Tag Archives: mythology

Susanne Eisele: Kein Schnee im Hexenhaus

As part of the Fairy Tale Summer/Märchensommer you get my review for Kein Schnee im Hexenhaus (No Snow in the Witch House) by Susanne Eisele.

What is it about?

3 of 5 stars


Hansjörg and Margarete are lost in the woods. Eventually they get picked up by the police, but everything goes downhill from there. Due to their repeated drug abuse their parents send them to a reformatory in the middle of nowhere. There they meet a real witch, monsters and poisonous plants.
But at least they are together and this way it’ll be easier for them to escape; or so they think…
Hänsel & Gretel are facing their drug problems in this adaptation by the Märchenspinnerei.

The reading experience

For this one I as well wrote down some thoughts in the Reading Group on Facebook (Magical Book Reading) and also kept track of them on Goodreads, so most things might sound familiar.
The story is told in different chapters that start with low page beginnings and in a mixture of outside-look and Hansi’s/Gretel’s-perspective. Towards the end there is a great perspective change to a different character, that I truly enjoyed as it felt much more mature and coherent than anything the youths‘ brains could come up with…
Even if it starts off and ends with the typical Fairy Tale quotes the narration itself feels like a report of what happened. At first the chapter beginnings irritated me a bit, but I’ve gotten used to it. The perspective change was strange too, but what bugged me most, was the combination of teeny-slang-speech with high, sometimes even seemingly contrived language.
Knowing the original Fairy Tale Hansi’s paranoia took me in and I just wanted to continue reading to see, if my brain send me the correct images for the hog roast and what that implied, but at some point it turned into frustration on my part, because of the youths‘ behaviour and I was curious whether Hansi’s and Gretel’s behaviour would change in the end. At the same time I was also kind of waiting for a big twist. Was it all really happening or just a figment of their drug-abused brains? Never saw THAT ending coming though…
I was impressed by the way the drug-therapy was incorporated into the story and turned into something I would indeed expect from a witch and I’m sure it would be something a lot of therapists could benefit from, if it were real. There was also a very funny comparison of a crystal ball and a webcam. This and the end-twist to the original were some of my favourite things.

The characters

It’s not strange for me to have troubles liking main characters, but when they are stupid teenagers like Hansi and Gretel, they make it so much easier for me not to. It’s not a reason for me to put the book aside if the story is worth it, and that it absolutely was. On the one hand can you see how damaged Hansi and Gretel are, on the other hand do they seem as superficial as the side characters. In a few scenes a bit more about them is explored and you also see how horribly co-dependent the two of them are, but that’s about it. They are far away from being „perfect“ main characters, unfortunately did that not change their annoying-ness.
The characters I liked most, though, were Frau Hag (Mrs. Hag) – the witch and director of the reformatory and her assistant Bodo, even if the latter didn’t get that much screen time. 🙁 Unfortunately I can’t tell you why again without spoilers, but that’s just more reason for you to read it and form your own opinion. 😉
What I liked though were the names as someone really had fun with naming troublesome children: Hansjörg, Kevin, Serena…they already paint a fitting picture. 😀
But the other names were chosen just as well:
Frau Hag, the witch; Waldmann (Forestman) for the Woodchopper-family; Krude (crude) the slimy social worker and the fairies Tinky (Tinkerbell) and Ali (Galadriel), even the Bodo, that I associate with a wiener dog. 😀

General Opinion

An alternate version I enjoyed to venture into. An interesting take on the original stuff, with many great ideas (Bodo, the detox, the roles of witch and children), that portrays many important topics (e.g. drug abuse, co-dependence of siblings). Unfortunately did I not like the linguistic realization in some passages and the characters stayed pretty superficial…
It still was fun to follow the events and be carried by the paranoia. 🙂
And there were too few moments with Bodo. 😉

Stuff I’d like to add

As a reminder: As part of the challenge you can collect points by reviewing Fairy Tales yourself. 😉
Next Tuesday you’ll get an interview with Susanne about the book and some other Fairy Tale related stuff. So stay tuned!
PoiSonPaiNter
© For the cover belongs to its rightful owner.

Tina Skupin: Hollerbrunn

Lies auf Deutsch

As part of the Fairy Tale Summer you get my review for Hollerbrunn by Tina Skupin.

What is it about?

4 of 5 stars

Everything changes for Marie after her mothers death, especially when her father brings home her stepmother Desiree and her stepsister Pegg. When she has to take part in an internship everything goes topsy-turvy, as she isn’t allowed to take care of her mother’s restaurant as she had hoped, and Desiree doesn’t yet have a clue how to handle things. Instead she has to help out Frau Hollerbrunn (Ms. Hollerbrunn) at the Hollerhof (Hollergrange) and soon learns that not everything there is at it seems…

Frau Holle meets Alpine legends (with a hint of The Snow/Ice Queen) by the Märchenspinnerei.

The reading experience

For this one I as well wrote down some thoughts in the Reading Group on Facebook (Magical Book Reading) and also kept track of them on Goodreads, so most things might sound familiar.

As I told you before was this the adaptation I feared the most, because the premise is too familiar. When Tina and other readers assured me that the “mean” parts were well executed or rather in the first chapter that calmed me down a little. As I soon discovered myself it really isn’t as bad as I had feared; the description in the Axolotlking was worse…Here the focus is on the description of the loss not on what really happened and that made it easier for me.

Reading the blurb of the book I was confused at the description that it used „a hint of Ice Queen“, but it soon turned out that this Ice Queen is more like the Snow Queen than the Disney-version that I kept thinking about.
The story itself is parted into different chapters that are fittingly titled after characters, places and a few other things that play a major role in the chapter. It prepares you a little of what’s to come, but at the same time doesn’t give away too much. Some titles are also references to the original Fairy Tale, which is a nice nod in that direction. Towards the middle there is a really incredible perspective change that makes the story just a little more interesting.

Other than that did I directly dive into the Hollertal (Hollervalley). I can easily see the place before my inner eye. From bureaucratic nonsense to the general interactions, all of it felt natural and realistic. I was taken in by the descriptions pretty fast and later didn’t want to put the book down as it was nearing its end. It had some quite surprising and exciting twists and portrayed certain dangers quite well. I was quite excited while reading some parts of it, even if some stuff was – and still is – quite confusing regarding the backstory of certain characters. Unfortunately including that would have been too much for the story. 🙁

The characters

I never thought I’d find a version of Frau Holle where I prefer the Pechmarie (Pitchy Marie) over the Goldmarie (Golden Marie). I’m not even sure why… It feels like I should feel more connected to the golden one, as we’ve suffered a similar loss, but I guess I’m too annoyed by her, but that could just be me not liking main-characters again. Marie seems a little too well loved by everyone, even if she’s certainly not a perfect character, as she definitely has her flaws. Two of her more prominent ones include rose-coloured glasses and a tendency to just accept other peoples opinion/orders without questioning them. And I guess I’m also a little frustrated that she’s still stuck in her grief after six months and doesn’t want to get out of her safety bubble. Sure such a loss is horrible, but not continuing is something I don’t think anyone passing away would really want for their bereaved… Still, in the end it fit for the character, even if I wouldn’t like her as a person.

Besides: The other one is snarkier and I like snark… Pegg is… Pegg is awesome, even if I felt bad for her at times. Sure she’s rough and says what she thinks, which is not always nice, but in the end was she way more useful than lovey-dovey Marie and actually gets things done. She’s a great contrast to her half-sister (and yes there is a great explanation for that Frau Holle-reference!). The way she’s treated is horrible, but unfortunately also very realistic, both in a working and a living environment. To have her as strong as she is regardless of that turns her into an incredible character. She’s like the tragic anti-hero that doesn’t want you to root for them, but in the end you’ll do it anyway…

Though even if I liked one sister more than the other, as she got on my nerves quite a bit in parts, that balanced itself out quite well.

Desiree is the typical stepmother with too high standards that wants too much in too little time and Marie’s and Pegg’s father is not really helping the whole family matter…he’s pretty frustrating too…

The other inhabitants of the valley are barely mentioned/seen so there is not much I can say about them, other than that they sure are great with prejudices. The Librarian being one of the more fascinating background characters.

Florian and the other employees of the Hollerhof (Waldemar, Ronan, Gustl and Gerda) are bit windy (pun intended 😉 ) and therefore have quite some mood swings, but the concept behind them is pretty cool and they make for some very funny scenes and play an incredible role in the finale.

Frau Hollerbrunn is a whole different story by herself and like Grischa from A Cloak as Red would describing her give too much away. Let’s just say: There is a lot more to her than „just“ being Frau Holle. 😉

General Opinion

I like the combination of Frau Holle with the idea of the Snow/Ice Queen and some Alpine legends, it just worked very well together. Also great were the twists on the original tales elements like the he whole baking and picking apples part (two of my favourite scenes), and the stepmother. There were also a lot of magical rituals at play throughout the story and it’s a pity that the different magical backgrounds (of characters and rituals) were only scratched on the surface. Though, more attention to them – and the backstory of certain characters – would have been beyond the scope of the story. I know, I’d really enjoy reading another book just about that. 😀

The story also sets good examples of what jealous and prejudiced people are capable of doing and how other people have to pay for it. I enjoyed the character development and I especially enjoyed the finale – and the epilogue that had a pretty cool scene that made me like a certain character just a little more. 😉

All in all: A beautiful story about two sisters that overcome their differences in an incredible adventure after a blow of fate.

Stuff I’d like to add

Today the new book of the Märchenspinnerei is released: Brighblack Ravenmoon

As a reminder: As part of the challenge you can collect points by reviewing Fairy Tales yourself. 😉

On Saturday you’ll get an interview with Tina about the book and some other Fairy Tale related stuff. So stay tuned!

PoiSonPaiNter

© For the cover belongs to its rightful owner.
____________________________
Read in English

Im Rahmen des Märchensommer erhaltet ihr meine Rezension für Hollerbrunn von Tina Skupin

Worum geht’s?

4 of 5 stars

Nach dem Tod ihrer Mutter ändert sich alles für Marie, besonders nachdem ihr Vater ihre Stiefmutter Desiree und ihre Stiefschwester Pegg nach Hause bringt. Als sie dann auch noch Praktikum machen muss, geht alles schief. Denn anders als gehofft, darf sie sich nicht um das Restaurant ihrer Mutter kümmern von dem Desiree noch keine Ahnung hat, wie die Dinge dort laufen. Stattdessen muss sie Frau Hollerbrunn auf dem Hollerhof  aushelfen und erfährt bald, dass nicht alles dort so ist, wie es scheint …

Frau Holle trifft auf Alpenlegenden (mit einem Hauch von Die Schnee-/Eiskönigin) der Märchenspinnerei.

Das Leseerlebnis

Auch hier habe ich einige Gedanken in der Lesegruppe auf Facebook (Märchenhafte Leserunden) aufgeschrieben und auch auf Goodreads festgehalten, so dass die meisten Dinge vielleicht bekannt klingen.

Wie ich bereits schrieb, war dies die Adaption, die ich am meisten fürchtete, weil die Prämisse zu vertraut ist. Nachdem Tina und andere Leser mir versicherten, dass die „gemeinen“ Stellen gut verarbeitete waren bzw. im ersten Kapitel, beruhigte mich das ein wenig. Als ich bald selbst feststelte, war es nicht so schlimm, wie befürchtet; die Beschreibung im Axolotlkönig war schlimmer…. Hier liegt der Fokus auf der Beschreibung des Verlustes, nicht darauf, was wirklich passiert ist, und das machte es mir leichter.

Beim Lesen des Klappentextes war ich verwirrt über die Beschreibung, dass es „einen Hauch von Eiskönigin“ verwendet wurde, aber es stellte sich bald heraus, dass diese Eiskönigin eher der Schneekönigin gleicht als der Disney-Version, an die ich immer wieder dachte.
Die Geschichte selbst ist in verschiedene Kapitel unterteilt, die passend nach Charakteren, Orten und einigen anderen Dingen benannt sind, die im Kapitel eine große Rolle spielen. Es bereitet einen ein bisschen auf das vor, worum es darin geht, gibt aber nicht zu viel preis. Einige Titel sind auch Verweise auf das ursprüngliche Märchen, was eine schöne Referenz in diese Richtung ist. Zur Mitte hin gibt es einen wirklich unglaublichen Perspektivwechsel, der die Geschichte ein wenig interessanter macht.

Ansonsten bin ich direkt ins Hollertal getaucht. Ich kann den Ort leicht vor meinem inneren Auge sehen. Vom bürokratischen Unsinn bis zu den allgemeinen Interaktionen fühlte sich alles natürlich und realistisch an. Ich war von den Beschreibungen ziemlich schnell angetan und wollte das Buch später nicht mehr weglegen als es sich seinem Ende näherte. Es hatte einige ziemlich überraschende und aufregende Wendungen und stellte einige Gefahren ziemlich gut dar. Ich war ziemlich gespannt, als ich einige Abschnitte gelesen habe, auch wenn einige Dinge in Bezug auf die Hintergrundgeschichte bestimmter Charaktere ziemlich verwirrend waren – und immer noch sind. Das ebenfalls aufzuführen, wäre leider zu viel für die Geschichte gewesen. 🙁

Die Charaktere

Ich hätte nie gedacht, dass ich mal eine Version von Frau Holle finden würde, wo ich die Pechmarie der Goldmarie vorziehe. Ich bin mir nicht mal sicher, warum…. Es fühlt sich an, als sollte ich mich mehr mit der Goldenen verbunden fühlen, da wir einen ähnlichen Verlust erlitten haben, aber ich denke, ich bin zu verärgert über sie, aber das könnte nur wieder meine Abneigung gegen Hauptcharaktere sein. Marie scheint ein wenig zu sehr von allen geliebt zu werden, auch wenn sie sicherlich kein perfekter Charakter ist, da sie definitiv ihre Fehler hat. Zwei ihrer bekannteren sind rosafarbene Brillengläser und die Tendenz, die Meinung anderer Leute zu akzeptieren, ohne sie zu hinterfragen. Und ich schätze, ich bin auch ein wenig frustriert, dass sie nach sechs Monaten immer noch in ihrer Trauer steckt und nicht aus ihrer Sicherheitsblase herauskommen will. Sicher ist solch ein Verlust schrecklich, aber nicht fortzufahren ist etwas, von dem ich denke, dass sich Verstorbene es für die Hinterbliebenen nicht wünschen würden … Aber am Ende passte es zum Charakter, auch wenn ich sie als Person nicht mögen würde.

Außerdem: Die andere ist scharfzüngig und ich mag fiese Kommentare … Pegg ist … Pegg ist fantastisch, auch wenn ich mich manchmal schlecht für sie gefühlt habe. Sicher ist sie grob und sagt, was sie denkt, was nicht immer nett ist, aber am Ende war sie viel nützlicher als die turtelnde Marie und setzt Dinge auch tatsächlich um. Sie ist ein toller Kontrast zu ihrer Halbschwester (und ja, es gibt eine tolle Erklärung für diese Frau Holle-Referenz!). Die Art, wie sie behandelt wird, ist schrecklich, aber leider auch sehr realistisch, sowohl in einem Arbeits- als auch in einem Lebensumfeld. Sie so stark zu haben, wie sie ist, macht sie zu einem unglaublichen Charakter. Sie ist wie der tragische Antiheld, der nicht will, dass du sie anfeuerst, aber am Ende wirst du es trotzdem tun….

Auch wenn ich die eine Schwester mehr mochte als die andere, da sie mir teilweise ziemlich auf die Nerven ging, so hat sich das doch recht gut ausgeglichen.

Desiree ist die typische Stiefmutter mit zu hohen Ansprüchen, die in zu kurzer Zeit zu viel will und der Vater von Marie und Pegg hilft nicht wirklich in dem ganzen Famliendrama  … er ist auch ziemlich frustrierend …

Die anderen Bewohner des Tales werden kaum erwähnt/gesehen, so dass ich nicht viel über sie sagen kann, außer, dass sie unglaublich toll mit Vorurteilen umgehen können. Die Bibliothekarin ist eine der faszinierenderen Hintergrundfiguren.

Florian und die anderen Mitarbeiter des Hollerhofs (Waldemar, Ronan, Gustl und Gerda) sind etwas windig (Wortspiel beabsichtigt 😉 ) und haben daher einige Stimmungsschwankungen, aber das Konzept dahinter ist ziemlich cool und sie sorgen für einige sehr lustige Szenen und spielen eine unglaubliche Rolle im Finale.

Frau Hollerbrunn ist eine ganz andere Geschichte für sich und wie Grischa aus Ein Mantel so Rot würde sie zu beschreiben zu viel verraten. Sagen wir einfach: Sie ist viel mehr als „nur“ Frau Holle. 😉

Generelle Meinung

Ich mag die Kombination von Frau Holle mit der Idee der Schnee-/Eiskönigin und einigen Alpenlegenden, es hat einfach sehr gut funktioniert. Großartig waren auch die Änderungen an den originalen Geschichtenelementen wie der ganze Back- und Pflückteil (zwei meiner Lieblingsszenen) und die Stiefmutter. Es waren auch viele magische Rituale im Spiel und es ist schade, dass die verschiedenen magischen Hintergründe (von Charakteren und Ritualen) nur an der Oberfläche angekratzt wurden. Doch mehr Aufmerksamkeit für sie – und die Hintergrundgeschichte bestimmter Charaktere – hätte den Rahmen der Geschichte sprengen können. Ich weiß, ich würde wirklich gerne ein weiteres Buch darüber lesen. 😀

Die Geschichte ist auch ein gutes Beispiel dafür, was eifersüchtige und voreingenommene Menschen bereit sind zu tun und wie andere Menschen dafür bezahlen müssen. Mir hat die Charakterentwicklung gefallen und besonders das Finale – und der Epilog, der eine ziemlich coole Szene hatte, die mir einen bestimmten Charakter etwas sympathischer machte. 😉

Alles in allem: Eine schöne Geschichte über zwei Schwestern, die nach einem Schicksalsschlag ihre Differenzen in einem unglaublichen Abenteuer überwinden.

Dinge, die ich hinzufügen möchte

Heute erscheint das neue Buch der Märchenspinnerei: Leuchtendschwarzer Rabenmond

Zur Erinnerung: Als Teil der Challenge könnt ihr Punkte sammeln, indem ihr selbst Märchen lest. 😉

Am Samstag bekommst ihr ein Interview mit Tina über das Buch und andere märchenhafte Dinge. Also bleibt dran!

PoiSonPaiNter

© Für das Cover gehören den rechtmäßigen Besitzern.

Witchy-reads

The moon shines bright and clear
bathing the world in pale light
Mist – peculiar –
clouding being and senses.

Magically radiates the spot,
calling us with its might.
I must away – it is Walpurgisnight!

– Schandmaul: Walpurgisnacht

Today is one of those magical nights.
Whether you call it Beltane or Walpurgisnight/Walpurgisnacht does not matter, as long as you yourself know what you’re celebrating. 😉

I like the mystique about these days and am curious to learn more about it.
One day I would even like to spent the Walpurgisnight near Thale  or on the Brocken (Harz), where the witches are supposed to meet and dance in this night.But maybe I’m just a bit too spoiled by Faust’s adventures there. 😉

The last few Walpurgisnights – and this one again – we spent in in Penzlin, sitting on the meadow below the outer wall of the old castle and enjoying a good chat, possibly mead and – if we celebrated the day before – left overs from my Dads‘ birthday party. 😀
It’s a nice atmosphere especially, when towards the end of the night the bonfire is lit and illuminates the area.
But that’s not all there is to Penzlin.
Back in the middle ages the castles‘ dungeon was actually used for torturing witches and you can still take a look at some of the instruments.
I remember a tour we got there during my school days where a few of the students had to actually sit inside in the wall-chambers and the chair version of the iron maiden.
But I digress.

Walpurgisnight is an evening full of magic and witches, so I thought instead of telling you things about it that you already know, I use the chance to write something again and suggest a few of my stories for those interested in reading them.
They aren’t entirely on topic, but they have witches and magic, so enjoy the read! 🙂

The Winter Solstice and Aequus (German): Follow magical creatures through their celebration of different mythical nights.

Wenn die Seelen wandern geh’n: (When the souls are wandering) Another magical holiday as we follow a young witches journey through a Samhain night.

Herzlos: (Heartless) A young man troubled by love makes some drastic changes with the help of a witch.

Eisige Zutat: (Icy ingredient) A sorcerer’s apprentice has to make a special errand for his master – much to his dislike.

Back from a Dream: After what he thought was a mere nap a man returns home to find his castle in ruins.

As you might have noticed do Schandmaul play a larger role in some of these stories. As mentioned did I take the introductory quote from their song „Walpurgisnacht„, but that’s not all. The title of „Wenn die Seelen wandern geh’n“ is a line from their song „Klagelied“ and Back from a dream portrays a small part of their song „Reich der Träume„. They’re songs are not just great, but also a great inspiration.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed these stories and feel free to check out the songs involved in them. 🙂

Have a save night!

PoiSonPaiNter

© Schandmaul drummer Stefan gave me a „go ahead“ to try telling more of the stories in their songs back in 2014, but I don’t claim any rights for their work.

The Weekend Guess #97

As you might have noticed did I not post a Weekend Guess last weekend.
Well, this was partly due to the fact that I was exploring London – or Stonehenge and Bath in Sunday’s case – with Janzy (you can recall our journey on Twitter) and partly because of the fact that I simply forgot because I was frustrated by the slow internet connection we had.
Regardless of that do I now present to you the ninety seventh instalment of the Weekend Guess.

wegWhat is the Weekend Guess?

Up to three riddles formulated by me that are puns and wordplays on the answer itself I put on here for my readers to answer.

Why am I doing this?

For no apparent reason, just because I consider the idea to be funny.

What are the questions about?

Everything I can think of I guess, so far the things you had to figure out were song titles and bands, movies and books. Currently it’s random topics ranging from the stuff before and whatever I feel like asking about.

What is your part in this?

You can try to figure out my riddles and see if you can manage to get behind them and understand what I am describing.
What is in it for you?
So far: Nothing, but the knowledge that you managed to unlock one of my silly riddles.

Let’s start with the ninety seventh set of questions

I am looking for the name of this Character/Person:

The court sorcerer of a legendary king

Leave your guesses in the comments below and I can see if my questions are too easy or to hard to figure out. I will give the correct answer with the next instalment.
Have fun figuring it out! 🙂

Solution for last weeks Weekend Guess:

Paddington Bear

Evanesca guessed it correctly, so congratulations! 🙂
PoiSonPaiNter

Thor: Movie vs. Myth

The topic of this post is an assignment I got from The Extremis Reviews to see if my work is good enough for me to become a guest author for their page. I’m curious how that will work out, but as usual I do not put too much hope into it.
Regardless of me getting „the job“ or not, I already had thought about writing about Norse Mythology a bit more than the few mentions I had so far. Therefore I also see this as possibility for me to start my work on it properly.
As I mentioned in my review for Thor: The Dark World was I sceptical about the Thor-film in regards to its adaptations of the myths. I already knew a few things about the myths when I first heard about the film/the characters and the more I learned about both the myths and the Marvel-version, the more I was reluctant to actually try it. The way they portray characters and their relationships with each other seemed so wrong to me that I had a hard time grasping my head around it.
So with this post I want to show you some of the major differences between the adaptations of the myths in Marvels Cinematic Universe’s „Thor“ (and its follow-up films) and Norse Mythology itself. Please do keep in mind that I am not an expert on this matter and most of this is recited by memory, so if you see any mistakes you are more than welcome to inform me about them.
What confused me the most when I started watching the first Thor film were the

Family relationships;

especially Loki being Thor’s brother.
Deep down in the back of my mind something practically ranted at me: „He is not the brother. He wasn’t the brother. Was he?“ until I took my Laptop and looked it up.
Needles to say my nagging mind was indeed correct: According to Norse Mythology Loki is NOT the brother of Thor, but instead the blood brother (meaning no blood relationship whatsoever) of Odin, as Loki otherwise would not have been allowed to stay in Asgard due to being a giant. Though he does share some rather funny adventures with the God of Thunder (including for example cross-dressing, but covering that would stray too far away from the topic).
Another strange change are Thor and Sif, which in the original are married, while in the Marvel universe they are but friends. They fight alongside each other with Sif having a crush on him and Thor simply ignoring it and swooning over the „mortal“ Jane Foster. In the comics I believe Sif even becomes a Valkyrie, which would make any proper relationship quite impossible (in the myths they are the ones picking up the fallen warriors that are granted access to Valhalla, their „heaven“).
Not mentioned at all in the films, so far, are other family members of Thor and Loki.
As far as I know Thor has at least two brother’s (Baldr and Hodur) that play a major role on the way to Ragnarök (the Twilight of the Gods, the end of everything that is known). From a bit of research I know that Baldr has an appearance in the comics, but I believe the films will shelve Ragnarök for quite some time to cover other stories before that.
On Loki’s side there are the other pieces missing that are to bring about the end: The monster babies. 🙂
Jörmungandr (a gigantic serpent, large enough to circle the world entirely – and Thor’s arch enemy), Fenrir (an enormous wolf and the one said to kill Odin) and Hel(a – half young and beautiful woman, half rotten corpse and mistress of Helheim/Niflheim, the realm of the deceased that were not allowed to enter Valhalla, whose inhabitants she will lead into the fight against the Aesir at her fathers‘ side) the children of Loki and the giantess Angrboda that are very badly treated in the myths and do not appear in the films or stories of Marvel. Though Hel(a) is mentioned and shown in some of the cartoon versions and even called Loki’s daughter, though no mentioning of her mother or her brothers at all (there also are a wolf called Fenrir and a serpent, but it is not clear if they are in any way related to Loki and/or Marvels versions of them).
And let’s not forget his other two children with his Aesir-wife Sigyn (who is actually depicted in some of the comics and cartoons) that are used for his punishment shortly before Ragnarök (and I better not get into details about this right now, as it is quite nasty).

Origins:

As we already are talking about Loki’s children: Did you know that the eight-legged horse Odin is riding into battle (you can see it when he arrives in Jotunheim to rescue Thor and the others in the first film) is supposed to be Loki’s offspring? And did you also know that he is the mother?
Regardless if you answered these questions with yes or no, it is indeed the case that there is a story in the Norse Mythology about how the wall of Asgard was build and how Loki was forced to trick the horse of the builder into running off so that the builder (who was a giant in disguise) could not finish his work in time. As he had disguised himself as a white mare the God of Mischief returned several months after the ordeal with a foal, Sleipnir, that he then gave to Odin. Speaking of disguises: You think Loki’s illusions are fun? In the real stories he occasionally turns himself into all kind of things including a fish and several different women. 😉
If you think Sleipnir’s heritage is strange then let me tell you what is „wrong“ about Loki’s: In the myths Loki is not just depicted as the God of Mischief, but also as the God of Fire, due to him being a Fire Giant (Loki or Locke even means something like flame if I’m not mistaken) and yes, Marvel turned this around and made him a Frost Giant. Though they turned around something way more hilarious as well.
You remember the king of the Frost Giants, Laufey, who is said to be Loki’s father? Well, in the myths „Laufey“ is the name of Loki’s mother…
Though not a person the origin of Thor’s hammer Mjolnir differs in the stories as well. In Marvel it is said that the hammer was forged in a dying dwarf star from one of the strongest metals in the universe – incidentally the same as Captain America‘s shield, explaining the blast they emit when they collide in The Avengers. The only thing that coincides with the myths, however, is the word „dwarf“.
Mjolnir was forged by a dwarf – or dwarve, as the fantasy version is referred to – that got himself into a bet with Loki when the god had badmouthed the dwarves abilities to forge proper weaponry. While the dwarve worked on the hammer another one was trying to keep the flames steady. As he, however, was distracted by a fly (*cough*Loki*cough*) he failed at his task and the handle of the hammer ended up being rather short. Due to this Loki saw himself the victor, but the Aesir still preferred the dwarves work over the work Loki had presented them.  As the dwarve could not get Loki’s head as he had demanded (cutting off the head without doing the same with the neck proofed difficulty) he instead stitched up the lips of the lying god. Though none of this is portrayed in the Marvel universe, which is rather unfortunate.
What is however portrayed in Marvel and not in the myths are the Warriors Three. I don’t remember something like them existing in the stories as the most frequent companion Thor had on his adventures was Loki.

Appearance

It is normal to change the appearance of characters to fit a different audience, but some decision might be true to the Marvel version, but are still quite different from the Norse one.
So even though Jamie Alexander is a beautiful woman it is indeed unfortunate that she is not depicted with Norse-Sif’s golden hair that resulted from one of Loki’s many mischiefs (and is made of real gold). Other changed hair colours include Thor (red) and Loki (occasionally blond) themselves.
The strangest change however is Heimdal and a former fellow student of mine even declared that she stopped watching the first film as soon as she saw him. It is highly unlikely that someone of Idris Elbas skin-colour would have found his way into Norse Mythology; as Loki’s arch enemy nonetheless. (This is in no way meant offensive and I think Elba does a pretty good job as Asgards gate keeper. It just doesn’t really fit with what the myths tell us.)
But as she so nicely put it: At least Odin has only one eye.

The Nine realms

As I wrote in the review: I do like how they described Yggdrasil, the World Tree, and its connection to the other realms. A nice scientific explanation.
In the myths it is an actual tree that connects the different realms with his roots, trunk and branches. Deep down underneath the World Tree lie the dark realms, like Helheim. Where the trunk stands Midgard stretches on and high above the branches lies Asgard, home of the Aesir. The other realms lie somewhere as well, but I can’t really remember where exactly, sorry.
The difference in this is simply put: No science, actual tree and rainbow.
As you might have noticed I referred to the (main, as there are others too) inhabitants of Asgard as Aesir instead of Asgardians as Marvel calls them. The latter sounds more like simply referring to the alien-species that lives in Asgard than for what it is used to describe in the myths (alien super-human vs. actual god) and it just feels better to use it when talking about them.

Characters Reasoning

In the myths it is quite understandable why Loki turns against the Aesir (you only have to look at how they treat him and his children). In Marvel he is depicted more as a jealous, greedy prat than actually having reason to  behave the way he does.
This however is not really a difference like the others, but I felt like it was worth mentioning.
The few things above are probably only barely scratching the surface of all the differences between Marvel’s version and the original, but I hope I could give you at least a small overview of them. I am also sorry that I didn’t get into too much detail with some of them, as that would have been too Off Topic.
Anyway, I am off to Berlin again for a long weekend and a Van Canto concert and am already curious what kind of replies will await me on my return.
PoiSonPaiNter

Once Upon A Time…

there were two writers of „Lost“ who decided to create a TV-series about Fairy Tale characters that ended up in our world.
When the series was far into its second season a random Blogger started watching it.

So here I am now waiting for the next episode and giving you my two cents on ABC’s “Once Upon A Time” by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz.

The premise and where it leads

When the Evil Queen enacts a „horrible“ curse all Fairy Tale-characters one (possibly) knows are separated from their loved-ones and given new memories and lives in a town in our world: Storybrook, Maine. Breaking this curse is the destiny of the main character Emma Swan. And being the main character she has to face different trials throughout the season(s).

Before I start to go into the topic I’d like to note that I consider it pretty hilarious that the Evil Queen claims our land to be „somewhere horrible„. For a magic user a land without any magic probably IS a horrible place. For everyone else probably just weird and foreign. 😀

That said: I don’t really know why I started watching it in the first place, but it might have to do with the fact that I simply like hearing/reading about or watching Fairy Tales. And with OUAT you don’t just have every Fairy Tale-character you (possibly) know, but also them in a different world. Besides I’ve already was curious about it thanks to the previews for the German version of it. So I gave it a shot and was admittedly quite easily won over.

Seriously: I only needed to watch a certain scene in the pilot and they had me.
The scene I’m referring to is the Evil Queens entry scene: The music, the atmosphere, the wonderfully bizarre animation of how she “walked” down the hall towards Snow White and Prince Charming. My mind really just went “BAM, you gotta watch this”. And when later they switched to a scene with a weird sounding and looking creature kept in a dungeon prison; guess that was the very final straw to destroy all my doubts (pun intended 😉 ).

Characters and Concept

I really think this series has a great concept and great writings. It is always fascinating how the different stories (Fairy Tales) connect and how the different characters interact. As well as seeing „history“ repeat itself when the „humanized“ versions live through a similar trial in each episode as their Fairy Tale-counterpart.
And the characters are great too, well most of them. There are some that are a bit easier for me to grasp than others. The worst for understanding and stuff are probably Charming (My spell-check is fascinating: If I only write Charming it tells me to write it with lower case, if I write Prince Charming it’s all right. XD) and Snow White…I just find them so disturbingly romantic and stuff that I just want to hide somewhere so I would not have to see that…I’m no good with too much romance, sorry.
Every time they do their little “I will always find you”- conversation my mind goes: – Yeah, I know…for crying out load…oh wait, no, they cry silently, whenever they find and/or lose each other…they cry so effing much…they must have an enormous supply of onions on set…or the actors are really good at crying without a reason…
Still, they do have some good scenes – where they are close to being pretty cool instead.
In those where Charming wore his pelted cape around his shoulders I somewhat thought: Now longer hair and beard and he might have just walked off of the set of „Thor“. 😀
Well, you see I’m not really a Snow White fan, but I’ve mentioned that before when I talked about dwarves.

Speaking of those: Grumpy. 😀
He’s one of my favourites and as I said: I really like his attitude and humour. It is always fun when he’s around. His comments cause some moments to become more enjoyable. Beside that did I really enjoy the episode that featured his back story. It was fun, interesting and kick-ass, because he is kick-ass. 😀
Little Red Riding Hood was also covered in a wonderful way. When I watched her episode I had a slight feeling of what might happen, but the revelation was still well done. Additionally, her actress is just amazing…she really manages to balance being seductive without appearing slutty.

But balancing stuff is kind of a theme in the series as each character has at least two sides to them. Their Fairy Tale- and their „Storybrooke“/Real World-personification. And some even have a third part to them: The personality before the big change. And I think it is obvious, for those who have seen the series, whom I’m talking about: The Evil Queen and Rumpelstiltskin. 😀

Their development from loving daughter/father to those badass characters that are cunning, witty and „evil“ is just brilliant. And the development is quite reasonable and well explored so far – we all know that there is even more to come and the majority of us are eagerly looking forward to that. 😀
But what I like most about those characters is that they are the ones you can relate to the most. Well, at least I can. Especially with the “imp”: Pessimism accompanied by cowardice, more or less antisocial behaviour and a way with words? Sounds familiar to me. 😉
Even though many characters have one or the other insecurity those two bring theirs to a different level. Yet, it still makes sense and that’s what’s fascinating about them. They have loved; they have lost something precious and secluded themselves behind their powers. Still they are willing to do anything to regain (a bit of) what they have lost.
And they are both brilliantly portrayed by their actors Lana Parilla and Robert Carlyle respectively.

They bring so much life into their roles, it’s incredible. If I didn’t knew it better, I’d say they are enchanting the audience with their performance. But who says I do (know it better)? 😉 Especially the interpretation of Rumpelstiltskin is most fascinating. The voice, the gestures, the combination of both. Carlyle created something unique there. Combined with the well written backstories and dialogues it makes for one incredible character.
It is always fun to see how Rumpel was involved with the other stories, manipulating people into doing what he needs them to do. A trait the Evil Queen has picked up from him.
While for most characters their Storybrook-personality is not as good as the one they had in the Enchanted Forest, those two manage to combine them. It is just always fun to see what is happening to and/or with them in each episode. 🙂 I wonder if it makes me a bad person if I prefer the supposed evil characters over the good ones? o.O

A Fairy Tale background

Watching OUAT made me realize that I haven’t watched the old Disney versions of the Fairy Tales that often. Mostly only once or twice. And I probably haven’t seen every one of them (I know I haven’t watched Tangled so far). But I do have some memories of some of them: Grumpy and the witch from Snow White,  a little bid of the dragon in Sleeping Beauty, the scene where the beast fights with the wolves from The Beauty and the Beast, and probably some others if I would think some more about it.
It seems I wasn’t really into obsessively watching movies as kid, more a series kind of person. Like I still am today. 😉 Another thing is probably that my parents grew up with the German, Czech and/or Russian interpretations and Fairy Tales and taught/read/showed me those as well. I’ve seen the movies with Baba Yaga and her chicken-legged hut more often than I’ve seen any of the Disney movies. Though I don’t think that’s a bad thing, as they have a pretty fun and different tone to them. And less singing. 😀
Regardless of that I know all the stories OUAT is based on, some because they were read and/or told to me, some because I’ve seen a version or two of them and I really like the approach they made on them. (And I don’t see it as rip off of anything else, as the concepts of those other things sound different.)
It also made me realize that I didn’t know who Jiminy Cricket is (though I knew that there was a cricket in Pinocchio) and that I never really noticed that the Prince from Snow White was (nick)named „Charming“ or the witch from Sleeping Beauty „Maleficent“. Though I’ve heard those before I think…you always learn something new I guess…

The German version

As I said the show is on German television currently. They recently aired the finale of season one, which gave me a chance to shorten my wait for the new episode on Sunday (or Monday considering the time shift).
But don’t let me get started on the German voices…
Even though they made some good choices (Snow White is pretty well chosen), some are rather weird.
I mean: Couldn’t they have just let Sebastian Schulz voice Josh Dallas as he did in Thor? o.O No they chose the little boys voice instead…Aside from the fact, that Schulz sounds better, it would have been fun to have him alongside Claudia Urbschat-Mingues (Regina) like they had him alongside Oliver Siebeck ( as Volstagg ) in Thor, causing another family reunion. 😀 (Schulz voices Trunks in Dragonball Z, Urschat-Mingues is Bulma, while Siebeck is the second voice actor for Vegeta)
Also, why do voice actors always have to voice several actors? I mean as fitting as Thomas Nero Wolff might be for Robert Carlyle, my first association with his voice is and probably will be for a long time: Hugh Jackman and after that: Anthony Steward Head. Beside that is he not really able to come at least close to Carlyles Rumpelstiltskin voice…even though he is trying, but it just sounds so wrong….just like the characters German name by the way.
Even though I grew up with it, it sounds so weird when you’ve heard the English version, which has a different sound to it…though the suffix is basically the same…but in my ears Rumpelstiltskin sounds better (and even more threatening) than Rumpelstilzchen outside of the classical Fairy Tale context…no idea why…guess my ears are just weird like that…

Anyhow, the second season showed some quite interesting new turns and I am really looking forward to the next episodes. I think this format could really have a chance to last for quite a while as Fairy Tales are timeless and what Kitsis and Horowitz created is something special that contributes to that. Something you enjoy to indulge in when you’re day wasn’t the best one.
Just like a „real“ Fairy Tale would. 😉

PoiSonPaiNter

Dwarves

I don’t know why, but in general I don’t like dwarves or at least I don’t care about them.
Even though they are one of the classic fantasy creatures (alongside Elves, Fairies, Trolls, etc.) I never really payed attention to them…
All those novels about them, be they by the German novelist Markus Heitz or someone else, just didn’t sound interesting to me.
Only if they were part of a story it was ok for them to be there. They make good side characters and antagonists.
But before I want to give you some examples of dwarves I (dis)liked, I’d like to explain a fact I find rather interesting:
Grammatically there are two plurals of the word dwarf: dwarfs and dwarves. And even though I had dwarfs in mind when I started with this post, it seems I have to go with dwarves, according to this:

„Dwarfs is the standard plural of the noun dwarf. Dwarves is a newer variant popularized (though not invented) by English author J.R.R. Tolkien in his fantasy fiction works, including The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The Tolkien spelling is appropriate when referring to little people in fantasy worlds. Dwarfs is better everywhere else.

I think that is pretty cool. I consider origins of sayings or words to be quite interesting anyway. And having a plural for a fantasy version of something is, well, pretty cool. 🙂
But now onwards to some of the different dwarves that crossed my path so far.
The first dwarves every kid notices are probably the seven dwarves from Snow White. So did I. Probably. My favourite dwarf however in Disney’s Snow White was the grumpy one, but even as little kid I felt somewhat betrayed when he turned into one of her willing „slaves“ towards the end. Still I kind of vividly remember the scene where the dwarves chase the queen over the edge of the cliff. Pretty cool scene. Though  I kind of felt bad for the queen…and annoyed by Snow White…so not one of my favourite versions of it. But Once Upon a Time‘s Grumpy kind of makes up for his cartoon versions lack of personality(?). His rough attitude and his comments are just hilarious and fun. And I really liked the story of how his name changed. Yet, it is a creepy thought thinking about dwarves hatching from eggs….I’m not sure whether I’ve read/heard something akin to that before…I just don’t want to think about it…
Another Snow White adaptation with focus on the dwarves is from the German comedian/actor Otto Waalkes: 7 Zwerge – Männer allein im Wald (7 Dwarves – Men Alone in the Wood), where nearly every dwarf is portrayed by a German comedian (including Otto).  It is a pretty funny movie that gives a different view on the whole story. And of course the re-occurring joke – as none of the actors is that small – that it is a prejudice that dwarves are small.  🙂
Well, there are far to many versions of this fairytale to explore them all and I don’t really want to dwell on Snow White any longer (or even get into the latest versions with Snow White and the Huntsman or Mirror Mirror as I’ve seen neither of them so far.)
As you read in the quote earlier the word „dwarves“ was popularized by Tolkien and he has quite a bunch of dwarves in his stories – so I heard. I belong to those people that never read Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit. Though I watched the LOTR movies. Well, and didn’t understand them, but that is a different topic…maybe one day I will read the novels…
Even older than both Snow White and LOTR are myths surrounding dwarves. They were mostly depicted as miners or other craftspeople, so they are more common in areas where those industries where widely spread. Unfortunately (or luckily?) I do not live in such areas, so I can’t tell you any local myths. But I can however tell you about the dwarves in Norse myths. 🙂
The dwarves that have utterly complicated names, which I can’t remember. But I know that they forged things like Odins ring, an automatic boar, Thor’s hammer Mjölnir and one of them sewed Lokis lips when he had told one to many lies or rather mocked them one to many times. One does not mock a dwarf. 😀
Just as one does not make fun of a certain warlock, but this is about dwarves, so my focus will not be on Richard form the webcomic Looking for Group. The comic has its fair share of dwarves, with the bardic smith Pella being the most famous one. A kick-ass woman that knows how to swing her hammer for forging and her axes in battle. She has however a relationship of understanding for the warlock, but no I am not diverting to give him attention. He already gets that more than enough in the comics. 😀
Speaking of attention: I’d like to draw your attention to some other dwarves.
The dwarves I used in my own stories.
For once there is Bogie the tall dwarf from my „Weltenbaum“ (Worldtree) short stories. He is among the youngsters from the Underworld who find their way unto the Surface, into the world of humans. These stories are written in German, so it might not be understandable for some. Not sure if I’ll translate them one day, but after reading them again I might at least add some more to them or edit them a bit.
Nevertheless, I’d also like to introduce you to the newest addition to my blog: „The Quest for Ore“ – whose title is obviously not inspired by Van Canto’s „Quest for Roar„.
An English short story inspired by my first experiences with Minecraft – the more or less addictive game, where you have to build your own world through crafting blocks into whatever is possible.
As the guys I’m playing with are planing to create a dwarven city I started thinking about stories about dwarves. And the one above is the first product of that.
There probably will be more – one other is already half done even – stories within this world I created for it. I’m kind of curious what I will come up with next.
But what I write in this case might be inspired by running around in Minecraft, but it is not a tale from what I actually experienced. And I think you can’t call it a FanFiction either.
(Spoiler: E.g. did we run through the „mines“, but we did not encounter any spiders.)
And yes I know: You don’t really read that the characters are supposed to be dwarves. They could just as well be humans.
But I think they are (still nameless) dwarves that will get some screentime again.
And I have to say: It was fun writing a normal fictional story again, instead of adding something to an existing world.
PoiSonPaiNter

Manga & Scanlations

What you can read below is the basis of my presentation for an oral English exam.
I couldn’t cover everything in the short time frame we had, but at least you will be able to read the entire composition.
Would have been a waste to just stash it away.

Do you know this guy?
What about him?
Do you have any idea what the general difference between them is?
No?
Well, let me tell you: Thor is a comic, while Nura is a Manga.
And  I hope you will be able to tell the difference between them after you read this post.
According to my topic – Manga and Scanlation – I will not just talk about Manga, but also about Scanlations, what they are, how they are made and what is good and bad about them.

But let me begin by looking at the difference between Manga and comics.

As you might know Manga are the Japanes equivalents of Western Comics like Marvel’s Thor for example.

But what exactly is a Manga?

The word itself can be divided into the Japanese phrases Manaimless or whimsical and Gapicture or drawing, giving an impression of unplanned continuity as the term is originally used for both comics and cartooning.
Comic in turn is used for both Comic strips (or Cartoons) and Comic books of certain series.
As a result the word Manga mostly stands for Comics originally published in Japan.
An exception for this are „Comics“ that copy the style of the originals, but are from a different country like Germany for example.
Unlike the western versions Manga are not published page- or strip-wise, but as chapters.
Varying from series to series they are published in anthology magazines in a weekly, monthly or random rhythm – which I’ll return to later on – and in lower frequencies as volumes of collected chapters.

Prejudices and Genres

The most common prejudice regarding Manga is that every character has huge eyes and cute looks.
While this might have been the case with the first series that swapped over the ocean in the 1970s/1980s, it is no longer. Or at least only characters that are intended to be the cute ones (especially children and/or young girls) have this features.
Nowadays character designs have more harsh lines and look rather realistic, yet not as abstract as a western Character like Thor does.
The stories itself range in the same genres as their western counterparts.
You can find pretty much everything from mere Romance over Action up to pure Fantasy or SciFi.
This again is diverted into Manga for females (Shoujo) or males (Shounen) and those in turn into different age groups (children, young adults, adults).
But the way it is portrayed differs from the majority of Comics.
While having a tendency to using comic relief characters and scenes, they always have a serious narration.
Even Manga for children have certain morales within them, while wrapped in light-hearted stories suitable for the reader’s age.
Regardless of genre or anticipated reader-base Manga always teach you something about the culture and/or history of Japan.
For example the rather new series called „Nurarihyon No Mago“ (literally: „Nurarihyon’s Grandson“, translated: „Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan“/“Nura – Herr der Yokai“).
Like several other series this one centers around a young boy, Rikuo, who has a rather unusual heritage. He is the grandson of the leader of all Youkai (Japanese monsters from folklore) and Rikuo as quarter Youkai not only has to take over his grandfather’s position, but also has to cope with being human for the majority of the day and Youkai at night.
And while doing that you also learn about the different types of Youkai that are believed to exist on the Japanese isles.
Additionally, it criticizes the thoughts of excluding someone because he/she is different, which is one of the main topics of a lot of Manga.

In short: Manga are Japanese Comicbooks with a variety of genres for all ages.

Manga vs. Graphic Novel

Though some people – retailers even – claim Manga to be „Graphic Novels„, which by the common usage of the term is quite incorrect.
As I said at the beginning: Thor is a Comic.
It is full of colour pages, has either a concluded or ongoing plot and is read from front to back and from left to right.
This, can be considered Graphic Novel.
It also consists (mostly) of colour pages and is read the same way, but is sturdier than the Comic and potentially also contains short narrative texts.
And Nura thus is still a Manga.
It has usually black and white pages, occasionally colour pages and most importantly is read from back to front and from right to left.
And while Comics and Graphic Novels have glossy paper Manga usually have sturdy, yet still more paper like pages.

But regardless of those differences, let me digress a moment into the Japanese Manga market itself.

Contrary to the way Manga are usually published in Western countries (almost) everything in Japan starts with an anthology magazine.
Within each magazine – as the name would suggest – you have the newest chapter of several different Manga series.
Furthermore, these series are collected according to their topic and the magazines theme.
For example the most famous magazine – the Weekly Shounen Jump – only contains Manga series primarily aimed at boys (Shounen) with lots of action, fights and comedy.
Series which are published in one of the Jump magazines (Shounen, Monthly, V Jump for example) are most likely to become bestsellers, simply because these magazines attract a lot of people ranging from the youngsters up to adults who have bought these magazines in their youth.

You can imagine a magazine like this: The Weekly Shounen Jump for example has currently about 21 series. Every week the creator of the respective Manga writes, draws and simply finishes a new chapter of about twenty pages – with the help of his/her assistants.

The German and the American Manga publishers tried to adept this concept, but failed in both cases as the Western audience seems to prefer the collected Volumes instead of buying the anthologies and then buying the volume versions as well.
The American version „Shonen Jump“ was based on the Weekly Shounen Jump, but modified for an American audience including information on Japan itself and other gimmicks.
It lasted from 2002 until winter 2011.
The German versions BANZAI! for boys and Daisuki for girls had a similar demise. While BANZAI! only lasted from November 2001 to December 2005, due to a discontinued license for the published series, Daisuki managed to stay in business from February 2003 until June this year (2012), when the sales became too low the be bearable any more.
Two to three months after a Chapter is published in the magazines the original chapters are collected into a volume per series; the so called Tankoubon.
When this is released the official translators begin their work, causing a gap between the original and the translated versions (i.e. the series „One Piece„: current Japanese chapter: 685; current Japanese volume: 67 – until chapter 667; current German volume: 63 – until chapter 626) that the Scanlators wish to fill.
Therefore the Japanese magazines provide the basis needed for Scanlations.

But what is a Scanlation?

The word „Scanlation“ is a portmanteau of the words scan and translation. This way the meaning of the word lies within the word itself.
Basically a Scanlation is the process of scanning, editing and translating Manga/Comics from their original language into the translator’s language.
In most cases this is done by non-professionals, by fans who just want to provide a certain series for other fans/readers.

But before Scanlations had been even thought of there were the so called „FanSubs“, which provided fan-made subtitles for Anime (Japanese Cartoons) that aired at that time.
In the late 70s to early 80s fans started to send tapes with the translations from fan-group to fan-group, to share their work.
Coming from there people started to buy the Japanese magazines and/or Manga as well.
They bought the original and put a translation note inside it and send it off to whoever wanted to read it as well.
It was a small community at first, but „thanks“ to the Internet the whole process evolved.
People started to scan the pages, but still only enclosed the translation until the point when some of them started to include them in the scanned pages.

The Scanlation process

From that time on many Scanlation groups went by a simply yet effective process that can be seen in the following chart:

The Process of Scanlating a Manga chapter

What you also can see is that in each stage there are different people involved.
But it all starts with someone buying the magazines I mentioned before.
This magazine is then dismantled into single pages – either by cutting the spine of the book with a razor blade or putting it in a microwave causing the glue to melt.
The scanned pages are now called „Raw“s and are put online via different file sharing systems or send directly to the Translator and/or Cleaner.
This position can be hold by the same or different persons.
The work of a translator is what the name suggests, he/she translates everything in the chapter from sound effects, over thought- and speech-bubbles, to author’s comments, as close to the original meaning as possible.
The work of a Cleaner is a little less clear, it consist of cleaning up the scanned images (removing spots that shouldn’t be there as well as removing the original texts), converting them to black-and-white and adjusting the brightness and contrast levels until they look like the versions you see in published volumes – the scanned pages usually have a more grey colour instead of plain black and white.
When both the translation and the cleaning are done the Typesetter uses both things and puts them together.
Depending on how fast a Scanlation group wants their work to be published the finished chapter has to go through a Proofreader, who checks if everything is done correctly. Afterwards the result is right away posted online or send off to Aggregation websites, who basically are libraries for all the different series. With this the newly released Japanese chapter is scanlated and shortly afterwards available for the foreign audience.

Summarizing this into a few words: Scanlations are fan-made scans and translations of (mostly) Japanese Manga that are published online and (usually) available for everyone.
Yet scanlating and distributing any series is illegal.

Reasoning against Scanlations

I’d like to give you some of the reasoning of the publishers and retailers and show you why they are not that valid.

Demand and Prices

The main reason for publishers and retailers to claim that Scanlations are evil is that they ruin the sales. When people have a free version the companies do not see a reason why they should buy the official version.
But that is not really the case.
A lot of fans still buy the volumes and the merchandise accompanying them.
Of course there are still those who only read and not buy it, but the overall tenor in Germany is still positive.
Even though the sales for the anthologies I mentioned earlier dropped that far that their cancellation was necessary, the sales for Manga were and are still increasing.
It is a bit different in America though, where you can see the negative effect on the demand-supply curve.
The demand is still there and increasing, yet not that many people are willing to buy the volumes at their current price, still their non-buying causes the publishers to increase the prices again, so they will be able to cover their costs, which again leads to less people buying it and so forth.
But with the current prices it really is not that surprising that people stop buying the printed versions.
An average Volume in Germany costs around 7 Euro, while the American versions are around 10 Dollars, which adds up to quite a fortune with each bought series.
Besides it is quite a temptation if you have to pay for this when you could have this for free and just some days after the official release.
Manga fans want to stay up to date with their favourite series, explore new ones and simply want to try out things. Scanlations grand people access to these things without having to pay for them.
This gives people a chance to read them, not just when they are short on money, but also if they simply want to try it and are afraid to make a misinvestment.
This way of thinking is similar to what people think of libraries.
If you wish to try a book without having to buy it you go to your local library and take it from there.
The Aggregation websites I mentioned earlier are nothing different.
Like in every other scene as well: Those who want to buy them will buy them – regardless of the price.

Besides, not wanting to buy the Tankoubon volumes doesn’t mean a fan isn’t willing to buy other merchandise or special features, such as plush toys, figurines, special volumes, artbooks, novels and so forth.
Yet theses things are rarely sold in your local bookstores.
Though you might have the chance to buy them in a well-equipped Comic store it still is very unlikely.
The best chance fans have to buy additional stuff is by using the Internet or attending Conventions.

Just a small excursion on this before I continue with the next problem:

Conventions or Anime Conventions are meetings for fans from fans and/or supported by studios or publishers. For several days fans can indulge in their fandom: Buying the stuff I mentioned before, attending discussion panels, participating in workshops, while dressing up as their favourite Characters – called Cosplay. (There are all kind of other Conventions as well, but covering those does not serve the purpose here.)

Wrongful profit

The next problem with Scanlation is that some of the Aggregation websites try to make a profit of their work, by forcing readers to log in and pay a monthly fee (like libraries) to read (and/or download) as much Manga as they wish or simply gaining money from advertisement on their sides.
But this is in my opinion an even worse Copyright Infringement than hosting the Scanlations in the first place as the authors (and other people involved) don’t see a cent of this money (as they’d to through library fees).
In 2010 36 Japanese publishers and American publishers like VizMedia, TokyoPop and Yen Press formed a coalition to fight the “rampant and growing” problem of Scanlation.
They tried to force these sides into closing.
Though only the three biggest Aggregation websites at that time – OneManga, MangaHelper and MangaFox – are remembered to have closed their doors because of this.
Still from their ashes several other websites like MangaStream or MangaReader rose to popularity, as the readers looked for a substitution.
Afterwards not that much has been publicly heard of similar actions.
For a short period of time MangaStream had put down its releases of the Weekly Shounen Jump series due to VizMedia starting a new campaign, claiming that they will only host reviews and release notes for the chapters.
Only a few weeks later they started to publish the series again by saying, that they will be removed after 60 hours.
By now they stay longer in their directory but less than the amount of time on other sides where you can read them years after they were published.

Declining sales?

While it is good that the publishers and creators wish to protect their rights this might not been the best way to try this.
It is the same principle as with the movie or music industry.
Publishing without permission is forbidden, yet it is still practised – regardless of the consequences.

The Sales of the Weekly Shounen Jump magazine

In Addition to that did the sales of the anthology magazines in the Japanese Manga market decline in the recent years.
It is still higher compared to those in the western market; yet lower than their own former sales.

From 1995 to 2005 the sales of the Weekly Shounen Jump magazine halved, only having a slight increase again in 2005.
I would have liked to explore more on this graph, but the data it contains is slightly biased as it sometimes shows the circulation of New-Years‘ issue, the average circulation or the bestselling issue, but it gives a good overview over the situation.

Therefore I’d like to show you this graph here with the First Week Sales of the Manga series Bleach for its last ten volumes.
As the sales are cumulated from the day of their release until the Sunday of that week it is not always the same amount of days a volume has been available.

Bleach Sales per Volume in the first three days

For better comparison I calculated the amount of sold volumes for three days, as this was the number of days the most volumes had been published.

Seeing these sales figures would suggest a decline, but it is not as simple as that.
The story of a series is just as important as the overall popularity of it.
For example volume 48, which is the peak here, is the ending of the first major plot arc in the entire series, so everyone wanted to have it.
Volumes 49 to 54 are an interlude arc for the main character to regain the powers he had lost in the previous arc.
With 50 and 51 being the ones with the most progress and 53 being the one with the return of much anticipated side characters.
And even though it is the final arc the sales for volume 55 are still lower than those of the previous arc.
When this volume was released in June 2012 the story had just begun and it wasn’t clear where it would lead, so people might have wanted to look at what will happen before they bought the volume, besides they probably were still disappointed at the interlude arc, which wasn’t that good.
Looking at the complete sales figures this volume would have been the second bestselling one beside volume 46.
My prediction for volume 57 is that the sales will rise again, as the story this time is pretty cool.

You see a decrease in sales in this field is not only because of general reasons like lack of money or interest, it also depends on what the volume contains that the buyer wishes to read over and over again.
Regarding Scanlations this can be done on the Aggregation websites as well, but it is always a different feeling if you hold the volume in your hands and turn page by page than simply clicking a button on your keyboard to do the same.

But not everything is bad with Scanlations

Thanks to Scanlations a lot of series made their way into peoples mind.
Scanlation groups came across series they would enjoy reading and translating, thus creating a fan base for series that none of the official publishers would have thought of.
And this effect can be seen in both the German and the American market.
For example the series Ao No Exorcist (Blue Exorcist), which is a huge success in Japan, had its first Cosplayers long before it was even licensed in Germany.
The new(!) German publisher „Kazé“ then took it into their repertoire to give in to their needs.
As well as the series „Maid-Sama„.
If I remember correctly some girls suggested this series to be published when representatives of „CarlsenComics“ and „TokyoPop“ held a panel at the Hina Matsuri – a Japanese cultural feast in Hamburg.
And what happens if publishers do not comply to their readers wishes can be seen by the American branch of TokyoPop, which had to close because they diverted that much from their main aspect – selling Manga – that they weren’t able to uphold their business.

Another reason for fans to prefer the Scanlations is that these translators put more heart into their work, they translate what is said – unlike some publishers who translate what they wish it to say – and try to keep it as close to the original as possible, even including some of the Japanese words.
Official translators try to translate everything, only recently did they start to include words like „-sama„, „-san„, etc. simply because they noticed the audience know these words and a formal translation wouldn’t work.
Though you feel kind of stupid when you read the translators note still in the 50th volume as if you still don’t know what it means.
Often the official translators change the names to become such the western audience are more familiar with or translating it with the wrong pronunciation – especially with names that contain an „R“ – (Luffy  -> Ruffy – One Piece).
Sometimes they try to include the pun intended with the name to be in the translated version as well (Usopp -> Lysop – One Piece).
Scanlation translators simply leave the names as they are and do the same with catchphrases and speeches.
They look at the tone of the conversation and translate it that way, while the professionals create a rather unemotional translation.
This, beside the fast and free availability, is one of the reasons readers tend to use Scanlations.

Anyway, to summarize this:

Publishers do not like Scanlations and try/tried to stop them, yet at the same time they use them to gauge peoples interest in certain series to see whether or not it would be profitable to sell them.
Yet with the prices they are selling them for, they consequently force their readers to look for alternatives, thus supporting the Scanlation market – if you want to call it that way.
With the current way of thinking and the lack of money within the reader’s hands it is most likely that Scanlations might exceed the printed volumes, thus causing the downfall of the print media.
Yet there still will be people who wish to buy these things – either to collect them or simply to read them as book.
If both Scanlation groups/Aggregation websites and publisher would find a compromise for their readers that would be affordable and have at least the same standards the Scanlations already provide they would be able to stop this conflict.

But let’s recap what I told you today:

I talked about Manga and how to distinguish them from Comics and Graphic Novels.
Then I talked about Scanlations and the process of making them.
Additionally, I explored a bit on how Manga are generally published in Japan.
At the end I looked at the pros and cons of Scanlations, leaving you with the thought that both parties – publisher and scanlators/readers – have to change their minds on this „problem“, so they might be able to solve it.

And I hope you can now look through the links above and are able to tell the difference between Comics, Graphic Novels, Manga and Scanlations.

References:

Other interesting things to read:

© I own none of the above mentioned Comics or Manga, though I do own issues of them, but no Copyright at all. They all belong to their respective creators. The pictures provided here, were simply used for visualization.
The Chart for the Jump Sales was taken from „The Rise and Fall of Jump„, as well as the data for the Scanlation process chart and the Bleach volume Sales were taken from „Scanlators tell their Stories“ and „Bleach Volume Sales„.
No Copyright Infringement is intended by any of this.
If you would like to use my graphs (Scanlation Process and Bleach Sales) or any of my conclusions please send me a note as I’d like to know how you interpret (and use) them.

Mephisto

One of the most fascinating characters that ever originated in German literature.
Johann Wolgang von Goethe used him as the antagonist for his tragic novel: Faust.

Faust is the story of Doctor Heinrich Faust, who strives for wisdom and uses any means necessary to satisfy his thirst for it. Even making a compact with the Devil –  in this case the devilish character that is Mephistopheles (or short: Mephisto).
An ambiguous man that even describes himself as such:

Part of that Power, not understood,
Which always wills the Bad, and always works the Good.[…]
I am the Spirit that Denies!
And justly so: for all things, from the Void
Called forth, deserve to be destroyed:
‚Twere better, then, were naught created.
Thus, all which you as Sin have rated,—
Destruction,—aught with Evil blent,—
That is my proper element.
(See [PGE])

Or in the old English version:

Part of that power which still
Produceth good, whilst ever scheming ill.[…]
The spirit I, which evermore denies!
And justly; for whate’er to light is brought
Deserves again to be reduced to naught;
Then better ’twere that naught should be.
Thus all the elements which ye
Destruction, Sin, or briefly, Evil, name,
As my peculiar element I claim.
(See [HCE])

Or the ever so great original version:

Ein Teil von jener Kraft,
Die stets das Böse will und stets das Gute schafft.[…]
Ich bin der Geist, der stets verneint!
Und das mit Recht; denn alles, was entsteht,
Ist wert, daß es zugrunde geht;
Drum besser wär’s, daß nichts entstünde.
So ist denn alles, was ihr Sünde,
Zerstörung, kurz, das Böse nennt,
Mein eigentliches Element.
(See [PGG])

Sorry, I simply had to show these different versions.
I personally prefer the last one. Not just because I am German, but simply because I adore the German language so much. If I find the time for it I might record those three quotes to show you verbally the difference in the sound of them, which in my opinion makes the German the outstanding winner – if it would be a competition.

Anyway, by now I am not so sure if the idea for the Mephisto-character really was created by Goethe or even the old stories about the Faust content (the lore about Johann Georg Faust, Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus).
Simply by reading quite some bit of Norse mythology made me realize that one „character“ does have quite similar traits…

Mephisto is the master of lies, Lord of the Flies, Rats and what not. Someone who wants the human existence to end. Permanently. By all means he tries to win his bet with god. To win Fausts soul. The ambiguity I mentioned earlier is kind of his trade mark. He tries to win by causing evil deeds, but the result is not always evil. For example does he cause – through Faust’s wish – Gretchen’s tragedy, but instead of wanting his live to end (by saying his catch-phrase: „Verweile doch du bist so schön.“/“Ah, still delay—thou art so fair!“/“Linger awhile! so fair thou art!”) because of the bliss he had with the girl, Faust simply wants more. Knowing more. Experiencing more. Living more. He is not satisfied. Yet he learns what the girl had to suffer through because of him and it makes him realize his mistakes and trying to save her. And even though Mephisto claims the girl to be lost, god claims her soul to be saved.  Faust kind of grows character-wise from this and strives for a different woman – Helena.
The point is: Mephisto tries to get to his goal without a care of what happens to the ones around him: The deaths of Gretchen’s matron and brother, the pregnancy and the punishment of the girl for killing her own child is the content of the tragedy. Yet the devoted girl is still able to ascent to heaven.

A similar ambiguity can be seen in the myths concerning the Norse god of mischief: Loki.
If you look at the story about Balder’s death for example you can see a similar tragedy.
When everything except the mistletoe had vowed to not harm Balder and everyone was throwing things at him, Loki simply did what he considered fun: He disguised himself and talked Balder’s blind brother Hodur into throwing a sharpened mistletoe at his brother, while guiding his hand. Never intending to kill the beloved god he caused his death by this, as the twig went right into Balder’s heart. As everyone mourned for him they hoped to fulfill Hel’s (Loki’s daughter’s) condition for Balder to return to the realm of the living. Only one person – a giantess who is said to be Loki in disguise again – did not care whether he returned or not, thus Balder would have to stay in the realm of Hel (Helheim) till Ragnorök, where he would be one of the sole „survivors“ and creators of the new world, after the end of everything.
In short: Loki tries to mock the Aesir’s behavior regarding Balder’s invulnerability and causing the biggest tragedy in the Edda, still his „victim“ later has a new role in the recreation of the world, which wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the trickster.
On a German (unofficial) page [LGM] about the Norse mythology it is even concluded, that his doings, despite their evil intent, caused more good things then bad. And that sounds fairly familiar. 😉
Even though I only display shortened versions of both „stories“ and there would probably be a more fitting one for Loki (e.g. the tale of Mjölnir), you might be able to see my point nevertheless: Two characters – one from German lore, one from Norse mythology, who display the same mind set. Doing how they please to accomplish what they want. Making intentionally evil deeds that cause more good than ill. Characters that play with the people around them, to trick them into doing what they see profit in.
Neither of them is (completely) evil (hence the ambiguity). They both just follow someone else’s plan. Bound to act according to it, regardless of all their effort to act on their own „free“ will.
(And seemingly I was not the only one who came to this conclusion, though I did not find an official source [UPG] either…)

I find this characterization quite fascinating and not just for me it is the source for inspiration for characters with similar traits. It is hard for me to grasp – let alone explain – why I like it, but I am mostly compelled to favourite them over the simple minded or less complex characters. Therefore one of my favourite characters in the book I’m co-writing is not even based on/inspired by Mephisto, but will also get a scene that is inspired by the myths concerning Loki – looking forward to officially writing that one.

Reading Faust and being taught of it by a teacher with so much passion for this piece, simply made me inherit this passion. Therefore I think I can claim it one of my favourite books.

Still other authors used Mephisto in their work as well. Not just in Marvel Comics did he became „real“ again (which is pretty funny, as they also have a Loki…), no also a quite new Manga series has a character named „Mephisto Pheles“ (honestly: Took me a while to get that one, as I’m too used to the short version …). I am talking about Kazue Katou’s „Ao No Exorcist“ (Blue Exorcist).
A story about two brother’s whom discover their heritage as sons of Satan. One of them (Rin) who has inherited their father’s (blue) flames and the other (Yukio) already being an Exorcist, who is now guiding his brother to become one as well.
Mephisto is the (demonic) headmaster of the Exorcist school and seems to have his own plan(s) concerning the brother’s. He puts them into several trial fights to see how they are able to cope, even using his own (demonic) brother as bait.
He is capable of using magic. Even going as far as to turn himself into a small terrier like dog. (Another trait all three characters share: Shape shifting 😉 )
In the Anime-version there even is an episode where it is said, that he is the Mephisto Faust made the compact with, though I still prefer the Manga-version…
My fascination for this series – and the kind of character – caused me to write this: Not His Day
A little parody about Mephisto. (Some more information on the creation process can be found, if you follow the above link to the story on Fanfiction.net.)

One thing is clear to me: If I ever would get to own a poodle, I’d call it Mephisto – just for the heck of it. 😀

PoiSonPaiNter

Sources: