bITS 'N CHUNKS
I love reading yuri or girls' love (I don’t really make the distinction between yuri & "softcore" shoujo-ai) manga, but I think it's fair to say a lot of it is very same-y. Yuri still trails behind yaoi/boys' love in popularity and profitability, so a lot of mangaka understandably keep whipping out the same tropes over and over to increase their profile and of course make money. The more experimental manga tend to be one-shots and often reserved for anthologies. And the experimental ones are free to get as…weird as weird can.
That's how I stumbled onto Mare a few years ago by one of my favorite yuri mangaka Morinaga Milk. Morinaga-san is really cool because her art is so feminine and delicate and she's largely unfettered by stereotypical yuri tropes, but she's not afraid of a little hentai. Even her works that kind of push that direction -- school girl lesbians for example -- usually have some subversive element to keep it from being the same ol' same ol'.
Morinaga-san is probably best known for Girl Friends, which is one of the best damn school girl romance dramas out there in the English speaking world, dare I say ever because I'm going there. Mare is an earlier work that looks to have been published in a highly specialized hentai magazine because it's pretty hardcore and there's demons.
Wait, what? Demons in my lesbian manga?
Well, yeah. And I say highly specialized because Morinaga-san incorporates some of the more obscure demons from Pseudomonarchia Daemonum and The Lesser Key of Solomon. The main character, Mea, is a powerful and amoral witch who hides out in a girls' school while feeding her pet beasties and summoning demons. While she's there, Mea inadvertently exposes some of the dark secrets of the school like co-ed affairs, abortions, even murder. Later on, there's a plot where another witch at the school challenges Mea but it ends too abruptly to even be satisfying.
So, Mare barely counts as a yuri manga because it really just involves Mea being rather loose with her sexuality and her attachment to her roommate/classmate, but it's definitely one of my favorite occult-themed manga. Themes of the occult in manga usually skew more towards the shounen or seinen demographic and, yeah, there's Judeo-Christian demons and long three volume fights but it never feels like substance. The works of Go Nagai (Devilman & Devilman Lady) keep my interest as well. And then there's the truly esoteric and nigh incomprehensible side, which would be something like Neon Genesis Evangelion. But despite the second half being a let-down, Mare just felt so substantive in the way that it accurately incorporated witchcraft, minor demons, sigils and invocations, and a smidge of social commentary. Then it, you know, goes to hell. But if you have the time, like ambiguous lesbian relationships, and cute evil little girls, check it out.
I'm a little behind schedule on this, as my local 12 Hours of Terror was officially "a couple weekends" ago. But let's talk about having A Good Time real quick.
You may not believe me now or even notice but goddamn the skress around having A Good Time is intense. It's about going to the right places, getting your money's worth, and just generally not having a good time trying to figure out if you're having a good time.
Now did I have a good time at 12 Hours of Terror? Hell yes I did. I got to see several of my favorite movies as noted by the poster here. It was my main Halloween event for Pumpkin's sake.
I was spending time with my dad. I was laughing and chopping it up with the young couple next to me. I was buying cookies and tea
and popcorn and Twizzlers and just trying to pretend we were
doing whatever we wanted without a care in the world. But
I was mentally counting up how much I had spent and seriously asking myself what good time could be worth all this? I'm so lost. I lost the ability to enjoy myself even while I'm enjoying myself.
Having A Good Time. I think some of it is just a symptom of this month...oh, but the event? Man, what a good fucking time. Hosted by our friendly neighborhood horror host Dr Gangrene once again, we were treated to a night of terror, bad puns, and The Boo Dudes with their psychedelic stage show. I couldn't ask for more and I thank the Belcourt for providing once again. We only made it eight hours this time and I really feel like we forced ourselves into that. But other than just two more movies I have no more requests except to my own brain to get it together. The movies we successfully got through were:
Inferno, my other fave
Dead and Buried
I will say I'm sad they've skipped the in-between movie segments like the Re-Wind and the horror shorts...
Back to the bullshit everyone,
So...this became my sort of Dark Tower homage I think. I enjoyed the concept of the story and the main character but I lost a lot of steam with it, so you'll see later I tried to write another one and lost steam AGAIN before I just took a break and said nah. I think I know what I want to do with him I just need to give his story time to percolate. Meanwhile, this is technically the end and the other one is the...middle? Man, writing is fuckin' weird.
I don't really remember what my first encounter with body horror was. I know it was a movie. It was more than likely Alien or probably Nightmare on Elm St II. Yeah, I think it was that. Anyways, other than being thoroughly grossed out and creeped right the hell out, I right away appreciated the transformative nature of body horror. Of becoming something greater and bigger than yourself and of course terrible and scary.
Do I think body horror is the scariest subgenre? Nah, it's just my preferred one. It couples well with so many things, most notably psychological horror. The feeling of wrongness out of your control to fix it. Being helpless in your own body and in your own head is something I can relate to as someone that frequently goes through suicidal periods thanks to depression. I also frequently draw on my own bodily pain because I'm way too familiar with that.
The Fly ('50s with all due respect to Cronenberg) made me want to write sci-fi but Clive Barker made me want to write horror. Weird shit, unpublishable "what the hell?" type material. It wouldn't be fair to say Clive is my favorite author -- I can admit he has his short comings. Sometimes he's a little too out there when he drifts away from the splatterpunk and into dark fantasy. I don't dislike dark fantasy, mind you! I quite enjoy it. Sometimes, though, Clive is trippin'. I remember how emotionally exhausted I was after reading Imajica. The mark of a good author that has gone too damn far.
But yeah, my first exposure to Clive was of course Hellraiser. Pinhead was so damn blasphemous and so over the line it wasn't even funny. I wore the first two movies out and I actually like the third and fourth movies too. The creature design and most importantly the storytelling have stayed with me forever. When I found out that it was based off a book, I used the online library search tool to find it and immediately rent it. From there, I read quite a bit more of his work but my favorites are the Books of Blood series and Cabal. Nightbreed!!
When I decide to get flippin' weird there's a lot of elements of grotesque body horror in my work to the point where I am kind of scared that I'm a sociopath. I love bodies splitting in half to reveal something that shouldn't be there. I love tears of blood. I love painful horns growing out of the forehead. I love the revelation. Like I said, it's the transformative aspect. Body horror is also often dystopic and sleazy, kind of a left over from my B-movie days. Think Cronenberg. There are forces beyond your control using your body to commit unspeakable acts and when they're done with you they will discard you in the most ugly ways. Look what they've done to you!
The history of body horror is neat, too. Arguably it's been around since folklore in the form of shapeshifters like vampires and werewolves. Stories of people dying unclean or the devil using your corpse to spread evil. Even worse if you voluntarily gave up your soul. Body horror exists in nature as well in the form of parasites and fungus and invasive plant species. It's something we've seen and we're familiar with, so when it happens large scale it makes us a little uneasy.
I'm reminded of an interview with Dario Argento in which he explains his philosophy towards murder scenes -- he goes for things that the audience is familiar with, like scalding hot water. They say write what you know, right? I can definitely relate to you the experience of someone or something hijacking you consciousness & putting you through some shit. Not too many people know what it feels like to be shot with a bullet but just about all of us have been burned by something. Similarly, not too many of us have borne host to a parasitic alien but a lot of us have been sick, had a mysterious virus, or maybe even experienced a troubled pregnancy.
The first time I heard Necronomidol I think they had just gone on hiatus for a bit. I assumed the novelty of a black metal inspired idol unit just kind of wore off in the face of BABY METAL and such derivative acts. But the videos were cool and slick and purposefully mimicking giallo style with the music to fit, and I really dug their sinister image.
But at some point, the stars aligned and Necroma rose up once again from the depths with a few new members, another member change, and then finally what is (I hope) a permanent line up. Check out the video for "Ithaqua".
Necronomidol is a great example of the whole "do it your damn self" attitude which is strange in the idol world (but not really in underground idol acts, please check out Homicidols). Their relentless attitudes and the ceaseless determination of their manager Rick have landed them at least a small European tour and some good buzz. But that's not what actually makes them stand out, it's the members themselves and the fact that they're young girls singing about Cthulhu. That's it. I love aidoru and I love Cthulhu, so I'm in.
Okay, Necroma's songs are very good and refreshingly hardcore and TRVE. Their Bandcamp provides some English translations of their songs and they're very literary. I love that they interact with some of the lesser known critters and aspects of Lovecraftian mythos. Doing that sometimes runs the risk of making you look a little too hardcore or not palatable because you're just appealing to the geek squad at this point but Necroma somehow does it with some pretty serious pop ambitions. But…down-tuned guitars…
What sets Necroma apart from the BABY METAL clones to me (aside from their complete, utter darkness and end of the world prophesying) is that at least so far they haven't gone for the death/nu metal guttural growls and prefer very clean, idol vocal melodies so they're very easy to churn out fiction to. I like their weird yet very successful iconoclasm. It's beyond creepy cute aesthetic, it's the merging of old school metal ideology, occult image, and bouncy j-pop. It's not superficial but doesn't take itself exceptionally seriously. Oh my gosh, it's me as a group. It me! If someone is working on a manga or some unofficial doujinshi for them, can I write it? Please?
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...