Level 20

DestinieTitle: Level 20
Subject: Gyarados from Pokémon
Owner: Larissa of redcrown.net
URL: http://pkmn.redcrown.net/gyarados/

This isn’t the first time a Pokémon shrine was recommended on this blog but since Pokémon Sun and Moon just came out (and I’m on a Pokémon kick), I thought it would be fun to recommend a shrine that I really like to a Pokémon I also really like!

What makes this shrine amazing: Larissa is one of those shrine makers that I associate with the Pokémon fandom and has (unbeknownst to her) inspired me to continue working on my own Pokémon shrines. It’s nice to see so many Pokémon shrines popping up in the shrine community again but there comes a point where we as shrine-makers get stuck. How do we write a shrine about something we really like without sounding incredibly repetitive and yet still include the information we think is relevant? I would constantly ask myself this question and it seems as though Larissa had a similar thought, and an elegant solution.

One thing that I love about Level 20 is its narrative approach and how Larissa parallels the growth of her Magikarp with her own growth through the Pokémon fandom. Now, this may not be explicitly stated in the shrine but it is something that was illustrated to me as I was reading through this site for the first time. Here we begin as we travel to Larissa’s past when she discusses her first Pokémon game (level 1!) and she details her experience with the game, what she learned, what she questioned, and what was revealed to her. In a way, we’re taken through a time warp through the last 20 years and we eventually make it to her most recent team. Her voice is more casual as she tells a story rather than displaying stats and facts in a dry tone, which I really enjoyed. While that information is there and available for us it is not the center focus of the shrine.

This is not just a shrine to a Pokémon but a time capsule and a general opinion piece on each Pokémon generation up to Generation VII. Even though Larissa admits to not playing Pokémon Black and White, she provides us with the snippet of information on the Pokémon but also her quick thoughts on why she didn’t. I thought that was an interesting touch to use the opportunity to give an opinion on a piece of the franchise.

My final thoughts were on the layout and how Larissa’s very bold style aids the flow of the information. The calming blue color is a contrast to the personality of a Gyarados, in fact, the entire design and feel of the shrine is very calm. Instead of having an overarching navigation we flow through the site, clicking the “next” link, as though we are turning a page. In doing so, you’re forced to read through it in a linear way and makes me feel like I am casually floating down a river. A perfect addition for a water-type Pokémon.

I hope if you visit you enjoy Level 20 as much as I did! (And congratulations to the Pokémon franchise that is now 20 years old!)

Summertime Sadness

DestinieTitle: Summertime Sadness
Subject: Hotarubi no Mori e
Owner: Megan of like-knives.org
URL: http://like-knives.org/summer/

 

Since summer is coming to a close here in the northern hemisphere, I wanted to take the opportunity to recommend Megan’s Summertime Sadness. This shrine is one of personal favorites to visit and reread and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

What makes this shrine amazing:

Summertime  Sadness is a short shrine for an anime short film entitled Hotarubi no Mori e (“Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light”) based on a one-shot manga. Megan briefly and clearly talks about the history of the film to give the reader a good grounding on the topic. She also talks fairly in depth about the two main characters of the film and provides us with neat tidbits and minor analysis (such as name meanings and personality highlights).

My favorite parts of the shrine are the Story and Opinions pages. In the Stotry, Megan takes us through a rich and detailed synopsis which makes me feel like I am actually watching the short film as I am reading it – it’s that extensive. Megan’s writing is also always clear and friendly which helps to really understand what she is writing about. Never once does it read as though she is talking down to you, rather, her pages always read as someone who is very excited to share something that they love. This is why I love the Opinions page. She talks about why this story is really so special to her and you can see that she is really invested due to its unorthodox ending for a shoujo story.

I can really feel the emotion that Megan is writing about, and what she feels herself, through the shrine. I love Summertime Sadness because it invokes these same feelings in me when I read it: the end of summer, the feelings of loss and grief, and yet the joy of knowing and loving someone close to you.  The site may be but a few pages but I think it has the ability to resonate with you after visiting.

In the spirit of Megan’s other shrines, Summertime Sadness houses a plethora of media and screencaps of the film. I especially appreciate the time she puts into creating 100×100 avatars and gathering screenshots for us to browse.

If you’re in the US and are celebrating Labor Day today, which marks the end of summer here, please take some time to visit Summertime Sadness I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Dornenkaefig

DestinieTitle: Dornenkaefig
Subject: Friederike of Ludwig Revolution
Owner: Lethe of oubliette.nu
URL: http://idike.oubliette.nu

Greetings! I am new to The Amazing and this is my first recommendation. I’m happy to share some of my favorite shrines with you! Without further ado I bring you Dornenkaefig by Lethe!

What makes this shrine amazing: Once upon a time…

Is how most fairy tales begin. Dornenkaefig is a shrine dedicated to the character Friederike (Idike) from Kaori Yuki’s Ludwig Revolution; a manga that retells classic Grimm Fairy Tales in a gothic fashion.

Lethe does an excellent job introducing the series and outlining the basics for any new reader. I was not at all familiar with the series but the extensive introduction really captured everything I needed to know, and more, as Lethe also recommends chapters for those who are new and interested in reading more.

The size of a shrine does not always equivalent to the quality. We learn that Idike is a somewhat minor character in the series, but overall impactful on the story, as Lethe walks us through her story, her motivation, her emotions, and her origins.  Dornenkaefig is beautifully composed in a way that is engaging to read and easy to grasp. Idike’s character is revealed as Lethe walks us through her motivations and relationship with Lui, the protagonist. Through Lethe’s writing I began to feel like I was actually reading the manga itself. It is also worth noting that Dornenkaefig’s design very much leads us through the site in a linear fashion, which aids the feeling of an overall narrative versus a traditional website.

My favorite pages are the symbolism within the story and the  comparison of the Grimm’s Fairy Tale. While I was reading through Dornenkaefig, I started to draw certain conclusions myself, so it was a fun experience reading through the associated symbolism and comparisons. (I kept thinking: “Yes, but, mention the dragon already!”) Lethe walks us through the Brother’s Grimm “Little Briar Wood” and Perrault’s “Sleeping Beauty in the Wood” in a side-by-side comparison that prepares you for Kaori Yuki’s retelling. I felt that was the perfect way to wrap up the shrine and tie all the themes together.

The way Lethe ties together a manga character and classic Fairy Tales seems to branch across interests, and makes this shrine one that I think would reveal more to the reader over each visit.

Pro-bender

GuestTitle: Pro-bender
Subject: Mako of Avatar: Legend of Korra
Owner: Jae of Fayth.skyspell.org
URL: http://fayth.skyspell.org/mako/

Guest Recommendation: The following recommendation was written by Stefi of Blizzara.org. I (Todd) am happy to say Stefi is a good friend of mine, but she is also a fantastic shrine maker. I asked her to write a recommendation for The Amazing because she has a unique view and appreciation of shrines. Making shrines since the early 2000s, Stefi has been making and visiting shrines for over a decade. She has had the opportunity to not only watch shrines evolve and change, but experiment and pioneer some of that change herself. Back in the days of Livejournal, she created her own community to discuss video game shrines, which she was and is still clearly passionate about. Her own site, Antihero, made a huge impact in the shrine community when it was revamped to its current state, because it showed that shrines don’t need to have certain things to be a shrine, and it encouraged webmasters to put more of their own unique thoughts and insights into their own shrines. In addition to Antihero, you might know Stefi from her other amazing Square-Enix shrines Awakening, Boundless, and Fair Verona.

What makes this shrine amazing: Let’s all admit it: It is hard making a shrine. Whether it’s 3 pages or 50, every shrine maker puts all their hard work and effort into an entire site that we may or may not be embarrassed about bringing up over Thanksgiving dinner. And with every shrine we make, we try to not only make it different from other sites in some way shape and form, but we also try to give it its own unique character (hah, no pun intended!).

Jae’s Pro-bender features Mako, who is probably one of the more discussed protagonists in Legend of Korra simply because, well, he kind of started off unlikable. But all the more reason to love him! Truth is, Mako eventually made tons of progression throughout the show in terms of development, turning out to be one hell of a character.

Visually, the design of Pro-bender is distinctive and elegantly minimalist, with the newspaper theme a hat-tip to the series’ 1920’s time period aesthetic. The layout is well-balanced and uses all the space accordingly, with no awkward blank areas. In terms of writing style, the site also reads like a newspaper, which is brilliantly appropriate given the way the actual show presents itself. Though it is only one page, it comprehensively summarizes a lot of about the character in the first season while also covering all of Mako’s important relationships.

The content also has tons of personality. Including its journalistic tone, there are tinges humor and sarcasm with underlayers of intelligent insight. Jae hits all the positive points about Mako, but also makes sure to not ignore flaws and criticisms about the character. The “Letter from the Editor” section at the end of the site wraps up and gets to the heart of the character from Jae’s perspective, making evident her genuine appreciation for the character.

Pro-bender hits a lot of what I love about shrines. It’s clever, warm-hearted, well thought out, and it has seriously got a lot of style, both in terms of writing and design. I don’t think there are enough nice things I can say about this site. I am definitely looking forward to seeing more “editions” of Pro-bender in the future!