This is the sort of story where one can quite honestly write, "I forgot to mention that Heaven and Hell collided some volumes back."

It also features this exchange, which I believe can be appreciated out of context, and is probably the only time in the entire series when I liked Rosiel:

Sandalphon (creepy): Once I have my own body... I will devour you! I'll devour you all!

Rosiel (deadpan): Well, I'll look forward to that, Sandalphon.

You think that lump of flesh clinging to life in that tub is my true form?! )
I finished this series a while ago, but was unable to write it up because every time I attempted a thoughtful, coherent analysis, the content I was trying to analyze was so deliciously demented, so carefully foreshadowed yet totally insane, that my head exploded.

So I will not analyze. Perhaps someone else can analyze in comments. I will merely provide a highlight reel. And, in case this persuades others to persevere beyond the awful and incoherent first volume, this is the kind of series where it's not all that spoilery to mention that a fleet of flying cannibal zombie angel embryos is sent out to destroy the universe. Also, the art is jaw-droppingly beautiful, especially on the covers.

Setsuna escapes on the back of a flying whale. )
I finished this series a while ago, but was unable to write it up because every time I attempted a thoughtful, coherent analysis, the content I was trying to analyze was so deliciously demented, so carefully foreshadowed yet totally insane, that my head exploded.

So I will not analyze. Perhaps someone else can analyze in comments. I will merely provide a highlight reel. And, in case this persuades others to persevere beyond the awful and incoherent first volume, this is the kind of series where it's not all that spoilery to mention that a fleet of flying cannibal zombie angel embryos is sent out to destroy the universe. Also, the art is jaw-droppingly beautiful, especially on the covers.

Setsuna escapes on the back of a flying whale. )
Last year I visited New York City in order to meet my mother. (She lives in India, I live in the USA; the meeting place was more convenient than one might imagine.)

She stayed with some friends of hers who are dancers. She had brought me an illustrated children's Mahabharata and some Amar Chitra Katha comics. I looked through them, showed the dancers some illustrations, and told them some stories. Apparently I focused on decapitated and exploding heads.

For newbies, here is my Fannish Guide to the Mahabharata..

About that exploding head: A man named Jayadratha had a boon that whoever dropped his head to the ground would have his own head explode. When Arjuna and Jayadratha met in battle, Krishna instructed Arjuna to let fly an arrow so that when it decapitated Jayadratha, it would carry his head to Jayadratha's father, who was watching the battle from the sidelines, and drop it in his lap. Arjuna did so. Jayadratha's father leaped up in horror, letting the head fall to the earth... and his own head exploded!

You've got to be careful with the wording on boons.

As a direct, albeit belated result of my telling of such stories, the dancers are doing a piece on "the decapitated head through the ages," and have requested that I send them illustrations and stories. I obliged with a few Mahabharata stories, plus some Amar Chitra Katha comics, including a valiant Rajput woman who cuts off her own head.

I now have three requests for you:

1. The dancers were particularly taken by my story of Jayadratha's decapitated head and his father's exploding head. They requested an illustration. I can't find one. Does anyone have one or know of one? A link, an emailed image, or even a mailed Xerox if you wish to go that far would be great.

2. Do you have any good head stories that I might have missed or forgotten? Not limited to the Mahabharata!

3. I did send them the one about the nodding self-decapitated head on the hill who watched the war of Kurukshetra. [Linked via the "disembodied head tag.] Does anyone have an illustration for that?
Last year I visited New York City in order to meet my mother. (She lives in India, I live in the USA; the meeting place was more convenient than one might imagine.)

She stayed with some friends of hers who are dancers. She had brought me an illustrated children's Mahabharata and some Amar Chitra Katha comics. I looked through them, showed the dancers some illustrations, and told them some stories. Apparently I focused on decapitated and exploding heads.

For newbies, here is my Fannish Guide to the Mahabharata..

About that exploding head: A man named Jayadratha had a boon that whoever dropped his head to the ground would have his own head explode. When Arjuna and Jayadratha met in battle, Krishna instructed Arjuna to let fly an arrow so that when it decapitated Jayadratha, it would carry his head to Jayadratha's father, who was watching the battle from the sidelines, and drop it in his lap. Arjuna did so. Jayadratha's father leaped up in horror, letting the head fall to the earth... and his own head exploded!

You've got to be careful with the wording on boons.

As a direct, albeit belated result of my telling of such stories, the dancers are doing a piece on "the decapitated head through the ages," and have requested that I send them illustrations and stories. I obliged with a few Mahabharata stories, plus some Amar Chitra Katha comics, including a valiant Rajput woman who cuts off her own head.

I now have three requests for you:

1. The dancers were particularly taken by my story of Jayadratha's decapitated head and his father's exploding head. They requested an illustration. I can't find one. Does anyone have one or know of one? A link, an emailed image, or even a mailed Xerox if you wish to go that far would be great.

2. Do you have any good head stories that I might have missed or forgotten? Not limited to the Mahabharata!

3. I did send them the one about the nodding self-decapitated head on the hill who watched the war of Kurukshetra. [Linked via the "disembodied head tag.] Does anyone have an illustration for that?
In light of the troubled times we live in and the many serious issues which surround us today, I would like to discuss a profoundly important topic, namely, The Decapitated Head In Narrative.

I am eminently qualified to discuss this subject, as I once mailed a head to my collaborator and friend [livejournal.com profile] telophase.

I was thinking about it because, as you all know, I am reading The Mahabharata, and that contains a number of decapitations, including two of the best stories about heads that I have ever heard:

First, there is the self-removed magic nodding head on the hill. You have to read the comments and follow the links, especially the last one in the original post, to get the full effect.

And then there is the Exploding Head Of Jayadratha's Father. At the climax of a very intense battle, Arjuna shoots an arrow to cut off the head of his enemy, Jayadratha. As his... um, for the benefit of the newbies, I'll just say "best friend and ally" Krishna had instructed, Arjuna aims the arrow so it carries Jayadratha's head off the battlefield and dumps it in the lap of Jayadratha's father, who was watching from the sidelines. To the astonishment of everyone but Krishna, Jayadratha's father's own head explodes!

Krishna explains that Jayadratha's father had made a pre-emptive attempt to get revenge on anyone who might kill his son by making it so that whoever held his son's decapitated head would have their own head explode. Oops! Those sorts of boons never do work out as intended.

There are, of course, many heads in anime and manga. Sometimes they are in jars. Perhaps my favorite is the head in a jar in Yami no Matsuei, not because it does anything in particular, but because of the reason for its jarred existence: a man killed his brother, then kept his head in a jar in the hope of some day bringing him back to life... so he could kill him again.

I also like the disease in Planet Ladder which causes people's limbs or heads to suddenly fall off, while they are going about their daily lives. It brings up the issue of emotional response:

Drawing of someone's head suddenly falling off: comedy gold.

Drawing of character we already know, but now with her handless arms wrapped in bandages: horrifying and tragic.

The decapitated head, clearly, creates some narrative difficulties. One is unintentional comedy. When characters weeping over the decapitated body of their friend go on to pick up and caress the head, particularly in visual media, it is about fifty-fifty whether I will weep or snicker.

Then too, decapitation is instantaneous. (Or unwatchably horrible if it isn't.) This precludes the possibility of long death scenes. (Unless it's the sort of story where heads can keep talking) I recently read a book where the main character canonically dies from getting his head cut off. But it seemed very much the kind of book that would have a long and dramatic death scene. To my delight, the author resolved this problem by having the character die from having his head half cut off, thereby sticking to canon but getting in the requisite lengthy (and, I must say, memorably disturbing) death scene.

What are your favorite moments in literature (or anime, etc) involving heads?

Please do not spoil significant plot points. For instance, if you want to write about heads in X/1999, you may describe the scene, but please don't say who is cuddling whose head.
In light of the troubled times we live in and the many serious issues which surround us today, I would like to discuss a profoundly important topic, namely, The Decapitated Head In Narrative.

I am eminently qualified to discuss this subject, as I once mailed a head to my collaborator and friend [livejournal.com profile] telophase.

I was thinking about it because, as you all know, I am reading The Mahabharata, and that contains a number of decapitations, including two of the best stories about heads that I have ever heard:

First, there is the self-removed magic nodding head on the hill. You have to read the comments and follow the links, especially the last one in the original post, to get the full effect.

And then there is the Exploding Head Of Jayadratha's Father. At the climax of a very intense battle, Arjuna shoots an arrow to cut off the head of his enemy, Jayadratha. As his... um, for the benefit of the newbies, I'll just say "best friend and ally" Krishna had instructed, Arjuna aims the arrow so it carries Jayadratha's head off the battlefield and dumps it in the lap of Jayadratha's father, who was watching from the sidelines. To the astonishment of everyone but Krishna, Jayadratha's father's own head explodes!

Krishna explains that Jayadratha's father had made a pre-emptive attempt to get revenge on anyone who might kill his son by making it so that whoever held his son's decapitated head would have their own head explode. Oops! Those sorts of boons never do work out as intended.

There are, of course, many heads in anime and manga. Sometimes they are in jars. Perhaps my favorite is the head in a jar in Yami no Matsuei, not because it does anything in particular, but because of the reason for its jarred existence: a man killed his brother, then kept his head in a jar in the hope of some day bringing him back to life... so he could kill him again.

I also like the disease in Planet Ladder which causes people's limbs or heads to suddenly fall off, while they are going about their daily lives. It brings up the issue of emotional response:

Drawing of someone's head suddenly falling off: comedy gold.

Drawing of character we already know, but now with her handless arms wrapped in bandages: horrifying and tragic.

The decapitated head, clearly, creates some narrative difficulties. One is unintentional comedy. When characters weeping over the decapitated body of their friend go on to pick up and caress the head, particularly in visual media, it is about fifty-fifty whether I will weep or snicker.

Then too, decapitation is instantaneous. (Or unwatchably horrible if it isn't.) This precludes the possibility of long death scenes. (Unless it's the sort of story where heads can keep talking) I recently read a book where the main character canonically dies from getting his head cut off. But it seemed very much the kind of book that would have a long and dramatic death scene. To my delight, the author resolved this problem by having the character die from having his head half cut off, thereby sticking to canon but getting in the requisite lengthy (and, I must say, memorably disturbing) death scene.

What are your favorite moments in literature (or anime, etc) involving heads?

Please do not spoil significant plot points. For instance, if you want to write about heads in X/1999, you may describe the scene, but please don't say who is cuddling whose head.
No real spoilers, but this probably won't make much sense unless you know who the characters are.

I am beginning to experience the frustration felt by so many others before me: I love this series, but it's apparently been abandoned, and I can't find any publication schedule for the English editions of the rest of the series. The last one I have is number fourteen, but the series goes to... what... nineteen or twenty? Waaah! I want to read the rest!

I don't really have that much to say about its qualities, as opposed to the plot, that I haven't said before: the art is incredibly beautiful, the character designs are easy on the eyes and easily distinguishable from each other (an important quality in a story with such a huge cast) and the characters are also well-drawn in the metaphoric sense. The artists are exceptionally good at creating moments of visual tenderness between characters: a touch of hands, a meeting of shy glances, an over-eager set of the shoulders when that special person walks into the room.

Especially between Kamui and Subaru. Subaru has a much bigger role in the manga than in the anime, and now I see why people like him so much. (Poor guy.) And I love the scene between Sorata and Arashi in volume 14 where he touches a lock of her hair. Awwww....

The manga is, of course, more detailed than the anime, but I have to say that the anime generally did an excellent job of integrating the short back stories that appear at the end of each volume, focusing on individual characters, into the series. In the anime, I especially liked how they included Seiichiro Aoki and Daisuke Saiki's; in the manga, Yuto Kigai's romance with the fountain is lovely. I have no idea why the anime did not put in that Kusanagi's power is that he can hear the voices of plants and animals. It would have taken them thirty seconds to establish, and it makes all sorts of things about his role and character make sense.

On the down side, the manga is a bit repetitive, and the whole CLAMP school plot seems unnecessary and self-indulgent. There's cross-over characters who I don't care about because you obviously have to have read aomething else to know who they are, and I generally want to see less of them and the goofy blonde schoolboy who's in love with Kamui, and more of the Dragons.

The manga is more violent, which in this case is not an advantage. For instance, in the anime a character is crucified and then stabbed in the heart. In the anime, she's crucified, stabbed in the heart, then dismembered and decapitated. Apart from the death-by-giving-birth-to-shinken scenes, which have to be gruesome, I don't think this is necessary and leads to a problem. If you're going to kill a character and then have someone pick them up to mourn over them, it's better if their body is more-or-less intact. Visual image of person holding dead body of the one they love: moving. Visual image of person holding the decapitated head of the one they love: faintly ludicrous.

So at approximately what point does the manga leave off? Have any of the main characters died yet? Does Subaru face off with Seishiro? Does Sorata get a chance to save Arashi? Does that really cool scene of the final showdown between Karen Kasumi, Seiichiro Aoki, Yuto Kigai, Satsuki, and the Beast happen, or was that made up for the anime? (If it was, hats off to the anime scripters.) And is it ever revealed who Kamui's father is, or is that not important?

I assume the wonderful scene between Fuma and Yuzuriha must happen in volume fifteen, as I was expecting it in fourteen.
No real spoilers, but this probably won't make much sense unless you know who the characters are.

I am beginning to experience the frustration felt by so many others before me: I love this series, but it's apparently been abandoned, and I can't find any publication schedule for the English editions of the rest of the series. The last one I have is number fourteen, but the series goes to... what... nineteen or twenty? Waaah! I want to read the rest!

I don't really have that much to say about its qualities, as opposed to the plot, that I haven't said before: the art is incredibly beautiful, the character designs are easy on the eyes and easily distinguishable from each other (an important quality in a story with such a huge cast) and the characters are also well-drawn in the metaphoric sense. The artists are exceptionally good at creating moments of visual tenderness between characters: a touch of hands, a meeting of shy glances, an over-eager set of the shoulders when that special person walks into the room.

Especially between Kamui and Subaru. Subaru has a much bigger role in the manga than in the anime, and now I see why people like him so much. (Poor guy.) And I love the scene between Sorata and Arashi in volume 14 where he touches a lock of her hair. Awwww....

The manga is, of course, more detailed than the anime, but I have to say that the anime generally did an excellent job of integrating the short back stories that appear at the end of each volume, focusing on individual characters, into the series. In the anime, I especially liked how they included Seiichiro Aoki and Daisuke Saiki's; in the manga, Yuto Kigai's romance with the fountain is lovely. I have no idea why the anime did not put in that Kusanagi's power is that he can hear the voices of plants and animals. It would have taken them thirty seconds to establish, and it makes all sorts of things about his role and character make sense.

On the down side, the manga is a bit repetitive, and the whole CLAMP school plot seems unnecessary and self-indulgent. There's cross-over characters who I don't care about because you obviously have to have read aomething else to know who they are, and I generally want to see less of them and the goofy blonde schoolboy who's in love with Kamui, and more of the Dragons.

The manga is more violent, which in this case is not an advantage. For instance, in the anime a character is crucified and then stabbed in the heart. In the anime, she's crucified, stabbed in the heart, then dismembered and decapitated. Apart from the death-by-giving-birth-to-shinken scenes, which have to be gruesome, I don't think this is necessary and leads to a problem. If you're going to kill a character and then have someone pick them up to mourn over them, it's better if their body is more-or-less intact. Visual image of person holding dead body of the one they love: moving. Visual image of person holding the decapitated head of the one they love: faintly ludicrous.

So at approximately what point does the manga leave off? Have any of the main characters died yet? Does Subaru face off with Seishiro? Does Sorata get a chance to save Arashi? Does that really cool scene of the final showdown between Karen Kasumi, Seiichiro Aoki, Yuto Kigai, Satsuki, and the Beast happen, or was that made up for the anime? (If it was, hats off to the anime scripters.) And is it ever revealed who Kamui's father is, or is that not important?

I assume the wonderful scene between Fuma and Yuzuriha must happen in volume fifteen, as I was expecting it in fourteen.
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