Teach me how to see your vision through my eyes

Hiko had what I believe was his first encounter with snow this past week. He previously lived in Arizona, and I don’t know his history for sure, but he was only about a year and a half old when he came to me, so I think it’s a pretty good bet.

Anyway, he ran excitedly outside like he always does, made a much-truncated excited circle that did not touch the lawn, and came straight back to the door. He gave me this look like, “Hey, something weird happened out here! What’s going on?” He was (and has remained) very interested in attacking the snow on the flagstones, but he flat-out refused to walk on the snow-covered grass XD It was so freaking cute.

So this last week (and, to some extent, the previous week) at work has been insane. Tuesday in particular was appalling. We’re short a person in general at the moment, have one tech that is great and whom we love but who is still in training and therefore has a limited range of tasks she can perform, and one gal out on maternity leave. Then another tech had to take some time off due to a convergence of illness and disaster in his life. Then the trainee called in vomitous. And then another gal sprained her ankle right there at work.

This left three full-time techs, one part-time tech, and the supervisor. I can’t even begin to describe how short-handed that is at a clinic that does 20-30 surgeries every day. I could go on for paragraphs about how difficult and exhausting this was and how absolutely over the week we were before it was even halfway finished, but that’s not actually the point I’m aiming for here.

The thing is, I’ve had other jobs where understaffing and its attendant stress and misery was a regular occurrence –indeed, where understaffing was standard practice, and if you actually had enough employees working at any given moment, you were likely to get in trouble, because even desperately understaffed you were still guaranteed not to make your labor. So I am well accustomed to being understaffed; I am so familiar with this way of life, it wasn’t even a little bit of a surprise to encounter it in this job as well.

But this job is a real job where none of those others were. Despite the fact that I’m making little over minimum wage at this non-profit business, there is such a world of difference between this job and those others that I almost can’t describe it.

At those other places, when things sucked — which was most of the time — there was an atmosphere (unspoken but oppressive) of, What did you expect, working here? Do you really think you, who took this shitty job in the first place, deserve any better than these dehumanizing working conditions? It was consistently depressing and demoralizing.

But at my clinic, we pull together. We have each other’s backs. There is a perpetual atmosphere of empathy and support and the recognition both of everyone’s suffering and of everyone’s contributions. It’s, You guys are badasses, and no other team could have gotten through this craziness as well as you have. Far from making me feel somewhat ill and distinctly depressed at the thought of going to work, this solidarity has actually made me enjoy a stressful and incredibly tiring set of long, hard work days, and look forward to as an almost welcome challenge what at previous jobs has been a barrier to continued employment. This astonishes and gratifies me more than I can express.

I’m still hella tired, though. The weekend ends in about two hours, and I’m not ready XD I’m looking so forward to some time off in December.

Aight, so, in May of 1864, the battle at New Hope Church in Georgia caused the Confederate army severe losses. According to Gone With the Wind, “No one had lost faith in the invincibility of the troops but everyone had lost faith in the General.” Soon thereafter that particular general was replaced.

In World of Warcraft, at the battle of Light’s Hope Chapel, the Scourge sustains heavy losses, and many of the Lich King’s Death Knights are freed from their brainwashing and cease following him. Light’s Hope Chapel thereafter is held by the enemies of the Scourge.

I don’t really think this is anything more than an interesting coincidence — and the similarities between the two battles aren’t even striking enough that I would have noticed if not for the names of the two locations — but it is interesting, isn’t it? When I got to that bit in GWtW, I was like, Huh, that’s kinda cool…! Enough that I had to make note of it here in my journal.

Let’s finish up with some pictures of Hiko, in the bath and then afterwards when he’s all clean. Bizarrely, these are actually pictures from today and yesterday. Yeah, I still have a million pictures to post from previous years, but I should probably try to keep up with what pictures I’m taking these days too XD



Aahh, who is just the cutest little man!!!!!!

It’s OK to believe that there’s something in nothing now

So much awesome stuff to tell about.

First of all. Back when I didn’t get to sing in the program and was just listening in the audience, a family with three childs sat in front of me. There was a boy of about seven that was playing tic-tac-toe with his sister on a pad of paper until she got tired of it and refused to play any more. At this point I leaned forward to play with him. We played many games, he often cheating (possibly without realizing it), and whenever he thought I was taking too long to take my turn, he would say impatiently, “Go, person!” We did not, you see, know each other.

Eventually he got tired of tic-tac-toe, and wanted to play the connect-the-dots-to-form-squares game. He was incapable of drawing a gameboard for it, though; he would make a row of fairly neat dots and then get tired of that tedium and try to fill in the rest by jabbing the paper at random. So I drew a gameboard for that, and we played. The initial he put in the boxes he made appeared to be a J, but it was difficult to tell with his seven-year-old handwriting. Mine, of course, was an R. And at one point, as had often happened, he thought I was dawdling about my turn, and said, “Go, person!” Only this time added, “I’m guessing your name is Rapunzel.” Probably the only R name he could think of.

The next awesome stuff is the concert brother and I went to. The main group was Sixx A.M., and Apocalyptica was going to be there too, so we knew it would be pretty badass. We only showed up forty minutes before the concert was due to start, though, and got a bad spot whence I couldn’t see almost anything on stage. Brother, significantly taller than I am, was OK.

So the opener band comes on, and I can only see the drummer and occasionally a guitarist and the vocalist when they come to the corner of the stage. And they’re all Japanese guys — this is made even more clear whenever the vocalist talks to the audience with his cute accent. Not only that, but they sound JUST LIKE L’Arc~en~Ciel if L’Arc were a little bit more hard rock. Even the vocalist sounded just like Hyde would sound if he sang in a bit more of a hard rock style.

So I’m enjoying the hell out of this obvious L’Arc clone, very surprised to find such a J-pop-sounding group (harder rock or not) at this metalish concert, and thinking, This soundalike is probably the closest I’ll ever get to seeing the real L’arc~en~Ciel in person. And when they’re done performing and the stage is being set up for the next band, I pop onto Wikipedia to look them up.

You guys. IT WAS ACTUALLY FUCKING HYDE. This band, VAMPS, is a side-project of his that I guess he’s been doing for a couple of years just for fun (demonstrating, yet again, how well I pay attention to what the artists I love are up to). The music sounds like L’arc because he writes it, and he sounds like Hyde when he sings because HE FUCKING IS HYDE.

Hyde — the actual, real Hyde of L’Arc~en~Ciel — was ON STAGE IN FRONT OF ME. IN THE SAME BUILDING. I accidentally saw Hyde — the real, actual Hyde of L’Arc~en~Ciel — without having ANY IDEA I was going to do so.

I was so shaken by surprise and joy at this bizarre and unexpected and wonderful circumstance that I kinda dissolved into tears. I’m still not over this weeks later. How could something this amazing and awesome happen to me?? I mean, I really like Apocalyptica and Sixx A.M. (and the latter’s concert rendition of Accidents Can Happen was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard), but my love for L’Arc is way way way greater, and dates to a much earlier period in my life, than my love for either of them. And HYDE WAS FUCKING THERE. I don’t even. I just can’t.

But enough of that. Moving on. The next item is MY NEW LITTLE FRIEND:

This is my new dog!! Since he is a ten-pound maltipoo unlikely to get any bigger, I thought it appropriate to name him Hiko Seijuurou XIII.


Hiko-chan, who is about a year and a half old, was rescued from a neglectful (and possibly actively abusive) home in Arizona, so he has some sad little personality quirks. Potty training has been a challenge thus far, because he is very reluctant to go in front of humans. But he’s learning other things pretty well — he already knows “out of the kitchen” and “sit” — and he sleeps in his little bed at night quite well.

He has made friends, more or less, with Little Cat, and they chase each other and wrestle and it’s freaking adorable. Waybee sulked behind the couch for several days and wouldn’t even come out to eat, but she’s finally emerged and seems to have forgiven me. She sat on my lap today for the first time in a week. She’ll never be friends with Little Dog, but all she really needs to do is tolerate him.

As far as other things that have happened in my life lately… well, my latest reread of the RK manga has left me with the usual riotous, aching desire for Saitou/Sano stuff… so even though (let’s be perfectly honest here) I’ve been in a bit of a slump all year as far as writing due to a series of circumstances that were mostly my own choice, I’ve managed to get a new story almost to linear completion. It has no title yet, and I don’t know when it will actually be finished, and its focus is not directly on Saitou and Sano (in fact, in that and several other respects it very much resembles In-Law), but some work is better than less work.

That’s all I have to say for now.

Kyoto Taika Hen review (sortof)

It’s difficult to give a coherent overall impression of this movie, since it’s only telling half a story, so this is more a series of thoughts on various scenes and characters than a complete review. But at least let me start out by saying that this is a fantastic movie and I loved it. How many times have I watched it so far? Not telling. Here we go.

‘Cause I ain’t got no girlfriend; you ain’t got one either. If you got a girlfriend, baby, won’t you bring her?

This time…

This time I am really finished.

For real.

Those that have been following my journal for a few years know that, in the horrible dental program I did a while back, I completed an internship that sucked more than a little bit. Let’s quickly move away from that to last year’s vet assistant internship, which also… kinda sucked… what with the evil doctor yelling at everyone and not wanting to see interns doing things.

Well, apparently the third internship’s the charm. The site I was at for the last six weeks was AMAZING. Every member of the staff was so welcoming and friendly, so ready to help me learn and give me chances to practice, that the overall experience couldn’t have made a greater contrast to my previous intern sites if they’d deliberately set out to be every bit as awesome as the others were terrible.

I feel like I’ve come out of this internship with a good, solid understanding of working in this field and reasonable expectations about this job. I still need practice in a lot of areas, but that’s only to be expected (especially of me). In general, thanks to this internship, I feel pretty confident. And may I just reiterate how wonderful the people there were? Even those that seemed less personally friendly, didn’t appear terribly fond of me, still did their obvious best to make the experience pleasant and educational.

The office manager/head tech was very happy with my work — so happy, in fact, that on my penultimate day she took me over to the other location owned by the same doctor (which is currently hiring) to talk me up to the office manager there and have me apply. I have an interview there on Friday, so we’ll see if they want me!

If not, I shall grab some more weekly hours at EA than the five I’ve been doing during this full-time internship, try to get back to a paycheck that isn’t entirely eaten by my car payment, and continue applying at other vet clinics. But keep your fingers crossed for a good outcome at the sister clinic of my intern site. It would be soOoOo delightful and convenient if I could get a job there, since I already know some of the people in the business and, in general, how they run things.

So I am extremely happy. I have an exit interview at the school on Thursday, and then it’s possible that I won’t have to go back there more than once or twice ever again. Also? I have some free time before I land a job, during which I can catch up on many things. I don’t know how long this will be, and I should really get into the habit of not putting things off until I have such lengthy stretches of free time, but still. A to-do list:

* Sleep in a shit-ton
* HoH
* Working Interview
* Saitou and Sano
* TLY
* Draw game pictures
* Art exchange
* Do something about this half-finished picture of Heero and Duo that’s been sitting here since literally November
* Conf title picture
* Go through archive and eliminate bad stories
* Tolkien chronology
* Wagakki Band
* BioShock
* Clean downstairs bathroom
* Clean downstairs hallway
* Clean my room
* Clean out and organdize fridge(s)

Don’t want to be a richer man

Hello!! Guess who’s done with school!!

Well, “done” is a slight misnomer. Internship starts on Monday, and there’s some dumbass online class I have to do during that, which I never heard of until yesterday. But I’m done with going up to the school and sitting in class or working in lab every day.

The last eight weeks — and most particularly the last three — have been disgustingly busy and hectic, and I’ve been routinely exhausted about about ready to cry, but it’s all finally over. The funny thing is, I thought Valentine’s Day week was going to be the worst because I would have to deal with working every day after school for the incredibly busy holiday and trying to find some time in the middle of that to get my homework done… but these last two weeks have actually been worse. But guess what! It’s over!!

In recent days I have given intramuscular injections to a fractious horse, performed cystocentesis on an obese pitbull, managed not to get bitten by a large turtle reluctant to have its head held, manually retracted the opening of a cat’s abdominal cavity while the doctor rooted around inside, demonstrated to frightened classmates that the corn snake would not bite even when a hand was held steadily and invitingly in front of its mouth, and I know not what else. It’s been pretty badass.

Hoping to work with sheep and goats and camelids and such, I requested a large animal practice for my internship, but they were not able to find one for me. Because they kept looking for so long, there was a significant delay in finding me a site at all; in fact it only happened yesterday. It seems like a very nice clinic, but I guess I’ll find out for sure starting Monday morning! And I don’t know that the next six weeks won’t be just as busy and stressful as the last eight, but we can only wait and find out. At the very least, I’ll have most evenings free, which, of course, allows for writing time as long as I’m not too miserably tired to think straight XD

Speaking of writing, I’m really quite proud of myself for keeping up with Confrérie lately. I couldn’t have done it if I hadn’t been able to write during lectures at school. As such, it’s been editing time that’s been scarce, which is why the most recent few parts (and potentially this coming Sunday’s) have perhaps been a little less polished than I’d like. Fortunately, things can be edited into eternity, and I will eventually be satisfied.

During this time, I got a new phone, and it is best phone. Because I’ve been so damn busy, it took me, like, three weeks to do all the new-phone-playing that one usually gets done on the first night of owning a new phone, but I’m no less convinced, for that, that this new phone is best phone. And one of the most important things to do with a new mainstream model phone for which people actually design accessories is to GET ACCESSORIES FOR IT. So take a look at the two custom cases I ordered:


Um, try not to look at the background of those two photos, which can only lead to speculation about who’s been too busy to clean her room any time lately. Also, obviously, the cases are not on the phone since I found it an unnecessarily tricky business to take pictures of my phone with my phone camera. Anyway! I have not yet decided when/how often/under what circumstances I will switch them out. Right now the blue one’s on there.

And speaking of things I got recently that are Rurouni-Kenshin-related! See!



I’ve had my eye on this set of posters for approximately forever, but they were always going for, like, $90 for the set on ebay (and that was before shipping), and, utterly gorgeous though they are, I just wasn’t quite ready to pay that much for them. I knew I had to get at least Saitou and Sano eventually, though… but individual posters were going for as much as $30 a piece! Finally I saw the lot for $60 (including shipping this time) and decided to go for it. So far I am extremely undisappointed. Every time I look up at them, I’m gleefully undisappointed all over again. Well worth the money :D

And here’s another lovely picture I’ve taken with my lovely new phone:

This is a thing my cat has taken to doing lately: she jumps up onto the back of my computer chair and just hangs out there. Sometimes this is while I’m sitting in the chair, sometimes not. I’m not sure why she does it, but it’s adorable and she is best cat.

Oh, man. My poor brother got into an accident in my car recently. He was undamaged, but the car has been in the shop for an eon already. Then yesterday before school, my dad’s car wouldn’t start. I spent, like, $100 on taxi fares because we didn’t have time to try to figure out what was wrong with it and we both had to be places. If I’d been aware that some car rental places will actually bring a car to you rather than require you to come to their facility, I could, I think, have spent less. Well, we live and learn.

Oh, and my sister had a baby, so now she has three children for whom the books I’m writing can be intended but who may never enjoy my style of writing that has a difficult time focusing on the adventure rather than the much more interesting interpersonal drama XD

Also, cantata has started. I find, somewhat to my surprise, that I remember this one extremely well and could probably sing most if not all of it without the music. Then remains the usual problem of not having sung all year and not being able to breathe properly practically up until the very day of performance.

And speaking of my mother and her music… Recently I had a lovely dream wherein she was working with a new acquaintance on some musical matter, and this woman was about my age and extremely awesome. I was crushing harder and harder throughout the business, but feeling it was hopeless because, despite her not being a member of my mother’s church, she was yet working with my mother on matters of Christian music and the chances of her being gay and into me were not great. But when they were finished with whatever it was that they were doing, she revealed that she, in fact, returned my interest! I did worry that the kiss we then exchanged would make my mother uncomfortable, but it was still a pretty badass dream.

So I totally plan on going to England to visit Zombie Girl later this year. The only thing that prevents this plan from becoming concrete and me from looking out for airline tickets is the possibility that I’ll get hired at my intern site (or conceivably some other site) during the course of my internship. But in any case, it’s a wonderful thing to look forward to.

All right, that’s all I can think of at the moment. If there’s anything else I need to catch up on… well, it probably won’t get caught up on. We’ll see how frequently I feel like making personal-life entries during the upcoming weeks!

Day 1/8

I did it! I survived! I got through the last few incredibly hectic weeks, including one full of surgeries and one full of ten-hour shifts! (I’ll let you guess which of those was work and which was school.) Now I have a break until the eighth of January, and during that break I have EIGHT WHOLE DAYS of no school and no work. Not in a row, but WHATEVER ZOMFG. Things I intend to do on those days:

* Sleep

* Wear a different tie every day, for a total of EIGHT DIFFERENT TIES

* Sleep

* Work on stories

* Sleep

* Order new work pants

* Sleep

* Play Dragon Age II

* Sleep

There are a few other things I’d like to get done during this time, but I am not counting on any of them and won’t give a damn if they don’t happen. They are as follow:

* Start painting a picture

* Clean my room

* Get everything I need ready for school restarting

Oh, man, my poor carpal tunnels are aching after all the work I’ve done over the last couple of days. And we’ll see tomorrow how many complaints come in regarding orders for yesterday and the day before. But break! Break! After this break, I have one more eight-week set of classes (including equine), then another internship, and then I will be done with school *___*

Today, of course, is Christmas — happy Christmas to anyone that cares about Christmas!! — and what better way to celebrate Christmas than to eat a bunch of food I’m allergic to and work on HoH stories?? I really don’t know of one. So off I go!

P.S. I don’t know which tie I’ll be wearing today, because I’m not dressed yet. Because break and I only got up, like, an hour ago :D

EDIT:

Only one day left until I turn 33

In a few hours we will drive away to go to Santa Fe! Have I mentioned how FREAKING EXCITED I am about this?? And because I will be away for my entire birthday, I have decided to post things I’m posting today rather than tomorrow.

I had that trying-to-shave-the-backs-of-my-thighs experience again yesterday, since I anticipate a swimming pool in New Mexico this evening. The shaving process was easier this time, but we’ll see if any swimming actually happens. If not, the tags will probably remain on my swimwear until next summer XD

So the other day there was a final exam, and after we’d taken it a classmate of mine commented, “I had the hardest time remembering the lay term for canine parturition… I kept thinking ‘bitching,’ but I knew that wasn’t right.” This tickled the hell out of me, and from now on I will consider that any dog having puppies is “bitching.”

On the same day, at work, a fun thing happened. Someone ordered two dozen chocolate strawberry roses, but requested that we not deliver them until she brought in some stuff that she wanted delivered along with the order. And what she brought in turned out to be a FOUR-FOOT-TALL TEDDY BEAR on which she’d put a backpack stuffed with candy. There were also about a million balloons, one of which was, like, three feet in diameter.

Excess often amuses me hugely, and I was filled with giggles in relation to all of this. I was also very pleased with the vibe I was getting that this extravagant offering was a sign of lesbian affection. Unfortunately, though, the purchaser evaded my subtle questions along those lines. It was still pretty awesome, though; the driver reported that the recipient was almost in shock when he appeared with all this crap.

I was thinking of reporting on my concert experience, but my feelings are so mixed I don’t know if I can do them justice. Seeing Three Days Grace three days before my thirty-third birthday was not only awesome but also terribly numerically appropriate… but I was not aware until I was actually at the concert that Adam Gontier has left the band. (Yes, I am very bad at paying attention to things.) This is literally enough to make me cry, but I don’t want to undervalue the concert experience even without him. So I think I will say no more on that topic. Still, there’s this:

SO EXCITED

THREE DAYS ’til my birthday, pipols! Wot about three days! WOT ABOUT THREE DAYS GRACE.

I am seriously excited right now. Tonight brother is picking me up from work and we’re heading straight to A THREE DAYS GRACE CONCERT. We’re going to be out way late and I’m sure to be dreadfully exhausted by the time we get home, but THREE DAYS GRACE. THREE DAYS GRACE THREE DAYS ‘TIL MY BIRTHDAY. Finally I will see my favorite band in person! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

And then tomorrow there are two football games, and on Sunday we go to Santa Fe!!!!!!

I am at work right now, counting down the minutes until I get to leave. What a useless work day this will be XD

Actually I’ve been super excited all week, and on Monday and Tuesday I kept thinking it was Thursday. So many amazing things will happen! What an awesome weekend!

OK, a couple of dreams and then I guess I’ll make an arrangement. First, I and Regina were joining Emma going to Neverland to rescue Henry. There was sexual tension among the three of us, but at the same time I didn’t fully trust Regina.

When we got there, the Henry-related story seemed to have been forgotten. Also, Neverland was also kinda forgotten. The place we’d reached was a rustic settlement (well, rustic except for the cathedral) whose people immediately accepted Emma as the prophesied pope figure they’d been waiting for. Go figure.

Emma didn’t have any magical powers in this dream, but Regina, of course, did, and so did I. So Regina and I kept using magic to make it look like Emma had magic to impress the peoples. It was frustrating to all three of us, because Regina and I were doing a lot of work without getting any credit, and the adoring public wouldn’t leave Emma alone for three minutes.

Then at one point Emma was going to go off somewhere to do something, and she reached into a box to grab a thing she needed to take with her. But she pulled her hand back covered in blood from a sudden long, deep cut. With the type of badass special effects you get in dreams, I started lifting the blood away and stitching up the wound telekinetically. I gathered the blood into a ball much like Upfish’s beloved blood-ball except that the containing outer layer was squishy instead of glass. Like a completely transparent water balloon filled with blood.

I turned to Regina and said, “Did you want some of Emma’s blood?” She said she didn’t, and I pressed, “Are you sure? Because that seems like something you would want.” But she still said no. This was a sign of the mistrust I still felt toward her, since apparently having some of Emma’s blood would make it easier for Regina to double-cross Emma later, but it also apparently partook of the sexual tension.

We noticed that the object Emma had supposedly cut herself on didn’t seem like it would have created the type of cut she had. So we dug around in the box and discovered a much sharper and more dangerous item that we agreed had definitely been planted there; someone was out to get Emma.

At the same time, though, I also observed that she had lost a lot of blood and wasn’t reacting at all as if she had. This occasioned a flash of knowledge offered to my dreaming self that Emma had, in fact, been replaced by a robot by some enemy or other. But I never found out why, because that was the end of the dream.

In another dream, I was somewhere when I saw a little dog (I think it was a lhasa) run away from its person. I got into my little car (I think it was a Kia) and gave chase, and came upon a flowery mountain glen where the little dog played happily with three or four other dogs. I called the owner and told her where to come to retrieve her dog.

When she arrived, she and I started walking across the meadow toward the dogs, discussing runaway dogs and other related topics. Halfway across, though, we came upon another lady having her picture painted, and my companion realized she knew this lady.

“I almost didn’t recognize you!” said the dog owner. “I haven’t seen you since you had your sex reassignment surgery!”

There was a happy but brief reunion of these two friends before the painter of the portrait got annoyed at our interruption of her work and shooed us away. I wanted to congratulate the lady on having gotten sex reassignment surgery, but not only was I not supposed to talk to her while she was having her picture painted, I didn’t know whether or not it would be awkward when I wasn’t actually acquainted with her at all.

So those were my dreams.

Relatively complete 2012 Rurouni Kenshin review-type-thing

Guys.

You guys.

I don’t know what. There are no words.

The 2012 Rurouni Kenshin movie is FUCKING FANTASTIC.

I really was planning on watching it two or three times before I wrote down my thoughts about it, but not only have my parents usurped the TV at the moment, I just can’t wait to talk about this. I’m going to have to go through it from beginning to end (not necessarily in that order), so this might get a little long.

If you don’t want to be spoiled, you can just stop reading after the following assurance: this is a wonderful adaptation and a wonderful movie. This was worth waiting twelve years for. FUCKING WATCH IT. Obviously it’s not as good as the manga, because there’s rarely any such thing as an adaptation as good as the original, but it’s still SO FUCKING GOOD. So here we go.

First off, Saitou. OH MY FUCKING GOD FUCKING SAITOU. He was the first character we saw and the first in my heart as ever. Perfect casting choice; I have never been so happy in my life as at the sight of his smug face and his twitchy expressive mouth and his amazing cheekbones. I loved the realistically silly-looking hairstyle that replaced the stylized canonical silly-looking hairstyle (not without the occasional bangs falling down across his eyes *SQUEE*).

Seriously. I am not attracted to many (read: just about any) actual human (i.e. not solely written-about/drawn) men, but this sexy, wonderful Saitou is an unqualified exception to that. Not that I wouldn’t still step aside and let Sano have him in a heartbeat. But more on Sano and his incredibly obviously love for Saitou afterwhile.

Kenshin: also perfect. Characterized as a tad less goofy and a bit more distant than we’re used to, which I thought was a good idea for this shortened story. His gentle smile and tranquility came across extremely well, but so did his tortured determination in his murderous flashbacks… and his deadly anger when Jin’e crossed a line. The only thing I didn’t like about him was that he kinda… lurched… at times. Like a zombie. It was weird.

Kaoru: visually, I adored her. Wonderful girl-next-door look, and I should also mention that I loved the dojo scenery too. It felt a lot more intimate than the somewhat sprawling canonical design (not that I don’t love the original design, of course), and therefore felt more like it could easily be Kaoru’s entire world. And it was great that she was obviously an important part of a small, tight community.

Kaoru’s best canonical moments, I’ve always thought, are the times when her strength and determination lead her to be a total badass; unfortunately, the best of these moments are all in the second and third parts of the story, and that is sadly reflected in this movie. The thing I’ve always liked least about Kaoru in canon is that, between those badass moments, she vacillates between boring and obnoxious, in neither state with all that many defining characteristics. Here the exaggeratedly angry side of her that leads to casual abuse of those around her with a bokutou has been removed, much to my relief, but unfortunately it hasn’t really been replaced with anything to show what a strong person she is.

This was probably because of time constraints; if she’d kicked as much ass as she should have been able to, those dudes would have been forced to come back several times and lengthen the movie pointlessly. There wasn’t an opportunity to display her skills as a teacher, either; that was just implied. And her damsel in distress shtick was necessary for the story currently being told. It was sad, though. Of course she still had her awesome moment during the fight with Jin’e, but I thought the impact of that (and therefore the conveyance of Kaoru’s strength) was lessened for a few different reasons.

One was that I didn’t think there was time in this truncated version of the story for the devotion between Kenshin and Kaoru to develop as well as it did when we had a volume and a half between their first meeting and the Jin’e scene. It wasn’t necessarily unbelievable, since the movie let us know that there was a certain amount of relatively peaceful domesticity going on that we didn’t have time to watch; but just a little more onscreen development of the relationship between Kenshin and Kaoru would have been nice.

Don’t think I didn’t squeal like a squealing thing at Kenshin’s “Tadaima” at the end, though.

Which brings me to Jin’e. Holy Poe, I loved how crazy he was. I missed that obnoxious laugh of his from before, but I’m not going to complain about that when he got all metaphysical about Battousai’s sword and then started calling himself Battousai while killing people in droves with that same sword. It made the false-Battousai business even creepier and more meaningful than Gohei ever could. Not that I don’t love me some Gohei.

Unfortunately, I thought the Shin no Ippou wasn’t quite well enough established. I mean, I was glad Jin’e didn’t go around using it all over the place, because it was a much more subtle ultimate technique that way… but part of the reason it was so moving and impressive that Kaoru was able to break out of it in canon was that we’d previously seen Kenshin break out of it with some effort and Sano break out of it after a longer period with more effort. In the movie I didn’t think it was made quite clear enough how difficult a technique this is to escape from to drive home just how much it meant that Kaoru was able to do it.

Anyway. Sano. Looked and sounded amazing, and I appreciated the hell out of the reasonably-sized zanbatou. I also loved how, a la canon, he basically just showed up and inserted himself into the Kenshingumi almost completely uninvited. However, and I say this with greater pain than you can imagine, he was also completely pointless in this movie.

Seriously. Aside from the beautiful intensity of his romance with Saitou, Sano contributed literally nothing to the story. Obviously Sano is not a character that could have been omitted, and I have to admit that I wouldn’t have traded that kitchen scene for anything in the world except possibly some more Saitou romance, but the harsh truth is that Sano might as well not have been in this movie at all.

Kanryuu. Oh, he was so deliciously horrible. The underbite! The super unsavory slack-jawed smoking! The sliminess and heartlessness juxtaposed with the somewhat goofy music! The visible lust he displayed toward the Gatling gun (which was a beautiful piece of equipment, by the way)! The random rabbit that I would have sworn was stuffed until it moved! Perfect, perfect! And I loved that he had a quartet of minions all clearly trying to emulate his manners and appearance, and in the end emulating all his personal failings as well.

This, however, brings me to the topic of Kanryuu’s employees and some points about the story. Overall, I thought this was an incredibly good way to adapt the best parts of the collection of short stories that is the first “arc” into a cohesive narrative. We end with a good idea of who nearly everyone is, the Kenshingumi together as an informal family, Saitou and Sano obviously eyeing each other if not actively making out behind the scenes, and a good opening for a sequel or two. But…

But…

Aaaahhhh, my poor Oniwabanshuu!! My poor darling Aoshi! Obviously if Sano, Kenshin’s best friend, Saitou’s boyfriend, and the secondary male lead of the entire series was entirely superfluous to the story, there was absolutely no way Aoshi could have been shoehorned in without having a negative impact on the overall flow and shortening even further the much-needed time allotted to other characters and events for important development. But, oh, Aoshi! How I longed to see your angsty dramatic live-action glory!

It’s sad to admit, but, much as I adore him and the complexity he adds, Aoshi isn’t really necessary even once we get to Kyoto. And having cut him from this part of the movieverse, I don’t know how much hope there is for his presence in a sequel. So no absurd trench-coat, no endless repetition of names, no moon-logic, no eventual erotic tension with Kenshin. Aoshi, I weep for you. And I don’t know what we’ll do with Soujirou without you.

The biggest problem with the lack of Oniwabanshuu, though, is the Gatling gun scene. It wasn’t a bad scene (FUCKING SAITOU OH MY FUCKING SAITOU IT WAS NOT A BAD SCENE), but the extreme emotional impact of the original tragedy was, of course, entirely removed without the Oniwabanshuu there. I do have to say, though, that Kenshin’s coldly scornful line about money while he has the cowardly Kanryuu at sword-point was extremely satisfying. Still I missed Aoshi and his pain.

That being said, I think Gein and Banjin were excellent choices to replace the Oniwabanshuu for Kenshin and Sano to square off against in the mansion. Their having worked for Kanryuu won’t prevent them from working for Enishi in the future, and might even raise the level of drama as they seek out rematches against those that once defeated them as part of the grand plan of revenge.

At least, Gein and Banjin would have been excellent choices if Sano hadn’t been pointless and Gein hadn’t been… WTF was going on with Gein. Why was he a young pretty blonde boy? Why did he have such terrible aim? That weirded me the hell out. It was a great-looking fight, but the character fell short of his canonical awesomeness.

Meanwhile, Sano and Banjin had hilarious enmity/camaraderie in the kitchen and I laughed like a banshee. You can be sure Sano told Saitou all about that later in bed, and Saitou called him an idiot and then kissed him.

Like Sano, Yahiko was pointless… and oddly filthy throughout most of the movie. He was fine as a side-character, though, and the way he introduced himself to Kenshin was just so freaking cute I wanted to hug him.

I’ve saved Megumi for last, as far as character discussion goes, because HOLY FUCK she was so amazing. Show-stoppingly amazing. The actor’s performance was flawless, she was visually and aurally perfect, and some of her scenes just left me breathless.

The poison scene in the dojo was absolutely brilliant — watching her waffle over whether or not to reveal her abilities… put two and two together and realize what must have happened, then verify it by tasting the water herself… then TAKE CHARGE LIKE A BADASS MOFO when even the very competent Kenshin was frozen in shock and indecision left me rigid with tension and tears and delight.

And the brief flashback to her time making opium, with that glance she threw to the addicts in the corner, was heartrending, especially when we returned to the current moment and saw her further anguish. Oh, Megumi. Also, smoking? Because she needed to be even hotter, right? Just… wow.

In the light of all this, it’s even sadder that Kaoru kinda got the short end of the characterization stick. I’m glad they didn’t really hint at Megumi being in love with Kenshin, because I’m afraid that, in this context, that pairing would have come across as a lot more interesting and likely than Kenshin and Kaoru. Not that I object to Kenshin and Megumi being together; but it would be kinda sad for the story to appear to be leading toward a couple that will never actually end up together.

Oohhhh, speaking of couples. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVED the flashback to Kiyosata and Tomoe. The thing I particularly adored was that we never saw Tomoe’s face, and I’m pretty sure Kenshin didn’t either. That means we can see him meeting her later and it’ll be perfectly logical that he doesn’t recognize her and can be drawn into his interaction with her without ever realizing who she is.

And it was great to use her as a symbol of his regret for the killing he’d done before viewers that don’t know the story are even aware of who she is and her even greater impact on him later. Also? The significance of Kiyosata’s undying determination in relation to the lasting scar. Holy crap, what a great scene.

Another great scene was every moment that had Saitou in it. I wonder if we’ll get a more drawn-out fight between Kenshin and Saitou in a sequel; as it was, I loved that Saitou took advantage, as practically no one else ever has, of the fact that Kenshin’s sword does have a sharp edge and this can be inconvenient to its wielder at times. And Saitou’s scorn toward Kenshin’s way of life was palpable. I didn’t entirely understand their conversation at the very end of the movie, but the clear sense of “We’re not done” was just delicious.

I was holding my breath waiting for him to mention Aku Soku Zan at Kanryuu after his one brief, beautiful gatotsu and complete disinterest in safely avoiding the direct route to the Gatling gun. Well, honestly, I was hoping he would kill the bastard, but no such luck on either count. Doesn’t matter; he’d just touched Sano.

A couple more general notes before I wander off to contemplate movieverse Saitou & Sano fic: music. It’s difficult to be more awesome than Asakura Noriyuki (and if you’d asked me, before, who could do it, I would have said only Iwasaki Taku), but this composer provided a run for whatever money one might have fronted. Fan-fucking-tastic score, very much in the spirit of the series (by which I mean a somewhat traditional Japanese sound combined with totally badass anachronistic electric guitar).

Occasionally I thought the use of the music was a bit heavy-handed… but not only is that absolutely typical after how the anime’s amazing soundtracks were shoved somewhat annoyingly into our ears, it also seems fairly typical of Japanese preferences in general (from what I’ve seen), so I got right over it and will soon own the soundtrack.

Filming, costuming, sets, and pacing were all perfect. I felt drawn into every scene, and there was a wonderful sense of the setting and the time period about everything — most especially the dizzying change that was taking place in Japan just then, the contrast between old and new, the clash of ideals, the struggle for survival in a rapidly-evolving world.

And that might be all I have to say about this movie. For now. It’s about my bedtime, but I may very well watch this immediately again after school tomorrow, and at that point I may very well have more to say. For the moment… I am just giddily, ridiculously, exhaustively happy.