Anime Fan Art: Boku Dake ga Inai Machi/”Erased”

erased anime fan art Boku Dake ga Inai Machi

I don’t watch anime. Therefore for many years I remained blissfully isolated as all my high school girlfriends talked about sexy 2-D characters with huge eyes and one-item wardrobes, and went to conventions and wrote fan fiction and refused to read each other’s blasphemous fan fiction. It wasn’t that I disapproved of the culture or anything. I just had more important things to do, like homework.

I watched my first anime show, Steins;Gate, from beginning to end over the last summer vacation at another friend’s insistence. Mainly I remember being  struck by the impossible beauty of the women (despite their technicolor flatness) and by the burgeoning quality of the plot. Like a mass of parasitic worms, it seemed to writhe aimlessly in various directions within the intestine of the confusing time-travel concept until finally towards the end it tied itself nicely in a knot around the liver of the overly lovable main characters. Yeah, I liked it okay, but it wasn’t life-changing or anything.

tree branches painting fan art erased


When the same friend hooked his computer up to the t.v. amidst the lavender lamp and chocolate raisin jugs in his family room, preparing to play the first episode of another anime show he liked, I must admit my expectations weren’t sky-high. That changed shortly after the riveting opening theme, when I was jerked car-crash style into a world of characters that tickled the reddest splashes of watercolor emotion out of my heart’s depths and splattered the eternal story of the introverted human across every wall, sidewalk and book cover I would see from that day forward. (It’s been almost five days so far.)

“Erased,” transliterated from Japanese as “Boku Dake ga Inai Machi,” is a first step for anyone interested in trying a new genre of time-sink. But more than just a way to get your digital vitamins in, it has emotional undertones that spark the literary, even activist potential of the genre.

painting fan art of erased anime

Specifically, this show will ring true for introverts/pessimists. From the first moments of episode one, the main character Satoru embodies the flat hilarity of hiding any sign of humanity, the dull gnawing fear of abandonment even by one’s own mother, the looming shadow of failure that descends on older young people at their dreary jobs. I promise I am not projecting. If you are a different species of introvert and suffer from slightly different symptoms, you will probably recognize those as well, in most of the principal characters and even some less-prominent ones.

Beyond its psychological accuracy, the storyline starts up right away and carries through faithfully to the end, more like a sea snake migrating from one bank to another as opposed to a bundle of intestinal worms. (This statement is partially substantiated by my friend’s report, since I have not seen all the episodes yet.) What I can assert from the first four episodes is that the story is about people who have their reasons to be cold and distant or downright evil, as well as those who have their reasons to dig deeper into dangerous relationships and to hold the hands of those cast out into the snow by their stronger litter-mates. It is a story about love, but not one that will make you throw up (at least, not so far within the first four episodes). It tugs at the corners of my brain, prompting me to wonder how anime can be elevated to the level of literature, or whether it needs to?

tree sparkles detail erased anime Boku Dake ga Inai Machi


If I were to characterize anime based on what I have seen, I would say the ultimate goal is to engage the audience in a movement of true characters towards connection on the level of the soul. It is a love story (ANY type of love) whose plot line strikes harmonious chords of magic, colors, suspense and intrigue all the way along. It is a song about humanity that echoes in the pinna of the real world but never drains into the gutter of our boring lives as we hold our breath and wait for the moment to finally express ourselves, or find out what it is we would express. It is creativity.

The images are from this painting I did over the past few days, based on a rural winter scene from the second episode. To evoke the sparkle of the snow and stars I used some splotches of glitter nail polish amidst the sky, branches, the fox’s fur, and on the snowy ground.

erased anime fan art Boku Dake ga Inai Machi


Finding My Pindependence


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On Saturday I was working on a ballroom battle scene in my latest yarn. Without giving away too much (in case this eventually becomes an ebook or bestseller or hit movie) I needed two contrasting colors of dress for two contrasting teenage girls who would take turns dancing with their exotic instructor, himself undebatably garbed in cool lavender. Furthermore, Izadora’s dress would need to be conducive to the waltz’s transition into a physical struggle over a dagger ending in… well, I won’t tell you how it ends. Besides, all this is subject to change at this stage. Brutus might end up playing French horn out of his left ear instead of bugle, or Molière might have a spatula for a hand at some point. But that’s another story.

Anyway, I was trying to write the scene, and it occurred to me that I would have a better picture in my head of the dance-fight if I added a couple ball gown pictures to the appropriate Pinboard. Should be a breeze, right? No longer than a five-minute affair, a few keystrokes to make.

Well. Apparently my fellow Pinners’ idea of a ball gown is like a prom dress except with nothing to prevent the top from popping off and exposing some skin that I don’t feel like writing about. A mother crocodile already de-robed this character in an earlier scene; I think once is enough for now.


image from

I searched vintage, Victorian, princess, medieval, dance gowns… everything I could find was either a dusty relic languishing in someone’s grandmother’s closet of shame, or some modern, sexy Etsy interpretation of what princess dresses would have been like if princesses had been allowed to show skin (and if the last glacial period hadn’t been going on at the time in the case of the “medieval” dresses.) While some of the dresses I found were artistic, none of them matched the specific image I had in my head.


image from

I half-heartedly pinned a couple, toyed with changing the colors in the scene to match the pictures I could find, then I went crazy. I deleted all those useless Pins and broke out the colored pencils. No, I’m not an artist, but with some of my favorite quirky songs on I did a pretty good rendition of the dresses my specific characters need. After all, they didn’t have carbon-copy prom dress factories churning out crowd-pleasing happy mediums between vulgar and manically glittery back in the 1700s.

ball gown colored pencil art red/black/purple

While this ended up being longer than a five-minute affair, I was really proud of the results. I don’t claim to be an artist; certainly I don’t delude myself that this chicken-scratch looks like a real photograph or anything like art really. But what it got me to do was think really hard about how the situation and the characters’ personalities influenced their clothing. I made my eyes see details my brain couldn’t picture before, like the anchor charm hanging on this red one’s skirt. It also gave me an opportunity to connect with my project outside of writing time in a relaxing, fun and different way. Drawing always gets me excited about my ideas, and so for a moment I was reminded of how exciting this story was when it was just in my head and there was no dumpy rough draft on a Word document. I know my best shot at ever finishing this project is to remember the enthusiasm of my honeymoon stage with the book, and carry it in some form through to the final proofread.

Meanwhile, I have found a way to provide for my imagination what the Internet occasionally fails to. Try drawing if you’re interested in a taste of the Pindependent life. (Not that I would ever stop using Pinterest altogether; it’s indispensable for most creative purposes.)

This red/purple/black dress is for the main character, who could have been a princess had she not been kidnapped by bumbling pirates at the age of two. Below is the hemline, decorated with pink and black ribbons, a chain of shoreline rocks, sharks’ teeth and seashells.

hemline of red/black/purple pirate dress design

I added a silver chain and a tiny anchor for style. She might not really look quite this fancy in the actual scene if we’re being realistic… but we’re not. So there.

bodice of red/black/purple pirate ball gown drawing

The sleeves may be kind of hard to understand, but they are supposed to indicate flowy, translucent fabric held in place by pink and black ribbons tied with gold bows around the elbow area. The demure, yet silently malevolent twin sister’s dress is the same style:

ball gown dress drawing turquoise gold pink

The theme of this dress is a little less oceanic, but they still live on the island of Zabuba so the hem has some seafaring chains and is even crafted with layers of shaped fabric that suggest ocean waves, though I doubt Magdilène would dare dip a toe in the tide.

detail - hem of turquoise and pink ball gown drawing

She has a butterfly on her chest to help promote the girly, wimpy façade.

butterfly bodice ball gown drawing turquoise/pink

If a real artist is looking at this – you did it to yourself. If you want you can draw me a better one and send it to me…?

Inspiration in Wearable Packages

One of my main goals over the winter vacation was to design a nautical necklace or two and put my mom to work making my jewelry fantasies a reality. Luckily, she had the same idea – though she thought my choice of beads was a little outlandish.

Come to think of it, outlandish is good, since these pieces are meant to be worn by seafaring nonconformists!

Presenting “Tropically Entwined,” a summer-y necklace with an island feel.


I imagine the wearer of this necklace might be the daughter of a pirate who is hiding on a tropical island. She rebels against his reckless ways by communing with the local wildlife and living among the local people, who maintain a sustainable and compassionate lifestyle.

Here you see our model (snort) mixing and matching with the “Tropically Entwined” necklace and the “Shore and Peace” earrings, made from a pair of real seashells collected at the Cabrillo Beach after a lovely day at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro.

tropicalentanglementnecklaceandseashellearringsFor a scintillating twist, let’s have a look at “Compass Rose,” a custom-designed badge of nautical geekiness complete with silver anchor charms, blue oceanic beads, roses that look like cabbages and keys to unlock a treasure chest.


I bought an empty pendant and drew my own compass rose to cut out and stick inside. When I tire of this design, I can draw something else and replace it.

nautical compass rose pendant necklaceI imagine that this necklace was compiled over time by a duchess-turned-world-traveler-renegade-opportunistic-piratess, perhaps also an island princess-to-be, during her voyages in various disguises and on ships of varying legitimacy as she fled her intensely boring bourgeois life for one of adventure and the ocean breeze, sharp like a knife or cinnamon on her buttery-soft hands. Is that last sentence a run-on? If this were a writing piece I’d cut it. But since this is just a friendly blog post, I’m free to write as sloppily and poorly as I please, typos included…right? 🙂

nautical necklace pearls anchors roses compass

Wearing this jewelry reminds me of my childhood home in Santa Monica as I freeze in an inland college in Oregon using a sea-jelly folder for my class handouts. It also makes me feel creative and excited for whatever adventures might come next for me in fashion, or for my characters in fantastical trials and tribulations! (I’m not expecting to be kidnapped by inept pirates anytime soon, but it’s fine to wish that on my characters.)

Thanks again Mom! And no, this jewelry is not for sale, but you can obtain handmade jewelry at her website.

DIY Trashy Mermaid Bookmarks

diy mermaid bookmark eco friendly mermaid from pirates of the caribbean face close up

Is your New Year’s Resolution to read more? Or not to lose your place in all the books you read while you’re taking a break to read magazines? Maybe, like me, you just got a beautiful new journal that doesn’t come with a ribbon bookmark, so you have to make your own. Because who wants to be flipping through pages of old, abandoned chicken-scratch at 2 am when they get out of bed to jot down their latest epiphany?

For one of my childhood birthdays, a friend gave me a crafting book called Sparkly Things to Make and Do. You know, one of those books full of supposedly “DIY crafts you can do at home,” which usually require so many exotic supplies or so much time you never end up doing any of them?

One of the few crafts in there that I did end up trying was the mermaid bookmark. Basically, you cut out a mermaid on some thick paper, gave her tissue paper hair with glitter glue lice, slapped some foil on the tail and let her dive into your book. I still have the mermaid I made years ago, though she isn’t so sparkly anymore.

Inspired by that and my pressing need for a bookmark, I made some new nautical literary companions the other day. But this time with a twist: virtually everything on here would have been recycled or thrown away if I hadn’t rescued it. I did waste a lot of glue, but that’s beside the point. Go upcycled crafts!

Michael Crichton Congo with DIY eco-friendly upcycled mermaid bookmark

DIY upcycled mermaid bookmark

Basically, all you have to do is find a face, either on the Internet or in a magazine, etc., draw a body around it, cut it out, and glue on accessories such as paper scales, tissue paper fins, aluminum foil, etcetera. I’ll give a more detailed description of my specific process below.

Coeur de Pirate Beatrice Martin fan art mermaid bookmark DIY eco-friendly

Some limitations of these neat crafts: They are delicate and not very durable – at least the ones I made are. If you need a heavy-duty, long-lasting bookmark, I might suggest drawing the decorations onto the thick paper so they can’t be ripped off, or maybe using fashion duct tape to strengthen the tail.

Another limitation is that I haven’t figured out yet how to decorate the back, so on the back of my bookmark you can read bits and pieces of why oatmeal is good for you.

Anyway, for anyone who has odds and ends lying around and would like to make a mermaid/merman bookmark out of them, here are some detailed instructions:

How to Make a Trashy Mermaid Bookmark

Pirates of the Caribbean Mermaid bookmark DIY


  • cardboard such as from the outer packaging of a cereal box, etc.
  • a picture of the face of someone you’d like to see staring out of your books for a while (I printed out black and white images of one of the mermaids from Pirates of the Caribbean and of Beatrice Martin, French singer with the stage name Cœur de Pirate.)
  • Some scrap paper, preferably interesting (raid those old Origami gift sets you never opened, print out the lyrics to a meaningful song in a cool font and decorate with watercolor, doodle on paper of various colors, find cool photos in magazines…)
  • Aluminum foil (I rescued some from a burrito – probably not the most hygienic but it looks and smells clean.)
  • liquid school glue
  • Any bits and pieces of crafting materials you want to use up, preferably relatively flat ones (I added some lace and flat sequins)
  • Glitter glue if desired (I actually used glitter nail polish and metallic Sharpie)


Step 1) Gather all materials. Print/cut out the desired head. If you are decorating your paper with watercolor, do so right away to let it dry.

Step 2) Trace the shape of the head on the blank side of the cardboard. Draw a neck and the rest of the mermaid’s body, making sure it is a reasonable size to match the head size. I did this really fast and casual for a cartoon-esque body shape, but if you’re into super-anatomically-realistic drawings then be my guest.

Either way, don’t draw on the tail fins. You will be making these out of foil later. The tail just ends in a tapering tip, like an eel.

An important note with drawing the body is that it’s good to avoid having delicate, flimsy appendages hanging off (i.e., arms and hands.) I avoided this in my Beatrice Martin bookmark by adding a hunk of cardboard for her to be holding something up above her head. A more effective method, seen in my Pirates of the Caribbean bookmark, is for the arms to be bent and holding something in front of the body.

Step 3) Cut out the mermaid. If the arms are bent to hold an object in front of the body, be sure to separate them from the body so that when you add your object it looks like the mermaid is holding it.

Step 4) Decorate the tail. I did this by coating a layer of school glue on both sides with my finger, then wrapping strips of the Westways Magazine Photo Contest Winners around the tail and pressing them down. There will be some overlap. When you get down to the tip, the strips of magazine need to be thinner. It doesn’t really matter what the very tip looks like because this will be covered by the tail fin later on.

Note: There are other styles of decorating. For instance, on my prototype with the face of Beatrice Martin, I printed out a piece of scratch paper with the lyrics to her song Corbeau. I then embellished it with watercolor (less is more). When it was dry, I ripped it to bits and glued them to the torso. Feel free to try something altogether different and share how it works out!)

Step 5) Create the object for the arms to be holding. I did this by cutting out a selection of a Disneyland castle from a magazine ad. It’s good to trace the object and back it with cardboard if part of it is hanging off the mermaid’s body so it is more durable.

Again, you could do a lot of things with this: print out or draw your own object; use a cute little sticker or other finding from your local craft store, etc.

When you have your object, position it in the hands. For Beatrice, whose hands are over the head, I simply glued the piece of a building she has evidently ripped off its foundation to the fronts of her hands. For the nameless Pirates mermaid, I positioned one arm in front of the Disneyland castle and one behind. I then cut out a cardboard hand for the arm in front and glued it on (though a hook hand wouldn’t have been a bad idea either, considering the context.)

Step 6) Make the foil tail fin. I tried multiple strategies, but what worked the best for me was to take a large rectangle of foil and rip a slit down the middle of the long side that doesn’t go all the way to the end. Wrap the un-slitted side of the foil around the tip of the tail. Shape the two pieces of foil hanging off into two fins – sort of a leaf-shape with pointy ends and a round middle.

Step 7) Additional decorating: this is all up to you!

For Nameless, I drew on her with metallic sharpie, added glitter and sequins to the tail, and gave her a magazine clipping for a hair accessory. Because I printed out the face in black and white, I used pink colored pencil to try to bring a little life back into her cheeks, lips, and forehead. I colored her eyes blue, avoiding covering the pupils too much (this isn’t a creepy ghost-themed bookmark). I also added some lace to the fins, taping it onto the back of the tail.

As always, experiment and see what works! I tried to use up the little scraps of art materials bought for long-forgotten projects, in keeping with the reuse/recycle theme. It was kind of fun to go through loads of semi-garbage and find a few treasures – kind of like weeding through the first draft of a piece of writing.

Have a happy New Year with lots of reading and creating!