Mourning Monsters

I lack the gravitas to make light of a serious situation. More so I lack the gusto to make a light situation serious. Yet of late, lightness has ruled my days: Against my own wishes, I have slept in later than desired all week, and once I’m awake, old obsessions mesmerize my mind and threaten to steal every ounce of sanity.

Perhaps it’s my summer sloth slowing me down, or perhaps there’s more at stake.

One of my earliest inspirations–even before Harry Potter–was Pokemon. It began as childhood fancy, what all the cool kids were doing, and soon it became an object of friendship and prized relationships. In the late hours of a Saturday morning, I would take special care to enter the Bug Catching Contest, always hoping to win–but only ever rarely earning that Sun Stone for all my efforts. They seemed in such abundance, those semi-precious gemstones that in hindsight did so little at the time, and now they’re among the rarest items in the games.

I would page through my strategy guides like the pages of a Bible, reading about movesets and stats that at the time were vague verses I couldn’t understand. All this was before Serebii, mind you, before the wonders of Pokemon were revealed by the internet and the games–those childhood staples of mine–became quests of strategy and completion. Then it was simpler. Everything was simpler.

Still some days from mid-September through October I’ll step outside, feel the coming nip of Autumn in the air, and think back to my days wandering around Johto in Pokemon Silver. There has always been something strangely natural about Pokemon, something pristine and innately wild that has forever tied the beauty of being outside to the decidedly man-made experiences of these so-called Pocket Monsters.

My second childhood inspiration came about similarly–it was, as Pokemon, the thing all the cool kids were doing. My mother had conceded Pokemon to me on Saturday mornings (how I loathed attending services since it kept me away from Ash and his adventures), so when a new show joined the scene, she was adamant against me watching it. It was all too violent, I was told (but never once did I question when my younger brother was allowed to stay up past my bedtime watching Walker Texas Ranger).

Anyways, resentments aside, for my birthday one year I asked to be allowed to watch just one episode of this show. Just one episode and I’d know what all my friends were talking about on the playground during recess.

And she said yes.

So began my love affair with Digimon. It remains one of my favorite episodes, that first one I saw, when T.K.’s Digimon evolves into Angemon and destroys Devimon once and for all…. Despite the comments that Digimon was a blatant rip-off of Pokemon, I loved them both (and today I see how vastly different the two are, despite their numerous similarities). As the days wore on, I came to watch more of the show, and then the series that followed, and so long as Digimon was around, I was inspired by it.

Something about Digimon also became inherently tied to nature in my mind. Perhaps it was all the hours I spent pacing around outside imagining I, too, was Digidestined that did the trick. Perhaps it was the strange juxtaposition of forests and cities in the anime that tied the knot. No matter, as my imaginings wandered onward, a pivotal link was formed.

When Digimon was no longer aired on common television stations, it passed almost definitively from my life. I stopped thinking of it and considered it merely a memory of memories in my adult life. Pokemon games continued to come out, so Pokemon continued to play a part in my life, even though I had stopped watching the anime after a change in ownership essentially destroyed its worth and pleasantries for me.

Then something happened, and so subtle I can’t quite say what happened exactly, but the other day I stumbled upon the realization that there have been two more seasons of Digimon since I thought the show was cancelled. And the first of these–the fifth season–is almost entirely on YouTube. So here reveals my obsession of late: Digimon Data Squad.

The first few episodes were disappointing, but after the first eight or nine hours, I began to see a glimmer of the wonder I recall. It doesn’t compare to the original series–in fact, none of them has–but it’s once again evoked the fanciful ideas all these things inspired.

It’s funny, in one regard, to realize that every last shred of inspiration that Pokemon and Digimon have lent me have since dissipated from the mythology they helped to inspire. Coupled with the lesser influences of Magi-Nation and Cardcaptors, some of the earliest adventures my characters went on involved collecting monsters in a manner combining elements from each of these–the creatures themselves often elaborate and magnificent. But as with most things derivative, it was integral to make them my own, and in so doing, these adventures were torn permanently from my mythology, leaving only the characters in their place. Characters, I might add, that would not be who they are if not for all these tangential experiences we shared before the true story was revealed.

In plowing through Digimon Data Squad, these original ideas have begun to resurface, and lately I’ve found myself wishing once more to write that epic tale of monsters and mastery and the friendships that can be forged between monsters and men. On some level it is certain to be derivative, but on some deeper level, it shall be wholly mine.

And I suspect it might come sooner than later.

I was wandering around my room last night when I began thinking how I might accomplish such a feat, and realizing again there’s no place for it in my mythology, I began thinking what other worlds this might evolve in, and I found my mind drawn back to a story I wrote here long ago called The Rheve. This particular tale has a forthcoming sequel, indefinitely delayed for lack of ideas coagulating into the right words despite the entire idea being fully formed somewhere in the space of my head that holds all my inspired stories, but in a world rife with spirits, would it seem so unnatural if there were those who could tame them, say, even befriend them?

Today, sitting in my platitudinous boredom and forsaking all those things on my to-do list, I began writing. There before me stood Kendi, a copper-skinned boy running through a forest, summoning from the spirit realm a creature named Deluge, a bird whose body is composed solely of water. A thousand words dripped from my subconscious in a single sitting, and I think on some level this may be the necessary bridge between The Rheve and its envisioned sequel, so we shall see what comes of it.

I plan to write a few more chapters before I begin posting it (partly because it lacks a title), but there are other stories–and other poems–that will soon fill the pages of Silent Soliloquy.

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