The Acting World: Autobiography Play (Part Three)

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On this very day, at this very time, exactly four years ago, I self-starred in the auto-bio play “Ryan’s World.”

If you fancy reading the other parts, you can see the links underneath.^^/

https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/the-acting-world-autobiography-play-part-one/ 

https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/the-acting-world-autobiography-play-part-two/

  1. DECISION

Choosing the right songs and implementing them into the show was tricky. However, Mr P and Mum suggested certain songs for me to use.

For the intro, and the audience coming in and settle their bums to the floor, I opted to use Christina Aguilera’s song “Beautiful.” We all thought that this would be an ideal way to start the performance as that song is about individuality and self-confidence. For good measure I added a picture of me when I was 5 holding a Thomas the Tank Engine train. Whilst I was incredibly embarrassed I wanted to give everyone an idea what I looked like when I was young. That and I think it adds to the realism of the performance.

I was behind the stage of the intro and the first video scene. Nerves started to grow up inside me, but I felt myself getting into the moment of my youth. The first video scene is the doctor diagnosing my condition and explained to my Mum (the character) what to expect of me in the future. It would be highly unlikely that I would ever come out of my own bubble. Listening to this really helped me to get into the moment as it set as a reminder of what I was like when I was young.

  1. SCENES YOUNGER THAN TEN

I walked into the open space and parked myself on the outer edge of the gazebo. I used the gazebo for the purpose of holding up the screen which showed the videos. I was very conscious that I was going to knock the whole thing down so I took great care not to bump into it. Haha.

These few scenes were all about me when I was a toddler. The video showed scenes whilst I held up phrases on the cards to show what I was thinking at that time. I couldn’t explain myself at that time but I was aware what was happening. I held up a cue card that said “I know you’re talking about me, I’m not stupid.” I also held up a few sad faces to show the audience that I was feeling sad in certain moments.

On stage I kept my face and body language neutral to reinforce how I would have been feeling at the time. However, I did feel trickles of tears running down my face. “That’s not supposed to happen,” I thought. That was the first time ever that I genuinely cried during a performance. I cringed every time I heard myself scream or cry out. It felt like a stab in the heart. I wanted to hide my face behind the big cards as I didn’t really want the audience to see tears running down my face. Haha. I spontaneously took a few deep breaths to regain my composure.

I did receive a few laughs when I got kissed with a lipstick in the video and when I showed my sad face for the first time. I think everyone laughed at first probably because they thought the face was drawn in a funny way. I put up a smiling face when the lady at the school residential read me a Thomas story.

I think the audience were very touched by this. I even added the song “Thomas, You’re the Leader.” I felt this was very appropriate as I was trying to tell the audience that Thomas was my saviour in many unhappy moments.

Eventually, I went off stage, gearing myself up to reappear in a certain scene.

  1. SCENES OLDER THAN TEN

On the video it showed the actual footage of me being the mascot for Charlton Athletic when they played Bolton in 2000.

I came onto the stage feeling excited as I gained confidence and started to understand the surroundings outside my bubble.

I spoke only basic words at that time. In hindsight I wonder if I should have spoken in a monotone voice because I used to be expressionless with my words. However, in the live performance I was representing my thoughts. So I figured it would be appropriate to speak with emotion.

The most important scene involves the Football School. I was pretty nervous about this. It was important to get this right. We filmed the parts where all the lads were making fun of me and showed a huge lack of understanding. The coach was no different. I was too meek and polite to not stick up for myself as I didn’t want to “upset” anyone. It went to the point where I started to get changed in front of the other lads, something which I was very uncomfortable with.

On the video I actually did get changed but my back was to the audience so only my back was visible. Haha. That was another big moment as I don’t like getting changed in front of other people. I think if the scene wasn’t so serious the audience would have had a good chuckle at this.

The video was pretty emotional as I kept on making mistakes and kept on being the victim of “being different.” I tried to be strong and be tough but I kept on making mistakes, especially when I missed the penalty and ran the full length of the pitch to score an own goal… My spirit eventually wavered and I broke down in the middle of the pitch, all alone… On cue- Girls Aloud’s cover of “I’ll Stand by You,” plays as the video zooms out and fades.

This was definitely challenging to perform on film. I was caught up in the emotion of that part of my life. The Football scene and hanging out with “normal people” was the main reason why I started to become insecure about being Autistic. Was it ok to be different? I made my feelings known at that very moment how I felt about the world.

“I hate normal people. I hate special needs… and I hate myself.”

And it was at that very moment that I started to become insecure about myself. I had a long string that kept me from the audience. When my confidence grew, I’d pull the string back, allowing the audience nearer. If my confidence was knocked, I would push the string back and push the audience away. The strings were held up by three stools. When I said “I hate special needs…” I started to push the stools back.

However, I managed to compose myself enough not to charge into Mr Ian who was right behind the stool that I was pushing. This was quite reassuring as I’ve never felt this emotional during a performance. It showed me that even though I was in the zone I was still aware of my surroundings. That was quite a proud moment. =)

  1. INDIVIDUALITY

From that moment on I tried to fight for individuality and to be accepted for whom I was and I tried this tactic in different situations. I bought a Thomas DVD at school but my teacher disapproved as she thought that it was “too childish” and so she took it back. Why wasn’t I allowed to express the things I like? Why couldn’t I get the things I like? What was wrong with being myself?

  1. REACHING COLLEGE

I had the option of attending two different colleges. One was my local college and the other was the college that I eventually went to. I was very determined not to go to this certain college as I knew that I would have to start in the Supported Learning Department. I really, really didn’t want that to happen.

I expressed my anger and stubbornness thoughts to the audience. Was it fate that I would never progress? On the video it showed the letter that I would be in the SLD department. It also said in the letter how it would have been “too much for me” to be in the actual Performing Arts course with the “normal” mainstream students.

It turns out that college has treated me very kindly and the SLD department was actually a good stepping stone for me to study and perform with the “normal” mainstream students. I went from expressing my anger on stage feeling to expressing my pride and happiness.

  1. I AM RYAN

On film, I spoke about the overview of my time on the course. I learned that my biggest achievement from this University Course wasn’t the high marks on paper. It was learning how to be myself. In those last couple of months I completely let myself go and allowed everyone to get to know the real me and who I really was.

I’m not Autistic, I’m Ryan who just so happens to have Autism.

Being Ryan was my identity. After this revelation I stopped acting at this point and I was genuinely myself. It was definitely natural as I completely forgot my line at that moment. Haha!

I changed clothes into a more casual outfit, cut the tap and invited the audience into “my space”. This was to signify that I now felt more comfortable with how I was. I personally am not comfortable with physical contact but it’s my way of letting everyone know that I’m opening myself up to them.

At this moment I walked out of the room and the video of me, wearing the same casual outfit, came up. This was the scene where I said my “THANKYOUS” to all my friends, colleagues and tutors for treating me kindly for all these years. I would be too embarrassed to say it to their faces so I coped out and made them watch the video instead. Haha. Ironically, this was actually the very first thing that I and Mr P did, shooting this video of “THANKYOUS.”

In this video I played the soundtrack “The Island Song” and “I Believe I Can Fly.” These songs are very poignant to me as I used to severely dislike music. However, these were the very first songs that I liked and they were the platform for me to open myself up to all kinds of music. Now, whilst I still don’t like noise, I can handle music better and I’m very open-minded about it. Once again, Thomas the Tank Engine helped as The Island Song was actually a soundtrack from Thomas the Tank Engine. Haha.

  1. POST SHOW

I came out and took a bow. I was a little bit overwhelmed by the loud clapping and I literally couldn’t look at any of them in the face. After the bow I ran as fast as I could so that I didn’t have to talk to anyone. I was a little caught up in the moment. Well, that’s a fib. I was VERY caught up in the moment. Haha.

I actually get very embarrassed when I’m the centre of attention or if everyone is looking at me, which is among the reasons why I ran off. If I had spoken to people straightaway I probably would have been too caught up and cried and I really didn’t want that to happen.

After calming down I spoke with my friends one by one and had a good chin-wag with all of them. It was a strange moment as I was talking with them as if I had never performed the piece. It felt natural, very natural. I really did like that feeling and it was at that moment that I realised that all my Uni friends were actually my friends.

By revealing my autism to everyone has turned out to be one of the best moments in my life. I can now say that I have autism without feeling ashamed or insecure.

THANKS FOR READING

Thomas and Gordon 2

Since this day, four years ago, life has been great and for the first time I felt free of doubt. I have never looked back… and I never will.

Thanks for reading. =)

Namaste.^^/

Ryan

The Acting World: Autobiography Play (Part Two)

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  1. DECISION

Right! I’m now going to do this Autobio play starring as myself, but… what on earth do I do? How do I execute this piece? How do I act it? How do I direct it? What parts of my life are most significant and what might people be interested in? Do I do live or film or a mixture of both?

I discussed the key parts of my life with my co-director Mr P as well as my family. After much discussion we decided that my life before Uni was the way to go. Obviously, people at Uni only knew me as I was then. They had no idea about my life prior to the Uni course.

At that point I had a rough idea how I was going to perform this piece. I decided to make this mostly live theatre but to include multimedia and film. I felt that I could express my thoughts live but portray certain aspects on film. To me that was the most practical and sensible solution. Realistically speaking, I don’t think there was any way I could have done it. Mr Ian came up with great artistic ideas but I needed to do what I was comfortable with. Well… everything I was doing at that point was far from comfortable! Haha.

I decided what scenes I was going to film, what characters to use and who I would ask to play those parts.

With the cast chosen I then had to think about which scenes I would film and which I would perform live.

  1. OVER-ACTING

In the first two weeks I did find it difficult to play my character. I learned that I kept holding back when I was rehearsing so I decided to stop rehearsing altogether, choosing to act and improvise when I was being filmed.

I did this one scene where I was playing with my biro trains and Thomas trains where I would scream and get upset if my brother tried to join in the fun. I think I was ok but I wasn’t natural… I was extremely uncomfortable and I think because of this I started to over-act. It’s not easy when you’re 22 and you’re trying to act as you did when you were 4.

Acting as my younger self playing with my trains was probably the most difficult part of the whole performance. The scene wasn’t really done right. I couldn’t rehearse it as it was a challenge to keep it up. If I was going to do this then I had to do it in one take. My family members watched my scene back and they felt that I wasn’t being natural either. They watched me grow up so they could remember how I acted and behaved.

With much reluctance but being sensible, I decided that I should do this scene again, but in a more natural setting…I chose to do this, for the second time, at my sister’s house.

  1. EPIPHANY

There was a period where my confidence was low. I did start to doubt myself and my capabilities of being able to pull this off. Could I do it? I needed an inspiration from somewhere…

My university is actually based in a college. The correct term of studying that I did was Foundation Degree. Basically, you do two years of university work at a college but you do the final third year at an actual university. The third year is only optional though. I decided to take a look at my local university, with the thought of carrying on the third year, to obtain my full degree. It sounded ideal to me at that time. So, I went along to the open day and spoke to one of the course tutors with my Mum. We explained to her about my individual needs and what my strengths and needs were.

Her reaction to everything that we said was quite peculiar. She pulled a lot of funny faces and she especially made a quirky face when I said that I don’t understand generalisation. From that moment she started to discourage me from the course as she didn’t think I could handle it. There were going to be many social gatherings and she didn’t think that I could adapt enough to meet the course requirements. I was rather speechless at that moment…

I was a bit shocked on how quickly she discouraged me, and even went so far to suggest a writing course as no social interaction was required. Haha… I decided from that moment that I was not going to go on that course as the tutor didn’t seem open-minded and she did not understand people like me. Even if I did join the course I think I would have dropped out because of her. I was unimpressed with her attitude, and to be honest, I was unimpressed with the SLD facilities that that particular university had to offer.

After I spoke about my thoughts to my family and I had the chance for all this to sink in…a fire started to ignite in my stomach. I started to get annoyed that someone would pre-judge me and my capabilities without even getting the time to know me first. There have been people in my life who have doubted my capabilities, and I was always determined to prove those people wrong.

The only people who doubted me were the people who did not know me. They just judged my capabilities through papers, reports and assessments and probably what they’ve researched about autism on the internet. I wasn’t going to let anyone doubt me ever again. I was going to prove to everyone that I shouldn’t limit my capabilities just because of pre-judgement. I especially was going to prove to everyone and to myself that I shouldn’t limit my capabilities just because I’m Autistic.

I was angry. I was determined. I was motivated.

This was the answer. This was the epiphany that I was looking for. The confidence that I had lost came back and it was stronger than ever before.

And now, back to the Performance.

  1. NEW FOUND CONFIDENCE

I asked the National Certificate group to paint me a wall of a mountain that represents my personal journey. Me and Mr P went to their class and explained what we were looking for. At that moment Mrs V turned to me and said, “Are you going to tell everyone about you?” and I was like “oh my…”

I was so focus on proving a point to my doubters and to myself that I completely forgot that I was going to share with everyone about my Autism. Was this going to be a first time? Initially, I was very hesitant. I’ve never openly told this side of me to anyone, only a close group of people. I knew the National Certificates by their faces but I didn’t know any of them personally. How would they react? I took a deep breath and said, “I am autistic.”

I got a positive response. I was asked a lot of questions regarding Autism and how I cope with autism. It really warmed my heart and boosted my confidence. I even got a round of applauds.

It boosted my morale even more and for the first time in my life I wasn’t afraid to say that I have autism. I became much more open about myself and I generally became chattier with people who I didn’t know very well, which used to be an enormous challenge for me.

  1. FILMING THE SCENES

What was initially daunting turned out to be a lot of fun.

The football guys were wonderful to work with. I explained to them what my condition was and how I cope with it. Coincidentally, they were doing a course about bullying so I was actually called into that class to talk about being different. I never thought I would speak about my autism in front a bunch of strangers! And like the National Certificates, I got a positive response.

The football students acted out their parts very well but I must say that Chris, the tutor, was particularly outstanding. His sister has learning difficulties so I think he was able to relate to my problems to some degree.

I decided to include some of my family/family friends in certain film scenes. They were fun to work with.

The scene I did with Nat and Mr Andy was not very loud on film so I went to Mr M, who is a record producer that I know and a good friend. He had a studio so offered to help with the sound on the film. He was kind enough to help me out so I went over to his house and did the over dubbing. What should have taken a few hours took all night. We worked on it from 4 O’clock in the afternoon until 5 O’clock in the morning! It took me 58 goes to get the speech pattern right! Haha! We experienced all kinds of emotions that night but it was definitely an amazing night and one of the best that I’ve experienced. =)

  1. SHOW TIME

There was a lot that I wanted to talk about as this had been a really good experience. I had a lot of fun with many people during the filming. I decided to only talk about significant parts of the rehearsals and filming and how I over-came problems.

Next time, I will share my thoughts with you about going into the performance, during the performance, and after the performance.

Show time!

My Christmas Spirit

Coca-cola-lorry

Ho, Ho, Ho.^^/

Christmas has an impact on people in different but wonderful ways. For me, it represents a time to spend with family and friends. So far, I’m doing just that. However, it never really occurs to me that Christmas is coming until certain things trigger my realisation…

  1. The Coca-Cola Advert
  2. Putting up the decorations
  3. Home Alone on TV
  4. Advent Calendar
  5. Walking out in the freezing cold
  6. Putting up the Christmas tree

When do you realise Christmas is coming?

The decorations in my house look splendid, and I’ve got a new star to put at the top of the tree. =) I watched Home Alone the other day on Channel 4 +1. I would say that both Home Alone 1 and 2 are probably my favourite Christmas films of all time. I enjoy it now as I did when I was much younger. Even in the days when I in a complete world of my own. I remember my Mum buying the Home Alone soundtrack all the way back in 1992. It’s both wonderful and amazing how time flies. I’ve come a long way since then. =)

I’ve been in a good mood recently. I recently finished my illustration on a picture that I’m quite proud of. I drew and coloured Aoi Sakurai from the anime, ‘Rail Wars.’ I was thinking of doing either Rias Gremory or Takao next. However, I also begin to wonder if it’s more appropriate to draw a Christmas picture with a bunch of anime girls squashed together. That could be a lot of fun actually. If I feel like it, I’ll give them a go.

So far I’ve been doing a countdown to Christmas. Every morning I would eat a piece of chocolate from my Thomas the Tank Engine advent calendar. Then, I would post #day1 for example onto Instagram. I’m finding that a lot of fun. I don’t really eat heaps of chocolate in truth, but when I do, it’s on a special occasion. =D

THANKS FOR READING

Father Christmas

 I still have plenty of presents to wrap and cards to send but it’s all worth it when the 25th December arrives. 😉

Thanks for reading.

Namaste.^^/

Ryan.

Applewood Farm Pub Quiz 2014

Applewood Farm

Ho, Ho, Ho.^^/

Coincidentally, it was around this time last year that I blogged about the Applewood Farm pub quiz. This time was more special than the time from last year.

A dear friend of ours came to visit from Norway. He’s really my brother’s friend but I said ‘ours’ because I consider him a friend of mine too.^^/ Since he was over here we decided that we were going to the Applewood Farm pub quiz. I was invited out on this occasion. Usually I would have to think about it for days. Instead, I said that I would go and deal with my anxiety when the time came.

*

I did get into a little bit of a head mush for a couple of hours before the outing. I had a lot of decorations to sort out, house chores and wrapping presents. I tried to think rationally. It then came to my attention that a completely new person was going to come and join our outing. I started to get apprehensive. I was not prepared to meet someone new. It wasn’t long ago that I had just got over the whole London trip so how was I going to fare going to the quiz with someone new?

This nearly swayed me out of the trip. I then remembered that our friend from Norway was attending. It isn’t often that he comes over and he was going back the following day. This would really be my last opportunity to see him for a while so I decided to go, despite my sudden rush of worries.

*

The taxi with my brother and co arrived. A strange wave of anxiety then rose up in my chest and stomach. The taxi he ordered was… let’s call them Taxi Company X. Now, this was a big problem for me. Taxi Company X gave me a hard time during my college/university days. They often made me late, they crashed into posts, they nearly crashed into other cars and they deliberately left me stranded. My parents complained about them at the time and I was switched to another transportation company to get to college/university.

I promised myself that I will never travel with them again. And I kept that promise…but my brother made me break it. Bro, if you’re reading, shame on you! (The fact that my brother knew nothing about my silent promise is neither here or there. Haha.)

In all seriousness, I understand that things could have changed since my university days. For all I know the evening service might be a lot more efficient then the contract service. Letting things go can be difficult depending on your own experience. On this occasion I needed to grit my teeth hard. Fortunately for me Taxi Company X were ok and they didn’t leave me stranded. Of course I won’t forget about the times when they made my life difficult but this was a good barrier for me to overcome. They still wouldn’t be my first choice of transportation.

*

In the taxi I tried to distract myself by making conversation. We talked about rubbish and I was sort of ok.^^/

The pub quiz was quite fun, our team were the Volvo Brothers, Volbros for short. 🙂 The puzzle round was mighty difficult. I’m not even sure if I can explain it… so I won’t. Haha.

I was debuting my new jumper and silky T-shirt too. It was a proud moment… until it was cut short. It came to light that I dropped bits of chocolate flakes down my jumper. “Oh no!” was my instant cry. I then pulled up my jumper to find more chocolate flakes on my pants. “Oooooh nooooo!” was my bigger cry.

You may have gathered, but I get somewhat careless when I eat. I even found one on my forehead. I have no idea how that got there! I don’t eat like Cookie Monster though. Honest!

*

The socialising side was much better than I anticipated. There was a chance that another lady was going to join in with the quiz on our team too. It was too short noticed for me to react or worry so I decided to just take it in my stride. I was adamant that I wanted to be on the end of the table as I sensed that I needed to dash off a couple of times.

Our team were placed 8th out of 37 with 61 points. I was most pleased. We originally counted up the score to 48 points. When we didn’t hear our names I suspected that we might have been disqualified. If you’re caught using your phone during the quiz or google the answers then you’re automatically disqualified. I know I used my phone once replying back to a friend but no more than that. I was concerned that we might have been disqualified due to a misunderstanding. Thankfully, I was wrong. =)

I bought my brother a pint of…carling, I think? I’m a tea total by nature and never touch anything alcoholic. His birthday is coming up so I figured I should treat him. It’s probably the second time that I bought him a pint, but I was on my own in this case so I was unsure if I was going to get an I.D. check. It turned out, I didn’t.

I seem to forget that I’m not as young as I used to be. In my head, I feel no different now than when I was 17. It’s weird yet fascinating how we age. I digress.

*

I somewhat interacted with other people. I grinned at the quiz master and he winked at me back. I smiled back at a random lady who was smiling when I was at the bar, getting hot chocolate with marshmallows and chocolate flakes. Yes, these are the exact same chocolate flakes that went down my pants and top. Haha.

I was somewhat caught up in the crowd and sort of backed off so I let everyone get through the door first. I don’t like heaps of crowd as some of you may know, so I decided to wait until the crowd died down to get out. This random chap asked me “where did you come?” I replied “eighth.” He then mumbled a couple of words, but I believe he was paying me and my team a compliment.

A young cute lady then said to me that they came in second. I beamed up and offered my congratulations when Mr Drunk interrupted and said that she was lying out of her…backside. Now that I think about it, she probably said thirty second and he misunderstood her. Then, when we were outside he offered up a fist gesture so someone would bump with him. So, I stretched out my arm and gave him a fist bump. Haha. Then he walked away…

I think that was probably the first ever time I gave someone a fist-bump. Haha.

THANKS FOR READING

It was certainly an eventful evening from my point of view, but in a way, it’s a good change of pace and most certainly a valuable experience, especially when handling people who have had a little bit too much to drink.

Jingle Bells until next time.

Namaste,^^/

Ryan.

My First Year Blog Anniversary

Party Popper

Blog Tidings.^^/

It seems rather strange that I have been blogging for one full year now and this was met by many adventures that I did during that period. =) I’m not sure how it started really. I believe I was just rambling on with my family when it came up in passing that I should blog about my experiences with Autism. I learned over the years that writing things down can release my unwanted tension and it’s another form of me expressing myself. =)

After careful consideration, I registered on WordPress and my blogging journey started…

I could talk about my year as a whole, but instead, I’ll just summarise and link to the blogs that I think are significant.^^/

  1. Introduction

This is my introduction which I wrote one year ago. =)

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2013/11/16/introduction/)

  1. WWE Raw 2013

I went to WWE Raw with my circle friends. I used to be a big fan of WWE but this was the first time that I attended an actual wrestling show. It was daunting but it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. Plus, my favourite wrestlers were in attendance.

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/wwe-raw-experience/)

  1. Segway

This was good experience and an instant highlight of the year. I arranged a birthday treat for my brother. This was the first time that I had actually arranged anything. I was also venturing into the unknown here. It was a little distance away but we both had a really good time and I would do Segway again without hesitation.

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/segway/)

  1. Pub-Quizzing

On some occasions I would go to the Pub Quiz either as a night out or to celebrate a special occasion. I would often have to have a long think about whether I want to go out or not. Last month though, I went to the pub quiz for Cheese’s (the friend, not the dairy product) birthday celebration. Instead of needing to think I just decided to deal with my emotions when the time arrived.

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2013/12/14/pub-quizzing/)

  1. WWE Royal Rumble

In early 2014 I stayed at my brother’s until the early hours watching WWE Royal Rumble. For some televised wrestling events I would often stay over. Usually after the event I spend the rest of my night sitting in a chair reading as I don’t feel comfortable sleeping in someone else’s house.

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/wwe-royal-rumble-2014/)

  1. Completing a Writing Course

This was certainly a joyous occasion and I celebrated it with a pint of J2O. 😉 I learned a lot about writing and how to approach a publisher. Nothing has been happening for me and my books just yet but I believe I’m steering myself in the right direction. =)

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/passing-an-online-course/)

  1. Positivity and Autism

Naturally, coping with Autism can be tough. I tend to over-think and read into situations that are not there.

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/negativity-to-positivity/)

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/negativity-to-positivity-over-thinking/)

  1. Visiting College

Visiting my college again was quite a challenge. I was invited back to college a few times to watch performances and to catch up with people but I declined those offers. I was out of routine and had become unfamiliar with everything.

However, this year, I decided to pluck up my own courage and visited. I thought long and hard about this invitation but in the last minute I decided to say “yes.”

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/visiting-college/)

  1. The Wedding Blogs

I didn’t have much to blog about in July except for one…my sister’s wedding. That was a very significant moment and I achieved a lot personally on that day.

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/the-wedding-part-one/)

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/the-wedding-part-two/)

  1. Yoga

My outlook on myself and confidence is highly due to my regular practice in Yoga.

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2014/08/23/my-yoga-journey/)

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/my-yoga-journey-continues/)

  1. Film with a Friend

I went to watch the Transformers film with a friend… this was definitely a significant moment as this was the first time that I’ve been out with someone without a family member being present. The following day I went to the cinema with my Dad, and I took the initiative as he is less familiar with the procedure then I am.

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/transformers-age-of-extinction-film-review/)

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/inbetweeners-2-film-review/)

  1. Impromptu Outing

Going to an impromptu trip to a train station was an interesting challenge.

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/journey-to-tumbleweed-station/)

  1. November Happenings

November was very busy month and was perhaps the most challenging.

I designed a Halloween costume dressed as the Shockmaster for my Brother’s Halloween party. The day after that I went to London to watch Distant Worlds: music from Final Fantasy orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall. As I travelled to London it was necessary for me to stay in a hotel, the first time that I ever slept in a bed that wasn’t my own… If that wasn’t challenging enough, I then travelled to Liverpool to watch WWE Raw.

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/halloween-as-the-shockmaster/)

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/london-trip-part-one-the-preparation/)

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2014/11/07/london-trip-part-two-the-london-experience/)

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/london-trip-part-three-the-final-fantasy-concert/)

(https://ryanlikestospeak.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/wwe-raw-and-liverpool-experience/)

BLOGGING

I believe I still have a lot to learn where blogging is concerned. What I have learnt though is that at times I probably forced myself to blog about stuff if I felt that I should blog about it. I like to think that in one year I developed my own style of writing and blogging. I consider myself always upbeat and looking on the happy side of life.

What I learnt is that I need to enjoy what I’m writing and I would often remind myself that all these blogs are from my own point of view. I tend to get the best out of myself if I enjoy writing, especially when reviewing film and manga. It can be hard at times since I find it difficult to summarise but thankfully I have my editor (aka Mum) to help me out. 😉

I find as well that if you don’t force yourself to blog you will have more things to talk about.

I feel a lot better when I’m blogging as it’s a good way to express myself. However, it came to light at times that viewers from all over the world are actually reading what I have to say. I’m also aware that some of my blogs have put smiles on the faces of my friends.

Making people happy is what motivates me to continue writing and blogging. Being happy is important, and if I’m making someone happy then I intend to keep up with that flow! =)

THANKS FOR READING

Two Thumbs-Up

I summarised my whole year to the best of my abilities. How did I do? Did I waffle too much? Haha. Well, I had to figure out how I was going to write this blog. In all honesty, it wasn’t a tough as I anticipated. All I had to do was sum up what I did and share my adventures from last November to now. =)

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I can’t wait to see what my future adventures will involve next.

See you next time.^^/

Namaste,^^/

Ryan.

Monster Musume Volume One Review

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Last week I wrote a blog about how I discovered Monster Musume and why it became one of my all-time favourites. =D In that very same blog I mentioned that I was going to write a review of it. Fast forward one week and I’m very excited to share my thoughts. =D

CONTENTS

1. Summary of the Plot…in my own words!

1.1 Plot

1.2 Themes/Genre

2. Self-Awareness

3. Art

4. Characters

4.1. Kimihito Kurusu

4.2. Miia

4.3. Ms. Smith

4.4. Papi

4.5. Centorea “Cerea” Shianus

5. Constructive Criticism

6. Voice Interpretation

7. Behind the Author

8. Bibliography

9. Conclusion

1. SUMMARY OF THE PLOT…IN MY OWN WORDS!

It came to light many years ago that hybrid species, liminals, exist in the same world as humankind. In order to reach a truce and understanding with these hybrid species the world government created the Interspecies Cultural Exchange Accord. This accord is a homestay programme where a monster-girl would live as a guest with a human host to accustom and adapt to human society.

Kimihito Kurusu becomes an involuntary “volunteer” and ends up being a host for monster-girls. His first resident was Miia the Lamia, his second was Papi the Harpy, and the third was Centorea “Cerea” Shianus. It’s imperative for Kimihito to keep his libido in check since intercourse and breeding between humans and liminals are considered forbidden. How will he cope? Does he give into his natural urges? Read this to find out! =D

1.1. PLOT

I honestly didn’t think there was going to be much plot since it’s just a slice of life story involving monster-girls adapting to human society. But by the end of the volume, we all learned the story’s plot- marriage. Now, everyone is fighting for the affection and attention of Kimihito.

The underlining plot, or as I call it, the ‘hidden’ plot is all about acceptance and equality. Sure, the visuals are enticing but there is more to the story then just cheeky innuendoes and illustrations. The monster-girls live in Japan on this special accord programme to see if they can integrate into human society and blend in with no problems.

Fortunately for girls like Miia, Cerea and Papi they’re settling in very well because of Kimihito. They maybe monster-girls/Liminals but they’re just normal human girls like well…human girls! That’s the other thing. Liminals is obviously a pun from animals but I wonder what the ‘Li’ part means?

Ahem-

Kimihito made a huge speech at the end and told his residents that they should be ‘themselves’ since they’re like a family and all family members need to be themselves. It is somewhat cheesy but it doesn’t take away from the fact that that was a very heart-warming moment.^^’ Another heart-warming moment came when Kimihito said that he sees Miia as a girl before he sees her as a lamia.^^’

1.2. THEMES/GENRE

  • Comedy
  • Ecchi
  • Fantasy
  • Harem
  • Mature
  • Romance
  • Seinen
  • Slice of Life

2. SELF-AWARENESS

One of the things I noticed after finishing the volume for the first time, was how self-aware the manga is. There are many puns in the dialogue that associate with certain characters. E.g., Miia mentioned to Cerea that she was “galloping away” because Cerea is a centaur. And Miia said to Papi that she’ll make her into “chicken noodle soup” after they were horse-playing. XD!

This manga, has many clichés. One of those cliché, a common one in comedy, is the whole female-on-male violence. Why do the ladies hit the gents? There are several reasons for this. It can be due to;

  • Embarrassment
  • Jealously
  • Surprise
  • Anger

One may wonder why there’s a lot of comedy that include female-on-male violence. I have a theory about this but I intend to talk about that in another blog since I just want to focus on this review for now. =D

Whilst Monster Musume has this female-on-male violence, it’s not necessarily done in a deliberate manner. Whenever Kimihito is on the receiving end of a hit, it is accidental. It’s always accidental.

To be honest, this is my kind of comedy. It’s the sort of thing you see in an episode of the Simpsons. Homer will make a statement how he would never do something, then literally contradicts his words a second later. XD! If this is applied correctly then it can be very funny, and just as I find those moments in the Simpsons funny, I found this moment in Monster Musume funny!

3. ART

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The art, in my opinion, is very pleasant on the eye. Okayado does a great job with the design of the characters, especially when it comes to facial expressions and clothing.

It probably won’t win the art of the year award but it has a style and the style is very good. Okayado has cemented his own style of drawing. I’m confident that his style will definitely be worldly recognised very soon. =)

4. CHARACTERS

4.1. Kimihito Kurusu

I think he’s really cool. He’s not your run-of-the-mill male protagonist, at least not in this kind of story.  In this kind of story the main male characters are depicted as perverted, clueless or slightly cowardly. So far, Kimihito hasn’t shown any of these traits.

He’s manly and interested in a girl’s body by all accounts but he can control himself which is very admirable considering he’s a young man going through adolescence.^^/

Kimihito is fully aware of how Miia feels for him. This is very unusual, because most young male characters seem oblivious to the signs of love.  It seems however,that he doesn’t mind Miia fancying him. Why would he? I certainly wouldn’t! =)

Most of the time he acts like a house-broker, or as I call people like him, a modern man. I believe the whole modern men trend started in the 1990’s. I’m happy to say that there are quite a lot of modern men in Anime/Manga as well, I’m talking about male protagonists like Ryuushi from Toradora, Kodaka from Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends, Eita from Oregairu and Ayumu from Is This a Zombie? Kimihito is now one of the latest modern men in the manga world. =D

I do feel sorry for him though. Whenever he gets hurt at Miia’s expenses (albeit accidentally) he never gets cross with her and he never sells her out to the Coordinator, Ms Smith. =) Ms Smith, I suspect, does take advantage of his good nature. That’s why she keeps coming over to his house uninvited. XD Really, she is far from fit to become the coordinator. Haha.

4.2. Miia

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4.2.1. Profile

I think the humour in this story is absolutely brilliant.

I mentioned before about the humour being similar to the Simpsons. For me, the hilarity comes from the cheesy puns and one of the leading characters, Miia. Miia is one of the main reasons why I love this manga. Miia, you may or may not guess, is a pun from ‘lamia.’ 😉

She is a fun and beautiful character. Some of her traits are cliché but she’s also a refreshing type of character. All because she is a Lamia.^^ I find her to be a very versatile character. She can be very cute one minute, sexy the next, jealous the next, awkward the next, and most important of all, extremely funny.

Her design is especially good, particularly her face and the snake part of her body. Because of her personality she’s the type who can pull off any kind of clothes whether it’s general trendy clothes or cosplay. Personally I think she looks good with fashionable clothes. I reckon she’d be good in fashion retail.

One of her best traits, at least in my opinion, is her facial expressions. Whenever she pulls certain comedic expressions I literally laugh out loud. XD Every single expression, from being annoyed, speechless, shy, lustful and touched are all wonderful.^^/ Her loved up/touched mode are especially nice.^^

4.2.2. Debate about Miia

I was part of a discussion on a forum once talking about Miia’s appearance. One user said that by having yellow/snake like eyes she loses her appeal and personality. Because having yellow eyes make her look monstrous and not cute. I respect this view 100% but I also disagree with this 100%.

Granted, girls look stunning with either blue, green, brown or hazel eyes, we all know that and accept that as a fact of life. =D  And yes, having common eyes like blue and hazel are nice, but different coloured eyes is one of the things that make Manga, Manga.

Miia would suit blue eyes but having blue eyes wouldn’t really make her unique, it wouldn’t feel like Miia. Being a half snake is who Miia is. I find her eyes majestic and beautiful.

4.3. Ms. Smith

With a name like Ms. Smith you know she’s got personality. Haha.

Even though she’s in such a high position with the government she is pretty useless. She’s lazy, unreliable and passes her job tasks on to others, i.e., Kimihito. XD She doesn’t mind dissing out the rules but she doesn’t seem the type who will follow the rules herself. I hope we get a chapter dedicated to Ms Smith. I have a feeling there’s more to her then her addiction to caffeine. ^^’

4.4. Papi

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A birdbrain with a lovely and charismatic personality, that’s Papi! XD

In myth culture harpies are considered “birdbrains” and will forget everything after taking three steps, Papi is no exception.

I see her as the very mischievous little sister type. She has a very good heart but she is rather hyperactive. She can’t seem to stay still and constantly runs off, i.e., she kept running off from Miss Smith. XD Sometimes we all do enjoy rebellious type of characters who don’t always obey the rules. For Papi though I would say that it’s more that she doesn’t understand rather than being rebellious for the sake of it.

The funniest part is when she implied that Kimihito was “stupid” for asking her why she took her clothes off to bathe in the fountain. It was ironic because she doesn’t have a clue about society yet she called him “stupid” for “not-knowing” that you take off clothes before you wash yourself. XD

4.5. Centorea “Cerea” Shianus

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What is there not to love about Cerea?

I can understand why some might be turned off by Cerea since she is half human half horse. Personally I don’t see it like this I just think that Cerea is both badass and cute.

She comes from the famous species of centaurs. She has some special privileges because of the fact that she’s a centaur.

Her introduction was most amusing. Bumping into Kimihito, seemed more like a “car crash” according to him. XD!

I think she’s really cool. She knows how to use her weapons. She’s very proud of her race and her abilities and self-confidence is a very good thing. She’s very intelligent but perhaps a little naïve, which is not surprising since integrating into Japan is a learning curve for all monster-girls. She fell in love with Kimihito and has decided that she will serve him.^^

My favourite moment was when she blushed and smiled after Kimihito held her hand.

5. CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM

Hmm, if I was to give this any constructive criticism, and I emphasize ‘if’, it would be the shading in the art.

I say constructive criticism but really it’s more about me noticing the littlest of things. XD! I have the tendency to look at art and study it in great detail, most of the time I do it subconsciously. Because I like to draw I look at art and compare it with either other artist’ work and my very own.

I have noticed that the toning (shadowing) is not always consistent. In some of the pages, like when Papi goes into the fountain, the fountain is covered in dots. My artist’s intuition tells me that those dots, just by the way they are scattered, were actually supposed to be a tone/shadow/shade. This tells me that this was a mistake. I know from experience that if you’re not consistent with the toning, especially in an art programme like MangaStudio, the result will be black dots instead of a toned area.

My next point is more of a niggle than a criticism. It is the scene where Cerea runs to the park with Kimihito, and you see a small Cerea and Kimihito walking in the park. If you look closely on the page you will notice that the trees in the background are actually overlapping Cerea’s face! XD

These little inconsistencies/mistakes hardly matter though. I only noticed these because this is probably the tenth occasion that I have read the whole volume back to back. So, it took me ten goes to actually notice. It doesn’t matter and it certainly doesn’t bother me in the slightest! =D

6. VOICE INTERPRETATION

Like most people I hear certain kinds of voices and tones whenever I read the dialogue of the characters.

Whenever I read Miia’s dialogue I immediately hear Haruka Tomatsu. I think Haruka would do an amazing job as Miia. Undoubtedly she is known for her role as Asuna from Sword Art Online but she also plays one of my favourite Anime characters, Lala from To LOVE-Ru. I see quite a few comparisons between Lala and Miia in the sense of naivety, humour, affection and the tip of her tail being sensitive. Also, Miia sings harmoniously and Haruka’s a talented singer, so, I can picture her as Miia. Kana Asumi I think would also do a decent job as Miia.

Papi, being a harpy, will no doubt have a nice voice. Whenever I read Papi I always hear a harmonious kind of voice with a hint of cheekiness. I described her personality as the mischievous little sister type, so, I think her voice will be slightly high pitched. Ibuki Kido tends to play characters who are little sisters/young cheeky ladies like Akiko from OreAi, Kasumi from GJ-Bu and Yume from Pupa. Other good candidates to portray her voice, in my view, would be Ayane Sakura and Nao Touyama.^^/

Centorea has a truly wonderful personality. For me it screams to be played by Marina Inoue. Marina Inoue is known for playing kickass females who have very soft/cute sides to their personality. A brave and heroic female who will not back down and is not afraid to show her soft side to the man she loves/admires. Of course, Yoko Hikasa also plays these roles well. Look at Houki from Infinite Stratos, Seraphim from Is This a Zombie? and Rias from High School DxD.

For Ms Smith I imagine a lady who is confident, self-assured, mature and sexy. She can boss people around, takes charge when she needs to and becomes very playful. That’s how I imagine her voice to be and the only person who screams to my mind for that role is Eri Kitamura. I think she’ll do a good job for Miss Smith.^^

Kimihito is cool yet uncool. He can be very masculine when the time calls for it but he can also show his sensitive side. XD I’m thinking someone like…Ryota Ohsaka perhaps? He’s been getting a lot of roles recently and is doing a very good job indeed!

7. BEHIND THE AUTHOR

I can tell that Okayado (real name Takemaru Inui) is a funny person in real life. =) His sense of humour translates through this manga. I read in my writing course that your personality and sense of humour can influence your style of writing.

I did a little background research on him and I found plenty of interesting facts. It seems that he started off as a Hentai Artist.[1] He has drawn a lot of monster-girls or hybrid humans that look very similar to girls in this manga. It also explains why there are a lot of rude innuendos in this manga. Since it all, or at least some of it, stems from his days as a Hentai Artist.

8. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Okayado., 2013. Monster Musume Volume One. Los Angels: Seven Seas.

Okayado Twitter Page., 2014. @Okayado1215. [online] Available at: <http://www.pixiv.net/member.php?id=267014&gt; [Accessed 7 March 2014]

Okayado Pixiv Page., 2014. [online] Available at: <http://www.pixiv.net/member.php?id=267014&gt; [Accessed 7 March 2014]

9. CONCLUSION

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I pretty much shared my honest thoughts throughout this review. So, out of the options of a thumb’s down, a thumbs up and two-thumbs up, I give this…

Two-thumbs up!

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Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and opinions, I thoroughly enjoyed writing it. I hope you enjoyed reading it! =D

Sayonara!^^/

Ryan.


[1] Hentai Artist: Hentai is basically animated or cartoon porn.

How I got into Monster Musume

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Konbanwa! ^^/

Monster Musume is currently one of my favourite manga; as soon as I read the first volume I loved it at first sight. XD

At the time I decided to read the first chapter from the manga; A Centaur’s Life.[1] It has a very unique story and having human girls with animal body parts is certainly a gap in the market. Seven Seas seem to have recognised this and have taken advantage of that gap. Unfortunately I didn’t connect with the story. It wasn’t boring but I didn’t really have the urge to read more. With that I browsed the A Centaur’s Life information page on MyAnimeList[2] to read other fans’ reviews on the series. That was when I traced my eyes along the User Recommendations section and there I discovered a similar manga; Monster Musume.

I saw this picture of a girl affectionately embracing a young boy…but with her snake half of the body. Girls that are half women and half snake tend to have bad reputations probably stemming from old folk tales but she was hugging him very lovingly, I thought that was very sweet and she looked very cute. After reading the synopsis I had an inkling that despite the similarities with A Centaur’s Life I was going to connect with Monster Musume straight away. I read the first five chapters in no time and I literally couldn’t stop laughing and smiling.

I connected especially with the characters. Some of the situations and personalities that are shown are somewhat cliché but those clichés were not necessarily used in a traditional sense. Why? Because we’re not talking about normal human girls but girls with animalistic body parts! The main characters comprise of a Lamia, a Harpy and a Centaur.

Most people who I spoke to about the female characters in Monster Musume instantly thought that they were ugly. Of course, most of their opinions stem from folktales such as Medusa and sirens. Whilst it’s not nice to judge a book by its cover, I can understand where they’re coming from. However, when I showed them the characters images their opinions quickly changed.

Miia, the Lamia, is extremely cute. Sure you could say that her eyes are scary but she is more snake then human. So having snake like eyes is appropriate for Miia, in real life snakes are generally harmless (not every single one of course) unless you corner them/put them in danger. In this story Miia is very shy of humans but has treated the main character male with nothing but affection because of how kindly he treated her.

This is why I love Monster Musume. Whilst the visuals and character designs are beautiful and the story is good there is a good message behind this. Inner beauty. The monster girls are living and breathing just like humans and the subsidiary plot of the story is for the monster girls to co-exist peacefully with humans. So far, the girls are off to a good start and I’m rooting for them. =D

I always yearned to draw/write my own story that involves cat-girls, snake-girls, mermaids and have them all meet and go on adventures with humans. I dropped this idea as I felt that other people would not take kindly to this story- since it’s never really happened before. But yet Monster Musume is selling excellently. In the New York Times best Manga sellers it actually went straight to number one upon its first release! And it stayed there for two weeks. Even a couple of weeks ago the second volume reached number two, losing out to Naruto volume 64.

So really Monster Musume rekindled and inspired my interest to continue on with my own story that involves monster girls. So really I owe a lot to Monster Musume and Okayado (the author) both as an avid fan and as a fellow author.

Next time I’m going to give a full review on Monster Musume Volume One. I’m very much looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you all. =D

Sayonara.^^/

Ryan.


[1] A Centaur’s Life is the English name for Centaur no Nayami.

[2] MyAnimeList is one of the world’s largest Anime database.