes, my subject is always human nature. Of course, my magnum opus tackles the biggest ones: the meaning of life and the secret of happiness, but all of my others tackle some or other aspect of the human condition. I expect to learn when I read, and by the same token I aim to teach when I write.

I believe in never talking down to my audience. As far as I’m concerned, Viewers are Geniuses. That’s not even an exaggeration; if you go to the TV Tropes page on it and read the description of a stereotypical example, it reads,

“…you go and write a series loaded with difficult quantum mechanics, quoting obscure 17th-century philosophers, with characters who are philosophical Magnificent Bastards who speak a dozen languages while conversing to each other by sending Shakespearean Zen koans hidden into chess move patterns, and packed with allusions to ancient Sumerian religion. You make sure all your Techno Babble is scientifically plausible and go to great lengths to make sure all your ancient Roman soldiers are wearing exact replicas of period equipment.

This is almost word-for-word exactly what my works are like. Seriously, when you read Dragons or Rainbow and read that quote again, I think you’ll find that they fit pretty well within that hypothetical, satirical, exaggeratedly ridiculous description. One of my greatest challenges has actually been attempting to categorize my works; I could accurately call Rainbow Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Dystopian, and Romance all at once. As for what age group it’s for, I’ll probably end up marketing it as a YA novel; after all, its protagonists are thirteen-to-sixteen-year-olds. On the other hand, it’s very violent and sexual, with torture, human trafficking, genocide, rape, war, and incest all coming into play. It also has a very healthy dose of existential cosmic horror. But on the other hand, I would have absolutely adored it when I was a kid. Then again, when I was a kid I was reading Dracula and Les Misérablesso perhaps I never represented the child demographic very well…

Nonetheless, I know children like it when a work is high quality and respects them; after all, children aren’t stupid, and they’re humans just like everyone else. Therefore I refuse to talk down to them.

Finally, concerning the sort of characters I write: I diligently attempt to represent every kind of human in my works, but when it comes to my main characters (that is, my main protagonists and main villains) you’ll probably see a disproportionate amount of Author Avatars of varying degrees of blatantness within them. If you want to know precisely how pure of Author Avatars any of my characters are, look for characters who resemble Sherlock Holmes, Sheldon Cooper, or Leleouch Lamperouge. Especially Leleouch; I would say that he’s probably closer to what I’m like than any other character in fiction. Pay special attention to magnificent bastards and tortured well-intentioned extremists; more often than not those are probably supposed to be me. It’s almost certain they are if they are albino (I have vitiligo, which basically means that someday I will be an albino) and/or bisexual (I’m not, but wish I was, since I feel I’m denied the ability to detect all human beauty, which I as an artist desperately desire. This one’s more wish fulfillment than anything). You can bet the house on it if the character in question is flamboyantly campy (again, just like Leleouch. People think I’m gay all the time because I’m really like this; I think masculinity is an idiotic ideal to aspire to). Yeah, you guys can probably see why I love Emperor Kusco and Lord Shen so much. I’m insanely vain and egotistical on every level it’s possible to be.

Here’s to my works; I hope you’ll all enjoy them as much as I am.

Almanac: The ’80s

In the novel Ready Player One (which I plan to review relatively soon) there is a character named James Halliday who compiles a collection of writings known as Anorak’s Almanac. In his almanac he rambles his thoughts on the world in general and pop culture specifically.

I relate very deeply to Halliday and share many of his eccentricities and interests, most notably our shared obsession with the 1980s. Reading about Halliday and the Almanac immediately made me want to undertake such an endeavor, and so I’ve decided to begin this subproject henceforth known as Akira’s Almanac where I can place my general musings on perhaps my two favorite subjects: philosophy and media, often intermingling the two. Without further ado, here are my thoughts on perhaps the best place to start: the ’80s.

I am incredibly, deeply obsessed with the ’80s. Despite the fact that I haven’t lived during that decade, it is my favorite historical decade, followed closely by the ’60s and the 2000s.   My reasoning is pretty simple: in my mind, the 1980s was the decade when modern media was born. Although things such as popular music, video games, speculative fiction, and anime had existed before this era, this was the time they began to be refined to excellence; though the ’70s gave us the first arcade games and home consoles, the ’80s gave us the Golden Age of Arcades and the standard-setting, trailblazing home titles such as Super Mario Bros. 3 and The Legend of Zelda. Though it’s the ’60s that gave us Star Trek and The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Dungeons and Dragons began in the ’70s and forever entrenched speculative fiction in our culture by the ’80s. The ’80s gave us perhaps the first “true” pop music with entertainers such as Michael Jackson and Madonna, and the global smash hit anime Dragon Ball was gathering steam in Japan.

I feel I as an enormous nerd owe unfathomably much to the ’80s, and not just because it’s when the foundation of modern geekdom was established; this was also the decade that established my favorite aesthetics.

To explain what I mean, think of what the ’80s was. Of course, the people I asked about it might have been donning nostalgia goggles, but from what I hear the ’80s was a huge, colorful party much like the ’20s- and had all the problems that come with huge, wild parties. At that point relations between the West and the Soviet Union were at a peak of tension not seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis, and people had very good reason to fear that the entire world would go up in a mushroom cloud. Naturally, when people are very, very frightened, they become very hedonistic, and thus we got the party today known as the ’80s. Oh sure, we had lots of fun- we had lots of loud, new music, new toys, lots of colored lights, and lots of wild hair, but along with that came a new STD, an influx of disturbingly predatory media, and a repeat of Prohibition in the form of cocaine.

I’ll discuss all that another time; right now I’ll focus on what I like about the ’80s. Again, it was the era of bright light and vibrant color. To give you an idea of precisely how important that is to me, my favorite anime is Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and my favorite electronic game is Kingdom Hearts II. You’ll notice that both of those works are absolutely brimming with vibrantly colorful lights and feature climaxes that involve the opponents throwing pure energy at each other, culminating in the antagonist barraging the protagonists with enormous amounts of it. That’s one of the biggest observations I’ve made about my aesthetic taste: the more bright and vibrantly colorful a work is, the more likely I am to like it. Of course, this sort of aesthetic principle very much took ahold in the ’80s, with works such as the Star Wars films and Tron utilizing ridiculous amounts of colored energy. I cannot thank the ’80s enough for providing me this, as you’ll see most or all of my works being this bright and colorful.

The ’80s also gave us some of our first great ventures into fantasy; we got WillowConan the Barbarian, The Dark Crystal, The Princess Bride, and Labyrinth during this decade. Though these films couldn’t quite reach the scope and grandiosity of high fantasy (my favorite sub genre), which would finally happen in the 2000s with the Lord of the Rings films, we got excelent experiences with the restrictions we had nonetheless. We were also setting the stage for such huge high fantasy works to happen; this was the time Dungeons and Dragons at last developed a huge cult following, paving the way for the best Final Fantasy games, other fantasy tabletop games such as Magic: the Gathering, and of course huge cinematic fantasy endeavors such as Game of Thrones and the aforementioned Lord of the Rings.

But there is one thing in particular that stands out about the ’80s to me. It’s the one thing that makes me think that perhaps I was born in the wrong time and should have come into my prime then rather than now. To understand why, I must discuss my magnum opus.

In my “About” page, you’ll see near the end that I mention a desire to pen the “Grand Masterpiece of All Literature.” This isn’t just a general, vague dream; I’m speaking of a specific project when I speak these words. This project I refer to is my flagship work; my magnum opus. I have fully dedicated my life to the creation and sustenance of this work; even all of my other projects are simply extensions of the ideas in it. It is literally my ultimate ambition for this work to become renowned as the pinnacle of artistic achievement and for it to fully live up to that title.

This work is titled Rainbow. In its first incarnation it is to be a science fiction/fantasy/horror/romance/dystopian/adventure novel, and I plan to eventually adapt it into a manga, anime, film, and ultimately a video game. I won’t reveal much about it for now, but what you currently need to know for the purposes of this discussion is that it’s all about the paranormal (and is therefore comparable to works such as Gravity FallsThe X-Files, and Ghostbusters) and was inspired by a series of books on the paranormal called The Mysteries of the Unknown. This series of books was released in the ’80s, and without those books I likely wouldn’t have conceived Rainbow.

And so this is why I love the ’80s so much; it has shaped and inspired my works, and it has laid the foundation for my favorite works as well as my own to shine.

Here’s to the ’80s; I owe everything to you!