Are you watching The Sandman?
Because you should...
Ok, it’s been a little while. Not the usual procrastinating, not the usual “I’ve been busy” (although, I’ve been busy in late July, and early August). It has more to do with that if I want to share my thoughts about the world right now, the two topics that constantly come to mind are the climate crisis and the Covid pandemic.
And I’m not sure you want to hear about them again and again and again.
So yeah, the climate emergency is upon us more than ever. Will people finally realize that it’s serious, as in “civilization-ending” serious? I’m not putting my hopes too high.
So yeah, the virus is out of control and will keep on being out of control until people start taking it seriously, except that people are going in the opposite direction more and more.
Civilizations have ended for less than that.
Enough about them today.
Let’s talk about something positive.
I’ve been trying to keep my sanity in different ways lately. One of them is to watch more TV shows and movies. Hence my reduced amount of blogging lately.
Among the TV shows, I’ve been watching, I really want to tell you about The Sandman.
If you already know it, have watched it, and love it with all your heart, you can skip what follows and head directly to the link section below.
First, know that I’m not the binging type. I like to watch things slowly. And yet, I’ve watched all 10 episodes of this first season in 9 days. That’s as close to binging as you’ll ever see me watching something.
The show is on Netflix and… you really should watch it.
I’m still amazed by how good it is because this thing has been deemed unfilmable for as long as it’s existed. Yes, you may or may not know that it’s an adaptation of a 30-year-old graphic novel. It basically launched Neil Gaiman’s career. And this graphic novel is easily in the top 5 or so of the best things I have ever read. Not the best comic books. The best things! And if you don’t know my literary background much, know that I was a doctorate student in contemporary literature once. Sure, I never became a doctor in contemporary literature, but without bragging, I still know a thing or two about literature.
So yes, Sandman is one of the best things I’ve read in my life, but it didn’t mean that a TV adaptation would be good. When I learned that Neil Gaiman was involved, I started being confident. The first teasers gave me hope too. Then I saw the trailer and it actually got me a bit worried.
Remember people, never trust trailers, one way or the other.
The show is amazing. A very very good adaptation. Probably the best show of the year. I’m not going to tell you much about it, just watch it.
If you don’t want to watch it without knowing what this is about, it’s the story of the Sandman, aka Dream, aka Morpheus. He’s not a god, he’s more than a god. He’s the incarnation of the very concept of “dream”. At the beginning of the show, he got himself in a strange conundrum, and I won’t tell you more. That would be spoiling.
Know that the first episode is probably the weaker one. A bit too much telling and not enough showing in my opinion. I understand that choice, entering this world is confusing without at least some exposition.
So even if you don’t love that episode, continue watching, it’ll only get better. When I say that it’s the weaker episode of the series, it’s still good and much better than most other TV shows. It’s just that the nine other episodes are somewhere between amazing and mind-blowing.
One thing I really loved in the comics and that I was afraid would be very difficult to translate into the show is that while Morpheus is the main character, at times, the focus of the story is not him at all (even if he’s never far). The story goes back and forth between him and some other characters, some recurring ones, some we’ll only see for an issue or two.
In the comic, Neil Gaiman manages to make every single one of these characters fleshed out, and tridimensional. He makes you care for them. You have feelings for them (all sorts of feelings, positive and/or negative), even if you see these characters for a few pages only.
The same can be said about the show. They also managed to make every single character, some you’ll only see for a few scenes, as worthy of interest as they are in the books and as if they were the main characters. The writing and acting are this amazing (some actors are world-famous, some are more or less newcomers).
Ok, if I haven’t made you at least a bit curious about it, I don’t think more words will do it.
Just go watch it, you’ll thank me later.
And personally, I haven’t read the comics in more than a decade, so I think I know what I’ll be reading next (I asked my wonderful mom to ship me my copies of the comic from France to Japan, and the first half arrived last week, thank you, mom).
By the way, I’m currently reading Agatha Christie for the first time in my life. It may be the topic of a future newsletter.
OK, if you’re here for the links to my blogs and don’t care about my audiovisual advice, that’s a shame, but I understand.
The summer session of the Setouchi Triennale has started last week and I have been a bit more active on Setouchi Explorer lately.
I had the chance to give a hand in the making of a new artwork called Ogijima Pavilion by Oscar Oiwa and Shigeru Ban.
And if you’re curious about what the Ogijima Pavilion looks like once finished, I also have something for you.
Ai Yamada is a young artist that I discovered in 2019, and I instantly fell in love with her art. She’s not back to the Triennale this year, but she had a small exhibit in town. I brought back some pictures.
On Youtube, I posted a video introducing the new “The Shore where we can reach,” a monumental and amazing artwork that’s also a boat on Shodoshima (blog post to come soon).
I’ve also been drawing a little bit again. Nothing to talk home about, except maybe this drawing of a Celtic symbol that is not too shabby.
Oh, by the way, do you know anything about carnivorous plants? My three Venus flytraps are a bit “weird”.
Alright, I guess that’s pretty much all for now.
Stay tuned for more, coming sooner or later.
Oh, one final thing. You may or may not know that I have another newsletter devoted exclusively to my corner of Japan and the art that can be found here. It’s on Revue (another newsletter platform) and I think I will eventually move it to Substack. I’m not sure if I should make it another section of this current newsletter (a bit like I did with the “fiction” part) or an entirely separate newsletter.
If you have any strong opinions one way or the other regarding the matter, tell me in the comments. If you want to comment on anything else, also, please feel free.
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Take care and stay safe.